September 10th, 2003

Chalkboard

A Great Burning Man Article To Send To Anyone Who Asks About It, and My New Jesus Loving Rat Trapper



Here's a really good piece of writing about Burning Man from Mark Morford of the SF Gate. I thought I'd share it with you, especially for those of you who don't understand why we spend so much money and time and effort dragging ourselves out there every year, with children no less. And it explains why we were so disappointed not to be able to go this year because of my surgery and the need to stay super hydrated and close to a hospital in case anything gets stuck in my intestines or twists up or goes wrong in what one of my doctor's seems to think are still the early months of recovering from gastric bypass surgery.

Lord I'm hoping I've at least hit the halfway point. My weight has been at a plateau though, boo, for a few weeks now, and it's so frustrating, but not frustrating enough to get me on the damned treadmill. I will, I will soon, I promise. Today it's the usual cleaning up after our many pets, sorting out the stuff I'm about to photograph and list on eBay, and moving furniture out of the garage for the nice Australian carpenter man who is going to come start work on it next week.

I was getting pretty stressed and anxious there for a bit so I took a day off and played Animal Crossing all day. Since we have this wonderful new cheat contraption for it, I get unlimited money and items and was able to build a house for Scott in my town -- so much fun -- no wonder Beau plays these games all the time. It's total escapism. Plus I'm also knitting. Who's to say that what I'm doing is any less valuable that my Mother's bridge or crossword puzzle solving. I know I'm having fun.

I called KTLA and got the number for The Sharon Osbourne show because like the fannish freak I've become, (Lord how did this happen to me when I have so many famous friends I could hassle and won't?), I really needed to just hear something back from them. I just wanted to know she got the flowers -- the most expensive arrangement I have ever sent. Anyway I spoke with an incredibly friendly and kind gal, (and was not expecting this at all), who said she remembered the flowers, that she'd only received three arrangements in total so far, (that'll change after the fifteenth I'm sure), that she's sure they would have gone to her dressing room but that she would check with Sharon's brother who talks to her twelve times a day or her assistant to make sure she got them. Well, that felt a hell of a lot better than what the ticket gal who called me by mistake last week told me, which was that she probably never saw them because they would have gone to the office, "and Sharon never goes there," and that my letter/collage package with the magazine would have gotten shunted off to the fan pile.

It was Scott who suggested I call. I didn't want to because it seemed sort of, well, rude, to ask if someone got something because you hadn't received any kind of acknowledgment. Like I said before I really do think you should be able to send things out with love and let them go. A true gift doesn't come with an expectation of any kind of outcome. Talking to this nice gal today made me feel so much better, but still, just the fact that I can't send it off and just let it go, embarrasses me and makes me uncomfortable. Ah well, c'est la vie, seriously. I wish her every success in the world. I so hope this show bowls them over in Kansas, why not? She's so adorable.

There goes Irma with her garage sale Gucci bag, (she really scores at garage sales) to pick up our enormous brood of children-monkeys. I must make the most of these last few moments of quiet. Perhaps now would be the time to walk on the treadmill... nah.

Oh and I can't say enough about how strange and wonderful and remarkable this strange live animal trapping religious zealot guy was who came to help me catch and release the rats. In the end it amounted to a lot of talk and just the leaving off of a couple of traps, I could have done that myself, but I wouldn't have had as weird of an experience meeting this guy. If I did him for you, imitated him, you'd never believe me. He was tall and bald with bad teeth and fiery eyes, and he would crouch down to get eye to eye with you when he was getting serious about anything having to do with animals or his best friend JC. It was definitely a trip and a half to quote a Roaches lyric from the eighties.

The best part of our exchange was when, after having listened patiently to his testifying for over and hour, after having nodded kindly while he went off telling stories about how he doesn't like it when people "pump him up" because it's all God's doing, I was able to shake him up a bit by asking, "How do you know that I wasn't put in your path by God so that you can learn to have compassion for rats and pigeons?" It was so great to see this manic man kind of slow to a halt for a minute and take that in and say, "Well, you know what? That could be true, that could be true." So I took him upstairs and made him hold my pet rats and told him stories about how smart and clean and devoted they are, and I think I may have gotten through to him, and maybe someday he'll have a little more compassion, we'll see. So far I've got two big empty caged and no rats. I think the amazing Randy is going to have to bring me cages with tighter wire. My guess is that we just fed our rats a nice meal of cat food and since they know I'm such a sucker that I'll never harm them, they went off chortling to themselves, "Hah, we've been here for years pissing and shitting and gnawing on your furniture. Some animal traps you set. You'll never get rid of us."

