Dear Cities of Champaign and Urbana,
Oh my God, Unofficial! Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!
They’re doing it again, aren’t they? It’s almost like nothing you do to try and stop them actually stops them. It’s almost like trying to stop them makes them want to do it even more. Oh my God, right? It’s so, like, frustrating, right? Sort of like trying to negotiate with your ol’ friend Larry from your frat house days. Larry, who after dropping into town and dragging you out to the bars, has decided to camp out on your front steps and bellow out a bunch of whiskey-fueled ditties from the good ol’ days despite the fact that it’s 11-freakin’-32 in the evening and your kids are asleep and your wife is pissed and your routine is all screwed up.
Of course, you know as well as I do that it doesn’t matter how many times you politely ask Larry to get off your porch or how many cabs you call — dude’s not going anywhere, leaving you with two options. You can either A) call the cops, or B) break out a bottle of Rebel Yell and invite him out to your back patio.
So far, Cities of Champaign and Urbana, you’ve been calling the cops. And how’s that going for you, by the way? Well, allow me to commence Phase Two of my shitty “Larry” allegory and tell you: While you're on your way into your den to phone the police, Larry’s been pissing in your bulbs and calling his douche bag friends over to raid your liquor cabinet while throwing rocks at your Lexus (you bought it used and most of your friends know it, but it’s still a good car, and at least it makes your brother-in-law jealous).
So, Cities of Champaign and Urbana, WTF? Why not try tossing a few back with the old guy? Hell, let him invite his douche bag friends over. Break out the guitar, fire up the Hibachi, have a good time. Crack a few open yourself, and make sure that everyone gets enough food and enough water so that they don’t completely lose their shit. Oh, and take their money.
Okay, that allegory got old, so let’s try it this way: What in the holy hell has taken you so long to make Unofficial into an official charity event? Seriously. Why in the hell haven’t you gotten together with the student group and the bar owners who put this thing together and said something to the effect of: “Hey kids, let’s organize a festival called “Unofficial” wherein we block off Green Street, have some live music, and allow consenting adults convene, socialize, drink, and give a bunch of money to The United Way or CASA or the Eastern Illinois Foodbank or the Crisis Nursery or something?”
Then, after you’ve said that, and they’ve agreed, and you’ve worked out all the details because, you know, you’re good at that shit, you can be all like, “I am a good person because I have helped other people even though in order to do that I have abstained from judging the drinking habits of college students.”
Sure, you’ll pick up some flack for doing such a thing. Some people will say that you’re bowing to pressure from bar owners, and some will even say that you’re condoning binge drinking, or worse, creating a dangerous situation. Screw them.
Especially because those things won’t be true. Especially because you know and I know that Unofficial isn’t going away, and that, when you make something unofficial into something that is official, you’re able to regulate it. Like, haven’t you ever seen Season 3 of The Wire? What? You haven’t? Okay, well, go watch Season 3 of The Wire, and then come back and read this and be like: “Oh yeah, that is a good idea. We should make Green Street into motherfuckin’ Hamsterdam.”
And you should. Once a year, you should make Green Street into motherfuckin’ Hamsterdam. You should let the kiddies drink whilst you’re bombarding them with tips on safe consumption, warning signs of alcohol poisoning, etc. All the while you should make sure that there’s plenty of water available, plenty of ambulances at the ready, and plenty of law enforcement officers standing guard in case anyone decides to sneak into a kegger, rob a bunch of frat boys, and then tape their arms and legs together (Season 3 of The Wire, people, I’m telling you!). Bottom line, Champaign and Urbana, you need to manage this shit, not fight it. And in the end, you’ll be able to justify your actions by pointing out that you’ve helped protect drunk college students from themselves and that you’ve raised money for some good shit in our community that could really use more funding.
Or, keep doing what you’ve been doing, but don’t be surprised if Larry all of a sudden finds himself throwing up in your baby’s crib before the cops arrive to give him a ticket for public intoxication.