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.
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.) 

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.

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.
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. 
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.

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.
 

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. 
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, “Thanks, brother.”
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.
 
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 overwhelming.
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.
 

  
Prologue Aug. 24  Aug. 25 Aug. 26 Aug. 27 Aug. 28 
 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday
Sept.6 Sept. 7 Sept. 8  Sept. 9 & Epilogue
Original content (c)opyright 2011 by Tim Frayser
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