Men Die

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone – if possible – Jew, Gentile – black man – white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost….

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men – cries out for universal brotherhood – for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world – millions of despairing men, women, and little children – victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me, I say – do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed – the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. …..

Soldiers! don’t give yourselves to brutes – men who despise you – enslave you – who regiment your lives – tell you what to do – what to think and what to feel! Who drill you – diet you – treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men – machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate – the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!

In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” – not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power – the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.

Then – in the name of democracy – let us use that power – let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world – a decent world that will give men a chance to work – that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfil that promise. They never will!

Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfil that promise! Let us fight to free the world – to do away with national barriers – to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! in the name of democracy, let us all unite!

The Cull Begins

When I was away on my journey to the Bear Flag Empire my house was broken into a couple times and a lot of stuff was damaged (though very little was actually stolen). This combined with the fact that I had been neglecting my living conditions for a while in my less than fantastic state of mind meant that the place was a hellish mess. I therefore had begun cleaning, organizing, and trying to get ready to purge some stuff and get out before the basement mold killed me.

This was not going quickly.

My mood combined with the sheer weight of the stuff meant I spent a lot of time shuffling things around, then staring at it…

Then this arrived.

Pictures are best taken directly into the sun!

In any case…

It’s huge and empty and the empty thing has got to change! I am motivated, inspired, and there is a deadline!

So day one!

Followed by day two… cut short by freezing air and light snow and hail…

In another week and a half or so I hope to have a much more manageable life.

Phase 5: Retrospectinating

So some time later I am finally getting to this…

The end of my California adventure came in the form of a train journey back to Indiana. I cannot imagine any better way to travel and from here on out it will be my first choice for any long distance journey.

Highlights of the trip include Passing through Black Rock at sunset, very odd conversation with a celebrity trainer and kickboxing champion, being woken up at 4am by a sherriff and a small army of thugs busting the guy behind me for pot.

I would like to take the journey often enough for taking pictures to be a priority, but this time around it was all about experiencing every mile so no documentation.

Getting back has been an odd mix of crushing isolation and depression matched with an explosion of creativity.

I finally retired my rough cut cardboard and duct tape phone/tablet stand and made one out of dead tree and lasers.

I followed that up by making a box for my friends awesome card game.

Then, since I need to sculpt a little Shoggoth to go with the game I made another box based on the same design for my sculpting tools.

THEN I made a little backdrop for photographing miniatures on and painted it up.

And for good measure cyberpunked up a keyboard for a quick trip to New York.

And these are just the ones that are not in progress! Wheeeeeeee!

I also rescued my instagram account from whoever was using it and started posting pics of things and stuff there.

So I’m back, Hi! More making stuff and distracting myself from the cold cold void to come.

The Safety Pin

So yes, I robbed my travel sewing kit and have a safety pin on my hoodie.

I have seen a few backlashes against the safety pin thing and the ones I have seen fall into three categories.

1: White supremacists are co-opting it.

yeah, well, fuck them.

2: Why do people, especially white men, get to fuck up everything everywhere and then spend 2 cents to feel good?

I can’t answer for anyone but myself, but for myself this isn’t to feel good, it’s to show people (especially myself) that I intend to back up my thoughts and feelings with action.

3: Putting the pin on is an arrogant sign of privilege.

Sure it’s a sign of privilege, Having been born with a certain set of genetics I am unlikely to be directly targeted by the shitstorm to come (though as a poor liberal weirdo with these genetics I am going to feel it lots I assure you). I can continue to ignore the privilege or I can use it, and if I can use it I can sure as hell use it to help those that don’t have it.

So wearing it means you can come up to me and say “help me” and I will, and if I see a situation I think can help, I will. The tiny little bit of cheap steel is a visible sign of my promise to myself and the world.

I also just ordered a Jedi patch for the same hoodie… because Jedi.

Phase 4: Hi! Bye! Be right back!

So… back in the real world after living the agricultural life for a month and a half!

 

It was a whole lot of work, but enjoyable, and I met a lot of wonderful people doing it. A lot of very thinky time was had and occasionally there was dancing.

I got back just in time for Halloween, and had the most halloweenie Halloween I have had in years! Now I have a couple days to pay bills and relax before I go and harvest olives for another couple days. What happens after that depends on the results of some crunching of numbers and some thinking that I am putting off until Monday.

