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Subject: I went to the Fall Fun Raiser
From: "Butterfly Bill" <butterflyb...@grapevine.net>
Date: 6 Oct 2005 06:12:39 -0700
Newsgroups: alt.gathering.rainbow

Last Friday (Sep.30), I went to the Fall Fun Raiser for the Rainbow Guide, that had been announced and subjected to much discussion here on a.g.r. I packed the big ashiko drum with its floor stand and my Irish lap harp. I had no idea what the food trip would be like, so I decided have a huge steak dinner on the way at noon and scout out the last gas and grocery before doing the last roads to his place. That store had some rather slim pickings, but it looked like they had a grill that was open earlier in the day.

His place was 16 miles east of Thayer, Missouri, which is just a few miles north of the Arkansas border. It was west enough to still be in the Ozark Mountains, but not in what someone from New Mexico, like me, is used to calling mountains. The terrain was about as bumpy as the hill country west of Austin, Texas, or the Berkshires in western Mass, with alternating patches of deciduous forest, grassy meadows, and farm fields.

His directions ended with "you come to County Road 240, turn right and then you will go one half mile and you will see where to turn off." 240 was a gravel path with vegetation growing between the tire tracks, and I saw a pair of white pants tied to the signpost, so I figured that might be a Rainbow signal.

It went up a hill and past three house trailers, but none of them was identified as Applegate anything, and the road led back to the paved one it had left. So I turned back and came around again, and this time saw a man with long hair in a T shirt and jeans, looking very typically Rainbow, walking toward me along the side of the road. I rolled down my window as I came up to him, and I asked him about the Fall Fun Raiser He introduced himself to me as Robert, the one hosting the event.

He got in my passenger seat and led me back to the middle of the three trailers I had passed, and told me to drive thru a hilltop parking lot and then down a road thru the trees that lead to a long and narrow flat meadow. We got out and I was immediately greeted by four dogs. They were all friendly and accepted their master's introduction of me. We walked back up the hill and at the top were even more dogs. Robert said that he had become the de facto humane society in those parts, because there was nobody else taking care of strays.

He led me into a house trailer, set at the edge of a ridge overlooking the meadow below, long as a semi trailer and wide enough to be an oversize load. It was still in almost new condition. Except for the strong odor of dog that greeted my nostrils upon entry, he had what would be a serious contender for the title of cleanest house in the Rainbow Family. He was a meticulous housekeeper who cleaned up a mess as soon as it appeared, put things away as soon as he saw that they had been left out, and left no dirty dishes in the sink.

Applegate Community at that time consisted of only him; there were no partner or other communards. He had some books in his living room with titles like "The Pseudoepigrapha of the Old Testament", and "Lost Books of the Bible", and he was very familiar with the Essenes, so his Christianity departed a bit from what I regard as the mainstream. But all of this came out only the following Sunday when he was conversing with some of his friends in his living room. Thruout my whole stay there he never made one attempt at proselytizing me. Except for an "I Love Jesus" bumpersticker on his car, someone might not even suspect he was Christian.

He offered me a hit off his pipe shortly after sitting down, and herb was plentiful thruout the weekend. He told me some stories about being a recovering alcoholic, and didn't drink any booze himself, but tolerated a few of his close friends doing it without letting it show.

He showed me "the barn", a structure of unpainted, weathered, and slightly moss covered planks, with wide cracks between and not weather tight. There were still stable fences and gates standing inside. A gate of swinging boards led into the central area, and inside were a few sheets of plywood on the ground, some cabinets and board shelves, and a propane stove.

"You should have seen this before last weekend. It was covered with hay, and these two sisters moved it all out and cleaned this place. They had to go to Illinois, and they said they would be back for the fun raiser." It was as clean as anyone could make it, considering the rustic furnishings, except for a puddle of dried up mustard that some dogs that had got in had spilled from a gallon jar. During the course of our conversation he found a shovel and started to get it up.

Then he took me down to the meadow and showed me the stage. Someone had laid some 3/4 by 4 by 8 panels of plywood on top of a two wheeled trailer chassis. He started telling me things like: "We should get a pretty good sized crowd." "My friends XXX told me they were gong to come, and YYY said they were coming too". "ZZZ told me that he is bringing ten of his friends with him." "I advertised this event on 150 message boards, and Lookingheart put a scrolling ad on the main page of Welcomehere.org" "Lookingheart said he was gonna come as soon as he could get off work. We're probably going to be stringing extension cords down the hill round about midnight."

