A Poem for Lee

A blood-red ball
on the chill, jagged edge of the earth.
I squeeze my bladder
like an orange
into the playa dust
and recall a dream
of beauty and grace
in a neon-lit, throbbing
desert evening
that turned into night
but never turned into…

by Denise-Christine

Days of Our Dusty Lives 1 – Back to the Dustbowl

[Part 1 of a three-part series. Part 2: “Deep People Working” Part 3: “Keep on Moopin’, Don’t Stop”]

I first pull in to Art Avenue on the 80 Acres off the gravel road past the Burning Man site at 10pm on September 9th. Even after coming out three weeks early and staying three days past the event (that’s when the dust storm hit, but we didn’t leave, we fuckin’ tore down shade structure in the dust storm, but not everybody did – yesterday DPW crew members dug some jackasses’ tarp out from underneath two literal tons of dust)…after almost a month on the playa and my skin turned to leather and my hair in involuntary dreadlocks, I had still not had enough.

I reluctantly left a week ago in the whiteouts and 80mph wind, choking back tears, feeling silly for it, dragging my feet and sadsacking back at home, singing “La Contessa” to myself constantly and unconsciously, refusing to clean the sweet-smelling dust off anything, crumpling up my dusty sweaty handkerchief and holding it to my nose, breathing in deep. Pathetic, really. The anniversary of 9/11 was nigh, and my semi-paranoid self longed to be in a labor camp full of dangerous and kind survivalists in the middle of nowhere instead of in a major city with a bright orange target of a bridge. An owner-move-in eviction notice on my doorstep sealed the deal: I am not ready for the Real World yet. It is too ugly. I want my utopia. I miss the DPW.

Burning Man is fun, but cleanup is a bitch. And so when I roll up to the commissary at 10pm, the DPW is raging. (They don’t rage every night, but when they do, let’s just say they’re not the people you’d want to try to outdrink.) Metric and Big Daddy and others are jamming on the stage, hammering out “Sweet Home Alabama” and screaming into the mic. Dusty people everywhere trade cigarettes and stories and shots. Dogs in the dark stare longingly from beyond the fence (no dogs allowed in the commissary). Dusty couches surround a beautiful, intricately cut burn barrel that’s blazing. Faces flicker in the firelight, Christmas lights twinkle above, and the impossible stars shout out above it all. It’s funny how, Out There in the Real World, people choose to live most of their lives inside buildings, even when it’s nice out.

Tonight, the Minneapolis crew (there’s a lot of them out here) have transformed the DPW bar, Jalisco’s Beach Club (named after a great man and his bar in Gerlach), into “Palmers”, a watering hole in Minneapolis where punkass bikers and old pathetic drunks throw back liquor in indescribably strong rations. Skitch has just tattooed Johnny Feral (a cutting torch) and Mr. Klean (tribal markings that match last year’s), and they show off their new ink in the trailer next to the kitchen. Big Daddy then borrows Skitch’s ink and my sewing kit and begins to administer “drunk dots” (if you look there on your middle finger and see two of them, it’s time to go home). Most everyone here is tattooed up good, so one more dot ain’t shit, why not. Someone pours me one Palmer’s shot of whiskey, but since I was so excited to get back to the desert that I forgot to eat that day, but drank 2 Red Bulls on the drive, that’s about the last thing I remember clearly besides throwing up.

Rule number one: Hydrate. At all times. And before coming up. No matter how much you hate having to pee every 15 minutes on the road when all you want to do is get to the desert.

The next day (as usual, regardless of how off-the-hook last night’s party was), the DPW is up at 7am for breakfast and morning meeting. Not me though, and even though I’ve got the altitude-acclimation excuse, I feel guilty. (I’m trying to come up with a snazzy term for “clean guilt” – the feeling you have from the moment you arrive on site until you’re just as dusty and your hair’s just as matted as everyone else.) Out here the work ethic is so strong, and everyone so motivated, that anyone who slacks, even for a second, turns around and works twice as hard to make up for it. Nobody gives guilt trips (aside from the good-natured “well don’t YOU look clean!”). Nobody has to. There’s too much to be done.