Also my utility laptop died and my backup laptop is starting to show signs of falling apart… so I got a new one. Be warned that I may rant a little about Linux in the near future.

On to Phase 3!

Having gotten back from the desert, dusted off a lot of things, done all the laundry in the world… I got a couple days of relaxation before I’m off to the next part of all this.

From here on out internet connection is going to be sparse at best. I may be able to squeeze out a few tweets (which you can see on the lower left of this site, or automatically redirected to Facebook if you are reading this there) but I am unlikely to get much of substance out.

so… If you don’t hear from me in the meantime… See y’all in November!

A few pics from the desert

The little bootleg Go-Pro camera I was using was not really ideal for the task (or for any task really… it was very cheap) so there weren’t a lot of decent pics in the meager few I took.. but here are some!

Duane and Jess’s battle scarred trailer.

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The fun of packing.

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Everything I was bringing… it looks like a lot, but it’s much less than I am used to!

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We barely even massively overloaded the poor little thing!

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What the tire looked like after it spewed tread all over the interstate south of Reno

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Long dusty lines of cars waiting to get in at one or two in the morning SUNP0008

But we eventually made it!

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I did not kiss the ground… but I admired it. SUNP0010

Even as built up as the city has become early on… there was still open space around us.

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A shot of the centerpiece of my tent… a light/fan combo wrapped in fairy lights.

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Sunsets in the desert are unlike any others… this does not do it justice.

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There was much glow… I would have loved to play with this if my ability to stand the proximity of other humans was not at an all time low at that moment.

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This was something like a quarter mile of giant sound reactive rings… the light travelled down them at the speed of sound so that by the time the last ring reacted… the music it was reacting to would be there too.

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This does not in any way accurately depict the audio and visual madness of the playa at night.

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Packing up. A camps worth of trash and recycling to haul back to the real world… and a fantastic dust storm about to crash down on us.

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So yeah… a few images that entirely fail to show the amazingness. Some day I will figure out a solution that captures good images AND allows me to experience the event without constantly feeling like I have to record it. Some sort of body mounted auto-camera… or brain shunt… or unpaid personal intern… I am totally accepting applications for that last one.

Cliff Flinging: Stage 1: Complete!

We have returned from The Man What Burns Dustfest 2016!

I started keeping a journal of what all was going on but had a bad day and lost all interest so you are spared such things as a nerdy chart of the temperature of my forehead from day to day. You are welcome.

There are a very few pictures as well, but the camera I was using was not really suited to the task so I didn’t really try terribly hard. I’ll post a few later if any of them are any good at all.

The Good:

Burning Man continues to be an expanding and evolving explosion of unbridled creativity. The things happening there are mind-meltingly amazing on all kinds of levels and it is absolutely impossible to accurately describe the many encounters and experiences that make up that very strange week in a place humans were not meant to survive.

I was able to spend time with old friends, meet new ones, connect with people who I would otherwise never meet. I got to use my problem solving skills to help rescue someone who found their outfit  had become integral to their bicycle and made martinis for strangers in the middle of the night.

Our camp, Briny Depths, was one of the easiest to set up and tear down of any I have ever been a part of. Our nights of serving Ramen (Chicken and Miso broth with seaweed flakes, onion, baby corn, and lovely noodles) were highly successful and fun. The camp-mates I already knew were people I was delighted to spend more time with and the ones I did not were people I am now happy to know.

The weather was… really nice! I never felt terribly hot, or so cold that I needed much more than a lab coat. I think this is partly because it was a very mild year and partly because I am used to living somewhere where the weather is trying to kill you most of the year and barely tolerable for about three days every season.

Despite one of them injuring Damon a little… most of our neighbors were really pleasant, amusing, accommodating, and not at all annoying. Since almost every year there has been a camp nearby that made me want to strangle the entire world to make them stop… that was pleasant.

The Bad:

I have been reading for a few years about the propagation of “plug and play” camps where very rich people essentially have a camp created and delivered for them with cooking and administrative staff and the like… and they were certainly in evidence. A certain kind of person seems to come out of these camps and that kind is very entitled and not very invested in the community and city. Softening that a bit however, they seem to have somewhat displaced the last minute frat boy explosion that used to occur… and since they have people to clean up after them, the playa seemed less trashed the night of the burn.

