I remember the first time someone ever called my husband and me a name so loaded, so antiquated, so unspecific that we could only respond based on our own biases.
We were hanging out with our friends Crystal and Cary, who are these unbelievable Midwestern hippies — the only real hippie friends we met while living in Iowa City. I had baked a cherry crumble, which we were eating with vanilla ice cream on a Saturday afternoon as the crowds milled towards Hawkeye Stadium for another football game we were surely not going to follow.
Crystal says: “Hey man, you guys are totally our hippie friends.”
“What? You’re our hippie friends. We’re not hippies.”
“Sure you are. You make your own yogurt and grow plants and are always recycling and eating all that hippie crunchy stuff. You guys are totally hippies.”
“No way, man, you’re the hippie. You’ve got the linguistic habits to prove it, man.”
And so, a misunderstanding, a challenge of sorts. No one really knows what a hippie is anymore. That’s why when I wrote my recent column on finding things to do at Salem until 2:00 a.m. on a Tuesday night and called Venti’s downtown our “go-to place for crunchy hippie food,” I received a little bit of flak from some people downtown who see hippie as a pejorative.
To be fair, I’ve been working on a better way to describe the food at Venti’s to massage the egos of these lovely Venti’s fans. I haven’t come up with anything to explain people who seem to have cut and pasted the best from a number of ethnic cultures to form new and exciting arrangements of hummus and peanut sauce (you get a kick in the pants if the word “fusion” just popped in your head).
But the real issue is the word “hippie.”
Maybe because I grew up on the East Coast, maybe because I have seen so many incarnations of hippies as to warrant the term almost meaningless — and certainly not the catch-all some seem to think it is — I’ve always kind of loved hippies.
We certainly saw our share of their modern incarnations at the Oregon Country Fair yesterday… and since hippies like to make stuff, I’ve selected a few images to show my fairest of the fair — the most interesting things I saw happening there.
Unlike some photographers there, who seemed more drawn to the “nudes” on display, I can’t say I felt compelled to capture the chaotic free-for-all pulsing through the woods at the fair. When things got really jammin’ at around 4:00 p.m., I was almost ready to leave. I can revel with the best of them, but I prefer not to be brushed by a stray breast or an… ahem… half-dressed unicorn.
A one-man stand of on-demand, hand-stitched Sewing Machine Designs:
The artist asked for a phrase of five words or less, which he would then interpret right before your eyes. I was seconds away from asking for “gas stove catching fire on bathrobe,” which actually happened to me last January, but then he was being kind of snooty and unresponsive and we decided to move on. I could have used a patch for that bathrobe, though.
Can anyone tell me what these are?
A puppet show about two bunny rabbits who go on a picnic:
Strange, carnival-esque Francophile revelers at the beginning of the fair:
More puppets: You are seeing a pattern. These are made by Portland’s Alchemystical Workshop.
Finally, things we ate at the fair:
1 potato and mushroom kanish
1 potato and garlic kanish
1 cup of famous gumbo
2 ice cream sandwiches dipped in dark chocolate
1 homemade root beer float
1 avacado dreamboat stuffed with hummus, cheddar-jack and yogurt
Final verdict: Hippies like delicious food, making neat stuff that doesn’t always make sense, banging drums in circles, dancing like West Africans, whole grains, dressing up in fairy garb, forests, belly-dancing, natural childbirth, folk music, and puppets.
I won’t profess to being a hippie, but I still like them quite a bit, even — as our pork dude at the Salem Saturday Market calls them — the “nudes.”