The 11th annual Emerald Cup cannabis competition & culture celebration was held this past weekend in Santa Rosa, California; and like thousands of others I bought tickets online to prevent being in line.
It's one of those events that periodically draw me out of my hermit lifestyle; the kind that makes me tolerate something very uncomfortable as a kind of payment for getting to have an experience I want. I've never much liked being in crowds, mobs even less. Season that with some
flavored PTSD, then put it in a wheel
chair which presents my damaged legs &
feet as a target for every passerby ... and you might get some idea of my
perspective. Pay to play!
Being that the VA has yet to deliver on their promise of a shiny new motorized wheel chair; old ironsides was pressed into duty once more. With my strapping business partner and his attractive wife as escorts & cohorts, we set out Saturday morning to take in the first day of the weekend event.
We got our first sense of proportion when we were still a couple miles from the fairgrounds venue; when three lanes of traffic were all trying to merge into the same exit ramp. I suspect some of them may have already been smoking, based upon the creative driving we witnessed. Knowing all these folks were headed to the same event as me made the knot in my gut twist just a bit. I knew from experience that if I wanted to enjoy the day, I was gonna have to do something about that.
The real accessible magic in this life awaits just beyond the boundary of our comfort zone. It's where resonance causation allows us to program our experience instead of just gutting it out. Instead of a particle resisting the wave, I agreed with myself that this day I would become the wave, immersing myself into this sea of humanity to see what it might show me. Feeling the wheel chair would attract more attention than I desired; I dressed in regular street clothes, and a leather vest. The only thing indicating my status as a veteran was a small Agent Orange patch on the vest. The more obvious camouflaged field jacket with an assortment of service related patches was rolled up in my pack for when the day turned cooler.
"The strangeness of this life cannot be measured"
~ John J. Dunbar ~
Just as I expected; passage thru the entry gate included the ever present metal detector. As I waited my turn, secure in the knowledge I had no banned items on me, I watched the security officer moving the wand professionally all over the person in front of me. When the officer turned to see me, he paused in a moment of assessment to recall which of his many rules covered this situation: then, pointing to the Agent Orange patch on my vest he says "Oh, you're good to go sir, besides, your whole chair would set this thing off...have a great time!" I thanked him for the compliment even as some part of my subconscious mind was making a list of all the things someone could smuggle into that event in a wheel chair.
Once past the gatekeepers we looked for someone handing out Emerald Cup programs; but alas there was no such person in evidence, anywhere. There was however a staffer there informing us that if we wished to enter the vendor zone where cannabis could be openly smoked and purchased; we'd be needing another wristband. A short while later, after showing our medical marijuana cards & receiving the proper wristbands, we ventured into the much anticipated vendors zone. As we passed the zone's gatekeeper someone pushed in to extend their hand to me...I looked up to see a kind faced middle aged man, who just said, "Thank you for your service, sir." As I shook his hand and thanked him, I told him I'd been home a while now, but hearing that never gets old!
We paused there a moment to get our bearings, and a sense of this vendors zone. There were so many vendors of all types that their undersized booths were literally wall-to-wall; sprawled out before us like a marijuana shanty town on the outskirts of
Marrakesh. Even though it was still early in the day there
was a good turnout, and as I began perusing the passing faces it was like being
in a river of humanity flowing a narrow course between a winding landscape of
awnings, tents and all manner of temporary structures; including a spacious
community tent complete with living room furniture. In other words an obstacle course filled with
stoned, self-absorbed humans.
You simply wouldn't believe the number of passersby who make a conscious effort to avert their gaze from the handicapped, disabled & disfigured: as if we're contagious on sight or some shit. Abnormal, misplaced fear mixed with superstition.
These near misses continued to occur all day long. As an experiment, I had my friends park me just outside the community tent and then sent them off to have some fun on their own for a while. I was parked up alongside the front of the tent, out of the traffic flow, but not for long. For reasons unknown, every so often a group of three or four people would just stop right in the middle of the walkway to chat as they passed a bong among themselves. This forced those still moving to split & go around them, much like river water flowing around a rock. Naturally about half of these re-directed wandering stoners were now aimed directly at my wheel chair. About one out of three managed to say "scuze me" as they bounced off me. So I moved across to the other side of the community tent where it formed a corner with a building. Nice little out of the way spot with a good view for people watching. Within minutes I found myself feeling a bit claustrophobic as I was surrounded by a growing throng of those who found the tent too crowded, so they came out where the old guy in the wheel chair was enjoying the view and proceeded to deprive him of it. I released the brakes on my chair and started moving towards the walkway; and actually had to ask to be let through the wall of people.
When my companions returned we explored the back row of vendor booths, a good deal of which was erected on ground now turned to mud. As we rounded a corner we could see another wheel chair mired down in the mud. While we looked for alternate routes, a couple of attendees pitched in to help the woman in the stranded wheel chair get back to terra firma. Before I knew it, the same folks offered to help us get me thru the muck; and nobody had to ask them! Here and there, sprinkled amongst the unconscious & unaware I kept running into folks who weren't just there for themselves. Like the perfect strangers, who several times throughout the day, would shove a joint, or raw bud into my hand, then just smile and walk away! One fellow who stopped by to say hello wore a contestants badge, and gave me a small sample of the cannabis he had entered to be judged.
