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Here’s an excerpt from the Introduction.
It’s hot. 105 degrees in the shade. Unfortunately, there isn’t much shade to speak of, just the still heat under the shadow of the shelter we’ve made. It’s a minor work of art, this shelter, with a frame made of jute and bamboo, covered with nylon and burlap. Bill dreamt it up after studying rough drawings of Bedouin tents. Right now, it’s the only thing keeping us from crisping in the desert sun. We lie about in lawn chairs and try not to move, waiting for a breeze, the slightest breath of cooling wind. We had spent the cooler hours of the morning wandering and making chilled coffee drinks for the artists and creatives who stumbled into our camp, some bleary- eyed and wobbly from the night before, others clear-headed and voluble, spinning detailed descriptions about artworks, installations, and strange performances scattered across the desert. But now the heat makes us all retreat and scramble for shade.
As evening falls, the wind finally comes up, but brings a dust storm with it, and we have to abandon the sturdy shelter quickly. The dust, incredibly fine and whiter than snow, drives us choking into the stifling death heat of our cars. My friend Lincoln isn’t having a very good time of it. The dust has brought on a fierce asthma attack (who knew he had asthma?), and he’s sick, puking bile and white dust out through his nose. He looks like he’s vomiting yellow plaster. In the car, the dust puffs in through the cracks in the doors and windows as gusts of wind rock us violently. Outside, our half-prepared pasta dinner is lost in the swirl of whiteness. I look into the rearview mirror and ask myself what the hell we are doing here.
My first thought was that it was Sky King’s fault. Sky King, a.k.a. Richard Dillman, was the intrepid radio man in charge of coordinating communications for all of the protests, demos, banner hangings, direct actions, and other forms of guerrilla theater undertaken by Greenpeace, San Francisco, where I worked at the time. A year before, on a Tuesday morning in September 1992, I found Sky King in his office, his visage burnt red, his black hair and beard coated in fine white dust. He looked like he had just come down from the mountain after an appointment with God. “Geez,” I asked, “what did you do over the weekend?”