Big giant head

In Other News

For the record...

I wasn't running around performing for strangers as I groped for validation in "abused child fashion" (whatever that is). I tend to be reserved, a watcher in situations like that. I talked to the people who talked to me, that was pretty much it. I'm just not that zany.

I've never said it was MY booth. In fact, I've made a point of always referring to it as The Booth.

Andria was a coattailer. And so was I. But at least I had the decency to acknowledge it.

And for Cliff...

I didn't "write smack about the booth." I wrote smack about you and your pals. Pay attention.

Cliffie closed his adorable little letter by telling us what The Booth means to him: "people fighting boredom by being bored in a new place.'

Now there's a lofty goal. Drive miles and hours into the desert to be bored. And then return frequently to do it again and again. My God, what an empty life that must be. Sort of supports my original assessment that they could have had the exact same experience at home.

For all his bluster about what boobs the people calling The Booth are, Cliffie might do well to remember that the boobs are asking the exact same questions his pal Godfrey himself asked when he first called it. Which, of course, makes Godfrey a boob. And Cliff a boob for following him out there. Repeatedly.

One final observation... Cliff and Co. think the people calling are idiots and are annoyed by the ringing of the phone. I wonder what else they expect when they're driving to a phone booth and announcing their arrivals there on Godfrey's website, where they also provide the phone number. Perhaps one day the cause and effect nature of that will occur to them. Or not.

And finally, a final, final observation: They're Burning Man folk. 'Nuff said.


Saturday -- July 10, 1999
How To Win Friends & Influence People

Longtime readers of these pages may remember my battles with Elly and her dread forces of NARC, so you know there are few things I love more than a good flamewar. Imagine my joy at finding the fresh meat below delivered right to my doorstep. I know flamewars are inherently interesting only to the people involved, but I love 'em, so...

Let the flamewars begin!

I finally got my first piece of hate mail stemming from my post-Booth write-up last week. I'd been expecting to hear from Godfrey & Co., but I didn't think it would take them this long. Maybe they spent the extra time looking up big words in the dictionary to make sure they used them correctly.

Dr. Cliff fired the first salvo. From what I've gleaned from his website, he's a man in search of an identity -- "mechanic, child prodigy, nihilistic misanthrope, graphic artist, angry punk, molecular biologist, skirt-chasing drunk, fiberglass fabricator, pontificating jackass" -- who has apparently never finished anything he's started and who's now not finishing dental school. (That dental school thing is why he's "Dr.", by the way, not because of any wannabe Hunter S. Thompson affectations -- just ignore the recurring alcohol/drugs theme, his fascination with firearms, and his predilection for taking his "attorney" along on his adventures. Those are simply unfortunate parallels. Don't be fooled by them.)

The good Doctor was kind enough to forward to me a screed he sent to "a couple hundred subscribers to my gallstone mailing list" in which he obviously spent a great deal of time writing the chronicle of ... well, me. He also put up some web pages about his latest Booth experience, in which I again figure prominently. Since he sent the screed to "hundreds" of people, it doesn't fall under the heading of private mail and so I feel free to share it with you here:

