Friday, August 18, 2006

...found Lotus enshrined in Joe's van, spiritual eastern music playing loudly. The windows were all blocked off. He'd been in there for two days with little to eat, and, seeing the van, I was slightly concerned that he had somehow or other completely lost his mind. Of course not, though. The music cut off quickly as I approached the van, and I knocked on the door. He let me in and I saw that he'd totally "revamped" the van's interior with blankets and empty vegetable cans.

"Sorry," a sentence which he began and then interrupted with an amusing nervous laugh, "I thought you were the cops." He explained to me that a ranger told him he was not allowed to sleep there overnight, and so he'd in-turn blocked off all of the windows and had slept or read all night. He was still kind of whimpering over his wound from my combat knife. (A day earlier, we'd decided to cut up a watermelon and eat it before we went up the mountain. My knife being the only one we had, I started to cut it, but Lotus interrupted; "Please, let me do it, I'm a trained cook, you'll hurt yourselves." Indignance from condescension turned to an air of pitiful hilarity when the knife slipped after just a few slices and gashed open his hand.)

It was still early in the day, perhaps about 10AM, and so we were there for several hours until early evening when they returned from the mountain. In the mean time, we'd managed to watch two of the worst films ever as well as play a few minutes of GTA: San Andreas. Joe, John, and Yoav returned, Yoav carrying my pack. (I'd left it up there on the "DELICATE TUNDRA ECOSYSTEM - PLEASE STAY ON THE PATH" hidden under some rock a few hundred feet from the path, where we'd huddled together the night before to make a gulash of sorts and camp overnight in defiance of the biggest rules in Rockie Mountain National Park.) As soon as they'd returned, we loaded into the van and proceeded down off the mountain and back to Boulder/Denver. That night or the next - I don't remember, really - we spent the night at Cameron's.

Isaac, the young cigarette-smoking anarchist from an appartment down the way from Cameron's. Cameron, the guy I met through the CrimethInc. forums that invited me to stay at his place. Yoav, the Kibbutzim-raised socialist travelling abroad. I also forgot to mention that Emma and April had both left before we rode to the mountain, perhaps the day before. There's also a great story about me and Yoav, a foreign national, being disarmed in a Wal-Mart parking lot. The morning after we left the mountain (before we'd gone to Camerons', then), me and Yoav had both awoke early and decided to, after buying some cinnamon rolls at the store, go to the corner and fly a sign, "NEED GAS". We got a few dollars, but shortly a cop identified us from across the street, and sounded his horn to draw attention to him. I put down the sign and he pulled up along-side us. At first, he was extraordinarily friendly, and it appeared as though he was going to help us with money or gas, and I do suspect he would have had it not been for slight absent-mindedness on the part of Yoav and I.

"Woah, stay back!" The cop had noticed Yoav's (relatively small) knife on his belt, and began the process of disarming and identifying him - an indispensible safety precaution for a member of an institution so uniformly and violently hated - when he notice my knife. "Jesus Christ! Sit down!" I sat down and put my hands out in front of me, trying to comfort the clearly young and inexperienced cop. To Yoav he said, "Yeah! Just like that guy's doing! Hands in front of you.." Another cop pulled up, whether on a call or the beat it was hard to discern. We stood up, hands behind our back, one cop holds us while the other slides the knife out of the sheath and hands it away back to the second cop. He'd said, "What the hell do you need that big-ass knife for?" The only thing I could think of was the truth, so I just told him I was wearing my knife - we both were - because we had just been up camping in the mountains. The cop was a little frustrated than his benevolence had been side-swiped by a combination of his own (not entirely invalid) paranoia and the fact of Yoav n' I carrying weapons. They patted us down and took most of the rest of the stuff out of our pockets. The cop was really angry when he opened Yoav's wallet and found hundreds of dollars. "Why don't you buy gas with this!?" I tried explaining that he's merely riding with us for a short time, and that that money is for more urgent personal needs as he travels around and he's not obligated to do us any favors, and though the cop understood he was still angry, probably feeling tricked. They gave us our stuff back (and it's an absurdly illegal knife!) and we woke up John, Joe, and Lotus and took off, to fly signs for most of the rest of the morning and find food and fun (and beer, apparently) in the evening.

We were on our way - after a stay at Camerons' and a brief get-together with his friend Hillary and his girlfriend, whose name I forget - to the Rainbow Gathering, hoho!

Left: Cameron and his girlfriend in his appartment.

Leaving the mountains was really amazing, but I wasn't able to take a photograph of it. The vans wound around the mountains hugging the interstates' asphault, and the rain was pouring down, the sun shining, cliffs and peaks on either side, cars on the opposite side of the road throwing up huge mists to sparkle in the sunlight, among the raindrops. It was just REALLY AMAZING DUDES Z0MG.


