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the Sunset Junction Fair

I was away for a few days, but this morning I walked in the streets where the Sunset Junction Fair usually takes place, and of course they were completely normal, no preparation in sight, no closed down streets, no barricades, no stages and booths being setting up, just your regular Friday morning busy Sunset boulevard…. This made me sad.

The last weekend of August has always been full of excitement for the last 10 years for me, it has been the hot spot of the summer, with a sweaty crowd, melting under the torrid late August sun, and the strange and eclectic sea of people, hipster mini-skirt-high-heel-boots girls, show-their-tattoos-hot-body gays, Mexican families, punks and gothics, Divine-beehive-drag-queens,… all eating at the rows of BBQ meats and sausages, all drinking an out-of control amount of beers.

But there will be none of that this year, many refugee bands have found a way to perform in small venues all around Silver Lake and Echo Park, but it is obviously not the same thing.

I even like the overwhelming heat rising from the asphalt during the fair, the smell of the funnel cakes mixed with coconut sunscreen, the free stuff and the food samples that have allowed me to survive without missing an act. I have never care if my t-shirt was wet from walking up and down on Sunset and Santa Monica from stage to stage all day long, and from being crushed against the pit barricade by an alcohol-fueled crowd.

And the music I have seen there? It’s too difficult to remember all the acts, but there were Elliott Smith (my first time), Sonic Youth, Sleater-Kinney, Guided By Voices, Circle Jerks, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Dandy Warhols, Rilo Kiley, X, Camper Van Beethoven, John Cale, The New York Dolls, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Eels, Redd Kross, Blonde Redhead, Buzzcocks, Cold War Kids, Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band, Built To Spill, Bad Brains, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Mayer Hawthorne & The County, and so many other ones.

It really grew over the years, it grew too big may be? But there is something I don't understand, the ticket price, which was a donation years ago, became mandatory and went up and up and the fest could still not pay its debts? I still think $25 is a deal for the amount of acts you can see in a day, but this is not the point, it was crowded out there last year, organizers said it drew 200,000 attendees, so do the multiplication yourself! Plus having a booth at the fair is not cheap, up to $1,300 for a food booth, and there were tons of them last year,… and I am not even talking about the alcohol…. so why didn’t they have enough money to pay what they owned to the city? They made a huge amount of money,… where did it go?
Organizer Michael McKinley has always said that the Sunset Junction Neighborhood Alliance, the non-profit organization that runs the event, supports community beautification and programs that benefit at-risk youth, but Silver Lake residents are skeptical as they don't see where the money goes.
In the Sunset Junction Fair official statement, they said that McKinley had got a loan from Live Nation, but the money were not deposited in time,… why didn’t he ask earlier as he very certainly knew about the situation? Why did he wait for the last minute to request that city permit?

I want the Sunset Junction Fair back next year, in any shape or form, smaller, bigger, no matter what, but I want it back. I can’t be the end of it! So pay your debt, hire new people, do something! Because I really miss my messy-sweaty-musical adventure this year.

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