I dreamed I was in an old store full of racks of vinyl records, looking
at one labled “Songs that Make God Swoon”… It was well after sunrise
when I woke up Thursday morning, August 29th. People were still
up in the bar drinking. Some of them had been up all night. Peanut was
tending bar. He said he never dreams on the playa. I met a guy named John,
also known as Puzzlebuttons. It was his first burn. He saw my notebook,
and said he used to write a lot, but after he got out of school he said
it was “hard to write when you’re happy.” A monstrous art car rolled down
I got out my stove and cooked up the spicy ramen noodles I got from
God’s Vending Machine. They really were spicy, too. I met Janie, an adorable
brunette girl who had been helping out with the bar all week. She had a
Minnie Mouse tattoo. She wanted to cook some ramen noodles, but needed
hot water. Honeybee offered to microwave some water in her RV, but Janie
insisted it wasn’t a microwavable package. Finally, Molly offered to boil
her some water to cook the ramen. Janie only brought beef jerky and protein
bars with her to the playa.
Billy talked about the “djembe-megaphone war of 2012.” A drum circle
was playing really badly late one night, so some people on megaphones started
making fun of them. That just prompted more drummers to join in, which
prompted more people with megaphones to make a racket, which continued
until sunrise when a beautiful woman came out of her tent and yelled at
everyone to shut up. I took my cellphone by the commissary, but still couldn’t
get a signal. A group of people walked by singing “Oh, What a Beautiful
Blurose was tending bar when I got back to camp. I met a guy called
Dexterous, who was head of the Oregon CORE team. He was hoping for good
weather that evening when the CORE effigies went up. I told him my idea
for changing the addresses on Rod’s Road. Some people were confused by
the addresses. For instance, HOTD was at 4:30 & Rod’s Road, the time
designation meaning the point on the circle of the road. Some people, however,
meant it to mean the 4:30 road which was blocks away. My idea was to keep
the time correlation, but change it to military time: instead of
4:30 & Rod’s Road, we would’ve been 1630 Rod’s Road; 9 o’clock &
Rod’s road would be 0900 Rod’s Road, and so on. Dexterous said he would
mention it to the team that set placement addresses.
That afternoon was Sandman training. Sandmen are Rangers on special
duty during the big effigy burns. Positioned all around the effigy, the
Sandmen watch for and prevent participants from getting too close into
harm's way. We were fortunate enough to get one of the camps to let
us do it in their big dome. Roadrash and Legba ran the training. One of
the new rules that year concerned what to do after taking down a runner.
If we thought they were hurt, or altered in any way, we were to call over
a Green Dot or a medic to check them out before we walked them out of the
perimeter. We were also going to have Sandmen at the Temple burn on Sunday
night. We went over the rules, and then practiced some take-downs. I didn’t
see Katpaw, but I did see Red Raven, and talked to Bumblebee, who also
had a titanium spork. He said, “We can thank Russia for that.” He said
that after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russians scrapped a lot of
the old military hardware, releasing tons of cheap titanium onto the market.
Despite having taken the training, there was a real chance I might not
be picked for Sandman duty. I hoped for the best.
|I changed the batteries in my digital camera. It was the last day to
view the CORE effigies, so I rode out on my bike to look. The weather had
been exceptionally mild all week, but the wind started to pick up that
Several already had people taking art out from inside the effigies,
or prepping them for the burn that night. The big mug of beer was simple
and whimsical. The church was an amazing piece of art. I liked the paddlewheel
riverboat, and marveled at the creative ways artists put together simple
pieces of plywood and 2x4s.
The wind kicked up, and white-outs of dust made the world disappear
for moments at a time. I rode down the Esplanade, taking in the various
camps. I stopped at Radio Electra and saw Halston; she gave me a hug.
I rode my bike over to Berlin and visited with Kimistry. They got a
very nice hut to stay in for the burn. The baby was dozing on the bed.
During the drive in, the baby cried all the time they were waiting in line
at the Gate, and things were tense until they could get through. She missed
being out helping with her usual Ranger duties. Kimistry thought I had
lost weight. She gave me a hug when I left. One of the camps near Berlin
was doing ink stamp tattoos, so I had a Burning Man logo stamped on my
The wind was really against me on the way back, so I just walked my
bike across the inner playa. I walked right into a white-out, and lost
all points of reference. I couldn't see a thing for several minutes. I
ended up overshooting my target. As I was going through Center Camp, I
was met with a procession of about 30 BLM Ranger cars, all in a line, lights
and sirens going. They were moving slowly out of Center Camp and out into
the inner playa. Some people thought it was a show of force, but it turned
out to be a funeral procession for one of their fallen comrades.
They were taking his ashes out to the Temple. That was an amazing sight.
Back in camp, I set up my stove in the MASH tent to cook some supper.
My firestarter went missing, but fortunately I had a backup. Supper was
a can of stew. In the bar, Dot came by to report Playa Info recorded the
city’s population as 67,926. The cap was 68,000. I got a beer and sat behind
the bar. I watched a British guy make out with his hard-bodied girlfriend.
Her name was Claire. I did an improvisational sketch with a charming girl
named Doris that was really funny. She made 17 trips to England before
she finally married her English boyfriend. I thought I lost my stainless
steel cup, but then I found it in my tent.
Nobody was playing on stage, so Peanut borrowed my MP3 player to play
some music. My selections attracted a couple who just got married out on
the playa, They were happy to find a camp that wasn’t playing “that damn
techno.” Janie kept changing the songs. I guess not everyone's an Elton
At 9 PM, I got on my bike and rode out to watch the CORE burns. I didn’t
ride all the way out. I went through Center Camp and just out far enough
to watch the effigies burn. Maybe it’s just me, but I was starting to think
having more and more CORE effigies just cluttered up the inner playa.
It was still a good idea to have regional groups bring their own artwork
to burn; having over 20 of them, however, seemed to cheapen the
idea. It looked crowded out there. I’m sorry, but when there’s so
many effigies, they’re just not that special any more. One piece of
art going up in flames is an event; 24 pieces of art on fire is
… Thursday. How many would there be the next year? Thirty? Fifty?
What I felt they should do was take the best ideas and limit it to six
or eight effigies. That would make it special again.
Nobody was at Pandora’s when I rode by, so I left them one of my bartending
guides. The Hair of the Dog bar was busy when I got back in camp. Peanut
needed a bike to get across the playa, so I loaned him mine. He promised
he would take good care of it. I couldn’t find my notebook, but I figured
it would turn up. I ended up going to bed about 11.
Last updated: September, 2013