Thursday, September 7, 2017

Part 3: Over the Rainbow



How to survive Burning Man, A life-saving guide.
-Don't drink a lot of alcohol, it will dehydrate you.
-Get at least 6 hours of sleep every night
-Eat three full meals every day, snack intermittently.
-Bring a more substantive sleeping structure than a tent, an RV or yurt is best
-Listen to your body
-Don't try to do everything at your first burn
-Don't mix multiple chemicals in your body 
-Take naps
-Take a day off
-Make sure to take a multi-vitamin
______________________________
0 for 10...F

Darkness consumes me.

I roll over and look at my sleeping bag, it is soaked in sweat and despite the fact that it is quickly approaching 95 degrees I am shivering in my tent.

I start doing the basic math in my head, this is now my 6th day in 100 degree + temperatures, I have been averaging three hours of sleep per night, drinking heavily and eating next to nothing. I peer into our supply tent and grab an MRE, the physical exertion from standing up is too great and I crumble down. I am finally able to pull some pesto chicken out of a bag but it's too late. I can't eat, can barely keep any water down. I try to smash some electrolytes and quickly vomit everywhere.

I am going to die out here.

My mind goes to the gutter. Why didn't I listen? Why did I start drinking at 10am every day? Why did I break up with that girl four years ago, maybe we would be married with kids and I would have never come to this god forsaken place.

I spend portions of the next 12 hours drifting in and out of consciousness.

I have been hungover before, it is uncomfortable.

I think I have even experienced early symptoms of withdrawal before, but that was in the comfort of my own home.

You never want to be sick in a 5 person Coleman tent in 105 degree weather while a bunch of Icelandic models are throwing an Alice in Wonderland themed rave next door.


It was a comparable feeling to dying, yet instead of visits from family members and friends wanting to make their peace with me I would typically get an Eastern European who had stumbled into the wrong tent wondering if I was the guy with the acid.

24 hours I intermitently sat in that tent questioning every life decision I had ever made, weathering the category 5 storm attacking my conscience. I even dragged myself to a concert for a few minutes, laying face down in the dirt while Diplo played a Sunset show. Many people probably thought I was on mushrooms having a vision quest of sorts, I was merely focusing on breathing.

Thursday was not a great day.

I thought about giving up, I considered walking to the med tent and asking for an airlift to Reno. One of the Aspen kids had done that, fallen off a slide at the playground fracturing his ankle to little pieces. My parents would be upset about the $40,000 heli-rescue cost but they would probably get over it, maybe. Actually that might be a deal breaker.

Some guy brought me over a slice of pizza, he could tell I needed it, but the cruelest fate was that my body wouldn't let me consume it, just a worthless carcass of a human rotting away in the Nevada heat.

I promise if I survive this, I will never drink again.



And now a brief treatise on story structure from someone with no formal training in screenwriting.

Most stories follow a general three act structure, there is a beginning, middle and an end. In the romantic comedy or coming of age space there is typically some sort of road block near the end of the second act; a speed bump of sorts to keep our protagonist from his or her goal. Think How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days when Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey realize their budding romance was based on a bet. Or perhaps 10 Things I hate About You when Julia Styles realized that her romance with Heath Ledger was part of a bet. Or even more famously She's All That when Rachel Leigh Cook realizes...HER ROMANCE WITH FREDDIE PRINZE JR WAS BASED ON A BET!!!

Now, one can deduce the following from this. A. It is easy to write a bet-based romantic comedy centering on attractive white people in their 20's and B. story structure demands that something go wrong before an inevitable happy ending.

This is accomplished in several ways, typically the hero learns something about him or herself and then makes a 'desperate act' usually over a Gin Blossoms song or something and everyone lives happily ever after.



A coming of age story (and I suppose this is a coming of age story) follows a similar structure. Something bad happens, the hero (that's me!) overcomes adversity and learns a valuable lesson, take Sandlot for example. They lose the ball and spend a full week trying to get it back only to learn that they should have just knocked on the door and asked James Earl Jones if they could have it back.

I guess that lesson is honesty? Not to be a coward? PF Flyers are an underrated shoe? Unclear.

What would be my lesson?

What would be my learning moment?

I believe it was the great poet Katy Perry that said after a hurricane comes a rainbow...let's see how our hero responds.



PART 3: OVER THE RAINBOW

How to survive Burning Man, A life-saving guide.
-Don't drink a lot of alcohol, it will dehydrate you.
-Get at least 6 hours of sleep every night
-Eat three full meals every day, snack intermittently.
-Bring a more substantive sleeping structure than a tent, an RV or yurt is best
-Listen to your body
-Don't try to do everything at your first burn
-Don't mix multiple chemicals in your body 
-Take naps
-Take a day off
-Make sure to take a multi-vitamin
______________________________
5 for 10...still an F but better than 0.

I woke up Friday a new man, the birds were chirping, the clouds had parted, God smiled down on me. Today was my last day and I was going to learn from the mistakes of my past to make sure I had an enjoyable time and finished my burn on a positive no-

"Hey you!"

Me?

"Ya, you with the hair!"

Uh, what's up?

"Are you from California?"

I am.

I am on my way to the restroom when I am accosted by a man that appears to have been drinking for 3 hours, it is 9:58 in the morning. He is holding up a white board full of places and tally marks.

There are 21 tally marks next to both Ireland and California.

"Hey man, I'm Harry. Whichever place gets the most tally marks I am moving to for a year, until next burning man. I don't want to move to fucking Ireland. Ireland sucks. Will you please save me?"

Sure, what do I have to do?

"Beer bong breakfast!!!!"

Fuck, so much for that promise and a leisurely day of sobriety.

I look at my opponent, a young man from Dublin named Liam, he has a stamp on his forehead that declares him a virgin burner.

Even at 50% I know that Liam is no match for me, he looks scared, he looks like he wandered out for a corned beef hash and got bullied into chugging some premium American Kirkland Lights.


"GO!"

I take a knee and finish the beer before Liam has started, he spews unfinished lager all over the playa ground and the bros of 'Camp F*cking Awesome' start a MOOP* chant. Sorry Liam, welcome to the frat.

*Moop stands for Matter Out Of Place, it basically means don't litter at burning man, but some heroes think this translates to water and beer, these people are losers, if you spill your beer in the desert don't worry about it.

I've consumed a beer before 10am, but fortunately Harry won't have to spend a year in Ireland, I've done my good deed for the day.

I continue on to a sweat lodge at a nudist camp, hoping to remove all negative toxins from my previous day's battle. I am showered in eucalyptus and rose petal and by the time I leave that lodge I am ready to climb a fucking mountain. Last day of Burning Man, I am ready for you.

I scoop Andrew and we begin our day at Transfoamation, a group shower/foam party hosted by Dr. Bronner's organic soap. I fall in love with a Reno girl named Angela who is in a sake theme camp. I am clean for all of 15 seconds after the foam party, but I have a renewed vigor for life.

From the foam I am ushered into a hut where I am ordered to strip naked and am slathered in gold glitter paint by three strange women. I can tell you now that dirt will come off clothing, stains will come off clothing...glitter is forever.

Post bedazzling Andrew and I find ourselves at a White Trash Camp featuring bartenders from Hawaii that have created a drinking game involving dice and quite a bit of sexploitation. Matt the bartender walks up to the cutest girl at the bar and puts two dice in front of her, she rolls and no matter what the numbers say, be it 7, 12, 6 or even 2...UH OHHHHH BOOB LUGE.

