White Wednesday (Day Time)
Wednesday came along, and I was up and around before 10:00 am (it is impossible to sleep in, as the temperature in the tents raise to 100º F after 9:30 am) I did my usual run to Cereal Thrillers and then I check my schedule. I was supposed to MC KK’s runway at 11:30 AM. That same day an event was happening in playa. The naked bike ride.
The ride started at 11:00, and I was supposed to be MC at 11:30, and everything starts late in Black Rock city, so I have to choose what to do. I really wanted to MC, but I really wanted to do the Naked Bike Ride.
I ran to check the schedule and found a replacement for my MC gig. Then I jumped into my bike and rode to the front of The Man where already was large gathering of naked people next to their bike.
Something I noticed about burning man is that there were not ugly people. Everywhere I look there were people in different levels of nakedness, but I do not remember seeing anybody bad looking.
I arrive at the naked bike ride gathering point and took of my booty shorts. I walk around the crow for a bit, hopping to find a familiar face. While wondering, and admiring the beautiful naked people around me, I was given an official Naked Bike Ride mug, that was promptly filled with a strong Bloody Mary, and I was also given a map of the several bar locations that the ride will have before ending in comfort and joy camp where there will be a big naked party.
I looked at the map, and check the time. I could go to do my MC gig, and then catch up with the naked bikers later in the bar crawl. So I put my pants back on and ran to Kostume Kult to MC.
Being the runway Master Of Ceremonies was fun. Basically, I have to wrangle people to come get costumes, and when they walk out the costume closet, through the runway, I get to announce them, like a fashion show.
I was given a wireless microphone, good sound and off we go.
-“Hello Black Rock City! And welcome to Kostume Kult! The only place in playa where you go from fantastic to glamstastic! Come on in and let our fashion specialist dress you up for the night, and walk away looking your best! You are all sexy, but when we are done with you, you will be irresistible! Do you want to get laid? Do you want to seduce that sexy campmate,? Then step into our K train and get transform into a sexy beast! A sexy devil, A sexy angel! Or anything you want.”
This continued for about 2 hours. The challenging part was talking about people coming out of the runway. Some costumes where easy to announce:
-“What we have here? Is that a banana coming my way? Hot! You know you want to peel this fruit; you know you all want to make a smoothie out this sexy banana; He is sexy and he knows it!”
Some people would just put in a simple accessory and come out. That was complicated as I wasn’t sure if I should talk about their current boring outfit, or try to squeeze comments out of a boring hat”
“Paris, New York, Black Rock city. She is sexy and she know how to give that walk, walk, walk. That is right people, her beauty shines through he simple outfit and she is walking on fire!” – No she wasn’t, but what you gonna do.
When my MC shift was done, I hope back in my bike and ran to the bar were the naked people was according to my map.
When I got there, there were very few people, because of course, they were delayed in previous bars.
I waked in the bar, and there were a few people. I grab a drink and try to chat with somebody. Soon a hoard of naked people (Mostly men) started filling the bar. Soon I was chatting with a lot of people, who were touching me everywhere. My cup kept being filled and the conversation kept floating. I did not realized at the beginning of the race that the string of bars was meant to keep the gays boys until the very end of the run, while the straight people would stay behind on earlier bar. Beautiful naked gay men that wanted to be my friends surrounded me.
The party moved to the last bar at Comfort and Joy. By then I was already a bit tipsy, and I have made a lot of friends who keep on inviting me to later parties and events that night.
Among the crowd I found Eddie. He just happened to be biking by and stop to find out what was going on. I meet with him, told him what was happening and then told him to walk with me to the bathroom.
The closest Port-A-Pottie were 2 blocks away, so we walked over. Remember that all I was wearing at this point was a glass of rum and coke. In the way back from the bathrooms, we got stop by 2 guys and a girl that wave us closer to them (They were sitting in a make shift living room) and chatted us up. One of the guys told me
-“Dude, I am married and straight, but if I ever decided to switch teams, I would like to have you around” –
Aw, I got a sexy compliment from a straight guy. We noticed that all of them had this beautiful hand made burning man pendants, so we asked about them.
-“Go to Gerlach and 6. There is a guy on a table giving them away”- The woman replied.
We walked by another block and a naked drag queen pull me over.
-“You need a drink boy! Step into our camp! We have homebrew cold beer for you!” –
My cup was promptly filled and we stayed for a little bit. Among the camp facilies there was a kissing booth, where a cute looking, naked guy was waiting to kiss you.
