Bourbon & Past: In Search of Some Good Ole Kentucky Bluegrass

Some would argue that it’s counterintuitive, frivolous, and even perhaps somewhat cattywampus for the editor of the main hashish journal on the planet to ship a tattooed, bald author to a music competition in Louisville, Kentucky referred to as Bourbon & Past to evaluate the heart beat of the hashish tradition in that neck of the woods. They could even throw stones at such a daring project that, of their minds, solely serves to glorify the alcohol trade whereas their valuable plant, as unlawful as all get out within the Bluegrass State, will get the dishonor of being the red-headed, bastard stepchild that no one needs to play with. Not less than not whereas their actual associates are round.

There could even be these hashish conservatives who’ll argue that mingling with any extension of the subjugated south, a spot seemingly chock filled with flag-praising good ole boys with purple, white, and blue constitutions, pounding down brown liquor in pursuit of the maniacal mindset that’s been, now and again, identified to supply wife-beaters and social louses shouldn’t be given the time of day. However they’d be lifeless incorrect. Useless incorrect. If something, Kentucky, an space of cockeyed politics, the place the absurdity that dropped out of Nixon’s Republican asshole practically 5 many years in the past is being perpetuated by the ire of slack-jawed McConnellism, is exactly the place to be.

My mission, if I, after all, selected to simply accept it (and I did with out considering twice), was to roam this transient Valhalla of bourbon distilleries and music in seek for a few of that Kentucky Bluegrass. , marijuana, weed, smoke, pot. A lot to my shock, nevertheless, upon arriving on Thursday night, I didn’t need to go searching very far. Amidst the mélange of odors, together with pizza, BBQ, noodles, and low cost cologne, pot smoke was additionally prevalent all through the competition. This was fascinating seeing as organizers maintained strict bans towards this form of factor. Any unlawful drug use was strictly prohibited. They went so far as to explicitly level out of their entry insurance policies that even hashish and hashish merchandise had been an enormous, unhealthy no-no. There was a excessive safety and police presence posted at each gate to implement this measure, too. Baggage had been being searched, metallic detectors had been activated, K9 items may very well be seen sniffing round. No sir, the supposed riffraff with the reefer wasn’t getting past the gates with any of that inexperienced stuff, it doesn’t matter what. In the event that they tried, they’d have Louisville’s best to deal with. But, from the place I used to be standing, simply minutes earlier than Alanis Morrisette took the stage, their anti-stoner procedures had failed, and failed miserably.

Alanis Morrisette / Picture by Yvonne Gougelet

Because the solar slumped into the horizon, plumes of pot smoke wafted throughout the Highland Pageant Grounds like a bomb went off. “Somebody’s smoking marijuana,” one man shouted within the distance.

Certainly, they had been.

Now, I wasn’t shocked concerning the festivalgoers’ lack of ability to behave like good girls and boys. You simply can’t go dropping over 100 thousand individuals right into a discipline below the warmth of a Kentucky sky for 4 days straight, feeding them a limiteless provide of arduous liquor and count on civil society to parade round and smile fairly. Louisville is, in spite of everything, Bourbon Metropolis. If this occasion was to shake out to be something much like what I’ve witnessed on the Kentucky Derby in earlier years, the competition was destined to grow to be a menagerie of foul beasts, all with a propensity for violence as soon as the traces to the Porta-Potties received too lengthy. If the shortcoming to take a whizz as soon as nature referred to as didn’t get them riled up sufficient to unleash their savage wrath, they’d certainly stand up with wild-eyed ferocity as soon as they checked their financial institution accounts and noticed that these $18 beers had been going to have them homeless by the top of the month. I, for one, was prepared for something. However did anybody else know what they had been getting themselves into? Doubtfully. By Saturday, a minimum of in my thoughts, attendees wouldn’t solely want to return totally ready to endure desert-like circumstances but additionally cloaked in plastic or perhaps even battle armor to guard them from the whiskey-drenched carnage that will certainly loom as soon as the darkness set in and people bourbon bellies erupted.

Pearl Jam was set to headline Saturday’s festivities. The band, whose hits embrace “Jeremy,” and “Daughter,” hadn’t performed anyplace within the Midwest in roughly ten years, and perhaps for good cause. Their uncommon presence meant that each class of character from soccer mothers to Yoo-hoo ladies to quite a lot of man-fans of various ranges of testosterone can be there too, all summoning their interior, flannel-sporting youth, totally ready for a time quake of nostalgia. The celebration can be one the place twinges of teenage rebel, recollections of past love, and even perhaps less complicated occasions might presumably invoke a slew of deep-seated feelings and set even probably the most secure fan who’s had one too many pictures on track for a nasty response. Weirdos, oddities, upstanding residents, and different random creatures of the evening had come to rage, and perhaps even cry.

Picture by Lexie Alley

On this doable state of affairs, there’s just one factor to do: Defend your self always. Though there was undoubtedly a heavy stoner presence all through the competition, they had been nonetheless seemingly outnumbered by the whiskey bent and hellbound pushing the expertise to the purpose of toilet-hugging remorse. A person named Jarred, who stated he got here for the bands, not the bourbon, advised me that he felt like every fallout can be “cool” if the occasion would simply let individuals toke up.

