Though there is no great love lost between [Sid Soffer] and the current council's [Sandra L. Genis], she has visited several other cities' meetings and thinks Costa Mesa is fortunate: "If we didn't have Sid Soffer, we'd have somebody. And some `official gadflies' are really boring, getting up on every issue and droning on.
Soffer opened another Laguna club called Sid's Blue Beet, which he moved to Newport's Balboa Peninsula in 1960. In the 18 years he owned it (he sold the business in 1978 but still owns the property), he brought in a loyal crowd with entertainment that included jazz greats Art Pepper and Les McCann, comedians Lord Buckley and Steve Martin, flamenco guitarist Felipe Perez (who now plays at Sid's) and Delta blues legend Son House. A tape of Mr. House's emotion-drenched bottleneck guitar-recorded by Soffer at the Blue Beet a quarter-century ago-underscored our conversation.
Lately he's been amending his IDs at council meetings to say, "Sid Soffer, 900 Arbor St., still," his reference to the fact that he isn't in jail yet. He is involved in a property dispute that could put him behind bars for six months. According to Soffer's friend and fellow restaurateur Bob Roubian, owner of the Crab Cooker, "Some anti-Sid reporter called me and asked how I felt about him maybe going to jail. I said, `Good, I think he should go to jail.' `How can you say that if he's your friend?' `Because it happens to all great men. Socrates went to jail, Jesus Christ, Aristotle, Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau. It's Sid's turn.' All Sid is trying to do is keep America America."