I dreamed I was opening the van, and a dog came out of the back seat—Binnie?
No, Binnie passed away a few months back; this was a different dog, smaller,
but still colored black & white. I’m not even sure it was my van…
I woke to total silence. My trusty yellow flashlight which I’d taken on
many campouts got destroyed in the Lahontan dust, so I found my krill light
to check the time: 4:15. I’d slept almost nine hours. I must’ve been tired.
Interestingly enough, it didn’t feel as chilly.
Outside my tent were lights. A car pulled up beside my tent. I mat
a guy named Bryan who had just arrived from Berkley after getting some
sleep in a Reno motel. He wanted to be at the Gate when it opened at midnight.
(I didn’t have the heart to tell him the Gate opened early—For contract
reasons, it wasn’t advertised.) It had taken him 4 hours to get through
the line at the Gate. With a slight British accent, he asked me where the
“loos” were. The bar was still up and running with about a half dozen people
I got a hug from a different guy named Bryan. “That was a good hug!”
he said. I drank a Dr. Pepper and went to the potties. Even without a flashlight
there was plenty of ambient light from the camps already set up. I wanted
to go to Center Camp to catch up on my writing, but I figured if I went
all that way I might as well check in at HQ, but I didn’t have my ID… so,
I just went for a walk. I bundled up with my hoodie and BDU shirt, layering-up
for warmth. At the potties, a group of people walked by in the dark, and
I heard someone say, “F*ck you, butch! We’re Canadians!”
I walked straight out from the 8 O’Clock Street to the Esplanade. I
passed a swirling cone of lights that changed colors. I walked out to the
Man, which opened up at midnight. It was green neon with red highlights.
The tower had gargoyles peering off the high corners. A Ranger truck, amber
lights flashing, pulled up and parked. I remembered Ranger Tool saying
there were no vehicles allowed near the Man, especially fire-breathing
vehicles, the exception being amber-flashing official business vehicles.
I asked the Ranger how things were going. “Too early to tell,” he said.
Apparently, he was there for a face-to-face with one of the other Rangers
working “the Stick.” There was a truck spraying water all around the perimeter
around the Man; he seemed to be following me around. I could tell he’d
just done the 9 O’Clock approach, so I started heading back towards the
I passed a fascinating art piece with cubes of various colors, swirling
and growing into one big sculpture. It was still very dark out. The Moon
was high, with scattered clouds. I realized that was about the time I’d
be getting up for my Ranger shifts. Missing out on being a Green Dot was
a big disappointment, but maybe it was for the best. Maybe I needed more
dirt experience before taking on added responsibilities. I had put my mind
in a state preparaing to be a Green Dot, and now I had to switch that off.
One of the lessons of Burning Man was No Expectations. You can prepare
out the wazoo, but once you get to the playa all bets were off.
I passed three people at a trampoline. A girl and a happy guy named
Darius were watching their friend bounce around. The friend turned his
ballcap backwards, assumed a pose, and said, “Yo. ‘Sup.” “Dude,” said
the girl, “you are the least gangst guy I know.” Two drunk
people were helping their drunker friend look for a buddy. “Brian! Brian!”
they called out from a street corner. I passed the Whiskey & Whores
camp and the Whiskey & Dust camp, both dark and empty. I got back to
HOTD right before 6 AM. Walking back, I kept noticing the eastern sky behind
me getting brighter and lighter. I wondered what to do next, and going
back to bed sounded like a great idea, so I did.
I dreamed of a big, fancy hotel lobby. There was a guy with feet
that were five feet long, which he’d named Foot One and Foot Two… The
Sun was up when I woke up Monday morning. It was 7:20, so I’d gotten another
hour of sleep in. At the potties, I overheard one girl say, “I have
to go back to camp. I can’t remember any more Stevie Nicks songs.”
Back at my tent, breakfast was a can of V-8, an orange, and a dinner roll
spread with a packet of strawberry preserves I’d saved from eating at a
restaurant. I needed to get some food in me. I’d already lost weight before
leaving for the playa. I even punched an extra hole in my belt because
my pants kept slipping off. That morning, they were slipping again.
