I was at Burning Man in 2003. It was great. You should go. I can't in 2004 because it's at the same time as the Republican National Convention in NYC and I will have more important things to do, but count me in for 2005.
This audio record is a massively incomplete account of only a few moments. I offer it here for what it's worth and nothing more. Some textual context is provided. At some point I'll also transcribe my paper journal, which was more a list of bullet points not to forget than anything else.
On Thursday I was starting to loose my cool. I had to find something to do. More participation in addition to just reading some of my performance art. I also needed physical exercise, so I hit up recycle camp. They crush beer and soda cans with a bike contraption. We took turns feeding in cans to be crushed; getting crushed cans in burlap sacks.
The camp was run by old hands, but there were a bunch of up and comers and youngters there too. It was a real good scene, and I was very happy to find it. Sparky was probably the best; he got a call on Friday that his wife was pregnant. There's a moment for you.
Interview One: I interviewed a 14-year-old making his second trip out about how he liked everything. You can hear them doing their hawking in the break here. For the latter half, I'm the one riding the bike.
Interview Two: An interview with a 12 year old. I feel like he was more on my level than the kid before.
Interview Three: Sugar Bunny runs this fuckin' recycle camp, agressive and wild and topless the whole time. Her and the rest of the people in charge were loud, agressive and drunk most of the time. It was too much for some of the more mellow people; but I got big kicks out of it.
This was the main event, and I downed a quart of psychadelic mushroom smoothy and hopped on the back of the Wunami Villiage Bus to roll out to the man. It was a transcendent experience and utterly uplifting and positive. Don't listen to these things unless you're comfortable listening to what comes out of my mouth when I'm very high on mind-bending drugs. Some of it is interesting and I'll explain it all the best I can.
1 - Peaking: Prefaced with a little quip from my guide Robin. This is some audio from the very far out part, I think just before the Burn got started. There's an incredible convergance as the whole city gathers at the Man. People bring in portable soundsystems, there's mass fire-dancing, etc. The first big statement is "I'm a middlegrounder," which is a title that Robin's friend Nickoli gave me. He's one of those far out dudes who will talk to you about the Indego Children, I rocked a stars and stripes bandana most of the time, but we got along well. I like that title quite a lot. I'm a middlegrounder. I straddle gaps.
I knew I was going to try and work for MfA after this, so my mind was on big things; my self-appointed mission to save the country from ruin. Hence, "the flag is good for many things, one of them is burning." On Sunday night there's another big burn, the temple burn, and I wrote a series of resolutions along these lines, wrapped them in my American Flag bandana, and tossed it into the spiritual inferno.
Also from this part is my sense that "this is the future." Burning Man is very much a pirate utopia. The second part here is after the revel of the burn and I'm sitting down near this large ring of half-buried lights (think "running" christmas lights, but about the size of your fist and anchored with concrete) that had previously set up a perimiter around the Man. "Fire is where choreography ends" is a little art moment that struck me when I was watching the flames from the Burn create dust devils from the air being pulled in to feed the fire.
2 - Fun/Plateau: I was really wrestling with my role in things a lot here, and so I went around to a lot of different scenes, trying to find the right fit, trying to find "my people." I had a great time -- that bluegrass art car was a smoking good time, but the dude driving it kept giving me skunk-eye; jealously protecting his woman I think. A lot of my experience was dealing with sexual frustration. It's a hot place there, and I wasn't ready for it in a lot of ways.
I never did really find a social scene that I fit into, but I sure got some ideas about what I'm all about out of the process.
Full Circle and Complete The Joke were kind of my own little comic one-liners I used with myself.
3 - Cleanup: One thing that bothered me was the amount of trash left over from spectators at the Burn. It was really kindof gross, and I started picking things up. Problem is, there are no trash cans, so whatever I picked up now became my problem. I couldn't just ditch the trash, so I started strategically collecting stuff and making a little found-object puppet. I got a strip of a feather boa and a bunch of fragrant wax from a giant candle someone set up, created "Charlene, my MOOP date."
MOOP stands for Matter Out Of Place; playa-slang for litter. I would tell people, "yeah, I picked her up." I'm a witty mofo. It was a good exercise for me; creative and responsible and unsexy. After I took her home to our camps trash, I spent a lot of time standing on the smoldering remnants of the man. It was warm and kind of somber, and the people there were good. A lot of ex-firefighters and military types.
Final Thoughts: In my tent getting ready to go to sleep on Sunday night. Kinda wraps it all up.
Maybe more someday soon. Peace.