Saga of a Burning Man Virgin

In an ever changing fast paced world where time is money, money is power and power is coveted, its mesmerizing to witness “Burning Man” an annual event which tries to counter commercialized trends by placing an emphasis on self expression. Depending upon your point of view, Burning Man is an introspective celebration where one can reflect upon life’s many challenges or a good old fashion pagan orgy. Artistic types are draw to Burning Man like moths to a flame because, it is a place or rather a mind set where creativity runs amok and all forms of self expression and mutilation are pretty much tolerated. As for me, I went because I was curious to witness the spectacle and gain another prospective on the world.

Here we are in more innocent times, virgins (L to R, Me, Beca, Jenny and Ben - yup he happens to have the same name) on the way to Black Rock. We were just lucky that we were lead by various old timers wise in the ways of Burning Man.

Here we are with Dr. Hihor who medically supervised our metamorphosis, I for one never thought I would ware a dress (a pink one no less). But, it was suppose to be a pink party. Ya know what they say, when in Rome ....

Other snap shots from Burning Man 2001.


Shakespeare wrote:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,

At Black Rock a dry lake bed a few hours drive east of Reno, where the man stands erect every August for a few brief moments before being ignited, the stage is an insane asylum of sorts located in a godforsaken environment of ever present blinding dust and extreme heat during the day, and bone chilling cold winds at night. The self imprisoned inmates, or players of Black Rock, seek therapy from a fast paced world in a land where the innocence and zaniness of Dr. Suess meets the excesses of Sodom and Gomorrah.

In Ernest Hemingways 1920s novel The Sun Also Rises, revelers celebrate the beginning of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona by running a half-mile (825-meters) in front of a stampede of half- ton bulls. The bulls in Pamplona race from the corral to the outdoor arena where they are executed by matadors amid lots of pomp and ceremony. If Hemingway were alive today to visit Black Rock, he might consider the antics at the festival in Pamplona mere childs play, when compared to the eccentric characters that make the pilgrimage to participate in the phenomenon that is Burning Man.

At Burning Man, people are encouraged to let it all hang out, and it seems some individuals take the credo literally. Upon entering the asylum one cannot help but notice the numerous males who seem to revel in showing off their large fat white asses and other extremities, in the bright desert sun. Females too let it all hang out at Black Rock, but not to the same degree the old farts do, which is unfortunate because the desert setting is a perfect environment to appreciate the gentile curves and supple form.

At first it seems absurd to see old farts butt naked except for sun glasses, some sort of hat and hiking boots, riding around on bikes and pounding tent stakes into the ground all over Black Rock. But since use of cars is discouraged, and realizing that shade structures and tents must be put up and secured in the harsh environment, one grows somewhat use to seeing unfit old farts doing mundane tasks, butt fucken naked. Mounting a black vinyl bike seat that has been setting in the sun and is covered in fine dust, butt naked defies logic, but at Burning Man many individuals including old farts, take the initiative to self medicate before attempting that and other unnatural feats.

A few instances where people possibly self medicate before doing eccentric feats include the time I saw people: willfully submitting to being shocked in the ass with a cattle prod (a sign was made and random individuals actually stopped by to drop their pants for shock treatment), a naked man with a gas can in one hand, dousing and dancing atop a wooden structure that was on fire and spelled the word “love” (b.t.w. gas cans do explode when they are thrown into a fire), and walking into a tent with naked chicks that stood there asking to be hugged (I suspect they were on methylenedioxymethamphetamine). Pretty much during the 10 days I was at Black Rock, I could hear the constant pounding of drums which made the event seem so tribal.

Although tribal, may denote attributes of primitive and uncivilized behavior, actually my impression was the opposite. At Black Rock I was surprised to find out how open and willing random people were to discuss how they felt emotionally (it seemed like everyone at Burning Man was in some sort of therapy group looking for solace to life’s questions). In addition since there was no place to buy anything (except ice and coffee in center camp), people gladly shared what they hauled out to the middle of nowhere with total strangers. Guess that openness and willingness to share was to be expected, considering the venue and most of my fellow inmates tended to have touchy, feelie personalities.

It’s kind of weird thinking about the events these past few days, considering just over a week ago at Burning Man the biggest worry I had, was how to stay clean and cool. During this tragic defining point in American history the same willingness of random people to share their emotions that I witnessed at the festive Burning Man event, is now happening across this nation and around the world (with people reflecting a whole spectrum of emotions from anger to denial).

For those interested, here is my upbeat patriotic opinion:

Americans in the past have faced their own great challenges and risen to occasion. Challenges such as forming a new nation, surviving a civil war, fighting a world war against Hitler and his intolerant policies, placing man on the moon, ending Communism and creating an inviting homeland where immigrants from around the world can start anew.

Now, we as a nation face another great challenge, which will define this era, protecting democracy and freedom from terrorism. Despite the recent horrific acts of terrorism on two American icons (the World Trade Center and the Pentagon), two American ideals, democracy and freedom, will not only endure they will thrive. Just as steel is tempered by the heat of a forge, Americans will be strengthened by the common cause to protect not only our freedom of movement but also a way of life that tolerates different political, religious, social and economic points of view.

America has been called a melting pot of cultures, and we as a people have drawn from our differences to create a culture which is envied around the world. Since envy like hate is a strong human emotion, a solution to terrorism will not come quickly or easily. So in these uncertain times we Americans must draw strength from our diverse backgrounds to overcome the evil that is terrorism.

And now for my greatest fear regarding terrorism:

I hope we as a people do not make rash decisions based on blinding anger, momentary fear and basic ignorance, because the potential exists to inflame the situation and cause great harm to innocent parties.

If harm is done to innocent parties (whether they be repugnant organization such as the PLO or foreign governments like Afghanistan, as I write this on September 13, 2001 no one has proof or has said why the terrorist attacks occurred) then we risk the possibility of continuing a never ending cycle of revenge and retribution. If over time we as a nation pursue an ever increasing vicious cycle of revenge and retribution, then we would stoop to the level of the terrorists who maliciously took down the World Trade Center.

On that somber note, I wish I could turn back the clock a few weeks (when life in America seemed so much more innocent) and experience more good clean fun (if that is possible amid the ever present playa dust) at Black Rock.

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