Friday, September 03, 2004

Satirius 3

Part 3 of 5. These people are nuts.

A party comprised of R, C, B, I, F, K, Zora, M, Chad and myself... ten little indians... elected to head out into what promised to be the first, full throttle every-camp-is-honestly-really-ready evening at Burning Man.

Also, the first hallucinogens of the week were to be taken, a supply of mushrooms proffered by one of the North Carolinian hippies when he had returned to express his thanks for our moving his dome.

[alphabet soup, I know--sorry]

We get a little farther- to some giant froglike sculpture camp where we all file in and climb up to some sort of observation deck and then filter back down. We move on. I do the tally, out of curiosity- and there’s no M. Nine little indians.

I’m hanging back with Zora and B as we proceed further apace down the Esplanade, to Alien Abduction Camp- where a silver lacquered alien abduction table and a dissected alien makes music, flashes, blinks, and whirs when it stood still if you interact with it. Everything is luminous, overwhelming, green and you are surrounded by trancetrancetrancetrancetrancetrancetrancetrance from all directions. And being naked (save for a sarong) and blue during all this still feels pretty weird. And the desert is getting cold.

The lights and crowds are getting thicker as we make our way towards Center Camp, the heart of Burning Man. F wants to go to the bathroom, we take a detour several rows behind as Bridget starts to rattle off the fates of the Gashleycrumb tinies for some reason.

As we come into the fracas that is Center Camp, an odd one of those Burning Man episodes happens.

The Disturbia bus, presumably driven by Daud, chugs into the middle of the central plaza before the main tent of center camp. Effectively, this is the Times Square of Burning Man. On top of the bus, where there is a superstructure of metal guardrails and a second roof- the guardrail lowers mechanically and a sort of iron plank extracts itself out the side. On this plank is an unidentifiable object, about the size of a snow blower- that looks like it might be some kind of heavy generator.

Gradually at first, but gaining in pitch and volume, a sound emanates from the object as the people on the top of the bus run away and scramble into the first tier of the Disturbia bus. It’s impossible to see what’s going on- but the sound is getting very loud and still getting louder. It’s a sort of white noise staticy kind of sound, combined with an alarming droning wail. F covers his ears crying in confusion, “why is the Disturbia bus making that ungodly sound?”

As the sound increases in decibels, the object-horribly-starts to glow a deep, dim red... Then as the sound continues, it gains in luminescence and becomes a brighter, hotter orange. You can see the heat waves rising off of it and even fifty feet away you could feel the heat. The shriek of static is deafening as the thing becomes white hot, revealing weird turrets and protuberances off the surface of the object. Suddenly- as the thing couldn’t get any louder- and as all of Center Camp is scurrying around in complete confusion, crackling explosions that look either electrical in nature or like the thing is firing off blanks out of the turrets and protuberances- pushing the commotion into chaos. I am firmly planted still as people are running around me.

I realize that the mushrooms have happened, and I am just utterly, utterly confused by everything.

B is the first to speak.

“Was that thing specifically designed just to fuck people up?”



Todd Oliver and his fucking sculptures.

And B is right- it was specifically designed to fuck people up. Because as I look at B and Zora, I realize that indians four through nine are gone.


After going to several nightspots, we wound up trekking back across the open playa to Image Node. My desiccated latex skin was starting to feel hideous as it became cold and clammy and flakey. Feeling suffocated, I couldn't resist the urge to... peeel it away from my chest and face, an act which horrified all. Pulling it away from my chest, my skin seemed to stretch a foot from me and luminesce with my glow stick as it ripped away like some ghastly pupa molting. “That is soooo freaky!” Zora said in scrunched fascination.

We returned to Image Node to discover a thoroughly nonplussed Robin who thought that she had been the one abandoned. However, in one of the most painful acts I have ever experienced, she was willing to rip the blue latex off of my chest, effectively depilating almost all of my chest hair.

I won’t even mention what the rest of my night was like.

Cold and completely hairless the next morning, I went to sit by the fire.


John Osborne appeared horribly enough- outfitted to look like one of Ouchy’s clowns. Dressed in a referee’s uniform and tartily slapped with crude clown paint, it’s impossible to describe how disconcerting and psychotic seeming this was. Osborne explained that he and Ouchy had become friends after a night of Osborne’s slurry, and had discovered that they had much in common. Ouchy invited Osbourne to be made a “special clown” and decreed that Osborne introduced into true Ouchydom forthwith, in a ceremony which involved being mounted on a clown crucifix and Osborne’s receiving a full body shaving from Ouchy personally.

No one really wanted to dwell on this, and it was never brought up again for the rest of the evening.

[No one talks about it to THIS DAY, thank you very much]


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