Thursday, April 28, 2016

africa burnt...

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I had planned to write a blog about “gym walks”, but what with AfrikaBurn underway and so much being said about it on social media, I couldn’t resist the urge to “get involved” myself. In truth, the mere idea of the event has been filling me with a growing feeling of annoyance that I can only liken to an untreated STD – you know it’s there and it bothers you but you can’t talk to anyone about it. However, on reading Kurt Seigfried’s colourful and wonderful rant, I feel as if I am no longer alone and therefore safe enough to “express” how I really feel.

To be clear from the start: I haven’t been to Afrika Burn so everything I know is wholey based on what people – people who have actually gone - have said. So guys: no judgement. Don’t fire back at me because this is about me and my issues, not about you and, um, yours.

By all accounts, it sounds like AfrikaBurn is an event that is short on venue and long on attitude. A dusty festival of druggery, fuckery and white-neckery. What is wrong with druggery, fuckery and white-neckery I hear you ask? Well, nothing actually. And as my dad would say, if that’s your thing, bully for you. Except I can’t help but feel that if it IS your thing, you should state quite clearly that it is. You could say something like,

“I’m off for some druggery, fuckery and white-neckery” in the desert for the week”.

And then, your family and friends could say something like,

“Awesome. Have a wonderful time! See you next Tuesday.”

That way, there would be no confusion about what your intentions are. Because, despite the honourably conceived principles that underpin the event, most people are there for the aforementioned activities, and the “gifting”, “self expression” and all those other admirable things, are peripheral to the real experience.

But let’s back up a little and give deserts, druggery, fuckery and white-neckery some due diligence.

Deserts. I do like them. A little. But mostly I like them far away from me and not when I’m in them. Also, I like deserts a whole lot more when they have a lot more grass, a big lake, perhaps a stream or two, and a ton of trees. Guys, deserts are overrated. There’s a reason bedouin’s are nomads. They’re trying to find their way out!

Drugs. No problem with them. Not at all. Except that I, for one, like my drugs the way that God intended them to be taken. Prescribed and predictable. Also, the concept of “recreational drugs” and “decommodification” somehow don’t go hand in hand. After all, we can only assume that all the E and coke that has been purchased to aid “self-expression” has been “bought”, and not “gifted”. Of course, the fact that these drugs have entered the “Burn” through unconventional, black-market avenues might be of some comfort to those “burners” who don’t want to make big corporations rich. But personally speaking, I like my drugs utterly tested. And no, I don’t care that I’m making pharmaceutical companies rich or that my hard-earned buck is sending their sales force to the Seychelles. When I need drugs because I’m sick, I call on Cipla, not my local dealer, to help me out.

Also, if drug-talk is to be believed, ummm… how to but this gently ….  Apparently, drug users have an inconvenient reaction prior to “dropping” their stuff, and that is…they need to poop. Now, under normal circumstances, pooing is no problem. However, given that AfrikaBurn has limited loos (which are located roughly 7km away from where your urge happens), I can only assume that after a few days of reactionary-pooping a bit of a, um, buildup occurs. The lack of lavs (amongst other important things) is hilariously alluded to by the very funny Susan Hayden of discopants blog. Indeed, I feel such a kinship with her after reading her piece that I want to dash over to her house, cuddle with her on the couch and say  “Isn’t this great. Just you and me, fully clothed, in not-a-desert, and with tea and a loo close by”.

Those folk who know me will probably say that I’m being all grinchy about AfrikaBurn because I’m not hot enough to show myself off. And they would be partly right. When asked if I will be joining in the revelry, my standard retort has been “No. Because if I go, I want to be the hot-chick wearing nothing but gold lamé hotpants and a crocheted bikini top, and since I’m not that girl, I’m not going”. Given that the event is held in a hot desert and that I have the opposite of a thigh-gap, my only option would be to wear gold lamé leggings (to avoid chafe, you understand), which would leave me looking like a tubby, trunk-legged minion that never got into the movie.

