Back in November we were lucky enough to have Christopher Hitchens come join us as the special guest at First Friday, and even further back in August we were lucky enough to have Bill Sammon join us. Well, this month Hitchens is coming back, and Sammon is going to try, (update: Mr. Sammon informs us that he will be unable to make it, unfortunately, but we thank him for trying) not because they’ve missed you (though they may well have, but you’ll have to ask them about that), but for a good cause. We’ve been “legit” for nearly a year (the one year anniversary is in June and we’re attempting to plan something big for that, so stay tuned) and we’ve never asked you for anything. Frankly, we don’t want anything from you expect that you come out and have a good time. Well, this time is slightly different. We still don’t want anything from you because we aren’t getting anything from you, but we are going require something from you to attend this month’s happy hour.
A few weeks ago, on Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, a group of people came up with a creative way to mark the occasion; a flashmob at the Jefferson Memorial. The plan was to dance silently from 11:55pm till 12:05am to whatever songs you wanted on iPods. The time was chosen to ensure there be very few, if any, visitors to the site and the iPods were chosen because we didn’t want to make a lot of noise and there would be no way for everyone to agree on a set of songs, Jefferson was all about individual rights, after all. About 2 minutes in the park police started throwing people out for reasons that have never really been explained. Since everyone (about 20 people) were wearing headphone and no one went with tap as their dance style of choice, noise couldn’t have been the issue. One woman dared to ask the unaskable question, “Why?” After having been given the answer last acceptable from a parent to a 12 year old, “Because I said so,” she asked again, and asked what rule she was breaking. She was then arrested for “interfering with an agency function,” whatever the hell that is. Later, a charge of “demonstrating without a permit” was added. (You can reall all sorts of stories about it here.)
Clearly the first charge was a “we’ve got to charge her with something” charge, but the second is more curious. You can even forget what the Constitution says about the right to peaceably assemble (the only thing that was not peaceful about the flashmob was the assault on rhythm), the law states a permit is only required if there are more than 25 people demonstrating. There was less than that, though there were other people at the memorial who were not taking part, both with the group and just randomly there. If you add those people to the group, you probably just make it over the 25 person mark. But to include them is bogus; if they weren’t taking part then they weren’t part of it. You can’t call someone an artist because they once watched someone paint and you can’t count someone as part of a “demonstration” because they happened to be there and watched it.
Needless to say, no plea bargain will be accepted, these charges will be fought until they are dropped or beaten and her record expunged. Thing is, that costs money.
A defense fund was set up to help cover the costs and a target of $5,000 set. She’s more than half way there, but until she’s there, more money is needed.
You may never find yourself having the desire to mark a Founding Father’s birthday with dance (though I did), but you can’t see for forest for the trees if you at this case like that.
So here’s what we’re going to do.
To get into the May 2nd First Friday we’re going to charge $5, 100 percent of which will go to the defense fund. But, since we don’t like asking you for things, we’re going to give you things that will more than offset the cost to you. When you pay you will receive a ticket that is good for one free drink from our specials, a $2.50 well drink or a $2.95 draft Bud, Bud Light, Miller or House Amber. When you include tip that nearly makes if free, but we’re not stopping there. We will also have an as yet to be determined quantity of 5 Hour Energy Drink bottles, they retail for $3-$4, and you will get one of those, while supplies last. So you actually make out in the deal. Add to that the fact that Hitchens and Sammon will be hanging out with you and there are a lot worse ways to spend a Friday evening. And since we have the 5 Hour Energy Drinks to give away, “I’m too tired to go” isn’t an acceptable excuse.
So why should you care about this? If you don’t see the absurdity of it, I don’t know what to tell you. And Hitchens has a special connection to Thomas Jefferson, even beyond his book on the man. Last year he became a US citizen and he was sworn in at the Jefferson Memorial. And believe me, he is outraged. If you want to hear a string of colorful metaphors the likes of which you’ve never heard, ask him about this case Friday.
So that’s it, all the regular rules apply, drink specials, hand stamps to get the drink specials, no speeches, have to be signed up, at Union Pub (and a special thanks to Matt at Union Pub for hooking us up with the free drinks!) from 5:30 till 9:00 this Friday.
The turn out this week will not only help a good cause but it will help us in our efforts to land a great guest or more for our one year anniversary party the following month. So make sure you make it out, and tell a friend, then drag that friend along with you. You won’t find a better deal for $5 anywhere in the city, unless you smoke crack…in which case you probably won’t come anyway. But if you do, lay off the rock for one night and help a good cause!
Be there or be talked about.
NOTE: Edited at 12:20 with apologies to Bill Sammon, and much gratitude.