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Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Stranger’s Official Sunday Morning ColumnTM (Apologies for the Delay)

posted by on August 17 at 13:18 PM

He—for there could be no doubt of his sex, though certain of his proclivities did something (in the mind of the military wing of his family) to complicate it—was in the act of watching a slackliner on a slackline strung from opposing trees. It was hard not to think of Man on Wire (if you haven’t seen it, go, go, go). The branches above the slackline, heavy with leaves, which the slackliner walked in and out of and occasionally ripped out of his way, made the whole sight kind of circus-y. Passersby stopped to watch. The stoner watched the slackliner (this guy) and then watched the sky, on his back, next to a girl he’d just met (bottle-orange hair, candy-striped top, also stoned). The leaves and the sky. A small airplane shot out of the leaves.

The stoner thought about all the people who’d given him a hard time about going to Hempfest: the friends going to Smoke Farm who blinked in disbelief when the stoner chose Hempfest (close to home, by the water) over the possibility of bad outdoor theater in a remote location; the actress/singer/Joni Mitchell fan who, when the stoner intimated that he was going to Hempfest by texting that he was “was being a hippie” today, texted back “the first step is admitting u have a problem”; Dan Savage, who declaimed over after-work drinks on Friday that every other weekend of the year is more ideal for getting stoned in Myrtle Edwards Park because there’s no one else there; the stoner’s young friend from New Orleans, another stoner, who nonetheless texted, “Hempfest is just a celebration of everything that’s not fun about pot”; and so on and so forth). You get a lot of heat for going to Hempfest. It’s easy to be intimidated by the disdain. By the unfashionable-ness of it. Dan Savage, of all people, is giving his friends a hard time for going to Hempfest?

Whatever with those people. Hempfest is fantastic. It helps to show up in the afternoon, around 2 or 3, and to go with friends, and to sit in the shade with a view the water and the sky and the barely clothed people in the ripeness of their youth walking by. It’s true that you hear the stupidest shit from the people who are given microphones and access to a stage, but (satisfyingly) the people you are sitting with aren’t falling for it either. “We are here and now!” an officially sanctioned Hempfest speaker was shouting into a microphone in the distance. The girl with the bottle-orange hair smiled and said, “Man, that’s some motivational speaker. No wonder we can’t band together. These are our motivational speakers.”

Nevertheless, from those very unmotivational stages, or at least from the northernmost one, comes the most amazing sort of rain when the clock strikes 4:20 pm: free joints. Raining down. Hundreds (thousands?) of them. Onto the crowd. This year there was such a crush of people on the path in the minutes before 4:20 pm struck—perhaps the joints-raining-down-from-the-sky thing has been too well publicized—that the stoner and the slackliner and the girl with the bottle-orange hair couldn’t get to the northernmost stage (does it happen at all the stages?) until about 4:22 pm, by which point the sea of bodies was already obscured in a haze, battlefield-like. The stoner asked a random girl for a hit of hers and she reached in her bag and gave him a fresh one, adding, “They handed them out.”

This will happen again today, by the way.

If nothing else, the stoner thought, Hempfest is an answer to the dominant American culture—the suburban, generic, corporate-controlled mainstream. It’s the embodiment of an alternative. That this alternative seems so drastic, that it causes so many of your friends to bristle, is only evidence of how well the conservative line has been sold to us. This alternative isn’t drastic. It is not some lawless primal orgy. Hempfest is crawling with police officers and security personnel, watching everything: 100,000 people smoking pot outdoors on a nice day, laughing, relaxing, reading, buying stuff, listening to music, eating noodles, eating ice cream, walking on slacklines between trees, sitting on the rocks, watching the trains groan by, etc., etc.

The only hippie-riffic conversation the stoner got into occurred in one of the VIP areas, behind one of the stages, where a man in what looked like a utilikilt, except it was made out of black lace, sat down and smiled. This man in lace and leggings and some serious facial hair was walking with the assistance of a light-wood cane topped with a brass knob. The rest of the man’s ensemble was more than dubious, but it was a handsome cane. The stoner complimented it. The man in lace replied, “It used to be Jefferson Airplane’s manager’s.”

