the race

I’ve had the airstream in the same place for two days in Davenport, CA; surfing and reading a lot.  I woke up this morning to the sound of many people shouting, “water!”  It crept into my dreams and I incorporated the theme of water for a while before realizing that all the shouting was real.  Every now and then I heard the exclamation, “anarchy!”  So I wandered out there with my tea and watched the second phase of this ½ triathlon (1.2M swim, 56M cycle, 15M run).  Sure enough, there were about twenty race volunteers screaming water and encouragement to the competitors.  I went over to one of these race attendants and asked him about the race, about the racers and why were some of them asking and yelling for “heed?”  I learned that this is a special hydration product the racers use.  I asked this guy if someone down the way was yelling, “anarchy!”  He turned and looked at me and said, “I hope so!”  No comment.  I watched this whole politik taking place, between the racers and helpers, between the cycles and cars on the Cabrillo Highway, between the spectators and the volunteers, and among the racers themselves.  Some cars were giving a nice berth and slowing and comprehending the race and others were honking and being indignant.  It made me want to drag the latter from the shells of that “privilege” and make them watch what I was watching…  As the stragglers wrapped up the line of cyclists, the leaders passed the other direction, going about 35 MPH (about 40 miles in advance) and with warrior attention (you could ignite a boat far off at sea with that attention), and while I watched the stragglers snatching water bottles furiously from the volunteers’ hands (as though that were their privilege as racers), the leaders were kindly grasping water on the other side of the road, looking at the volunteers and saying, “thank you!”  My heart opened, it opened so wide to see this exchange, this nobility of spirit, within the race of man.  I could see that we are all in this race, and at this moment the leaders are on cycles, and those in the lead are the best; they are the best because they can say “thank you.”

the burning of man

Excuse the silence there.  It is not altogether unwarranted.
Just out of the desert for ten days, where Black Rock City once again rose and flaunted its fiery wings.  I am beginning to accommode to certain of its peculiarities and still have trouble with others; whatever the scenario out there, it is a fascinating adventure in judging judgment, in affirming what is: in this case a very bizarre community of self-expressionists.  Spent some excellent hours out at the airport where we met the couple that owns and flies the WWII era, Russia designed cargo/ag plane, the Antonov AN-2, (see them at: the very plane that was filmed in the latest Indiana Jones film.  Its left side featured the special faux paint job, and the owner said that her husband showed up on the set to be pilot, wearing a funny little elbow uniform (because his elbow would be in the air shot), long hair, a skirt, painted toe nails, finger nails, and Harrison Ford asked him who the *%#* he was and he replied, “I’m your pilot.”  The two call themselves air gypsies, land on their airstrip in Baha and fly all over the West.  There were several other fascinating planes out there, the sexiest I think: a little low wing, open cockpit, called the Spezio Tuholer, flown by a gentleman called Ricochet. (you can find him at
I avoided the mega-technology dance venues, as well as the sex workshops, chakra seminars, fire-energy movement classes, and deathguild meetings.  Not to say it didn’t look like they were doing some pretty interesting stuff.  I did find a playing card: the Queen of Diamonds; so I’m curious about that.  We weathered three outstanding dust storms, the longest of which was around ten hours, with winds over 70 MPH.  I rode the trash fence during one of these storms and found a plethora of goods: some cash, a book of dark deeds called the “Necronomicon”, a beach ball with a print of the world on it, a big metal bowl, some plastic bags, magazines, and a pinwheel.  Our camp was extremely comfy: with my sister and her husband, Tom; Gideon, his brother Mariner and girlfriend Lisl; Julia, Bootsie, Nina; and Persie (Tom’s sister) and her man, Max.  We had a nice carport, the airstream, a parachute and enough humor to work it out.  I think our favorite experience was The Tasteologist: located across the city, he had a really elaborate trailer set up, about five feet square and replete with little vials, jars, bottles, tubes, tupper ware full of curious things, salts, and powders, etc.  He would manufacture any taste you proposed.  Katie asked for golden wood, I for ants, Persie for the taste of sister-in-law, Max for resentment.  Katie’s taste was pretty amazing (I got to try it): it was like a kind of honey covered myrrh that had wood to it, like it took quite a while for it to dissolve, and its base was this bullion paste that had a golden flavor, like something that had cured in the sun.  I, of course, eat ants all the time, and was impressed with the acumen of the tasteologist to deliver a very familiar flavor.  Some fellow after us asked for the taste of the feeling when you look in someone’s eyes and realize for the first time you’re in love with them.  This taste involved four or five different ingredients and was finalized with use of a nine volt battery applied to the tongue.  The guy said, “oh my god.”

The night of the burning man is always a little over the top for me, so I normally try to get to some quiet areas: this year we adventured as a group all over the playa and rode a pirate ship out to a huge dance party and then walked back into the city; we were a little altered, so it was pretty fascinating to see how twelve people move themselves around the desert at night in a somewhat organized way.  There was a lot of discussion.  The next evening was the temple (attached) burn, which is normally much quieter, smaller (because a lot of people leave on Saturday night or Sunday), ceremonial, reflective, inward, feminine, etc.  This year featured the nicest temple I have seen in six years.  An extremely well built, well proportioned, thought-out building…. made of log posts with joinery in knee braces and full dimension beams and flooring throughout its upper stories.  It had a double helix spiral stair in the middle of it, for the two directions of traffic on it.  It incorporated found objects, windows and pieces of tin, plywood fins upon which were scrawled thousands of phrases of grief, to be consumed by the pyre.  It consequently took longer to burn than any temple I have watched fire.  It was an exquisite masterful fire, the flames turned inward and burned inside the logs and in the joinery of the place; about ten minutes into the piece, the fire created enough draft/differential to create tall columns of wind devils, about fifty feet tall.  These wind creatures began to march out of the burning temple at an even period: about every three seconds, for several minutes: and they marched right into the corridor of the winds, like the spirits of that place were being silently ushered out into the desert by the intentions of the burning participants.  Watching this I thought to myself, “…despite appearances, humans DO know how to change.”  The ambient air remained mellow until the very end of the burn, the whole temple collapsed methodically, from spire, through second floor, and finally the stout ground floor of post and beam… and as people began to hoot and march, a terrific wind picked up.  I was flying Mariner’s kite which had a blinking light attached and which became barely perceptible as a full dust storm picked up.  I was being tugged aggressively in the direction the spirits had marched and fought to keep the kite aloft and not too mad in the fury of particulates.  The weather had just accommodated the ceremony and then erased it, making a palimpsest that is only known through these scrawls, never to be known again… out there.