Gifts (the anti theft-downer thread)

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.
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consumer
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Gifts (the anti theft-downer thread)

Post by consumer » Fri Sep 05, 2003 10:57 am

Although its been healthy for people to discuss thefts that happened this year, its also been a huge downer to read. I'd like to start a thread dedicated to sharing gift giving experiences in 2003, both giving and receiving.

- I was doing the now very played-out "raver fishing" (glowstick attached to a fishing pole) a few nights, but gave the glowstick away to anyone who at least acknowledged that they fell for it and laughed about it. The sour pusses who just got mad and/or walked away got none.

- Hooking up people with batteries was fun... people are always in awe when you come up with one while over hearing them say something like, "fuck! this thing needs two more double a's!"

- I brought two of my old costumes from previous burns just in case someone needed them. One of my campmates used one and was very grateful for the experience. He ended up going and buying ice everyday for our camp in response.

- Having a well lit, decorated camp at night deep in (7:00 & Gospel) meant that we had a lot of people stop by for directions. It was a pleasure to help people out and then send them off with a ash tin, cigarette, margartia, glow stick, etc.

- Our neighbors' propane stove broke, so they came over to use ours a few times. This ended up being such a blessing as it allowed us to share food and meet new people.

- On Thursday, I had to pull myself away from the Playa and drive to the Reno airport to pick up four more burners (yes, it sucked - i'm never doing that again). When I arrived, my friends had ran into two other people that needed a ride out to the playa as well. I was very pleased to be the one that helped them out.

These are very simple exchanges that I believe demonstrate 'gifting' is more than just passing an object to another person.
Last edited by consumer on Thu Sep 11, 2003 2:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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nymphgonebad
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Post by nymphgonebad » Fri Sep 05, 2003 1:27 pm

hey - i think i was your first "catch" on saturday night. it may be played out, man, but it sure made me bust a gut. sometimes the best tricks are the old tricks.

hrh - the princess

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Post by Ranger Mickey » Thu Sep 11, 2003 2:40 am

Consumer,

Thank you a wonderful post, and for running what sounds like a great camp! I'll try to remember to swing by next year to see the magic.
[url=http://www.sattlers.org/mickey/burningMan/]Rangering since 1996[/url]...

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Re: Gifts (the anti theft-downer thread)

Post by Borris » Thu Sep 11, 2003 4:31 am

consumer wrote: - I was doing the now very played-out "raver fishing" (glowstick attached to a fishing pole) a few nights, but gave the glowstick away to anyone who at least acknowledged that they fell for it and laughed about it. The sour pusses who just got mad and/or walked away got none.
Hell i guess i got caught on that, at Reorient. got a big laugh. i just saw a Glow braclet thing on th ground and wanted to pick it up as MOOP.
The porno fisher camp on Espelande was also quite funny.
consumer wrote: - Hooking up people with batteries was fun... people are always in awe when you come up with one while over hearing them say something like, "fuck! this thing needs two more double a's!".
what would one battery help if they needed 2??
Shit, where was i for the last week... ehm...

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Re: Gifts (the anti theft-downer thread)

Post by consumer » Thu Sep 11, 2003 8:17 am

consumer wrote: - Hooking up people with batteries was fun... people are always in awe when you come up with one while over hearing them say something like, "fuck! this thing needs two more double a's!".
Borris wrote:what would one battery help if they needed 2??
Minor grammatikal errar.

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Re: Gifts (the anti theft-downer thread)

Post by tbone » Thu Sep 11, 2003 10:13 am

consumer wrote:- On Thursday, I had to pull myself away from the Playa and drive to the Reno airport to pick up four more burners (yes, it sucked - i'm never doing that again). When I arrived, my friends had ran into two other people that needed a I ride to the playa as well. I was very pleased to be the one that helped them out.
Friends flew in from DC and NYC and on the way met a Brit in the airport. They talked for a while, and because he seemed OK, they offered him a ride to the burn, and a stop at a place where he could buy a bike.

About half way to the burn, they offered to let him camp with them, because he was so damn cool.

Their shade wasn't due to arrive for a few days, so they hung out with us - including the Brit. It was one of the highlights of our year. This guy was great, and he seemed to "get it" very quickly.

