The Evolving World
Burning Man 2009
Lord, I was a sorry sight Wednesday morning. The Sun was already up
in the sky when I finally woke up. I caught a glimpse of myself in one
of the little mirrors at the porta potties, and I looked like some crazy
homeless guy. I passed Steph on my way there.
Back at my camp, I washed the playa out of my hair with my canteen,
then made myself a civilized cup of tea. A car had parked right next to
my tent sometime in the night. On the opposite side, a Vega I'd never seen
before had also arrived. It was a sleepy morning. In the bar, Steph was
bartending for about a half dozen people. One girl laughed at the implication
she slept with someone other than her boyfriend. "Same boy, different f*ck,"
she explained. In short order, I was alone in the bar with my tea. I heard
an airplane in the distance. There was but a slight breeze out. A dusty
guy stopped to ask about jamming on the stage. He brought his Stratocaster
with him to Burning Man but didn't bring an amp. I said if he came back
and talked to the stage manager, I thought they could work something out.
The Green Tortoise bus rolled into station, loaded with burners returning
from Gerlach. I noticed a tear forming in the shade structure over the
bar. It hurt to walk. In my tent, I examined my feet. I had blisters on
six toes all together. Apparently, my feet swelled up when I got to the
playa. Wearing shoes during my mentoring shift squeezed the toes together,
with unhealthy results. I cleaned them, put disinfectant on the blisters
and bandaged them up. It was back to sandals for me. It was almost 9 AM;
time to get moving.
I got on my bike and rode down DNA Street, past Camp Bedroom and the Neverwas
Haul. I rode to the 9 O'Clock Plaza, home of the Pancake Playhouse. While
I was mentoring, I talked to a girl from Pancake Playhouse, who said they
serve pancakes to everyone between 9 and noon every day. There were about
60 people in line ahead of me when I arrived that morning. I talked to
a guy from Berkley named David. His playa name was... Jim. We talked about
cars. When we got our pancakes, he invited me over to his camp, just a
short walk away across the plaza. Sharing a nectarine, I met his campmates
John, Andy and Garth. We talked about phone service on the playa, and the
former camp Phone Call to God came up. (It was a phone booth where you
could talk on the phone to "God.") Garth said when he tried it, God hung
up on him. They made the point that if all the stars in the universe
were grains of salt, they would make up a ball of salt eight miles in diameter.
I thought, that'd be one big tequila shot! Their camp was across
the street from Camp Artica, where people were lined up to get ice. A guy
with a loud megaphone was directing the people in line for ice. I think
it was Andy that said, "That fucking dickwad's been waking me up every
morning." I thanked them for their hospitality.
Back on my bike, I rode down Chaos Street, past the 3-Cubed Oasis and
Camp Camel Dust. One camp was playing Frank Sinatra songs. Back at HOTD,
I met Mimosa, a lovely girl in a pink fishnet top. Dot said the State of
Nevada shut down a bus service running from the Reno airport to the playa
because it ran on bio fuels. Ranger JC stopped by. I met a resourceful
guy called Plan B. We got word that the bar was supposed to card people
before serving them any booze. Dot said it was "a hot issue this year."
She invited me, Plan B and another guy over for spaghetti that evening.
My feet still hurt, but I went to Ranger HQ to sign up to work a shift.
When I got there, however, it was 12 noon-- shift change, and they place
was packed. So, I went by Playa Info, where they posted the population
as of noon Tuesday was 27,129. Wow, my feet hurt. Every step was like needles
in my toes. I was standing outside Playa Info reading all the messages
people had posted when a lovely girl in orange asked, "Is anybody here
an artist?" She was meeting someone and told them to look for a blue turtle--
but she needed someone to make a turtle out of blue pipe cleaners. I did
the best I could. Her name was Leslie and she was from Santa Cruz. She
loved it there: "I wouldn't live anywhere else." She gave me a taste of
some homebrew aphrodisiac she called Kumquat a Lot.
At Center Camp, I bumped into a toddler someone left running around.
I figured I might as well go back to camp and settle down with a beer.
When the Joyism art car rolled up, loaded with bags of ice, everyone in
the bar applauded. A guy wearing a Utilikilt came by the bar asking about
live music. He played sax, harmonica, and a bunch of other stuff at a jazz
cafe the night before. He preferred live music camps to the places that
played recorded music: "It's dead. It was done a hundred times in a studio
to get it right. It doesn't have the feel of live music."
