Burning Man - 2005
Yet again we managed to arrive after dark. I swear to GOD it was not my fault this time. Unbelievably we hit traffic on the downgrade before Reno. The road became a long windy one lane parking lot for the longest time. But we eventually arrived
Theres this feeling you get when you get on the far side of Gerlach, and you can look out onto the Playa and see that there are lights out there and even catch a glimpse of the Man a couple of miles away. Its a feeling of excitement for me. A feeling of coming home, yet knowing this is miles away from any home youve ever known. I guess you only feel this way if youve been there before.
We eventually turned off the paved road and onto the Black Rock Desert, only to be engulfed by a dust storm. As we road up to the greeters the visibility went down to just a few feet. I was a little worried that I would hit someone, but it didnt stop me from grinning like an idiot and rolling down the windows so I could feel and smell the dust. I think I was shouting at Hypno , "Smell that !!! Smells like HOME!!"
The poor greeters what an amazing bunch of people. They were trying to cope with the flying dust and do their job, and they were all happy as well. Amazing. As we drove away from the greeters station we kept the speed very low because the visibility was terrible. We couldnt even read the "Burma Shave" signs on the side of the road; some we couldn't see and others were blowing the wrong way in the wind. But we used them as guideposts so we wouldnt simply drive off into the playa aimlessly.
At times the dust would settle down enough to where there was just a layer of it moving along the ground. The effect was like driving on a cloud. You couldnt see the ground, just the moving mass of dust. And then it would kick up again and you could see nothing.
Found out later that the dust had been giving everyone a headache for 2 days. Apparently we arrived just in time for the last real dust storm of the week. Smells like Home!!!!
I think we missed our turn into the "C" (7:30) so turned at something like 8:30 and had to back track a block or two once we got the street we knew were on (EGO), but eventually we found PolyParadise; jumped out of the truck and started to look for Scotto or WaterLog to find out where to set up camp.
We didnt find either of them, but we did run into Trouble and Kingsley; nice to see familiar faces. We just parked the truck behind the Human Carcass Wash structure and then did the thing you MUST do when you first arrive at Burning Man go see the Man and pay your respects.
It was cold and windy so we got out jackets and started walking. This year was different from years past. PolyParadise was not located anywhere near the Esplanade (Our address this year was 7:30 and Ego). Instead we were 7 streets into the city and so just the walk to the Esplanade was a hike; and then the walk out to the Man.. woof.
But by the time we got there the air was clear and cool; the dust had settled and we could enjoy walking up to the reincarnated Man. On the way we stopped at the Cubatron a rather interesting cube with internal lights that seemed to be moving around with some kind of logic, though what it was I could not tell.
The Man looked like he was standing atop a circus tent of some sort. From a square base a series of multi-colored canvas strips ran up to a balcony where we could see people milling about just under the Man. At the corner of the square there was an entrance to the area under the tent. Hypno and I decide to enter, and found that the entrance was actually a wooden revolving door. Hypno went in first, and I followed. On the other side of the revolving door was a dark room filled (packed) with silver streamers so thick you could not see a foot in front of you. You put your hand out and blindly felt around until you came to another opening or revolving door. That was the last I saw of Hypno that night. (Funny)
Other rooms I encountered:
A room with a spinner in the middle of the floor; you spun the dial and it would point to a large painting. Turn the painting around and there was a long fortune on the back.
A room with clear cast brains with various objects embedded in the plastic perhaps representing thoughts. They had used the brain Jell-O molds to make the castings.
A really dark room that you were blind in; but a mask would light up every now and then on various places on the wall, like emotions showing up.
A maze room with canvas separating the sections of the maze.
And finally a staircase to the upper level. Now, this upper level was still "under the big top" and from here you could look down on the people struggling to find their way through the maze. You could also see the many rooms you missed!!! And there were plenty of them. You could also "fuck" with the people down below. They would look up and ask how you got up there, and you would point in a direction and say stairs. And they would get that look on their face where you both knew you might be fucking with them when it came to the direction of the stairs. Overall, quite good fun.
Then there was another set of stairs that led to the "roof" balcony. This balcony was over the "big top" and from here you got a great view of the Black Rock City. The man was set up right over this. And there were a set of "oars" on the structure he stood on that you could connect to a gear and try to rotate the Man.
From my vantage point up here (and it took me a while to get here so I figured I better enjoy it) I looked for Hypno in the crowds down below, but never saw him. It was nice just to stand there and drink it in. But all good things must come to an end and I figured I should start getting back, so down the stairs to the 2nd interior level. From here you could either go down the stairs and plunge back into the maze and hope you found your way out, or, slide down the brass pole, fireman style, that led to a quick way out the back. I opted for the pole, and crushed my nuts sliding down ow ow ow, but funny. I limped out the back door and around to the front and off to Center Camp.
Before I leave the Man, however, I want to play with the design for a minute. The theme this year was The Psyche, and someone somewhere put an awful lot of thought into the design of the Man for this years theme. The maze consisted of many rooms, each with something to say to the people within. It was tactile and auditory and symbolic. It was the ID, the deep underpinnings of the psyche, where all our memories and trauma and emotions run free and disorganized. Once you got to the 2nd level, you could see the first, and watch what was going on in the ID. This was the Ego. A more organized place, but still a very internal place (you could not see outside the psyche into the playa). Going to the top level was where you could see and deal with the world again. The SuperEgo could see the world, but not they psyche that was underlying it. The SuperEgo was also where you could control the Man where he faced and how fast he moved. It was where you controlled how the world saw you. I could play with this symbolism all day. But you could only get there after passing through the lower levels of your psyche - so they affected how you acted on a conscious level, but you could not see them directly anymore. This was worth tons of fun thought.
