Tag Archives: Burning Man

Friday’s Cognitive Dissonance

It began at lunch with the last of the married men in my marathon. I was prepared to be underwhelmed, the jaded cynic in me, perhaps. Instead I found myself on the verge of tears more than once, as The Poet posed personal questions. He observed that I was extremely guarded and spent time in pursuit of the “real me.” It was an interesting and emotional conversation.

But back to the dissonance. Here I was having lunch with a lovely man — polite, attractive, successful, engaging — who bragged about his honor student daughter and wonderful wife. But he wasn’t completely perfect. Because if I’d asked him back to my apartment he most likely would’ve agreed in an instant. And instantly become a cheater. Ah, perhaps not so lovely. But I kinda knew the circumstances going in. Which had me puzzling, in between sharing our life stories, whether good people can be bad.

By the time The Poet helped me to my door with an unwieldy package, met by the barking foster dogs, I was in a rush to prepare for my early evening plans. I had less than an hour to get ready, which included changing out of my Garanimals-like afternoon ensemble and into something more suitably punk rock. Once I’d applied heavier eye makeup and shrugged on my motocycle jacket, I dashed out the door to meet my friend Rob and his girlfriend at Joe’s Pub for “DanceNOW [NYC] Presents Alley of the Dolls, This is not a sequel.” The show was a bizarre mélange of performance art and dance, comedy and song, and a poke at show business, all loosely in homage to “Valley of the Dolls.” It had a sassy retro Sixties tang.

When the performance wrapped, we jumped into Rob’s truck and headed to Williamsburg for a chihuahua wedding. You heard right. The “puptials” of Rev. Jen Jr. and Taco took place in the spacious outdoor garden of Lucky Dog bar on Bedford Ave. The proud parents of the bride and groom, Reverend Jen Miller and Holly Waggytail DeRito (yes, the grande dame of the agency I foster dogs for) held the happy couple in their arms and read their dogs’ vows, with Faceboy officiating the ceremony. As one might assume, the festivities were attended by quite a colorful cast of characters, including photographer Alex Colby and his pretty Penthouse Managing Editor wife Christine, comic artist and dessert blogger Abby Denson, Carmen Mofongo, my Balloon Chain co-worker and Lucky Dog bartender Moonshine Shorey, and armloads of adorable dogs. Moonshine had the night off because he was on his way to his gig with Jugger Nut at C Squat. Which was where Rob, his girlfriend and I were headed next!

Approaching the block we knew immediately where the show was; the shitfaced  dirtbag lying on the sidewalk, slurring obscenities, made it a giveaway. I slid in the door and stood aside. Everyone was in an agitated state about the sidewalk scene. A droopy-eyed, stringy-haired hippy was telling the dreadlocked dude running the door, “I don’t know the guy, man. I mean, he’s not a friend of mine. I picked him up in Asheville but I gotta watch his back. He’s my homeboy.” Meanwhile, the guy is still rolling around on the sidewalk with everyone screaming at him to get up, get out, move on.

I paid my five bucks, got my hand Sharpied and waited for Rob and his girlfriend. They slipped in and handed me a 24-ounce PBR. Cracking up, I crowed, “I just became the hottest old broad in the building!” A guy nodded in agreement and said, “Yeah, you did!” We made our way toward the noise, stepping over half-passed out gutterpunks and straggly hangers-on. A small balcony overlooked a basement with walls covered in graffiti. Our timing was perfect; kids were shoving equipment around the stage in anticipation of Jugger Nut.

The room was like a scene from a movie: Sweaty kids were milling around, an old man was perched on a chair, hipsters were photographing each other with the cell phones. It was an impressive collection of nightcrawlers. And because I never go anywhere without running into someone I know, I bumped into Nicola.

Before I’d had a chance to finish my 24-ounce, the band came onstage in a cacophony of keyboards, drums, guitars and feedback. After a bit of ear abuse, the music was actually quite good! People were nodding and dancing or ducking for cover. My friend Moonshine isn’t a musician, he’s an adjunct to the band, a six-foot-plus performance artist of sorts, his painted face and voodoo accoutrements augmented by blood and chicken feet. He stalked into the pit and the parted.

I’m not sure I could ever find the right words to properly describe the scene and how it actually felt. It was like being in a time warp. Like being beamed back to the 80s. The floor was slimy with beer and a bedraggled chick in nothing but boots and a silver sequin miniskirt kept slipping in it. The crowd thrashed in the pit, slamming into each other just like the old days. The whole place smelled like sweat and cigarette smoke and beer. It was fuckin’ awesome!

The show lasted just the right amount of time and as the room cleared I couldn’t contain my excitement. “The underground lives!” I kept saying with a huge smile on my face. I couldn’t believe it! I was so invigorated I couldn’t just go home and go to sleep, so I strolled through Tompkins Square Park to Double Down. It was packed with too many irritating people but I wound up at the far end of the bar chatting with an interesting couple. He was in a heavy metal t-shirt and she looked like she maybe watched too much “Jersey Shore.” But we commiserated about the East Village asshole invasion and, astonishingly, Burning Man! He was leaving the next day for India. Sometimes life is full of surprises!

