adventure, Android Jones, art, art festival, Backpacker, Backpacking, blackrock, blackrock city, BM2015, BRC2015, Burner, burning man, burning man 2015, carnival of mirrors, conclave, death guild, Deathguild, deathguild thunderdome, dust storm, El pulpo Mecanico, Festival, Fire, Fire Arts, flaming lotus girls, mayor monday, photography, Ranger, reddit, reddit meet up, Road trip, serpent mother, Thunderdome, Travel, traveling, white out
My last few days in Boulder were spent gathering supplies for the biggest venture of the trip; the Blackrock desert and the city that buds within!
Burning Man 2015 was on the horizon. The desert happening has brought so much change, so many people, so many events and learning into my life just through its influence, yet I never experienced it myself, I’ve never journey out there. Until now.
The drive from Boulder was significant, (considering we had just driven from New Jersey to Denver it wasn’t THAT long) but still something to contend with. 18 hours of more cornfields and emptiness, although come Utah, the landscape finally started to change.
Finally we arrived, and by arrived I mean we made the last turn out of civilization. No more stores/gas/stops outside of a tiny little town a ways away. We got maybe five minutes down the road before we hit the back of the line. I’ve heard stories about the gates taking upwards of six hours, so I pretty much knew we would be greeted with brake lights.
The combination of a car accident, gate pulsing, and 70,000 people trying to get into the same place at once left us on the road for most the day. We made the best of it, all part of the overall experience, right? The crowded cars soon expelled their humans and the roadside pre-parties started popping up. Every time the caravan started moving the crowd would scurry away toward their cars, only to reemerge a few minutes up the road.
TWELVE hours later….
Exhausted, disgruntled, and hungry, we dropped out things in the sand and dust, and set up camp in the darkness. As much as we wanted to explore, the bed was much more inviting. After my years of local burns I’ve learned that pacing is absolutely key. Don’t burn yourself out on day 1, because you’ve got way more to do! And so, we face planted into our mattresses and passed out.
Now, before I get into this, let me preface by saying this:
One of the greatest challenges I faced after returning from Peru was trying to find the words to fully encompass everything I had experienced, especially to my eager friends/family who wanted to hear every detail. My ayahuasca ceremonies just felt lacking when I tried to attached words to them, so empty for such a powerful and life changing experience. I tried to put things down on this blog, I really tried, but I still did them no justice. Here I find myself again trying to find the words to describe Burning Man.
So instead of forcing my numerous experiences into hollow casings, I’ve decided to just let my pictures tell the tale. I’ll review some highlights, but I’ll leave this entry mostly to the pictures.
Unfortunately, my camera took a serious dive and the focus/lens never recovered (and my phone ended up breaking on the drive in! Lesson in being present much?!? ) Please excuse my blurry photos, but I hope you enjoy them all the same.
The Temple of Promise
The temple is always one of my favorite places at the local burns, but finally seeing the grand scale of The Temple of Promise was like a tragic dream come true. The Temple warps in shape every year, and means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but the respect for the structure seems to be universal. Nestled away from the high energy radiating through the rest of the desert, the Temple is where one goes to let go, to mourn, to grieve, to pray, to reflect, to forgive, to express whatever it is they need to express (before it all goes up in flames on the final night).
The walls may be made out of wood, but the structure itself is infused with so much raw emotion that it’s a challenge to step inside and remain untouched. I made it a few steps passed the threshold before my eyes started to well up with tears. The stillness is the first thing I noticed. In a work of art filled to the brim with people, only silence and the occasional whimper, cry, or whisper filled the air. Along the walls, writing utensils hung freely for those who had something to add to the walls. Messages were written, pictures of loved ones hung, whatever it was you wanted to express, the Temple is the place to do it.
With tears streaming down her face, I watched from afar as an older woman wrote a message to her mother who had passed away recently, finally saying the things she never got to say in life. Behind me was a scathing message written by a woman to the man who had brutally raped her in the past. On the bench next to me, a man sat in quiet meditation, holding a picture of a young child. Stories of love, hate, encouragement, loss, sadness…I could go on. Everywhere. Every story, every makeshift shrine was different, but each one was laced with powerful emotion.
