FOOD TRUCK BUGS
Now you too can be greeted by the blank white Page. Each morning we roll out of bed and Page just waits to connect; a pat on the head, a scratch behind the ear a hard rub on that spot just before her tail. Like the written page, she too waits to learn the story of her day and how it will be written.
This past weekend, she had a visit from her buddy Frankie the pug. He too performs the legendary behavior of his breed being more human and more monkey than dog. Cool and thoughtful, the two of them played with balls and bones all weekend with the occasional carpet tearing, claw digging impulsive sprinting bursts around the house.
I try my best to remain in the world of the dull mature grown-up, where most things happen as predicted and little disaster strikes. However, similar to our playful pets, as I cruise down that well-behaved predictable path, I’m lured off it by impulse and take a hard left turn on Crazy Street.
As random as it sounds, I had stumbled onto a Hippie Festival featuring Gourmet Food Trucks and a VW Exhibition. I could have just stayed on that big road and returned home without incident … but then again I would have missed out on all this magic.
I parked the car behind the stores and walked up the alley to the food trucks and wondered about my life long history of taking impulsive turns. For the eight out of ten times that I find myself lost and in places I shouldn’t be in – there are those two times that make up for it by delivering the strange, bizarre and story worthy.
Like a curtain that goes up on stage or an elevator door that opens on a particular floor, I leave the alley and find myself on a street in a little village preparing for The Hippie Festival. Camera gripped and ready I shoot away. My first glimpse into this magic world is this princess trailed by her mother and aunt.
Oblivious to the camera she strolled like someone famous with shopping bag in tow.
I had arrived just as the festival was getting started so the food trucks were finding their spot on the closed off street. There was a time when food trucks meant ptomaine poisoning but not anymore. Better food, better personality and four-wheeled vendors living their life dream.
Me and Page might live to build a story and capture a lucky image here and there but these trucker chefs carry their kitchen on their backs while competing for the right recipe for success.
As the trucks were setting up in the heat of the day, I stopped into the local vintage clothing shop to get a blast of AC while asking for directions. “Is it true? A Hippie Festival and a Volkswagen show?” She said, “Yes, it’s all starting right now and if you head down to the docks you’ll catch the car show!”
The village of Tarpon Springs, FL is very quaint and there is an overwhelming Greek population that congregates at the famous sponge docks, where the VW Exhibition was to be held. As I strolled in and out of air-conditioned shops, sandalwood incense and rose oil soaps filled my nose and tie dye swirls filled my eyes.
I drove over to the docks, parked my car for $3 with an old man sitting in a white plastic chair, leaned up against a skinny shack and walked over to where the cars were allowed to cruise in. The hippie with the peace symbol medallion guarded the gate as the bugs paraded in like an army of marching beetles. Then they found their spot and backed in as onlookers smiled and giggled with memories of the 60s.
A bearded man in his best hippie get-up, sat behind his pimped out yellow VW Bug and watched the crowd. He had permission to wear a long-hair wig and a suede Woodstock hat. You can almost hear the Jimmy Hendrix pouring out of his ears.
Undoubtedly he was remembering another time covered with Indian blanket ponchos worn by bra-less women, where chants of protest and loud rock’n roll were heard everyday.
As a matter of fact, that was the only thing that was missing. How can you have a Hippie Festival infested with VW Bugs without the music of the times? I heard no Crosby Stills, I heard no Jesus Christ Superstar, I heard no Layla or CCR.
As the bugs rolled in I too slipped back in time. I thought about all those folks who treasured their VW’s and a time when peace and love were free. I thought about the amazing transformation that our culture underwent in the 60s and how it changed the lives of future generations.
Maybe at first I thought this detour was just another crazy journey in search of great photos and a creative story but then I realized that Woodstock happened August 15th-18th, 44 years ago! I thought about Woodstock, NY and how I have been there many times and how it has not changed. It still sells Tie Dye, Lava Lamps and concert souvenirs from that fateful event.
As I left the docks at Tarpon Springs and watched the trail of bugs continue to march in, I felt full of nostalgia. I wondered if Hippie Festivals were happening all over on this weekend and what they were like. I wondered if someday annual Hippie Festivals would be simulcast similar to watching the ball drop in Times Square.
It was time to leave to get home to Page; my long-haired, shaggy lipped, hippie dog would certainly need to sniff a bush and lift a leg by now. I picked up the car at the parking lot and looked back at the old man next to the shack and wondered where he was 44 years ago.
I got in my car, found no cassette or 8-track but scrolled through my iPod for a little Janis and drove off wondering where I’d be and what kind of music I’d be listening to 44 years from now.