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From Hash Festival To Bash

From Hash Festival To Bash image
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Hash Bash 1992 as seen from the steps of the Grad Library: Can you find anyone smoking pot in this picture?


5,000 people showed up in 1973. The Rainbow People put out a flier which said it all:




Man I sure can write about drugs. I'd rather write about music, but Homo Sapiens keeps on talking about drugs and stuffing drugs into their ears, noses and throats. So here we go again. DRUUUUUGGGS! A terrific word to toss around, applicable to any substance except tobacco, sugar, coffee and alcohol. These retain their own names. Everything else is a DRUG. Our people devote extraordinary attention to Drugs. Users, abusers, and nattering non-users. An ounce of pot is worth a million words.


Acne! Cancer! Tuberculosis! Sicken and eventually die. Bring on new dilemmas. There's real potential in every one of us for bashing our bodies and minds with any number of toxins. Intoxication is a part of the human heritage. It can be a devastation or a salvation, depending on how we apply the stimuli. Lord knows it's often too easy to shoot the moon and end up wiping yourself out.


There's two sides to this: Cary Grant dropped acid and benefitted from it. I think it was Look magazine ran a special profile on him, lots of photos of an introspective Grant looking peaceful and relaxed. If I'd had to work with Katherine Hepburn on the set of Bringing Up Baby, I'd opt for some trips later on. Wouldn't you?


The other side of it is every person who's had lousy acid or who ingested good acid in a rotten setting. Or who simply didn't fare well with the chemical itself. It would be wrong to imply that this never happens. It is also wrong to treat users as criminals. If there were counselors who could be available for friendly assistance during the initial trip, bummers would be quite rare. We must take into account all of the circumstances.


Upbringing is vitally important. Bringing up children intelligently is becoming a lost art. Fortunately, there are some very cool people having kids right now, at least in my home town , and I'm not afraid to think of what kind of adults are being raised by them. What scares me is the millions of assholes who have no idea what they're doing, and who procreate mindlessly, just because they yearn to replicate. I'd rather see a child being shown intelligent ways to deviate, I mean real alternative counseling, than the mob of beer-swilling dunderheads learning how to make bigger and better mistakes while chanting we're number one. Ann Arbor has been a haven for alternative lifestyles for many years. That's why some of us never leave.


In 1972, somebody spray painted in lavender letters a brief but effective message on the wall near the engineering arch: HASH FESTIVAL APRIL 1 DIAG. It was a YIPPIE kind of spirit snuck onto campus and left that scrawl, and the prevailing Ann Arbor YlPster counterculture picked it right up. Hundreds came to the center of campus and blew jays in order to demonstrate their command over their own lives. Cops were not abundant. This was a time when security guards were cute little cartoon characters who didn't mess with you unless you really did something stupid. Today it's more of a police state scene, but the whole country has gone that way so here we are.

Five thousand people showed up in 1973. The Rainbow People put out a flier which said it all: HASHISH FESTIVAL APRIL 1 DIAG: BRING FOOD, MUSIC, KIDS AND TOKES. Note the emphasis on celebration and the inclusion of young children. This was a festival of life and freedom. It was a wonderful feeling. Cops busted people but there were lots more of us than there were of them. Still are. Keep that in mind.


When the Republican-dominated city council tried to yank our five dollar pot law, we stormed their chambers, drove them out and danced on the countertops, smoking big dubes and chanting our chants. Right in the guts of the cop shop, we took over. Then we got the heU out of there! I think a photo of that event made it into some encyclopedia yearbook somewhere. I'll never forget that feeling of dissent! Real American Stuff.


It must have been the student population who started calling it the HASH BASH. Not only does it rhyme, but the collegiate emphasis on the party element demanded a catchy slogan. So it's been a Bash ever since. The worst thing about the Bash is the swarm of high school kids, playing hooky and coming from Dearborn and other enlightened melting pots, spilling beer all over themselves and being ugly. It makes for sloppy proceedings. I think the transition from Festival to Bash was inevitable. But it's a shame. Because celebration is a wonderful thing, and shouldn't be confused with making noise and trashing the place.


The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is a worthy institution. What they're trying to accomplish is the reversal of America's preposterous anti-herb statutes. A fellow named Harry J. Anslinger went around in the 1930s, spreading overblown lies about marijuana, and appealing to the North American fear of anything which hasn't been safely incorporated through church and state into the homogeneous American lifestyle. Reefers and Calvinism simply don't mix. Again I say the laws are based on fear and greed. Theories exist pointing to the nylon industry as a catalyst for Anslinger's one-man crusade, as hemp fibre was and is a bothersome competition for synthetics. No foolin. You should read up on this subject. It's fascinating.


I want to close by saying that the other side of the coin should always be observed. Unfortunately, we seem to like to speak in absolutes. In a recent article I spoke rather flippantly about certain substances. In no uncertain terms I happily announced my belief that LSD and Cannabis are in fact good for you if you use common sense and keep your sunny side up. My successes with acid in particular probably stem from an innate ability to keep my sunny side up, over easy, without getting scrambled.


Not everyone is so inclined. And even harmless old reefers can cause difficulties, or complicate the difficulties already existing within an individual. Some folks need assistance in quitting all toxins. I once mentioned my friends who ace on prescription psychotropics, and how their lives have been bettered or at least rendered livable. Since then, one such friend tried to snuff herself out with a stockpile of anti-depressants, saying later that she really didn't care whether she lived or died. That's the other side of this woman's coin. Medication of any sort can help you to develop something better. or conversely it can forestall the very real problems inside, and in this case we were shown how ineffectual the wonder drug turned out to be.


Life is splendid. Wanna get a really good buzz? Go down to the Rendezvous Cafe on South University, sit down at the juice bar and order a large fresh squeezed pineapple juice. All the parties in the world can'l deliver that kind of a rush. Life is splendid.


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