This episode of the podcast was recorded in front of a live audience on August 31, 2022 in Black Rock City at Center Camp at the Burning Man event. 5 storytellers shared their true personal story on the theme “Waking Dreams”. Today we hear from three of those storytellers.
Jack Butler was raised in Kentucky, and found the outdoors and forests to be a great playground. He developed a love of reading at an early age and would lose himself in the adventures and stories. Jack spent 6 years in the military after high school and then another 25 years bouncing around the world as a merchant marine on ships. Jack’s first burn was in 2016, and it began a process of opening his eyes to another world, a different life.
Jack Butler is the author of two books, Into the Dust – The Virgin – A Burning Man Story and Racing to the Dawn. You can find jack at his website, jacklyonsauthor.com.
Click here to listen to an excerpt from his book.
In our next story, after a long overnight shift patrolling Black Rock City, Ranger Sasquatch is tasked with delivering an exciting message. In the days before cell service on the Playa, Ranger Sasquatch must find his intended recipient the old fashioned way – by interacting with his fellow citizens in a story that we call “Special Delivery”.
Ranger Sasquatch has been a ranger since 2000 and has seen and experienced so many singular things, events and people in his life, which , he thinks, is the point of it all. Sasquatch is also one of the DJs at Radio Electra, 89.5 on your dusty FM dial.
Rounding out this edition of the Tell Us Something podcast, Missoula resident Katie Condon shares her psychic journey of love with us in a story that we call “Discovery”.
Katie Condon is a humanitarian at heart. She believes in the connection of all things. Katie is a lover of art and the simple beautiful things this life has to offer. 2022 was her first visit to Black Rock City.
Transcript : Waking Dreams
Marc Moss: Welcome to the Tell Something podcast. I’m Marc Moss. We are currently looking for storytellers for the next tell us something storytelling event. The theme is, it’s the Little Things. If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 4 0 6 2 0 3 4 6 8 3. You have three minutes to leave your pitch.
The pitch deadline is November 7th. I look forward to hearing from you. This episode of the podcast was recorded in front of a live audience on August 31st, 2022 in Black Rock City at center. At the Burning Man
Jack Butler: event, the artist, the writers, the creatives, those were other people. That’s what other people did.
Marc Moss: Five storytellers shared their true personal story on the theme. "Waking Dreams"
Ranger Sasquatch: My wife and I had spent 42 grand in cash on in vitro. That didn’t work.
Marc Moss: Today we hear from three of those storytellers.
Katie Condon: And I wasn’t just surprised, I was shocked, like there wasn’t enough room in my body for the blood. It was amazing.
Marc Moss: Citizens of Black Rock City hold 10 principles to be true, including radical inclusion, radical self. Radical self-expression, civic responsibility, leaving no trace communal effort, Immediacy, and the three that I’m interested in today are participation, gifting, and decommodification. The storytellers participated in a magical night of deep vulnerability.
The listeners participated with their active listening. Gifting. The storytellers gifted us with their stories, and the event was also free to listeners, Decommodification. There were no sponsors. And so for this episode of the Tellus So podcast, there are no sponsors To thank, our first story comes to us from Jack Butler, who recounts the story of his first burn and how it inspired him to write a novel set in Black Rock City in a story that we call the Virgin.
Thanks for listen.
Jack Butler: So when I was about four years old, I had a reoccurring dream and I thought it was a nightmare. So we’re back in about 1977, So this is how the dream starts. I’m on a desert plane and it’s nighttime, and there’s this huge arch of earth. From the center of the arch growing back down towards the ground is this beautiful tree.
It’s inverted behind the arch and behind the tree, there’s something glowing in the sky. And so the dream starts to shift and this thing starts to rise in the sky and I become frightened. So I woke myself up and the next. . I went to sleep and I was again on this desert plane cracked earth, nighttime arch tree glowing thing in the sky, and it started to rise into the sky a little bit more, and I was frightened, so I woke myself up.
And I probably talked to my mom about it the morning, but you know, it’s the seventies. So put on your corduroy shirt, drink your tan, go to go to school. They’re not really big in, uh, getting self involved in there. So the next night I told myself, Well, I know I can wake myself up, so I’ll go ahead and see what what happens.
And cracked desert, plain arch tree rise in the sky. And what I saw was this glowing wolf. That just looked at me and it looked at me with just this kindness and intensity. And then the dream was over flash forward about 20 years, I like to go to new age conferences and learn about all different types of things.
