Stream of Consciousness from a Wandering Lost Coast Conservative
Written by a Rabbit Valley Rebel
I don’t smoke pot. When I was a kid, my brother was a “stoner,” and grew his own stash on our roof in suburban Southern California. I was more into sports and middle class life. I associated pot with the “counter-culture,” and wanted no part of it or him.
Hello… we are out here too, the silent minority, living or visiting amongst you. Our version of the North Coast dream is different than yours, but we are both rebels in our own right.
You may be potheads, Leftists, armchair Rastas, aimless square-slackers, or earnest hard working Democrats. We may be conservative dairy farmers, P.E. teachers, electricians, fisherman or Insurance salesmen, but we share a love for the woods, the bay, fierce independence, and isolation.
When I came north for school at age 20, I was not a hippie, not the slightest bit politically inclined, and never even thought about the county’s association with herb. I was a quiet conservative dreamer. Nothing has changed.
My attraction to Humboldt was the natural beauty, the small town atmosphere, the rural flavor, and the distance from urban mayhem. I am a capitalist, yet I admit that the county could not be the way it is, if it was filled with aggressive, sober go-getters. I like to be around moderate people, not “wasted” overly mellow ones, and not “amped” ones.
But remember the next time you complain about lack of jobs, that you wanted it that way. You don’t want a lot of big box stores, you don’t want growth, clearcutting, or yuppies, but you do want the jolly green motivation-killer. I get most of that too. But there’s a price to pay for every decision you make or don’t make.
You’re left with growers, smokers, hippies, and culturally isolated reservations. That’s in addition to county workers, low key professionals, tradesmen, and the odd innovator. Not necessarily a recipe for a thriving economy, but like I say about so many things in life, “It is what it is.”
Entrepreneurs and big business help drive our national economy. On the surface it would seem as though you have nothing in common with either of them. (I say “you,” because I am not a permanent resident, nor a part of the cultural mainstream, yet I live in a Humboldt state of mind)
But the Kinetic Sculpture Race tradition brings out the entrepreneur in you, and growers certainly have a work ethic. Local breweries are paragons of business innovation, and artists and musicians often create something from nothing.
So you are productive, but not commercial. Remember however that we all benefit from the toil and sweat of clear-lunged, capitalists beyond the Redwood Curtain, who provide us with the goods and services we love and need.
My best memories from the 80’s are of listening to KRED country radio, watching jets take off and land at Arcata Airport, hiking through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, and swimming laps at the college pools. It was pretty benign stuff. My Humboldt was Trinidad Head, not a head shop.
I have nothing against drum circles, Frisbee Football, art, botany, or the cultivation of weed. I don’t care how long someone’s hair is either, as long as they shower regularly. But I come and go to the county for the “country” and “working man” ethos.
I am neither Abbie Hoffman, nor Abbey Road. I am Humboldt-bound Andy Garcia in “Jennifer 8,” a weary refugee in search of purple sunsets and a modest farmhouse. I am a worker and a patriot, but a fringe-dweller nevertheless. My reasons may be different than yours, or maybe not.
What’s with the reggae? Do you harbor massive resentment toward the west, and worship the former King of Ethiopia, or do you just like the music and the vibe?
I’ll bet that baseball, church, and apple pie still mean something to many people around the county. So does the rule of law. I am libertarian on the drugs issue. I get the conservative side and respect their values, which I share in most cases. But there is something genuinely rebel about this place, and that is genuinely American. If you want to grow and sell, I can understand that.
Remember however, that the only thing that actually makes it “cool,” in your world, is that it’s against the law. So if you get what you want, legalization, you will be forfeiting your credentials as “outlaws.” I think you relish the identity and would miss it sorely. Careful what you wish for.
Photo obtained from Stock.Xchng