Anyway, I stumbled to the deli for a turkey sandwich which I didn’t remember eating the next morning as I marveled over my day of dissonance: the enjoyable Poet, dance show at Joe’s Pub, the chihuahua wedding, the C Squat Jugger Nut slamfest and the pleasant company over my nightcap at Double Down. It was an amazing dozen hours!

Scrambled

That’s how I’ve been feeling lately: scrambled. I’m not on any particular schedule. Sometimes I get up at 8:00am to work out with my cousin, who’s on her way home after dropping her son off at school. By 3:00 it feels like midnight! And sometimes I sleep half the day, cause, um, I don’t have anything to get up for, really.

I never know what day it is. I don’t need to, since I’m not working. There isn’t anything in particular that I do every week on the same day…so it doesn’t much matter. The closest thing I have to discipline is this damn blog. Unless, of course, you count watching The View every morning at 11:00…or Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune every night from 7:00 til 8:00. Talk about pathetic. I’m in the throes of transition but that means I’m sort of…nowhere. Or everywhere.

I got back from Burning Man on October 15. I went back to California for the holidays and returned on December 30. I’m leaving again on Friday, back again the following Thursday. Then on the 31st I’m going to Alaska (yes, Alaska), to hit Chena Hot Springs and, ideally, see The Northern Lights, back on February 5th. On the 14th I leave (again) for California, where my trip to Africa for a safari originates. I’ll be in Tanzania and Mozambique for 10 days, from the 17th of February til the 1st of March (I’m assuming there are days that I’ll spend in the air, accounting for those “lost” days in there). With just enough time to do a load of laundry at my parents’ and hopefully recover from my jet lag just a smidge, I fly out of SFO at midnight on the 3rd for New Orleans and Mardi Gras. I’ll be there a week, flying back to New York on the 10th. Just typing all this is making me tired.

I know, you’re probably saying, that’s a whole lotta jetsetting for someone who doesn’t even have a job! Well, I’m not paying for any of this travel. My budget could maybe get me to Coney Island. It’s all gonna provide me with plenty to blog about, that’s for sure!

In between all of this, I’ll be dog fostering, packing and unpacking, trying to see friends, producing another singles’ event (or two), trying to date (as hopeless as that’s been lately), orchestrating my sister buying my ex-husband out of my co-op, looking for work (though what’s the point? I’m never home!), working out and attempting to maintain the discipline of this blog. For all, like two dozen of you reading! (So tell you friends, eh?)

Stay tuned for news on ALL of this stuff and the up-to-date details on my sanity. Or lack thereof!

 

Feathers


I got a new tattoo today. Finally. It’s one I’ve wanted since last fall. See, for the past few years I would get a new tattoo after every Burning Man. Thus far they have been: the word “cunt,” to symbolize my “owning” my cuntdom; the word “breathe,” after a season of hearing, saying and experiencing that word in many meaningful contexts; a partial Burning Man DPW (Department of Public Works) logo, to commemorate my first year helping build Black Rock City; a fork, because I felt like I was at a “fork in the road” of my life and because I kept finding forks , literally, in the road, during Playa Restoration.

Today’s tattoo is about 15 months later than I wanted it, due to life getting in the way and my bank account never really synching up with my desires. Not that my bank account is cooperating any more today than it was a year ago but after so many months of wanting, researching the symbolism of feathers, and being caught up in the whole 11:11 phenomenon, I decided that I had to get this particular tattoo on this date — January 11, 2011: 1/11/11 — to ensure the best possible juju. Plus I had a somewhat remarkable feather-related experience.

The back story on my passion for feather imagery is that during my first year working Playa Restoration I found a stunning sterling silver feather. I’ve been wearing it around my neck almost ever since I picked it up off the desert floor. I recalled having a pair of silver feather earrings that I’d probably had since high school. I don’t remember where or when I got them, possibly at a gift shop in Schroon Lake, and it’s been a long time since I’ve bought jewelry at a touristy gift shop! Anyway, I started wearing the earrings to match my necklace. Working post-event in 2008, I was taking down signs in Center Camp when I lost one of the earrings. I remember exactly where and when — I took off my sweater at one point — but never found it. And this year, during Playa Restoration, while playing a game of Scrabble with some friends, I told the story of finding my feather and losing my earring. One of my opponents looked at the remaining earring and said, “I found an earring in Center Camp that looks kinda like that. I’ll see if I can find it.” The next morning at breakfast, she showed up with the earring I’d lost two years earlier! That earring had been lying there in the desert dust for two years! And found its way back to me! So you can see how I’ve come to feel the way I do about feathers and why this year I became even more attuned to their symbolism.

But back to the tattoo. The design is an eagle feather that I sketched, then cut out of an 8’x4′ piece of plywood and mounted on the Trash Fence that serves as the boundary of Burning Man. It was one of a series of five feathers. They were briefly mounted in First Camp as decor for a wedding, then moved to the Trash Fence at Point 3, which is the apex of the city. If one were to follow the line from the Man to the Temple off into the distance, Point 3 would be the last point within Black Rock City, the furthest point a person can walk, making the feathers a distant destination. I registered them at The Artery as “Trash Fence Feathers,” made and mounted to look as if they’d been blown into this “corner” of trash fence.