Walked to Center Camp. There was a LARGE drum group going on outside near a large flaming gateway into Center Camp. And a sculpture involving heavy rocks in the air that you could rotate, if you had the strength. Nice demonstration of inertia. These were suspended from a tower, and the faster the rock were rotated the more the spikes at the top of the tower would lean out. The whole arrangement harked back to the Temple of Gravity from years past.
Went around the back and registered at PlayaInfo, then back to camp. Damn, its a long way in.
Walked into the dark central camp structure, and having learned my lesson from years passed I didnt just assume it to be empty. "Whose here?" I said to the dark. A flashlight clicks on, pointing at me and, hey!!! Its Hypno !!!
We go out back and set up his tent since it is so easy to put up. I set up my cot, and we both sleep in his tent that night. Very comfy.
Now, as we were walking back to were our truck was we passed an air mattress that was just sitting there in the middle of things, and on this was a pile of blankets and sleeping bag that contained a PERSON. Apparently tentless. Good thing I had a spare that was loanable. Made sure he got it the next day. Talk about going commando!!! What if it rained !!!
Also, I dont recall drinking this night, but there is a note in my book to make sure to buy more Seagrams Vodka Screwdrivers next year. Hum
What is that freaking racket? 8:30 in the morning and someone is banging around in our boxes of stuff making all sorts of noise. Oh.. its that early riser, Hypno. God this cot is soooo comfy. Dont be waking me up so early. Okay.. okay.. out of bed.
Scotto is handing out name tags with symbols on them. Apparently we are supposed to go find our matching symbols somewhere in Shangri-La Village (Shangri-La Village is a loose confederation of associated camps that share the same block at Burning Man PolyParadise being one of these associated camps). I dont think I ever found the one matching me hum
Our next door neighbors in the village is a group of very young (17-19) first time burners. How fun. Filled with enthusiasm and testosterone. This is their very first trip to the Playa all the way from Virginia. Seem like a really nice bunch of guys.
Bob and I went for a walk down to Center Camp. Hypno checked in at the medical tent to let them know there was a clinical hypnotherapist around if they thought they would need him. PlayaInfo was too packed to get him to register himself. And apparently the Artery is not collecting artifacts this year Strange. Im not sure the guy I talked to knew what he was talking about.. but cest la vie.
Back in time for the Human Carcass Wash, and my normal volunteer workout at PolyParadise. Everything going fine until I notice this one young guy (who shall hence forth be called THE D) who is screwing up the line by refusing to move from the "scrubbing" station. I tell him he needs to promote up which is part of my job to keep things moving, and he says, no, hes going to work right there. So I bump it up to Greg, figuring he can explain it to the guy, and Greg says thats his way of volunteering.
Okay, now I have a problem with this. Here they are:
All in all it left a pretty bad taste in my mouth. I mean, when I work the HCW, I work. At the end of it I am tired. I have a sense of ownership and responsibility for the event. I work by - watching what is going on; helping people understand the process; keeping the lines moving; dealing with empty bottles; and overall trying to make sure that the people who are coming there are having a good experience. Its 2 and a half hours of non stop work to make sure things go smoothly. Thats what I figure a volunteer is there to do to make sure other people enjoy the experience. Now this guy is going to "volunteer" his time by fucking things up for other people so he can have a good time. I will not work my ass of so this guy can get his jollies at other peoples expense.
And to top it off at the end of the HCW, when Hypno is out front telling people that we are closed and we are all tired from having worked the wash and are getting ready to shut down the line and get OUR wash (the real reward for doing the job), along comes this group of people with several "hotties". Hypno tells them that the HCW is closed for the day, but THE D runs over and tells them to come on in. THE D decides to over-ride everyone else and invites these people in so he can do more scrubbing on some cuties. (Hypno and I have to get over to the main tent and start dinner soon, so we are kind of depending on the HCW closing down on time so we can clean up.)
Now, I gotta rant, every year you hear complaints about the FRAT BOYS - guys who come out to Burning Man at the end of the week just to ogle babes and drink beer. They don't participate, and in general, add nothing to the community. But one never hears a complaint about the "hotties' who, by shaking a pair of tits at someone can be just as rude and abusive as the frat boys. And here they are, doing it again. And here's THE D, letting it happen.
This really pissed me off. I felt really used. I work the fucking thing and at the end, when its my turn to get washed, lo and behold, THE D decides that some hotties can come in so he can have more fun doing HIS thing.. It was the straw that broke this camel's back. One guy managed to ruin the experience for me. I decided that I would contribute to my village in some other way in the future.
That was the last time I worked the HCW. As long as THE D is around, let him work it.
The community dinner was on us tonight.. and it turned out great if I do say so myself. We were serving Surf and Turf Seafood and Pasta and Grilled Tri-Tip. The seafood came in 2 kinds.. Alfredo and Marinara sauce. The Alfredo was a big hit. Next year we are going to stick with that alone and skip the Marinara sauce. Fettuccine with scallops, shrimp and fish. Yum. The TriTip was marinated in a soy/teriyaki sauce and grilled. Judging by the fact that there was none left over when we were done we either (a) underfed everyone or (b) served a tasty meal. I think it was (b).