The stoner replied with an expression that must have looked like awe.

“Yeah, Jefferson Airplane’s manager’s cane. His son gave it to me.”

The stoner was trying to think of a Jefferson Airplane song. He said, “What was one of their big songs?”

The man in lace shook his head and said he had no idea. Then he added, “If you ask me about psychedelic trance or something, I can probably tell you.” Then there was a long silence.

The stoner went and got his bike and rode out to Elliott Avenue, and then up the west side of Queen Anne Hill to watch firemen march uphill into brush fire. He took a photo of the fire engines with his cell phone. Then he rode back down to Elliott Avenue and, hungry for ice cream, stopped into a Baskin Robbins. For there one was. He ate it outside on the sidewalk, next to his bike, staring into cars waiting at the light.

RSS icon Comments


This post made me happy.

Grin. Thanks.

Time to go back outside!

Posted by meggers | August 17, 2008 1:57 PM

I kept waiting for the part where you fuck the slackliner and we finally get to find out if he's any good in bed.


Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | August 17, 2008 1:58 PM

Jefferson Airplane had an album out called "Surrealistic Pillow", with lots of Grace Slick's vocals on songs like "Don't You Want Somebody to Love", and "White Rabbit": "One pill makes you larger, an done pill makes you small; And the ones that Mother gives you, don't do anything at all, go ask Alice, when she's ten feet tall....." Good vintage stoner music!

Posted by elizabeth | August 17, 2008 2:03 PM

Dan Savage a hypocrite? oh never. *rolls eyes*

Posted by Hunter | August 17, 2008 2:18 PM

This stoner sounds cute.

Posted by Mr. Poe | August 17, 2008 2:23 PM

Music has never been worse than White Rabbit. It has been documented to cause uncontrollable vomiting in some people.

Posted by Jerry Peloquin | August 17, 2008 3:10 PM

He's a huge dork, but still, I like this guy better than the clown who almost hit an old man on his bike. Did they ever catch that little fuck?

Posted by elenchos | August 17, 2008 3:11 PM

"Stairway to Cleveland" was their biggest single.

Posted by Rain Monkey | August 17, 2008 3:17 PM

Too many words, man...

Posted by NapoleonXIV | August 17, 2008 3:18 PM

@3 (elizabeth or exelizabeth?),

WADR, "Surrealistic Pillow" was juvenalia. Their next three albums are where the jewels are hidden. Check 'em out!


Hater, I pity you. If ever I become a mad scientist, I hereby pledge to turn the Earth's atmosphere into a giant loudspeaker, from which I will broadcast the likes of "Saturday Afternoon" all of the day and all of the night. Whence you will, at long last, see the error of your Airplane-hating ways.


Posted by Jeff Stevens | August 17, 2008 3:36 PM

I was just flipping through the channels ans I saw that PBS is showing "A Star is Born"

Now we know the reason that Dan isn't going to hempfest.

Posted by wisepunk | August 17, 2008 3:44 PM

Should I feel bad that I have every Jefferson Airplane album including 14 bootlegs?

Posted by elswinger | August 17, 2008 3:52 PM


We'd rather not moderate your comments, but off-topic, gratuitously inflammatory, threatening, or otherwise inappropriate remarks may be removed, and repeat offenders may be banned from commenting. We never censor comments based on ideology. Thanks to all who add to the conversation on Slog.

Posted by Slog Hating Internet Troll | August 17, 2008 4:01 PM

That cane would have belonged to Bill Thompson; he was the Jefferson Airplane’s manager. Wish SoCal dared to have something even remotely like HempFest...

Posted by E | August 17, 2008 5:00 PM

Jefferson Airplane was fine, but things got a lot better when they became Jefferson Starship, and they finally hit musical magic when they dropped the Jefferson entirely.

Posted by Paulus | August 17, 2008 5:11 PM

All kidding aside Paulus, personally I'm particularly fond of "Volunteers".


