I Attended the Historic 2019 Porcupine Freedom Festival + Forkfest

Forkfest Sponsors Porcfest!

The New Hampshire Freedom Festivals!

This year, after a four-year absence, I returned as an attendee to the Porcupine Freedom Festival, aka Porcfest. I’m happy to say that Porcfest 2019 was a success and even featured some history-making civil disobedience. More on that in a moment. First, kudos to Rodger and Jessica Paxton and their crew for throwing an excellent festival – in spite of the now-expected political bungling by the Free State Project‘s board of directors. Longtime Porcfest attendee, and Free Keene blogger Rich Paul had this to say:

The tension that has subdued Porcfest for the last few years is finally healed. It feels like 2012 again.

Before I continue my review of the event, a little background:

After its rise to being one of the most well-attended libertarian gatherings on the planet and also becoming the most cryptocurrency-welcoming event as far as its vendors are concerned, the Porcupine Freedom Festival, which is organized each year by volunteers, but ultimately controlled by the Free State Project corporation, ended up making a few key errors. Yes, it was a mistake for them to kick me and my radio show out after a few volunteers made a stink back in 2016, but I don’t hold a grudge, and at the time even published a blog encouraging people to continue attending Porcfest.

That’s one of the more obvious mistakes they made, as despite my urging of people to continue to attend, attendance did drop sharply the following year, from what I have been told. However, the other things they botched were even more damaging to the event.

For years, and from before they decided to ban me, people who’ve attended the Porcupine Freedom Festival each Summer in Northern New Hampshire have complained that its recent years have been lacking in fun, partially due to an ever-increasing burden of rules at the event and centralized decision making on the part of the Free State Project’s board of directors. For instance, longtime vendors felt pushed out of the “Agora Valley” prime trading zone by the artificial extra costs imposed by the FSP onto the RV campsites in that area.

Nearly Empty Agora Valley @ Porcfest 2019

Nearly Empty Agora Valley @ Porcfest 2019

Where did these artificial costs come from? The story of Agora Valley is one that libertarians should know well and should have seen coming, but the libertarians running the FSP failed to see it and fell into the same centralized control trap they typically argue against. In the earlier years of the Porcupine Freedom Festival at Roger’s Campground, the first few rows of the RV camping area became, through natural market functions, the most desirable real estate in the park. The reason is that all the major speakers and events are held at the Pavilion at the bottom of the hill, so most campers will pass through that part of the RV area on their way to attend Porcfest’s various events. Eventually the zone was dubbed “Agora Valley” and vendors would compete to reserve the prime spots first for the upcoming year’s event, however the cost to the vendors at the time was the normal lot fee charged by the campground.

Eventually, someone at the FSP got the bright idea that Agora Valley should be managed by the FSP’s festival organizers, and a vendor’s fee and agreement was created. When asked, the FSP’s representatives generally will defend the fees as reasonable, since they include a ticket to the event, promotion to the event’s VIPs, as well as a listing in the event’s “Whova” event program app, for a very small premium on top. They are right – the Agora Valley vendor prices are reasonable. However, the market is clearly speaking, more this year than ever before, that the fees and rules are not welcome.

One way the marketplace responded to the failures of Porcfest’s central planning was to fork the entire event back in 2017 and create a decentralized libertarian camping festival called Forkfest, which just finished its third year. Click here to read more about the creation of the alternative, yet friendly event.

However the other way the market responded during this year’s Porcupine Freedom Festival, was the creation of the “Where it’s at” zone deeper in the RV area. Longtime Porcfest vendors and attendees, fed up with paying more than they had to or simply frustrated by the restrictions for Agora Valley, decided to opt-out and setup a hot zone of economic activity in the RV rows past the Valley’s “jurisdiction”. This mass exodus left Agora Valley nearly a ghost town at this year’s Porcfest.

