Skull & Bones

I fly into Atlanta with too much hair on my head. It is time for a cut. My house sits across the street from the city cemetery. MLK was born here. He is buried here. So are hundreds of Confederate soldiers.

All train stations sit underneath dirty alleyways. It smells like piss and first rain asphalt. I run through.

I overshoot the MARTA. I walk a mile through Midtown. The guys here are very, very friendly. I ask one for directions.

Me: Hey. Do you know how to get to Great Clips? Piedmont? I’m lost. I just got here.
Dude: I don’t know where that is. I don’t get my hair cut by white people.
Me: Gotcha. Well, do you know…
Dude: Yeah. (Points) It’s right there. 10 blocks. You gonna cut that? You should shave your chest too.
Me: No. No way. Secret to my powers.
Dude: Yeah. It’s nice.

The city design of Atlanta would make an urban planner’s head explode. The city was designed by monkeys. Roads aren’t straight/ you can’t see street signs/ no left turn lanes/ no sidewalks/ no walking areas. It’s bad.

I walk a mile. Google lies. There is no Great Clips. It’s a barber shop. I see a guy slinking in. You guys cut hair here? Yeah. Is this the place for me? Yeah, man. Yeah.

Twelve heads turn to me. Five more are getting their hair combed, beards trimmed, heads buzzed. Clippers stop clipping. The five barbers stop in the middle of their jokes. All I hear is a TV in the corner of the barbershop.  ‘Skull & Bones.’ Like the people in the room, all the actors in the kung-fu movie are black.

Fuck it. I sit down and start reading the news on my phone. You know how you want your haircut? I don’t even have to look up to realize the young woman, short and birdlike, is talking to me. It’s on already? 90 seconds have passed and I’m in the barber’s chair. She starts buzzing, the other barbers resume swearing. The boss throws out an alcoholic who pesters me. Yeah. I’m white. There’s a sense of brotherhood here, I feel. My skin is white, my nose is big, and my hair is more African than Kofi Annan. It works. She works at my hair with the buzz buzz of her weapon. I get the best haircut of my life.

When presented with choices, it’s easy to over think the outcome. The mind runs in circles of consequences,walls of impossibilities. Biases and irrational laws of tradition hijack our sense of adventure. We choose the safe road. Anything new and innovative is read dangerously. That’s why, it helps to shut off the left side of the brain sometimes. Logic does not apply in certain cases. Failure to follow can lead to great things. It may lead to loss, but even scars tell a great story.

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the man in burning man – photos+words

The more I asked what Burning Man was like, the more evasive my roommates became. Every discussion culminated with Michael bending his head forward exasperatedly. “Just buy your ticket and GO. Then you’ll get it.”

So I did.

First night we spent in an underground earthship in Cedar Edge. The trip took 17 hours. There were four of us: two beekeepers honey magnets from Longmont, a fifty year old software engineer in a tie-dye tank top + John Locke’s hippie twin, and me, a Burner Virgin with no expectations of what the next nine days would bring.  We arrived at the gates at 2.30, watching the sunrise blank out the stars as the line moved along. I met up with my camp early on, running into them at Center Camp. Amazing.

First some definitions:

BRC

<Black Rock City or BRC> The official name of the land area that holds the festival.
<The Playa> The open space of BRC. Where the Man, the Temple, and art installations live and art cars roam.
<Esplanade> Burning Man is composed of rings, like a giant C. Esplanade is the inner most ring, full of theme caps and sound systems.

Playa dust is magnetized with luck and divine occurence. Manifestation is built right into the alkaline sand. Wish for something and it will come your way. Pancakes and chai tea in the morning, goths in steampunk sidecars, talk ofthe paradigm shift in 2012, a ride back to Boulder. Anything. It will happen.

Picture 15

We camped at 4.30 and J. Next to the veggie disco, the suck ‘n fuck saloon, and the hammock hangout. A guy stood at our intersection during morning bathroom runs, yelling at people on a bullhorn to watch out for the invisible children. “Just killed another one! Please look out! The road is littered with the invisible carcasses of all the invisible children you keep running over. Have a great day!”

