On Labor Day week-end, 2001, President George Bush was attending a Teamster Rally in Michigan, the first President to attend such an event and in his usual jovial, cocky mood. He spoke about his wife being on the tour with him, which he thought was a great idea. It was typical G.W., all mom, flag and apple pie.
A photo from the rally hit the national news and was published everywhere, showing a Arab-looking child holding an American flag looking up at Bush. When I wrote about the importance of 420 being a ceremony for peace, Brian MucCullough reminded me to light some candles for Tom and Rollie of Rainbow Farm, who were just a few miles away that day about to be assassinated by American soldiers.
Tom and Rollie were gay biker dudes when I met them, and really into weed and throwing massive parties. They showed up at the Cannabis Cup and got pulled into the Temple Dragon Crew and fell in love with the ceremonies. It changed their lives.
Next thing I knew, they were throwing major ceremonies on their immense property in Michigan and invited me to come all-expenses-paid as a ceremonial chief and do 420 Peace Ceremonies, just like the one I’m doing in New Jersey at the Piscataway Hempfest on April 5th.
They called their property Rainbow Farm and licensed the WHEE! from High Times one year and spent a fortune bringing in the Cannabis Cup Band and other acts. But that was their last big event and it broke the bank. They could have survived, only their survival plan involved growing weed in the basement of their home, and once they got ratted-out and lost custody of Rollie’s son, they both went insane because they were loving and devoted parents who doted on the boy.
I was in Woodstock all that week and weekend, and didn’t return to New York City until the following Tuesday. I stopped off at B&H to pick up some video tape for my camera and the clerk told me: “A plane just flew into the World Trade Center.” Of course, I was thinking it must be some little prop plane. I continued to work on my motorcycle and by the time I got upstairs, the office was all abuzz and one tower was burning. I went to my office, where I discovered a string of voice messages on my phone.
I wish I’d taped those messages, because it’s the last time I heard Tom or Rollie’s voice. They called to let me know they were making a last stand, and wanted it to be a huge media event like Waco to draw attention to the War on Marijuana, and they needed me to be the spearhead in this attack. Only they didn’t have my Woodstock number, only my office. The messages got more and more frantic, and it pained me I was never able to contact them because I looked online and immediately discovered they were both already dead.
Tom was shot in the head by a sniper he never saw from a great distance. Rollie set the house on fire the next day and got shot in the neck as he exited the burning structure. Police or soldiers hand-cuffed him, then kicked the testicles out of his scrotum. When they delivered his corpse to the coroner, Rollie was still wearing their handcuffs.
But I didn’t know any of this yet, only that they were both dead, and that I might have had a chance to talk them out of this crazy idea that something good might happen for the cannabis legalization movement from them committing suicide by cop.
So that’s why I’ll be lighting candles for Tom and Rollie of Rainbow Farm on April 20th and I hope you do to.
And when I went to the roof after listening to those heartbreaking messages, I watched a giant pillar of smoke blowing towards Brooklyn, and the main thought in my mind was how this was going to obliterate all news of Tom and Rollie’s death. And that’s exactly what happened. You think maybe it was planned that way? I mean, there was no reason for the police and soldiers to storm the property so quick. They could have negotiated for days with no violence, especially since they had the son as a bargaining tool, and both men were desperate to have some contact. But then, that would have allowed Tom and Rollie to turn it into a giant media event, which is what they were wanting and expecting.
It sure felt like there was some angry rush to execute these two loving men who just wanted to devote their lives to cannabis legalization because it was the right thing to do and they loved the spirit of the plant. And somehow they knew if they got it done quick, something really big was coming down the pike to wash it all away.