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April 14, 2011

Ten greatest hits from the anti- Tiki Barge complaint petition

At around 4:30 today at City Hall, a handful of cranky, loud critics and supporters of the Tiki Barge will speak before the Baltimore Liquor Board to discuss the floating barge's future.

It was so long ago that they crammed #215 at City Hall to argue for four mind-numbing hours, that it's hard to remember what exactly they were arguing about that March 3.

Before I checked in with the petition that some of the barge's neighbors filed with the board, all I remembered was the phrase "public urination" being uttered every ten minutes.

So, because I hadn't posted it before, below are the ten most egregious complaints from the Tiki Barge liquor board petition. 

At the last hearing, the liquor board ordered critics and supporters to come to an agreement about the bar's future. If they haven't by today, the liquor board will make a decision about renewing the bar's liquor license. The hearing today is not expected to be as contested as the last, which could easily be qualified a clusterflux.

The Tiki Barge has not been fazed by the criticism. It has already planned on re-opening Friday.

The petition against the Tiki Barge is a phone book-thick trapper keeper that meticulously documents activity at the floating barge since it first opened last Memorial Day. It was filed last year and co-signed by 14 neighbors, mostly residents on Harbor Island Walk. Eventually, 40 other neighbors had joined the petition.

Their complaints range from the innocuous to the bizarre. Most are simply attributed to anonymous residents.

At the March 3 hearing, Mel Kodenski, representing Tiki Barge license holder and part-owner* Richard Swirnow, argued some if not all the complaints were isolated incidents.

Here are the ten greatest hits, presented verbatim:

Paragraph 28: "An example of the type of lewd and unruly behavior at the Tiki Barge was shown on a video posted on YouTube. There is abusive and swear language used and there also is partial nudity shown on the video where a patron dropped his shorts while being filmed." Petition included video screenshot, as well a CD copy of the Youtube video.

 Par. 31, point 1: "One resident at the August Harborview Community meeting had observed departing Tiki Barge patrons leave the marina area, walk along Harborview Drive and participate in a drug transaction outside the Harborview Towers." Presumably, the writer does not mean that a resident saw patrons leave the community meeting to conduct a drug trade, but rather that the resident told the community meeting about what he or she had seen previously.

Par.  31, point 2: "Several residents observed six visually intoxicated patrons leaving the Tiki Barge steal a golf cart belonging to one of the boat owners in the Marina and drive the golf cart through the Harborview Community and out onto Key Highway." A marina police log is attached. Dan Naor, the marina's chief operating office, told me later the golf cart was driven 100 feet before being stopped by one of the marina's officers. Naor said it never left the marina, and speculated it was someone playing a prank.

Par. 31, point five: "There were numerous instances where people observed Tiki Barge patrons destroying property in the Harborview Community. On one occasion, a Harborview resident walking his dog and observed several intoxicated Tiki Barge patrons trampling a flower bed."

Par. 31, point six: "On one occasion an intoxicated Tiki Barge patron simulated sex with a potted palm tree at the entrance to Sorso Cafe while her girlfriend took her photograph." ["see Ex. 10 photos which show palm tree at Sorso Cafe entrance]."

Par. 31, point 7: "A Tiki Barge patron dropped her pants and urinated on a transformer in the residential area. Another Tiki Barge patron urinated on a tree next to the marina's parking lot."

Par. 31, point 8: "Another resident of Harborview, while sitting at the Tiki Barge bar, was told by the bartender (who used a proud tone of voice) that numerous women would flash their breasts at each other at the Tiki Barge."

Par. 34. "One one occasion a "bachelorette party" tour bus picked up dozens of obviously intoxicated by stopping at a driveway, causing the women to gather in a resident's driveway in order to get to the bus; the women cursed the residents who were watching them."

Par. 37: "The problems caused by the Tiki Barge have turned the residential Harborview Community into a police state, where there is a constant police presence, and still the constant police presence does not eliminate the offensive and abusive behavior caused by the Patrons of the Tiki Barge."  In an interview, police spokesman Donny Moses said Southern District describes the area as generally "quiet," with car stops as their main concern.

Par. 42, letter from Tiki Barge patron Paul Quinn:  "The Tiki Barge had a wild, drunken atmosphere, and by mid-afternoon it was out of control. To be honest, many of the patrons and their behavior reminded me of the characters on the reality show "Jersey Shore." Attached are two photos of a woman baring her breasts; it is unclear who, a bartender or a customer, is handing her beads. "This bead process appeared to be set up as a regular routine." In a later interview, Quinn said he wasn't sure if what he saw the Saturday he visited was routine. He doesn't live in the area, and has only been to the barge three times.