As the afternoon rolled along more and more people showed up, and it didn't seem that many were leaving. We decided to go back out to the common area to check out presentations and whatever else the Emerald Cup had to offer. Out on the main concourse it wasn't nearly as crowded as the vendors zone; yet our progress continued to be slowed by a few other folks who felt the urge to shake my hand, and thank me for my service. That is a whole other kind of high, one I had not anticipated.
"Unenlightened self-interest doesn't impress me"
~ George Carlin ~
Realizing we were all hungry, we followed our noses to where the food vendors were all gathered together; only to gradually see that nearly all these food vendors offered strictly vegan menus. No lines at any of them! Unfortunately only one vendor included anything remotely like a burger, & that was the cheese steak shack which from the length of the line; folks were mistaking for an iphone store. Thousands of stoned meat eaters and barely enough cheese steak for half of them - what could go wrong. So as to not block the thoroughfare, the cheese steak line had to flow down the street, and I found myself thinking it looked like a line of ants marching to the food source.
Resigning ourselves to our fate, we installed ourselves at the end of the line, which just kept growing behind us like a ravenous serpent. Now things began to get really interesting. The chow line was moving agonizingly slow; and to be polite I honored the personal space around those in front of me by leaving a few inches between us. Before long three people came barging right thru that small gap in front of my wheel chair as if it was a designated doorway! I was speechless, which considering I was also a bit annoyed, was probably a good thing. I just couldn't believe it, even though it happened right in front of me. Even the folks in front of us thought it was extremely rude.
Within less than five minutes, the same event played out two more times, and by the second offender I was more than a little annoyed, as every time they bumped my feet it sent shards of pain racing up my legs. I yelled at the rude, smirking youth with a bong around his neck..."HEY! Do I look like a fucking doorway asshole?" This kid looks at me like I had some balls for calling him on his shit...then jogged away laughing. Things returned to normal in the food line from hell, and sure enough within just a few minutes two more mindless ones moved to cut thru the line in front of me...almost as if being directed to do so...until I gave them a dirty look and just said "Really??!" Duly shamed they turned back to find an easier way thru the line of starving pot heads. By this time I was getting stiff & sore from being trapped in the chair all day, plus it was turning a lot cooler as the sun raced for the horizon...so it was time to fly the colors and put on the camo field jacket. Somehow, wearing a combat jacket covered with
patches made all the difference in my little social experiment; as nobody
else attempted to break thru the line in front of me...instead they were all
cutting thru in front of a young girl several people ahead of us. Isn't it funny how the sheeple always want to
pick a weak spot to practice rudeness?
While the camo jacket repelled one kind of Emerald Cup attendee,
it attracted the opposite kind; as I was now seeing more folks stopping to
thank me for my service and shake my hand.
With the afternoon sneaking it's way towards dusk it was like shift change at the boogaloo factory. Those who had what they came for were departing, just as more & more younger folks began flowing in, ahead of the headliner band, appropriately named "Slightly Stoopid." A quick consensus was reached between my friends and I, that our work for the day was done, and we began making our way back to the parking lot, which by now was just one huge mass of vehicles as far as the eye could see.
~ The Takeaway ~
All in all the day was a hybrid experience of diverse polarities and more than a few reality cramps. I'd expected the event promoters would have done a much better job considering this was the 11th annual Emerald Cup: but it was just an ill-planned hastily thrown together event where the promoters seemingly did the absolute minimal necessary to get paid. Like the old saying goes, "Sell the sizzle, not the steak."
Attending this event gave me the opportunity to acquire cannabis not readily available in this area, including a very potent strain having 37.3% THC content. For those new to the science behind cannabis; average street weed has between 13 to 18% THC content, and the stuff the clubs sell as premium grade has 18 to 25% THC content. There's a new kid in town, and his name is Chiquita Banana!
Taking inventory upon returning home I discovered that in addition to my purchases, I brought back over a quarter ounce of cannabis that was given to me by total strangers. This energy of generosity wasn't focused upon me...rather, it was everywhere in the vendors zone that day, and fairly typical of the cannabis culture in general. The people we encountered ran the spectrum from
gang bangers to Sonoma county
soccer moms ~ and every one in-between.
The Beatles were right, everybody smokes pot! The sheer numbers of people attending the 2
day event seems to indicate just how big a part marijuana plays in our modern
culture. Sure there were a few rude,
self-important people running amok, but you see that everywhere, every day,
nothing new about that. What made
the day kind of special was seeing how many helpful, generous, & selfless people showed up to help
everyone else make the most of what was there.
A hybrid day, yes indeed as it saw the mingling of two generations of marijuana users. There were us relics from 40 years ago, rubbing shoulders with today's counterparts to counterculture; in all their various forms and expressions. It was a fun and rewarding day spent in the pursuit of happiness; and for a time that energy, and the 37% THC cannabis gave the feeling that we might just overthrow the enemies of decency after all. Just two days later though; decency continues to be mowed down along with Australian citizens and Pakistani children.
"We are the people we've been waiting for"