Some people are saving all their money to travel to Vegas and visit Freedom Fest. I heard Steve Forbes is doing the limbo this year. Or perhaps you donned your finest seersucker suit and flew down to Anarchapulco to chum with Jorge Trucco and Jeff Berwick. Well I don’t know about you but I like driving twenty minutes down the highway to a hotel filled to the rafters with anarchists and libertarians, many of which live within an hour of me. It might be 18 degrees out, but that hasn’t stopped too many people. In fact, it seems to bring ’em in!

The Free State Project’s annual intellectual gathering is called the Liberty Forum. It is four days of talks and panels by local and nationally-renowned figures, on a wide range of subjects on the practical applications of liberty. If PorcFest is the poetry of the FSP, then Liberty Forum is the prose.

The event began at six, but I wasn’t able to leave my apartment in Raymond until around five thirty. When I should have been parking my car and walking to the Radisson, I was ironing my nice shirt and khakis in a frenzy on the floor. This is because I live on Libertarian Standard Time.

I got there after six. “I’m late,” I told the first person I saw, whom I knew was involved with the registration-stuff. “You’re very late,” she told me in a matronly manner. “What’s your last name?” she asked me. I told her. She knew my first name because we met at PorcFest. I bought a bottle from her, and it happened to be filled with something that requires a license to sell (it was free with the sale of the bottle). Oh, the small, wonderful world of the FSP. A minute later, she handed me my nametag/program on a lanyard and my meal tickets.

The website claimed “Bowties optional,” but most people dressed pretty well. I liked the mix. I spied a fellow in a double-breasted suit and a bowtie shaking hands with another in a Bitcoin hat. I heard an old School Sucks episode in which the host joked, that if he saw someone at Liberty Forum wearing sweatpants, he’d “say something” to the person. The well-known activist Rich Paul was walking around in a leather jacket and a t-shirt, but that’s part of the charm of New Hampshire. There are no rules, no dress codes, but a common agreement that this is something to come together for in effort to create a public image of a movement that the mainstream needs to take seriously. Real seriously. (In fact, the mayor of Manchester is reported to be attending this weekend. Since Manchester is a breeding ground for republican wannabe politicians, this is big news.)

And then Carla Gericke, the president of the FSP, goes on the record as saying, “Keep New Hampshire Awesome,” which will be the new hip bumper sticker. Trust me.

Liberty is fun, and every FSP event proves it again and again. The theme of tonight’s inaugural event was fun, indeed. An “American BBQ” dinner theme and a headliner show starring Nick Gillepsie and a team of Reason Magazine minions to perform their take on the Prairie Home Companion. I loaded up on coleslaw and salad and pulled pork and sat at a table in the back. The room was lively and chatty.

I snuck out for a Pall Mall Light and just before I walked back in, a group came out, including Gericke, to go over her opening remarks. It was fun to watch. I settled back into my seat and she got up to the podium. “Pfffft,” she blew into the microphone, “Well, well, well, hello there from the free state!” to much applause. “There is no better place to be than New Hampshire, USA.”

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She always carries a great personal touch with some gruff attitude, which is why she is such a beloved figurehead of the movement. “We’re taking it from the theoretical and taking it to the practical,” she said of the FSP, and its many, many members. This is the way the world should work. No one has “the right to tell me what to do, to take my money…” only to “peacefully co-exist with me. And that’s what we’re doing here.” Of course, the crowd was moved and we realized this weekend would be as intimate as it would be educational.

Wait, wait wait wait wait WAIT WAIT WAITTTT!!!

Where the hell is Nick Gillepsie? “You may have noticed,” Gericke added, “that the Black Knight in the Leather Jacket isn’t here yet.” He won’t be here until tomorrow afternoon. While New Hampshire is given lots of crap for being covered in snow all the time, the moon is out tonight and everywhere else is snowing. Gillepsie’s flight was delayed.

Instead of Reason Magazine Prairie Home Companion, we were going to get a few curveballs.

“I heard you guys were down one dude with a leather jacket,” said the comedian who got up on stage moments later. He was, uh, wearing a leather jacket. It was funny. Trying to explain libertarians to people who don’t know what the heck that is? “They don’t eat meat, right?” “Uh, yea, let’s go with that.” Another comedian came up and maybe went a bit too far with some of his dirty jokes, but the crowd played along when it could. “Drug dealers should sell resin, and only accept food stamps for it.” I liked that one.

For a headlining act, tonight, Carla Gericke got up with Jeffrey Tucker and the founder of the Free State Project, Jason Sorens. She asked a series of questions, and they all took turns answering them. It was very informal, intimate, and fun.