Dateline- Mojave Desert. The Phone Booth.
I came across the most overt loser in recent memory. He came to visit the booth. Showed up in an SUV with- "BACK TO THE BOOTH!" and his URL painted on the back window. All that was missing was the brilliant non-sequitur "woooo-hoo!!!", or maybe a glow-in-the-dark burningman logo.
In his sad little online diary, he wrote of mounting anticipation. Apparently, he expected some secret gathering of very cool people, at which he would naturally be appointed king of the cool. What he got was what everyone got- exactly what they brought. Most folks were content to answer a few phone calls and just hang around shooting the shit. Not the blowhard.
This poor troll was grasping for validation from strangers in that pathetic *abused-child* fashion.
"I'm the guy that drove all the way out here just to see if it was off the hook once... "
"lemme introduce you to the TV crew..."
"have you seen my website? I'm an online diarist. "
"It was pretty cool that we all came out here, huh? I drove out once just to see if it was off the hook! Oooh, I'm just zany!"
"Hey look! Someone else signed *my* booth!"
"I drove out here once just to see if etc."
This endless barrage of acceptance-garnering, coupled with his embarrassing drive to perform for the attendant media, was utterly laughable. Especially comic was his continued reference to himself as being the oldest person there, and having a wife and kids back home. As if somehow that could make him interesting. Sorry, Charlie.
He was accompanied my someone who seemed slightly less like a loudmouth Al Bundy, but only slightly. As he was the quiet one, I didn't get a good fix on him, and all for the better.
Also in the pack was a classic short guy, complete with macho big-tire Jeep, standoffish body language, and bad classic rock. The strong, silent type, you know, like Napoleon.
I pried about two sentences out of him before he bored me out of my mind. What a complete tit.
He stood next to his Jeep with his arms crossed for what seemed like hours. Then he roared off in a huff without even pretending to say goodbye. Then, like a high-school girl, he pretended to forget something and circled back. Maybe he wanted to hear us gossip! oooh pss psss pssss! That guy was just *fascinating* wasn't he?
The best thing, though, is that the main moron MISSED THE WHOLE FUCKING POINT OF A BOOTH TRIP. He was actually giddy with excitement over the possibility of taking interesting phone calls! There's no such thing, dumbass. Does it really need to be spelled out like this?
He really got sucked into the notion that receiving a call at the booth would be fascinating! 'So....uhhhh... you guys are really out in the desert?' 'Cool....uhhh... somebody, uhh, answered...' 'What's the weather like out there? must be HOT...' and so on. At some point in his younger life, someone probably had to explain to him that Dungeons&Dragons is not real, and that Orcs do not exist.
After the fact, he wrote a bitter few paragraphs in his online journal. It was a real eye-opener! Although the visit was planned, announced, and encouraged by Andria, he had the stones to call HER a coat-tailer. shocking. The guy who drove across the desert in a painted station-wagon called US "ken kesey wanna-bees"! oh, the irony. Actually, he's spot-on about this analogy b/c kesey had such contempt for this exact kind of assbag, that he deliberately kept changing course to keep the vicarious thrill-seekers confused.
After listing some of his friends who called him at the booth, he railed on Andria again for tying up the phone so much! Apparently, he could tell it was a *personal call* because he was eavesdropping on her. What an asshole! Despite his constant referral to it as *his booth*, I don't remember him showing us a receipt for it.
He was apparently put off by our affectedness. This is the guy who parked his SUV so the cameraman would get his "BACK TO THE BOOTH" back window in the shot. This, apparently, is not affected, but politely ignoring a chest-pounding halfwit IS. Guilty as charged, your honor.
What it boils down to is this: This dork was pissed off at us because we didn't perform for him. He's exactly the kind of *entertain me* person who is destroying burningman. He wasn't the center of attention, because NOBODY was, and he couldn't handle a few hours of life without a script. No hero's welcome, no ingratiating banter, just some people fighting boredom by being bored in a new place. THAT'S what the booth is to me, and this hapless boob never even got close to a clue.
In a darkly amusing postscript, he left in such a tizzy that he misused the 4wd feature in his SUV and did some damage to the drivetrain. Cool heads prevail in the hot desert.

My, my, my! Such venom. Such anger. Such... length. And web pages, too! I must have really struck a nerve. I'm flattered by his effort and admire his deliberate inattention to the truth, but I think young Clifford is tilting at the wrong windmill. If my account of meeting them at The Booth hurt him so badly, he might be better served by examining why it hurt. Dentician, heal thyself and all that.

He'd obviously spent a lot of time and gone to a lot of effort and was so proud of himself that he wanted to share his work with me, so I couldn't just ignore him. That would have been unkind; he clearly needed a response. I just couldn't hurt him twice, so I wrote back.

My first impulse was to correct, point by point, his complete misrepresentation of my activities there, but I didn't want to expend that much effort. Then I considered sarcasm, but opted against that because he'd be expecting it. I finally settled on being a reed: I bent before the wind. Prankishly.

Hey, thanks for sharing that, Cliff.  That was tres cool, both your mailing and your website!

I really have to apologize for the whole Booth thing.  Looking back on it and reading your take, I think you're right: I really didn't get it.  I guess I had the wrong attitude, the wrong mindset.  I'll know better next time, eh?  Are you going to go again?

And about the "Back to the Booth" on my truck...  Man, I don't know *what* I was thinking!  I'm such an asshole!  You guys must have thought I was a total tool!  I'm embarrassed for myself!

>thanks for the laughs, chuck. next time we need party
> entertainment, we'll dress up as reporters and invite you
> over.

Really?  That would be cool, but no reporters, okay?  Hey, if you're in Santa Monica and I'm in the Valley, we live pretty close to each other.  Maybe we could hang out sometime!

I especially like that last bit: "Maybe we could hang out sometime!" I think I really captured the flavor of clueless adolescent puppydog eagerness there.

I'd love to have been there when he read it. He's probably scratched a bald spot into his head by now... "Is he for real or is he fucking with me? Is he for real or is he fucking with me?..." Even after reading this -- and you know he will -- he probably isn't sure.

I haven't heard back from him yet but I have hopes. The Beast is still hungry, it needs more meat.


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Copyright © 1999
Chuck Atkins