September 5th, 2008


my annual really long post about burning man (caution: swears, bitching, !!!s)

so... year #13 for me. I had some superloaf and some suck - as always.

the best part was getting to spend a week goofing off with my awesome man! we also saw a ton of our stuff out there - very gratifying.

we pulled out of Oakland later than planned. after being up late packing it just would not have been a good idea to hit the road without some sleep. at our first stop we met up with some other burners including a friend of Jovino's - a lovely surprise (and they told us about an all-you-can-eat sushi place in Reno!) om nom nom!

I drove us over the pass and almost before we knew it we were in Wadsworth. Jovino took the backroads portion of the drive and we were in line by around 2pm. the line crawled along and we chilled out in the van, listening to music and slowly creeping forward. a dust storm blew in, and the line stopped completely. deciding to make the best of things, Jovino climbed up on top on the van and brought down beer from the cooler we had strapped up top. ahh, much better! as the dust storm wore on, he distributed most of what we had in the cooler to folks waiting in line, and people started getting out of their cars and interacting. it was actually fun!

eventually they reopened the gates and we rolled into camp as the sun was going down. I crawled along trying to find my way to gigsville. oops, we passed it. best head up towards the center and loop back. this strategy lead to us rolling along the 'nade (srsly, I have ALWAYS wanted to drive on on the 'nade) and right through the Gigsville gate, blasting none other than Lynrd Skynyrd (good choice, dj robo-shuffle.) FINALLY!

Jovino was exhausted from the long day but managed to put up the tent before curling up in the van for a nap. I made up our bed, tucked him in, and went off to say hi to folks. it's always a bit overwhelming arriving somewhere with so many friends but it also made me really happy. I got lots of hugs and felt really welcome. Connie-Lynn gave me my caution tape so of course I had to wrap our tent in it, for Jovino to see when he awoke. also got a ride on Barzilla out to the man and back, and saw first-hand the ridiculous base from the postcard (somehow I'd been secretly hoping they wouldn't actually DO that...) although I have to say that part of the secret to why I continue enjoying the event so much is that I really Do Not Care *what* the org does, so long as it manages to reasonably competently run the event. I don't go for the man-burn, I go for a reunion with friends and quality time with my bunny.

the next day I felt sickly and out of it all day, despite drinking water like it was going out of style. I was delighted to get my decks of cards, (and OMG AWESOME! I got a special thrill when I saw that the photo of Barzilla was from last year's Monday Last Art Standing tour - and that Jovino and I were in it!) but was too miserable to hang out for very long at the lovely party Nici and Chris and Danetta had in the saloon. Jovino and I'd promised to dj for JB and Dale's (of dragondebris) anniversary party and I somehow managed to get my ass dressed and out of camp. we made it over to their place, only to discover they didn't have CDJs. d'oh!

some nice folks with a 1927 Model-T Ford pulling a decorated wagon were parked out front and agreed to haul us all the way home and back again with our rig, but after riding with them for a ways we decided that maybe it was too late after all and we should just go back and hang out. in the meantime I'd mentioned that I'd always wanted to ride in a Model T and so they graciously insisted that I go up and hop into the car itself. what a thrill! they wanted to know how long I'd been into old cars and I managed to explain to them that I just think old tech is cool. they were lovely folks, from Ventura. the clutch on the T was really weird. it would seem like it was just about to stall out and then it'd go. and of course it had that fabulous horn!

the party was lovely and we saw a number of friends. I only wished I wasn't feeling so shitty. back in camp, I finally managed to eat something, then took a flexerl for my aching shoulder and fell asleep. in the morning I was a new woman! I'd slept for hours and finally felt acclimatized. it's never taken me so long before.

wednesday was a truly great day on the playa! in the morning, we sipped delicious cocktails and hopped onto the Diner for a ride out to the *clean* poo huts out in the deep playa. we cruised around checking out the art and stumbled across one of the best finds of the year - the Morning Wood - Best Bar on the Playa!

