POWDER RIDGE DAY 2: part 1
FRIDAY JULY 31
copyright 2002-2006 Rockfest1970@msn.com
There is just something about a rock fest that didn’t let you sleep.. at least not long. It might have been the contagious energy, or perhaps the rocks in my back, or the acid still reaping havoc with my synapses. I found myself awake at the ungodly hour of 6:00 am... at least it would be ungodly if I were back home. I don’t recall trying to do anything ambitious. Actually I don’t remember much but loose ends I'll try to weave into a coherent story.
At some point I must have mustered the energy to eat. What was it this time? Another nutritious meal of canned ravioli; perhaps Space Food Sticks or peanut butter sandwiches? Perhaps Underwood Chicken Spread and white bread. Either which way, whatever I ate gave me the energy to eventually to venture out.
I had two tasks.. the first to call Greg or Davy then to scavenge for water. When we left home Bill and I thought we’d have enough to survive there even if the Staties cut off water to the site. But given the heat wave and all the uses we had for it, our supply was going fast.
Soon, I did discover some faucets along the main ski slope but all they belched was disgusting white froth. A small sign said it was just for washing and with good reason. It looked like spent dishwater and tasted only a bit better.
“Hey!” a person walking by told us standers-in-line... “There’s cold water down by the ski lodge”. He held up his steel canteen that had joyous beads of moisture condensing on the sides. Anything cold right about then would’ve been wonderful.
“The Hell with this shit” I thought and ventured down to the City. I finally did find signs pointing the way... and they led somewhere to the back of the ski lodge. A few hundred feet from the lodge was a large open-air pavilion with a large line of bottle and canteen-holding Freaks. Word was that this was the place. Not only did this place promise cold water... we could wait in the shade to get it!
After I filed up, I went looking for pay phones. I needed to call Greg or Dave and tell them to bring as much money as they could carry and get the Hell down to Power Ridge ASAP. I found a bank of pay phones on the east side of Powder Puddle. But a line of 25-30 people stood in line for each phone. I got in line and waited... and waited. Twenty minutes later the line had barely budged. Despite the change burning a hole in my pocket I gave up and headed back Home to report on the water discovery. I might try to call later but if Davy and Greg had any sense they'd be listening to the news and they’d get their asses down here without my prompting.
As mentioned before the layout of the site meant all foot traffic between the east and west sections of the site had to go though a bottleneck by the Ski Lodge. It was the perfect place for barkers to set up shop. No, this wasn't a baseball game where hotdogs and deer were for sale. One barker had a sign strapped to his head offering "Mexican Grass $10 a lid". Others were at $15 but a price war soon broke out. There the competition between the dope dealers was pretty fierce. There was a vast assortment of acid and mescaline. One duo broke out in song... to the melody of This Land is Our Land.....
Organic mescaline... Organic mescaline... Please by our mescaline...
At the time my association was with the recent Kellogg's ad campaign for New Country Cornflakes featuring the couple from the painting American Gothic singing to same melody.
One of our neighbors was a heavyset woman named Tracy. She brought along a tiny white kitten that she often carried in a shoebox. Unlike fire, there was no confusion whether kittens were another life-form... and they certainly were incredible toys... even if one wasn’t stoned or tripping.
It must have been 8am by then and I had pretty much come down from the yesterday's trip. That was easily remedied. Unlike Joey, who not only routinely took a tab or more of acid, I typically only took a half tab. But knowing I’d just come down I took a quarter tab of Strawberry Fields and a half tab of some purple stuff. I knew that soon I’d be raring to explore the entire festival site. I set aside about 3 hours.
All around Powder Puddle were these hand made signs warning everyone not to swim in or drink from the pond.... it was "diseased". Dysentery was the word going round. You could catch it not just from drinking the water but from washing pots and pans in it. How could we have so loved our slide into the realm of the third world? There were still long lines at the phones. Maybe if the word was getting out... there'd soon be a new influx of reinforcements. As for Greg and Davy, maybe now that they heard the Police would not try to clear the grounds... they'd come down without prompting.
I took a left off the main road... between the pond and the boutique booths. There was a playground there. Some Freaks had taken over the swings and had dubbed it the Power Ridge Bridge. They were very proud of their possession insisted everyone pass beneath it. I cut up the hill into the east camping area. Passing though a sea of tents and campers I saw a sign hanging on one tent that succinctly summed up our feelings: "FUCK THE JUDGE!".
