the bad folk orchestra : BRRO

the bad folk orchestra are the media production team for the Babylon Refugee Rescue Operation. Our founders were wandering mystics. Their cause, to build a sanctuary for homeless pregnant women on an organic farm that is a school for midwifery, is called the Babylon Refugee Rescue Operation. we forgive your criticism and desire your contributions.

California Spring Shanti Sena Campouts - A frictional hipstory




California Spring Shanti Sena Campouts
                No one individual can give the full story of a Rainbow Gathering – and if I could, would I want to? So far as this particular chronology goes, there are details which I will always cherish which I would never tarnish by expanding the small circle of those who know the truth of the matter. That being said, please be mindful of this disclaimer should you choose to read this account:
                Most of the scene settings and many of the individuals described herein are real. Many of the vignettes are exact portrayals of real world events. All descriptions of illegal activity are exaggerated to heighten tension or are completely hypothetical explanations for the apparent states of mind of the participants. I can make no apology for this. If you must blame anyone, blame my mom. She taught me to lie.
                OR you could blame it on the spirit…. That’s her job, taking the blame. All she really… but the best Scapegoats are always tangential to the real story, anyways. Otherwise, how could you sacrifice them? My job is making enough mistakes to get things to work out the way that blesses best … that’s why some folks call me Mitzvah.
                A decision has been made. A consensus reached by the Family on the Land to scout and prepare for a Northern California Spring Regional Rainbow Gathering to be tentatively called the 2016 California Spring Shanti Sena Campout.  I myself have been involved in a number of councils that led to this decision. Here is a frictional (reality fiction ) summation of my involvement.
                I also here will be indulging in creating a sort of strange caricature of some of my Rowdier friends. For the sake of anonymity, we shall just refer to this entirely frictional (reality fiction ) character  as FatBoy. No one could possibly behave this badly. He is totally a figment of my imagination. The same is True of Ducky. Totally a composite – no one could make that much of a mess …

Stubbs, Useless and Plunker
                I went camping in the Cherokee National Forest in Tenessee not too long ago. It was the first week of July, 2012, and we were at the last Rainbow Gathering before the end of the world which was sure to occur on Dec 21, 2012. On the third I left the little curve in main trail where an old dread and I had been chanting down Babylon called the Hero’s Arc. This spot was about half way between the High Holey heights where the Granola Funk were epitomizing gentrification with a big electric light driven pyramid stage and the Dirty Kid Corner at the bottom of the hill. Useless was going on a town run with his wife, and I came down and took over Montana Mudd in the rain while they did. I didn’t personally experience any violence at this Gathering
                Upon leaving that Gathering I set out by thumb for the Washington state regional to come that fall. On the way there I saw that a call had gone out for Shanti Sena workshops by a Brother from California Named Gary Stubbs.
                Gary said that Useless said that there had been violence at the Gathering, and that people had lost the spirit of peacefulness. He wanted there to be more workshops on Rainbow Family Peacekeeping methods. My response was to stop in Livingston, Montana on my way across country and talk to Useless and  Barry ‘Plunker’ Adams, the guy who wrote the invite to the first Rainbow Gathering in 1972, and who had been involved in my camping life for quite some time, though due to idiosyncrasies of my personality, we had never met directly.
                I found Plunker, and convinced him to train me to train trainers after I described for him my actions at a Shanti Sena event in Wyoming in 2008 ( the Pepperspray Paintball Law Enforcement event ) and his. He was able to see me then, walking in the shadows of his life, and we talked for some time. He then agreed to come to the WA Gathering.
                Barry came to the Washington Gathering and gave a 2 hour presentation on the first day of the Gathering, followed by a short question and answer. The rest of that gathering we had a few powerful opportunities to effectively practice what Barry was preaching. Near the end of the Gathering we had another Shanti Sena workshop, this time one where we sat in a circle and discussed our individual experiences in Non-Violent intervention in Crisis scenarios. This feather passing method worked really well for dissemination and real skill share of the information most relevant – Who are you camping with? What skills do they have that have been honed in high pressure situations? How can the people you are camping with more closely rely upon each other in emergency?
                I went from there to an Oregon regional where we did another such workshop. After this, several folks headed out to California to scout for an autumn regional, and disaster struck. The new Green and Purple School Bus went off the road when the brakes gave out – the driver was maimed and a girl named Coco died.               The Resulting regional, the Coco memorial event, was plagued by locals coming out and assaulting Family.
                I didn’t attend that regional, as I had returned to Montana to prepare for the upcoming Thanksgiving council there in Missoula. I got a local Public Access Television station ( MCAT ) to let me use their fancy equipment. My Missoula host Leonie and I put together a series of musical video events that presented my MotherPharm Project (an idea for a nonprofit Sanctuary for Homeless Pregnant Women on an Organic Farm that incorporates a school for midwifery and a center for disaster relief preparedness training) that culminated in a fund raiser event where Barry gave a Shanti Sena training hipstory very similar to the talks we had already had.
                  I left Missoula to accept the invitation from Otter and Bird from Ripple Ranch, in Plains, MT, to come there and prepare for the Thanksgiving Council. I stayed a few days, and helped direct a pair of young men to the Ranch as well … I had camped with them both several times that summer and fall … Finch being the publisher of the Rainbow Family’s underground newspaper the AllWays Free … and  Joe Camel , a Nic@Niter.
                Finch, Joe and I headed from Plains to hot Springs to help facilitate the Thanksgiving Council a few days early. I met up there with Plunker, Useless, Stubbs and Finch all at once and we discussed means of disseminating the Shanti Sena message more effectively.
                 Leaving Thanksgiving Council with Finch, we headed for California. On the way we discussed the Cali regional Finch had been part of, and I told him about the regionals I had been a part of that had been more in line with the typical hoped for Rainbow experience. We talked about where the family was in California. There was some division, much of it now tinged with an Occupy level of class war rhetoric. Pot Growers and their Migrant Farm Workers were at odds with the Crusty kids while the underlying message of peace was getting lost in Rainbow as the Marthas worked worked worked, making the Marys sitting sweetly at the masters feet feel bad for not being work a holic mountain masters. It seemed that California Rainbow was now plagued by the odd perception by some that it was no better than a homeless shelter in the woods, or a hiding place for dangerous criminals – a relic from the hippy days. Neurotic or not, These were my feelings.
As I expressed them to Finch, we hatched a notion to see if we could bring some harmony, maybe get the family together in meaningful ways in CA before the next CA nationals.
We estimated that that would be before 2020, maybe as soon as 2017.
                Our wild plan was a full on PR blitz to try to bring all of the possible facets of the California Rainbow Crystal together. The dirty kids, the pot growers ( legal and guerilla ) , the school teachers and college students, the old poets and the young prophet wanna bes, we wanted the whole state of California to come into greater harmony … because that’s the kind of guys we are. As we were driving, he asked me a question about how I had made decisions in the past, and how the council process rrelated to in the moment decisions – so I told him that what I did was to examine the situation as closely as possible  - if the result of an action was a blessing to those involved in every direction , then it was a decision I could feel safe to explain to all my relations. He cried out, ‘ that makes you a Mitzvah. ‘
                                For years in Rainbowland I had refused to have a name  - I was the clown without a name, call me what you want. But it was then that I finally accepted a word I wanted to hear people say.
Furthur lot, Bill Graham Auditorium New Years, 2012-3
                Finch was a college graduate, Theater Major. He wasn’t working in that field, though, really. He was an Itinerant Hat Pin Salesman, slinging embossed metal pins on the periphery of Parking Lots where former members of the Grateful Dead were the act drawing crowds.
                Finch and I made flyers and set up a Google Voice message number to call for an All California Rainbow Family Council, with the date for that in mind as Groundhogs Day, February 2 .
                We then set about encouraging travelling kids in the Grateful Dead Family scene and our other networks through the internet to attract folks from all corners to come help decide, while also promising a Shanti Sena Workshop Circle at said council.
                As we flitted about from show to show, we stopped to see all of the different dreads and heads we could get a way to meet up with – and at the Phil Gramm Furthur show we found out that there were more plans for a winter tour. Finch found a friend who was interested in seeing some of those shows, and left his little sports car Strawberry with me while he hopped in another car to go those shows.
                He also sent in the car with me a sort of lost sister, named Paradox, who had a little baby with her. As far as I could tell, she hadn’t been on the scene particularly long. She had apparently been lured away from her home by this Fool Fatboy, who then got drunk and changed from brother to bother.
                I have this serious heart for helping damsels in distress. The whole MotherPharm Project is an extension of that. I know that Ani Difranco thinks that some sorts of ‘captain save a ho’ mentalities are disingenuous,. I also think that Finch had crush on her, so his motives may not have been truly altruistic.
                But this girl was only a child. I was then 37, probably in High school when she was born. And to me she seemed about that aware of her own surroundings. I took her to my Father’s house, where I scouted spots via internet maps and also borrowing my dad’s van. I found a great spot in the Mendocino NF with an already developed spring, plenty of beautiful trails, and lots of good firewood. It was also just a few miles from the small town of Nice, on Clear Lake.
                After few days respite, I drove Paradox and her daughter Serenity to another Dead lot, and passed them off back to Finch in his car.
                It wasn’t long after this that we made our first Appearance at Mutiny Radio, in San Francisco’s Mission District, to take part in Diamond Dave’s Common Thread Collective open mic Radio Show.
                Finch and Dave had being California Jews who love Rainbow Gatherings and focalizing talented wordsmiths in common. Finch publishes the AllWays Free, and Diamond Dave promotes poetry with his Poems in the Dome and Radio Show.  And POESIA! Oh so nice to visit! Poesia ( the strange country that exists as a result of poetry, stemming from lyricism as the seed to stem to bud and back to seed again  ) abounds around both of them. Dave has been involved in the scene so long that he was a hipster before Ginsberg coined the term. Through him our oral hipstory had Raps before Hip Hop had Beats.
Groundhog Day Council, Mendocino NF,  Feb , 2013
                Seed camp for the Groundhog Day council began with my arrival in the van my Dad was buying for me to buy back from him - a cool conversion RV fancy thang. I rolled it up into the spot in the Mendocino National Forest where I parked it for the next two weeks in the big open glen on the hilltop, where three ridges of a mountain ranged off, just a little ways from the spring across the street.
                My vision for the situation was simple enough – on the two sides of the tetrahedron mount that the road ran along we would park with plenty of room for all. Across the road and out the abandoned spur of the old spring road I showed them the beautiful old open meadow and wonderful hillsides with a pre-existing square of logs made into a common space of sorts. It was obvious that a couple of old abandoned camps there had been littered years ago.
                I was able to clearly express now to the few early comers that it was one of my goals to build better new relations with the Rangers by focusing on cleaning up the woods. I told them of a camp we had done Near the Lake Isabella Hobo Hot Springs at a spot the Rangers didn’t allow open camping because it had been so badly wrecked by litter bugs. I told how we had come and cleaned it up, and how I hoped that this would be the primary theme of the current focalization.
                Another van and three cars arrived, and we all got to general camp procedures, sharing food, cleaning up the woods, digging necessary holes.  The next morning all of the other 8 people in camp climbed into two of the vehicles and went to gather supplies in town, leaving me there alone to watch the vehicles.
                Then a pair of Ranger vehicles pulled into the Parking Area, and I was off at the spring across the way. I immediately thought of the paraphernalia that had been left out at the little cook fire and tents of the guys who were in town. The paraphernalia wasn’t much – just a Cancer Patient’s Glass Pipe for smoking marijuana so that he could eat. It may be that others joined him in his consumption, remedying what ails them with the best , oldest and most ubiquitously effective herbal meliorism – but to the Federal Agents in the trucks between me and the camp, that pipe was good enough reason to ticket or imprison anyone they wanted. It would be sufficient cause for them to tear the cars apart, destroying whatever they wanted.
                So I called out, waving and smiling, and they came in my direction. I told them of our plans to have a Shanti Sena Workshop, and to hold a council to discuss the potential for an All-California spring Gathering. They said that sounded real interesting, and asked me to show them around camp. So I led, walking and pointing, spinning and talking as I did to turn and illustrate my words with gestures.
                Somehow in the process I picked up all the mislaid felonies and pocketed them before these Federal Law Enforcement Officers got all into their wits about them. I stood there, pipes in two pockets and a Roach behind my ear ( I now remembered – had been puffing on my water run ). The main officer,  tall fellow that looked like Woody from Toy Story more than anything , asked me how many folks I expected to show up. I said that there ten here now, and maybe another 20 might show up over the next week. It was late January, and Shanti Sena Workshop Councils are a little heady for the party party types that sometimes help Rainbow get a bad name. I was saying all of this when we heard a horn, and saw an RV driving up. It was one of those Van based deals. The Flying Dutch Oven.
                “Are these friends of yours,” he asked?
                “I don’t recognize em, but they sure look like my friends,”  I said as the RV stopped and 19 people, 12 dogs, 1 cat and baby Serenity in Paradox’s arms tumbled and piled out the three doors, crying, “ Welcome Home. “
                The Ranger looked at me, looked at the crowd now rolling out, and walked over to see how well their story matched mine. Over the course of the next week, this particular drug cop masquerading in Ranger’s clothes would consistently hound us with his drug dogs and tickets. He was adamant that the dangers of Marijuana cultivated by Illegal Growers in his forest justified all kinds of irrational expenditures. They would come in with many dogs, night vision goggles, developing a huge task force that would eventually end up costing the tax payers an almost incomprehensible sum considering the result – Peace activists harassed, Gypsies homes stolen, medical patients persecuted for their medicine. This cop, Chris was his name, he made a point of driving home the importance of his position in the hierarchy. He was just taking orders, you know. “Just doing a job”; that job being bullying pacifists. A job he chose, knowing the rules – so I can only say that he, and his LEO buddies may act like they are trying to help people, but they are the smiling hands of fascists who practice sadism as politically expedient.
                One night they came to camp 5 deep, with full Tactical gear as if they were hoping to sneak into and out of a truly dangerous battle zone. This wonderful brother named Stars got to talking to them, because he lived not far from the Forest. The LEO Chris was harassing him about his own activities on private property where he was legally employed, outside of the Ranger’s jurisdiction. You know, it was that funny joke where people with guns act like you’re not supposed to be afraid of them when they sneak up on you and let you know they are stalking you.              So Stars, Bayou genius that he is, pulled out a bear claw he had received as a token of his manhood from his spiritual mentors, and showed it to the shortest of the guys, who was wearing a tam like he had dread locks – so we took to calling him ( Paul Zohovits ) the Dreadie Feddie. The bear claw was incredibly black. Then he accidentally dropped it, and got all of the Rangers to spend a half an hour looking for it with him. 5 fully dressed in tactical gear Federal LEOs , middle of the night. How much did that half hour cost, if each is paid 20 an hour and all the gear is considered, vehicles, extraneous support staff ….. using night vision goggles to look for a bear claw? They eventually gave up. Next day Stars showed me the Bear Claw, with a laugh. I didn’t have the heart to ask if he had had it all along. Some things are better left to the great MYSTERY. Later the District Ranger Head, Cherry Tune showed up with a Resource Ranger. Chris and Paul broght their drug dogs. While we sat in council, 50 deep in the circle, with their Boss to my left and their environmental consultant to my left, I focalized the Shanti Sena workshop as usual.
                Gary Stubbs was there, as well as Finch and Fat Boy and my Dad. In the end we gave the feather to Ranger Tune, whose heartsong includes being Cherokee. That feather had come with me from the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee.  We reached the consensus to scout spots and build more consensuses with more CA Rainbow family and reconvene in Golden Gate Park at hippy noon on 4/20.
The Constable of Cascadia, Vernal Equinox, 2013t
                The next steps for me involved my dad and I deciding that the big RV style Van was too much for me, and so I took over his old Dodge Caravan that he was using as a work/cargo van. Driving this van I set off on a series of adventures to collect gear and people for this Gathering to come while I would also be scouting spots by my normal methods of studying maps for details of the water table that will lead to springs and meadows.
                To deal with the realities to come, I was informed that there were water irrigation pipes suitable for our purposes in Oregon. It was in the yard of a brother I had camped with before who went by the title Constable of Cascadia, which he had picked up in the Occupy Portland camps.
                I drove north to Portland, and there attended the Portland Rainbow Family Potluck hosted by the Rumors and Misinformation Coffeehouse family at their crazy polyamorous house called the Millennium Falcon. There I delivered the good news of our intentions in California, our growing consensus, and also sought to help Finch recover his extra Subaru station wagon. It was a real broke old manual transmission, no passenger seat, no interior lights, not all the windows worked. Finch actually traded a bunch of hat pins for it to some other Dead lot regulars.
                Well, we had sent Joe Camel North with that ride to help deliver an honored family brother C to the Spring Scouting Council in Montana for the National event. That went wrong because Joe Camel somehow also had Fat boy in the ride – and the belligerent drunken jerk we call Fatboy ( at this point he had 211, the name of the most potent and least expensive malt liquor, tattooed on his forehead ) was so difficult that C got out of the ride, Camel Joe was so twisted up by the Fatboyisms that he abandoned the vehicle and went incommunicado.
                So I asked around for solutions to all of this, found the attempt unsatisfying, and went south to find the Constable. It turns out I arrived at his house in Monmouth, OR on the first day of spring, early. The night before he had performed a marriage ceremony there for a wild couple he had met at Occupy – Shannon and Robert. Robert was a wild eyed Californian with Scottish heritage and a crazy check that he earned in interior torment and burned anyway he could. Shannon was a Canadian lady chiropractor who had given up on the mainstream, come to Portland Occupy, and proposed marriage to Robert after he read her her Tarot.
                The Constable and I sat talking about the beauty of ceremonial activities and such – he showed me the mile or so of pipes in his yard in 22 foot segments. The bride and groom dipped out to go get their morning malt liquor, and I wondered whether the invitation I had extended to them to come camping was a bit hasty.
