The next morning, the 22nd, I decided to take my first load in: the tent, tarps, and high holy chair, and find a place to stash them temporarily until the place for Info was decided on. I met Greg Sherrill on the trail by the main meadow, and he pointed out the campsite he had made near a spot that he thought would be good for Info and let me stash my stuff under his tarp. While passing thru Handi-Camp on the way in I had met a sister named Gypsy who was interested in setting up a first aid station near Info to supplement CALM. She and I decided to look for a place for the Information booth.
We first rejected the place that Greg had picked out, thinking that a place that you encounter shortly after Welcome Home, as you enter the main meadow and the trails start to fan out into the rest of the gathering, would be better. Before the trail reached the main meadow it crossed a small stream on a Rainbow-built bridge. Then it curved uphill for a short distance around the base of a small hill that somehow got the name of Bitch Mountain. At the base of this hill there were two clumps of trees framing a small clearing in between with a clear view of all of the main meadow where Dinner Circle and the Magic Hat collecting activities would be occurring. Gypsy and I decided to present this to the rest of the Info crew when they arrived. I found some twine at Rainbow Crystal and an old pizza box for sign cardboard, roped it off, and hung a sign that said, “Future site of info’. I found a small clearing near it that was just large enough for my dome tent, shaded at all hours of the day, with a view of the main meadow out the front door flap.
I returned to Bus Village that evening and lay down to sleep in my van. At about midnight I started hearing a car horn honking. The person in that vehicle started tooting it intermittently for long periods of time, as if that person was deliberately trying to be annoying. After about an hour it stopped. Then at about four in the morning I saw a flashlight being directed thru the windows into my van, and I saw some men in police uniforms. One of them said, “sheriff’s department”, and then asked me, “Is there anyone else in there with you?”, to which I answered no. He then said, “Did you hear anything?”, to which I also answered no. They left and went away.
When the morning of the 23rd came, I found out that somebody had responded to the honking by trying to open the hood of the bus that was doing it and remove the fuse. The honker was a woman whose nickname was Hitler and was on a pissed off at the world drunk, and she came out of the bus and stabbed the man who was trying to do it and then disappeared into the darkness. The cops at my van were Wasatch County deputies looking for her.
At about seven I saw Marken and J’ai while wheeling my barrow past their trucks that had just appeared along with a new large Info trailer. Marken told me that he lost traction on one of the hills on the road up, and had to get another truck with a chain to assist him. I told them I had a site for them to look at when they got inside.
On the way down to the stream I encountered Tigger, who told me that Fat Kids was going to set up in between Kid Village and Lovin’ Ovens. The two kitchens that were at opposite ends of the Tennessee gathering that was so clearly segregated into “hippy” and “dirty kids” sides were now going to be physically right next to each other. As Raye, a principal sister in Fat Kids expressed it later, “The two ‘lastest’ kitchens are now going to be together. One kitchen was always the last you passed going out one side of the gathering, and the other one was the last you passed going out the other side.” Tigger said that Fat Kids wanted to be in a better position along the water supply lines.
And in other less striking ways I saw the segregation start to break down as the rest of the gathering emerged. The Hobo Alley mesa was definitely dirty kid territory, but the main area inside didn’t split into the young people’s and older folk’s sides as it had in the last few years. Around the corner from Welcome home and on the same side of the stream was a small grassy mesa where a tipi circle emerged next to Dreaming Lizard’s Café, a kitchen with a definite old-timer’s feel. My long term friend Robbie Gordon erected his lodge there. That meadow was at the bottom of the littlest finger of grass, and shortly up the trail leading up into it was Iris kitchen, whose feel was predominant blacky khaki.
At about the middle of the day Marken and J’ai caught up to me at Welcome Home, and I took them to my prospective site. They said it wasn’t bad, but Marken wanted to explore more. They looked at Greg’s site, and J’ai came back saying, “Unfortunately, we may have found a better one”. I didn’t like the other site because it was mostly covered with hellebore and the ground looked muddy and swampy in places. At that point Karen and Mike Cecilio were arriving with their kids, and we all agreed to give the decision to them. We looked covetously at a space in front of some trees at a major fork in the trail by main meadow, but it had already been taken over by a few tents and a sign that said, “Rusty Nails”.
