Monday, July 17, 2006

You know what? You hippies are all right.

Over the weekend, as yet another tenuous membrane of coexistence ruptured in the Middle East, sending new waves of ichor into the already quite ichorous region, I was blissfully unaware of the mayhem, being ensconced as I was in the pleasant sunny haze of the Allgood Festival high in the mountains of West Virginia.

And despite my generally facetious attitude toward the hippies, I must say that I had a delightful time in their realm, even if I felt in my return to the hippie scene something like Wooderson from Dazed and Confused. I get older...they stay the same age. A bit of a double-edged sword, that. An abundance of young, scantily clad girls? Check. Old Guy at the Club Syndrome? Check again. No one ever wants to be The Old Guy at the Club. So I'm not sure if I'd do this again, but I believe that this year, I was still young enough to pull it off without looking like Mr. Can't Let Go Of His Youth.

You don't ever, EVER want to be this guy.

So yeah. It was just a lot of partying with friends old and new. Smoking things I didn't know could be smoked. (Hey, just kidding. I knew you could smoke that.) As I said in my last post, the people-watching at hippie festivals is second to none. Some guy came up to our campsite Saturday morning and asked if we were interested in any "nugget trades." Because the guy was "into different tastes." He then proceeded to talk about all the exotic kinds of pot that he was into.

"I'm into a lot of bubble-berry strains," he said with all seriousness. "Purple Jack Hehrer white widow. Macedonian Thai hair. Blue alligator tea leaf brain-melter."

After we told him to, you know, go the hell away, we made fun of him. And if any of these kinds of people are reading this, I want to tell you something. Marijuana is not wine. It is not gourmet food. You are not a connoisseur of anything. You are a pothead. Quit trying to turn it into something sophisticated so that you seem smarter than you are, or your life holds more meaning. Let's drop this charade about pot being something for discriminating pallettes. It is a plant-based intoxicant. Period. Hey, I realize there are differences in all the strains, and it's cool to appreciate a superior product. But let's not go overboard here. Let's not make it something it's not. Thank you for your cooperation.

In other news, the actual music at this musical festival was great. Of course, there were some clunkers. The Black Crowes were disappointing (they tried to pretend they were a jam band to blend in or something, and it just failed), and Southern Culture on the Skids was so putrid and outmoded that they embarrassed themselves. But the highs outnumbered the lows. Ween and Robert Randolph were two of the standouts, but as you might have guessed, it was the Animal Liberation Orchestra that delivered the true gold standard performance. Viva the ALO! Viva!

As the quartet launched salvo after salvo, their very being, their very existence a grand irritant to Big Animal Killing, you could literally see hundreds upon hundreds of pets and woodland creatures spilling over the hills of Marvin's Mountaintop, frolicking giddily with the news of their own freedom, secure in the knowledge that they would never come to harm, because the Animal Liberation Orchestra was there for them with their Songs Of Protest. And I wept, my friends. Right there on the hillside. When I saw those saved, frolicking animals, I wept in happiness for them. And in gratitude. For the gift the ALO had given me - given all of us - that afternoon on the mountain.

But of course, all good things must come to an end, and so after a seemingly endless run of Magic Hat, falafel, bluegrass-infused guitar solos, campground toilet paper and orange Gatorade, we returned home to Washington. But a piece of me...just a piece...will forever remain on that mountaintop. You hippies are all right. Many of you are quite stupid, and some of you are rude and greedy, or depressing, strung-out husks of children, but still. I love you guys. Now excuse me. I have something in my eye. Good day.

- Allgood Festival
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