Friday, September 01, 2006

My first visit to drug camp - submitted by T

We arrived at something like 10pm but luckily we found the spot where our friends were waiting. As we unloaded the essentials and started to set up our part of the camp, E offered us some delicious and only slightly petrified 'special' brownies. I had one thing on my mind - getting the tent up and ourselves settled, but afterward I figured a little brownie would be a nice way to unwind and get to sleep so I would be well rested for my first day of drug camp.

I ate something like a brownie and a half, which wasn't much by my standards, and then I retired to the tent along with L, J, and M. I was trying to braid the last unbraided section of my hair to protect it somewhat from the harsh environment of the Playa, and as I braided I gazed out at the desert landscape, marvelling at the flatness and its silvery color in the faint moonlight of a waning moon. The majestic saguaro cactus...

"Wait a minute!" I thought. "There aren't any saguaro in this desert! Come to think of it... I'm looking at the wall of the tent, which is not transparent. How odd." I do have what teachers used to call an "overactive imagination" though, so I didn't think much of it.

Then L started talking. She was saying something about thinking too hard to sleep, which happens to me a lot, and feeling a little claustrophobic, so I asked if she wanted to go outside, but she declined. She seemed to be freaking out a little bit, so I wanted to help her and console her, but damn if I wasn't completely losing my train of thought every time she stopped talking. After a lapsing into silence a few times she started talking about thinking too fast, then moving too fast and then she, or my brain, went off into a tangent about running through a forest and trying not to hit a tree and it was clear something weird was going on but I just couldn't put my finger on it. Finally,

"What the hell are you on about?" M asked.

"She's frying balls!" said J. "I know because I am too!"

And suddenly it all made sense. I grabbed L's hand, made an executive decision, and steered the both of us out of the tent and into the real desert night. As soon as we stepped outside, it was like everything opened up inside us and we were able to relax and enjoy the trip. Since we were now in the mood for an adventure, L decided to take me for my first look at The Man.

When we stepped onto the Esplanade for the first time and I looked around at what could've been the Vegas strip in the middle of the desert, my eyes felt like they were open wider than I previously thought possible. As we walked around, dazed and giggling, I said, "Wow I didn't expect this, but it's like 'Welcome to Drug Camp, here are your hallucinations!'"

Saturday, August 26, 2006

This one time, at drug camp....

This is how so many of my friend's stories start: "So, at Burning Man [insert year]..."
We started comparing it to the line from that movie American Pie, where the one geek girl always starts her lines with "This one time, at band camp..."
So we changed it up, and now we say, "This one time, at drug camp..."
Because the stories involve psychedelics in one way or the other 75% of the time.

So, this one time, at drug camp...

Friday night of Burning Man. Our whole camp decides we're going to go all out tonight. Get blasted out of our minds and wander around Black Rock City. We started off with a layer of acid - 2 or 3 apiece. Most of us topped that off with a tab of good ol' MDMA. To really get excessive, I also threw a tab of MDA into a water bottle filled with TANG. My girl (henceforth referred to as "J") shook her head and rolled her eyes at me. "Do you really need that?" she asked.

"Hell yeah," I said, "We're going full bore tonight. We're chemical cowboys!"
"Chemical cowboys!" howled back my compatriot "L".

J rolled her eyes again, and threw a glow stick in the bottle so she could tell the difference between that and her bottle of unadulterated TANG.
The bottle glowed this unholy toxic looking orange. We called it "power water".

We set out from our base camp, some 18 or 20 of us. The drugs started to kick in something fierce. By the time we were out to "The Man", we were all tripping hard. It was a crazy busy night. The Opera was going, tons of art cars were out, there was fire everywhere. Sounds blurred and echoed for me, lights and colors were extra bright. We started talking about what to do. I was pulled in many directions at once as I tried to focus on every one's different idea.

"We could go to Bianca's..."...."Bianca's is lame now..."
"I heard John Kelly is spinning at one camp way out on the playa or something..."
"Let's cruise the north side..."
"Spinny tent! I have to find the spinny tent!"

People started deciding where they wanted to go. The big group broke into smaller groups. By the time we left the man, I was in a group of 6 or 8 people. We walked on to the north side of the City and cruised from one camp to another along Esplanade, dancing, partying, hallucinating. That period is largely a blurr to me now.

The group broke up further and soon it was four - myself, J, L, and our long-time friend "C".
We continued on, and eventually decided it would be a good idea to start heading back toward our home camp. It was a long walk across the desert for 4 very high people.

For L, it was only his second time tripping on acid. His first had been earlier in the week. As we walked along, he kept falling behind, looking up at the stars or staring down at the ground, or out at the horizon of lights from Black Rock City. The other three of us would suddenly realize we lost him, then stop and turn around to find him. In the dark he was hard to find, and we'd call out to him and wait for him to respond. After 3 or 4 times of this, we tired of it.

Earlier, C found an abandoned glow stick, so we stuck that in L's pocket. J gave up an extra glowstick she had and stuck it on him. I put one in his water bottle. I had one on a rubber band around one of belt loops. I took it off.

"Hand," I said. L stuck his hand out toward me. I put the rubber band around his wrist. He looked at the glow stick and started waving his arm around and hopping around. L is many things, but graceful is not one of them, so these jerky crazy movements were funny and we all started laughing. I was laughing especially hard.

L stopped and looked at me. "What?"

"What are you doing?" I gasped out between laughs.

"I'm dancing!" he said, and continues his hopping and waving. "That's what you do with glow sticks, right, you dance!"

I fell to the ground laughing even harder. J and C weren't sure why, so they started laughing at me, too. L stopped for a moment. "WHAT?"

I gasped again and said, "It looked like you were trying to shake it off you!"

L yelled, "AAAHHH! It's a glow stick, get it off, get if off!" and started flailing and hopping again.

Then we were ALL rolling around on the ground cracking up. We would have looked insane to anyone who walked by. I guess we were insane, crazy with happiness and laughter.

After awhile, the laughter died in slowly receding waves. We regained our composure (such as it was) and continued on. Occassionally, L would fall behind. We would look back, but now we could see him with his many glow sticks on. "Can't lose me!" he would yell to us. "I'm glowin'!"

Later, we were walking, walking through the desert, when suddenly there was this noise like a growling bear behind us. "yyyyyYYYYYEEEESSSSSS!!!!!" went the bear.
We realized it was L. He was just standing there, hands raised, stareing at the sky. "yyyyyYYYYEEEEEESSS!!!!!" he yelled again.

L, J, and myself worked a helpdesk type job that was quite stressful. L was, suddenly in the middle of this trip, letting out all the stress and tension that had been building up in him for months. We started yelling too. "yyyyYYYYYEEEESSSS! wwwWWWWOOOOOOO!!!!"
Then some strangers, 50 yards off in the darkness, started yelling. Then some people 30 yards beyond them. Within a minute, hundreds of people in the middle of the desert were yelling just like L.
"I am not a cube farmer!" L bellowed. "yyyyYYYYYEEEEESSSSS!"

In a moment of outrageous joy, C threw his water bottle (full of TANG) up in the air and grabbed his head while yelling at the top of his lungs.

The water bottle smashed against the ground. C went to pick it up and found it leaking. He poured the TANG into J and L's water bottles (I refused, I hate that stuff). "Every day, you sit in the office or at home, and you be quiet," C said. "You come here and sometimes you forget, you can just be loud out here."
It seemed profound at the time.

We continued back to camp. We had been out for hours. Camp mates were returning as well, weary from walking and dancing and going crazy for hours. We chilled and listened to music and stared at the stars. It was a peaceful end to a crazy night.

And thus began the Chemical Cowboys.