I came closer to the kissing booth, thinking that I would get a kiss on the cheek or a quick peck on the lips. Nope, the hot guy in the booth applied some Listerine spray and pulls me over for a long, and very good make out session.
When we were done he said :
-“Best kisser of the day”-
Eddie and I went back to our bikes where I, after about 4 hours of walking and biking around in the nude, put on my short-shorts. Eddie and I bikes to the address given by the living room people, and a very welcome pair of guys told us how their father used to come every year to burning man, and gave away over 1,500 pendants to people. Their father died a couple of years ago, so they kept the tradition alive.
We got our pendants and kept biking looking for food. It was now 6:00 pm, so we slowly bike back to camp, hopping we found somebody handing out food, but it was too late for that. Only bars were open.
At camp something was happening. One of the Kostume Kult founders was getting playa married. SO most of our camp was out in the frontage waiting for them to arrive on the ponies (Two ride able art carts operated by joystick that look like My Little Pony characters).
When they arrive we all cheered and the wedding started. As a pony themed weeding, the bride and the groom had horse heads that they took off when they were in from of the MC. The read their beautiful vows and we all cheer their union. After the weeding, apples and sugar cubes were handing to the crowd.
,We all retire to the center of the camp for a late dinner. I took a shower and a disco nap before heading out into the night. Tonight, we were going to do another art-car hopping.
Many people keep on asking about “economy”, or how do we get food and drink at burning man. People think that is a barter system, and trying to explain the concept of “gifting” to people who have only lived in a transaction driven word is hard.
-“So, if they give you food, how do you pay for it” – friend one
-“You don’t, is a gift” – I replied
-“But, you do give them something in exchange right? Like a barter” – friend two
-“I would say thank you and walk away” –
-“Well, that sounds silly. You will end up with nothing in no time. ”
-“You are missing the point. It is a gift. A gift is given without expecting anything in return. Would you expect something in return when you bring a gift to a birthday party?”
-“No, but that is different, is just one gift for one person I care for” – friend 2 would reply.
-“Well, image that you care for 65,000 people at the same time, and you want to give everybody you can a gift.”
-“That is impossible!” – friend one snap back.
-“Is it?” – I wink and eye and let them think about that for a moment.
Tuesday morning came, and it was nice to awake to a full camp. I was starving so after washing my face I jumped into my bike and went looking for food.
A block away from our camp, there was a small plaza with several food options. My favorite (Because they stay open till 11:00 am) was Cereal Thrillers. Their mission? Give you a bowl of the cereal of your choice (They had them all!) and milk (mostly soy, but one day they offer me real milk!).
Today I had to teach a class at the crafting dome. I was to teach how to make tutus and booty short. That class started around 3PM, so I had time to roam.
I decided to wear a tutu I found already made in the crafting dome. It was very thick so I venture to wear nothing else under it. It was very refreshing to feel the wind in between my legs. ;-)
I asked Eddie to joined me, after he got ready we help in our bikes we started roaming through out the playa. It was the first time I got out of camp in 4 days.
We found several art pieces along the way, there was the silk road project, then the climbing ladders, the Library of Babel, where we stop and wrote poems and though in one of the many beautiful handmade, blank books inside of it.
We climb into the Last Nomad sculpture, which reminded me of the Hayao Miyazaki movie Howl’s Moving Castle.
Time was ticking so I had to head back to camp to teach that tutu and booty short making class.
Tutus are easy to make, just take a piece of tulle fabric and tie it alone another piece of fabric that would be the belt, make enough of the small flowing ties and you have a tutu.
Some campmates showed up to make tutus and after I set them up on their work, I focus on the booty short part of the workshop.
The booty shorts where more complicated. We would tell people to choose the fabric (preferably spandex), draw a pattern and cut the pieces. We had 3 sizes for boys and girls (Only difference is that boy booty shorts have an extra piece of fabric for the front pouch). When it came time to saw the pieces, I would ask people if they know how to use a sewing machine, most of the time they did not know how to use one, so I spent a lot of time sewing together the pieces that they would cut.
The last woman to have her booty shorts was a problem. First of all, she seems to be drunk, so her pieces where all over the place. Then she choose the wrong size, so I have to size it down, then she had me as her freaking tailor, taking the shorts on and off, and telling me to fix this and that. I was quite annoyed. To make matter worse, every time she tried the short, she would get completely naked, try them on and then take them of and hand them to me for more fixing. I saw her hairy vag way too much.
