schedule | blog | photos | list | press | contact | links | diy

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

[guerilla-drive-in] GDI support

Dear Guerilla Drive-In Supporters,

Thank you for the support we have received over the last few days. Please continue to do what you can to support the project in any way you feel comfortable.

One supporter recently wrote a beautiful letter to the City Council. In it she details her childhood growing up in a family of heavy drug users, and points out that Santa Cruz also has a problem with drugs. She goes on to say this:

"So, here's the thing I don't get: Santa Cruz police are spending their energy busting the Guerilla Drive In while they show a locally produced movie? Seriously?!? Are we NUTS?!

I know, I know, they are anarchists and they don't believe in permits. ... Let's deal with the unpermmited events that destroy lives. Teenagers and women in this town are scared to leave their houses after dark because their friends are getting SHOT and you guys are approving a million extra dollars so SCPD can bust free public movies? I feel like I am living in a Kafka novel!

Furthermore, while it might smart a little to admit it, the Guerilla Drive In is an obvious ally to any effort to clean up our public spaces! Who else in town goes under the Soquel Bridge, cleans up debris and waste of all manners, and then does what some are referring to as "positive loitering" for several hours, shows a free movie, encourages people to get to know their neighbors, and then leaves the space cleaner than they found it at the end of the night? Everyone leaves happy and what would have been a junkie trading spot becomes a magical and totally family-friendly spot.

The response from a city council member was this:

"First, the city council cannot, for a number of very good reasons, direct the Police on which laws to enforce and when. If the law is that you can't be in the park at night, then the Police and the City Council don't get to decide that some groups are exempt from that law.. [his ellipses] except if they have a permit....Participants could be asked to donate $5 to cover some of these costs and it would be a positive event for everyone."

He then goes on to compare this free, fun movie even to the riots of May 1.

As a Guerilla Drive-In member, I take real issue with this. Besides being offended that GDI movie events are being compared to riots, I think he is clearly missing the point and the beauty of GDI. First of all, I have a problem with the unquestioned acceptance of the law that says that you can't be in the park at night without a permit. Part of the mission of GDI is to challenge these laws that make public places off limits at night. I have traveled in several different Latin American countries, lived in China for a year, and have friends in various European countries; the United States is the only country I have ever heard of that bans people from being in the parks at night. In Chile, Sundays are juggling days. People spend all day in the park juggling, watching jugglers, lounging, flirting, snacking, napping. As night falls, fire jugglers come out. Everyone has glow sticks and flashlights, and the park is transformed into a magical, glowing wonderland. Friends in Germany tell me that parks are the life-blood of the community, especially after dark, and even in China (Socialist, Big Brother China!) parks are where young people meet after dark for socializing and dating.

Imagine a world where parks were not threatening places where drug deals went down, but rather alive with activity: families having night-time picnics, lovers holding hands, friends star-gazing (or maybe fog-gazing). Isn't that world much better than the one that keeps us divided and afraid?

The other thing that really bothers me about his letter is the suggestion that the GDI collective should make people pay $5 for the privilege of seeing a movie. Our events are supposed to be free. That is the point. It is sad that in our country, there is no place to go out and be with friends after dark that does not involve commerce. You could go out for dinner or to the bar. You could pay $10 to see a movie or you could walk along and windowSHOP downtown. Even I sometimes enjoy doing those things, but it is a poor reflection on our society when those are the only choices. Do you remember being a teenager, wanting to get out of the house but having nowhere to go. You couldn't go to the bars, most restaurants and movies were too expensive, and you basically had the option to "bum around downtown" or take up space in a (smoky?) coffee shop. No wonder our youth are bored. No wonder they occupy their free time with parties (when parents are out of town).

For years, Guerilla Drive-In has been working to re-envision our community, bring together neighbors in a commercial free venue. It is sad and scary that a few people with too much power can, in a single swoop, challenge and undermine all we are striving for. Please continue to stand with us as we fight this madness.
You can help by doing any or all of the following:
  • Go to the next GDI and bring two friends
  • Write a letter to the city council telling them why you support us and implore them to support us as well
  • Write a letter to the SCPD telling them they have better things to do with their time.
  • Organize your own movie showing and invite us
  • Write to the editor of the Sentinel, the SC weekly, and the Good Times
  • Call the Sentinel and demand they write a story about our getting targeted
  • Talk to friends about how they can create more DIY opportunities
  • Organize more DIY events in public space
  • Support related projects who are also feeling the heat of the Anarchist Redscare 2010

A member of the Guerilla Drive-In Collective

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Community Report-back, May 14

Here's out full reportback to our Guerilla-Drive-In community after GDI was targeted by SCPD:

As the sun set Friday evening, the normally dark and dingy area under the Soquel Ave. bridge was buzzing with excitement. The fans in the projector were spinning away, the concrete wall finally glowing a bright blue, and I thought to myself: "This is why I live here. This is amazing and I can't see how anyone could argue otherwise." It was a special event for Guerilla Drive-In as we were showing the work of a local film maker, Cheri Lovedog. "The Jesus Factor" was shot in Santa Cruz and was created with a cast and crew mostly made up of locals, some of whom were sitting in portable lawn chairs waiting to see the most recently cut and mastered version of the film. Clay, the film's editor, grinned as it seemed that we had gotten past the final technical hurdle for the evening and the film would begin just as the sun was announcing that it was the proper time for an outdoor film.

