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31 August 2008
Temple Burn

the crew piles into the RV for one last mealThe first order of business, after a breakfast mimosa, was tackling the cleanup of the RV, which looked hungover after yesterday's rampage. Fortunately, with four of us working together, it didn't take long to clear out the empty cups, wash the dishes, set aside random personal items left behind, and sweep at least some of the dust out. Ready for the next party!

dancing girls, and a duck on the stripper poleThe afternoon was surprisingly chilly, which didn't bode well for the evening's activities. After a brief stop at Fur Bar -- dancing girls and a duck on a pole, what more could you ask for? -- we whipped up a clams marinara dinner and got ready for the Temple Burn.

It was a long, long hike out there, as expected, and it was indeed bitchin' cold! Fortunately we were bolstered by Eileen's mostly-whiskey-with-a-splash-of-coke communal beverage. Somehow we managed to arrive at the Temple mostly together, despite a stop to see Ember's mushroom art burn and a visit to the porta-potties. About a dozen of us joined hands to form a human chain, and wandered into the crowd to find a spot. By the time we settled in, it was nearly time for the Temple to burn. There wasn't much pageantry, or at least we couldn't see much of anything going from where we were sitting. The crowd got silent and sat down, and a woman sang an Eastern-sounding chant over the loudspeakers. Very slowly, the Temple started to go up. It had a totally different feel from last night's burn, no hoopla, no fireworks, no techno music, just the sound of the fire crackling and the occasional sniffle from the crowd. Except for the howling, frigid wind -- and one asshat up front who just wouldn't sit down -- it was quite peaceful and contemplative.

the Temple burns... and burns...I'm not sure how long it actually took for the Temple to fall, but the structure turned out to be pretty durable. First the top layer caved in, then eventually even the huge pillars at the corners toppled over, bringing the entire thing down in a slow-motion crash. A symbol of the boundless nature of the American Dream? Or a testament to the durability of the Basura Sagrada we all carry around with us? You decide...

By that time, the crowd was done, frozen and ready to head for home. Which was unfortunate because a gigantic dust storm chose that moment to kick into high gear. And thus commenced one of the most surreal moments in an already-surreal week. Imagine, if you will, trying to walk through a blinding snowstorm, people criss-crossing in front of you in random

patterns, no real sense of which direction is home, no streets or signs or landmarks to guide the way, visibility limited to about two feet. It was absolutely terrifying. Ahead, what seemed like miles away, a dim beacon shone weakly. I had no idea what or where it was, but it was at least some sign of civilization, better than wandering forever on the unforgiving open Playa. So we headed towards it. For what felt like hours. It was a cold, grueling, hellacious trek. Radical self-reliance, my ass! What kind of insane event organizers let a bunch of drunk/high/hippie-ravers wander the frozen wilderness in the middle of the night without so much as a directional sign? The outrage!

Well, obviously we made it back to camp without anyone having to gnaw off a leg or roast a campmate over an open flame for sustenance. But it was quite a frustrating end to the week. Irritated, and frozen to the bone, there was nothing left to do but burrow in and try to sleep.


Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 1 comment
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Re: Temple Burn
As one who was there I can say it was startlingly cold on that night and it seemed as though there was a real and present danger of losing direction and either wandering around for hours or succumbing to the icy winds. There'd been a mild dust storm the year before but the Black Rock desert seems to have had more aggression this year, though it was no less on cue with the burning of the temple.
Posted by Mark on September 19, 2008 at 2:10 PM

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