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My best Gift

Post by Chai Guy » Thu Sep 11, 2003 12:58 pm

This went down as THE best gift I have ever received in my 6 years of attending Burning Man. -
I met a girl named Free Kittens ( which by the way if you are reading this, or know Free Kittens, please email me! Thanks) anyway, Free Kittens and I were taking a stroll, picking up Moop and sharing a lovely conversation when she offered me a gift. She pulled back her coat to reveal a utility belt- ammo pouch kind of thing and asked me to choose one pouch. I pointed to one and then she asked me to close my eyes, I did and instinctively held out my hand. "Oh no" she said, "This isn't tactile" and then proceeded to hold up to my ear a tiny music box that played the most wonderful melody. This HUGE smile engulfed my face and I was transported on the most amazing journey while listening to that simple mechanical device.

I must say the best gift ever, indeed! Thanks Free Kittens! : )

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Post by papabear » Thu Sep 11, 2003 2:01 pm

Well during real windy days with lots of dust ... i would invite random people walking by our camp into my RV for break from the wind with some Pina Coladas made from ice cream and good rum. I did this all the time. It was fun to see the reactions and a good way for my shy ass to meet folks. Good conversations.

I did get a wonderful gift of a smile from stranger that saw me the first few minutes after realizing giving my bike to someone (it was stolen) . She saw my sadness and with a simple smile help me let go of my loss. no words, just a smile. Simple gifts of emotion and caring were the best.

papapbear

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Post by Angry Butterfly » Sun Sep 14, 2003 12:08 am

I like this thread, I think this would be a good place to explain how I figured out the gift economy.

It was my first year, and I went with certain expectations based on all the veterans I knew, turns out the kids I came with had a really different perspective than me on life and everything, I sort of knew this ahead of time, so i planned to camp with some other friends. They were all lkie, you NEED this, You NEED that, we have to get the right spot, blah blah blah... So based on what these guys said I thought it was more like bartereing.

Basicly, everything I bartered came back to bite me in the ass, I really wanted someone to put my hair in cornrows, a girl promised to do it in exchange for a set of homade Poi I made, they were really nice, and designed to be used as practice poi or fire poi. What I didnt know was that the girl had fibromigialia, and there was no way she could do my hair, a good friend of mine has it and I would never ask someone who has pain like that to do something like cornrow hair. She gave me about $70 worth of drugs instead, but I dont do drugs that often. So I gave them all away. So my best thing for barter got me nothing.


On the other hand, I had this little bandana that I bought for like 50 cents a long time ago with smily faces on it, I had planned to use it in case I ran out of dust masks, but I got picked up by this art car full of grandmotherly types, and was enjoying their company, since my own grandparents had passed when I was young, and to make it worse we had visited a friend's grandparents in reno on the way out and I was really missing mine. A ranger brought us a kid who was dehydrated and wandering and they were going to take him to medical, one of the ladies on the art car was concerned for the ranger, who had a shaved head, and she wanted him to put on a hat. He said "I dont do hats" so I asked him if he would wear my bandana, which matched the shirt he had on, and he liked it and put it right on. It looked GREAT! I totaly had not planned on giving it away, but I gave it because I was inspired by this lady's concern and I was inspired by the ranger taking care of this kid, and I really didnt want this guy to get a sunburn, and I gave it without being concerned about myself running out of dust masks or whatever, it just seemed right. That is when I really started to understand.

Later that week I picked up a bandana as MOOP, it was my favorite color and properly broken in. That was the same day I ran out of dust masks.

Totaly true story.
I took the road less traveled, and now I would like to go back and find the paved one.

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Post by Flux » Sun Sep 14, 2003 12:34 am

That's a wonderful story, Angry Butterfly.

Barter on the playa is bullshit, imho. It's no different than commerce, except that it lacks the convenience of currency. It's all about gifts, as you so beautifully illustrated.

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Post by Angry Butterfly » Sun Sep 14, 2003 11:16 pm

Thanks, I am glad I had a chance to share it, and experience it in the first place, that experience taught me a lot.
I took the road less traveled, and now I would like to go back and find the paved one.

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Post by OregonRed » Mon Sep 15, 2003 12:55 am

My first year out I met this really cool girl named Jule. Jule is totally into butterflies... she owns all kinds of butterfly stuff and even has a big butterfly tatooed on her upper back.