An incomplete yet formidable list of what cleanup entails:

– Dismantle all public structures
– Pack up all shipping containers (25 of them, not including private ones)
– Un-decorate, dismantle, and pack up the colossal Cafe
– Move 15 office buildings back to the 80 Acres (12 miles away from site)
– Move DPW crew camps, belongings, and trailers back to the 80
– Return unnecessary rental equipment (heavy machinery, generators, light towers, trucks, trenchers, etc.)
– Dismantle and remove water and electrical systems
– Dismantle and transport the spires
– Collapse, pack up, and remove the huge commissary tent
– Dismantle the commissary itself
– Responsibly dispose of 12,000 gallons of used motor oil
– Coordinate with Johnny on the Spot to remove portajohns
– Field calls, order materials and trucks, receive shipments, sign papers
– Remove street signs and T-stake intersections
– Transport lumber, carpet, and materials from the DPW Depot to the 80
– Dismantle and transport the Depot itself
– Remove abandoned vehicles and art
– Remove Burners left-behind trash (dude, yesterday they found a 55-gallon drum full of water, tampons, and menstrual blood. Ew.)
– Weed out hangers-on and layabouts (sometimes driving them to Reno)
– Accept, organize, remove, and offload donated food
– Take down the trash fence and pull hundreds of T-stakes out of the ground
– Remove shade structures (canvas, joints, and 4×4 posts)
– Dune-bust (shovel apart and/or drag a chain link fence over giant dunes which are created when the dust storms leave their detritus behind and are swept up against yet to be removed items)
– Unload all materials in an orderly fashion onto the long rows on the 80 (the rows look like a dusty, organized junkyard – Mad Max meets Sanford and Son)
– Clean up the rows and prepare the lot for winter
– Sort and clean the machine and carpentry shops
– Tend the garden
– Program KDPW 106.1 so that it kicks more ass than any college radio station and the workers don’t have to listen to dinosaur rock on The Hawk 92.9
– Feed the crew and wash the dishes three times a day (commissary out here is the best food I’ve ever eaten, seriously)
– And lastly, line sweeps: the whole crew walks in a big line across the desert, forward and in a circle at the same time, to catch the glare of and pick up things as small as sequins and pieces of glitter.

Strangely, though the work is hard and the sun is hot, it’s fun, even when it sucks. After a slack morning, I do my best to bust ass and make 20 signs that will label the rows and make location easier. Hammering and sawing isn’t that great for my hangover, but like everyone else here, physical labor in the boiling desert makes me feel more alive and a part of the universe than sitting behind a computer or slinging drinks at a bar ever could.

These days, the Burning Man organization is trying promote an image of a kinder, gentler DPW – after all, a department full of punks and misfits whose motto long ago was “you don’t matter and we don’t care” could maybe use some PR work in order to avoid accidentally alienating the community from the people who build it. Yes, the DPW crews know that it could very well have not been an irresponsible jackass that left the tarp under 2 tons of sand; maybe it was someone who had an emergency and had to leave – but cursing at a job you have to do is practically compulsory when it’s hard labor and the sun’s beating down. There is bitching out here, I’m not gonna lie, but it’s not the hateful misanthropic kind, it’s more like the Johnny Paycheck’s “Take This Job and Shove It” kind. The DPW’s collective, proudly blue-collar disposition and intimidating badassedness is a product of harsh conditions, extreme utilitarianism, and a teeny bit of contempt for the few bad apples in our city who don’t carry their weight – but the fact remains that we are here because we want to be here.

Truth is, on the inside, we’re all kind of mushy “pippies” (that’s punk rock hippies) out here. This project – the staging ground of a people striving towards the common goal of a more creative, interactive, and enlightened society – inspires as many relevant and lofty conversations about the world at large as it does a whole bunch of hard fucking work. It seems to be the consensus that we are all in a very important place at a very important time, at the nascence of a social insurrection. We are the ones building and striking the city that will go down as one of history’s great civilizations – a community that is, for one week per year, possibly the most socially evolved place on earth, ever.

