Sometimes, reading the news can really get you down. Other times, it can honestly make your day. This is one of the latter times. In perhaps the best news I have ever had the joy of delivering: Black Rock Playa, home of Burning Man, is currently overrun with huge, biting bugs.
The news first broke via Black Rock City Playa Info’s Facebook, where they urged attendees to ‘bring bug spray’ with them to Burning Man 2015, which begins August 30. Debate continues over what kind of bug they are dealing with, but most seem to agree they are some form of stinkbug. Can’t even make this shit up. The bugs are absolutely everywhere, and as early attendee John Curley described on the Burning Man blog, “They bite. They crawl all over you. They get up and in you.”
Why am I taking so much joy from this news? Because I went to Burning Man once, and to this day, it remains my single greatest regret in life. When I arrived, I was forced to get out of the car I was riding shotgun in, follow a lady no less than 45 years of age dressed in leg warmers and a pink tutu, and ring a bell to be ordained as a ‘New Burner’. I remember looking at the lady, at the bell, and at the bat in my hand and thinking, “Is it took late to turn back? Should I use this bat on my own temple?” Not only did the loud ring of that bell rob my eardrum of peace, it stole a portion of my dignity so large that to this day I have been unable to find a scale by which to measure.
Once ordained, I was forced to run partially dressed behind a truck shooting streams of water onto the dirt I miserably called home for 7 days in a hopeless attempt to wipe the sweat of 65,000 aging, naked bankers from my heavily weighted shoulders. I saw things there I cannot un-see. I became a refugee of the village, after fleeing from my own camp manned by a character that, to those who have heard the tales, has become the stuff of legend: Naked Neil. I had met Naked Neil some months prior in San Francisco, albeit he was clothed at the time. Upon placing plantar to playa, Neil disrobed, and refused to protect his modesty the entirety of his stay. This included during the erection of the tent, the riding of his bike, and the gyration of hip to some earsplitting form of neo-goth-industrial-dubstep no human ear—ordained or not—should ever have to hear. Soon after becoming privy to my long, 24-hour ‘wanderings’ from our camp, Naked Neil erected a white board in our camp and advised me to write the time (inexplicably in military form) and intended destination whenever I left ‘HQ’. Needless to say, I refused to use the white board, citing both my lack of ties to the army and my basic human rights. Every night I would return for a change of clothes, a glance at the whiteboard would reveal a novel-length amount of entries by Naked Neil. I kept waiting for the day he realized he was simply writing to himself, but it never came.
So I slept in ‘share hammocks’, in cars that were not my own, and on couches upholstered with a material akin to sandpaper. I was made to walk the ‘burner catwalk’ in a red cowboy hat and German Heidi costume. It is hard to remember my eyes being granted a solace of longer than two minutes before locking themselves on a Wall Street wanker sporting a fake tattoo and a pair of fluorescent Kanye flutter shades searching for themselves. Try searching up your fucking ass, Clifford. Also did I mention the hula-hoops? My god, the hula-hoops. If I could have worked out a plausible way to hang myself with one, I would have. Also, if you’re attending Burning Man as a giant fuck you to ‘the man’, why don’t you just knock on Sergey Brin and Larry Page’s luxury RV and personally deliver a Grenade? They’re there every year, parked next to Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos on Silicon Valley Lane.
If you’ve read this and have a ticket; it’s not too late to turn around. If you somehow think I’m just a jaded spoil sport, and you’re all set to spend an unforgettable week living among flesh eating insects that stink so much they’re named after their stench, you poor bugger. Give my regards to Naked Neil.