So, I'm over visiting at one of our neighboring camps to compliment them on the long string of kites they have anchored out front. They thanked me and started showing me other kites that they had brought out, but were unsure if they were going to be able to put up. Among these kites was a rather small kite that was shaped and colored like a swallowtail (I believe) butterfly, which made me think of Jule instantly.

Seeing my interest the woman explained to me that her grand-daughter had given her this kite and that it really flew like a butterfly. "That's really cool." I told her, " I have a friend that would love to own something like that."

"Then you should take it to her." the woman replied.

I was completely stunned. I had heard about the gift economy (The sign I remember most vividly driving in my first year said "Remember, the gift you give already belongs to the person you give it to."), but I had not seen it put out so eloquently. Not knowing Jule, or even if she was at BM, this woman just gave me a butterfly to give to my friend.

I try to practice this kind of giving in my everyday life. When I feel the compulsion to give someone something, I do it. Some people really like that...a lot of people in the real world don't understand why I'm just giving them this______(insert random item here). They keep waiting for the other shoe to drop or for me to call in a favor... I tell them it's something I learned about in BRC and they roll thier eyes...

O well, they'll figure it out...

Or not.
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Post by telizas » Mon Sep 15, 2003 9:11 am

After the White out on Sunday, I was thouroughly PISSED OFF at all the art cars that almost ran me over in the dust. I was walking back through center camp from the Temple, covered in dust (I'm a black girl, so I was quite a sight!) and someone offered me an ICE cold beer. I was so relieved! Then when I got back to camp, my friend gave me a necklace he had recieved as a gift his first year, as it was my first year. It totally made my day. :)

The disco ball necklace that was given to me as a light for the playa by some middle-aged men in Hawiian t-shirts was nice too. :) As well as recieiving buns for our cheeseburgers from Kidsville - made that meal so special.

More importantly, I spent the weeks before the burn making hand-made soap for new-found friends and was able to give all of it away. I put a lot of my heart into that and was *so* happy to have it put smiles on other people's faces.
Well behaved women rarely make history.

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Post by multiple » Mon Sep 15, 2003 9:44 am

Okay....I have read that giving out trinkets may not be such a good Idea, some people disregaurd them and they become moop....
I am making necklaces and have to wonder if I am wasting my time.....

I read Angry Butterfly's story, she really explains the 'meaning' behind the gifting ~ I was moved, truley.

I was in center camp and this boy had his glass pendents spread out on a cloth beside him. I bent down to admire his work , (they were unique and very beautiful)....
I had nothing on me that would have been equal trade....and how could I just ask for one....
I felt a fool because I had NO IDEA how to go about this whole IDEA of BRC trade...
I smiled and told him how lovely I found his work...and walked away with my husband.


I realize that gifting your precious artwork could be less meaningful than gifting a .50 smiley face bandana you brought for yourself....or an Ice cold beer, and the TIRE TUBE I received from one of our neighbors who wouldn't accept money or anything...but a lame thanks...

Gifting ~ it seems to me ~ depends on the interactions going on around you and the people that you become involved with.
....do it again!

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Post by Flux » Mon Sep 15, 2003 10:22 am

multiple wrote:Okay....I have read that giving out trinkets may not be such a good Idea, some people disregaurd them and they become moop....
I am making necklaces and have to wonder if I am wasting my time.....
I think that the not-such-a-good-idea trinkets tend to be non-personal things -- cheap plastic necklaces you get by the dozen at the 99-cent store, that kind of thing. If you're taking a piece of string and putting a couple of plastic beads on it, you might want to reconsider; if you're doing something that is an expression of yourself, I don't think you have anything to worry about.

I've never received anything handmade that I didn't value as an expression of the person giving it.

There's also the matter of context. When you're visiting a camp and someone offers you an ice-cold Sierra Nevada beer, that's cool, but no big deal. When you're hot and parched and a complete stranger offers you a lukewarm Pabst Blue Ribbon beer spontaneously, that can be a big deal.

Bottom line: think about the gifts you and your friends have given and received, and about what you value vs. what you consider MOOP, and trust your own intuition.

