Songs that bring me Burning Man

I woke up this morning feelin’ a little homesick, so i thought i’d share songs with you that bring me early morning sunrises watching bikes do lazy circles in the long shadows of art sculptures, people dancing under the fading stars drinking tea, trampoline bounces, houses on wheels, flocks of unicorns, long desert drives & everything that the pilgrimage to the playa provides.

Photo by Alan Davis.

“Avalon” by Juliet
My first journey to burning man, my rideshare popped this CD in & we grooved through the pine trees up the 395, PVC pipes sticking out my hatchback until we arrived in a dust storm.

“For Your Pleasure” – Fred Everything Featuring Karl the Voice
I feel that electronic music resonates deeply with people that attend burning man, because the treble & bass replicates the intense highs & lows of being in a socially unrestricted environment that encourages one to live in the moment. This is one of those pleasurable songs that sounds like a warm afternoon on an art car, or a breeze on a 50 foot platform alone watching a sunset.

Photo by Alan Davis.

Glitterball” & “Hayling” by FC Kahuna
FC Kahuna has some great dancey beats like you’d hear at the deep end — Hayling is an exception, one of my friends mentioned that they’d play it while coming over the 447 every year…

“Gypsy Queens” by Balkan Beat Box
One morning as the sun was rising, i was dashing down a street to find a portaloo, and i came across an entire New Orleans Paddleboat on wheels & it had an entire band playing interstellarethnomash music, similar to Balkan Beat Box. I stopped & did a jig in the street. Totally parade worthy!

Photo by Mad.Cat

“Dust Devil” by Butthole Surfers
I’ve never heard this song at Burning Man, but if DPW had a theme song… “A flaming mass of oil & gas… and screams of ecstasy!”

“Freak Out” by Colorshow
Some of my burner crew has this awesome Pop Hop band called Colorshow. Last year, one of my friends rode up to our camp on a giant banana blaring this song. Yes, we’re gonna freak that ass out.

This is just a short compilation of music that brings me back to Black Rock City — how about you? Any songs that bring you the playa? Please share!

Million Bubble Power

A coupla months ago, i was whisked out of town by my dear friend, Matt. We’ve gone on many adventures together to an amazing spot in the Sequoia National Forest, called Remington Hot Springs. Some jerks want to blow it up, so go sign the petition after the link.

Anyway, when we were out there adventuring & waiting for the moon to rise, we came up with a neat project. Since i just happened to have bubbles & heart shaped sunglasses & Matt had a 6 million candle power flashlight, inspiration struck & amazingness was born.

You’ll need the following:

♥ a really dark location outdoors (or indoors would work, but the night sky is pretty amazing, and the flashlight makes a really neat disappearing spotlight into the stars)
♥ a flashlight with million candle power
♥ sunglasses
♥ bubbles

Prop the flashlight upright toward the sky. Put on sunglasses & proceed to blow bubbles OVER the flashlight (the sunglasses help protect your eyes, because it is really, really, really bright). The bubbles look like phenomenal exploding rainbows!!! Photos don’t do the beauty justice! Try it out for yourself…

I think it would have been really neat to have varying sized bubble wands & bubble guns. What about a field of people doing this over lots of flashlights? I think my head would explode with the colorful beauty!

Afterward, Matt & I ended up hanging out for hours in the hot springs under the full moon. Lovely. More photos of the hot springs on my flickr.

Playdate: A/S/L?

Photo by Unseen

A few months back, i was hanging out with a fellow blogger & the subject of internet dating came up… But how can we know who we’re meeting? We ended up talking in length about our experiences, and my lady friend seemed to feel my thoughts were worth putting out (there).

I’ve gone on quite a few dates through the interwebs – faux paus & good stories alike. Primarily, my long-term relationships have been instigated via real life connections, but i’ve met amazing people through internet dating sites (a/s/l, anyone?!). Below you’ll find my tips, because when i started dating online, it wasn’t really an acceptable thing to admit, and i had to learn from scratch.

1.) Anonymize. Deviate from your standard user name or screen name. I suggest a handle that isn’t easy to link by googling. Also, if you have a web “persona” attached to your name, i’d suggest signing the e-mails with a less obvious name. Maybe your initials? a nickname?
The above prevents any potential suitors from being able to google you & find out information about your entire life. Trust me, you don’t want this to happen at this point in the game — some dates don’t go well, and depending on the level of your comfort, it is nice to not have an annoying date following your life online. Plus, it removes the mystery! Find out things the old fashioned way.

2.) Present yourself nicely. While i suggest an “anonymous” user name, photographs are the most important part of the game. Try to think of internet dating like regular dating, but with an easier, more polite approach & potential let-down. People at bars don’t have a blinking neon sign over their head with their interests – the photo should be the first thing that draws you in, and the subject matter keeps you looking. I look for profiles that offer photographs that show a variety of the subject in flattering, direct light. Smiling is important, fun is awesome & a full-body shot helps to give a better taste of the overall attraction. I believe that most individuals find myspace angles misleading & gratuitous party shots distasteful. I highly recommend you be honest with yourself & what you find physically attractive; but also keep a flexible, open mind.

