It was a risky proposition agreeing to be the subject of a documentary. Fears included participation in the reality TV genre that I've intentionally avoided through 14 years without TV, the risk of public humiliation, and the revelation of TMI. Like I've said before, "the things you do for kids." More questions asked of me:
1. What did you knit?
Not a darned thing at Burning Man itself. I didn't know how my yarn would react to that alkaline dust. Nothing a vinegar bath wouldn't cure, but I didn't want to risk it. I did knit enroute, working on a second Hitchhiker scarf.
2. How did you get there?
In a green 1980 school bus, bought by the driver three days prior to leaving. The previous owner was a softball team, hence the example of dramatic foreshadowing in the name lettered on its side: the Dirty Mitts:
3. What was the best part?
Playa magic. A concept hard to describe but boils down to what people told me, "the playa provides." Examples include:
- On the second day in a camp that had yet to be set up, pulling out Power Bars for lunch, when POOF! A man showed up with a platter of poached salmon for all to share.
- After a full day of filming, a long walk back to camp ahead (or should I say hobble, cast and all), when I felt a bumping sensation on my good ankle. It was a large toy remote controlled dump truck carrying a bowl of cold guacamole, chips and slices of lime. When we were finished it scooted off, it's driver unseen.
- While C was being treated at first aid (for a bloody nose while on blood thinners), where 15 nurses, EMT's and an MD, all volunteers, tended to five treatment cots, a faerily dressed woman flitted from patient to patient distributing healing crystals. Nice touch.
- Burning Man hugs - why are they different in the desert? They felt more genuine. I heard this comment from others.
- The people in general - respectful, caring and interesting. There were some examples of those who acted otherwise, but every city has their contrary folk, especially on the last day. An example of the "Berenstain Bears" and too much Burning Man.
- The magic of the art installations, many obviously a team effort.
- C officiating at a playa wedding. Not legal, but a comittment ceremony none-the-less.
- The temple: playa art blended with life and emotion in a non-denominational manner. People leave their intentions in writing, whether it's a memorial, a behaviour, a memory, a desired life change...the temple is reverently burned on the last night.
4. And the worst part?
- The noise. There is a term for it, when there are so many sound waves present, your brain can't discern between them and all you hear is a LOUD ROAR. Way too many dubstep stages were part of the issue. All night long. Until sunrise. Ear plugs didn't help resulting in two hours of sleep for many nights. It was noise torture. At times I felt it was an exercise in sleep deprivation and over stimulation.
- The desert dust. Certainly this concept could be carried out in a less hostile environment.
5. I guess the most important question: Would you go back?
I have to answer that with a yes. I'd like an opportunity to experience it in a proper camper, without a broken ankle, with noise cancelling earbuds. I have a suspicion the good would outweigh the bad aspects in a more overwhelming ratio. It wasn't the overall naked hippie drugfest that some people make it out to be. I suppose it could be if you were so inclined, and maybe it attracts some of the annoying behaviours typical of some vaction spots such as all-inclusive resorts. The point is, there is something for everybody. Just like in a real city.