I joined in with a group of people to help Rupert put up the big statue
at the Silicon Village arch. It was a joint effort. Billy came through
wearing a Spanky hat. He and D-Mo started playing guitar on the stage.
Dave from Brooklyn came back to talk to them. I found Jarvis' devil horns.
Mimosa brought a sketch book for people to doodle in, so I drew some tentacles.
P-Nut said there were four time periods at Burning Man: "Before hot, hot,
after hot, and night."
A Flintstones car drove down the street. I was told there were as many
as nine Flintstones cars on the playa, one with a cawing vulture on the
roof as the horn. D-Mo opens up the stage for jamming. A guy playing a
saxophone wandered in off the street, played for five minutes, then walked
out, playing as he went. I watched some clouds move in.
That was the afternoon of the 'Merican Fashion Show which, to the untrained
eye, might look like a best-decorated genitalia contest. The Party
Snail was parked right outside, so I went up top to get a good view of
the show. It didn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. The show was
fun, with fabulous prizes. After the contest was over, Curly played some
more, then loaded up the Snail and the Joyism car to play a gig elsewhere...
but, the Snail wasn't moving. There were people climbing underneath, trying
to get it to start. While waiting on the Snail, I met a lady called Vee
who seemed to be enjoying herself tremendously.
I disembarked the Snail and went back to the bar, where I gave out the
wooden nickels I made as gifts. Alex made me a rum drink. I spoke with
Steph, who said it had been an unusual year. She thought there was a different
vibe on the playa. The Party Snail finally took off about 5 PM. I went
for a ride on my bike. The gears were starting to act up on me. I stopped
at the Black Rock Center for Unlearning and enjoyed a punch drink called
a nebulizer. I spoke to a gorgeous slim girl, her hair cornrowed in yellow
and red ribbons. Her left foot was in a walking cast.
||Billy and Jarvis cooked up some vegetarian sloppy Joes, with homemade
avocado salsa. The shower was working and I was looking forward to getting
clean, except... I couldn't find my shampoo and body wash anywhere. I came
the shocking realization I'd left them behind in the showers at Lahontan.
I took a shower anyway and felt much cleaner. Curly was supposed to start
playing at 2, but there were amplifier issues. When they came on, they
played "The Time Warp."
That was the evening of the Tribe.Com meet & greet at the P-Cubed
Oasis (which I thought was called 3-Cubed for some reason). They had a
two-story shade structure with a crows' nest and an open bar underneath.
That's where I met up with Moist, a girl with multicolored hair called
Hollie, Old Guy and Dogzilla, whom I'd met when I volunteered for the radio
station. I also met Larissa, a brunette with glasses who was camping at
the Whiskey & Whores camp. I asked about someone I used to know from
that camp, but she didn't know her-- she said it was "a whole new group
this year." Someone brought some tasty cheese slices, wrapped in salami.
It was a fun get-together.
On my way back, I passed a Jewish camp called Burning Manichevitz, and
a camp called Love Puddle. Down the street, a guy was leading a bottomless
girl around on a leash. I stopped at the intersection of 7:30 and Chaos
and spotted a camp called Bacon & Beethoven. They were going to fry
up bacon for people while playing Beethoven music. They only had 40 pounds
of bacon, however, and didn't know if it would last the night.
Back at HOTD, musicians were jamming on the stage. I met Maya, a lovely
brunette that was helping behind the bar. I also met Caroline, a happy,
smiling girl from Windsor, Ontario. It was her second burn. She was watching
her boyfriend, who was playing drums on stage. Steph gave me a bottle of
vitamin water. I recognized a little blonde girl that had been drinking
in the bar all day, but she seemed to be handling it. I met a lovely girl
from Portland, Oregon named Michelle. She had a cute smile. When I gave
her one of my wooden nickels, her boyfriend said, "You got some bling!"
About 7, I went over to Dot's tent, where she was serving spaghetti and
meatballs. I contributed some bread to the meal. The full Moon rose as
darkness fell, illuminating the whole playa. In the bar, people were jamming
to a very rockified version of "Comfortably Numb." I stayed up a little
past Moonrise, then crashed early.
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