Eco Blogging, Tin Foil Hats and Convention Mania

Yesterday’s post on the Natural Products Expo West reminded me that I never published a post I did on a large “Eco” convention I attended last year. I have a secret and embarrassing fondness for conventions of any kind. So, at the risk of never being invited to a convention again, here’s that old post I failed to publish until now:

Most of the “eco” conventions I’ve attended in the past, to be honest, bring out a certain, how shall I put this, tin foil hat type crowd. At one I went to someone was zipping around the parking lot on roller skates with a gas powered fan attached to his back and promoting the idea as a serious transportation solution. So when I was invited to attend an eco convention last year as a blogger I hesitated until I realized I could score some free hemp milk swag.

Now this eco convention (which will remain nameless) was actually quite good. They had a bunch of great speakers and interesting exhibitors. Unfortunately, when I went to review my notes the next day I realized I had written down only the wacky stuff in the form of a diary. I chalk it up to the way my cynical Gen-X brain works. So, in the end, I guess I’m the one wearing the tin-foil hat. For what it’s worth, here’s what that diary contained:

10:15 AM Way overdue for a haircut I throw on my Eisenhower jacket and head down to the convention center on my bicycle. I look like a deranged bus driver crossed with German schlager singer Heino.

10:45 AM I step up to what I think is the press registration booth to get my name tag. Except that it’s the press registration booth for a girl scout convention called “Girltopia” taking place in the adjoining exhibit hall . The Girltopia registrar looks at me as if I’m some kind of pervert and directs me the right direction. I contemplate sneaking into Girltopia later.

11:00 AM Los Angeles Mayor Villaragoasa takes the stage to tepid applause. Every time I see him he seems like he’s been up late the night before (with a hot news babe?). He talks mostly about green initiatives at the port and tries to squeeze some enthusiasm out of the bored crowd saying, “You’re supposed to be green, JESUS!” I guess, by taking the lord’s name in vain, you could say that the mayor broke one of the ten commandments for sake of applause and maybe a few more the night before.

11:15 AM A Native American prayer is recited. Drumming begins and I duck out of the main stage and head over to the press tent for the press buffet (blogging has its perks). After a brief wait in the buffet line (time enough to peruse the press materials), I reach out and grab a gluten-free English muffin. The muffin is so hard, the texture of, literally, a hockey puck, that I sheepishly stick it back and grab a bagel. The buffet is sponsored by a vegan butter and cream cheese substitute concern. I spread a bunch of their cream cheese substitute on my bagel and sit down. The cream cheese substitute seems to be whipped coconut butter and tastes like, well, whipped coconut butter.

11:30 AM A panel discussion begins in the press tent. One of the panelists is the author of a book called Skinny Bitch. I make a mental note to come up with a snappier book title the next time I write one, though Emaciated Middle-Aged Blogger Dude just doesn’t have a ring to it. Another panelist resembles Udo Kier and I have flashbacks to the giant deformed baby scene in The Kingdom.

11: 35 AM The problem with a press badge is that people are constantly gauging your credibility, looking at the badge then looking at your face. I find myself doing the same thing. Someone has a media badge that says, “Fit and Fun”. Another says, “Mar Vista Patch.” The latter makes me feel like the New York fricken Times. At least I’m working for myself for no pay.

11:45 AM I step into the booth of a light bulb manufacturer. I’m more excited by the dimmable LED lights than the sales rep. Maybe he needs a lunch break? I ask where you can get the bulbs. He shoots me a bored look and mumbles, “Home Depot”.

11:50 AM I pass by a booth selling an inflatable hyperbaric chamber. Didn’t Michael Jackson have one of these things? Does Udo Kier have one?

12:00 PM I see Joe Linton holding forth on a panel about the LA River. Joe and I used to lift weights together at the YMCA. If you’re keeping score, Joe can bench press considerably more than I can. Maybe I need to spend some time in a hyperbaric chamber.

12:15 PM I step into the Inner Traditions book booth which is having a half-off sale and go nuts. I pick up a German herbalism book called Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants and Prickly Pear Cactus Medicine: Treatments for Diabetes, Cholesterol, and the Immune System to add to my collection of prickly pear cactus books.

12:30 I’m still hungry–the bagel and whipped coconut butter just didn’t fill this blogger’s groaning stomach.  I head down the food sample aisle grabbing thoughtlessly at every sliced power bar and beverage available. So many are hemp based that I’m thankful the Root Simple H.R. department does not require a regular drug test. Everything that does not contain hemp seems to be acai based.

2:00 PM Lora Hall, aka Homegrown Neighbor, takes the stage and wows the crowd with her extemporaneous speaking. She and I are both hammy when handed a microphone. Colin Bogart, with the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition, delivers a talk at the same time. I find out later that Colin got into Girltopia next door and I grill him later for details. 

4:00 PM I walk down the last aisle in the hall. There is a “Red Tent” set up for those beset by the monthly visitor. I’m so tired I consider asking if I can go in and lie down. It just so happens that I had been “thoughtstyling” with Mrs. Root Simple the night before about making a Red Tent that we could set up at our book appearances. She found the line of conversation tedious and told me to shut up.

4:30 PM I head with Colin and some bike folks to a downtown douchebag bar in the hideous Staples Center to talk bikes and get further information about Girltopia.

6:30 PM I arrive at the Root Simple Compound and collapse in a pile of swag. It takes several days to digest all those hemp and acai power bars.

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  1. Sounds very woo-woo and consumption based. Buy the right crap and you’ll be going green. Right. And it reminds me of my pet peeve against permaculture: all the woo-woo that’s wrapped up in it, at least here in the States. I’ve read that really drives Bill Mollison up the wall as well. I’ve toyed with the idea of taking a PDC, but it seems like every one of them include drum circles, chanting, holding hands and singing kumbaya – so forget it. None of that has anything to do with observing and respecting nature and her processes. Instead, I’m just muddling through on my own based on books.

    I can see why “going green” has so little credibility amongst the general public.

  2. you are absolutely spot on about teh tin foil hat groups. One of the reasons i actively follow your blog over others is that you all are much more grounded than many other blindly eco eco-folks so I thank you for that. You tend to appeal to real science and not some unfounded news article written by a liberally biased journalist. even though the subjects you cover tend to appeal to the liberally minded you all don’t seem to get caught up in the unfounded arguments that are often politically developed on that side of the spectrum. (and you obviously don’t appeal to the other side) so cheers to you all for keepin’ it real (literally and metaphorically).

  3. The “Red Tent” must have been set up by the drum circle people. I have not had a visitor for years, decades, but I would go in and lie down myself.

    I, too, like conventions. Bloggers are “press?” I am going to have to work this.

  4. I’m a new reader and agree with Bikejuju — this is why I read this blog. Love the commentary.

    I’m gettin’ my tin foil out now…

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