In 30 minutes at the White Trash Camp I saw Matt do no less than 15 boob luges, I wonder if he made it back to Maui.



Next stop was some 3D Twister at a board game camp. Let me tell you, when you are expecting settlers of catan and you are instead granted 3d twister and vodka squirt guns, that will catch up with you.

The next thing I knew I was half naked playing Red Rover with a bunch of strangers from Calgary hoping I didn't break someone's arm,

When I look back on my experience now, it's hard to pin point the exact moment when I realized I was home. Was it when I was handed my guide book upon entry? Was it when I was swinging from a ring in a Pikachu onesie at Camp OKNOTOK belting out the lyrics to "I Just Can't Wait to be King" or was it when I decided on a whim 6 months ago that this might be a journey I should investigate.



The last night out in the Playa I wore a spaceman onesie. Either Jack or Nick wore it for Halloween seven years ago as part of an Armageddon costume. I remember walking by a camp that was throwing down a major party, everyone inside was likewise wearing spaceman costumes.

"Come in." Said a young woman in NASA get up, "We're about to take off."

Where are we going?

"Why the moon of course."

Of course.

I walked into the space party which was presumably on the moon and boarded a electric bull (because apparently they have electric bulls in space) I looked at one of the women operating it and told her that I thought I was losing my mind.

"That's ok. We all are. Just lean into it...and let go."

You can do anything or be anyone in Black Rock City. You can create a new name, new identity or just assume an exaggerated version of your true self.

You can do orgies, you can jump out of planes, you can participate in the literal boner jam at SLUTgarden. (20 naked men with personal fluffers compete to see who can get the first erection) you can run the American Ninja Warrior course, you can beat the shit out of someone, you can fall in love, you can sprint into a burning structure to go out in a blaze of glory.

I chose to bum around for a week with a friend and see what I could learn about myself, this world and the people in it.



Here are my findings.

People are good.

I forget this sometimes because it's easy blame other people, places and things for our own failings. It's LA's fault I'm unsuccessful or this person dicked me over and that's why I'm unhappy. A stranger cut me off on the freeway, a friend didn't return my call.

The truth is we are all responsible for our own lives, the cavalry is not coming to bail us out, the choices we make inform the realities that become.

Among those choices however are the people we choose to surround ourselves with, the communities we decide to join.



I cannot change the fact that a certain population of Los Angeles is shallow and will stop at nothing to get ahead. I cannot help the fact that others may feel me or my work to be inadequate. What I can do however, is in the face of adversity remain positive.

I had a shitty year. I lost a job, my show got cancelled, everyone in my family got sick, like REALLY sick, my bank account hovered around 0 plus or minus a couple hundred bucks and I had every excuse in the world to curl up in a ball and just fucking give up.

And for six months I thought the only light at the end of the tunnel for me was this stupid party weekend in the desert where I would find God and a miracle would happen that would change my life forever.

But this was untrue. What got me through the past six months was the power of friendship, the power of love; the people all around me and their unwavering support, the people that never stopped believing in me even when I quit on myself. What I traveled to the desert to learn was something that had been right under my nose the whole time, I was just too stubborn to see it.

Bad things happen to everyone, people go through rough patches and when it's happening to you it seems like no one in the world could possibly understand. Sometimes all we need is a little kick in the ass to remind ourselves that everything typically has a way of working itself out.



Burning Man didn't necessarily save me, but it very may well have saved me from myself. It's entirely possible that I will never work again, but you know what? I think I'm learning not to judge the entirety of my self-worth about my own personal elevator pitch.

"So Dave what do you do?"

I live in LA, I try to be a good friend, I love to write and go on adventures.

That's a far more accurate portrait of me than I'm a staff writer on some web comedy you probably don't watch.

My last day on the Playa I went to the Black Rock Post Office and wrote a letter to my future self. I can't remember exactly what it said, but it was something along the lines of 'Don't forget how you felt in this exact moment. People believe in you and love you, at least 80,000 strangers in the desert, and they don't even know how great you can be. Don't give up.' 

I promise I felt the same way you do now. It's a bunch of hippies in the desert doing blood sacrifices, it's a cult. I was mainstream, I was a conformist, I voted Republican in every election until 2016.

I'm glad to be a member of the community now, a group that doesn't care where you come from, what you look like, or what you're about. They'll welcome you with open arms. I look at the ten basic principles of Burning Man and, ya, I kinda roll my eyes, but also every idea has to be built on something.

I'm still not sure what I'm chasing. I'm not 100% sure what I'm looking for, but I think I'm on the right path now. I'm going to keep trying and I know I am going to be exactly where I'm meant to be.

I'll be back on the Playa next year, will you join me?



EXT. A DIRT ROAD IN NORTHERN NEVADA - SUNRISE

A black Mazda crawls down a dirt road as the hot desert sun begins to peak across a distant mountain range. Dust is kicked up as the car slows to a halt at a checkpoint. The driver rolls down the window and a weathered face looks in.

GATE AGENT

Coming Back in?

DAVE

Next year.

GATE AGENT

We'll be waiting for you.

The Mazda rolls up its window and accelerates onto a desolate two lane highway. It's 600 miles back to Los Angeles and nothing will ever be the same.

FADE OUT

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Part 2: Lost and Gone Forever



There is a 747 in the desert right now. I imagine it’s partially disassembled at this point, but I have to imagine that jumbo jet based art projects take several days to strike and remove.

I’m in the TSA line at this 747, I consider making a joke about having global entry but I think better of it. There is a German man in a full security outfit carefully examining each person that boards this plane. Finally it is my turn.

“Do you have any insecurities you want to declare?”

I had assumed this was some sort of performance art, a play on the security checkpoint, but I quickly realized he was asking me something far more personal. I saw a sign of things not allowed on the plane: fear, stress, hopelessness, inadequacy, dread.

I looked up at the man and told him what I was feeling.

“I’m afraid I’ll never measure up. I’ve spent the last ten years watching my peers zoom by me while I seem to be stuck.”

He waved a metal detector across my shoulders.

“Ah yes, I found your insecurities. They’re right here.”

He waves the metal detector at my heart.

“So what I’m going to do is take these from you. Then I want you to board the plane and check your emotional baggage, write down where it is you are trying to go and don’t worry about the bumps on the ride, you will get to your destination ok. But all your stress? I’m throwing it in this garbage can behind me and we’ll just leave it there OK?”

And like everyone else in Black Rock City, he gave me a hug, told me he loved me and to enjoy the rest of my burn…then I stepped inside a German 747 that someone had transported to a remote portion of desert about 50 miles from the Oregon border.


PART 2: LOST AND GONE FOREVER

Well we survived…

The dust storm was pretty violent but I kept my eye on Andrew’s back tire the whole way and followed the sound of his voice back to our camp. The British tea camp right next to us had completely collapsed and our tent was attempting to blow away, but the 12 inch rebar held.

It’s surreal watching a shade structure fly over your head into the deep abyss like a scene from 1997’s Twister, but the storm was as short as it was strong. The camps that were destroyed were rebuilt and before we knew what had hit us, the music began pulsing through the city again and a rainbow appeared on the horizon, some deity’s promise that we had been tested and we had passed. It was still early in the week and the worst was behind us, a beacon of hope moving forward.

In my newbie orientation, the instructor tried to give us a non-exhaustive list of things that can kill you in the desert.

