Wed. May 27, 2009
New Orleans, LA
(the backbone of middle Amerika; the soggy bottom of Old Man River)
Hi. I’m Summer Burkes. I just moved from the crispy Bay Area to the sweet warm fog of New Orleans and as a DPW/Gate desert rat, I experience a swampy deja vu on the daily. Here are the top ten similarities between Burning Man and New Orleans I’ve noticed so far.
1. You can walk down the street with booze in your hand, all the time.
2. You encounter random parades, second-line marching bands thrumming with brass and drums to hoardes of ass-shakers, and sexy “pony” girls pulling a modified shopping cart chariot with a man dressed as a flamingo.
3. Sometimes it smells. And you love it.
4. Everybody parties, including the teetotalers, because they know that death is certain – but life is not.
5. Large groups of dirtbags hang out on the sidewalk — messy dreadlocks, facial tattoos, Carhartts held together with leather patches and dental floss, hand-studded denim jackets with the sleeves cut off displaying various clubs and allegiances, tallbikes sprawled out on the ground, dogs running everywhere, and other folks yelling at them to put their dogs on leashes. (DPW)
6. Reconstructed, deconstructed, renovated, half-falling-down structures intermingle with awesomely beautiful hand-crafted buildings — because it’s all pretty and who gives a crap about material possessions and symmetry anyway.
7. Poverty, and/or comfort in squalor, and/or the realization of how things should be in America dictate that a good portion of the population mines “obtainium” — the detritus others throw out.
8. Some people complain about the heat, while the hard-heads truly married to the city simply mention it as a point of fact.
9. After the tourist season, the city empties out, the hard-heads hunker down, the storms arrive to whip everything to pieces, things get weird, and everybody left gets to know each other WAY better. (Cleanup / Playa Restoration)
10. Nothing makes people want to serve humanity and live in the moment more than the constant knowledge that at any time, if we don’t look out for each other, we could all be swept away.
…It is this last point which perks our antennas. The outpouring of love, service, volunteerism, and community action we’ve seen in the Crescent City is truly mind-boggling. In the next posts from NOLA, we hope to profile a few of the badass organizations here which, while not created by the Burning Community, remind us an awful lot of our shared philosophies.
There are myriad ways to take what you’ve learned in the desert and apply it to your hometown. Hopefully the detailing of some of these organizations will serve as a model for what you can do to occupy yourself in the months away from home — and to carry on to others about a Better Way To Be.