Burning Man Sketchbook: Saturday
I slept in Saturday, August 30th, and woke up a couple hours after sunrise. I pretty much hung out in the bar that morning. One might think all I did at Burning Man was hang around a bar day and night. Lisa D. talked with Big Cock, a guy dressed like a giant chicken. I’d seen that chicken before. Mark showed up back in camp after spending the whole night out somewhere. Glitter handed out freshly-made pancakes. Moonbeam’s camp had bacon! It wouldn’t be Burning Man without bacon. I talked with Tall Stephanie, a friendly German girl who happened to be celebrating her 40th birthday that day. She talked about traveling to Australia and all over Europe, including Rome. She pronounced Catholic “CaTHOlic.”
Star was proud of herself for not letting somebody drag her into his drama. She gave me a big hug and said, “I’m so glad you’re here!” Gomer and Spoon rolled into camp on bicycles and proceeded to play "beer can baseball." Spoon pitched a full beer can, and Gomer slammed it with a baseball bat, exploding beer all over the place. (If they’d had the proper equipment, it would have been flaming beer can baseball.)

Speaking of beer: Becka left some of her private beer at camp, so I took it back to her. I had to go by Pandora’s, anyway, because I’d left my plate over there. During the night, Rain took her family to a hotel in Reno. Some people I didn’t recognize were playing on stage at Hari of the Dog. Emory came by and ran them off—it wasn’t their instruments they were playing. Some different guy brought his own acoustic guitar and played folk songs under the shade, like “Me and Bobby McGee.” It was a happy, friendly time under the big tent.

The wind picked up. We could tell there were some dust storms coming. Beyond the tents of the city, clouds of dust were forming out on the playa. I went for a walk to look at art installations. I found the big walking spider tank and marveled at a piece that was made to look like the skeleton of some giant dinosaur fish. Somebody put a swimming pool out in the desert! It was just the outline, with blue shag carpet laid out to look like the surface of water. There was even a slide. Two people were relaxing in lounge chairs at “poolside,” and invited me to “take a dip.” I turned around at one point and watched a gigantic curtain of dust overtake me as it swept across the playa. I climbed up inside the Bummer—a big, wooden sculpture built to resemble a Humvee, but several times normal size. The interior was as big a living room. I thought, If Detroit believed there was a market for cars that big, they’d already be making them.

I made one more pass through the Temple. There were even more memorials there than before. Back in camp, Emory was taking down his shade structure. He was really upset about the guys that went up on stage and used the instruments without asking. But after that, somebody took off with the power supply for his laptop-- an expensive component. He was so upset he was going to leave, even before the Burn. "Turn me over, I'm done!" he said. Star talked about leaving before the Burn, too. Even though the wind continued to pick up, the bar was crowded with people. I met a nice girl named Lily, and her friend Alice. A very smart girl called Because had an elaborate, unfinished tattoo on her back. I told her about the tattoo parlors in Arkansas, and she joked about hopping a plane to Little Rock to get her tattoo finished.

By mid-afternoon, there was a lot of dust in the air. People kept their goggles and dust masks nearby. All the time, there was someone on the stage playing music. Even when the wind howled over the city, and everyone hunkered down against the assault of dust and sand, musicians played a continuous white-out concert. The big American flag needed to be tied down more securely against the wind. The bar was treated to a rousing set from Dookie Doodle and the Dirt Nappers (featuring Rimjob Rhonda). They were great. As the afternoon grew late, I wondered if they'd even be able to do the Burn with weather conditions as they were. I wondered if they might even cancel the Burn. I got my portable radio and listened for any news from BMIR. When they finally got around to a weather report, all they said was that the winds were expected to die down a little after dark, but not much. But would the Burn be on time?

There was supposed to be a barbecue in camp that evening, but the winds postponed that. I wandered over to Pandora's between white-outs. There had been such a reaction to the bike repair shop that they'd finally had to close down-- and people were still coming by to get their bikes fixed. According to a passing Ranger, everything was "a go" for the Burn that night. If the weather was bad, they'd just wait until it improved-- even if it took until 3 AM. It was starting to get dark, and still the wind blew. I walked out to the Man with Becka. Ever since dawn that morning, there had been cranes around the tower, loading the structure with fireworks and pyrotechnics. The flags had all been removed. I got a seat right up in the front line at the perimeter. Darkness fell. Part of the swag I brought were some Burning Man wooden nickels I made. I handed some out to the folks waiting around me. One of them gifted me with a flower made out of fiber optic fibers-- very impressive. Everyone sat in the dark, waiting, the wind blowing hard around us. Nobody knew what was going to happen. Thousands of people waited at the safety perimeter, forming a huge circle. Still the wind blew. Inside the ring, hundreds of fire dancers mulled around in the dark, waiting for a signal to start. I brought both my digital camera and a disposable camera, in case one messed up.

Suddenly, rockets started shooting into the air and exploding: the fireworks display. They'd started the Burn without the fire dancers. Colossal bursts of light exploded high over our heads, shooting and booming, flashes and colors. Flames appeared in the tower. Fire crept up the structure, licking at the Man's feet before crawling up his legs. More fireworks... then the air struck us all with a hot WHOOMP! as a massive fireball detonated from inside the tower. A bright, firey cloud rose from the tower, illuminating the whole playa. I couldn't blink for a couple of seconds-- I stared straight ahead, like my eyes couldn't believe what they just saw. 

Soon, the whole tower was aflame. We watched the flames engulf the Man. One last cluster of fireworks shot off into the air. One of the supports for the tower buckled, and that's all it took. The structure crumpled and fell into a massive, burning heap. A roar went up from the crowd, and thousands of people rushed to circle the bonfire in a joyous, exhilarating dance of life. The wind blew red ashes high into the swirling air. I don't know if it was the heat, or not eating much, or the sensory overload, or the winds slowly leeching the moisture out of my body... all I know is that when I finally crawled into my bed that night, I crashed, and crashed hard. It was an overwhelming, wonderfully full day. 

The Journey West
The Sketchbook
The Journey East
Broken Arrow to Albuquerque
Black Rock City to Provo
Albuquerque to Las Vegas
Provo to Pueblo
Las Vegas to Beatty
Pueblo to Broken Arrow
 Beatty to Black Rock City
Dookie Doodle on YouTube 
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Email: tapestry01@yahoo.com
Website: www.BurningClam.Com