Greetings from somewhere in the middle of Nebraska, USA. Chilling in Julia the Roadshow bus after doing a bit of logistical work via the creaky slow Verizon modem. Just booked two RV units outside of Des Moines, IA for tonight. Has electricity, pay wifi, and laundry facilities. Oh, and showers too. Pricilla ran great last night from Denver to Ogallala, NE, so the Roadshow (three vehicles) clocked out at a sweet 60 mph the whole way.
We got walkie talkies in Denver for the two-day festival so had one on for each vehicle. I found CB lingo on my Blackberry and shared the slang to the other vehicles while riding shotgun in the truck for Tom and Nick. Jonathan and David took the slang and turned it into a mongrel language full of poo and pee jokes, urban flavors, and David’s alien mumblings. We all enjoyed riffing on the various terms for a prostitute, “free ride” “pro beaver” etc. Not too PC but it kept all the drivers up for the 4 hour shlep across the state line.
The festival on 16th Street went surprisingly well. We all had walkie talkies on and took care of business on Tuesday morning. The original plan had the festival stretched out up to Hirshorn Park, but we condensed it into one block and a parking lot, which was a good move. Workshops took place under the dome, which may have been the only bucky ball in Denver during the DNC. Nick’s mushroom workshop was the most successful of the two day run. Beside the dome stood the 20 foot tall Moroccan tent, home of the Health and Healing Farmacy. I stopped by Tuesday morning and got an acupuncture treatment for my congestion. Smoked one of Marty’s herbal cigarettes after the session (consisting of Jamaican dog wood, mullein, colt’s foot, lemon balm, and skull cap) and felt great the whole day. Drinking local Kombucha and eating good meals kept the spirits up as well.
Attendance for the festival was low. Day one was a cooking 94 degrees, so folks showed up after things cooled down. Day two wasn’t as hot, but the same thing happened. We all went out promoting the thing, sometimes going out on the whymcycles and acting “awkward” (David’s term for SLR’s spurts of spontaneous improv performance). I grabbed a freewheel!n bike and rode to the SEIU health car rally to flyer and see Devotchka drop three songs. Got to meet Nick from the band and handed him a flyer. People knew about the Roadshow as I handed out flyers along the way.
One of several highlights of the festival occurred during the set up. A local Denver cop, who took care of Moe’s bus accident, told us that Secret Service radioed in that “a group of activists are setting up an illegal encampment on 16th and Boulder Streets.” He knew about the festival so had to cancel the call to the riot squad for us! A second highlight happened before the Luciano set. Luciano and Mikey General were up on top of the condo building, checking out the view, when Secret Service showed up. Two rastas dressed in military garb caused a neighbor to call 911, fearing some kind of terrorist attack. They just got peace, love, and justice instead, so the Secret Service walked away!
The night time benefit concert with Luciano and Mo Tet was good fun, but attendance was low. Overall SLR ended up in the red, but the local people and vendors appreciated the connections they made. The event became intimate, and I had many great talks with people as well. My best highlight of the festival came at the very end of Wednesday night. Luciano had ended his set and the festival was closed except for the beer garden. Bikes started appearing from the bottom of 16th street so I ran over to the bike lane to give them high fives.
I thought they were the special Critical Mass that had happened earlier that day, but this ride was the monthly cruiser ride. David ran over and pulled the caution tape apart and I told him to stop, fearing that the tape would get caught up in the bike chains. “They’re stopping to drink!” he yelled, making an opening for them to take a direct right into the beer garden. I looked over at the beer garden and saw the cruiser bikes piling up at the entrance. Tyler handed me a small whymcycle and said “join your people!” so we both began to ride around on the tiny bikes. I also ran over an grabbed the ha’ penny farthing to ride around too. The cruiser crowd loved it.
I’d estimate about 300 to 400 riders stopped to pound beer for about an hour that night. Lots of custom cruisers, a tall bike, DNC riders, LED lights, and a few topless female riders rocked it out and helped us get out of our financial hole a bit. I chatted with one of the cruiser organizers and he told me that the Critical Mass ride ended when the Denver PD threw tacks in front of the ride, according to a friend of his in CM. Later that night, chatting with Tyrone from Jackson, MS on a random downtown Denver street, I found out that CM was a good three blocks long.
I met Tyrone while getting awkward with part of the SLR crew. About six of us went out on the town to soak in the DNC atmosphere. We had one of the tiny trikes, and a few latex masks that we wore to cause a bit of our own spectacle. We met people along the way, Jesse from the Hydrogen truck approached a group of cops and let them hold his two small containers of hydrogen. They seemed perplexed as he dropped knowledge to them. Marty wore the horse mask and I’d jump on his back and “ride” him. Zach pretended to be Borat on the small trike and we all took turns wearing the masks and acting awkward with the random drunk Democratic tourists. We had a wild time in the streets as bored cops looked on and tolerated our drunkened theatrics. We pretended to be a polar bear with the polar bear mask, riding the tiny trike through the sidewalks, and sometimes streets, of Denver.
Thursday was all breakdown, clean up, and pack day. We paused to have dinner during the Obama speech, listening to it on the radio like we were pre-TV. The speech was amazing, save for the N word: Nuclear. Clean coal gave us groans as well, so most of our crew broke from the spectacle to continue packing. We lit out of Denver around 11 PM, a neat four hours late from our proposed departure time. This morning, we woke up from our Ogallala truck stop and took a small drive to Ogallala State Park to take a dip in the dammed river and have a check in meeting for the next week’s logistics.
Hope to make Des Moines tonight, where our RV units await. With all the modern needs we stinky peeps need.