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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Brandy and Vodka

If you want the short story of my experiences at Reggae on the River, 2015, it goes like this: I planned; I attended; I enjoyed. There, all done.  However, it is my custom to use my blog to not only recount experiences, but to extract from them some sort of sage assessment. 

Each episode will consist of a vignette written to stand by itself, but which will also link with all of the others to attempt to imbue the reader with a basic understanding of what the attraction is to gathering with thousands of others along the Eel River every August, when it is most likely to be hot.

# 8: Brandy and Vodka
Saturday morning dawned, chilly early on, though it would heat back up to 98 degrees as the day advanced, still at least a half-dozen notches cooler than than Friday. Casey and I both arose around seven, convening in the center of camp to take stock of the situation, and headed over to the kitchen for coffee and breakfast. 

“‘Ju sleep?” Casey asked as we headed off to the kitchen for some of the black death. The coffee, considering it had to serve around three thousand or so volunteers, was off-the-charts tasty.

“No, but then again, I never sleep so it’s all good.” True story. I get four hours per night as a rule, five if the stars are perfectly aligned. I used to get irritated by the whole thing because the VA will not prescribe sleep medication, but now I just get up and write. Long story short-I really do not want to put any of those chemicals into my body anyway. 

“How are you feeling?”

What a question. I planned, I worked and I’m here, testimony to my determination to allow the right side of my brain to call a few shots, this late in life. The emotion that music extracts from within my inner self, is a most powerful motivator-strong enough for me to sally forth on my lonesome, without my Sweetest of Apple Blossoms. Annie could not be dragged to the site were there a five-star hotel and six burly bodyguards to protect her from the crush.

“Stellar. Tonight is Stephen; nothing gonna get this old ganja farmer down. How about you?”

Huge smile.

There was almost no line as we sidled up to the trough, and prepared to have our plates filled with bacon, fried potatoes, strangled eggs and fresh fruit, an Irish breakfast as defined in our household. (There were no fresh tomatoes or “bangers,” so it could not possibly be described as an authentic Irish breakfast.)

I got thrown for a temporary loop when the woman checking the wristbands to make sure there were no unauthorized eaters, informed me that I had the wrong-colored bracelet. Confused (I know, weird), I turned to Casey, who simply gave a dismissive gesture (No, not that one) with his hand, intoning, “Kitchen set-up crew. Great success!”

I stumbled along behind, on automatic pilot, still pondering the awkward nature of the encounter. Sensing my mood, Casey said, “Look, most of the volunteers here fill exactly one role and that one is generally extremely limited. Don’t give her another thought. You earned that band and the right to sit and eat breakfast. Come on, let’s start with a bong rip.”

On point, naturally. I just need to keep it together. Buddha knows this would have been enough to rock my caged world in the past. Those days are gone forever.

I had brought Terra Jean, my computer, to the venue after agonizing for days, prior to packing for the weekend. My concerns were threefold: I worried I would lose her; I fretted that there would be no way to charge her; finally, I did not want to be perceived as some kind of dweeb, who could not make it through three days without his electronics.

On the other hand, I had taken more than a hundred pics of Friday’s events and musicians, and I wanted to post some on f/b for those who could not attend. I also wanted to be able to record a few impressions of my surroundings so as to be able to better remember a few salient details from the experience.

As the divine Miss M used to say, “F**k ‘em if they can’t take a joke.” Ah, Bette Midler. Let’s see here...extension cord plugged into the electrical socket, computer charging, phone charging, and camera charging. Good to go. Do I care if others think I am a geek? lol

There were approximately a dozen or so picnic tables distributed under the huge canopy that gave us so much trouble the whole weekend. The breeze, instrumental in surviving the heat, played havoc with the tarps being used to provide shade for those enjoying the meals that the kitchen staff provided. 

