In 2010, two events shook the worlds of kombucha drinkers: Whole Foods pulled the juice from its shelves, and Lindsay Lohan failed an alcohol test.
The Dark Side of the Rainbow Gathering
Heber City, Utah, is usually a quiet town. Nestled in a tranquil valley of the Wasatch Mountain Range, somewhere in between Salt Lake City and Provo, the little bedroom community has some of the lowest unemployment and crime rates in the state. More than 60 percent of the city is Mormon. So it came as a particular surprise when city officials learned that they would be playing host to this year’s gathering of the Rainbow Family of Living Light, a loosely organized troupe of nudists, hippies, and itinerants that meets every summer for a month-long love-in.
Started in the late 1960s as an outgrowth of the anti-war and hippy movements, the Rainbow Family of Living Light describes itself as “the largest best coordinated nonpolitical nondenominational nonorganization of like-minded individuals on the planet.” The flagship Rainbow Family Gatherings, which have occurred every July since 1972 in a different US national forest, are like longer, more authentically weird versions of Burning Man, bringing together upwards of 10,000 “Rainbows” from a cross section of fringe culture: bikers, Jesus freaks, computer programmers, naked yogis, and gutter punks looking to escape “Babylon,” the Rainbow shorthand for the various evils of modern life. The gatherings are free and open to anyone. No one is in charge, and nobody can tell anyone else what to do.
“If you asked 20,000 Rainbows why they go to the gathering, you would probably get 20,000 different answers,” said Rob Savoye, a “Rainbow” who has attended gatherings since 1980 and runs the unofficial Rainbow website WelcomeHome.org. “I know rednecks, Orthodox religious people who go to the gatherings, so it’s really hard to put a label on it.
“People are tolerant, accepting of different stuff,” Savoye added. “A lot of us have had rough family lives, and the Rainbow has sort of filled that void for us.”
But as officials in Utah learned this week, recent gatherings have also had a more sinister side, attracting a seedier crowd that uses all the anachronistic peace-loving as cover for drug abuse, theft, and violent crime. On Monday, Heber City police arrested a woman known by the Rainbows as “Hitler,” who is accused of stabbing a man at the gathering’s encampment. Authorities are also investigating the death of a 39-year-old New Hampshire woman who was found lying outside at the camp last week. Over the weekend, law enforcement agents said they were called in to respond to a drug overdose at the camp, and to reports that a group of “Rainbows” crashed a wedding on their way to the gathering. “They just went into the reception and started taking the food,” Wasatch County Manager Mike Davis told the Salt Lake Tribune. “They weren’t trying to blend in.”
Ken Kesey’s Son Is Using Kickstarter to Plan a Sequel to His Dad’s Legendary, Acid-Fueled Bus Trip
In 1964, Ken Kesey—intrepid psychedelic traveler and author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest—piled into a multicolored school bus with his friends and a bunch of drugs and drove from La Honda, California, to New York City for Cuckoo’s Nest'sBroadway premiere. The gaggle of proto-hippies traveling with Kesey were dubbed the “Merry Pranksters,” and their goal was to freak the fuck out of Middle America and document the whole thing for a feature-length film.
The movie they wanted to make never quite came to fruition, but the trip, and the Pranksters’ subsequent LSD antics, were cemented in history in Tom Wolfe’s 1968 book,Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic Prankster adventure, and Kesey’s son, Zane, is looking to raise $27,500 to take the Pranksters’ psychedelic trip all over again. The original 1939 Harvester bus—named “Furthur”—is currently rusting in a swamp behind the Kesey Farm in Oregon, but Zane has a new one, and it’s even more decked-out than the original. If you want to get on the bus, you can donate $200 or more to be considered for the trip. And if you were off the bus in the first place, as Kesey once said, then it won’t make a damn.
If the Kickstarter hits its goal the new bus with its new Pranksters will be swinging through America later this summer. I called up Zane to learn a little more about the trip.