When the class was over, I went to lay down a bit, and deciding what to do with the rest of my afternoon. I had 2 hours before dinner.
I hope on my bike and went on exploring the inner streets of the city.
I noticed that every other camp had a bar. I am not a heavy drinker, but after an hour or so of biking around, I stopped on a camp. Camp for Non Prophets.
One of the most beautiful aspects of burning man is how welcoming it is. Everybody is your friend. Everybody hugs you and make you feel like one of the group right after saying hello for the first time.
At the Camp for no Prophets, I was welcomed with open arms, and my drinking cup was promptly filled with rum and coke.
I hanged out with this fun group of San Franciscans until it was time to go back to camp for some dinner.
Rain at the Desert
Monday morning, the official opening day for the Burning Man Festival finally arrived. We have work our asses off, and now all of our work finally paid off. The frontage was almost complete, all shade structures were done, kitchen and showers we running. We have earned the right to be there at the beginning of it all.
We got awaken by a very strange sound outside of our tents/ shade structure.
It sounded like rain. Heavy Rain.
The rain continued for about one hour, and the faded into nothing. Finally the sun came up around 10 am.
What a mess.
The desert at black Rock City is a lakebed of a prehistoric lake. A hard very flat surface covered with very fine, powder like dust. This dust is super dry, so it soak up all this rain very quickly, creating a layer of sticky impermeable mud, and under it more dry dust.
Walking on this surface is interesting. The layer of mud sticks to your shoe, so now the bottom of that layer, already attached to your shoe, has a dry bottom to it, so you step again on the layer of mud, and now you have 2 layers attached to your shoe. Walk around enough and you grow about 2 to 3 inches. It sounds fun if it wasn’t for the weight of the whole thing. You are now carrying 4 pound on each shoe of drying mud.
We got up and started cleaning up. The tarps had accumulated water, so we tried to saved it by carefully pushing the tarps and pouring the water into our plastic yellow top containers (6 cubic feet). We would use this water for drinking and clean up later.
We had big spots of mud inside our shade structure that we had to cover with dry dust, which was only available in the dry spots of the shade structure, or under our tents.
Clean up was a bitch, but you do what you gotta do.
Meanwhile, in the default world, the rain created such a mess at the entrance of the festival that the gates closed. The movement of hundreds of cars on the wet playa could damage it, so the gatekeepers close entrance to burning man until everything dries. About 20 hours.
Monday was Onsie Monday at Black Rock City (Most night have a theme), and I join some of my camp mates to go out at night as a group of animal and stampede some local bars.
My favorite place to stampede was Animal Control, who main activity if to roam around the playa on an art cart that looks like a jeep safari, and catch “animals” (people dressed like animals” with big butterfly nets, drag them into the jeep and sedate them (Give them drinks), drive them around and finally release them in the wild (random place in playa).
It was great to see the people of animal control camp, scramble to find their nets and chasing us around. Lots of fun!
After that we roam to another bars, and found a sound camp where we dance for a while. After that we went art-car hopping for a while. Art car hopping is a fun activity, where you jump on a random art car (Most of them are design for that) and just go with it. Eventually, you jump of and try a new car. The downside of this is that you never know where are you going to end.
Around 1 am, I got off a art car that looked like a giant trout and slowly walked back home. I was exhausted.
Around that time, some campmates started to arrive, and they kept arriving through out the night. By the following morning, our camp was complete.
Build week at burning man
Build week was a blur, for the next 4 days we did nothing but to work hard and build our large camp. Kostume kult had a complicated frontage that featured a subway train replica (The K train), a 25 feet tall king kong, a times square building with a New Year eve ball (For our daily New days eve party at midnight), a runway, a large costume tent with rows of costumes to give away, a crafting dome (a 30 feet high geodesic dome) & a peep show booth. For the camp itself we had to build a center shade with seats where to hang out, and shower stalls. Kitchen was already build when we got there.
The Kostume Kult camp was divided in Pods: Flexus, Fuginia, Hacienda, Lily, Bat Cave, Prime-Mate and Peeper Pods.
Being the first 2 member of the Peeper pod arriving, we had to also build our shade structure. That was a long complicated project.
Having brought my dry wall stilts was big help not only to put up the tarps, but also to help with the construction of other camp projects where having stilts was faster than moving a ladder around.
On day 2 I had an accident. A bungee ball (A rubber ball attached to a bungee cord loop designed to easily attached tarps in place) snapped at is maximum tension with in my face.
Blood, tears, lots of pain, a trip to the emergency rooms (Yes, burning man has several emergency rooms) and a week long black eye earn my playa name, Black Eye Link.
