We first heard about Gabe Boyer in 2001, when the then-24-year-old gave a series of lectures — at Boston’s Berwick Research Institute performance lab — on romantic love, utopian thought, and causal reasoning, punctuated by his Wurlitzer noodling. In 2002, Boyer founded Bedroom Theater, a weekly happening in his apartment’s bedroom; in 2003, he took his show on a bedroom-to-bedroom tour across America. This series recounts what happened.
There were old men and women laden with artificial marijuana leaf lays, and stands set up to sell John Lennon style shades with marijuana leaf holographs on their tinted lenses. There were tents set up exclusively for Q&A concerning legalization and a tent where this DJ had a bunch of fuzzy dolphins and blue plastic on the ground surrounding to create a sense of some deflatable tropical resort location where he could practice his Drum & Bass in full fighter pilot uniform without some all-powerful covert organization always breathing down his neck. There was a stage where some guy was sprawled out on all fours and howling. Then we came to a series of foodstands of which Big City Burrito, where we were to work, was one. We were selling burritos at Hempfest all weekend long. We had to be searched before entry.
Mike, the owner of Big City, shook our hands and eyed my hair. (I kept forgetting I had that sideways mohawk Claire had given me back in Saginaw.) Come back in an hour, he said. I’ll introduce you to everybody. His daughter was stirring the beans, surrounded by a bunch of sweaty teens, and Pat was to his right – middle-aged like Mike, probably his partner or perhaps a high school buddy on the skids.
Stoners came in droves and we were making friends just for the moment, who would then move on to do their own thing in the bushes. Denise (Mike’s daughter) found Pat’s floundering attempts to get in the panties of our underage clientele endearing. She would periodically turn to the crew of adolescents. And when was the last time you actually got LAID Pat? The guy who’d taken over stirring the beans in back of the tent couldn’t help snickering. A handful of hair fell in his eyes. There was beer in a cooler, and it was flowing freely.
Jill handed off a particularly choice burrito with the line, Rolled ya a fatty. Pat made several comments concerning clouds and how they were coming out of ears. Mike followed one of the girls around asking her if she had come to work fucking stoned and, although she was indignant to his face, she made a comment later to me personally about, What the hell does he expect? It’s fucking Hempfest man.
It was over before it had begun with me scrubbing the pots out while seated on a bucket and humming to myself as I scraped at dried bean residue. Jill and I were the last to leave that night. She cut off my sideways mohawk while I sat one that same bucket and then we slipped a beer from out the cooler and downed it together before hopping in the van and returning to Jeremy’s pad where we were alone once again. He was probably at the shop working on the car he was taking to Burning Man this year. He was welding a giant drill to its side and flame-throwers to its front.
Then, in a flash and a gurgle it was the following day and this time we were to be there at the crack of dawn and setting things up only I couldn’t get my hands wrapped round quick enough. By noon Pat had gotten so drunk that he lay himself down at our feet and said that he couldn’t go on as he rolled from side to side. Mike was shouting for Pat to please get up. Just get up. For fuck’s sake, he said. How are they supposed to roll those ’ritos with you all sprawled out on the floor like that? Jesus. Pat rolled back and forth and made gurgling sounds. Later he would ask some fourteen year old girls if they were going to order or just stand there comparing breast sizes. There was a rush and then it passed. The quiet followed quickly after and my thoughts had slowed to a standstill.
Loose paper was catching on the breeze. Then there’s the sea beyond, and the sun above, but by the time we left it was past nine and we’d been dumping things and scouring things and our hands were raw and we were both exhausted when the Big City Burrito moving van pulled out to join a convoy of other moving vans lit exclusively by a scattered string of floodlights swaying in the slight wind. The ground was damp with spilled beer, and the night air smelled of the sea. We waved them on their way, then hurried to our own van to make it back to Jeremy’s. We were supposed to perform Bedroom Theater one last time, but I could care less to be honest. And when we got there so could they.
Jeremy and his girl were hanging out next door with their nervy bosom-obsessed pal – how I know this being I’d stumbled in on him in bed with this girl of his a few days earlier. Jill sat down beside them. You look familiar, Jeremy’s girl said. Like someone I knew from before.
People always say that to me, and I’m sick of it, I said.
Then she brought up this friend of hers who had been gunned down by the military while trying to save a family in Palestine. She had been part of a nonviolent rescue mission, people who would stand in the way of military vehicles attempting to push people out of their homes. She had been a warm and caring person, and they were currently trying to get some funds together to start a center in her honor. Isn’t that wonderful, she said. The kind of human suffering she was speaking of and with which she was speaking I simply couldn’t understand. While she was speaking she seemed to separate from the room like a decal and was standing outside it.