The hippy wedding (1)

June 18, 2006

hootenany.jpg

The Hootenanay: photo by Daniel Shiplacoff.

This summer, Daniel and I get to go to some four weddings, people who are D’s age who have made the decision to settle down. Neither of us know Philadelphia, so when we heard the wedding was in Btown, we figured it was a suburb of Philly. We decided to take a taxi. $140 later we were delivered to a lovely bed-and-breakfast. What we didn’t realize that there are no taxis in Btown and we were stuck. Fortunately another couple appeared and we all piled into a Mini Cooper to take off to the party.

M and C, two lawyers who fell in love in college, have a past in LA, SF, and NYC and are getting married using a Quaker law that can unite two people without government or religious sanction or blessing (it’s called “self uniting”). I was told on the way there that both M and C have “hippy parents” which made me quite relieved that we would likely have a good time. There was a hootenany and I was encouraged to join in. I played bass, sang along on “The One after 909” and provided percussion to the ensemble. The musicians were amazing. Well, maybe not amazing, but this is a group of folks who range from 17 to 70 who get together weekly to play music and party. Joints, kegs and a table of wine bottles kept the party going till 3 in the morning.

One of the guys, the brother of the mother of the bride, mustered up the courage to sing with the group. Having had many years on Indian reservations, he launched into a native American chant. We could see through the song, that our alcohol-induced chanter became more and more emboldened. He then launched into his own fusion chant whose lyrics proclaimed “Micky Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto too, they all come from Disneyland.” I fled to the house in hope of finding a coat as it was getting cold, and I heard the lyrics getting sillier and more drunk. Graciously the band leader started a new song and the group moved onto “Mustang Sally.” The group had a backup girl group cum kick line of women in their 60s dancing, shaking tambourines and singing along. Both of M’s parents, now divorced with new spouses, were there and got along famously. C’s parents I was told, lived in a commune in the 60s “until power corrupted the leader.” “Ah the irresistable temptation of so many gurus” I responded.

C’s mother is a marvelous fun-loving gal. She gave me a tour of the house and introduced me to quite a few of the guests. “Where is your husband?” I interrupted. “Oh he’s out smoking a joint somewhere.” Her husband, who may be 65, we found standing on the side of the house with a group that included some Rastafarian types and a handful of other partiers. They were passing around a “blunt” which is a hollowed out cigar with pot inside. Advice on rolling joints was doled out: “use honey instead of spit when you seal up your joints. Burns much slower.” I was surprised at the number of lawyers I met who seemed to be real pot-heads.

The real spark of the musicians was M, 17, who plays guitars, bass, violin, and viola. The kid is tremendously talented and has just been given a scholarship to one of my old alma maters, NEC. This is impressive because he turned down Juilliard, Eastman, Oberlin, and 3 other places. I couldn’t help thinking I was meeting a young Gram Parsons or Rufus Wainwright. I wanted to encourage him to stay away from dope and alcohol to avoid the road Gram took. I thought better and decided to let the river flow. I saw myself in him: surrounded by older “wiser” musicians who were really his role models, but in reality he is better than any of them. I was pleased to not see him smoking any dope or drinking.

The wedding is tonight: no “religious officials” will preside. M and C stated on their website that there are to be no physical gifts: “in lieu of gifts, please make a contribution to the Lamda Legal Defense fund for the legalization of gay marriage.” (For the record, out of the 75 there, 4 of us were gay.) A lovely gesture.

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