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The roar of the chainsaw, the smell of the art

On Saturday we motored over to Gray, GA, for Chaptacular, which — despite what conclusion your filthy mind has already leapt to—is actually an art event hosted by Chap Nelson on his spacious property as a fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

The full event name is Chaptacular Chainsaw Carving Bash, and it was more than, again, what you were expecting.

About twenty carvers from all over the country—including a national champion and an international champion—were on the premises, hard at work by the time we got there.

A lot of the work (all of which was for sale) was much what you would expect:

Lots and lots of bears: little ones, like these; big ones; happy ones; sad ones; silly ones.  You name it.  But there were other subjects as well:

Stop it, you perverts!  That’s a pelican.  I think.  Lots of Green Men/wood spirits:

Watching these people work was fascinating.  It’s all I can do to cut a log in half with my chainsaw, and here they were wielding them with surgical precision.  Like “real” sculptors, they had a whole set of chainsaws in different sizes, plus buffers and grinders and sanders.

Soon after we arrived, most of the artists assembled for the “quick carve” event.  It’s mindblowing.  About a dozen of them stood in the carving area, each with a large block of wood and his tools, and after a brief intro from Mr. Nelson, they started their chainsaws up and went to work.

http://dalelyles.com/images/chaptacular14_quickcarve.mov

Go ahead, click on it.  It’s only 30 seconds long, and it’s tiny, unfortunately; if you do full-screen, it goes grainy.  Sorry.  But do look carefully at the man on the far right of the video, slightly behind the guy in front.

Here’s a good look at him from the other side, on the left.  For the longest time, all he did was saw straight down through his block.

Hold that thought.  After 20-30 minutes of ungodly noise—it really did become hysterically mind-numbing because nobody stopped, nobody paused even for breath—shapes began to emerge.

As you’re holding that thought about the short guy with the tall block, hold a new one about the young man on the right.

Here’s what the short guy ended up with:

This is the national champion, and he got here way faster than the other artists.  (Unfortunately, for our tastes, he ended up spray-painting the heron.)

Okay, back to the young man:

Ambitious, to say the least, and I don’t think he got it very finished by the time the carve was over.  But it was still amazing to watch.

It wasn’t all bears and green men:

These are inlaid with turquoise and crystals.  Not tremendously balanced, artistically-speaking-wise, but they were different from the surrounding work.

As you might suspect, most of the work was not something I would own, but as a demonstration of the creative process it was amazing.  It was the ultimate “take a block of wood and remove everything that isn’t a heron” experience.

The one piece I almost bought and would have if I still had two incomes:

It  would have gone in the southwest corner of the labyrinth, maybe.  Unless it proved to be too large to fit in, in which case I would have given it to Craig for his labyrinth.  (Who am I kidding?  I would have made it fit.)

Finally, if you’re in the market for a bear, this is the place to be.  They had an auction of pieces donated by the artists, all proceeds of which went to the CFF.  And good deals were to be had thereby.  I highly recommend marking your calendar for next year’s event.

A quick look into the labyrinth

Yes, I’ve been “quiet.”

Have a couple of photos of the labyrinth from this afternoon.

The bowl from the west point.  The maple leaves were everywhere; I tried to get a nice shot of the freshly mown labyrinth with a couple of them scattered about, but I needed a real photographer to do that.

Our dancing fawn, aka Dionysus.  Look carefully at his right hand—his thumb has cracked off.  I’m sure I will have to replace him after the snows of winter, but as Shakespeare always reminds us, “Every fair from fair sometime declines.

This would be fun

Who among us has not fantasized about winning the lottery?  It’s a regular source of amusement for me, and this week’s elections got me to thinking about how I could use my money for political purposes.

Let’s assume I win the $250,000,000 lottery.  That’s a comfortable sum.  And then let’s assume that I simply put that in the bank and live off the interest.  Even at extremely low rates, I’d still have an annual income of around $5,000,000.  Still comfortable.