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Post by Angry Butterfly » Mon Sep 15, 2003 12:48 pm

that is true, it is funny, because I brought a bunch of random things to gift thet were lying around my house, because I didnt have time to make things and I wanted to get rid of them or whatever, some were handmade and somewhat valuable, like the extra set of poi and some handmade pipes, some were honest to god trinkets that I had left over from halloween. (I used to work for a dentist and one of my good friends growing up was diabetic, so I like to keep some small toys on hand at halloween ) I also had a few pocket knives, and bottle openers, useful stuff, I tried to give out useful stuff, but one of my favorte gifts that I gave was actually a trinket, it was a really cheap plastic whistle I have this good friend who has paralized vocal chords, and I told him that I didnt want him to not be able to make any noise at burning man! I really wished that I had a nicer one to give him, but he loved it anyway. In real life he has given me many gifts, none of them material, So it really depends on context. I had totaly expected my handmade things to be my best gifts, but the two cheapest, cheeziest things I gave turned out my favorites! The favorite thing I got, however, was a beautiful handmade hat!
So keep making your necklaces!
I took the road less traveled, and now I would like to go back and find the paved one.

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Post by attydog » Mon Sep 15, 2003 12:57 pm

I made a really huge (15 ft) wooden wheel this year, sort of like a giant hamster wheel. We ended up doing all sorts of fun stuff with it, like stuffing two people onto the outer rim and having another two people run it across the desert like a traveling ferris wheel. I usually had a crowd of people around it to have their turn running in it, or riding, or just to have a photo-op.

I must admit that during some of the HOT afternoons, my attitude deteriorated. A couple of people had jumped in it and run it down-wind a few hundred yards and then hopped out. I ran down to get it and run it back. It probably weighed upwards of 1,000 lbs, so running it into the wind with one person wasn't my idea of a good time.

A couple of girls came up and asked "for a ride". One of them hopped up with me and we brought it about half way back to where most of my friends were stationed - hanging out having a few beers, doing doughnuts on the Segway. When the other girl got in and tried to go the other way - back to HER friends - I said I had to continue in the direction I was going. I don't remember what I said, but I don't think I said it in the nicest way possible. She understood, and got out. Then she and her friend insisted that I take the handmade cloth bag they had sewn and brought out to desert to give away. I stuttered something about not being able to take it, but they insisted and I hang onto it. It's really an elegantly simple, beautiful little bag. I felt like an ass. Maybe she just really liked the look of the wheel, or the fact that I had it out there at all, I don't know. But I didn't even let her have a ride.

The bag has a small tag with a stamped picture of The Man and 2 Y 3 written vertically. If anyone has any idea about who these girls are, I'd appreciate it. I owe them.

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Angry Butterfly
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Post by Angry Butterfly » Mon Sep 15, 2003 2:51 pm

I saw that wheel ! It was BAD ASS! Wish I could tell you who the girls were. Don't feel too bad, nearly every "Playa Melt Down" I witnessed was related to an art project, INCLUDING MY OWN SPECTACULAR FLAME OUT, that resulted in me throwing a tantrum and puching my best friend's prissy boyfriend! If you didn't hit anyone, you did better than me. :oops:
I took the road less traveled, and now I would like to go back and find the paved one.

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Post by angelgabe » Mon Sep 15, 2003 4:42 pm

The greatest gift I recieved this year was from a beutifull rainbow colored angel girl I meet at the Critical Tits after party.After serving for a few hours,I saw this girl walking around,when one of her feathers from her wings fell off.I told her that she droped a feather,she thanked me,and affectionatly told me she'd like me to have it.Turns out she made the wings herself,which made me feel like she gave me a piece of herself.As my name is Gabriel,I found alot of symbolism in that.I had a great conversation with her,and the picture I took of her is one of my favorites.

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Post by hoodreau » Mon Sep 15, 2003 5:14 pm

I think my favorite gift was my first night at Burning Man, in 2001. A woman came out of nowhere in the middle of the playa and asked my friend and I if she could sew patches on our sleeves. She gave us both a little heart and peace symbol on our arms, and it made her so happy to share with us. It's still on my orange jumpsuit, and reminds me of how I learned what BM meant to me.