And so the DPW takes great pride in being the uber-roadies for this massive and significant thing. I write these reports from cleanup mostly in the hopes that now and future Burners will, if they have not done the research already, get to see exactly what a huge production it all is. Everybody knows that none of those gargantuan buildings and shade structures are on the Black Rock Desert year round. Not everybody knows that little pieces of string and zip-tie left on the desert floor must be stooped over and picked up until it’s absolutely clean, much less all the machinery and people and coordinating it takes to do it.

The sun is going down on 9/11 now, and I assume since I’ve heard nothing that Out There, no major tragedies have occurred and life as we know it will go on. Here, even a tear-soaked and nation-choked anniversary such as that is overshadowed in the collective consciousness by the fact that by Saturday, every single major object has to be off the playa so that line sweeps can begin. I feel like a sissy for typing away at my computer in a trailer all day when everyone’s out there busting ass, so now I have to go pound some T-stakes and hang the signs I made before dinnertime. I wouldn’t want to be slack. And my clothes are too clean.

Stay tuned for more to come…

Burning Man Virgin

Well this year was my first burn. I heard about Burning Man about 5 years ago in Wired magazine. I was very interested and always wanted to go. So in 2001, I finally packed up, and moved out. Here is just a one day journey of what two friends and I did at Burning Man. Things you should probably know: I come from a pretty structured background (military) and have not experienced things of this nature before. So many things in this story may be nothing to your hard core Black Rock citizen, but to a GI from New Jersey, it is a life -enhancing, perception-changing, experience. So here we go…

I woke up about 8:30AM because the sun was baking the side of my tent and it was almost causing me to die of heat stroke. I rolled out of my sleeping bag and sucked down about half a gallon of water. I eagerly woke up my fellow camp mates so we could leave the tent for the first time in the light of day and could finally see the objects that where making weird sounds and bright flashes all night long. Now I could experience the wonders first hand that I had imagined for weeks leading up to Burning Man. It was worse than a Christmas morning for a 6 year old. When I finally unzipped my tent and stepped outside, it was awesome.

Like a post-apocalyptic world. I saw my neighbors with their bar-on-wheels doing a morning tequila shot to spruce them up. I turned my head because I heard the slight noise of a motor, only to see a man with a cowboy hat riding what appeared to be giant wooden black and white horse powered by a go-cart motor. I then noticed some techno music that was providing me with some nice background music, and tried to locate it’s direction and admire the people that would wake up and play my type of music at 8:30 in the morning, loud as hell. The only thing I could think was “beautiful”. I wanted to go play.

Our group got ready and we had decided to donate some physical labor to Burning Man since we had read that you must participate and build this event to make it all work. We headed out to the playa towards the man and heard hammering from what we later found out to be the maze. We went out the maze and found the first guy with a construction belt on and asked how we could help. He put us to work. From about 10:00AM to 1:00PM we nailed the walls of the maze in place. It was hot, sweaty, and dirty, but out here I would get my first lesson that nothing goes unpaid. I came upon a man that was working on the lighting system and started talking to him. I told him my story, he told me his and then he showed me the trick to getting around the maze. That really made my day. Try working in a maze you don’t know how to navigate or where you are, it’s very frustrating.

After securing the walls I found the foreman and asked him what else needed to be done. He was standing with a look of total shock on his face that took me while to notice. He asked ‘Did you see that?” “See what?” I responded. He then began to tell me about how a gorgeous girl decided to treat the maze workers to a show and brought her man to the center of the maze, in view of everyone, and performed oral sex on him. This impressed me and gave me more insight on how this event worked. I contributed to the maze, I was kindly shown how to navigate it. The beautiful female pleases the workers, she gets to use the maze. What a nice system.