-Dehydration (too little water)
-Water Poisoning (too much water)
-Exposure (the cold kind)
-Exposure (the hot kind)
-Death by art car
-Falling off something high
-Something high falling on you
-Fire
-Bad drugs
-Too many drugs
-Alcohol Poisoning
-Flying debris
-Lightning Strikes
-Heat stroke
-Cardiac Arrest

They gave us that list and stressed that this environment is actively trying to harm you, almost like the Fire Swamp in The Princess Bride: not on that list, wandering off.

I am a wanderer.

My first script I ever wrote was called ‘The Wanderer.’

My favorite OAR album…The Wan- you get it…like a feral cat, sometimes I just start walking in a certain direction. I could be following a song, or a light structure, a smell or anything that seems interesting.

On this particular night, while out with the Aspen kids at a bar at 4:30 and F, I was in search of…a bathroom.

Normally when you are on a night out with your friends, the bathroom is in the bar. Burning Man is not a normal night out with friends, and the bars while prevalent, tend not to have bathrooms.

I walked out of the bar and took a right, or maybe it was a left. Someone had given me a pie earlier in the day and told me it was special, but now HOW special. Next I saw some girls taking Jell-o shots at a small camp, they asked me if I wanted to join them. Now I don’t live my life by many rules but if you are far from home and a group of young women offer you Jell-o shots, you say yes.


It was probably 30 minutes before I realized I was roaming around aimlessly again, I had lost my friends, the Jell-o shot girls and still hadn’t managed to find a bathroom…but I suppose at Burning Man you are never truly lost until you are found.

“Dave!” (or honestly maybe he was just saying 'Hey!')

I look up at someone that seems vaguely familiar. He’s standing on a bus, or is it a boat? It’s a large structure with wheels and it is so bright that it can probably be seen from space.

“Get on the bus!”

I didn’t ask questions, I didn’t worry about my bike or the bathroom or my friends where I was supposed to be…I am where I am supposed to be, this bus. So I got on.

I sat on a bench next to two guys and two chicks and one handed me a drink.

“We’re going on a bass crawl.”

I looked around the bus, it had a full dance floor, a fully functional bar, a DJ booth and 40-50 people hanging out at small tables on the fringes.

A captain of some sort yells ‘All aboard’ in an old timey voice and the ship sets sail for port. The art car makes its way toward the Esplanade toward the deep playa where the legendary sound camps Questionmark, Robot Heart, Distrikt and Mayan Warrior.

I don’t remember what we talked about on that ship/bus for five hours. I know that at one stop we pulled parallel to a giant ball pit and I did a Scrooge McDuck dive off the top of the bus.

I know at Distrikt someone handed me a Super Soaker full of beer to hose down the crowd from the stage. I know that at Camp Questionmark I told one of the schedulers that I was a famous Drum and Bass act known as Fuck Buttons and that I was trying to get a last minute set time. He told me that he had heard of me and to come back tomorrow night and he would get me in.

We ended the night at Robot Heart, I was dancing on top of a cage with a beautiful woman from Hong Kong and she looked into my eyes and simply said ‘you can kiss me if you want.’

As the son began to rise my new friends and I exchanged names and camp locations but we all knew that this was the end. That is the magic of burning man, a relationship can burn so intensely bright and then be lost and gone forever.

Suddenly I was alone again, staring off into the distant horizon of which my campground waited for me a solid three miles away.

Not ready to begin the long trek home I found a camp called Hugzilla. It’s a camp full of trampolines and 6 foot teddy bears, I crawled onto one of the trampolines and cuddled a couple bears; it just felt right in the moment.

A couple hours later the hot sun started to pour over me and I summoned the energy necessary to make the odyssey back to 315 and H. I walked through the deep desert past the likes of the Trash Fence where there was a Daft Punk party going, or who knows, maybe this year the people in the costumes actually WERE Daft Punk performing together for the first time in 10 years and I was just too zonked out to notice.

I zombied past the temple, the Man at center camp and even a Tycho sunrise concert that was full of people who looked like they had been up for 48 hours straight, but they didn’t seem to mind.

When I got back close to camp, a group of runners blew past me, I couldn’t help but sit down and laugh. Of course, this was the day of the Burning Man ultra marathon. Some people come here to party, some people come here for polyamorous love and apparently some people come here to prove that they can run 50km in the desert heat. Suddenly my drunken stumble home doesn’t seem so daunting.

I lay my head down at about 8am knowing full well that it’s going to be too oppressively hot to sleep in about an hour, but I crawl into the tent anyway and close my eyes. Andrew is there already so I can rest easy that there isn’t a search party out looking for me. I think past a certain point out here you just have to let people find their own way. I close my eyes and I see nothing, but the music still pulsates throughout my soul. I survived another night at the burn.

 And now a multiple choice test to get you in my mindset!!!

1.     After waking up and realizing that you have just partied for 24 hours straight, slept for 48 minutes and haven’t eaten a full meal in two days you…

A.     Decide to take it easy today, listen to your body, don’t overdo it.
B.     Find a nap camp to spend your morning, misters, a hammock, shade, that sounds good about right now!
C.     Find a camp that is serving a hearty breakfast, all that exploring on an empty stomach can catch up to you.
D.    Any combination of A, B and C.
E.     Holy shit is that a camp doing morning beer bongs?!?!?!

2.     You drunkenly lost your Burning Man mug last night, this was both the cup that your drinks were poured into while visiting camps AND the device that held a photocopy of your ID. Naturally you…

A.     Find that mug!!!!
B.     Find another copy of your ID and attach it to an old Gatorade bottle or something, BOOM! New mug.
C.     Stop worrying about alcohol facilitation, you should be in search of bacon and a good nap.
D.    There is a wiffle ball bat in your tent, saw off the end and Louisville Chugger every drink the rest of the weekend, strangers will think you’re awesome. Tape your actual ID to your backpack or something.

3.     Finally, what are we going to do about that missing bike? It’s locked up at 430 and E, about a mile away.

A.     Walk by yourself to go get it, a morning stroll could wake you up.
B.     Wait until your camp mate wakes up and walk with him, you don’t want to get separated again.
C.     Take your campmates bike to get your bike and then ghost ride one of them back. WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

Well, if you answered literally anything other than E, D, C you passed! But you already know what I did right? When a camp jokingly asked me if I was trying to steal a bike on my way back I flipped out and went down, leading to a badly mangled foot.

Bonus Question: What did I do about that mangled foot?
A: Treat it with first aid ya dummy.
B. Throw a sock on it and forget about it.

How did I survive this trip again?

Ok, where were we?

Wednesday. It is Wednesday, halfway through. Only half way? My God…time both flies and drags at Burning Man. I simultaneously feel like I just got here and I’ve been here all my life.

As much as I draw out certain experiences for comedic effect, it’s important to know that the best part of Burning Man often lies in the quiet moments; it’s the moment a 35 year old Ukranian woman figures out that she has eliminated you from NeverSleepAgain’s Connect Four tournament, it’s the time you dominate a foosball table at a gay bar called Playa 54 for a full hour, it’s that time that you’re walking home and you stumble upon a mini golf course called ‘Slut Putt’ and decide that your life simply cannot continue without playing a full round.

I shot a 31, Andrew show a 27. For my troubles I had to do a naked lap around the course and then allow one of the ladies of Slut Putt to paddle me three times.

THWACK!!!!

Nothing.

THWACK!!!!!!!!!!!

Nothing.

