local inkslinger puts Steamboat in perspective

Discussion in 'Rainbow Family' started by drumminmama, Jun 26, 2006.

  1. drumminmama

    drumminmama Super Moderator Lifetime Supporter

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    (I love Ed Q) and I want the shirt he mentions from 72 at the end...
    from the Denver Post:

    ed quillen | columnist
    Rainbow recollections
    By Ed Quillen
    Denver Post Columnist

    For the third time, Colorado is hosting the annual gathering of the Rainbow Family of Living Light, which involves thousands of people converging on a spot in the woods for a few days of hanging out and eating organic rice while swatting indigenous horseflies.

    This time around, it's near the Wyoming border, north of Steamboat Springs. In 1992, it was near Paonia on the North Fork of the Gunnison River. The first one was in 1972 at Strawberry Lake near Granby, and I attended that one for a few hours - not as a participant, but as a journalist.

    When word got out that spring of a planned gathering of hippie tribes in our fair state, Gov. John Love put Lt. Gov. John Vanderhoof in charge of the state's response. Vanderhoof soon announced that "the highways are full of the sons of bitches," with the implication that the Colorado State Patrol would find some excuse to detain every VW microbus moving within our borders.

    A few days later, when I saw him at a groundbreaking for a big new store on the south side of Longmont, he held his ceremonial shovel high and said, "Maybe I'll bury a hippie."

    I was the only one in the crowd with a beard and longish hair, and I wondered whether I could outrun the vigilante mob that Vanderhoof was apparently trying to rile, but everyone just chuckled and the ground got broken without further ado.

    At the time, I was working at my first real newspaper job out of college, reporting for the weekly Longmont Scene. Even then, I thought it was an excellent excuse for repealing the First Amendment - instead of investigating governmental malfeasance, I was usually writing puff pieces about our fine advertisers, and such work affronted my youthful idealism.

    Despite Vanderhoof's efforts, the Strawberry Lake festival commenced. Within a day or two, the Rocky Mountain News had published pictures of attractive nude young women cavorting through wildflower meadows.

    The honcho at the Longmont Scene really enjoyed those pictures.

    He enjoyed them so much that he wanted more of them. Thus my assignment. He rented an immense telephoto lens, then dispatched me and my camera to the festival. There I should find a good photographic perch and return with racy pictures.

    When I protested that this was a considerable distance from Longmont, he observed that our office was in Boulder County, and Grand County, the site

    of the festival, was immediately adjacent. And did I want to keep this job or not? So off to the mountains I went. There were at least two police roadblocks along the way, but I waved my press card and got through. Then I encountered the hippie roadblock, where my official press ID, duly issued by the Colorado Press Association, meant that even if I had a beard and was driving an old van, I was part of the evil establishment media that were exploiting and sensationalizing their innocent joyful celebration.

    But that festival had several sponsors, among them the Universal Life Church. I had first heard of it in 1969 when I read a magazine article about this bizarre California church that would ordain anybody. I wrote and asked if that was true. It was true; within days I received an ordination certificate and wallet card.

    So I showed my ordination card to the Rainbow gatekeeper, who welcomed me as "Brother Ed." I did my journalistic duty and got the pictures. The Scene's honcho was pleased. I kept my job until quitting two months later.

    Two years after that, I was editing the Kremmling newspaper in Grand County, and I heard the local side of the story - the Strawberry Lake crowd hadn't caused that much real trouble, but any substantial population spike in a remote and unpopulated zone (the county had only 5,000 people in those days) was burdensome and disruptive. Many of us live in backwaters because we hate congestion.

    Grand County recovered. John Vanderhoof and I got to be on speaking terms - he told me once that even if you're a damn hippie, you can also be a good ol' boy in Colorado.

    But despite all this mellowing, I have to wonder if anybody's selling the T-shirts that were around at a previous Rainbow gathering: "Don't Shoot. I'm a Local Hippie."

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