Date: Tue, 10 Nov 92 20:48:11 -0800
From: Brian Behlendorf (Vitamin B)
Subject: FMR party - moonlight and chocolate and cops, oh my!

Well, due to a possible power outage last night due to medisg getting unplugged around 11:30 (!), I'm not sure if my directions got to anyone until this morning - if you were waiting on them and didn't get them until the morning my apologies, because it was a really great night.

The story starts the day of Come/Unity. I was sitting in an office on campus trying to think of good locations. There was a map of Berkeley on the wall I was studying furiously - I was thinking of space behind the campus in Tilden or something, when my eye darted towards the Marina. I noticed a HUGE squarish open space with absolutely nothing on it. What the hell was that?

So the morning after Come/Unity I still had lotsa energy and decided to check it out for myself. I parked my car on the road that ran alongside this space (officially called "waterfront park") and walked to the top of one of the hills there. What I saw reminded me a lot of Ireland - grassy, gently rolling hills, patches of bushes here and there, etc. It was about a half-mile square, and surrounded on three sides by water, and on the fourth by a hotel parking lot and boatyard. There were picnic table! And bathrooms! And concrete paths! I walked around some more and came across an amphitheatrelike cove, with a bed of thick lawn grass and two picnic tables, on the west side. The view was marvelous - You could see the Bay Bridge, the city, the Golden Gate, and Marin all at once. The place was perfectly clean, and the shape of the hills convinced me that the sound of the speakers could be kept from bothering the hotel and marina. Welcome to one of the few Perfect Sites (tm) in the Bay Area, I said to myself. (Bonny Doon being one, Baker Beach being another, etc.)

I returned to the location 4 times over the next week, staying for up to an hour each time, in the middle of the night. There had to be some reason this site had not yet been used - did it turn into a gang hangup or a drug Price Club at night? The only people there when I went to check it out were the occasional couples gone to "park". I did some sound checks with a boombox and became more and more convinced that this cove would shield sound appropriately.

It took quite a bit of coaxing, but I eventually got Allen out to the site to look at it on Monday afternoon. He loved it.

Monday night I arrived at about 12, with a bundle of flyers I had printed up saying, "Please park intelligently. Do NOT park in the hotel parking lot. For our sake and yours, do not bring any alcohol to the site. Be careful of the rocks, and watch out for each other. Have fun! PEACE" There was free and legal parking along the road bordering the park and leading to it from the freeway, so as long as people parked along it it could hold maybe 300 cars. (yes, I paced it out one night before and everything.) I got into the parking lot with my flashlight and flyers and started telling people where to park. I was joined by Geoff and Derek, and the three of us helped ensure that people "parked intelligently". George Herbert had also brought four headset-walkie-talkies and some first aid stuff. Now all we needed were ravers and a sound system. :)

The sound system arrived characteristically late, at around 1:30. Still no sign of cops, but there were maybe 60 cars there, meaning 150-200 people. They drove the van along the concrete path to the cove to unload the equipment. I figured that we were about 20 minutes away from the magical Point of No Return - or maybe Critical Mass would be a better term.

Right as I thought that a cop car came screeching around the corner. The three of us directing traffic and handing flyers to each car darted into the trees, removing our headsets. The cop car passed towards the parking lot at the end of the road - it stopped for a second and was approached by someone. We saw but did not hear them talk, the cop car drove around the parking lot, and left. Wha??? A second car approached, this time one without a light bar, and did the same thing. I approached the guy who talked to the cop, and he said he told the cop that this was just a get-together of people, who wanted to dance, there was no alcohol, it was free, and they had a sound system. He said the cop was pretty mellow about it... yay! The guy has been going to things like this for three years, so he was definitely the right person to talk to the cop. :)

So the three of us went back to working traffic. About 20 minutes later the music had started. Completely silent from where I was, which was near the hotel parking lot. Absolutely perfect.

About 5 minutes later another cop car pulls up and removes the barricades to driving up the concrete path on the east side of the park. He stayed on that road until it came around to where people were, on the west side. I was not there when the cop arrived but I would have paid big money to see the expression on his face. :):) It got relayed to me by a couple of people who talked to him that the cop was simply interested in what was going on, that he walked around looking for alcohol (or any other "obvious" drugs), talked to a few people, and left. A few more cars came and went, and for most of the night there was a cop car parked on the edge of the party watching things. But the cop was mainly nonthreatening, so his presence really didn't hurt what was going on. No busts were made, and I swear at one point I looked at the cop to see his head bob ever so slightly in time with the music... from what I could gather from other people, it seemed like they were genuinely impressed with what was going on. I approached one cop as he was checking out the cars in the parking lot, and gave him one of the flyers, saying "this was being handed out to cars pulling up. I thought you'd like one". The cops said, and I've _never_ heard a cop say this - "thanks".

