NORML Con, Day 3: Saturday

SATURDAY, October 18, 2008

Russ had to get up extra early on Saturday to attend some breakfast function thing.  Which meant I got to sleep in.  Excellent.

More very interesting panels, including one from the people who founded Oaksterdam.  Oaksterdam is like a pseudo-suburb in Oakland where they have medical marijuana dispensaries and also a university that teaches people basically how to grow pot, as well as legalities for growing pot.  Very cool.  I was surprised at the sheer amount of students or young people who were involved in the cannabis movement.  Not just for personal enjoyment, but for everyone.

The last panel of the day was Pot Culture, and had “legendary” Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek as part of the panel, which basically meant that no one else talked except Ray, and when Ray talked, it was more about Jim Morrison than anything else.  I kinda feel bad for him (Ray, not Jim).  He was a part of one of the most influential bands in the 60s and yet all he can talk about is Jim, cause everyone wants to hear about Jim.  He puts up with it very well.

The panels had been going over in time for a while at this point, and so the hotel staff was telling us to wrap it up because they had the 50 year high school anniversary of Berkeley High at 6pm.  So Ray got to talk about Jim for about a half an hour before we had to cut him off and tear everything down, which was disappointing because I wanted to hear from the other panelists too!

This meant that Russ and I had to move our stuff to the second floor of the lobby (where they were selling NORML merch) in roughly twenty minutes.  We did it, but it sucked.

Saturday night was the big NORML fundraiser at the Oasis Nightclub in Oakland.  There were “magic “ buses shuttling people down there every hour or so, starting at seven.  As we waited for the seven pm bus, Cindy and Marcia made yet another appearance.  I think it was somewhere around this point, probably before, that I was mentally arguing whether I should continue on my sober path and remain a passive bystander, or if I should just fuck it and smoke and enjoy the weekend.  Part of my reason behind this argument were, of course, these two ladies, who continually reminded me that my refusal to enjoy myself was hampering my social skills tremendously.  I may be a nerd at heart but I’m also an actor, and actors, if anything else, know how to have a good time.

Well, the seven o’clock shuttle came and filled very quickly, so we decided to head back to the hotel lounge and have a drink and wait for the eight o’clock bus.  I had a beer and realized that this, and the glass of white wine I had on Thursday, were the first alcoholic drinks I’ve had since moving to Portland.  In Boise we’d go out every weekend and get some drinks, whether it be a tame Friday night at 10th St or a hammered karaoke night Saturday at Quinn’s.  Now, I’m not saying I’m any better or worse now than I was then (I don’t think I can accurately say anything about that for at least six months), but it was kind of interesting to have a beer after not having one for a month and a half.  Coors Light just isn’t that tasty, is all.

It occurred to me as we were sitting there and drinking that at some point I was going to get on a shuttle that would be full, FULL of pot smoke.  I figured at that point it would be impossible to not smoke because I would be inhaling second hand smoke the whole ride.  But still, I was determined to save my foreseeable future, which involved jobs and money and … stuff.  So I continued to withhold.

Russ must’ve known my dilemma because he ran off to an ATM to get me some money to get drinks.  I felt a little better knowing that I could at least grease my squeaky social wheels with something legal.  A couple of drinks would certainly help me calm down, too.

The eight o’clock shuttle arrived and we all got on board, and soon the joints were being rolled and passed around.  I kept getting one and passing it along.  The room got more and more hazy, and people were talking and enjoying themselves and I was watching them enjoy themselves while at the same time wondering when the hell I was going to enjoy myself and suddenly there was a joint in my hand and I said, “You know what?  Fuck it,” and started smoking.

I wish I could be less dramatic about things, but again, I’m an actor, and we’re all about drama.

The Oasis was very fun after that.  They had lots of finger food and the drinks were especially stiff.  I kept near Russ and the Jersey girls for a while but then found myself wandering around, checking out the place.  It was a pretty neat setup.  The concert room was not very large but had no ceiling, just beams where panes of glass would’ve been overhead.  People were recording from up there, it was great.  And then there was an outside space nestled up against the buildings where tents were set up for people to smoke and sit and talk.  I found Madeline somewhere at this time and made an ass of myself as I talked about how stupid I felt for not joining in the celebration all weekend long.  Or something like that.  I don’t remember exactly other than I know I was rambling and sounded silly.

When I came back into the concert room is when the Extra Action Marching Band arrived.  They were faaantastic.  They’re a marching band with a distinctly vaudevillian flair, with lots of drums and brass, and three girls who just danced and looked hot, and one guy who was twirling a flag … it was great.  They didn’t play on stage, but rather in front of the stage and around everyone.  I think I made an ass of myself later on when they were done telling them how awesome they were.

After them was Los Marijuanos, which are a Mexican hip hop group who takes songs that we all know and makes them into rap songs about weed.  They were entertaining, though not my favorite of the night.  But they are big fans of my brother Russ and wanted him to introduce them, so he did, and after they were done I told them I was Russ’s younger brother and Ponyboy said, “Any friend of Russ is a friend of mine,” which was nice, even though I’m Russ’ brother, not his friend.  I mean, we’re friends, but we’re brothers, you know?  Oh you know what I mean.

The shuttle was supposed to leave at midnight sharp, so after Los Marijuanos I decided to high tail it out of there.  I had wondered if Russ was hanging around or what, but I couldn’t find him, so I assumed he was on the bus.  The last thing I wanted to do was get stranded in Oakland California, drunk and high (I think that made me crunk), with ten bucks on me.  Talk about embarrassing.  So I got on the bus and Russ and Cindy and Marcia were there and all was good.  We took the shuttle back to the hotel and promptly fell asleep.

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