To be fair, according to Shawn Grissom, this year’s Porcfest vendor coordinator, there were vendors in the lonely Agora Valley that did very well this year. That said, even Grissom agreed the FSP should let go of trying to organize the campground and focus on their event production alone. Let the market self-organize again in the camp/RV area.

Heroic Open-Air Drug Market at Porcfest 2019

Heroic Open-Air Drug Market at Porcfest 2019

Aside from the centrally-planned failure of Agora Valley, the rest of the 2019 Porcupine Freedom Festival went off well and received rave reviews. The Paxtons did a great job of bringing balance back to where Porcfest wasn’t just a family vacation spot – with approximately 200 kids and teenagers in attendance – but also a great party. This year there was a naked guy down at the campfire at night on at least a couple of occasions that I saw, along with a topless young lady, plus an amazing open-air drug market.

During the final night’s Free Ross auction to benefit imprisoned liberty hero and founder of the Silk Road underground market, Ross Ulbricht, there were two vendors set up just outside on a couple of picnic tables right next to each other. One vendor offered items for sale on a whiteboard such as “not mushrooms” and “not pot” while the other seller’s blackboard offered shrooms, flower, and edibles. It even included a shout-out to #freeross.

The little things like that made this year’s Porcfest feel like Porcfests of the past, but what made this year’s Porcupine Freedom Festival historic was what happened at the end of the Free Ross auction. After two hours and well over $10,000 had been raised from bidders on dozens of donated items, two activists donated a couple of eighth-of-an-ounce containers of cannabis to the remaining auction items. The auction was run by Mancamp founder Jay Noone and since he doesn’t have a auctioneer’s license, the entire event was civil disobedience. Noone then made Porcfest and likely New Hampshire history by auctioning off the cannabis to two lucky winners including me and the his assistant, Angie. What fun! (more…)

Anarchapulco Displaces Porcfest as the Must-Attend Annual Liberty Event

Ron Paul Speaks at Anarchapulco 2018 to a Full House - Photo by Luke Rudkowski

Ron Paul Speaks at Anarchapulco 2018 to a Full House – Photo by Luke Rudkowski

For many years, the Porcupine Freedom Festival was the must-go libertarian/voluntarist/anarchist yearly gathering. Many would travel from around the United States and globe to attend. Maybe they enjoyed the various speakers and panels, relaxed camping atmosphere and beauty of the location at Roger’s Campground, or the various activities like Buzz’ Big Gay Dance Party. Or maybe it was just the fun of being with other liberty-minded people for a week in the woods during the Summer of northern New Hampshire. Whatever it was that attracted people, Porcfest was the key such gathering for many years.

Unfortunately, due to certain prudish elements Porcfest made a critical error and jumped the shark in 2016. After many longtime attendees dropped out in protest, the event has re-branded itself as a family gathering. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it has limited the event’s turnout for the last couple of years. According to attendees of the last two years, Porcfest is just not what it used to be.

According to our discussions with organizers over the many years my radio show, Free Talk Live, broadcast from Porcfest, the top turnout they had was about 1,700 – that number reached after about a decade of events.

Now in just its fourth year, Anarchapulco has already hit 1,700 ticketed attendees! For those unfamiliar, Anarchapulco is a hotel convention in Acapulco, Mexico that is attracting a very diverse, international audience. Attendance more than tripled between 2017 and 2018’s events. This year, for the first time, it was SOLD OUT!

Adam Kokesh joins from the Free Talk Live broadcast table at Anarchapulco 2018.

Adam Kokesh joins from the Free Talk Live broadcast table at Anarchapulco 2018.

The speakers couldn’t get any bigger. Ron Paul spoke to a standing-room-only crowd, former US congresswoman Cynthia McKinney came out on-stage as an anarchist with Libertarian Party 2020 presidential candidate Adam Kokesh, and dozens more spoke on everything from cryptocurrency to economics to esoteric conspiracy kookery. The attendees were in good spirits and ranged from crypto-suits to crypto-hippies! Seriously, everyone was into cryptocurrency. At least that’s how it seemed from the conversations in the hallways.

