Saturday, February 28, 2004

Sketchy Bill!

OK, I'm going to go ahead and write him in. This is probably the only time I'll mention someone else doing any sort of drug, because it's important to the story, but remember, if I turn up down at Lake Stanley Draper with my hands cut off and all the teeth knocked out of my head with a ballpeen hammer, that it was YOU who told me I should.

That said, I'm not going to tell it right now. I've got to do some cleanup and prep for later on today, both in the house and on my face.

Or maybe I'll just go play Unreal II.

In any event, my brain has a thick coating of slime on it from last night's foray into By George Tavern, and its tasteless 3.2% beer. Trust me--you'll thank me later.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Robinson Jeffers Poetry

In case you guys didn't think I was weird enough, I've started reading a big thick anthology of Jeffers' poetry. Don't ask me where I got it, or why. I think it was in the early days of my relationship with Liz, when I was trying to convince myself I was more cultured than I actually am (or care to be).

Anyway, this stuff ROCKS! Thus far, the short poems I'm not really into, because his meter's so weird, but I'm into the first big poem, called "Tamar," and thus far we've had brother/sister incest, then the sister sleeps with another dude who's had a crush on her forever, so she can pretend the baby's his, then she takes her weird ol' aunts down on the beach, dresses them in kelp, and one of them starts talking in the voice of her dead OTHER aunt, the one her father was cheating on her mother with. THEN the girl gets raped by a bunch of indian spirits, after which she has an argument with the aunt, and the aunt causes her to have an abortion right there out on the beach.

Then, somehow the dad finds out that she and her brother have been makin' the beast with two backs, and I suspect he's about to either commit suicide or try and kill the son.

Are you following all this? It's compelling stuff, even though it's a tougher read than yer average VC Andrews rag. I'll keep you posted on the perversions of poor Tamar--who I suspect is about to fall in love with a Mexican laborer. Miscegenation, too! What sort of pervert is this guy? And on the eve of WW1, too!

Sketchy Bill?

Should I tell the story of Sketchy Bill? I'll leave it to a vote--it could get me in some serious trouble (leg breakin' trouble), but it's a hell of a story, and I'm already leaving a lot out to maintain the status quo with the friends I've got left. But it's complex, and would violate my earlier principle of not talking about other people's drug use. Because you just wouldn't grasp the breadth of the weirdness of the experience without hearing about his, uh, bad habits.

I'll leave this open for a day or so.

Burning Man 22: The Rest of the Week

No, I'm not trying to hurry it along. I just don't remember much about the rest of the week, and I'm not really sure just what events take place when. I've decided to tell all of the stories without too much reference to time/date things, and I promise you won't care a bit.

By the end of the week, things had recovered somewhat. The Psychedelic Windmill was back up, sporadically, which was cheering, and a lot of the big clubs that weren't completely destroyed were doing a booming business.

The thing I like about BM clubs is that there's no money involved. You go in, you dance (or whatever you do in clubs), you get tired, you leave. No standing in line to get a drink from the bar. No cover charges, no ID required. And everyone's cool. I think you've got to really love it to work in Disorient or Amazing Larry's or Space Cowboys...because there's no money. And where there's no money, well, people are doing things for only the right reasons.

There's a large segment of people that HATE big clubs and loud music. There's a lot to hate about that, I agree. However, I happen to like the music, dammit, and I listen to it loud, even at home, so I've got no problems with sleeping through a night full of shitty trance. The people, well, the people are another matter. They're like any other bunch of rave kids/clubbers anywhere-they get focused on their night, and forget that other people have to live around them.

By people, I mean the party-goers. As a general rule, people who sign on to big stuff (like building a 2 story tall rubber duck) have their acts together, especially if they're in any position of responsibility. But all the guys I've met from bigger camps (especially that fucker from two doors down in 2002) are friendly and helpful. Or at least friendly. Sometimes too friendly, but that's neither here nor there. Good peeps tend to gravitate to the Burn.

So, in no particular order, I'll post a series of short stories about specific events and/or camps we discovered before Friday night. And just to keep you interested, I'll leak that on Friday night there was a big, freezing rainstorm that pretty well destroyed the rest of our camp.

Leak, get it?

Burning Man 21: The First Windstorm

After pedalling slowly past Amazing Larry's Dominoes, and getting a swift kick in my ass for thinking I was all that, things are pretty dim. I have to presume I biked back to camp and crashed, but the next thing I remember is the wind picking up.

As soon as it did, Ethan began to get jittery. He was by far the most desert-savvy of us all (I, in contrast, was more concerned with keeping dust out of my MRE), and he was also living underneath a big parachute with what in retrospect was a laughable frame. He and Cosmo began to nervously stow things, recheck guylines, and fiddle with a ground sheet for their (big) tent. I ate my MRE and tried not to think too hard.

After several minutes of just sort of toying with us, the wind began to create minor dust devils out in the streets, and started throwing around small pebbles of dirt. This got my attention--which is good, because five minutes later all four of us were hanging on to Ethan's 'chute for dear life.

In hindsight, this is probably what keeps me liking these fellows. It's all well and good to huddle in your tent and make sure your own personal stuff doesn't get blown away (and lots of stuff got blown away that day)--it's another to stand out there and get your eyeballs sandblasted out in order to make sure something that's a part of your camp, but not precisely yours, doesn't fly off and land somewhere up in Idaho. Or even worse, still in the event zone, where BLM people can find it. There was no hesitation on anyone's part.

Unfortunately, the cubes weren't up to the struggle, either. They'd been staked down pretty well, but the joints were handmade, and they came apart. Which was actually a pretty good idea on Dan's part: make 'em so they come apart instead of shattering...he just had no way to anticipate the stresses that those things would be under. So, shortly after the parachute became a windsock, the cubes began to disintegrate. I spent some time running back and forth, trying to keep all the cubes intact, or at least in the camp, with pretty good success on the latter part. I moved back to help with the parachute, just about the time everyone realized that maybe it wasn't such a good idea to attach the parachute directly to Ethan's tent, which shortly began to rattle like it was about to take off as well.

My shade structure was only slightly less liable to become a projectile, and that only because it was downwind of the parachute, which was taking the brunt of a genuinely scary event. Everything was coming apart. You could hear huge, ominous flapping sounds from Center Camp, but the dust was too bad to see it (all of 50 feet away). All around us were muffled crashing noises as things fell over or were blown into other things. We held on for dear life.

Out of the dust, in the lee of the building next to us, came Josh. Apparently completely unaware of the dust storm (the wind had to have been 50mph), and also just as blissfully ignoring the fact that we were fighting for our lives (or at least, for our stuff, without which we would have had a pretty miserable life for the rest of the week), Big J ambles up (in a hawaiian print skirt and shirt and tie, no less), and offers us...popsicles.

