It was the fifth day of my westward adventure. Still no Spanky. Everyone was keeping an eye out for him. Somebody came by the camp looking for J.C., and it was speculated he was riding with Spanky. I talked to Connie, a delightful woman whose niece tended bar at HOTD the year before. She had been following the trial of three guys accused of murdering a transgender person. The trial went to the jury that week. Connie was looking for Spanky because her bicycle was in the back of the truck he was driving. That was the day I wore my "I Grabbed Willie" shirt from the swordfighting muster earlier that year. It was one of the shirts I'd put in the bag marked "shirts I can only wear at Burning Man." Tigger came back to camp after working most of the night. He was very tired, and was headed to take a nap. He said he wasn't really psyched about Burning Man until looking through my web pages of previous burns, which I took as a huge compliment. Cat, his girlfriend, whom I had been calling Star, was due to arrive on Wednesday. He said, "It won't really be Burning Man until Cat gets here."
I went walking around. A plane overhead caught my attention.
The plane was skywriting something in the air– it was a Burning Man symbol,
drawn across the sky! It was wonderful. When the skywriter started to do
another one, I pointed it out to a guy walking by. When he looked up, however,
he tripped over a tent rope. I got on my bike and rode out to the Man.
The wind had died down, and it was quiet and peaceful out on the playa.
The ground was also well-packed, which made bike riding easy. I passed
the Dicky Box– an art project where a guy locked himself into a big, clear
plastic cube for the entire week of the festival. I was surprised to see
the amazing La Contessa had returned to Burning Man-- a life-sized
wooden pirate ship, built on top of a school bus. It had been held back
the year before. Even the interior was wood. Up on deck, it was surreal
to walk beneath masts and rigging in the middle of a desert.
The base of the Man reminded me of a circus tent. Inside, the whole bottom level was a maze of rooms– a funhouse, exploring different aspects of the psyche. I'm not sure I even made it through all the rooms, it was so complex. Some rooms had doors to open, some had turnstyles to go through, and there were a couple of half-circle doors that had to be rotated around until the opening appeared. The rooms themselves were fascinating. One room had tons of silver tinsel hanging from above; going through was like swimming through the aether. Another room had an old wooden cabinet, and each drawer was a different work of art. There were rooms of just graffiti, rooms with sculptures, rooms with painted walls, and rooms with mirrors. One room had an amazing mirror that didn't just cast your reflection: when you moved your right hand, the right hand of the reflection moved. I don't know how they did that. Finally, I opened a door to find a flight of stairs to the second level. At this point, people could look down and get an idea of the maze below. That was where you could return to the maze by way of a fireman's pole. Up another flight of stairs took you to the observation platform, directly below the Man. It gave a commanding view of the campsite and surrounding playa. I came down and went through the funhouse again before riding out to the Temple of Dreams. It was still under construction, but some people had already set up memorials inside. I rode around some more, looking at the artwork on display before making my way back to camp.
Since I didn't need to be anywhere, and because, heck, why not, I had a beer as I sat down to catch up on my writing. Bryan, a resourceful guy who wore an "anime junkie" t-shirt, was on his way to another camp. He had gone to the Whiskey & Whores Saloon the night before, and had left his bicycle there. Francie, a delightful lady I'd met in 2003, rode up on her bike. She was looking for a new place for her and 10 friends to camp. Their old camp had been surrounded by rave camps, and nobody could get any sleep. Hair of the Dog had plenty of room for them. A beautiful girl named Jen showed up with her boyfriend. Mark cooked up an amazing breakfast. He mentioned I looked a little red, like maybe I'd gotten too much sun. I did feel a bit flushed. I met a charming woman named Parisa. She was going to set up a psychiatric booth on the playa, patterned after Lucy's booth in "Peanuts." I also met a captivating lady named Marilyn. She was smart and a good listener. I also met up with P-Nut, who was a big help getting the bar up and running.
The plan that day was to get the shade structure frame put together. I tended bar while waiting for everyone to show up and help. As I sat there, I had fun waving to people passing by. I met a guy called Ludicrous. That was when Double Dutch showed up. I'm not sure if he remembered me from the previous year. The frame of the shade structure was 8- and 10-foot sections of PVC pipe. The joints were secured with bolts, but some of the joints were broken. I used a drill on the new joints to make holes for bolts. I kneeled down to work on some pipe, and promptly ripped open the knee of my khaki pants on an upturned screw. Once the pipes were all put together, fence posts had to be driven into the ground to brace the PVC supports. D-Mo drove in a couple, but I pounded in the rest of the fenceposts. It reminded me of the times I was out in the fields with Dad, stringing up new fences– a pleasant memory that took the edge off a tough job. My hands were a mess when I was done. For the next couple of days, they were more like claws than hands. When I tried to write, it was like wearing boxing gloves. (Someone suggested I go get a hand massage at a massage camp down the street, but it was always empty when I went by.) Riding my bike was a hassle when I couldn't hold onto the handlebars.
I was delighted to see Lazara again! She brought news that she was moving to India. Her visit there made a big impression on her, and she was packing up and moving there to live. She said she'd come back after J.C. arrived. I walked across the street to the Golden Café and had a rum & coke. That was where I met a nice lady called Fuffybutt, a dark-haired girl with a pink backpack. She was intrigued by my t-shirt, and said she'd come back to hear the story behind it, but I never saw her again. At the Costco Soulmate Exchange, I chatted with F.A. and Gambo. They had the "pantszooka" ready to shoot underwear at naked guys walking down the street that really needed to cover up. That was where I met a really neat girl called Ms. Terious. She was from Colorado, where she helped run Apogaea, the local Burning Man event. It turned out she actually lived in Tulsa briefly as a kid, and even knew Crispy, one of the local fire artists that moved to Colorado. She was a delight to be around.
Back in camp, I talked with Alex and Twig, and met a nice
girl named Holly. It was a beautiful evening. The sky was clear, the wind
calm and comfortable. "It won't last," somebody commented. Someone out
on the playa was using some kind of device to blow huge, black smoke rings
high into the air. I didn't know how they did that. I went riding on my
bike out beyond the Esplanade that evening. Music was everywhere. I had
been in contact with the Karma Police, and even though I wasn't camping
with them, I wanted to do something for them. So, I took them a bottle
of wine I'd bought back in Ely. I found the camp, but Cookie, the guy I'd
exchanged emails with, was taking a nap. I met a guy called Sin, a bare-chested
fellow with an accent I couldn't quite place. I left the wine with him,
and fully intended to return later that week, but never made it back. Back
in camp, I turned in early. Working out in the sun all day left me totally
fried. All my blankets dry again, I bundled up and fell fast asleep.
Gwen Araujo Murder Trial
The Temple of Dreams
The La Contessa
|All original content (c)opyright 2005 by Tim Frayser
Last Updated: September, 2005