THHHHHHWWWWWWWWAAAAAACKKK!!!!!!!11!

“Jeez dude, I feel like you’ve been paddled before.”

Maybe once or twice.

As fun as it is to throw bananas at the Mario Kart camp, or to climb the Thunderdome and feed your inner bloodlust…as cool as it is to find the American Ninja Warrior course set up at 9 and B and prove once and for all that you CAN CAN’T actually do what you see on TV…as much fun as it is to throw yourself from an Australian rope swing carousel and laugh as you let go skipping across the playa dirt, hoping you didn’t suffer any broken ribs; the one thing I will always remember from Burning Man is the people.

I’ll remember Angela and her sister from Reno whom I had a perfectly normal conversation with in the nude during a group shower. It’s their 7th burn, they brought their parents last year. Angela is gorgeous and I can’t help but wonder what would happen if I did accept her invitation back to her Sake theme camp. Maybe we would take a bunch of sake bombs and exchange numbers. Maybe some day she would come to Los Angeles and I would take her on a date, a totally normal activity made slightly less normal due to the fact that we met naked? I think I have a newfound respect for the Martin Freeman subplot of Love Actually.

I’ll remember eating Jambalaya with ‘Mama Bear’ who told me she came to Burning Man to spread her mother’s ashes. What a fitting tribute.

And I’ll remember Hamish…Oh God Hamish….

So Wednesday night, we find ourselves in the deep playa at a Table Service bar. We were there to witness a 10 million dollar art car called Mayan Warrior (allegedly funded entirely by drug money) when we stumbled upon a night club in the middle of nowhere.

A Frenchman asks for our names…

“I’m Big Wave and this is Drew”

Ah yes, I see right here on the list. Your table is almost ready.

After waiting 10 minutes or so we are sat with three Australians.

“We’ve been waiting for you guys all night,” They crow.

*Note: We have never seen these people before in our lives

They introduce themselves as a rag tag group from Melbourne, tell us camps we need to hit the next day. After an hour or so of pleasantries it comes out that Andrew and I are from Los Angeles and work in entertainment leading Hamish to give us his film pitch…and let me tell you, you have not lived until you have workshopped a film treatment with a tripping Australian in the desert for three hours.

We head back to our camp around a quarter til 6 and Andrew looks back at me.

“It’s not that bad of an idea you know. Think he’ll actually email us?”

I dunno if he will, but if he does I already have an outline saved on my computer as EDM Fantasia.DOCX.

Halfway through the burn I was totally in, I was already making plans for next year. I’ll bring an RV, perhaps run a simple bar, a Fireball bar! Come to Dave’s Fireball bar and tell stories about stupid shit you did in your 20’s or 30’s for that matter.

What I do know is that I have become a believer, in people, in positivity, in love. I don’t know who I will be when I return from this trip but I know exactly who I am now, and it’s approaching the best version of myself. Out here I do not worry about my shortcomings, about the fact that after my pilot crashed and burned I’ve been basically wallowing in my own misery and relying on the charity of others for the past 9 months.

No out here I’m just a happy-go-lucky guy with hair so crusty I’m afraid it’s about to literally start breaking off. But I was thinking about cutting it anyway, right? If that’s the worst of my worries, everything is going to be ok…that was until Thursday of course.

Because on Thursday everything changed…

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Part 1: Into the Storm


I'm climbing a tree only it's not quite a real tree.

It has a trunk, branches, traits I've always associated with what makes up a tree. But this tree is different, it beams in dynamic LED lights that permeate as far as the eye can see. I'm about 60 feet off the ground but I keep climbing higher and higher. I don't remember where I was five minutes before, I'm not sure where I will be five minutes after.

I have the distinct feeling that I'm in a dream, I am having an experience that I am familiar with but it's about two layers removed from reality. In a bad dream this would be the time where I try really hard to open my eyes, in a good dream this is the part where I try to remain calm, but I usually wake up anyway.

I start to climb down as branches switch from neon green to pink. There are dozens of other climbers around me, with about ten feet to go, I slip and fall. For a nanosecond I worry about the hard dirt that I am about to hit and the impact it will cause. It never comes. Strangers catch me like a baby escaping a flaming building.

"You were really up there man!"

I look at my saviors, a couple people in Panda costumes. They set me down and start climbing themselves.

This is not a dream. This is Burning Man.

***

A week ago at this exact moment I was waking up at my tiny camp at 3:15 and H, if this doesn't make sense to you yet, it's not quite important. If you imagine a city as a clock, I was on the right side and almost all the way off, where your clock face disappears into the metal that is holding it. I believe I was about to attend a class on introduction to voodoo, not that I have ever wanted to smite my enemies, but I always thought it might be a skill that could come in handy.

One hundred and sixty eight hours later I am sitting at a reception desk at the Kabbalah center in Los Angeles, doing enough temp work to pay my bills and keep living. I'm not quite sure what Kabbalah is or what it teaches, I have a suspicion that it has a reputation for being somewhat culty, I think Madonna was involved and they sell water. In fact, it might not be too terribly different from my intro to voodoo class that I took last week on the Playa, however it's quite a far cry from what I was doing last week.

So here's the deal. I want to share my experiences with you unfiltered, unedited and try to do it without sounding like an annoying, insufferable prick. I think the best way to do that is a three part series. My goal isn't necessarily to recruit you or prove to you that I have found enlightenment, I just want to tell you what happened and you can make up your mind for yourself. It's going to be a wild ride and I invite you to come along with me for the next 10,000 words or so. If reading isn't really your forte, there will be a video at some point. Hopefully by the end you'll have a fairly good idea of what this whole experience was about and why I did it. And when this is all over, if you want to join this expedition with me, we've got about 350 more days to start planning.

INTO THE STORM

I promise I prepared.

I read all the message boards, memorized the survival checklist and even went to a rookie orientation in Burbank.
 
"Don't get too excited when you get there and start partying right away. It's a marathon not a sprint."

Ya, I held onto that information for all of about five seconds until a girl named Autumn tossed down a bag of wine from an RV located next to me.

"Slap it!"

I looked up and there is a woman in her mid 20's wearing nothing but bikini bottoms and pasties over her nipples.

"Slap the bag, it's a game we play in Aspen!"

Clearly she hadn't received the memo that I was still a 21 year old frat guy in the body of a 30 year old burn out. But that's how my week began, playing an old college drinking game in a four hour line to enter a temporary city in Northern Nevada.

As we finally prepared to enter the gates I asked the Aspen kids what the name of their camp was.

"Fourth Rule!!! Find us at 315 and K!"

What's the fourth rule I wondered aloud.

"There are no rules!"

Thus my burn had began by taking a swig of Merlot Franzia.

After rolling in some dirt and hitting a symbolic bell our car was ushered into Black Rock City, a 10 square mile piece of desert operated by the federal Bureau of Land Management that is annually leased out to the Burning Man organizers.

The very first thing I noticed was the scope of it all. While I had arrived with a tent, a pop-up and 10 gallons of water, it became immediately obvious to me that some people make this excursion the focal point for their entire lives. We drove by giant metallic structures, large shaded canopies and massive RVs that dwarfed anything we had driven up in our small Mazda from Los Angeles.

We found a small plot of land next to a street sign that read 3:15 and Hallowed, it seemed like a good enough place to set up camp. We were situated between a European tea themed camp named SerendipiTEA and a counseling camp named LISTEN. Elsewhere was a 'boat rental' camp nearby that boasted a volleyball court and a Mezcal bar, there was a hot dog camp that existed solely to cook hot dogs and a sunscreen camp that asked nothing more than you walk into their camp completely nude so they could slather you with SPF 100.