I don't remember what I said to him, but I'm sure I was probably a bit harsh on his ancestry and cognitive abilities. He's forgiven me, I reckon, but I've always wondered what was going through his head at the time. I mean, even IF you could ignore the raging maelstrom that threatened to engulf the entire EVENT--even if you could ignore the fact that Cosmo was being lifted off the ground by his part of the parachute, and even if you just happened to miss the complete and total devastation of everything bigger than a 2 man tent that wasn't made of wooden or metal beams...plainly, everyone's hands were full. Never mind that playa dust on popsicles isn't very tasty at all.

After Josh beat a hasty retreat (presumably to help in a failed attempt to salvage the Ishkabibble shade structure), I think all of us just stood and looked at each other in wonderment. I even think the wind cut out for a second, so we could ponder the utter madness of the situation. Popsicles?

Eventually, the wind subsided. The parachute structure was useless, and every one of us was petrified of leaving it out where the wind could get to it, anyway.

My structure was still in pretty good shape, mostly by dint of being behind the parachute and of being heavy canvas. We moved most of the stuff in there, then turned our attention to the cubes.

At first, I thought we'd lost them after all. But that couldn't be--I actually nailed down most of the struts with stakes during a slight break in the storm. In fact, they were drifted over with white playa dust.

The wind was still fucking with us--every time I tried to put one of those suckers up, the wind would knock it down, or at least threaten to tear it apart. We tried for most of the day to salvage the thing, and finally caught a break an hour or two before dark. The cubes were bedraggled-the scrim had frayed from the wind in a couple of places, and everything was covered in dust and dirt (including me). We were exhausted, but had high hopes for the evening.

The Ishkabibble folk apparently did too--they'd been engaged most of the afternoon by fighting with their shade structure (and, I think, each other), which was ultimately fruitless. They stowed the remains, and invited us to dinner.

About midway through dinner, the wind came up and blew everything down again. I worked on it with sporadic assistance--mostly people that felt sorry for me out there in the storm by myself, but none of them lasted very long. It was stupid of me to be out there; I could barely see what I was doing, because of dust and darkness, and it was apparent to everyone who tried to help that the cubes were Well and Truly Fucked--the corners were stretched a little bit, so any sort of pressure would get them working loose. The scrim, like the parachute, acted like a sail, effectively pulling it apart in anything over a light breeze.

After dark, I gave up. Our camp was about 2/3 of its former grandeur. My hair was still sticking up in a blue helix, but the lights had gone out, and we were all dejected. Worse, I climbed onto the RV later that night, and couldn't find any landmarks from the night before--the huge strobe-lit dome was gone, and the Psychedelic Windmill was a pile of metal struts surrounded by bearded guys shaking their fists at the heavens. Later that night, a party of us went out to survey the damage, but I slept.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Burning Man 20: Sunrise/The Black Car

By the time I got down and stole a beer from the Boyscouts (remember kids: always brush your teeth after drinking absinthe), the sun was bright enough for me to navigate by. I was cold, VERY cold, but since I was moving around it wasn't debilitating. Since I didn't feel like going to bed just yet (in part because I couldn't bear to unzip the tent and see Dan's snoring face), I popped another hit if A and set about gridding the camp.

Gridding the camp, also known as "moop patrol," also known as "cleanup," is the process smart Burners (or any Leave No Trace people, I suppose) use to make sure their camp is GONE at the end of the week. Basically it means examining every square foot of bare ground and removing anything that doesn't belong ("moop" = Matter Out Of Place). Everyone's supposed to do it at the end of the week, but smart people do it every morning. I'd unilaterally decided that was one of my jobs, since, well, since I felt like it. Tidiness is not a personality trait of mine, so I didn't really derive much pleasure in it. Maybe I felt part of the community by doing it. I'm certainly not anti-environmental, and I definitely wanted this party to be around next year, so it seemed like a no brainer to do whatever I could to keep the blowing trash to a minimum.

The whole damn CAMP was only 75' x 100' (if I remember correctly), and I was still fairly sharp eyed from the drugs and had nothing but time on my hands. The result was that in an hour I had a handful of PVC shavings, slivers of celluloid film, and one bottle cap. I was just finishing up (and in fact was contemplating whether celluloid was recycleable or not) when Dan coasted into camp on a bicycle. He looked pretty well worn down, which I think is a necessary thing for him to get any sleep at all, but completely blissed out. He gestured ambiguously towards the brightening horizon, then pushed the bike over on the ground and staggered to the tent.

Now, I hadn't been on a bike in something close to 15 years, and you guys can laugh, but I'd NEVER been on a bike with more than one gear. Nevertheless, I started pedaling east, hoping to reach the fence before the sun got up over the horizon.

By the time I hit the open playa, I realized that I was really, awesomely, out of shape. Shortly after that I began to grok that this place was actually HUGE, that is, I was going to have to hump it to get out to the fence in time.

This was made doubly difficult because of all the interesting stuff that had been thrown up out there:

1) A wall of TV's, 25' tall and 25' long. None were on at that time.
2) The beginnings of a tower of human urine.
3) What looked like a three hundred foot long clothesline draped in rags.
4) Off in the distance, a pair of hundred foot long dominoes.
5) Christmas lights on a set of poles.
6) A four foot pedestal with a six inch sculpture of the Man rotating in it.
7) The Man (under construction, but still pretty impressive-I didn't stop yet to admire him).

And the strangest thing of all, way the fuck out past the dominoes, the Man, and everything else: Some sort of mid-forties era car, painted matte black, except for the windows. It was pointed directly into the rising sun, and had mannequins in the front seat. An old woman and an old man, the old woman with brass-framed round glasses, and the old man with a long, cottonly beard. They looked like Santa and Mrs. Claus, only in street clothes.

My curiosity got the better of me, and I circled around for another view, this time closer. The dummies had their eyes closed, and had been positioned in the car to present the illusion of repose. Weird. What was this supposed to represent? Why the car? Obviously, someone had taken quite a bit of time and expended a lot of effort to get the car out here. Why leave it out in the middle of nowhere and throw a couple of weirdly lifelike mannequins in it? Why was it facing east? What, Gentle Reader, was the point?

I circled again--much closer this time, and finally decided there had to be something I was missing. I pulled up next to the driver's door, and peered into the car.

The male mannequin opened his eyes.

We scared the shit out of each other. I pedaled away, fast, and never looked back. On my way in from the fence, the whole thing was gone.

