Wednesday, August 27, 2003

there's dust in everything

I'm writing this on my laptop, sitting on the hood of my car in the middle of the Black Rock Desert. There is a city almost visibly growing around me, tens of thousands of people that are in some fundamental way my people. Off in the distance I see The Man, his neon glow a humble precursor to the fiery blaze that will end his existence on Saturday night. It's Burning Man, baby, and I'm digging it.

The words I am typing are going to a WiFi repeater about a hundred yards away from me. From there they are sent to the center camp, where a large satellite dish broadcasts them into the air. There is a communications satellite in geosynchronous orbit roughly above this location that receives the broadcast and relays it to some large dishes in San Fransisco, where the data is finally connected to the land line. Any info that comes back to me follows the reverse path. This sort of technology was basically science fiction just a few years ago.

The fact that I am connected to the internet out in the middle of the desert would seem bizarre if it wasn't for the fact that just about everything else out here is even more bizarre. From where I sit I can see about 300 geodesic domes, a few pyramids, lasers lighting up the sky, a flaming rollercoaster (!), and what looks like the sets of all three Mad Max films dumped out onto the Playa along with thousands of the most beautiful and creative people I have ever seen in my life.

This year I chose to camp on my own (as opposed to camping with my usual group, The Embassy), and so far it has proven to be the right decision. I spent a few hours riding around in the burbs, a few streets back from the Esplanade, until I found a lovely little unclaimed spot between a couple of cool groups of people. An afternoon of setup later, I had my new home in Black Rock City. I'm really digging having my own space, and being able to spend more time going on my own trip. It's forcing me to talk to people more, and to see more parts of the city that I might otherwise have missed. (You could never see everything here. When I got home last year, I looked up pictures on the web, and I'd see pictures of very large hard-to-miss structures that I never even saw, and I'd wonder "where the hell was that?". There is a multidimensional aspect to Black Rock City... be careful, the ground moves.)

My pain has been mostly manageable for the last couple of days, until last night, when I had a strange drug interaction that left me phased and semi-conscious for most of the day. (Those are prescription drugs, by the way... I just know some Christian whackjob is going to google on "burning man" and "drugs" and add me to a list of statistics that show that BRC is full of acidheads.) When I was finally able to get up and about, I spent the rest of the day hanging out with Anne-Marie and our friends Anne and Jim, as well as visiting the folks at the old camp and in general walking around soaking in beauty (and more than a little dust). I would be a lucky man if all my days were as filled with joy and time spent with people I love as this one was. There are numerous friends that I wish were here, people I would love to share some of these experiences with... but as it is, they'll just have to settle for listening to me ramble on about it for the next 11 months.

I can't believe the days are passing so quickly.

I'll write more later... I'm going to go check out that rollercoaster.