Saturday, August 27, 2005

~*...burning man...first stop*~

blogging my entire burning man experience in one single blog entry is proving to be way too much of an undertaking. so i decided to break the trip down into smaller pieces, and post them one at a time. this will give you time to absorb my life changing experience bit by bit and give me time to tell the story in a much more timely manner. sorry its taken me a week to get my first real blog entry up, but decompressing from the burn is also a huge undertaking. don't worry, there are new pix of the burn in my pikcha archive that should definitely satisfy as i get my blog up to date.

on thursday, august 25, we had our final burning man meeting at will's place. on my cruise across queen street, as per the norm, i ran into a few familiar faces beginning with my boy ziggy.

i know ziggy from london in my university daze. he was just stopping off in toronto for a few nights before leaving for vancouver to start a new life near the mountains. running into him was a pleasant surprise. i'll see you on the west coast zigs! we'll shred the coastals together this year fo sheez!

then, at queen and yonge i ran into my friends mike and leanne, which was great because they were on their way to burning man the next day and my attempts to get in touch with them before they left were unsuccessful. and there i was running into them on queen street. i was definitely in tune with the force that evening. i found out where they were going to be camping on the playa and wished them a safe journey to the burn. daam was i glad i ran into them. i was gettin afraid that i wouldn't know where to find them on the playa, then bam! i run into them on queen street. it is very difficult for me to cruise across that street without running into someone i know. i am a daily personality on queen street, its home to me.

all of the final details for the burn were taken care of at will's place that night. shallen also brought with him all of our night time glow supplies to hand out to everyone. glowing tingz are essential for surviving at burning man: how else are people supposed to see you and your bicycle at night in the middle of the desert? i was also super stoked that my flashflight frisbees came in the mail a few daze before. i was so looking forward to tossing a lit up frisbee on the playa.

on my way home after will's, i stopped off at my friend steve and angela's place. after helping them move a refrigerator out of their apartment and into the garbage, i was treated to play time with new life. their roommate's cat had kittens. oh man, kittens are simply the cutest little things in the universe. they made me miss my cats, sativa and amidala, who are currently living with my sister. if my roommate wasn't allergic, they would be living with me.

unlike wednesday night, i slept like a baby that thursday night. maybe because i didn't really sleep wednesday night due to the excitement of the adventure that lay ahead of me. it was the last time i would sleep in my bed until after the burn.

friday, i finished packing and got ready to head to system to hear donald glaude and my boy jelo who was recording a live set. i was happy to get my new flash version of my site up before i left for the club that night. my flight was 10am the next morning, so the plan was to party like a rock star in the most multicultural city in the world and head straight to the airport.

my girl maxine picked me up around 11pm and we headed to system soundbar. the club was rammed that night, everyone and their cousin was out, and the vibe was off the hook. jelo's live set was bumping from the first track he dropped. i wasn't very impressed with donald glaude's set, but the people made up for it. daam this city is full of very good looking people.

shallen was rocking the burning man in his head that friday night...gettin into the spirit of the burn before we even left the country. noice one bruvah.

i left system just after 5am and headed home to put some final touches on my site before will picked me up at 8am. it was fun saying bye to people with "later! i'm going to vegas now." :)

we ran into kev (turtle), sue, court, and ryan at the airport. our krew looked very tired seeing as we were all at system a few hours earlier, but we were all going to pass out on the plane to vegas so it didn't really matter. little did i know what i was in for at the airport.

will had purchased our airplane tickets using his credit card, and had brought with him the printouts including our check in ids. everything is automated now, so all we had to do was manually enter our check in ids at the airport touch screen terminals and we were taken care of. yay technology. after checking in we headed towards customs. you can really tell america is at war as the customs officers treat you like they do not want you coming to their country. i provided the proper identification and was then asked how long i was planning to be in the states for. i told him ten daze. he then asked for my return ticket, which i didn't have on me...will had it and he had just passed through customs before me. i answered "my friend will has it. he just went through customs a minute before me". the customs officer asked "what do you mean you don't have a return ticket? why don't you have a ticket? why does your friend have your ticket? how do i know you're coming back?" yup, i got flagged and sent to u.s. immigration. i was the last one of us to go through, so i couldn't tell any of my friends to get will and have him come back with proof that i was planning on coming back to canada. as soon as i got into the immigration room i grabbed my phone to call will, but i was told firmly to put my phone away as they do not allow cellular phone use in the immigration room. immigration proceeded to take my fingerprints and photograph me for their records. then i had to sit and wait for a customs officer to come and interrogate me. while waiting, a stewardess came in asking if i was mr.sang (i'm a lim sang but i'm used to mr.sang). she then reported back on her walkie talkie that mr.sang was being held up in customs and would be on the next flight. as soon as i heard that i was pissed!

