A tale of two cities

I wandered into the giant tent and found an open spot on a motley sofa. I sat down with my bottle of water and opened the daily paper to get the proper bearings. The paper, the name of which encourages the reader to discharge colorless urine, features an article with the following tidbit of information: “Just because someone gives you a condom doesn’t mean they want to have sex with you—they just don’t want you to breed.”

On the stage directly in front of my sofa is a gray-haired guy playing the accordion. His specialty is old hits from the Sun Records heyday of the ‘50s, stuff like Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash tunes. It’s quality shtick, even if it’s not intended to be shtick. I’m not quite sure, but it works as an accompaniment for drinking water and absorbing this edgy little newspaper.

After the squeezeboxer finally runs out of songs (the big finish: “Hound Dog"), a tape comes on. The music is thoroughly tripped out sax jazz, the kind of squonking and squanking that sounds like Pharoah Sanders or Ornette Coleman. It’s intriguing, challenging and at times, a stone groove. The guy in the next couch over has his head back, eyes closed, toe tappin’ to this free-form telegram from beyond the Crab Nebula.

I must be at Burning Man.

The moon rises, the moon sets, and now I’m in a big, white temporary tent in a parking lot. Before me are two large buffet tables. The main color of the table’s southern end is green, meaning lots of salads and coleslaws. The dominant colors of the northern end are dark browns, reds and black; the colors of seared meat.

Looks like I made it to the Rib Cook-off.

Specifically, I’m in the VIP Pavilion, which features one of the truly great all-you-can-eat spreads, assuming you’re not a vegan. The main dish here is, of course, ribs. Trays of ribs from each of the 24 establishments that have come here to ‘cue through the Labor Day weekend.

I’ve showed up hungry; that’s good. But, to maximize chow-down pleasures, I’d better pass on the cornbread and the potato salad; that stuff will just take up valuable stomach space. A smidgen of slaw, OK, but I gotta face facts here. This has to be a real Doc Atkins kind of meal; a few greens, topped off by a sauce-laden porkslide.

While in line, I spy the logo for this event. It features a pig, a very happy fellow with a big smile, who looks like he can’t wait to be killed and eaten. Am I the only one who thinks this is odd?

After my ninth rib, eight of which were outstandingly good, I have to throw in my napkin. Not a real impressive performance, in terms of being a truly gluttonous slob, but I am stuffed, satiated and ready to waddle.

From Black Rock City to Victorian Square: For one day, life was an amazing, outlandish, provocative and very tasty blur.