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NYE: Don't Break Anything 

How to have harmless Plaza fun, Arcata/Eureka New Year's events, and who's gonna drive you home

No, seriously. Stop destroying stuff. It ain't cool, k?

While there is a slew of venues with actual sanctioned New Year's Eve events occurring this Saturday, anyone who's spent any drinking holiday in Humboldt knows where the largest concentration of happy, hyphy 2011 calendar burners will gather: The Arcata Plaza.

Bar row’ll call: Sidelines, Toby and Jacks, The Alibi and Everett's will be wall-to-wall peeps on Saturday night, as is always the new year’s case. Sweaty, gyrating, inebriated bodies will be in ample supply to usher in 2012. Breathing room? Not so much. Sure, it's the closest thing Humboldt has to Times Square, but then again, you could have gone there and you chose to be here, right? Whatev. It's your call, Humboldt. Follow your heart.

But as the "hour" of the hour draws nearer, the odds of Plaza destruction -- similar to Halloween's -- increase. Round 'bouts 10 p.m. 'til -- rain or no rain -- the indoor crowds will thin, the Plaza's numbers swell and, for better or worse, the real revelry begins. Picture the end of the USO show in Apocalypse Now, but with different uniforms.

Sure, big fun. But if we may be real for a moment; I know bottles are really fun to chuck (see The Blues Brothers. So fun!), I know it seems silly to restrict fireworks to one holiday a year (right? Also, so fun!), and I know it's really fun to climb and straddle the face of the 25th President of the United States while people go "Woo!" (totally was all over it when I was younger), but this whole tradition has really run its course, folks. 'Tis played.

Elsewhere in this week's Journal you can read about the city's efforts to curtail the mayhem -- more than 30,000 totally useful dollars in damage caused by Halloween hooliganishness this year! Spoiler alert: a buzzkill fence and McKinley greasing are being considered to reduce the bedlam. But, really? No one likes a slippery president. Let's try to police ourselves, eh? If you see someone about to chuck an empty bottle of Coors Light at the statue scalers, kindly tap them on the shoulder and politely motion toward one of the Plaza's conveniently located mosaic garbage receptacles. (Yes, they should be recycling. Baby steps.)

From a guy who's been there, here's a fun New Year's Eve Plaza trick that requires no flower bed trampling. Borrow a megaphone -- that is, if you have difficulty being loud, I don't -- and at, oh, 11:56 fire that thing up and start counting down from twenty. Like clockwork, people will hear you, assume you know what you're doing and join you,  "three … two … one … Happy New Year!" There. You'll walk away from the evening with a sense of accomplishment knowing that all those fools were celebrating a few minutes early per your deviousness. See, simple joys. And the City of Arcata will thank you.

But if you’d like to steer clear of the watchful eye of Plaza Cam, Humboldt venues offer plenty of New Year’s Eve soirees for every taste. Mere blocks from the Plaza anarchy, in fact, are several shows for cool kids. We recommend going to one of these and then, if you really get that itch to see Rome burn, you can step outside round midnight. At least try to resist that urge though.

First, Jambalaya head honcho Pete Ciotti leads his always-ready Petty party Full Moon Fever for night of singable, danceable jukebox favorites. If you like joy, this is a safe bet. They will be joined by one of 2011’s most prolific local bands, The Trouble, for a night of good ol’ American rock ‘n’ roll. But when you choose your New Year's Eve party, there's always one question you have to ask: Will there be a champagne toast at midnight? In this case? Check.

Another block away from Plaza hijinks at the Arcata Theatre Lounge, two more of Humboldt’s most beloved groups of aural artisans, hard bluegrass band Absynth Quintet and tropi-rockers Ukesperience, will play you into 2012. To complement the finest of Hum-sounds, “hundreds” of balloons will be blown up and dropped on the ATL crowd at midnight. Champagne toast at midnight? You better believe it.

Across town, it’s the return of the New Year’s Eve Speakeasy. The Arcata Playhouse will be decked out to resemble a classy Prohibition-era watering hole and play host to a variety show heavy on music and hosted by in-house ball of energy Jackie Dandeneau. After an evening of songs and laughs, push back the tables and dance until the new year and beyond with The Bayou Swamis and special guests. Midnight champagne? Uh, it’s a speakeasy. You’re covered.

More big fun in Arcata: Perhaps you’d like some rhymes with your new year? Keepin’ it classy and socially conscious, Oakland hip hop duo Zion I returns to the North Coast to drop fast lyrics and heavy beats on HumBrews -- Journal reader's 2011 choice for maintainers of Humboldt’s “best dance floor.” It probably needs to be rechristened for 2012. Get to work. Oh right, midnight champagne? Sure, but c’mon! It’s HumBrews! You're allowed to toast with a beer at this one.

Moving from Arcata to Eureka but staying with the hip hop theme, the Red Fox Tavern will ring in 2012 headlined by veteran L.A. rapper Myka 9. Now a member of the Magic Heart Genies, Myka has a new album titled Gramophone set to drop in January, so expect tastes of it as well as a performances by local crew The Hip Hop Lounge. And will there be champagne at midnight? Yessir.

Speaking of 2011 Journal Best Of winners, “best club DJItchie Fingaz will be manning the tables at The Pearl on Saturday. Wanna DJ crawl? Fellow turntablists The Ninja and DJ Buddy will be across town at Nocturnum for KISS-FM’s new year’s shindig. For those keeping score, midnight champagne at both of those is a “go.”

Geez, with all that champagne listed above a-flowin’, odds are at least one or two people might have a few too many, ya think? If your desgnated driver fails to resist temptation, know that AAA and Humboldt Towing are again each offering free tow services on this Dec. 31. AAA’s Tipsy Tow program (800-AAA-HELP) and Humboldt Towing’s T.O.W.E.D. (Towing Operators Working to Eliminate Drunk Driving) program (442-4537) are available after 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., respectively, and operate until 6 the morning after in the greater Eureka, Arcata, Fortuna and McKinleyville areas. Both services make a point of specifying that the free tows are only good if you are headed home and are not for d-bags looking for rides to yet another party. The fact that they have to say it makes you assume some fool tried it. You wouldn’t do that, right?

Well, be safe on New Year’s Eve, Humboldt. Don’t destroy any property Saturday. Including yourself.

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