words, photo, and video by: Telegraphy
The first Saturday of April is usually set aside for us to receive numerous contact buzzes. The wafting smoke clouds at the Ann Arbor Hash Bash was thicker then usual. This years crowd on the University of Michigan diag, was larger than in past years. All thanks to the celebrity appearance of cult movie icon Tommy Chong of "Cheech and Chong" fame. The crowd was so smoke saturated that your's truly wasn't able to make it up the steps to where all the speakers were soap boxing. Of coarse as usual John Sinclair made his appearance by jamming with Ann Arbors famed guitarist Laith Al-Saadi.
I kept sensing that something was different this year. I roamed around the outskirts of this massive crowd, smoke billowing from inside, outside and around the crowd. As the white smoke shimmered in the early Spring sun light, I noticed the lack of Ann Arbors finest. I fact I only saw two police officers the whole time I was there (escorting one young man out of the Monroe Street Fair). But what got me was the fact that young people (eh hem, younger than me ) came out to see their hero dawned in green plastic fake hemp leaves and conveying the same stoner humor as he did in "Cheech and Chong". Yes Tommy Chong enjoying royalty satus, signed photos, albums, received the city of Hazel Park's key to the city (then passing a joint to city leaders) he was followed everywhere by young pot heads. Wow! John Sinclair, move over.
Besides no cops and Tommy Chong, I was scratching my head figuring out why this years rally seemed awry. After the fan fair of the Hash Bash was slowing down for the day, I made my way to the Monroe Street Fair. Again something didn't seem right. After making my rounds of the venders who were peddling their brand of pot accessories: rolling papers, rollers, pipes, bongs; you name it they had a one stop shop for the eclectic stoner. Even in the back corner, a band of straight business students were selling brownies (non-tainted brownies). Pushing away tufts of smoke like tall weeds in a field, I meander around colorful people who were shoulder to shoulder in groups of small or large smoking circles. Finding my way around, I kept bumping into hippies selling hand crafted jewelry. Displayed in old leather suit cases, they quickly set up shop where ever they could find an open patch of ground (which is nearly impossible). "Huh", I thought to myself as I bumped into yet another peddler. Only this time I thought I was transported into the past. This business savoy man must of been a relative of a 1940's cigarette girl. With a small table strapped on him, this gentleman gave free samples of smoke. Rolling a splif for you. Now that's service.
At this time the contact buzz had warn off and my sense of logic slowly came back. Leaving to go home I walked passed by Tommy Chongs swank black traveling bus, with included catering chief standing by with bar-b-q'ed goods. In front of his bus was yet another peddler, selling hemp necklaces hung off a single rope strung along the side of a truck. Young girls gather joyously to look at these organic body ware."Well", I said with a assured tone of voice, "Hash Bash is in business - The business of commercialization of weed".
That's what was different this year.