|The sun set. I decided to go for a walk. I loaded up
my bag and headed out down the busy streets. I walked out towards the Man.
On the way, I passed a gigantic, stainless steel snake, still under construction.
It was the Serpent Mother, and wound around in a big circle guarding a
car-sized egg. A guy on a big tricycle rode up and asked, "Would you like
a cocktail?" The back of his tricycle had jugs of tequila, vodka and various
liquors, along with an assortment of mixers... and a human skull, which
he said came from a dead punk rocker. A pretty girl named Christie ordered
a whiskey sour. She rode a big tricked-out tricycle, as well, because she
said she didn't want to mess with kickstands. She said her camp looked
like a "hobbit house." I ordered a gin & tonic, which I took with me
out to the Man. The green colors and curving lines of the base reminded
me of the Emerald City from "The Wizard of Oz." Instead of a maze, the
Man was surrounded with a series of rooms, each with a different theme.
One room had a microphone where people could confess and record sins. Another
room had headsets you wore that would stimulate the optic nerves; people
said it was very surreal. I walked out towards the Temple, and watched
the crescent Moon rise above the Man. Guys with fancy cameras were trying
to get a good shot. I only brought my digital camera and a couple of disposable
film cameras with me that year, so I gave up the idea of getting any good
There was a light far out on the playa. As I walked towards
it, I came across some wooden structures, dark and unfinished towers that
reminded me of the temples of Angkor Wat, or some ancient site in India.
A Black Rock Ranger appeared, who told me the Temple of Hope would be finished
on Wednesday. I asked about the light out on the playa, and she said that
was "the controversial Belgian Project." I continued walking towards the
light. As I got closer to the structure, I saw that it was an assemblage
of thousands of thin, wooden boards. It looked like an explosion in a toothpick
and glue factory. It was massive, at least five stories tall, with swirling,
curving lines, graceful, intricate and awesome. I knew I'd have to come
back in the daylight. From there, I started walking towards the 9 O'clock
Plaza. It was a long damn walk across the flat playa. Bundled up in my
hat, goggles and bandana, the bright Moon overhead, it was almost like
I was an astronaut walking across some alien landscape. With flags.
I checked out the camps along that end of the Esplanade.
Some were still under construction. Everywhere were the sounds of drums
and music. Colorful art cars cruised the streets. At a place called the
7 Sins Lounge, I met a nice guy named Roy. He fixed me a very strong tequila
drink. There was an assortment of paddles on the wall for anyone so interested.
There were several camps I wanted to visit on that side of the City, and
people I wanted to see, but I couldn't find anything or anybody that night.
I walked through Center Camp, listening to the poetry and the music. At
Playa Info, a note on a board said the population of Black Rock City was
23,000, so far. I think that was the night I tried to get inside Spike's
Vampire Bar, but it was too crowded. On the Esplanade, an art car was giving
out freshly-made pancakes, with delicious syrup. As I walked away, I realized
my hat was gone; a couple of guys in a golf cart found it.
A beautiful girl called Fox struck up a conversation with
me. She wore butterfly wings on her back. She said she loved where her
camp was located, close to the Esplanade, but it was a long hike to the
porta-potties. As I walked along, my foot hit something. I got out my flashlight,
and found a wire marker flag sticking in the road-- no flag, just a stiff
wire, sticking dangerously up in the darkness. When I picked it up, a passing
girl said, "You rock, dude." Back at Hair of the Dog, I ran into Spoon,
who'd read my previous Burning Man reports online. Curly, the HOTD house
band, was doing a set at Center Camp that night. That was neat. I went
back out again, and ended up at a bar at some camp of very attractive people...
and it may have been because I was tired, and my feet hurt, and they were
just talking to people they knew, but I just went back to camp and curled
up in my sleeping bag for the night.