New York City, which is ruled be the despotic dictator Michael Bloomberg, is generally ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing a complete police state. To paraphrase a Star Wars quote, the more you tighten your grip, the more people will slip through your fingers. While New York City has a prohibition against gatherings larger than 50 people, unless the group buys a permit, people have decided to give the oligarchy of that city a giant middle finger and hold massive illegal gatherings underground:
In the distance, beyond the bend in the trackbed, a weird chanting began to ripple out and echo through the space. I saw the glow of candles, and as I approached I saw that everyone had been drawn to the end of the line. On what would have been part of a subway platform, a few people were leading the group in some sort of wild incantation. By the time I got there it reached a euphoric crescendo, and one of the performers overlooking the crowd yelled something like, “Bring your candles to the Echo Vault!”
By the time I drifted back to the vault with the others, a woman on “stage” (Jessica Delfino) was singing a hypnotic a cappella ballad about New York. Then a drummer, Joel Saladino, joined her, bashing away at the kit in a series of increasingly ferocious drum solos.
I climbed the stairs up another two stories and carefully tiptoed across one of the crossbeams extending the width of the Vault, trying not to think about how I’d probably break an ankle or worse if I fell. The view from back there was incredible, and when the stage at the opposite end filled with the Extra Action Marching Band, I could see the party was really getting started. It was like the Zion dance party in Matrix Reloaded, but with fewer douchebags. The music was thunderous and suddenly the mood was exultant—everyone danced, because that was the only way to deal with the inexplicable joy that was exploding down there.
If we’d gotten caught, the organizers would no doubt have faced some serious criminal charges. But if it was up to me, I’d give them the keys to the city for raising such an audacious middle finger to the notion that New York City’s underground is dead and gone.
What Stark and Austin and the musicians managed to create, almost miraculously, was a Temporary Autonomous Zone to remind us that this is still a city worth living in, despite the creeping feeling that New York’s being bled dry by an ever-expanding corporate vampire real estate army.
No matter how tight the rulers of New York City, or anywhere else, clamp down the people will always find a way to bypass the authorities. This is why human progress, which is only possible thanks to anarchy, can continue. The state tries to prevent change from occurring by passing laws but laws are meaningless when they can’t be enforced.
Knowing that illegal underground gatherings like the one mentioned in the story, albeit on a much smaller scale, occur here in the Twin Cities puts a smile on my face. Rebellion is everywhere and it’s a beautiful thing.