And they had a, a break period where they said, Well, does anyone have any questions? And no one did. So I said, Well, I had this dream and I. And there were a lot of answers and things from people, but this one lady said, you know, shamans would meditate at the base of a tree, and then they would send their spirit down the roots of the tree to this lower level, this place of lower vibration to do whatever work they needed to do.
So with the tree inverted, it’s a pathway to a higher level of existence, a higher level of vibration.
2019 is my fourth year out here. We, we were finishing up building a theme camp and I was looking around and just. Taking it in and, you know, something fantastic just drove down the road and I just said out loud, it was like, someone should write a book to explain this place, why people come here. Why do you come to this hellish place, which nothing but heat and, and all the environmental stuff you have to deal with.
Of course, one of my friends was like, Yeah, you should do that. You should go ahead and you should write that book. So I went home and, and stared at a document and opened the word document. It’s like, well, what do you say about. Place. Well, you write a book to find out what you know not to tell what you know.
And so I thought about the first time I came here as a virgin and I’d heard about it and heard about it from friends and it was, it sounded fantastic. And I came out here and just worked to death for like three days cause I could know how to work. And then I ventured out on my bike and I went out to the Esplanade.
And there’s just madness and there’s sound, and there’s music, and there’s lights, and there’s art cars, and there’s people zooming by. And I could take that for about five or 10 minutes, and then I just need to go out to the trash fence. You’ll be by myself, and I’m sitting out there, my back to the trash fence watching all this stuff go on.
And I’m thinking about my emotional turmoil and my baggage and things I have, and one voice is saying, It’s time to go. You just gotta get outta here. This is too much. It’s too different. And the other side is like, Well, you’re here. You came here. It took a lot to get here. So why don’t we sit for just a minute, and when I looked out, I realized there were 70,000 people who didn’t care about my problems.
So maybe I should put ’em to the side for a minute. And then I thought about what else could I put in into a book I could put in the art out here. This is the largest art festival anywhere, and I’ve seen art that I couldn’t believe and I got to meet the artist. Because for me, in my background, the artist, the writers, the creatives, those were other people.
That’s what other people did. That’s not what I did. I couldn’t do that. I, I lived in a different world, but then I got to talk to them and they were just people, and that slowly became the theme of the book. People are just people. And this art will push you out here. The first art project that really kind of knocked me was the Barbie, uh, death camp.
And if you’ve never seen it, it’s, it’s an incredible offering. Been out here a long time, but it’s, it’s these Barbie dolls who are nude. Ken and Barbie dolls being marched into ovens by other Ken and Barbie dolls dressed as Nazi. And it’s, and it’s a very serious subject and it, it will knock you in your tracks and make you think, But that’s the what art out here does.
It makes you think, and it made me think, and when I started talking to these creatives and I realized they’re just people like me, then maybe I can create and maybe I can write a book. So I sat down. This is how you write a book. You sit down every day and you start typing words. If you write the first line, you can write the last time.
90% of the people who write a book do not finish it. So I started to writing and, and very much believe that there’s muses, there’s these creative energies that swirl around all over the place, and they’re just looking for a place to land. I did not write this book. This book wanted to be written. I know that because it just started to flow and characters come out of the woodwork and situations happen, and suddenly you’re telling a story and I want to read the story that I’m writing.
And people. Just started to define what Burning Man is through the little vignettes that we’ve all had, these little moments that we all have. And that’s the important part, is the little moments we have, no matter what else is happening, where we see kindness and we see love and we see hurt and heartache and struggle and we get through it.
So I wrote the book and it was finished and I found an editor, which every writer needs, which I found out you really need an. And it. And it got better. And it got better. And finally one day it was done and I needed a cover. So I thought, well, I’m gonna put the words into the dust, The Virgin of Burning Man’s story.
So I contacted the org and they were great. And they let me use the words Burning Man on the front covers, like, What do I put on there? A man? Do I put a burn? Do what do I put? And none, none of it felt right. So I just sat and I thought, and I thought, A dream I had when I was a little boy and it was an arch of earth and it was a tree growing upside down and it’s a path to a higher level of vibration existence.
And I commissioned an artist and the artist drew it, and it wasn’t till I saw the picture that I knew where I was in 1970. I was on the playa. This place has been here waiting for all of us. This place is a porter to our higher selves and our higher journey if we want to take that journey. Now you begin with the ending in mind.
