It was early, an uncomfortable early where if I fell back asleep I wouldn’t get a sound night sleep, but not so early that I could start my day. I couldn’t sleep. It seems I never sleep anymore. I rolled over and checked my phone and the glow reminded my eyes just how long they had been staring into darkness. I heard scuffling in the quad and people giggling. It then dawned on me what day it was; April 20th, 2012. “HAPPY FOUR-TWENTY!!!” shouted a bodiless voice. “420” is Christmas for stoners, so of course giddy Mary Jane enthusiasts were up at 4:20am to commemorate . I can only imagine the sheer look of glee as they snapped the first of many bowls to be smoked that day.
The origins of 420 are vague at best. I find it hard to believe that a group of stoners coordinated to meet up after school at 4:20pm, and that the tradition of that evolved into one of the most recognizable icons for cannabis culture. But, stranger things have happened. If you go on Wikipedia and look up “420”, there is actually a picture of the Porter Meadow full of people partaking in the toking, so it is safe to say that “420” is kind of a big deal here. Each year, thousands of people pour into the Porter Meadow, and at 4:20pm a visible cloud of smoke rises up from the redwoods before dissipating into the air. I actually missed the initial lighting up since I was on the opposite end of campus. I got to the meadow as quickly as I could. I passed an older couple holding hands. The man was bearded and weathered.
He was shaking a feather at his companion, “Just think about it! Think about the memory we will always have when we like, look at it.”
“Exactly”, she nodded in agreement.
The scene at the meadow was ridiculous. Thousands of people were walking away from the main clearing and a few handfuls of late people were fighting the crowds to head towards the festivities. There was a police officer leaning against his cruiser who seemed to have given up on any notion of controlling this unsanctioned event. A troupe of students started blundering through the brush near the officer and he halfheartedly mumbled, “Watch out for ticks”.
One of the students turned to their friend as they walked away and remarked, “Bro, you’re gonna get Lyme disease”.
Weed followed me this weekend. I went to see The Shins at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, which is an indoors venue. This did not stop people from lighting up right in front of the stage. What I found to be more disturbing than the blatant pot smoking was the over-saturation of iPhones in the audience. People had them out as flashlights, cameras, modern lighters, video recorders, texting, calling friends to let them know where they were in the crowd, etc. which is remarkable. The crowd was pretty docile for a rock show, but it was The Shins show, so it makes sense.
Well, with the exception of one short, terrible, person. A taller man stood in front of her and she took the opportunity to open her mouth and unload this hateful dribble on him, deeming him an “inconsiderate asshole” for being tall. Being tall myself, I was personally offended by her slanderous attacks on the vertically endowed. The peaceful Green Giant eventually moved, primarily because of how uncomfortable her ranting was making everyone in a 10ft radius. Even after he left, she continued to complain to her friends about his ‘rudeness’. She was bumming out the mood, and I didn’t pay $32.50 to be bummed out. I called out how ridiculous she was acting. She got huffy at first, but then everyone else around piped in in agreement and she grew quiet.
The Shins were a delight to see live. My favorite song of the night is off of their new album, Port of Morrow.
I never noticed it before, but James Mercer, the front-man for The Shins, looks like he could be Kevin Spacey’s little brother, or cousin.
There was a beautiful moment when “The Rifle’s Spiral” was playing where the smoke from the fog machine on stage was mingling with the smoke from the crowd. It was illuminated by the orange and purple light of the stage lights and lazily rose upwards to the ceiling. Great show, great weekend.