                We agreed that the best bet would be to have an RV or School bus pick the pipes up on the way south. After we spent a little more time considering the events to come from spiritual, ceremonial, and practical perspectives, I left the Constable there in Oregon to drive south, meet back up with Finch, and continue scouting. We now had enough interested family that we needed to establish a holding camp. Some fruits of my Scouting could now begin to be tasted.   
                Samson Flats Below the Delilah Strings ( the wreck of the Flying Dutch Oven )
                As I was coming south, Finch let me know that a school bus was in the game now, a shorty bus called Bertha. I knew this bus well, it had picked me up hitch hiking twice before! Once on the way to an Oregon Regional the year before when I was on the side of the road with my little black dog Jim and my old friend Stony Smokesalot. I was wearing a black Utilikilt and he was wearing a floral hippy skirt. Bertha was driven then by Natassia, and she had in the car with her her two kids and another hippy named Paul, with a big beautiful black and white pit named Mama dog. The other time Jacota, her husband, was driving with their kids and some other hippy girl, on my way to Montana to prep for the Thanksgiving Council.
                I got out my laptop and found a spot I knew was really used for ATVs and such, but that season wasn’t until May and it was only March. So I sent those directions, put them on the lightline and arrived a day later to find the School bus, and then two other vehicles showed up, one with a couple from Palestine and Israel who had met at a middle eastern Rainbow Gathering. They gave me so much inspiration that I then got my heart set on encouraging a wedding during the Gathering to come. The next morning a Truck pulled in hauling a trailer. It was driven by a wild family, Chris, Emerald, and their kids. I took off from there on a scouting trip, and found an excellent spot in the Sierra National Forrest for our next holding camp – it had water and parking but no meadow. And the drive in was pretty steep up and down. It had the Poesia, too, the Spring at the hill top was Delilah Springs, the area beneath where we camped called the Samson Flats.
                I rolled back to camp and was informed that the rangers had shown up and let us know that the spot wasn’t open for vehicles until Late April. That was just fine in light of recent discoveries … so the whole camp picked up and followed me to the new spot. I quickly left again to go on a wild jaunt: to Redlands to see my old banjo player - to LA to talk to Joe G from the Drum circle Dun Dun village camp ( who operated a medical marijuana dispensary ) and then North to Pick up the Constable and bring him and, if necessary, the pipes, south.
                Meanwhile, the Nada Kitchen RV (that had originally rolled in with the 19 hippies, 12 dogs, 1 cat and 1 baby named Serenity) was stopping in to visit the Constable in Monmouth, picking up the pipes. By the time I got north to see him, they were already down south. I drove south with the constable, and took him to the Samson Flats, and spent an hour or two before I headed back out to start scouting the area that I had really set my sights on for the real event – the El Dorado National Forest.
                 I set out alone, and as I got down to the area I was considering, based on my experience with the Internet. I wanted to drive a specific road called the Caldor road, after Caldor, an old Timber town that died when the NF came to be and the Gold dried up in them thar hills. El Dorado is the fabled city of gold from Hispanic legends of the Americas. The road I was hoping the Caldor road was called the Leonie road – next to a huge Cristian camp called the Leonie Meadows. It reminded me of Leonie the songstress who had hosted me in Missoula after Jacota dropped me there. Since Jacota now was loading the pipes on top of his School Bus to bring to the Gathering when we had a site, I felt super appropriate when I found the very site we needed. It had everything, if used correctly.
                I was pretty stoked, because this site itself was good enough, and in the general vicinity were several other excellent trails to explore, maybe finding another couple of meadows along the creeks running out of these high sierras. I caught wind online as I was in this area of a number of other heads scouting spots, or otherwise making waves.
 There was Rainbow famous Val, the water guy. He had the big pipes and stuff for the annual Gathering, and was always central to scouting and water crew these last twenty years or more. He was looking for spots for us in the woods not far from our chosen area between I-80 and I-40 and east of I-5.                         There was Youtube famous Kai, the hatchet wielding Hitchhiker, whom Finch found in LA by flying a cardboard sign with a drawing of Kai, and the question, “where’s KAI?”. Finch was also scouting.
There was the Youtube Famous Double Rainbow Guy of Yosemite, who was inviting us to come looking for Rainbows ( I am not sure that he understood our intentions ).
And then there was “Marty Who Likes to Party”, as his handle read when I first met him online, and Robert and Shannon to boot. The whole lot were coming out to check on this new Cali Spring Fling. And at our Holding Csmp in the Sierras, Nada Dave and his Nada Kitchen had already arrived in the Flying Dutch Oven – a mile of pvc pipe in her innards, sticking out the back door in 22 foot sections.
Dave had been running himself ragged beyond the point of reason – was driving an RV with almost no brakes. He tried to ride her out of the woods to town to get them fixed, bringing about 8 on the town run from camp. They made it to the top of the ridge just fine, and did well getting down the forest road to the Pavement with just an e brake.  That’s where the brakes gave out entirely.
16 miles down the curvy mountain road they sped, hugging the lines and edges of the road, honking and hoping, praying that they would somehow slow and stop. They almost did too, about 9 miles in, to a crawl they slowed, holding breaths. Then the hill dipped and away they went the last 7 miles to the gas station with the closed drive in diner in it’s parking lot.
Dave wrestled the wheel hard right, they swung into the lot and he tried to slow down by circli8ng a tree, once, twice, then he couldn’t hold the centrifugal forces at bay any longer, anf the bus rolled across the parking lot, straight over the edge of a grassy precipice, over the ditch between the road and the lot, and somehow landed on the road , rolling , then pulled hard right again, driving directly up the steep grassy face of another precipice…. And came to rest on the rear bumper and door of the RV.
We had always called her the Flying Dutch Oven. Why, earlier that year, during the further winter tour, I had driven it myself quite a ways – including a flame out on the Salt Flats of Utah that led to me being the driver as Dave used another RV to push The Flying Dutch Oven to the side of the road at the next ramp (many awkward miles on a frigid winters night in the barren wastes of endless salt. )
                I was on the phone with several random folks trying to get info – hearing first about the wreck – that the RV had gone off a cliff when the brakes gave out… the ultimate nightmare return of the Green and Purple School bus brakes giving out when Coco died.
Sandwiched in Fresno.
                I rolled back into the Samson Flats to discover the Flying Dutch sitting there, Dave and crew all present and accounted for. Emerald and Chris had towed them back to camp behind their truck – to my incredible relief.
                New arrivals also included the representatives of the Iris Kitchen that my old friend Overboard had asked to come help us. He couldn’t come himself, or bring his kitchen gear and knowledge (master chef and main supply requisition genius), but he HAD been around a couple of my Talent Shows, and so was down to help out however he could. He sent us Lyndsey, Meredith and Roger. What a wonderful collection of happy fools, they put the hip in hippy and their smiles were loving and knowing.
                I told everyone what I had found, and we assembled a crew to go look at two spots I had found and one that Finch had found, so that that coming weekend we could arrive in San Francisco fully prepared to present to the council a faithful experience of successful scouting skillshare workshops. Finch had never done this before, and his efforts were very rewarding. He found a spring and meadow with parking, only not at a preferred elevation.
                So I was rolling North, with Jacota, Lyndsay, my dog Jim, Finch, and a couple other heads in my ride. We were going to really make a day of it. Rolling through Fresno rush hour traffic, I got a little ballsy and pulled between two cars in the passing lane  - had about 80 feet of room, seemed fine at 45 MPH. Then the car in front (a new BMW – still had the dealer tags on even) slammed on the brakes suddenly, and so did I. I came to a stop about 5 feet behind. Then the big Duelly back Ram Truck behind me plowed into the rear end of my minivan, crushing my rig into the back of the BMW.
                We were happy to discover that no one was hurt, and the lady driving the car in front came back to begin the now necessary conversations. As soon as she had ascertained that we were okay, and that I was sober and I told that I had been Pushed into her, she looked bac at the Ram Truck, just in time to see him inspect the front end of his ride and then pull of in hurry.
                I exchanged info with all the relevant parties, and was able to limp the rig off the road with a busted radiator and now completely crushed rear door closure. The rear view window was gone as well. Lyndsay pulled out a bottle of Whiskey, and I laughed. I never drink and drive. It was safe to drink now.
                Natassia showed up in Bertha to pick up everyone but Finch and I. We called his AAA auto insurance card in, and got a pair of 190 mile tows from Fresno to San Francisco – and I had them park my now busted Caravan on Masonic, half a block down from Haight. I had until Monday morning to move her – and this was Thursday, April 18th.
                Nada Dave got in touch, having gotten his brakes fixed a little, and let us know that he would be able to go up to the spots and scout them out himself with a couple of the Iris kids. Everyone wanted to know if I thought that this was a good enough form of having a crew on the land to inspect and make decisions.
                All I could say was that it seemed like this was how the Spirit was guiding us.

Diamond Dave’s Radio Show in the Mission Disrict 4/19/2013
                The Day dawned, and I walked down into the Mission District from the Haight Street area where I was parked, about a three mile trek to Mutiny Radio, where Diamond Dave had his Common Thread Collective Radio Show. It was Bicycle Day.
                It was Dave who first turned Bob Dylan onto Marijuana, and Bob who first got the Beatles high. His niche is pretty secure, and he is pretty charming in a scruffy, old beatnick jew sort of way. He delighted in the weirdness of my name being Mitzvah, though I wasn’t Jewish. Of course, I also had a little black Dog named Jim Crow. In those days, I was certainly a bit of an instigator. As a Mystically Inspired Pacifist Peace Activist wandering Minstrel, I can tell you for sure that I have given every ounce of my flesh to the cause of raising awareness about the need to expand the parameters of the civil rights, civil liberties, and civic responsibility. What is Racism? It ain’t a Rainbow, I tell ya that much.
                Dave’s show started at 3, so I stopped in at the Martin De Pores House of Hospitality – a little Jesuit soup kitchen in the mission that has been running since the Diggers days. Then I bopped on over to the Radio Show – where I met up with Finch, his dad Victor, Nor Cal Rainbow Greg, and of course, Diamond Dave. We all got to talking, and during the show Diamond Dave asked each of the others about their involvements in Gatherings, and then me, which gave me room to get onto a Shanti Sena Rap – what with Finch there to press the issue of the Gathering itself. While I was talking, we got a call in from none other than Plunker, who filled in the other side of my Shanti Sena Rap like a he was Aerosmith to my Run DMC and we was gonna ‘Walk This Way’.
                After the Show, I returned to the Haight street area and to lay down. to lay down, my dear Brother, down to take my rest. to lay my head, on my Savior’s Breast. I love You, but Jesus loves you the best … and I bid you GOOD NIGHT, Good Night, good night…….. <3 p="">
                But when I got back to the van, and got back on the phone, things changed.
                There was an RV full of Kitchen Gear from Green and Purple, the big Norcal Kitchen out of Arcata en route, looking for a holding camp. The last I had heard, Dave was on his way to check out the site with Meredith … and then Meredith called and let me know that they had called in local sheriffs from the Leonie Meadows Christian Campground landline because Nada Dave had gone hiking and never returned, hours and hours ago.
                I directed the incoming Kitchen to the site by Leonie Meaows where Dave was lost – actually getting to lead them all together by cell phone and text and the Leonie Meadows Landline.
                This was getting to be a really distressing pattern, this whole every time Nada Dave does anything, the very oceans and earth seem to struggle, flotsam and jetsam in a maelstrom of irrational bullheaded machismo coupled with biker/prison culture furtiveness.
                And then I just let it all slip away. The sounds of Haight Street Friday night enveloped my van.       
Golden Gate Park, Sharon Meadow Redwoods, 4/20/2013
                Next morning I woke, wandered up to the McDonalds kittycorner to Hep-C Pond, bummed a coffee with a cardboard sign, and stumbled into the park to stake out my location. I had been to Golden Gate Park for 4/20 before – and this time it was to be a Saturday as well – so the crowd was expected to set new records. Some things may never change, and spontaneous free gatherings in Golden Gate Park of tens of thousands are great places to paddle your Rainbow Warrior feather board out to the swells and catch the big wave to the Woods.
                So I sat with my feather and met the new crew of fools who would join in this merry clown show of a council. First of all, there was the weird little woman Ducky – DJ PLUR ( Peace Love Unity Respect ) as she prefers to be known, but will never be ( kinda like Rocky Raccoon Girl’s Mcgill, who called herself lil, but everyone knew her as Nancy ), who had a coterie of young street kids eating out of her hand as she lorded over their little clique with stories so wild they inspired ( though there seemed to be more years of experience in her stories than there were years of life in her body ).
                Then, finally, Marty who likes to Party showed up, and I finally got to meet the brother with the Sovereign Citizens Rap and young wife and child. His wife had a fabulous Juggalo tattoo in red and black on the back of her neck, and they had named their daughter Iris. They had a huge RV and were apparently quite successful in some compassionate activities that allowed for a free spending attitude.
                I powered on my phone as he arrived, and got a message immediately from an unknown number. I called back, and it was Nada Dave. He had fallen down in a ravine and hit his head at the last of the sites. The kitchen had arrived and Seed camp was beginning. Nobody had any gas and the cops were being jerks.
                After we passed a feather for a while and updated ever body, it became readily obvious that the decisions had all already been made by Spirit through Process. So we loaded into rides, I into Marty’s RV and headed to the Leonie Meadows on Grizzly flats.
                When we arrived near sun down, there were already several cars and all of the Samson Flats crew in place. Robert and Shannon had also arrived, bringing the Constable with them.
                I took Marty and the Green and Purple guy Scotty on a walk through the site then, showing them the trail that was the former Caldor Road that led down along Dry Dog Creek. There were so many natural springs and beautiful landings, and the spots where the creek ran over huge stretchs of Bedrock granite were magical in the dusk.
                The Next morning we all sat in a big circle and passed the feather to discuss what to do next. I needed to get into town to try to get my van, and I also wanted to get some hard copy maps of the spot where we were. Robert and Shannon offered to drive me in and such. The rest of the discussion was a wild talk of potential siege tactics by the Rangers, and how we would persevere.  I will always think of that Circle as the Rebel Base Camp commitment – we were facing a large armed force, hoping for the actual notice of the federal government, not just their irrational front line shot gun wielding minions. 
“call out ‘Mitzvah’, and I will  step out from between two trees”
                We drove in to the Ranger Station not too far away, and got ourselves some copies of their forest service maps of the areas in question, and ran a few other important errands. Then I found myself in SF, facing the wreckage of my van, and gave up. I found a brother named Boston on Haight who wanted directions to the woods, and we drove in his car there. We arrived in the middle of the night to find a Ranger blockading the Road and declaring ‘this is an illegal gathering, turn around and head out of the woods!”
                He carded us, and I asked him a few questions, like what was illegal? How many people were here? He had no decent answers, so I knew that he was just being a typical reactionary playing bad cop. We turned the car around and drove away.
                About a mile up the road we turned in on the alternate parking supply road I had scouted, headed in and parked. Then we walked down the hill to the trailhead where I expected the rest of the cars to be, and I found only Marty and Scotty. Everyone else had moved pretty far in down the Caldor road in their vehicles – which I thought of as Main Trail. As I stood there, I heard voices coming up the path that I recognized. I cried out Aloha to Officers Chris and Zehovitz ( the dreadie feddie ). Chris was now sporting a pretty full brown beard and was walking with a much more seasoned campaigners gait. Zehovitz was obviously rubbing off on him – Zehovitz whose face book profile was of himself in tactical ops gear holding up a Marijuana seedling about a foot tall in a pot, considering it with finger to chin. Whom, if you google him, also was security for Burning Man, was active in training war games for the militia community, and had a series of articles about how he had abused his powers as a ranger horribly in the past by hunting down citizens and accosting them in their homes.
                But that’s just what ya get from google. I met a different Paul Zehovitz. I called out,” Aloha!” He and LEO Chris called back “Mitzvah!” and turned, seeing me walking towards them.
Then LEO Chris opened his mouth, and he said, “We were hoping to find you here. So far it just seemed like a rowdy biker sort of party. This must be the gathering we thought you were going to invite us to. Where did you come from just now, have you been here?”
I laughed, turned and gestured sweepingly behind me, saying, “don’t you know, if you want me, just call out ‘Mitzvah’, and I will step out between two trees.”
Then I asked them what they had seen here in sight, they told me there were a couple of fire pits they were disappointed in, but that otherwise all seemed pretty simple. They wanted people to set up camps on only this one side of the river, if possible .
                Then I told them that I had directly disobeyed the man at the gate, hoping to find them inside. My theory having proven true, I asked them if we could get their district manager in to talk about an Operating Plan. There would be no permits, I knew all of the legal angles, and they knew it. They said,okay, they would get him in camp to council with us. They then asked me to wait there for the officer I had disobeyed to return and give me a ticket. I complied, and we had found common ground.
Operating Plan!
When I first came to Rainbow Land, at 20, in 1995, the scene was just then becoming illegal. The Forest Service had composed a sort of Arbitrary law that stated that groups of 75 or more required a special use group permit. They tried all kinds of chicanery and smoke and mirrors games to get people to sign these documents. The problem being that a Rainbow Gathering is a Bill of Rights Protected Peaceful Assembly for the Redress of Grievances and Free Expression that operates according to intent of the group consensus – there are no leaders and no organizers. People just come together and share skills in the wilderness while sharing food as a prayer for peace. And there’s the music side, where an incredible number of drummers and strummers, pickers and melodic tricksters whose voices rising in chants above the drummer fire define a state of mind beyond Babylon. Oral tradition is a thing of songs and chants. 