Morning Wood - photo by Dave Le
(photo by Dave Le)

this was like your favorite low-key neighborhood bar, out in the deep playa. the peeps running the place were awesome - and they had only one rule: Use the Door! we wound up returning there every morning for the rest of the event, and bringing them a HYOOGE bottle of Jack (which had been gifted to Jovino for spinning) and then, on their last morning out there, fresh pizza. I sure do hope they are there next time!

later on Wednesday was the Gigsville Prom ("A Night to Regret"). I'd arranged to DJ, and I wound up regretting that! :-P

I grabbed the CDs of fun CnW and bluegrass music I'd collected for the occasion, and put on a saucy little outfit. the girls were starting to gather in their "madam" drag of corsets and bustle skirts (we were doing a western saloon, after all. we even had a taxidermy bison head!) well, it turns out that the ONE thing they DIDN'T want to theme in their saloon was the fucking prom music. too bad no one mentioned that beforehand!

the organizers huddled together, whispering, with worried expressions. finally during about my third track they sent the most diplomatic one over to me to tell me they didn't like what I was playing - they wanted "prom music" so people could dance. "what do you mean by 'prom music'?" "prom music!" "like, '80s?" "yeah!" ok. so.

I flipped through my cases to see what I had, but I really didn't have much in that vein. so I threw on "Don't Stop Believing" (the de facto anthem of Gigsville, and also a bit of snark on my part, I admit.) they cheered, completely missing the sarcasm. (Jovino noticed, of course, and came over to investigate.) I put on another classic rock track - and then the power went down. everyone looked (but nobody moved) as I came out asking someone to please put gas in the genny.

really I wanted to Go. The Fuck. Away. but I couldn't just walk off or god knows who would be back there messing with my gear so I just tried to keep going. fortunately another DJ friend came along and when he heard my tale of woe, offered to go get his CDs and relieve me. thank you Patrick! I've never been in such a hurry to leave a party. and so I basically missed teh entire prom.

which was sort of a bummer because it was the big social event of the village. but, as soon as we left camp, things began to look up. first, we came across a group of people dressed in silver dancing to disco music (good disco!) they were from Jellyfish camp and they had an amazing art car with all these rainbow LED lights on top. they were letting people control the lights with a touch screen - SUPER cool. we'd have followed them back to their party, but Jovino had a gig at Lustre camp's Glitterbox club and we didn't want to be late. he tag-teamed with Jeremy aka Lord Kook (a good friend of ours) for over 5 hours of super phat electro. it was AWESOME! the place was packed (outside too) and the crowd was eating out of their hands! I danced my ass off and had a great time. they are a really great tag-team and it was a blast and a half!

the next few days start to blur together. I slept a lot, napping in the afternoon too. it was really hot. hanging out with friends was awesome, the morning Diner ride always a hilight of the day. it was IMPOSSIBLE to ride bikes so we didn't get out as much as we would have otherwise. the benefit to this was a lot more time with our favorite campmates. who needs to get out?

on Thursday, after leaving the Morning Wood, we stopped at the Temple. I got out my giant hot pink marker and wrote "like fuck - Alleycat RIP - love M" and felt so sad. I miss her so much! I went back to sit on the ground in the shade of the Diner and have a little cry. Jovino came and found me, and we had a really good talk about love and loss and mourning. I said "I am FUCKING SICK of writing on this FUCKING TEMPLE - but it never fucking goes away, does it. it only gets worse! I'm going to be doing this FOREVER!" Jovino said that I should write that, so I did, just the first part. it made me feel a bit better.

then, as I was walking back, a bus rolled up, while someone loudly held forth over a bullhorn about how "this is the temple - it is made of all recycled materials which they collected from people. I gave them some beer bottle caps, so *I* am a part of it!"

I snapped.

