ONE CAN NOT LIVE ON PEANUT BUTTER AND WINE ALONE:
ADVENTURES AT A CANCELED ROCK FESTIVAL
copyright 1996-2006 Robb Strycharz
FRIDAY, JULY 10, 1970
IGNORANCE IS BLISS
Our blessed ignorance was true bliss. Our sense of eager anticipation had been building for close to a week. After all, we were not just going to a real rock fest; this was going to be a major expedition. Hell, for us, given the proper state of mind, everything was an adventure anyway. This, however, was a real excursion into the unknown.
It was finally Friday. Since my folks were still away, my place became the assembly point. Early in the day there was still a question just who was going. Slowly, like in a hotly contested election, the numbers were coming in. From the east coast the early returns: Greg, Billy, Nelson, and I were in. Wally and Joey were out. Nelson's college friend Tom would be hitchhiking in from Worcester that afternoon. From the west coast, the continuing cliffhanger: Davy vs. his father.
Davy's relationship with his father was as terrible as was mine. We both tended to reject just about everything they stood for... not that it seemed to be worthy of much respect. If the government said there were Gooks to kill and it needed the Draft to supply the canon fodder... it was OK with them. If the Church declared itself infallible, who were we young pukes to argue? If the school claimed for itself the right to tell students how and on what they could spend their clothes money... well, they must have a very good reason. Their mindless adherence to tradition and unwavering respect for authority had quite literally been beaten into them as boys in Catholic school. The more pig headedly ignorant, and doctrinaire they became; it was that much easier for us to reject them as people as well. There was, and seemingly could only be, nothing but than conflict between fathers and sons. In retrospect it was a downward spiral that didn't have to happen.
Davy had gotten the word that if he dared go, he needn't bother ever returning home. But Davy wanted to go... badly. He was stuck between the Devil Bus and the deep blue sea. Would he make us proud and tell his Old Man to go to Hell? Or would he cave in? While there were some tense moments, it was no contest. He ripped off all the food he thought he might need for the weekend, and left his folks a short note: "Went to NY. Be Back Sunday." He'd pay the piper when he came home... if there was a home to come home to.
Ripping off, or liberating, food from our respective houses became one of our grand pre-expedition traditions. Since we also had not yet been turned on to the benefits of hi-tech health foods, we tended seek out and bring whatever junk food we could find: Chezzetts, potato chips, watermelon sticks, marshmallows, canned fruit, peanut butter, white bread, and the like. On later trips we finally began to take our health more seriously and we graduated to Underwood canned chicken spread and ravioli, to be downed with a chaser of super-thick Salada ice tea mix… or cold water tea as we dubbed it. But, we could not rest until we took the next giant step to those high-tech health foods Bill turned us on to. Bill knew his stuff. After all, he worked on the food industry's front lines... as a stock boy at First National Supermarket. He was quite indoctrinated on corporate Amerika's beneficent attempts to keep us Americans healthy with products like white bread, Tang and Space Food Sticks. In that spirit ITT would a few years later introduce a high-fiber white bread. In pathological, knee-jerk, corporate fashion they could not bear to use whole grains. The fiber they choose came from wood. One of their other international lumber divisions probably had a surplus.
Being unsure of the weather for the weekend, and wanting to travel light, I decided kill two birds by Scotch Guarding my Army Jacket. This was, after all, in the best traditions of that old motto “be prepared” that had been beaten into those of us that had once been Boy Scouts. Waterproofing was a quantum leap in Army Jacket theory as practiced by Greg and I. We had built up a delusional mystique up around our Army Jackets and considered them all-season/all-weather wonder jackets... even wanting to believe they were the best things since toilet paper. Yet, on some level we just put up with getting soaked in the rain and freezing in the winter because we thought Army Jackets were cool... not to mention they represented a paradoxical symbolic rejection of the military. Maybe their only saving grace was having more pockets than any other thin, non-waterproof jacket on the market!
In fact I had turned the space between the shell and the liner into a super-pocket. So, in between spurts of packing my stuff into a pillowcase (why I wasn't taking a real backpack I don't know) I was out in the backyard spraying the jacket with another coat of Scotch Guard. I hoped that maybe, just maybe, with enough coats of the stuff, the army jacket might go from water-repellant to waterproof. I also hoped letting the jacket back in the hot sun would rush the drying process between applications. It was bad enough living in Toxic Valley with a giant pollution-spewing Monsanto plastics plant just a few miles away. I was sure none in the Circus would appreciate being stuck in the Bus for hours with a jacket out-gassing stinky industrial solvents.
I tried to follow the instructions as best I could but I could not get past some of the questionable wording. What was this about washing the “garment” first? NO WAY! We Army Jacket enthusiasts wore our dirt and stains with sentimental pride. Scotch Guard's second appeal was its alleged ability to protect a garment from stains... a dubious benefit for us stain collectors. However, maybe, just maybe, it could be used to seal in the dirt and stains. Now there was a twist!
Our original plan was to leave at about 2 pm. But, Greg needed money and he couldn't pickup his paycheck until 4:00. By early afternoon most of us who were going had gathered at my place. We were still waiting for Nelson... who in turn was waiting for his friend Tom, who had not yet arrived.
NO TRIP IS COMPLETE WITHOUT...
Our biggest concern was not that the Scotch Guard on my army jacket might not dry in time, or that Tom was late, but that we still hadn't copped any dope. AHHHH! To think of leaving in a few hours with no pot was reason to panic. Scoring was usually never a problem. All we had to do was zip down to the dope-a-rama drive-in at Szot Park where, in heated competition, the dealers would flock to our car hawking their wares. Typically they never kept the dope on them. It was instead hidden back in the woods. There we had time to compare and choose the best deal. It was capitalism at its finest.
After collecting money, Bill and I took his Little Green MG Sporty Car to the park. I tended to go on such runs because I knew most everybody there. I'd been a Szot Park regular since the fall before. But, when we got there we were in absolute shock. The park was not just dry... it was dead!! Where usually there might be 15-20 people hanging out at the Acid Bench, this day there were but a handful. Maybe that was to be expected. We certainly couldn't be the only ones that were heading west to the fest. In the best traditions of the park the few people that were there, one being Jim G., were more than willing to help us out. They said they had contacts. What's more, the word goin' around was that some good-sized lids of Michuocan could be found in Springfield.
Michoucan. WOW! The stuff was legendary... supposedly mostly flowertops... and it was only $20 a lid! (Michuocan was also Paul Kantner's favorite stripe on the flag.) Not only was it available... it was the only thing available! To top it off they were willing to perform as go betweens. They no doubt expected a small token of our appreciation, typically in the form of a righteous joint or two.
The four of us drove to my place to consult with Greg and Davy to see if they wanted to go in on another lid. They were playing "Hey Ronnie, catch!” on the front lawn. It was less a game; more a slow-motion mockery of a football team photo of a former classmate. It came as no surprise that both Greg and Davy wanted in on the action and we settled on two ounces, not just the usual one. Hey, the price was right!
I stayed behind as they left to cop. I still needed to pack, but I was also a bit concerned that the two shirtless Freaks hanging off the Sporty Car would bring even more attention to Billy's already outrageous driving.