Prominent in their reasoning was the idea that some of our locations at previous gatherings were “too lonely”. “People pass by us once on their way in, and then never come back.” Greg’s site was further up into the palm of the hand and nearer to a grand intersection of many trails leading up into the various fingers, so they decided that Info would be better there. But I told them I was going to keep the campsite I had already made, mostly because I wanted to be near Gary and Robbie. (And it was also near that shitter.)
Several of the people who had been the most involved with the physical construction of the Info booth in the past did not come to this gathering, so it came together in its final form later than usual. The first construction was the bulletin boards on the 26th. A large tarp was not hung until the 27th, and it was not until the 28th that it was rehung in its final position and the construction of the counter and bench was started.
On the evening of the 23rd, back in Bus Village, I got a front row seat view of the end of the horn honker stabbing drama out of the rear windows of my van. At about ten minutes before seven, three Forest Service SUVs came onto the meadow and two parked near my rear bumper. The treeline beyond went around in an arc, and soon three crew cab pickups with Wasatch County insignia on their doors came in and stopped further into the meadow nearer the trees. Several county deputies got out and a few walked back into the woods. About fifteen minutes later I saw one coming back out guiding a handcuffed woman in black pants and an olive green shirt. She was put thru the right rear door of one of the crew cabs, and another cop stood at the still open door and appeared to be interrogating her for about 20 minutes. While this was going on another policeman came out carrying a large plastic trash bag, opened a lid that covered the short pickup bed, and threw it in.
They all lingered for about 45 minutes, and shortly before they left, they all got out of their vehicles and stood together with their arms around each other as first one of them took a picture with a camera, then handed it to a man in a red shirt who looked Rainbow who was walking by and joined the others for some more shots. Shortly after they had all left I got out of my van and walked over to Marken’s truck and saw two county officers who were now standing by the road out in front and asked them, and one of them verified that the person captured was indeed the stabbing suspect. This was one police intervention that most Rainbows were glad to see.
The next morning, the 24th, I climbed for the first time up to Kid Village and Fat Kids. Both of them were barely past the point of having tarps up and some simple fire rings of rocks big enough to support a few grills. Felipe greeted me with, “Hello, Bill; would you like some coffee?”, to which I accepted and then sat for a while in one of the several canvas chairs that were scattered about.
It was going to be an hour and a half before they would be serving their usual breakfast smorgasbord of potatoes, eggs, pancakes, syrup made from fresh fruit, oatmeal, and herbal teas along with the coffee, so I went over to Fat Kids, which didn’t have any sign identifying it, but I was assured that was what it was after asking some of the people there. Underneath a large tarp they had folded over a rope to make a peaked roof between two trees, they had erected two tripods out of thick logs, maybe eight inches in diameter, and the ten foot space in between them that they filled by the next day with a table made of logs as big laid next to each other and lashed with twine. It sloped as steeply as the mountainside beneath it.
A fireplace was built by the uphill tripod, but it was only about a third of the size of the immense stove that was built in Kid Village. There was a side with a grate to put pots on, and another side with a flat griddle that you could fry eggs or cook pancakes on, and this was not what I would have imagined they would have needed to turn out the quantities of Dinner Circle food they have in the past. There were no chairs of any kind in Fat Kids; everyone sat on rocks, logs, or the ground. I surmised this was the reason Tigger always wore a sheet of leather hanging from the back of his belt, long enough to reach the back of his knees He always pulled on it to make sure it covered his butt as he sat down.