My camp didn't offer much in the sense of a 'theme' though we did decide on the drive up that Sugar Ray's greatest hits album was underappreciated and decided to start every day by playing it all the way through. This garnered mixed reviews from our neighbors.

After setting up camp and shotgunning a celebratory Rolling Rock we decided it best to hop on our $30 mountain bikes and explore the neighborhood. Many camps were still building, but even on day one I could realize that the scope of this 'festival' was beyond my wildest dreams. A man across the street was putting the finishing touches on an 80 foot art car that resembled an atomic bomb but was replete with a giant dance floor on the top. Perhaps it was a metaphor that the apocalypse is coming but we might as well keep partying?

There is a giant book with all of the day's events. I looked down to see what I might be interested in...

- Justin Bieber welcome party
- Kegs and Eggs breakfast
- Motorboat Sunday
- Rise and Shine Yoga
- Human Carcass Wash
- Spank City
- Intro to Glory Holes
- Swayze Stories
- Bicycle Repair
- Nothing but fisting
- Chill the fuck out and Color
- The art of crafting your first merkin
- Disney Sing-a-long power hour

So some of those might be self-explanatory, at Bicycle Repair some gear heads will fix your bike, at 'chill the fuck out and color' you do some stress relieving adult coloring. The Human Carcass Wash is a car wash for people and at Swayzie Stories well, you get drunk and tell real and fake stories about the late, great Patrick Swayzie.

Andrew and I decided to do a full lap of the city, check out some things that we might want to see later in the week; find some cool art, see where the cool bars are, maybe find some internet so we could post the address to our new home.

As it turns out there was no internet, and nearly every camp is a bar of some sort.

There was a nudist sake bar, a beer bong bar, a clear tequila only bar, whiskey bar, scotch bar, a PBR appreciation bar, a bar where you could only be served if you let a dominatrix whip you. A place for day daqs, a place for night daqs, a place for regular margaritas, a place for frozen margaritas. Rest assured if there was a specific cocktail that you were looking for, it could be found.

As I am often one to blow my load early, the later the day became, the fuzzier the memories that I still hold are. I can tell you for sure that I participated in a human crane game...like the thing at the arcade where you try to catch a stuffed animal, except you are trying to catch live humans. I was not caught. I can tell you that I ended up at Spankies wine bar and let a dominatrix whip me, paddle me and eventually give me a flame enema while dozens of onlookers cheered. And at some point I ended up climbing a 60 foot art installation called the Tree of Tenere, a piece with 25,000 LED lights, I slipped and fell into the arms of waiting strangers as if the universe put them there by design.

Riding around the center camp Esplanade a tad delirious I saw a Thunderdome, a Mad Max style fight club in which participants enter a dome and fight until someone gives up, I saw a giant playground full of swings, slides, seesaws, because sometimes in the middle of the desert you just want to let it all go and be a kid again.

Speaking of being a kid again, did you know Burning Man had life sized Mario Kart? Some Hero brought 10 go karts stylized with Mario characters, built Peach's castle and set up a mile long course for you to race on. Are there bananas? Of course there are bananas, complete with RFID chips inside that make your car spin out if you hit them.

There is a circus, a freak show, about 20 DJ camps, a sex camp, a mist camp, a BDSM camp, a camp that worships bananas and of course a giant BMX bike course thankfully situated next to the hospital camp. You can fly planes, you can jump out of planes, if you can dream it....it exists.

At some point, Andrew and I bike up to a giant trampoline camp, yes there are camps entirely dedicated to giant trampolines. I hop on because there is house music playing, art pieces are shooting lasers in every imaginable direction and I just played 'Heart and Soul' on a keyboard attached to a 200 foot Tesla Coil. I'm doing back flips, sit outs, all the old tricks I used to do when two six year old children join me on the trampoline.

"Bounce us high! Bounce us high!"

Panic consumes me as a 90 foot art car drives by me and breathes fire. I look down and there is a man in his mid 30's grooving to the music watching his kids jump around me on the trampoline.

"Go ahead man, send them to space. They asked for it!"

So I did a double jump that sent those kids so high I could have sworn they were going to leave Earth's orbit. They then came down and tackled me, demanding I do it again.

I wasn't sure what I came here looking for, but I was starting to realize what this place was: a playground for adults. (And sure, kids too...why not?)

***

 Holy shit. It was real.

These were my initial thoughts on waking up Monday morning.

As my camp mate was still sleeping, I decided to introduce myself to some of the neighbors. I walked over to the LISTEN camp and asked what they were up to.

"We're about to do speed counseling. It's like speed dating, but for counseling, would you like to join?"

Sure I was here to party, but I was also looking for answers. I told myself I wouldn't say 'no' to anything within reason this week so I decided to go ahead with it. I have never seen a therapist and as most of my friends will tell you I tend not to get deep with anyone, it makes me uncomfortable and I don't like that, but for whatever reason I had no problem opening my heart up to a stranger.

The truth is, I've always tried to be a positive person, a beacon of hope for those around me. I've hidden all of my feelings with a smile even if it was a lie. My flame used to burn so bright, but I've had such a tough year that the flame was almost extinguished, I've come so close to giving up so many times and I really needed this trip to right my course or I was doomed for a sad fate.

Well I said as much to a group of strangers and they all gave me a hug and simply said "I believe in you, everyone here believes in you, and everything is going to be OK." And sometimes when you're hungover in the desert questioning every life decision you have ever made, that is exactly what you need to hear.

I hopped on my bike for a solo morning cruise, passed the famed orgy dome, with a permanent sign on the side that says 'We f*cked too hard last night, please gift us condoms!'

I pull out my map at an intersection and a woman taps me on the back and tells me that I look like I could use some blueberry pancakes and a mimosa. I've been alive for 30 years and I don't think a stranger has ever offered me blueberry pancakes and a mimosa. But I learn more and more that this is the core of the event 'gifting.' A gift could be some blueberry pancakes, it could be helping someone inflate a tire, or the people that listened to me talk about the existential crisis I find myself in and giving me a hug. 

Andrew wakes up back at camp and we decide to start the day on a bar crawl. We pop by Camp Anita, a camp covered in signs WARNING AUSTRALIANS PRESENT, we stop by Rubbertire where they are preparing for a day of Bike Jousting, we see a Bill Murray happy hour beginning and decide our lives won't be complete without at least one drink.

Back at camp for a delicious lunch of Soylent and canned soup, Andrew decides that today would be a good day to honor his late uncle by memorializing him at the Burning Man Temple.

The temple is a place to honor loved ones with a picture, a story, a totem of remembrance. This will all burn down Sunday night mind you, and those sad attachments you carry around of that person are supposed to symbolically leave you, lost in the dust of the Playa.

We bike out and I am overcome with emotion as hundreds of people tape up memorials to those who had moved on in the past year. I've never been one to cry or even share my emotions, but seeing all that love in one place was too much for me and I cracked. I wept like I haven't in maybe 20 years. A shaman played a gong recital inside of the temple and an old woman gave me a back rub while telling me it was OK to feel sadness.

And it is OK, even empowering to cry, I felt good, I was ready to tackle the rest of the day...and then it happened.

