This is the seventh in a series of posts covering Reggae on the River, 2016. Discretion is advised, due to the high degree of unsavory content. I apologize-profusely-in advance.
We are officially done setting up the two kitchens at Reggae on the River, 2016, after a furious last-minute push, Wednesday afternoon, in preparation for the opening of the festival on Thursday. I must admit that when Casey and I trucked up to French’s Camp, midmorning on the last day to get things together, I thought we would just be making a cameo appearance.
You know, sweep in wearing the HappyDay tees, knock them out of their socks, and ride off into the sunset to slaughter a wild boar or two and harvest a semi, filled to the brim with organic Heirloom tomatoes.
No? OK. Would you believe butcher a rabbit and gather the makings for a salad? Whatever we had in mind for late Wednesday afternoon, it had to wait, as Go-for-Bull, our fearless on-site, kitchen-setup crew-leader, got salty enough to keep my popcorn in excellent supply for months to come.
“Where’s the rest of the f***ing crew?” was his cheery greeting as Casey and I pulled up in front of the humongous reefer-truck, as the refrigerated semi-trailer filled with dankness is affectionately named. It confused me for a minute or two for the first couple of days, as I was constantly on the lookout for a little something/something from the “reefer” truck.
|The "reefer" truck|
Imagine my disappointment to find out that the “pot” of gold to be found at the end of this particular rainbow, consisted of only a food-hoard for thousands in the form of boxes of fresh produce. Sigh.
“I don’t know.” said Casey, “The only guy I’ve seen is Lito, and he’s taking care of a water crisis on-farm. Who is supposed to be here?”
“Everyone,” he snapped back. “There’s a shit-storm brewing. Here I’m off to a meeting in fifteen minutes, where I’m going to bat to get all of you guys properly credentialed, and you’re missing in action.”
As if to punctuate the words, his walkie-talkie squawked and he responded, thrusting the phone away from his ear as the voice lashed out at him.
Got it. Go-for-Bull was not, well, heaving the bull. My educated guess is that Eric, the head honcho for the Ambassador Lounge, was not as happy of a camper, as the rest of us.
“I’ll call Lito,” Casey managed to interject, “He said he could round up Sonny and Joey B for sure, and we’ll see about David.
The fire momentarily quenched, Bull returned to his usual carefree self. “Afterwards, grab my truck and meet me up behind the beer garden. We need to unload a truck.”
There were six of us strong-backed, weak-brained offshore men assigned to the task. It was mindless labor, but critically important to the mission. After all, if Anthony B decided that a bowl of freshly-picked blackberries was in order, the Ambassador Lounge would be able to accommodate him.
I unloaded chilled boxes of avocados, pineapples, bananas, (not sure why spelling “bananas” causes me to launch into song…), limes, strawberries, and watermelons, to name a very few of the available delicacies.
I was personally relieved to see that the sturdy boxes of watermelons contained only three apiece. Tuesday I had unloaded still bigger cardboard boxes with FOUR melons each.
Mammoth melons, normally a term with a certain amount of ambiguity, but generally viewed as highly favorable, in this instance present a difficulty.
Regardless of whether or not melons can ever be actually too big, a matter for serious perusal in a different blog post, for THIS old hippie, it was a challenge. There is as much machismo in me as there is common decency in the Republican nominee for-gasp-President.
Nonetheless, in the heat of battle which constitutes my relationship with my creaky body, I feel I can handle eighty pounds of watermelons on a good day. Make no mistake, every day spent up at French’s Camp is a good day.
All was well and good until I got to the part where the price of ROTR tickets went way up.
Two? TWO boxes? They’re each taking two crates of four melons each? Gluttons for punishment.
Laugh [uproariously] Out Loud.
We were working in a clockwise manner, the circle flowing smoothly enough as the food was transferred, until I drew up to the low platform, and the disperser prepared to similarly laden me with double what I had been lugging.
Are you out of your fucking mind? You get Joe Mama to take those two boxes…
“Sorry. You must be mistaking me for that version of myself who used to hang around about thirty years ago.” He got it. Though momentarily flummoxed, he managed to recover enough to go with the flow.
At 63 I can still haul that much weight but I cannot predict with any degree of accuracy, how well I will survive the task. I have not spent five days up here on-site, working, so I that can spend the next four days flat on my back…somewhere.
Been there-done that.
At three in the afternoon, Bull called a conference in the “Great Success Lounge,” and we were assigned tasks. I was part of a small group detailed to construct a bar. We were given two-by-fours, four-by-fours, several five-foot lengths of one-by-six redwood, and the implements of destruction, with which to work our magic.
Any thoughts I had that this might have been a job better assigned a week ago, were quashed because I had long since lost the ability to think with any sort of efficiency. I was exhausted.
“I am pleased as cannabis to be the sawyer, but I am not up to the task of thinking. So as soon as you shoot me some measurements, I’m on it like frost on Blue Dream buds.”
Lito had the facts right at his finger tips: "We need two 2-by-4’s at 75 inches and two at 25, but we need to cut them at 45 degrees, so they fit together perfectly. Bull wants this bar to look classy.”
“75 inches to the inside or outside of the angles?” was my only question.
“Outside,” responded Lito, and I was ready. "And then you can cut the redwood to seventy-two inches."
It went together as smoothly as those bombers I had rolled that morning, with me functioning only as an observer of life after the cuts were done. My ability to sift through the murky part of my brain, where any vestige of creative carpentry might still be lurking, was zilch. Nada. None.
It was therefore with a sense of growing awareness, that I realized that these guys did not need me to think. They had it well under control. Joey B had taken the lead in matters, and the drill in hand, and was working his magic.
|Joey B and Sonny|
“22-and-an-eighth inches,” I said a moment later, and I cut the prescribed number of boards.
He explained that he wanted to inset those four shorties, spacing them out evenly inside the frame, and then shoot screws into the side of the frame to anchor the slats in place, five-eights of an inch below the surface of the frame.
The redwood one-by-one lengths then fit neatly into the existing casement, and when we ran our fingers across the top, it was glassy smooth, or would be as soon as they belt-sanded it for just a minute or two.
Casey swooped me at that moment and said he had to get to town to do his radio show. We have to leave? Another tragedy.
Before I staggered off after Casey, I took time to pause and say to Joey, “I am going to go straight home to my sweetest of Apple Blossoms, and I am going to tell her how impressed I was at your carpentry skills. You accomplished what I was incapable of doing. Great success!”
Annie has always maintained that Joey could build anything that needed to be built, or fix anything that was broken. It was nice to see that her confidence was justified.
Tomorrow: Are we having fun yet?