homeless in the bayou, homeless in the Black Rock

In oilpocalypse, this one time at burning man by summerburkesLeave a Comment

Hi. My name is BP / Halliburton. Under the corrupted laws currently bypassing your Constitution, I am considered a person. I am a person who has raped the Earth and killed 11 people — instantly, this time, so far, that you know of and/or can prove.

I’ve fatally poisoned thousands more (wait and see), and I’m STILL paying myself to dump toxic death-chemicals in the ocean. Still lying, covering up evidence, laundering money, threatening and killing whistleblowers, and committing treason, too. And you can’t arrest me and take my assets. Even though I’m a person. Thanks, Constitution! Don’t ever change!

Team Tesla. All the way.

Team Tesla. All the way.

Dug is still changing boom for BP. He wakes up every night to vomit — that is, if he can sleep. He’s plagued with headaches, dizziness, extreme fatigue, the cough, the taste, the nausea … all the symptoms of Corexit-crude poisoning. We want him and his family to get out of there. Who gives a crap about money when you’re putting yourself on the line like that?

We don’t understand the born-here-family-here-never-gonna-leave-here mentality, because things didn’t work out that way for us, and we don’t pretend to get how hard it would be for someone like Dug to fathom leaving. That man can’t NOT be on the water. When we last talked to him he was going fishing. we asked if he was going to eat what he caught, and he said “Why not? I ingests enough o dat shit every day.”

There is something here we don’t want to verbalize, but we know you know what it is. But Dug is a superhero, so of course he will be fine. He’s made of steel. Nevertheless, let’s put down our pencils, drop the hard-case act / show-me-the-evidence game, and pray for those workers and unemployed fishermen down there facing the gates of Hell.

It’s so completely not pretty that they can’t even really process how un-pretty it is. They just keep working, if they can get work, because a Cajun can’t not work.

See just how much Halliburton and Dick Cheney care about our troops, here:

And our other friend, a clinical herbalist who’s trying to get funding to fix people down the Bayou on the weekends ($2000 per clinic helps up to 300 people — anybody got some cash lying around?) … Our friend got shafted out of a job (not clinic-affiliated) when her employer, one of the many profiteers down on Grand Isle trying to figure out a way to get around BP and help clean up and maybe make a buck at the same time, ran out of funding.

“Ran out of funding” after throwing money around like Scarface for 2 months. This employer spent everything on booze and partying and boat gas, waited for our friend to leave town, packed half her stuff in his truck, left some of it there in the rental, disposed of her belongings at a bedbug-ridden homeless shelter in New Orleans, and called her to tell her he was gone. Nice guy.

GEAUXJIRA: best. oilpocalypse. film. ever.

Mom doesn’t understand why we dropped everything to spend all our time figuring this out. It’s crazy how America is NOT fixated on fixing this, but then again, there may be something to experiencing the slow strangulation of an entire region in person, as opposed to via television and Youtube.

And getting crazy sick from it a few times. Sometimes we feel guilty for not still being there, but it made us too ill to function … and then embarrassed at the body’s absolute non-resistance to these chemicals … Can’t rest on the road; can’t go home … So now we’re headed to Burning Man. (Wamp waaaamp.)

Those of you reading this who know what Burning Man is are either groaning or laughing. Those who don’t — well, go to the site; it’s got pretty pictures. The festival has evolved and changed over the years, all the way from burning a wood statue on a beach, to a temporary city of 50,000 people. Those stereotypes about raver-hippies are as true as gay-bashing Christians and bride-burning Muslims — present and irritating, but not the majority.

Burning Man is actually pretty badass. We live there, at least a month out of the year, since 1998. We build a highly-organized temporary city from scratch every year, and tear it back down to nothing, on the second-largest expanse of flat land on Earth. It’s the world’s largest open-air art gallery, with the world’s most impossible art. The reason attendees talk about it the rest of the year is that so many new experiences crowd into each day — six impossible things before breakfast, times a million — that the week feels like it’s half a year long.

(Unfortunate bongo thumbnail notwithstanding, this is a good sum-up of what it looks like:)


The Black Rock Desert is a marvel all by itself — some say the Black Rock actually landed there and made the crater, all Space Odyssey obelisk-style. The Native Americans consider it to be a “power place.” The spirits of ancestors roll by, in the form of dust devils, and military planes of every stripe, from the bases around Nevada, come have a look-see.