You'll periodically hear stories of the 'white outs' at Burning Man, conditions so severe that visibility drops down to 10 feet. At first it feels like just a little wind, then you see a dust cloud and then you hear a chorus of "OH SHIT, HERE IT COMES."

The temple of Burning Man is in the deep playa, which is generally considered anything between 10 and 2 on the clock face. Our camp was at 3:15 about a mile away. Andrew and I had been drinking for several hours at this point, I had also taken a handful of what some naked man told me was 'magic dust.'

Sometimes during one of these fabled storms it's best to hunker down and wait for it to pass, others you have to ride into it and see what you find.

"Are you ready?" Andrew asked?

I attached my ski goggles, affixed my handkerchief over my mouth and took a deep breath.

"I'm right behind you."

TO BE CONTINUED

Monday, August 14, 2017

First Date

I have a problem.

I am going on a date tomorrow with a girl who is saved in my phone as First name: Canal Club Last Name: Ocean Girl.

I have a date with Canal Club Ocean Girl.

It gets worse.

I'm not entirely sure what she looks like.

How did we get here?

On Saturday, July 1st (This is the day BEFORE the 2017 Tour de Franzia) after openly soliciting an invite to a pool party, I went to a pool party that began at 11am. I didn't really know anyone at this pool party so I drank extra hard to avoid awkwardness. I actively participated in drinking games because it forces casual conversation and I had a metric ton of jell-O shots.

I did this until about 9pm, I came out of a brown out kissing a Nicaraguan girl in a hot tub and realized that everyone I had been with earlier in the day was gone. I also couldn't find my shirt. I ordered an Uber home and decided that the prudent thing to do after drinking with reckless abandon for 10 hours was to go to bed.

However, I am not a prudent person so I stopped in at home, ripped an Addy, threw on some jeans and went to a darts bar. At this point I may have ingested some other chemicals that altered my body chemistry. There were also shots of Fireball and pints of Smithwick's. If this were the end of the story, we would chalk it up to 'holiday weekend bender' however, at around midnight, I departed a dart bar to go to Canal Club, a place that specializes in drunk bros and loud Justin Bieber music.

At some point or another, I started chatting with a young woman on the dance floor, possibly over our love of JB. I have no idea what we talked about, or really what she looked like. I just remember feeling like I was having a good time. (It could have just been the molly) Apparently though, I was charming enough that I was able to convince mystery girl to go for a late night swim with me when the bar closed.

Again, I don't know if we kissed, if she enjoyed the late night tryst or even why i thought it was a good idea. I do know, that she ended up giving me a ride home and I woke up in the morning in my bed next to soaking wet jeans and sheets full of sand.

The next day has been well documented on the Tour de Franzia post. What I left out though was the text the next day from an 847 number 'hey hey.'

Pieces of the evening came back but of course I wasn't entirely sure what this young woman's name was, so I just chatted her like I would any other potential suitor. She left LA for a week, I left LA for a week. And now a month later, on August 1st. We have made plans to hang out.

I certainly can't say 'Hey, I was beyond fucked up the night we met, and I just have a general idea that we hit it off. Can I please have your full name, physical description and a link to all social media? Also notes on what we discussed on the night in question?'

What makes matters worse is that the following day when we were chatting, mystery girl seemed to have NO idea how on one I was. As you may have noticed I told you she gave me a ride home, I didn't mean like 'in her Uber' she drove me home. So let's look at those two Saturdays. I drank for 15 hours straight and mystery girl drove home from the bar. So she at least mostly sober. It's possible that she doesn't even drink but I wouldn't have noticed because I was out of my god damn mind.

I scoured our old texts, looking for clues as to who this woman might be.

Nothing.

Honestly we talked about Portillo's and Game of Thrones.

To be fair, these are both things that are near and dear to my heart, but hardly clues of whom this lady might be.

This is a plea for help. If anyone saw me that night and remembers who I was with. If you are a lifeguard and there is a secret security camera on tower 26, we need to talk. If there is a way to reverse engineer a name from a phone number I will provide FOUR LOKO to the hacker that cracks this case for me.

I'm basically fucked and I'm going through with this for the story. If it goes well, I'll probably have to delete this post as I imagine we would become Facebook friends before the 2nd date? I don't know, I don't go on dates. I hook up with friends or go home with randoms. Is that ok at 30? Anyway, what should we talk about? Should I admit to my sins? Should I tell her about this post?

It's certainly going to be a Tuesday night to remember. Wish me luck.

UPDATE:

I wrote this post a couple weeks ago and never posted it. What if she's following me on Twitter, what if she knows about my blog somehow? That would be weird, probably ruin the date. What if we end up getting married and she finds out years later that before our first date I was writing about it for the world to see?

Well I went on the date and it was fine, she's a lovely girl maybe we'll go out again some day. BUT this is not the reason for the update. I want to teach you how to find out the identity of a person using just their phone number. I figured this out and I felt like a fucking spy.

You can search Instagram for people whose phone numbers you have but don't follow. The list shouldn't be too terribly long. Remove the mystery number from your phone book and the list of numbers you have of people you do not follow should decrease by one. Then re-add the phone number and find out which person wasn't there before. A-ha! You have identified the girl you blacked out with, went swimming and then asked on a date.

Or drink less, but where's the fun in that? Have fun out there kids.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

F*ckboy Bingo


The internet is a strange place that never seems to be able to come to a general consensus. For this article I did extreme amounts of research into what a fuckboy is. I read articles called "Is Ed Sheeren really a fuckboy in disguise?" I read something on Vice called "Are you a Soundcloud fuccboi?" I went deep on Black Twitter. I saw memes. There were egg plant and sprinkling emojis everywhere (also a lot of words that traditionally end in -ck changed to -cc, I don't understand that yet)

Alas, no one is quite sure what the definition of a fuckboy is. I read articles on Thought Catalog on how to spot a fuckboy emerging none the wiser. Even my old stand by Urban Dictionary gave me this muddled garbage:

Fuck Boy - A person who is a weak ass pussy that ain't bout shit.

Well the truth is, I've met plenty of fuckboys, and lots of them ARE bout shit. Hell, I wrote an entire post nine months ago called American Fuckboy where I sought this exact answer. But instead of re-litigating that whole mess I will start with this, some people think a fuckboy is a guy who cheats. I tend to think that just constitutes an asshole. In my privileged liberal echo chamber of Los Angeles a fuck boy is more of a douche; a selfish, somewhat aloof guy who has zero intention of ever making you something more than a casual hook-up.

I know that guy, because that guy is me. In fact, on the following Bingo board that I am about to show you, I have likely used every one of these excuses multiple times. You probably knew they were bullshit, but today, because I am a traitor to my gender I am going to tell you exactly what each of them means. Hopefully moving forward this will help you in your quest to rid yourself of the fuckboy, the most contagious of pests.

'We should get together some time'
A classic after a one night stand. One of the following likely happened: he followed up with a mutual friend and got some bad intel OR he didn't enjoy the experience OR he looked at your Facebook photo when he sobered up and is now having buyer's remorse. Whatever the case, by not setting a date and time he can slowly ghost you out. Even if you are the aggressor he will just 'be busy' until you give up.

'I'm not feeling well'
I did drugs until 6 in the morning last night with my bros. Please stop texting me.

'Send pics'
I could jack off to a picture of your tits right now but I definitely don't want you to come over.

'I'll hit you up later'
I'm out with my homies in search of better offers, but if I strike out I'll hit you up.

