Food for Thought returns

For those that have been hanging out with us for a while, you may know I used to write a monthly column for the website of the San Francisco Late Night Coalition called ‘Food for Thought’. It was my musings on the scene, the city, and the role of lived spirituality in the modern world.

The last one was April of last year. Some of them are still worth a read in my humble opinion, check it if you have a moment: www.sflnc.com/index/readthis/news/food_for_thought

I wasn’t supposed to have taken off a whole year! Damn, how the time goes. I originally stopped cause I was caught up in writing my dissertation. After months, years actually, struggling to get it done, I was finally in focused-action mode and could think of nothing else, so writing anything besides what I had to was not happening. I spent all spring and summer on the research and writing and then kind of just never went back to it. So it is a year later I return to share some thoughts of the moment, but this time here in Syd’s Corner….

Read on if curious.

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So to get back in the game, I (as always) have lots of thoughts to share, but instead of going deep and long winded, I just want to write one of those cabbie like chronicles you read. You know the ones: “…30 year old petite Marina woman on the corner of Broadway and Fillmore, waving like she owns me. She smells rich but wears cheap shoes…” So this is my promoter blues blog of the moment.

“Promoter” Blues

Being one who throws parties is a mixed bag indeed. It sure used to look cool to me from the outside, back in the day when I was more of a Joe clubber type. The scene was exploding back then so the parties were packed, the dance floors were rocking with cool peeps partying their ass off. The clubs were packed no matter who was playing. Seemed a great way to make a living. I had no interest in making money, I had a job and was in grad school, but what was happening around me on the dance floor was magical, and I wanted to somehow harness that magic and give it some direction to do some good in the world. Fun is cool, but without a purpose it seems like masterbation, eventually what’s the point?

So it was I got involved with Spundae to throw a benefit for the group home I worked for, and shortly after got involved with Radiance to participate in a community driven party with the spiritual twist of a ceremony and what not. The rest is history, and Opel is now a hybrid of sorts of my early influences to create a certain kind of dance floor experience to a certain kind of music for a certain kind of purpose. The purpose is still not to make a living, no way! The money has come in handy at times during some poverty periods of grad school, but it’s never been the goal, and there’s been plenty of nights that ended up deep in the red. There are many reasons we do parties I won’t bore you with here, but overall it’s my small way of doing something to make whatever small difference I can make. I have always said if a lot of people did a lot of small things it would make a huge difference. This is one of my contributions. I think every medium of entertainment, yes every, somehow needs to incorporate an aspect of raising consciousness. Entertainment in particular is such a powerful tool to inspire and teach and educate and when necessary enrage, because it can hit you in so many levels other mediums may not. (Thus I am so sickened by suck ass MTV, squandering a historic opportunity to help inspire a generation, instead it deadens them. I know there is some window dressing, but really it’s so, so disappointing.)

Opel is here to make a difference, and we try to do that in a number of different ways, to varying degrees of success. To reach anybody though, we have to convince them that our party will be fun and worth their hard earned dollar and well deserved time. This in a city with more parties than anyone can keep track of. And so we promote, and promoting sucks. Putting on the sales hat to get people to your party while still making a genuine connection with another human being who has seen too many flyers is not easy. It’s exhausting. Most promoters don’t do it themselves, they hire someone else to do it cause they are way over being out and about town with flyers. I wish I had the luxury to do so. Thank God my sister Gina helps so much or I’d really be screwed. I can’t afford consistent hired help and I believe in standing behind what I do, which means I have to be willing to put a flyer in someone’s face with a smile and invite them to a party with a purpose.

IF they take your flyer, and read it, that’s success. That’s all I’m hoping for, but getting there, what a journey. Most promoters leave stacks of flyers in strategic places hoping you will pick them up. I’m a little more ruthless, probably to a fault. When I have a big party coming up, you won’t be able to go to the bathroom at a major party without seeing my flyer. I rationalize it away as something to look at while your holding your dick at the urinal but let’s be real, I’m advertising. Like any promoter who chooses to do a flyer, I have received flack from the hard core underground dudes who rely on word of mouth to get people to come. Wow. That would be great!! The day I don’t have to do a flyer is a great day. I’ll be the first to stop busting my ass all over town spreading the word as soon as people just come from word of mouth.

The different responses you get is always fun. “I already have that one” makes me chuckle when I just picked up the flyer from the printer. “Can I get on the guest list?” is another good one, always asked by some semi-cute girl. (Yes is always my answer, just e mail me! They never do, luckily…) The most common rejection is simply to be ignored or they look down at what’s in your hand like your trying to hand them a steamy pile of dog shit you just picked up off the ground. Euuuuuwwww!! When a nice person takes your ‘invite’ (PC word for fucking flyer soon to be used as litter) after a long night out and smiles and says “thanks” or better, “ya I’m totally going to that” (even if they aren’t really), you just want to hug them. Thank God the flyering of cars has died down slighty. I notice I get maybe 5 instead of 15 these days as most promoters have figured out the whole car thing doesn’t work too well. I still am guilty of doing it if the situation is just right, or I’m completely paranoid about losing my ass on a party and don’t want to be stuck with a box of flyers second guessing myself. But it’s basically lame to do so.

Walking around 11th st. this past weekend, what a mess. Meat heads, barf on the sidewalk, snoots in line, honking cars, do I want these people to come to my party? Looking for the diamond in the rough. I tape it up a few places to avoid any actual human interaction while still trying to make myself feel better about needing to promote. Pretty girls walking by.. “Hi, please save this for later..” as I hand the friendly one a flyer. She takes it and squints, it’s way too dark to get the juice. Thus I implant my not so subliminal message to put it away to look at later, after the long night out maybe, back home decompressing, “hey this sounds great…” So goes the fantasy. She walks down the street and I see her carrying it. Will she drop it? Read it? Best not to know.

Crusing around I see a flyer for the Bling Bling party. This party is probably the anti-Opel party, as in the opposite of what we are tyring to do. Big flashy flyer going for tits and ass and cheese. The theme this month is “Boot Camp.” The flyer depicts a cartoon woman with big tits and long legs carrying a machine gun. I think “Oh my fucking God. People my age are getting killed in Iraq, and these guys are doing a party called Boot Camp.” It makes me want to go to the party and picket. “These promoters are idiots.” But who am I to get righteous with my hippie dippy spiritual shit? Well… I don’t have a good answer but I certainly stand by my opinion. Idiots…. who give what others are doing with a little more intention a bad name. All the more reason to get the word out. All the more reason to try and reach people that there are actually parties with substance happening, that they don’t have to take this total crap for their entertainment. And yet, again, do I want them at an Opel party? Will I alienate those who ‘get it’ by inviting those that don’t? That is the tricky balance I try to walk with the belief that if all you do is underground parties with those that ‘get it’ you are preaching to the choir, and not effecting real change. A slightly funner form of masterbation….

And so I promote, with delusions of social change and inspiration and maybe even some relief from my credit card debt. The possibilities are endless, as are the parties. We keep the flyers pretty and not too big, we tape it up for all to see, to put ourselves out to the world, and to the individual you hope will come and have a great time and know that there are others like them who want more from life than the collection of stuff and things and meaningless crap. And every once in a while you see someone you gave a flyer to at the party (it’s actually very rare), but you want to hug them all over again.

And then you watch the news and see how fucked up the world is and you think to yourself.. “I’m not doing enough to make a difference, I need to do more, I need to promote harder, so Opel can be a stronger tool to do good when it counts.” And out I go, into the night.

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