After trying out a bunch of different types of gifts last year, I made stickers this year. Just a few simple designs and colors based on a silhouette of the man, but I tried to catch different aspects or themes of Burning Man in each sticker. It was really cool to have a gift that was special to me to give to other people. It made me think of the patch girl, to know I was happily sharing a part of myself with others, and hoping that made the gift that much better for the receiver.


PS- I met Free Kittens back in SF just after driving back. Your story made me smile.

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Post by Ranger Mickey » Mon Sep 15, 2003 5:57 pm

telizas wrote:...as well as recieiving buns for our cheeseburgers from Kidsville - made that meal so special...
And it was fun for our camp to pass them on to you!

Mickey (that huge shade structure green parachute right next to the Kidsville common area).
[url=http://www.sattlers.org/mickey/burningMan/]Rangering since 1996[/url]...

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consumer
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Post by consumer » Mon Sep 15, 2003 8:12 pm

attydog wrote:I made a really huge (15 ft) wooden wheel this year, sort of like a giant hamster wheel.
this wheel?

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Lydia Love
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Post by Lydia Love » Mon Sep 15, 2003 8:19 pm

Wow - fuckin A - I didn't see that there...

Oh god I didn't see so much... again!
It's all about the squirrels.

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Post by The Bass » Mon Sep 15, 2003 9:04 pm

give away the secret! down with barter!

the best gift, of course, is to give something to someone in such a way that you can see them suddenly understand the nature of giving, and you just know they're going to start giving themselves...and somewhere they'll gift someone else, who didn't really get it...and then...and etc and etc.

one year the best gift i got was from a friend who had arrived late, maybe thursday. we're in an rv next to a giant party. he starts slicing up a bunch of incredibly ripe, sweet, cool white peaches. fills a whole bowl full of them. he's about to take them outside to give to the revellers, blow their minds. instead he hands the bowl to me. ahhhhaaaa!

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Post by attydog » Mon Sep 15, 2003 9:09 pm

yeah, that was my wheel.
next year, it's gonna be huge....yeah, really big. we'll be sponsored, and we'll make it out of polished aluminum, and we'll have two of them....
we'll wrap those suckers in EL wire and glow sticks and rig it with a mini rave system.
i'll hunt down Lydia Love and give her the first ride.
it'll be light, and fast, and everyone will get a chance to ride it into the sunset. it'll be beautiful - right up to the point we burn it, when it will be absolutely fucking beautiful.
yeah, next year...
Mark

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Lydia Love
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Post by Lydia Love » Mon Sep 15, 2003 9:20 pm

it's gonna be huge
What, you mean that one wasn't??
i'll hunt down Lydia Love and give her the first ride.
Wheeee!
It's all about the squirrels.

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Post by shuranuff » Mon Sep 15, 2003 9:34 pm

attydog, i loved that wheel! i didn't ride it but it was a beautiful thing to see rolling across the playa at dusk. goddamn! i'm gettin a body rush remembering the playa magic!

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Post by attydog » Tue Sep 16, 2003 10:34 am

attydog, i loved that wheel! i didn't ride it but it was a beautiful thing to see rolling across the playa at dusk
Well that is a fine thing to hear - thank you. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in whatever I'm doing out there that I don't see the forest through the trees. I only had the wheel out for two days, and I sort of thought only a handful of folks outside of my own gang experienced it, but I've been seeing pictures of it pop up all over the place. On Saturday, we were out on the playa goofing around with it and a friend of mine ran back to camp to get some stakes and rope to tie it down. We rolled it out to the Man and staked it down so that when we returned later for the burn, we'd have our own 'reserved' seating. Anyway, he said that seeing it roll around out there from the esplanade was quite a site indeed.

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Angry Butterfly
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Post by Angry Butterfly » Tue Sep 16, 2003 1:31 pm

Attydog, I can weld aluminum, in fact, I am better at welding aluminum than steel, give me a call lif you need a hand.
I took the road less traveled, and now I would like to go back and find the paved one.

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Post by Chai Guy » Wed Sep 17, 2003 1:13 pm

the best gift, of course, is to give something to someone in such a way that you can see them suddenly understand the nature of giving, and you just know they're going to start giving themselves...and somewhere they'll gift someone else, who didn't really get it...and then...and etc and etc.
Oh absolutely, this is the best! In fact I try to give most of my gifts to people I who I think "don't get it" just to experience this phenomenon.

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