Editors Note: This ‘complete and accurate portrayal’ of the Block Party experience made its way to BUnow on April 28, 2009. This is the first article of the Block party trilogy.
This story originally ran in The Voice. Special thanks to Nick Cammarota of the Boston Free Press for helping to edit this piece. You can find some of his work at the Freep’s website.
I understand how ridiculous this assignment is. Believe me; the silliness is not lost on me. That is why I loved doing it. After months of meetings, hearings, wristbands, permits, warnings, regulations, alerts, and reminders, we finally got to enjoy the day for what it is – a party.
So here is my Block Party experience. The good and the bad, the immature and the reckless, the hilarious and the embarrassing.
I understand at times this format might be a bit confusing. Remember that throughout this process, not only was I consuming alcohol, but I was right in the thick of the Block Party events. You can only imagine what my notes looked like the next day. Whatyou see in bold represents text that has been written just as it was in the original notebook I carried with me to jot down my notes. All the times are as accurate as possible. At times, my peers will hijack the notebook and add their thoughts. So good luck and welcome to Block Party 2009.
9:15- Just like Christmas morning. Yeah, it is cliché, but that is really the only way to describe the feeling. My alarm wouldn’t go off for another 10 minutes, but my excitement wouldn’t allow me to go back to sleep. At the same time, the late Friday night I enjoyed just hours ago found me now struggling to get out of bed. It’s kind of like Christina Aguilera sang: My heart is saying lets go, but my bodies saying no no.
9:30- Hop in the shower and find an empty beer can where the shampoo should be. The similarities to Christmas morning end here.
9:35- Playing some Jimmy Buffett on my lap topto get myself mentally prepared.
9:45- Ran outside to grab something out of my car and knew instantly we were in for a special day. I’ve been at Bloomsburg for four year now and have seen maybe 12 nice days… Saturday was just gorgeous. The weather gods finally threw us a bone.
9:48- Just received word that my friends saved me a parking spot in town. The stars are aligning.
10:08- Finished packing my backpack. The contents: notebook, two pens, camera, ping-pong balls, and a last minute but crucial addition of an gold wig.
10:09- Ready to go. Decided to go with jeans and flip-flops. Questionable decision on my part. The long pants won’t gel well with the expected heat and sandals probably aren’t the safest option for Block Party. I choose to go with my “Bloomsburg Dad shirt”. It is by far the ace of my t-shirt rotation. Always good for a laugh and also a great conversation piece. At the same time, I’ve been wearing it a lot this semester and I’m worried about over using it. Still, just like in baseball, sometimes you have to use your staff ace on short rest when the games get bigger, and there is no bigger game in town than Block Party.
10:12- Declined the parking space. Who knows how the police situation is gonna be and I’m not looking to collect parking tickets or be towed. So I’ll be hoofing it from upper campus to town. Honoring our Block Party ancestors.
10:13- Already regret walking. Thinking about hitchhiking. I am clearly not at 100 percent at this point after the Friday night adventures. (Some think going out Friday night was a bad move. Conventional wisdom says to rest the day before Block Party. Me? I say practice makes perfect. You don’t want to get rusty. How many times have we seen a football team rest its starters after securing a playoff spot, only to lose after playing a sloppy game in the postseason. I’ll gladly trade a few bumps and bruises to carry some positive momentum into Block Party)
10:30- On Light Street. Made good time.
10:31- Come across some friends hanging a 20-foot beer bong. They are clearly not engineering majors as they are struggling.
10:39- Stop by Christie and Kristen’s house to beat the heat for a few minutes. They are eating eggs, which reminds me that I am starving and late for a BBQ. Time to hit the rode.
10:41- Must be a fire or something because the alarm is blaring throughout town. Either that or that sound is a warning to all Bloomsburg families that Block Party is about to start.
10:45- Arrive at baseball house, which is empty except for two guests, Tony and Jesse. Tony tells me that we were left a to-do list, which included mixing the Long Island Ice Tea. Unfortunately, Google only found directions for making a single drink, where as we wanted a butt-load (precisely four gallons). So we BS–ed it and hoped for the best.