At Center Camp, I found a comfy spot and got caught up on my writing. The
coffee bar was closed until 3 PM, and the workers kept a running count
of people that came up to ask “Are you open?” The big sign they’d stand
next to said
A little Japanese girl came up to the counter and asked for a cup of
water. The worker explained everyone coming to Burning Man had to be responsible
for bringing their own water. The girl walked away with a very worried
look on her face. Had she not brought any water? At the center of Center
Camp was a huge map of that year’s street configuration, laid out like
a London subway map. Theme camps and art installations were highlighted.
All around me were people scattered among the benches, some reading, some
sleeping, some writing like me. A guy in a dusty vest went up to a young
man with a notebook and said, “Can I borrow a sheet of paper?... Okay,
wait, I won’t be giving it back. Can I have a sheet of paper? I’ll
trade you a shot for it,” he added, waving a half empty bottle of whiskey.
Gomer, Mark, Alex me and several other people set up the kitchen tent back
behind the bar. It looked like a good place for me to set up my propane
stove. In the bar, I was gifted with some Reese’s Pieces from a guy from
New Jersey. It turned out the TV show “Jersey Shore” was not an accurate
representation of Jersey people. “They think they’re famous,” the
guy said, “but they don’t realize everyone is laughing at them.”
It was a quiet morning. I watched people stream in and set up camps all
|The wind picked up, sharp and chill. I went by Ranger HQ but it was
too busy, so I went by Radio Electra, parked right on the Esplanade, but
it didn’t look like anybody was up yet. Back at Hair of the Dog, I met
up with Gomer, and Spoon! Spoon paid me a big compliment by saying
I was one of his “role models,” because he was inspired by my writings
to look for unusual, exceptional beauty in everyday life. I felt very humbled.
He was staying at the Hindenburg camp, which had a big art car that looked
like a zeppelin.
Shortly after noon, I was feeling a little flushed, so I drank some
water and cut up a tomato for a little salad. That afternoon, I loaded
up my hydration pack and rode my bike over to Ranger HQ. I needed to pick
up my ID laminate (my “lammie.”) At the window I spoke with Ranger Doll.
She said I didn’t pick up my lammie until I checked in for my first shift.
I’d signed up for Green Dot training on Sunday but I missed it, so I asked
her to take my name off the attendance list. I didn’t want to get credited
for time I wasn’t there. Doll said they don’t count hours from the schedule;
they take roll at the time of the class. She pointed me to a Ranger with
bunny ears on his hat who said there would be a second Green Dot training
class Tuesday at 10 AM. I had signed up for a morning shift that day, so
I checked back with Doll and rescheduled. It looked like I might get to
be a Green Dot Ranger after all. Sometimes, I thought, the universe provides.
I ran into Ranger Twinjammer, whom I’d patrolled with the year before.
He was glad to see so many returning Rangers. He said there were some folks
that go through the training, go through mentorship, do one shift, and
are never heard from again. He and I helped a couple of people get pointed
towards Playa Info. Thhat was when I discovered the outside of my backpack
was wet. Apparently, my hydration pack was not house trained. Next
to HQ was a new building called the Hatrack. It was supposed to be a place
where Rangers could go to chill between shifts, but there wasn’t any place
to sit inside. I bumped into J.C. back near the potties. He said he was
camped out way over by the 3 O’clock road.
Back at HOTD, I found my missing glasses case at the bottom of the backpack.
I must have left it there while I was checking the hydration pack for leaks.
I was having trouble finding all kinds of stuff that day. I’d recorded
some music on CD’s to give to the radio station, but I couldn’t find them
anywhere. Likewise, I couldn't find my event ticket, which I’d had when
I went through the Gate. My ticket turned out to be stuck inside my notebook
all along. I did find my gloves and long underwear, which I would need
later. The kitchen tent was short on tables; a couple that were supposed
to be there never made it to the playa. Mark thought I could build something
with some spare 2 X 4’s, but I just made a table by propping a door up
on some empty storage bins. As long as nobody tried to have sex on it,
I thought, it should work. “You rock, dude,” Mark said.
