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Burning Without The Man

August 31, 2008

The Man Burned Without Us

Somehow, all the hard core Burners I know stayed home from the Burn this year. Even Alan Sailer, who graced Yahoo’s news coverage and showed up on the New York Times on line coverage last year for his artistic and well lit costumes, after 12 years in a row. And Kathy, 11 years in a row. Helen Fun Pineapple didn’t go. Merry Malice, with 10 Burns under her belt like me, she didn’t go. Toni the Tiger, with 5 Burns, stayed home. Jason and Mark went to San Diego. And more. When Eric Werb called me back to RSVP about the party, I was sure he was somehow calling from the playa. He said even the staff at his neighborhood Chinese restaurant was surprised to find him still in town.

So why were we here instead of there?

Part of it was the uninspiring theme, The American Dream. Part of it was economics, both financial and energetic–just can’t do it all, certainly not in your 40s, with kids, a mortgage, jobs that you can’t escape or quit. We all had our reasons for why it didn’t seem right to go this year–even though almost 50,000 people attended (way more than my first year in 1992 when there were only 600 of us!).

So we gathered here, Burners who weren’t Burning, and a few honorary of future Burners, 20 or more in all. We got a bonfire going, and we did not go on-line to watch the Burn or other art on blogs or Current TV. We talked about how sometimes the tide needs to go out for a new tide to come in. We talked about how we carry the Burn inside us, and that we can renew as well here with friends as well as there. We made plans for next year.

And we participated in our own way. We feasted on an amazing potluck dinner, the likes of which we could never have had on the playa: garlicky bruschetta from just picked heirloom tomatoes, grilled corn picked that morning, green salad, pasta salad, rice salad, Kathy’s ginger/carrot birthday cake for Myr’s 40th . We drank Bitch wine, a Grenache from the Grateful Palate (which could have been chilled a bit–room temp of 75 is too warm!). We tried not to bitch any more than that; the Chateau Ste Michelle Blanc de Noirs sparkling pink fit the mood better (what a lovely sparkler for under $10!)

We wore some of our playa finery, like Alan in his black light eyes which you’d swear stared into you, Kathy in her beribboned bra and glowing egg necklace, and Merry Malice in her EL wire mermaid’s tail. I dyed my hair orange and pink, wore a red and black sequined bra and black velvet skirt. (pictures to be added soon!)

Merry Malice brought a collection of toilet paper and paper towel rolls, a box, and a large piece of rebar which she fashioned into a 10’ tall man. We stuffed its head with paper notes about our dreams; from within, an American flag fluttered on its pole. I wrapped newspaper around pomegranate seeds which we stuffed around the rebar for a pulsing red heart. During the process, I burned a Tibetan incense for transformation, and powerful, ritualistic frankincense and myrhh resins in an abalone shell.

We ventured out past my yard to the wide open space of the desolate city storage yard, carrying the man, a bucket of water, and a fire extinguisher. We stuck the rebar into a milk crate, filled it with cement blocks, and then I lit the flag.

Ventucky Burning Man 2008

Ventucky Burning Man 2008

We watched it burn, then I lit other places.  The heart fell out, and the head was too far from fuel to burn so when it was time, we carried the head and the heart to the firepit in our yard, and burned it there. While the head and the heart burned, I smudged the house with the frankincense and myrhh, outside, then inside, before rejoining my friends.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 1, 2008 9:50 pm

    I just saw a piece about the Burning Man festival on ‘CBS Sunday Morning’ this past weekend, and I said to my mom, ‘One of my blog friends must go there, cause her blog header has a photo of that type of art on it.’ I’m glad you could hold your own if you couldn’t attend the larger one. Life does move people in different directions often, but holding your own celebration sounded special.

  2. September 1, 2008 11:52 pm

    AP – wow, that post gave me chills… since I know you and your family and home and good vibe, I could picture it all and it made me smile. Good times!

    Hey – if you skip the big burn and have a neighborhood burn next year – invite me and Ken!

    We were just at one of the best weddings I’ve been to. A whole weekend celebration at the foot of Mt. Rainier. Beautiful! I posted the poem I read at the ceremony on my blog.

  3. September 2, 2008 12:35 am

    It was special…we all needed something to mark the night!

    We heard there was a whiteout al day so bad that the burn was delayed–a first as far as I know! We definitely didn’t miss the intense weather out there!

  4. A me TC permalink
    September 2, 2008 10:04 pm

    Well, it sounds like your own festival was at least as good at the real thing. Let the fire rage forever my friend!

  5. nila permalink
    September 3, 2008 5:51 pm

    well missy that missed it, IT WAS MY BEST BURN IN 8 YEARS!!! the weather was fabulous! it was horribly hot and the sky was gorgeous and the duststorms were necessary to make you appreciate how wonderful the rest was. Plus it didn’t hurt that i got to hunker down after temple burn in the whiteout in an art car with my love. we slept through it, like at a drive-in theater. woke up and it was clear, drove home and the booby bar was jamming. everybody was on the bar top dancing! terminal city rocks!

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