At our current tax rate, I’d owe about 39% of that in income taxes.  I’m not doing the actual research and/or math at this point—once I have a $5,000,000 annual income, I will pay lackeys to do all that—but if I were taxed appropriately, say at the rate under Ronald Reagan (blessings be upon him), I’d owe even more than that.

So what I would love more than anything is to taunt the average—and by “average” I mean “poorly informed rightwing idiot”—voter with a flagrant waste of my income, just because I can.  I’d make a video and release it on YouTube and wait for it to go viral.

Let’s take a look:

INT: GRACIOUSLY APPOINTED LIBRARYDALE:
Hello. My name is Dale Lyles, and I am extremely wealthy. I'm rich, and I'd like to talk to you about taxes.

You've been told that taxing people like me is bad for the economy, and you keep voting for people whose main goal is to prevent the government from taxing people like me.

So here's what I think about that.
DIFFERENT ANGLE. WE SEE "ACCOUNTANT JEFF" IN THE BACKGROUND.
DALE:
If the government were to tax my annual income at the same level they did while Ronald Reagan was President, I would owe an additional $1,000,000 in taxes. Isn't that right, Accountant Jeff?
CU: JEFF
GFX: "Not an actual accountant"
JEFF:
That's right. One million dollars.
CU: DALE
GFX: "Actual amount, though"
HE TOASTS THE VIEWER
DALE:
One million dollars.

Think of what your schools could do with a million dollars. Or how many streets could be repaved or bridges fixed. Or how much assistance could be provided to the homeless.

Instead, it's mine to keep. Thanks, voters!

And now I'd like to show you something.
NEW ANGLE: DALE REACHING FOR BOX; HE OPENS IT AND TAKES OUT THE JEWELRY.DALE:
I took that million dollars and bought this jewelry. It's a lovely ring and earring set. One million dollars! That's pretty incredible, isn't it?
CU: HE LAYS JEWELRY ON ANVIL, INCONGRUOUSLY OUT OF PLACEDALE:
I bought these beautiful pieces of jewelry because I can. I have an extra million dollars at my disposal, thanks to your votes. And now...
MS: HE SWINGS A SLEDGE HAMMER ONTO THE ANVIL, SMASHING THE JEWELRY INTO WORTHLESS BITS.DALE:
There. A million dollars.
HE SITS, BRUSHING THE BITS ONTO THE FLOOR.DALE:
A million dollars for your schools and community.

Outraged? You think I should have donated that money to the community?

Why would I do that when you've made it clear through your vote that you want me to keep it?
CU: DALEDALE:
You want my million, start electing people who will tax me for it.
INT: LIBRARY, DALE IN EASY CHAIR WITH CHAMPAGNE; JEFF IN BG; DALE TOASTS THE VIEWERDALE:
Till next year... cheers!

My position is unassailable in conservative terms: it’s my money, and the government should have no interest in it.  Surely—surely—the average voter would begin to realize that “government” is, by extension, him.

Surely—surely—the average voter would begin to realize that even though this is a stunt (although make no mistake: I would buy a million dollar set of jewelry and smash it to flinders, a fact I would document in further videos/talk show appearances), it’s the whole taxation argument in a nutshell, and while I may be a crazy rich liberal, this is exactly what the über-wealthy among us do every day.

Perhaps they might even realize that, sure, the only person I “hurt” doing this is myself, but it doesn’t hurt me at all.  I’m rich.  I will always have more than that, and that would be true even if I were taxed out of that million dollars.

::sigh::

Isn’t it pretty to think so?

Magick

First of all, I am in a bad bad mood after yesterday’s elections.  Voters returned some profoundly evil men to office (I’m looking at you, Kansas, Michigan, Maine, and Florida) and where evil was not an issue, venality and stupidity certainly were.

So I have an open tab in my browser with this on in the background.  It helps.  (I have it on the Content setting.)

In order not to go sit in the sun and play solitaire on the iPad all day, I’m making myself blog.  You might very well ask why I don’t make myself compose, but then I would have to direct a withering stare in your direction.