Meanwhile, a city was growing around us very quickly. When we got there there was nothing but a few scatter vehicles and tents, but on Sunday night, there was a lot to be seen, and there were already plenty of art cars roaming the playa.
Let the burn begging!
Burning Man Day 1
Burning Man 2014
There are few experiences in life that can change the way you see at the world. We all experience those very few moments of clarity through our lives and your perception of the world changes. This life events make you chose a different path, try a different approach to the world we lived in. Burning Man was one of these events.
What is burning man?
It is a larger version of … what? Woodstock? That was a bunch of teenagers coming to watch artists perform. At Burning Man, everyone is expected to be a participant. Burners bring their art work, their art cars, their personal dress and/or undress: everyone is on stage. The story of Woodstock was thousands of young people, without the sense to bring their own food and water, being rescued by the state police and sensible bourgeois rural folks. The story of Burning Man is one of radical self-reliance.
It is a more intense than … what? Not quite the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Burning Man is an arts festival in the middle of the Nevada desert. It takes hours to get there, and you must bring what you eat or wear or need: you cannot buy anything there. Burning Man is more like Brigadoon – a western ghost town that springs to life. Dust storms. Cold nights. Black Rock City is completely built and then taken apart and disappeared each year, by 65,000 people.
Being part of this large social experiment was intense.
I arrived to Reno on Tuesday night, one week before the event started. I agree to be part of the early arrival crew and help build our large camp (Kostume Kult).
We hitch a ride with a fellow burner named Dallas. Burners (burning man participants) have a default world name and a playa name. You can choose your name or wait to have one given to you.
The ride from Reno to Black Rock Dessert was very comfortable, air conditioned and on a bed.
Once we made to Black Rock Dessert, we had to wait about one hour to have our tickets and early passes checked and the vehicle inspected for stowaways.
Finally we made it to the city limits, where we were welcomed by the greeter station.
-“Do you guy have any virgins on your vehicle?” – one of the greeters asked.
-“Yes we do” – Our driver responded.
-“Out of the car!” – She order me and Eddie.
Once outside we had a little ceremony where she read the 10 principles of Burning Man.
Nobody is excluded from be part of burning man. I saw small kids and old people at the festival. I saw every race and color. There are no prerequisites for participation in the Burning Man community.
The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exhange for something of equal value. I recived many gifts from many people. From pendants, to food, or a glass of water, ice, or a hug, or a compliment, or a ride of the opportunity to pain something or play with something or someone, or jump on a trampoline, or a henna tattoo, or cereal, or coffee.
No money exchange is allowed at Burning Man. You cannot buy or sell anything.
You have to fend for yourself. You are responsible for you own survival. Nobody is obligated to provided you with water, food or shelter. I was part of a big camp so I was provided with certain commodities, like water and food, but in case this resources stopped, we are all ready to survive on out own.
You can be anything you want to be. I saw bunnies, unicorns, musicians and artist, people in amazing costumes or nothing at all (lots of naked people walking around), people who on dressed like the cast of Mad Max, fairies, magical creatures, creatures of light and dark. At burning man you can be anything you want to be.
We are part of one being. We are art, we protect our kind, we preserve our community.
Just because Burning Man is an experiment on self-expression doesn mean that you should not follow society rules. So, don’t be a dick.
Leaving No trace
Burning man is the ultimate movement of conservationism. Everyone at the festival cleans after themselves and after others. There are not “they will clean that mess” but “We should keep this place clean”. You will never find MOOP (Material Out Of Place) and not pick it up. Even if is not yours. When we leave burning man, the desert will look untouched, like we were never there. Only footsteps.
Burning man it is not a festival for spectators. We are all participating, We are all on stage. You are part of the fun or don’t bother coming! I was MC several runways (I love a microphone), I was dresses in many costumes and I even did the naked bike ride. I was participating every day, every time.
Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.
After this, our greeter made us jump a line she draw in the dust and we were in the city. Then the made us ring a bell and we had to lay down in the ground and make dust angels, front and back, we got covered in playa dust (fine as baby powder).
-“And this is the cleanest you will be on your time at Black rock City boys! Welcome home! –
We slowly drove to our camp, the city was nothing but street markers and a few camps and RVs scatter here and there.
We arrived to our camp site, where some KK member welcomed us. For the next 4 days before the event starts we will be hard at work putting our frontage together, building our shade structure and getting ready for Burning Man.
