May 5th, 2002


Party for your right to fight

We had a successful party last night. Feelings on a Grid played and the cops didn’t come. Lots of people came and nobody was puking or looking for things to steal or overly aggro.

Unfortunately, right next to our apartment is a Russian Orthodox semi-cu lt.* Being culturally insensitive, we didn’t realize that it was Greek Easter so while Feelings on a Grid was playing they called asking if we could turn off the drums. Uh, no. I would have felt bad if we hadn’t warned/invited them (and all the neighbo rs) about our party earlier in the week. We reached a compromise by assuring them that we would be silent for 15 minutes at midnight when they did their Easter procession through their backyard.

A neighbor in the eight-apartment building next to us als o called and complained. That apartment is full of students who always have parties and keep us up with bad music and inane party conversation, their back porches being about 10 feet from our bedroom windows. Do they ever turn down the music when we ask? No. Do they ever warn us about parties even though we’ve asked repeatedly? No. "The band will be done at midnight, " we told ‘em. "If it’s not I’m calling the cops!" was the reply. My housemate hung up on him.

Feelings played an amazing set. Peo p le were a little afraid to dance, the basement ceiling being only about 6’2" with lots of low-hanging beams and water pipes, but everyone loved the Grid guys.** They even dedicated their version of Hazel O’Connor’s "Big Brother" (from the movie "Breaki ng Glass") to me. The boys also loved the buttons that I had made for them (by the talented and wonderful Taryn Hipp), moving me up in the rankings of biggest fans (sorry M, I think I’m #2 now).

One weird moment occurred when one co-worker of mine sta rt ed heckling them by yelling what I thought was "Nornal sex!" over and over. I was like, what’s with this guy? Is he feeling insecure because he’s watching a queer boy band? Feeling oppressed by songs overtly about sexuality in general? A closet homopho be e mpowering himself? No, he was yelling "Normal sucks!" in response to something the band was saying about the normal state of the country even while the US is at war. Whew.

I really do love having big parties. Somewhere on every party invite, we m ention that "Parties are an important part of the community fabric" and I really do believe that. There’s an element to socializing, beyond the flirting, chatting and social awkwardness, which can break down barriers and make neighbors greet each ot her o n the street. Just like the creation of counter institutions (like say, Epicenter Zone) has social and political effects that are hard to quantify, meeting people in relaxed social settings is a step in the process of creating an atmosphere where co mmunity self-determination can seem realistic. As a wise man named Jonathan Richman once said, "We need more parties in the USA."***

The strangest thing I found during clean up was a to-do list written on the back of a receipt from the Laney College Book store. It reads:
-Make own Book of Shadows
-Go to store on Fillmore on Bus 22
-Go to barnes n Nobles for feathered pen. [sic]


*In the ‘70s they were thrown out of the Russian Orthodox church for not following church decrees and being led by a "he retica l" leader/personality. In recent years they’ve been trying to re-mainstream themselves and be allowed back in after years of defiance, purges, and non-traditional teachings. They used to have a gallery on the first floor, open to the public, fill ed with huge, gory Christ images called "The Not of this World Living Room". Someone stole the sign and they stopped giving unscheduled tours.

**Except, of course, the neighbors.

*** Jonathan continues, "Some people are staying home / and not having fu n / a c old, cold era has begun, has begun. / Now things were bad before / there was lots of loneliness / but in 1965 things were not like this."