Running the Fire Out -- Re-post

It was Athens Ga, 1960s. Vietnam was all the rage, literally. Growing up in a college town in those days, I got to see protests up close and personal. I'd ride my bike over to campus from the 5 Points area where I grew up.

I saw the UGA branch of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) firebomb the ROTC building on campus. Well, OK, maybe firebomb is too harsh a word. What happened is that somebody had a bottle, or maybe it was a big light bulb, that had gas in it, and a burning rag plugging it up. This was thrown against the brick side of the building, the flames rapidly died out, so did the crowd. But for a young teenager like me, it was all heady stuff.

There were free concerts occasionally over at Legion Field. Crowds of students, lots of tie-dye shirts, love beads, incense, and protest. Protest against 'Nam, protest against the government, protest for protest's sake.

In the 60s bands that had a clear metaphor in their name were drug bands. There was a head shop over on in downtown Athens called Glass on Hill Wall. The clear metaphor meant drugs to more than bands, I suppose. One day, at Legion Field, there was a big free concert. A mobile bandstand was set up and something like 8 or 10 bands were to play. My friend Chuck and I rode our bikes over to Legion Field to check it out. We milled around and behind the bandstand we saw a group of guys, all standing in a circle, arms around one another's shoulders.

Several of them had guitars strapped to their backs, upside down. They were all breathing fast and deep in unison. What the hell, I thought? They broke up and walked past Chuck and me. I asked them what they were doing. One long haired guy looked at me, said they were hyperventilating. ‘It makes the rush better’, he said. He then said ‘Here kid, go have fun’, and he handed me a big ole joint!

Now, I had never seen weed before. We had heard about it in school, they told us how it'd make us crazy and make us have to raise deformed kids later in life. So I had never seen it before, but I damn sure knew what I had. I palmed it, walked quickly over to Chuck. I showed it to him and we high tailed it over to the scrub pines on the hillside that defined one side of Legion Field. About that time, the band had taken the stage.

By now, the guitars weren’t on their backs, upside down. They were hooked up to big amps. The band was called Glass Menagerie. Their first song was a cover of Lady Madonna, a Beatles standard. By the time they were half way through that song, Chuck and I had run the fire out to about 2 inches on that joint. I never felt a thing except the blister on my finger that I got from hanging on too long. I guess my liver didn’t know what to do with that stuff. It learned later on though, I suppose.

By now, all these years later, I guess its forgotten again.

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