Last Friday Robert told me that he wanted to be free. HE broke up with me a third time.
I was ok at the begging. I was hurt, but I was somewhat expecting it. He was growing distant, and he seems reluctant to call me or to hang out tiwht me. ALso, his sex drive has been dead for months.
I have not talk to him in a few days, and it slowly breaking my heart. This is the first time where I wonder if I will find that loves me the way I loved Jason, or the Robert, or Tim. For how long I will be alone?
Robert has kept sending me our usual “Good night” text message every night, and although I do not want to answer him, I always do. And it hurts ti type, but I love him.
My roommy is never here, since he got his new boyfriend, whom I have meet only once for about 3 minutes. My roomatte only comes in the afternoons when I am not here to pick up some clothes and off he goes. he doesn’t sleep here anymore.
I have not seen him in almost a week.
My brother left back to Ecuador today. He was visiting NYC and stayed with me for 2 weeks. It was so comforting to have my baby brother with me. It like he never left in the first place.
I am alone.
What is left. I endure the coldest winter off my life, that blend into a late spring to turn into the loneliest summer.
Yesterday I had to attend a staff retreat.
I always associate the word “Retreat” with the countryside, or the beach, not a plain windowless conference room, with the same 8 people I see everyday, and no way out for 9 hours straight.
Part of this “Retreat” was a series of talks or seminars that some our department director and 2 other people will give. There were 10 schedule talks, 8 given by the department director, who got the idea of this “Retreat” because his BF had one recently.
I prepare myself for a day of narcissistic ego rubbing coming from the department director, and brought a sketchpad and some pencils to draw or doodle in the back when the talks get unbearable.
The day went by really fast, faster than I though. And I was actually enjoying my time with my coworkers. We had team building exercises, and some problem solving tasks, and the “Talks” where not a one sided chat, but more of a communal discussion with a moderator to keep us on track.
At the end of the day I discovered that (According to a test we had to take) I am the only of my team that can stay focus despise having a lot of potential distractions around me.
And there I was thinking all this years that I had some form of ADD.
I got to work today and find out that the director of my department, after evaluating my performance at the retreat, had given me some projects to manage, and even “allow” me to talk to vendors and clients when needed. He even threw in an intern so to “Sweeten the deal”.
At QSAC I am a bit of a recluse. I always have my office lights off, my door ajar (but not close) and my design work absorbs me. Nobody sees much of me during the day unless they walk to my office. People think of me as a bit grumpy. And I like it like that.
Now I have people and projects to manage?
I know it is a good thing. And I know I will do great, and this will give me resume experience for the next job, but I will miss being left alone.
This past week the MTA has been heavily damaged.
Starting at 10:30, the blue line (A-C-E) and the Orange line (D-B) just stop working after 59th St. forcing everybody to take the 1 train uptown.
The red line (1-2-3) has also being damaged, with long waiting times resulting in super packed trains after 11:00 PM.
I found myself waiting for the 1 train at 12:00 AM in the 96th Street Station on Wednesday night. I was hot and grumpy when an older guy said to me: “Nice T-shirt”. I looked down at my t-shirt and look back at him, smiled as said thanks; he quickly picked up the conversation, asking me where I was from and where I was going to. We started chatting about nothing important, and the trained arrived. It was so packed that I decided to take a cab. My new friend must have noticed my mind change because he immediately invited me to have a beer.
-“Common, have a drink with me”
I give it a though. One drink cannot be harmful. And I am walking out the station anyway, so I agreed to have a drink with him.
We went o a local dinner and we chatted.
-“So, do where uptown you live?” – He asked
-“Up in 171st, and you? – I replied
-“Near, in 98th Street”-
-“So, you live two blocks away from the train station, yet you were waiting for the train?”
-“Well, I was not waiting for the train, I was people watching until I noticed you”
-“For how long were you people watching in that hot station?”
-“About an hour”
This guys was just standing, with a briefcase, for an hour, at midnight, inside a crowded, over heated station, just for the fun of it.
He started hitting on me, and to stop that I told him I have a boyfriend and that I am happily in love with him.
After the beer, he asked me to walked him home. I did.
Once in front of his building, he asked me to walking to his front door, as he lived in the first floor. I did.
Once we were in his front door, he opened it and asked me to come in to show me the high ceiling he was telling me about. I did.
Then he tried to kiss me. I refused.
When he realized that I will no be kissing him, he invited me to dinner.
-“Please! Say yes? Have dinner with me this Sunday?” –
I told him to send me a text and that I will get back to him.