I wrote my own message, a personal something to myself, and I silently cried my damn eyes out…
-Write in the Temple of Promise
Wednesday some dear friends arrived at camp. For any long time readers, you may recognize them from one of my very first entries. We unloaded their car, helped em setup and made our way back to the playa.
The DeathGuild’s Thunderdome was my kinda place. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the house music, the burners and all the oneness with the universe and what not, but the Thunderdome stole my heart. Hard rock/industrial, people fighting, girls in revealing black leather and the guys suited up in some badass wasteland armor! When I arrived they were blasting some of my favorite songs by Manson, Rammstein, and Mindless Self Indulgence. MSI on the Playa!?!? I loveeeee my MSI!!!
The goth kid in me came out in full force! I found myself at the top of the Dome, shouting for the combatants to tear each other apart many, many times throughout my week.
Warning – The video has strong language and sexy people in black leather NSFW
I love you Thunderdome!!
Finally see the Thunderdome in person
The Serpent Mother
Created by the Flaming Lotus Girls, this monstrosity of fire and metal has earned its place high on my list of all time favorites. I’ve seen a lot of fire performances and fire art, but this was…this was something else. The serpent writhed back and forth in the sand, lifting her head and opening a mouth lined with flaming daggers. The metal body of the serpent gleamed in the night, illuminated by the the plumes of fire hissing from each one of her segments. Within her coil, the Mother protectively wrapped her flaming tail around a massive copper egg.
I stood within the Serpent’s grasp, surrounded on all sides by the roar and heat of the fire until the crowd was ushered a safe distance away. A safe distance from what? I wasn’t sure, but I was about to find out.
With all the flammable humans at a safe distance away, the egg she so carefully guarded over, bloomed like a lotus. The hatching egg remained quiet, until a hiss louder than anything its Mother had produced up until then, came screaming out of the top of the egg. What burst forth was a plume of fire unlike I’ve ever seen before. One, then two, then three at once. These spires, these spears, these swords of fire tore through the sky, spouting flames of nearly 50 feet. The bright red flames bled into a blinding orange, then to a burning emerald green.
This was something to behold, truly. Words do little justice…
Radical self reliance is high on the list of Burning Man principles. You must bring everything you need to survive, and you must be capable of surviving in the first place. This is definitely not just some music festival (much to the disappointment of some girls I found sobbing in a dust storm, complaining about how terrible everything was and it was nothing like they thought). As fun as it all is, if you’re not prepared, you’re in for a world of trouble. Of course people won’t let you die, but you should do you best to not be a burden for anyone else. Whether it’s food, water, or weather, be prepared. And we had quite a bit of weather…
The white outs are a common occurrence out on the playa. Huge dust storms that blow in and drop visibility to zero in a matter of seconds. I prayed I’d get to experience one, and I think I prayed a little too hard! As my friends said, the intensity and frequency of the white outs was the worst it had been in a handful of years. Structures fell, tents were destroyed, I watched people smash their bikes into one another when their sight had disappeared.
For the first day or two I really tried to keep the dust out of my tent, but by the third day I realized how futile the battle was. Falling asleep and waking up in INCHES of playa dust took some getting used to but, hey, I enjoyed it. How comfortable does one need to be anyway?!
The art, the structures, the builds were all so beautiful to experience. But like all things, nothing is permanent. Everything must burn…
In Conclusion, Burning Man was as incredible as I thought it would be. I got to spend it with some of my favorite people, got to see some of the art I’ve only seen in pictures, and now I’ve got a ton of stories to tell! Like I said, words do little justice, and as much as I did the entire week, I still missed so much more! This is but a glimpse!
But it wasn’t all fun and positivity, unfortunately I’m coming away with a few regrets. Regrets due to a symptom of a larger internal issue. Under the microscope of a the big burn, it’s easy to see such things. Now, to fix it. Things to work on.
Always evolving right?
Regrets aside, this was truly one of the favorite experiences of my life.
Dance on an Art Car -View the best fireworks display I’ve ever seen in my life when the man burned Live in the desert for a week -Finally see El Pulpo Mecanico -Spend time with my Philly friends at BM2015 -Sit in for many BM workshops -See Android Jones’ work in person -Finally make it to Burning man!!!! Burning Man 2015: Carnival Of Mirrors!!
Cheers to the possibility of Burning Man 2016!!
