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To some degree, Duffin agrees. He still wants to ensure that the Madrid's entertainment offerings match the venue's class and style, whether it's ballroom dancing, French cocktail jazz (Stereolab) or mind-numbingly complex art-rock (King Crimson). Duffin admits House of Blues-booked acts such as Puddle of Mudd and The Urge, who raised the ire of Carson and company by attracting its boorish following to the area for an October show, don't fit this criteria.
"We tried it, and it backfired," Duffin says of The Urge show, which resulted in $1,000 in damage to the venue's interior. "It's not the type of show we're going to put in there again." Duffin's wish list for 2002 includes meringue bands, Hindu artists and other cultural/ethnic groups for which there are currently few available forums. To hear Duffin tell it, the Madrid might eventually become an aural museum, providing an additional taste of cultural and ethnic diversity to an already colorful neighborhood. For now, the venue's biggest reach has been booking the Cali Comm tour, a top-notch hip-hop showcase that brings The Coup, The Pharcyde and other master lyricists to the stage on Tuesday, November 13. That date has no doubt been circled by the anti-Madrid faction as well as by hip-hop heads; nothing draws "not in our neighborhood" signs quicker than a rap show.
But no matter what the incoming entertainment event might be, "not in our neighborhood" seems like a ludicrous rallying cry within shouting distance of Main Street. As anyone who's visited New York, Chicago or any other major metropolis is well aware, parking spaces near active nightlife districts are scarce, and the people who take up residence near busy thoroughfares must weigh this inconvenience against the thrill of living close to the city's pulse. And while our Main Street isn't quite Michigan Avenue, it has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, with the Unicorn, Grand Emporium and now the Madrid making the strip between 38th and 39th Streets an appealing evening destination. But even before Midtown-minded entrepreneurs such as Duffin and Emporium-owner Roger Naber resuscitated the area, it was fair to expect a good amount of traffic passing through and perhaps even bleeding onto side streets. This is, after all, Main Street. It's not as if it's not clearly marked.
"Main Street was there first," Duffin confirms. "[Residents] knew it when they made the choice to move there. If you want a quiet, tree-lined street with no people parking on it, you should move to Johnson County."
"I love living where I live," responds Morris, who has lived in or near Midtown KC since 1974. And, more than some of his fellow parking-rights advocates ("It's a shame that people have to come out and videotape," he says), he's got some love for the Madrid as well. In his letter, he makes a point to express his appreciation for the parking controls the Madrid has put in place and for restoring a blighted building. In conversation, he notes that the venue "has certainly done a lot of things right" and expresses enthusiasm for both the ballroom nights and upcoming performances by Leo Kottke and John Hiatt. But in his eyes, the parking quandaries outshine the venue's benefits. "I just wish there was some way that we could have the Madrid and that people could get to the parking lots and have a good time. If we get a relationship going, I think we'd be just fine."