He gazed out over his peck of bricks, neatly stacked in piles of varying heights like a small industrial-age factory, and mournfully repeated the word that proved his undoing: Adobe. Adobe. Adobe.
No one, it seemed, wanted his English brickwork in the burgeoning Southwest, preferring the more established form of masonry in the region. Having sunk all his money into the venture, he lost big. So, he did what any sane man would do in the same situation — he headed for a saloon and commenced to get lit. He walked in and sat down, pathetically clutching one of his beloved clay bricks to his chest like a parson holding the Good Book. He set the brick down on the bar and ordered a drink. (If jukeboxes had been around, he wouldsup1ve no doubt programmed “All by Myself.”)
“Well there partner,” said the jovial bartender, “what chew got that brick for?”
Fairweather took in a deep breath, slowly lowered his glass, and said, “It’s Brickday, fuckface.”
Thus began the Brickday holiday, a tradition that has lived on in the lives of many, but most notably in the lives of the East Bay band the Gazillions. Every year on the 15th of October they and their posse call in sick to work and show up at a bar with a brick and a dream — the same dream Ezekiel Fairweather proffered two centuries ago: Death to adobe and other nonbrick building materials. The band celebrates the day ina song that rounds up the uninitiated and spreads good brick cheer to the inebriated. I spoke with Jason Smith, Gazillion guy and KALX layabout, who told me that the holiday was in serious danger of extinction before the band took it upon themselves to keep the fire burning. “The Gazillions have actually broken up,” says Smith, “but I think that the holiday should live on. I plan to celebrate Brickday forever! I’d love the see the holiday become bicoastal, and maybe even international — I mean, it’s a holiday that encourages two things people love to do the most: 1) play hooky from work; and 2) drink excessively. Frankly, I’m surprised that it hasn’t caught on more than it already has.”
I decided to go to this year’s Brickday at the Stork Club, and fourteen Budweisers later I was glad I did. We played the Brickday drinking game — which is suspiciously like “I Never” (the game where you go around the table saying stuff like “I never been skiing,” and them that has must drink) — but with the beer bottle perched on top of a brick. We handed out pepperoni to the winners. Readers will be happy to know that the statement “I’ve never had sex with an animal” didn’t elicit one single swig from any of us.
But zoophilia aside, why is Brickday so damn sexy? “Is there anything sexier,” says Smith, “than watching dozens of your friends (and recent acquaintances) get a twelve-hour drink on? … I’m at a loss.” True dat. True dat. “Don’t you think we need more national drinking days?” he asks. “And I’m not talking about holidays that drive you to drink (Christmas), or those holidays that are used as thinly veiled excuses to drink (Cinco de Mayo, St. Paddy’s Day). I’m talking about a holiday that clearly admits its mission statement — that you are meant to drink all day.“
“Has Brickday ever been rocked with violence?”
“Hmmm…” he muses, “interesting question. I guess you’d think with all the excessive drinking and bricks readily available that there would be more violence. But I don’t believe there has ever been a single incidence of violence at Brickday. At risk of making the day sound like some hippie holiday, I’d have to say I can’t remember there ever being anything but love in the room when Brickday’s being celebrated.” That certainly seemed true this year, with Stork Club owners Wes and Micky Chittock keeping the booze flowing at a discounted rate and the jukebox programmed with Prince songs. Later on fellow revelers and bandmembers from Blanche Devereaux (named for that slutbag from the Golden Girls) took to the stage in a stripped-down Billy Childish meets Billy Barty thing. Perhaps their best song, “Bootyshine,” was an excellent way to round out the evening, segueing into an impromptu karaoke jam session.
As I sat sunk into a booth, beer-soaked dribble glistening on my chin, I was reminded of Ezekiel Fairweather’s words: “It’s Brickday, fuckface.” Damn straight. Damn straight indeed.
—Katy St. Clair