I made the fence just a little late. Close enough for my purposes, though.

It's kind of hard to figure out which way to face, when you're out there at the top of the U. The sun's coming up, and it's reflecting off of the white alkali lakebed (the playa, remember?), and simultaneously fingering its way into the sky. The playa stretches off to the horizon, so at times you can imagine that if you walk far enough, you could walk right into the sun.

On the other hand, if you turn around and face generally west, you can see the whole event spread out before you like some vast carnival. Heat shimmers start showing up an hour after sunrise, at times, so if you squint real hard it's almost like a mirage.

The fence is a pretty mundane thing, until you start thinking about it. It's made of tposts and orange construction fence, and it's only about 4' tall. It's not made for keeping people in or out, except inasmuch as it's a pretty effective marker of where our city limits is. Out past the fence is, well, another country--and by the time you've been living with these people for three or four days, a very strange and slightly frightening country it is.

The most effective thing about the fence is that it keeps a lot of trash from blowing out of the area. I hear it's pretty interesting to walk the fence every morning, and see what's collected there overnight, but I've never done it.

On the way back, I skirted where the black car santa claus sun worshippers had been and wound up close to the huge dominoes. By this time, the sun was completely above the horizon, and I was starting to warm up a bit, but the acid was starting to wear off, for good this time. I was mortal, and hungover. I probably looked a lot like Dan Pugh--utterly drained, but completely blissed out.

As I approached the dominoes, I heard the steady thump-thump-thump of dance music, which although I'm definitely no dancer still attracted my attention. What the hell were these people doing up dancing at 8am?

It soon became apparent that there were about 10 people who were not only dancing, they were playing with fire! Five or six fire spinners (fire poi, I guess), a couple of jugglers, and a fire eater.

This finally popped my bubble, although I was still utterly happy and content. Twelve hours ago I had felt like we were Artists--Kings and Queens of Burning Man, showing people how things were done. Now, as I was pedalling slowly back to my tent, to sleep, I run across the better part of a dozen people STILL dancing like dervishes and juggling fucking FIRE.

We were good, and I thought we'd be much better as time went on, but for sheer energy and spirit we were so low in the food chain that I couldn't even see the top. I rolled back into camp a half hour later, exhausted and content. Don't ask me where I slept, or even IF I slept. My mind was awhirl with the events of the night and morning...and things hadn't even started happening yet.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Burning Man 19: Further Ruminations/The Butterfly Girls

How's that for a hook, eh?

When last we left our hero, he was jacked up nine ways from Sunday and perched like some sort of weird electroluminescent gargoyle atop an RV, in the very heart of Burning Man. It was early Wednesday morning, and I hadn't done much more than sip an increasingly dusty and unappetizing absinthe cocktail for hours. I was thinking.

I was thinking, as one is wont to do when one's skull is leaking out of one's ears, about What It All Meant.

People go to Burning Man for lots of reasons: sex, community, art, drugs, and spiritual communion are the big ones, I think. I was trying to get my head around what I liked the most about the whole experience--what I felt it was all about.

Spiritual communion? Ptah.

Sex? I'd been here three days, and the closest I'd come to getting laid was ogling the Portuguese crossdresser's ass (argh!).

Drugs? Community? That's close. But let's not kid ourselves. Drugs + Community (+ Art, if you want to get elitist about it) = Party. And that's what I decided this was: The mother of all parties. Everyone's got their sexual pecadilloes, everyone's got their religious beliefs, everyone's got different ideas about what constitutes a good time. The beauty of Burning Man, as far as I could see (and bear in mind that I still hadn't been more than 20 yards away from camp, sick as that is), is that you're bound to see something fun, something you'd never thought of doing, or being. When you make that thing your own, or become a part of it (and here I'm just talking about a specific event and/or camp), then a) you become a bigger, more enlightened person, and b) you meet a lot of really cool people.

So on a local, physiological level, I was looking forward to meeting the group that made what I called the Psychedelic Windmill (more on that in a minute)--anyone who took the time and money to build that thing, never mind drag it out and set it up out in the desert, was someone worth dosing with acid, or at least splitting a six-pack with. They would be fun people to party with, in other words.

On a more social level, I was looking forward to meeting those folks because they would represent a facet of the world that I hadn't seen, despite my aforementioned accomplishments drinking beers from Byron's Liquor Warehouse. I'd seen it that night-a gang of people from disparate parts of the country, who obviously had some kind of cerebral connection that I'd lived my whole life without.

In other words, I wanted to meet cool people and drink beer with them.

Dan came up on the RV at that point, I suppose slightly worried that I hadn't moved in several hours. We were both feeling the cold, I think, and I'm sure he was thinking I might have frozen solid to something. We talked for a bit about what we'd discovered during the night, then he went out wandering again.

LSD has a funny way of acting in one's system. I never can tell if it's the dose, or whether it's your brain chemistry, or if certain types of events trigger another wave of psychedelia. Each dose is different, so it's almost impossible to repeat any sort of experiment accurately. Anyway, my whole mindset changed by the time Dan had gone on his way (out to the fence, it turns out).

I'd been thinking too hard, I reckon. I decided to spend some time just looking--still not moving, because my legs were numb at this point, but looking instead of philosophizing. Now that I'd pretty much digested what I thought the Burn was about, I could look at it from that perspective, and maybe figure out where this was all going.

There was plenty to look at. The stars, as we'd seen earlier, were ridiculously close, and there seemed to be an even greater number than we'd seen outside of Utah. I watched them, in solitude, until I got a crick in my neck.

To my left, about a mile away, was a huge geodesic dome. The dome pulsed with what were probably strobe lights, but these were dimmed a lot by the cover, or maybe distance, so it's hard for me to say exactly what. It was good for another hour or so of fun--trying to figure out the patterns, or what was going on inside.

Center Camp was pretty slow, but still very impressive. It's an elaborate shade structure--picture a huge round pavilion with lots of pennants and awnings and beams and buttresses. To my bedazzled eyes, it was more interesting than either the stars or the big dome, because it was close, and elaborate. It was silent, and moodily lit.

My neck moved, because I was starting to cramp up--one of the side effects of cold and LSD, I'm afraid, and I was finally sucked into the Psychedelic Windmill.

The Windmill, while unlit, was simply that. It had three or four windmill blades that rotated around a central hub, and this was all set on a scaffold and shaft around 40' tall. Taller than me, even sitting on the RV, and about 50 yards away. Close.

And beautiful. Each blade was covered (I think) in LED's of different colors. Anyway, the damn thing lit up in different colors--a bright, spinning vortex of multicolored light. It had to be visible from miles away, and I would have used it as a landmark all week, had it not been pretty well destroyed in the windstorm the next day (oops!).