Brooklyn, Chantal claret, concert, DDR, Frankenstein Girls Will Seem Strangely Sexy, If, Jimmy Urine, Julien-k, Kitty, LynZ, Mindless Self Indulgence, MSI, Never wanted to dance, New York, NY, Orgy, photography, Steve Righ?, Terminal 5, The Birthday Massacre, The End Records, Tight, Travel, You'll rebel to anything
“Congratulations! You’re getting this e-mail because you’ve been selected out of hundreds of submissions participate in our MSI music video shoot.
Please confirm (respond to this e-mail) with a simple “YES” or “NO” in the subject line so that we can know to expect you. If you can’t make it, we’re not gonna be pissed, we just need to know how many additional people to bring in for the video. Cool? Cool.”
This was the email I found awaiting me after a long night of partying. I wasn’t completely sober so I wasn’t sure if I was reading that correctly, but if this was saying what I thought it was saying, I needed to send back a YES immediately.
MSI has been one of the only bands I consistently keep up with since their first album in 1999. They were, and honestly still are, one of the very few bands I even cared about. There was no way I was going to miss out on this!
By the time I made it into Brooklyn studio the building teeming with people, inside and out. Trucks, equipment, cameras, bodies were scurrying around, gravitating around an alleyway lit up by purple spotlights. This was clearly where the video was planned to take place.
Before that though I was ushered inside the studio and led to a room with the other extras. We were supposed to wait inside and mingle (which I did) but I also took some time to slip out to snap some pictures.
I met some pretty awesome people while we waited for instruction. In the meantime the show runners gave us some MSI merch to keep us busy.
Make some friends I still talk to even to this day!
Once the preparations were complete and the sun went down, we were once again escorted, this time to the alley, now glowing and pulsing with life within the darkness. We filmed all night, bringing to life an idea that Jimmy got while on tour. (He would later tell the story about these “underground DDR” illegal rave like tournaments and thought it would make for a good video).
Our only job was to dance and look excited, both of which I could do without any real instruction.
Much to the dismay of everyone, the sun started to rise, putting the night scene of the video in jeopardy. Thankfully we were almost done.
Fun fact: The director approached me and one of the girls in private and asked us if we were up for a scene of our own. Hell. Yes. We were tasked with the opener of the video itself, sneaking through the darkness to hang up the “If” poster on the entrance to the alley. Unfortunately the scene didn’t make the final cut, there is a quick cut of my hand, but damn it was still so awesome to be a part of it! I’m STILL hyped when I think about it!
I got a pretty sweet headshot at 53s in!
With the video complete, we all disappeared into the morning sun with plans to meet back up the following weekend for the concert.
The entire night was just phenomenal: Julien-K and The Birthday Massacre opened with killer sets, followed, of course, by Mindless Self Indulgence with all the things you expect from one of their concerts. For me and for the others, we were hyped up on more than just the music. We felt like we were a part of the experience now.
First concert I learned I could smuggle sharpies in my afro
We danced and sang the night away until the lights flicked on and the venue started to clear out. It was around then that I saw a few familiar faces from the video shoot and went over to have a bit of a chat. The director, a few of the photographers, some of the crew, and of course, Jimmy, Kitty, Steve Righ? and Lyn-Z.
See MSI in New York
Be an extra in a music video
Meet Mindless Self Indulgence for the very first time
An unexpected email landed in my inbox while I did my morning interneting. It was from a friend of mine, a good guy who I haven’t had much contact with lately besides the usual Facebook banter. He had a friend, Terry Gotham looking for a photographer for an upcoming concert and wanted to know if I was available.
Now, my equipment isn’t cutting edge by any means so I was a little bit hesitant, but he assured me that what I had was perfectly fine. I agreed.
Who would I be shooting? The Glitch Mob.
I’ve been a casual listener to The Glitch Mob, but not a die hard fan by any means. I’ve got a couple favorites by them though I haven’t really kept up on their latest happenings. This concert was part of their new album tour. Next stop, Philadelphia.
Day of, I find myself outside The Electric Factory.
After a bit of a mix up at the box office, the woman behind the glass confirmed my information and handed me the press badge.
I’ve been to the venue numerous times but I spend my first hour wandering around, casing the place for the best spots to get my shots.
The opening acts weren’t even on and the place was already completely packed. Getting some good shots may have proven difficult with the crowd, but according the lady who handed me my press pass, photographers were allowed to stay in the pit for two songs before access was cut off. Perfect!