'I was out of town'
The OOT trip is the ghoster's best friend. Especially if they were somewhere 'remote' like mountains or a lake with spotty cell reception. Nothing kills momentum like a solid 7 day trip to a different area code.

'Let's hang *insert school night here*'
I enjoy having sex with you, but you're not worth a prime weekend slot, except maybe in the mid afternoon Sunday post brunch pre Game of Thrones position.

'I have a friend in town'
I'm with another chick.

'I'm bringing a friend'
THIS IS NOT A DATE, ALSO SINCE I HAVE A FRIEND WITH ME YOU CAN'T DRILL ME ABOUT WHY WE AREN'T MORE SERIOUS!

'What are you up to late night?'
Hey! I struck out, you have now risen to the top of my priority list.

'Ugh, that's too far.'
One of my personal favorites. The truth is, if you aren't that into someone, across the street is too fucking far. Conversely, I once drove to Phoenix Arizona in a Chevrolet Cobalt that didn't have air conditioning to see a chick. So when a guy tells you that where you are is 'too far' what it really means is he has done a quick SWOT analysis and decided that watching pron and going to bed would be a better option.

(Last minute) 'Hey what are you up to tonight?'
All my friends are busy/with their girlfriends/I have literally nothing better to do.

'Wanna go on a hike?'
I'm too broke/don't care enough to take you on a date.

'Wanna watch a movie?'
I'm too broke/don't care enough to take you on a date. Also I just cleaned my apartment for the first time in 4 months.

'My phone was dead'
I saw that you texted, but the mere thought of communicating with you after I had been mainlining Molly for 18 hours gave me so much existential dread that I locked my phone in a drawer, bought some Xanax from the neighbor and started a rewatch of Lost Season 3.

'I'm too (insert honestly anything here) to have a girlfriend right now.'
I'm a young, attractive, employed male. Do you know how easy it is for me out there? I don't even have to try! Why would I commit to dating someone and have to do things like share a bed or control of the tv remote. No, I'm all set thanks.

NO RESPONSE
I'm not responding to you because as much as you gossip to your friends about me, I literally think of you less than I wonder about what happened to the career of Jonathan Taylor Thomas.

"OMG you're at (insert place) I love it there!"
This is the classic opener of a breadcrumb. Homeboy is on a cold streak and by mentioning something he saw on your Instagram he is giving you the requisite attention he thinks will make you come crawling back. My advice would be to respond with either 'oh' 'cool' or absolutely nothing. But you know you're going to say 'we should go some time' and you'll be back in his bed tomorrow *sigh*

"Are you busy Friday?"
I got roped into some sort of group date thing and I need a desperation plus one to avoid awkwardness.

"Sorry, I've been busy."
Busy fucking other chiiiiiicks!

'Come over'
I'm blacked out.

'Come party'
I'm blacked out AND on drugs.

'I ordered a pizza. I miss you.'
I'm blacked out AND on drugs AND there is no way that I am going to be awake by the time you or that pizza get here.

'What's your Instagram?'
I don't remember your name and I don't remember what you look like. Need to find out if hot.

'I'm too drunk to come over.'
I won't be able to get it up even if come over so what's the point? Might as well stop it at I'm too drunk to come...heyoooo

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Los Angeles Game of Thrones


In the entertainment industry, similar to Westeros, you win or you die.

(And by die I mean you either move back to the shitty town you came from or continue to live off of your rich parents.)

I've been doing more dying than winning lately because I made a strategic error in my conquest. I assumed that everyone in the entertainment industry like everyone in my personal life was a homie.

I don't know if you knew this about me but I am a bro. My friends are bros. I am loud and cocky. I like to take my shirt off. I will take the AUX cord and play Bieber even if I've played in 17 times already tonight. I do not cuff my jeans. I like to jump off of high shit. I yell 'Saturdays are for the boys' at the age of 30 without shame. I have girls named in my phone as 'Becky Townhouse." I have never in my life turned down something offered to me in a bathroom. I drink, I smile, I make eye contact, sometimes I wink at people. I use phrases like 'top-tier' and I use summer as a verb. I am the hit of every wedding, the focal point of every dance floor, your mom warned you about people like me. Yet despite all that, I've a pretty genuine guy and above all a good hang.

The traits listed above mattered where I came from, but unfortunately Los Angeles seems to be a place where deception and treachery reign supreme over positivity and polo shirts. Similar to Ned Stark, I died for what I believed in. Perhaps there is still hope for me. I could rise from the ashes a la Jon Snow and prove to be the Prince who was promised. Only time will tell.

The following exercise determines whether you might survive a career in Los Angeles based on the Game of Thrones character that most closely aligns with you. Now because I know you would all choose Dany, Arya or Jon I have put together a little quiz to see how you might fare in these mean streets of Hollywood. For each answer you will be assigned an arbitrary(??) point value between 1 and 4, keep track of your score and at the end we will find out who lives and who moves back to Buffalo Grove to sell life insurance.

QUESTION 1:
Pick a starter job in Hollywood.
A. Paid Intern at Fox Publicity
B. Office PA on the new NBC Drama 'Rise'
C. Mail room at UTA
D. Manager's Assistant at 3 Arts

A: 2 B: 1 C: 3 D: 4

QUESTION 2:
Pick a career in LA.
A. VP of Post Production - Home Media at Disney
B. Music Video Director signed to Anonymous Content
C. Writer/Producer on the Fox reboot of 'Halloween'
D. Actor/Actress/Foam Art Expert at Urth Caffe

A: 4 B: 3 C: 2 D: 1

QUESTION 3:
Pick the best route to get from Venice Beach to Paramount on a Thursday at 3pm.
A. Lincoln to 10 to La Cienega to Fountain
B. 10 to 405 to 101 exit at Highland
C. Venice to La Brea
D. 10 to Crenshaw to Wilshire to Vine

A: 3 B: 1 C: 2 D: 4

QUESTION 4:
Pick a place to get networking drinks.
A. The Hudson
B. Bungalow
C. Cha Cha Lounge
D. Backstage

A: 4 B: 1 C: 3 D: 2

QUESTION 5:
You picked up your boss's lunch at Tender Greens in Studio City, as you're pulling into Universal you realize that even though you specified NO hazelnuts, there are indeed hazelnuts in his salad. Do you...
A. Turn around and demand Tender Greens remake the salad.
B. Furiously attempt to pick all of the hazelnuts out of the salad.
C. Profusely apologize to your boss about the inclusion of said hazelnuts.
D. Hand him the salad, say nothing, walk back to your desk and resume Gchatting girls you want to fuck.

A: 3 B: 4 C: 2 D: 1

QUESTION 6:
Your boss is the showrunner of a television show called "Beta Date a Guy" a show that reimagines Romeo and Juliet as a same sex relationship between warring factions within the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house at Indiana University. One afternoon over lunch you suggest a bottle episode in which each group of friends attempt to prove their superiority by doing the open to close challenge at popular dive bar Kilroy's. Your boss takes this idea verbatim for his script. Do you...
A. Demand a story by credit, thus getting yourself halfway into the WGA.
B. Leverage this into a promotion to writer's assistant for season 2.
C. Nothing. You're happy your idea made it to air.
D. File a grievance with the WGA. This is your idea, you deserve fiscal compensation.