10:55- Arrive at the first party/BBQ. Not a bad set-up. Looking at a 40-person crowd, corn hole, beer pong, two kegs and a weird country CD playing.
11:15- “I want to see biddies!”- drunk stranger entering party. There is a guy who knows what he wants in life.
11:20- Jesse tells me we will be Facebook friends by the end of the afternoon. I tell him he will be unconscious by lunch.
11:21- My first beer. I tried to wait as long as I could before getting started knowing that I’d have to pace myself to make it through this entire journal. Those good intentions didn’t last too long.
11:22- First vomit. No, not me. Some guy just lost control in or around my backpack.
11:28- Erik Woll gives me a man hug and asks me to put his name in the paper. There you go big guy.
11:30- Jason Vonanda begins to prepare the hamburgers. As he works with the beef, someone shouts out, “Von, I don’t want anyone’s hands handling my meat but yours.” That’s the most romantic thing I’ll hear all day.
11:40- Throughout the day, I will be profiling “Block Partyheroes.” These are men and women who I’ll come across throughout the day who have a story or experience that truly captures what this day is all about. The first Block Party hero I found was Adam. Adam will turn 21 in two weeks, and has managed to survive his entire college career without receiving an underage violation. Now, he could keep a low profile, stay inside, maybe call it an early night and stay safe. No one could really blame the kid. Not Adam though, he was in the backyard living the dream. He really became an inspiration for the entire day. It is kind of like in Home Alone when Kevin gathers the courage to go outside and confront the creepy on man. “Hey BU Police, I’m not afraid anymore! You here that? I’m not afraid!”
11:45- And now we have our first “Block Party villain.” A buddy’s dad is a state trooper and has been called in to monitor Block Party. He just sent a text informing our friend that if he spots him in town, he will give him a public drunkenness without hesitation.
11:54- Five-straight wins in flip-cup without a single blemish on my record. I am going to retire right now. Leave on top. That is called sending a message
11:59- A stranger just informs me that the “snozz-berries taste like snozz-berries”. Something tells me that he could easily tell me what the keg’s contents taste like too.
Noon- Austin Launikonis compares Block Party to Christmas, only Grandmom isn’t drunk. I have no clue what to make of that, but we are officially back to Christmas references.
12:01- We have another “Block Party hero.” My friend Joanna Schmolk has been enjoying some adult beverages all morning in spite of the fact that she has to sing at a church at 3 p.m. Her family will be attending the performance. WWJD? Well he did turn water into wine, so my gut tells me he would respect this decision.
12:10- I came out of flip-cup retirement. I lost. Terrible choice.
12:15- Just experienced “Dizzy Bat” for the first time. For those unfamiliar with the game, you take a wiffleball bat, fill it with beer, drink out of it, and then spin around 10 times before trying to hit a ball thrown by the pitcher. On the first pitch I took a pretty embarrassing tumble before the ball even arrived. I looked like John Kruk facing Randy Johnson in the 1993 All-Star Game. However, with two strikes on me I choked up and put the ball in play. Like Matt Stairs, I am a professional hitter.
12:16- Something tells me I might be having a bit too much fun at this point. My notes are getting sloppier and someone just told me “You are Block Party!” as I attempt to climb a hill still dizzy from my at-bat. One of the top rules in journalism however is to never become the story, and I don’t want to lose all of my journalistic integrity today (coming from the guy drinking out of a wiffleball bat and wearing an gold clown wig.) Anyway, I should probably slow down.
12:34- I just sent a successful text message. Scratch that last entry. Clearly I am not drunk enough yet. I’m back in the game!
12:45- For those keeping score at home, I was just asked for the 400th time “what is with that notebook you are carrying around.” I’ve just started telling people it’s my Block Party yearbook and asking them if they want to sign it.
