I woke up at 7 AM freezing—I was shivering, it was so cold. It was
Thursday, the first of September. It was the beginning of a very
long day for me. I saved my meal ticket from Wednesday so that I could
go in for breakfast at the commissary. I was surprised how few people were
there; I practically had the big room to myself. There were scrambled eggs,
hash browns, sausage, ham, toast, all kinds of food. I told one of the
serving girls that the plates needed to be bigger to hold all the food.
“Come through again,” she told me. Victoria was in the lunchroom, so I
sat with her. I talked about the food, and she said she went to cookout
where she got to eat some wonderful pork loin. She was so proud about having
pork loin in the desert she went around telling people, “Smell my face!”
Back at HOTD, Go-Go was sitting on the bar talking with friends. She
said she’d been awake for 56 hours straight. I found another button in
the road, and a flashlight. There was moop everywhere that year. I’d find
a whole handful of crap in the road just going to the potties. While I
was out walking around, I met a girl from San Diego on her way to find
her bike; she’d left it at a big sound camp when she stopped there the
night before. Brian Bong cooked up some turkey and gravy. He brought a
lot, and shared it with everybody. It was delicious. As I ate, I realized
I needed to soak my feet soon. They were getting kind of crusty.
I was tending bar when I met up with a couple called Krazy Kelly and
Quiet Reserved Kevin, who liked to draw pictures of broken penises. They
were kind of disturbing. D-Mo told me to hold off serving drinks until
we got more booze, but then... more booze arrived. (As some folks like
to say, "the playa provides.") I was able to finally deliver the Christmas
cards I sent to D-Mo and Lisa D. from a couple of years back. They’d been
returned due to incorrect addresses. I also put up the motivational posters
I made for the bar. That put me on a mission. I had a list of things I
needed to do once I got to the playa. For one thing, a friend of
mine produced a podcast, and I'd copied some episodes on CDs to give away.
I'd made some mini-posters especially for Burning Man. I put up some posters
at the potties, mailed post cards to friends at the post office, and took
a copy of a podcast over to BMIR. The folks at the radio staton were very
I was on my way to Radio Electra when I got drafted to help in a project.
The time was quickly approaching for a satellite photo to be taken of Black
Rock City. I got enlisted to help out filling in part of a gigantic Yin/Yang
symbol. Further out on the playa, a bigger group of people were lying on
the ground, using their bodies to make the world’s largest smiley face.
Ta-daa! None of us would see the results for months, probably. I
found Radio Electra and met up with Ranger Beauty, who was checking the
mail. She got lots of mail, including the postcard I mailed her from home.
In camp, I spoke to Halston, who just woke up. I talked with Animal, and
found Jenn’s friend Kiki. They gave me hugs and a custom patch that said
Black Rock City in Hawaiian… they think. It’s a tough language, and it
might actually say “Black Rock City of Refuge.” I dropped off another podcast
Back at camp, I changed into shorts. A kid was on stage working the drums,
and Marilyn commented, “Not bad for a 10 year old.” I saw Rangers Atlas
and Katpaw on patrol out in the street. Rangers later showed up at the
Great Lakes camp next door, but I don’t know why. Some folks in a corner
of the bar were churning home made ice cream with an old-fashioned crank.
Star was writing in her journal. She asked me if I’d walk out to the Temple
with her; she had something special to take out there. I settled down to
listen to the jam session on stage. Spoon returned for a visit, too.
I met a very nice girl called Gayle Winds. She was from Oregon, and had
the exact same brand and model of bike I had. (I don't know if she also
got it on sale from Walmart, like I did.) Her chain was messed up, so I
turned her bike over and got it straightened out. She had a nice smile.
When Gayle saw my notebook, she commented, “It looks like you have a lot
of happiness in there.” She gave me a warm goodbye and said she’d be back,
but I never saw her again.
I got invited to go on a sight-seeing tour on the Party Snail. A bunch
of the Hair of the Dog folks went along... and that's when previously Quiet
Reserved Kevin became not so quiet or reserved. He climbed on board, un-invited,
and made a fool of himself demanding to be taken along for the ride. When
the people running the art car asked him to leave, he got all hot and bothered
about them "ruining" his "Burning Man experience." It took an inordinate
amount of time to talk him off the art car. I could tell he was new to
Burning Man. Every year, there seems to be a certain minority of people
that show up on the playa thinking they can do anything they want
--be as rude and selfish as they want-- and get away with it, because Burning
Man is all about "freedom."
Let's be clear: Burning Man is not a place without rules. Burning
Man is not a place without responsibility. Burning Man is not a
place without consequences. If you act like a jerk, you're not "expressing
your freedom." You're just being a jerk.
Once he exited the vehicle, we had a great time touring the various
art projects out on the playa. We cruised around the Man and visited the
CORE project effigies. I sat on the upper level of the Snail, on top of
a carpeted speaker.
Parachutists were sky-diving into the city, putting on a show as they descended.
I had to tell somebody Yes, people parachuting into Black Rock City
still need a ticket. Special Ed was already packing up to leave. He
said he might be back post-event to help one of the trailer companies haul
rentals off the playa.
Somebody told a story (It might have been D-Mo.) (I'm gonna say it was
D-Mo.) (It either was, or it wasn't.) about a pair of Hungarian guys who
came to the bar one day. They traveled all the way to Burning Man from
Europe. D-Mo happened to know a phrase in Hungarian. It was reportedly
the worst thing any Hungarian could ever say to another. The phrase loosely
translated as "horse penis in you butt." When D-Mo said it, the two Hungarian
guys looked at each other with startled expressions, as if to say, He
knows the password!
I really needed to take a nap. My muscles ached, I was exhausted. I didn’t
get nearly enough sleep that night. In my tent, I lied down and tried to
sleep. I could feel my body get really heavy, completely relaxed, but I
could hear everything going on outside-- I never really dropped off to
sleep. Also, the little travel alarm clock I brought quit working: the
alarm switch was stuck between ON and OFF. I'd gone on many trips with
it, and I was disappointed I couldn't depend on it any more. Just before
7, I gave up and got up to wash my hair in the shower. I stumbled getting
out, I was so tired. I needed to get dressed for Kimistry’s Jedi wedding
out at the Temple. I was so absent-minded I left my good flashlight behind
at the potties. Phooey. I liked that flashlight, too.
Out at the Temple, I arrived right at sunset, and someone was up on the
little tower playing the Earth Harp. The music was magical, mystical, reverberating
off everything, including the host of people listening beneath it. The
sound echoed through their bodies. They became part of the instrument--
part of the music itself.
My Eldest had loaned me a his old toy light saber for Kimistry's Jedi
wedding, but it didn’t light up, so I just decided I’d stand off and take
pictures. It was well-attended. Lots of people showed up, many in Ranger
gear. Kimistry and Duney Dan went upstairs to one of the balconies for
the actual ceremony, and then came down for a little reception. Everyone
that had a working light saber lined up to salute the couple when they
It was really pretty. Afterwards, the happy couple mingled with guests
as folks played around with the light sabers. I wish I could've stayed
longer, but I was dizzy and stumbling around from exhaustion. I found my
bike and made my way back to my tent.
That was the night the CORE effigies burned. When they all went off
at once, the whole sky above Black Rock City turned bright red in a furious
frenzy of destruction. It was a thrilling sight. Monkey Shoes was in the
street watching. I lied down in my tent and immediately passed out.
Original content (c)opyright 2011 by Tim Frayser
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