The opening acts/DJs were pretty satisfying. Good visuals and good beats that had the growing crowd bouncing. I tucked my camera and made my way to the front, dodging the mass of flying limbs and elbows just waiting to send my camera flying. The downsides of being a short photographer…
The lights dimmed. The crowd exploded in screams. The Glitch Mob had taken to the stage.
Now, as soon as I entered the venue I was stared with curiosity at the hastily covered somethings that were on stage. Instruments? Na, The Glitch Mob isn’t instrumental…are they? I really didn’t know. Perhaps this was a DJ/live performance mashup? This tour was highlighting something new to their on stage performance, but what was it? The mystery remained.
When the cloth was finally removed, there stood three very sci-fi-esque looking MIDI controllers flanked by giant drums that looked more like jet engines. Code named “The Blade” The Glitch Mob had finally unveiled their one of a kind, custom built musical machine.
As the performance began, the visuals slithered up the stage, up the drums (they were fitted with screens as well) and landed on a giant projection screen behind the group.
Their first notes left the building shaking and set the crowd absolutely rabid. The sound was just incredible. They had the audience captivated from the moment they stepped on stage and they never let up for a second. I have never experienced a live performance with so much passion.
As I said earlier, I wasn’t really a big Glitch Mob fan, but after this performance? This was easily one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. Their new album was hard hitting and the live performance had an energy to it that I rarely see. The mix of the drums with the visuals, and the on stage presence was just stunning to watch.
If I wasn’t a big fan before, I was now. I just couldn’t stop myself from talking about what I had just experienced. I went home and bought the album that night.
That said, I leave you with a glimpse of the performance for yourself
A big thank you to Tarik and Terry Gotham for having me out!
See The Glitch Mob Live Photograph The Glitch Mob
anime, Comic-con, Comiccon, con, Convention, Cosplay, costume, Edward Scissorhands, Emma Pickles, Halloween, Halloween ideas, Makeup, Nightmare before christmas, outfit, Party, Philadelphia, Philly, photography, rave, Tim Burton
Rewind to October 30th. I’m at an absolute loss for what I can possibly throw together for a fitting costume. The big Halloween, costumes mandatory, party was on the 31st.
What could I be? What could I be?!
I searched in internet and scanned through my movie collection. Nothing was really giving me that desire to create, to embody and become. Frustration was setting in, because I had to come up with something and time was extremely short.
In a huff, I fell onto the couch and flicked on the TV. Defeated. I used to costume a lot, but lately I just wasn’t feeling the same motivation to go all out. It was then, in the depths of my firstworldproblem, that one of my favorite movies appeared on the TV. Edward Scissorhands.
I watched the scene where he’s giving the neighbor dogs haircuts and commented to myself, thinking “hey I bet my hair could look like that if I straightened some of it”. I took an iron to a few strands and saw the potential. “This could be a it!”
I didn’t have the means or the time to make his full black leather/metal, but I DID have a white shirt and grey pants to mimic his suburban camouflage. Test!
Not bad! I could run with this, and even better, I WANTED to run with this! I enlisted the help of my brother’s fiance to do my makeup since she did an incredible job last year with my sugar skull and that was that.
With a little guidance from Youtube’s Emma Pickles and her fantastic makeup tutorial, I went under the brush.
It was creepily coming together! I really wanted to make some proper scissor hands, but I was already running late. The ol’ tin foil would have to do.
Success! It honestly came out way better than I had imagined, especially for a decision made the night before. My friends absolutely loved it too. With more time, I’d love to do the full body for a convention or something.
– Become a convincing Edward Scissorhands
Andy C, breaks, Creamfields, dance, DnB, Drum and Bass, EDC, EDM, Electro, Electronic music, Global Gathering, Jungle, Mighty Mike Saga, Party, Philadelphia, Philly, RAM, RAM records, rave, Subfocus, Ultra, Ultra Music Festival
Many years ago, when I was still a budding teenager poking around on Napster and getting teased for listening to “techno”, I stumbled onto a genre of music I had never heard before. This wasn’t the steady beats of House, or Trance, like the rest of my music library, this was something completely different. This was hard hitting, the tempo was incredibly high, it made me want to dance, and dance for hours at that. It was called Drum and Bass. And the DJ’s name, Andy C, flashed on the track list. Yet another incredible DJ from across the pond.
