Orientation Edition 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Marijuana enthusiasts pack Diag
Poet John Sinclair
returns for 37th
annual Hash Bash
By CHARLES GREGG-GEIST
Apr. 4, 2008 - Even hip-hop music
blasting from three-foot speakers
couldn't stop the accordion player.
Though most of his lyrics were
incomprehensible, the people who
clustered around him on the Diag
could easily understand the chorus.
"Free the weed!" he sang rau-
cously, accompanied by two men on
The trio stopped its music only
when John Sinclair, a bearded man
wearing an old jacket, Birkenstocks
and high white socks stepped before
a microphone on the steps of the
Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library.
The poet and musician was one
reason almost 2,000 people packed
onto the Diag Saturday for the 37th
annual Hash Bash.
It was Sinclair's arrest in 1969
thatbroughttogether John Lennon,
Allen Ginsberg and Stevie Wonder,
among others, at the 1971 "Free
John Now Rally" at Crisler Arena.
For many, Sinclair's return was a
highlight of the event.
"I think it's really cool that he's
here," LSA sophomore Patrick
Sinclair's appearance was a
relief to Hash Bash organizers, who
thought until a few weeks ago they
might not have access to amplifica-
tion because an unknown student
group had reserved the entire Diag.
Organizers said the University's
refusal to disclose which group had
reserved the space was an effort to
push Hash Bash off campus, while
Diag Administrator Jaden Felix
said it was against University policy
to release information about Diag
About a week ago, they dis-
covered through Facebook.com
that Fighting Obstacles Knowing
Ultimate Success, a multicultural
arts organization, was planning
its year-end event for Saturday,
said Adam Brook, the longtime
Hash Bash emcee. He said mem-
bers of the University chapter of
the National Organization for the
Reform of Marijuana Laws tried to
contact the organizers but received
la-Toro, a recent University alum,
said she read about Hash Bash's
scheduling problems last week and
decided that letting Sinclair speak
was the best way to ensure that
both crowds were pleased with
their respective events. Because
of the scheduling conflict, only
F.O.K.U.S. had the right to use the
amplification. That problem was
solved, though, when Davila-Toro
included two of Hash Bash's main
speakers into the lineup.
Brook was quick to thank
F.O.K.U.S. for the invitation.
"F.O.K.U.S. has done nothing but
help us," he told the crowd. "It's the
University that has tried to screw
Sinclair began his speech by
thanking the group for "resolving
a sticky situation." He then spoke
for about 10 minutes on the merits
.. ,i F ::'
"The Zag Man" at the Hatcher Graduate Library at Hash Bash in 2006.
of cannabis use before reading a
poem that sang the praises of the
weed he enjoyed during a visit to
Amsterdam, where the 66-year-old
To allow F.O.K.U.S. to continue
its program, Brook directed the
Hash Bashers to Monroe Street at
about 12:30 p.m., where the second
part of their event traditionally
Most of the crowd dissipated in
a few minutes, leaving about 100
people on the Diag as a band took
over for Sinclair.
Police cars blocked off the ends
of the street, leaving it to a crowd of
na. On the grass across the street, a
drum circle competed against the
band, while women in earth-tone
dresses gyrated in hula hoops.