A couple of months ago I was trying to put together the ceremony for The Child’s wedding, and it occurred to me that I could use a poem I wrote several many years ago, “Epithalamium.”

(This is going to be a long and rambling post.)

Barbara Petzen is a former student who went off to a glorious academic career at Columbia and then Harvard, with a stint at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar somewhere in there.  At some point in the early 90s she got married and asked me to be her matron of honor.  Barbara is a free spirit—which should be obvious—and so I made sure to call her before flying to Boston to see what I should wear.  “Whatever you like” was her unacceptable answer; finally I got her to tell me that Tom would be wearing a tux, and so I brought mine along.

So I was more than a little surprised as she drove me to my hotel that she told me that she and Tom wanted me to read a poem at the ceremony.  What poem? I asked, hoping against hope that she would hand me a piece of paper, which of course she didn’t because it’s Barbara why would you even think that?  No, she wanted me to pick one out.

I pointed out to her that I worked in a library and that if she had mentioned this to me even two days previously, I would have been able to pull together something really nice.  She was unconcerned.

I spent the next day stumbling around Harvard trying to find a library—they have lots—which was a) open (they were on winter break); and b) accessible to the hoi polloi.  Needless to say, I was unsuccessful, and so I retreated to my hotel room and wrote a sonnet for the occasion.  It went over very well, to the extent that I was asked at the reception where I had found the poem because it was so very very nice.

So for The Child’s wedding, I thought I might reprise my performance.

The problem was, I didn’t have a copy of the poem.  It was not on my laptop, nor was it in any folder or notebook that I could find.  Nor could Barbara find a copy in any of her stuff.  She even had two old hard drives resurrected in the attempt, to no avail.  I took in my old blue-and-white G3 to see if its hard drive could be resurrected, but it was gone.

Finally, I was forced to conclude that “Epithalamium” was a lost work.  Such a pity.

But here’s the point of this post:

Click to embiggen.

On the left we have my iPad with its stand and keyboard.  On the left is a PowerBook 190, still viable, and still running OS 7 (!).  It would have been the computer I was using back when Barbara got married, at least the one I toted back and forth from home to school, so I had hopes the poem would be on it. (It wasn’t.)

Look at the difference twenty years makes!  Both are representative of the top of the class of portable computing at the time of their release, but mercy, how far we’ve come.  Yes, an Apple Macbook Air would be a more direct comparison, but how would that even be fair to my little PowerBook?  The iPad is bad enough: in every way it’s smaller, faster, more powerful.  It’s wireless.  It syncs itself.  Its screen is bigger.  It has color.

The poor little PowerBook would not have the memory—or the hard drive space—to run any of the major apps on the iPad, and the iPad is chock full of them.

The idea that I would use my laptop to play my entire music library would have floored me.  In the early 90s, my collection was just beginning the shift from LPs to CDs—the LPs (more than 300) were recently tossed from a closet at Newnan Crossing; the CDs still clutter a corner of my study and I increasingly wonder why.  Now it’s all on my current laptop, and most of it is on my iPad.  And that’s not counting the music services like Pandora or Songza available to me on both.  (Or randomly generated cat purrs…)

I can watch freakin’ movies on the iPad.  I can take photos on the iPad. I can create videos on the iPad.  I can take my finger or stylus and handwrite music which will play back for me, or use GarageBand to create whole pieces.

The iPad will show me satellite views of anywhere I want to go, and then get me there, all the while keeping me informed about traffic.  I can control my TV, my wireless sound system, even start my car with the iPad.

All the fonts on the PowerBook were bitmap; you’d have to be insane to use a bitmap font today, assuming you could even find one.  (Of course you can find one.  What was I thinking?)

That’s not even considering the ecosystem that each exists in—I can’t think of a way to compare them.  (And that’s not even mentioning that I can do all of this stuff on my phone in my pocket.  For a similar post to this one, see here.)