We saved a couple of pieces of steak to grill up after the meal because, while the meal was going on, we were both too busy to be eating. (I dont even think I got a taste of the Alfredo sauce pasta). We were going to save enough aside so that Hypno, Scotto, WildChild and I could all have a little after dinner meal post hubbub. And wouldnt you know, someone tried to steal Bobs steak right off the grill. It was funny the way his eyes got big and he ran after his meal !! He got it back, but it was sure worth the laugh. It was nice to socialize quietly after the meal too.
Tonight my back was spasming Trouble worked on it for a bit and got me feeling better (Thanks, Trouble!) I got ready to do my nightly crawl and tonight was the first night that I felt REALLY READY. Ready to walk. Ready to dance. Ready to drink. Ready to party.
Went out with Hypno and started walking clockwise up the Esplanade.
Our first stop was THE DISGUSTING SPECTACLE. This consisted of a giant human head, and a giant hand with the index finger upraised. A volunteer would get into the rat wheel next to this giant head and start to run. This powered the machine which, through and ingenious series of gears, ropes and pulleys would slowly raise the hand until the index finger disappeared into the right nostril of the giant man, where it would rotate and then descend. Yep. A giant nose picker. I love high art.
Got to 9:00 and checked out the giant OPERATION game (I wonder how many kids who ever played game grew up to be surgeons?). Hypno wanted to sit so we entered Bedlam part of Snow Flake Village. Jackie-O of that village came out and chatted with us for a while. It was pleasant and in the process we learned that the village "assigned" people to be social to anyone who wandered in to sit (like us). We took pity on her and let her go to bed. Hypno went back to camp after that and I kept on walking even though my feet were killing me. Thought I was going to die on my feet, but got a second wind and kept on going.
Thats when I saw the giant Woman and Child. Thats when I really got my second wind in terms of walking. I mean.. you see something in the distance that is just so cool, it doesnt matter how your feet feel, youre going to walk out and look at it.
Woman and Child what an amazing piece of art. Giants, with water dripping from her hands, and flaming footprints leading back into the desert. Made of scrap parts and cutlery, these stood 35 feet tall and were kind scary if you let yourself imagine that you might get stepped on.
Course, from here you could see further out into the desert to the Lotus Girls Phoenix sculpture. A giant phoenix with flaming metal wing feathers 15 feet tall, and a large driftwood body rising and flaming up out of the ground. The night was cold and it was great to stand close to one of the flaming feathers and get warm but every now and then each feather would "explode" with extra flames, and if you were standing to close you could get singed. I must have spent nearly and hour here as it was really cold out and I just didnt want to leave the warmth.
But the playa and too much more art called.
Crossing the North/South pole I come across the "Mental Dump TeePee". A large TeePee with a sign in front of the door simply proclaiming "Mental Dump". So I go around the sign, onto hands and knees and into the Teepee. Here I find the toilet, and the toilet paper roll, and the pencil. You are instructed to write your thoughts onto the toilet paper (obviously thicker than normal toilet paper) and push them into the slot in the top of the toilet. There you have just taken a mental dump.
Now the funny part is that as you crawl OUT of the Teepee, you see the back of the sign that you went around to get in. It tells you that all the mental dumps are gathered up each day and pasted into the BIG EXISTENTIAL DIARY. That you should go and look for this out on the playa. It meant that everything you wrote was going to end up in a book somewhere for everyone to see. Oh Great !!! My mental dump was a bunch of thoughts I wanted to leave behind. Now they were going to be public. But the playa is a big place.. no one is really going to see the thing.
SURE AS THE POPE IS CATHOLIC. I find it. Wandering around in the dark I come across the BIG EXISTENTIAL DIARY, and sure as damn, the previous dumpees material is pasted into the pages of this book that is half as tall as me, and propped up on a pedestal at reading angle. Cest La Vie
Given that my feet were killing me earlier I walked all the way to the other side of the "C" about 1:00 and found a really good dance place. So I danced for about an hour and a half right in front of some nice 12 foot tall speakers with the bass on the bottom !! They had a schedule outside the "entrance" saying the Paul Oakenfold was going to be spinning from 1 to 3 Friday night. I WILL BE THERE !!!!
I walked down the Esplanade and crashed on a sofa at Playa-Go-Round. I think I fell asleep there for about an hour.
I wanted to get back to camp I was cold, tired, and my feet were killing me again.
There was this giant art piece that had some burn barrels around it. (I later found out that this was called THE MACHINE and was quite impressive when it was finished (which was about an hour before it was torn apart by participants) I stopped to warm up for a bit and then started walking south again.
This woman petite, black sweat jacket, led head band walks up to me and asks me where the Esplanade is. I think this is kind of funny and tell her that the Esplanade is the street that runs around the whole inside of the "C" that makes up Burning Man. Then I can see that she is pretty upset. I ask her if she is lost. She is. She is upset, panicked and pissed at her camp mates for letting her wander out alone on her first ever night at Burning Man. And she is freezing. I grab her hand and walk her back to the burn barrel I just left to get her hands warm. She knows that her camp is somewhere near 3:30 but the camp is not setup, lit up, and its dark. She tells me she thought she was going to have to sleep in the dirt somewhere. I try to calm her down, took her by her still freezing hand and start heading for 3:30. She thinks its clockwise down from 3:30, so we walk in that direction when we get to the Esplanade. Her name was Patricia, and she didnt let go of my hand the whole time. She kept saying over and over that she was retarded and why did they let her wander off and that she was worried. And I kept saying.. no problem, we will find em.
