An Open Letter to the Santa Cruz Community
Regarding the Last Night DIY Celebration
Wow, that was something. Congratulations. I had a blast. We threw a big-ass party for our whole town. What do you think of that? And we didn't ask for permits or permission. Because we don't need to.
At the end of the night I was thinking: A parade, a street party, Balinese gamelan, fire dancing, burn barrels in the streets, bone-shaking drums, dogs and skaters on the mall, brazen square dancing in the streets, pillow fights, bagpipes, encounters with "authority" in which the people prevailed, fireworks, sparkly lights, music, DIY street barricades, DIY everything, man oh man. What's not to like?
This year, the third year of the Last Night DIY celebration, did you notice the trend of the city starting to claim the party as it's own? It's awesome to feel accepted of course, but it's a double-edged sword. After the first couple years of getting nothing but grief from the cautious city administrators, conservative local media, and uniformed fascists, this year the Senile and the Good Times claimed that the celebration was "quickly becoming a Santa Cruz tradition," and "was a uniquely Santa Cruz event." Hahaha. That cracks me up.
This year, Ed Porter himself "acknowledged the positive contribution Last Night DIY has made on the community." Two years ago, he characterized us in City Council and in the press as common lawbreakers. Oh well. So goes politicians. You watch, within a few years, you'll hear Ryan Coonerty and Mike Rotkin telling the media how they support the celebration and always have. If you don't budge, the system eventually redraws it's circle of acceptability around you. So if you live under empire and you have dreams of living free, you have to keep stepping outside of that circle.
Throughout the planning of this year's event, we asked ourselves every time we got together, lest we forget to think big and work to fulfill our dreams: What do we really want to see? What do we want this celebration to look like? (Personally, mine involved jackhammers removing the pavement and replanting the forest downtown.)
Next year, let's do it again. And this time let's think big. A parade AND a party to last well after midnight. Dozens, no hundreds of performers. Everyone a participant. Let's ask ourselves all year, what do we really want to see? What do we want to make happen? And then, let's do that.
My dream, what would make me completely thrilled, would be to hear about some town in Iowa or Kentucky or somewhere that every year had a bleak and uneventful New Year's deciding to throw their own DIY celebration of their own. No, how about towns and cities all over the country rejecting commodified and passive entertainment in favor of their own do-it-yourself celebrations? So tell your friends in far away places. Be the spark that ignites a powder keg of joy and resourcefulness.
See you in the streets,