Then he had to go into Thayer to fetch in a friend, and left me to my own devices down in the meadow. He returned maybe an hour later with Sonny, a brother in his late 20s, very Indian looking, who told me in a conversation the following morning that he had started going to gatherings with Modoc last year.

We three were the only ones there for the rest of the evening. Robert put a videocassette of old Dragnet TV programs in his player, and we watched and chatted there in his living room. As the night grew darker, Robert started saying more and more, "I don't know why Lookingheart still hasn't come." He left his computer off so not to frustrate anyone trying to call on the phone, and got only one call, from the two sisters who had cleaned out the barn, to inform him that they had had a ball joint failure and would not be able to make it down until after they could get it fixed on Monday at the earliest. At about ten o'clock I finally told Robert I still hadn't had any dinner, and he cooked me a heaping plate of rice, green beans, and fried eggs.

At one point Sonny asked Robert, "Are you gonna charge any admission?", and he responded, "No, do you think I could without having people on the computer all over my case for the next 50,000 years?"

I sacked out in my van, heard no sounds of people arriving thruout the night, and when I got up as I usually do, about 6:30, I resigned myself to not witnessing any sign of life until at leas ten or so, as it usually is at a Gathering full of night owls. The morning started out cool and misty, and it wasn't until about nine or so that I was introduced to the numerous flying insects that inhabit that place. The following two evenings gnats and mosquitoes were about eating me alive. But at least I didn't have much crawling on me; Robert told me the season for the ticks was past.

But the early part of that morning was very conducive to meditating, and I did plenty. The first sound I heard made by humans (his dogs periodically erupted into barking frenzies, sometimes with coyotes joining in with howling, that would dwindle into silence again) was a drum beating in the direction of the barn at about ten o'clock. I went over to find Sonny, and he told me he was trying to get some breakfast going, but there wasn't too much to work with in the kitchen. He had managed to make some coffee and a pot of oatmeal. There was no sugar or any other condiments except what was left of a box of cocoa mix packets, so I tried to disguise the coffee with one of them. The oatmeal I ate as was. We managed to get some harmony going together with our drums for a bit.

Lookingheart finally showed up at about half past noon with his girlfriend. "The band" showed up about 45 minutes later, and they were two brothers with guitar cases and a-teenaged one who was tagging along with them. Lookingheart unloaded his Plymouth Voyager and brought out two 15 inch woofers in their own cabinets, two more boxes each with a woofer that size under 5 tweeters and a horn midrange, an eighteen channel mixer board, and a rack full of amps. The cords got strung down from the trailer then, but there wasn't enough room on them to plug in all the stuff. There was no equalizer on the mixer, but he fed it thru his computer, which did have an equalizing program.

The quality of the sound was excellent as Lookingheart played assorted mp3s that were on his laptop. He experimented a lot with different sound levels, and correcting them with the equalizer. He was very good at playing the equalizer, and fortunately, he didn't like ear splitting volume. Most of the time he kept it no louder than a living room stereo.

I went back to the barn as Lookingheart continued to play with his system, and two more people showed up, Ray, the owner of Ray's Country store (who occasionally posts to a.g.r.), and a sister with an infant who was given a ride by someone else from Mountain Home, Ark. She was the only one who came as a result of the internet advertising.

After chatting a while by the barn I went back down to the stage, and the musicians had taken out their guitars and were trying out the sound system. One had an Ovation roundback with a good tone, but the other had a solid body electric that he was feeding thru an effects box, and his preference was for max head banger overdrive and distortion, precisely the sound I personally hate the most. I thought that there wouldn't be much room for my harp next to that.

I heard lots of crackling that wasn't entirely the result of the effects box, and it turned out that the volume control potentiometer on his guitar was acting up. I had him try the stunt of rapidly twisting the knob back and forth several times, which can polish oxides off of contacts, but that didn't work. The pot needed to be replaced, and there weren't any places to get a new one at about 2 on a Saturday afternoon 16 miles east of Thayer, Mo.

