I’m going to take it by his blog-post that the Madisonian most closely associated with the Mifflin Street Block Party won’t be there tomorrow. Hizzoner da Mare suggests 17 things to do on the first Saturday of May, and not one of them mentions Mifflin Street or the party in any way.
One could easily take the impression that Paul Soglin is not a fan of the beer blast, in what it’s morphed into. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I was NOT - I say again NOT - at the very first Mifflin Street Block Party in 1969.
I’ve been to a few of them in the past couple decades, in connection with my former obligations as a news anchor to “get out into the community”. But my kids took over that task when they enrolled at the UW. The most exciting thing I have planned for tomorrow is a haircut.
I’ve come to be more annoyed than anything else by the party, which for twenty years on the air in Madison I referred to as “The Mifflin Street Beer Blast”. It’s now just a big drunk, which costs somewhere between 50 and 75 grand in police overtime.
My kids can’t possibly understand what the block party meant back in ‘69. They understand their county is at war, just like we were back then, and that it’s a “bad” war, just like it was back then, but my kids have very, very few high school or college classmates that are actually fighting the war.
Just a few months after the ‘69 Mifflin Street Block Party, on the first of December, I was with a whole bunch of college pals watching a politician draw numbers out of barrel in the first draft lottery. One of the young men with me was born on September 14th, the very first birthdate drawn. About a year and a half later, he was dead, killed in VietNam.
My kids can’t possibly imagine how important music was to us back then, even though it’s a big part of their daily lives in 2009. Hopefully, they’ll never have the feeling we had in ‘67 when that famous Buffalo Springfield song played on the juke box or radio. Now, the songs and bands we cherished in the 60's are reduced to video games on Rock Band.
The young folks who’ll overindulge downtown tomorrow can’t possibly know why the Mifflin Street Block Party was so significant to folks my age, and maybe that’s a good thing. I hope they never have to pay the price so many of my friends did back then.
So party hearty; blow off steam; listen to music; have fun; and pay your own bail. But don’t pretend you know anything about what that first Block Party was all about.