To the Nikon toting Bermuda shorts wearers

A poster on the Burning Man 98 discussion area was offended by my characterization of Nikon toting Bermuda shorts wearers . Trey Goesh gave this very good response culminating in:

ask yourself, before you come back next year, whether you would really have something to use that camera for if everyone looked the way you do, and what kind of memories you'd have to remember if they didn't build a 20 ft swing set or a human car wash.

Better than I said it, but here's the message I sent to the original poster:

Hey, saw your message on the Burning Man '98 bulletin board, thought you might have taken offense at my "middle aged guys in Bermuda shorts with Nikons" crack.

I too carried a Canon (EOS5) with some moby lenses and a Yashica T4 occasionally. Like you, the extent of our drug consumption was two of us going through two bottles of wine from Wednesday through Monday. And I'm not a whole lot younger than you, my partner is older, while I did go naked most of the time, she didn't.

I even had a guy from the Philadelphia Inquirer take my picture as I showered behind a water truck, and I wasn't pissed off about it. I wasn't pissed off about it because he asked, because he talked to me, and participated at least that much. The woman who ran for her camera on the very north side of camp when I rode by amused me because I was hardly the only naked guy around, and I wasn't weirdly dressed or trying to make a spectacle of myself, and she didn't bother to ask anything of me. But that was my experience in general of the north side of camp versus the south side.

What pissed me off was the guys I described aiming telephotos underneath entrances of tents clearly marked "no cameras", trying surreptitiously to take pictures of naked women rather than walking up and saying "Hi! Can I take your picture?", disrupting people dancing while protecting their cameras and jockeying for position (to that asshole film crew yelling "fuck the press" as they pressed through: "Smash the hypocrites!", I wouldn't waste a fuck on you), the ones taking flash photos of that sanctuary on the playa where we tied dream-catchers and talked quietly with other people around a small fire in the late evening trying for a short time to find refuge from the over-stimulation. The spectators, there for the spectacle. No, worse, because they wanted to take the spectacle home with them to show to others as though they were removed from it; "Look at the weirdos" rather than "It was fun to be a weirdo," or better yet "it was fun to be normal, I hate having to go back into that world of weirdos."

If you weren't one of those people, then I apologize. That my insults resonated with you makes me a bit suspicious, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. If you fit any of those above, then my comments still stand.

I guess in the end it comes down to: When you go back to "civilization", will you say "Sure, I was there, lemme show you my pictures," or will you say "I was part of Burning Man, and my pictures, even my words, can't do it justice."

If the latter, no matter how you were dressed (I only had a painted penis after a woman carrying silver paint asked if she could paint mine), I apologize profusely.

Thursday, September 10th, 1998