I miss the old Second Saturday

2013's is the lite version

The next Second Saturday is June 8.

A 50-something guy wearing khaki shorts with a tucked-in polo shirt holds a woman’s hand and ambles down 20th Street. They point and remark and breathe in the neighborhood like they’ve never seen it before. A block away, a band of elementary-school kids on church steps sing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” It’s shrill, but my girlfriend says it’s cute. Horses trot about with cops atop. Midtown’s streets gently hum. It’s Second Saturday, the first big outing of the 2013 season. Let’s call it Second Saturday lite.

I prefer the Second Saturdays of yore.

The monthly art walk used to be wild at heart. That one Sacto event each month you couldn’t miss. An evening where, just before sunset, random art peddlers and hacks, bands—many amazing, many more awful—and whoever overtook Midtown’s streets. Parking and traffic pissed off residents for a night, but who cares? It was memorable, magnetic, something that us Midtowners celebrated and the rest of Sacto couldn’t resist. Boutiques and restaurants and bars cited their biggest paydays of the month. There were more after-parties than actual parties.

No rules, no one in charge—yet it worked.

And then, there were rules.

The city established permits and regulations for Second Saturday. Possibly some were necessary, but surely theirs went too far. No more quaffing bad wine without city paperwork. City Hall also decided which bands could play and where. Plus, more cops.

All of it a red-tape bummer.

Also, businesses got greedy. The event became more about boozing and partying than creativity and passion.

Then, tragedy: Victor Hugo Perez Zavala was shot and killed on Second Saturday in September 2010.

Politicians quickly zeroed in on the monthly art walk. Business owners and the original art galleries that kicked off the event began to dismay their creation. The good times went bad.

And now, today, hello, Second Saturday lite.

Perhaps I should be grateful. It was interesting to see hundreds doing yoga in the middle of 20th Street last Saturday morning, and the evening crowd wandering my neighborhood’s streets was welcome, polite and good for business.

And no one breaks my girlfriend’s car mirror with a baseball bat following this Second Saturday.

But still—just like how I get nostalgic about the zany fun at the old Gallery Horse Cow parties, or the grid’s once-untouchable underground-music scene—I miss the old Second Saturday’s impulsive verve.