Then I began to experience the insidious visual effects that those bastards had programmed into the Windmill. It wasn't just a matter of pretty colors. There were patterns in those colors. And those patterns CHANGED. They spiraled in. They spiraled out. They exploded and imploded. They pulsed and flashed and made me think of seizures. I was lost.

And I'll confess. I got a touch of The Fear. It's easy to take massive doses of hallucinogens when you've got something normal (and thus comforting) to focus on when the walls start breathing and the curtains start melting. Corners are a favorite of mine, where the walls meet the ceiling.

But it's the desert--and a white desert at that. White enough that I could see the reflections from the Windmill off the ground. Suddenly I was a little claustrophobic--I was in the bottom of a vast dry lakebed, for chrissake. Mountains loomed...the stars went cold, and the only architectural comforts I could find were either turning into props or melting away completely. I was sliding, suddenly, into paranoia.

The thing to do when this happens, I've found, is find someone to talk to. Friends, obviously, would be best, but if you're getting the fear based on the inorganic things around you, obviously any ol' living, breathing, normal human being will work.

I began to run through the last known locations of all my new friends. All either gone, or asleep, or both. I began to think about all the other people I'd met--the Boyscouts, mainly, but I wasn't sure talking to them would help my sanity much. They were both asleep, too, and I really wasn't interested in seeing them in their sleepwear.

Who, then? It was dark, and hard to find anyone on the back streets, and Center Camp had been dead for hours. I could hear Jack Webb telling someone that "if they wanted to expand their mind, they should go to the public library," which was exactly the sort of thing I didn't need right now, especially since this was being espoused by a seven foot tall mannequin made up to look like Webb, the protagonist from Dragnet. It was too dark to see anything, especially in the direction my friends had left in, hours (days) ago.

I was alone. I knew what would happen pretty quick-I would finally keep over, close my eyes, and whimper til someone found me the next morning. Another drug casualty, Jack Webb would have said. Just one person. One normal, normally dressed person. Man or woman, I didn't care. Someone to take thoughts of The Void out of my mind.

It wasn't happening. I was turning black. Time was stopping. I was doomed....and then, from what seemed light years away....

Voices! A pair of girls giggling and talking, and most importantly, walking my way. I turned my hair back on, wiped the dust from my eyes, and turned my bleary gaze upon my saviors.

Two young ladies, clad in golden butterfly wings and antennae, naked except for green body paint and six inch platform heels, huffing a balloon full of nitrous oxide and giggling madly.

Normal humans? What was I expecting out here?

I laughed. For a few minutes I tried to stifle myself, because I didn't want to wake anyone up, but then the complete absurdity of my whole situation sort of crashed into me, and I gave up. The girls never saw me, and I never saw them again. I snickered. I guffawed. I giggled at myself. And as I climbed down from my post, I detected a pale rime of gray on the eastern horizon.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Burning Man 18: Tuesday Night Afterparty

After the show, many people began to drift off-after all, this was (I felt) an night to celebrate. I was still very much tripping, though, so I didn't want to venture far, and was pleased to be invited up on top of the RV the New Yorkers had brought with them.

Someone had scored several bottles of absinthe, which was my first experience, but it had very little effect on me, except for the juxtaposition of such a sophisticated treatment of pouring a coctail in such a wild and desolate area. That is, the desert. The RV interior was still in decent shape at this point.

Tuesday night, I've found, is generally when people's masks start coming off. Earlier that evening Dan had been forced to make a choice between his sanity and his excessive cleanliness, and I have to say he was much easier to deal with after that. And no, I won't repeat the story of how this occurred, exactly. You can ask him. I think it was long enough ago that he'll tell you, now.

By sunup on Wednesday, it became apparent to me that the Ishkabibble Camp was going to split. Again, masks began to come off, and habits that had been merely annoying were now major character issues that would result in a trip to the Thunderdome later in the week.

Since I didn't go to that thing (Thunderdome, that is), I'm afraid I won't blog much about it, but I will post something about that group of subhuman asslickers here in a minute. And if you're nice, I'll tell you how they got upstaged by a bunch of clowns (literally).

But we're getting ahead of ourselves here. Everyone, it seemed, went different directions. Dan had gone off, in typical Dan style, to meditate on What It All Meant--which meant walking to the end of the road, both literally and figuratively, and turning and looking back at where he'd come from.

Ethan and Cosmo, I think, went out looking for some of their friends.

Most of what would remain Ishkabibble after all the tents had been moved around went out dancing, leaving me up on the RV with one of the Boyscouts, and Todd and Robert. And a bottle of absinthe (which I alone, of course, partook of).

We had some good conversation. We didn't know each other well at all, and you could hardly have come up with three more differently raised individuals, but I think all of us were excited at the possibilities of both Our Group and the possibilities of Burning Man as a whole--perhaps they'd become jaded in their own ways, too.

After several hours (so it seemed-remember, I was on large amounts of hallucinogens), I found myself alone up there. It was dark, and I was very, very cold, despite the button up shirt that Todd loaned me. I'd also found a quilt that I'd brought along just in case, so I imagine I looked like some sort of Isaac Asimov indian up there, wrapped in a multicolored blanket with a tower of blinking lights atop my head. Todd and Robert had either gone to bed, or more likely had gone out to find Jack Webb--more on those guys later.

I spent an hour or so freezing, but not wanting to move. I'd found that we'd seriously neglected the number of flashlights and light sources in our camp, and since everything was tied down six ways from Sunday, it was a bit dangerous in the dark. Even things that I saw were dangerous, because my hair was sticking straight up and I couldn't judge how far up it went. Plus, I was a little lonely, yet I couldn't deal with strangers. All this resulted in me sitting around thinking a lot, which if you've never done it is far superior to lying in your tent thinking a lot, or even worse, trying to sleep.

I was beginning to come down from the team effort we showed earlier. The biggest part of that, for me, was that everyone did what they did intuitively. The people who weren't actively running projectors were either cuing up more footage, answering questions from strangers, or continuing to work on the camp. No plan had been laid out, there was no leader (as far as I ever knew) who told anyone what to do, yet everyone fulfilled a role. This was completely unique in my experience, and I spent quite a bit of time thinking about what could have caused it.

Dammit, I'm sorry kids. Here I've been working myself into a really narrative mood (which you might alternately call "willingness to spout bullshit across the web"), and now I've got to get back to work. Perhaps I'll write more when I get home.

Thanks for reading.

