Where Were You When We Were Getting High?

Animal Collective/Ariel Pink show, Haverford College, 2005. Besides easily being the most powerful show any of us saw that year, what happened after the show is now the stuff of Legend. There we were, big old gang of us feeling high from great music and…well…and so we’re on this college campus and so we’re like: okay, where’s the party? So off we go, our numbers somewhere around ten and quickly hitting twenty, scooting around the campus trying to find the mythical Black Room, or at least a decent College Party.

Everything we find just plain sucks, so someone — I guess Agnew — decides that what we need to do is just party in the woods. After all, it’s a damp spring night and we’ve all been cooped up all winter, now’s the time. Imagine the looks of unsuspecting Haverford College Girls when approached by this unruly mob of Philly-Type-Hipsters with varying levels of Creative Facial Hair asking the Big Question:

“So do you girls want to party in the woods with us?”

Most people, unbelievably enough, say yes, and so our numbers are growing. Now all we need to find is the beer. A keg will do, any keg — this is College, after all! Someone thinks they know where one is. We wait in the hall of the dorm while someone negotiates over the din of a Bright Eyes CD.  Seems it’s a No-Go. Back out on the campus again. Looks like there’s a party over there. Shit, but all the dudes there look menacing. That’s fine, we’ll run distraction while you guys head out and just cart the keg out of there. The keg is halfway across the room before someone notices. We just shrug, laugh, say we’re kidding, BUT WE DON’T LEAVE. We just drink keg beer with these scary looking Mofos. That’s when we notice they also have a big ass tub of canned beer. Okay, that’ll do, can we just borrow some garbage bags? Thanks Scary Looking College Menace, no please look the other way while our friends fill the bags with cans of your cold beer.

Unbelievably, no one seems to notice, and we walk out with two garbage bags full of the stuff. Beer procured, our Strange Gang makes its way to the woods, where we decide to do the only thing one in their right mind would want to do when standing in the middle of the woods with a Fierce Collection of Truly Interesting Individuals: start a fire.

I roll with Agnew and some others out to a nearby Wawa to get the Duraflame and Inquirers that we’ll need to start a proper fire. Along the way, Agnew is giving me a strikingly sentimental tour through the back pages of his past — this is where he’s from. It’s touching and totally great — a great night that just keeps getting better. We’re hopping fences to take shortcuts, falling off fences, trespassing, and we’re about to start a fire in the woods with a couple friends and a gaggle of strangers, our ears still ringing with the sounds of Brand New Music. We’re Here, We’re Doing This.

We get the fire started, though its tough because as I said it’s been a damp night. No one cares. It’s nearly dawn, the air is chilly, we’re still drinking beer and I can’t see who anyone is and it doesn’t really matter. This is the 21st Century and it’s all ours. You really shoulda been there, you know. Where were you when we were getting high?

Somewhere in Wyoming, 1997. Me and Vee were delivering cars across the country and we found this spot to camp in. Earlier that night we found the ruins of an old amphitheater deep in the woods, got high, and laid on our backs looking at the impossible far-up canopy of trees above us. Stoner Revelations to follow:

VEE: Maaaan, the way the evening light comes through the intricate tangle of trees, it’s diaf-diaf…

FSD: Diaphanous.

VEE: Like lungs.

FSD: Yeah, and it makes sense: Trees are the lungs of the World.

VEE: And we can see this clearly now because of what we put in our own lungs.

FSD: Woah.

VEE: Woah.

FSD: Cough, you want any more of this?

VEE: Yeah.

FSD: …

VEE: …

Oh man, this trip. Late summer, ’04, that’s Weird Ryan staring at you with shroomed out eyes, and it’s Sam the Bull’s mess of wet hair in the foreground, the car parked on the side of a forlorn road, deep in a torrential rainstorm somewhere in rural Maryland. Who knows what this so-called vacation was really all about, but for reasons beyond anyone’s control we wound up at a Chicken ranch, a boardwalk, a farm house…we fished for food and stole corn…started a jam band with a bunch of beach bums, someone fell in a frog pond, and eventually we wound up on a haunted island filled with wild ponies. Every photo from the Trip (capital T, for sure) looks like the one above: strange, surreal, weird, inspiring, and completely not of this Reality. It’s like even the camera got dosed.


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