this post has been sitting in draft since september 16, 2008, and i have kept revisiting it, trying to finish, trying to think of what to say, so this is pretty fragmented and definitely incomplete. now that we are definitely NOT going to burning man this year and pretty much everyone we know who is going is leaving for BM 2009 within the next 5-7 days, i think i’ve reached a time limit and feel like i should say something about last year. it did happen.
we camped with false profit for the first time, which was wonderful because FP is categorically awesome. we knew that, but me being adverse to group activities kept me from wanting to be in a larger, communally organized group camp for the first 4 years on the playa. but it was indeed nice to have enough infrastructure and coordination to be effective, but not so much to require endless workdays. camping with a larger camp meant constant comraderie with people you know and like and other benefits like shared tools and shade, but also meant being on the Esplandade (main street), which, compared to us camping way out in walk-in camping the year before = LOUD. but still, i would do it again, though i wish we could just move the FP camp out into walk-in, where we would have our own little oasis…
so what happened?…..it’s been so long, really, that i can barely remember what happened, and i only have the photos to remind me…. eventfully, there was nothing too dramatic.
arrived saturday night, after having car broken into and dealing with all of that. happy to be there but rattled, comparatively thinking too much about it – the privilege, the inequity, the possessions, the american dreams.
sunday-monday, set up camp and Remembrane, the art project co-designed by Jay and Calli. outside of that work, spent time wandering around the half-empty city but not too far because the sand was deep enough to make biking difficult instead of fun. this problem ended up affecting the whole week. usually you zip back and forth and go all over on your bike. last year, the bike stayed parked most of the time, and we only went as far as we felt like walking, which was often not very far.
tuesday: spent the afternoon looking at and playing on ART. after the sun went down, the traditional False Profit Tuesday Night Party was held, and it was indeed Fun Times, taken as prescribed. tuesday night was the only night i danced on the playa. (FYI::: tuesday night party 2009 info HERE for those of you going…..)
wednesday: relaxomatic plushatorium night? i don’t remember if that was wed. or thurs. i’m pretty sure it was wed, after we woke up from tuesday. funtimes with a friendly NYC crew who invited us over to chill out in their big inflatable pools filled with pillows.
thursday AM: missed the white procession at dawn, AGAIN, even though Nev tried to wake me up. frustrated. cried. ran off alone. caught the end of anastazia’s performance. tried to shake it off. all of it. shake it off. the dust. the emotions. everything. brush your shoulders off.
then reagan and jay caught up and we headed out into the deep playa and found a bar where they were trying to organize a wedding – a random wedding, the participants gathered from willing passersby. the gathering of participants took quite a while, us being way out in the middle of the playa just after dawn and all, and while we waited we drank. finally reagan volunteered to be the bride and got “married” to some random guy and we left her there, making out with him. this was possibly the highlight of the whole week.
celebrity spotting: i saw paris hilton and her posse at a party late one night – i think thursday. i was hanging out at some camp on the edge by myself, jay being too tired to join, waiting for some DJ to come on and for my friends to subsequently show up, but the DJ never played and they never did. while i waited, paris and her posse wandered through, looking just like everyone else in terms of clothes/intoxication/dustiness, except she’s fairly recognizable. then they left, and so did i.
friday: it was a long hot day and being the beginning of labor day weekend it was getting really crowded and we were sort of at the end of the fun rope, and then jay had to visit the medical tent due to heat/dust/skin issues, so after being fed a hot meal by our friendly neighbors, we packed up camp and left friday evening and went to reno, where we had a big bed in a dark room and many hot showers.
we then spent saturday-sunday in lake tahoe with our friends rebecca and jack and their newborn baby, and returned home monday.
–interspersed in the above were standard adventures out to see art, find friends, check out the huge sound camps from a distance, but never get too close. i don’t like getting RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF IT ALL. i like the fringe.
–moments of pure euphoria caused by experiencing what your fellow humans are capable of when given time, money and freedom
–moments of pure jadedness, when you get the sense that it is all just the same as anything else, just “artier” and pretentious
–not too much thinking about the theme, “The American Dream”, other than burning man has definitely materialized some of them, faulty or not
–long periods of unextinguishable energy, whether natural or chemical, followed by utter exhaustion to the point of delirium
–moments of pure listlessness when it’s too hot to wander and nothing to entertain you in your dusty camp
–amazing sense of community followed by feelings of isolation
–laughter to the point of tears
–frustration to the point of tears
–a dramatic love-hate relationship with nature
–a dramatic love-hate relationship with myself, and everyone else.
overall, it was a standard, fairly uneventful burning man week spent in the desert, not too different from the year before, bookended by getting robbed and then getting sick. i do not “blame” burning man for me being unable to have as much fun there as everyone else or get what they are getting out of it; obviously tens of thousands of others are able to (although the same can be said for NASCAR spectators, but i digress). it is what it is, but most importantly it is a blank canvas: anything you paint onto it is your projection. that, however, is the problem for me.
when we returned from burning man last year, i experienced almost a month-long panic attack which may or may not have been related to my feeling like a square peg in a round hole again out there, as i first posted when i got back. who am i? why am i doing this? why am i not getting what other people are getting? am i trying to be cool? if so, am i failing? am i really not who i think i am or want to be? while i think that questioning is valuable, for me it gets obsessive and turns into what i can only explain as a sickness, which i think burning man exacerbates.
i can only say that burning man last year was not the right setting and context for me to fully realize the parts of myself that were as yet unrealized, and that my experience and personality there actually felt more like a regression than a progression, and that the culture and atmosphere there only aids that regression. and in the past year, i have felt that maintain to be true, which is part of why we have chosen not to go this year (the other part being wanting to use the time/money to travel somewhere else), despite the fact that i am nearly about to cry writing this and looking back at all these photos (the dust! why is it that seeing photos and thinking about the FUCKING DUST is what is killing me? is it because it is the most unique feature, the singular thing that truly differentiates BM from all other festivals?) however, i still find this troubling, this inability to fully realize, fully maximize what i know is a HUGE GIFT. i know it is. and i want to be able to use it.
in 2003, before i had ever been, i wrote:
more than ever now i can’t WAIT to get to get my ass to burning man next year for an entire uninterrupted week of this amazing subculture and perfectly positive energy force.
i want to feel like that again in 2010.
the American Dream: to love and be your perfect self. i’m working on it.
photo by john curley, on the playa right now, in 2009Filed in autobiographical, burning man, travel | Tagged with false profit | Comment (0)