We once looked up at just the right time one night and glimpsed three stealth bombers flying under a cloud. It was cool. It’s hot and searingly bright in the daytime, and cold and windy and starry at night, and dust-stormy and rainy sometimes, and purple mountain’s majesty double rainbow all the way.

People can’t usually explain some of the feelings they get out there in the desert, both when alone with staggeringly vast stretches of nature in a Black Rock moonage daydream, and when participating in the world’s most giant game of Let’s Build a Fort. But we try.

It’s almost as if we collectively create something so fantastical, on such a super-nothing landscape, that we can go back into the “default world” for the rest of the year not with rose-colored glasses… but… a… um, a sense of what could be. We build a city from scratch and, as the event morphs and grows and changes, for better or for worse, it’s still the only place in the world where we all feel certain that 99 percent of the population neither wants to harm us nor make money off us. For that week, anyway.

We go out there to behave according to the laws of quantum physics: life is random but pliable, we are all connected, everything is illusory, anything is possible, and within reason, as long as nobody else gets Fd with in the process, we can pretty much do whatever we want. Earth is a very big, very small place.

But I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything. – Alan Watts

This writer is one of the couple-hundred Gate / DPW roustabouts who usually goes out early to build Black Rock City, and/or tears it down and cleans it up afterward. But Burning Man wasn’t in the cards again. We were over it. We did the desert thing for a decade or more, and had been saving and spending all our earnings on our new-old house in New Orleans.

Now … Corexit poisoning is a bitch. We can’t be with our house at the moment, so it’s best to head away from the poison secret boats, and toward the biggest soapbox we know of. All the world’s media will be there.

We gunna hang out at Burners Without Borders camp most days, at 3:30 and Esplanade, if you’re around. Come by and brainstorm. Some of the most amazing minds on the planet will be there. And some rich people, too, hopefully, who maybe want to help fund a roving herbalist weekend clinic in the more affected areas of Southern Louisiana. Or bankroll a madcap-but-sensible campaign of marsh-to-marsh hair boom evangelism where Matter of Trust hires Dug’s boat ($700/day estimated fuel and expenses), so we can throw the overwhelmed Cajun Navy a line on how to start bio-remediating their crop-waters.

Or maybe we’ll meet a superhero grant writer, pro bono constitutional lawyer, or infamous dream-guy inventor of space-cam nano-robot herds. Big money, no whammies.

Gone are the days of drunken explosions and gunfire as foreplay. Burning Man and we are all grown up (and/or burned out) now. It’s too big to wrestle like that anymore, except in Thunderdome. We didn’t even hurt ourselves much out there, even though we should have, and we’ve been covered in that corrosive, pervasive, sweet-metal-smelling dust more times than our hair would’ve liked.

It will be surreal, Burning Man 2010, to watch everyone throw all their spare effort and finances at a festival, at a time like this, and to cheer involuntarily as unfathomable structures built out of new materials burn to the ground.

Sorry, but fire is FUN. Anyone with a conscience who attends the festival has harbored similar conflicting feelings about Burning Man’s ample use of construction materials and petroleum products ever since we heard about Katrina out there in 2005. But on the other hand, everybody’s broke and feeling helpless, poised for change, in need of catharsis.

This is our Disneyland, and so SO much more — an exchange of ideas, and seeds to carry home and plant in the hyperworld. And we only go once a year, so there. Every grand vacation spends up carbon tax, and the Org does tons of green stuff to counteract it blah blah anyway.

As a veteran worker for the festival, we grew to see the awakening of new Burning Man attendees through jaded eyes. Silly newbies. Dancing like that. All wide-eyed and stuff. The class lines between roustabout and rube remain gleefully drawn, like a mean black dusty curtain with spikes on it. We are the Bad Kids, playing parts on the stage like the rest. But we remember our first Burning Man. We wore feather boas (cleanup crime) and bindis (fashion crime). Looking at photos of us girls in 1998 — it’s as embarrassing as looking at prom pictures.

Silly newbie us, dancing like that, at the beginning of our journey with the world’s most shining troupe of DIY art fags and bohemian survivalist surrealist pyromaniac nutjobs. Things only become cliche after too many people do them, and then we’re on to the next, and as they say, the counterculture always grows and then turns to attack itself. The mean little girl who lives in our mouth will not be allowed to spout derisive more-alternative-than-thou comments, even silently, because we were just there.

We may be allergic to fake fur and glowsticks for all eternity — literally, now — but we respect the bearers of such fashion atrocities to follow their bliss, even if they are swaddled in eye-raping petroleum products and inflicting music on the general populace that makes us feel like we’re being subjected to robot Chinese water torture. There are also several thousand mind-bogglingly great things. It’s still one of our favorite cities on Earth.