This was very interesting and I'm glad I held no expectations about the nature of the Gathering, what I'd read about on their website. Incidentally, I'd never until writing this post bothered to look at the Wikipedia entry. *rubs chin methodically* The expectations I did have, were implanted in me by April and Lotus, both of which had been to many previous Gatherings and both of which held the Family very high in their hearts. I was warned that, for appearing to be a cop, I would be dosed (given LSD, for people like me who never would have suspected what the hell that meant) and duct-taped to a tree. Incidentally, no one at the Gathering ever even remotely implied that I was or could imaginably be a cop, and no one treated me differently than they did anyone else. Other than a vague fear of mobbish authoritarianism, I had no real idea of what to expect, and it was just as well because I don't think I could have expected the eclectic yet, inexplicably, near-homogenous mass of people. They were the kind of people who I'd been attracted to at first, repeatedly, periodically, throughout my life; and then repulsed after "getting to know" them. For some brief intermediate period, I'd teeter on the edge of friendship, "open-minded" enough to explore their positions, and then slide back after seeing irreconcilable differences of theory (of any number of things) and approach to life. These people are, for me, initially and superficially platonically attractive because they are different, because they are sure and steadfast and proud. They are consistently rejected as friends, much less comrades, because I always find this kind of person - whosoever falls into this category I've set here - to be fundamentally repulsive to real goodness and actual societal change. Not just "hippies", but individuals ranging the whole gamut of pre-conceived categories. None-the-less, I got on and had several interesting conversations, and many frustrating and idiotic ones (many involving science, religion, and anarchism.) It's hard for me to recount the days, but I do have several journal entries from that time which will (again, at some foggy, mysterious future point) allow me to attempt to fill in the gaps of my memory. The journal itself is clouded with "I think"s and "probably"s, but it should at least help. Here, though, is my best account of that approximately week-long period between the end of June and the beginning of July.

"If you surround me, I WILL shoot you."

Bacon was prolific. The state had turned Routt National Forest into a veritable sty. Okay, so that's an exaggeration. Certainly there was many fewer cops there than there usually are at National Gatherings. Still, it was interesting observing and participating in the dynamics between un-witting anarchists ("Anarchy can never work!" proclaims the hippy at a decentralized and directly-democratic 'gathering' of no less than 20,000 people in the middle of a forest...) and witting police officers ("We should just arrest all these fuckers", from a smug cop...). At first the police were confused and probably more than a little scared, fuelling already inherently reactionary measures. As they learned about the kind of people they were dealing with - "WE LOOOOOOOVE YOUUU!" - they started to relax, putting away the tasers and truncheons and spending more and more time milling about the camps, enjoying the free food and flashing peace signs instead of firearms. This was largely due to the overwhelmingly, glaringly obvious contradiction between their actions and the supremely relaxed, peaceful context of the Gathering. They came in once or twice a day down "Main Trail", on horseback or foot or some combination, and would go into camps taking photographs of hippies (many of whom are also social activists in their communities) and handing out tickets for posession, exposure, etc. (Everyones' favorite, of course, is the ever-present "Illegal Gathering", apparently a real crime and a very difficult one to repress.) At some point, apparently early in the Gathering before me and the crew had arrived, cops needlessly blocking a trail into the Gathering were ran off by a throng of hyper-patriotic, peaceful, chanting idiots. Err, hippies. Err, Rainbow Family. At some point a cop got hit with a rock (can you imagine!? a rock! the only thing worse than that would be ... fully automatic rifles, perhaps like what Nebraska state troopers tote around, or what the cops and Forest Service had for themselves!) and this triggered outrage, somewhere, probably, or something. But they came in the next day crying and asked us to please help them find a bandaid. When some Family told them perhaps maybe they shouldn't march around the Gathering with shotguns and assault rifles, they started foaming at the mouth and beating people. Well no, this is a lie. They came in the next day or a few days later and marched to the valley to arrest whoever they decided threw the fateful rock (I think the cop got hit on the shoulder or something). The Family heard about this and the decision was made to form "Main Circle", an impressively large ring of people out in the valley, with the intent of protecting the cops' targets from ticketing or arrest. I was not there to see that, as I was busy building a bridge with the all-topless, self-appointed "Beaver Bridge-Building Crew", but I did hear about it - ("Siix-uuuuuup!!!!!") - and ran to get my camera and photograph as many cops as I could in case evidence was necessitated for some irritating and protracted court-case over police violence and civil disobedience. It was around this time that, walking along side a group of two or three police officers with an apparent hippy guide, the very nice officer above told me that if I - all one of me - surround him, he'd shoot me. There was also hear-say of cops brutalizing a Krishnan monk for no apparent reason, as well as other various heard-though-not-seen (by me) instances of police brutality. BUT ENOUGH OF COPS.

I waited at Oz camp for several hours, missing a wedding I'd been invited to, in order to have a slice of pizza, which was the best slice of pizza I'd ever had in my entire life. I was offered pot and acid (declining both of course - I'm quite pleased with the way my brain works, and please, I'm sorry, I was only born with two eyes). I marched around and slept alot and listened to some really great music every night around campfire. I had several frustrating discussions, as I've already mentioned, about topics that most everyone excepting me in the discussion knew almost nothing of - "anarchy is chaos", "science has nothing to do with the real world", etc. I was even made-out with by a recently-"saved" Christian whom which I was not at all attracted to. Blegh. I finally managed to get her to leave me alone by a combination of avoidance and aggressive, frank argumentatry. That's all that is particularly relevant about the rainbow gathering. Its' essence was camping in the woods, hunting for free food, and enduring the absurdly stupid and confused ideas of others. The Christian camp "Bread of Life" had the best toilet, complete with tarpaulin walls and a wooden seat, hoHO!

Nothing more can be said about my experience at the National Rainbow Gathering which would provide any further insight, except perhaps that marijuana and acid were ubiquotous, and that I plan on going to next years' national to see new and different things once more...

In other news, personal highs and lows of the past week end in a gleeful yet sober stance on the next period of my life.

"No matter where [you] go or what [you] do I know [you] will do good things [for] those around [you]. I believe that David. You already have. [You] don't understand how much others love [you]. How drawn to [you] others are. Truly." - teh momz, Kayla sitting next me nudging me with her elbow as I read it aloud from my cell phone's screen, expressionless. Later, me and Kayla went for a walk, and we kissed. As I suspected, kissing is quite nice - really, incredible - when it's someone you really get on with, and not so much when it's some Christian you don't know

Yes, yes quite nice indeed.

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