Saturday, September 19, 2009
A Mixed Bag
We took a trip out to Boston on Saturday, (on a tip from the Cosmos Report), to get a sense of the festivities a-happenin' on the Common, at the 20th annual Freedom Rally to legalize marijuana.
The event started at 'high noon', and we got there about one to find the huge common brimming with partyers. Bands were playing on two stages on either side of the main hill on the common, and here and there were smaller musical groups and wandering troupes.
The tunes being cranked out from the main stages were definitely not what I was expecting for a pot rally. Maybe because it was being held in such a large urban center, or maybe because the event was mostly populated with 20 year-olds...but this was certainly not a 60's revival.
Gone were the dreamy, peace-evoking, fantasy-driven songs of the hippie era; instead there were thrashing guitars and angsty lyrics, by groups like 'Graveyard Barbecue' -(playing exactly the kind of music you'd expect from a band called 'Graveyard Barbecue')...
Hip-Hop was the other main genre to be heard on the common, and leaning heavily towards the gangsta-end of that musical spectrum...here's a quick 360 with the sound:
But other than the aggressive music, the vibe everywhere was a peaceful one, and just about everyone seemed to be in high spirits and having fun.
Hula-Hoops and Hacky-Sacks were on the scene, as expected.
At events like this there are always those that really get into the spirit of things, and this one was no exception...
Conversely, in other cases, the spirits sometimes get the best of the festival goers...
In between music sets, a long list of pro-marijuana-legalizing speakers cajoled the crowds and worked them up into frothy indignation with angry and impatient declarations on the safe uses of marijuana, medical and recreational, and reminded the smokers of their new-born misdemeanor rights. There was particular criticism of what they considered illegal search and seizures being conducted on the common, even as they spoke.
Law enforcement was everywhere, interspersed among the crowd and mostly undercover. Kelly and I had some fun picking out the undercover cops... Their clothing was generally legit looking, but the ultra-short haircuts and serious demeanor gave them away every time. They were busy and apparently had their hands full; just in the vicinity of our travels alone we witnessed a dozen instances of police intervention in the smoking habits of the festival goers.
In one of those instances the perps were led away by the police to some unknown fate. In most cases we witnessed, the smokers were just searched and their small stash, or joint, or two, was simply taken away from them with an admonishment.
Only once, we saw that handcuffs were involved.
But the flood of misdemeanors must have been overwhelming. By 4:20 that afternoon, the smoke hung over the crowd like fog. Trust me, there were no grills and very few tobacco products involved in the pictures below:
The police was doing what they could, but since small marijuana amounts have been reduced to a misdemeanor, they'll have to stick to catching the big fish.
Throughout the crowd, some folks had brought their personal axes to grind and their world views to promote...
Others came to make a buck off of the smokers' appetites in style and entertainment.
Speaking of appetites, we had brought lunch with us and had some grinders sitting on the green, and then took a walk across the street to check out the public gardens and take a needed break from the madness, noise and commotion on the common.
It was just what the doctor ordered.
Ah. Here, a baby could breathe easy.
...as could an adult, with a clear mind...
Our batteries recharged; we decided to go back into the storm for one last look around before going home.
I split with Kelly and the bloggerette, who headed up the hill, and waded into the crowd one more time.
At this time an associate publisher of High Times magazine was in mid-exhortation, railing about his life-long fight and sacrifice to legalize cannabis; emphasising that though his fight is almost done, it's up to the young folks in the crowd to carry on and complete the task.
He had the crowd cheering. But disturbingly, just as the publisher was bellowing over and over that "Marijuana is harmless!, Marijuana is harmless!"...several of us in the audience noticed a very young girl, about 4 years old. She was all by herself in the jostling crowd and holding on to a pink toddler's stroller with a 3 month old, (and not very healthy-looking) baby hunched over in it. We were all about 5 rows back from the booming amplifiers, which were painfully blaring "Marijuana is harmless!"...It was a heart-breaking scene.
After several more minutes we all began to scan around for the still-missing parent, when a bleary-eyed woman finally made her way over from who knows where and wobbly leaned on the stroller. A minute later a man stumbled over, re-lighting and puffing on a glass pipe as he stood with the woman and kids...
That last scene served to remind me that marijuana may be relatively harmless on it's own...but it's not for everybody.
Catching up with Kelly and bloggerette, we sat for a few more minutes at the top of the hill before packing up, ending up winding out our bizarre visit to the common with a small Hare Krishna parade...
...harking back to a much older pot smokers' generation...
Topics: State Of Mass (East)