I saw the biggest Ass I’ve ever seen last night.
But I should back up. I can’t let the brilliance of my original plan go without mention. As the night of We Make Thunder drew near, I began seeing the cries from my fellow cat brethren to capture the wild beast in its native habitat. I discussed the situation with my old lady, who has long known of my weird hobby following microcelebrity Julia Allison. I mentioned the videographer post, and she helpfully provided the names of several she knew.
Playing tug-of-war with my dog, I formulated an idea: What if I simply gave her what she wanted? I would point her friends to the post as a potential gig and have a professional photographer with an all-access pass jam a camera right up in her maw, just where everyone wanted it! When she inevitably did not pay them, I would use collected monies from the site. If things went perfectly, I wouldn’t even have to “leak” the video. She would upload it herself.
Ethically, it was sound. Personally, I had a feeling that successful bank robbers must feel when they have mapped out the perfect crime. Finally, my brain was operating at top speed again.
Sadly, I did not receive a response. I cruised for wedding photographers on Craigslist for a while but after seeing their rates, I silently congratulated myself on the decision to never get married. Do people ever rewatch those videos? Do they know how boring it is for their friends?
Crushed, I went for my backup plan. I would attend the event myself with a friend in tow, just in case Julia spotted me and slashed my eyes out with her fingernails. Now that would be some great footage!
That night was First Friday. Once a month Oakland shuts down a few blocks and opens it to food vans, street vendors, and live music. I had not been in over a year because of extreme laziness. TV was better. Not this time.
The vibe was great and we got some delicious food. My old lady was drawn to a small table with a large banner of Rasputin, where I purchased some Beard Oil & Lube. I am a little scared to try it now, as the ingredients were listed as “mumble mumble, beeswax.”
Then, I saw it. It was carving through the crowd in a slow, easy, lumbering motion. My mother’s scolding of “not to stare” clashed with a primal eye hunger that would not be resisted. There, only 15 feet away, was the Biggest Ass I’d Ever Seen.
The Ass was attached to a large but not obese woman that I assume had a head. I don’t know. It was meandering through the crowd, followed by a wake of friends, naturally behind it. Two males with huge smiles tried their best to look natural, but their smugness was clear.
I looked away. I was suddenly hit by the realization that this was perfect training for the Real Op later. If I could not obtain a picture of The Ass, how could I obtain a picture of The Donkey? I held down for two seconds on my Poloroid Cube’s power button, turning it on.
I watched as The Ass’s greatly-lesser-assed friends followed wherever she went. I felt bad for them. No matter how vibrant their personality, everyone would ignore them over this freak show. Suddenly I began to feel bad about myself. What did it say about me to snap a picture of this person’s deformity? I could not bring myself to do it. I quietly put the camera away.
I spotted a booth called “From Hell,” which had a death metal motif and posed for a shot next to my namesake. One of the zombie girls manning the booth came over and photo bombed me. Good times.
I was suddenly aware of the sounds of helicopters in the sky. Dusk was beginning to settle in and a powerful spotlight swept the area. This was abnormal. We were standing near the end of the street, near the barricades set up to prevent drivers from entering the area. I heard some loud slamming noises and witnessed an organizer ripping apart his own barricade furiously. No one works that fast unless there is something Serious looming. That’s when I saw the March.
Less than a block away, a huge procession of people were walking with ant-like purpose squarely in our direction. I thought to myself “Oh, that’s nice, the guy was breaking down the barricade to make it easier for people to walk through.” I quickly realized how naive that was. The clattering of the barricade was not because of consideration. It was out of necessity. This crowd was coming, and it was going to take anything solid it found on its way for use later.
This I could film. I recorded the herd as it entered the street fair. I recognized the Black Bloc immediately. Their faces were covered with baklavas and they wore total black in a way that was not fashionable to do so. One of the group tried to walk off with a 10ft piece of metal fencing used to surround the locked up bicycles. It still did not dawn on me why they would do that.