Burning Man 17: The Show

Darkness fell, I was lit (in many ways), and people began to promenade. We ate, then everyone took their stations-audio, video, and film people began working together to create a sort of A/V collage. If it was thrown on your wall, I'm not sure you'd appreciate it. Every one of the visual people was completely different from the others, and the media was different. Imagine slides of space shuttles beside 16mm film loops from a Bonanza bar brawl beside video loops of people's faces sort of melting into one another...and then on top of that, imagine a really stripped down live electronica set by a guy who's as eclectic as they come. Imagine that none of these guys had ever worked together before that night. Now imagine you're on acid, in the middle of a desert, half naked, and there's this beeping you can't get away from.

Then people started coming up and dancing. Coming up and asking questions. Coming up and just taking in the performance. The guys who ran the radio station behind us got Todd to plug in his shit to their stack, so his music was being broadcast over the entire event--they'd interrupt periodically to advertise our camp, and what we were doing. I never even met those guys, dammit. I never had the chance--people would come up and ask the guys on the machines questions, and for some reason they'd get pointed to me. I guess no one knew how completely dazzled I was by everything, not least because I felt like I was a part of a Crew. And not just a crew of southside townies wahooing beer and getting in fistfights at the lake. These people were fucking Artists with a big A, and I suddenly realized that I was a lot closer to them than I realized. For the first time in the entire trip I felt like I could make this mine, and it was something new and fragile and beautiful simultaneously mine and everyone else's. Maybe like a child--something you made with someone else, but that didn't exist independently of the group. Something that you were a part of even if you didn't know the difference between 16mm and 8mm film, or who couldn't tell the difference between micro house and fucking breakbeat.

There's a Hunter S Thompson phrase that kept coming to mind: "They stomped on the terra." That's what I felt like we did, and I think everyone else there at the time will agree. I felt like we were at the center of everything that was happening--and at the same time I was awakening from a long sleep, and believing that the world was a much bigger and stranger place than I'd ever thought possible.

It lasted for hours, and I talked to so many weird people, and many who thought I was weird. When we finally shut down for the evening, I felt like we'd forged ourself into a group, a group that had to be one of the most impressive things on the playa.

That's what acid does to ya, kids. Among other things, it gives you a sense of being at the center of a universe, which can be a good or a bad thing. It also strips away a lot of your normal cynicisms and protections, and ultimately helps you believe that there is actually something that is fundamentally right about human beings, that maybe all those goddamn hippies had it right, they just had hygiene issues, and maybe you could get by on love after all.

I don't know whether to post this now. I don't know whether I've given this epiphany in my life the treatment it deserves, and I sure hope the rest of the folk who were there don't tell me I was completely wrong about everything.

But frankly, I'm stuck on this part--it's the best part of the whole trip, I think, though I hope you'll stick around and read the rest. To paraphrase HST again, I felt like we'd heard the high white sound of...human perfection...or something, and you can only really expect to hear about that once in any story, right?

So now I'm past it, and I'll get back into the narrative, and you'll get to read all about drama and (much more) drug abuse and (I forgot about this one) another, briefer encounter with that high white sound at the other end of the week. Not as powerful, perhaps, but maybe even more important to me in the long run.

Keep yer snickerin' to yourself. Y'hear?

Burning Man 16: Don't Try This At Home, Folks

I'm just going to skirt the issue of drug abuse by claiming NO ONE ELSE IN THE CAMP did any. I ate it all, except for what I gave to some other people in other camps (this will figure in later, with the story of Sketchy Bill, should I decide to tell it). If people start acting weird (and believe me, they do), you can draw your own conclusions--but for the record, it was all me.

There are two ways of talking about eating acid. The first is by massaging the number you took (almost always in an upward direction) based on some very subjective ideas such as the potency of the drug and who you're telling the story to. I hate this--there's nothing worse than being at a party and being stuck with the guy who decides I'll believe he ever took 20 hits of real, live LSD.

Unfortunately, I'm stuck--because at the end of this trip I DID take a massive amount of LSD, substantially more than 20, and you're just going to have to take me at my word on that. Why didn't I die? Well, several reasons:

1) I was at Burning Man--it's hard to get too mentally overloaded (once you get acclimated) because it's all too crazy to be real, ie, this is a rare moment when you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.

2) I was pretty much soaked in LSD from Tuesday night onward, with brief interludes of mushrooms and E. As some of you may know, it takes time for your body to recuperate, so you have to eat twice or three times the amount of what you did last time, just to have any effect. So it wasn't like taking 50 tabs the first time you'd ever done it, get it?

3) This stuff had been sitting around in a ziploc bag for a week, in an extremely hot and dry environment. You have to take care of your drugs, man, and there was really no way to take the right kind of care out there. What I'm saying here is that they weren't fresh, which means they weren't as strong.

So I've got to think about how I'm going to present this: I hate people who exaggerate, but I've already done so in the last post: I distinctly remember taking only three, but I just told you I did a half dozen. It's a dangerous precedent. The problem is, though, that if I hew to the idea that -I- did everything illegal, then those of you with your scratch paper at home aren't going to come up with the right number at the end of the game. If I'm completely accurate in my storytelling. A quandary indeed.

I think I'm just going to tell the story, and to hell with the consequences. Those of you who want to fact-check me on this stuff, well, you're just going to have to deal with a little poetic license.

Jeez, what a wasted post. I'll do a little work around the office and then try and get some narrative up, OK?

I Live....Again!

OK, so I didn't stay very sober over the Valentine's weekend. Sue me. I was at least SAFE, which led to me waking up in a couple of rather strange places, but I think that's about half of drinking responsibly. The other half, of course, is not killing your liver. But one thing at a time, eh?

I'm pretty well back where I started, realizing that while I can socialize with a ton of people here, they're not all people that I like, or have anything in common with. I mean, it's fun, and there's always some interesting variation of the same old thing going on (I wound up staying up til 4 or 5am agonizing with the drummer of a local band over what he should do about his pregnant girlfriend), but I'm bored, especially since I can SEE that it's the same old recycled shit.

An especially vicious hangover awaited me on Sunday, which pretty well enervated me and made me stupid yesterday. You know you're getting old when hangovers last two days. Got to watch that stuff.

Good stuff came in the mail last night, though: The Aqua Teen Hunger Force DVD, which has ten or twelve episodes of crazy-ass animation on two DVD's. I watched one of them, but will probably save the other one til I've got some sort of recreational drug to enhance the experience.

The other was the Loony Tunes Golden Collection. I'm sorry, I know I'm a goober, but I love that shit. I can't help it. Four DVD's, and I got through about half of one last night. I've heard rumors that WB is going to rerelease every single animation they did, which will be interesting because there's some fairly racist stuff back in the early days.

