gayTED community / n. a shining city of ideas where elites can avoid the hoi polloi.
Gay only in the fabulous sense, and a community only in that it excludes those with different values, like Sarah Silverman, before her mega-mea culpa following a bad bout of TDS. Ideas worth 'sharing', a word the rich define differently from you or I, because tickets cost six thousand dollars.
How much? It brings to mind the trip I took in 2016 with my ex-Hell's Angel's pal Brutus. He's a gentle man who crashed his hog and took a gravel enema along the shoulder, and now can't drive long distances, so before Covid I chauffeured him down to the States each year in his giant Silverado while he me told tallish tales from his checkered past.
Usually we hit Colorado, where he owned a house in the small sculpture-infested town of Marble, whence came the giant marble block that forms the Tomb of the Unknowns in Washington. But the Feds tracked him down and took the house in lieu of 30 years' back taxes they said he owed on money he'd made since moving to British Columbia to dodge the draft.
So this time we headed into the desert where the dinosaurs went extinct, bent on purchasing rocks Brutus could whittle into jewellery.
"We could check out Burning Man, it's right next door." Not exactly. We got lost in the Black Rock Desert for a day and just when I gave up hope stumbled upon a paved road just a hundred miles shy of the entrance. The place was a regular Golgotha. Bernie bumper stickers everywhere, and twisters of pink talcum from the desert floor hurtling up and down, and private planes kicking up rooster tails of the same as trust fund douchebags flew in from San Francisco for the afternoon. I could barely see the ram on the hood when we reached the parking lot.
The concierge said tickets cost a thousand bucks and anyway they were all gone. I said, "What the everlasting holy fuck? How many anarchists have a spare grand tucked away for show tix?" Brutus was stoic when he heard the news, but now we had no place to sleep except his estranged brother's, in Stockton, on the far side of the Sierra Nevadas.
and down to Stockton, his home town. He got sick as a dog from the altitude so we stopped at a tourist place that sold gas, beef jerky and actual horseshoes. I bought a horseshoe and he bought a bottle of Niquil and a bottle of rum.
"You can't mix those," warbled the Spotified teen clerk. Brutus disagreed. Back in the Silverado he stirred both into a styrofoam cup and downed the lot abd said, "Damn, that's tasty!" then fell asleep upright in the most painful position I've ever seen first hand while rambling about his drunken brute of a Stockton dad chased him up an almond tree on their farm and sat under it all night with a shotgun ready to blow his son's brains out for something.
The valley was hot as fuck and full of almond trees. Brutus woke abruptly and began pointing out landmarks. A hatchback cut me off and I cursed. Then another. No indicator light. "They got out of the habit because there's no cops," said Brutus. Seems the city fathers, who were a clique of high school jocks, borrowed a hundred million to buy an ice hockey franchise and arena, only it was a hundred degrees in the shade and the kids had never seen skates before so when 2008 hit the franchise went bust and the city went broke, but the citizens could hardly point a finger because that year the rate of repossession was seventy percent, second highest in the nation, along with the illiteracy rate and just behind the obesity rate, where they clinched a first.
As a result the highway was patched like an Iraqui airport runway and drifts of garbage lined the off-ramps. Brutus called his brother but he was at work so we pulled in at a Super 8. The concierge saw the dust and said, "Burning Man?" She was a regular. But she had five dogs, and this year they had outlawed animals. There was a photoshoot in the lobby. A girl in a summer dress draped herself on a vintage car while a photographer snapped. The photographer was shirtless, and when he smiled, almost toothless. "Don't encourage them," said the desk girl, "They're meth heads. I wish they'd get off the car."
Next day we drove to a Mexican eatery to meet Hank. Brutus filled me in. "Last year Hank got a call from his neighbour, two kids were loading all his stuff into a truck. Hank headed home and called the cops. They said they drove past but didn't see anything. He knew they were lying. When he got home all his stuff was gone except the big TV. He was confused, then the kids returned for the TV. Hank shot one of them in the head with his Glock. It never went to trial. But now he was all jumpy.
"Also, he really loves the salsa at this place so keep an eye on him or he'll try and steal a bottle, and if they catch us we'll get a beating."
Hank was like a skinny version of Brutus, with a beard. Awkward bro hug. He talked with his hands, about how many hours he had put in that week unloading wind turbine blades at the dock and how much tax he'd payed and how he was voting TRUMP.
I had noticed the Bernie stickers had been replaced by giant TRUMP roadside banners. Then I noticed the salsa was gone. Outside in the parking lot his girlfriend fished it out of her purse with a sullen look. She was safe from beatings because she was still pretty.
We drove over to the house. Brutus said Hank would make some excuse for not letting us in because he was a hoarder and ashamed of it. Sure enough, even the driveway was full of cars and five hundred concrete garden gnomes he'd bought for a dollar each at Costco and a classic Airstream, where we sat and smoked joints while his girlfriend painted eyes on a gnome.
She had painted one like a Green Bay Packer because there was a big game coming up,. "Show them the black one," giggled Hank. He said it was Obama. "I voted for that fucker," he said.
We drove to the sea and luncheoned at a bar that was chock-full of African animals, hundreds of them, two of most, like Noah's Ark without the happy ending. Over the flatscreen cowled a snow leopard. "Those are almost fucking extinct," I said. Brutus said, "Now you know why."
And that's when I realized I'd set out for Buirning Man but ended up in the Gulag ArchieBunker.