Fast forward to today, my music taste has changed and evolved in every different direction, but Andy C is still one of my top DJs when it comes to DnB. There are also very few artists/bands/DJs that I have a desire to see live, Andy C was one of them. One day I’d see him. One day!
As the electronic music scene started to grow exponentially in the US , the dream of seeing Andy C, in a local setting, that wasn’t thousands of people deep, was becoming less and less of a reality. Ultra Music Festival, where he regularly attends in Miami, jumped in attendance from the lowest at 30,000 to 330,000 over the years…
…so when I saw Andy C performing at a venue literally 30 minutes from me, with a ticket price of $15, I was absolutely taken back.
Andy C? Like, THE Andy C? Can’t be. Tickets were dirt cheap and the venue held a couple hundred at the maximum. Was it a DJ set? Some guy up there playing his tracks? Cause it couldn’t be the REAL guy. This was the same DJ hosting crowds in the tens of thousands. DJing all around the world at stages like Creamfields, Ultra, EDC, Global Gathering, etc.
Could it really be him?! Just how trustworthy was this sign out front of the venue…?
The opening DJs did their thing, my man Mighty Mike Saga was once again opening for an evening of legend (MSI, Sisen, etc). So far so good, but despite the full venue, I was still curious about the headliner. Friends assured me that it was definitely happening, the man was in the building, but I remained hesitant…
…that was until he took to the stage.
That feeling when a dream fuses into reality? Hello again.
True enough, the man stood behind the decks, literally an arms length away.
It’s been a very long time since I threw down that hard at a party, but this was absolutely the time for it. The energy was insane in there. People went absolutely berserk, and I dare say I was one of them.
He dropped so many fantastic tracks from over the years, each one better than the last. Each one was a notch in the history of his music for me. The lights flicked on even though everyone was still dancing hard, so Andy C dropped one more proper track before ending the night.
There are very few times when I’m the guy security hates, but this was absolutely one of them. “Time to go!” they shouted as they started funneling people out the door. “I said it’s time to LEAVE!” he barked as he set his eyes on me. “Yeahhh, about that….” I thought to myself. Comply or deny? This was was my one chance…
…I hastily made up some lie, saying I was with the photographer and that I was leaving as soon as I gathered my things. It worked.
I slipped through the crowd, made my way around the stage JUST as Andy C was coming off, I couldn’t have timed it any better. There we were, the man and I face to face. I tried to keep it professional and not go into full rabid fan mode (which has only happened once, sorry Emilie Simon!), but I could feel myself smiling like an idiot.
I managed to grab a friend of mine, who was actually photographing the evening and she snapped this picture. I’m derping so hard, but I love this photo. I have a small collection of pictures that make me smile ear to ear, this one was definitely added to that list.
ANDY C!!!! Yes!!!!
-FINALLY see Andy C live! -Meet Andy C after his set
I’ve been trying to go ice skating for the majority of winter this year but, for one reason or another, plans never seemed to worked out. With the skating season quickly running out of days, I vowed to make it happen.
I’d find deliverance from Uwishunu.com, a brilliant site that highlights a large portion of the “happenings” in the city. They were hosting an event on the ice, and tickets were free as long as you RSVP’d on their page. Can’t beat free entry, free skate rental, free hand warmers, free entry for a RETURN visit, and free drink tickets! My RSVP was absolutely given right then and there!
Day of, I found myself walking quickly through the wind tunnel that was the city center. The winter air wasn’t too bad despite the temperature being around 7F, but I had a friend already waiting for me at the venue and I didn’t want to keep her out in the cold. One more block before I turned the corner and scanned the check-in area for that familiar face. Kristina, I hadn’t seen her since August (Birthday Sunrise Entry: Coming Soon). Time doing that escaping thing again….*sigh*
She’d find me actually, and with a hug, we made our way inside to grab some skates.
We took to the ice at a slow pace, but before too long we were doing some hasty laps around the rink. Rocking out to all the hits, Backstreet Boys included, hah! (last time we hung out she was bumping the Backstreet Boys CD while we cruised along the seaside).