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The first question was, “What is your favorite word?” Tucker’s word was something I can only pretend to have understood. I was in the back and at the side of the stage. I caught the meaning though: “the imaginary longing for a world without error.” Of course, any word Tucker chooses to elaborate sounds lovely, no? His explanation surely was.

(Quick note: the event was not being recorded, but the producer of the recent film 101 Reasons to Move to New Hampshire, Beau Davis, was walking around with a camera and a microphone.)

Question: “What turns you on creatively, emotionally?” Tucker talked about Google Play, and how you can listen to any number of radio channels. He recently is into “teen euro pop,” to a wave of laughs and cheers. Sorens talked about his current love for prog-rock, specifically the band Yes. His comments drew many cheers from the crowd, as well. Progressive rock is “doing music well,” which is something many libertarians appreciate.

“What turns you off, etc?”

Sorens: “states.” Tucker: “the state.” Woo!

“Favorite curse word?”

Sorens explained that the word “goddamnit” actually means something, because it’s immoral. It’s a “real” curse word. It does, I admit, hurt to hear, when uttered in a natural sense.

Tucker finds it interesting that “the F-word” is becoming mainstream, and it’s fascinating to watch. He may or may not have said it with a gentlemanly hesitancy. (This reporter covered his ears like a good boy.) Tucker then shared a funny story about how recently he used the word “hell” in a Facebook post and his mother, who follows him, told him to “watch his language.” “I want to be that person,” he said about the typical Facebook ranter, but “My mother won’t allow it.”

Someone walked into the room wearing a marvelous fur coat and Tucker pointed it out in admiration. It was one of the funniest moments of the night. The wearer of the fur coat, a Free Stater who is known as the photographer for a particular calendar that features drag queens and covered bridges, waved to the crowd.

“What job would you want other than the one you have now?”

Sorens: “Forester…out in the woods taking care of plants.”
Gericke: “Will you bring me mushrooms?”
Tucker: I’m pretty sure I heard him say, “Fry cook.” He then went into a classic Tuckerian rant about dipping the basket into the oil, covering it with salt, all that magical stuff you buy his books for. Did he just say that?!

“How about a job you wouldn’t want?”

Sorens: “Anything dealing with tax compliance.”
Gericke: “A lawyer.” (haha, she is a lawyer)
Tucker: TSA employee. Somehow this led into him singing “Let it go, let it go!”

Last question: “When you get to heaven, and God is at the pearly gates, what do you hope he says to you?” Sorens closed the evening with a memorable line: “You know, the Free State Project was actually My idea.” Whoops and hoots and hollers erupted while Gericke and Sorens left the stage. Then Tucker gave a few closing remarks.

He commented on how the activity in New Hampshire “changed everything” for him. Here is an exchange of ideas and action that actually accomplishes something in real, tangible ways. We are witnessing today the “systematic and” — he pronounced every syllable — “unrelenting decline and fall of the Leviathan state.”

We used to live in a world where we all hunkered around the radio to hear the president tell us what was up. Today, “We are the radio.” Peer to peer technology is it. There is no looking back.

Tucker paid homage to Ross Ulbricht, the heroic — and maybe a little naive — creator of Silk Road. Ulbricht may be in jail right now, but it is the state that will lose in the end. “I want to be in this audience, in these chairs, while he is holding this mic.”

We are on the right side of history. The state cannot last much longer the way it is going. Ideas are going to win, and nothing — nothing! — can stop ideas. Lastly, Tucker recognized the mother of Ross Ulbricht, Lynn Ulbricht, who was sitting in the audience. She stood to a long ovation. She’ll be speaking tomorrow morning.

I went out to get some air and ruin it with another Pall Mall. There was a group of people smoking and talking, but I didn’t linger with them until Carla Gericke came out and rounded me into the circle. She introduced herself, and introduced me to everyone. Then — slyly, but in a very funny, bravado way — she asked me if I was a cop.

Ha! No, of course not! Everyone laughed. Riaz, the local entrepeneur known as the “Agorist Cabbie,” suggested it was my fresh haircut (even my barber told me I looked like a republican — and that he’d vote for me). That’s what I get for being standoffish. I’ll be better tomorrow.

Meanwhile, we all stood on a sidewalk, some of us holding alcohol on a public sidewalk, all of us enjoying a cigarette in the cold New Hampshire night, all of us excited for the weekend ahead. I always find my way into the center of it all — as I have at all the other FSP events: PorcFest, Freecoast, and Keenevention. I kinda like it like that…

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I checked out some of the late-night improv goings-on but decided I should get home before I pass out. When I was leaving, I saw a liberty friend of mine and got excited. We caught up a little before I admitted I was on my way out. It all starts tomorrow, really! And a bonus since the Gillepsie event will be worked into the schedule somehow. And I’ll bring my real camera, I promise.

Signing off for now —

Rich.