So after depleting our water supply at the maze we decided to go back to our camp and fill up. When we returned to camp we see that our neighbors are building something pretty serious. We wonder over an ask what the hell is going on. They tell us about the vision they have of “Pinky’s Bar”. A bar shaped like a pirate ship, with a sun roof, a dance stage with a brass tripper pole and all the down home punch you can drink. Seeing how our first experience went on the maze, we asked if we could help. “No problem!”, they immediately gave us tasks to complete. Well, in the end it took two days to complete the bar, and it really look astounding. We were told that we wouldn’t have to barter a drink as long as we were on the playa. We only took him up on the offer a few times, but it was great knowing it was available and very much appreciated.

After working on the bar for about 2 hours that day we decided that we needed food badly. So we wandered the 50 feet back to our camp and cracked open our case of military style MRE’s, which stands for Meal Ready to Eat. These thing were great for this environment and I was glad I made the choice to bring them. We chowed down and rested until sunset because we were drained from the sun exposure. After resting, it was time to go out and enjoy some new company on the vast playa. We headed down to drum camp because we heard the loud rhythmic pound of… drums. After observing for a little while we saw that every day Joes were just walking up and pounding on a drum of choice. This was the first time I realized that if it’s there, you can play with it. My buddy and I got on either side of the largest drum there that was resting upright on a large stand. As we pounded away, we controlled the beat of 7 or 8 other drums that where playing copaceticly. That was truly awesome itself.

After handing my sticks over to someone else, I turned my attention to the large contraption that I will now do my best trying to explain. It was a large tripod stand about 15 feet high with a large horizontal wagon wheel contraption spinning on top. The wheel had about 6, 50 gallon drums on the end of each spoke that were filled with wood which was presently on fire. The large fire ridden barrels had designs cut out on them that looked like primitive cave art so that the fires from inside would poke out the archaic designs. I noticed I was also standing next to a contraption that looked like a large welding tank on wheels with a long tube poking out of the top at a 45 degree angle toward the barrels. The end of the tube had a pilot light on it. All of a sudden people ran around asking people to stand back. Once everyone was clear, the tank let out a large pop of liquid something or other over the barrels, that exploded like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It was so bright I couldn’t keep my eyes open. It was so hot I couldn’t help but turn around. It was day time, like standing on the surface of the sun day time, for a few seconds. After it was over, I involuntarily cheered like no other.

After the large display of liquid fire, it seemed a little dull there comparatively, so we moved on. We headed to a bar that looked like a large mason jar half buried in the sand. When we entered it seemed like a bar I frequented in NYC. Very nice inside. I saw the tenders making drinks and noticed a basket for bartering goods. I left them two glow sticks and got myself the best dam rum and coke I’ve ever had. After sucking it down, I turned around to move on, but an older fellow was standing behind me that was semi-conservative, resembling dear old dad. He had a large 1-gallon glass jug of pink juice. “What’s that?” I asked. “It’s home brew, you want some?” Well being an average guy I couldn’t pass up good booze when presented to me, I drank a few mouths full and then drank a few more. It was like nectar of the gods, it was awesome stuff. I drank more than I intended because a few minutes later I was pretty umm, drunk.

We then moved down to center camp. The journey there alone was worth the trip. On the way, I saw a truck with a man standing in the back with a bull horn screaming “BLOW JOB! BLOW JOB! BLOW JOB! BLOW JOB!” over and over. Then I proceeded to take 10 whacks on the ass from a spanking machine. I saw a glow stick in the middle of the road and reached to pick it up, only to find out it was attached to a string by some knave fellow and he yanked it away before I could grab it. I thought, “only at burning man.” I examined a to-scale wire frame buffalo and proceeded to check for it’s gender accuracy, and then I made a playa puddle.

Center camp didn’t impress me much. I thought, that like any city, the place to be was the back alleys, the underground. I wanted to check out what happened where the lights were lower. I walked around and found a large open box in front of a camp, and in every way it looked like a treasure chest. I looked inside and then someone behind me said “What do you want? You give, you get.” I said “Well I really want that bottle of gin, but I don’t have much to trade. How about a massage?” The young lady agreed. I gave her the best massage I had in me, she gave me gin. A win-win situation.

