DEATH OF THE DPC: After four years of bringing an incredible variety of music and visual art to Tucson, the bell is finally tolling for the Downtown Performance Center, 530-B N. Stone Ave. The death knell was sounded last week when DPC Director Steven Eye was confronted by members of the West University Neighborhood Association in a meeting with City Council member Molly McKasson.
In the meeting the WUNA yuppies expressed their dismay with the place probably best known for its all-age punk concerts populated by kids under 21. After years of fighting for the DPC's life with the Arizona Department of Transportation (the owner of the DPC property), city agencies, the police (see the Big Noise cover story) and now the DPC's own neighbors, Eye has decided to call it quits and shut down the venue on August 1.
"I can't hang with it anymore," Eye says. "I want my life back. Let some younger kids do it or something. It's over for me. I've done over 800 shows in this town. It's ridiculous.
"A lot of what happened is the punk scene pretty much destroyed the DPC. It's the gutter punks (homeless street kids) that have caused a lot of trouble through them hanging out at the DPC panhandling and making people not want to come there anymore. And me not wanting to kick them out. I just let them live their lives. I'm not going to go, 'You people are no good. You have to go somewhere else.' I couldn't do stuff like that."
Eye says the neighborhood association insisted he patrol a two-block area around the DPC and paint out graffiti defacing buildings in the area. Apparently, some members of WUNA don't understand that the graffiti phenomenon is nationwide and isn't restricted to their little corner of the world.
The WUNA yups also don't want people parking cars in front of their houses and they don't like the noise that comes from the old converted warehouse. Although the DPC has been their neighbor for four years now, Eye says last week's meeting was the first time anyone from WUNA presented him with any complaints--certainly a nice, neighborly way to deal with your neighbor.
While that pisses me off (and will have most of the regular patrons of the venue pretty steamed as well), Eye isn't bitter or angry.
"I used to fight everything that came my way," he says sadly. "I'd fight the system, I'd fight anyone who came and tried to mess with us. But when it's the real people of the community, the people that live there, the people that paid their hard-earned money to live there and have some kind of life without being intruded upon--I can't really fight them."
Admirable sentiments, as usual, from Eye. I've known him for more than three years and he has always been unbelievably dedicated to helping people express themselves through the arts and trying to work out problems with the whole weird rainbow of people that cross his path. It's too bad the WUNA folks didn't approach him sooner and get to know him and try to work with him. They would have found a man willing to put in thousands of unpaid hours over these years so that kids--and everyone else--would have a place to hang their art, a place to hear and play music and a place where you were accepted no matter what clique you did or didn't belong to.
"The idea is based on trying to inspire people to care enough to create a difference in the world," the eternally idealistic Eye says. "To create community, to create culture, to give people the opportunity to see culture from all over the world. Just a real natural, basic human instinct to live life to its fullest, rather than going 'Oh, this town sucks and there's nothing going on.' Now that's what people are going to be saying again unless they're motivated to do something."
Certainly a lot of people say Tucson sucks and this will only bolster their arguments. But maybe, and it's a very iffy maybe, someone will learn from Eye's example and try to provide a place for kids to hang out, have a little fun and hear a little music. Of course, whoever that someone is will have to find a place away from the uptight yuppies who don't want anyone making less than $30,000 a year walking by their valuable property. Better make sure the kids who go there all look like they're dressed for the prom, too.
If the DPC can't survive downtown, where the hell should it be? The NIMBY mentality pervades the city--it permeates the whole country, for that matter. We don't want Mexicans crossing our border, we don't want kids walking down our streets (they're probably gang members!), we don't want the mentally ill around or homosexuals or the poor or anyone else who doesn't fit into the square hole that American pegs are traditionally put into. Political correctness is now right wing, narrow-minded isolationist bigotry and the clock is running on humanitarian ideals.
"It's my time, it seems it's up," Eye says. "I just keep getting the message that this is it."
A reminder: The DPC doesn't close for another month. They still have shows coming up, most notably Bad Brains on Friday, July 7.
LAST NOTES: The Reverend Horton Heat does that crazed rockabilly thang again at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Tuesday, July 4.
Chick Cashman, The Swingin' Cowboy, Presents A Parade Of Soft Hits is also on the bill. The Amazing Vavinco, said to be one of the worst comics of all-time, accompanies Cashman and his band playing "real sleazy, kind of rhythm and blues/tropical/Link Wray" stuff (according to Cashman).
Gila Bend, Stinky Slinky, Helldriver, The Fells and Dirt Merchants will also play Congo that night.
Tickets are $7 in advance, $9 at the door.
Photo by Brion McCarthy
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