—  Ken and Vesta  —

Wedding and Portrait Photography

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Embrace the Playa

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Embrace in the early morning light.

That’s the name of the sculpture, “Embrace.” The next day they burned it. Something so beautiful, gone up in fire and smoke. It was a sight to see, that fire and the mini fire tornados it spawned. But I’d rather see it like this, two lovers forever in each other’s arms.

But, I suppose, seeing something so beautiful as this and knowing it’s going to be gone forever tomorrow is meant to make you realize that nothing is permanent, nothing is forever. Certainly not this public Embrace. Still, it’s a shame it can’t last.

On a side note, we went inside it, Vesta and me, took circular, claustrophobic cramped steps up to the eye, where we could look out over the Playa. I didn’t want to, but Vesta said I had to, cuz it was gonna be gone in a day. I still didn’t want to, because I don’t like being cramped in with a bunch of people going up teeny, tiny stairs. And did I mention that I didn’t want to go up all those stairs?

“You went to the top of the Washington Monument with me and the Statute of Liberty too.” She gave me a look, the one you never see in photos of her.

“But we were kids.”

“Oh come on.” She had her mind made up, so I went up. And it was every bit as cramped and closed in as I imagined it would be. Just bloody awful.

“Now aren’t you glad you came?” she said when we were at the eye and were taking photos of the people below.

“Not really,” I thought, but “I sure am,” is what I said. And I have to admit, the view was spectacular. But what if it woulda caught fire when we were in there. It was made of wood. Dry wood. Very dry wood. And people were smokin’ in there. And there were no fire extinguishers. I knew it would go up fast. It’s all I could think about as I was crammed in with the throng of happy smokers on their way to the top.

And I was right. It went up very fast the next day. A bloody tinderbox, that’s what it was. And I was inside of it. Stupid, I know. Still, it was just another adventure.

Ah, the things we do for love.

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Here is a photo of “Embrace,” shortly after the Burning Man folks set it on fire. In a few short minutes all one could see of this beautiful wooden sculpture is nothing by flames and the mini grey tornadoes spinning out of the fire.

Such is the way of life, I suppose, you’re here, then you’re not. I remember reading a book called the Horse Whisperer, by Nick Evans four or five years ago. It begins with a truck speeding down the road, then it flashes to a girl on a horse, than back to the truck, then back to the girl and you know, you just know, that truck is gonna hit her.

And I wonder where my truck is. Is it already on its way, or is it parked at the terminal, where it’s gonna remain for several more years.

These two lovers met their truck in the form of the folk who set them on fire. Now, they’re forever gone, just a memory seen in a photograph. A good memory though, because they were beautiful.

And maybe a little bit of a creepy memory for me, because I sure didn’t like walking up those cramped stairs just to get inside their heads and look out those eyes. You know, those eyes which are on fire right now. A frightening thought, for me anyway, because it made me think of my truck and wonder where it is right now.

Geez, I hope when it finally starts up and rolls outta that terminal, it gets a flat.

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After dark we met this photographer out on the Playa at about 10:00 or 11:00. He was dressed like a painter, with lights between his two white shirts, which is supposed to represent paint blotches on a white painter’s shirt.

Very clever. He was making a statement that his photography is art, that he is an artist, just as Michelangelo, Cezanne and El Greco were artists. I got it straightaway, but then I’m a photographer, who thinks what he does is art.

And there were artists galore and art galore too out at Burning Man. If you haven’t been, you should go. At least once in your life, even if you don’t believe in the philosophy of giving or sharing.

For most people, life is about what you own and not who you love and who loves you back. In the end, we’re all sand, not much different then sand out on the Playa, so we should live out our short lives as if they matter. Burning Man is about who you love, not what you have. Who you are the other fifty-one weeks of the year matters not out on the Playa.

Like me and Vesta, this photographer was out documenting the Playa experience, though he was way more dressed for the part than I was.

I wish I could explain to those who don’t or won’t or can’t understand what Burning Man is all about, but sadly, I’m not able. However, I can say that for one week out of the year, you’re free to be who you want to be.

If you’re a male, main stream Republican, who wants to go out in public in a dress, you can do that at Burning Man. If you’ve had this secret desire to walk in public naked, you can do that at Burning Man.

If you wanna dress like a ballerina, butcher or banker you can do that at Burning Man. If you wanna have beer for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you can do that at Burning Man. If you wanna spend the week praying out at the Temple, you can do that at Burning Man.

Nobody is going to judge you out on the Playa. Nobody’s going to talk about you behind your back. Well, they shouldn’t anyway, because judging others in absolutely not what Burning Man is about.

I could go on and on and on about the ethos of Burning Man and why you should go, but in the end, it all comes down to you. Are you willing to believe? I am.

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