The People Who Wouldn’t Mind if the Pacific Northwest Were Its Own Country
The first thing we heard when we pulled into the Finney Farm was the clattering of drums, followed by a high-pitched howling noise.
Suddenly a wild pack of young girls came running out of the woods waving sticks in the air. The youngest, maybe two years old, had sticky berries smeared across her face. She was inexplicably waving a $5 bill in the air. The leader of the pack, maybe 13, suddenly noticed us and halted her group—who all promptly dropped their sticks.
“Oh, hi, I haven’t seen you yet, so I guess you’re new here,” she said. “Well, um, welcome to the farm. If you go way down the forest trail, past the big fallen tree, you’ll find a clearing that I think would be nice to set a tent up in. I dunno. You’ll figure it out.”
Then the pack took off howling back into the woods.
We were here for the Cascadia Rainingman Festival, held on Labor Day weekend at a gorgeous 100-plus acre organic farm in the foothills of the North Cascade mountain range in Washington State. Unless you follow the fringe politics of the Pacific Northwest, you’re probably wondering what Cascadia is, and that’s a tricky question, because self-described “Cascadians” hold all kinds of different beliefs. (The first of many workshops at the festival was titled “What is Cascadia?”)
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.
— Munchies answers everything you’d want to know about recovering alcoholics and kombucha, which can contain up to 2.5% alcohol.
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.”
Leilani Garcia was arrested Monday for allegedly stabbing a man at the Rainbow Gathering camp. Photo courtesy of the Heber City Police Department
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.
—Mark McCloud, the San Francisco man who has 30,000 tabs of LSD in his house, sounds exactly like you’d expect