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Friday, September 9, 2016


      When the hot, dusty, Burning Man festival ended on Tuesday I did what I had dreamed of all week. I drove south to Yosemite and jumped into a cool, cleansing river. The dust washed off of my body and out of my mind.
      Both were caked with eight days of the arty Outward Bound-ish experience. It wasn't easy much of the time. Getting a ticket was difficult and mine came with strings, I had to share an RV with two 24/7 party animals. I learned a lot and next time I'll do it better.
     The Burn got started 30 years ago when two hippie artists threw a beach party which included the burning an 8-foot effigy.
      The big event last week was Saturday night's "burn". It holds great meaning including, "Nothing lasts forever...especially when it's made of wood and you put a match to it".

   When local officials made their annual event difficult, the artists moved their clan out to the desert -like the Mormons did 160 years ago- so remote you could get away with anything.

    That's pretty much what Burning Man is now, 70,000 people living in sweltering dust for a week to celebrate art, music, and each other. 

     They tell me I'm a "burner" now. In our temporary home, "Black Rock City", we lived by rules that allowed us to be exceedingly nice to each other -and- Mother Earth. Here, for instance, is a girl "mooping". 

"Moop" is the burner word for trash ("Matter Out Of Place").  She, like everyone there, gathers any trash she creates -or finds- and  takes it out of the desert at the end of the week. Zero trash, landscape unscathed, pretty cool.  
   You can only drive your car in, then out, a week later.  During the event everyone walks or rides bikes. Nothing's for sale but coffee and ice.  Drinks are free (there are about three hundred bars) but you have to bring your own cup.
    Talk about friendly, I was constantly being hugged by strangers who welcomed me "home", a place that feels home-y, far from what they call "the default world". 
It takes some getting use to, the burner life.
    These two gave me a BM medallion which I wore on my forehead.  You can't do that in the default world.

  It's a very fashionable place and it wasn't easy for me to look like a burner.  These two women were totally with it. The Bedouin tribesman or Mad Max look are a good place to start. My clown shoes didn't work, too silly. Sometimes I did okay sporting bright pajamas.
Other times I looked like a high desert clown.

Getting the right goggles could add big points to your wardrobe (and protect your eyes in the dust storms).

10 a.m., after a brief morning nap, off to the next party.

In his 23d year as an emcee at the Burning Man Fashion Show

I could write a lot about my experiences. On Tuesday I went for a bike ride and got caught in the Naked Man Bike Parade (a bit different from BM's female version, "Critical Tits"). I didn't know about either of these two events (hundreds are scheduled, many at the same time) but there I was surrounded by two hundred nude dudes.  One chastised me saying, "Either get naked or get out!".  
I got out.

   The event has a reputation for flagrant nudity.  That isn't the case at all. Yeah, there are the two popular naked bike rides but probably only one percent of the burners go topless, or bare all, regularly. 
   It's pleasant to be in a place where you can do these things and know your not going to be bothered. The Man is made for free expression.
       No lust in the dust here.  Bare-it-all Bob searching for his bike.                           
    Everyday I saw one or two naked guys pedaling along. It seemed strange at first but soon became routine.  Most of those guys were over fifty, over-weight, and enjoying their bare-butt flings. It's not allowed back in Peoria.

The robots were naked too.

   Burning Man is a photographer's dream. I'll publish more of my photos in the next few days.  It's time now to de-dust once more.

              Erotic Sock Puppet Theatre, Burning Man, 2016

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