12:50- Some of these entries simply deserve to be written just as they appeared in their original form. This is one of them. Von burger? Von dog! All the same at this point fellas! This gives me an idea. Now that Husky Chow is no longer around, The Voice should run a new feature based around a drunk food critic. Who would be more honest than a hammered college student? You wouldn’t look forward to reading that every week?
1:05- Just a terrible performance in beer pong. Even the BU basketball team would be disappointment by my shooting percentage. To be fair, the wind was a big factor. As Sidney Rice explained in White Men Can’t Jump, “This is outdoor ball. It’s different than your country club crap. When you shoot, you adjust for the wind. Out at the beach, the wind can push the ball To inches. You wouldn’t know about that.“ I should have known better.
1:13- If I could go back and change one thing, I would have worn a belt. If I could change two things, I would have bought a voice recorder because my handwriting is almost unrecognizable and we are only five hours in.
1:15- Again, this should run in its original form: coke issue. ALL RUM!! Apparently I finished the rum and coke that I was carrying in my flask and asked Tony and Jesse to go back home and refill it. Only problem was we ran out of coke (soda), so the flask now held only rum. I’m not sure by this entry if I was upset or excited by this prospect.
1:16– This represents the first time my notebook was hijacked. Here is what the guest writer had to say. Orange haired man (me) asked girl in black dress on a date, she said OK. Next to that sentence, I wrote success!! and then proceeded to list the places we would go for our date (pizza hut. Ruby tues. Appleees!) but neglected to write down her number or last name. So Christine, if you are still up for a magical evening on route 11, let me know.
1:23- For those outsiders who may be reading this, my next entry should be a reminder that you shouldn’t rush to judge us Bloomsburg students. When you least expect it we can really surprise you. Take Block Party for example. We know the reputation. Drunk idiots peeing and fighting all over the place. But at 1:23, let the record show that several of my colleagues sat down to discuss the psychological elements of ABC’s Lost. Through intense debate, we agreed that Hurley represented the Ego where as the ID and Super Ego could be interpreted in different ways. Also it became clear through discussion that… wait. One second…
1:26- Keg Kicked.
1:30- That Jack represents a clear Christ-like figure. I could fill you in on this talk for hours, or you could just join Eric Woll and Jared Vivaqua in our now weekly Lost discussion group.
1:50- Andrew Wakelee arrives and takes over the notebook for a few minutes. His best report? 2:01- Joe is walking around with his wig inside his pants.
2:13- So the gang has somehow made our way to the Bloomsburg baseball game. I ran into Rebecca Hall, The Voice’s new managing editor. I stammered and slurred just long enough to create some real doubt in her mind that I could handle being Editor-in-chief next Fall. Nothing inspires confidence in a staff like witnessing their captain struggle to stand upright.
2:14- Another original entry: 10-3 bad guys, Winds are NE at 17 mph, number of laughs from condescending adults = four.
2:19- Thank God I was sober enough to truly appreciate the following moment. Just days after writing an April Fools story insinuating that President Soltz’s brother is the Heat Miser, I bump into President Soltz while wearing a flaming wig that makes me look like the heat miser. Unfortunately, I was sober enough not to take full advantage of this hilarious opportunity.
2:45- A defining moment in my heckling career. After a terrible call on a double play that ended Bloomsburg’s threat in the 6th, I shouted, “It looks like the umpires want to leave early and go to Block Party too!” The plate ump then turns, glares at me, and snaps, “Yeah, we do.” He is either terrible at comebacks or very honest.
2:50- At this point we are worried that I might attract some unwanted attention through my loud mouth and annoying antics. Rebecca texts to warn us that a cop was driving towards us on a moped. I question where the cops got a moped from before reasoning that they paid for it with my parking tickets. I then proceeded to yell that since I paid for the moped, I should get a free ride. That is my thought process at this time
2:51- It is so damnhot, Rum was a poor choice.
3:40- Original: Tony Reporting in… I LOST JOE!!!