3.) Keep it creative. Profiles with eclectic expression often merit more messages than smokin’ mommas with dull profiles. The creative profiles will give your potential suitors incentive to message you & something in common. Tell a little story about your didgeridoo, or share a photograph of your favorite costume. Chat speak is to be avoided at all costs.

4.) Less is more. Dating profiles aren’t a place to share really personal information — rather, a place to share your interests & the outlying reason you’re on the site. No matter what you’re looking for, try to keep the profile like an essay — talk about the subject (you) at the beginning of the profile & keep what you’re looking for at the very end. Try to be open & keep it basic to stuff that is a must.

5.) Be honest about your status. Save your date some time — if you’re in a special relationship that allows you to date others, mention it at the bottom of the profile.

Despite preparedness, I’ve noted that there’s still concern about dating people that you’ve never met before — keep in mind that the internet leaves “footprints” like an IP address, whereas a random encounter at a bar does not. If you feel uncomfortable, take a few steps to protect yourself, such as let a good friend know you’re going on a date with someone you met online. Try to trust your intuition in any situation when interacting with a stranger – if something feels wrong, get out of the situation quickly & gracefully.

My rules tend to follow that i try to meet early, because this prevents something i call the BOOK TO MOVIE phenomenon. Remember that time you read that really great book & then the damn industry took it, put it on screen & it wasn’t at all how you recalled it?
Yeah. Internet dating can be a lot like that.

Over time, i learned that it was best to look at profiles & pick my dates based on photographs — i’d take a quick look at them & gauge my response. The subject didn’t have to be a hunkadilla, just someone who seemed kind, had photos that caught my eye & represented themselves in a way i found at least peripherally attractive. Smiling is also something incredibly important to me. No photos of my suitor smiling? No bueno.

I usually scan the profile afterward for dangerously incompatible key words & if most everything looked interesting, i’d send a simple message. Utilizing the basic rules of flirting, a friendly hello followed by a genuine compliment about something external (not biological, this is getting too intimate) & a question about an interesting piece of information on the profile is sufficient.

I don’t suggest mentioning meeting in the first message, either. After a few messages have been exchanged — i usually offer an e-mail address, or something more intimate, like a telephone number suggesting we talk. Some people might think this is risky behavior, but i find the voice incredibly important. I think this is the best way to tell if someone is creepy or if the date will go poorly.

I tend to think meet-ups are a no-brainer — someplace with ambiance that is public & well-lit (truck stop bathrooms are generally a poor locale). I think that a coffee shop is a little ubiquitous, so choose something different, like a tiki bar. Keeping the first date light & open ended is important – i took an online date to a play once. Conversationally, we were painfully incompatible & i had to spend the night introducing my date to friends i knew in the cast of the play. I think i’ll save the play for a few dates down the road next time.

I find internet dating to work the best when i’m approaching it as a fun experience, rather as the means to end a lonely night & find a relationship. I’ve found love with a friend connection on craigslist, met lovers through burning man message boards, and become friends with people i sought dates with originally. In my opinion, an initial shared interest is still the best way to meet, but internet dating is fun.

Dating online can be a liberating change for people who want to incorporate certain things in a relationship (like kink), that can’t be established in the first date. I highly advocate bringing things like kink to the table in a profile & searching it out if it is necessary to a relationship or something you’d like to explore.

And last, here’s some ideas for dates —

♥ Do a Crazy Blind Date & double up with a pal.
♥ Speed date through craigslist – meet up with potential dates at different bars in one night. Be open, have fun, think of the night like investigative journalism.
♥ Check out Gala Darling’s site for style tips. I really like looking at posts like “How to have a great picnic” or Gala’s podcasts come with high recommendations.
♥ Make a silly goal with dating – a great incentive to meet people. Over-fixate on a whimsical detail you like about a potential partner & plan a date based on that detail. Send the person a silly message such as, “Hello! I am a great aficionado of the color purple & pixie cuts on women. I’m going out on dates to write a paper on the topic of fae women in urban environments.”
♥ Check out Francesca Lia Block’s new book, Wood Nymph Seeks Centaur – a Mythological Dating Guide

Above everything, i encourage politeness. I feel that not saying anything at all is better than a rude message. Don’t feel you have to respond to every message, or request a date from anyone who pays you attention. Have fun! And remember: sometimes dating is a great excuse to find your new favourite hang out. My best first date find? A David Lynch-esque bar, complete with an enourmous polar bear & red damask wallpaper & Dracula pin ball & a giant walk-in fridge full of foreign beer.

