it takes all sorts

The drive up I80 wasn’t very pleasant, so we stopped overnight at the Peppermill in Reno. Our room looked like the set of a porn film, all turqoise and lavender velour, chrome and mirrors, with low lighting and a shiny black jacuzzi. Claire loved it. As we were leaving, Jeremy saw a woman gesture towards the video poker machines and say, with great joy: “It’s my birthday and this is my favourite place!”

We exchanged wry glances. Mind you, she probably finds our favourite place equally insane. It was hot, it was dusty and the altitude always makes me queasy and miserable for the first few hours, but Black Rock City still makes my heart glad.

If nothing else, it’s very funny. Moby Dick chases the Spanish galleon La Contessa across the dry lake bed. Reverent participants hold ceremonies in the sacred center of a giant pissoir. Paul C went to the portapotties and was surprised by an orderly queue. “Where did this order come from?” he demanded.

“From chaos!” someone replied, quick as a whip.

Paul became despondent: “Chaos is breaking down,” he said.

We imagined the effects of reverse entropy, works of art rising from the flames, seventeen resurrected Men striding across the desert towards Gerlach.

For some reason, my happiest moment is invariably at dusk on Friday: last year’s insanely overdone sunset, space junk falling over DJ Christ Superstar, the cocktail party at Spiral Oasis the first year we went. This year, ten Moonbasers carried our 28-foot bamboo dome, festooned with LEDs, out onto the playa, as my brother’s iPod played the Underground Lovers: Is this your idea, is this your idea of a holiday?

Well, yes, as a matter of fact, it is.

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