4:10- I’m back, and I found another “Block Party hero.” The location is now East Third Street and I ran into a guy named Kyle. Kyle is visiting from Penn State and in his words, “saved a girls life.” As the story goes, the girl had a broken leg and he found her struggling to climb Spruce Street on crutches. So Kyle threw the girl over his shoulders and carried her safely up the mountain. A witness described the event to be like when Samwise Gamgee carried Frodo to Mt. Doom. Very touching and very nerdy.
4:11- Suddenly, I feel like being a real journalist again. I start to interview people.. Penn State Kyle says that Block Party is amazing and that it is “much better than Blue and White.” Good for us!
4:26- Now I am interviewing a girl named Sam. Either she couldn’t piece sentences together or my brain ceased having the ability to take notes. Here, once again, is the original entry. Sam- “Awesome. People in grade who perfect time to blow off steam before finals.”
4:41- Our hero Kyle once again steps in to save the day by warning me never to pet the police horses. “That is how they know if you are drunk. The minute you reach out to touch that horse, they snap the cuffs on you. It is a sick trap!”
4:45- I pet a horse and lived to tell about it. Shhh, don’t tell Kyle.
4:53- The crowd simply loves the band right now and “Don’t Stop Believing” has the students going wild. Very corny and cliché, but this was an awesome moment to be a part of. Again, Block Party carries a terrible reputation, but watching hundreds of your classmates and peers shoulder-to-shoulder singing together with huge smiles on their face on a beautiful day makes you realize why the day is so special to begin with.
5:00- And sure enough, we have a fight break out. The rest of the students reacted perfectly to these two morons, shoving them out of the area while chanting exactly what those guys were (it rhymes with smasshole). The band’s lead singer really rose to the occasion too. “ Alight guys, how about you just leave, walk around the corner and you can compare penises in private.” Well played.
5:14- Dan Musser- “Block Party ‘09, greatest Block Party ever!” I’m going to stop interviewing people right now, because I’m kind of sure Dan summed up everyone else’s thoughts at this point.
5:15- Tony just went up to a girl and told her he liked her outfit. She stared at him and walked away. I’m going to name her a Block Party villain.
5:20- We finally have a goat sighting. I came across this goat last year and it blew my mind, but only no body believed me when I came home to tell the story. Everyone just assumed I had too much to drink and mistook a dog for a farm animal or something. I felt like Randy Quaid’s character in Independence Day. I knew what I saw, but everyone else just said I was crazy. This year I am finally justified. The goat’s name is stinky. This was his 8th straight block party (he is going for his doctorate). His owner’s name is Tower. Send your apologies to firstname.lastname@example.org .
5:25- Ventured into the porta-potty for the first time. Not as bad as I expected. Still, not planning on making a return trip anytime soon.
5:29- A moron just smashed a bottle at a police officer’s feet. Go home. There is no place for you at our Block Party.
5:30- “A little piece of advice. If you are going to wear a dress, don’t stand on the roof. We can see everything”. That little nugget was delivered by the band’s lead singer. My father told me the same thing the day I left for college.
5:45- I know I promised to stop grabbing interviews, but there is a guy walking around sporting a flashy suit and double fisting beers. I asked him about the reasoning behind his outfit. He told me that he is wearing the suit because he has “43,000 myspace hits for being awesome.” He also told me his name was Trent Steele, who I am 97% sure was a character from the Simpson’s episode when Homer changed his name to Max Powers. No more interviews. I promise.
6:00- Just bought a grilled-cheese sandwich from an adorable little girl on the way home. Awesome idea. Good for her.
6:13- Safely back home. Going through my text messages and missed calls and don’t recognize a single number. I’m not even sure if this is my phone.
6:28- The glorious return of Jesse! We have no clue where he has been for the last four hours, but he just barged through the front door shirt-less and off-balance. I assure all the girls that he is harmless. My friend Tali responds, “harmless or homeless?”
