Sent From My iPhone: Party Planning: An Exercise in Oxymorons

Opinion by Peter McDonald
Oct. 6, 2010, 12:26 a.m.

Sent From My iPhone: Party Planning: An Exercise in OxymoronsReaders, I’m angry. Two great beauties of this world, Velvet Hammers and LovEvolution2010, were callously forced into oblivion recently, courtesy of the department formerly known as the Office of Student Activities and the Mayor’s Office of San Francisco, respectively. Why? Both involved party plans that the Man deemed unacceptable.

Velvet Hammers are the ceremonial drink of choice for the Stanford Band, and we were supposed to enjoy them in anticipation of the all-too-epic Road Trip to Oregon last weekend. LovEvolution 2010 is an all-day, outdoor, electronic music festival (please, media, stop calling them raves. It’s like continuing to call people illegal aliens) that was supposed to take place last weekend in Civic Center Plaza up in San Francisco.

Both were unique entities, existing in an administrative framework that claimed to support the quirkiness they represented. It turns out, though, that when you are the designated Havers of Fun, either for Stanford University or for the state of California, it’s only a matter of time before Those in Charge get uncomfortable and decide the only fun you can have is the kind you submit to them in writing beforehand. It makes sense. After all, the spontaneity and craziness that make the Band and San Francisco legendary owe all of their existence to the paternalism of the no-longer-called-OSA and the Mayor’s Office.

The Band’s current malaise can trace its origins back to the worst word in the English language: “liability.” Before the Band piled onto the bus last Thursday night for our Road Trip to Eugene, we were supposed to prepare for the occasion with our own signature drink served in a toilet, the aptly named Velvet Hammer. However, any mentions of the words “Road Trip” causes everyone in the administration to do their best Ned Flanders impression. After the extensive meetings and visits by Ralph Castro and review of the conduct policy (yes, that’s right, the Band has a conduct policy now), we thought we had cleared all the necessary hurdles.

We were doing everything the right way, actually registering this shindig and all. It would appear, though, that no amount of rule-following will ease the administration’s night terrors about someone drinking too much and suing the University, and because Stanford has nowhere near the resources to settle a frivolous lawsuit out of court, it pulled the plug, most likely indefinitely, on our lowly toilet-based drink on Thursday afternoon, displaying the impeccable timing that really has come to define this university’s administration.

All I’ve been able to glean from this incident is a reminder of what I learned in adolescence: the less you tell your parents what’s going on, the better. Also, a word of advice to any of you out there who would even contemplate suing the University or letting your parents sue the University because you voluntarily drank too much: please exit this earth.

After having experienced the crushing letdown of the Man shutting down your party, my heart goes out all the more to the planners of LovEvolution 2010. In my tenure here at Stanford, I have witnessed large electronic music festivals go from the sole property of the weirdest kid in Naranja to the trendiest thing a Theta could make a Facebook photo album of, and I think that’s beautiful. Electronica is what the kids are into these days, and it’s about damn time because rock has been going absolutely nowhere. Considering that the definitive music festival of the previous generation was Woodstock ’99, I’m quite proud that we’ve all decided to culturally affirm love in our music, with or without the aid of MDMA. A bunch of old people in suits don’t see it that way.

Electronic music festivals are perhaps the last way to freak out anyone’s parents anymore. When a few bad things happen, as they are bound to at any event involving hundreds of thousands of people, the news media and politicians treat them as the next great drug scourge that will cause the downfall of society. Through this framework the organizers of LovEvolution had to fight, and the addition of a stampede during a similar event over in Germany made their work even harder, despite all previous LovEvolutions going off successfully. “Denied” was the verdict from the oh-so-progressive Gavin Newsom’s office. Don’t they know you can’t keep your love in chains?

Every time we take a loss in the struggle, I get sad. Having to defend alcohol and substance use from an institutional standpoint is a hard exercise but is it ever an important one. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy, but no administration will truly affirm this. So remember, you’ve got to fight for your right to party, because the Man can always take your rights away from you.

Got any other wisdom from the prophets Mike D, MCA and Ad-Rock? E-mail [email protected].

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