Orphan Stories by Margaret Atwood

i) how swiftly the orphans set sail! no sooner does the starting gun fire than they’re flying! their yachts are slimmer, their lines trimmer than ours – than our stodgy barges. they drag no anchors, they haul no ballast, they toss all baggage overboard, and the one flag they ever hoist is blank. no wonder they pull out of the bay ahead of the rest, no wonder they round the cape so briskly! but what now? they won’t stay on bourse, they won’t play by the well-wrought rules, they despise the prize. they’re headed for the open sea. they’re sailing into the sun. they’re gone.

ii) orphans have bad experiences: in barns, in cellars, in automobiles, in woodsheds, in vacant fields, in empty classrooms. it’s because they’re so tempting. it’s because they’re so damaged. it’s because they’re so scrawny. it’s because they’re so easily broken. it’s because they’re so available. it’s because they’re so erotic. it’s because no one will believe what they say.

iii) the orphans line up for their gruel. all kinds of orphans – car-crash orphans, boat-accident orphans, heart-attack orphans, unwed-mother orphans, war orphans – for all of these gruel is provided, out of the goodness of our hearts. they don’t get much, a dollop here, a dollop there, but such is the way, in orphanages. they wait for ther dollops, standing quietly in their cheap grey uniforms, provided by us as well. how kind we are, how virtuous we feel! one day the orphans start banging with their cheap tin spoons, on their cheap tin plates. they’ve been told to be thankful, to be grateful, not to be greedy, but they want more. they want more and more and more. they want what we have! how dare they? how dare they brandish their hunger at us like a sword?

iv) what are their names? names are arbitrary, but orphans’ names are more arbitrary than most. they make up their names as they go along. call me ishmael, they say. or else: call me ishmael, but call me often. or else: don’t call me ishmael, call me anonymous. call me no-name. call me in vain. orphans are such flirts, they’ll hook up with anyone, then they tear up their phone books, they discard at random. they show no mercy.

v) you’re not my real parents, every child has thought. i’m not your real child. but with orphans, it’s true. what freedom, to thumb your nose authentically! for orphans, all roads are open. for orphans, all roads are the one not chosen. for orphans, all roads are necessary. how can they be kicked out of home? they’re out of home already. they hitch through life, one casual ride after another. their rule is the rule of thumb.

vi) on the other hand how sad, to make your way like a snail, a very fast snail but a snail nonetheless, with no home but the one on your back and that home an empty shell. a home filled with nothing but yourself. it’s heavy, that lightness. it’s crushing, that emptiness.

vii) but what love they inspire, these orphans! little orphan babies left in shopping bags, on doorsteps, in the cold. little orphan babies left in baskets, under cabbage leaves, by birds, by cupids, by gnomes. folks line up for them, cross-eyed with pity, money in their pockets, damp handkerchiefs in their fists, rescue in their minds, blankets in their knapsacks, warm arms open, waiting to gather them in. where did you come from, baby dear? out of the darkness. out of the fear.

viii) nevertheless, we’re warned against them, these orphans. they’re sly, they’re shifty. how do you know anything about them? who were their people? bar the doors, hide the silver! if you find a baby in the bulrushes, leave it there! don’t invite the orphans over your threshold! they’ll cut your throat for a penny, they’ll run off with your daughter, they’ll seduce your son, they’ll wreck your home, because home is where the heart is and the orphans are heartless.

ix) no, you’ve got it wrong. its the other way around. the orphans are not the stealers but the stolen: they are not the killers but the killed. you can tell where the orphans have wandered by the trails they leave: breadcrumbs in the forest, drops of blood, tears that have turned into small white mushrooms, small piles of fragile bones among the roots and moss. read the statistics: their changes are not good. their stepmothers demand their tongues on a plate: their fathers have skipped town: their uncles send villains with pillows to smother them in their sleep. it’s only in books – and only some books – that a generous benefactor appears in the nick of time to save the orphans from the forces of malice ranged against them. what are these forces? look into the magic mirror, sweet reader. look into the deep still wishing well. ask yourself.

x) it’s a good excuse, though, orphanhood. it explains everything – every mistake and wrong turn. as sherlock holmes declared, she had no mother to advise her. how we long for it, that lack of advice! imprudence could have been ours. passionate affairs. reckless adventures. of course we’re grateful for our stable upbringings, our hordes of informative relatives, our fleece-lined advantages, our lack of dramatic plots. but there’s a corner of envy in all of us the same. why doesn’t anything of interest happen to us, coddled as we are? why do the orphans get all the good lines?

xi) now the letters will arrive, from orphans. how could you treat orphanhood so lightly! they will say. you don’t understand what it’s like to be an orphan. you are the sort of person who jeers at those with no legs. you are frivolous and cruel. you are harsh. ah, yes, dear orphans. i can see how you would feel that way. but to note is not to disparage. all obeservations of life are harsh, because life is. i lament the fact but i cannot change it.

(and consider: it is loss to which everything flows, absence in which everything flowers. it is you, not we, who have always been the children of the gods).