O-ji’s Kitchen

Also sometimes called California Kitchen, O-ji’s kitchen appeared only at the 2008 Wyoming annual gathering. It was focalized by two brothers, one named Spring Ogre, because of his efforts toward guarding water source springs in the past, and the other Joji, a name reflecting his Japanese ancestry. Their names were combined to make “O-ji’s”. One was into things spiritual and natural, the other showed you with his speech how he got the nickname “Ogre”. “Gruff and groovy” was one way people described it. It was thought incongruous by many that two people with such different personalities could come together. This kitchen served vegan raw food in salads, like Joji’s previous kitchen that he named Siva Burn Lounge. Next to it was a small meadow for group yoga activities. The large meadow in front of this kitchen was the scene of several memorable confrontations.

One morning there appeared a huge boogie pit for drummers and dancers, apparently dug in the dark the previous night. The pit itself was 20 feet in diameter and about 3 feet deep, with an inner fire ring of large boulders, about 7 feet wide. The soil that had been dug up was piled into a ring around the pit, about 6 feet wide and from 2 to 3 feet high, 50 feet in outside diameter. The outside of the ring was lined with stacked boulders, and there were vertical posts of wood all around the outside 3 feet tall connected by horizontal rails that had been lashed on with burlap twine. There was an entryway on the side near the kitchen with steps of rock and piled sand.

The next morning there was a meeting near the parking lot at Welcome Home between family and the resource rangers, and their leader made it clear that he didn’t like the huge boogie pit near O-ji’s and asked if we couldn’t fill it in partially, reducing the pit’s diameter. A discussion ensued about what number of feet would be a good maximum, and 10 was suggested but rejected for 12. He was able to accept it as a fait accompli, but he didn’t want it to start being a precedent for future ones, as a pit under construction near another kitchen was starting to show. It was finally agreed to by the family to talk to the kitchens near the pit and try to persuade them to fill it in partially, reducing the diameter to 12 feet.

Spring Ogre was the first person they tried to talk to later that day inside the gathering, and he talked to them at length when asked. Neither he nor his kitchen wanted to take responsibility for building the pit. He said “a bunch of kids came in the night and made it”, and he didn’t want to take any part in dismantling it because “a hundred gutter punks will come around and take it out on me for doing it.” At another point he said that there were people who had come around in the morning to work on it, “but the presence of all these cops scared them away”

Another brother from the yoga camp came over and started cutting apart some of the lashings on the outside rails, saying “I don’t want this thing here because it brings around all these cops.” Then another brother came around with a wheelbarrow with three shovels piled in it, and set it down and took one of the shovels like he was preparing to dig with it, and Ogre came over and stood in his way. This brother responded by attempting to hit him with it, not really succeeding in landing a blow, and Ogre grabbed it out of his hand and threw it to the ground, tipping over the wheelbarrow, while a few other people rushed up to restrain both of them.

Ogre then started bellowing about how he was going to have him charged with assault, naming another brother who had to go to jail for what he did and saying this one should too. The brother was gently persuaded to leave by the people who had surrounded him, and the wheelbarrow was taken back to Info.

On the 6th of July the pit was filled in. The rocks that had been around the back of the raised ring were thrown into the pit, then the 4th of July watermelon rinds were thrown over them before being covered with dirt. The inner fire ring was the last to be taken apart, and all the logs that had made the railings were burned up in it.

Next year at the 2009 New Mexico annual the biggest boogie fires were lit on top of areas of flat rocks laid end to end, without digging any pit at all, and this has become the preferred design.

September 14th, 2016 by John Anderson