“Lots of these individuals had been too scared to attempt bringing it in,” he stated concerning the ticketholders’ response to competition coverage towards pot consumption. “I knew they wouldn’t be wanting that shut. They by no means do.”

Concert events and weed have at all times gone hand in hand. Lengthy earlier than hashish was ever a consideration when it comes to authorized commerce anyplace in the US, marijuana aficionados, hippies, metallic heads, and even perhaps a Peter, Paul & Mary fan or two loaded up in hatchbacks, VWs, and jacked up Monte Carlos with racing stripes and magazine wheels in a quest to see a efficiency from their favourite bands.

The primary time I smelled marijuana, the truth is, was in a Nineteen Seventies mannequin Chevy van with a grey, howling wolf airbrushed on the aspect. It was 1987 and I used to be en path to see Mötley Crüe with a buddy, his mother, and one among her associates. Not solely did his mother supply me a success within the parking zone, however so did 5 different, totally grown males in the course of the present. No, I didn’t settle for. I used to be solely twelve and had totally purchased into the Simply Say No propaganda they’d been feeding us at college. I used to be scared to loss of life that weed would both kill me or flip me into some deformed monstrosity that resembled Jason Voorhees. I’d quickly study, nevertheless, that in the event you went to a rock present, you’d higher be ready to catch a whiff of weed. You may even get the chance to smoke some. It didn’t matter in the event you hadn’t but grown hair in your balls. For my technology, pot typically got here earlier than puberty.

It was seemingly simpler to smuggle weed right into a venue again within the day. All a intelligent stoner needed to do was put a couple of joints in his shoe and it might go unnoticed. The one safety guard making an attempt to get 1000’s of rabid followers via the turnstile at $5.50 an hour didn’t care sufficient to implement drug coverage. So long as somebody wasn’t carrying a shank, firearm, or nunchucks (hey, I knew a man who tried that), they didn’t give a rattling.

Nevertheless, Kentucky is a wierd place politically, even in 2022. There have been many makes an attempt through the years to reform the drug legal guidelines throughout the state, particularly these geared towards legalizing marijuana. However lawmakers have continued to close down the idea of a taxed and controlled market. They received’t even budge when it comes to permitting it for use for therapeutic functions. State legislation requires petty pot offenders to be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable with as many as 45 days in jail and a $250 fantastic. However the judicial system is seemingly bored with messing with low degree offenses. There’s not lots of judges lately adhering to the state’s antiquated statute on pot possession, in keeping with a festivalgoer I spoke with named Jesse. “I received popped for round an oz a couple of counties over years in the past they usually simply gave me a $50 fantastic.”

Stories from the Louisville-Courier Journal present {that a} small fantastic is a typical response to first-time offenders statewide.

Some Kentucky municipalities have eradicated legal penalties for pot possession in recent times. Louisville, dwelling of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, is one among them. The Metro Council decriminalized minor pot possession in 2019, making the “investigation, citations, and arrests” pertaining to grownup possession of a “small quantity of marijuana” the bottom legislation enforcement precedence. It’s not a extremely publicized ordinance, so vacationers are sometimes at the hours of darkness. However not the locals. 

Picture by Lexie Alley

“No person actually worries about weed round right here anymore,” a younger Greta Van Fleet fan named Brad advised me. “That’s why I don’t perceive why the competition cares if we deliver it or not.”

The factor is, they in all probability don’t. Nevertheless, so long as marijuana stays unlawful on the federal degree, permitting a Schedule I managed substance—the identical classification as meth and heroin—onto the fairgrounds would definitely cripple the organizer’s skill to safe normal legal responsibility insurance coverage. And man, contemplating the quantity of bourbon that was being served in that place, they want all they’ll fucking get! It’s not just like the competition was permitting individuals to herald alcoholic drinks both. Nope, they had been unwittingly forcing patrons to dump their first born and/or tackle a second mortgage to afford the ridiculously priced beer, cocktails, and sure, each model of bourbon conceivable being offered wherever individuals weren’t pissing it out. Had hashish achieved authorized standing like alcohol, ganja would have presumably obtained the identical capitalistic courtesy. They’d have additionally gouged the shit out of it.

“If it had been authorized, we couldn’t afford to get excessive right here,” Ashton from Lexington, Kentucky advised me. “I’ll at all times deliver my very own.”

By the point Pearl Jam went on Saturday evening, I knew, and with out query, that the gatekeepers of the Bourbon & Past competition certainly didn’t give a shit. Not about weed, they didn’t. The smoke wafting throughout the fairgrounds throughout Thursday’s lineup, as Alanis Morrisette and Jack White closed the night with killer units, was no match for the odoriferous pungency assaulting my olfactory senses as soon as Eddie Vedder and crew plugged in. Positive, the bourbon continued to movement like a busted sewer line all through their two-hour set. That was evident. Ladies had been storming off left and proper as their beer-bellied vital others chased them down in protest of some perceived unhealthy conduct. Arms had been grabbed and hearts had been presumably damaged.

