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.
#14: Philosophy 101
Sprawled out on one of the camp chairs, sweltering in the heat which had cooled substantially from the 106 degrees recorded the first day we worked at French’s Camp to set up Reggae on the River, I basked in the glow of my amazing [for me] accomplishment.
I feel as though I have just completed a term paper, or that the school year just ended, and Annie and I are taking our three-day holiday up in Eureka, trying to unwind from another grueling year. Twice each year, at Christmas and in June...that constituted our vacations...
For sixteen years...
Mid-sized David, all six-feet-six inches of him, had started out in one of the camp chairs, but had shortly afterwards convened to the soft carpetting upon which we all tread a little more comfortably, and lay gently snoring as the rest of us looked on just a tad enviously.
Sleep, as vital to life as food and water, was as elusive that weekend as a ten-pound plant, so any time one or more of the crew got the opportunity to saw a few logs, the rest of us were more than willing to listen to the soft, rhythmic purring of the quietest chainsaw.
Revelers drifted in, sat a spell, and then moseyed on. For me, after ingesting a steady diet of stellar music most of Friday and Saturday, and knowing that I was going to be up late that night to catch Albarosie, I was content to attempt nothing more rigorous Sunday morning, than hitting that strawberry cake that had been so ingloriously thrust upon me early Sunday morning, as I returned from the facilities.
As uplifting as edibles can be, they can also flatten the unsuspecting traveler so thoroughly, that he or she could sit on a piece of toilet paper and dangle his or her legs. I was willing to take one for the team.
Breakfast inside me-it’s time for dessert. Someone needs to hit this straw-belly cake and do a little reconnoitering: “It’s a tough job, Sir, but I’m up for the task, or soon will be, depending on how potent it is...you know me-I’m not one to shirk my responsibilities.”
The cake was exactly as Diego had described it, and the three-inch slice I devoured on top of my Irish breakfast of bacon, strangled eggs, tates and fruit, gave me a nice pleasant glow as I lounged in the shade of our camp.
I had been pondering the unusual rectangular shape gently asserting itself from the inside of Bull’s tent, high up on the right side of his camp domicile as one entered through the front door.
Seriously? An air-conditioned tent? That bulge is a cooler for a tent? I don’t see anything decadent about that.. Not. My appreciation for Bull’s pragmatism, though, just took a quantum leap upwards. I would never have taken such a dramatic step but then my nickname is not [the] Bull.
The subject of cannabis did not surface now and again in this climate, so much as it was always in the background, kind of like the MonoRail at Disneyland, which habitually circles the amusement park, allowing folks to get on and off as they so desire.
There was never any shortage of material with which to work, both figuratively and metaphorically. We passed the bong, newly spruced up with a rinse job and fresh ice water; we twisted up fatties, possibly adding a nice sprinkling of kief, obtained when trimmers work their magic over a screen, and fired them up; or we sampled some of the available edibles. The only alcohol in evidence, was in the form of the results of last night's reveling.
Impossible to believe that it has only been slightly more than a year since we came out of the weed-closet, posting pics on f/b, and having Casey openly politicking for regulation and legitimization of cannabis. We ain’t skeered-not of Tom Allman, anyway. Now the feds? That’s another matter.
The helicopter landing on my parcel in 1985, has been well-chronicled, and the thirty-year-old memory still has the power to render me limp, if I allow it to. The document that the intruders affixed to my gate, informed me that my twenty acres and the house upon it, was now the property of the United States government.
The lawyer I hired, Ron Sinnoway, working out of Miranda, spent nine months to the day before the case was dismissed. The logistics are inconsequential at this point in time, but it needs to be pointed out that this particularly extreme step was taken by the government, in response to a pop-and-son patch with thirty-three plants.
“It came out of the sky...”
The conversation veered seriously off course the beaten track at one point in time, and landed smack in the middle of seminar on existentialism, which was grand, and then progressed to religion, unquestionably the least appealing topic that one could put on the table for this recovering Catholic.
I mean no disrespect to any individual when I clarify that I am not a religious person. I respect everyone’s choice when it comes to spiritual matters, and have always felt it was up to each of us to figure these things out on our own.
I did not have that choice, being indoctrinated into a faith which I found early on in my life, to be simply unacceptable.
Sitting in Father Luke’s religious studies class as a sophomore in high school, and having him thunder at the all-boys class, “You will rot in hell forever if you commit acts of self-abuse.”
Self-abuse? Oh, masturbation. Got it. I’m going to rot in hell for jerking off? Then I guess I may as well get my money’s worth...
Instead of chalking Father Luke up as a certified lunatic, which was obviously the case, I used it as a wedge to efficiently drive me away from organized religion of any kind. What kind of a religion uses fear of hell, as a motivator to be a “better person?” Don’t they [religions] all, was my intended rhetorical question?
As an introduction to the ensuing seminar, the question was worth $64,000. Having slammed the door on the Catholic Church unofficially at age thirteen, mas o menos, I made it official when I got my first car, a ’64 Nova handed down from an older brother, and was then able to skip Sunday mass, and hit the car-wash instead.
I made sure I stopped by the church, however, to pick up the Sunday Bulletin as proof of my attendance.
Organized religion has never made it onto my radar again, not since I took a course at San Jose State University on existentialism, at age 23. At that time I was fortunate to settle in my mind, once and for all, the direction my spirituality would take.
In prattling on with Casey recently, we got into a dialogue about the difference between Aristotle (The only thing we know is that we know nothing) and Descartes (I think; therefore, I am).
I belong to the Descartes School of thought.
Man has a lot of damned gall to think the he is somehow going to “live on” after the body cashes in its chips. Comfort for those who are living, and need something to get them through the day?
Aristotle’s definition has merit because of the ambiguity of the word “know.” What one person “knows” and what a second person knows, are as different as the Rastafarians are from what the Puritans represented, but I still do not buy it.
My belief is more basic: What I derive from life is up to me. What I make of my life is also up to me. I think, therefore I am. I act, and therefore, based on my actions, I am what I accomplish. If I am content, then I am happy.
I am infinitely content with what I have accomplished in my life, and could take that final, glorious nap, at any point in time, without feeling I am missing out on anything.
Well, there are the Giants...
In lounging around the campsite that Sunday morning, with the glow of Stephen Marley still encasing the right side of my brain with a salve of sweet deliciousness, I was in an expansive frame of mind, which was a good thing because I was about to get rocked.
Annabryn, Bull’s better half, and the person who initially caused me to reevaluate my opinion of the just-mentioned Bull, has a serene approach to life. Even in the midst of this chaotic venue that was decidedly not one in which you would expect to find her, she maintained an air of acceptance and dignity, and I found conversing with her to be intellectually stimulating.
Add Casey to the mix and it was a recipe for a memorable concoction. I was not disappointed.
I was in the process of getting all fired up once again about the unintentioned nature of religion, as a force for keeping miscreants in line, when Annabryn brought me down with a thump.
The Jewish faith has no concept of hell. Period.
Tomorrow: Lazin’ on a Sunny Afternoon