Going through some piled-up e-mails, I came across a dispatch from a fellow named Tim Sylvester.
It was amazing. And I must share.
This fair-skinned youth went to Wakarusa, was really looking forward to it, and the first day, he gets sunburned.
So what does he do the rest of the festival?
Wears a ninja mask.
And what happens?
He gets harassed and taunted by festival goers who don't know the difference between a ninja and a terrorist.
Ninja? Terrorist? Or just an ordinary suffering human being like you and me?
This turns out to be a revelatory experience for old Tim. In his essay, titled "Who Was That Masked Man?: An Experience in Prejudice," Tim-as-recently-abused-ninja writes:
"I found myself by the end of the day terribly sympathetic to people from the Arabian Peninsula, who well could be peace-loving, open-minded, and compassionate people, but how can they get that message across when everyone is rabid for your blood because of a simple, useful, protective face cover? How much baseless prejudice do you have to endure before you return the hatred?"
and, oh, this is good...
"Few cared to ask why I was wearing a mask, and even fewer asked how I had done it. What struck most was a terrifying image of a faceless monster, obscured and unknowable, dangerous and unpredictable. Who can say what darkness lies in the hearts of men?"
Well, for one, the Shadow!. HAAHAHAAHAHAHA!
Download the essay in Word here.
It's worth reading -- if for no other reason than because it's the impassioned account of a guy who went as a ninja among hippies and came out humilated and confused. Wiser? Cough.
Since he was only wearing a mask, I don't understand why people at the festival didn't look at his arms, legs, neck, T-shirt, etc. and see just a white American dude in a ninja mask.
This prompted me to consider what Tim's sun- and drug-addled critics might have said had he chosen alternate sun protection.
Tim: Panama hat
hippies: "Irish pig!"
hippies: "Go back to Spain, freakin' matador! Bull murderer!"
Tim: strip of white sunscreen on nose
hippies: "Hey, lifeguard. You see a pool here? Fuck you."
Tim: Japanese rice paddy hat
hippies: "Korean punk!"
Tim: mummy wrappings
hippies: "You're not welcome here, leper. Go infect the Man!"
hippies: "Hey, 19th Century woman! Yeah, you! You'll never get the right to vote."
Tim: cowboy hat
hippies: "Hey, Kevin Costner! Yo, man, your movies suck!"
Tim: tri-corn hat
hippies: "Goddamn Quaker!"