He continued however to try to get it to work, and the sound was starting to get on my nerves, so I retreated to my van. By that time I was getting seriously hungry, so I started the van up and went to the store that I had passed on the way in. When I got there it was closed, so I went back to Robert's place, and discovered a pot of pasta with tomato sauce in the barn. I was also told that the two guitarists had left. "There weren't any people there to listen to them, so they didn't want to continue. But they said they'd be back in the morning." Ray had also left, saying he would return later.

As sunset approached, Lookingheart put a few steaks on a grill and let me have some pieces, and he soon went to sleep. Sonny turned off the amplified music, and back at the barn he and I got into another session of drumming. By now, Robert's rap was changing a bit. "Lookingheart told me before that these things sometimes take a few years to take off. Suddenly you start to get a lot of people coming, but not until then. But some of the people might still get here tomorrow."

Another brother and his wife, personal friends of Robert who lived about 50 mile away, showed up, and he got us all high by the fire by the barn. I was obvious by then to me that all the people who were going to come already had.

After dark the guitarists returned in a car whose engine sounded like it was having serious ignition timing problems, and the electric guitarist seemed rather drunk. I happened to pass them just as I was going down to my own van for the night, and had them roll the car out of the middle of the path. I heard him over by the barn playing an acoustic, but was too sleepy by then to go over to listen.

Sunday morning it was about 15 degrees warmer, and the bugs were swarming around me on all sides. I mostly stayed in the van with the windows closed. The musicians' car was gone, and Robert told me that he had finally asked them to leave after the drunk one had come staggering up to his trailer a three times early in the morning, setting off his dogs every time he did and waking Robert up. Lookingheart packed up all his equipment and left around nine, having said the previous evening that he was going to visit some friends at East Wind.

His friend and wife came back shortly before noon, and we sat around in Robert's living room talking for a while, then around three Robert said he had to take Sonny back to Thayer and the sister back to Mountain home. Some black coffee, some bare oatmeal had been the only things I had had to eat all day, and Robert said, "As soon as I get back I will cook you another meal just like tho other one I gave you." I could probably have tried scoring some food at the store or in a town that Robert told me was only eight miles in the opposite direction from the one I came, but my body was already in fasting mode, the chances for success on a Sunday didn't seem that good, and I was mostly feeling lazy, so I stayed with the mosquitoes in the meadow.

He had not returned by sundown, and I lay out for a nap in my van. I awoke at about 10 o'clock, saw lights in his trailer windows, and walked back up. He had a bag of McDonald's cheeseburgers for me, and told me that he had a flat tire, no air in his spare, and had to call AAA to come and rescue him.

Robert again talked about "how these things sometimes take time", and then went on to say, "I still think this was a smashing success. You know why? Because my friends still came and we got to share a good time." His unyielding optimism and his dogged determination to find the good side of anything, no matter what, was something I might have at one time pitied, but now wonder if I should envy.

Thus ended the Fall Fun Raiser. The total revenue collected for the Rainbow Guide came to $0.00. Both of the guitarists said they were going to write out checks for me Sunday morning, as did Ray, but events transpired such that none of them were there then. All the other people in attendance, other than Lookingheart and myself, were hard core Rainbows who were just as impecunious as Robert.

I can think of a few things that might have contributed to the low turnout, beginning with the remote location that was hard for me and I'm sure a few other people to find, on a weekend where I thought I was fortunate to find gasoline for a price as low as $2.79 a gallon.

The place needed some signs saying either Applegate or Fall Fun Raiser; he had just tied some colored ribbons in a few places. He could have laid in more supplies of food, including stuff like sugar that he didn't personally use but other people do.

It was futile to thinks that lots of people would be there in the daytime on Friday, when most of those who would have money to contribute would probably be getting it from a job that would keep them unable to get off before Friday evening. There was also another competing Rainbow event going on in the vicinity, the beginning of the Shawnee gathering in Illinois.

If other fund raisers are to be contemplated, I think they would most effectively be held near in to some city, as a one evening event.

And it looks like more than a few of Roberts friends said things to him that made him expect them coming, and wound up standing him up.

But I still got to spend a Rainbow weekend that was as pleasant as I could find amid the flying insects, and I don't thinks there is any one person or thing that I can blame for any disappointments.

Butterfly Bill

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