VICE: Hey, Zane. How long has the Kickstarter campaign been going on?
Zane Kesey: Like three weeks. We’re around halfway to our goal and have a week left.
Do you already know who will be onboard?
There have been 20 or 30 applications sent in. If you donate $200, we’ll give you a bunch of cool Prankster stuff—but you also get to apply to ride on the trip with us, be part of the movie that we’re making, and become a Merry Prankster. Even if we don’t choose you, we’ll still send you a Merry Prankster laminate. It will get you on the bus whenever we go parading through your town.
I know you haven’t planned the whole journey out yet, but are any stops lined up?
We’re going cross-country and hitting a few really good festivals along the way. Lockn’ Festival in Virginia is a big one. Furthur, the Grateful Dead side project that is named after the bus, is playing.
We’ll be at their only concert this year, at the final Allman Brothers concert, and then atPhases of the Moon Festival in Illinois. Then we’ll head to this art festival called Great North up in Maine, which has the best artists from across the country. We’re hoping they will paint on the bus.
I hope the photographs provoke people to ask questions: What kinds of jobs allow people to live in the contemporary American West? How should we use the wild land we have left?
Should everyone take acid?
No because you have to ask the right question to take it. Do you want a one-on-one with your maker?
And what if the answer is yes, even if you’ve got a mental illness?
Well there’s a correlation between acid and curing mental illness. I realized after my beautiful accidental rebirth that what we usually call psychology is actually just art.
You use a lot of complicated metaphors.
No, I just use the truth.
We Went to a Sound Bath (and It Was Totally Lame)
I don’t identify myself as a “bohemian type,” that dirty word denoting free-flowing ideals with the world’s most regimented eating plans. While I respect vegabs, I do not sympathize with them. I look to yoga as a fitness last resort since it consistently feels like a church service I’m thrown into against my will. The closest I come to meditating is when my non-English-speaking hairdresser trims my bangs, and I can feel her many rings trace my forehead and for a moment I forget how alarmingly short she’s cutting my hair, and I am at peace.
Living adjacent to Los Angeles’s Silver Lake neighborhood, you face-off against some dream-catchers, a.k.a. men and women who claim the world’s defeat will be at the hand of misaligned chakras. I’ve never been one to be swayed by their passion, but I found myself curious. It’s the same curiosity that makes a Los Angelino take pause before the grandiosity of the Church of Scientology Museum Tour. This past week I followed that desire for peeking over “the spiritual fence” so to speak, and took part in a “sound bath.”
Yep, a “sound bath.” The name alone baffles people with its ambiguity. Who could possibly attempt to define it without having experienced it first themselves? I imagined a vacuous room with several people laying down, experiencing sound waves that feel like Mother Nature orgasming through your eardrums.
Tropicalia: Once Upon a Time, Brazil Protested with Psychedelic Rock & Roll
On March 28, 1968, students in Rio de Janeiro began protesting against the high price of food in a student restaurant called the Calabouço. The military regime set up by an earlier coup d’état was in its fourth year of power and President Costa e Silva’s authoritarian rule had begun to take hold. During the protests, a Brazilian teenage student named Edson Luis was shot in the chest at point-blank range by the military police, who showed up to disperse the protesters. In the wake of his death, several antimilitary demonstrations were held across Brazil, the largest being the March of the One Hundred Thousand, which took place in Rio on June 26 of that year.
At the frontlines of the march were artists from the Brazilian intelligentsia, including two young musicians from Bahia in northeast Brazil, named Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, who were at the vanguard of Tropicália—a counterculture arts and music movement that emerged in 1967 as a reaction to the dogmatic elitism of the left, the authoritarianism of the military, and the socially oblivious lyricism of bossa nova. Influenced by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, but creating an amalgam of rock ’n’ roll and the Brazilian folk of the northeast, Gil and Veloso, along with Tom Zé, Gal Costa and Os Mutantes, came up with a new avant-garde style that was highly inspired by cultural anthropophagy—the “eating” of others’ ideas.