Its been a while since I was on skates, so I opted not to bring my camera in fears of breaking it. (Pictures are from Google)
We stayed on the ice for a good while before we hopped off to cash in our drink tickets at the corner cafe. One round of hot chocolates, a seat by the window, and some good conversation.
The night was only a few hours, but I really enjoyed catching up and doing something new with someone new.
-Ice Skate at the Center City rink in Philadelphia
We let out a sigh of relief as the border disappeared from sight (with no FBI agents driving black SUVs in hot pursuit).
Enter the United States. Hello again.
North Dakota. How would I describe North Dakota? It was…nice? Flat. Green. Empty. Lots of farms and tiny planes flying everywhere, dusting their fields.
Not much for people, more cows and livestock than anything else. A couple houses here and there, complete with rocking chairs and grain silos.
And lots of bugs
We made good time, though our speed fluctuated as we got used to driving in MPH again.
The trip had been pretty flawless, minus the car breaking down a couple times and the border agents, but with our finish line almost in sight, we were……..SHIT! Almost right on cue with our conversation about DWB, a cop sped passed us coming from the other direction.
We pressed our faces into the rear view mirrors, watching the cop as we held our breath. We were clearly speeding so our only chance was for the cop to just turn a blind eye to it.
“Don’t U-turn! Don’t U-turn!” we chanted, hoping he would disappear under the horizon.
Unfortunately for us, the cop slows down and makes the dreaded turn, lights ablaze. We’re not even in the states for an hour and we get pulled over!
At least the cop was nice about it. And a $35 dollar speeding ticket? That was a welcome surprise. I get parking tickets for more than that!
-Get pulled over in North Dakota -Drive through North Dakota
Back on the road (paying close attention to the speed limit this time). No longer days, HOURS until our final destination.
6 hours remained. Then 4, then 2, then 1.
Drive into Minnesota
The expressway turned to residential roads and our finish line was the apartment complex in the distance. With a final right turn, we pulled into the lot and parked, marking the end to our journey.
The car let out what sounded like a long, deep sigh of relief as we stepped out and took in the surroundings. Victory!!! We did it!
-Drive from Fairbanks, Alaska to St. Paul, Minnesota. Venture through the Yukon, through nature reserves, through numerous Canadian towns and through the plains of North Dakota, with our eventual destination lying in Minnesota.
^Be sure to click this one, look how much earth that is! I’m quite impressed.
The drive was over, but not the trip entirely. No, no, no. Inside that apartment complex was a dear friend of mine, who I’ve known for years but never had the pleasure of actually meeting face to face. Inside she waited, unaware that we had arrived.
The drive was finished, but the week in Minnesota was just beginning.
Let’s go find her…
We packed in the darkness and left Banff while the sun was still nestled behind the mountain in the distance. Today was the push. Today, the Canada chapter was ending.
Onward, once more.
We passed through Calgary, the home of two brothers of the soul from my retreat down in Peru (Previous Entry: The Ayahuasca Retreat). Not one, but two people from my retreat, how exciting! This was the closest in proximity I’ve been to any of them in almost a year, and who knows when the next time would be. My dear citizens of the world, scattered throughout, it makes me smile to know you’re out there, but I do miss those physical shapes of yours. Sadly, as much as I wanted to stop, we pressed on.
After the haze of tax and duty free stores littering the landscape, we made it to those familiar looking lanes. This was the first time I was crossing INTO the US from a neighboring country, but the procedure was about the same.
We waited patiently behind the van in front of us, while I entertained myself by teasing my companion about the illegals and getting shot in the face by the former vice president turned border agent.
Finally it was our turn, and we pulled up to the window for the usual questions. However, instead of the “Ok, welcome home boys, go on through!” that I expected, the agent told us to pull around for a search and further questions. That’s new.
My companion is convinced that there were secret microphones in the grass, and my joke about Dick Cheney was overheard through the rolled up windows, thus the reason for secondary questioning. I’m pretty sure it was just random, or training, or they saw two weirdos in a car packed to the brim, and wanted a closer look. Whatever the variable, we obliged and pulled into the awaiting lot.
Uh oh! We’re in trouble now! We got out and sat patiently in the lobby.
The urge to cause mischief was skyrocketing, I had no drugs, weapons or illegal immigrants in any of my pockets, so why not? Surely they wouldn’t hold an upstanding citizen like myself, right?
