This is the thirteenth installment in the Chronicles of Reggae on the River, 2016, a thinly-veiled attempt to justify a drunken binge, by purported allegations of being transported to another level by the music.
Without specifying exactly what constitutes “another level,” and for the sake of simplicity, the reader may assume that the term “horizontal” applies, regardless of the ultimate landing spot.
"On the Rocks"
Considering we were twelve thousand strong at French’s Camp, our on-site, kitchen setup crew had it muy bueno. Technically, we were not ensconced at French’s Camp, but rather, across the highway behind the reggae gas station.
There is only one “reggae gas station,” though to be honest, in our household, it has always been the “hippie gas station.”
|The chapel and the first of our tents|
Unlike the vast majority of festival attendees, the volunteers were not part of the crush. Thousands of heartier-than-I revelers braved the elements, including a large percentage of people actually inhabiting the plain of rocks that borders the beautiful Eel River.
“On the rocks” takes on a whole new dimension in this venue.
The thought of having to overcome the logistics of sleeping, cooking, and even just functioning, while sidestepping countless river rocks, is enough to convince me that I did not have to experience this to know it would be just too much fun to resist. This goes doubly if one is indulging in that which would be poured over the rocks, to make it slide down the parched throat easier.
Can you say, “multiple midnight bathroom runs,” over said rocks, wending your way through Tent City, trying to navigate under the most challenging of conditions?
Sign me up.
As described somewhat ineptly, in Part Twelve, Bull had garnered our crew a designated camping area up against the camp chapel, in our privately owned campsite. We did our best to religiously perform our responsibilities, in keeping with the environment, my personal appreciation for irony at a zenith.
Of course, Bull had a plan which included having access to electricity, essential to me who spent an inordinate amount of time with Suzy Puente perched on my lap. Lest you be alarmed that Annie might have reservations about this development, allow me to clarify that Suzy Puente is my MacBook laptop.
Last year I wrote 23 tawdry episodes of my experiences at my first ROTR ever, but I did not even begin them until after I had spent two days prior to the festival setting it up, then three days of music, followed up with still two more days of cleanup after it was all over.
Then, replaying the tape back in my head, I started writing one sordid episode per day for more than three weeks. This year I started immediately upon completing the first day of volunteering, much to the dismay of thousands, and have been spitting them out at a frightening pace.
Job security, you know. I have to pay the bills somehow. Everyone knows how much bloggers get paid when they plaster those adds all over their respective walls. I know all those ads on my blog wall, patently in poor taste, must offend some of you, but in order to gain access to that which lies behind Door Number Three, you must pay the piper.
The royalties I make off of Dozer alone, pay for my summer cottage in Martha’s Vineyard, though if you are one of us, it’s just the “Vineyard.”
Alas and alack! The time has come when I must shatter the metaphorical bubble hovering over this entire epistle thus far: I am not a boozer. Sigh. It is one of my greatest shortcomings as a reggaer.
Fortunately, my advanced age and obvious mental challenges, have combined to make me eligible for a “special dispensation,” so that I can still be a member in-good-standing with the crew.
I do enjoy a cold beer immensely, I can appreciate a bottle of zin with the best of them and nothing goes down smoother for me than a double-shot of Jameson Reserved on ice, just not while at ROTR. Frankly, here I need all of my limited faculties functioning at top performance level, well, just to break even.
I even accept my role as camp dad, grateful that it’s not Granddad.
My ice chest alone is the stuff of legends, having been well-stocked with enough food to feed me for the entire four-day event. I know because I stocked it myself.
|Our camp, with all "evidence" momentarily removed.|
As odd as it sounds, I never got hungry the entire time I was there, until Sunday afternoon, while Casey and I were watching Mr. Williamz. We had been waiting on the side stage, just before he opened up, when a man about the same size as I am stepped alongside us at the front railing.
He had frizzy hair tied in a pony tail and he sported a goatee. He had on an “1892” tee shirt and as he came alongside, we exchanged casual greetings, just another reggae fan. The band had just fired up and was flexing its muscles with an introduction that had the crowd bobbing already.
Focused on the stage in front of us, we all reacted when into the arena bounced Mr. W himself, gyrating to the beat and singing into his mic. It took me a second or two but I suddenly flashed-first-on the “1892” tee, and then the face.
You never know who you are saying “Happy Reggae” to, here at ROTR.
However, it was going on four, all I had consumed for breakfast was two hard-boiled eggs, three pieces of soggy bacon and a sliced tomato with salt and pepper.
The pepper, easily enough to have supplied every single reggaer throughout the four-day festival, plus the salt, seemed to inordinately intrigue the rest of the campers. I know for a fact, that the little extra touch of keeping a piece of foil in place beneath the lid and the container of salt, to prevent spillage in transit, particular enthralled them.
I aim to please. Am I on target?
I had baked the bacon upon Annie’s careful instructions, and it had turned out perfectly. Unfortunately, being in an ice chest, the bacon ended up submerged after the first day. When I made the gruesome discovery, and noted its transformed appearance, I had to make a decision.
Toss it or test it?
Objectively, I knew that no matter how it was stored, the ice chest was as cold as my solar-powered refrigerator in my kitchen, so there was technically nothing wrong with it. Taking the plunge, I bit off a fair chunk of one of the pieces and confirmed that it was still bacon.
Granted, it was missing some of its vibrant tang, but I was determined not to throw it away, just because it looked bleached out.
I can’t account for my lack of appetite over the four days, except to say that the adrenaline level I experienced probably contributed to it. I did eat breakfast and one other meal, each day I was there, just not until others had initiated it.
Huh, everyone is scarfing down grub; I guess that means I should too.
|Joey, Mid-Sized David, Conner (the Man of Service) and |
Alex, aka Minnix
Time stands still at ROTR, the only such venue I have ever experienced. Except for the music, which followed the schedule meticulously, there was no reason to consult one’s watch, er, phone.
Campers ate when they got hungry, slept when they either got tired or passed out, whichever applies, and indulged in their respective poisons of choice incessantly, needing no “happy hour” designations to crack open a new bottle.
I watched one of our most serious warriors, sleeping alongside the chapel on a cot-without-a-tent, awake, stretch and then get unsteadily to his feet to make the twenty-foot journey to the Source.
He carefully unscrewed the cap, breaking the seal, smacked his lips, and took a healthy swig. Is it any different than me at 1:15 in the morning, first of three cups of coffee in hand, firing up my bong?
I classify it it under the Same-only-Different category, or “To each his own.” Alcohol has too much access baggage to interest me. Buddha knows I have enough baggage as it is, without throwing booze into the mix.
Besides, someone has to be functioning at six in the morning, to keep Melody over at the kitchen from blowing up the phones, and she has a hard time yelling at “Dad.”
Tomorrow: “Conner is a man of service.”