Burning Man is more than just a party, even if the event is entirely drug inspired. How can I put this? An alien organism of creations, a psychedelic freak show of fire. The Disneyland Main Street parade on a triple dose of acid that grows more chaotic every day. Always circusy, sometimes sinister,  both spiritual and hallucinatory. There are no words equipped to describe what it’s like to stand frozen in the middle of the playa, spinning 360 degrees, overwhelmed by the lights and fury, the sight of gigantic polar bears, two story steampunk haunted mansions, and dubstep magic carpet rides. (These are the art cars, better named mutant vehicles).

Picture 10

It’s impossible and dishonorable to articulate the synthetic pandemonium, exploding brilliance, 30 foot mindfuck sculptures, the crisscrossing of bike lights against the backdrop of firedom. I’m in the middle of the fucking desert, fucking Nevada, fucking NOWHERE, wondering what portal I just stepped into, and how I can stay here forever.

Even with the frenetics there are those moments where you find yourself completely alone and zapped away from the chaos around you. Riding along in the dirt trails left by others, onto to the the next episode. Dust storms and scraping winds stripping replace masks. The lone venture outward (and thus inward) sinks in gently. The playa is mine – to protect, cherish, and explore.

Picture 9

Then the sun goes down. Flamethrowers light up the sky like vintage artillery. Sound systems come alive to celebrate the lull in heat, the heavy bass telling you what’s up as it shakes the cartilage in your knees. Momentum builds as Black Rock residents come together. Thursday night we raged past dawn, and the streets were empty, silent. It’s as everyone operated on the same schedule.

The night of the man. Our crew dressed all in white. I had been wearing the same clothes for about three days by then, living off of body wipes, Bloody Marys and Clif Bars.  The dust storms were brutal that day; I jumped on the Veggie Disco art car, cruising around the playa in a dust mask and goggles, and even WE had to hold still during a blaring white out. You can’t see 6 feet in front of you. It was bad. But U2 and Michael Jackson held it down. Anyways.

Picture 10

Our crew hunkered down in the blue bus. Levi, Joe, Andrew, KJ, Brooke, Lyndsey, Me. Sanjeev was playing drums by then, shedding past lives by the firedancers. It was like being in Baghdad with a bunch of exhausted, wheezing, playful kids, ready for some fun. The dust soon died down. The bombscare was over. Justice was playing on Drew’s iPod. Camelbaks filled, food packed, glowsticks broken. Goggles on. Let’s get walking.

Art cars surrounded the 40 foot man in a ring of sounds. Heavy on the trance, cutting up it up with the glitch. The boost starts to rise up, as torches set the pyre ablaze. The flames are slow and steady, and it looks like it will take some time. No one there is ready for what happens next. Red and blue and orange and yellow sparks of light explode into the sky, straight up out of the sockets of the man. It was the most amazing pyrotechnics show any of us have ever seen.

Picture 17

The cataclysmic energy seeps up into the sky. The passion is tremendous with the breaking open of the heavens and everything we know instantly shatters as the man bursts into an overwhelming ball of fire none of us can take it our hearts explode further and further, smashed into the fabric of the man in all of us. We are growing, we are dying, we are nothing, we are growing, we are growing, and we are everything all at once.

Picture 18

This is now. This is life. This is living. Breathe this all in. THIS IS HAPPENING ALL THE TIME.
You are not dreaming any of this.  None of it. You are the main character and this is your movie. How will yours play out?

Picture 16

Rise of the Jew Fro

You know how people LOVE their tattoos, but love GETTING tattoos? The  burn of hydrogen peroxide on skin, the smell of ink bubbling underneath, the soothing buzzing sound of the drill…same thing with me and shaving my head. It’s like going to the mikva without having to see a bunch of  old naked Jewish men. (That may sound pleasant to some of you, but I pass on ass) Couple rounds with the clipper and I’m left with millimeters of fuzz surrounding my skull. And I never have that problem of having my hair in my face like the rest of you long-haired losers.

But at some point, we all begin to break.

