The Man Burned Without Us
Somehow, all the hard core Burners I know stayed home from the Burn this year. Even Alan Sailer, who graced Yahoo’s news coverage and showed up on the New York Times on line coverage last year for his artistic and well lit costumes, after 12 years in a row. And Kathy, 11 years in a row. Helen Fun Pineapple didn’t go. Merry Malice, with 10 Burns under her belt like me, she didn’t go. Toni the Tiger, with 5 Burns, stayed home. Jason and Mark went to San Diego. And more. When Eric Werb called me back to RSVP about the party, I was sure he was somehow calling from the playa. He said even the staff at his neighborhood Chinese restaurant was surprised to find him still in town.
So why were we here instead of there?
Part of it was the uninspiring theme, The American Dream. Part of it was economics, both financial and energetic–just can’t do it all, certainly not in your 40s, with kids, a mortgage, jobs that you can’t escape or quit. We all had our reasons for why it didn’t seem right to go this year–even though almost 50,000 people attended (way more than my first year in 1992 when there were only 600 of us!).
So we gathered here, Burners who weren’t Burning, and a few honorary of future Burners, 20 or more in all. We got a bonfire going, and we did not go on-line to watch the Burn or other art on blogs or Current TV. We talked about how sometimes the tide needs to go out for a new tide to come in. We talked about how we carry the Burn inside us, and that we can renew as well here with friends as well as there. We made plans for next year.
And we participated in our own way. We feasted on an amazing potluck dinner, the likes of which we could never have had on the playa: garlicky bruschetta from just picked heirloom tomatoes, grilled corn picked that morning, green salad, pasta salad, rice salad, Kathy’s ginger/carrot birthday cake for Myr’s 40th . We drank Bitch wine, a Grenache from the Grateful Palate (which could have been chilled a bit–room temp of 75 is too warm!). We tried not to bitch any more than that; the Chateau Ste Michelle Blanc de Noirs sparkling pink fit the mood better (what a lovely sparkler for under $10!)
We wore some of our playa finery, like Alan in his black light eyes which you’d swear stared into you, Kathy in her beribboned bra and glowing egg necklace, and Merry Malice in her EL wire mermaid’s tail. I dyed my hair orange and pink, wore a red and black sequined bra and black velvet skirt. (pictures to be added soon!)
Merry Malice brought a collection of toilet paper and paper towel rolls, a box, and a large piece of rebar which she fashioned into a 10’ tall man. We stuffed its head with paper notes about our dreams; from within, an American flag fluttered on its pole. I wrapped newspaper around pomegranate seeds which we stuffed around the rebar for a pulsing red heart. During the process, I burned a Tibetan incense for transformation, and powerful, ritualistic frankincense and myrhh resins in an abalone shell.
We ventured out past my yard to the wide open space of the desolate city storage yard, carrying the man, a bucket of water, and a fire extinguisher. We stuck the rebar into a milk crate, filled it with cement blocks, and then I lit the flag.
We watched it burn, then I lit other places. The heart fell out, and the head was too far from fuel to burn so when it was time, we carried the head and the heart to the firepit in our yard, and burned it there. While the head and the heart burned, I smudged the house with the frankincense and myrhh, outside, then inside, before rejoining my friends.