After they passed, we walked back to the car. Along the way, we passed a KFC with all its windows broken. A van parked nearby had its front window shattered. This was the Oakland May Day protest, comprised of Baltimore sympathizers and anti-capitalists. You can find more info on twitter using the hashtags #oakland and #mayday together. Later there would be a large crackdown. This was my first real foray into using twitter as a realtime newsfeed and participating in social media (I posted the KFC pic). I’ve always felt twitter was just a stupid form of blogging/irc, but now that I see the organizational value and the details you learn that are not on major media, I see the awesome power.
But enough of the prelude, Kraken! I only care about Julia Allison! Enough with your musings on asses and twitter! Get to the bloody point! Fair enough, but know that this mission cost me over $100 in tickets and drinks for my friend, so I intend to get something out of it. Bear with me.
I began explaining to my friend (call her “Sam”) about RBD and Julia. If you’ve ever had to sit someone down and explain the site in one long rambling rant where you have to explain the concept of bonding over shared disgust, you know what that was like. She took it with good humor, but in the back of my mind I wondered if she might be judging me. Did she think I was a stalker? I was employing her as my backup camera buddy to capture a person dancing for the express purpose of making fun of it. Sam has been to Burning Man several times and along with myself, probably felt a bit squeamish at the notion of mocking someone’s dancing style. I’m very self-conscious about my dancing. I have no form, only function. I can barely even nod my head without a pint of liquor in me.
We cleansed our consciences by adopting the mindset of someone simply capturing a celebrity in the wild, and entered the event.
There were four rooms total. One more than was advertised. The basement was 50% harem, with mattresses on the floor and cuddle puddles everywhere. Was this a good place to start? I began by reviewing what I knew about Julia Allison.
Let me back up again. I should explain the circumstances of the safari a little more clearly. I have what Arrested Development calls “face blindness.” I do not recognize faces very well, looking more for standout features you can describe, like a mole, bad hair, or puffy lips. In Julia’s case, I assumed since I’d seen pictures of her nearly every day on the site for years, she would just pop out at me. In the noisy darkness of the club, I began to realize the limitations of my brain cannot be overcome by sheer will alone.
I did know, however, what Julia is like. I know how she thinks. I know her lifestyle better than her parents. I was uniquely equipped to find her, even if everyone was wearing masks. My friend Sam, on the other hand, had no history of Julia. She has excellent facial recognition skills, but had only seen a handful of pictures. So once I found someone who looked like Julia, Sam would come in for the visual confirmation and we would get our footage.
“She has no friends, only followers.”
I was struck by how insightful Sam’s synopsis of Julia was after only a brief read of her Facebook page. Indeed, most people at the party were in groups of 3-5 people. I didn’t think Julia would be there with anyone since I figured this was all about getting close to DJ Avocado and basking in the glory of hundreds of horny, molly-fueled eyeballs. I kept my eye out for someone on her own.
Julia is lazy:
The mattresses would be a good place to look, right? I scanned the writhing bodies looking for a bored girl absently thumbing an iPhone, waiting. I saw none, but did see a guy sitting in a fully erect Buddhist crossed-legs-and-thumb-index-finger-circle position on the mattresses. Could you really meditate in a room with the loudest speakers in the venue? His eyes were open. I decided he was just a poseur looking for attention in the most oxymoronic way possible.
Julia’s taste in music is terrible:
We moved upstairs. The music was ok. I know a lot of you cannot stand EDM, but I listen to it over eight hours a day. I held out a shred of hope they might play a genre I really like, but it was all really watered down. Maybe I’ve spoiled myself by only going to shows that play the stuff I am really interested in and managed to avoid hearing any “top 40” EDM. It was all vaguely trappy breaks, which I usually like but seemed to be missing something essential. Maybe it was the fact I was stone sober. Either way, if the music was good, Julia wouldn’t be here.
We ventured into the “Thunder Room, which was the largest. I immediately knew this was where I would find her. There was a long platform in front of the DJ booth that women were dancing on. This was where the difficulty level of the whole game went from Hard to Insane. I pulled out the Polaroid Cube and tested the waters.
Did you see Julia? There were about five women in white goddess outfits who came out onto stage. All of them fit my visual identification qualifications:
* dark hair
The Cube was crap. I was feeling very paranoid about holding it instead of a smartphone, since it made clear I was trying to capture video and wasn’t just some clubber who was absently grabbing some offhand snapshots. I put The Cube away for the night.