We surrendered our passports at the counter before being asked to sit down once more. Then, they came for me. Just me. Two large men, uniformed, armed, heavily mustached, and who waddled more than they walked, due to their batman utility belts and their overall girth. “Come with us please” the leading man said, before turning and motioning down the hallway.
The crunch of leather echoed down the corridor as they led me to a very sterile looking room around the corner. Just a small window, small table and two chairs awaited me. Inside they ushered me to one of the chairs, and mentioned they’d return momentarily. I suppose to build anticipation for questioning?
I sat in my chair, attempting to get comfortable and lean back, but the thing was bolted to the floor, as was everything else in the room. When they returned, the older of the officers took the seat across the table from me, while the other stood uncomfortably close with his arms crossed, demonically gazing down at me. Second cop was clearly bad cop.
And then it began. “Where are you going” “Who are you with” “Got any drugs?” “Are you actually traveling together or have you been kidnapped?” “Are you smuggling any moose?” “What’s in your hat?” “What did you do in Canada” “What did you see?” “Why did you want to leave the US in the first place”
I do believe there was a question about whether or not I believed in or sympathized with jihad or something of that nature. It took my everything not to say “Yep, ya got me!“, but I’m sure my attempt at humor would be met with blank faces and possibly handcuffs.
“Please empty your pockets”
And so I did. He reached over the table and picked up my wallet, carefully examining it before he pried open every corner of the leather. Money. License. Bank card, business cards (wait for it!), a condom, a razor blade, and two pills.
He blinked. I blinked. He nonchalantly laid the three items in question out on the table looked at them, looked at me, looked at them, looked at me. I didn’t look up, but I could almost HEAR the veins popping out of bad cops forehead. My heart jumped at the blade, I had completely forgotten that was in there. At the same time, my mind was desperately trying not to laugh at the many scenarios one might use all three items for.
“Don’t ask me about the razor blade, don’t ask me about the razor blade“ my mind whispered. How could I put “I couldn’t bring my usual blade on the plane, so I opted for something smaller and more compact“ into terms that wouldn’t get me held indefinitely.
He slid the two pills toward me. “Oh thank god, he picked the unmarked drugs!“ cheered my brain. “What…are these?“ he said, as he did the now comical, rapid stare from pills to me.
Which they were, but with the razor blade and condom, you’d think I was railroading em right before having myself a good ol’ time.
He held his stare and folded his arms. Much to my surprise he didn’t press, and leaned back satisfied.
The bad cop finally broke from his statuesque posture and stepped toward me. He leaned down and wrapped his sausage fingers around the soulstone hanging from my neck. AGAIN, this is the second person to molest my crystal with their filthy, unwanted hands. I met his glare with one of my own and repeated the exact lines I used with the TSA agent. (Previous Entry: Onward To Alaska)
“Quartz. Crystal”. “Where did you get it?” “Peru”. He stared into with an official curiosity, while I sat there questioning why people are so dumbfounded by quartz crystal.
With no more questions, the officer at the table stood up and shook my hand. He thanked me for my cooperation and said he would be with my momentarily.
Meanwhile, the bad cop uprooted himself and walked out of the room. He crossed the corridor window, and exited through the security door. The officer who was talking to me, reached for the handle before it closed, but he was a second too late and the heavy door clicked shut. He swiped his ID card, pulled the handle, but the door remained locked. He swiped it again, pulled a little harder, yet still nothing. He did this two more times while I watched, peering out from the room where the air of authority is still thick in the air, with this look on my face
One more time he tries, and one more time he fails. He stood there for a second, defeated. And in that glorious moment where zero tolerance meets awkward human nature, he slowly turns his head, looks through the window at me, and lets a timid smile shine through his stuffy mustache. Aw!
Bad cop eventually opens the door and lets him out. They get my papers back in order, then I’m released as well. Bad cop is standing at the end of the row with his hand extended. I thought he was going for the handshake, but he had my razor blade in his hand “Forgot this” he groaned. “Oh. Yeah. Thanks.”
My companion was released shortly after and we returned to the car to exchange stories. All that and I didn’t even get a stamp in my passport. What a bummer.
Hello United States, I’m back!
-Conclude a road trip through Canada -Cross into the US from a bordering country – Get stopped at the border for secondary questioning – Pull a razor blade on a border agent -Enter North Dakota