The city has grown a lot! The downside of this is that there is no way you can go, nowhere you can walk, to find a truly dark and quiet place. Even with early entry you could walk into the deep playa and turn in circles and not see a dark spot in any direction. With this explosion also comes and explosion of art cars… which are really neat, and some are an absolute wonder to behold… but many of them are mobile sound systems that would get clubs shut down for violating urban sound ordinances, and the sound overlaps and combines into an arrhythmic drone of unending dance music and terrible hip hop. This has always famously been the case to some degree, but the intensity has been turned way up!

Tents suck! Even with the mild weather, a tent that does not have additional shade and wind protection is a terrible place to be. In the past I have always brought some sort of extra shelter if I was using a tent, or used some sort of shelter other than a tent… but as I was flying in to California then being entirely dependent on others a tent is what I had. I made it as homey as possible but it made a terrible retreat from the world.

One of the tenets of Burning Man is “Radical Self Reliance.” I absolutely pride myself on having everything I need to survive and the ability to improvise anything I need to conquer whatever challenges arise out there. This year I was very much dependent on my camp-mates which (as much as they were awesome and amazing and provided everything I needed) vexed my sense of self. This is a mixed thing and something I sort of feel OK with and sort of like I am not OK with it enough.

The Ugly:

When I was making martinis someone gave me a cookie. I kind of expected it was the sort of cookie that made you giggle too much and crave macaroni and cheese. What I was not expecting was to spend over 24 hours unable to do anything more than sit very still with my eyes closed. Breakfast took three and a half hours to eat and if Jess hadn’t been feeding me water every so often I would have dried up and blown away. Very Yikes! I would have very much liked to have spent that time exploring and meeting people.

I also missed a bunch of time wallowing in a very deep and uncomfortable pit of depression and self reflection. I have a lot of very difficult things demanding my attention and facing them is part of why I am doing all of this. It did put a damper on my (perceived) ability to leave camp and wander the city. I think I saw the requisite big art pieces… but missed all the little things you find wandering the streets.

So in summary… In some ways this was one of my best years out there and in some ways it was my worst… but I still want to go back and my brain is churning with art projects and things I want to do out there.

Time to jot down notes, make lists, and recover a bit before the difficult days on the horizon!

Chaos, Dust, and Sleep Deprivation

And we haven’t even left yet!

Everyone has gone to sleep so I am stealing this calm moment to update y’all on my adventure. I may or may not get a chance to post anything before we go tomorrow, and after that I certainly wont be saying anything until we get back.

The last few days have been a whirlwind of preparation. My own stuff had to be packed and re-packed with the supplies I had shipped here, and Duane had a lot of work for me getting his trailer ready and cutting the steel for our shade structure. It has pretty much been; Wake up, DO THINGS!, eat food, DO THINGS!, sleep.

Tomorrow we do the final things, pack everything up, make the traditional hundred last minute stops, and then we head north to the Playa.

I am one hundred percent not ready for this. A lot about this trip on the whole is well outside my comfort zone, and this part is no different. I am not used to being quite so dependent on others in an environment I pride myself for being super prepared for… but I am OK with this. This adventure is not about walking well worn paths, it is about being open to what the universe wants to throw at me.

OK, sleepy now, the morning awaits, with more dust, more steel, and frantic scramblings. Nighty night!

A quick update!

After three days or so of no sleep… sleeping in the back of a truck was heaven!

Network is way spotty up here so a quick update.

My flight was ideal. No layovers and the entire row of seats to myself… also instead of peanuts there was stroopwaffle.

Got a burrito, picked up Duane’s mom and sister and went waaaaay north for the wedding. Somewhere on top of a mountain,  its lovely.

Slept… i feel SO much better!

Wedding is in about three hours, then we head back down on monday maybe? Then run mad errands and off to the desert on Wednesday.

It seems like my “downtime” in September is going to be pretty minimal before im back on the mountain working, and probably most of that will be in Fresno. Much less slow languid socialization than i had assumed and more ZOOOOOM!

That was a quick update? Shut up, it could have been longer!