A: 2 B: 4 C: 3 D: 1

QUESTION 7: 
One of your co-worker's got blacked out on a Thursday night at a Santa Monica Pier concert and slept through his alarm. You know that one of his responsibilities is to get his boss a breakfast burrito every morning, but you also know that you are both vying for the same promotion do you...
A. Cover for him, it will take you 2 minutes to walk downstairs and get a burrito for his boss.
B. Do nothing, say nothing.
C. Strike a deal with him that he will cover your morning duties for a week allowing you an extra hour to sleep each day.
D. Rat him out. Fuck that guy, only the strong survive.

A: 3 B: 1 C: 4 D: 2

QUESTION 8:
You are an agent trainee at a top Hollywood Agency, one of the female partners shows interest in you at a wrap party, do you...
A: Go home with her, you're both consenting adults
B. Go home with her and then extort her for a promotion
C. Introduce her to your girlfriend
D. Feign illness, say you've had too much to drink and throw yourself in a cab home.

A: 2 B :1 C: 3 D: 4

QUESTION 9:
After doing some promo work on the latest season of Game of Thrones, you are invited to the HBO holiday party. Who is your plus 1?
A. Best friend
B. The hottest piece of ass you could find
C. Your girlfriend
D. A platonic female that is a superfan of Game of Thrones.

A: 2 B: 1 C: 4 D: 3

QUESTION 10:
A lead actress of a film you are working on asks if you can help her find some cocaine, she has a troubled past and has promised to stay sober on this shoot. Do you...
A. Hell ya you help her out. Also mention that you're looking for something to do this weekend.
B. Discretely give her a number and tell her not to mention it to anyone.
C. Sorry, you don't do drugs.
D. Inform the AD that his star is looking for disco dust.

A. 3 B: 1 C: 4 D: 2

QUESTION 11:
It's Friday at 6pm and you have tickets to go see Guster play the Hollywood Bowl at 7. On your way out the door your boss asks for a milkshake from In n Out. The closest one is only 3 miles away but at this hour it will take an hour and a half round trip. You...
1. Go to In n Out. You'll miss the first few songs.
2. You have an old In n Out cup in your car and there is a McDonald's across the street...
3. Tell her about the concert and see if she relents.
4. Post mates a milkshake and start pregaming at your desk.

A. 2 B. 4 C: 1 D: 3



OK, now tabulate your scores. Let's find out which Westerosi pawn is going to decide your fate in Los Angeles.

10-14
Robert Baratheon/ICM Mail Room

Congrats, you are just here to party rock like the late King Robert. Sure you have been legendary for your accomplishments on the battlefield as well as in the brothel, but that's all in the past my guy. Since the series started you've mainly been black out drunk and pissing yourself all the way until you got killed by a pig in episode 7. A motherfucking pig. Your equivalent career arc is someone that moves out to LA, got a job in the mail room and then punched some 5'4 agent with the last name Goldstein because he yelled at you for fucking up his coffee order. He's not pressing charges, but you'll never work in this town again. Spin zone, you've got a rich dad and your varsity letter jacket still means something in Fishers. You can move back, fuck your high school ex and sell cars for your dad. Could be worse.


15-19
Renly Baratheon/Assistant to the VP of Comedy

You had everything going for you. You got to make love to Iron Fist while Anne Boleyn watched. You had Brienne of Tarth by your side and your people adored you; but then POOF you got stabbed in the back by a shadow demon.  See Renly believed a little too much in the good of people, just like you believed in the genuine nature of people in 'The Industry.' Like for example when your boss asked you to cover with him with accounting when they found strange charges on the Corporate P Card for a place called Seventh Veil. "Just tell them its a restaurant and submit your envelope, I promise I'll make you Director of Current Comedy." You did as you were told and a couple days later an HR representative told you that you had been shitcanned. Your boss by the way just got promoted to VP and hasn't answered one of the 17 emails you have sent him in the past 3 weeks.

20-23
Robb Stark/Writer's Assistant

You were clever, you even had some early success, but you let that success go to your head. Win a few battles, start fucking commoners, say to hell with tradition, sure that all works for a while until you get killed for it. Your career was off to a great start. You even got to write an episode for a tv show you worked on as a writer's assistant. You took that $32,000 and applied for a junior membership to Soho house. But then one evening out in Beverly Hills you saw the president of the network and decided to go introduce yourself as a writer on one of her shows. But you forgot the white substance dangling from your nostrils and when it came to renew contracts for season 2, she seemingly forgot to pick yours up. Oops.

24-26
Tyrion Lannister/Manager

People counted you out all your life and look at you now. You knew that you were never the one destined for greatness but that you could council people on their quest to the top and align yourself closely with them making you by proxy POWERFUL. As Tyrion was the hand to multiple kings, your client roster boasts writers, directors and producers at the top of their game. And guess what, if anyone wants access to them? They have to come through you. That my friends, may make you the most dangerous person in Hollywood.

27-30
Peter Baelish/Development Exec and Producer

You are the most difficult person to figure out in the seven kingdoms, and while you have seemingly made small steps forward in acquiring the iron throne, you have mostly stayed on the sidelines. You seem safe...for now, but what happens if one of your deceptive plots backfires, it only takes one. This is like the guy that has managed to get a bunch of producer credits seemingly with no talent. He merely connects people. You need a rich guy to finance your film? I know one. You need Kit Harrington for a role? I did shrooms with him at Burning Man! Your influence keeps growing ever so slightly, you like to think that you are a big fish in the development game. But what happens when everyone realizes that you don't actually DO anything. Will they still want to keep you around?

31-34
Arya Stark/Chief Compliance Officer

You are driven purely by hate, while once you may have stood for something now you just want to watch all of your enemies burn. As a VP of Corporate Compliance you will take glee in exposing the old tweets of men that didn't call you back, leaking TMZ arrest footage of a guy that once called you a bitch. While Arya may have killed men, you will kill careers and you will always get the last laugh as you banish once famous men to the doldrums of D list reality television.

35-38
Jon Snow/Actor

Jon Snow never had any desire to rule yet here he is: a top 3 contender for the throne. Anytime he makes a seemingly terrible decision, fate throws a curve ball that magically resets the game in his favor. As for you, well you have been falling upward your entire career. You started off on a soap opera and then got killed off only to be cast in a prime time drama that was subsequently cancelled after three episodes. Of course you thought this was the end until you were plucked from the ashes to sign a contract to do 9 Marvel movies. Jon Snow succeeds in spite of himself, as do you, probably because of your association with the Church of Scientology.

39-43
Daenerys Targaryen/Studio Head

You will win the iron throne because you will let nothing in your path stop you. You will destroy anything in your path including the friends and the enemies that got you here. Your beginnings were humble, you were an office PA at Paramount. From there you jumped to Management 360/Mereen then Showtime/Dragonstone and now here you are as Queen of the Iron Throne/Disney. People live in fear of you, none of your relationships are genuine. Sometimes when you sit down at the end of the day, you have to wonder, was it all worth it? Maybe you should have just lived the life of a commoner in Essos/New Jersey. You could have been married, had children, but now you live in constant fear of a rebellion which you know will come sooner or later

44
Cersei Lannister/Director

I see you figured out the 4's were the good one, did you? Well you know who else tried to cheat the game? Roman Polanski. And then his wife got murdered by the Manson family and he had to hide in Poland the rest of his life which is probably just as bad as having your three children murdered and then having your brother/lover eventually stab you in the heart. No one is perfect in Westeros and no one is perfect in Hollywood either. Valar Morghulis is a Valaryian idiom that means All Men Must Die, and the same is true in Hollywood, except some of us just leave slightly larger trust funds for our shitty USC grad children.