It was our job to make sure it survived the weekend, a task that involved almost an entire roll of duct tape, and a willingness to distribute said commodity liberally around every one of the eyes through which rope was strung. As the breeze floated in, the canopy would swell upwards, descending again as the air calmed. Our collective breath swelled and ebbed also, but we need not have worried. All worked to perfection.

There were inevitably others at the same table and we always offered nourishment for the mind to any who were in our immediate vicinity. It was the order of the entire weekend, and we are going to bring three times as much herb next year.

Breakfast was quite tasty and set the tone for entire day, one of delicious anticipation for the closing act late that night, or rather, Sunday morning. We returned to the camp afterwards, where we settled in for a spell before heading out to do some politicking, something that Casey indulged in incessantly throughout the weekend. No surprise there; it’s what he gets paid the big bucks for, and if you believe that, I have this bridge you might want to buy... Meanwhile, we headed back to our camp.

When it comes right down to it, the only thing that was forbidden in the campsite, was negativity. By that I mean I could not stand to be around it. There was only one serious breach of this self-imposed rule, and that was authored by a woman named Brandy, who was seated in one of the camp-chairs, as I returned to camp, Saturday afternoon, from watching three consecutive artists perform.

There was a transition of sorts taking place, as I prepared to settle into one of the camp chairs, with several of our company heading out, and a few of us returning. Before I could seat myself, Brandy complained that there was nothing worse than drinking warm vodka, and she swirled her drink silently a moment, for effect.

“If that is your worst problem, Madame, allow me to alleviate it immediately.” I scurried to my tent for some ice and returned with it forthwith. 

“Thank you so much,” Brandy chirped as I provided the solution for her “worst problem.” As it turned out, Brandy had more problems than a lack of ice, and I think it started with that vodka, which makes sense if you think about it. Who ever heard of mixing Brandy and vodka?

One of the group who had been there earlier but remained when the others left, spoke up just now, inquiring, “I still don’t get why YOU are angry. By your own admission, you were wasted.”

“The dude was rude! We were having a pleasant conversation, and as a visitor in this country, he was obligated to be polite.” 

Hmm, this sounds like a rant. If it continues, there is no way I am going to stay. If this babe is talking about the person I think she is, then she’s a whiny little such-and-such and I am so out of here.

I took a spin around the bowl, with no particular destination and made my way back to camp to see if the offending personality had vacated the premises. Later, Casey and I pondered the situation, concluding that alcohol is frequently  accompanied by complications of a similar nature.

He explained the spat succinctly: Brandy and a friend were engaged in a conversation outside the touring bus in which the Marley clan had arrived, with Stephen Marley and another Rastafarian gentleman. Brandy twice stated that she was drunk, but did not think that it should enter the picture. 

Stephen and the other Rastafarian each were smoking some of the holy herb. Stephen offered Brandy some of his and she accepted. When that was gone, Brandy asked the other gentleman, if she could indulge in some of his remaining herb. The man politely declined, whereupon Brandy went off, chastising him for being rude in her country as a guest.

This produced much drama, the end result of which saw Brandy kick her flip-flops off and in the direction of the two Rastafarians, who then retreated to the sanctity of the bus. 

The arrogance of this silly twit. Oh the ignominy of it all. 

Casey set the table by explaining that first of all, Rastafarians do not partake of alcohol, so the fact that Brandy was drunk was offensive itself. Brandy maintained that Stephen was hitting on her and asking her out for later on, but one has to take that with a grain of salt, wishful thinking and all of that.

She admitted twice that she was drunk, so who knows what that looked like, but for her to accuse the one gentleman of being rude is simply a clear case of being unclear on the concept. The two gentlemen were guests in her country, and she was completely unaware that she was breaching etiquette herself, by being rude to them. 

Why should either have felt compelled to share some of their holy herb with a drunk, obviously self-entitled personality, if they chose not to? The answer is they were not and they dismissed her summarily, which is what I proceeded to do.

I was thankful I had had the foresight to vacate the building.

Tomorrow: “You. Are. Beautiful.”

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