Burning Man Sketchbook: Tuesday
About 4 AM Tuesday morning, the little travel alarm clock I brought
suddenly started ringing. I couldn’t find the off switch in the dark, so
I just pulled the battery. It wouldn’t work the rest of the week, and my
sense of time correspondingly went out the window. I went back to sleep
and woke shortly after dawn Tuesday, August 26. It had gotten cold
in the night. I hit the porta-potties, passing an art car built to look
like a masted boat. There were several art cars like that, possibly in
tribute to the late, lamented La Contessa. I changed into warmer clothes
and went for a bike ride. I ended up at Center Camp, sketching some of
the many Burners sacked out on the couches.
A group did Yoga exercises bathed in the morning sunbeams as a musician
sang wacky songs on a stage. A nearby Yoga instructor laughed at the silly
songs. He was taking a break from teaching after knocking his hip two inches
out of joint. At Playa Info, I passed J.C. He was looking for information
about Ranger training, which was scheduled for sometime that day.
Walking along the Esplanade, a “goddess’ at the Artery (a theme camp
promoting art) told me the time: 9:30 AM. Back at my tent, I got out my
camp chair and ate an orange. When I was done, I took my chair and my sketchbook
and walked out on the playa. I got comfortable and started sketching things.
A big art car crawled by, the driver somewhat curious about what I was
doing. I walked back by way of Pandora’s and met a nice blue-haired girl
named Rain. Her son was fussy, but settled down after a little breakfast.
A guy named Kaylin told me about an 11-story office building built way
out on the playa. I didn’t see Becka, but Rain said she saw her at breakfast.
I took another walk along the Esplanade, looking at the different camps
and art installations. I met a sweet girl named Jen from Bloop Camp. She
had a booth and was giving away hugs and kisses. Down the way, I met a
beautiful girl called Butters setting up a shoe tree of ballet shoes. It
was the Black Rock City Ballet Company, and they had a stage for upcoming
performances. I told her about the shoe tree I passed back near Schurtz.
Walking back into the city, I heard someone yell “Tapestry!” It was
Becka. She finally got the Mohawk haircut she was wanting, and was very
pleased with the results. Becka and friends arrived at the Gate about 2
AM Monday morning, and only spent two hours in line. The winds all day
Monday made putting up their shade structures almost impossible. Everyone
had trouble setting up their camps that Monday. Dust got in everywhere.
The local bank of porta-potties happened to be about halfway between Pandora’s
and Hair of the Dog. Back at camp, Anne supervised us all putting up the
shade structure. Once it was assembled, we had to move it closer to road,
aligning it with where the stage would be. It was a group effort. We also
set up a huge American flag behind the stage, and as a backdrop it worked
great. At the bar, I ran into Spoon, who wanted a better copy of the picture
I posted of him years past. We talked about the economy. I also saw Gibbon,
whom I met my first year at Burning Man. He lived in New York for two years
before moving to the Bay Area.
Before heading out from home, I made a list of camps to visit and events
to attend. I missed pretty much every one of them. My sense of time seemed
to disappear; I needed the Sun to be out just to tell me it was daytime.
I made maps of all the places I wanted to go, places that sounded interesting--
places I never seemed to make it to. Heck, there were camps inside Silicon
Village --where I was camped!-- that I never got around to visiting.
The What Where When, the handbook given out to everybody when they
entered Black Rock City, was a little confusing. Events were split between
one-time Events and Repeating Events, so you had to look up through different
parts of the booklet to find out what was happening on, say, Thursday.
There was a writer's group meeting at a place called the Blue Bar that
Tuesday afternoon, but the camp wasn't listed online or in the book: you
had to go by Playa Info and find it on the map. I didn't make it to that
one. Tuesday afternoon, however, I did make it out to a get-together at
Camp Nomadia, at Edsel & 4:30. Hosted by some amazing people I'd met
online, Serolynne and Chris, it was a meeting of nomads: people that had
shed the confines of houses and structures and found a home on the open
road-- or, in a couple of instances, on the open seas. I brought them some
wine, all the way from an Oklahoma vinyard, and they gifted me with a necklace
made from the remains of the 2007 Temple burn. Wonderful, brilliant people.
Pandora’s Fix-it Shop was operating as a bicycle repair place, and Tuesday
afternoon they already had a line of waiting customers stretching out into
the street. They had to suspend operations for a potluck dinner that evening.
I went by with my plate, appetite and trusty sporkife. Becka’s contribution
was franks and beans, and even though I don’t usually eat beans, everything
tastes better on the playa. They were the best franks & beans ever!
The camp had an ingenious method for washing dishes. One spray bottle held
soapy water. They’d spray a dirty dish, wipe it down with a paper towel,
then put the towel in the bag of stuff to be burned. The process was repeated
with a spray bottle of clean water, to rinse off the dish. There was a
Canadian camp next door built to look like a German beer hall. They served
strong little drinks in glowing shot glasses.
Out at the Man, a Ranger was keeping people from going up because of
some “event” at the top. Still, it was a beautiful night. The desert air
was chilly. Above, a vast array of stars happily blinked. Halfway back
to the Esplanade, fireworks suddenly shot up from the city. Fireworks were
supposed to be illegal on the playa—but then, rockets started shooting
up from all over. It looked like they were coming up from every major street.
For about five minutes, an amazing fireworks show exploded in the skies
over Black Rock City.
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