And even so, the PowerBook was just as magickal as the iPad.  I could send email, chat in chat rooms, set up and run a network, produce documents on laser printers, electronically catalog 10,000 books in my new media center—none of which I could do even ten years before that, and as for twenty years before that: no.

Let me clear: I am not one given to oohing and aahing over where we might be in another twenty years.  What with yesterday’s elections, I’d say we’ll be lucky still to have fire and the wheel, and so I will content myself with looking back and marveling how far we have come from the past.  It’s all perfectly cromulent magick.

This is why we can’t have nice things

I wish to make a complaint.

For months now I have avoided downloading and installing the newest versions of Apple’s Pages, Keynote, Numbers, etc.  The reviews I read were enough to convince me that many features that I need and use regularly had been stripped out in the update, and I thought, fine, I’ll be a cranky old man and hang on to iWork 09 forever.  (It meant that I had to keep telling the computer to “remind me tomorrow” every day at some point, but that was a minor annoyance compared to losing styles.)

First of all, why?  Why would you take options and features away from an application?  Sure, if you’re Microsoft, you’ve got plenty you can trim away from Word and no one would know the difference, but Pages was a lean, sleek word processor.  It didn’t need to shed anything.

Still, I kept checking back to see if some functions had made it back in as Apple is wont to do with updates.  Finally it dawned on me that I could just stop by our local Apple reseller and play with Pages directly.  Lay hands on it.  See if the things I needed most were in there somewhere.

(I also checked out Yosemite, the new OS, because upgrading one’s operating system should always give one pause.)

Everything seemed fine, so I spent an entire afternoon last week updating the laptop and then the iPad.  (Updating the phone will have to wait for a brand new phone.)

So, everything seemed fine, although both laptop and iPad are noticeably more sluggish. Styles, which I use extensively, were different and not as easy to use, but at least they were there.

And then, just now, I wrote the post about music in Pages—which I will do with longer, more involved posts—and went to paste it into WordPress here.  For some reason, paragraph returns don’t get translated into HTML paragraph tags, which I always forget, but that’s not a problem.  I just go back to Pages and do a find/replace: find all the paragraph markers and replace them with the appropriate HTML tags.

Except.

Pages no longer supports finding and replacing invisible characters like paragraph returns or tabs.  In the old version, you could click on the Advance tab and select those characters from a menu, or you could even type them in like ^p.   But now you can’t.

I tried showing the invisibles and copying the paragraph markers into the find/replace dialog box, but all that did was find double spaces.  What??

Some internet searching showed that indeed this feature was missing and the only workarounds were horrifically clumsy.

And so, Apple—if you’re listening—I’m going back to Pages 09 and will not be using your supernew and extremely broken word processor.

Where does music come from?

All songs are born to man out in the great wastes. Sometimes they come to us like weeping, deep from the pangs of the heart, sometimes like a playful laughter which springs from the joy that life and the wonderful expanses of the world around us provide. We do not know how songs arrive with our breath—in the form of words and music, and not as ordinary speech.

—Kilimê, East Greenland Eskimo, recorded by Knud Rasmussen; Pharmako/Dynamis, p. 239

Where does music come from?

The question is not Why do humans make music?, but more like How do humans make music? and more specifically How do humans make new music? Where does it come from?

I get asked this question all the time about my music. How do I come up with it all? Where does those melodies come from? How do I decide what goes where? And how does someone without a lick of academic musical training create things like William Blake’s Inn and the Cello Sonata and Six Preludes (no fugues) and Seven Dreams of Falling and my super secret new project?

Hell if I know, is the short answer.

I just spent three days in the mountains on retreat with my fellow Lichtenbergians, and all I produced was about a dozen ways not to sing the phrase “Rip me from this darkness.” If I knew where music comes from, I’d have a lot more to show for my effort.