                I was a the Thanksgiving Council in 2012 when Steven Principle ( Rainbow Legal Philosopher ) explained the decision reached in New Mexico that found the Permit process to have been ill conceived and fraudulently pursued – clearly no one can claim to represent those who have not given their consent. The FS would have to issue a permit for group use to each rainbow, and then there wouldn’t be a group! This was all in light of the new method developed at the Pennsylvania Gathering in 2010 – a breakthrough event where the Feds stopped persecuting and pursuing, and instead developed a clear plan for how we and they could interact amicably.
                That Fall in Maine I attended a Regional where they brought out permits for us to sign. I asked them for an operating plan, and the Ranger in charge was hip to the whole scene – had been District Head in Missouri when we did the Mark Twain forest in the 90s, during the height of the Permit crap. He really liked this new, litigation free method – and we had an operating plan the next day based on the Pennsylvania plan, but site specific.
                This was the avenue I was pursuing here, and I had briefed all of my crew on the nature of this… Finch in Particular was very interested in seeing an operating Plan actually come into use at a Regional – he had only heard rumors of such.
                Around noon the Rangers arrived, we got a bunch of hippies to circle up, we told them about our intentions to clean up the woods and such.  The Ranger told me he had had good reports from Cherry Tune in Mendocino about our activities as a clean-up crew and positive influence.  We were legal, and he would have his team put together a document for us to sign the next day, if we wished, though no signature was required at all. It only was to describe our group resource use plans, not make any one person responsible as the leader of the Rainbow.
                As we walked away from the circle, feeling joyfully satisfied at last, I finally saw Nada Dave. He had been convalescing in his RV. He came up, I told him the good news of the Operating Plan. He told me to sit down.
 On our trip through Utah on Furthur tour in the Flying Dutch Oven, we had attracted this sort of crazy woman running from her Mormon marriage to become a Nymphomaniac hanging with GDF tour kids. I was not fond of Sister Squat Mattress Mormon. But she had always been happy, and I had tried to help her see the value of just being. I had been abstinent over a decade.
                Well, I sat down. He told me that Anna ( her real name ) had gotten lost in the woods, trying to return to the Samson Flats camp after we left there, following the directions on the lightline ( which I had been delayed in changing because of the wreck of my van ) .  She was accosted there,  and was found wandering dazed on the road – completely dissociative and who knows what had been done to her. They found her van out of gas 5 miles away in the woods.
I was devastated. Thoroughlyy and utterly devastated.
The next day I heard a Shanti Sena call, and answered to find that this other girl, Jazz, whom I had known a while and had personally invited to the woods in SF just three days before – had been strangely dissociative and seemed to be taking peoples stuff like she had no respect for personal property.
Bad deal.
We got her to sit in a circle, and she was all that, and combative too.
We set folks to watching and following her, and eventually had turn her over to Officer Zehovitz. She had been Drugged. I began to investigate. Turns out she had been drugged mistakenly! The handful of research chemical pixie dust blown in her face had been intended for some other unlucky girl. Some debt to an acid dealer from San Francisco named Fast Eddie. I knew Eddie. He and I had drunk together, smoked together, watched the world together. But now, if what I was hearing was true, I was furious. It became a bit of a distraction to me, and led me to confrontation.
                One night during this horrific parking lot freak show of a bad omen festival, I in my Black Kilt was allowed the opportunity to express myself as a complete maniac. See, Boston, who had driven me in, was now playing Drunk Taxi on the dirt roads where we were gathered by the creek, up and down the hill in the night.
                This sister Voicebeam came up to me and told me about it, and at first I doubted – always preferring to hesitate in the benefit of the doubt. We waited, and I saw my friend Scotty, from Green and Purple. He was now parked where Marty had been parked when they towed his RV – and Sky from Green and Purple had come in to help hold down the fort. He was hating this parking lot BS.
                I walked up to Scotty, who I knew had a flask in his back pocket. He and Robert had been carrying whisky and Brandy, respectively – calling themselves st Bernards. I said, “let me hit that whiskey, bro,  I gotta shanti sena situation comin up, and I don’t wanna be yelling too much.”
                He looked downhill at the coming headlights, and handed me his bottle without turning his gaze. “ Drunk Taxi,  is what I hear,” I said over the dust, coughing a bit.
                “I heard that too. I’ll back your play. What do you have in mind?”
                I poured some of the whisky down my throat, some into my cold cup of coffee, took another sip, and handed it to him. “It’s Boston. He drove me here. I am gonna climb in through his sun roof and kick him out of the drivers seat.”
                When he stopped, to drop off his passengers, who yelled, “thanks drunk taxi!” I stepped up onto the hood, then knelt down on the windshield, leaning in through his moon roof too, with my spilling cup from which I also schwilled.    
“ Rides over, Boston. Get out. Yer Drunk.”
                “Fuck you, Pay me, Mitzvah, or should I say Misfit?”
                I did a left handed swivel spring down to the rear driver side wheel, and wrapped both legs and both arms around it. “If you drive, you break my bones, and then I won’t be here to protect your sorry ass from these guys…” I growled through the rising adrenelin.
                Boston said, “Fuck your couch, “and grabbed the column shifter, started moving it out of park. The next moment was fast. The PSSSHHHT of a tire being slashed, as Scotty said, “rides over brother.” Boston leapt out of the driver’s seat, to run and look, realized his error as another brother removed the keys from the ignition, and I exhaled.
                I sat there at Green and Purple for another hour or so, watching the aftermath. Eventually Zehovitz walks up with a lady LEO and a couple of Resource Rangers. He started telling them stories about our interactions – the Two trees appearance, the Bear claw, he joked to them about how he was reading my facebook page to find out how to interact with us.
                And then, in full camo tactical ops, duty belt and firearm, the whole nine yards, Officer Paul Zehovitz hugged me. It was consensual, he sat beside me on the log, opened his arms, and said, ‘Come on Brother, give me a hug.”
I was starting to have some pretty weird hallucinations, and a really bad asthma attack in response to the release of cedar pollen in the woods got me a ride to SF from Robert and Shannon, with Fat boy along for the ride. He convinced them to leave me in the Golden Gate Park instead of at the hospital, because he had some deal he needed to be part of in the park, with people he didn’t know where were. I watched them drive away, not knowing why I had told them this was good enough. I guess just to get out of a car with a drinking driver.
So I called an ambulance for myself, and when I got out of the hospital I went up onto Haight Street and found Fast Eddie. He was standing front of a group of tough looking young dudes when I growled at him, “Eddie, whattayaknow about this shit? Someone blowing drugs in my family’s face at the Gathering to settle your scores?”
“It didn’t happen there.” Eddie spat in the road on a spot in the concrete where “WRECKING CREW” had been scrawled when the cement was still wet. He gestured back at his young thugs. “Things happen.” He said.
2/14 2014 AZ VD
                Well, I went crazy at the end there. Full on PTSD hallucinating Jazz and Annas smiling faces when I met women and they smiled. Bawling, freaked out, drunken world hating creature on the onramp with a little black dog and a guitar. I came out of a black out on an On Ramp, having just visited a friend in Southern Oregon. I was gonna help her slip out of her marriage by pirating all of her jointly owned possessions in several states, starting with their Jeep. On the way I intended to find a way to create a public show down, once my July 9th court date passed, which would allow me to create a media circus and … well that daisy train was an alcoholic phantasm. Like I said, I cameo ut of a black out on a north bound I-5 on ramp in Southern Oregon. I was trying to sing Amazing Grace, and the Serenity Prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous came out instead. I haven’t found I necessary to take a drink since then.
                What followed was therapy, legal council, homeless shelters, drug tests, and eventually getting trained to become a security guard in Sacramento CA.
                As I was waiting for my background check to finish (and I didn’t know, having a history as a hitch hiking black out drunk, how that was gonna turn out ) I was about seven months clean and sober – was living in a homeless shelter and my 39th birthday was fast approaching.
                Well, part of my recovery from alcoholism required that I directly face my limitations, and choose how to act within the parameters of my skill and experience. I also wanted to prove to myself that I could go to a Gathering and not smoke, drink or do any drugs. This was my new motif, and I wanted to see how much of what I had been and done before was entirely the result of my intoxication – and how much was the actual result of my intentional response to the Love the Rainbow Family had shared with me through the years.
                I first came to a Gathering as a Drunk punk who hated the world straight off the streets of the French Quarter. In New Orleans. I came because my girlfriend wantee to ride with some dreadlocked dudes out into the middle of the forest – HOPING THAT THEY HAD DRUGS FOR HER! This sounded to me like an absolute nightmare scenario. I came to make sure that if anyone was having sex with my girlfriend in the woods on drugs it would be me!
                Well, I took a vow of silence that lasted the first seven days of 1996, and I went to Tea Time and carried ten times my body weight in wood and water, made tea with Clearwater and Morning Flower.  The world was simple. My girlfriend left me. She never came to another Gathering. I have been to dozens.
                So there are a bunch of very consistant themes here.
                I made it to Phoenix by thumb, where I ran into Pinto, another Rainbow friend of mine. He got online and hooked up a ride to the Gathering at Cochise Stronghold, near Tuscon from this Brother One Legged Matt – who ran a kitchen called Shut up and Eat It.
                Driving his vehicle was a lady I had never met, but who it turns out knew a bunch of my friends. She drove to that AZVD, and there another old friend of mine, a real sweet mama who had always been a flirty, but distant, was suddenly not so distant. She took a short vow of wordlessness that Gathering, and put on her belly dancers hip bells, dancing and clapping for hours while I played guitar.
                That Night was the 13th, my Birthday is Valentines Day, and she knew this. She also knew that I had been abstinent since 1999. I had stopped the promiscuity, having avoided venereal disease and parenthood entirely as I was about to turn 25. I had then not yet ever had sex with a woman who had previously had a child. I was not a Motherfucker.
                Well, I knew this woman’s child, had for a couple years. I watched him grow strong as his parents grew apart. She came to me in her silence. I don’t know who kissed whom first. I do know that I there and then became a MotherFucker.
                The rest of the Gathering was a beauty,
                The Goat Campers had themselves a sweet little spot where they collected all of their pocket trash and hung out together in their tents huffing ether and sharing porn. Really a strange crowd, but when not up their worst, they sure do have some wild philosophical discussions.
                The Cascadian Kitchen Rumors Café showed up and supplied the real traditional Rainbow scene – which I pirated one day with my old friend Foots, and we called it a riot, a Prison Camp Riot, and I was Randy Dufraine, Andy Dufraine’s Pirate Brother. You know, from Shawshank Redemption?
                Well, a traditional Prison Camp Riot includes a spread of Ramen with condiments and bologna, and big hot pan cocks!  Yup, Phallic Pancakes.
                It wasn’t long before the Rumors Café kitchen Mama Sunshine had to kick me out of the kitchen. I was welcome at the bliss pit, especially if I was gonna make music, but this whole idea of clown shows and riots using the kitchen gear was just a little too much even for this very permissive lady.
                Happily, she is still my friend and sister, the whole disciplining me out of the kitchen thing was just something she needed to do to maintain a semblance of order in Rainbowland.
                And I was a bit wild.  Uninhibited by tobacco and alcohol, not calming my wilder passions with herb, I had become a bit of a dynamo.
                That Gathering ended with me catching a ride with Finch and this girl Emily who had been at the Leonie Meadows Gathering too. It was her car, she was driving Finch east. They took me into Tucson, where we met up with my parents in a parking lot. My step dad has terminal cancer – has for years been deteriorating, but the move to Arizona really seemed to bring about a positive change. I gave them a copy of the All Ways free, and they bought dinner for me and my friends.
                Then we drove away to Austin Texas, where I went to a free clinic to get checked for VD from AZ VD. I came back clean, except embarrassed. What I had thought was an enlarged prostate was an inguinal hernia. Seven years I had misdiagnosed what a nurse saw as needing immediate surgery in a glance. So I returned to Santa Rosa, where the Homeless services are awesome, and got my hernia fixed.
 Danksgiving ( Thankstaking )
                Due to the Hernia Operation, I had to skip the Spring Regionals in Cali year 2 – though the same format, 4/20 GG Park Council, Gathering Near Yosemite – played out, except this time without the old hitches. Now that they had taken Marty’s RV and given me a federal Interference ticket and we just kept coming back smiling for more as we told them we were here to pray for peace and clean up the woods they had to at least understand our perserverance.  No fascist plans can stop our love. Happily, an Operating pan that reflects reality and the rights of the people to cherish their common resources now became the norm for this cycle of Gatherings.
                When I had recovered fully, I moved into Finch’s Dad’s old house in Santa Rosa. Victor was struck by a driver under the influence while walking his dog just after the Leonie Flats regional. So while I was in a PTSD nightmare, he was in shock and mourning that I knew not. I really failed my friend, there, in my estimation. S I was honored now that he asked me to help clean up his dad’s old house so that some friends could move in and start paying rent – a year had passed and though parts of the house were occupied, others were just stuffed with all of Victor’s old stuff. Projects half finished, or completed but not cleaned up – a bunch of weird hippy stuff was going on, and had been in closed rooms for too long.
                I got a job as a guard at the Sonoma County Fair, which was long hours, hot and awkward, metal detector cop land blah blaah in the sun. Finch and I had begun discussing the progression for the always free, and I was pleased to help him as he had just put out a summer issue in Montana that was primarily devoted to Shanti Sena hipstories from a handful of respected Rainbows.
                Finch and I went together to this event called Danksgiving ( or Thankstaking ) at the house of a friend of our Friend Marty ( of who likes to party fame ). There were about a dozen medical Marijuana providers there, all sharing a table, upon which the blunts were the trunk, and roots, the brown hemp paper joints were the branches, and the varied buds were the leaves on a tree that was always shifting in the wind as we smoked or rolled more of  it in turns.
                And there was an unexpected chance meeting, here was that same Sandy Scapegoat, laughing and chatting away, smiling at me. What a nice turn of events in mid November – the actual Thanksgiving was the following Thursday.
                Well, I left there with Finch, and we went together to Natassia and Jacota’s house in Sacramento. There Finch laid out his dilemma to me. Our mutual Rainbow friend RedDog (who was at the Montana Thanksgiving Council AND the Leonie Meadows Gathering) had property outside of Placerville. A brother had shown up there in his Jeep, hoping to work on his axle. Pasta. Good kid. Nice guitar style and easy smile. He brought with him Ducky – and it took no time before this little hypochondriac street urchin had Reddog beside herself. Some dreadlocked people live alone on purpose. Ducky had to get gone. So we brought her to Jacota, who knows all the tricks and Anansi games. He kept Ducky still, and we figured out what to do. She was already corrupting the incorruptible in the form of her current host family.
Budding Postie Pretensions
                Before Danksgiving I had gotten in touch with Sunshine, from Rumors, and asked her what she knew about the Rainbow Posties – a new school collection of letter carriers who operated between camps at Gatherings, carrying messages with hand drawn stamps.
                She told me that I had asked the right person. She had been at a big gathering a few years before, and a few bored people walked up and asked her what to do. She looked at them, thought for a moment, and flipped the script.
                “go away, think of something to do, then come back and tell me what you thought of.”
                They complied, and came back a while later with some writing utensils and pieces of paper.
                “we’re gonna be posties, carrying messages from camp to camp!”
                So that is how Sunshine, of the kitchen Rumors and Misinformation, claims the Posties got their start. Well, I had been talking it up at Danksgiving as my new method for Rainbow, I would use the Postie idea to further my own passage from drunk problem, to tea slave, to drum circle heartbeat rainbow fire skin slapper and song chanter, to Nic@niter, to kitchen ogre, to talent show MC, to fire troll, back to drunk problem, sober and playing guitar now,  back to drunk problem, to captain save a kitchen, to shanti sena workshop facilitator, to actively scouting sites and posting directions.  …all the while always including aspects of the previous experiences in the new motif.
                I dunno, I guess the best way to look at is that I am not a protestor, I am a tribal activist. My tribe is a rebel underground affinity group, that acts like Indians and drinks coffee while dumping the metaphoric tea of TV in the metaphoric slit trench latrine.
                So in service to my tribe, I reached out , seeking someone who knew how to contact Ducky’s ex-husband, Coyote, out on his crazy Pot farm in the hinterlands. They had some dispute over a school bus they had planned to cross the country together in. Sandy was the caretaker of the property in question ( and the Pit bulls and Bull dogs that were being raised there.). She responded that not only would she be pleased to help facilitate my Diplomatic Mission to verify the non –op status of this school bus ( without bringing Ducky, who was not welcome at the farm ) she even had an authentic US Postal Service Bomber Jacket that she would give me if I performed my tasks well.
                The tasks turned out to include a return trip to Jacotas with the trimmed product of Ducky’s cut of the plants she and Coyote had planted together. It was a quick annulment, I guess, and my Diplomatic Postie Mission was really almost acting as process for a somewhat amicable divorce.
                That alone was a triumphant little series of activities. All I had to do was be me and go visit people I knew, help them resolve difficulties. AND now I had a coat with Postal Service insignia! I quickly cut the sleeves off and made it onto a light pocketed vest. For better or for worse, I aam now Mitzvah the postie, and we  are now collaborating, swashbucklingly, the second half of this hipstory will be about how it worke to do two Post Office Talent Shows at Cali Rainbow Gatherings.

Black Sheep Winter Solstice 2014
Rolling south from Redding in this Cali Rainbow Family housie grower chick’s big white cargo van. It had an incredible mural of Mt Shasta with aliens and sasquatch and faeries and such, the windows were tinted dark, and she liked to joke she was a bum stalker, lurking around train yards waiting for lost hobos in it. She called it a Rape Van. That was her sense of humor – so one wasn’t always sure if she was joking or creepy.