Well, there is nothing between 3:30 and 4:30.. so we walk back the other way. I had a flashlight back, and just as we were coming back to 3:00 she jumps up and down and says "THIS IS IT." there is a guy jumping on a bike and shouting that hes going to go find Patricia and I yell, shes right here.
She was glad to be back. I gave her a hug and started to walk off. I get about 30 yards away and this guy comes running up saying something like, "Hey.. I just want to understand her psyche." I explain that she was lost, and cold and panicked and needed a hand with navigation rambling like I do for a couple of seconds, and he says, "Thanks, Man." And runs back to camp! Thinking back on it I think what he really wanted to know was if I had taken advantage of her or something. She kept saying the whole time that she was retarded....and I was just thinking that was simply panicked talk, but now after that, I think maybe she was trying to tell me something. One thing for sure, you shouldnt let newbies wander off without the rudiments of Burning Man navigation under their belts and flashlights.. and water and cold weather gear..
So anyway, this whole experience led me in the opposite direction from home, but gave me another wind to get back on.
Made it back to camp and bed by 4:20 am totally sober too. Dang it.
Hypno banging boxes open and shut is what woke me the next day. We had packed everything we needed in plastic storage boxes, and he was banging these open and closed looking for something. Got up groggy, but recovered quickly by sitting down and writing forever.
Come to find out that our previously mentioned friend "THE D" has managed to piss off more than just yours truly. Hypno cant stand him his impression is that the guy is a know it all; acting like he has tons of life experience on any matter and the guy just turned 18 two weeks ago he acts so much like a spoiled teenager. Apparently, others in our camp don't think much of him either.
Perhaps a little "shut up and listen" would be in order for him.
So Hypno and I are talking about this while moving Hypnos tent so I can set mine up in the shade next to the HCW (I want mine in as much early day shade as possible because I sleep in, and it doesnt matter if Hypno s heats up since he is an early riser anyway.) So while we are talking, THE D walks up and asks if we have a pen . Oh .. er.. sorry really buried somewhere cant find it.
Hypno and I finally get ready to go for a walk right about the time the HCW is going to start. Its a shame, but today its going to do without Hypno and I. I'm sure that with THE D's big contribution to the event, our work won't be missed. (okay.. I'm a little childish.. fine.. Feel free to feel that way. Passive Aggressive, whatever. I have a need for fun and I'm going to see that it is fulfilled. )
We walked down to center camp (passing a really nice little bar serving something they call Jungle Juice nice people. Will have to go back and make a liquor contribution), and then up the "C" to about 3:00, then took a dive into the city for the return trip. Was trying to find the camp where I dropped off Patricia, but no luck. (Turns out that I hadnt understood the name of the camp when she told it to me I heard "BIG CRAFTS FOR LITTLE HANDS" when actually it was "BIG CRAPS FOR LITTLE HANDS" a giant crap table and giant dice the idea being they would teach anyone to play craps with play money and prizes.)
Bobs knees are really bugging him we meander around the inner city and saw the mailbox with the penis and sperm on it. (Waterlog had mentioned it in reference to Pam. (background) Im bored in Atlanta so for a lark one day I am browsing around in Classmates.com and searching for "BURNING MAN" - Pam was the only person who had playa pictures up. She was also one of the few that responded to a "hello" e-mail. In one of those serendipitous playa moments, Waterlog was out doing a Ranger patrol, when he runs into the camp and chats up some of the people there. He mentions PolyParadise and Pam tells him she knows me and to be sure to tell me where they are camped. I dont know, for a city of 33,000 people this is sometimes a pretty small town.) So we walk into the camp and this blond woman yells "BILL!!!!" and runs over to give me a hug I guess my picture makes me recognizable. Everyone there made us feel welcome and we were introd all around. Seemed like a really nice group of people. We stayed, had a beer, but wanted to get back to PolyParadise in time for dinner.
Oh.. forgotten moment In our wanderings this day we found fresh made ice cream on the playa. This woman comes out into the street and says, "Want some ice cream?" She takes us to a tent where they are MAKING IT. Right there. On the PLAYA. You gotta understand how miraculous this really is. And it was frigging good ice cream too. What a treat !!! Yum !!!
When we got back to camp the AZ Burners were in and the place was packed. Lined up for dinner, and it was pretty good. Lots of salad dirty rice beef stews. Sat. Ate. Chatted. Crystal and I yakked about Evolutionary Psych. Nice after dinner relax time.
The only rotten note about the after dinner relaxation time was that the "THE D" boy decided that wouldnt it be nice to purposely go out and shoot pictures of people in front of the NO CAMERA ZONE signs. Like its some kind of amazing act of defiance. He keeps running into the tent to recruit people to go out and shoot pictures in front of the NO CAMERA ZONE signs. I felt that this was a pretty obnoxious thing to do. As a camp, we WANT a NO CAMERA ZONE We work hard to create a safe place for people to be with the knowledge that no cameras/voyeurs will be hanging around for kicks. As a camp we have goodwill regarding this fact. We try to enforce it when the event is occurring, and you will NOT find pictures of the HCW on the Internet a testament to our efforts.