Apparently though this guy has trapped wild cats for Kevin Costner, a twenty-five foot snake for Tom Arnold, (is that possible, a twenty-five foot snake)? and a few other celebs, but I forgot their names, sorry. He even nurses abandoned baby raccoons back to health and then releases them. He showed me their baby pictures that he keeps in his wallet and told me he'd bring us one to raise. Yeah, that's all we need, one more buddy to add to our ever expanding menagerie, and this with the Santa Monica Cat Show coming up this weekend -- will I be able to resist? No one knows for sure, not even me.

Here's the article. It seems to have lost it's formatting but I think you can get through it.

Just Another Vital Pagan Orgy
Sex, drugs and glow sticks: Our columnist survives yet another
Burning Man, perspective intact


http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgif=/g/a/2003/09/03/notes090303.DTL&nl=fix

By Mark Morford

Oh sure you've got your giant floating neon dragons and your epic
desert sculptures and your hissing Mad Max-ish art cars shooting
flames 400 feet into the air, and every single thing everywhere
smells like some combination of sweat and dust and marijuana and
urine and fire and tequila and glue.

And sure there's your rampant glittering nudity and writhing all-
night dancing and improvised kitchen-sink costumes and sudden vicious
unrelenting alkali dust storms that could choke a cow and make your
throat feel like it's been rubbed with sandpaper and your eyes dream
of saline solution. This is pretty much a given.

You've got your requisite body painting and drum circles and kite
flying and giant kickball and rope-bondage class at Camp Arachnid,
music at the Church of Wow, penis gourds on parade, yoga and massage
and the ragin' Thunderdome bash-fest and the famed Critical Tits all-
female all-topless bike procession.

All topped off by the glory that is the ever-present Pinky's
nightclub/libation station, stuck somewhere on the spoke of Imagined
between the roads known as Faith and Evidence. Bless you all.
And of course there are always, always the rows of mandatory and
simply indescribable porta-potties stuck out in the middle of the
Nevada desert in 102-degree heat for a week. For this, there are no
words.

Just another Burning Man, really. Sort of pedestrian, all this
astounding otherworldliness, this sense of entering another planet,
of stepping out of reality as you know it an into a place where
anything goes and usually does and no one really thinks much of it
except that it's usually pretty relaxed and ridiculous and surreal
and friendly and half naked and grinning.

Do we need to be clearer? Are there still those who don't know, don't
really understand? Is it even possible to describe the indescribable?
Because you can't explain Burning Man to your parents and you can't
explain it to the religiously terrified and you can't describe it to
those who, no matter what you say, refuse to see such events as
anything other than some sort of freaky-deaky druggie Grateful Dead-
esque Satan-worshipping sex-romp thing, one that they pray their kids
never get sucked into lest they become kinky beautiful liberal
atheists who like anal sex and weird art and vodka shots and open-
mouthed laughter.

OK look. Burning Man is not an orgy. It's not a sweetly blasphemous
pagan love-fest. It's not a giant drunken drug-addled overly hot week-
long rave party with lots of beer and margaritas and bikes and
exposed nipples and unshowered flesh and flashing shiny things and
dust and crazy nouveau idealistic neo-hippies and breathtaking
starlight. Not solely, anyway.

What it is, really, is a chance at unfettered self-expression, with
drinks. And this is why it's still so vital, so important.

What BM is, really, is 30,000 people who erect this bizarre gorgeous
temporary fully functional art-filled dust-drunk city in the middle
of nowhere sans money sans phones sans work sans rules and tear it
all down a week later, and that, in effect, is what makes it so
gorgeous and strange.

And you'd think this lack of rules, this lawless inebriant-fueled
glitter bomb of an event, would result in this teeming screaming free-
for-all, this haphazard mess, nothing but violence and mayhem and
rape and sodomy and hey you jerk quit grabbing my ass.
When in fact you might be amazed at how civilized and generous and
open and friendly most people can be in such circumstances, how
relaxed and smiling and accessible, with the notable exception of the
camp that played very loud and very mediocre techno 24 hours a day,
nonstop, right next door to my camp, and we nicknamed you Annoying
Music Camp and you were unfathomably obnoxious and I wish you ill.

What BM is, really, is a chance to hang with like-minded creative
nutballs who, at the conservative end of the spectrum, are so
urgently in need of release they look forward to Burning Man the
entire year so they can finally cut loose and be the type of person
they always want to be, at least for a week, at least a little,
before they dive right back into their oatmeal lives and hunker down
for another paycheck and sigh wistfully.

And on the other end, there are those who live on the fringe of the
culture all the time and view BM as the pinnacle, the cumulative
blowout result of all their nonconformist energies, the status-less
judgment-free dream utopia they've always felt could exist year-
round, if we all just tried really really hard and gave up money and
air-conditioning and ATMs.