After housing some gin, I moved on exploring the “Give a plastic spoon, get a metal spoon” camp and also the thunder dome, where 2 volunteer contestants bungee cord themselves into a dome and battle it out with large sticks mad-max style. I found myself walking down a dark street with no one on it. A large scaffolding was standing before me, probably 50 feet high. I then noticed a bowling ball on the ground at the bottom with several ball imprints on the ground immediately around me. The proverbial light bulb went off. A young brave soul passed me and asked me about it. I shared with him my idea on the situation. We climbed to the top and he dropped the bowling ball off onto the ground. A very simple concept, but where else on this earth would you get to do such a thing?

While roaming to my next location I found myself out on the vast playa and really couldn’t see much due to the dust blowing around. I could hear what sounded like a marching band off in the distance. I stopped to see if it was coming or going. It was getting closer and then out of the darkness, a full fledge marching band, with uniforms and all, marched right on by. They came from darkness and headed right off into it again, just playing their hearts out.

I wondered around the rest of the night meeting person after person. Dancing in club after club and generally wearing myself out. I made it back to the Man probably around 4:00AM where it was packed. I talked to several people and we all watched the sun come up. That night set the tone for the rest of my time in Black Rock City. It took me a while to adjust to a world that had almost the opposite rules I had lived with all my life: E.G. If you DIDN’T dress up funny you are the weird one.

Burning Man to me was like starting a new job, only more fun. Let me explain that analogy: You know what your going for, but you don’t know exactly what to expect, who you’ll meet or exactly what is expected of you. There is certain lingo you have to learn quickly and doesn’t make much sense at first but becomes part of your daily vernacular: E.G. playa. Once you adjust to living in Black Rock City, it’s hard to immediately remember the rules of the other world outside of it. When I got back to the my old society, I, in some small way, had the same feeling I had when I first got to Burning Man; strange, different. I could feel myself adapting back to my old life. But did I really want to?

by Rob Orndoff


Flame bearing firewalker
entering my dreams-
clad in leather garments-
clinging, revealing every seam so as to
be seen more fully naked for the clothing
which accentuates-
each rivulet of sweat beading in hair and dripping
down cheeks-

Intensity of jugglers set rhythmically to flame-

Dance for the man-
Dance while he burns-
Chant for the man as the crowd turns tight and
presses in to release life in strong thrown gestures-

Man made lightning striking-
heart burning-
rib cage slowly oscillating swing while we all
climb aboard-
drums banging into the night next to laser lit
streaming silk cocoon and the wind restructuring
environs to its will-

Invite me back barren plain- invite me back to dream-

Welcome Home.

by Andy Taylor

Priceless Angel

Center camp seraph she wore white angel wings
Looking angelic, above mortal things
Seen from a distance the effect was ethereal
But closer up she was clearly material
For when the store clerk put the wings in a bag
He neglected removing the price bearing tag
Of course I knew she must be told
Since angels can’t be bought and sold
On hearing the news my angel was crushed
Yet looked more angelic the deeper she blushed
I removed the offending tag as a favor
It’s a moment I like to look back on and savor
But later on back at the camp
As stories were swapped round the Coleman lamp
Someone said something not very nice
Saying “Angels or not they all have their price”

by Reed Hortie

Blue Badge of Honor

Wednesday late afternoon, it was pumping time for the porta-potties at 7:00 and The Lover. A wind gust blew my hat off as I sauntered up to one of the unoccupied units. A nearby fleet-footed pumping technician grabbed the hat as it rolled by him. I thanked him for his quick thinking. As he handed it to me, he noticed a smudge of blue sanitizing chemical on my hat and started to apologize. Assuring him it was no big deal I explained it was a blue badge of honor and I would wear it with pride. I proceeded to let my bladder run free in one of the freshly pumped/cleaned fiberglass houses of enlightenment. I smiled and waved to him again as I headed back to camp. All was right on the playa!

by Karl (Camp Wrong 2001)


I’m known as the Sheriff of Black Rock City, Sheriff-by-Consensus. That is, if you think I represent what you would have as a Sheriff in our town, forget the real police now, if I represent what YOU would choose for Sheriff of our town, then you vote for me by saying “Howdy Sheriff” whenever you see me. If everyone says “Howdy Sheriff” when I walk by, then I am Sheriff. Until that happens I’ll just keep doing my job, and that job is to blow peoples minds.

