When the clouds exploded over the Haight with violent rain pounding the windows of my estate late Monday night/Tuesday morning, my first thought went to the Stoners who have been camping along the Panhandle and hiding in the bushes all week waiting for the Big Day to come. I thought about the possibility of no 420 celebration. Then I thought of an early morning bakage, it was another hour and half till 4:20am, maybe I should stay awake and take a few hits at the AM:20 just for old time sake.
But the rain lulled me back to sleep.
I awoke to a ringing in my ears around nine am. Because of the Cannabis Expo, my phone’s been ringing off the hook. I had to do some bizness in the morning. Real work.
When I left the house at around one pm, the ground was still slightly wet but the mid-day sun was drying off the property.
For the past week, shy hippies have been showing up in the Haight. It was almost like the old days when I could tell that the Dead were coming without having to check the papers or the concert listings by the amount of make-shift campers and tribal school buses that were parked along Fell and Oak streets. Today was the same way. Kids in dirty brown overalls have been arriving all week. The cliques along the mouth of the park have swelled. Your average street person is fighting for unreal estate this week as they have to contend with all the out-of-towner-stoners coming for the Big Day.
And now the Big Day is here. April 20, 2010.
To be in San Francisco on 420 is unreal. It is like a Lemmings festival, but in a good way. Depending on the day it falls on, kind of dictates the crowd, but not really. My point, 420 fell on a Tuesday, Jerry helps us when it falls on a weekend.
For the past two days, not only with the arrival of the big travelers, but the locals, Marin people, the East Bay crowd, have been showing up and what?...staying with friends? I don’t know where they stay but they’re not sleeping on the streets and the Haight is busy. Like a homing page only those tinged with THC can hear, minions have been zeroing in on Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park non-stop for the past few days.
I live ten blocks from Hippie Hill, almost outside my door. As I leave my apartment, the sidewalk is already crowded. Haight St. is jammed with cars like The Strip in Vegas on Super Bowl Saturday night. I hear cabs have to drop somewhere near Masonic and refuse to get close to the Park in fear of being trapped by the feral kids who only understand one thing, Let’s Get High!
It is now Zombieland as we all stumble together, walking slowly into the Park. I am definitely one of the oldest in this particular parade. In fact, of the thousands marching towards the Hill, I hardly recognize anyone from San Francisco. It seems like everyone here is from north of Santa Cruz and south of Mendo. Once I leave from under the Broken Moon Tunnel, the main sidewalk leading to Hippie Hill is jammed with vendors selling...everything. Pipes, food, beer, and Weed.
Then as I split right towards the gathering at the crossroads of the sidewalk, away from the Kid’s playground, the scene is in full swing. Clowns in red fright wigs flash peace signs then pass out onto the dewy lawn. Tanned hippie chicks in small amounts of wardrobe dance in circles, surprisingly, not passing out. There are multi-colored tents dotting the area next to a patchwork of blankets and festival chairs. And I must say... there is a slight smell of WEED in the air.
It is really a beautiful experience. Strangers are talking to strangers. Even though people are selling eighths and single joints, it does seem like everyone is sharing what they have with whomever is next to them.
I had a kid name Andre from Milano who wanted to smoke a joint with me because I let him use my cell phone for a call he needed to make. I told him he didn’t have to, but he wouldn’t hear of it. It was that kind of day. Weed was the currency. It was a way of paying back and giving thanks. Andre couldn’t believe California and that something like this existed, a huge pot party like this in a state park. There wasn’t a cop in sight. Andre in his designer shades and European jeans couldn’t contain the joy, is bliss too strong? Alright, joy that he found in his surroundings.
Of course there were college kids with their bongs that you needed a step ladder to use. Earth mommas my age danced in peasant dresses holding the hands of younger women that I thought might be there kids. Pot; The Next Generation.
And it wasn’t even Two O’clock yet...
I left Hippie Hill a little before Four. It didn’t make much sense to hang out any more. IT’s not like anyone waited to smoke until it was 4:20. Plus the people just kept on coming. It was funny to watch the homeless tribe that usually occupies that area. On non-420 days, I’ve hung out along the green park benches of Hippie Hill, talking to the street kids for stories or just to check in on what’s happening in my backyard. Today, it was like the homeless that live in that part of the park, were the host and hostesses of the event. Big smiles of recognition went out to street freaks that see each other every day but now are celebrating in their huge, mammoth rumpus room of a park-den and making sure all the guests are happy just like Dede or Danielle downtown.
Now here’s the drag and the two reasons why I left. Number one, there were too many people. B, 420 is changing.
Four years ago I saw the end. At that 420 you could still move around. There were circles of people, mostly only occupying the space of the actual Hippie Hill with only a few people and tents along the low lands. Freaks floated and dropped into circles, sharing smoke and smiles. There were cops on the borders for crowd control and to show whose still boss. In the last few years, it’s grown considerably. Not that that is a bad thing. Weed is more popular than ever and will be legal soon. It is the Way of Things. If you read the papers, someone very astute said this might be the last non-legal 420 for San Francisco. It’s all changing. It’s all happening.
Next year I can see a Ben and Jerry’s getting involved. 420 is never going to be like it was. Corporate sponsorship is around the corner. You can’t have that many people in one place and not have someone not try to figure out how to make the most money from it. If WEED is going to be legal soon, it has a lot to do with the economics of the times. If we didn’t need the tax money, our chances for legalization wouldn’t be as good.
Capitalism works both ways for today’s Pot Head.
At 4:20 I think I was yelling at Chris Matthews for being so Chris Matthews. I had a huge rocket of Durbin Poison burning. I knew it was 4:20 by the shouts and the applause I could hear from the Park. We all celebrate in our own way. The celebration went on late into the evening.
As I watched couples lean on each other leaving. Young boys so baked that they couldn’t talk except smile hello followed their buddies in a chain gang with arms on shoulders for guidance. Costumes bled and faces melted into the night’s fog.
I thought I might be seeing the last of something special.
I remember the first Earth Days. Back in Minnesota, there were only about twenty of us planting trees and doing walks for mankind. I remember someone made a t-shirt in art class, a silkscreen of a green Earth. We all laughed. This is when it was still legal to litter. Its funny how things start out so innocent.
I know it’s just going to be just a matter of time before we open our calendars to the date of April 20th and it will be highlighted. By the Man.