And Burning Man can, in fact, become a little tiresome. A little
stale. A little less than magical after a few trips and what's
amazing is how you can begin to take it for granted, begin to forget
that there's nothing like this happening anywhere else on the planet.
And it was my third year at the famed alt-everything festival, and
despite the same old hot pants on thousands of semi-naked women, the
same old random dust-choked large-scale mega-art, the same old
countless REI tents and parachute domes and odd playa mobiles and
mutated trucks and funky signs and clever camp names and huge
thumping sound systems and what must be a million bucks' worth of
glow sticks, it just didn't quite have the magical zing, the flavor,
the electric transformational punch it once did.

But of course, that's just me. It happens. Because Burning Man is
just exactly as much or as little as you need it to be. It is exactly
the experience you make it, and as any seeker of intense
transformational pops will tell you, if you aren't craving a step
outside your normal reality, or if you aren't really needing a sticky
injection of semi-radical, liminal vision questing at that particular
moment in your life, Burning Man might not yank you the right way.
No matter. Because regardless of how powerfully it slaps your
spiritual ass on a given year, the truism remains that this event is
still one of the few bright glimmers of rabidly creative, pro-
individuality hope in a snarlingly uptight, lockstep BushCo world.

Because in the end, it doesn't really matter what anyone thinks of
this stunning festival. Burning Man shrugs off criticism as easily as
it defies definition. You simply take one look around the playa, one
glance at the art and costumes and the people, and no matter how
tired or ennui filled you might have become, you can only feel an
overwhelming sense of, well, gratitude. That it's still happening. That it's still here,
still strong and still diverse and outrageously imaginative, still pulsing with funky
divine alt-vibes, retaining its core sense of release and evolution
and joy and well-lubed creative flow.

This is more important than you know. This is more vital than many of
us realize. In the age of Homeland Security and bludgeoning deficits
and a government that would love it very much if everyone with any
independent opinion whatsoever would please shut the hell up so they
can pillage the world at will, you realize how precious a commodity
this sort of energy has become.

Ultimately, BM reminds you of just how desperately undernourished is
the world when it comes to exactly the mind-set the event itself
illuminates. No matter how it hits you, no matter how deeply you
connect with it, you can't help but look around and say to yourself,
sweet Jesus with a tequila shooter and a sequined Buddha costume,
thank God this event still exists. And flourishes.

Because this ain't hippie-dippy New Age crap, not some Grateful Dead
Rainbow Coalition acid-trip hemp expo. It's raw, it's dirty, it's
hot, it's ugly, it's beautiful, it's surreal and funny and strange
and uncomfortable and incredibly freeing and connected and honest and
man are you ever grateful for a shower when you get home.
And if that's unreality, it sure as hell feels like the real thing.
Chalkboard

Busyness and Feeling 9/11 All Over Again On the Eve of the Second Anniversary



Do you ever feel like no matter how hard you try you just never seem to get enough done? Today was one of those kinds of days. But I did walk on my treadmill, yeay me, and I went through some boxes, and sorted things in my office and paid a few bills. I had fun with Irma and Esther and I think, cross my fingers, that I've persuaded my child to bathe his body, we'll see. Oh yes! I hear the bath water.

I put up some lights in my office that I love. They're little paper lanterns with swirling pink, red, and orange blossoms on two of the sets, and the other two are cherry blossoms on a light blue background. They're really cute and they cheer me up. But I worry about having all of this electricity going on around me, I just don't think it's healthy for us.

I should work on my little collage playing card project tonight but I'm procrastinating as usual. Instead I think I'll watch TV and sort my rubber stamp boxes. Maybe I'll knit a bit.

I'm watching 60 Minutes and they're telling the story of what went down behind the scenes with the President and Vice President in the early moments of the attacks on September 11. It's very real time and they're showing footage of the towers being hit by the planes. They're also showing footage I've never seen before. Oh God, I have chills, I didn't realize this would affect me in the same way it has before. I finally had to ban all my collected images and DVD's and books and articles about these events, put them far away from myself, because I was obsessing over it all so badly and having strange PTS reactions. It amazes me how the showing of these images, the discussion of these events, continues to have so much power over my feelings. I feel sick and I have chills up and down my arms. And this was just meant to be a friendly little, sign off for the evening, post.

To make matters worse, someone was just swearing and screaming in the street, I think at my neighbor Karen, and then he peeled out in his car, scaring Beau who came running in panicked about it, telling me we should lock our bedroom doors. I'm so glad he comes to me and that I am always able to be there for him, to be the person who helps make him feel safe.

I called my neighbor to make sure she's okay, and then a helicopter flew low over our house, shaking the walls and windows as it went. Well, that's enough for me, I'm going to check out for a bit with some yarn and a pile o' cats. The dogs have already gone to bed in their little doggy beds.

Loving all of you so much tonight,
Jacqui
XOXOXO