I was up twice in the night. I forgot how quickly non-Oklahoma beer goes
through me. I woke up about 7 Wednesday morning, August 31st. It
was a bright, sunny morning, with almost no wind at all.
I got a bite to eat right before heading out for my afternoon shift. I
forgot to bring my camera with me. I saw K8 at HQ, where I was teamed up
with Ranger Atlas. It was a busy shift. We were assigned the area from
6 to 8 o’clock, from C Street out to the outer ring. The first thing that
came up was a report of a water truck going around selling water to camps.
That was vending, prohibited at Burning Man. The radio report said
it was a red flatbed truck. What followed was an hour of stopping and checking
every truck on four wheels that came along, with trucks getting stopped
every couple of blocks. When the call was finally canceled, that’s
when I spotted a red flat bed truck way out on the road to Greeters.
|In the bar, I passed Lisa D! She had arrived late that night. Lisa
said she just recently found the book of cartoons I gave everybody a couple
of years past. She said the graphic I did about cognitive dissonance struck
a chord with something that had happened in her life. She also liked my
cartoon about the streetcorner evolutionist. Spoon was there, too! We sat
and talked about all kinds of silly stuff. He had a box of blow-up sex
dolls, which he inflated and placed around the bar. One ended up behind
the wheel of a DPW truck.
I made myself a bowl of ramen. As I sat on the stage eating, Inkwell
walked by, but she didn’t see me. I donated some water to the shower and
got all cleaned up—the shower was brisk and refreshing. It felt so good
to be clean. As I was drying off, I saw Migh and thought she was coming
to the bar, but I didn’t see her again that day. Mark cooked up some breakfast.
He told me to make some coffee, but I didn’t understand the instructions
and it came out wrong, kind of like coffee-flavored Silly Puddy. Plan B
worked out much better. (Hey, I'm not a big coffee drinker, gimmie a break.)
We stopped by Atlas’ camp, which was a large, well-organized operation
with lots of comfortable shade. I met Turnip, a very nice girl, who showed
us where they were drying out their own beef jerky in the back. Atlas showed
me their camp shower, which was an efficient arrangement, but Atlas was
stunned that water had been allowed to collect on top of the power box.
A couple of F-15 fighter jets buzzed the campsite, flying really low. We
got a call to be on the lookout for a “person of interest.” I never heard
what the resolution to that was.
I got a Green Dot call to respond to a camp near the 6:30 Street. Atlas
had to help me with my bike chain, but we got there in a hurry. What we
found was a huge village of camps, each of which was holding some kind
of workshop, all at the same time. The result was that people attending
the workshops had left their bikes parked out in the street. The bikes
were just lying on the ground, on top of each other, and they were blocking
traffic. Seriously, who had the great idea of making a bicycle without
a kickstand? All you can do is lay it flat on the ground. Bikes
were piled up almost across the width of the street. Atlas and I moved
a bunch of bikes off to the side, but there wasn’t much room left there.
I dove into the busy, bustling camp and tried to find somebody in charge.
I talked to a bald guy who said they’d done all they could to help wrangle
the bikes. His solution was that we station a Ranger at their camp to do
traffic control. Well, in the first place, we didn’t have the staffing
to do something like that, and in the second place, is having somebody
else solve your problems for you the best way to solve your problems? The
bald guy also said there was not a central group controlling the village,
and that I’d have to talk to the leaders of each camp to get my
message across (something I subsequently found out to be false when I spoke
to the village leaders). Atlas and I spent an hour there moving bikes,
trying to keep passing vehicles from crushing the bikes in the street,
and directing newcomers to park their bikes way inside the village, where
vehicles would not crush them. I kept thinking of that scene from "The
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy," where Arthur Dent is trying to keep
the bulldozer from demolishing his house by lying down in front of it,
and the engineer is talking to Arthur Dent about how much the bulldozer
would be slowed down if it ran over Arthur’s body...
What a hassle. Atlas and I checked back a couple of times that afternoon,
and the street was clear each time. I guess they learned their lesson.
We rode up to Georgie Boy, which was an art project situated in
the middle of the plaza. Georgie Boy was an animatronic mannequin of an
old, has-been actor, lounging in his flat, waving about a half-drunk snifter
of brandy, a bitter, depressed actor that hadn’t worked in years and would
never work again. Viewers could spin a wheel, and depending on where it
landed, Georgie Boy would reminisce about the old days, take a phone call
from a fan, or just sob uncontrollably. Ingenious.
We stopped off at Outpost Tokyo to top off our canteens. As we were
passing a row of porta potties, a girl flagged us down about an injury.