This guy is a dumb fuck on so many levels. He thinks its a funny idea to wreck what many people have spent a lot of time creating. Now, if the NO CAMERA ZONE photos show up on the Internet the goodwill that other people worked hard to create will be damaged.
A little later I decide to pull out my laptop to backup the pictures from my camera. I turn it on and lo and behold, I have WiFi access to the internet. So I go to e-mail Denise a note, and the headline pops up "Possibly 10,000 Dead in New Orleans" WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED IN NEW ORLEANS?!!!! No one I had run into knew anything about Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans until I turned my laptop on. Then everyone wants to know what happened. So the news spreads.
Then Crystal wants to check her e-mail, and she does. Then Steve (not WL) wants to check his e-mail. I make some kind of joke about it and he gets all pissy, making a statement like "Its critical I check my e-mail. My brother is dying and he might have to leave early to attend the funeral." Really nasty to me.
This guy was having a ball all this time at Burning Man while his brother was dying and suddenly when I bring out MY laptop its critical to check e-mail to see if his brother had died. How was he going to meet this critical need without me. HEY DUDE if your brother is dying what the fuck are you doing at Burning Man?
This brings me to a kind of sad summary Once I opened up my laptop, with the intention of saving pictures, and discovered that we had WiFi access to the internet in our camp, well, from that point on there was never a moment when there was not a laptop open in camp. I had originally planned to take my laptop down to center camp (where I know there is WiFi) and send an e-mail to Denise to stay in touch. But I foolishly took advantage of the access I had in camp and opened Pandoras Box. One of the things I really really like about Burning Man is the isolation. I enjoy the fact that the outside world is OUT THERE, and cant get in, except through very small holes. But it looks like the future of Burning Man is to become more and more connected until that feeling of complete isolation is lost. I will not be surprised to see a bar set up on the playa that is streaming television so that football addicts can feed their addiction.
Got up later for prep for my nightly crawl. Hypnos knees wont let him go, so I am alone for the evening.
Got to Center Camp and was sitting well, laying on a bench when 4 people come up and sit down. What is that they are speaking? Russian? Yes it is! Where are you from, etc. The girls name was LALA and they are camped out near PolyParadise with a whole group of other newbie Russians in a camp they call Class 101 101 because they are newbies. They are having a ball, and I tell them about the HCW and that they can go there to clean up if they want. Then its time to wander..
Went counter clockwise for a bit, and stopped at a burn barrel to warm up. This guy speaking with a heavy Russian accent keeps asking everyone for hallucinogenics of any sort. There must be 5 people including me standing around this burn barrel. Drugs?! Gosh no.. no one has any knowledge of any drugs here. I ask him if he is camped with the other Russians, and he says OH YEAH. And I say Class 101, and he has no clue what I mean. I am smelling LEO. He asks again if anyone has any hallucinogenics. I tell him I have mine right here and pull out my flask of J.W. Black. It gets passed around, and off I go again out to the man.
Dove into the rooms again and saw more rooms that I hadnt seen before. Made my way upstairs and did some photos. Couple of pictures of a couple, Alice and Luke to send later, then down the pole and onward (No nut crushing this time was prepared for it.)
Found the half buried head damn hard to see in the dark. A group of people was inside having an almost religious service what some people will do with a space. Grin.
Out to the ring of fireplaces the warmest place on the playa. This was a circle of 9 or so "fire pits" made of iron with cuts in the side that made pictures when lit by the fire on the inside. Someone was handing out the ingredients for SMORES graham crackers, Chocolate, and Marshmallows. One of the fire pits had a ledge that was perfect for heating up the chocolate and crackers, and they had sticks for the marshmallows. What fun. These pits were great!! Around 10 feet tall, you would stoke them by throwing wood into the chimneys. Which would emit a shower of sparks that I tried to capture on film. The fire pit in the center of the group was much taller and had a small door built into the side that could be opened with and iron rod. Once open it became a challenge to throw the wood into the little door to stoke the fire. I think I spent nearly and hour at these fire pits mostly to watch the sparks and because it was soooo cold out, and so hard to leave the warm.
Further north finally to the Temple. Much smaller this year. An amalgam of Japanese inspired buildings, like a small Shinto Temple complex. The whole thing was very tasteful. Lots of slots for memorials. I will come out here one night to put all letters I have from Vicki. Probably best to do it at night in case I end up getting emotional.
Even further out someone has used one of the cranes to create a giant flower. The flower has a light in front of it so that it can change colors. Very cool. It will never show up on a time exposure as anything but white, thanks to the color blending, but what the heck, I may as well give it a try.
Checked out the dance venues at 2:00, but nothing much was going on. Found the Big Craps for Little Hands camp and it was in full swing Giant crap game going on.
On to DreamTree This was a really nice and WARM enclosed dance space (by now it was REALLY F***ING COLD). It was warm enough inside to take off my vest (Thank you, Mary for the loan), take off my long sleeve shirt and dance in my tee-shirt. Soooo nice. Then I sat down for a bit and drank . And drank oh.. and lets see.. DRANK. Got very nicely buzzed. Time to go home.
Made my way back to Center Camp and stopped at a burn barrel to warm up. "We know this guy." And its Luke and Alice from the man. Funny.
Center Camp is dead as a door nail. What gives? Its only 4:00 am. LOL Back to camp and in bed by 4:30 am.