This was only part of the reason why this particular Guerilla Drive-In was feeling especially positive and community-oriented. Upon arriving to the location, many of us discovered that the area had been badly littered with plastic bags, dirty and unwanted clothing, and containers of partially eaten food. It was clear that the area under the bridge hadn't received much attention lately. As a few of us started gathering some of this trash, I was amused by the thought that we would leave this river-side space looking that much better after filling it for the evening. Finding a source of power for all the equipment also tends to be a challenge at this location. Thankfully, some neighbors (who were having a dinner party and wouldn't even be able to come down to see the showing) offered to provide a power outlet from their home. They had heard and read about the Guerilla Drive-In project and were glad to help. Another person who arrived to see the film retrieved an extension cable from his car as soon as it became clear that the sum of all our extension cables would be unable to reach the location of the projector. Other audience members offered flashlights to help locate equipment and even batteries to power the remote control needed for the dvd player. Another audience member brought a large grocery bag full of popcorn and was passing it around to share with the entire group. It felt so much like it was a community effort not only to create this film but now, also to share it with others and transform this space under the bridge into an event-- and into something better.

Within the first 15 minutes of the film, this evening we had created came to an abrupt halt as an officer from the Santa Cruz police department descended on the group. He demanded to speak with 'the person in charge'. I immediately think, "Does he mean the person who is putting this event on? ...because I think all 40-50 of us did." He then asked if we had obtained a permit for the event, which we did not. He then made claims that a sound complaint had been made and we were going to have to shut down the film immediately. When further probed regarding this, the officer explained that even without any sort of sound complaint he would be shutting down the event because we did not have a permit and we were in an area that is off-limits after sunset. The officer then walked back to his patrol car and watched as we announced to the group that we were going to have to shut down the film and potentially restart somewhere else. As we were discussing the locations at which we could possibly continue the event, the officer began to walk back down to the area under the bridge. He wanted to verify that we were in fact leaving-- as if to say that we were taking too long to discuss how we might go about salvaging our evening.

Keep in mind that Guerilla Drive-In has been showing free films under the Soquel Ave. bridge for many years without incident. Also, this event was widely discussed for many weeks and was even the subject of a recent article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

Guerilla Drive-In has transformed dark and unused spaces into safe and warm community events for 8 years. After 150 free films to the community, Guerilla Drive-In is being targeted by the Santa Cruz Police. There is an obvious crackdown underway on all DIY activities in public spaces. This is the second time in two weeks that the authorities have been directed to shutdown our showings.

We need a community response to this madness.

Guerilla Drive-In Shut Down by SCPD

After 8 years, 13 locations and over 150 free films to the community, Guerilla Drive-In is being targeted by the Santa Cruz Police.

Local film The Jesus Factor by Cheri Lovedog, showing under the Soquel Ave bridge was shutdown by Santa Cruz cops before it even started as part of a crackdown on DIY activities in public space.  This is the second time in two weeks that the authorities have been directed to shutdown our showings.

We need a community response to this madness.

Stand by for a full reportback. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Despite what the Sentinel article says, the screening is tomorrow, Friday May 14th.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Benefit Dinner and Film Showing for Wes Modes, Sun May 2nd 7pm

Someone snitched us out to the copyright authorities who contacted us on Friday with concerns about this benefit. So, instead of To Kill a Mockingbird, we will be showing You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train, an amazing documentary about Howard Zinn. ALSO, there will be dinner by India Joze and others, popcorn, a few words from Wes' lawyer, and the Raging Grannies will sing for us. See you tonight!

Guerilla Drive-In Presents

Dinner and a Movie

Sunday May 2nd 7pm

at the Resource Center for Nonviolence
515 Broadway, Santa Cruz
$5-20 suggested donation

A Benefit for the legal fund of Wes Modes
Wes is being charged with "organizing an unpermitted event" for the 2009 Last Night Parade. Last Night is a spontanteous, self-organized New Year's Eve parade that hundreds of people have celebrated in downtown Santa Cruz every year since 2005.

For more information, visit