What – you thought I was going to arrest people? Well that’s the gist of me being jaded. Being Sheriff was supposed to be fun, We made up the city, we can make up the public servants. But this year I had trouble communicating this simple paradigm shift. Probably its just me and my moods, maybe I’ve just been going too long, but it feels like something drastic has changed. I know every year it is different and I have celebrated that difference. But even with all the growth some basic community values persisted and even expanded.

This last year, I felt like I was around people acting ordinary. By that I mean that they didn’t seem to be aware that social communion at BM is EXTRAordinary. It’s not about how you dress or what you do, but for me it is about what you bring to the event, spiritually, artistically, etc. I come to BM to be challenged, or more accurately, to have my own personal limitations challenged. When I see another artist taking their art further than I could possibly have imagined then I am stretched. I stumble over the limits I have placed on my own thinking, acknowledge them, and then expand. That’s scary and rich and life changing.

But 2001 I was never scared, I could have sleepwalked through the whole event. This isn’t said to blame anyone. The point is that when I first came, you had to be awake. There were 5000 people stoned out of their minds with flame throwers, so if trouble was rolling down the street, everyone was awake, aware, and as a result ALIVE. No one was paternally caring for us, we had to do it, each of us, for ourselves. Personal responsibility made BM strong. Without danger, BM shares more and more with shopping malls (OK, it still is an extravagantly adorned shopping mall, and you can’t buy anything, but none-the-less there is no need for personal responsibility in a mall and last year little need for the same at BM).

OK, I’m Jaded, its me, no one did anything wrong, things change, but I wish I could make BM “spiritually dangerous” again. I wish by shear force of personality I could create a spiritual catharsis for 26,000 people, but I haven’t. The hidden invisible mysteries of BM were taught to me through modeling. Early on I was surrounded by thousands of old timers just doing their thing. I learned by watching (monkey see, monkey do). How do the few old timers left model to the ravenous horde? Very little in the outside world prepares you for the intangibles of BM. Maybe they are lost forever.

by The Great Quentini
Sheriff-by-Consensus, Black Rock City

Burning Man and the World I’ve Returned To

Imagine for a moment stepping into Fantasia and spending an afternoon with flying pink elephants, mice practicing sorcery, flying broomsticks, and all manner of mind altering weirdness. Then imagine leaving that environment and returning to the present, to the Strip Malls On The Waste Land Theme Park that is Anytown, USA. Each moment that you are away from the imaginative realm of Fantasia, you hunger to return, to reconnect and revitalize and re-experience the sense of bliss and wonder. When you return, everything is as you remember it, only more so.

But you begin to notice that one major shift has occurred: you are no longer surprised by the sight of flying elephants. Rodent sorcerers and flying broomsticks have almost begun to seem, well, if not exactly commonplace, at least familiar scenery and quite shy of their miraculous first impression.

This description is not unlike what a return visit to Black Rock City, home of the Burning Man Festival, feels like.

Burning Man 2001 was my third experience of the festival. It came at the close of a summer of vending at different music festivals, including the Berkshire Mountain Music Festival, where I met James, the individual that I traveled and camped with at this year’s event. James and I met up at the So Many Roads festival at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver and rolled into Black Rock City on Tuesday, August 28th, the second day of the festival.

Events leading up to Burning Man had already put me in a reflective state of mind. A good friend of mine from high school, whom I was still in close contact with, had died shortly before I hit the road for the festival. My friend, Dean Hoekel, died when a cigarette he’d been smoking in bed caught his mattress on fire and he foolishly tried to throw the mattress out of the building rather than escape with his life intact. While I was away, I had thought Dean burned to death, but my father recently informed me that he heard that Dean died from the smoke inhalation rather than the fire itself. Whatever the case, Dean was a close friend and news of his death shook me hard.

