Friday, October 6, 2017

Burning Man 2017: Photos and Stories, Part 2 (of 2)

Burning Man 2017:
Neighborhood Stroll and
Marching Band March-Off 

Part 1 here.

My little neighborhood of Black Rock City is my haven of peace and familiarity, dearer to me than the amazing and inspiring open playa with its massive interactive art pieces and dreamlike quality.  I tend to make friends among my neighbors during the pre-event setup, and some of those connections end up being the most rewarding.

It sounds like I'm exaggerating, but no.

My fourth year, I remember my across-the-street neighbors, Moose and Bruce, from Texas stayed in their camp the whole week, as far as I could tell. They just got drunk and pranked passers-by with the old wallet-on-a-string trick. I couldn't believe they would pay all that money just to hang out in camp, sometimes watching the fires over the city from on top of their RV.

But now I get it. It is just as valid to stay in camp and set up an experience for others to come in and enjoy. My experience now, as contrasted to my earlier years, is about service, as opposed to receiving. I have no doubt received gifts of incalculable value in my years at the event. At some point, my cup did runneth over, and I had to spill my own gifts back into the community which had given me so much.

So now, if I get out of my camp to see some art on the playa, a few neighboring camps, I count myself lucky.

\Monday, post-burn: taking a break during camp take-down to grab some iced coffee from my neighbor.  Stripes abound.
A sunset stroll at Burning Man 2017.

My Laughter Yoga class commences at 5:00 every evening, which anchors me to my camp at that time, barring some extreme emergency.

So, about 6:00, I have time to wander out of my camp and get some good pictures of my neighborhood in the waning sunlight.

I have very little knowledge of what these camps hold, other than what is obvious. Any one of them could be the very paradise that any particular Burning Man attendee may seek.

The Burning Man Marching Band, aka the Burning Band, has been marching around the playa playing Dixieland classics for almost the entire history of Burning Man. There are no auditions or requirements for participation; you just grab an instrument and march along. In this tradition, other bands have emerged on the Burning Man stage. And for the last several years, they have competed in the Center Camp Cafe's central performance area, on Thursday night. Hosted by Burning Man mini-celeb, artist Stephen Ra$pa, this event is raucous and wild.

There were four bands this year. The highlight was Axon, a new contender. They were an octet, playing gypsy klesmer music. Klesmer is Yiddish jazz. Axon was amazing, and were certainly the best band as far as the tightness of their performance. The quieter instruments were electrified, with amps mounted on backpacks, lit up to spell out "Axon."

Gamelan X is a perennial favorite, who I believe won last year. As everyone knows, a gamelan is an Eastern instrument, consisting of many brass bells and gongs, played by a large group. Gamelan X is this, but incorporating a Western sound, with a guy on drum kit, and with choreography that tells a story in pantomime. Their sound is otherworldly, but still somehow familiar. I always enjoy their performances, but they might have been a bit short-handed this time around. I didn't see their giant bell which has to be wheeled out on a cart. Regardless, they played well, pleasing the crowd.

Finally, the Burning Band played their folk standards, like "Little Brown Jug." They had a massive group, probably around eighty people.  They sing as well as play. Some have matching uniforms, some not. There is no conductor, and everyone is pretty much doing their own thing. A few furries and a mime provided extra hype. They ended up taking the prize, based on their enthusiasm, and respect for their long commitment to the art.

A fourth marching band was more forgettable, and I hate to leave them unmentioned, though I took no pictures of them. They were chaotic and abrasive, using sex appeal and innuendo as their main attraction. Their performances made it seem a little like they were playing a prank on the audience. Their claim to being a marching band was a bit frail, but who am I to judge? If anything, it inspires me to try to create my own unique flavor of traveling musical act.

Back home to Pepperland. Here, the back of the camp, a great sunset and my camp mate, Craig, who took the shots of me by my dome. 

Some more of my campmates on Sunday, midway through the camp tear-down.

Big Daddy, Twinsaboy, Gerflash

Nostrildamus, Monica, Russell

Craig and Ronit

Nostrildamus and Sgt Pepper

Fred, aka Twinsaboy

Showing some leg

Me, scruffy and somber, at some burn or other.

Something burning. Does it really matter what?

Til next year!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Laguna Beach Full Moon Drum Circle July 2017 at Aliso Creek State Beach

I love this monthly event, as it closely resembles the spirit at Burning Man like few other local events I've found. I get fully into, the spirit, often dressing up in my Burning Man clothes, occasionally drawing on my face with a burnt cork, and always sporting my hand-painted palm frond masks, so to hide my true identity. We all wear masks, do we not? Not to belabor the point, but yeah, we do. Mine happens to be made from a palm frond.

Here I am in my hippy gear: shower curtain pants, blue cape, Cambodian shirt. Beating the rhythm out of an oatmeal can with a piece of bamboo.

Come join us. Every full moon. On the beach at Aliso Creek in Laguna Beach, CA.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Political Cartoon: Democrat Double-speak

What is Democracy?

Is voting a mere formality?

Does anyone sincerely value the democratic voice of the people?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"Angry Sneer" Palm Frond Mask, Acrylic

Latest mask. An interesting story behind this one:
I had a plan to paint a dog on this frond. I really need to make more dog masks. People really love their dogs, and I'm sure I can sell many masks portraying popular breeds. But when I looked at the blank canvas of this Queen Palm frond base, I couldn't help myself from seeing the angry spirit here captured. It was inherent in the folds and markings of the wood: the squinty eyes, pig-nose, and side-breaking mouth. This is my usual method for creating these masks: I find the face already hidden within it. But this time, I really wanted to make a dog mask! But the spirit of the wood was there, glowering at me. Could I really just cover him up with a happy German Shepherd that had nothing to do with this particular frond's shape and form? Well, no, obviously, I couldn't. There are thousands of frond bases falling off thousands of Queen Palm trees in the OC area. But only this one frond contained this wood spirit. I'm not sure how saleable this mask will be, but here he is, angry sneer and all.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

New Palm Frond Masks: Red Stone, Long Face. Updated!

Update: Finished this one.

Red Stone Face
Acrylic on Palm Frond
Feb 2017

Original Post:

I've been working on my palm frond masks lately.

Red Stone Face
Acrylic on Palm Frond
Feb 2017
I've cleaned up a new batch of downed frond bases. That involves trimming off the excess fringes, messy and breakable edges of the fronds, with saw, razor and shears. Then sanding the remaining rough edge as smooth as possible-- this part is tricky because the wood is porous with thick fibers, so sanding the edge more and more just ends up revealing more and more rough fiber ends.

I left them, concave side up outside in the pouring once-in-a-lifetime torrential California rain, and they got pretty clean, like being power-washed. Some sanding remains to be done on the surfaces, which often shed a wispy filmy skin which kind hinders the painting process.

Then the design goes on. I have a plan to do more quicker ones, say under an hour of painting, as well as a few more intricately designed ones taking much longer.

Long Face
Acrylic on Palm Frond
Jan 2017

Here pictured are an example of each type. The red mask was inspired by a vision, of a red stone face, not surprisingly. I have a bit more work to do on that one.

The wood textured mask was more or less doodled onto the frond in black acrylic paint, diluted with water. It has eye holes which I had drilled previously.  Painting the face on it took me considerably less than an hour. More like 5-10 minutes.

You need a mask! I have your mask! Hit me up! Let's make a deal, I will work with your budget. What kind of mask do you want? I'm your man for palm frond masks. I can draw or paint Your Face on a palm frond, and it will actually look like you! Or your loved one, your pet, or your favorite person or animal or image!

BFF!  Best Fronds Forever!

Support the Arts!