I felt like a fucking monkey in a zoo! I also felt totally disrespected. I walked up and began chastising them for failing to respect the PURPOSE of the art - the legitimate GRIEF and intense emotions that people experience there. have your art tour, but keep it out of earshot of the *participants* please! why not do the talking from a respectful distance, then park and walk up to have a closer look?

admittedly I was very upset and not as eloquent as I'd have liked to be. unfortunately, many of the folks on this bus chose the asshole response, hooting and mocking me. the bus was being followed by the Slug, with MotA at the wheel. he got out, came and gave me a hug, and told me they were just assholes, not worth dealing with, and that they just didn't get it. as he and Jovino walked away with me, the monkeys on the bus shouted "BOO HOO" and "YOU SUCK". awesome.

talking about it in camp later, Jovino said that he saw some of the people on the bus did seem to be listening and to get what I was saying. he also said he was proud of me for speaking up. that made me feel better about losing it like that. it just hurts so much already, and to be treated so rudely and obnoxiously at such a difficult and personally intense moment was more than I could take. after talking about it I felt better - I think it was the right thing and if even a few people got it it was worth it. I'm going to check in with friends who work DMV and the Artery to see if it's possible to remind people touring the art to be respectful of the temple (and other sacred spaces) as having a purpose and meaning beyond just something nifty to look at.

(I've also had the experience of being at the temple during a deeply personal moment when a party bus pulled up playing "Free Fallin'" on it's brilliantly clear PA, and having that be exactly the right thing at the moment - it's not like I want *silence* - just RESPECT.)

Thursday was also the BLD cocktail party, which I showed up early for since they changed the start time. I still managed to see a lot of folks, and to deliver the memorial boards for Jeff and Frank. I hugged friends, scarfed delicious grilled cheese, and passed around a postcard (of a ridiculous clown) for folks to sign for the Piptoads. (I heard today that they already got it!) it was great to see folks and I really wished the BLD and Gigsville were closer together as it was so hard to get around, and there is a lot of crossover between the two.

Thursday night I was scheduled to spin disco at the Glitterbox (Lustre camp.) I was barely able to get myself up from my disco nap to get there! when I walked in I discovered that they were doing a goth night - how to transition? I put something on and did a few mixes I knew would work, and finally got going and hit my groove. most of the goths left, of course, but I drew a smallish but enthusiastic crowd, and several people came up to say they loved disco, or that they were glad to have an alternative to all the trance and electro out there, and I even got a few cheers. one woman came up and thanked me effusively and said goodbye - then stuck around for several more tracks until I took off my headphones at the end. now that's a compliment! and so I managed to do one of four planned-for sets.

also Thursday night Jovino was scheduled at Jub Jub's Plastic Circus - a massive and very well put together camp just past Lustre. they had top of the line gear, a huge, well decorated tent (with a catering kitchen in the back) - and very few partiers. sadly, the previous DJ had gotten too drunk and wandered off, so the place was empty when Jovino went on at 3. eventually a few folks drifted in, but the party never gelled. I chatted with people from the camp and also met a very friendly and intelligent deputy Sheriff who I had a great conversation with. he asked how long I'd been going and was impressed when I said "since '96," commenting that he'd been 20 then. he said he was from around Reno but came out to work the event, and really loved it (this was his second time, he said his partner was a virgin). I asked if they'd made him ring the bell - duh, of course they didn't come in through the gate! he said "oh THAT'S what the bell ringing is" and told me he was going to drive out there tomorrow and make his partner ring it. random encounters like this can be so great. (I also give the camp big ups for being friendly with LE - VERY smart!)

Jovino finished up his set and we walked out to see the sunrise, then over to center camp for coffee. who should we find working the early shift but Justin Winokur (in his Swedish construction worker coat, even.) we chatted (I broke his brain, LOL!) and then went on our way.

Friday we mostly spent hanging around camp, talking and laughing with our rad friends. *this* is a big part of why I love being at burning man - time to have all those really silly or obscure or weird conversations (and weather that permits little else, at least during the day.) I think this was also the day we closed off the Esplanade with our GIGSVILLE FUCK OFF caution tape. whee! I crashed out fairly early and slept all night.

Saturday arrived and with it, our last chance for a morning Diner jaunt out to the 'Wood. we made and brought pizzas, admired their collection of polaroids of other patrons, and said how much we'd miss the place til next time. this time the Open Carry came along, and on the way back I got to sit up top! what a great ride. we also wrapped Opulent Village with the gigsville caution tape! we did it all ninja style, cutting the tape into sections ahead of time so that a bunch of us could run up and do it quickly. I hope someone got photos!