Here’s what I know about where my music comes from. The Minotaur opens Dream Three of Seven Dreams with a four line lament on his unhappiness. (At least he does in the original script; I’ve requested that the dialogue be retained for the libretto.) At the end of the scene, as he and Theseus are making love, those four lines return (amplified) with a completely different emotional impulse, so to speak.

I’m therefore working backwards: I know the end of the scene is an ecstatic duet, and so I start working on making that happen. Later, I’ll take the melodies associated with those four lines and scale them back into a lament, changing the key and orchestration, perhaps even the rhythms, so that the notes that ring in our ears as ecstatic love start out as unhappy loneliness.

I also know that one effective way for music to depict ecstasy is to have the orchestra whaling away in chromatic arpeggiation while the singer soars above it with a strong, simple melodic line. (See: “Liebestod,” Tristan und Isolde, Wagner.) So far, I’ve approached it by trying to come up with the strong, simple melodic line and seeing where that takes me, but alas—that strategy has failed me.

I could keep working away trying to come up with that line, but I think what I’m going to try for a while is the other approach: work on the orchestral whaling and then construct the melody to soar above it. If the accompaniment gives me what I need, then no one will ever know that the melody was an afterthought. Well, you will, but you’ll keep your mouth shut in interviews, won’t you?

So the answer to the question “Where does your music come from?” appears to be “from a cold, calculating brain, not from a deep well of inspiration what are you crazy?”

I’ll keep you posted on the results.

New cocktail: El Pino Margarita

I have probably mentioned what a rabbit hole the study of cocktails is, what with all the odd liquids and liqueurs that one accumulates.  I have the additional problem of people giving me stuff they come across that looks interesting, tasty, or just plain weird.  (Pro tip: avoid the liqueur called Hog Master.)

The latest is my “father-of-the-groom” gift from my son: Zirbenz, Stone Pine Liqueur of the Alps.  It’s a product of Austria, and it tastes like a pine tree.  Not unpleasant, but certainly not an easy taste to get used to.

I happen to be awash in some fine tequilas at the moment, and so I wondered if one could use the Zirbenz in a margarita.

Spoiler alert: yes, you can, and it’s yummy.

El Pino Margarita

  • 1.5 oz tequila, in this case a very nice one indeed
  • 1.5 oz lime juice (I usually use Rose’s Sweetened Lime Juice)
  • .5 – 1.0 oz Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur
  • splash orange juice

Pour it all in, give it a stir.  Salt, of course, and on the rocks.

The pine gives a nice tang to the mustiness of the tequila, a complex layering of flavors.  The splash of orange juice mellows the whole thing out.

I’m back—now with extra whinging!

I’m in the mountains, on our annual Lichtenbergian Retreat, wherein we are each to bring some creative work on which we’ve been slacking.  Since my recent work on Seven Dreams is the very definition of “slacking,” i.e., “no work at all,” I’ve brought it with me to jumpstart the process again.

(To be fair: 1) I ran out of text; 2) I was getting ready for and attending Alchemy; 3) my son got married.  Still, I bet Wagner didn’t let things like that slow down his ego work.)

At any rate, I’m in the Blue Ridge in a great cabin with four other Lichtenbergians—none of whom, I’ve noticed, seem to have brought any work at all, but let that pass.  I’ve brought the snippets of text which I have demanded respectfully requested begin and end Dream Three.  Hey, they’re Scott’s actual text from the original play, so I figure it’s not a problem.

Even if it is a problem, even if he ends up sending me a completely different text, I figure I can play around with scene setting and thematic/harmonic bits that I can then use with the new text.  As I said last night, measures full of sixteenth notes can be very flexible.  Bring on the words!

Here’s the part you’ve been reading for: whining.

In Dream  Three, Theseus and the Minotaur have had enough chitchat about their respective ritual fates and are getting it on.  The four lines of the Minotaur’s opening aria return, this time with a partner.  So, ecstatic duet, right?

Since I haven’t written any real music since August, I’m just aiming to produce crap the entire weekend, just getting my crapping muscles back in shape.  I don’t expect to use anything that comes out of my head in the next 48 hours—though one never knows.

