The Olympia Downtown Association is extorti—wait, sorry—legally insisting that every Oly business pay them $200 a year. Over 50 businesses got sent to collections last week, with the ODA fee increased to $300. Alex, the owner of Rec the Place, a small record store, had about half the "compulsory gentrification fee"—he claims that the ODA's main goal is harassing the Oly homeless—and he figured "I might as well throw a party to earn the rest."

And so: Five bucks gets you all the organic beer you want, as well as hot dogs and hamburgers (the vegetarian or carnivore variety) served up in the year's first barbecue. It's a noble scene: the knit-capped grillers huddled around the coals for warmth before heading downstairs to see one of the four musical acts.

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The first band we catch, Bill Skins Fifth Will Punch You Right in the Face—a keyboard-based punk trio featuring a photo of Ricardo Montalban as Khan—is a lot of fun, bouncing from one song to the next with a merry, anarchic feel. The next act, New Mustache, is a couple of white guys who perform hiphop, pausing to consult XXL magazine to learn how to pose gangsta. They dress up like druids and rap about their spirituality ("We're like when Rambo and Gandhi collide.") Everything is laid-back and it's easy to forget about messy things like ridiculous municipal fees. March is a little early for it, but the first block party of 2006 has been launched: bravely, successfully, and for a good cause. Where's my beer?

Want The Stranger to overhear how "My kids don't like to listen to Iron Maiden" at your house party? E-mail the date, place, time, and party details to