page 4 of 6
Friday is in some ways a turning
point for the community. For the days before a sense of leisure
was part of the flow, now was the day to experience everything
you missed before, the last day the community would be fully intact.
Through out the event the organizers seemed to have their act
together in all the ways that counted. The doubling of the number
of portable toilets from last years event apparently did the trick
in that department. Waiting times were minimal and the stalls
remained usable in most cases. In the peak times some of them
were apparently used by delirious people with little motor control
but there were always tidier ones nearby.
I decided to walk around the inner road all along its circuit, a walk of a few miles. Towering structures stood out here and there along with stages, tall tents, and quite a few big domes standing above the neighboring ground cover of tents, trucks and motor homes. Flags and banners fluttered in the wind from towers and tall poles.
The major landmark at the end of that
counter clockwise journey was the 'emerald city', a close group
of green crystal towers looming oz-like from the distance. As
one reached this camp their sheer height, perhaps 60 feet, was
impressive. The palm trees, lighted stage and other constructions
nearby made this one of the more elaborate camps by day and the
green laser tucked away in a trailer inside the camp became a
major landmark at night. I then cut back across the empty inner
circle to reach my camp two miles away. My water was nearly gone
by the time I reached home, and I never left without making sure
it was full.
The weather, although dusty, was not too hot and not a trace of smoke now remained in the air. Upturned brush stroke like groups of cirrus clouds suggested changes coming in the weather, but the sky remained overwhelmingly clear.
to the 'Mausoleum' and found the place transformed by participants
into a kind of spiritual retreat. Several men sat rubbing the
sides of small hollow metal hemispheres before them with fabric
covered thick dowels in such a way to bring resonant metallic
drones from them, like a rich lower toned version of what you
can get when rubbing the top of a clean crystal glass. They sat
and steadily kept the ambiance coming. A woman with long blond
hair sat smiling serenely in a straight backed meditation pose,
eyes closed. Others stood and took it all in silently.
The wood cut temple was subtly changed since I was there last. Standing at the entrance I noticed the suicide alter had been heavily decorated by people in tribute to many individuals, some well known and many others simply in the thoughts of another. There were old photographs, yearbook pictures and computer prints of deceased people, and messages written to and about them on every available surface. One person even scattered some ashes of his dead father around the structure. I saw a woman silently kneel at a wall of the spacious inner 'U' shaped room and place flowers in a hole then pencil in her own tribute on the light wooden surface. A couple cried in each others arms in another corner, and others embraced silently in a place they felt important to be at that moment.
Somehow profound reactions from many people became focused here. People were using this beautiful structure to let go of burdens, to say good-bys and be released from great sorrows of their lives. Scanning the writings on the wall one could read quotations from philosophers, private cries of anguish, statements of thanks for what was shared with another, and pleas for changes in peoples lives. I thought of things I wished I could forget, and tried to compose a few lines I could direct them into so they might also pass away when the structure burned Sunday night. I then had to get out of there, to move back from the written cacophony and see the overall form again in the fading sunlight. Somehow these moments here were those I especially tried to focus on in a way I hoped would be recallable the rest of my life.
Sunset brought another episode
of wondrous wanderings. A 'spanking machine' would deliver a paddle
blow to your behind as you bent down, and attracted a good laugh
as well as a moments consideration of the things people will stand
in line to experience! As night fell, fireworks began to make
more of an appearance. Every night the tempo would be brought
up a notch, the degree of intensity increased. The raspy roar
of the Tesla coil and Dr. Megavolt echoed from his camp, this
year in a fixed location rather than atop a transformer toting
truck. Once in a while a huge fireball would flare up far away
in the dusty night, reddening the dust within a mile. Near Center
Camp, so I heard, people were suddenly warned to get out of the
way as a stream of 'Roman candle' fireballs shrieked from a naked
man, squatting so as to aim the stream from the firework which
was deeply inserted up his behind! Winds would drive walls of
dust along, some of great size in only slightly lesser amounts
than the previous night. When I returned to camp my flashlight
revealed directly in front of my tent entrance a burned out remnant
of an aerial firework, blasted open at one end, which had fallen
from the sky!
That night explosions nearby began to be a problem when wanting to sleep. I resorted to using headphones to lay white noise of FM radio between stations over my ear plugs, and I slept well that night.
page 4 of 6
TO NEXT PAGE