My problem is that many of the halfway decent bits I’ve scribbled down are more Broadway than La Scala.  Don’t ask me what the difference is, there is one and I know it when I hear it.  So do audiences, and so do critics.  So I keep scribbling, breaking up some of the Broadway tunes with odd harmonies or melodic intervals, and it sounds more La Scala, but then it’s not very soaring or ecstatic.

Yes, I am modifying my music to please unknown critics.  On a personal level I have no desire be known as the opera world’s Frank Wildhorn or Andrew Lloyd Webber: singable tunes, loved by unsophisticated audiences but scorned by all right-thinking persons.  As Noel Coward said, “It’s extraordinary how potent cheap music is.”

On an artistic level, opera voices are not show voices, and the same melodies that fit comfortably on Neil Patrick Harris’s voice or Patti LuPone’s sound weak under Erwin Schrott’s or Anna Netrebko’s.  You want to please the audience and please the singers, and so you have to move them through the notes differently, if that makes sense, and  there’s more than a little element of athletic showing-off in the opera world.  If you make it too easy, they’ll disdain it.

I’ll get it done.  I just have to get back in the groove of pushing it all out—instead of blogging about it—because if I can produce a big enough pile of crap, there should be a pony in there somewhere, right?

3 Old Men

Last week, all the philosophizing, planning, designing, building came to fruition as I packed my car to the max and headed to LaFayette for my first ever Regional Burn, known as Alchemy.

I’m not going to give you a lot of details, because above all Alchemy is a safe space for those who go there and I am not going to breach that implicit agreement we all have that, for a lack of a better phrase, what happens at Alchemy stays at Alchemy.

But what an experience!  As you produce your ticket at the gate, the hippies greeting you welcome you “home”—and while I can’t go that far, I will say that I felt an enormous sense of belonging as soon as I pulled onto the farm.  Our assigned campsite was the first one inside the farm on the left, and as I pulled up and started to unload I knew that it was going to be an amazing event.

I put my tent up quickly just so I wouldn’t be doing that in the dark, then set about working with the others to get the labyrinth set up.  As in our dress rehearsal, the method for laying it out worked flawlessly, although one of the long ropes was inexplicably six feet short.  We never did figure out why.

Here’s a shot of our camp:

And here’s a shot of our canopy with the banners I whipped up last week and didn’t even share with you:

By 6:30, we were ready for our first ritual—we had decided to do sunrise, sunset, an hour later, and midnight, but that almost immediately got changed.  Dawn was going to be too cold or too wet, and as for sunset, well, I misread the sunrise/sunset charts, not factoring in daylight savings time.  Not a problem.  We moved the sunrise session to noon, and just went for sunset and an hour before instead.  (By the time temperatures had dropped into the 30s on Saturday night, we also ditched the final midnight session, instituting the policy that the Old Men don’t perform their ritual when the ambient temperature is lower than 55°.)

Here’s a lovely panorama shot of the labyrinth, looking across the road to our neighbors, Incendia:

Click for larger version.

In the center, we placed a small altar for people to leave and to take whatever they wished, and the bell from my labyrinth.  I will share one experience that made me happy: a group of young people entered the labyrinth while the Old Men were in session.  They were happy and giggled their way to the center, mock-racing each other to enlightenment.  Once in the center, they found the mallet and one of them rang the bell, which uttered its usual nondescript clang.

But then one of the young men, in a cowboy hat that lit up, stopped and said, “Hey, listen you guys… ” and he struck the bell again and said, “No listen… it shouldn’t be doing this… listen…” and he listened—because he had heard the bell continue with its incredibly long reverberation, on and on and  on.  He left in a more contemplative mood than the one he entered with.  (We saw that a lot, actually.)