                We started out with six hippies and four dogs. By the time we got to the Gathering site, we had picked up another half dozen – so we were rolling in 12 deep. One of these was a gentle fellow we found playing a flute in front of the PetSmart in Santa Clarita.  I just leaned out the window and asked if he wanted to run away and join the hippies for a week, he said yes, and jumped in! I warned him we were going deep into the desert to gather with a bunch of wild spiritual outlaws. He was ecstatic! He called himself Rama Krishna Das, and we called him Ginger Monkey, because he was a tall ginger colored monk. And he sometimes made ooking noises like a monkey. I think he was aligning his bonobo chakra with his inner chimp, Or sumpin’ sumpin’…
                In the middle of the night we arrived at a dry wash down Ogilve Road in the middle of the Desert South East of the Salton Sea. The directions included the need to look for a blue rock, and then turn the other way. It was two AM. The driver lady was really deep into a bad mood, having had to turn around a couple of times in the dark. Eventually she stopped ythinking and just acted -  plowed down a likely seeming wash, fishtailing and eventually floundering … and then she announced that the ride was over for now, and kicked everybody out of thye now immobilized van so she could try to move – yelling, “ everybody get up and push,” in her best annoyed sleepy mad driver lady bellow. We did, and she drove on some more, got stuck again, and this time just made everyone but her and her lover and dogs get out till she had slept. It had been a long and harrowing drive, and she was voicing a lost sort of crankiness that is perfectly understandable.
                Next morning we reconnoitered the trail and found the Gathering site. As we entered the parking lot, we were pleased to be informed that we had just missed Fat Boy – who had kept the whole camp up the night before with drunken bellowing and general complaining that didn’t stop till the sun brightened the horizon and he was returned his keys (having been refused the right to drive drunk out of the desert into the night).   So, we were happy to have gotten lost on the way in.
                We arrived to find Jacota and Nat with their school bus and kids holding down Dirty kid Village with this fancy anarchist college student road dog mama named Puck and her 5 year old Gracie. I met them in Portland at a Monthly Pot Luck at the Rumors house, the millennium Falcon.  There was also a few other school buses, two of them committed to long term Rainbow Kitchen carrying  the Fat kids and the Alley bus. The Alley set up a grill and cooked right next to the bus, and the Fat Kids marched so far into the desert that only the committed and interested of the Gathering attendees found their outpost. These were typical activities for both crews – and you also had the Nic@nite West Coast OG’s ( Nic@nite, which had been where you sit by the side of the trail and solicit cigarettes to give away when Diz started it with Pixie and I in the Main Trail near Jah Love at the 97 Oregon National Gathering , has now become a very complex hierarchical structure with probation periods, specific required duties to carry the ‘Buzz-kit’, and a really productive side aspect, these Folks are committed to visiting every camp in site, answering any call into the night for a cigarette. They are the real process face of the old Shanti Sena who thought of themselves as specialized Rainbow vibologists.
                So, there being all of the desired elements of a Gathering already assembled by this now long running Dirty Kid Holiday Road Dog Gathering, I was quite pleased to just wander around the desert, carry some messages amongst the hippies, find an amphitheater in the twisted washes and scrub trees that would work well for theater in the round with a campfire center –and relax into the vibe of this Desert Gathering. The rules are a little different in the desert than the woods – no water, compost doesn’t work right, and the Shitter situation is complex … but that’s why I like being involved in focalizing California Gatherings – lots of different ecosystems.
                 I was just starting to feel I had a grip on this new Postie thing, and came to the conclusion that what I really needed to do was get a motorcycle to complete the picture. I could scout and camp while carrying out my little diplomatic missions, as I discerned what messages the Rainbow Family were really carrying. I don’t want to lie to you. I am just trying to live into the Rainbow Family Consensus. I gave up on mainstream society leading to a reasonable pattern of love – the only rational thought the common citizen has is about how they can get as many Rations of the Daily Bread without getting caught as possible. In Rainbow, we eat in a circle, Pregnant, nursing mamas and little kids first. The MotherPharm Project is the closest I come to understanding tax law – I have never filed income taxes – never earned , in a Calendar year, enough to rise above the official Poverty line. The cumulative value of my adult taxable income may not have yet crossed the poverty line for one whole year, I dunno. If it has, it surely doesn’t count for two. The Postie thing really looked like an addiction free way to serve the same Shanti Sena purposes as Nic@Nite currently did – so I was really feeling this new situation. There were two other guys in camp with the message bug – one, Chad, had a motorcycle, and was already all about becoming a motorcycle Postie! The other, Glytch, was just carrying around messages and reading them, he didn't really feel comfortable just calling himself a Postie. I don’t have that problem. I am the most arrogant person I have ever met, and I will call myself whatever I blessed well please.
                Cartography, the making and use of maps, is one of my favorite hobbies. Novel, the current west coast Nic@Nite OG, calls maps scout porn. I’m sure I heard that before I met him, but I liked the look on his face when he said it. He’s a drummer in a Dead cover band, and drummers say things really thoroughly. That’s Novel. So I was walking around the campsite with a pair of large pieces of white sheet plastic. One was becoming a map, the other had a marker drawing I had done of a couple in a yin yang kiss that had Rap 121 written beneath it.
                The Raps are the general consensuses of the Rainbow Family – the way we Gather, if you will. Rap 107 ‘Gathering Consciousness’ is the most commonly referred too. I had written it out on some canvas using Sharpies and given it to Finch after he dropped me in Texas, and while I was recovering from my hernia he carried it for me to the annual Gathering in Utah and Hung it Right in Front Of Gary Stubbs’ Rainbow Crystal Kitchen. I felt that for this Gathering, Rap 121 ( one to one ). Rap 121 is the Sexual Intimacy Rap – it’s pretty strangely chauvinistic, dividing the ideas into Brothers and Sisters and Everbody advisory statements like, “Nudity is Not an Invitation”, and “Love happens , Carry Condoms.” This one I would eventually tape up on a van in the parking lot and then give to Finch as I left the Desert we were pretending was the Woods.
 I was mapping out my Postie Route while hyping the talent show to come the next day (Christmas Eve), and had been all around the washes and such, failing only to find Fat Kids kitchen. That is no surprise, since I had been boycotting Fat Kids due to their support of the 2010 Death Camp Firecrackers at Main Circle debacle for almost 5 years. I wanted to find them, none of these current ‘Fat Kids’ had had anything to do with that bit of madness, and they had offered to cater the talent show. Perhaps my Pharonicly Hardened Heart was being Softened by being called Mitzvah so much.
I made my way to the Alley in the Parking lot, and saw that there was a bunch of kids with new chiweinies. I had been offered one the night before, little puppy Chihuahua/Datschathound mixes … I was tempted. I had given away my little Black dog the year before when it became obvious to me that to show up for court and succeed in taking care of my federal ticket for bold diplomatic actions I would have to do the whole clean and sober homeless shelter transformation process in Sacramento.
                Well, I happened to be about fifteen feet from a girl when she did the stupidest thing I ever saw. She was holding her new puppy in one hand, and a can of some cleaning agent in the other – huffing the vapor. That, all by itself is completely shwag, way out of line at a rainbow gathering. And she over did it, face planted, and killed her puppy. I spent the next hour calming her and her boy friend enough to get them to carry the little carcass out into the desert and try to bury it. As I walked away from them, one saw Novel, and called out for a cigarette. I told him what was up real quick, and asked him to see that the shovel made it back to the Alley. He gave me an upward head nod of consent and I and Sandy went to calm down. I can do relatively well in moments of crisis, but the nerves eventually hits me when the adrenelin wears off –and I was pretty freaked out by having had to be the calm guy in a puppy murder by a self destroying solvent huffer!
                Happily, there was a distraction in the form of two happy old codgers camping around with vigor  – Henry the Fiddler, and Charlie, this fancy old man with two huge, mustachioed hounds that he let do whatever they wanted. The fancy old man was always going on about how everything in life was a cycle of structural forms, best described as a BB, a Ping Pong Ball, and a Watermelon – that is, when he wasn’t adjusting the eight tarps he had set up on a web of random tree limb and rock tied off rigging. It was like sailing with the Ancient Mariner from Colleridge’s Rhyme. The two swirled me away from that awkwardness, and I slept in the Tent now erected as the first Rainbow Post Office to grace the Black Sheep gatherings, Jolly Rodger with POST OFFICE written on the Bones hung in the window.
                My plan for this day, Christmas Eve, was to walk the heart Shaped Black Sheep Map, hype the talent show, and then spend the afternoon preparing the props and those who might be persuaded to perpetrate some human puppetry. I was hoping the Ginger Monkey would be able to help in some of the set up. I have no idea what he did with his day.
                My Previous Talent show experience in Rainbow had begun at a Granola Funk stage with Aaron Funk in the Pennsacola National Forest, 1996. He and I saw things very differently, I found, and his grand constructions would become the hallmark of the Yearly July 4th Big time original Gathering. My shows tend to be at regionals, where the vibe is one where I can comprehend the consensus of the whole. I am just a really loud, really creative clown guy with a big smiley face. In Montana, at a Crazy Mountains Regional in 1999, I dabbled in Puppetry, and did two nights of Puppet MC, trying to take the Ego out of the shctick. Jimbo from Montana Mudd tells me that one of those nights, while I thought I was just teaching Jimbo and his son Duncan to sing the Rainbow Connection, there was actually a Ranger also on stage – singing along!! (I had no way of knowing, being behind a blind screen shouting with a wild polish gutterpunk accent that was my puppet voice for Wat Kschielieunat ( what choo lookin at )) The next time I tried to do a talent show stage, Colorado, 2000, we had a great spot picked, but then some kid drowned in the parking lot while eating Gypsum weed and not telling anyone that he was planning on risking his life to hallucinate. He drowned in a pond. GRRR! So we cancelled the puppet show, and I sat up all night at the Nic@Nite fire reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy out loud. I finished around Dawn. I kinda gave up on stages for a while, and Rainbow, until I came back in Wyoming, for the Annual Gathering – and there I tried to do a show stage at Shut up and Eat It ( which is this wild Dirty Kid Kitchen that has a bunch of Roll Playing Games kids – D&D, Magic the Gathering. I was helping with some of the LARP scenery by being in Pirate First Mate character, they were calling me Mr Smee, and we were camped by a huge stone, Smee’s Rock.) But then Dublin bumbled over from menace to Sobriety Camp with Fat Pat and Punched me for refusing to serve him rice until I finished making the food for everyone. I had asked him if it would make him feel better, he said yes, and did it. I fell backward, yanking the American flag I was wearing as a skirt off and tossing it in the air. It landed on my face, thus bearing my genitals. I lay there laughing, looking on through the flimsy flag as a wild argument raged. The nice Jewish guy who really ran Shut up and Eat it – Zack Monster – looked down at me in concern, as I had landed pretty close to hs feet. He then saw me laughing, and the great round girth of him began to shake as he laughed as well. After that My friend Poet and I did a stage at a Gathering in Maine, after the 2010 Pennsylvania, in the parking lot, no less! And it was an excellent turn out – starting with a 5 person naked chorus of Bohemian Rhapsody and incorporating a hand fasting marriage ceremony into the show – as a sort of intermission! The next stage I attempted after that was at an Ocala Regional in 2011 – on my Valentine’s Birthday – I built one in the same meadow Aaron Funk had used 8 years before. That afternoon, a section of the forest caught fire – and we put it out – 40 foot walls of flames! – before the forest service could arrive. We went on with the Talent show – my talent other than as MC was as Fire Troll, I had constructed an elaborate barrel dutch oven, inside which I had a set of circular racks on chains. I was baking three pizzas at a time with the fire I used to light the song, story joke time that made it through the haze. I must confess that my Fat Kids boycott really took a blow when Sarah Joy hunted me down before the show, after the fire, to give me one of the Vagina shaped Ganja cookies that the Fat Kids kitchen had prepared to pass out to everyone. I like cookies. So I ate it. It was really good. As much as I enjoy the process of that sort of showmanship, I gave up on a lot of my stage intentions when I began focusing on the scouting side of things and trying to answer old Brother Stubbs’ cry out for new blood in the Shanti Sena Workshops a few years ago, and got into this weird idea of being more of a show onto myself at all times. That, like stalks stemming up from seeds to blossom, was finally to begin to pay the harvest – and I set out that morning to bring in the players for the nights free expression festivities. First we went to Dirty Kid Village to get ourselves some coffee. As we approached, Jacota walked out, his pupils beading into black cinders, and said quietly, “Shanti Sena, we need a walk out”.
                Jacota had been at a couple of the workshops, we knew the drill – a brother had been accused by a sister of Rape. In the first hot moments when such a thing is said, it’s easy for a guy to get lynched at a hobo camp. Rainbow ain’t a hobo camp, and in the long run the Facts didn’t really seem to corroborate her tale. The dirty kid mamas inspected her and interviewed her, and came away feeling that there were no grounds to press charges. But that was after I had gotten the kid to the parking lot and into a friendly RV. We sat there, talking. With his permission, took his picture and got his contact info. He was a decent enough guy, and he could see that staying in the woods where an allegation had surfaces could lead to trouble. Someone found him a ride to town on the next water run.
                That took the rest of the morning, and as noon came high in the desert sky, I walked toward the Alley Bus, seeing Novel walking towards me and away from a more crowded area beyond the Fat Kids bus. He walked right up to me and said, quietly, pointing over his shoulder, “Really Big Gun.” The look in his eyes told me the rest. I removed the safety from the pepper spray I was carrying (good for disabling deranged animals of all sorts, so long as you know good first aid and such. I reckon I can take a bullet and still get off a spray worth at least tactical value in the resulting melee. A lot of my new Shanti Sena thinking has been influenced by my recent Security Guard training. A pacifist brings pepper-spray and a smile to a gun fight) and put it back in the ass pocket of the black Carharts overalls I had on. Coming around the bus I see that there is a circle of about 40 heavy dudes in Carharts and other rough, train core traveler ware, all within 100 feet away from the center. The center was two vehicles, one a pick up truck with its hood up, revving its engine, trying to charge the battery of the other vehicle –a Nissan two door silvery late model car. Or what remained of it – a huge cement block had been used to crush the windshield, the passenger window was broken, the hood had been crushed – and there was this 6’3’’ blond dude with sun glasses and corn rows, tank top on his over muscled chest and loose shorts with tennis shoes. Oh, and swinging around a semi-automatic weapon.
                I walk directly up to him, within his arms reach, so he has to choose not to hit me with the gun, and I say, “need some help, brother?”
                He looks at me and gestures with his free hand at the other guys trying to jump start his engine futilely, saying, “I already got some…”
                Before he could elaborate I say, “You don’t understand. I am telling you that you need some help. All these guys are watching me, right now, to see how you respond to me.”
                He looks around again, and hugs the gun to his chest, looks down at it, says, “this is all just a front man, it’s all a misunderstanding. These fools came to me all fucking night long, like zombies, clawing at my windows, begging for my vodka and cigarettes. I just came here to bury some Crystal Grams In the desert, man. I didn’t even know you guys were here. This car is trashed, I am just stalling now, it’ll never start again. It’s just a rental anyway – I destroyed it myself when that Nigger bitch threw a rock at it! Ha. “He saw me eyeing the gun, “oh, this, this ain’t nothing, it’s a pellet gun - A scale replica semi-automatic 45 caliber, but still just a pellet gun.” I was able to see this clearly now. I turned to the guys who were now packing up their jumper cables, having heard the score. I walked away, and this kindly SCROLL ( Southern California Rainbow of Living Light ) brother J’hai walked up and said, “ I’m not sure we need more people setting him off, “ I said quickly – “ I just reasoned with him. He’s harmless, scared of us. That’s a pellet gun. I have a talent show to prepare for.” J’hai expressed surprise about the idea that reason could have been involved- but it all worked out easy from there. And away I walked.
I eventually learned that the girl who helped me on the walk-out, who happened to be black, had been the one who set him off – he had just casually and rudely called her a Nigger, and she just as casually and just as rudely threw a rock through his passenger window. So the fool got out, and began screaming and stuff, first grabbed a garbage bag tied up and full on the ground near the bus and tore it open – and to his surprise it was filled with stuffed animals for the Christmas tree share-a-monie tomorrow! This freaked him out, he picked up a piece of concrete rock aggregate that may have been part of a road sign base, and smashed his own rig. Up till now it had just been a bigoted freak out, and the Gatherers were still trying to just help him go away. Then he pulled out the gun, and Novel followed his intuition.
                SO by now I just had time to grab the props from the van and head to the Post Office, drop them off, and then back to the Main Circle to lead a parade from there back to the show spot.
                Someone volunteered, and was ready with a big post card from my Posties Suppies and a ball point pen, to write down the names of all those who desired to be in the show. She walked around Main Circle with it, and brought up the rear as I led a parade back to the Post Office. It was about a quarter of a mile up a winding wash – and as we arrived, I informed those at the front of the line that I had no idea how we were going to light the show – I had spent the whole short day dealing with Shanti Sena movies instead of gatheing wood. I walked over to the tent, and began pulling out props. When I turned back around 3 minutes later – just fewer than 75 people had arrived around the now huge flames of the just lit bon fire! Everyone was happy with the little windless alcove I had found, and the acoustics allowed for real, functional theater in the round.
                The show featured multiple performances by Henry the fiddler (starting with Somewhere over the Rainbow played on the carpenter’s saw with a bow, later leading a chorus of the Rainbow Sleeps tonight where he conducted and fiddled), the CheeseBurger Boys ( Novel from Nic@Nite’s Dead Cover Band ) Played an acoustic set while Fat Kids cooked an intermission meal of chicken and rice right on the fire in the midst, I played my song Common Ground and MC’d, and in the course of the evening we managed to use the full 360 degrees. And we pulled off perhaps my favorite ad lib skit stunt ever – the gas jugging sketch, with me pretending to beg for gas from Novel (who was playing a self-centered nor-cal pot grower) whose role was to refuse me – and Finch  - who pulled up right at the end after I tried a few lines on Novel – and filled me right up. Then I broke the fourth wall, and asked the audience who had gas jugged on the way there. About a third raised their hands – and the other two thirds gave them a variety of stunned and/or knowing looks. I summed up for them, “ those of you who have been paying for gas you can’t afford, please talk to the others here before you leave,” – that’s the kind of awkwardly pretentious moralizing I tend to mix onto the end of my skits – always with the moralizing, that Mitzvah!  In all, the show lasted about 5 hours, and I was so tired I had to go to bed in the Tent (which was functionally on the stage) while the last few people made music for each other and put the fire out.
