Works of Art on the Playa
**Monday, Aug. 27, 2012-the first official day of Burning Man. The gates are now open to everyone and from what I’ve heard, it is a long, slow process to get in today. But, this place is so enormous, and our camp is so close to the center of things, that we’re pretty oblivious to what’s happening back at the entrance. The only noticeable signs that occurred throughout the day were an obvious population explosion (living quarters became much tighter,) and more people were gathered around the porta-potties. But, since people are free to arrive at any time, and any day now, this is just the beginning!
After morning coffee at camp, and chatting it up with a few fellow HOTD camp mates, it was right back to work, finishing the setup and organizing the bar for the public. Once we were open for business, we had customers immediately. (Well, we actually had them before that, but who’s looking?) I decided to jump right into it, and started making drinks, taking to it like a fish to water! Being the social blabbermouth that I am, it was the perfect job for me. On the playa, one should come equipped with a cup, or drinking vessel of some sort. There’s a lot of liquid that should, and must, be consumed, so people come with cup in hand. We pour their drinks right into their personal holders, and the party begins! As I mentioned before, people in BRC are the best – happy, friendly, easy to please – and are ready for fun, dressed in anything and everything from elaborate and detailed costumes, to complete and total nakedness. (And, everything in between!) No matter what concoction I came up with for them to drink (most were normal drinks, but some were strange,) everyone was satisfied. No one complained, refused a drink, or had an attitude. In fact, I can’t count how many times someone came to me and ordered, “Whatever you want to make me.” And they were thankful every time! I kept thinking to myself (actually, I said it out loud, too) that “this is the way it should always be!” Oh, if only people could always be this selfless – life would be blissful..!
After three straight hours of bartending, and hunger setting in, I knew I had to force myself to take a break. After a quick bite to eat, it was time to explore some more. Loading up on water (a gallon a day is recommended,) lathering on sunscreen, and donning mask and goggles, I was off on my trusty (now properly blinged) bicycle. Today I trekked directly to ‘The Man’ himself, who was built on top of a large pedestal where people could go inside and climb around, or take stairs to a higher point and check out the view. After cooling off inside for a bit, I headed for the Temple, a spiritual place built of intricate woodwork, that reached towards the sky. With an equally beautiful wall built around it, this place was where memorials are placed for those who have passed on, people pray, meditate, reflect, and have quiet time, and in my case, write names on the walls of those who need to rid themselves of things like addiction, demons, negative issues, unhealthy behavior, and whatever is troubling them. This temple will burn at the end of the week, so with it, I wish and hope for the things I wrote to go up in smoke and disappear into the heavens. For me, it was a place of renewal, rebirth, and giving problems, sadness, concerns, and worries, up to the universe to take care of.
An unbleivable sight for me, and my favorite coolest thing on the playa, was the sinking ship! At first, I couldn’t belive my eyes and thought I was seeing things. (a mirage, perhaps?) So, I pedaled over to get a closer look, and lo and behold, it was even more spectacular than I thought! Named La Llorona, or “weeping woman,” this Spanish Galleon was pretty much to scale and tied up to a pier that you walked on to get into the ship. But first, along the pier was ‘Pappy’s Bait Shop’ with some ‘fishermen’ inside ‘selling bait’ for authenticity. Figuring that, once I reached the entrance to the ship I would be disappointed with a hollow skeleton, I’d be out of there in a minute. Boy, was I wrong!! The place was swarming with people, all captivated by the detail inside – tables with hanging benches, barrels, tools, ropes and hinges, nets, and even an old science area, complete with journals, books and shelves of scientific studies. There were even jars of pig fetuses in formaldehyde, an old microscope, early astronomy and science tools, all set up to resemble a primitive science lab! This ship was three stories in size, from the upper deck and outlook area, to the living quarters underneath, and the below deck storage area, which was partially under water (sand, in this case.) It was cray-cray! Then, walking out on the deck, it was sloped downhill, dropping off into the sand, stern sunken below the surface. What a trip this was for a first-time Burner! I had no idea people would go to this extreme for a week long art exhibition in the desert. Wow…
Burning Man is an art show, as well as a forward thinking community of radical self-expression, radical self-reliance, and free expression. It is a place to leave ego, greed, competition, self-centeredness, and worldly corruption behind. It is where one can let go of inhibitions, judgments, opinions, stereotypes, racism, sexism, and all other negative aspects of dysfunctional society. This is a place to live and let live; live and love; live, laugh, love; and accept everyone as they are. It’s no wonder that, every year, more and more people attend this event. It is my hope that this spirit spreads across the country and influences the masses to live like this, or becomes it’s own country, where those who chose to live in love, peace, and positivity are able to do so. I know, I sound like a whacked out hippie, but hey, 60,000 people (between the ages of 0 and 80+) in the desert would surely agree with me!!