Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Kill All Hippies! (One)
“This shit is bunk. That pudgy little fuck ripped us off. Seventy bucks, down the drain. Fuck.”
“Nothing? Not even a vibe?”
“Nothing. Seven cubes of nothing but sugar. No acid at all. I’m a fucking staff member here. This shit will not stand. I’m gonna go find him. Who’s with me? Steve? Will you help?”
“You bet.” I flicked a cigarette away. “Let’s go.”
The rave scene of the nineties had an unofficial motto of “peace, love, unity, and respect,” or for short, PLUR. It was essentially a regurgitation of the hippy ethic with the activist politics removed. Still intact, however, was the empty-headed hedonism. There were also musical differences between the ravers and hippies, but I need not elaborate upon those, right?
Now the rave scene is eviscerated, the majority of the participants having moved on to adulthood, clubbing, or both. Six years ago, in Chicago, legislation enabled law enforcers to crack down on promoters and DJs, holding them liable for any and all disasters. The rave scene evaporated, with most of the organizers electing instead to host legal events in establishments with liquor licenses, dress codes, and fire marshal imposed attendance capacities. Despite this, the hobbled rave scene stumbled forward on the outskirts of dance culture, continuing to provide teenagers a venue to purchase and consume hard controlled substances. Parties moved from the city proper out to backwoods farms and suburban warehouses. I had nothing to do with this.
Even among those mid-nineties crowds of MDMA-lathered gentle sheep children, wolves prowled the farms, selling fake drugs. The kids would share intelligence, trading names and descriptions of the non-PLUR drug dealers who bunked them. Ecstasy was the king drug, leading to spikes in sales of medical masks and Vicks Vaporub. Acid and mescaline ran a close second, with weird combinations of speed, ketamine, and crack bringing up the rear in the popularity race.
Back to the present.
During Labor Day weekend, I cavorted about a campground in central Wisconsin known for hosting country music festivals and adult lifestyle gatherings. Upon arriving, Marv, the owner, greeted me and handed me a flyer for an event next year called Spank. He bragged to me about the previous month’s event, during which he chained a 23 year old girl to the tractor in his barn and had a dominatrix whip her. I wasn’t sure whether I was envious or appalled.
As the weekend of hypnotic dance music progressed, I found myself in several strange situations, though none rivaled Marv’s tractor kink. One of these involved a drug dealer bearing the unfortunate name of Stanley.
Stan was selling ecstasy and acid. Several of my event security cohorts procured sugarcubes from him, each purported to be doused with three drops each of LSD.
When Hector ate one and failed to even twitch after an hour of waiting, murmurs of dissatisfaction simmered. Although Hector had abused his body with at least eight other substances during the previous two days, we figured his immunity couldn’t build up that fast, enough to nullify a three drop cube. When another hour passed, it was decided that repercussions must be aggressively pursued.
John and I commandeered a golf cart and sped along the forest trails, forcing surprised ravers to leap from the gravel into roadside mud pits lest they be knocked senseless by the front grille. If we’d had the bullhorn, I’m sure we would’ve screamed messages of Satanism and intolerance with the goal of unhinging the delicate chemical-addled minds of the colorful little chipmunk ravers. John was angry about getting ripped off. I was just pretending, riding the emotional bandwagon, glad to be enjoined to a noble cause. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned in my lifetime, vicarious hatred is always a good idea at a rave.
We found fat Stan deep in the forest, cowering on the edge of the campground property. His big dumb eyes shifted, seeking escape routes as John and I disembarked the golf cart and hulked menacingly up to him. Stan sat in a little collapsable chair, a bottle of Corona Light clenched in a death grip. I started the little talk.
“Stan. You know there’s no bottles allowed, right?”
Stan was fat, short, and soft. John and I were tall, angry, and well-practiced at looming. This accounted for Stan’s nervousness and stammering.
“No lime, either? Tsk tsk. For shame.”
“So you’re the guy with the fake cubes, huh?”
“Not fake, no! I sold thirty already, all my friends and tripping hard, man. Shit’s good.”
John took over.
“Well, you sold me seven. I took mine two hours ago. Look at my pupils, Stan. Look deep. See any dilated pupils? Cause I don’t feel a motherfuckin thing.”
“Give em more time, man, I promise, they’re good, they really are. Did you eat food right before… I mean… Did you?”
“Not a damn nibble, Stanny. Just the sugar.”
I knew John hadn’t eaten any cubes, only Hector had. John still had a handful of them in his pocket. Was I part of something dishonest and sinister? No backing out now. I might even develop a taste for extortion. I might even be good at it.
“Well, I don’t know what to say, I mean…”
“I want my money back for all seven. Now. See this? It says Security with a capital S. That’s my badge. You ripped off the wrong guy this time. I’m no fucking friendly hippy that’s just gonna feel dumb for getting bunked. I’m the kinda guy to do something about it.”
“Pick now, Stan. I’ll forcibly eject you from this party, right here and now, and I ain’t gonna be gentle about it. Pay up.”
I cracked my knuckles and narrowed my eyes, giving my best intimidating stare. People who know me would laugh at this charade, but poor Stan just saw a tall, bloodthirsty son of a bitch with an axe to grind. He never stood a chance. He capitulated. John and I hopped back on the cart, him $70 richer, me feeling a burning ball of power deep in my intestines.
Later that day, I asked for a sugarcube. John flipped it to me, and I ate it. I felt a weak vibe, but nothing approaching an acid trip. Perhaps we’d been right.
I was with one of the three main organizers, Rand, who’d invited me to join his staff and wield his authority throughout the event while he was trapped at the entrance collecting money and slapping on wristbands. We were on a green golf cart, cruising aimlessly, when we ran into Stan, whose eyes grew large as I approached.
“Rand, hold up. I gotta talk to this guy."
"Hey Stan. How’s it going?”
“I saw your fucking friend tripping, man, what the fuck?”
“I dunno man, he said they were bunk and I believed him. If we ripped you off, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.”
Somebody walked up and bought a gumdrop from Stan. Now his “acid” was on candy instead of sugarcubes.
“Well, Stan, sell me one of those gumdrops. I’ll pay you. No fuckery, I promise.”
I’d forgotten about Rand standing behind me. Stan handed me the candy, warily, awaiting his cash.
“Hey Rand, let me get ten bucks, I left my money back at camp, I’ll reimburse you.”
Rand walked up and gave me a look of pure hate. He didn’t like being seen consorting with drug dealers at his own event. Still, he decided to make the best of it, and turning from me to Stan, he busted out with some half-baked stolen-from-TV mafioso bullshit.
“You’re in my world, Stan. You wanna make money at my event? Then you gotta pay your fucking dues. I brought these people here. I saw your fat cash wad. You got four grand there at least. Pay your fucking rent. $150, now, and you’re getting off cheap. NOW.”
Stan paid, again, and glared at me with burning hatred as Rand and I left. Twice I set him up. But what could he do, call the cops? Rand promised me a cut off his extortion bank, which he said would be separate from the main party bank, but nary a penny ever materialized.
I shouldn’t be surprised.
I found other opportunities to lie, cheat and steal that weekend. I’ll confess soon.
Oh, and the acid gumdrop? Real. Very, very real. My brain bubbled softly like spaghetti sauce gone thick from simmering too long on the stove.
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