Okay, so enough with the legal shtuff. The cops left around 5 and the sound guys cranked the bass a little. :) There were I would guess about 400 people there (I wonder how many went down to Bonny Doon?), including just about all the "regulars" I see at every Gathering/basics/ wicked etc... I walked around handing out chocolate mints to people, and out of maybe 2 dozen people I offered to, only one asked, "you didn't put anything in this, did you?" (I didn't). People came up and gave me random hugs, some for the chocolate, some for the orange juice I had later, some even for the flyer I had handed out! I even spent a significant amount of time helping some people through their first eXperience, and that was personally very rewarding. Many people spent a lot of time at water's edge looking out at the gorgeous view of the city (NO FOG AT ALL) and the bridges. There was still a majority of the people there when the sun broke, and Markie Mark's spinning was the best I've ever heard him do.

You'll all find this funny - I was talking to Carlos, the DJ, about the gig he did down in Santa Cruz and comparing that to Sharon/Caspar the same night. He said the former really picked up his spirits after DJ'ing the latter. He then told him how I thought his dual-Mighty Ming combo was pretty cool when it worked, and he said yeah, someone had passed onto him a fax from somewhere of someone saying exactly the same thing... after a little more talk I realized that Craig Larson had passed onto him both my review of Lighthouse 2 and M Normals'! He said that when he got that message it made his day, and he has it hanging up on his wall in his room!

Morning came, the music ended around 9, and again we left the place... relatively spotless. If I ever see another cigarette butt in my entire life it'll be too soon. I wasn't the last to leave but I must say it was pretty darn spotless when I left. I did notice, though, that the center of the dance floor had been transformed from a thickly grassed field to a patch of dead grass and dirt which will probably take a few months to grow back. :(

As I was leaving I struck up a conversation with someone who ended up being one of the maintenance workers at the park. He LOVED what was going on, and convinced his supervisers to be easygoing and let the party go on until 9, which it did, and to let the van drive back to pick up the equipment. He said that even though we couldn't get a permit for the location at night, that the cops seemed to not mind what was going on, and that as long as we dealt with parking and cleaning up and stuff, we could probably return every few months with little or no trouble.

All in all, a very good night for me. I was overjoyed to see people enjoy the site so much. Maybe I should have saved it for Connection 2, but I'd rather risk their equipment first to make sure it's okay... :)


Date: Tue, 10 Nov 92 23:31:41 PST
From: (Gregg Helt)
Subject: Re: FMR party

Wow -- awesome job Brian, Geoff, Derek, George, and anyone else involved!!!

Using up valuable bandwidth i know, but an event at such a great location that worked out so well copwise, parkingwise, and peoplewise is a pretty rare thing -- thanking you guys deserves some bandwidth.

:) :) :) :) Gregg

P.S. oh yeah, and option-to-come-back-wise too!

From: (Michele Costabile)
Subject: FMR party - moonlight etc.


my greatest appreciation to Brian for the pains he took in chooosing the place: it was perfect under every respect. You may have noticed a guy with a black motorcycle jacket and a backpack smiling like a fool at 7 in front of a speaker. That was me, and the cause of such happiness was not chemical :) only the excitement of being there really enjoying myself, with people really enjoying themselves in an awe inspiring place.

The sight of the city surrounded by the bay bridge on one side and the Golden Gate on the other is not usual for me, (I do not live here) and I appreciated it particularly, during the night with the moon reflecting on the water and at dawn with the buildings going through different shades of pink.

I particularly like seeing the daylight when the party is still going on, like at the whalesong: it gives an incredible sense of strength when you are still dancing and the night "gives up" and the shine of a new day prepares to add energy.

That feeling is even stronger in the open. The wonderful sight added excitement.
And of course the music and the people were the main excitement. I experienced at the whalesong and particularly at Berkeley a strange feeling that I am still trying to understand further: it is a physical yoy, in the sense that it is not born in the cortical region of the brain but rather in the vegetative system: the fierce wild joy of being alive and strong.

It happens at dawn.

I think I was happy like one of the dogs that were playing on the grass running among people as they did not exist. In this sense I am saying it was physical, animal.

It surprised me and struck me from the deepest of my body: I was totally unquestionably happy of being alive surrounded with beauty. For this reason, since I was happy like an animal or a child i.e. 100% and not in a given percentage, I think it is not overstating to say that it was one of the greatest joys of my entire life because it is so rare to be filled with a single feeling at a time.

My neurons must have been like atoms in a laser, dancing in unison at the same frequency rather than in their usual chaotic state.

Joy is rarer and more precious when age, work and problems make life more complicated and the sources of stress multiply. And I am blase` and skeptic enough to be excited by this feeling that is somewhat still with me.

I am preparing to pack to go back to Europe and can imagine no better way to say goodbye to San Francisco.

So thanks, thanks, thanks, and ... happy happy joy joy to all!