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.”
The Uptight Traveler’s Guide to Portland, Oregon
The constant, crushing judgement I feel for every living person and non-sentient being I encounter is an anchor that weighs me down and prevents me from experiencing true joy. But just because mama can’t experience true joy doesn’t mean she can’t have a good time not doin’ it! (For the purposes of this paragraph I, and possibly you, are mama.) Mama recently found herself a tourist in the socialist paradise that is Portland, Oregon. She’s heard it’s a nice town. She believes it’s a nice town. Said judgement, however, rendered her unable to fully appreciate its charms. If you’re anything like mama (and, dear reader, I pray you are), this guide should help the Rose City’s organic medicine go down.
Get Your Non-Drinking Business Done During the Day
Most non-alcohol dispensing businesses close at or around 6PM, giving the city’s residents ample time to practice with their noise rock bands, make crafts (crafts are considered currency to Portlanders, in the same way “ideas” are currency to San Franciscans) or ironically play video poker. If you want to do anything but get blotto once the sun sets, you’ll be shit out of luck. Plan accordingly.
Purchase Cutesy Shit
Portland is essentially an Etsy store people live inside of. Embrace the twee and buy your estranged spouse the bacon-scented candle and mustache-shaped wine opener you know will repair your damaged relationship.
Pretend to Enjoy Bitter Beer
Portlanders love craft beers—the darker, the better. Part of being a craft beer connoisseur is convincing yourself that the more bitter a beer, the better it is. You may wonder why your face contorts into a pained grimace every time you take a sip of that local IPA. Ignore those logical feelings and prepare your body for one of the worst hangovers it will ever experience.
NOTE: If you feel like consuming a beverage that won’t make you build character, a mere $3 can net you a tall boy of shitty American macrobrew. Tell your friends it’s an ironic choice, all the while knowing in your heart of hearts you’re drinking it because you want to consume something that doesn’t taste like coffee grinds.
If the War on Drugs Is Failing, Where’d All the Cocaine Go?
Toward the end of last year, the DEA published its 2013 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary, a 28-page report chronicling drug consumption trends across the United States. These include the continued rise in abuse of prescription drugs (second only to marijuana in popularity), the increase in the production of heroin in Mexico and its availability in the U.S., and the emergence of synthetic designer drugs.
Much of the report is unremarkable—until you arrive at the section on cocaine. “According to [National Seizure System] data,” it reads, “approximately 16,908 kilograms of cocaine were seized at the southwest Border in 2011. During 2012, only 7,143 kilograms of cocaine were seized, a decrease of 58 percent.”
That sharp decline echoes an ongoing trend: 40 percent fewer people in the United States used cocaine in 2012 than they did in 2006; only 19 percent of Chicago arrestees had cocaine in their system two years ago compared to 50 percent in 2000; and less high school seniors say they’ve used cocaine in the last 12 months than at any time since the mid-70s. In fact, the report indicates cocaine was sporadically unavailable in Chicago, Houston, Baltimore, and St. Louis in the spring of 2012. So where’d the blow go?
Drunken Glory: Former Addicts in Minneapolis Are Getting Wasted on the Glory of God
God is descending on Minneapolis in the form of invisible spliffs and imaginary lines of coke. The Drunken Glory movement—spawned by events like the Florida Outpouring and Toronto Blessing in the 90s, at which people appeared to be inebriated and high purely off the power of God—is on the rise, as godly YouTube channels find innovative ways of reaching their younger audience.
One of those channels, Red Letter Ministries, is run by former meth addict Brandon Barthrop. We went to Brandon’s hometown of Minneapolis, which boasts the largest concentration of drug addicts and churches in America, to try to get high on the glory of God.
Brandon and his posse of waifs, strays, and former addicts spend their days sniffing “diamond oil” and tripping out to the sound of Brandon’s YouTube preaching. Christian EDM DJs down the road are going to raves and attempting to “heal” clubbers high on drugs, and mega-churches run by rehab charities like Teen Challenge are preaching the drunken glory to thousands.
A Meth Pipe Shattered in a North Dakota Woman’s Vagina
What started as your plain old, run-of-the-mill car accident resulted in a woman being arrested while pieces of glass from a shattered meth pipe were stuck up her vagina. In North Dakota, 26-year-old Jeana Marie Smart rear-ended another driver on the road. When law enforcement officers responded to the scene, Jeana was arrested “after a warrant check revealed that she had failed to appear in court on a pending narcotics and drug paraphernalia case,” according to the police report.
The officer transporting her, Michael Benton, spotted blood on the backseat of his patrol car. Being the curious man that he is, he decided to inquire about the red stain as opposed to just doing what most people would do, which is naturally assume that it’s menstrual blood and not bring it up because that’s a really awkward conversation to have.
The Real Walter White
When AMC’s Breaking Bad premiered in 2008, one of Alabama’s most successful meth cooks was already knee deep in building a massive meth empire. His name? Walter White. In this documentary, Walter tells us the secret behind his product, how he stacked up thousands of dollars per day, and why his partner is now serving two life sentences.
Is a Cure for Meth Addiction Lurking in the Jihadist-Infested Jungles of Thailand?
You know what khat is, right? Well kratom is like that: a mild, leaf-shaped stimulant that gives you a barely noticeable buzz if you chew it for long enough. Both stimulants have also attracted the ire of politicians—while Home Secretary Theresa May has promised to ban khat from Britain soon, kratom has been outlawed in Thailand for the past 70 years. But recently the Thai Minister for Justice, Pradit Sintavanarong, announced that he wants the kratom leaf removed from the country’s illicit drugs list. He claims it could help wean addicts off harder stimulants, like methamphetamine.
Meth has been a big deal in Thailand for the last decade or so. It’s most commonly taken in a concoction known as yaba—a blend of meth and caffeine which comes in pill form that the Nazis invented to keep their soldiers marching for days. Today, the authorities estimate that nearly one in every 60 Thai citizens is a methamphetamine user. Last year, shocking new reports claimed that nearly 7,000 children—kids aged from as young as seven up to 17—had been rehabilitated for meth use within the first half of 2012 alone, while this year it emerged that yaba producers are trying to sell the drug to kids over Facebook. So now might not be a bad time to consider some new ways to tackle all that.