Saturday passed in a flash. Piph and Chris came over and hung out, which I really appreciated since I see them so rarely. when it started to cool off in the afternoon I went into the tent to lie down for a bit. a dust storm started up so I just hid out and napped off and on in there. people were hanging out outside, but it was sooo cozy in the tent. I could see dust coming through the tent walls, it was insane. Jovino joined me and hours later (as he still slept) I woke up and realized they were about to torch the man. no way was I getting out of a warm bed for that! I hear it was all "crude awakening" style with big 'splosions. cool.

Sunday is the Sabbath and that meant the Blacker Sabbath Pancake Breakfast!!! Eva and Jovino made about a bazillion pnackaes and we played Sabbath (off the Skynyrd guys' ipods, heh!) loudly, of course. they even built a ramp of doom (and boy was it rickety looking! amazingly, I saw a guy pop right over it on a mountain bike.)

after giving out the last of the pancakes (which took something like 27 seconds on the 'nade) I switched the music over to cnw and bluegrass on random and we kicked back in the shade at the Spider. good times, that afternoon.

I also did not go out for the temple burn. all of the village art cars had been dissassembled and I didn't feel the necessity of walking all the way out there. instead we had a quiet evening. I busted out the vac-sealed deli lasagne I'd been saving all week in my cold cooler, and OM NOM NOM!

Monday was camp teardown. I was shocked to realize that so few people had stuck around for this - a lot less than last year. Vanessa had done some picking up in the bar (despite not even camping in Gigsville) the day before, but other than that next to nothing had really been done since Nici cleaned up and restocked after her party on Tuesday. it was a pit.

well, nothing to do but get to it (after cooking up a fabulous breakfast of tri-tip in the CBQ natch). I started sorting trash and recyclables, packing leftover booze into empty coolers etc. Jovino took down the shade almost all singlehandedly. a few folks did come up and help eventually. fortunately the weather had turned cooler - a huge help for cleanup and teardown.

time for our break: the annual Monday Last Art Standing tour on Barzilla. as last year, this was AWESOME! I <3 Barzilla. they have a cooler system made from the A/C unit of a car which freezes cans of beer to the side of the cooler in like 20 minutes. in the desert!

we came back, finished packing, packed most of our stuff, and gathered around a campfire built by Amani (who is freakin' AWESOME, BTW, in case you were wondering.) CBQ had been closed off and hosed down earlier. it was a delicious last night on the playa and I loved the calm yet still festive atmosphere.

in the morning, even Amani's adorable pink vintage trailer was gone. we packed up, loaded the van, and prepared to hit the road. before we set out for Reno we were to drive the Cheshire Cat van to it's parking place out near the 80 acres. well, Jovino drove the cat van (a '70s van with a wide frame welded to it and a bunch of stuff on top) and I followed. the direx were a little vague but we finally found the place. the owner of the ranch was a really nice guy, and we chatted about a variety of things for some time before getting down to business and parking the Cat. then it was off to Reno!

we checked into the glamorous Peppermill (aka the "Burner Ritz-Carlton") and immediately cleaned up - joy! next, we decided to go out for sushi, and in the lobby we ran into several friends who told us about a nearby all-you-can-eat place - WIN! while we were talking to them, someone came up who'd bought a shrug from us and enthused about how much he loved it. that was so awesome! I love hearing from happy bunnywarez wearers. we saw so much more of our stuff on the playa too. my favorite was on Sunday morning, watching someone pick up one rainbow legwarmer and stick it into a compartment on the side of an RV. we giggled. I think this might have been at that rad Jellyfish camp, even.

so we pampered and entertained ourselves in Reno (I'm afraid I'm developing something of a fondness for bad tuesday night casino bar bands). saw a few more friends and had a happily uneventful drive home.

sometimes it amazes me how worked up some people get about what burning man is or isn't or what it should or shouldn't be. it is what it is, and overall I have a great time and get to do and see things I normally wouldn't, and spend time with friends in a creative and fun atmosphere. and it IS the Company Picnic after all!