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Don't be an asshole, be an artist!
Fun with garbage in Black Rock City
by Ritlin Scott

Last year, as I left Black Rock City, I saw a most impressive art installation, and maybe you saw it too. It was just off the main road on the way out . The mixed-media design of metal, plastic, wood, and paper was simply breathtaking. At a mere first glance it had the appearance of an ordinary road-side trench overflowing with garbage, but upon closer inspection, a person could truly see the effort and attention to detail that went into the project.

I woke up one of my friends and said, "Hey look at that art installation, it looks just like garbage!"

He screamed, "It's real garbage, you stupid jerk!," and promptly went back to sleeping off the rest of the year.

I wasn't buying it. "But can't you see the overall message imbedded in all that trash, you know, man's inhumanity to man? The ironic twist that it looks exactly like that real garbage on the other side of the road. Can't you see the fucking irony?"

I don't know much about art, but I know what sucks. I had quite a while to think about what sucks after my friends threw me out of our moving RV so that "I might ponder the full impact of the art piece," while running after my ride.

Maybe it was what I thought was art, or maybe it was the odd assortment of "post-consumer content" that was thrown at me by my two friends, or maybe it was the heat exhaustion and the resulting hospital stay in Reno, but something got me thinking about the many types of inconsiderate assholes there are in this world, and how quickly we judge them.

Can we really get that mad at people who have been conditioned since birth to recognize that trash is worthless and "dirty"? Who are we to judge people who for their entire life have absolved themselves of their mess by merely removing it from their sight and making it someone else's problem? Don't we all do that everyday? Does anyone think that a person would actually change over a weekend, and want to drive out of the desert with their stinky, wet Plastic Buddy (see Playa Lingo) riding shotgun?

So, in an effort to try to reduce the amount of name-calling and finger-pointing that now seems to be the traditional Monday morning ritual here in Black Rock City, I've written down a few tips to reduce your burden. Hopefully, they will bring out the aesthetic value of your trash and inspire a garbage art installation at your own camp this year. But whatever you do with your trash, have fun with it!

Dried fruit and vegetable skins can be used to make decorative car top mosaics.

Dried banana-skin tarantula mobiles will dress up any campsite.

Paper burns. Try it! It's fun! It makes a pretty, pretty flame. If you don't think you can handle it, find a trained professional.

Plastic water jugs can have a second life as decorative ground lanterns. Just cut a hole in the bottom and stick in a flashlight or glowstick. Be sure to add a little mud so that they don't blow over.

Creating a central recycling bin for your camp makes a fun group project, plus makes it easy to get rid of half your trash in Reno.

Used condoms make great balloon toys for all those feral children that wander through your camp.

Wet garbage becomes dry garbage within a few hours under the hot Nevada sun. Baked beans, pea soup, and mustard all make great finger paints.

Wet garbage can make brilliant star bursts, especially when splattered against any television production van you might come across.

If any stray dogs come into your camp and give you little presents, you can give them a little treat in exchange: chicken bone chew toys!

By using these tips and by keeping the three R's: recycle,

reduce, and reuse in mind, you'll be able to shrink the size of your

Plastic Buddy down to the size of the stick up Al Gore's butt.

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