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July, 2004

Harry Pothead: Another Bolinas Wedding
"really love your peaches, want to shake your tree"
By Stephen Simac

Aahh, Bolinas, Baulines. The Ridge. The Bay. the Lagoon, the Town. On the far side of Mt. Tamalpais as you leave east Marin, heading down towards Stinson Beach on Panoramic Highway, the coastline north opens out ahead of you. It's a view that can make a person pull off the road and stop. The sunlight is so brilliant it has a texture. The sea is hammered into a million, silver mirrors by the wind. The cliffs of a little mesa are glowing golden beside the Bolinas lagoon channel.

Stinson's long sandy beach runs toward it, mansions spilling behind the spit. The grassy hillsides are still green this early in May, the tide in the lagoon is full and bronzed as the view unfolds in switchback slaloms. I was going back there for a wedding. It seems Bolinas has become "thee place for weddings." It's kinda like Massachusetts on the weekends. I hadn't been to a Bolinas wedding since the one with the spiked punch, when I entered a time warp and first met Harry Pothead, living in a mini-van down by the river.

A Space Cowboy

So I wasn't all that surprised to see him again in downtown BoBo. He was quite a bit more prosperous and well groomed than when we first met, another lifetime ago. So was the town. Back then, it had looked like Beriut, with a bombed out gas station and couple dozen refugee derelicts. There were fewer Darryls, but they were just as drunk. I had to fend off a drunken dwarf just to get to the reception. I think it was Dopey.

The summer I met Harry in 1999 I was doing an investigative journalism docu-drama film The Witches of Bolinas, to raise money for my internet portal scam. It was a blatant rip off of the internet-promoted hit film, shaky cameraman and all. I'd managed to raise a little cash, just enough for gas and medicinal marijuana.

I was trying to get out of print media, get with the next century, pre Y2K. I had a cameraman, of sorts, and this schtick was supposed to kick start my high stream internet content start-up. That was all before the bubble burst. Now I was strictly print, no content. The road to fame and fortune in the print media is pretty clear by now. First just make it all up, then get caught, then fess up and apologize in your best selling novel, blame it on bi-polar or something. I was writing the book first, it's called The Confabulist.

Lovey Dovey All The Time

That summer of 99, we'd come into town to find the Witches of Bolinas, get em on film doing hexes, bloody rituals, whatever. Only to find out they had all left, driven out by the high cost of housing. They were supposedly living in trailers in Novato. It wasn't enticing. At least while the drugs lasted. And then the earthquake hit.

While the project floundered, my cameraman somehow landed a gig shooting a wedding. I got in as his gofer. After I went for the electric punch I lost my grip. The wedding turned into a Girls Gone Wild flick, and he ran off with the best maid.

I landed in an parallel universe Bolinas where I met Harry Pothead, the forgetful wizard, hiding out in a wrinkle in time. Except for the time I spent turned into a toad, we got along fine.

Harry was there on the lam from Queen Esprit and Lord Moldyfart's minions who'd placed a price on his head. It was all because of some midnight tree trimming misunderstanding, as he put it. Evidently the price had been lifted, a la Salmon Rushdie, because Harry was now ensconsed in downtown Bo, driving a Pink Cadillac, staying at Smiley's, taking a little downtime from secretly running the world, as he told me.

Call Me Maurice

I hadn't heard from Harry since his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in New Hampshire's primary this winter. Now here he was at the same Bolinas wedding I was at. It was a little eerie.

I was there because I knew the bride, slightly. Something about filling the pews, she'd mumbled when she asked me to come. Harry was near the food, scarfing down those little cucumber toast triangle things. To be polite, I asked Harry how the campaign had gone, although I was pretty sure he'd gotten fewer votes than Rev. Sharpton.

Harry waved off handedly, flinging crumbs of toast. "I'm so done with being a candidate, politics is all smoke and mirrors and fund raising. I'm an advisor to the advisors now, I'm with the Hidden Hand of History. We get all the benefits with out having to mingle with the common people."

