Saturday, October 15, 2011

Costume Hats (for Kids)

Hartford, Connecticut

I have my first flat not long after my Mason's tour.  1,500 miles without incident and I get my first fucking flat.  I patch up and move through the countryside.  Aside from this setback, the Lord hath smiled upon me the past few days and granted me a quick backwind to tarry me over Connecticut's sloping hills.  It's a beautiful ride with the foliage just beginning to turn.  I would find out later there are entire groups of people who come here to see this.  The locals call them "leafers" and they come by the busload from around the world, especially Japan.  Entire tours dedicated to the decaying remnants of a chlorophyll-less leaf.

I see mortorless rock walls along the way that have probably been there for a century.  The shitty ones are easy to distinguish from the old.  I become curious about the skill in stacking a good rock wall that lasts for decades, but the interest passes with the walls themselves.  I realize the season when I see the first Halloween decorations go up.  I don't understand the fascination with skeletons; they don't even have muscles.  Skinless is scarier than muscleless.

Again, I don't have a place to stay and begin my search for dive bars the second I enter the city.  Downtown Hartford is completely devoid of the normal crowd I ask to stay with.  I see a fixie locked atop a fence near a bar.  I write my number and a request for a place I could find cool kids in town on a notecard and put it in the spokes.  I ask some bartenders about the scene and they mention a few bars and a punk house somewhere in West Hartford.  I go to one of the other bars and they only recommend the house.  They know the street but not the address.  I ride up and down the street searching for any sign of a punk house.  A teenage girl on her roof talks on the phone.  I ask if she's familiar with a punk house on the street.  She looks bewildered and stammers out a  no.  My question isn't that unusual, you're the one talking on your fucking roof.  Fuck me though, right?

I ride the opposite way and pass a house playing loud metal.  It sounds like there's band practice in the basement.  Derelict couches and empty beer cans sit on the front porch, leading me to the think I've found the right place.  I ring the doorbell and knock with no response.  I wait on the porch until a guy comes by and asks what I'm doing.  I explain my situation.  He asks how easy it was to find the place and seems justifiably leery.  He agrees to let me stay on the thought that my things are more expensive than anything in the house.

We smoke and my host's friends come over.  One of them, Rad Froth, has a beard and a shaved head, save for a small square of long hair sprouting from the back of his head.  Rad seems knowledgeable about bud.  I tell him about a stereotype I've encountered on multiple occasions on this trip about Floridians having an affinity for gravity bongs.  I heard vague allusions to this belief in Savannah, Richmond, and Philadelphia before I start asking people their grav bong / stoner house ratio.  They say maybe one in every dozen or half dozen.  In Florida nearly everyone I know who smokes has one, making my ratio at the very least one in two.  I'm surprised by how widespread this stereotype is and the fact it's a stereotype at all.  More than that, it seems to be well founded.  Rad believes Florida's love of grav bongs is due to the lack of growers and the predominantly shitty weed there, leading people to get baked in the quickest, most efficient way.  I don't see issue with the grower statement or the theory, but I don't entirely agree with the shit weed designation.  I know for a fact good weed is accessible there.

I ask Rad to look at my stash.  He identifies it by smell alone as "beatties," something he smoked throughout high school.  He isn't critical of it saying, "There's nothing wrong with it if it gets you stoned, man."  He tells me he'll throw me bud before I leave.  I ask my host if I can stay an extra night, but he's hesitant about making that commitment to a stranger.  Rad offers to put me up for the next night.

I accompany my host to a Food Not Bombs meeting and we ride around Hartford's empty, weekend streets.  I talk to one of Hartford's resident anarchist protesters.  He's an integral figure for Food Not Bombs in Hartford and was involved in the initial stages of the Occupy movement here.  He's disenfranchised with the local movement and those supporting it.  He says within two days of planning two people jumped the gun to camp out.  He thinks they were undercover cops planted to disrupt the protest by starting it preemptively.  As a result, Occupy Hartford didn't have a constant presence and was currently empty.

After hanging out with my host for awhile he agrees to let me stay another night if I want.  I don't want to be rude and change my plans with Rad and I'm always down to stay with new people if possible.  I wait at an intersection for Rad with my bike packed.  Some cops hassle me because there have been robberies in the area.  I guess they think it's possible to burgle with a bike.

I meet up with Rad and find out that he too is a dealer.  My girl luck on this trip is shit, but my weed luck is incredible.  Rad is now the second dealer I've stayed with without any looking or connections. We make deliveries by bike around Hartford, but unlike Philly I don't follow him into the houses.  Once we finish we go to a denim factory where his friends work and hang out.  Everyone beside me is wearing some article of clothing produced here.  Rad's friends have a newly formed band and tonight's their first practice.  They're already committed to play at a bar in a week.  They discuss possible band names and decide on "Free Jazz."  They joke about what constitutes jazz, arbitrarily defining it by anything they want to do.  I hear my second set of gunshots of the trip sitting by a window overlooking the city.  Apparently there are microphones that pick up on it and send dispatches.

We get back to Rad's place and I find out he doesn't have a bed or couch for me, but he does have a big ass comforter.  He takes his dog out which gets sprayed by a skunk.  Apparently that's a common thing up North.  The stink burns the nose with a chemical smell.  I sleep on the comforter in my hoodie.  It's not so bad.  I let Rad's kitten into the room and he pisses on the comforter.  Before I leave Rad gives me a gram of what he dubs "the dankest Connecticut has to offer," on the basis that I'm traveling, smoke weed, and that his friends didn't think I was a "sketchball."


I didn't mean for this blog to become mostly about weed, but that's what has seemed to have happened.  It's not entirely my fault, I've just been dealt a good hand or a lot more people smoke than I had anticipated.  I talked to my friend recently about stoner culture.  I've since taken his opinion on the matter, making this the closest thing to a guest piece on this blog.  We have a fondness for getting high and do so often.  He doesn't attribute anything to it greater than a desire to get high.  We both hate the culture specifically based and wholly oriented around weed.  You don't need to wear a shirt with a pot leaf on it like some stoner merit badge.  Most of stoner culture is pseudospiritual trash and masturbatory trichromatic patterns of red, green, and yellow.  Not that this would normally matter, but people who just like to get stoned get lumped in by association.  I don't want weed to be a lifestyle beyond the base desire it fulfills.  That's the only reason I like it.  I don't need to listen to fucking 311 for that.

Connecticut Kill Count  
Bunny: 1
Chipmunk: 3
Dog: 1
Mole: 3
Opossum: 3
Raccoon: 1
Skunk: 3
Small Bird: 4
Snake: 3
Squirrel: 15
Turtle: 2
Unknown: 9

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