I've seen every cartoon I watched last night at least twice, which is what you get from being my age and a 'toon head back when Saturday morning cartoons were worth a shit. I tried really hard to stick it out and catch Daffy Duck's magnum opus, "Duck Dodgers in the 24th and a Half Century," but sleep overcame me. That's got to be one of my favorites of all time, although I see from the box that "Duck Season/Rabbit Season/Duck Season" is on here too.

I'll confess to being a bit stuck on the Burning Man narrative, but I'll reread the last couple of posts and see if I can't crank one out this afternoon, if my boss will leave me alone.

Friday, February 13, 2004


You know, this job is doing its best to take away everything I love about life. First, it was the smell of fresh cut grass. Then, it was dogs (don't get me started), followed quickly by snow, rain, and lightning. Now, my schedule is such that Friday is the first day I have to get up and go salt puddles. I don't dread Friday yet, but I'm in a race, it seems, with springtime.

I was so sleepy this morning that I nearly microwaved my breakfast for 60 minutes instead of six. Then burned my tongue on it. Smart.

There's not much to report, really. It's fucking COLD outside, but fairly dry, so this morning wasn't much hard work. I can feel my arms, anyway, which is a sight better than last Friday.

Read a good bit of one of Zora's favorite sites, Chowhound. I'd link to it if it wasn't limited to New York City and its environs, but the restaurant reviews and other articles are really good, even if you're unfamiliar with the geography like I am. One of the articles talks (very) briefly about parasitic worms in sushi, which had never occurred to me. I mean, I know a lot about parasites on FISH, even a good bit on salt-water fish, but I just figured they had some sort of mechanism in place to keep that shit under control. Beef, at least, you cook, so if you eat a hookworm, it's a least a dead hookworm. It seems like a dilemma, but I'll keep eating the stuff. Not much can live in my system, anyway, right?

I was discussing with Rachel last night the wave of breakups we've had recently: me, Ethan, TwinC, Keith, and her sister. This morning I awake to find out Ken and Barbie broke up? What's the fucking world coming to? They aren't even PEOPLE! Why is this getting air time AT ALL?

Rachel's got a good theory: breakups are probably higher January-March than at any other time of the year. This is most likely due to the fact that most people aren't assholes, deep down--who wants the stigma of dumping someone during the holidays? I mean, certain people thrive on it, but we can generally see them coming. So I reckon most people just sort of grit their teeth and bear it until mid January or so, then kick their significant other to the curb. Basically, all the breakups in December are rescheduled for January/February.

February probably also sucks because, well, it's just a shitty month. You probably spend a lot of time indoors, with that person who sets your teeth on edge, and it's just too much.

March, she reckons, is the beginning of spring. I think this is when people start to pair up again ("coupling," let's call it, not necessarily a relationship), and if your boy/girlfriend has survived the holidays and the dark days of February, well, so much the better.

Going to be a long, frustrating day. Cross your fingers-hopefully my next post won't be a long-form rant about the idiocy of corporate American and/or yer average American citizen. Keep 'em crossed-there's hope.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Janet Jackson's Breast Satanic

Just when you thought it was a mere publicity stunt...

I'd like to give you the gist here, but you have to go here and see for yourself. Apparently Janet Jackson and the Manitoba Telephone System are both in cahoots with Ol' Scratch.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Burning Man 15: Being Blue

It was a very busy time for us. Since most of us were new, we hadn't really had time to adjust to how little dusk there really is, nor to how quickly it gets COLD out there. In fact, that's continued to be my problem--I almost freeze to death every year.

So, there we were, styling Jeff's hair. Well, Dan was attempting to style my hair, which we'd decided was going to be some sort of double helix, blue, with various light devices in it. Other members of the camp were re-running cords, cooking dinner, getting coffee, and setting up audio equipment. The amount of organized chaos was incredible, even if you take into account I was looking at everything upside down, since my hair was long enough that you had to have gravity assist in spiking it.

Which we found out shortly just wouldn't work. Luckily, dinner was prepared, and Carrie had some experience working with large amounts of grease (or whatever had looked like a good idea back in Oklahoma) for my hair. This also freed Dan up to fabricate a sort of crown out of baling wire (I'm serious), with two prongs to sort of support the arms of the helixes.

This actually worked, especially after Carrie sprayed the whole mess with bright blue temporary dye. I thought it would work better than it did--next time, I'll go the whole route. In my defense, I was transporting a bunch of drugs, and we cut a pretty strange figure as it was.

Then, the final touches: half a dozen light sticks that turned out to be more of a hassle than they were worth, and then the piece de resistance: the Boyscouts scrounged a few feet of el wire.

EL wire, for those of you not in the know, stands for Electro Luminescent wire, and it kicks ass. It's kind of like neon, only it's a wire, see? EL Wire? It's also not too hard to power, you can run it through various sequencers and boards, and decent amounts of it run off of a 9v battery. It was my first experience with the stuff, and I loved it. I'm still not much in the way of sequencing the stuff, but I love it anyway.

The only problem, for those of you trying some sort of Chromosomal-Hair Sculpture with lit protein crossmembers (pick me apart on that-it's been 15 years since I've had any sort of biology class), is that el wire drivers make a quiet, but completely audible beeping noise. When they're on. It was maddening--and the acid I took later didn't help much. It was almost sunup before I realized that it only beeped when the lights were on, but by then I had other problems on my hands.

Anyway, once I was blue, I ate half a dozen hits of acid and began to help set up for the night's show. It was only then that I realized all my warm clothing was of the pullover type, and with a 2 foot blue tower of blinking hair on my head, I was sort of stuck barechested, overnight. Then the show started, and I was pressed into service as a greeter.

Monday, February 09, 2004

I've Lost My Cellphone

I'm pretty sure I know where it is, but I'll be goddamned if I've got the energy to go get it. So if you want to call me, call the home number-405-843-7024.

So, the Sausage Queen:

While out purchasing large quantities of nitrous with Daud and Diablo (on Friday), they noticed the marquee of the Coit's said (rather cryptically) "Hot Dog Schwabs." Now, as this is right down from the strip of gay bars (and the gay hotel), this took on all sorts of weird significance. Getting swabbed by a hot dog? WTF? I had to burst their bubble and tell them Schwabs is a meat purveyor here in the city. Then we started hitting the nitrous and it all gets echoey and fuzzy.