6:44- A commotion is coming from out front so I run to check out the scene. Apparently, someone next door was shutout in beer pong and is now running around the outside of the house naked. Great to see that some people still respect the game and follow the rules. Terrible to see that guy naked. On Block Party, you take the good with the bad.
6:46- My buddy Ward comes home from the baseball game and is clearly in a bad mood. The team didn’t fare so well against West Chester and I can sense some visible tension between him and me. Not sure if he is mad that they lost, or that we were all enjoying Block Party while they had to play ball. Either way, I’m taking a walk.
7:06- Ward cracks his first beer. All is right with the world.
7:47- Haven’t updated in a while. We’ve been in a series of intense negotiations involving our plans tonight. Everything is up for debate. How much beer? What kind of beer? Cups? Mixers? Food? Discussions with North Korea are more constructive then this.
7:48- Original- “Let’s go meet some long ladies.”If anyone knows what I meant by that, give me a heads up.
8:00- Warning. Things are going to get pretty crazy from now on. We are within an hour of the great Joe Arleth blackout. I’ve been sent on a quest to Uni-mart with Tony to buy some orange juice for Lunch Boxes (Beer + Amaretto + Orange Juice = Crazy Delicious). We’ve become sidetracked, and are now partying on light street.
8:15- Inside my friend Ben’s house, we meet up with Tony’s cousin. He insists that we help him finish a bottle of Vladdy before we leave. This is the beginning of the end.
8:16- Mid-shot, my friend Joanna pants (shanks, caddy shacks, etc) me. My pants come completely down. Two hours ago, I would have been very embarrassed.
8:30- The police have arrived on the scene and everyone is confused. The party was relatively calm, but we now have 18 police officers surrounding the lawn. We are forced onto the porch. Ben comes outside and tried to talk to the cops. Now, I first want to commend the police on the fantastic job they did all day keeping everyone safe. With that being said, this incident wasn’t handled very well. Ben asks the guy who appeared to be in charge if he “had the right to be on his lawn until 10 p.m.” The officer replied, “Son, there are a lot of things within your rights but what is reality right now?” Ben was respectfully asking a question and the response he received was ignorant. A lesser man may have caused a scene. Ben thought twice and responded, “So can I ride one of the horses?” Block Party Hero.
8:52- The party goers break out into song, serenading the police with a drunken rendition of “I love college.” The police look very uncomfortable right now. I’d say it’s a combination of having 50 people rapping in their direction, and the ridiculous looking shorts they wear as part of the uniform. Between those shorts and the goofy bike helmets, it is really sometimes hard to take them seriously. I think 95% of the Block Party problems could be addressed if the Police just went on “What not to wear.”
8:55- Hi-jacked notebook original- Joe has hat hair from wearing a foolish wig all day
9:00- Black Out.
9:01- I am told that from this point on, I returned to the baseball house and proceeded to sit cross-legged on the floor making Lunch Boxes for all in attendance. I also repeatedly slammed my head on a table after Brad Lidge blew a save. I stopped recognizing old friends and lost my backpack. This hour represents the turning point in the night. I will either be left behind and sent to bed, or will pull myself together and carry on.
10:22- original- Wakelee takes control over log writing. Joe is rendered incoherent from too much sun, alcohol and wig exposure. He had banged his head on the table 3 times. I am concerned for his health, but also for his fun.
10:32- original- Flask Confiscated by Wakelee
Like Samson’s hair, once my flask is gone I lose all my powers. So the journal ended here. The night raged on for hours though. Remember this is Block Party we are talking about!
The gang eventually reached the bars where the rest of the town had already started to continue the party. There was crazy dancing, friends buying each other drinks, and fond Block Party memories being shared. And then there was me, cut off from beer and sitting in the corner. Good times!
Around 5 a.m. things finally settled down. One friend finally gave up calling escort services and retreated to bed. Thankfully, someone wisely took my phone away so I’d stop texting every girl I know. The night was over and so was Block Party.
Sunday 9:15 am- Mike Griggs- “Someone pooped on my floor…”.
Until next year. Happy Block Party