The wind picked up, as did the number of people in the bar. Dust was blowing
everywhere. A girl in a tiger suit walked through. I sat at the bar and
talked to Alex about traveling. She said she went to Europe for 6 weeks,
traveling alone until she met up with Brian for the last two weeks. She
said Brian had an airplane, and sometimes when they fly they’ll see something
interesting and buzz it. She liked the “orderliness” of my notes. It was
nice to see Persnickitty again. I asked her how her past year had been,
and she said it was “pretty sh*tty.” The weather started turning crazy.
Off to the northwest, I could see dark clouds brewing.
I sat in the bar to write. A guy in a full Robocop costume walked through.
There was music playing on state, and a topless girl in brown boots got
up to dance. A different girl dressed like a cowgirl was drunk and crying
at the bar. She insisted she was a federal agent, and was upset that nobody
would believe her. When she started to leave, the cowgirl tripped over
some chairs and had to be helped up. Steve the bartender sat with her until
she calmed down. I was later told some Rangers came by and took her to
get some help.
An art car shaped like a big salt shaker pulled up to the bar. I met
Vision, “V,” and a girl named Suzanne who insisted I met her two years
before. I helped the bartenders hook up the beer keg. A gorgeous girl with
a flowery blouse rode up on her bicycle; she had a very nice smile. I met
an outgoing guy called Hot Rod. He wore a leather jacket and had a pierced
lip. He liked to draw the Rolling Stones lips logo, and drew one on a page
of my notebook. A guy named Tom came by looking for a camp that was serving
“habanjero shots.” He was wearing a red Japanese outfit. I was very impressed
with a beautiful brunette girl who called herself Pope Catherine the First.
She wore foamy purple ribbons in her hair. Pope Catherine had a very nice
smile. I was glad to meet her. We talked about the Rangers.
When KathyKat got married the previous year in camp, I took pictures
of the ceremony, and when I saw her I gave her copies of my pictures. She
was happy and gave me a big hug, but just as she started to look at them
it began to sprinkle. She hurried to put them someplace safe as thunder
boomed across the playa. A curtain of rain was visible in the distance,
and lumbered along for most of an hour before dropping down on us. Cold
rain came down in a heavy shower. Everyone in the bar stayed put under
the shade structure, but it didn’t help. The wind picked up blowing the
rain under the shade. Every surface got wet. Gomer and I grabbed some trash
bags and hurried to cover up the sound equipment on stage. When the wind
died down a little, I went back to check on my tent. The wind was still
fierce. My tent was still in one piece, but flattened by the wind. After
more than a half hour the rain moved on, and we could see blue skies again.
To the east, the tail end of a beautiful rainbow appeared… and then it
became a double rainbow. The rainbows seemed to come down right into the
campsite. It was a beautiful sight.
Darkness began to fall on the playa. Things had calmed down, so I figured
I’d better eat something. In the kitchen tent, I fired up my propane stove
and boiled some macaroni. I figured I’d better use up my tomatoes before
they went bad, so I cut one up and added it to the strained macaroni, along
with some tomato sauce and Italian seasonings. Brian provided a lantern
to cook in the increasing darkness, so when I was done cooking my supper
I let him use my stove to cook his. It turned out pretty good. After cleaning
up, I was exhausted, so I climbed into my tent to take a nap.
I woke about midnight. A big, silver duck the size of a bus had arrived
across the street. On my way to the potties, I passed a bunch of RV’s arriving,
lined up all along the side streets. At some point, I heard people talking,
engines running… I woke up about a quarter after 4. I could hear someone
with a megaphone shouting SHUT THE F*CK UP! PEOPLE ARE SLEEPING! When I
unzipped my tent flap, there was a big, brown pickup parked just a couple
of feet from my tent. A girl with a headlamp had just arrived. Her name
was Terri (“I don’t have a playa name,” she said.) and she was going to
set up a yurt and shade structure—but not now. For the moment, she was
going to sleep. That sounded like a good idea, so I went back in my tent.
I took off the blue jeans I’d been wearing for three days and went back
Original content (c)opyright 2010 by Tim Frayser
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