But I didn’t know what the end would be. So I will end with the first line of the book. So you have to write the first line. And it’s Kamal you fractured souls. Society’s lost and discarded vessels. Lonely children in adult skins. Bring your art, your love, and your wonder. Find solace in the dust. And I like that ending.
But there was something more. I came out here to Renegade Burn, and I wrote a poem, and I’m gonna take just a little piece from that. That really resonated with me. I know that this body and this vessel will die, will pass on as my loved ones have died and passed on before me. And what will. Is my love and the memory of my love for each and every one of you.
We who are so blessed to have come to this place and to be able to raise ourselves up. We are the holders of the flame and we will guide the others home. We are the burn. Thank you.
Marc Moss: Thanks Jack. Jack Butler was raised in Kentucky and found the outdoors and forests to be a great playground. He developed a love of reading at an early age and would lose himself in the adventures and stories. Jack spent six years in the military after high school, and then another 25 years bouncing around the world as a merchant marine on ships.
Jack’s first burn was in 2016, and it began a process of opening his eyes to another world, a different life. To learn more about Jack and hear a sample from his book visit, tell us something.org. In our next story, after a long overnight shift, patrolling Black Rock. Ranger Sasquatch is tasked with delivering an exciting message in the days before cell service on the play Ranger.
Sasquatch must find his intended recipient the old fashioned way by interacting with his fellow citizens in a story that we call special delivery. Thanks for listening.
Ranger Sasquatch: As he said, I’m Ranger Sasquatch and I’ve been here a good long time. And, uh, there are some things that are constant burning. One of those things is the learning cliff.
You either fall off it when you encounter it, float to the ground, or you run into it like the coyote in a Warner Brothers cartoon. This is a story about how I ran into it like that coyote
back in 2005. The city was a different place. The term wifi, if it existed at all, was just circulating in technical magazines. It really hadn’t circulated to the general population. We didn’t have any contact out here with the greater world, not in any significant sense. Emergency messages for people here at Birdman.
Came into the Garlock office, were written down on a piece of paper, placed on a spindle, and picked up a couple times a day by an individual who then drove them into the. Where they were delivered to the ranger department for delivery to the individuals who they were intended for. In those days, Rangers worked eight hour shifts.
We had three shifts a day, and, uh, having a working brain, I worked the graveyard shift, midnight to eight in the morning, and, uh, In those days, there were less rangers, and in those days people really knew how to mess themselves up. So an eight hour shift could require that we ran from one scene of carnage to another on our bicycles, and I was a beautiful young squirrel who could really speed on my bicycle.
So I would do baby 25 miles in an eight hour shift here, just within the city.
Needless to say, at the end of one of those shifts, you are really ready to go back home to your. And get ready for your next shift, which was a mere 12 hours away, and at least one of those hours, maybe two of those hours, were you getting back to your camp, forcing down the carbohydrates and, and the water, and, and then finding a cool place to sleep while the day star crossed through the sky, you were ready to go home.
This particular. Coming off my graveyard shift khaki, which is what we call the shift leads for rangers on our radios, we’ll say khaki Sasquatch, and they’ll answer us and khaki our shift lead. The authority said Sasquatch, would you and your partner like to deliver an emergency message? And you know, I was really beat, you know, even though I was a energetic young squirrel with his natural hair.
I, uh, I said, Well, what, what is the message? You know, what’s the content of it? And, and Khaki said, The message is, Congratulations, daddy, you’re a father. I thought, Oh man, this is so my message to deliver because my, my wife and I had spent 42 grand in cash on, in vitro that didn’t work. In the previous three years and, and I thought to myself, Man, I want to be here to deliver this message.
I want to see this guy’s face. I want to share the joy of telling him that this had worked out for him, where it hadn’t for me.
so sorry. Anyway. I said, I’ll take that message. And my partner, Mongo, I said, Mongoose, are you up for this? And Mongoose said, Sure thing. And I don’t know if any of you know Mongoose, but that particular year, 2005, he built this art project that scared the live shit outta me. It was a ladder, 300 feet tall that went nowhere.
