Rainbow Crystal Kitchen

Rainbow Crystal Kitchen has existed since the 1984 California annual gathering under the ogreship of Gary Stubbs, a very extroverted fellow who likes to sit in a chair by his soup kettle right on Main Trail in one of the most heavily traveled parts of it and call out “good afternoon” or “welcome home” to everyone who comes by. He’ll say again and again, “Where are you from?”; “Is that right, I’ve been there, lovely place;”; “That’s an interesting tattoo you’ve got there, is that of a…?”; “Is that a guitar you’ve got in that case? Will you play us a tune”; etc., etc.

He has one product, his soup, which is usually called “Rainbow stew”, a blend of whatever vegetables come in that day with whatever other appropriate ingredients are available, like rice, pasta, or beans. (He subsists on his own finances and spontaneous contributions of friends and passersby; he never draws from Main Supply.) It is heavily spiced, usually with a curry-like flavor. It is made eight or ten times a day, and served almost continuously. It is always served boiling hot with a ladle that is never allowed to touch an individual’s own bowl, and he thinks this assures sanitation sufficiently that he doesn’t ask you to wash your hands unless you are in back slicing and dicing. When people ask where the hand washing station is, he says, “Wash your dish at the dishwashing station. As your hands pass thru the water, they will become clean.”

There is never any bliss rail; anyone can come thru the kitchen area and even sit down in it. And he grants acceptance and encouragement to anyone who starts working and doing it well, and this is enough for him to assemble an adequately sized crew around him at every new gathering

Gary is also known for his confrontations with Forest Service policemen. He has minced no words when he expresses his disapproval to their faces of the strong arm tactics they often use, the arbitrariness of their restrictions, the mess their horses make, and the guns they carry into the gathering. At the 2004 California annual gathering, he was ordered to move his kitchen because it was allegedly too near a stream, even tho he had been given oral permission in a conversation with a resource ranger before the start of the gathering. On the 29th of June, the Incident Commander gave him a ticket for “non-compliance with permit regulations: kitchen too close to water source”, and ordered him to move his kitchen within 48 hours. Two days later at noon, the IC returned with 5 cops on horses and asked for him, but he was not there as he was in the nearby town of Likely making a plea in court on his ticket. His good friend Marty Heartsong took responsibility and had about a hundred hippies dismantle the kitchen completely, move the pieces to a pile about 200 feet away, and disappear the site in the space of 17 minutes (someone with a watch timed it).

Gary lost his challenge to his ticket and was ordered to stay out of all National Forests for two years. At the 2006 annual gathering in Colorado, he set up a soup kettle on a side of the road coming in, outside of the limits of the National Forest. Many of his crewmembers joined Marty Heartsong when he set up Paonia Peace Kitchen (aka PPK); This kitchen first appeared at the 2005 West Virginia annual, which Gary did not attend because of his banishment, and because he has long refused to go to gatherings in the eastern half of the country.

September 14th, 2016 by John Anderson