Rainbow Gathering 2007 Ends: The Aftermath
Posted by jeremiasx on July 17, 2007
My feet are sore, I have poison ivy, and my shoes are nearly worn through after the numerous trips I made up and down the hill to the various areas of the Gathering I visited. (They were another quality product brought to me by the magic of Wal-Mart, Hecho in China of course.)
Don’t bemoan my personal situation though…the truth of the matter is that I was not any more of a Gonzo journalist than any of our local reporters who visited and covered the event. I only drove out there four or five times, never camped overnight, and wasn’t interested in infiltrating any “secret inner circles” of Rainbow hierarchy (of which there are none, presumably, since it has no official hierarchy other than communally accepted elders, of which there are no elections or ritual installations of the same to speak of.) I wasn’t there on the behest of any interest group whatsoever, regardless of what some paranoid souls probably surmised, as I’m guessing a few did due to their paranoid reactions to my presence. I probably stuck out. I didn’t really dress any differently than I do in my everyday life…I can’t really ascertain the same for all the other Rainbows…some of them dress the same everyday, some just on weekends (judging by their luxury cars and SUVs), and some probably as part of their “job.” (Ooh now I get to play my conspiracy nut card…not really…it’s generally believed that many LEO’s are undercover posing as Rainbows for the normal purposes of routine undercover work and I surmise less forthcoming COINTELPRO-style operations as well, undoubtedly.) It’s well known by EVERYONE now that the Law Enforcement Officers involved with this “special ed” team that the Forestry Service has assembled are majority asshats. Video evidence.
SAY…speaking of ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT…how much impact do MULTIPLE SUV’s DRIVING THROUGH THE RIVER have? I wonder. Let’s take a look at a USFS trail during the gathering…notice anything “unnatural” after these SUVs went up and down the road in the main gathering area which was blocked off to private vehicles, ostensibly for the preservation of nature?
Hehehe…either way, I wasn’t dressing to impress or try to be anything other than what I am, which is me. HOWEVER you want to dress yourself (or maybe even your woefully subserviant partner or child), if you really dig it, it’s you being you. I’m just saying not everyone is so lofty as to express anything other than a mindless devotion to “fill-in-the-blank style/trend/fashion.” There are such creatures. If it were not so, there would be no market for Club Gitmo T-shirts or retro Debbie Gibson CRAP. Hot Topic would probably go the way of the dodo bird. I might miss it…nah.
Anyhow, enough about my opinion of people who try to be outlandishly different from society by looking outlandishly similar to each other for the sake of the same. I’m losing your interest, perhaps…so back to our story.
I’d heard so many things about the festival from locals and from the internet…very little of the negative hype the government has thrown at the Rainbows stood up to even moderate scrutiny and their reaction to this annual event defies logic whilst taking a piss on reason and duly decimating whatever general concept of Liberty one might assume was left in the world…then shredding general decency as an extra bonus…needless to say myself and MANY OTHER locals are in various stages of disgust with the federal, state, and even LOCAL COUNTY police response due either to the harassment we received ourselves or the harassment, incarceration, and abuse we witnessed the Rainbows receiving. Oh…by the way…we WON’T FORGET IT come election day, either.
So regardless of the hype I wanted to do a cool, level-headed and thorough follow-up on the Gathering and I thought I’d address a few of the issues surrounding the event and see whether there was any truth to them…you know, see for myself instead of just mindlessly accepting what others had said. I started at the Fallsville Store.
Elizabeth Moak was helping a new summer hire with a few of the ins and outs of the business during the 3pm rush hour in Fallsville (there were several customers buying gas and sundries including myself and apparently some of those “Rainbow Folk”) and I felt it prescient to the discussion to ask her about all the alleged theft at the store by many and various local figures. Turns out, nothing was stolen from the Fallsville Store, according to Ms. Moak…and she doesn’t know that any local gardens were verified to have been raided by would-be “Peter Rabbit Rainbows” either…apparently there is a trend in these rumors where they are ALWAYS second-hand, and usually begin with “well so-and-so said that…” She chalked it up to a lot of rumors and fearful fear-mongering and said her experiences have been pretty GOOD with the Rainbows and called many of them “adorable characters.” I agree.
I left the store and turned my attention to the Gathering area itself, for surely in the dark forests there lay certain “eco-Armageddon” just waiting to be laid bare for my discovery if some local accounts and interstate blog comments were to be believed. (Yes, that’s a swipe at some of the comments made on my PAST posts, and it’s well-deserved.)
