Saturday, March 31, 2007

Avondale Restaurateur Distinguished As First To Be Cited For Fois Gras Violation

1st fine for flouting 'silly' law
Sausage king pays price for putting foie gras on menu

By Jason Meisner and Emma Graves Fitzsimmons
Tribune staff reporters
Published March 30, 2007

Even as a restaurateur got the bill for the city's first foie-gras citation Thursday, officials said there isn't much bite behind the Chicago ordinance that has garnered national attention.

Doug Sohn, a self-described "encased meat" specialist, became the first person fined under the ordinance banning the sale of foie gras.

Sohn, owner of Hot Doug's in the 3300 block of North California Avenue, agreed to pay a $250 fine for the first-time offense, officials said.

Sohn's lawyer met with a city hearing officer, who agreed to levy the minimum fine, said Tim Hadac, spokesman for the Department of Public Health. Sohn, who was not at the hearing, could have been fined up to $500 under the ordinance, which took effect Aug. 22.

Passing the ordinance may have made a symbolic statement, but city officials said they currently aren't going after any other restaurants and acknowledge that Hot Doug's likely made more than the $250 fine off publicity.

Hot Doug's was the scene of the city's first foie-gras bust on Feb. 16, when city health inspectors found the restaurant openly offering hot dogs laced with the fattened duck-liver delicacy and confiscated the product.

It came as a surprise to no one. Sohn had been itching for a fight ever since the City Council overrode Mayor Richard Daley's veto and enacted what the mayor derided as the "silliest law that they've ever passed."

Sohn had been issued a warning several months before being slapped with the citation, but he stood his ground, continuing to advertise foie gras ingredients on his Web site and on a board hung near his front door.

The letter that the city sent him warning of possible punishment? Sohn framed it and placed it beside the cash register. "I was poking the grizzly bear, and it snapped my head off," Sohn told the Tribune in February. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Foie gras is produced by inserting tubes down the necks of geese or ducks and force-feeding the birds, expanding their livers to as much as 10 times normal size. Animal rights activists lobbied the City Council heavily in support of the ban, which was sponsored by Ald. Joe Moore (49th).

In December, the city sent warning letters to nine restaurants accused of serving foie gras, Hadac said. Letters are sent after a complaint and are followed by a visit after a second complaint.

When health officials visited Hot Doug's in February, they found about 30 pounds of foie gras and foie-gras products in the freezer, Hadac said. The citation was issued because the delicacy was on the restaurant's menu with a price, he said.

The list of daily specials on Hot Doug's Web site this week had several exotic offerings, including smoked alligator sausage with Cajun shrimp mayonnaise. But foie gras was nowhere to be found.

Hadac said the Health Department is not actively investigating any other restaurants, noting: "It is most definitely one of our lowest priorities. We do not enforce it aggressively."

Asked about the amount of the fine compared to the free advertising Sohn has received, Hadac said: "He has cashed in, in terms of publicity, make no mistake."

Friday, March 30, 2007

Lindsay, this just isn't working out.

Look; I know we've had some really great times together. Like when we went skinny dipping on a dare after we lost that game of poker at camp, or that time that we put a lizard in your bitchy step-mom's hair…I know; that was SO fun! But, as much as it hurts me to say it, Lindsay…you've changed.

No, Lindsay…don't. This isn't easy for me either. Do you remember how I used to just…to just sit and listen to you talk for hours? You know, I'd come back to student housing from a really shitty day of law school classes and I'd take my wingtips off and sit down in my suit and tie and just drink and listen to you talk about how you'd never met your mom, but you somehow knew she was really beautiful, or about how you found this old book that said that if you did some rare experiment with a pentagram and a black Barbie doll maybe you could get your mom back?

I mean, I guess it was pretty clear even then that the total absence of any stable female role model in your life would affect your adulthood, and, Lindsay, by now even I have to face it: if you don't start turning your life around and accepting roles in movies where your character actually has a mom, you're life could take a real turn for the worse.

I know…I know…I sound like a total fucking drag—like your fucking dad, right? But seriously, Lindsay, like…OK, like this is an example right here: like, wearing my uncle Bradley's ratty old East Texas State University t-shirt as pajamas is one thing, but…I mean, that shirt is really more of an "inside" shirt. Lindsay, just…just hear me out. I'm just saying, you know, maybe today you'll wear my uncle's shirt out, tits fucking bouncing every which way, one at a time, as you strut off to the set of your next movie, "Mutherless Childe," and, before you know it, some day you could be running around panty-less in a little sun dress, showing your greasy, hairless, frog-like, alien vulva to God and everybody, dating fucking Jared Leto, fucking doing big mountains of blow with Marilyn Manson so often that his stripper wife files for divorce.

Look; I just can't let it come to that on my watch; and, honestly, Lindsay—and I need you to believe me when I tell you that I still care for you very much—but you're not the girl that I fell in love with anymore, and I think it's best for both of us if I don't see you for a while.