Even with all the talking about the murder of the Gulf and the showing of the pictures of deformed Corexit baby turtles and burned whales and whatnotery, we will clamor toward absurdity, catharsis, serious play, and dancing (*BRC, where da bounce DJs at).

Sure, Burning Man is silly and frivolous — but it’s also deadly serious. Baby wolves use their teeth to play with each other in order to learn to fight other adult wolves later on. And as that wise philosopher guy named Anonymous once said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” We would change it to read “laughter and fire.”

It may be hard to write from the desert, what with no Internet around and not being able to afford a digital camera at the moment. Also, we don’t think we’ll even bring our computer out there, since it’s the only thing we have left that’s not broken, and word from the Black Rock says the dust storms and whiteouts are already a-blowin’.

So enjoy your summer (ha) and we’ll see you in the fall (*please God, keep dem hurricanes at bay). Maybe we’ll stay for part of cleanup, and hang out on the surface of the moon for a while. We’re not sure where to go after this.

And if you’re at the dirt rave, say hi. When we’re not stuntin’ at the BWB information station or hiding amongst the unwashed Gate/DPW clan in a torn-apart shart car, we’ll be riding Gon KiRin, the giant two-story fire-breathing hydraulic dragon our good friends Doyle and Fitz and Gaspo made from a dump truck.

Disneyland, our tiny white ass.


CNN : Defender of the Deep – The Oil’s Not Gone

HuffPo: Rick Steiner got BP disaster right from the beginning, warns crisis is far from over

Daily Finance: Toxic dispersant remains in Gulf water, chemist claims

Michele Obama tells Barack swimming in Gulf is not a good thing; Obamas swim inland and press lies to public about where he swam

Youtube: Terrebonne Parish Dead Bird Island, June 27, 2010 (warning: graphic & upsetting to animal lovers)

The FDA won’t test for Corexit in seafood, unless 300 children die from it next week

Thousands of fish found dead at MRGO

Mother Jones: BP’s damage control – A timeline

NY Times Op-Ed: Keeping Science Under Wraps in the Gulf

Food & water watch lobbies for BP Atlantis field shutdown in Gulf

True Testament to the Gulf Oil Spill: Antigua’s 366th beach is an ignored gov’t toxic waste dump

Study: Spanish oil spill cleanup workers suffered chromosome damage, respiratory issues

HuffPo: Gulf oil spill hits workers hard, aid groups out of money

BP VP tells panel critical time was lost after Deepwater Horizon explosion

Portions of the Gulf are so toxic that dolphins, fish, crabs, stingrays and other animals are “trying to crawl out of the water”

Youtube: Gulf oil spill fallout – horseshoe crabs die off at Chatham, MA (Cape Cod)

New Yorker: The billionaire Koch brothers’ war against Obama

HuffPo: Questions mount about White House’s overly rosy report on oil spill

NY Times: Gulf oil plume is not breaking down fast, study says

The end of the beginning – on to the next stage: Greenpeace USA

Brad Pitt: I would reconsider my views on death penalty for BP oil spill

Haphazard firefighting might have sunk BP oil rig

NY Times: BP oil spill settlements likely to shield top defendants

UK Guardian : BP oil spill: US scientist retracts assurances over success of cleanup

BP spill victims given compensation warning

Truthout: How has it come to this?

NOLA.com: Gulf of Mexico oil spill landed sucker punch as region struggled to its feet after Hurricane Katrina (excellent)

Josh Levin for Slate: Five Years Later – How Katrina changed New Orleans and the way I think about my hometown

Local 15 Pensacola News: Fishermen won’t fish because they say oil is still in water

FDA admits not testing for mercury, arsenic, or other toxic heavy metals in crude oil

Youtube: Linda St. Martin takes on Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour

NY Times: Workers on oil rig recall a terrible night of blasts

Gulf oil spill: Remembering Deepwater Horizon’s dead

Oil in Gulf “very resistant” to further biodegradation – Full toxic form for decades

Panel: Hurricane on the heels of the BP oil spill could create chaos

“Bag It,” the movie: Is your life too plastic?

Jon Stewart: The Parent Company Trap – Fox News is either evil or stupid for not mentioning Alwaleed bin Talal is News Corp’s largest shareholder

Colbert on Gulf seafood safety and oil plumes: ‘My mouth is watering already’

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