I encountered the same monstrous pile of garbage that the local reporter did except for one difference. It was at the TOP of the forest service road by the highway instead of at the BOTTOM in the valley just past “A-Camp.” Quite a relocation effort, considering the modest group of men involved. Here’s what was left of the “front page photo” pile of trash.
yeoman’s work of removing and then SORTING and RECYCLING all the refuse…and currently trying to find the most environmentally safe and economically viable means of DISPOSING of it. (Any churches willing to donate a dumpster? The county and the forest would APPRECIATE it…will you complain about the mountain of trash or help to be rid of it?)
Anyhow after a short time there I met Richard, a former taxi driver from New York who made coming specifically for the clean-up effort his goal for this year’s Gathering…along with attempting reconciliation between the tribe at large and the Lecotah Sioux Nation over some strange “sweat lodge” beef…I’m not sure what the details are but apparently even methodologies and esoteric considerations as they might relate to spiritual medicine, as well as their methods of administration and eligible participants, can be the topic of hot debate between light workers and peace pros and even indigenous tribes of Native Americans…curious, eh? Here are the remains of the sweat lodge. Unfortunately I did not attend, though I look forward to being there personally in the future. Time makes many demands, though, as you might expect.
Far out and away from the virtually non-existent Montana Mud (which I observed to be the main area of congregation during my previous visits)
we scaled the mountain to the “Fat Kids Camp” which I quickly found out is not named on behalf of your averagely obese American, and I probably lost a few pounds hiking up there. It’s named for the idea of “living fat” which means to basically have the maximum luxuries of home available to increase the comfort level in the outdoor kitchen /camping setting…they had basically re-molded the Earth completely to suit their purposes…large stone kitchen megaliths and flagstone stairways abounded and all of these are sworn by the wrecking crew to be brought down as soon as the last campers make their weary exit. On the way out there is a food/supply drop area as a midpoint for the exiting campers to hide if the rain comes during their exodus. It’s rained a lot during the Gathering. We love the rain this time of year. Here’s a picture of Richard on the “altar” (firepit) and of their nifty zip-line which was used to transport cooking supplies and food.
We made our way back across the river and I snapped some more shots of a nifty stone bridge and a few more empty camps…
there was a pile of unclaimed camping supplies we encountered which Richard said probably wouldn’t be there much longer near the Arkansas camp, which was still inhabited but reasonably clean…
Heading back up the hill we encountered “Handy Dan” and his rest stop where we saw him trying to help one of the cleaning crew fix a flat tire with his vehicle’s air compressor…
Before we left I took the opportunity to interview a nice middle-aged couple who were strictly on FS 1463 to do a little tourism and fishing. They were from Hot Springs, and were in visiting in the hopes of catching some fish and soaking in all that nature had to offer. I asked them if they were aware that thousands of people had just been camping in the exact spot they were currently fishing. They said flatly, “Really? No. We didn’t notice.” That pretty well sums it up for me, personally. Oh…they also caught fish. Kudos.
So back up the hill and I dropped off Richard and took on “Sammy,” a young man from Texas who had come up to check out his first Gathering but ended up spending most of it in the Newton County jail. Although he didn’t really speak poorly of any particular officers, he said the initial arrest incident seemed like “a crock of shit” and after a series of charges ranging from public intox to obstruction of justice the LEO’s had managed to work up a $1200 bill (fine) for this young kid who thought he was coming to have a good time. He got poison ivy too, but never got anything other than a bleach rag for it at the local poke. His case was much more severe than mine…and mine is driving me crazy even now with plenty of calamine and alcohol to bathe it with. Connect the dots on that one. Anyhow, he was done with Newton County though he looked forward to going to the next Gathering, possibly a regional or the next national. I dropped him off close to the county line. I hope he caught a ride from there. I’ve done enough hitch-hiking myself in the past…I help when I can.
Anyhow…to summarize. The event is largely what you would have imagined it to be, and if you ever go it could be your reality, too…but for now just know that it’s over and it will happen again and no matter how much money our government wastes trying to hassle these folks they aren’t going to quit and they aren’t going to buy a piece of paper that says they have the right to do so. They (and I, and millions of other sane Americans) believe that we already have a “permit” to Gather and Remain peaceably as often as we wishand with as many people as we’d like…it’s called the Constitution.