A Large Bear with A Huge Tuning Fork… Burning Man

There is always space at Burning Man. Finding a prime location may be a challenge. 2005 found us camping on the edge of the desert. Here, our faithful mounts wait patiently for us.

As I wrote in my last post, Burning Man is less than three weeks away. To provide my readers with a sense of what this event is like, I am reposting some of my earlier blogs. This post reflected my trip to Burning Man in 2005.

I arrived with four friends in tow; an education specialist, an architect, a judge and an interior designer – all of us members of the post-50 crowd and well entrenched in the middle class world.

While I can’t speak for the others, my primary reason for showing up was simple. I love fairs.  I will also confess that I still have a tiny spark of Beatnik/Hippie lurking in the dim recesses of my mind left over from living in the Bay Area during the 60s.

My job was to show up early in my van and find space. It wasn’t easy. While your ticket guarantees a place, you have to be early to obtain prime real estate.

“Look for me on Catharsis Street between 8:00 and 9:00,” I told my friends. Streets are renamed each year depending on the year’s art theme. In 2005 it was Psyche.

This is the official 2012 Burning Man map. Named streets, following the alphabet, are semi-circular. Numbered streets, based on time, cut across the named streets and carry participants down toward the Playa. The Man is at the center. The blue areas of Black Rock City are preassigned. Other spaces are first come, first serve. 60,000 people will attend Burning Man this year. 

I was happily sitting in Reno making my contribution to Nevada’s economy when the Catharsis property was gobbled up. Nor could I find space on Amnesia, Bipolar, Delirium, Ego, Fetish or Gestalt Streets. I ended up in the boonies at Hysteria and 8:00 with nothing beyond but empty desert. “Far out,” I giggled to myself.

Setting up camp and adopting aliases are the first orders of business at Burning Man. Many folks come as large groups or ‘tribes’ and set up elaborate theme camps with names like Zenplicity, Plato’s Cave, Tribal Thunder, Mousetrap, Heebeegeebee Healers and the Mind Shaft Society. Over 450 such camps were listed in the 2005 directory.

“Tribes” come in all shapes and sizes. Some build elaborate theme camps such as the members of Vamp Camp.

The Mind Shaft Society, a tribe made up of scientists, created these colorful monsters that Peggy, AKA Luna, is standing in front of.

Most tribes bring large tents, build massive shade structures and decorate their camps extensively. Ours consisted of a simple shade structure, two small tents and my RV. We also put up a hitching post for our faithful steeds/bicycles.

Since one of our intrepid ‘tribe’ brought kids’ stick horses to affix to our bikes we adopted the name Horse Camp. Our aliases and costumes also reflected the theme, sort of. I was Outlaw and my steed, Horse with No Name. Then there was Scout with his Palomino Trigger, Wilbur and Mr. Ed, “It’s a kilt not a skirt” Scottie with Grand Teton and Nancy, a.k.a. Nancy, with a unicorn she named Horny Princess.

Scottie shows off his fine clothes.

With business taken care of, we were free to meet the neighbors. One set was from Auburn/Nevada City, California and the other from Arizona. Both groups were made up of veteran Burners. I was somewhat amused when our southern neighbors arrived to apologize that they had a generator along but would only operate it early in the morning to make Lattes. In true Burner style, they invited us to show up with our cups.

“Gifting” is an important concept at BM. In addition to free Lattes, our neighbors had soon offered us bracelets and necklaces. They even wanted to silk-screen our T-shirts with the BM symbol. Our most unusual gift, however, arrived when we were drinking beer with the Arizonans. Bear came by and offered us a tune up.

He stood over seven feet tall and must have weighed 300 pounds. His tools of trade were a five-foot long tuning fork and a rubber mallet. Scout the Judge, an adventuresome type of guy, immediately volunteered. His neck had been bothering him. I was more reluctant but the Arizonans insisted I needed help, lots of it. Bear took on Scottie and me together. My arthritic hip was in need of a miracle cure and Scottie was searching for peace of mind.

“Do you believe you can heal yourself,” Bear asked. Bam, bam, bam, bong! He pounded on his fork with his mallet and elicited a bell-like tone.  He drew the fork down over my body. I could feel my prostate vibrate.

“How do you feel now?” Bear asked. “Fine,” I responded quickly. Scout had answered negatively and Bear had immediately started growling and sucking on his neck… sucking out the offending evildoer in true Shamanistic style. I didn’t want Bear near my hip. I made it through the night without pain but my hip started aching again the next day. Maybe I should have taken the full cure. 

Next Blog… My favorite art at Burning Man

While the Horse Bone tribe has remained small. We do know how to have fun.

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