Back at the BLD for a few quiet moments, and suddenly, seemingly all at once, we all seem to feel a sense fatigue. There is a stillness that accompanies our night time preparation, several visible yawns, and halfway through covering the back of my white suit coat with duct tape and Blue EL Wire, Shoegirl can’t help but comment that “hey, this is a pretty big project here.” It appears that The Voice has slipped into our presence, that mocking refrain that cunningly whispers things like “what are you doing here?” and “aren’t you too old for this shit?” into your ear before giving you with a guided tour of the aches and pains of mind and body that the playa has provided you with.
But we gallantly beat back The Voice together, buoyed by our plans to earnestly accept the gracious invitation that Maiden Marian had extended to us to come and socialize at First Camp after the Burn.
In truth, we are a bit cocky, more than a bit impressed with ourselves for having garnered this coveted call to cocktails. Immediately after our last visit to First Camp, we actually spent quite a bit of time formulating high-minded plans about the messages that we could and should transmit to the legendary leaders of the Burning Man LLC. I have solicited input from many people during my travels, a sort of “If you had a chance to ask one question to ask the president, what would it be?” thing, and in addition, some of the leaders of the BRC Post Office – Extreme Version (aka My Camp) have sat with me to craft a political message about the post office controversey which will no doubt come up on our friendly conversations at First Camp. Jewel has decided that she will convey the importance of increasing the presence of the these leaders, particularly Larry Harvey, at playa places like the Boobie Bar. Big Cock, the driving force behind this campaign, is poised to hold up a mirror to The Brain Trust about who they have become, a potentially unattractive picture that we are sure they would not like to be faced with.
These grandiose visions are in part what gets us out into the playa night. Appropriately, First Camp is our first planned stop on tour.
We are resoundingly rejected at First Camp.
The best possible retelling of our visit is that we are met with affable indifference, unable to connect with Maiden Marian who is still out and about, and politely decide to move on to other stops on our cruise.
The more sinister depiction of our First Camp experiences is this one. When we first came to First Camp, Marian was mildly irritated that we had barged into their little world within a world, but given the stated tenets of the event she couldn’t say that, certainly not to a gallant postal volunteer (me), a friend of one of her old friends (Shoegirl), a playa celebrity (Big Cock), or to someone who asked no one for anything (Jewel). So instead, knowing that she would be out during the night after the Man burned, she instead invited us back so that the rest of her community could serve as with a cold, hard dose of their snobbish reality.
What is undeniable is this:
- We are greeted with spectacular indifference. No one tries to talk with us, which in particular is extremely rare for any group that includes Big Cock.
- One lady (I think Marian’s mom) roughly rejects my postcard gift, while another woman openly mocks me by pretending to be overly excited about getting it (“it’s soooooo beeeaautiful,” she says almost breathlessly, with very hostile eyes).
- Someone behind the bar eventually deigns to give us a drink, while another slighly kinder soul knowingly tells us that Marian will be out all night and if Shoegirl really wants to talk to her for maybe 10-15 minutes, max, she should try her luck by showing up about 10:30 the next morning.
[In looking back on this, I can see that this was merely another playa lesson for me to absorb. Our experience during our first trip to First Camp was an unqualified success, in that we came with an openness and a willingness to simply be in the place with the people on their own terms. The result of that experience had been a series of authentic and interesting interactions with not only Marian Gooddell and Larry Harvey, but (as Big Cock recently reminded me) also Will Roger (aka Danger Ranger), Michael Michael, and Harley Bierman, all members of the inner sanctom.
Yet somehow rather than celebrate that experience just for itself, we instead flashed forward with all kinds of plans for what we would do when we came back, implicitly de-valuing the very real greatness of our actual experience in favor of an imagined grandeur of what was yet to come. Thus, having lost touch with immediacy (from the Ten Principles of BM: “Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture”), our karma then required that we be reminded of its importance.]
In any case, we very quickly understand that neither we nor any of the people there are going to have any fun on this particular night. So, without delay, we take our Ecstasy pills and had out into the playa.
There is still much to do this night.