                The next morning was Christmas –and Foots, Prison Camp Riot Buddy from the Rumors AZVD adventures, was playing Santa. He immediately picked me as one of the elves to distribute gifts after we ohmed around the tree and Santa Foots distributed the Kids all the presents their parents would let them have. Then I picked up the garbage bag full of newspaper wrapped odds and ends, books and baubles that had been donated for this Share-a –monie.
                In the middle of the night, on the way back North with Someone driving, the Van Rolled into a Border Patrol Cheeck Point. We had nine hippies in the back with no seats. The guy goes, “where are you  headed to?” “Northern California” “Got any Passengers in there?” “It’s jammed full of hippies.” He shined the light in, saw smiles and dreads and more paperwork than he had done in the last year inviting him, and said, “Get out of here.” We left the Desert after another couple of days getting things cleaned up and returned Ginger monkey to his Petsmart, where his bike was still locked up where he had left it!                    
                Tragedy struck a friend of mine repeatedly after the Blacksheep Gathering – the NorCal Lady who had driven us all there. With no other options, it seemed, in a series of shoe string stretching, Scorpio maneuvers, she hooked my friend Jacota and I into a series of her odd adventures.  That’s how the Postie thing works, you try to help people Carry their message. So I was left with the Van and her dogs in Sacramento for a week, waiting for her to return. Happily, Jacota and Nat  were also in town visiting family, so it wasn’t too lonely. After all, it was during this little diversion that I discovered that Jacota had gotten into school to study diesel mechanics, a community college – and had gotten PAID in grant money to do so!
I knew a lot of people who had had similar experiences – but they tended to be moms and such – responsible-ish types. Jacota is one of my favorite peoples in the whole damn world. He also has a tattoo on his Face that says, clearly, under one eye ‘Bitches’, ‘Is Hurt’ under the other. He and I are/were both too crazy to cash a reality check  – we got that ODD Oppositional Defiant Disorder (which is only diagnosed in youths) coupled with full blown Peter Pan syndrome, He is the Rat King and I am fooling you by suggesting that Mitzvah is a good thing to say when you want my attention. Its all a jest, so let it all be blest is how I know it best. I am the Clown Without a Name.
                So if Jacota could do it, I reckoned maybe I could. I got involved in the homeless services system in , and got all signed up to study Automotive electronics, Spanish, Swimming, Piano, and Music Fundamentals. And I will get paid to do it – which is gonna buy the Postie Motorcycle – and then it’ll be on like Donkey Kong. I won’t be cheatinn the system, I am gonna need the vehicle to succeed in the classes. And I will be pursuing an associate’s degree as a Music major via piano, toward an ethnomusicology degree and who knows. If they will pay me to make better music, then by Jazstrology, I will!
                But that’s not until August. It will be September, really, before I can seriously consider buying a bike. As I write this, the date is June 8th.. I realize that my style is not very similar, nor are the things I pay attention to the same – but this hipstory is a direct response to the passing of Butterfly Bill, earlier this year. When Finch and I were rolling around together on Furthur tour and back and forth from councils and such, we read aloud to each other quite a lot from Butterfly Bill’s hipstories of the Rainbow Nationals. Well, Mine is a bit different than Bill’s, I guess. Maybe the Peace I am Praying for has more to do with Disaster Relief than just general zenlightenment … I like to phrase it as the Babylon Refugee Rescue Operation, BRRO, for short. Well, the BRRO lately has been pretty focused on a natural, organic and holistic response to the events of a night in Florida. Finch was in New York, taking part in the Living Theater (really cool old school guerrilla theater). Novel was hidden away on a Farm playing Drums.
I was at a house in northern California that I got to by way of Paradise. Strange foots were a thing. My little network of Shanti Sena associates that had built up over the years came crackiling to life in the strangest of ways. I was preparing to meet up with my friend the Constable of Cascadia ( who deputized me as a Constable to the dirty Kids and gave me the fedora I wear today ) and go with him to the Black Bear Ranch. As I prepared a place for my elderly, white bearded old broken backed buddy – it was brought to my attention that a guy who I had met on a previous visit to this location had stolen the dog from his girlfriend, whom I had met here with him. On top of that, I guess he had even stolen a bunch of pot from the house when he left as the owner was away – leaving with another guy whom was supposed to be trusted too… A very very strange house, the family who ran it was in denial about a cat that lived in the walls – and I am allergic to cats – so I couldn’t really hang too long. Some pot growers are really into the science and medicine, the health and beauty. This family seemed to be making hash to sell so as medicine so that she could smoke cigarettes and drink beer all day without ever running out.  There was an east coast accent, and sometimes talked about how old train hopping buddies had had to rescue the mom from some beatings – so I could only share my songs and hoped they might soothe her ragged nerves. The pot trimming buddies were pretty ritually taking advantage of this family, and they were just getting ripped off left and right and didn’t do much about that. But when a friend’s dog disappeared, we all sprang to life, reeling in all of our old connections and checking all the online groups, and viola! The dude was spotted with the dog at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. My old friend Irie was currently living there, and Jacota was visiting! They went to the scene, two wiry and wild looking Rasta dreads, and this oogle schmuck raises his hands and gives up the dog. Jacota delivered it personally by train to its owner in Redding. I took off when my friend the Constable showed up – he had been delayed, and went down to see the Cheeseburger boys playing near Sacramento.
Passing the Electrons on Feather Book
                There were some crazy kids that called themselves the Toxic Projects at the Gatherings lately. They are sort of an out growth of Menace to Sobriety and the Agro Rednecks Coffee house – dirty kid responses to the Wrecking Crew and A-camp of old.  Well, at this winter’s Acola Gathering there was a tire fire at the Toxic Projects. A brother from another camp didn’t like that, so he came to get them to stop burning tires (illegal and toxic – but it was the Projects). They refused. He took out a cell phone camera to record the tire fire. The Projects kids grabbed the camera, and one threw it in the fire. The original complaint having gone way out of control, the camera man got out his gun and shot two brothers. He killed Smiley, maimed Dice with a blow to the neck. Then things got stupid, and he was beaten and stabbed repeatedly before the police could show up.
                Over the next 48 hours the electron feather was passed all around the country. Every corner of the country where Rainbows Gathered, the factions were forming and lines being drawn in the emotional sands of our time … oh golly was the dope opera soapy … and I found that I had committed myself to this Spring’s California Regional, where I would be enacting a 7 day Shanti Sena workshop, with 4 specific days of activities. I was even bold enough to state my desired dates, as tentatively the 23-30th of May.
                I phrased it immediately as a 7 day workshop – with 4 event days separated by middle days whence other Gathering priorities may be observed.
                I had quite a time attempting to arrange for kitchens with a reputation to show up. I was a hitch hiking focalizer most of the winter and early spring, from Redding up to Central Oregon and down to the Bay on I-5, and 101, with a bunch of Sacramento and the hills East of her mixed in. Marty was leading a series of Scouting workshops, driving his new RV up into the woods in several locales, and inviting folks to come out and walk the land with him if they wanted to learn how to really do this stuff.
                All the while, the CheeseBurger Boys were doing a series of shows, and so I got myself into the mode of following a band again. Except this time they were bringing me home after the show for the after party.   
                By early April I was certain of very little, but was pretty sure that no big gear kitchens were coming. I can only be so hard on myself – the vibe I set is aggressively passive … strange ego deflation modules float around my intentions … but the Shitshow whence this series of Gatherings began really was carried out in the interest of full transparency and open dealings. We wanted to clear the air, and so that’s why it was a bit of a mess at the start. Last year’s cali spring regional had been an awesome success, small and peaceful and on good terms with the Rangers.
                So I got myself down to SF early for the weekend events around Bicycle Day, when we were gonna have our Council in the park, and got back on Diamond Dave’s Common Thread Collective Radio Show. I was playing the same tune as in 2013, things were just a little more mature now, I guess.
                Over the course of the weekend I mingled with the travelling folk and street culture of San Francisco. As usual, there was a huge assemblage mounting for the city’s 4/20 unofficial Golden Gate Park epicenter of hypocrisy – more folks – the crowd rivals those that gather for the Giants Baseball Games on the East Shore of the Peninsula.
                There were a number of the likely suspects – Spaz was in the area. I had met him at his first Gathering, that Ocala fire event in 2011. He was doing well in the GDF scene, but had been having problems kicking some pain remedies whose usefulness with a broken ankle had ceased. I was pleased to invite him camping. The troublesome looney tunes individuals weren’t so easy to find now – I suspect that this is because I quit smoking tobacco. There are just as many interactions to be had in the day – but without the smokey brown, I seem to be interacting with a lot more non-smokers (of whom there are more than there are smokers). 
Bicycle Day GGP Sharon Meadow
                The day dawned chilly, and stayed that way - overcast and awkwardly windy all morning. I Cardboard signed my way to a cup of coffee and headed into the Park to sit with my feather and wait for family to show up. I knew that most of the Landed Gentry Pot Grower types would be coming the next day for the big event. Their migrant farm worker labor force would be here trying to make a buck for them and themselves. I am not trying to criticize – they are doing the only thing they can in this twisted system – the whole black market prohibition bullshit makes for bad emotional and moral sanitation in continuing cycles of prison populations and broken homes. And as I already described, the black market work force can’t be trusted not to steal when there is no thug enforcement. That is the sum value of the Marijuana Prohibition – although I tend to think that the current environmental catastrophy process unfolding can be clearly linked to the loss of the organic hemp standard and the raising of the bloody golden dollar flag above the Atomic slag heap.
                Preparing for an urban Rainbow Circle can be awkward. It was very early, and as I set up to drink coffee in that spot in the park, an elderly black gentleman in a puffy coat with a cane that had a tennis ball on the end nodded to me from a path. I came over, smiling, and threw away something random in the garbage can near where he stood. He wanted to make sure I wasn’t trying to sell pot on his turf or some such dizzle. I let him know I was here to pass a feather and share food to plan a campout for the Rainbow Family. No sales welcome at our circle – we will share as much as we bring. He nodded, we passed a joint, and I saw no trouble all day from the local urban sales force.
                The hippies began to file in, WannaBurn camp from Blacksheep was there, our old Friend Red Dog, a few cats I had camped with before here and there, and a number who were new to my eyes but not my mind (because of the Fizzle Bizzle Electron Feathers I have more friends than I am sure I know. ), Spaz and his new crew.
I began passing the Turkey Feather after getting the assembled worthies to hold hands in a circle and ohm. That’s how I know I am ringing the Resonance Bell correctly – when the people will Ohm in a circle holding hands. If you are too you to Ohm with me, then I guess you are too you for us to be we.
                I opened with an Aloha,
Aroha Aroha Aroha Nui
( which is to say , love to all those present, to all whom they know, to all the word )        
Haere Mai Hare Mai Hare Mai ( which is you are welcome here, to bring anyone, all are welcome )
This is a traditional Maori means of expressing the beginning of a meeting, I am member of the Ngongotaha Maeri, the house in which we meet when I lived with them in my teens, in New Zealand.
First I spoke of the need to be present, one for another, in the days to come. That if you were here, in the park, or in the woods, or in India for that matter – and were in danger and cried out “SHANTI SENA”, then heads with pacifism as their intent who heard you would come to be of assistance bringing back the Peace to the scene. Then I passed the feather, asking that folk speak to this.
After that, I spoke my heartsong for the day to be filled with heartsongs about the Gathering we were here to reach consensus for – I spoke to the hipstory of how we had built this cycle of Gatherings out of this 4/20 situation in the park in a harmony movie that had had some good results, in terms of new good relations moving forward. I passed the feather, and we heard much of the hipstory of our now third annual GGP Spring Rainbow Vision Council related from different perspectives.
                After this full circuit of the feather, we consented to move out of the Redwoods into the open meadow, toward the Janis Tree. We were hoping to get more warmth from the ambient air when the scattered clouds let the sunshine through. As we did so, a strange trio appeared – a familiar smiling face with a blue hoodie distributed very small Bicycle Day fliers with nothing printed on them, as a strange fellow with a curley mustache and dapper vest and matching pants was accompanying a beautiful lady in a flapper dress. They were struggling in the wind to set up a folding table with a sign trying to draw attention to the chemist who discovered MDMA. This mad cap scampering was only exasperated when I walked over and tried to help by offering the use of my extra necktie while playing some loose reggae sort of skank on my guitar.
And then, finally, Marty showed up with his Laptop, and we reconvened into our OHM circle Rainbow Vision Council better selves. Within a pretty short period we had looked over some video of potential spots, I confirmed Marty’s stories of how we had seen this two years ago and set it aside for future consideration. He explained how our general interactions with the Rangers in this area over time had been a positive progression. We had both paid in Karma/Dharma/Zippa/Dee/Doodah for things we hadn’t ever consented to.
Thank  Goodness we have Sandy Scapegoat to blame shit on.
Well, as the days went by, and no obvious help was arriving, I got more and more antsy to get to the woods. But I needed to arrive with Shovels and Picks and Cast Iron Dutch Ovens and Tarps and stuff. Not a Hitch hikable trip. Marty Released the Directions, as we had discussed, nine days before the first day of the planned gathering :
                I saw that and immediately kicked it all into high gear, put together a Google Phoone Number and made a directions message … and some friendly norcal family saw my agitation, knew that there was no one on site with an outdoor wilderness soup kitchen in their back pocket  that we knew of – and her boss let us drive one of his extra cars on the farm down to the spot, 4 hours and twenty minutes away, as the Oogle G Maps it.
                We were almost there. Going down the hill on the way into Jackson, having taken the smoothest route possible – and I got pulled over driving next to a gas station. Apparently my Brake Lights were Dim. In Broad Daylight, on a mountain road, pulled over for dim brake lights. With a tall black Dready Brother in the Back seat, , a hitch hiker in the Front Passenger Seat, myself driving – Keno ( the dread ) had our empty beer keg in his lap ( head of this stainless steel baby has been removed, it is used to boil water ) because the rest of the back seat and trunk was entirely too full tarps, tents, tools, crates of food stuffs – we were rolling in to who knew what and I was prepared to be the only one with a clue if necessary. The directions had been online for over 36 hours.  
                “Officer, I want to tell you right away that I know I shouldn’t be driving. I misled these people, my friends, and just acted like I still had a liscence this morning. I just asked what I was driving and drove. I am on my way to the Sopiago Springs Resort to conduct a workshop seminar on water conservation. You know, pipe breaks in your yard, you lose a lot of water in the drought. I do a lot of Irrigation, “ I began … he said, “ that’s great. That’s a good cause,”
…quickly I continued, “it’s not like I lost my liscence, I just let it lapse when I moved to California,” I continued, handing him the IDs from all three of us.
                “Well, a legal driver will have to take over – but just wait. Your plates aren’t coming back as anything. Do you have any paper work…” things got weirder and weirder – they took the license plate off the vehicle while we sat there, a K9 vehicle showed up, they were talking about letting us drive away … but warned that we would be likely to be pulled over if we did…. And then some woman ran up to the cop car, in hysterics. 90 seconds later he was handing me the ids back and saying, “it’s your lucky day, we have a medical emergency … just remember, this was just a misdemeanor, if I had written you the ticket – but if you had had a license, you would have been up for several felonies.”
                And then all the cops went away, and we called Marty. He drove into the woods behind us to block our missing plate, exactl as we told the cops we would do, and we landed in the forest to find 12 people already there.
And then there were 15 nights in the El Dorado National Forrest
Saturday may16
                On the way into the woods, Marty pulled over to pick up a couple of kids on their way to their first Gathering, whom I had met at the Council in the Park. All of the omens were going well.
                As we rolled in, there was a huge tarp set up with shiny late model Pickup trucks. Not our crowd. We drove up the hill into an open spot on the open landing turn around spot where several trails of mixed uses converged. I saw a white extended cab cargo van, a red pick-up truck, and a few scattered bags and pieces of equipment. Marty pulled up his great big Blue 70’s model Pick-up truck, keno drove us in and backed the car into the trees, and we began to unload. Hippies popped out here and there and we invited them to help unload the kitchen. “Welcome Home,“ some people began laughing, and then I saw her. It was Bob, the lady who was the mom of the family that had become known as Death Camp – the very reason for my Boycott of Fat Kids kitchen was telling me about us being shot at by the people camping up the road. She said she told the guy he was frightening children, and he just told her to deal with it.
                I sometimes suffer from vertiginous twists of perspective where I find myself compelled to direct action. All I had here was cognitive dissonance. Too much data. This other Brother, long dreads, walks right up and introduces himself as Metatron, tells me he has been here for days before the announcement of the site, tells us we are in the wrong place, insults the scouting off handedly, and then asks me to come a mile up a mountain away from where we are to where he is camped ( where his cr broke down ) because it is so much better. A mile uphill from the creek, into the dry piney woodland filled with motorcross vehicles. The cognitive diddonance was so thick, I just dissociated myself fro the whole thing.
 I smiled at Marty and the hitchhikers. We marched off into the forest and went to go find the springs and meadows, hoping to find a spot for the kitchen and stage in the moments before the sun set. AND we did ALL of that, returned to the parking lot, set up a tent across the road from the cars in the parking lot and attempted to get some beloved rest in the cold. I had brought only my own yogi gear (thin sheet and a blue foam pad) and the family whose car we came in wanted me to share their tent so for body heat. I didn’t get much sleep amidst the awkward snoring and sliding down hill.