One man that handed me was so ripped out of his gourd that he folded backward as if he had simply popped out of the Circus Circus, elevator scene from Worry and Loathing in Las Vegas the place Hunter’s legal professional, Dr. Gonzo, searches his coat for a lighter, jabbering about how he thinks “there’s one thing incorrect with me.” I couldn’t assist however chortle. “Man, that dude goes to be a first-rate candidate for a mind transplant by morning,” I believed to myself. There was one thing positively incorrect with him. Many others stumbled via the grass like bourbon-dazed zombies, conceivably not sure of their whereabouts, trying to find solutions that I used to be certain they’d by no means discover. From the stage, even Vedder might inform that the gang was south of crocked, particularly calling out a person in the midst of the herd that he known as “Frank” for disconnecting from actuality. “I’m undecided if it’s from the bourbon or the past,” Vedder stated.

Don’t get me incorrect. Though I did, the truth is, concern that jungle legislation would inevitably take over if the barrels didn’t run dry (or in the event that they did), and we’d all need to resort to some slightly ruthless ways to make it out alive, the air of the occasion remained fairly peaceable. I by no means as soon as noticed anybody get their ass kicked or dragged out by police kicking and screaming. Hey man, that’s slightly spectacular, contemplating that Saturday evening’s attendance consisted of a record-breaking 110,000 bourbon drinkers and hellraisers. Many neighborhood bars can’t even maintain their patrons from throwing fists as soon as greater than fifty individuals begin consuming collectively, however by some means festivalgoers reached a truce. Positive, Bourbon & Past was a sardine can below Kentucky’s slice of the universe, however an asylum it was not, even with the proper of individuals. Except you depend the nuts, who dropped a month’s wage on overpriced booze for 4 days of enjoyable, then I suppose we had been all certifiable. Oh properly, all within the spirit of fine occasions. Ship within the Ibuprofen.

The soundtrack to this lunacy, nevertheless, was one which I received’t quickly overlook. Thanks for that, Kentucky. For all these {couples} discussing divorce within the weeks to return, I want you the very best of luck. Rivalry, harm emotions, and all the things that manifests from the rumble is, sadly, typically par for the carousal. Maybe within the years to return, the state’s legislative forces will get severe about legalizing the leaf and provides their in any other case law-abiding residents extra choices than Jim and Jack. Not everybody can maintain their liquor. And never everybody can get stoned below the present legal guidelines.

Surprisingly, many of the bands scheduled to carry out didn’t use their platform to face up for marijuana legalization. Not even Alanis Morrisette, who admitted to Excessive Instances again in 2010 that she was an avid pot fan. However that didn’t matter. She was nonetheless one of the crucial ass-kicking highlights of the whole weekend, and she or he did play “Mary Jane.” Nevertheless, Pearl Jam, arguably the largest act to grace the stage, spoke out somewhat on the difficulty. It occurred after Eddie Vedder noticed a younger, 10-year-old fan within the entrance row jamming out to the live performance together with his household. Mother and father take word: That’s the way you elevate well-rounded kids. After somewhat banter concerning the youth holding rock n’ roll alive, Eddie reached out to the younger man with a lighthearted warning.

Pearl Jam / Picture by Sam Shapiro

“I used to be going to lecture you over the hazards of pot smoking, however it’s not even authorized in Kentucky,” he declared. “However maybe by the point you get sufficiently old to try this, it will likely be, and also you’ll be capable to make the choice for your self. You’re clearly a sensible child with nice style in music. He’ll be fantastic,” the singer concluded.

Who is aware of, perhaps all of us would. Positive, there shall be some of us who fuck all of it up, whereas others will study to handle, survive, and even prosper within the wake of no matter freedoms the controls of our respective states determine we’re deserved. That has been the case because the inception of this factor referred to as America. However even the accountable slip and fall. That’s no excuse to proceed punishing the inhabitants below the phantasm that Uncle Sam cares about our security and well-being. We don’t want that. By no means did. We’re grown-ups and, as Eddie Vedder so eloquently put it, able to making our personal selections. Many will study from their errors. Others received’t. They’ll carry on making an attempt and by no means obtain any stability in life, blaming everybody else for his or her issues. However not all of us are the identical. It’s necessary to grasp that the societal downtrodden can’t at all times be anticipated to do the fitting factor, they usually can’t at all times be saved from themselves. Providing some semblance of safety and hope for his or her futures with silly legal guidelines received’t remedy the issue. It’s actually no profit to the remainder of us. Dumb shit will at all times see that folks go to jail, and dumb individuals will at all times find yourself there. It doesn’t actually matter who’s held accountable. The politicians and residents are equally guilty for holding up and, in some instances, reversing progress. Nevertheless, that is the incorrect path. We, each single one among us, ought to embrace widespread sense and at all times attempt to transfer ahead, even when we don’t at all times agree. Thanks once more, Kentucky. We’ll see you in two-to-three years for Bourbon, Bud & Past.

The submit Bourbon & Past: In Search of Some Good Ole Kentucky Bluegrass appeared first on Excessive Instances.

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