Thursday, August 24, 2006

Getting ready for Burning Man: It's like getting ready for Armegeddon!

My son Joe just gave me a ticket to Burning Man, a festival of fire and art that takes place once a year out in the Nevada desert every Labor Day weekend. Joe couldn't make it this year because he is in the California Shakespeare Theater's excellent production of "The Merchant of Venice" (yes, there are still tickets available to see Joe -- he plays a cameraman. You gotta go see him. He's SO good!).

"I think you will love Burning Man," said my son, "but I've got to warn you that temperatures in the desert reach 115 degrees during the daytime. And be prepared for dust storms and be sure to anchor your tent down hard because it might blow away in the 70-mile-an-hour winds. And bring goggles for the dust. But you'll have fun."

My friend Russell e-mailed me from San Diego. "With 30,000 people there, your biggest problem is going to be finding a place to pee," he warned. "You pee anywhere you can find enough privacy to satisfy your urge. However, the more urgently you need to go, the less you care about privacy! Or you spend a lot of time waiting in lines and such, and mentally noting where the rows of potties are. Men have it SOOOOO MUCH easier than women because they can just line up some troughs for us." Oh. Rats.

"Frankly, Jane, I swore I'd never go back again unless I had an RV with a BATHROOM," he continued, "never mind a place to sleep and AC! Everyone acts so free and loving there, it's great -- but there's one secret you can't crack no matter how much people seem to like you -- do they have a clean bathroom you can use? And maybe a shower? And an air conditioner? Can I sleep on your floor tonight? But you'll probably do fine and find what you need -- but be warned! And you MUST drink, whether you can find a private place to pee or not! And if you DO find a clean Porta-Pottie, don't tell anybody where it is, okay?!? But you'll have fun."

Then I got an e-mail from the co-ordinator of the event. "Burning Man's art department is all ablaze with anticipation, as 2006 promises to be a banner year for art at Burning Man, with 240 registered art installations -- the playa [that's Spanish for beach aka desert] is jam-packed with art!" She also went on to warn about sunstroke, dehydration, falling off of moving vehicles, running out of food, sandstorms and "Playa Foot" from not taking a shower for a week. "But you'll have fun."

As I pack up my water supply, my hand sanitizer, my canned food supply, my flashlight, face mask and other survival gear, I have NO idea what to expect up at Burning Man. I feel like I'm preparing to live in the bombed-out ruins of southern Lebanon or the deserts of Iraq -- or Bush's post-Armageddon America. So this is what it will be like after Bush gets done causing all those wars: Canned food, flashlights, deserts from global warming, no infrastructure.

But will there be artwork in Bush's post-Armageddon America? And will I have fun?