I said hi to Colleen, who was just as gracious as I remembered her. Star and Tigger came back to camp after being out and about all night. The beautiful girl in the army hat from down the street walked by. Marilyn was going on a plane ride that day, and was a little apprehensive; she said she was terrified of heights. Mark went for a plane ride, too, so D-Mo and his girlfriend were cooking breakfast. A big pan of eggs was cooking, and the eggshells were stacked over a foot high in sort of an "eggshell Jenga." An art car had passed by playing the "Ma-Na, Ma-Na" song from "Sesame Street," which triggered pleasant memories for several people. Somebody answered, "Fuck, yes!" to a question, and one of the girls commented that those were two of her favorite words (though not necessarily in that order). It was funny when somebody at breakfast mentioned the drug Demerol, and almost everyone at the table said (in a Homer Simpson voice), "Mmmmmmmmmmm, Demerol...." Danger Ranger, one of the head honchos in the Black Rock Rangers, came by the bar and donated some cups. D-Mo said it was "street cred" for someone of his stature to drop in. Pamela was taking it easy that day, after getting a little dehydrated on Friday.
Anne came by to see if I was all right. I must have looked pretty spooked the night before. It was nice of her to be concerned. I guess if you're gonna have a nervous breakdown, it's best to just have it, get it over with, and move on with your life. Parisa asked how I was doing, too. She said I might have a low self-image problem... and maybe I do, a little. Most of the time, I either feel pretty good about myself, or I'm too busy to give it any thought at all. That morning, I was doing all right. I decided to not go back to the places that pushed my buttons the night before.
A half-dozen topless girls came to the bar, and sat around talking for a while. I thought I caught a whiff of Columbia as I passed by. I met an outgoing blonde girl named Stacie, who wore a chain mail bikini. Her friend was really cute. I went for a walk that afternoon, and found myself going by Center Camp. I met Cole, a very nice lady who used to live in Illinois, but currently lived near Los Angeles, about an hour from Bakersfield. She brought news that Hurricane Katrina had done a lot of damage in New Orleans. Early reports estimated as many as 11,000 people had been killed. There was a guy with a loudspeaker accepting donations of tents, sleeping bags, clothing, food and water to be taken to help the survivors. An artist in Center Camp gave me a poster.
I walked past the Black Rock Bookmobile, and found a paperback for a friend of mine. Someone on the street gave me a fortune cookie. I didn't have my glasses with me, and I lost the fortune before I had a chance to read it. I hope it was a good one... It reminded me of something that happened in 2003. It was my first burn, and someone on the street was handing out what looked like little, thin candies. It turned out to be chocolate communion wafers. At the time, I thought, what a great idea. If the Church really wanted more people to come to Mass, what better way than to offer chocolate. That was a delicious communion wafer, too– one might even venture to call it "heavenly." Anyway, after I left the Bookmobile, a group of girls came by. They were dressed like the Go-Go's from their video for "Vacation," and were being pulled by ropes, as if they were on skis, by a small vehicle playing "Vacation" on a boom box. It was hilarious. Back at HOTD, there was a band playing on stage. Mark was on drums. Someone yelled for the band to play "Freebird." I happened to meet a wonderful lady from New York named Amy. She was a portfolio manager who actually handled accounts worth millions of dollars. Her gift to people was a packet of pictures she took while flying over Alaskan mountains– absolutely thrilling. She talked about being at a crossroads in her life.
Over at Costco, I spoke with Nikki, a lovely redhead with fair skin. I also met a gorgeous brunette named Adrienne. Marilyn was sitting at the psychiatric booth, so I sat down for some counseling. It was possible that seeing some things bothered me more than I wanted to accept. She had some good advice for me. A big supper was being planned, so I got out my stuff and cooked up a big pot of rice. People ate it, too! We all sat in the MASH tent for supper, which consisted of delicious spare ribs, pork, my rice, and two kinds of potatoes. Star asked if I was going to do another set of web pages about Burning Man. That seemed inevitable. That may have been the meal where Ginger Petunia talked about working at a volunteer post late one night. She had to have a long face-to-face talk with this one guy, but in his condition it ended up being more of a "face to melting-face meeting."
At dusk, thousands of people made their way out to the Man. Long before I got there, art cars had formed a big circle around the platform. I worked my way through to the boundary. I managed to find a space about eight rows back. All the flags and canvas had been removed from the platform, with good reason. If the wind picked up, a flaming piece of cloth could travel miles away and set something on fire. Dozens and dozens of fire dancers came out to perform in the darkened space around the man. It was mesmerizing to watch the flames circle and dance through the air. Most of the crowd sat down on the ground for the performance. The rows of faces behind me flickered in the heated light. There were lots of children in the crowd. I had to keep shifting position in the tiny space I'd found. In order to really see, I had to sit on my knees, and they were killing me. Finally the dancers finished and cleared the field, and the fireworks began. It wasn't like a regular fireworks display, where they set off one set after each other. No, it looked like they fired off every rocket they had all at once. The sky was alive with fireballs and loud explosions. When the fires around the Man started, they spread quickly, and at once thousands of people were on their feet, cheering, dancing, singing, laughing, waving flags, hugging and basking in the warmth from the conflagration. It was an amazing spectacle. The entire Man was on fire when the platform started to collapse beneath him. As he fell, it almost looked like he dropped to his knees before descending into the flames. It was glorious. The crowd surged forward, and I was carried along helpless to change direction. The mass of humanity carried me almost all the way around the burning platform before I was able to break out of the current and swim away.
The rest of the night is a big blur. I remember taking a long tour down the Esplanade, looking at the artwork and browsing through the camps. The Gasso Station had indeed returned as part of the Playa Playground (formerly the ConGLOMerate). They still had the hydraulic spanking machine, but the Orgasmatron was sequestered away in a back room, to cut down on the spectators. A girl was back there enjoying herself the time I peeked inside. There was a sculpture of a 6-foot-tall blank face out on the playa, which didn't seem all that special during the day, but at night a projector threw features onto the sculpture, which made it come alive. It was literally a circus atmosphere, colors dancing, music playing everywhere, the rhythm of life pulsating through the air.
Black Rock City Rangers
Black Rock Airport
All original content (c)opyright 2005 by Tim Frayser
Last Updated: February, 2006