Slept until 11:15 or so then the sun started to make itself a presence in the tent. Up. Shit. Write. A TON of writing. Yakking with Hypno when he shows up. Come to find out that Hypno has discovered another whole group of folks who can't stand "THE D". I'm not at liberty to say who these people were, since this is not my confidence to break, but suffice it to say that these people had good reason not to like him.
The camp meeting is on today. Scotto with a ton of energy and Waterlog doing great with a whole show. Big Big warnings about undercover LEOs looking to do drug busts on the playa. After the meeting sitting around yakking with Hypno .
The sheriffs dept vehicle goes speeding past as I am walking to the portos. And when I get back and resume yakking with Hypno, a deputy sheriff comes walking into camp looking for someone whose name we didnt recognize. Turns out this person was camping in Shangri-La Village and he assaulted a woman, breaking her arm. He was high on some bad dope, or too much dope, and apparently just went a little nuts and assaulted this woman. The cops arrested him, but the woman didnt want to press charges. The sheriff's department decided to press charges and the guy (talk about lucky) was able to plea for a fine. The real problem being that his buddies now all had to leave Burning Man to go take get him out of jail, and get him home. What a bummer for them.
Pam and Allen showed up for the HCW and apparently loved it. Today was Stroke Gregs day to take off.
Ya know, what really pissed me off about the whole HCW incident. It's that I felt so disrespected. Stroke Greg let this new kid do whatever he wanted and didnt listen to me at all when I said what I did and Ive worked it for 3 years. I felt I deserved a little more consideration than I got. I should have said so at the time, but it just takes me so long to process my feelings that by the time I know what I should have said (like now.. lol) the time is LONG since past.
Talked to Pam about helping me with the Nipple/Navel project. She said sure. So I told her I would pick her up tomorrow and see how well we can make this go.
Spent the whole afternoon yakking with Hypno and various passers by in PP. He cooked up some sausage. It was a nice afternoon.
Tonight is TIME EXPOSURE night. Have to walk out to the man and grab some pictures of him in motion yes, the man moves this year for the first time that I have been going to Burning Man. I want to try and take a ton more pictures this year, and maybe experiment with a time exposed self portrait.
BUT FIRST --- THE ARISTOCRATS
No wait.. Dinner.
I forget how it happened, but Hypno says I was futzing around with camera equipment and we ended up going to dinner late. We missed the Fabulous Mexican Dinner and ended up eating left overs from the meal. Some re-fried beans and salad.. lol
Hypno is all over a show at 11:00 by a group called SOUL IN THE MACHINE, so I tell him that I will meet him out there after I finish doing photos.
Out and about shooting a ton more pictures. Hope a few of them turn out. But wow are my feet killing me. I did manage to take one self portrait. I asked some people to stand by the camera (it's small and dark on a tripod, and easily missed in the night... someone has to stand by it at all times so it doesn't get run over), while I walked about 15 feet away and pointed a flash light at myself with both hands. (Well.. first one hand.. then the other). Interesting result. Will have to do that some more.
I get to the show Hypno was talking about, and these people are GREAT !!!! Laser operated synthesizers, light responsive drums, drum operated synthesizers. Great music, especially the Peanuts Theme with drums and synthesizers. Great music, Great show, and over at midnight. Tried shooing pictures during the show, but nothing comes out.
My feet are killing me, but I still have film in the camera so down to Center Camp to shoot a few more pictures. Limp back to camp and discover Hypno in his tent passed out. Apparently he tried drinking tonight and his world was spinning.
I sit around for a bit listening to conversation and trying to explain the Aristocrats movie, but since my feet are killing me, and do not seem like they are going to recover Im off to bed early 1:30 am
NOTE: The playa was WARM tonight. The breeze was warm until about 12:30 when it started to cool fast. I was walking around doing time exposures in short sleeves; the long sleeve overshirt was just too warm!!! Compared to 2 nights ago when I had a short sleeve, a long sleeve, and a thick vest all done up and was still freezing. Wow. I hope this keeps ups for the rest of the week !!!
What a great nights sleep!!! Crawled out of my tent at 11:00. Nice breeze that kept the inside of the tent cool. Toilet. Breakfast. Writing.
Wildchild agreed to let me do some practice shots for the Nip/Nav project. And what I discovered is that my camera will not focus in close enough for just the nipple and navel.. so I will have to be cropping these things in PhotoShop when I get home.
So I load up my stuff and head out to Pam's camp to see if she still wants to help me out gathering pictures. I figure people will be more responsive to a couple than to just a potential pervert with a camera. But she has some responsibilities connected to the Critical Tit's event and has to rush off for that. So I wander through the city back out to the Esplanade. Just in time to catch most of the Critical Tits parade going by. 1,000's of topless women riding bikes and other conveyances. What fun.
I loved watching the Critical Tits riders go by. Who wouldn't. First off, everyone was having FUN. The woman loved being the center of attention while still maintaining that large crowd anonymity that is so great to have. And the guys, well, the guys liked watching the girls who liked being watched. It's pretty much great fun all around.
I did not take any pictures as I did not want to be one of the paparazzi. I just enjoyed the experience.
I then walked my bike down to Center Camp, gathering pictures along they way. I got a few "no thank you's" but was pleasantly surprised at how many people volunteered for my strange little art project. Many seemed happy to help.
