Tag Archives: festivals

We Drink From the Head. We Are One. Consume.

17 Sep

After Pat badly shanked his dirty Callahan 4 into the shrubs for what he swore was the last time, he proclaimed two things: One, he was rusty. He quickly qualified his first statement by adding the reason for his severe slices were the two weeks he spent in Reno. Pat attended a rib and BBQ festival in addition to taking his boat on various Nevada lakes. We were about halfway thru 18 holes and conversation had been strictly reserved for cussing at your ball, swearing at the pock marked greens, and eternally damning your irons. I found this an appropriate time to chime in and relate to my sweaty, foul-mouthed friend.

fat golfer

“You know I was in Reno as well, I went to Burning Man.”

“What!? What did you do that for? Burning Man is just one big orgy, that’s all.”

“Have you been?” I asked.

“Hell no.”

“Well you know it’s not JUST an orgy right?

Pat dropped another ball he found in the ditch and put his formidable pudge behind his approach shot. As he waddled back to his cart, cursing how hot it was, he muttered, “Well, if it ain’t an orgy, what is it then!?”

packed truck  Surveying the contents of my two packed bags, one might assume a long-weekend camping trip to Joshua Tree. Take a step back, however, and you begin to admire the menagerie tightly trucker knotted into the bed of the rented Dodge Ram 1500. 40 pre-made burritos, 70 gallons of water, glow sticks, oriental rugs and drop crotch pants, and that’s just one section of the truck. I felt like I was preparing for an earthquake at a Deadmau5 show in Abu Dhabi.

In the weeks leading up to Burning Man, my friends who had been seemed more concerned with how many wacky clothes and Middle Eastern themed chotchkies I could get my hands on, after all this year’s theme was Caravansaryingaarny… Those who had never been seemed more worried about my survival, general well being and if I would come back a changed man, like in the irreparable mental damage kind of way. I found myself defending Burning Man before I even stepped foot on the playa. Pat and everyone else like him thought they had it all figured out. Drugs, orgies and taking uncomfortable poops in unfavorable conditions, and they’re right! But it’s so much more.

man writing in journal  I came to Burning Man armed with three freshly purchased moleskins in hopes of dazzling myself and others by carving out some kind of important meaning from all this desert debauchery. I left with only two pages filled. One page had a crude drawing of a lizard man sticking out his razor sharp tongue at the sun, and the other was just a bullet point list, which stated the following:

  • Robot Heart Sunrise
  • Red Sun from Abayoyo as Skydivers fall
  • Giant Hummus, I mean Hammock
  • Dream Recorder
  • Dead Guy in Ball Pit
  • Talking to God and Timeshares in Jacksonville
  • Honk Music
  • Trash Fence No Water!
  • Jumanji Bowling Team
  • Thin D Collective Dust Tours
  • Drugs Have a Reason/Embrace Burn
  • LED Balls, Gotta Collect ‘Em All
  • Center Camp Zombies
  • That Damn Octopus and Those Frickin’ Teacups
  • Consume!

Those who have been may share similar tales, but more likely they have a completely different list of bullet points. My notebook’s pages stayed relatively empty because going into Burning Man looking for meaning or some transformative experience is a bit like fishing out a small piece of cracked eggshell from a bowl of yolk. I prefer to look at Burning Man like a Madlib where various part-time authors come together for one week every year to write a very silly story together.

embrace burn  The playa still carries some “default” world annoyances like lines, theft etc… but the beautiful aspects of humanity tend to shine thru more brightly. Where else do 30,000 people stand in voluntary silence and watch an intricately designed temple twist and burn in the desert dusk? Where else can you bicycle block by block and be met with genuine smiles and thought provoking conversations that aren’t some screenwriter’s utopian view of the future? Most importantly, where can the Pat’s of the world camp next to a group sex geodesic dome, and never step foot inside but still have an amazing time?

As we turned in our carts to the pro shop and started to put away our clubs it occurred to me I never gave Pat an answer. It would be difficult to convince him of all the amazing experiences that await him and anyone who chooses to make the brave journey in the little time I had left. Pat closed the mammoth door to his truck, and thru the cracked window I blurted, “ You’re right Pat. It is an orgy, but there are ribs too.”

