|Color and pageantry abound, as revelers celebrate.|
This is the fifth episode in the ongoing saga of Reggae on the River, 2016, an unabashed account of the iconic music festival, as viewed through the adroit-if somewhat blurry-eyes of your intrepid inquirer.
Across the Table
We are three days away from the opening of 2016’s Reggae on the River, the iconic music festival located at French’s Camp on the Eel River. I spent chunks of three different days last week, on-site with other volunteers, helping to set up two kitchens to handle the needs of thousands of revelers. I will spend at least two more days early this week.
I mean, how much hassle can the needs of thousands be, right?
One of the kitchens is a facility designed to feed the volunteers, of which there were three thousand last year. Of course, not all volunteers eat at this venue; I could have had all my meals here, but chose only to dine at breakfast. The food was tasty and professionally handled, no easy task for any crew, let alone a collection of diverse volunteers.
I had brought with me an ice chest filled with goodness from the farm, so I dined within the cozy confines of the campsite most of the time. Let’s face it, “cozy” is euphemistic but “crammed together” sounds so uncouth, that I will continue with former.
Uncouth is so out-of-style.
The second kitchen is the VIP Lounge, for those who have the appropriate wristband. Obviously, in the VIP Lounge the price of poker is much higher, but it is still volunteers who run the show for the most part. I would imagine the head-honcho, Eric, gets a stipend for his expertise, but otherwise it is volunteer-power.
Last year our kitchen setup crew was housed along Rasta Road, a subdivision of the main throng of campers. The majority of the throng were amassed on the west, or right-hand side, of the main artery into the venue, which paralleled the river. We had to walk maybe four football fields in length (ten minutes), to get from the main stage back to our campsite, sharing the road with many at times, and few at others.
There was never a time when no one was up and about.
You had to walk close to five minutes away to get to the nearest bank of porta-potties from our campsite, but there was no waiting once you got there. The only place I ever saw people waiting, generally speaking, was at those port-a-potties which were adjacent to the main stage.
And then, only when the artists completed a show, and the masses were stampeding to the bathrooms at the same time, was there a delay. But anyone who has ever attended this type of show, has had to deal with it, so that’s what you do: You deal with it.
This year our crew will be camping across the highway from the festival. I have no idea why, but we have been assigned to a campsite on the west side of the 101, back behind the hippie gas station.
Our site is rumored to be flat, shady and to have running water with showers and toilets. There is also a little general store which presumably will stock the most important basics: ice and chocolate. It is a considerably longer stretch of the legs than it was last year, but we may have a vehicle to help with this logistical detail. Besides, I like to walk; plus I will have the option of chilling at the Great Success Lounge.
When all is said and done, though, what our campsite will have that no other will possess, is freedom from those very same masses. Without the crowds there is no event; with the crowds, however, there comes chaos: organized, celebratory and triumphant, but chaos just the same.
|I find it exhilarating to have backstage access to the music.|
I say triumphant because this year’s Reggae on the River takes on special significance due to the shift in the cannabis political perspective. Not only is this gentle giant of a plant no longer vilified as evil, it has been elevated to dizzying heights, as its role in fighting human misery, clearly justifies.
We have always indulged in the herb with impunity, while reveling on the river, but now we can do so with the knowledge that we are no longer outlaws. Vast, unlimited quantities of both time and energy have been devoted to the monumental task of ironing out the guidelines for regulation of the growing of medicinal cannabis. This work had to be done at both the state and local levels.
For those dedicated to the cause, there have been incessant town meetings throughout the county, supervisor meetings in Ukiah and policy committee meetings in Sacramento. I could never have done this work at this point in my journey.
I was nothing but an observer of life when it came to this process. I did not even chronicle it in my writing. There are just so many levels of complexity, it boggles my little pea-brain.
There have been in-house, local and state SNAFU’s that have had to be highlighted and ironed out, for the purpose of gaining clarity. And there has been friction, not unexpected considering some of these diverse factions were working together for the first time ever, across the table.
Huge strides forward in the entire mechanism have been taken. To think that we are loosening Corporate ’Merica’s death-grip on cannabis/hemp, so that it may once again become incorporated into the mainstream of our culture, is to have hope for those who are afflicted with illness.
To be able to place the need for medicine-for all-above the need of Corporate ‘Merica for money, is of paramount importance. No longer should people have to watch loved ones die in agony, so that the coffers of Big Pharma can be well-stocked.
That qualifies as an attribute of a jaded society, an entity which places greater emphasis on the frivolities of life than the necessities of life. We need medicine; we do not need seven-figure selfishness.
I need medicine and Annie needs medicine, so we are grateful to those who have fought the battle for so long. You are profoundly influencing the future with positivism, and infusing that optimism into the fabric of our culture.
We gather together along the Eel River and we celebrate.