July 3, 2014

"Clad in outfits fashioned from the football-sized leaves of the skunk cabbage plant..."

"... they play an odd medley of instruments—trombones, kazoos, pots and pans—as they march forward, then backward down Elk Avenue, the main street in this Rocky Mountain ski town...."
As the cacophony swells, they chant letters spelling out four words: "Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory."...

The tradition... began in the summer of 1984... Two students started it...

The point of the costumes was to "be risqué in a biological way. Veratrum is just the plant that's everywhere out here, and has big enough leaves to make it possible to wear," [said Ecology professor Dirk H. Van Vuren]....
The original manifestation of this costume concept was nakedness underneath. One of the 2 founding students said: "People started running up at the end and tearing our skirts off of us... People were wowed. That was the best time I ever had at a parade."

Don't let the word "skirts" make you picture a female getting her clothes ripped off, wowing others thereby, and proclaiming it a great time. That was a guy, and now he's got it in the Wall Street Journal that "people were wowed" at whatever they saw.

These days the parade is "more family friendly" and "people just kind of attach veratrum to whatever they're wearing."

There's also the "RMBL Forward-Backward Marching Band," originated in 1976 by biologist Nickolas Waser who was "cynical about the political scene, so I think it had an additional meaning of marching forward and backward into the third century of the U.S." They played things like the Mickey Mouse Club song ("Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me...."). You can see how that would make for a mockery of patriotism. That's how some people feel about the 4th of July, but we're told it's "more family friendly" now, and I don't know what that extends to other than having a bathing suit under your skunk cabbage garb.

14 comments:

Krumhorn said...

The good news now is that once the skirts get ripped off....they can smoke 'em.

- Krumhorn

Crimso said...

I'll bet none of it is nearly as good as the band playing strange instruments and dressed in long robes moving in formation while playing "21st Century Schizoid Man." What's really cool about it is they're riding Segways concealed under the robes.

See for yourself: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152559753027813

Strelnikov said...

If I'm going to appear in public clad in somehting with the word "skunk" in its name, I'd prefer it to be the skin of an actual skunk.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Wow, I can't believe no one is discussing what must be the universal outrage over the WSJ casually endorsing sexual assault. Rape culture strikes again.

tim in vermont said...

I think Titus could probably tell us "It pays to advertise!"

Bob R said...

Can someone familiar with the Jason Isbell song Outfit, explain why a man from Alabama wouldn't "call what your wearing an outfit?" I don't use the word much, and when I do it's in reference to some sort of costume or uniform (as in the post above.) What are the regional connotations that I'm not getting?

khesanh0802 said...

Idiots then, idiots now.

Bruce Hayden said...

They are a bit nutso in Boulder. Have been for most of the last half century. I remember back maybe 45 years ago, as an undergraduate, coming to Boulder to watch them. Mostly, this sort of thing is mostly harmless, so all power to them. I made one of what I think was one of the last Halloween Mall Crawls, and it was pretty epic. The Pearl Street Mall was so crowded that it was almost impossible to move, and most everyone was in completely wild costumes. And, yes, a bit drunk or high.

surfed said...

Skunk is a type of marijuana mainly named for the smell of the burning bud. I love the Stoner State err...Centennial State. Hurrah for Coloradoans and thumbing their collective noses at the Feds. States Rights Now and Forever! I love original intent.

The Crack Emcee said...

That's San Francisco every day.

A lesbian couple attempted to pick me up on Pride Day,...

Michael K said...

What ever you do, don't eat the leaves as they are highly poisonous. I noticed the name and recall very well a pharmacology board exam in medical school where a whole page of questions was about the Veratrum alkaloids .

Clinically, various Veratrum extracts were marketed for clinical use as antihypertensive drugs, but because of their narrow therapeutic index were withdrawn from the market. Following the ingestion of Veratrum alkaloids, expected signs and symptoms include vomiting and abdominal pain, followed by cardiovascular effects such as bradycardia, hypotension and cardiac conduction abnormalities and death.

They are obsolete drugs and I had neglected to study them. By analyzing questions, I was able to answer them all but I wouldn't smoke the leaves if I were you.

traditionalguy said...

Men in short plants.

jaliranchr said...

Crested Butte is gorgeous any time of year, but the air is rather thin. This contributes to exaggerated eccentricities.

tim in vermont said...

"A lesbian couple attempted to pick me up on Pride Day,.." -Crack

Not a unique experience.