For the longest time I viewed the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) as this scary, faceless bureaucracy gone horribly awry. It was everything government should never be—an intimidating force with unchecked power—and it seemed that its power spilled over into countless other elements of my day-to-day life. While I'll never understand why I am forbidden from purchasing vodka at my local Safeway, the real tragedy has been watching all-age venues close their doors due to lack of bar revenue, or the hassle of having underage writers for this paper unable to attend the concerts they've previewed due to unfair age restrictions.
A lot of this changed for me when I came face to face—okay, not really face to face; I was sitting quietly in the back of the audience, my drink hidden beneath my seat, for fear of it being nabbed by the OLCC's sticky-fingered agents—with the organization itself at our Mercury-sponsored Debate Club event in late October. The members of the OLCC who took the time to speak about the commission, and the possibility of amending their regulations on music venues and age restrictions, were downright normal. They weren't booze-hating puritans, or Anton Chigurh with a cattlegun waiting outside my door, or even the soulless monsters I always made them out to be. They were responsible people, the kind who, if presented with the facts, could change their regulations, and in turn give our local music and artistic communities (not to mention the local economy) a welcome shot in the arm.
If that is to ever happen, it will be the day this paper hits the streets (Thursday, December 13), when the OLCC is prepared to vote on the regulation to allow for venues to accept all-age patrons, provided they can guarantee these music fans don't drink, and that they are kept away from the hazily defined "drinking area." It sounds simple enough, but it's far from a done deal. This movement needs warm bodies at the vote—local musicians, venue bookers, service industry employees, and just plain old fans of our vibrant live music community. You are all welcome to attend. There won't be time for Peter Finch-esque "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" speeches, but your presence and support in the flesh will be seen and felt by the voting members of the committee.
If you have ever feared that our local music scene is little more than a selfish means to an end, or a disconnected assembly of similar-minded artists who never make the effort to join together, then now is the time to act. The wake of this vote will be felt for years to come by a future generation of music fans and participants, whose level of contributions and involvement hinge on the results of today's meeting. Do what is right, Portland.
The OLCC vote on "OAR 845-006-0340 Minor Postings" will take place Thursday, December 13, at around 9 am, at the OLCC Headquarters (9079 SE McLoughlin). The event is open to the public, and a caravan of carpoolers will depart the Musicians' Union (325 NE 20th) at 8:30 am.