But let’s get to the fuckery. Fuckery in the desert doesn’t work for me. It’s a very dry environment guys, and heaven only knows how the sales in KY jelly must have spiked over the last few days (see: “decommodification”). Coupled with a severe lack of ablutions (see “wet wipes purchases” and “decomodification”), screwing in the desert just sounds like a UTI waiting to happen. Not only that, but I think I’m not alone when I say that 5 days of not showering is just not sexy. Also, I can’t lie. If I went I’d want to seem like a person who is all “fun-and-up-for-anything” whilst in truth, I’d be the “touch-me-and-I’ll-stab-you-in-the-eye” person”.

Sex in the desert reminds me of the story of when Exotica met her husband for the first time. One of his first questions to her (obviously a deal-maker or –breaker) was, “Would you prefer to sleep in a cave or a hotel”. I’m afraid to say that, crushed by the weight of such a loaded question and by the need to seem “cool”, I would have be compelled to answer “cave”, only to scream out on my fourth cave-date: “I like hotels! I like hotels and showers and soft beds and not-caves. There. I’ve said it.” Because, as most people know, camping (in caves or otherwise) is like blow-jobs. You say you like it at first to impress people but then eventually you just have to be honest about it.

And what do I mean by white-neckery. AfrikaBurn is not cheap. Tickets are over R1000 apiece and that’s before you’ve fired up your ol’ SUV to get there. Add to that, the price of your outfit/s, the cost of your drugs, the petrol to get there, the milk-thistle and ibruprofen to recover, the food, the drinks, the wet-wipes (did I already mention wet-wipes?) and you have a pretty packet. Radical inclusion se gat. There’s a whole bunch of folk that can’t afford the ticket, let alone all the other paraphernalia that helps you be “self-reliant” and “self-expressive”. And don’t even get me going on the environmental footprint of the event. I think The Cooling Man has made his point.

As for gifting. Why just for one week? Why not “decommodify” in real life and offer your services for free for a week to, oh hell, I don’t know, people who actually could do with a gift or two?

By the way, the concept of “gifting” is pretty much the same as “commodification”. Here’s why. Way back when, some guy had some chickens. Then, because he was feeling kind (or perhaps one chicken was troublesome), he “gifted” a chicken to a friend. However, after a while, the guy who was getting all the chickens said,

“Thanks for the chicken, but you know what I really need? I really need a goat.”

And then, the other guy said,

“OK, I’ll ‘gift’ you a goat but I really need a pig. If I give you one of my goats, will you give me one of your pigs?”

And then, after a whole nother while, one guy had enough chickens and enough pigs and enough goats and needed something he could save for a rainy day. So, he said to the other guy,

“You know what, I have enough pigs, goats and chickens for now, and what I’d really like is to have something I don’t have to feed. If I give you a pig, will you give me some of that shiny, heavy, metal stuff?”

And the other guy said,

“Ja, OK”.

And so, “gifting” became ‘trading” which is “commodification”. Same-same but different.

Last but not least, lets chat “self-expression”. Presumably, this relates to druggery, fuckery and white-neckery. I could be wrong, but as far as I know there is no rule-book that say’s you can’t self-express every day, any day, and everywhere. I’m not sure why you have to go into the desert to be different just so that you can be the same? Any clarification on this point would be hugely useful. Also, as far as self-expression goes, I find it slightly cheeky that you are “allowed” to take pictures at AfrikaBurn but you are not allowed to “use” them for anything other than personal use. Umm, did I miss something? Surely self-expression includes being able to pretty much do as you please so long as you’re not harming anyone?

Anyhoo, perhaps next year I will also be a “burner” (yes, the very word is like nails on a chalk-board to me). Perhaps I will don that outfit and have to eat a big slice of humble pie when I have a rip-roaring, fiery jol. But till then, the only thing I will be burning is the dinner. As usual.

P.S. And for the love of sweet cheeses, can we pleeeeeeease also stop spelling Africa with a “K” in it.

Dr. Seuss inspired "Ode to Africa Burn"
I will not burn
I will not hug
I will not take
Your fucking drug
I will not “gift”
I will not “shift”
I will not sniff
The shit you sift
I will not poo
I will not screw
I will not in
The desert spew
I will not “art”
I will not “install”
I will not pretend
I’m “different” at all
You can take your burn
And all its gas
And kiss my lily-white
Abundant ass

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