At Center Camp, under the rotating rocks was a dominatrix having a field day. Volunteers would come up to her and ask for her services, which she seemed happy to give. One man lay on the ground and asked for permission to lick her (playa covered) boots. Course, I asked her to pose for my project, and she did.
Biked down to the end at 10:00 and into the big empty. On bike the playa was great this year. Firm and easy to ride on. Went out the to corner - the farthest north point of Black Rock City, and people were standing there looking out on the open playa like it was a religious experience. Which I guess is some ways, it is. The experience of looking out into that open and empty a place is not something most people ever get to experience (unless they are sailors). I want to go back someday when Burning Man is not happening and camp on the empty playa alone.
Okay, the funniest bit of art on the playa, and perhaps the smallest; in the middle of the trash fence in the middle of nowhere, a hotel bell with a little sign that said, "Ring bell for service" I rang. I got now service. But I sure rode away with a big grin.
On the way back found what had to be the strangest piece of art this year. Two boxes, like small sand boxes. One said "HERE" on the side, and the other said "THERE" on the side. And each was filled with sugar. Strange.
Back by way of the temple. An interesting display - a maze made of shoes, and in the center a book with the names of everyone killed in the Iraq war; and I mean everyone. Americans and Iraqi's. Solders and civilians. I wonder who gathered all this information. The whole thing was dedicated to a woman who was killed there trying to help. Sad. The whole story can be read HERE
The DICKY Box. What is the Dicky Box, you ask. Okay. This guy named Dicky came to Burning Man. But his experience wasn't what he hoped it would be. He didn't feel a connection to people that he thought he would feel. So this year he decides to demonstrate that lack of connection by building a box on the Playa, and living in it all week. Isolated from human contact the entire time. Course, the walls of the box are plexiglass so that EVERYONE can come out and see Dicky in his Box. I thought it was a fun idea... and an interesting experience. So I naturally went to see the Dicky Box. While I was there the DPW showed up en-mass and surrounded the box. They began pounding on the walls of the box and chanting... "DICKY.. DICKY... DICKY... DICKY". The pounding became so hard at one point that one of the plexiglass windows started to cave in. Dicky was inside struggling to keep the window from falling inward, and to repair it. Then someone in the crowd shouts, "BURN DICKY"... and the crowd starts to chant that. Now I'm wondering if Dicky is starting to worry.
Back to camp in time for dinner. Solicited a few pictures on the way and got one "So that's the schtick this year, huh.", as a no thank you. Jaded I guess.
Dinner was good. Mexican again.
Got tired and crashed from 8 to 11, then got up to go crawling. Oakenfold was going to be spinning at 1:00 am and I was not going to miss it.
Stopped at Thunderdome on the way out. Wow.. are these people organized or what. They have the whole fight business organized the way we have the Human Carcass Wash organized. You got 4 pullers (people who pull the fighters into position on their elastic bands), 4 prep people (prepping the next set of fighters), A ref, dancing girls in costume, and people watching the crowd for "dangerous" activities (like trying to sit on the speakers). It's really pretty cool. And a pretty tight ship. The people fighting are really going at it too. Bet not a few grudges are settled there. Course, just down the street was the parody. Thumper Dome. And that's pretty funny too.
Got to the dance and planted myself in front of a speaker and started dancing at 12:30. At 1:00 Oakenfold started spinning for 2 hours and it was great. Danced, drank, Danced, drank (while dancing of course). Non-stop until 4:30 am.
I was sooooo blitzed that I was earning my playa name when I left. Was going to stop at Dream Tree and dance some more, but they seemed to be having generator problems, so plopped down on a couch at Playa-Go-Round and passed out.
Woke up about 6:00 am and started for home straight across the "C" aiming for center camp.
Damn it's a long way off. And Double Damn it's cold out.
How come nothing is getting any closer.
Concentrate. One foot in front of the other. Plod Plod Plod. How come nothing is getting any closer.
Look over my shoulder . SHIT.. the Sun is coming up. I don't want to see the sun. Plod Plod Plod.
It's soooo freaking cold.
It's seemed like forever before I managed to get to center camp where there was a burn barrel going to warm up for a few minutes; and then forever again until I finally got back to my tent.
I totally felt like a vampire running from the sun, trying to get back to my grave before it came out and burned me alive. I made it. I never saw the sun. All I know is my cot and sleeping bag felt SOOO good. Must be what a coffin feels like for a vampire. Hehehe
Up at 11:45. Didn't actually get all that hot in the tent. Sitting around the community area recovering. At 2:20 I'm ready to bike out for more picture taking. Was standing out by the man when this cute young lady in a bikini bottom rides up - Claire. I ask if she will do me a favor, and she responds, "Not if it involves taking my picture" since she can see the camera I have. I chuckle and say, "Actually I was hoping you could take MY picture.", and I explain to her that I have yet to take this years "butt" shot. So I strip. Walk out, and she shoots the pic for me. Then agrees to pose for a N&N shot after I tell her about my art project. Funny.
Back to camp for some food and some crash time before Hypno and I walk out to the Burn.
Wow, did the Man burn fast. The building went up like nothing. Whoosh and it was pretty much gone. But the Man refused to go down. It was great. He was standing there. Arms up over this huge flaming building. Then he starts to fall, but stops. That's when his arms went down. He was leaning at an angle for the longest time. When he finally went down he fell sideways and his left arm came flying up in one last defiant gesture as if to say FUCK YOU to the everyone cheering on his destruction. It was great !!!