And it was guide all along. It just all, all along, You know, the ladder was never going to fall, no matter how many people were on it, but it didn’t go anywhere. And people would go all the way to the top and go to the other side and, and then climb down. And I would sit on the ground and mentally shit myself,
So Mongos was a really particular fine individual and he said, I’m totally. So we got the name of the individual and we got the theme cap he was associated with. And we, in those days, again, people partied hard, burners, really knew how to hurt themselves. And, uh, at, at eight 30 in the morning, on a Thursday in 2005, the only people awake were folks streaming back from this cafe.
or going to the porta potty. And so we went to where we knew his actual art project was about 300 yards off of the 10 o’clock radio and it was a, uh, drive up. I’m changing this because I don’t want to expose personal details, so I’m going to say it was a drive up. Egg and cheese sandwich booth and it, it was closed when we got there and, and there was no one around but there was a box truck.
So Mongoose and I knocked on that box truck and, and a guy came out and he told us that they didn’t actually camp around there. And we knew that. And he said, We’re back at eight and f and it’s tense right there. It isn’t Marced, but all you need to do is ask around. We knew how that. So we hopped on our bicycles and we, we raced over to, uh, eight and f and, and, uh, we waited until somebody came out of a tent going to a porta potty, and we just pounced on ’em.
And after about three of those, we found where their camp was and, and where his tent was more, most importantly. Okay, so we get off our bikes and, and I go jam mon goose, and he’s standing there and, and I get down on my knees in front of the door and I say, Hello, hello. In there it’s Ranger Sasquatch with an emergency message and I hear some stirring.
And I, and, and I wait, and a, a fellow comes to the door, kind of grizzled, looking at the door of the tent and he unzips it and he sticks his face out and he’s got a few days growth of beard. And he’s, you know, looking frazzled. And he, and, and he says, What’s the message? And I say, the message reads, Congratulations daddy.
You’re a father. And then I waited and I watched his face because this was the moment, I mean, I’d modeled this in my mind. I was gonna cap some joy from this guy. And, and as I watched he scowled and his face darkened and I said, This isn’t a good thing. And he, he shook his head and he goes, She’s basically a stalker.
And I, it was like my mind. Was a bug running into a windshield. Just one. Nothing actually hit me, but there was an almost physical impact in here.
And I, uh, I, uh, I, uh, I, uh, I started trying and, uh,
I knew it, he’d crawl out his jet and he was patting me on
the back. Comforting me
and, uh, he was so kind and uh, And
I wanna tell a lot about how the chorus in my mind, there was like a voice and there really was, because that’s how my mind works and I internalize things and, and sometimes they’re the voices of friends. And when my mind, for instance, gets in a compulsive loop, which it does, I hear an old roommates go.
Say the thing he used to correct is German short-haired pointers. When they got into something he didn’t want them to, he would say, Leave it. And, and, and that, that’s something that my mind at society used to stop those loops. And, uh, but this time I hadn’t met that roommate yet, but this time another roommate, I could hear his voice and his, his voice said, Ha, you got fucking used.
You got used to attack this guy. Fucking preconceptions are garbage. And I, it just crushed me. I got a lot of comfort from him. And, but it was a lesson, you know, there’s good, there’s bad here, and it’s not bad to invest yourself in a thing. And it’s not bad to believe in a thing, but you gotta be careful.
You gotta be, you gotta be flexible like a willow. You gotta, you gotta know that. So, It’s gonna be really hard to handle what is presented.
Marc Moss: Thanks, Sasquatch. Ranger Sasquatch has been a ranger since 2000 and has seen and experienced so many singular things, events, and people in his life, which he thinks is the point of it. Sasquatch is also one of the DJs at Radio Electra 89.5 on your Dusty FM dial. Rounding out this edition of the Tele something podcast, Misso resident Katie Conan shares her psychic journey of love with us in a story that we call discovery.
Thanks for listening.
Katie Condon: When I was eight years old, I prayed to God to please take away my psychic powers. I would have these vivid dreams. I knew exactly what was gonna happen the next day, and it was fun for a while. People thought that I was smarter and Whittier than I actually am. I just had time to prepare for the conversation.
I knew what folks would say before they said it. I knew what I was getting for Christmas. I knew Santa wasn’t real. There was this Christmas Eve, my dad spent all night setting up a trampoline for us to enjoy on Christmas day, and I remember just kind of like bouncing along on the trampoline while my siblings around me were literally jumping for joy, and I was fighting back tears because I already knew it was gonna happen.
I think that’s when my mom kind of thought that I was depressed and she was right. I was. I was envious of kids who didn’t have to unwrap presence with forced curiosity and false excitement. This psychic power became a curse. And I prayed and I prayed and I prayed for God to take it away and it was gradual, but she did.
