Monday, September 22, 2008

McPeaking In Seattle: Pot Activist, Hempfest Director Marks Milestone

In Seattle, all the high roads lead to Vivian McPeak.

It sometimes seems Vivian knows everyone connected to the marijuana movement in the Emerald City, and everyone knows Vivian. The members of this diverse community of medical marijuana activists, pot legalization advocates, and industrial hemp boosters don't always agree on strategy and tactics, but one thing they do almost all agree on is that McPeak is a good guy.

When you meet Vivian in person, it's impossible not to notice his crackling intelligence, his sense of humor, his passion and his commitment. His dynamic energy and chronic charisma have placed him at the center of Seattle's marijuana community, and as director of the annual Seattle Hempfest (the biggest -- and quite likely the best -- marijuana rally in the world), McPeak wears that mantle well.

Now, with characteristic style, verve and joie de vivre, McPeak is celebrating 20 years of activism and 50 years of living. The organizer of the world’s largest “protestival” is inviting friends and admirers to celebrate his 50th birthday with his all time favorite Seattle area music acts.

Vivian in 1982

Vivian was a rock musician in the 1980s. When his Los Angeles-based band disbanded in in 1986, he landed in Seattle, where he performed in the band Stickerbush (music at Soon he began forming the Seattle Peace Heathens Action Group, a community volunteer group.

McPeak at a Seattle demonstration in 1993. Photo by Joe Mabel

In 1991 McPeak, then known as an emcee for local leftwing political rallies, was asked by a friend if he'd be interested in working on something called a Hempfest, and “hempstory” was made. McPeak went on to become the event’s director and guiding light. His influence, leadership and focus on personal responsibility has taken Seattle Hempfest to the distinction of being known as the largest and most successful annual political rally, and the largest pot rally on Earth.

McPeak was High Times Magazine’s 2001 Freedom Fighter of the Year (which brought him celebrity judge status at the annual Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam). McPeak has also been Heads Magazine Activist of the Year, Eat The State Magazine’s Local Hero, and Real Change Magazine’s monthly “Change Agent.” He has worked regionally with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

Photo: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

A legal medical marijuana patient after suffering a catastrophic bike accident, McPeak was featured last year on the front cover of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer smoking a joint and promoting reform.

Vivian has appeared on numerous local radio stations and in print magazines, advocating sensible, rational and compassionate alternatives to the misguided and failed drug and cannabis policies of today.

Photo by Grant Haller/Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Celebration Friday, Oct. 3

Where: King Cat Theater, 2130 6th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121
When: Friday, October 3, 2008 - Doors Open 8 pm
Music by The Café Authors, The Herbivores, The Super Sonic Soul Pimps, Upwell, and special guests

What better way to celebrate and commemorate 50 years of life and 20 years of activism than by throwing a party?

“I have assembled my favorite local bands all in one show, this is the cream of the crop of Seattle as far as I am concerned,” said McPeak, who added he wants to be called “Half-A-Cent” for reaching half a century old. “This proves there is life after sex, drugs and rock and roll,” McPeak grumbled as he sipped his yerba mate. “I’m a premature geezer at 50!”

McPeak plans to commemorate the celebration and kick it into high gear by getting a new tattoo on stage.

“When I was young I’d take two hits of acid and start the party. Now I take two antacids and start the heating pad,” he said as he took a long puff on a finely rolled marijuana cigarette. “When I was a kid it was all snap, crackle, and pop. Now it is just pop, Snapple, and crack. What happened?”