Back to camp and some nice sitting around/yakking time. Poor Pigpen came back and fell asleep on a been bag in the common area. Oh my. He is so totally out that we took advantage of him to take some er .. pictures that will never be published on THIS or any other website. Hehehe..
Then Trouble needs some help getting to the John. Apparently he's trying to fulfill my role tonight and is inebriated to the point of stagger !!! So we have the following dialog with him.
"Trouble. We are going to toss you in when we get there."
"You'll be covered in shit."
"Then we will have to burn you."
My what a happy drunk he is. I was laughing my ass off because I have a nephew who does the same thing. Sober.
Trouble - I'll go drinking with you any time you want.
Out again tonight. No drinking tonight. A little dancing, and back to bed early tonight.
Got up to deal with Vicki's letters today. For those of you who do not know, Vicki was my first wife. She and I were married for 17 years. She died 3 years after we were divorced. I never stopped caring for her, and have done a lot of therapy to deal with the pain that remained from all the issues connected to her, our marriage, and our divorce. I had a box of all the letters we sent back and forth between us when we first met - a long distance relationship, so it was a ton of letters.
I was anticipating a really painful experience in finally letting go of these letters. I sat in a corner of PolyParadise by myself with this box. Picked a few at random to re-read. It was sad, but not as painful as I had anticipated. I guess the therapy is working. I came across some pictures, and saved those. I also came across some other letters from other people (like Hypno - yeah, we have known each other that long) that I also saved. Shared some of my sadness with Hypo, but was able to get through the process pretty well. The whole thing took about an hour and a half.
I wrapped the box full of letters (there were hundreds) in duct tape and wrote a short note to Vicki on the outside. Hopped on my bike and rode out to the temple. I found a perfect spot for the box in the central temple, and left it there, tucked into a corner of one of the alters.
Came back to camp and started putting everything away. Hypno and I had decided to leave that night after the temple burn so everything had to be packed up. Wrap up the sleeping bags, strike the tent, fold up the cot, sort out the contents of the boxes, all the work to get going. We didn't finish before I had to leave for the burn, so Hypno graciously said he would take care of it. Thanks.
That night I rode my bike out to the temple for the burn. Everyone was gathered there, but it took them forever to light it. I was stuck in an awkward position and for a bit thought I would have to get up and leave before they even lit it because my knees could not take the position I was stuck in. Talking to the girl next to me helped. It must have been an HOUR or more before they finally got around to lighting it. They kept coming by and asking people in the crowd if they had any last minute items they wanted to contribute.
Once again, as the fire started and grew the crowd was dead quiet. Since the temple was more of a temple complex, the fire had to be started in several places at once. But once it got going it was pretty amazing to watch.
The buildings were filled with firecrackers and they were going off so fast that it made this long continuous crackling noise. Every now and then another cache of them would start up and crackle loudly for a while.
I watched as the flames got more intense in the central building. I knew the box was burning.. and said good-bye again. It's kind of strange or funny how we are always saying good-bye to people who have passed on. I wonder if we ever get a chance to say hello again?
As the fire burned, people would call out the names of other people they were thinking about. I said Vicki's name quietly to myself.
I stayed until the central building collapsed. For me it was all over. I didn't need to stay until everything was gone. My part in it was finished. I gifted the girl next to me with the pendant I was wearing since she helped me ignore my knees earlier with conversation and tunes (humming), and got up to leave. Being close to the front of the crowd, I had a lot of crowd to get through.
People kept raising their hands to help me .. and they seemed concerned .. both for me, and for not getting stepped on. I felt oddly cared for. It took a while, but I finally made it to the back of the crowd and out.
It was a seemingly short bike ride back to camp where Hypno had loaded the truck. There wasn't anything left to do so we left.
The exit was pretty quick - half an hour to the road - much better than the 2 hours of years past.
After you leave Burning Man, you still have an hour or more drive before you reach any kind of civilization (except for Gerlach), especially at the time of night we were driving. Naturally we stopped at the ARBY'S at the end of the road. And the first thing I did was hit the bathroom's to wash my hands.. over and over and over. They won't really be clean for 2 weeks, but running cold water feels so glorious it's hard to describe (and fun to appreciate when most of the time you take is to for granted).
It was late and there were only 2 people working there. The woman at the cash register didnt seem to know what she was doing . And seemed flustered at so many people showing up so late at night. It was like she only took the job because she knew there would be no work and she could get over her hang over from some previous supposed drinking - and suddenly this mob of weird looking dirty people shows up to eat. Her quiet little world just suddenly fell apart.
Hypno and I were the first to arrive, so it seemed, so our order only took 10 minutes, but once the crowd showed up, it took nearly half an hour to get a meal. The guy doing the food prep started to lose it and started shouting.
It was all pretty amusing. And pretty nice to drink and iced drink in a heated room at clean tables under artificial lights with no dust.
Afterward, I must have washed my hands again 5 times and yet, every time I looked at them, they were still dirty. A deep down dirty in the finger prints that just would not come out. And where all those calluses came from, I have no idea. Parts of my fingers were rubbed raw, and I am clueless how they got that way. They took forever to heal.
The drive home was tougher than Hypno or I anticipated. We were both dead tired and we switched places a couple of times to try and stay awake. All I knew was that I was totally ready to be home. We put in Jimmy Buffet for sing along.
Arrived home at 5:45 am. Hypno crashed in the guest room, and I just crashed.