It was my ninth birthday. I received a bouquet of flowers from a secreted meer
and I wasn’t just surprised. I was shock. Like there wasn’t enough room in my body for the blood. It was amazing. And I knew I’d lost my powers. God had answered my prayers, and I spent the next decade and a half living this wildly unpredictable, incredible life. I. Wasn’t alone anymore. There was a weight that was lifted.
I took risks
until my late twenties. I was with the Man of My Dreams, Ryan Silsby. We met when we were 14 years old and we just click. I always felt like I met him too early, you know, like, I’m not, I’m not ready for this kind of feeling, this kind of commitment. So when we graduated high school, he was ready to just settle down, moving together, and his family had moved to the East coast and my son sent him there.
I needed to travel, I needed to do me, I, I wasn’t quite ready for. A couple months later, he hitchhiked all the way from DC to Montana. Surprised me. Then I had to tell him I wasn’t ready, and I sent him back to dc. Then a couple years later, he rode his bike all the way across the country to Montana.
Surprised me again, and it was hard. I had to tell him again, I’m not ready.
Couple years later, I became ready. I was fully available for him, and I called out to the universe and I sent a Facebook message. And this man was in my arms, in my bed, in my apartment as soon as he could get there, , and it was incredible. Our relationship was passionate and full of romance. We went to Paris for Christmas.
We read lonesome Dove out loud to each other. He did all of the character voices you. He was consistently surprising me, challenging me. He was tall, stringy, brown hair, bright eyes. We were pretty happy.
And then one day I couldn’t find him
after a bit of sleuthing thing. I discovered his car at the trailhead, uh, bla canyon outside of Missoula, Montana, and a bitter at National Forest. Within an hour there was a helicopter in the air search and rescue. After a couple days, his family and some of his friends had traveled from all over to come help find.
Police dogs, man trackers. I even spoke with a psychic,
and after a week, Ryan was found dead at the base of a cliff. It was a night.
And that’s when I got back on the telly with the Lord Almighty. I was convinced that if I didn’t get my psychic powers back, if I didn’t know what was gonna happen. That I would not survive. Another surprise like that. I needed to be prepared. I needed to know. I prayed away these powers and I needed them back.
A couple months after Ryan died, a friend asked me if I wanted to drive to Belize from Montana, and I accepted his invitation. I. If I put myself in this situation where I have no idea what’s gonna happen, if I open myself up enough, if I become vulnerable, then God will give me my powers back. And after six weeks on the road, four countries, countless stories for the campfire, my friend dropped me off at home and I was devastated.
It didn’t work. I still couldn’t see my future. There was no way to prepare for anything. I had to figure out how to keep living without knowing what was gonna happen
eight years ago today, exactly.
I started the search for Ryan eight years ago. Exactly. I found his car in that parking lot. My life changed eight years ago.
The man who found Ryan did not mean to. He stumbled upon the situation. He was probably one of the only people within a hundred mile radius who wasn’t actively searching for Ryan. He was on a rock climbing trip. He was from New York.
He ended the nightmare.
I had no idea that the surprises that I prayed for and the ones that traumatized me were actually preparing me for the man who found Ryan,
the man who found Ryan has become my best friend. My. We’re engaged to be married. We own a home together. We’re enjoying our first burn together.
The man who found Ryan, he and I share this life full of possibility and opportunity. I feel like the nine year old receiving that bouquet of flowers consistently, there’s not enough room in my body for the blood. I don’t know what I’m getting for Christmas. , I believe in Santa.
My name is Katie and I’m a recovering psychic. Thank you.
Marc Moss: Thanks Katie. Katie Conde is humanitarian at heart. She believes in the connection of all things. Katie is a lover of art and the simple, beautiful things this life has to offer. 2022 was her first visit to Black Rock City podcast production by me Marc Moss.
Next week on the Tele so podcast, we looked back at a story from an event that helped inspire, Tell us something,
John Engen: and it
was there. I learned how to fix stuff cuz I had to.
Ignore other stuff cuz I could
fix it later because I got caught ignoring it.
And learned how to take time. .
Marc Moss: Tune in for a special edition of the Tele Something podcast honoring John Ein longtime Missoula resident who has passed along from this moral coil. Tune in next week for that, and remember to subscribe to the Tele Something podcast. Remember to get your tickets for the next Tell us something storytelling event.
The theme is it’s the little Things Tickets and more information is available at tellussomething.org to learn more about, tell us something, please visit, tell us something.org.