Clarification: Richard Swirnow is not the only owner of the Tiki Barge.

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Posted by Erik Maza at 2:41 PM | | Comments (19)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


I figured it was some dude humping the palm tree. It was a girl?!?


Someone please buy these people some beers and maybe a few Xanax.

I've been LOLing about simulated sex with a potted palm tree since March 3, but I do concur with the complaintants that peeing on a transformer was probably a bad call. Seems like an electrocution risk to me.

Doesn't this place have any bathrooms??

im guessing these people never were 21 before. if they lived in the county they would be pissed at kids playing in their yard. "damn kids!"

im pretty sure every person that lives next to or near a bar goes through this same bs year round.

life is too damn short to be worried about people pissing in your 'flower beds.' they should probably take more concern about the shi*/garbage/bodies floating in the bay a few feet away.

get over it.

Where might one get a look at these photos? ;)

I'm sure these people were 21 before, they just don't want to be surrounded by people who are 21 now. Actually living in the middle of a bar situation kind of sucks if you're not in your early 20s (and somtimes it sucks then too).

As we say here in Fells Point: didn't you check out the neighborhood before you moved here? (Casablanca flashback) I'm shocked, SHOCKED to find out there is drug dealing in Bmore!!! And some people who go to the harbor drink to excess! And use bad language! Busses to avoid driving drunk! When I see bad behavior in my area I confront the people. Try it. It's called having some guts. I guess rich people don't do that.

How about we show a little respect for residents private property and maybe even a *little* class?

As someone who has spent hours on a flowerbed in MY yard, if some drunk kid tore it up I'd be pissed off.

I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

My counter points (which may have gotten me kicked out of the meeting.):

Paragraph 28: "Well, at least he dropped his 'shorts,' not 'jorts.' No one likes the jorts crowd."

Par. 31, point 1: "Well, at least it wasn't human trafficing."

Par. 31, point 2: "Well, at least they didn't drive it into the harbor where it may end up touching a dead body."

Par. 31, point five: "Well, at least they weren't trampling small children."

Par. 31, point six: "Well, at least it wasn't a dude humping the tree. The tree probably liked it."

Par. 31, point 7: "Well, at least no one publicly deficated."

Par. 31, point 8: "Well, at least it was boobs and not wieners. Would you prefer wieners?!?"

Par. 34. "Well, at least the bus didn't plow into the group of them and leave their bloody carcasses in front of your house."

Par. 37: "Well, at least you decided to move to a safe city to relax in peace. Oh wait..."

Par. 42, "Well, at least some people are having fun. Unlike you."

How about we show a little respect for residents private property and maybe even a *little* class?

Bingo. The onus is on the Tiki Barge, which opened next to an already established residential community, to patrol itself and not be a nuisance. Since its an outdoor bar, obviously that's a tougher task. They don't seem to be up to the task though. A shame, since it has been such a great spot in its first year.

Same thing happened in Daytona in '85 when MTV hosted "Spring Break."

The obvious answer is to bring in Pauley Shore to quell the uprising.

Sqeeeeeuziiiiin on the Juuuuuuuiiiceeee.

Same thing happened in Daytona Beach in '85 when MTV hosted "Spring Break."

The obvious answer is to bring in Pauley Shore to quell the resident uprising.

Sqeeeeeuuzzzzzin on the Juuuuuuiceeeee.

Lets be realistic here. The Tiki Barge is a great idea, it is simply in the wrong place. The owners were all being a bit insensitive to drop this bomb into a quiet community. It is a barge, move it somewhere nearby where it won't be a nuisance. As a civilized society we must have empathy and be more considerate of others. People don't complain this voraciously without good reason. I also don't think that people who have raised issues with the Tiki Barge should be kicked out of the marina. This is not a smart way to run a business. I will take my business to Little Havana.

I am just an objective observer and do not live at Harborview and appreciate a good time at a wild bar from time to time.


"The tree probably liked it." is the new "No means no."

Lighten up harbor view people. I bet none of them ever,ever have had any fun. Go Tiki Barge. If His Honor The Mayor was still alive he would urinate on the high rise.

I wonder if the 21 yr olds would think it was funny if I peed all over their brand new car that they busted their rear ends to buy. I'd pay close attention to the door handle. It's funny stuff until it happens to them.'s not so funny.

I think a lot of the complainants are buthurt because it used to be a community pool, and now it's a bar where they probably should not bring their little ones. They should just join the otterbein pool and stop whining.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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