I checked on them periodically and was initially disappointed when people began tagging them. Then, as they became covered in graffiti, I embraced the exuberant messages: “I made it!” “My first burn!” And from my friend Jamye, “I love you, Abby!” It was exciting that, having made art that wasn’t exactly interactive, people had chosen a way to interact with it. The feathers were pretty visible from a distance, even at night, when they were lit by small solar-powered lights. I loved the idea of people seeing something “out there” and making the journey to see what it was.

At the end of the event, rather than burning the feathers, I packed them into my van and took them home. Perhaps someday I’ll have a yard or some other suitable place to re-mount them. Until then, I’m wearing all three of my silver jewelry feathers and one of my “Trash Fence Feathers” on my right arm, permanently.

Thanks to Ronn, my tattoo artist! You can find him at Addiction Tattoo on St. Marks Place.

Rally for Sanity

I realize I’m hardly a paragon of sanity. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to make the trek to DC for Jon Stewart‘s big rally. And while I realize that by being a part of the crowd I was showing my support for a more moderate, measured approach to politics (and everything else, quite frankly), the trip was hardly what I’d hoped for.

To start, I purchased a ticket on a bus a friend had chartered. I anticipated traveling with like-minded folks and meeting some new people. I wasn’t expecting a busload of partying burners but I wasn’t expecting 50-odd 50-somethings, mostly Jersey women in comfortable walking shoes. Nope, not one person on board who I had any interest in meeting! But let me start at the beginning.

My trip truly began at 3:30 on Friday, in a panic about leaving the newly-fostered neurotic puppy home alone. I’d enlisted the assistance of a friend who agreed to be there at 3:00. She said she was “stopping for food,” which I thought meant to pick up food. She’d just sat down to order food. At a restaurant. I shoved the puppy into his crate, locked the door listening to his shrieking and ran my keys to my friend at Kate’s.

After an invigorating dash to the Path, I rode to Jersey City to meet friends for the hour-plus drive down to Jackson, NJ. There was a diner dinner and poster-making and a quick stop at Target, where I picked up an awesome pair of penguin feetie pajamas. I know, I’m straying off topic… Knowing we were going to have an extremely early morning, most of us bedded down sometime after midnight. But a few others thought it was the perfect time to chat into the wee hours. Which meant we woke up at 5:30am after less than five hours of sleep. Ugh.

In the chilly, still-dark morning we drove to a random park-and-ride to meet our chartered chariot and the aforementioned 50-odd 50-somethings. Bagels and coffee were included in our ticket price but the bus driver wouldn’t allow any liquids on the bus besides water, so I chugged down my Dunkin Donuts caffeine and carried my bagel on board. It was a long drive down to RFK Stadium parking lot. But I was excited about being an activist!

Coming up out of the subway to thousands of people filling the Mall was quite a sight. We walked toward the front but didn’t make it very far; the. We made several attempts to penetrate the wall of humanity, cutting across the Mall, getting stepped on and shoved. I felt like a turnstile! People were trying to walk — well, squeeze between — in every direction. Except for myself and our 6’4″ friend, everyone was having anxiety attacks. The ambulance that wound up idling a few feet from us before it turned on its siren and inched right into the thick of things almost sent us over the edge. The fact that we couldn’t see a thing, not even the monitors, or hear a word made the discomfort totally pointless. We decided to bail.

At least we got to see dozens and dozens of ridiculous protest signs: Wraps are NOT sandwiches! Bacon is good for me! Free the kittens! There were costumes and hilarious t-shirts, all decidedly high-brow and primarily intellectual. I was semi-disguised as a zombie, prepared to say, “I’m here for the brains!” if anyone inquired. I would’ve followed that with, “I went to that Glenn Beck thing. Not a brain in the bunch!” But alas, no one asked. My friends were in costume as well. Alex was a pregnant prom queen with an “Abstinence Only Education” sash. Jonathan was a bear carrying a “Bears are not godless killing machines!” sign. We had an Uncle Sam, a cheerleader and a smarmy politician. Er, at least I think he was being a smarmy politician. He may have just been dressing as himself!

Walking away from the masses we came upon Abraxas, the glittering dragon that had been out at Burning Man, and its crew of burners. Of course we ran into familiar faces and it was nice to see the burners represent! We strolled along, people watching and protest sign reading, to Chinatown and finally found a restaurant without a two-hour wait: Mongolian barbecue, yum!

The return trip was almost as grueling as the trip down: a liquid-less bus ride, drive into Brooklyn and the fucked up F train to the East Village. I finally made it home at midnight, exhausted, cranky and pretty damn disappointed. Yes, it was a good thing to show my support. But I sure wish it had been a busload of burners, that I’d met some great new people and that I’d actually seen and/or heard the damn rally!