Most of the event’s sponsors were cryptocurrency-related including prime event sponsor Bitcoin.com, DASH, PIVX, and others. In fact, as they did the previous year, the final day of Anarchapulco was completely dedicated to crypto-related speakers. They called that Cryptopulco.

Like last year, music was an important part of the convention with nighttime performances from Wu-Tang, Jordan Page, Backwordz, and others. Art was also once again present with artists creating beautiful works right in the main hall at the front of the stage. The location was spectacular. It was held this year at the Princess resort right on the beach in Acapulco.

No attendee I spoke with had anything bad to say about the event – it was all rave reviews. Everyone I spoke with is planning to return with friends in 2019 and tickets are already available at Anarchapulco.com for 2019. They’re moving to the venue’s largest event room and can next year hold approximately 4,000 attendees. Expect 2019 to sell-out as well, so get your tickets soon. We hope to see you there.

If you want a taste of what it was like to be there, we did several days of broadcasting Free Talk Live from the event and featured a bunch of the speakers and sponsors of the event on-air. Here they are in chronological order:

Thursday, February 15th, 2018:

Friday, February 16th, 2018: (more…)

Does “Valerian” Top “Fifth Element”?

Valerian Poster

Me Gusta

POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD

How did the new Luc Besson movie “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” compare to the now-two-decades-old film of his, “The Fifth Element“? Both were very funny and action-packed. It would be interesting to ask someone who saw the two movies but Valerian first. With that said, here are my impressions:

Valerian might as well have been played by Keanu Reeves, since the actor is basically channeling him. Actor Dane DeHann will inevitably be compared to Fifth Element’s much-older-than-the-female protagonist Bruce Willis. However, this time it is Valerian’s co-heroine Laureline who feels more like Willis’ “Corben Dallas”, doing both cracking-wise and kicking-ass. Actress Cara Delvingne apparently sang a song for the soundtrack, too, which is always fun. (That happened in a similarly trippy action fest from 2011, “Sucker Punch“, too.)

It has similar pacing, production design, fun dialog, and incredible visuals, just like Fifth Element. However, though the scale is much more grand – Valerian spans planets and thousands of creatures – the movie just doesn’t feel quite as important.

Both films have the process of a character coming to understand the horrors of war. In the Fifth Element, its “Leeloo” who in a heartbreaking scene, experiences it through a super-speed computer history lesson. In Valerian, it’s an entire group of tribal, peaceful characters who explain in a narrative flashback that they, after having their planet exterminated by an unrelated war from space, learned about the self-destructive human race who caused the genocide. It’s the same theme in both films, but Leeloo’s eye-opening scene just felt more important, perhaps because Fifth Element focused on just her individual evolution in that scene.

Leeloo is just more lovable than the tribe in Valerian.

Leeloo is just more lovable than the tribe in Valerian.

It’s such a powerful paradigm shift for Leeloo that actress Milla Jovovich cries. In Valerian we’re told the same thing about the human race’s penchant for war and hate, but during a flashback about a group of characters, none of whom we really have any attachment to or character development for, so it’s just not as moving. One can still empathize for the tribe’s plight, but by the time the evolution in understanding happens to Leeloo, the viewer is already in love with her character.

In addition to being one of the main protagonists in the Fifth Element, Leeloo is also the title character and essentially the MacGuffin (the object around which the plot centers), all in one. However, as we learn in the film’s climax, the final element is more than just Leeloo – it’s love. Without it, they’d never have saved the world. In Valerian, the MacGuffin is a little creature that can reproduce and multiply whatever you stick in its butt. Besson’s message about love is present however, just in another way. In a movie with more than one self-important government agent character, Laureline is the character who puts love over the law at the climax of the film, in one of the film’s deeper moments. (more…)