Burning Man Sketchbook: Friday
The glow I’d seen in the distance wasn’t special lights—it was dawn!
I thought I’d only napped for an hour or so, but I must have slept for
hours. That’s why so many camps were closed. I’d woken up
in the middle of the night! It was official: I’d lost the ability to tell
time. In the distance, the crescent Moon hugged the brightening horizon.
I went for a walk. The eastern sky kept getting brighter, and shapes
appeared out of the darkness. The streets were empty. The art cars were
parked, and silence surrounded me. A flag flapped in the breeze. I felt
I had a renewed bounce in my step as I walked out to the Man. The top levels
were full of people, but I found a place on the second level. A girl in
a turban was amazed at the sunlight already hitting the purple mountains
in the west. We watched as the first spark of dawn poked it’s way over
the horizon, and the Sun appeared in all its glory. A couple behind me
kissed, welcoming the new day. I walked back down the steps. It was too
late to get a nap in before my shift, so I figured I’d just stay up. Walking
back to the Esplanade, I went by Snowflake Village. I’d read online before
leaving home that they were offering a pancake breakfast Friday morning.
I figured I’d get a meal in before my shift, and even told Becka about
it. There were only a couple of people awake there that I could find, and
they didn’t have any idea about any pancakes. Dang it. So, I walked back
to camp and found some beef jerky for breakfast. I got dressed, filled
up my canteen, and rode my bike out to the Greeter’s Station for my shift.
||--Just then, a guy on a bicycle rode up. He carried a big, framed oil
painting under one arm. “Welcome to Burning Man!” he cried. “—Where
you don’t have to look for art. Art finds you!” He shoved the
painting at me. It was a surrealist picture of a sunrise over a landscape
dotted with house-sized eyeballs. The face on the Sun reminded me of the
late professional wrestler Eddie Guerrero.
“Art found me!” I admitted, then asked, “But, what do I do now?”
“Roll with it, man,” the guy said, biking away. “Just roll
with it.” He turned a corner, and disappeared. I stood there for a
second… and I had to laugh. He was right. Through good times or bad, wealthy
or poor, rain or shine— whatever life throws at us, all we can do is roll
At the Greeter Station, I worked with a guy named Jim, and all things
considered we had a pretty easy morning. Jim and his friend worked as a
team, and they were a hoot. We had a pretty steady stream of people coming
in, but never more than a couple of cars at a time. The last time I worked
as a Greeter, I'd had people lie down in the playa dust. I was a little
easier on the newcomers this year. I'd just have virgins rub handfuls of
dust together. By mid-morning, I had my speech for new virgins down pat;
I must’ve sounded like some crazed army sergeant. Above, beautiful high
clouds paraded across a blue sky. The air was pleasant. Paragliders and
ultralight aircraft buzzed around the airport. Topless Deb showed up, and
I got my Greeter hoodie I’d ordered. It looked great. One newcomer gave
me some ice cream on a stick, which was delicious—but I had to eat it fast,
because another car was quickly approaching. I ate it so fast, in fact,
I got a brain freeze. Somebody else brought a case of Gatorade, which was
very much appreciated. I couldn’t find my canteen after that, tho. It might’ve
gotten thrown away. I had a blast greeting people as they drove up: “You
made it!” One girl even got out and hugged me. In no time at all, it was
noon, and our relief shift showed up.
That was fun, but by the time I got back to camp I was pretty fried. When
Star saw me, she sat me down and spread ointment on my blistered hands.
She was going to school as a graduate student learning art therapy. The
ointment helped, but I was still pretty fried. I needed to “practice safe
Sun.” I packed a wide-brimmed hat, but after the first day or so I discarded
it. It was hideous. It looked like a sombrero, and the last guy to look
cool in a sombrero was Pancho Villa. There was a band playing on stage
when I got back. I relaxed in the shade, and hydrated myself. I knew from
experience that’s what I needed to do most. Once I cooled off a little,
I took a quick shower and washed my hair. Anne pointed out there were problems
with the grey water pump. It looked to me that the grey water just wasn’t
deep enough; the pump couldn’t get hold of it. I met a wonderful redheaded
girl at the bar named Glitter. Indeed, she did. A sweet girl named
Wendy came by, giving away fresh strawberries. I never saw my friend Anabel
all week. I also had a long discussion with a girl named Eva, who said
women are not necessarily turned on by penises. She said women are more
turned on by broad shoulders or six-pack abs, and that the sight of a penis
can even be a turn-off.
I walked by Pandora’s. A line of people were waiting to have their bicycles
looked at. The camp would either help fix things, or offer tools to let
people fix stuff themselves. Becka said she was sick on Thursday, so she
mostly slept all day. (In retrospect, so did I.) Out on the street, topless
girls were heading for the Critical Tits parade. There was a big mass of
people out on the playa, waiting to either take part or watch.
A guy named William was handing out Tarot cards and reading people’s fortunes.
I picked the 7 of swords, which he said meant I was in the middle of a
decision involving three people. I decided to take a short nap. After sleeping
my life away on Thursday, I was a little apprehensive, but I felt really
tired. I managed to wake up after only one and a half hours, much more
refreshed. Becka came by for a potluck dinner at Silicon Village that evening.
Somebody made ramen noodles, and they were the best ramen noodles ever!
There was also rice and salad. Somebody named Ray spilled a drink on me.
It was okay.
I didn't go to the Critical Tits Parade, but I imagine it looked something
Becka and I walked out to the playa and watched the Lamplighters begin
their daily mission. One art project was a giant hand that people could
manipulate with a mechanical glove. It was picking up cars and smashing
them like they were toys. Clouds in the west made for a gorgeous sunset.
It was a cool evening, an evening for staying close to camp, listening
to original jams and cover songs: a bit of Doors, a bit of Led Zeppelin,
a bit of this, a bit of that. It was a magic night.
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