Fast forward to Saturday night, where Daud had a hankerin' for coffee with Kahlua and live jazz. Now, there's only one place in town that fulfills both of those requirements, and also has the most elaborate women's restroom ever. Yes, within 15 minutes of the topic being broached, we were comfortably ensconced in Dooley's Tower Club, sucking down Kahlua'd coffee (daud) and gin and tonics (diablo and me). I went out to call John again (who never did show up, the bastard), and came face to face with a really cute, fairly intoxicated young lady with a penchant for flirting. It was her 22nd birthday, and her name guessed it...Schwab. Lacy Schwab, to be precise. So we chatted a bit in the hallway, while waiting on her boy to do his business, then I bid her adieu.

She came in a few seconds later, strangely enough without her beau, and I waved. She came over, was introduced to daud and diablo, and then in turn introduced us to HER parents, who were pretty non-plussed, I think, at the company their daughter was apparently keeping. No one's going to confuse any of us for senate staffers.

Which I guess makes Lacy a Sausage Princess, although I'm not sure how these things work. As we were leaving, coincidental with THEIR leaving, Diablo very magnanimously bummed a cigarette from Lacy (only Diablo can make you feel like giving him a cigarette is a favor to YOU), which provoked a strange attack from ANOTHER sausage princess. Something along the lines of "get away from her, you freak," or more generally "don't talk to my sister, you don't know us."

But he did! He rounded on her and very politely explained that yes, in fact, he did know them, named her (Lacy), her parents, and then pointed out that it was, in fact, Lacy's birthday. Then we left, leaving a very cute, albeit arrogant, young lady with her mouth hanging open.

Hot Dog Schwab, indeed.

I Smell Like a Brewery

God, my head hurts. There's absolutely no point in me being at work today, except to get paid, because I can barely form complete sentences. Getting dumped sucks, and plays to my worst shortcomings. I don't need much of an excuse to drink too much to begin with, and getting a shiv in my ribs from the ONE PERSON I THOUGHT I COULD TRUST is a true reason.

Plus, you have to go out to meet new people, and going out=bars, for me. Ouch. Why do keyboards have to be so damn loud?

My love life is complicated, and getting more so by the hour, it seems. I can't get the Sausage Queen out of my head, nor can I forget about the girl who just got dumped by a fella named Guy. Unfortunately, I'll never see the Sausage Queen again, and I can't remember the other woman's name. And it's a week til Valentine's Day, dammit. How am I ever gonna get laid at this rate?

My Head is the Size of a Basketball

And a basketball probably has much more in the way of thoughts in it than I do right now. That fucking freak what draws a comic called "Wigu" just posted in the comments section, so I'll probably post a link to his site when I get home from work. Which, if there's any justice, will be shortly after noon, because I really, really really need to take a nap. And find my cellphone--I have a horrible feeling I've left it at a bar somewhere, and if that's the case then I've lost everyone's phone number. Dammit.

Remind me to tell you about the Sausage Queen later. Really, it's a fun story. Hell, I really need to post a story about the whole damn weekend--I've decided any event involving Daud and/or Diablo is worth blogging about, plus, I like their idea for the next Burning Man camp. I liked it so much, in fact, that I've already signed up for it. Sorry, Josh, Disorient doesn't have an art car. Do they?

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Sausage Queen, You Fucks

This will be short, because I'm so hungover I can't really think too far ahead. Let me just say that a) Daud and Diablo (and Blito) are the coolest human beings ever grown from a test tube, and that the Sausage Queen needs to call me.

She wasn't stunningly attractive, but she's the heir to a meat-packing fortune, and that's good enough for uncle Jefe. It's not what I want, but it'll do for now.

Mook Mook.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Saw this one coming.

Lennox Lewis has retired.

I don't like this--I wasn't a HUGE Lewis fan, but I don't think he ever got the respect he deserved as a boxer. Plus, this means we'll have to sit through another Tyson comeback and probably another Evander Holyfield plodder. There's also no one that's really come to the forefront of the heavyweight division, either, which means we'll have a bunch of fairly sub-par but evenly matched fights on pay per view for the next few years. I like the Klitschkoes, yes, but other than that, who is there? Corrie Sanders? Who the fuck is that?

Now that Lewis is out of the way, though, there's a chance that Roy Jones will make a run at consolidating his heavyweight belts, if he's got enough fights left in him. If I remember right, he gave up the one he got from Ruiz to fight back down in light heavyweight, so he'll have to fight at least 3 fights to do what no-one's ever done. And I don't know that he can do that. He's getting up there in years, too.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Burning Man 14: Ishkabibble

It turns out that these yankees, collectively called Ishkabibble, were in the same business as we were, to wit, playing with film loops and video. Call it serendipity, call it someone playing god over at Theme Camp Placement. Not sure, but we were stuck with them.

Josh and John were the primary video people, and they had cajoled Todd into joining them to mix live audio. Robert, Rachel and Carrie either had other projects, or like me were free agents. There were a couple of other bit players, but I either can't remember their names or they weren't really important to the narrative.

So around dusk (sunsets are glorious, drawn out affairs which are roundly applauded by everyone in the whole damn affair, it sounds like) I was drafted to help set up equipment, run cords, and finish up the cubes. In fact, fairly quickly I became defacto keeper of the cubes, because everyone else was busy with their equipment. The show was short and more a test run of equipment, but it really got the attention of the guys behind us. Their set up was much more advanced than ours, with video cameras, laptops, and a video projector that John kept locked in a car he appeared to have rented just for that purpose. We tentatively agreed to join forces on Tuesday night, and have A Meeting Tuesday afternoon. I was a bit confused about hearing the word meeting in such a laissez-faire place, but Josh seemed to think it was a good idea, and some of our people nodded sagely. Fuck it, I thought, not my problem. I'll run the cords wherever.

Tuesday morning, we were all invited over to Ishkabibble's RV for breakfast. My first breakfast that wasn't out of a MRE pack, if we'd even bothered to eat breakfast. I felt awkward--they were friendly but since most of us had never been to the Burn everyone was still trying to get their senses straight. I, of course, am paralytically shy at first, made doubly so because I was eating their food and not being particularly welcoming or fun to be around. But hey, I'm shy.

That day was full of something, I'm sure, but I can't remember what. I think that's the day I discovered that one of the tents visible from my tent was inhabited by a very attractive female impersonator who liked to bend over and show his ass when he was getting something out of his tent. For the remainder of the week, I'd look over, spy a nice ass in hose and a short skirt, ogle, then whack myself in the head when the owner of that ass turned out to be a Portuguese man. It wasn't fair, and you'd think I'd learn, but I'll bet it happened 20 times.

