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[personal profile] jes5199
(parts of this I've told before)

Last year, I stumbled upon a payphone in the desert. I don't remember if the sign just said "Telephone" or if it said "Hear Here" or something. But I picked up the receiver and it dialed automatically, and it started ringing through.
"Hello, this is God" says the voice that answers
"Oh, wow, hi, it's Jesse"
"Hi, Jesse, is there anything I can help you with today?"
"Uh, actually, I think everything's pretty much perfect. So, thanks? ... Is there anything I can help *you* with?"
"No no, I'm just here to make sure that everyone's taken care of. No, wait, there is one thing. Can you go and spread peace and love throughout the universe?"
"Uh, yes. Roger Wilco. Well it's been nice talking to you, God"
"You too. Let's talk again soon."
and I hung up the phone.
a hetero couple had wandered up behind me
"Is this the phone that lets you talk to god?"
"sure is!"
"What's he like?"
"oh, she's really nice."

Talk to God
This year, someone had set up a payphone on a busy street corner. They had replaced the "telephone" sign with a panel that said "TALK TO GOD" in huge letters. There were other God-related stickers all over the booth and the phone. Most of the time when I walked by, someone was using the phone, but one evening I came by and it was empty.
So I picked up the receiver and it dialed automatically, and it started ringing through.
And it rang and rang and nobody answered.

another evening (it was Friday) I was out in the desert with a sketchpad, trying to capture some of the art. I found myself near a payphone, again. (You'd be surprised how many payphones there are in the desert. Far more than there are in Portland. I never even got to try these ones).
There were a handful of people standing around. A woman on a bicycle asked "does this thing work?"
"It only rings that booth over there", a dude gestures at another phone booth in the distance.
She gets on her bike and starts riding in that direction.

I pick up the receiver, and it dials automatically, and starts ringing through.
"Hello?" she answers.
"Hi, uh, this is Jes"
"Hi, Jes! This is Robot."
"Can you believe that it's already sunset?"
"Oh, it's so beautiful!"
"But I feel like I'm running out of time. They burn the Man tomorrow!"
"But you have all the time in the world. Do you have lights on your bike?"
"Well, yeah,"
"So you can stay out for hours and hours. And, you know, there's always next year. And the year after that, and the year after that, and the year after that."
"Yeah, I guess it's true. But it'll all be different!"
"I better get on to the Temple - I don't have lights on my bike yet"
"Oh, hey, you know they're burning the Aeolian Portal tonight?"
"The what?"
"The Fire Organ. It's that pretty white building halfway between the Man and the Temple. It's at 10 P.M. There's supposed to be fire dancers and everything, it's the big show of the night"
"Neat! Maybe I'll see you there"

but later that night, when [ profile] empty_fork and I started bicycling towards the Portal, we got caught in a massive sandstorm, and couldn't see more than a few feet in front of our faces.
Even so, we kept finding ourselves right upon artwork, I remember almost stumbling into the Wish Dandelions

We tried walking/cycling slowly in directions based upon sounds - we stumbled into a garden of wind-pipes ("Choir of the Winds: Singing weather vanes", I think) where a gathering of ten or so other wanderers had decided to camp out, preferring to wait out the storm among howling artwork rather than the featureless whiteness of the open playa.

We kept wandering, and stumbled upon the SeizureDome, which we recognized from Lorenzo's animated, synesthetic description at breakfast ("It's all woooo eeeeo oeoeoe and zoop zoop zoop zoooememememem oeanaoaoaaoaoao eeeeeee ooooo wowowowowowow")
which was packed with people - they were passing around a glowing green hamster-ball that had a button embedded in one end. And as you rolled the ball around in your hands, the lights and screeching electronic pseudo-music reacted sympathetically to the rhythms (or arhythms) of your movements. And if you pushed the button, it would change the channel to a different texture of screeching of electronic pseudo-music that would react in a subtly different way to your arhythms.
We stayed for a while, long enough for me to get the ball for a minute, which made it suddenly feel like everyone in the room was trying to tell me how to move, I quickly passed it to Jenn who had a little more luck, I think, and she passed it onto a stoned hippie who hadn't caught onto the non-random nature of the room yet and was shocked that it was under any sort of control at all, much less his own.

And we stumbled back outside into the sandstorm and got back on our bicycles, and a break in the sand gave us some bearings and we laughed at how we had accidentally crossed to the wrong side of the city entirely, and then Jenn notices that she's dropped her bag, her jacket iconic travel snowsuit, and our box of box wine off of the bike somehow. So we retrace our steps as best we can back to the seizuredome, and shine our flashlights as best we can through the not-quite-impenetrable sandstorm, and we do manage to find the box of wine. Eventually we declare the other items lost, and we strike out towards the Fire Organ, again, with some better sense of our bearings.

We arrive without much trouble, and we can see the stupid dandelions only a few hundred feet away, and laugh at how close we had been to our destination, hours (?) ago, and we had just no idea. The Fire Rangers were still pacing around, waiting for the all-clear on the walkie-talkies that the wind would be calm enough, long enough to set a fire. It was pretty clear that the fire dancers had given up and gone home.

So we sat, and we poured some box wine into my coffee mug, and the fire did start and it was nice enough.
Fire Organ Burn
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