God is Ugly and has a Black Tooth

All photos by Becca Levy.

I only love the morning time when I do not have to wake up for it. As a natural creature of the night, I often hide from the sunrise not wanting to be engulfed in flames – but on the playa, I invite it. And my greatest mornings come when the inevitable progression of our world must come to terms with that violet and crimson gleam radiating forth from the star – blanketing the planet in warmth and hope – and my eyes don’t have to shake off the night – full of its dreams and work unfinished. For then, they have been open for so long that they are forced to behold the first rays of life ready to give it up again. As that light arose on Friday morning at the Temple of Black Rock City – my sour, drunken and amphetamine ravaged face was finally able to step away from my bar and this terribly boring music. The light transported me and I realized that it was time to close down the bar, get away from the art car, break the routine. I felt an overwhelming drive to go out and give away something that would show my love and graciousness, not in the form of drinks, cigarettes and trinkets. It was to be religious practice indeed, but it was also a talent hunt and a mission to prove that there was a dancer in the direct vicinity of the Temple right at that moment who was meant to have these two fire staves that no longer needed to be in my possession. This did not come easy.

There are moments on the Playa when I get extremely frustrated with the community. Burners often appear to me unaware, consumed in vanity and a selfish sense of fun, unconcerned with the problems of others. Maybe I just take the whole thing way too seriously. But when I’ve been up all night working my ass off, taking care of people, accepting their MOOP out of pity and then they all take too many drugs, listen to shitty music and fall asleep on my art car, I start to feel like no one is on my level. I then go searching for the real burners. With enough effort, I always find them.

I find the most amazing people I have ever met and they show me that I am not alone and remind me why I keep coming back. This year at Burning Man Fertility 2.0, I went out looking for an angel that would be worthy to receive a special gift and instead, I met God – turns out he is ugly and has a black tooth.

I left the Janky Barge when the sun was erect, ready to find a certain bad-ass worthy of receiving these two short fire staves complete with a travel bag. At first, I aimed to find a pretty girl with performance skills intact, perhaps already in a state of dance. Around the outer brim of the Temple I began to walk, at first it was slow and full of intention asking people nicely, “Hey, you know how to play with these?” No one seemed the least bit interested, all of them shrugging off the offer. So round and round the Temple I continued – and after a half hour, one could see my stride gaining quickness and my offer becoming more forthright – dangling the staves in front of their faces. “All you have to do is take them from my hands and show me you can use them.”

They shook their heads, eyes unsure and downturned. Fail. Hundreds of people I asked, all of them aloof – maybe with a few exceptions saying, “Uh no, but maybe I could try.”

“Sorry not good enough, I need a master.” Approaching an hour of this – frustration arose. I moved on from individuals to groups – I approached an overly done up women moving in Buto to a crowd of onlookers all mesmerized, “Hey, do you know how to play with these?”

She looked confused. “No, what are those?” Fail.

I then began to cry out to the universe and the God I constantly challenge – I began to pray. Please Lord, Creator of this moment, bring forth and show me my lovely angel of fire and movement who will be overjoyed to receive these staves to awe others with their grace and ability. I prayed out loud with hesitant people looking at me as if I was some sort of madman. I became desperate, simply demanding, “All you have to do is take them from my hands, just be brave, be daring – take them and they are yours.” Fear on their faces. Fail. I almost began to physically cry for the first time in two years. “This can’t be true, the one meant to receive this gift must be here, is it you God? Are you the one who needs these? Show yourself to me!”

At that moment, a couple appeared out of my blind spot. They grabbed me forcefully, “Hey! We have been watching you storm around here yelling at people, what’s your deal?” I could hardly see their faces, still blinded by the sun swallowing me and my disappointment raging.

I said softly, “All I want is for some worthy soul to take these from my hands and prove that they can dance with them.” An older man, bearded with dirt and silver, stringy hair dangling all over his face, clad in dust and wonder snatched them from me. He starts to turn and twist them into various patterns as his limbs glide around the staves in tricky formulations. “Can you do that when they are on fire?”

He looked at me like I’m an idiot, and his partner exclaims, “He can do that when they are on fire while drinking whiskey and getting his dick sucked.”

I then realized that he is the one, and I embraced him, “Thank you God, I didn’t think you’d find me and I sure as fuck didn’t know you would be so ugly and have such a big black front tooth.”

He smiled with ecstasy, “Nice to see you brother.” I tackled him and we roll around in the dust like wild dogs reunited from the litter.

We pull each other up and I give him the bag to put the staves in as his partner chimed in, “Those are much nicer than the ones you have.”

“I know!” he said proudly.

I retorted, “I’m so glad I found you, I can now go on and live my life again.” The three of us embraced and told each how much we loved one another and then off I went skipping through the Playa, chipper and complete proclaiming loudly, “Praise the Lord! He has risen. Praise God! We are his children and we are it, there is nothing to fear, there is no reason to doubt, today the Universe has spoken and it is good.”



2 Responses to “God is Ugly and has a Black Tooth”
  1. Kyra Love
    Kyra Love

    Great post Nathan. I can see it all perfectly. Really glad this story found a way to be shared.


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