Male Jews suffer from a disorder. We entertain the idea of growing out our hair and sporting a massive afro.  Expanding our base of hair from three to fourteen inches – thas a good idea. sually brought on by seeing Lenny Kravitz on a cover of Rolling Stone. We take one look in the mirror, glance back at the mag: I CAN DO THIS.

Seth Rogen brought the JewFro back into the public eye, until he got rich and lost weight. Speaking of Rogen, I saw this guy a few weeks ago, at Arlequin Cafe in Hayes Valley. Nice guy. Probably his stuntman.

2009-06-13 17.15.17
I saw him and felt inspired. Could I do it? Would mine look better? Could it look any worse?

After some deliberation, logic won out, and for seventeen dollars, the perfurmed Persian ladies at Supercuts did some damage yesterday.

It looks decent. But I feel like I’m letting the team down. So I compiled some studies of the Afro.

I’d like your input on how to proceed.

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Hippie

THE BURNER

Vegan. Brews his own kombucha. Volunteered at an organic farm in New Zealand, harvesting beets and carrots all summer. Prefers Chacos over Tevas. Swears his rock deodorant works. Don’t get too close. Secretly purchased Soulja Boy ringtones on iTunes.

unity

UNITY

Café junkie / Bus stop preacher. Seeking a Publisher for his indie anthropology fashion zine. Can’t talk to girls but will whoop your ass in speed chess. Heroes: Malcolm X, Kanye, and Willis from Different Strokes.


business

STRICTLY BUSINESS BABY

Afraid of big words. Great at sales calls. Brings in leftover donuts, goes out to lunch with the CEO, leaves work early to hold down the Happy Hour. Currently listening to the Da Vinci Code book on tape. Have you read it? He has questions.

How to Win at Monopoly, when all you have is Baltic Avenue and $800 in fake money.

# 1 Pass and Grab

Buy up everything you can. Properties, utilities, railroads, EVERYTHING. Be an even bigger dick. Put some money on Chance and charge rent when others land on it. Don’t worry about not having enough money in the bank.  It’s early enough in the game that everyone’s still friends at the table. If you DO happen to land on Illinois Avenue and so poor you can’t afford the $24 rent, comp your friend a night stay in return at your place and you’re set.

Monopoly
NOTE: This only works in the at the early stages of the game. 45 minutes in and you’re cracking skulls to get that $6 your friend owes for sleeping in the slums of Baltic Avenue. Fuck him. You’ll need those six dollars when you gotta pay the Man in housing taxes.

# 2 Country Clubs

The other school demands more tact and patience. The prudent player skips half the board, buying property only in the real estate suck zones. A dice roll from Jail, these black holes draw in even expert players, and soon enough everyone’s getting raped at St. James.

These are the same bastards that run the high-end country clubs on Marvin Gardens & Ventnor Avenue. Less pricey than Pennsylvania Avenue, with a high mortgage, land on hotels here and you’re finished. If you manage to grab the orange, yellow, and red, you’ve got a bigger head than Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood.
Picture 7

But not all places are terrible. There is one place that offers safety, relaxation, and peace of mind. And it’s not Free Parking.

It’s Jail.

After a few trips around the board, ruthless speculation, and nonstop construction, getting incarcerated is the sweetest thing next to finding two Red Starbursts in a row. The streets aren’t safe to wander, and going to prison is the best thing that could happen to you. Smoke a cigarette, watch others sweat over Luxury Tax, practice dice – once you’re rehabilitated, pay your debt to society with only 50 bucks.

You could even write a book your experiences or lay some tracks and put out an album about your experiences. Hitler wrote Mein Kampf in prison. It only led to bigger and better things for him. (It fucked over everyone else, but hey, this is YOUR game)

jail baby

The final school of thought, which is more of a strategy pursued by retards, is to buy up only railroads and utilities, and ignore everything else. The max you’re cleaning up is $200, (that’s if you own all FOUR) so this strategy is not recommended. Unless, you’re playing with actual real-estate agents, who will draw up contracts and cut deals in order to prolong the game even further.

douche bags

In that case, put down the boxcar or thimble you’re playing with. (The thimble is choice – it’s fun to hold and provides ample distraction when that asshole to your right has to count his money after every turn), Hand your cash back to the Banker and get a new set of friends.