Besides the women I had just seen, there was a ever-rotating selection of women (women only, I might add) dancing on stage. There was a changing room on the third level from which they seemed to be originating. My mind went back to my training.
Julia considers herself a VIP:
I knew if there were a roped off section anywhere, Julia would be in it, or trying to get in. We made our way up the stairs. In the adjacent third room, I tried out my smartphone.
The constantly shifting crowd and lack of light was making my autofocus act like a sloppy drunk. Would it fail during the critical moment of capture? I tried not to think about it.
In the upper level of the Thunder Room was a railing, perfect for viewing the stage. I felt like it was my best hope. Next to it was a bar area bathed in blue light that gave off a distinctly VIP feel. I scanned the people. They all looked like potential matches. That henna face paint hid the details of what could be the Face I Was Looking For. For many of them, it was easy. They had dreadlocks. Would Julia get dreadlocks? I pondered the idea, ultimately discarding it. Still, that one girl looks a little similar.. no. no dreadlocks. “Look for sausage curls,” I told Sam. Somehow, she understood what I meant.
I began feeling hopeless. There were just too many short brunettes with about the same length hair running around. I was cautiously scanning their faces and calves. It’s hard to impress the amount of paranoia I felt. I didn’t know what would happen if she spotted me staring, stalking, and filming her. If she realized who I was, I would lose my chance at filming any of her dance because she might simply call a bouncer and say I was a stalker. I go to these parties from time to time and don’t want to have that reputation. The word of a scantily-clad female trumps that of a man any night. To top all of it off, I had to really stare at some of them to verify it wasn’t her. I was beginning to feel creepy.
I can tell you might be frustrated by now. “But Kraken, what’s all this crowd-mingling about? Why didn’t you just wait till 3:20” Well friend, I had just worked all day at my job. I had spent the evening in Oakland. I wasn’t on drugs. You see where I’ve going with this. Also, I had Sam to consider. She was being a great sport, and I had promised we’d leave by 1am. This was the plan back when I thought Avocado was coming on at midnight. When I found out it was 3:20, I decided to put all my resources into finding her in the crowd or on stage prior to his set.
!That Girl There, She’s Alone!
Indeed, another white angel, alone and half-heartedly dancing, was passing below us in the crowd. Was it her? We made our way down and made like wallflowers. The girl passed just in front of us and I pulled out my camera to film her awkwardly dancing. As soon as I pulled it up, she turned around and walked past me, in a pissy mood. My heart froze.
It wasn’t her. I began feeling terrible again. Here were a bunch of people just trying to enjoy themselves and I was trying to record a stranger dancing poorly. If I had captured her from behind, would I put it up on the internet to be dissected by the hive? Her every body part analyzed for ass mass and calve content? I was feeling low. My original plan was so beautiful. It had all the elements that make RBD great. No poking. Just letting Julia be Julia without outside interference. She’s like an electron in quantum mechanics whose state is affected by the act of measuring it.
The crowd was thinning. This was not good. There was no way I could get close enough for a good capture on the main stage without being right up in her face, and without a large body of people I’d be exposed and obvious. Only a small handful of people were filming anything. Contrast that with a rock show, where if allowed, every single person feels the need to pull out their phone and record the entire event. It was even more puzzling considering how awesome the visuals were. Maybe photography wasn’t allowed? I tried not to think about it.
On the flipside, and the thing that helped me relax, was that there were professional(?) videographers there! They had huge cameras and were getting lots of closeups of the dancers. I no longer felt like It Was All Up To Me. And this is really the core of the whole story.
If Julia were to actually show up and get on stage and dance her Donkey Dance, there were people there to capture it with better cameras and access than I. Knowing Julia, she would demand the footage. Not for private use, because she has no concept of privacy. She has no shame or sense of What Looks Good. She will upload the footage of herself dancing for all the world to see. If by some miracle she is struck by a sense of taste and does not upload it, it will mark a new chapter in her life of over-sharing. She will have to face the fact that she is not perfect in every way, that she is not a good dancer. I feel as though we win either way.
I took some more footage of the scene from the balcony. See if you can spot her.
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