                We woke to the sounds of gunfire. Skeet shooting. About a third of a mile away, down the hill, the guy was firing downstream. I walked down that way, and when I got near the camp, I saw he Hispanic family there. Four adults and six kids. No wonder Bob’s appeal to the safety of the children meant nothing. I called out, “Aloha, is every one okay? I heard gunfire, and was concerned, is everyone okay here?”
                The dad laughs, “ yes sir, thank you, we are all okay here. I am teaching my children gun safety.” He gestured to his children and the skeet set up.
                I point down the creek, along which he is shooting, and say, “ well, I am camping with about fifteen people down stream that way,  we have some kids and dogs and vets and stuff along the creek. We will be here for a week, maybe as many as a hundred folks. Could you maybe aim up stream instead of down?”
                He took a better look at me, squinted, perhaps began to see the hippiness, and said, “we will be leaving in a little bit.”
                “Oh, that’s great, I will come back in a bit and get someone to park here to help us define our camp area,” I responded, walking up the pathway they had been using as their skeet range, along the creek. They changed the direction of their firearms.  
Sunday May 17
                On that walk I reconfirmed for myself several things I had seen the day before; property boundaries of the National Forest, the edges of the cow fences Marty told us bordered the meadow we were allowed to use, and we found a cool old foundation in the middle of the creek where it flowed over the bedrock – it was a sluice gate from old logging and mining times.
                We walked up from there through the opening into the meadow, and found some habitat markers that made me wonder how the Ranger Resource people would look at this old orchard, and we then walked back down through the gate and up the trail. Things were all connecting now, I could see the circular main trail, the use of the hill and the creek, all of it was there. This was a very small site, though, right across the road from where ATVs had four wheeler and motorcross routes set up – the areas we were using the Rangers had carefully blockaded with a variety of means. So we knew that they would leave us alone, if we stayed off their trails.
                The site was nice, and a real mess. Shot gun shells and trash all over the place. Just the way I like IT! Not really, but it gave us a purpose. Give me some woods to clean up, and all of my fury over the evil inherent in the usurious prison industrial war system devolves into questions of camp sanitation and ‘when can we do a talent show?’.
                I was hopeful that the site would conform to my vision for the Shanti Sena Workshop to be for 7 days. But that was next week. First, the site would need to become a functional space – and so our one car kitchen needed a place to be. At the point where all of the paths converged, and where the spring came directly out of the hill 100 feet away into a trough to be collected and boiled for drinking – 100 feet from the creek in the other direction, on the first set of rises to the hillside – I found a spot in the wide spot of the old road where the rangers had felled a dozen big trees to block off the paths a decade ago when they closed off forest service road 8N59. I ran into one of these guys, an LEO, Vern V., and he recognized me immediately as one of the focalizers of a couple years ago. They told me what they thought of the Facebook page, and I asked them if they could get their bosses in to help get an operating plan in place. He said sure. Good first interaction, this time around. I asked him if he knew Paul Zohovitz, he said of course, and I asked him to wish him well for me. That’s the LEO Ranger who hugged me in full duty gear at Green and Purple two years before.
                It was Raining a bit, and I had gotten the worker bees out of the hippies who had shown up so far to carry some heavy metal to the spot I had chosen, a ring of trees, in a near perfect circle, just above he road, making for great divisions of areas, flat spaces to hang out, logs to sit on, it was a nice spot. We got the supply tent st up and all the food in it, as it was beginning to rain, and I marched off in the rain to go find some lumber to set up a temporary stove on our grate with.
                I crossed the now faster flowing creek, found a really great 8 foot tall piece of standing dead wood, - a real stout oaken log – pushed it and it fell on my shoulder. I teetered it up, and set out, feeling the spiritual moment  of accepting the gift from the land to build and burn, and crossed the creek. I slipped on some moss off of a rock, and landed flatfooted in the water with my tennis shoes on. The trunk stayed balanced. I breathed, laughed, marched on, got to camp, cut the log in half, dug out the ground between the two pieces and refilled it with rocks and dead sand, and tossed the Community Kitchen’s three foot long heavy duty cook grate across it. We were boiling water by sundown, eating there. The hippies came down from the parking lot in the rain when I had our one small tarp up, and I as  dinner cooked, they dug out and started up a big bliss fire in a ring of fallen trees on the trail beneath the kitchen. What was a scattered mess became an epicenter of ever increasing bliss. I slept in the supply tent that night.    In the maneuver with the log across the river, I did something to my back, though. It’s a wonky thing anyways, I am tall and fractured my pelvis in 2003, so I just have problems. But we’ll get to that.
                                                                                Monday May18
I was helping establish some boundaries around our new space. One of the gifts we had gotten from previously established kitchens came from Sunshine of Rumors and Misinformation – she had made use of my Postie ness to have me deliver a tin full of Medicated Olive oil to the dietary Center for Alternative Living Medicine for the people who needed it at seed camp for this gathering.
                So, there were Meditators in the Dutch Oven and I went to go about the business of improving the stove, gathering wood and building an acceptable dish station. My back was getting wonkier and wonkier. I walked up the trail and back down from the top parking lot where we had convinced Bob to move – thus establishing three trail heads – Dirty Kid Village at the Top of the hill by the green gate to the orchard, Agro Rednecks Coffee House holding down the alcohol permitted area of the gathering in the big turn around at the half way point up the road, and we got a pair of cars to move to the spot where the guns had been shooting – a couple with several kids in one van, and a guy who was mostly deaf. Not the ideal Welcome Home, but it was seed camp.
                After breakfast, I went up to Aggro Rednecks to hang out with Link, Sinner, and Fat Pat. I had been in tight communication with Sinner for a month now, as he found out he had scirrohsis, and had to decide what to do about his habits. While deciding, he was keeping the drinking in the Rainbow Parking lot to  a minimum by enforcing enjoyment with music. As I got up there, the Ranger contingent was arriving, and walked with me down into the woods – I showed them what we had gotten built, described our intentions for sanitation and started talking about workshops – and so he cut me off. They didn’t want to hang out too long in the rain, but the group of hippies I am rolling with has gotten a good reputation in the right corners for cleaning up messes that no one else deals with. So the Rangers were shown the shitter and we were promised a Resourcee team and further talks with the higher ups. I described the plan used two years ago, and he said he not only had it on file, he had reviewed it that morning. Problem was, he had a boss too, and all that had to get coordinated through some resource rangers. We agreed to reconvene the next day.
                We were all standing beneath my Jolly Rodger, Marked, the Post Office. When people asked what kitchen they were at, I told them that they were at the Post Office, I was Mitzvah, I am a Postie, and this Post Office has a Community Fire where we try to make a sanitary place for family to share food in the woods and well, you get the picture. The Rangers really wanted to call it ‘the kitchen’. I thought of it as a staging ground, a place to post up and prepare for the workshops to come – a spot where I needed to have the experience of the family manifesting it’s intent around the idea of these workshops – I kept explaining that day one, Saturday the 23rd, we would do an intro and Shanti Sena Hipstory, dqy two, Monday the 25th we would have a more detailed, in depth lok at difficult situations,  Day three, the Thursday, we would get into practical applictions in diverse locations as appropriate to individual experience and desires, and the on the final day, Saturday the 30th, we would have a talent show where hopefully some elements of Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed ( the Rainbow of Desire ) would come to the surface and we would have a strong musical and improv shanti sena oral heartsong workshop DURING the talent SHOW!  Finch and  had been talking a lot about my desire to incorporate the Theatre of the Oppressed into my Rainbow endeavors – I had been in a troupe dedicated to Boal’s vision in Port Townsend, when that pelvic fracture happened all those years ago.
                So, to be having such positive motions in early seed camp – the appropriateness of so many of the interactions was astounding, compared to the Siege conditions and Rebel base Camp we had endured on the Caldor Road. I dig chaos theory, that meteorological sensitive dependence on initial conditions silliness really works for me. Butterflys and invisible strings make sense to me as the prime motivators, or at least, the part of it that we can detect. I am a very utilitarian sort of mystic – so when a brother popped his camp up near Welcome Home and identified himself as Oopsie, an old school Co-op kitchen hand – I mentioned D-fire with whom I had doe co-op in the 90’s. Oopsie totally had a bunch of common friends with me from then, and by who he knew, I knew he knew how to handle himself at a Peaceful Assembly. My backdoor just grew a Leprechaun! He had been away from family raising kids. It happens to the best of us, that strange affliction of pregnancy so often robs the Rainbow of the Productive years of its best advocates.
                 When the Rangers Left, Marty and his wife and child arrived to look at our spot – he enjoyed and approved of our efforts. There was an amazing couple from the start, Rye and Melody, both old hands at building kitchens and Ranger relations, and the helpful hippies were pretty eager. Lots of newbies, just trying to figure out the impossible. So, as Marty arrives, he tells me he has a huge supply run, and we send the newbies to check it out, and I was about to move the supply tent to a better location, when the back spasms began. They lasted four five insane hours of writhing, twitching , on the ground ,paralyzed and crying --- varied with periods of relative calm when I could direct the arrival of supplies and help the newbies troubleshoot their way toward cooking sanitarily. Somehow, as I was praying for an angel to appear, an ex nurse turned crack head showed up instead ( now many years passed the crack stage – we hope - I told her that I was in a really obscene amount of pain, and wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating her or not. She came over, found my glasses, put them on me, touched me and said, “I’m local”, with a smile. She said if it was this bad, I should go to the hospital. I said I would if I couldn’t move by morning. Nothing was broken, it just wasn’t working right. I described my pain, and then I heard another voice, her cousin, who had come into camp with her. This lady suffers from severe spinal problems, and asked me what they would do for me at a hospital – I told her they would give me some heavy duty anti-inflamitories, because my asthma made muscle relaxers a dangerous route. She pulled out some Tramadal that she had in her first aid kit, and by noon the next day I was able to stand again.
                I was a bit of a cripple for a few days, and spent a lot of time asking people to help me do stuff – but I also believe that hard work is the best physical therapy – so It all mixes together.
Tuesday May 19
                I woke, wondering what had really gone on the night before, and found I didn’t really trust my recollections. I knew that I had been prone, with my 17 pound Chihuahua Toro hanging with me. I had gotten Toro off the Craigslist Free Page during mid February when I found myself hitching around focalizing. He’s a good boy. He may be part squirrel, or something. He still had his balls at this gathering, and was about ten months old.
                In the course of the morning I was busy showing these brothers Jacob and Sunshine where I thought the stage would end up being. They were both very interested in being prt of the positive vibe – it was Sunshine’s first Gathering. Jacob made a sort of hipster cool pose out of not counting how many Gatherings he had been too – as if it were some sort of braggadocio. I laughed, and started telling the small, growing group there at the Post Office that morning that I hoped we could find a couple to marry, that always makes for the intense Talent Shows, the wedding angle. Right then and there a couple was walking up, Pixie and Kansas they introduced themselves as – and announced that they were here to help the kitchen. I said great, explained the community fire motivation of the Post Office, and they plugged right in to helping gather wood and clean the scene up. I was ecstatic, and let their new energy just fill up the space.
                When a meal came up, I asked if they had any interest in the wedding at the Talent Show idea – and she was beside herself with joy – He had just gotten out of Prison, and she wanted to renew their vows from before he got locked up. I took all of that as good sign, and went up toward the Welcome home area, where I had been working on finding a way to make the scene more inviting.
                 As I was walking that way, brother Oopsie called out from his little fire area and asked if I wanted to join him for a chat. The fire was out, but he was propane heating some water for coffee, and I couldn’t resist. Within a few minutes, he offered me his extra tarp, as he realized I had donated my tarp and tent to the Kitchen area, and was sleeping by the bliss fire in the kitchen by this point.
TO best make use of the Tarp, I set up a pair of tripods of long sticks – tied together at a 12 foot distance between to trees about 30 feet apart.I hung the tarp on the resulting structure in such a way to make a small weather proof porch lean to  - though it was primarily verticle, I could sleep in the angle.  AIt served to block the view of and from the road from the trail head.
I had arrived at the fire that morning to discover that the couple who had been there were sort a jerks – they had been burning their baby diapers and left several just half incinerated in their firepit. I had to completely dismantle the whole thing and start anew at another spot, I reckoned. There and then the rain began to get weird, the clouds began to change, the wind to shift. I t Thundered, and then began to hail. The few heads dashing too and fro got beneath the abundant tall conifers. I guess we were probably camped in primarily douglas fir – maybe some sequoias mixed in, but after the Clear cut in the 1800s, the place had been replanted as a tree farm, orderly rows of straight trunks all over the terrain.
The local Ranger showed up a bit later, and asked if I had seen the former campers, I said no, wish they would come get their trash and let me tell them that we don’t roll like that in these woods. He told me that they weren’t part of our group – they were just hillbillies he was always dealing with – they were consistently making a game out of trashing his woods, and he would catch them eventually. I wished him well, and laughed at the turning of the world.
After I lay me down there, some hippies came around asking if I had heard anything about the violence at Agro Rednecks. I asked what happened, and was told that  guy hit his girlfriend, and then ran off into the woods. Apparently a buch of rowdy and tipsy hooligans wanted to forma lynch party and went screaming off into the woods like it was Lord of the Flies. I asked if there had been any indication of his being found tonight – the witnesses said , “ no, he screwed up and he knows it, he won’t be back.”
So I bid him good night and lay down, my dear brother. I lay down to take my rest.
Wednesday May 20
                The new day began with Oopsie driving away first thing in the morning  - the midnight rain had totally soaked him in his new tent. His gift of a tarp to me had necessitated a trip into town to buy himself a new tarp.  As the new day began growing, I was pleased to meet up with the Rangers in the Parking lot and inform them that there had been a good result, of sorts, to the domestic situation. We talked about the Shanti Sena traditions we were doing our best to promote, they talked about wanting us to speak to the importance of getting emergency vehicles in and out.
                Then more Rangers showed up, including thee local Resource people – these are the 7-ups ( six up is a cop … six gun in his holster. 7 up is the no gun, science tyope who knows the ecosystem and such – keeps the LEO 6 ups in line, lets them know which parts of which laws need enforcing where. These were the folks who would wa;k the site and help devise the operating plan. There was a very congenial fellow leading much of the talk, a little grey in his hair; the short, thin lady ranger with the grey eyes; three LEOs; and the local district head (whom I consider both LEO and Resource. He wears his own uniform that seems to signify such). We went for a long walk while I described for them our needs. The whole group of us climbed a fence into the Orchard meadow (except the little resource lady - she was slender enough to slip through the bars in the cattle gate. Our 8 month old, 70 pound Bull Dog puppy is too big for that slot!)  they showed me where in the meadow they would like the circle to be, and then they showed me that they had put up notices not to disturb the down dead wood in the meadow – it had been brought in and placed there intentionally by the ranger Resource teams to rehabilitate the Meadow – it was an old orchard from a century and more ago. I was ecstatic when I parted ways with them, believing that we now had all of the basic elements of a completely drama free process worked out with these Rangers. They were even giving us garbage bags and taking out our trash for us! Our little tour also included trips to the slit trench latrine abve kid village, where they addressed their concern that the shitter could be readily seen by people on the adjacent ATV trail. I laughed, told them we could here the ATVs coming, but they didn’t laugh. Then the lady asked mehow the latrine worked, and I mimed my way through a couple squatting options. There was some laughter at that.
That asshole who hit the girl was found hitching away. Sinner, the brother on the town run that spotted him, returned to camp and had his gear packed and delivered to him on the road. Out of a window on a moving vehicle. “We just didn’t trust ourselves to be gentle. It was the nicest way we could do it and still be ourselves”.
Same day this young tall, gangly kid with white dreadlets named Phil got run from camp for theft by his travelling companions. We will tolerate all kinds of weirdness, but violence and theft will get you an escort out of the woods. Phil got taken to town by the Deaf brother, and I am pretty sure he stole my rainbow horse blanket on the way out the door. I had been using it to mark the trail when not sleeping in it.

Thursday May 21
                At this point I have been in the woods 5 days, seed camp is going well, and the former Death Camp family that I had seen on first arrival hadn’t done anything super-duper weird. The little girl was making Faerie houses, and Bob was being a very calm and reasonable kid village presence.
                I had been at Gatherings where her children were the scourge of Rainbow experience – putting pongee sticks in the trail, throwing rocks from behind foliage, filling squirt guns with urine.Of course, it didn’t seem that her older kids were here – and so I began to wonder if we were just waiting the storm out… which is fine. I am a realist – I just want to know whats up with the safety of my friends. When I say I have been to Gatherings where this lady brought her kids and the Death Camp created untold irrational drama – I am including the Pennsylvania attack on the fourth of July where these kids brought fireworks to the ten thousand people who had spent the morning in silence, and begun to ohm when the childrens parade came from kiddie village. I was there, saw the old men freak out and tackle the kids. The Death Camp kids I later learned got their fireworks from the shut up and eat it kitchen ( Fat Boy was around ) and set them off right where they would frighten and confuse the most people. Problems 1: a bunch of these old dredy dudes are PTSD scarred vets who do Rainbow in the woods to get AWAY from these sorts of explosions on the fourth 2: Fireworks tossed unannounced into a large crowd of people with their eyes closed are a recipe for broken bones and bad reactions 3: fireworks are a fire hazard. SO, in the long run, my Fat kids boycott begins in the aftermath of this event – when I found out in the process that not only would the Fat Kids kitchen ( originally a spin-off of Shut Up and Eat It )  be protecting and shepharding these children whose creativity was more important than other people’s safety (?), but that there was a brother in the kitchen who was actually father to some of the children. I knew the guy, he was too young to be the dad of the older kids- well, over the next 5 few years I camped at the same Gatherings – but I boycotted Fat Kids kitchen for harboring the Death  Camp.