45 minutes later, a female customs officer brought me into her office. daam she was cold, and i had to keep reminding myself that she's not this much of a bitch when she's drinking wine with her friends. after questioning me about my visit to the states for 20 minutes, she let me go and get a copy of my itinerary from the air canada check in proving that i was indeed going to return to canada. once satisfied, she then proceeded to go through my bags. of course she found nothing of note. if i wasn't me i'd probably flag me, so i wasn't about to be stupid and validate anyone's assumptions.

so i ended up having to rebook on the next flight to vegas. on my way back to the check in, i ran into my good friend tiia's parents at the duty free shop. they were on their way to chicago. i love tiia's parents, and they were very happy to see me. tiia's mom is an air canada stewardess. i told her what happened, and she was very sympathetic. but in the end, i didn't have a copy of my ticket with me, and they needed to proof that i was coming back to canada. why would they take my word for it?....and the country is at war.

the next direct flight to vegas was 12 hours later, but the air canada stewardess was very accommodating. she booked me on a connecting flight to vegas through denver which left within the hour. that would get me to vegas only two hours after my krew made it there. i was glad i didn't have to sit in the airport for 12 hours waiting for the next direct flight.

the metal on my belt, bracelet, and the metal plate in my knee set off the metal detectors and i was searched once again. but i was through customs, and was finally able to be in my element. from saying "thank you" in polish to the women who were examining my bags to saying "without music life would be a mistake" in hindi to the man who had to go over my body with the wand, the formalities were easy for me to deal with. these people were just doing their jobs, and they weren't trained to be dicks like the immigration officers were. it was easy to put a smile on their faces. the customs officers were a different story, but i was admitted to the states so it didn't matter.

after making it through the metal detectors, i ran into a guy at the bar (that was facing the metal detectors) who was wearing a cowboy hat. he pointed at me and said "burner?" to which i replied "yup". "i could tell" he said. "you look like a burner." he introduced himself as ravi. i grabbed a beer and sat down beside him. he was waiting for his friend who was also being help up in customs, but he didn't know why and he couldn't reach her on her cel. i shared with him my customs story, and how i missed my plane to vegas. it turned out that i was on the same flight as he was to denver where he would transfer to reno and i would head to vegas. i asked him where he was camping at burning man and he told me at the fandango camp. my friend sandy had told me that she was going to be at the burn and camping at fandango, so i immediately asked him if he knew her. guess who his friend was who was being held up in customs? om - everything is occurring perfectly at the same time. another burner joined us for a drink as we waited for sandy to make it through customs.

15 minutes before our flight for denver left, sandy had still not come out of customs. ravi didn't want to leave her, but i encouraged him to get on the plane. she knows what hotel they are staying at in reno. it makes no sense for both of them to miss the plane. she'll get on the next flight. so ravi and i boarded the plane. i also happened to run into my friend johnjoe on the plane as i walked down the aisle to take my seat. he was on his way to burning man too. there were lots of burners on that flight.

with less than 5 minutes before the plane took off, sandy boarded the plane. she was as pleased to see ravi as ravi was to see her, but she was shocked to see me. i had the emergency exit seat and had no one sitting beside me, so after the plane took off sandy came and sat beside me. it was great to have someone to chill with and talk to during the flight, but daam i was tired. sandy was helped up at customs for no real apparent reason. her and i agreed that it was the "flag the red and black haired people" day at the airport.

we said our goodbyes in denver and made plans to meet up on the playa at burning man. everything happens for a reason.

when i arrived in vegas, one of my bags didn't make the transfer in denver. of course my bag didn't make it! i filled out the proper forms and my bag was scheduled to be delivered to my hotel the next day. i jumped on a hotel shuttle bus and arrived at the renaissance in vegas. i met turtle in our hotel room, ate a sandwich, had a stiff drink, and then passed out. it had been so long since i had any rest, and we had plans to go out that night. what an ordeal it was to get into the united states.