He mumbled, "I didn't do so bad in that primary, considering I wasn't on the ballot. Paperwork's always been my weakness, that's how I flunked out of Fogwart School, although I did get my M.E.D. My write-in campaign ran up against a serious literacy problem up there. At least I still have all my toes, it was frigging cold in Nude Hampshire in February. Coldest winter since 1887 they said."

A Midnight Toker

Harry rubbed his hands together, teeth mock chattering, "I read somewhere on the internet that Kerry had to have part of his nose redone because of frostbite. He had it done with a shard of granite from the collapsed Old Man of the Mountain. Supposedly that's what put him over the top with the locals. Couldn't be worse than three purple hearts."

It was always hard to get in words wedgewise with Harry. He was really bad when he had a joint in his hand. Which he now did. "Who are you advising anyhow, Harry?" I asked to humor him, at least until this spliff went around a few times.

I couldn't imagine any of the major parties hiring Harry. Maybe Nader. It sounded delusional. I idly wondered if he'd gone off his meds, again. Not that they'd ever worked that well. There was a delay of the wedding because the groom had gotten the jitters. He'd climbed up into a tree, was grinning down like a Cheshire Cat. This was going to be another Bolinas Wedding, all right. The volunteer fire department didn't do house calls they said, there was talk about getting the garden hose out, people mentioned drought. Someone put loaded bong at the base of the tree instead, and the bride brought out more champagne. The band started early and kicked into a Steve Miller tune.

Harry leaned closer, "I got a gig teleporting Dick Cheney to an undisclosed location in an alternate universe right after 9/11 and we became close. I gotta admit he's persuasive up close and personal, kinda like Shere Khan in the Jungle Book. Anyways, I agreed to help them out, fight terrorism and all that. Bush/Cheney and Powell wanted documents showing Saddam was buying yellowcake uranium so they could talk about mushroom clouds on the horizon of the Homeland."

The Gangster Of Love

"Who do you think did that letter from Niger, about the yellowcake sale to Iraq? I know-pattycake, yellowcake, devil's food cake, I shouldn't have used the baker's man to forge it. It was amateurish, but the secretary of state, the VP and the prez relied on it to start a war on Iraq. Only nuclear terror could have convinced Americans to go over there and bomb Babylon into rubble to spread Freedom and Democracy. I've just finished cooking up some pork links for Cheney proving that Saddam and Osama helped plan 9/11. He's going to eat them live on Fox News right before the election. It's all part of the master plan, and sometimes it's necessary to mislead the people to lead them to the promised land."

Harry was getting worked up, always a bad omen. Strange things started happening when he went into a bi-polar rage, people turned into toads and sweat.

He took a deep hit on the roach before passing it. It calmed him down a little. "Don't worry, I haven't sold my soul, just rented it out for a while. It's only until I build up a little nest egg, and travel the world a few more times, as an agent of KAOS. Which I've been doing, you can really get used to this lifestyle, 5 star hotels and limousines. Guess who I saw when I delivered the yellowcake letter to M15 in England. Buffalo Sue, you remember her, she used to write for that rag of yours. Sue was doing some wild west song and dance around Chi-chi Chester. She wasn't real happy to see me again. Luckily She couldn't call the bobbies because the restraining order has been lifted. She was way too much lariat, quirt and spurs for me. I've still got scars."

The Pompitous Of Love

I stopped him before he showed me any. I didn't want to hear about Harry Pothead's exes. There were way too many of them. Luckily the wedding was getting started. The groom had shimmied down the tree, gotten baked and was standing glazed up front, like a krispy, kremed donut.

A good sized crowd had gathered. There weren't any pews after all. The preacher had arrived. He looked a little like Gandalf the White. The bride was pretty in pink. Their toddler was wandering around with a rose bouquet, not doing a great job as the ring bearer, but not crying either. That's the new fashion in Bolinas weddings, everything backwards, first the kid then the marriage. I read about it in the Pacific Sun. There was a ray of sunshine slanting through the trees on the ceremony in the garden of the Po House.

There is something sacred about marriages- a moment out of time, when people in love pledge union through time. They are so optimistic in the face of so much uncertainty, and because of that beautiful and tender. Weddings have always been funner than funerals and this one was no exception, as the band started playing Ramblin' Rose.


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