the return of morsa jones
(missing poster created by eQ.)
so i was only back into town a few days from burning man and pretty lady disappeared. i almost cried. she's been almost everywhere with me. scotland. northern ireland. england. new york city. idaho. seven years at burning man. (although the first wasn't with me. it was strapped to a motorcycle.) winnemucca. california. she'd spent the first weeks at my apartment sitting on my front stoop. it was strange that someone would snatch her up the evening i put her back out there upon returning from The Desert. but they did. and i was upset. and eQ came to the rescue. she made me a Missing Sign and less than twelve hours after having hung them all over creation (well. all over my li'l apartment place.) she was returned to my front stoop. sitting on top of all of the missing posters i'd put up.
you see, i put out a few bags of garbage (i forgot to empty my fridge of things that might go bad over the two weeks i was away and other such nonsense) on my stoop along with Pretty Lady. and so i think whomever took her assumed i was throwing her out as well. which i wasn't. and so they were saving her. and when they saw the posters, they realized their mistake and returned her. thankfully.
i am back.
yes. i'm still wearing dusty sandals and my Playa Cough hasn't gone away, but i am back from my sabbatical in the desert.
this was my seventh year. when i say that outloud, it surprises me. sometimes it feels like it's been that long since my seester and i survived that first adventure (big storm! tent collapse! land rover breakdown in the Middle Of Nowhere!) and sometimes it feels like, well, like it hasn't been that long. it's no wonder that a lot of what i do out there moves like clockwork. while the systems we use in the box office have changed (technology! out on the black rock desert!) The Basics behind what is done are essentially the same. we give out will call tickets. we sell tickets. every year there are people angry at us for Not Letting Them In For Free or for "losing their tickets". there are also people oh so happy to see us. happy enough, say, to give me an entire case of beer. i like those people.
and in those seven years, the event itself has changed. there were stickers circulating this year that said something like "This is Not Your Dad's Burning Man. Yeah it's Changed, it's Supposed To." there are loads of people, seasoned burners, that complain about how burning man used to be Way Back When. it's not the same as it used to be, it's getting worse, these new folks don't understand what it was like... all of that sort of stuff. (this never seems to stop them from showing up year after year)
and well, yes. there are thousands more people showing up year after year. i don't know what the population count was this year, but it hovered somewhere between 35 and 40 thousand people. and from what i could tell watching people come in through the gate, there was a considerable amount of New People this year. First Timers. i think this changes the atmosphere of the place somewhat. i am waiting to see what the Earth Guardians say about how much trash they had to pick up after the event. scouring the event site on their hands and knees picking up sequins, feathers, li'l bits of plastic and anything anyone could ever imagine. it seemed like there was less of a community effort to Leave No Trace. i can't say i picked up every bit of anything i saw on the ground, but i did empty pocketfuls of bits of string and things. and from the sound of it, the buttons we made at the box office have been found everywhere. (see the comment from the last post)
and from what i witnessed, there seemed to be an underlying aggression on the city streets. the animosity felt towards The Hippies was stronger. (burning man hippies are mostly categorized as people who come out to the event with no food/water/shelter of their own and suck all of the necessities off of people for a week.) theme camps that pride themselves on publicly announcing their distaste for certain peoples' burning choices - The Pants Cannon which shoots pairs of pants at the men walking around wearing only a shirt. and maybe shoes. maybe. we're talking naked from the waist down. "shirtcocking", i believe is its technical term. and the Hippy Fishing, which involves tying a glowstick/burning man necklace/shiny object onto the end of a fishing line and when someone walks by and tries to pick it up, you pull on it so it moves - while all of these things are touted as harmless pranks or jokes on people, and most of the time it was, there was still this underlying meanness about some of it. and let's not forget the lady in my neighborhood with the bullhorn. spouting insults and other mean things at random passerbys in the early hours of the morning.
but i won't say this clouded the event. overall it worked out the same as it has the previous six years. but never having gone to the event strictly as a participant (never not worked!) i have a slightly skewed perspective of burning man, i think. i see it through the eyes of the staff and not through someone who has just come through the gate for the experience. i have to deal with the inner workings of the organization, the law enforcement, the other staff members and everything else that goes on "behind the scenes". and i think i miss a lot of what happens at burning man, but i don't know if i could ever not work. what would i do with all of that free time? the event has turned into a sort of an Annual Reunion for me. i've built some pretty amazing friendships over the past seven years and with most of these people its an intense two or so weeks in the desert and that's it until the next year. so i go out there to work and play with them. (it's also been funny to watch everyone get older year after year. thinking back to what we were all like those first years is pretty amusing. beer bellies galore! gray hairs creeping in! wee!)
so yes. i'm back. i had a good year and coming down off of that experience has been difficult. returning to what the burning man community calls "The Default World" (a term i actually loathe, but am using regardless) has a jarring effect and some of the things i was able to cover with dust have been washed off and stand staring at me with their arms crossed. or with one hand out making that "give me money" signal.
i leave you with a photo of me doing what i do best at burning man:
(photo taken by eQ. give her the credits for making me look super cool. or at least like i think i'm super cool. the other fella is This Guy.)