                I actually learned a lot about myself and my own inclinations in this process, through the years, explaining to people that I don’t go to Fat Kids because they don’t need my help, they hang their tarps well and they harbor Death Camp. Well, finally, these 5 years later, I had my chance to talk to Bob.
                We got to talking about small things, she having been involved in college the last couple years had been out of the Rainbow Scene I had been experiencing – and I was just plum curious and wanted to bury the hatchet if possible. I eventually told her I had been worried about her family and her – the negatives and rumors I had heard had made it all so weird. She asked me what I meant. I joked that the worst of it was that the Death Camp was freemason plot to destroy Rainbow from within. That rumor is one I made up in Pennsylvania myself, when the Death Camp family was making this awkward youtube video. My foot is in the video – my claim to fame. She barked a laugh at the out of left fieldness of the thought, and said, “ no. We are just a family.”
                I found myself doubting for a moment the other tales – she seemed so innocent – but then I remembered that I knew that I had seen scarred and frightened people who were afraid of the Death Camp – and so I just kept on keepin on and told Bob that I was happy that she was here and not hurt or cast out – we heal by gathering.
This girl Nickles had been bitten on the second or third day of seed camp by a spider – and the toxins were visible on her arm in the blood stream, creeping black lines toward her heart!
She got a ride into the hospital, and they paid for a cab to bring her to the woods. That is such a long trip that the cab driver tipped HER! She returns from hospital in taxi cab, driver buys her a case of beer. I had asked her to make a twig/branch frame for this painting I had made into the a canvas Rap 515/151 sign. The painting was an old hotel room oil painting found in a broken frame behind a thrift store. A nice pink and blues pastel sunset over the palm treed beach. She gives me the Rap 151, 515 thang, and I put it on a stump at the edge of Switzerland. Switzerland was the area of big, trail blocking rocks that kept cars out of the woods, and where the alcohol limit hit. No booze passed here (Rainbowland is that away, Bucko !) and so I hung the painting on a trail side stump and tried to not get too involved in the Alocohol scene.
Friday May 22
                The last day of seed camp dawned loudly, for me. I guess it was really louder for everyone else in camp. I woke livid – wandering camp and criticizing everything that I could see that was even remotely similar to the dynamic of seed camp having been more of a mess making adventure than prep for the Gathering to come. I was obscenely over the top – yelling words like “Filth” and “Parasites” and other such multi-entendre nonsense. I detonated a sonic boom of angry ass high holey rants against parking lot filthiness and lackadaisical seed campers drinking too much. I demanded a council, and found myself facing an unexpectedly bright and beautiful set of faces. Bob, the mom whose children used to be Death Camp, asked me if I was going to apologize to the group for being so loud and angry in the morning time.
                We were all assembled at the Community Kitchen, and I expressed my concerns for tying up all of the loose ends and being Ready for the Gathering to begin the next day. As we passed the Feather around the circle, folks talked about what they had done here, and what they were going to be doing next to prepare. There were the wonderful folks from Europe, who had been to many Gatherings there, and they were ecstatic to be part of the beginning of a new Gathering here. The energies all coalesced when the Nic@Niter in camp , Josh, suggested that we reach consensus by silence to, “ do shit more right “.
                The idea of consensus by silence was new to a brother halfway round the circle, so we explained it to him, and started the Feather back around. It passed all the way around the whole circle, and we all Ohmed our way out into the Day.
                I walked out the path from there to Welcome home, and there I saw the Rangers pulling in from behind the vertical Tarp wall. I walked up the path to find them, announcing their presence. When I got to Agro Rednecks, there were three Ranger vehicles, with a total of five green uniforms of different levels of insignia – but of course – all public servants and federal agents. They had four copies of the “Operating Plan, Shanti Sena Campout, El Dorado National forest, May 2015” and I immediately stopped and announced my intent to the group to read it aloud. The five page document flowed very easily, and in the end I asked the now couple dozen folk standing there if there was anyone who blocked. No Block. Then the resource Ranger said we could sign it if we wanted. I asked if anybody saw any reason that we should sign this operating plan. Silence again. So we accepted without signature. No lo contendre, we would do what needed doing, and they wouldn’t hassle us in the woods, so long as we brought out lots of pre-existing trash. 
                Between Agro Rednecks and the Community Kitchen I noticed that someone had turned the Rap151 canvas around so that the painting showed instead of the words. I flipped it back with a laugh.
                I walked down to the Welcome Home to post a copy there, and while hanging it from the tarp wall Wrote WELCOME HOME  on its silver side facing the road – and drew a small map of our cmp set up – pretty simple and heart shaped. Then saw the arrival of Casa Dei – the current Jacota and Natassia Dirty Kid Village School Bus! Bob of Death Camp had said this morning that she needed to get back to her Babylon life. So I let the bus driver know that I hoped they would park up top and make the Dirty Kid Village work out well. As much as we are a non-organized lot that operates at free flowing patterns to find solutions to all of our problems in the most unexpected ways – it works out best when a few of the folks around the woods know each other pretty well.
               
Saturday May 23
                The first day of the Gathering Dawned wet. I rose from my little lean to, and walked out in the gloom to the Community Kitchen to get a bit of something to wake up by. We hung out and talked a bit, and then I went back out to the Welcome Home area – to find that the whole roadway in to camp had filled with water , and it was still raining.
A sister and brother from LA occupy, Sergei and Laura, came up with a pick and a I set to work trenching the puddle so it drained to the hillside and creek. It took about an hour of steady wet muddy digging. Then I went back into the kitchen , and found about 40 people assembled there for the first day of the Shanti Sena Workshop.
I began by inviting everyone to hold hands and ohm after a silence. Then I started in the traditional manner to which I have been instructed,” Aroha, Aroha, Aroha Nui… that is to say, love to those hear, love to all thos ou represent, and Big love to all the world. I was accepted in my youth into the Ngongotaha Maerai, a house of the Maori people of Ao Te Aroa, New Zealand. It is an honor and privilege to speak to you here today.
This Shanti Sena workshop will be, today, about the Hipstory – the history of Shanti Sena as it was taught to me by my mentor, Barry ‘Plunker’ Adams. My goal today will not be to teach, but to train trainers. I hope each of you will find others to train in these peace ways.
It was through Barry that we came to choose this safe word, Shanti Sena, whch we call out loud in times of Crisis. Shanti sena is an old Sanscrit word that means Peace scene. That is what we are here to do, keep the scene peace. When the scen is no longer peaceful, we cry out for it to return. So when someone yells shanti sena, the peacefull people must come quickly to help bring peace back the place that has lost it. how did this start….” I went on to tell a couple of stories about how things can go wrong, and how I had experienced the cry of Shanti sena helping to bring the solution people to the problem situation.
Then we passed the feather once around the circle to allow all to introduce themselves. I told them that that was the most important part of this workshop – now you all know who you are camping with. You now know who is CPR certified, who knows how to make a citizens arrest – “can I see a show of hands for those two things?” I asked, and they responded. I could feel an antsyness, and so I switched gears.
“ okay, the next thing I hope we can do is a little, uhm, weird. I have been talking in my big manly voice about all these dangerous things. That is not Shanti Sena. We are here in all genders, from many places, with so many unique faces. I have a a copy of the 2013 AllWays free here – it is focused on the Shanti sena  movie  - and in it is Karin Zirk’s essay on Shanti Sena – she is a sister who has been part of the Information station at the ationals for a long time. I want , if yall are cool with it, to hve some womens voices read this essay aloud to us – is this okay?”
                And that’s what happened. Dozens of folks, sitting in the drizzle, listening to sisters explain the peace scene by reading the words of a wise and generous woman with decades of experience. We finished with an ohm.
                We ate that night near the kitchen, as everyone was still dealing with the elements and there was no heart fire yet dug in main meadow.
Sunday May 24
                The new day dawned, and I knew from the night before that we needed to dig in to the meadow today – or at least I felt as if it was imperative that a circle be formed to discuss whether or not to eat in the meadow tonight. That took little effort, and not long after lunch I had a crew of four or five together, and we went up and dug out a beautiful ten foot circle in the sod, placing the moved dirt in a neat little concentric circle a foot away from the cleared spot, making for an circle of green grass around the heart fire like some big green dialated pupil with a brown concave pupil. This was very appropriate, for high in the cirrus clouds we saw a sundog, prismatic circle around the sun. The fire centered green eye looked into the sun centered Rainbow Eye, and we all knew we had been doing the right thing.
                We went back out on a tour of the camp, along the three primary trails and invited folks to come to main circle for dinner that night. Between Agro Rednecks and the Community Kitchen I noticed that someone had turned the Rap151 canvas around so that the painting showed instead of the words. I flipped it back with a laugh. Once we had gotten some support from the kitchen in the form of a large meal to share – the cries of circle began, and we drew in the family as the sun shone down.
                It was time for the three Basic Announcements. I am often reluctant to attend Main Circle, because I am Loud and know a lot of how our family traditions play out, I tend to make announcements at the dinner circle. I kinda get an emo hangover from it, so I really try to limit my exposure to the Main Circle shouting and pretending to be a grown-up thang. Some things just have incredible weight, and the responsibility gets wild for me sometimes – But this was the main circle at the Shanti Sena Campout Spring Rainbow Gathering, and for better or for worse, it was gonna be necessary to do the full deal – the three basic announcements ( shit together in the slit trench latrines, burn fires together in community fires , and boil all ground water for 20 minutes before drinking ) these 3 basic announcements are the staple in Rainbow Circles wherever they remain relevant. Sometimes like in the desert at Black sheep – there were special instructions for one or more aspect ( fire bans, non-composting deserts ecosystems, unexpected pollutants or unusually clean artesian wells can all change the three basic announcments pretty drastically ). The key is to get the point across without losing the interest or over doing the metaphors. So I had to add a zeroth basic announcement – that we couldn’t use the wood in the meadow. I had a moment of inspiration then, and spun a whole new whimsy out for the family, “there is a little girl here named 9, or at least there was, and 9 was in the habit of making little faerie houses. At our heartsong circle the other day, the last day of seed camp, when she had the feather 9 told us that she likes making little faerie houses. She puts a lot of work into them, but she doesn’t know if the faeries are real. It didn’t bother her too much, she would build the houses anyways. Well, the Rangers have brought all this wood in here to make paces for spirits of the woods like spiders and mice can build habitats – that’s a lot like Faerie houses.’ This got a laugh – and the story told itself from there on …. The last thing needed doing was a Magic hat parade had to happen, so I found some family willing to walk around collecting cash and singing “ it’s a magic hat, imagine that “ and then we assembled our first Banking Council of three interested but not vested ( not heads of any section of the gathering that would ask for money )  , announced our big Haul of 76 dollars, and suddenly we had all of the functional parameters in Rainbow in Place.
                That night folks brought wood and instruments to the meadow, and played around the heartfire deep into the night.
Monday May 25
                As this day took to its wings and flew across the horizon of our group experience, I walked from my Welcome home lean to to the Community kitchen, and there ran into a nice young couple on their way out of the woods – he was gingerly clutching a beautiful machete – more of a Steel short sword than anything. I asked if he was gonna leave it in the woods to be used – and he responded , “No, Mitzvah. But I do want to give it to you as a token of my appreciation.” I finally had the blade to match the hat.
                A brother walked up after they left, a n older brother with all of his stuff packed onto his back. He announced that he was leaving behind his tent, a new 2 man, and had left it set up in a nice secluded spot with the word BLISS written on it in black pen.  I immediately went to it, pulled out my sharpie and wrote MITZVAH above the word BLISS, and then converted the I in Bliss to an E – making it a blessed tent claimed it in the name of Mitzvah. I usually don’t need a tent –  I had the silly puppy to deal with. We needed a tent. Ours had become the Main supply, and that I had already half promised o Pixie if I could find a replacement. She and Kansas were also sleeping out. So now I had just let the water roll down the hill, and when it sought its level, it brought me what I need. Taoism is easy by a river at a Rainbow Gathering.
                I walked around camp then, inviting people to the Shanti Sena Workshop now to happen in Main Meadow, around the heartfire pit. We intended to include a kitchen council to discuss the town run and the magic hat ( all shanti sena related. ) Between Agro Rednecks and the Community Kitchen I noticed that someone had turned the Rap151 canvas around so that the painting showed instead of the words. I flipped it back with a laugh.
The Shanti Sena Workshop in Main Meadow was very serene around the circle with most of Dirty kid village and the Rainbow Veterans for Peace, Haji, myself, and some really calm observers who said little. It was a listening circle, mostly – as each spoke of their own factual experiences of how bad scenes worked out. We did our best to focus on facts – this is essential to the Shhanti Sena vibe – you just can’t afford to get into value judgements and snap assessments when the result may be ostracism, lynching, the reasons may be all kinds of weird stuff. We were practicing knowing each other’s truths. The moms and kids and dads stayed most of the time, and the veterans brother Cougar and this brother Haji ( who had to wear an elaborate head scarf in the sun to jeep his epilepsy at bay ). The only person who left early was the representative from the Community Kitchen who just came to be part of the kitchen council … so we ended up prioritizing that part and scooting it off the agenda quickly. This person seemed annoyed to have to come be part of this workshop, and we were getting into real emotional heavy stuff – I understand and upport anyone who doesn’t want to sit through accounts of crisis intervention – its nasty work.
                Then I go on a very long town run with the newbie mom and dad from DKV in their station wagon with their little boy.  I learn on returning from Ryan, a dad from DKV who had been very brightly involved in the Shanti Sena workshop, that the Main circle went great, the three major announcements were made, the Austrian Rainbows sang, and got everyone to sing with them, the Heartsong Circle Chant, and the scene was pretty awesome! He joked to me that he had had to be the Adult in camp ! I realized as he said it that somehow this married man with a wife and car insurance, saw me, the hitchhiker with the machete, as the Adult. Jacota put it very well, when he quoted the Operating Plan, saying with me gone, Ryan and Matt had to be the “Volunteer Advisory Council” that got things done for the Rangers ( escorts through the site, fixing sanitary stuff to their satisfaction , the little things that make life worth living… walking with cops at a hippy campout ! )
                So the circle heartsong goes
WE ARE CIRCLING / CIRCLING TOGETHER
WE ARE SINGING / SINGING OUR HEARTSONG
                THIS IS FAMILY / THIS IS UNITY
                THIS IS CELEBRATION / THIS IS SACRED




Tuesday May 26
                Pixie and Kansas were doing an awesome job of keeping the camp pretty well running. There were some small confusions, especially surrounding the usage of cast iron pots for which meal.  This Family had lent a few pieces of Cast Iron to the Community Kitchen for seed camp – then left to go do other stuff, and came back to demand that the gear be brought up to Dirty Kid Village so it could be used there. It was already in use, and there was a bit of a misunderstanding. The gear owner just couldn’t grip the idea that the Community Kitchen was feeding the woods quite well, and no extra management was gonna be needed – but this is the same folks who had been so badly ripped off at that house just passed Paradise – you know, with the Dog getting delivered home – and so I reckoned that the obsessive possessiveness was just part of being so permissive that you let people steal from you without repercussion. I would rather have no stuff than lots of stuff I can’t manage, personally. So we let the gear owner know that we would get the stuff back to them right after the wedding and Talent show on Saturday Night.
                As they were coming in, these poor folks cracked the oil pan on their Mercedes Benz – an 84 diesel tank – and so the rest of their Gathering was half way about getting the car fixed enough to drive away. I tried to figure how to help, and so walked from camp to camp. Between Agro Rednecks and the Community Kitchen I noticed that someone had turned the Rap151 canvas around so that the painting showed instead of the words. I flipped it back with a laugh.
                I inspected the spot on the road that had done Mercy (the Mercedes ) in … a huge rock – bordering on boulder sized – and I went down the hill to find all the implements of destruction and heavy hitting fools I could. Carbomb sat packing bong loads ( and he is 6-4, 300 something plus pounds – a giant in a big yellow electric blanket made into a kilt with a stylized 13 pointed star burst arrow tattooed on his face. I swung the Pick axe a couple of tumes in the gathered dark, and bright sparks lit our faces as the metal bounced loudly off the rock. It was huge, not moving. We dug like demons, breaking here and there to reassess, hit the bong, etc… and eventually we pulled the egg shaped chunk of flinty granite out of the road and rolled it down into the trees, where it crushed a sapling or two before coming to rest on the edge of an old conifer stump.
Wednesday May 27
                On the way into the woods, I found a copy of Richard Bach’s Illusions – an amazing book about messiahs who barnstorm in air planes – at a garage sale. I brought it to the woods, and at Maincircle, this sister calling herself Peter Pan, read the entirety of it aloud in one night.
                It’s one of my favorite stories, and I ended up spending the whole night there while she did – and as this brother Carbomb made beautiful geometry out of the flame in the heart fire. I guess that some other factors came into play as well .. there were some smarties that we ate at the beginning of the night. In fact, it was weird, I went walking around with this fellow wearing a Sandoz shirt, handing out Smarties candies – he kept asking me who was working hardest everywhere we went – and I was just riffing on the Gathering, telling the stories. It wasn’t until he gave me my candy at the end of the walk, when we got back to the Heart fire and Peter Pan began to read, that I realized that the Sandoz Smarties had a sort of electric effect.
                I walked up to the fire, and was sitting down when these two huge unleashed puppies – Isaac at 8 months and 70 pounds of white bull dog with mime-ish spots on his eyes and face, and Rude Boy, a 4 month old half wolf –bigger than Isaac – barreled me over and my lens popped out of my glasses. I spent the rest of the night right there, crouching, laying, hoping to find my lens when the sun charred the other side of the world and came back to us.
                And it all went well, once the sun had risen.
