Nimbin. Sunday, 4.35pm
Nimbin’s MardiGrass is the most significant cultural event in the Northern Rivers. Really. That’s why the government fears it.
I’m driving into Nimbin with my companion. He and I have been working this weekend at MardiGrass as Hemp Olympix officials. It’s been a busy time with athletes from all around the world competing. The French are particularly strong in the Joint Rolling this year. Records have been broken, the human spirit celebrated.
I keep a sharp lookout. It’s difficult to find a parking spot.
‘Invoke the Parking Fairy,’ my companion says. So I do.
There are police everywhere, armed to the teeth, roaming the streets in packs, looking for trouble. It’s a tough job, because, apart from some drunks near the pub, trouble is hard to find at MardiGrass. Aggression is not really one of pot’s qualities. (Dancing is…)
My Superoo slips quietly past the cars, tents and makeshift camps lining the road into the village. A potential security threat emerges from a Wicked van, and waves at me, his arm around a laughing Ganja Faerie. I recognise him; he competed yesterday in the Hemp Olympix.
‘Bong throw,’ says my companion, waving back. ‘Thirty-one metres. Good throw. Great technique.’
‘Yeah, I remember him,’ I say. ‘Used the scissor grip. Part of the Israeli team, I think…’
‘The Israelis don’t favour the scissor grip. They like more rotation at the let-go.’
‘Hasn’t helped them much this year, though…’
Outside the Nimbin Bowlo is a black van with flashing blue and red lights. A policeman in serious wraparounds and a padded vest stands guard while another cop bodysearches a young bloke pressed against the van, hands on head. The young bloke is obviously frightened.
The cop feels between the young bloke’s legs. A backpack is open and its contents spewed out across the footpath. I see clothes, books and a water bottle. I can’t see a gun or a bomb.
A crowd presses forward, led by a woman dressed as a marijuana leaf. The cop waves them back and radios in for backup. Cannabis is dangerous.
The government fears MardiGrass because people who come to it are not cowered by police intimidation, are not swayed by government propaganda, are not spayed by a state-sanctioned culture that doesn’t threaten the corporate paradigm.
MardiGrass, in all its intended ridiculousness, is the people’s pushback against the government’s ridiculous intentions. MardiGrass is a theatrical protest against the de-humanising of society, against the criminalisation of plant and citizen, against the abuse of kids, against the profiteering of corporations, against pointless community harassment.
MardiGrass is the premier cultural Northern Rivers event, aligning art and science with the planetary and social reality. But some people, even on the Northern Rivers, turn up their nose at the mention of MardiGrass, their cultural cringe a win for government spin.
Yes, MardiGrass is an untidy, untrendy experience embracing humanity in all its button-pushing diversity. The government hates it – so it must be good. Coming here, running the gauntlet of RDT vans and riot squads is an act of resistance to the inhuman immorality that is standard political practice in Australia today.
‘Come on Parking Fairy,’ I say as we near the Nimbin School of Arts, where the finals of the Joint Rolling World Championship will take place shortly.
In front of us, a Public Order and Riot Squad van (Oh, come on. What’s it to be, fellas? Public order or riot? You can’t have both…) pulls into the street, leaving two parking spaces free.
I steer the Superoo into the parking space.
Woo-hoo! I believe in fairies.
And I believe the French may win the Creative Roll this year.
PS: They did.