Incendia.  My oh my.  We watched a team of tawny youths clamber up and up and up building that structure all day on Thursday, and then as night fell, we were stunned and delighted to see:

Incendia was the hit of the entire Burn: the large dome was a lounge, with seating, bar, DJ, projections, and fire.  This is what the ceiling looked like:

That’s spurts of propane billowing out into never-ending clouds of flame, and it’s as fascinating in real time as you might imagine.  Each of the smaller domes housed its own fire sculpture, and those ceilings were the same.  It was amazing, and the place was packed until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning.  (Earplugs were a must on our side of the road.)

So for three days, we did our ritual, answered questions and discussed the impetus behind the project, and sucked up the positive energy all around us.  I will say that I was just a wee bit proud when people were surprised to find that we were all Burn virgins; apparently 3 Old Men gave off the vibe of being old pros at this.  (It also dawned on me that we were freaking selected as a theme camp by Burning Man itself.  Sometimes ignorance of the odds is a great way to develop a project.)

The camp is large: 3200 Burners, two-thirds of them in registered theme camps like us, and the variety therein was impressive.  Art, food, drink, interactive things, games, just a wild smorgasbord of creativity and openness.  Again, details would be over-sharing, but the energy was palpable.

Everything culminates in the Burn itself on Saturday night, in which a two-story structure known as the Effigy is set on fire in the most spectacular way imaginable. I have never been witness to as much controlled pyromania as that Burn, and I found that watching those enormous pillars of flame erupt from tubes surrounding the Effigy, followed by the Effigy itself vanishing in the largest fireball I have ever seen, produces only one possible response: ecstatic, joyous laughter.

It’s a very powerful feeling to watch a structure burn that you were just inside and on top of, and on which you’ve written your own thoughts about life/loss/change.

The next morning, Sunday at dawn, the Temple, another smaller structure, was burned.  Part of my labyrinth was in there: the artist put out a call for frames; I had some in my kindling pile and although I was out of town at the time I sent her directions on where to find them in my back yard.  I ran into her at the Temple and she excitedly told her boyfriend that I was the one with the amazing back yard.

Click for large version

Afterwards, we went back down the hill to the camp, had one final meal together, then broke camp.  By early morning, before most of the rest of the hippies were up and about, we were all gone.

Here’s what I learned.  The Burn’s 10 Principles are a great way to run an event, and their impact has remained with me. I learned to be more Radically Inclusive of other people, which is sometimes a problem for me.  I learned a lot about Radical Self-Reliance, never having camped before—I like it, at least for Burns!  And Leave No Trace has become a mantra for me; next time I will volunteer as a MOOP* Fairy, part of the onsite volunteer staff.

The guiding philosophy behind 3 Old Men turned out to be exactly correct, and I found—even as I watched beautiful, taut young bodies parade past—that I was proud of me, of where I am and  how I got here.  More amazingly, that was how the taut young bodies responded to me as well.  The ritual was simple and effective, and we had a decent amount of participation in those sessions, although we’re working on ways to make it easier for people to challenge themselves to enter the labyrinth.  (Again, no photos, but the 3 Old Men in full regalia—paint, skirt, staff—were imposing to the point of being totemic.)

And mostly I learned that I am made very happy being in a setting where everyone there is free to let their own little freak flags fly without fear of judgment.  I soaked up all that joy like a vampire, and I am committed to continuing this journey with my fellow Old Men.  We’re making plans to go to other Burns and to recruit more people to our roster as we go.  I’ll keep you posted.

——————

*MOOP = Matter Out Of Place, i.e., whatever was not there when you got there.  I am still worried that our MOOP score will suffer because of the spills of kaolin body paint we left behind.

About half the photos in this post were taken by Roger Easley, photographer extraordinaire and a member of 3 Old Men.

Not an update

This is not an update.  It’s just that I haven’t blogged in a while and I wanted to assure my legions of readers that I’m still around.

The reasons are what you might expect: getting to Alchemy—Alchemy—returning from Alchemy—decompressing from Alchemy—starting final preparation for my son’s wedding next weekend.  All that kind of thing.

I promise I have a lot to share—just no time to do it right now.