At every gathering I had been to before this, this kitchen had always been at some extreme end of the gathering, making it difficult to visit them on a regular basis. Now I was going to be able to be there every morning if I wanted. And over the course of the next six days, every morning was different. That first day they only had one fireplace toward the back and uphill from the rest of the kitchen, and a brother and a sister were making what they called “pupusas”, corn meal pancakes according to an Argentine recipe that had green chili, cheese, and red peppers. One morning there was a tub of a mixture of eggs, rice, potatoes, with a pile of bacon to the side, and the kitchen workers served themselves. One morning Tigger was there and he said, “Oh, Hi, BB, want to make your own breakfast?”, and pointed out to me some piles on the table of cut up yellow peppers, tomatoes, spinach, onions, and cheese on the table, then the flat griddle with eggs in cartons next to it. And another morning a brother wanted to make what he called “calzones”, which were pancakes folded over a mixture of potatoes and eggs, made in a process that took several steps before they all wound up in a serving tub. At the same time, someone else was taking cinnamon rolls that had been baked the previous evening and dipping them in scrambled eggs the try to make a new version of French toast.
On the 24th construction of Lovin’ Ovens had not been started yet, but a little ways over Shining Light had hung a large tarp among some trees next to a grass covered mesa that provided an expansive view the main meadow below and the mountains beyond. There were several bundles of tipi poles laying on the ground.
At about noon that day I was at Welcome Home, and there was a brother hard at work with a gasoline powered chainsaw. He told me that he was a professional arborist, and that the rangers had given him permission to cut down any standing dead trees that were 12 inches in diameter or less. Chainsaws were in frequent use elsewhere during the Seed Camp period up to the first of July, and there were lots of large timbers available for construction.
In the evening of that day there was the gathering’s first Dinner Circle, and seven kitchens brought food. Daniel was back to focalize it, and he again put up his pagan poles showing the four compass directions and laid out circles on the grass with white flour. There was a large enough circular area covered by grass and not hellebore. There was some kind of burrowing animal that left crooked snake-like mounds all over the ground surface, with many entry and exit holes. The mounds dried out hard in the sun, and walking was sometimes difficult.
Back on the 23rd, after all the gear that the Cecilio family had set down in my spot had been picked up and taken over to the real site of Info, a brother came up and asked if this spot was going to become available, and after we answered yes he set up a tent in it, while a friend of his slept in a sleeping bag outside. They stayed until the last day in June and the area became a residential zone. Sometimes I heard loud snoring coming, from the tent and I was wondering if he was having apnea problems. Then they moved out and his tent was replaced by two more that contained people in new and clean clothes who seemed like gathering newbies. One of them lit a personal fire that wasn’t more than about ten feet away thru the trees from my tent. I could hear all their conversations clearly, and they stayed up until well after midnight. Then on the 1st several other tents appeared on the meadow in front of the trees, all in close quarters, sometimes less than five feet from each other.
The first night I slept inside the gathering on the 25th, a drum circle arose at Dreaming Lizards, about a hundred yards away across the stream’s riparian area with nothing to dampen the sound in between. The next night I heard two drum jams going in different places, both more distant. Afterwards there was a single large boogie circle several hundred yards away at a far end of the main meadow. The drumming would continue until at least three in the morning, and some nights it lasted until the first light of sunrise. Then very little drumming would be heard during the daytime until after Dinner Circle.
All night long in the main meadow area there would be at least a background din of party sounds with whoops and hollers, seemingly just to get pleasure at breaking any nighttime stillness. There would be occasional loud conversations by people passing by on the main trail. It got to its worst on the night of July 2nd. On the main trail there was a tarp laid on the ground and a man sat next to it saying over and over again, “This is the karma carpet. There is no trade here. Take what you want, and leave what you want. You don’t have to take anything; you don’t have to leave anything.” He kept this up until at least three in the morning, sounding more and more like he was under the increasing influence of some kind of mind altering substance.
There was another man with him who kept yelling in a growling gruff voice, “We need a cuddle puddle here. We need some body heat.” There were no sounds that indicated that one had actually started. Apparently Crucial Kitchen, which had set up nearby, had brought over some soup and chai tea for them to serve out. This man for a while kept yelling “Hey, we got some shit over here. Come get our shit.”
One thing I had learned that time I was in the Austin city jail was that no matter how loud the place you were in was, sooner or later you would get so exhausted that you would fall asleep, and I waited for that principle to apply at this gathering.to be continued