August 30th, 2008 5:33 pm | by Brad McCray News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP

The Burning Blog: Twanked

The Flaming Duck

Burning Man Day 7 & 8 (read all Burning Blog posts here)

Note: Brad McCray was unable to file a Burning Blog on Friday because of technical issues. Did he mention he's in the middle of the desert?

BLACK ROCK CITY, Nevada – I knew the words didn't sound right to my ears, but I couldn't get my mouth to work.

“I've been twanked,” I kept repeating, but my voice was five feet away and I couldn't bend my tongue just right. Fortunately, my jelly stagger told my campmates what they needed to know. Hours after filing my blog on Thursday—in which I called out both the gods of vengeance and tricks—I was punished. In one minute, a world that had been clear, hot, friendly and full of dancing turned to a slow-motion parade of strangers—one of whom had slipped me a tranquilizer. Fortunately, my campmates could see I was in trouble and led me to a bed where they fed me while I flailed and orated on such a wide range of topics that as soon as I finished eating they put a gag ball in my mouth (I have no idea where THAT came from…) until the toxin wore off.

The Walker

Hardcore drug use seems way up this year. Or at least people aren't hiding it well.

"My nose is hungry," El Deepo says, pointing at his schnoz.

My expression says I do not understand.

"My nose is ALWAYS hungry," he continues tapping it again.

These are the first words El Deepo has spoken to me. He was walking down F street, saw me reclined in a chair and is approaching me. I am still not catching his meaning.


"For cocaine," he declares proudly. He's stout, but wears a cool red and black fur vest. I tell him I have none and do not know where he can get it. He will wax—in all seriousness—about how he wishes he could buy a porcelain nose and then disappears into a sea of people.

Fire Lotus
The Road Warriors are the fewest in number, but make the biggest impact per capita. In general, they are an angry lot—a cross between Mad Max RoboVampires and the Oakland Raiders.

“We don't like anyone,” Lanny said before hugging me and burning my cheek with his scruff. He camps with DeathGuild, which features nightly battles in “The Thunderdome.” Burners on bungees duel with sticks while others climb the dome and fulfill a very real bloodlust. People get hurt there. Two years ago, someone supposedly lost a testicle in one of these battles. Only the uninformed brave the Thunderdome now.

Road Warriors are also practical jokers. They invented and continue the practice of “glow fishing.” I saw a glow stick on the ground the other day. I reached for it… and zip! It jumped away. “Fucking Raver!” two young road warrior wanna-be's yelled. They got me good. They cast the line out again.

Of course, Hippies own the day at Black Rock City. They are the sacred and the cheesy; the ones who feel that we should all love each other and that we all need a “chill space” to “get in touch” with some shit that we're apparently not in touch with. It's all about yoga and sewing god's eyes, prayer flags and other mumbo jumbo. It's a wavelength I can't quite pick up anymore. Not that I haven't tried. I've been there, but when I got there, I realized it was empty. Hippies always have such a debilitating philosophy behind everything they do: “I need to do A before I am ready to get to B” instead of just doing B.

Next to Yahoos, Hippies are the lowest caste on the playa. The strains of the Grateful Dead will send some into convulsive dance while also bringing down the ire of Ravers and, especially, the Road Warriors—who hate “God-Damn Dirty Hippies” by nature.

Plus Hippies stink.

The Raver sect owns the night. They come to Burning Man to dance and dress up. Slutgarden identifies strongly with playa rave culture. Not only do we dress other people, we have our own costume tents. We dance at our own parties, then shut our parties down to dance at other parties. There is nothing else in the world like 2,000 people dancing in one place and then riding your bike 400 yards to the west and joining another dance party of the same number. Naturally, we are the beautiful glue: the multi-faceted jewels of Black Rock City.
Fire sculptures
The Shagadelic
Plus, all Ravers speak the same language:

“Next year I want an art car,” Ravers say.

“Me too,” Ravers reply.

The Man burns tonight. I hope I can get on an art car.
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