                While waiting, I recounted my experience of reading the Hitchhikers guide aloud years before, to Peter Pan. It was a wonderful sort of story tellers knowing of one another time as those of us left up ( Carbomb, Peter Pan, a couple weary and weather beaten heads , plus some of the family who had been having the trouble of having brought cook pots to share. The mom in that family was still going on and on about her betrayal by the greedy Pixie in the Kansas. Of course, Pixie wasn’t betraying anything – she was serving and toiling all day to keep the kitchen running. I am sure this mom lady has all kinds of great service experiences ( there was much talk of Rainbow Resumes and the dropping of names in a random pattern … she had been up all night too – and I bet she met the Sandoz Candyman too, but her trip to Candyland appeared to have been soured by her preference to complain loudly over all other patterns of communication.  ).
                I set out to go back to camp and between Agro Rednecks and the Community Kitchen I noticed that someone had turned the Rap151 canvas around so that the painting showed instead of the words. I flipped it back with a laugh.
Thursday May 28
                Drum Circle awesomeness, Blues Chanting of Heartsongs – I was informed on Thursday morning, walking down the hill through Agro Rednecks towards Rainbowland and my Tent where I would finally get to lay down – when Kansas came right up, obviously burnt out from some prolonged involvement or another, and began kvetching. I stopped that right away by telling him that the solution to his problems was not to complain, it was to call for a drum circle in the woods to clear the vibes and draw all the energy into the drum fire. The only reason the parking lot has people in it is boredom.
                I lay down after bit, and awoke to find several new drummers had arrived in camp, and there was indeed an awesome jam developing down in camp. I came and got in on it. Back before my bicycle wreck when I Fractured my Pelvis and broke my ulna, I used to carry Djimbes and Dumbeks around, banging and chanting, singing down the walls of Jericho and Babylon everywhence I could. After the wreck I picked up guitar, and have gotten better in a decade. A little, sometimes. I really like to sing and play, so I do a lot of it – but I have no idea if I am any good. But with a chalice shaped drum and my voice, I can be play in a good drum fire chanting circle for quite a while and really help bring the noise, as it were, with the funk.
                I know this because the other instruments join in, and the beautiful dancing happens.
                Well, we really broke open some beat – there was a guy and girl there ( very urban seeming, Sacramento? Olive skinned folk, they could have been any dark haired race – wonderfully simple in the fire light ) and the guy was being actively challenged by the girl to teach him beats … the Paradiddle was given chances to slip around itself like a cipher on a mission. As he cycled her through series of two handed beats, I stuck to variations on the Camel walk ( a syncopation with the underlying structure, doom bek doom-dun bek, that is an imitation of a dromedary crossing the sand dunes. ) while singing along as fully as possible on a series of all the Rainbow Drum Fire chants I could recall while we jammed. There were several other folks around. After awhile I let one of them take over the drums and relaxed into watching the poi spinners dance with their circles of flame and glow sticks in the dark spaces beyond the Bliss fire circle.
                I eventually walked around camp to check the scenes and such, and well, you know….. Between Agro Rednecks and the Community Kitchen I noticed that someone had turned the Rap151 canvas around so that the painting showed instead of the words. I flipped it back with a laugh.
Friday May 29
                This day began simply, I walked up to the Agro Rednecks Coffee house from my tent near the Community Kitchen. There was a pleasant surprise, the oil painting was still faced to the tree, so as I walked up the trail, I could easily read the sign with Raps 151 and 515 written on it. The central message  ( be whole, be healthy, be your true self at Rainbow …. WE LOVE YOU ) stood out like the smile on an old friend – a little crooked, a little gappy, and 100% memorable love. I considered joining the stream of alternative consciousness, and put my hand on the canvas to flip it around and leave the pastel beach scene to stare out at the world like a Jimmy Buffet song on the radio … and then removed my hand with a laugh.
                I sat at Agro Rednecks and drank coffee from their French Press, and got to talking with the brother and sister making breakfast – I had seen them here a couple times already. Turns out he was a member of the Fat Kids kitchen ( let me make clear, Fat Kids has nothing to do with the character called Fat Boy. The coincidence is like the New in New York and New Mexico, really an unrelated juxtaposition tangled with portent but void of any content.), and she was at her first gathering with him, deciding if she liked this sort of thing. She was exotic in height and dress, full flowing robes and a cloth over her hair … like I said, we got to talking. He asked me if I was going to the National Gathering, and I said I wasn’t sure, but if I did it would be to take up some position in the Parking lot , to be a sober brother at the Gate that is so notorious for strange behaviors and overindulgent consumption. He said he felt similarly, and would be doing a Fat Gate. It wasn’t the Fat Kids attitude I had come to expect , but then again, I was boycotting them, how would I know how they behaved? I was used to a distant, camped too far to find and difficult to interact with Fat Kids. This was active, participatory – anticipating the greatest need of the family and preparing to dive right in. There had been much rumor of Fat Kids involved in an assault on Magic Bowl Bob e few years ago.  I asked this brother if he thought that would be how the Fat kids handled themselves.
                He didn’t dignify my poorly expressed frustrations with a direct answer, instead asking if I knew what I was saying. I told him that I only knew what I had heard from Rae and Bob. In the long run, their stories differ, and I wasn't there. I then mentioned the fireworks at Pennsylvania Main Circle, and the Harboring of Death Camp. This brother had seen me sitting and talking with Bob and her kids, knew I was on reasonable terms with them now. He just sort of looked passed my bad attitude, and said that so far as he knew, no one from Fat Kids ever condoned any of the incidents I spoke of – things just sort of happened, and had to be dealt with.
                It was right about then that we were distracted from our awkward conversation by some yelling. It was Carbomb, the towering behemoth of gentleness, and three other guys, all in pretty clean clothing. There was some dispute over the Bong Carbomb had been holding for days, and I heard the word ‘stole’ as in thief being used. They were standing, gesturing and pointing while THEIR spit was getting ready to fly, and maybe start another round of macho stupidness. So I called out, “ hey guys, it’s a lot harder to throw a punch and yell if you are sitting in a circle. Wanna rest for a minute before you get so mad you can’t talk anymore?”
                The group response was an immediate one of exhales and relief, all 4 sat down, and several other folks came over to sit too. The bystanders helped calm the scene by inquiring of their own what the problem was, and demanding that the yellers speak their piece in turns. These terms were met, and before too long diplomacy led to the return of items between these guys in a way that showed they had all been sharing resources for a while, and the time had come for that to end. It did, and the three cleaner looking dudes drove off – happy to have their bong – to some location that sounded a lot like a home in the city of Stockton. Carbomb thanked the circle for their help.
                I walked back down toward the Community Kitchen, and saw that in the last hour the Painting had been faced back out again. I stopped to admire it, and left it hanging just the way it was.
                The Last Main Circle turned out to be that evening. Pixie made an announcement that her wedding to Kansas would be the next afternoon, and dinner circle would be in the kitchen bliss area while we waited for the Talent Show at Sundown. Otherwise, I made the three basic announcements ( plus the zeroth law about the Ranger’s Faerie houses ).
That night I went out to the parking lot on my way up to Dirty Kid Village ( someone had turned the canvas out so the raps read again – not me! ). As I sat by the fire, Metatron was sitting on a log on the other side of the fire talking about how much he thought I was a stupid tool. He ran down a list of his negative assessments of me before spoke up from the shadows and thanked him for his candor. I am not always the world’s most tactful guy, and I found myself letting him goad me into pushing his buttons. He was saying that I was a disappointment, he had come here to learn from me, but I was no teacher. I agreed with him. As an egalitarian and an Anarchist, I don’t get down with the ‘Teacher’ vibe. If we can learn together, it’s all gravy. He was all a flowin and a struttin, telling me to shut up or he would knock me out, So I just got louder, sayin, “ oh, you wanna knock me out with your fists? I am a Pacifist you, should just do it. I won’t fight back.” Immediately a Josh, the Nic@niter, came out of his pick up truck, wrapped an arm around Metatron’s shoulders, and led him away congenially. Less than twenty minutes later, Metatron found me again, at a different spot, and got right uup in my face to try and finish what he failed to do earlier. I laughed at him and said aloud, “ hey any of you folks around here know this guy? He seems lost… “ and this sister whomI had seen kissing Metatron a couple days before appeared from behind a shadow ( turned out the Shadow was Keno, with whom I had ridden in. I didn’t see him until he smiled, his hair and skin are so dark ) and led him away. This seemed to be a state of pretty awesome and proper Shanti Sena all over the Lot.

               
Saturday May 30
                I slept well, woke refreshed, feeling 100% ready for the world. Around midday I went out to the Welcome Home area and used my new machete to cut down the Tarp Wall, knocking down the3 tripods as well. While I did this, a Sherriff’s vehicle showed up to confirm that this was the last day of the camp out. They seemed surprised to find that we were still there at all. I showed them the Operating Plan, and explained that the Rangers had written it, and THEY clearly expected a presence to remain afterwards for clean up for a few days after the main group left tomorrow. The cops thanked me, handed me a business card, and drove back to town. I needed the tarp/map for the talent show – I do a bit where we hold up the map , people cheer for their camp area, and then folks get to come up and sign the map where they camped as music plays.
                As it turns out, the family that was always complaining that ad brought the pots and pans for seed camp was doing its best to be kind – had cooked a couple of dishes for the wedding dinner – rice with and without chicken. I got involved, and ended up missing the wedding entirely. I realized afterwards that this was the intent. Some folks carry strange bitterness with them. I helped carry the food down the hill in a big wheely cart that had bicycle tires and seemed to be like a pull behind bike trailer/ stroller. Kiddie Village has some cool tools…
                I found someone to make a list of those desiring to be in the show, and this led to all kinds of weirdness while, during the waning daylight, I went with a half dozen folks down the Path ( Isis, the 12 year old daughter of Nat and Jacota; Mary, a nursing dreadie mama whose baby boy spent his time in a carrier on the front of her torso; Link, the adventurous kitchen hand and general woodsman from Agro Rednecks, and several other awesome folks, all gathered around a bit down the trail, and I told them that I needed them to help devise these improve sketches themselves. And they did. It was pretty cool to get see and hear their plans as they developed two stories – one with a guy at his first gathering who has a machete on a trade blanket – the other the story of how three travelers tried to eat a meal together at seed camp. These are both fleshed out lyrically in the poems that follow the text.
During the lead up, while the fire-spinners were waiting and the actors were preparing for their skits, I had the weird moment when Chris, Bob’s baby daddy, was there and his daughter and Isis, Jacota’s daughter, were planning a skit where a shanti sena scene would develop. I wanted to take a MotherPharm turn, and suggested that we play up the failure of Rainbow Brothers to take care of their children because of circumstances beyond our control, when Chris said, “I block. What are you trying to do, throw me under the bus? I’m just saying, that’s a little close to home, if you pull that, I will be kicked out and sleeping alone tonight.”
                Once again, here we had the Fat Kids Death Camp Parents pleading to me to help keep the peace by keeping things mellow and in line with a more, shall we say, tame sensibility. I complied, and stopped trying to write my ideas into the sketch.
                Then I went up the hill to Dirty Kid Village, used their latrine, and walked up while JAcota was singing in Dirty Kidd Village. He was singing a tear filled song of anger about the fool who was his friend, the betrayal he felt by his friend working so close with the Rangers – I realized he was screaming in anguish for the loss of his friend, and I was that friend. His eyes burst open as we both heard a piercing puppy dog screeching squeaking cry – it was my dog, down at the kitchen. I turned to go, looked back and said, “ you comin’ down?” He just shook his head and sat down. I rushed down the hill.
                My dog was okay, he had been taken in the mouth from behind by a big loose dog that I was told bit several other dogs too, but it had just been a scare where he lost some hair. No blood. I found someone to keep an eye on the scared little Chihuahua for me, and went to see the fire spinners about the start of the show. As it darkened, they began, and Marty ( of who likes to party fame ) set down a fat beat on his Djembe whilst the spinners from Santa Cruz got their fire on.
                We did a lot of stuff, I pulled out the Map gag, we did the Gas Jugging Sketch with Peter Pan as the Yuppie who refuses and Link as the Redneck who gives me petrol, Hajii pulled a full one man band bit where he had a drum kit stashed, I dunno – all went really really well. The show came to an end a couple hours later with more fire spinning poi dancers, and I went and lay and breathed for a while. The Sandoz Candy man had come again at the start of the sow, and I was really feeling the LOVE.
                I lay holding my dog in some shadows as I listened to the Happy people. Kansas and Pixie were so happy, their wedding and reception such a rousing success, that I really felt like this had been the most likeminded, ego less crew for a regional in all my years. Then that mom lady from the family who had lent the pots found me, and said she wanted her gear back. I had to use my influence to get the kitchen crew to disassemble the stove and take away all of the cast iron. She tried to raise a real stink about some dollar store and garage sale items she felt Pixie was trying to steal as Wedding Gifts. We just loaded it all up on the trailer cart, and she marched up the hill quickly, with me huffing an pushing on the dark and rocky paths.
                In this process I completely re-aggravated my back spasms – what a pain in the ass.
Sunday May 31
                I didn’t sleep – too much pain – but by dawn I was at least able to walk again. I took a walk through camp, collected the painting with the raps , my machete and some other odds and ends I had left about ( especially my small items on the altar stump. Just a lego pirate bum guy and my wooden 6 month Chip from the Wharf Rats ) And got back to DKV to have a good long talk with Chris from Fat kids about how we had counseled to choose this spot in the woods in the very same place where I saw him when he really started going over the edge. That was the Sharon Meadow, by the Janis Tree, in Golden Gate Park. He had been wearing an American Flag as a skirt, I was wearing something similar, and the shadow of the trees in the park had served as a stage for some wild music we were part of, a decade before, at the 4/20 celebration. From then till now our paths had diverged pretty wildly - his into the patriarch of the Death Camp/Fatkids family ( he was now a couple years into school. He was doing the same Grant Money College life change I as just getting into ). Between this talk, and my ones with the Fat Gate brother, I finally had real peace as it related to the future of the family.
…and I caught a ride out of the woods.

Shanti Sena : The Rainbow of Desire
Chorus :
Shanti Sena they sang, calling for peace to return
Calling for Family to come circle round the scene
Calling for family To discern the true disturbance
To the Shanti Sena : to the Rainbow of Desire
Verse 1 :
A newcomer walked up to the Barter Circle Laid his machete on his blanket and sat
Not knowing what to do to contribute to camp
When a  young girl walked up with her little sister  And asked him if he was trading his sword
he said, “only for a great deal. I’d rather use it!”
“Well,” The young girl haggled, “ how a bout this For your fine blade I how about my little sister?
She’s well fed and strong, what do you say , mister?” “What,” he exclaimed, “no, I can’t make that trade, There is no way,  a sword for a slave? That’s insane!” Said the girl, “ but look, that hair, those eyes, these teeth “
The man was at a loss, and said, “ do you girls have a mother?” Right then the mother walked up, and the girl said, As she grabbed the blade handle, trying to tear it from the man’s grasp
“ here’s mom, mommy, mommy,  this man is gonna trade me  a machete for my little sister!”            And the Mom cried out “SHANTI SENA!” a dozen folks turned and approached, others came quickly and,  After they had gotten every one to sit in a circle, asked the man what had happened. He told his side and said,“ what kind of a place is this where children trade their sisters for tools?”
“ This isn’t that kind of place at all, brother, “ said the mother “ and I am sorry for the confusion, in all the commotion This is a peace scen campout brother, a Rainbow Gathering And here, when something goes wrong, we yell Shanti Sena To get people to come help set matters aright
Chorus
Three travelers hitch hiking were dropped off on their way to the woods by three different cars, following directions off of the Rainbow Family Light Line The vegan brought a brand new cast iron skillet, and rice and beans with which to fill it.
The vegetarian brought all the cheese that was pleasing to his fondue-est dreams the omnivore brought 5 kinds of meat in the pouch behind his wheel chair’s seat
They were the first kids in the woods, and they thought it was all good, and decided to share their foods.
The vegan, believing that Rainbow was a vegan place to be, whipped out his skillet, filled it with water and set that on the fire, while opening his cans of beans. “we need a wood run,” said the omnivore in the wheelchair, despair for he knew he could do no such thing well, “ I got you dude, watch the fire, “ the vegan said laughing as he stepped away
Before long the Vegetarian said, “ he’s making rice and beans, see? What that needs is CHEESE! and boy do I have the stankest of muensters and the softest of bries. But what I wanna know, is when do you add it? A chef I am not, and I don’t want to ruin the dish…”
The stump legged vet grunted, “ well, you gotta wait till the rice is nice, then add some of this here venison I hunted, “ he said, dangling a strip of reddish jerky – “ why you could even get away with adding it now, it’ll just season the rice – and the pan for that matter “
And as he did the vegan woodsman walked up, machete in hand, and saw the meat dangling above his Vegan Pots, which had never tasted beast flesh, while beside the vegetarian was recoiling, cheese in both hands, in complete disgust as he continued, “ but you can stow the dairy, I am lactose intolerant,”
“I will show you Intolerant, “ cried the vegetarian, smacking the jerky with the munster in a wild swing, and both once living bits of animals now dead fell toward the water boiling,
The vegan woodsman rushed forward and swung his machete, knocking both bits of food away from the fire pit, upsetting the water and landing in the other two men’s midst, and he cried out as the to both angrily raised a fist
SHANTI SENA as he dropped to the ground with his blade, and so rolled away from the men and the flames to explain
Just then a new car was arriving full of old heads with their children, and they quickly resolved all that had gone wrong
Chorus     (BRIDGE)
the off leash dog taunts with the one on the leash
and the drunkards keep coming to the sober feast
in rainbow we find peace then celebrate in wild expression
the one is built on the other, first peace, then free expression
 Gracias, mercy buckets, oh my beloved, did you read it? It is my truth. I weep for the gulf between us.
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