Note: This column is a tour through the fever swamps of progressivism. Keep hands and feet inside the boat at all times.
Dante had the ancient Roman poet Virgil to lead him through the circles of hell. We have a diminutive British blonde woman named Amelia Dimoldenberg.
Amelia stars in a short Vice documentary about her three days at Envision, a “transformational festival” in Costa Rica. The event is:
Dedicated to awakening the human potential and inspire one another through the collective participation in art, spirituality, yoga, music, dance, performance, education, regenerative strategies and our fundamental connection with nature.
Mostly it seems to be about gyrating around drum circles and giving “heart hugs” to half-naked strangers -- Woodstock with stupid little hipster hats and no good bands. Physically, there are tents and booths and pavilions. In fact it’s rather like a renaissance fair for people who celebrate the pre-renaissance. Make that pre-civilization.
People wave a lot of burning sage around and paint themselves with what looks like mud. They applaud the sunset. They do a kind of hypersexualized yoga. And of course, they have witches. In fact, there’s a Witches Healing Sanctuary, where Amelia meets Sarah Wu, “a cofounder of the festival, and also a witch.” Her “passion for a sustainable festival is central to the event.”
Sarah has some deep thoughts about her festival:
All of these things that we learned here? And how do we take them out into the world? Because you know the world is mono-cultured -- it’s the default terrible world that’s been like taken over and like just tried to be cookie-cutter to keep people in industrialized systems that are broken, frankly.
“How do we implement that here?” asks Amelia.
The answer, as it is to so many of life’s questions, is to go to the bar. But not a fun normal bar. An “herbal elixir” bar with “mocktails.” (A “Hydration Martini?”) And then we “pick up trash.” Mocktails sound like a drag, but you can’t argue with tidiness. (Would that American lefties were so neat -- yeah, I’m talking to you Womens’ March and Occupy.)
Amelia attends lectures about how to be a superhero by using cryptocurrency, though she makes the mistake of trying to be comfortable. “I’m not allowed to sit on chairs because they are bad for your energy. Especially plastic chairs.” She hangs out with Festival Gatekeeper Maji, who’s a cross between Rip Taylor and something Joe Cocker barfed up in 1971. She becomes a mermaid for a while and twirls around balls on string.
Amelia visits the “Red Tent,” which according to the sign is for (I think) “Womb’yes identified only.” Not sure who that includes (Women who feel super-positive about their wombs? Or maybe anybody who can affirmatively identify a womb?) but the camera “can’t go inside because the ceremony is going to be really, really intimate.” How intimate? Well, it involves women inserting stones, er, close to their wombs.
On the last day, Amelia (who has largely maintained a sense of irony and some dignity to this point) joins a huge circle of people swaying and singing. “Looking around the circle I had somehow found myself in, it occurred to me that moments of intimacy like this were hugely therapeutic to people here -- a welcome escape from what Sarah Wu termed, ‘the default world.’”
Yes, an intimate moment with 200 sweaty beatniks you met yesterday, all standing in a circle. Dante would have recognized that circle.
And now, more creatures from the primordial ooze ...
Quick Take: Questions That Have Never Once Troubled my Sleep -- “Can gay leather culture survive the ongoing reckoning of toxic masculinity?” from Slate.
A race huckster and a guilty white liberal walk into a bar -- Want to knock a few back while you salve your guilty white soul? Come on down to the Reparations Happy Hour in Portland, Oregon! According to The Root, “the event, which happened for the first time Tuesday night, was thought up by longtime social justice organizer Cameron Whitten and organized through his new group Brown Hope.”
Apparently, black drinkers who show up receive “$10 cash, mainly from white donors.”
“It’s exactly what it sounds like,” Whitten said, according to the site. “What I want to do is end the cycle of exploitation. For black, brown, indigenous people, you face so many barriers, whether it’s tokenization or straight-up poverty.”
Justice has to start somewhere, and it might as be letting whitey buy you a drink. “Whitten says that several white people donated and signed up to be regular, monthly donors. He’s also gotten donations from black people, too.” So he’ll shake down anybody -- this is a scam worthy of Al Sharpton.
But Whitten apparently does give out the largess, at least at the bar: “‘I felt so good. That was my best part of the night, just giving out that money,’ he added. ‘I feel like Oprah—like, fuck, I’m Portland’s Oprah right now. And I want to give more than $10.’” Well, he certainly has all the dignity of Oprah.
Let’s think this through:
The average price of a draft beer in Portland in 2015 was $4.50. It must be more expensive now, but we’re talking happy hour, so we’ll leave it at that price. Let’s assume three rounds, with a dollar tip per round. You spent $16.50 in the bar. But with your $10 reparations, it’s only $6.50. Anybody would gladly walk away with a tab that low.
On the other hand, for the price of two beers guilty white liberals can buy absolution for “the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil,” as Lincoln called it? Cheap. Throw in a bag of chips to account for the 150 years of Reconstruction and Jim Crow? That’s a bargain.
And for the recipients of the largess, it’s gotta be a good feeling. There’s nothing nobler than sponging drinks off the pathetic guy at the bar who really, really wants you to like him.
Quick Take: And that’s the most normal thing thing to happen in that town all year -- “West Hollywood declared Wednesday as “Stormy Daniels Day,” as the adult-film actress received a ceremonial key to the city.”
Abomination on a Bun -- Your Alt-Left Chronicler has encountered a lot in preparing this column week-in and week-out. Things I can never unsee (just try getting through a few paragraphs of the gay leather in first Quick Take above). Horrific mutilations of language and logic (“Assigning gender at birth is a tool used to uphold gender and sexual binaries.) Just keeping track of all the stuff that upsets liberals can be exhausting.
But this crime against God leaves me reeling: The Washington Post -- that font of so much that is unholy and perverse -- suggests we observe Memorial Day with “Charred Carrot Dogs.” You read that right. The Post has a recipe for this “plant-based take on hot dogs.” Apparently you “Char (either on the grill or under the broiler) and steam them, and then peel off the skins. They end up nicely cooked and lightly smoke-tinged, making them perfect for a cookout.” The recipe doesn’t say when you pray to Satan and sing “The Internationale,” but chefs do love to keep their secrets.
The Post suggests you can “serve these carrot dogs nestled in buns with the toppings such as vegetarian chili, cheddar, chopped onion, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles/relish, ketchup and spicy mustard.” All of which will be nice to have later when you crave actual human food.
The title claims that these roots dressed up as food may be, “The most unexpected (and welcome) guest at your next cookout.” Nope. Turn around, get back in your Prius and drive away. Try to get within 100 feet of my grill with that gastronomic atrocity and I’m turning the hose on you.