ryan had hooked us up with guest list at a club called ice, the venue from the reality television show "the club". after a quick shower, turtle and i headed down to will and ryan's room where we began our pre-drinking festivities. then will, ryan, turtle, and i headed over to ice.

ice was a fairly large club, which seemed to be the theme of the night: one large room for top 40 hip hop and rnb and one for electronic music. the music for the evening was provided by none other than superstar dj keoki. but just like ice, he did not impress me.

the biggest surprise of the night was the plethora of large and in charge women that were at ice. coming from toronto the night before surrounded by the multi culturally hawt cream of the crop, being around that many big women was a shock to my system. what really blew my mind was that they were all walking around like they was all that. i guess if the average weight of the women there was 175lbs, being 165lbs makes you the shit. i can find beauty in all sizes, hell i'll make out with pretty much anyone, but it took a memorable evening one night last year before i learned a valuable lesson...she must weigh less than me to get past the kissing.

not everyone at the club was larger than me, and i was able to chill with some very attractive peepz..

...but the number of big women rubbin up against me tryin to get fresh was a bit too much for me to handle, so after two hours we left.

back at the hotel, will and ryan decided to call it a night. this was my first night in vegas, so turtle and i decided to hit the strip. i had never seen the strip before, so i was pretty excited. vegas is the disneyland of sin, the dark side flows freely throughout its streets. prostitution is legal, gambling is legal, and you can drink your free booze in the streets. yup, hang out long enough at the penny slots and someone will come by asking if you'd like a cocktail.

but i did not have much money to waste on gambling, and neither did turtle, so we came up with a pretty good plan to see as many casinos as possible and spend the least amount of money. we agreed to spend $100 in total at ten casinos...ten bucks at each casino. we would only spend that much at each place, and whatever winnings we earned there (if we won). it gave us the opportunity to see as many casinos on the strip in one night while keeping our pocketbooks in check. it was fun stepping up to a blackjack table, playing a single $10 hand and then leaving. most times i'd just play slots.

the sun came up, and i was beyond tired. so turtle and i headed back to the renaissance with our winnings (ha!), and called it a night.

the next day we rendezvoused with the rest of our krew for a cruise down the strip. man, everywhere you go there are people giving out flyers sellin punani. sex is everywhere, and everyone is pushin it. sin! sin! sin! vegas is surreal.

las vegas...where fantasy becomes reality. they weren't joking.

if the beers aren't free, you can always grab them for stupid cheap. one casino was selling beers for a dollar! yah, you know we stocked up.

i got my pikcha taken with a vegas showgirl, hell, i even ran into elvis. he supported the theme that was established the night before at ice...ugly, fat, and all that. maybe its an american theme ;) all you can eat buffet anyone?

speaking of buffet dinner, when in rome, eh! that sunday night we gorged ourselves at the mgm grand all you can eat buffet. i have never seen any buffet like it in my life. from the selection to the quality of the food, everything was fit for a king. the prime rib rawked! and all you can eat alaskan king crab legs! hot or cold! the price was a bit more than your average buffet ($30), but very well worth it. i ate more than my share of animals that once lived and got my money's worth. if you make it to vegas, the line up for the mgm grand buffet is worth waiting for.

before we left the mgm, we had to stop and admire the lions that were chillin out in the casino. LIONS for gawd's sake! nucking futz!

no more gambling for me. i was looking forward to sleeping in a comfortable bed for one last time at our hotel as we planned to leave for burning man the next day. vegas is a different universe. it is the darkest parts of capitalism fully embraced and packaged in fantasy. i understood where the saying "what happens in vegas stays in vegas" came from. i don't think the word sin comes close to what its like to breathe the fantasy world of las vegas. my next stop however, was also another universe, one fueled by creativity and imagination without the evils of cash (at least while there). the next day i would leave for the burning man festival.

- that sin city guy \m/^_^\m/

~* to burning man...*~

after a great night out at system soundbar, i am officially leaving for burning man. see you in september.