Give Yourself to Love, Whiskey and Riverball

9 Jul

wavy gravyThe Kate Wolf Festival, A.K.A. The Crunchy Man’s Coachella, A.K.A. Old People Can Still Have Fun Too 2013, is a beautiful breeding ground for foot-stomping folk music, whiskey swigging jam sessions, and aging white liberals dancing off beat. I had the pleasure of spending four days as a guest and volunteer on Wavy Gravy’s Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville, CA. Here is what happened.

Thursday: Arrive at check in. Immediately met with small town sass and sarcasm regarding paperwork. I load my retort only to be thwarted by dry mouth, vicious back sweat and the realization that picking a fight with an old sassy hippy isn’t the way I want to start my festi. GIVE YOURSELF TO LOVE DAWG!

It takes about two hours before a full-fledged sing-along at my campsite breaks out, complete with electric bass, mandolins and a moon puff. I don’t know what the record is, but this seems quick. I barely drove in the steaks of my tent before someone started expertly finger picking the beginning of a song I didn’t know. Jesus this is serious. I soon realize how few songs I know the lyrics to. Damn you Pac and Mac Dre! You are making me look bad in front of my folk friends!

Friday: Start my first volunteer shift at the Kid Zone. The director informs us that we will have to be on our game this year as two children last year contracted hand, foot and mouth disease from playing in the bird seed naked. Quick excerpt from that pep talk:

“Okay guys, due to the hand, foot and mouth snafu of last year, lets just try our best to keep the children…you know, clothed to the best of our abilities…and really you know, just have a good time out there.”

After orientation it becomes very apparent Kid Zone is going to be wacky. Let’s review other Kid Zone highlights.

Kids Open Mic– One kid got on the mic and dropped these rare jewels. “Jussss—tiinnn- BIEBER! Heeeeeeee swimmmmss innnn theeeee WATER!” On repeat for about 10 minutes. Another slobbery youth just yelled for about 5 minutes. No show time at the Apollo cane here. The Kid Zone is about freedom of expression and a director who naps in the shade tent.

Sequoia – “Hi, I’m Sequoia. My online boyfriend cheated on me and got Chlamydia.” After quickly googling to make sure one can’t contract an STD online, I continued down the frightening rabbit hole. I have never been so baffled and frightened talking to a 14 year old before. Her mom flew her out to this dude’s 16th B day in Chicago, but also called the FBI on her first online boyfriend who turned out to be a sex predator. Jeez Mom, maybe install a firewall, cancel Comcast for a couple months? Love your child? I felt obligated to give her some kind of advice, but all I could muster was, “Sequoia, you cray.”

That hay looks familiar...

That hay looks familiar…

Saturday: This will be a choose your own adventure. I will give you two scenarios and you can guess which is more applicable to my actual Saturday.

Scenario 1: Stayed well hydrated, applied requisite amounts of sunscreen, sang old folk songs, ate a healthy dinner, listened politely to some great music while sipping a high end beer and slept like a baby in my tent.

Scenario 2: Got ripped off tequila and whiskey, applied little to no sun screen while playing rings on hot rocks, reggae scatted about getting my balls licked, whipped myself into a frenzy and “danced” with girls while demanding sips from any and all nearby refreshments and maybe, just maybe ate too many samosas and passed out in a hay bale.

Sunday: RIVERBALL! While my sporting nature yearns for a more competitive game, you can’t really go wrong with playing a huge game of baseball in a river with your friends. There are few things like it. Maybe a game of softball in a lake would come close, but regardless it’s a special and awesome activity that signifies the home stretch of the festi.

Clang! Cling! Clang! That can only mean one thing. Rings! I probably spent half my time at Kate Wolf trying to toss industrial sized washers into a hole 15 feet away from me, and although I was whipped rather thoroughly, my obsession grew, and I vow to all those who bested me that I shall return stronger and with more arc on my throws!

The festival ended with what else but a group sing-along. It was difficult, but after relaxing river dips, drinking with friends, and camping under a beautiful sky, I finally gave myself to love. As soon as I left I got stuck in traffic in Willits and had to give myself back to hate, but there is always next year.