That evening, the entire crew gathered underneath the parachute to Have A Meeting. I think the meeting took place so that everyone in the camp couldn't say they hadn't been warned of what was taking place, that is, we were going to really Pool Our Loops with people from another group. It was a short meeting, but afterwards we began to mingle with each other and by the time dusk fell we were all working as one. Or at least we'd all accepted each other--it was utter chaos in the camp, with people setting shit up, directing traffic, eating popsicles, and attempting to dye my hair blue.

Yes, that's right. Dye my hair blue. Hey, that's nothing! Robert dyed his entire body blue. Please take note that the picture on the other end of the link is NOT Robert. Robert's penis is much larger. And if that doesn't get you to follow the link, you're no fun at all.

But I think that deserves attention on its own, plus I've got a new vacuum cleaner and I want to play with it. Yahootie!~

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Burning Man 12: Monday

We awoke Monday morning and began to build the camp in earnest. The wonderful people over in Pulse had an auger, which really assisted us in putting up the big shade structure. Shortly after that, we began on Mr. E's PVC/parachute shade structure. This went together flawlessly as well, except that the parachute was about 5 times too big for the PVC skeleton. Since we needed the shade, and it was calm, we did some pretty half-ass engineering to deal with the slack--stretched it completely over the Californians' tent, and wadded up a bunch of the other side and piled our water jugs it. The resulting shade structure looked like ass but was fairly roomy and cool. We found out the next day that it was also unsafe.

(Don't worry, no one gets hurt)

We'd been smart and brought a Solar Shower, which is a really great way to take warm showers if you're out camping or your water heater's out, unless you don't pay attention to how long the water's been absorbing sunlight, in which case it's a really great way to burn the shit out of some (probably very sensitive) area of your body. Unfortunately, no one really thought to bring something to hang the damn shower on. We also didn't bring anything to screen the shower with, and this resulted in me holding the shower in plain view of Center Camp (and a hundred people or so), while Dan crouched in a Rubbermaid plastic tub and washed his ass.

Now, this sort of thing happens all the time. Granted, I haven't seen it since, but there's all sorts of people wandering around naked (how they avoid chafing is beyond me), and there's all sorts of people showering, so there must be some people doing both, right? Anyway, it was then that I began to notice Dan's somewhat obsessive behavior regarding personal hygiene.

Personally, I never got around to showering, that year or any other. It sounds gross, but the air's dry enough that there's very little sweat on your body at any given time, which in essence means there's no body odor. I wash my face and hands occasionally, true, but I've never gone in for a true shower while in the desert. This might be why I never get laid out there, but truth be told it's worth it. Besides, you're covered in dust the instant you step out of the shower anyway.

But I think I'm the minority. We've had showers of varying complexity since that first year, and they always get used. And if you've never experienced living in the desert, well, you won't believe me, but it's true.

By the time the flagpole went up (complete with an altered Texas Flag), it was starting to get hot, and we'd gotten to know each other a little bit. I'd also noticed 2 things:

1) People liked to cut through any open area to get into Center Camp from the next street out, and

2) My campmates didn't like that.

I didn't have a problem with it. The whole damn event was a bunch more people than I was accustomed to, all of them doing weird shit, many of them in closer proximity than I was comfortable with. I thought about it like homeless people: as long as the loonies didn't accost me, I was content to let them walk where they wanted. I made certain I left the expensive stuff in my tent, anyway. It also seemed a little arbitrary (and frankly silly, although Burning Man is rife with silliness) to say "this is our stretch of featureless desert floor, and you can't walk on it." "Get your filthy hands off my desert," to quote Roger Waters.

All this really highlighted the fact that by early afternoon on Monday, no one was filling the space behind us. This was intriguing to all three of our camps (the Boyscouts, Pulse, and Loopool, which I probably forgot to mention was our camp name) because any spots left untaken by Monday night were fair game on Tuesday. Pulse was a big group, and they had a big spot but it didn't offer very much privacy--you could spit on at least two and maybe three tents from the road, which has got to be a little unnerving if you've got any weird or secret bedtime or sexual ritual that doesn't involve other people. The Boyscouts wanted to expand their racing area, as well, and while we didn't need much more room we were all for that blank area being filled in with something, so it didn't look like so much of a shortcut.

But then, in midafternoon, I looked up from the book I was reading and saw a very cute pink haired woman, who looked lost, or at least confused. She was also standing in the middle of what was shortly to become Ishkabibble's territory. The New Yorkers had arrived.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Burning Man 11: The Arrival of Coz and Mr. E

By the time we got all introduced and our minimum needs set up for our first night, it was late and I was getting tired again. What did not help in the least was that Mr. Pugh had busted out the flask and filled it full of Mr. Daniels, and we went wanderin'. Center Camp was still under construction inside, although the entire shell was done. I got a little disoriented (a hint of things to come), but stuck with Dan for a bit as we wandered out into what was still primarily darkness periodically broken up with work lights, frenetic construction, and genuinely disturbing noise.

I reckon we walked five hundred feet past the other side of Center Camp by the time things really began to peter out. I remember turning around to look back, and thinking "how the hell will this ever get full?" I say this to illustrate how naive I still was about humanity and art and energy.

Because each leg of the horseshoe is about 2000' long. Not only was that semi-empty area I was looking back at filled, but three others (at least, I'm playing fast and loose with the actual dimensions here) were as well. And FOUR others on the other side. In essence, I had no fucking idea how big this was going to get. And this would be the case for a couple of days.

When Dan and I finally met back up at camp, warm from the whiskey and exertion and slightly silly from all the events (remember, it was just a few hours previous that we'd been stranded in the desert with a flat tire), we found Mr. E's truck parked in the camp.

Now was the moment of truth, sort of. I'm a paranoid, shy, cynical motherfucker, so I by rights should have had stomach cramps at the thought of meeting two strange artists that a) had Dan's full respect and b) were willing to come out here in the middle of all this madness and attempt to DO something. I mean, after a quick spin around there, I was anticipating a fun week of sunburn and a variety of recreational drugs...but I couldn't imagine performing anything.

But anyway: Ethan and Cosmo were (and remain) great. They were whipped from the drive, and I don't think either of them harbor much of a penchant for Dionysian excess, at least like Dan and I do. We were all introduced, fiddled around a bit with the cubes, and adjourned to bed. We'd arrived, and set up, and stowed camp. Tomorrow would be the first day of the rest of a very changed life.

I'd just like to point out that while you'd think I'd have a lot more to write about regarding my first impressions of Burning Man, I was really too tired and bemused by things that were less than 20 feet away from my tent to recall big things. Besides, when something's new, you don't take in the sunset. You take in what the sunset shines on. I promise you, though, by Tuesday night, you'll get all the ambience you want. Or all that I can bestow upon you, through my fragile grasp of the English language. Ptah.