When I arrived at Black Rock City I went looking for friends from previous visits, including a friend from college and also a friend that I’d met by proximity of our camp sites my first year at the burn. I met my friend from college first and James and I decided to put our tents up in the camp that she and her friends (all either from the Bay Area or Chicago transplants to the Bay) had set up. The Camp was at 8:30 and Enlightenment.

Then I set out to find other folks I’d met at previous burns. Interestingly enough, I ran right into the primary character that I was looking for and he was camped at 8:15 and Soldier, less than half a “block” from 8:30 and Enlightenment. He expressed that he was pleased to see me but admitted that his attention was divided because he was on his way to a “Get Married To Yourself” ceremony. Rather than part company, I decided to join him.

The Get Married To Yourself ceremony was officiated by a gentleman with long grey frizzy hair, youthful facial features, and radiant charisma. He asked the crowd that’d gathered to hold their own hand and make a few solemn pledges, including, “I will not forsake you” and “I will always be true to you,” and “I will never put a hex on myself.” He then asked us to make up some pledges of our own and passed along the following phrase, which he suggested we tell ourselves on a regular basis: “I am a fucking genius!”

Suggestions were made that we arrange a honeymoon with ourselves and, when asked about consummating this new marriage, that we should reclaim the phrase “go fuck yourself” and tell people that that is what we intend to do on our honeymoon.

After adopting a fuzzy purple and yellow plastic wedding ring (which I lost to the playa the night of the burn) I walked away quite pleased by this bit of inner alchemy, though a bit uncomfortable with the fact that I hadn’t written out a prenuptial before the wedding, to keep my inner masculine from taking my inner feminine for all that it was worth… or vice versa.

The frizzy haired character announced that he would be doing a Chaos Meditation later in the week and I decided that it was an event that I should not miss. Unfortunately, I missed it.

I didn’t spend much time on Black Rock City seeking out events or information or event art. This time on Black Rock City, I spent a great deal of my time deepening my connection to the people I was camped with. I also spent a good deal of time grieving the recent loss of my good friend. It was intense and incredible to be at such an incredible party and also realize just how ritualized the space at Black Rock City is. The people and the art there just exude vibrant playful creativity. Whether beholding a beautiful twenty foot high blue goddess sculpture or dancing at the uberrave camp Illuminaughty, Black Rock City is filled with magic and mystery.

Not long after the wedding to myself, I ran into two friends of mine from the pagan festival circuit, an escape artist and a stage magician, both of them performers at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas. They told me that they were recently married, so I offered them a wedding Tarot reading and was invited to their camp for dinner and the reading later in the week. I brought a bottle of homebrewed honey meade made by mutual friends of ours, and was glad to be a part of such a special time in their lives. The reading was also quite enjoyable.

After the reading, Magnus, the stage magician, suggested I check out a Living Tarot performance that was happening at a nearby camp, so I left to attend that while he went to a drum ritual with Fantuzi, a character from the Rainbow Family circuit.

The Living Tarot workshop began by introducing Rob Breszny, an astrologer who does the Free Will Astrology (formerly Real Astrology) column in many alternative weeklies across the country. I’d heard of Brezsny’s column because my sister is totally devoted to the wit and wisdom contained in it and later learned that Brezsny had a Santa Cruz band, Tao Chemical, that my other friends in the Tie-Dye Mafia, Mikio and Phil, used to go out to hear. Well, as fortune would have it, the character that’d been introduced as Rob Brezsny was none other than the minister who’d married me to myself! That amused me to no end! Here was a guy who impressed me just by being his wacky interesting self who I later learn is a guy whose writing and music have inspired a lot of other people that I know. It made me all the more bummed that I missed his Chaos Meditation, but also made me realize that the next time I get to playa, I will have to make a point to keep an ear out for anything he is offering. The Living Tarot was interesting but didn’t seem to open any new worlds for me in terms of my understanding of the Tarot, which I’ve worked with for eleven years now.

by Shady Backflash