We were just off the 7:30 Street, and a girl had twisted her knee while
dancing. It was just around the corner. Fortunately, several campmates
had medical training, and even through we were there in minutes they already
had the leg splinted and wrapped up with duct tape. The ambulance was there
within minutes. I told the paramedics what they'd done, and one tech said,
"Hooray for duct tape!" The girl’s campmates helped her into the ambulance.
I felt like she was in good hands.
We stopped at another camp with unusual construction, where we got some
awesome stickers. As we were talking, one of the F-15s returned, roaring
over the campsite before pulling up into a steep, steep climb, straight
up into the sky, and just before it went out of sight it did a barrel roll—
an incredible sight. By then, the shift was over. Atlas was a great Ranger
to work with.
||Atlas and I stopped at one camp that was doing license plates for bicycles.
They were running it like a department of motor vehicles, but not very
seriously. We had to take a funny little “safety test” first, but the tags
were awesome. The camp only brought 100 of them, so I made sure to spread
the word to other folks with bikes.
Back at HOTD, Rupert said hi as he passed through. I met Delee, a charming
blonde girl with a sweet smile. I passed Go-Go, who was listening to live
music on stage. Out by the street, I spoke with Andrea, a delightful, lovely
brunette. It was her first Burning Man, and she was overwhelmed by the
scale. She gifted me a handy little lighter that also had a bottle opener.
I wandered around the neighborhood, saying hi to John at the Earth Guardians
camp and sliding down the slide at the camp across from the sound camp.
There was an amazing sunset that evening, and the rising Moon was lovely.
That may have been the evening a band called Mojo Green played on the HOTD
stage. They were really good.
I decided to take a nap. It was very dark when I woke up, and very quiet
out—not even any wind. I made myself get up to go exploring. I got on my
bike and went riding out onto the playa. It was a beautiful night. I rode
out to the Man, where I met up with Victoria, whom I bump into every year.
“You’re the only one I’ve seen out here that I know,” she said. She gave
me a big hug.
I spent some time riding around, looking at the CORE effigies and various
other illuminated art projects. I rode over to the Charon sculpture, an
amazing piece of artwork that used strobe lights to animate a series of
skeleton models. Visitors had to pull a series of ropes to get the structure
turning at just the right speed to achieve the visual effect. The music
someone was playing was particularly haunting. As I rode off, I stopped
suddenly to keep from crashing into another guy on a bike, and he said,
I rode over to the Trojan Horse, towering high in the night, outlined in
red lights. I happened to be there when one of the designers walked by,
explaining the construction to some friends. I asked him if a bunch of
Greeks were going to jump out and take over the city. “Right now,” he replied,
“Greeks would be the cheapest part of this enterprise.” I visited some
of the huge sound camps out on the 10 O’Clock Road, many of whom had enormous
structures. I didn’t know how they got things that big out in the desert.
Several art cars were clustered along the Esplanade, including the Death
Star car, the Teeth car, and the Party Snail; I spotted More, the nice
lady I met the year before.
||The big news in camp that evening was the return of Clifford, the big
red dog and mascot for Hair of the Dog. Following up on leads and unconformed
sightings, the dog had reappeared at a camp where the inhabitants said
they found it way out in the deep playa. Clifford returned to the camp
with much fanfare.
There was a guy slowly walking along in a suit made from cardboard boxes.
It had a friendly face painted on. He looked like a cardboard robot Domo
Kun, and was absolutely hilarious. I rode around in the dark looking at
all the camps. The lights, sounds, art cars and music were delightfully
At the Thunderdome, someone was playing music, and folks were inside dancing.
Back at HOTD, Special Ed was behind the bar. A pretty lady showed up and
introduced herself as Maid Marian, one of the organizers of Burning Man.
As Special Ed talked to her, Michael stood behind her mouthing NO! It’s
not her! (Michael later said he personally knew Maid Marian.) When
I talked to her, she said she was 43, and once had a basset/great Dane
mixed breed dog named Gus, but he passed away in May. Several guys tried
to chat her up, but when she left she didn’t say goodbye to anybody.
I met a girl named Molly; the dust goggles on her head made her look
like a bug. A drunk guy fell off his bike out in the street, so I went
out to help him back up. It started to get chilly. Julie and Alex sat down
after exploring the playa. We talked about dance bars, the book “Illusions,”
stars, and “the vastness of the universe.” I heard a bike crash down the
street, but Rangers and BLM officers were already on the case. It must
have been about 4 AM when I headed off to bed.
Original content (c)opyright 2011 by Tim Frayser
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Video The Trojan Horse