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Vol. 1, No. 3

The Anarchist Convention
by Tom Paine

Like a lot of this takes place before me and Nosebone got out there to the Anarchist Convention in Portland in the summer of 1994. Maybe you read about the convention in the newspapers, because of the martial law. For me all this time before the convention is kind of like a foggy blur, because before I met Bird out there on the West Coast, I was like tripping six days a week.
      Before we left Albany for the West Coast I had some serious dreads, and I had just grown this wispy gold thing on my chin, and I used to curl it in my fingers a lot when I was tripping. I don't know, it just felt good in between my thumb and fingers. Maybe because I was like just sixteen and it was the first hair on my face so it was kind of cool and when you're tripping you can get all meditative like these are the first hairs on my face-even if it's not the sort of thing I would've said to Bugeye or Nosebone or any of the other dudes I was skateboarding with in Albany in those days. If Bird was around in those days, I might of said it to her, but she was still in my future.

 

~

So anyway, this is the way it all went down. At the time I was living in a big closet in the apartment of this guy Steve, who was one of the dealers I used to work for, and when I wasn't tripping I'd run errands like get pizza. I was way into acid right then, sometimes I'd spend all day alone in the closet. I remember sweating a lot in there, because the apartment was pretty hot. And then one day I like stumbled out of the closet thinking like: water! water! And this Irish dude Ian is suddenly there, and he gets me a glass of water and asks me why I'm sweating in the closet. Common-sense question, but it got me thinking. Maybe it was his accent that made me hear him. Ian told me how he had met this American girl in Amsterdam, and how he got all the last of his money and came over to surprise her. She was like, sorry you came, dude, and he was pretty down about it. He wouldn't stop talking about the girl that dumped him, and I like didn't want to go back in the closet and sweat, so I sat on the sofa and listened to him a lot. Man, he could talk. I told him I personally thought sex was way overrated, it was like no big deal and kind of boring. That was my opinion, although he tried to convince me otherwise. Ian talked so much about this girl I started to miss her myself eventually, which was pretty trippy.
      One day while Ian and I are talking, Steve the dealer comes storming in and he's all pissed off because the Albany cops have totally cracked down on his business. Steve is like in his twenties, and a big dude, and you pretty much didn't want to be around when he was pissed off. But this day he chilled pretty quick, because he started telling me and Ian about how he was heading to the Anarchist Convention in Portland, and saying we should join him. Ian said he wanted to go as far as Minneapolis, and said he'd pay for the gas that far. Steve said he'd bring two ounces of herb so he could contribute to the cash on hand by selling on the road. I went out on the street and found Nosebone and Bugeye, and we all got stoked about going to the Anarchist Convention, even though we didn't know anything about it. But we were like, anarchist, man, cool.

 

~

We were all in this stolen Toyota, me and Nosebone and Bugeye and Steve and the Irish dude Ian. And we were finally out of Albany, and then the car died. We had just got into that little tip of Pennsylvania, and the car was like ca-thunk, ca-thunk, ca-thunk. We rolled into the parking lot of like a Kmart with this dying car and like all my bliss went out the window. But Bugeye, he used to hang out with Harley people. He opens the hood and there I am looking at the car engine like this is a totally weird thing, an engine. I was tripping a little. But Bugeye, he right away yanks out the air filter and holds it up and says we've got to change this, so we are all totally stoked Bugeye has this talent. I mean, he goes in Kmart and gets an air filter and like ten minutes later we're off again, and I'm like looking at Bugeye with like this new respect. Which is weird, because back in Albany I was like generally pretty down on motorheads.
      So we're back on the road, and this is it, the big road trip. And I'm feeling so pumped up about us heading to the Anarchist Convention and I need some way to express this good feeling. So I paint my nails black and put on black mascara and in a gas station I dye my hair black and I put on this long silk shirt I have that is like a dress. I'm looking like a total freaker, and I'm out of the bathroom maybe two minutes when the cops squeal up and circle me with a couple of cars and their flashing lights on and they're like grilling me. And there are these movie cameras and lights behind them and I'm like what the fuck? And the cops want me to sign a waiver, because this is maybe an episode of like the TV show Cops. And the cops don't find anything to bust me for, so the camera dudes are pretty glum and they like stick the camera in my face and ask if I'm like into devil worship or anything like that and I'm like fuck off, dudes.
      Because it was a stolen car, the others vacated when the cops first circled me. When they came back for me, I got in the car and we hit the road again and we all smoked some herb. We all agreed we're like into seeking peace, but what to do when America is so fucked that there are these dudes out there hoping you're into devil worship? I mean what are you supposed to do, grow up and join these people? This causes a momentary downer on our trip, but we take some acid, and then are stoked again all the way to Minneapolis. We get to Minneapolis and go to the house of Ian's friend's father, and it turns out the dude is an FBI agent, only he's not home right then and his wife offers us milk and cookies and insists we all come in, but first we all go out in the backyard and there is this little stream and we stand there in the rain and get stoned and consider our options.
      When we go back to the house there is this dude, this totally square Ronald Reagan-FBI dude, and we know he can smell the herb all over us, and he's like giving us punks the fake smile and the pleased to meet you. But we're in the house, and he doesn't bust us right away, so we think what the hell? We don't tell him we're heading to the Anarchist Convention, and he says we can sleep in the basement. The basement is all mirrored and I am freaked down there like what have we done now? Steve and Nosebone open a bottle of this guy's Wild Turkey they find behind the bar. It's like a hurricane outside, so we're not moving from the basement, and after a while most everyone chills from the Wild Turkey.
      I don't like to drink as I like the innocent herb more, so I don't drink much of the Wild Turkey. And I keep looking at these mirrors on the walls while everyone sleeps, and I keep thinking they're one-way mirrors, and it is freaking me out. So in the middle of the night I take my clothes and Steve's stash of herb and go sleep in the car. And in the middle of the night Mr. FBI comes down and goes through their stuff. They all woke up, but none of them moved. And like the next morning Steve is seriously pissed at me for like a violation of his privacy in taking the herb, and philosophically he's right and all, but he could of thanked me for saving him from Mr. FBI. What was really surprising about the whole situation was that Nosebone agreed with Steve, that I had like no right to go through the guy's stuff, that I like violated his space.
      That morning Ian the Irish dude hooks up with some of his people, and we say goodbye to him at the bridge to St. Paul. I tell him I hope he finds another cool girl, but it was the wrong thing to say, as believe it or not he was still seriously down about getting dumped, which surprised me. While we are all standing there at the bridge to St. Paul, Steve sees this cave down below in the bank of the Mississippi River. It's like this natural cave, and we crawl down the bank of the Mississippi to take a look, and it is like definitely way cool. Steve goes into town to get some food and he comes back and we chow and get stoned and watch the Mississippi from the cave and it goes back to raining pretty hard and Nosebone talked a lot about all the outrageous shit that is surely in our future at the Anarchist Convention.
      Late that night there are these loons going by in the moonlight, just riding the raging Mississippi, and I think, that's me and my life, I'm one of those loons. It sounds corny and all, but at the time Bugeye and I were into it and we made loon calls until we passed out.

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