The Commander, aka Franz Aliquo, is displeased. 33-year-old Aliquo has run the popular and well-covered StreetWars since 2005 and in eight cities without flak from the cops. He thinks Union Square is a bad omen — not for StreetWars, so much, but for City life.
“We’ve never used permits,” Aliquo told Runnin’ Scared. “Union Square was supposed to be a short, impromptu flash-mob style of action, where people come out, congregate, have a good time, and then escape, like Critical Mass or the Pillow Fight.
“But New York’s getting more anal and police-statey. As a born and raised New Yorker, I’m upset to see the City degenerate to this.”
Aliquo describes StreetWars — in which contestants comb out over the City hunting specific competitors whom they have been assigned to shoot with water guns — as “a test of the limits of public space, to see if we’re actually free to use our public spaces the way we’d like to.” He relates the Union Square “fiasco” to the recent Pandamonium event in Williamsburg, where police disassembled the street party and arrested two organizers, as another sign that things are tightening up.
Aliquo counsels that “instead of just bowing their heads and making their ways back to their rooms” when their public behaviors are proscribed, citizens should “continue to bang against it.” Joining a 3 week long, 24/7, watergun assassination tournament might qualify.
We had time for a few actual StreetWars questions: what happens when a contestant tracks and hits his target, but the target refuses to acknowledge he has been hit? That’s what cell phone cameras are for, says the Commander. “We’ve had disputes where someone has literally taken a picture of the wet spot, and that settles it. When there are no pictures, the Mustache Commander [Aliquo’s #2 man] and myself listen to both sides of the story and come to some kind of decision.” Would the decor of the dossier pickup locations, which we heard is going to be “nautical” this year, favor the maritime style of America, England, or the Far East? “It is not English,” said Aliquo, “and the Mustache Commander is from Taiwan. Draw your own conclusions.”