In my experience, Country Clubs usually wins. Unless, I’ll-Buy-Everything-I-Land-On has enough money and brains to monopolize the light blues early on. (that’s the one with Vermont Ave) That requires passing GO! Minimum 4 times, coming up big in the Community Chest, and replenishing funds at Free Parking to build some houses. It’s tough no doubt, but do that and everyone’s asking you for favors.

That’s it! Next week we’ll discuss the love triangle between April O’Neil – Michelangelo – Raphael. I personally believe April is totes asexual, but journalism comes before sexual preference. And you know damned well she’d fuck a mutant turtle for a front-page story.

Caffeine, you kill me.

Congratulations to my friend Jacob Shwirtz for getting engaged to Nicole, a girl I never met but I’m sure is dandy like candy! Lots of mazal. I hope you buy a new, bigger Television! And big ups on launching his company’s website: DEFINITELY SOMETHING

I went hiking last Sunday with Ryan C. and Kevin Freeman. We left with high spirits and plenty of sun in our eyes, and returned with new covalent bonds and POISON IVY on my right leg. Hydrocortisone is working it’s magic, and it’s looking a lot better now that the pus has stopped oozing out.

I highly recommend Satin Floss for all your flossing needs.

My portfolio for school is online. Have you seen the other website? www.digitalyogurt.com Bookmark that shit like, hella quick / cause I’m updating that shit / and I spare no wit.

It’s becoming more and more likely that I’m leaving this city in the next two months, and samsoniting it away to another city for school. Miami ad school has a quarter away program, and I’m shooting for the Congo.

But the best news? A few weeks ago I wrote and produced a :50 radio spot for Chipotle burritos. A letter arrived today, courtesy of the mail service person, containing not one, not two, but FOUR GIFT CERTIFICATES to Chipotle! 12 hours of work, and I’m eating again.

I’m quitting coffee. The poisons on my leg, the scratching, the suffering – were pacified by a Double D Dose of OTC Benadryl. I didn’t feel that groggy waking up, but counteracted any hesitation with a medium Peet’s coffee. There I was, sitting on the brown leather couch, when my hands were convulsing. I started focusing on them, then letting go, watching them quiver like a 5 year old who needs to make pee pee at Disneyland. I took an Advil and somehow that made everything worse – judging by my partner’s reactions, I needed to get out: so I booked it outside and ran to a supermarket. I called Varda Small, licensed mother and psychoanalyst, thinking it would help. It did. Sort of. What actually did help? Pretending I was living in slow motion. SLOW. DOWN. Caffeine, you kill me. And now, I’ve decided, to cut down down down on the coffee coffee coffee. Who needs it?

Stories in 4 Words

I’ve been kicking myself in the head recently, feeling frustrated with the level of my work.  I write ads that sound like ads. My headlines sounds like sleazy sales pitches – there’s no story. The nice part is that I’m no longer in denial, and being conscious of my weakness only toughens my self-editing filter for crap. Still. It takes work to boil down words into something interesting. Focusing on a specific product, like Floss or the San Diego Zoo, complicates things only further.

So I came up with an exercise that yielded a lot of interesting lines.

The challenge is to write a 4 word story – something that conjures up a visual image, a story, a beginning, a middle, and maybe an end. Here are the results. If any of these make you laugh or think, then do a shoulder dance and go eat some chocolate. Write your own in the comments, should you get inspired.

  • Covered in Sharpie. Everywhere.
  • Fuck you. You’re grounded.
  • She’s still sinking, Sir.
  • They also took your dog.
  • Your ACL is destroyed.
  • The plumber didn’t answer.
  • My God loves you.
  • I’ve got till noon.
  • Let me touch it.
  • It’s fucked. You’re fucked.
  • Not Guilty. Jesus Christ.
  • Your dad looks high.
  • The rabbi molested me.
  • She just stopped breathing.
  • We’re moving back in.
  • Killed by Disco.
  • I’m pregnant. You’re thirteen.
  • Did you swallow it?
  • Don’t invite the Canadians.
  • The drugs started working.
  • I’m keeping the penthouse.
  • She removed everything. Everything.