4/20 Denver Whupped My Ass


All photos by Bob Starrett

By Bob Starrett
That’s not true; I admit it right off. Replacing the radiator in my car whupped my ass, or rather my right shoulder and neck. So when we did arrive at Civic Center Park, too late to get a place in the ampitheater and me brandishing a new camera, it wasn’t long before I realized that my goal of getting a bunch of great shots of the event was in jeopardy; I could barely lift my right arm to manipulate the camera. A crippled wannabe cameraman with an erroneous date stamp on his pictures.
I bought a new camera small enough to slip into my pocket in case we had to mix it up with the authorities. Of course that never happened and I really didn’t expect that it would, and I wouldn’t have been able to do much mixing even if it had. The Denver 420 event was a permitted two-day event and the cops were a small and quiet presence on the perimeter.
Because of our tardiness we were relegated to the Stoners section of the park. That’s how I characterized it. Activists and Stoners. As my companion put it, “Those aren’t political people, those aren’t activists. Those are just kids getting stoned. Babies.” And she was right. Wrapped in the protection of a crowd that knows it is largely safe from raid or citation, the folks that we ended up with looked like high schoolers.

So we have groups of five or six passing the bowl and the joint — Babies, mere Babies. Weed Babies, I guess. That’s a big concern and a legitimate one, keeping weed away from children and teens. These kids didn’t buy legally from a dispensary. And they didn’t buy illegally from a dispensary; sorry prohibitionists, that doesn’t happen here. So they bought it illegally, on the street, as they say, or perhaps from a friend’s friend who has a card (for now). That’s what teenagers do. 
Now I won’t deny that at that age I was doing the same damn thing and enjoying it, too. The main difference is that back then the criminal ax hanging over your head was a bit heavier than a Class 2 petty offense with a fine of $100.00. I can’t remember what the penalties were, but I do remember that it was not something you wanted to get wrapped up in and many a valuable stash ended up on the ground or in the bushes because when the cops approached, you didn’t want that stuff on your person. Back then, doom, or at least a sense of it, was always just around the corner.

But there was no impending sense of doom at 420 Denver in 2012. The activists were active and the stoners were stoned.
And at 4:20, up went the smoke, at least the smoke in unison as there was plenty leading up to the magic moment. Vainly trying to raise the camera to get some decent shots I realized that I had no business putting radiators in cars. Not anymore. That’s for young people like those we spent the afternoon with.
So with that, my photography career off to a poor start, as you can see, we walked past the few police officers on the west side of the park, and said a pleasant goodbye. 

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Editor’s note: Bob Starrett, with 22 years of experience with Optical Disc and Drive technology, is co-author of six books on CD and CD-ROM technology, and his published magazine work includes more than 250 articles, reviews and columns on CD-ROM, CD Recordable, DVD-ROM and DVD Recordable technology for publications including PC Magazine, EMedia Magazine, CD-ROM Professional, Digital Video Magazine, Digital Content Creator, One To One, Online, Tape-Disc Busines
s and others. He holds a J.D. from the University of Colorado School of Law.