Tonight, I stand with them in exile.
Since December of 2005, the police have begun to force the peaceful and stirring drum circle from their place between the Valley Art Theater and My Big Fat Greek Restaurant because of complaints. Ordinarily one would immediately come to ask, “Who is complaining at twelve a.m. on a Saturday in the middle of a business district like Down Town Tempe?” Residents of Down Town Tempe, of course.
In its strange wisdom, Tempe decided to zone and permit the construction of a community right next to downtown in the Orchidhouse Condominiums.
This little housing development apparently attracted its tenants due to the nightlife and culture of Tempe, but apparently after having moved in because of it, the people who chose to live there don’t like what they came for. In a good case for blatant inanity, the people who moved into these apartments somehow managed to blind themselves with ignorance of the actual culture of Mill—the Drum Circle has been drumming in that location for more than a decade now; predating the Orchidhouse Condominium structure.
An article in the Azcentral community section goes on about how the president of the Orchidhouse Condominium Association, Fred Neal received the complaints of his tenants and took this to the Tempe Police. Together, they decided on the compromise of enforcing an age-old curfew on Tempe parks of 12 a.m.—one that has been traditionally eschewed in deference to the drum circle and the culture it represents.
I don’t know if anyone else notices the subtle implication of the word “compromise,” especially when this compromise was had between the police and the condominiums; completely ignoring any representation or envoy to the drum circle itself.
To me, this move is just another sally in the ongoing war against Mill Avenue culture that has been fought in some of the most underhanded and cowardly ways that I have ever seen. From Tempe’s campaign against the itinerant population, the slow bleeding away of anything unique or cultural about Mill, and through acts much like this—where back room “compromises” are made by people who I doubt have ever gotten their feet dusty dancing to the drums they seek to silence.
A thread on the Mill Avenue Vexations forums has been set up for tracking these developments and compiling articles and information on what's been going on.