Littler Brother 2
Pure capsaicin is about 15 million Scovilles. Tabasco is about 50,000.
Pepper spray is a healthy three million. This stuff is a puny 200,000, about as hot as a mild Scotch Bonnet Pepper.
I worked up to it in about a year. Some of the real hardcore can get up to a million or so, twenty times hotter than Tabasco.
That's pretty freaking hot. At Scoville temperatures like that, your brain gets totally awash in endorphins.
It's a better body-stone than hash. And it's good for you."I was getting my sinuses back now, able to breathe without gasping."Of course, you get a ferocious ring of fire when you go to the john," she said, winking at me.Yowch."You are insane," I said."Fine talk from a man whose hobby is building and smashing laptops," she said."Touche," I said and touched my forehead."Want some?" She held out her mister."Pass," I said, quickly enough that we both laughed.When we left the restaurant and headed for Dolores park, she put her arm around my waist and I found that she was just the right height for me to put my arm around her shoulders.
That was new. I'd never been a tall guy, and the girls I'd dated had all been my height — teenaged girls grow faster than guys, which is a cruel trick of nature.
It was nice. It felt nice.We turned the corner on 20th Street and walked up toward Dolores.
Before we'd taken a single step, we could feel the buzz. It was like the hum of a million bees.
There were lots of people streaming toward the park, and when I looked toward it, I saw that it was about a hundred times more crowded than it had been when I went to meet Ange.That sight made my blood run hot.
It was a beautiful cool night and we were about to party, really party, party like there was no tomorrow. "Eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die."Without saying anything we both broke into a trot.
There were lots of cops, with tense faces, but what the hell were they going to do? There were a lot of people in the park. I'm not so good at counting crowds.
The papers later quoted organizers as saying there were 20,000 people; the cops said 5,000. Maybe that means there were 12,500.Whatever.
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It was more people than I'd ever stood among, as part of an unscheduled, unsanctioned, illegal event.We were among them in an instant. I can't swear to it, but I don't think there was anyone over 25 in that press of bodies.
Everyone was smiling. Some young kids were there, 10 or 12, and that made me feel better.
No one would do anything too stupid with kids that little in the crowd. No one wanted to see little kids get hurt.
This was just going to be a glorious spring night of celebration.I figured the thing to do was push in towards the tennis courts. We threaded our way through the crowd, and to stay together we took each other's hands.
Only staying together didn't require us to intertwine fingers. That was strictly for pleasure.
It was very pleasurable.The bands were all inside the tennis courts, with their guitars and mixers and keyboards and even a drum kit. Later, on Xnet, I found a Flickr stream of them smuggling all this stuff in, piece by piece, in gym bags and under their coats.
Along with it all were huge speakers, the kind you see in automotive supply places, and among them, a stack of...car batteries. I laughed.
Genius! That was how they were going to power their stacks. From where I stood, I could see that they were cells from a hybrid car, a Prius.
Someone had gutted an eco-mobile to power the night's entertainment. The batteries continued outside the courts, stacked up against the fence, tethered to the main stack by wires threaded through the chain-link.
I counted — 200 batteries! Christ! Those things weighed a ton, too.There's no way they organized this without email and wikis and mailing lists. And there's no way people this smart would have done that on the public Internet.
This had all taken place on the Xnet, I'd bet my boots on it.We just kind of bounced around in the crowd for a while as the bands tuned up and conferred with one another.
I saw Trudy Doo from a distance, in the tennis courts. She looked like she was in a cage, like a pro wrestler.
She was wearing a torn wife-beater and her hair was in long, fluorescent pink dreads down to her waist. She was wearing army camouflage pants and giant gothy boots with steel over-toes.
As I watched, she picked up a heavy motorcycle jacket, worn as a catcher's mitt, and put it on like armor. It probably was armor, I realized.I tried to wave to her, to impress Ange I guess, but she didn't see me and I kind of looked like a spazz so I stopped.
The energy in the crowd was amazing. You hear people talk about "vibes" and "energy" for big groups of people, but until you've experienced it, you probably think it's just a figure of speech.It's not.
It's the smiles, infectious and big as watermelons, on every face. Everyone bopping a little to an unheard rhythm, shoulders rocking.
Rolling walks. Jokes and laughs.
The tone of every voice tight and excited, like a firework about to go off. And you can't help but be a part of it.
Because you are.By the time the bands kicked off, I was utterly stoned on crowd-vibe. The opening act was some kind of Serbian turbo-folk, which I couldn't figure out how to dance to.
I know how to dance to exactly two kinds of music: trance (shuffle around and let the music move you) and punk (bash around and mosh until you get hurt or exhausted or both). The next act was Oakland hip-hoppers, backed by a thrash metal band, which is better than it sounds.
Then some bubble-gum pop. Then Speedwhores took the stage, and Trudy Doo stepped up to the mic."My name is Trudy Doo and you're an idiot if you trust me.
I'm thirty two and it's too late for me. I'm lost.
I'm stuck in the old way of thinking. I still take my freedom for granted and let other people take it away from me.
You're the first generation to grow up in Gulag America, and you know what your freedom is worth to the last goddamned cent!"The crowd roared. She was playing fast little skittery nervous chords on her guitar and her bass player, a huge fat girl with a dykey haircut and even bigger boots and a smile you could open beer bottles with was laying it down fast and hard already.
I wanted to bounce. I bounced.
Ange bounced with me. We were sweating freely in the evening, which reeked of perspiration and pot smoke.
Warm bodies crushed in on all sides of us. They bounced too."Don't trust anyone over 25!" she shouted.We roared.
We were one big animal throat, roaring."Don't trust anyone over 25!""Don't trust anyone over 25!""Don't trust anyone over 25!""Don't trust anyone over 25!""Don't trust anyone over 25!""Don't trust anyone over 25!"She banged some hard chords on her guitar and the other guitarist, a little pixie of a girl whose face bristled with piercings, jammed in, going wheedle-dee-wheedle-dee-dee up high, past the twelfth fret."It's our goddamned city! It's our goddamned country.