No. No, you should not.

Posted by COMTE | August 17, 2008 7:03 PM

the reader reads the stoner's account and wonders if the self reflexive third person is a consequence of the stoner being stoned while writing the writer's column.

Posted by it puts the lotion on its skin | August 17, 2008 7:44 PM

Frizzelle writes:

"Hempfest is an answer to the dominant American culture—the suburban, generic, corporate-controlled mainstream" my emphasis"

YAY, take that Haliburton, we're gonna stop this war and change the world with sweet fine, go fuck myself

Posted by The Dudes Must Veg | August 17, 2008 8:20 PM

That is sooooo fuckan, uhh fuckan, uhh fuckan slog like posting the morning post after neen. You guys are sooo fuckan cool.

Have you read the adbusters piece about Hipsters yet?

You guys and your tats and your ear plugs and your snark are, like, 2003 man! You guys are, like, geezers. Your snark, copied from Vice which is also geezer now, may even be older than 2003.

And your tats are fading and your ear plugs are sagging and man that neck tattoo--well you've stuck yourself in the low paying job market for life.

Posted by Fanarf arf arf | August 17, 2008 10:01 PM

Slog's resident ora(L)cle has spoken:

Dan Savage, who declaimed over after-work drinks on Friday that every other weekend of the year is more ideal for getting stoned in Myrtle Edwards Park because there’s no one else there.

Sure, it's more than a bit fuckan obvious-but you guys aren't exactly a sophisticated crowd. You're fuckan hipsters!

Posted by Poe | August 17, 2008 10:07 PM

Frizzelle-Who do you think is making and importing those fuckan bongs and clothing? You stupid fuckan hipster-it's corporations! Your culture has been co-opted!

Posted by Frizzelle's mommy | August 17, 2008 10:09 PM

Oh man! That hempfest video is fucking cool man!

And the description above about the Jefferson Airplane walking stick reminded me of the walking stick I have out in the garage. Made in China and once poked around in the ass of America's favorite cocksucker by a person to go un-named here. Got all dirty-ugg!

One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small-go ask Alice?

Posted by Gomez | August 17, 2008 10:21 PM

@20 Nothing like a little retarded sockpuppetry to wrap up the weekend. Go kill yourself.

Posted by Mr. Poe | August 17, 2008 10:46 PM

Maybe the stoners at Hempfest are atypical, but the stoners I've known have been apathetic bores that *talked a lot* (oh could they talk) about changing the system but usually couldn't even be bothered to vote or doing anything that actually required, you know, work.

If they're the alternative to suburban mall culture we're all fuc*ed.

Posted by bob | August 17, 2008 10:56 PM

There were a few interesting speakers,
but it's all a bit preaching to the choir. There are only so much one can take of the speeches, it's all "stop the drug war", "this should be legal" and more "mans" than a pride parade.


Posted by a kid | August 17, 2008 11:18 PM

#20 & 23 are not me. Obviously. Can we get on that registered commenting thing-a-ma-bobber?

Posted by Mr. Poe | August 17, 2008 11:27 PM

Wait, somebody actually bought to forward to that? That's a little lazy. Don't be creative or anything.

Posted by Mr. Poe | August 17, 2008 11:32 PM

Oh. The Jew bought it. Cute.

Posted by Mr. Poe | August 18, 2008 12:16 AM

@13: what do you have to do to get the banhammer here on Slog? Cuz, well... I guess I don't try... but I am pretty much a Slog-hating internet troll. I guess I need to sharpen my canines and test the boundaries.

Posted by Matthew | August 18, 2008 2:41 AM

Bad Outdoor Theater?

You could have just gone to Green Lake and seen Shakespeare for free ...

It wasn't bad.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 18, 2008 10:14 AM

"Hempfest is an answer to the dominant American culture--the suburban, generic, corporate-controlled mainstream."

I call bullshit. Corporate mass culture is pushing weed harder than anyone else, because it makes for a docile, unmotivated populace.

Posted by Kevin | August 18, 2008 10:39 AM

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