Observing the children I could only wonder if they really were more mature for their age than kids brought up by traditional parents. These kids would in their late 30's today. What are they like?
Walking though a row of tents I saw a young long-haired boy, about 5, struggling with a big container of water. I offered to carry it for him to where ever he was going. That happened to be the Free Kitchen where his parents were working. Anything "free" got my immediate attention.
The Free Kitchen was set up under an Army surplus dinning fly. There were about 5 people working cooking up large vats of macrobiotic goodies. Being both slightly hungry and curious I got in line. About 10 minutes later I had a paper plate heaped with garbanzo beans and brown rice. This was not Burger Chef. It looked awful.... and walking away I discovered it tasted as bad as it looked. Don't these people believe in meat, fat, sugar, and salt? Man, give me a Space Food Stick! I found a place where no one was looking and dumped it. The guilt was immense but it was less troublesome than a burger-eater confronting vegetarian slop.
Heading back up the hill I noticed an unescorted can of food rolling down the hill. No, cans could not be considered another lifeform but obviously it had gotten away from someone. I chased it down and was determined to find the owner... who presumably had to be back up the hill. I stopped the first person I saw. He was the owner. He'd gotten tired of carrying the can so he started kicking it. I was already the third person who tried to rescue the can.
I bumped into a contingent from Chicopee.... Gongi and one of the Adams brothers. I could never get their names straight. We talked for a while... I told them where we were in case there were ever in that neck of the woods. I headed to back to the main gate but before I ventured off the reservation I decided to do the last quarter tab rather than be caught with it. Freaks were still pouring in at the main gate. Struck up a conversation with someone there.... who was dying for water. Like the Good Samaritan I handed him my canteen. It's too bad I didn't think of hanging on to that macrobiotic slop... I could have provided Outreach for the Free Kitchen... feeding the hungry. Maybe it was this kid that provided some background on what was going on behind the scenes that I was unaware of. The promoters hired a few hundred Freaks to work preparing the site for the festival.... the stage, lighting. They did garbage collections, security, and even were aids in the First Aid Tents. The court injunction may have put an end to the music but it left intact the machinery that ran the festival site. Everything that needed to be done, was being done. The people continued to work... even without pay. Now they were knee deep in garbage.
News reports were that there was a great deal of hostility between the townsfolk and the festival-goers. One rumor going around was a package store owner was asking customers if they were connected to the festival. If so, he refused to sell to them.
Yet up here where the rubber met the road the townspeople were great. The house near the main gate left their hose running constantly should someone need a cool drink during this heat wave. Maybe it was their own act of defiance in the face of threats the Police were thinking of shutting water off. Wasn't there a rumor that someone from the town ordered 1000 hamburgers and had them delivered to the festival site? Maybe I dreamt it. What I didn't dream were the people with lawn chairs on their front yards sitting back and watching the spectacle. I bet some of them old 30 year old guys who were locked into bad marriages for 10 years were dying to see some of those bare-chested young women they heard were at Woodstock.
Who knew what time it was. Not wanting to walk all the way back home I caught a ride in an overcrowded van. It could not go past the ski lodge so that's where I got off. Walking though the army of barkers I bought a small booklet of high stories "The Waves That One Boy Made In His Bathtub". It was stoned out nonsense but stuff we might have considered profound back then. Here's a sample from page 511 of this 24 page booklet. Be forewarned... it's deep, man!
The flea ate the mouse
The mouse ate the cat
The cat ate the dog
The cow ate the barn
The barn at the field
The field ate the farm
The farm at the world
The world ate the sun
The sun ate the galaxy
The galaxy ate the universe
The universe ate God.
Heavy man! OK... maybe that's not the best example. I suspect that the truly stoned would never actually realized their minds were being toyed with. Back at the City a guerilla theater was performing on a small stage. They were throwing joints at the audience, much to their delight. Alas, I didn't get one. At the main stage I headed up the slopes to catch an overview. I climbed up about 800 feet looking for a place to take some pictures. The crowd was thinned out up here. On the slopes were a few National Guard water tanks. From here I could get a better sense of the size of the occupation force. Music or not, it was a beautiful sight.
Word was that the State Police were going to restore full services to the festival site. There was concern that with this big a gathering, the festival might turn into a public health nightmare. This move could also be seen that the Staties or the Guard would not try to forcibly evict us. That meant I might not ever need to fire my slingshot in anger. Reportedly a store at the ski lodge would reopen. If true we'd be able to stock up on supplies like bread.