- norm (:D)---

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

~*....the full monkee...*~

tonight's game against cheap-n-easy ended in victory for the monkees. seeing as we have lost most of our games this season, winning two weeks in a row is a great feeling. we really came together as a team tonight. its awesome watching a group like this progress throughout the season. we have all improved. the final score was 15-7. the team we played had great spirit. they even used a banana in their after game cheer.

and for the first time this season, we went out for beers after the game. we played on a field in forest hill near bathurst and st.clair, and not way up in (bfn) north york. we ended up at scallywags at st.clair and yonge where we enjoyed half price food (yay tuc benefits) and beer. i believe that the social aspect of playing team sports (read beers and wings after the game) is just as important as the time spent together on the field. it gives teams the opportunity to interact and socialize without the atmosphere of competition. you get to learn more about your fellow teammates in ways that you cannot on the field. it also gives teams the opportunity to socialize with the team you just played (though it did not happen tonight). that's something i miss about playing closer to downtown, the beer and wings with your team after. i'm glad we got to enjoy it tonight, especially with a win under out belt.

the raccoons also made an appearance at scallywags. man, those animals are ballzy.

i love this sport!

three more sleeps until i burn.

- norm (=D)----

Monday, August 22, 2005

~* in progress...*~

my weekend consisted of chillin out and playing republic commando. its kind of a fusion between a first person shooter and a tactical shooter. i'm a huge fan of tom clancy's ghost recon, an excellent tactical shooter. i love being in control of more than just one player, and being able to command your squadron. its a different pace than the run in and shoot em up formula of most first person shooters. i've got so many games to complete, and no time to play them all. i have yet to finish half life 2 and gta:san andreas...two of the best games ever made imho.

well, my whole weekend wasn't spent playing video games. i made it out to trinity bellwoods park on saturday for some afternoon disc tossing. there were about 6 of us there, not enough for a full game of pick up, but enough to play box. i had never played box before, so it was a new experience for me. instead of having an endzone, the scoring zone is a four pointed box about 7'x7'. the playing area is a larger diamond surrounding the box. you score points by catching the disc within the box. you have to clear the disc on a turnover by throwing it outside the diamond. the game is very fast and its great for practicing short passes. a lot of give an gos. i also got my flashflight discs in the mail that day. i have yet to play with them at night, but i'm so glad that they arrived before i leave for burning man. playing frisbee at night in the desert...oh man i can't wait!

yesterday i stopped by the style in progress graffiti expo on queen street. the parking lot at queen and portland was converted into a music, dance, fashion, and of course graffiti art playground. the alleyway from portland all the way to spadina was the canvas for some of toronto's most talented graf artists. here are some shots from the expo. i've also updated my pikcha archive with more pix of style in progress.

its good to get my lowride out for some afternoon cruisin. a little history about my super blingnin ride...i've had it for four years. originally, it was built by my friend adam c. he spent three years building it. his gf also had a 20inch cruiser. they looked so hawt cruising down the street together. then they decided that they wanted bikes that could go over curbs without bottoming out. she traded her bike in, but adam didn't want his bike going to just some random person. he knew i had always wanted a lowrider, so he came by my house one day and said "dude, i've got a present for you." then, he rolled this pimp ass chrome lowrider into my place. i asked him how much he wanted for it, and he said he wanted nothing. it was "we love norm" day (adam does not believe in holidaze). he said that the bike would be a reminder to me to never be selfish with it, cause the person who gave it to me was the farthest from selfish. i've had so many people ride my bike, from my little chinese mother to a priest from poland. i've spent the last few years adding pieces to it, including the seat, new pedals, grips, and pegs on the front so i can rest my feet on them and cruise. the bike is heavy, uncomfortable, hard to control, and it doesn't go very fast at all...but it looks hawt and therefore serves its purpose. you cannot be humble while riding this bike. if i wanted to go fast, i'd ride my mountain bike. i have the best friends in the universe.

after the graf expo, i headed over to isa and darryl's place for dinner. but not before i stopped off at the fetish festival in the gaybourhood. church street was shut down from bloor to carlton. there were some interesting outfits and lots of booths set up selling everything from leather to pvc. most of the bars had their patios extended out on to the street. god i love the diversity of this city. a FETISH FESTIVAL for god's sake.

excuse me, can you tell me where i can park my carriage?;)

now i know where dorothy's shoes disappeared to.

i ended up at isa and darryl's place for dinner. it was the first time that they were able to entertain in their newly renovated space. i was glad to hang out with just them. its been so long since i was able to just hang out with them as they were living with isa's parents for the past few months while their place was being renovated. i love those two, and their daughter too. they are family to me.

after an excellent dinner, and a bottle of red, my friend karen drove my drunk ass home.

four more sleeps until burning man. i can't wait!

- normurai (=D)----