Seven-thousand smoke at Hippie Hill love-in at the 420-convergence of stoners

San Francisco, 20th April. 420 day.

As I was going to Hippie Hill, Hippie Hill was smoking.

Big bongs, little joints, whiffs, big fat ones, fabulous multicolored bongs, holstered pipes, all slung with aplomb past the local police smilingly asking revelers to offload their beer, “No drink in the park!” they yelled. But as my friend Richard Ivanhoe said, “They aren’t enforcing the smoking ordinance.”

Many more revelers than last year, twice as many. People were pouring in from all over, looking like the crowd you used to see headed for a free concert, but way more than I’ve seen here in a while. Lots of folk from out of town, from the netherlands of Fremont, from Marin, from San Mateo, and in San Francisco from the Mission, from Hunters’ Point from the Marina. Everywhere it seemed ‘cept any of us homeys from the Haight, because I didn’t see anyone in the crowd I knew, though I know they were there.

Artist Alice Rules was there, she was also in the Peace Vigil crowd of us ten regulars later that evening where she was holding a ‘Peace Rules’ sign. But there were no politics on view at the 420 event, folk just hanging out enjoying the vibe as far as I could see, no signs, no speakers. Of course there were t-shirt hikers and beer barkers, drums, weed sales-people and drums and the rest, but it was mercifully non-corporate. It was real friendly all across the field. Respect and good humor had by all.

A Degas foreground angled composition peopled by Breughel, a ‘Pilgrimage To Hippie Hill’ with a clever chiaroscuro of contrast between the shadowed crowd on the eye-level flat of Sharon Meadows, framed by the tall yukes and the crowds on Hippie Hill rising above them in the sun. A classic crowd show of respect to an important center of learning, All Hale Hippie Hill!

Enterprising folk set up drink tents away from the cops and parkies in the middle of the crowd. The evidence of the recent Occupy movement was clear, well at least hazy. Lots of tents. Very youth oriented, an equal number of men and women of various persuasions, all very cool. Total mix of ethnicity – black, white, brown, Euro, Asian, African; class – up, down, and twixt. A slew of soft-ware writers, and a drug of dealers. With the homeless, homies and the homed and a few old codgers like m’self all hanging out waiting for the strike of four-twenty. But nobody had second hands on their cell-phones so the moment of truth passed by unmarked, so far as I could hear, anyway.

As I was leaving many more hundreds of people were still arriving, far more than leaving. The Hippie myth lives on, but this was a major sartorial showcase of every style going, with every one in their best high fashion. As a entertainingly dressed woman said to me on the street last Wednesday, “Now you can wear anything you want and it’s ok.”

Many weed-aware T-shirts. One Peruvian-hatted woman had a traditional rainbow zig-zag poncho and yellow green red zig-zag stockings, like her the crowd was varied, wild and at ease. An accurate cross-section of a society, aged 16 to 35, a marketeer’s day dream.

Oddly unique, it is a totally self-referential gathering, without a leader or a purpose other than to celebrate being together at a gathering.

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