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2002-09-11 11:35 p.m.

I take photos almost every day with my digital camera. I organize them on my iBook in heirarchical menus. There is a folder for each year, and within each year a folder for each month. Within each month there is a folder for each day. I usually add a few words to describe where I was or what I was doing, too.

Every once in a while I go back through the hundreds of folders and thousands of pictures and remind myself of what I did that day and how I was feeling. They serve as a wordless photo diary for me—something to help me remember and recapture moments of my life.

This evening I found a picture I took on September 2—just a few weeks ago. As I looked at it, all the details flooded back to me.

I was making the long trek home from Burning Man. Even without looking at my watch I could tell it was about 6 PM just from the light. The sun was low in the sky and it saturated everything with a deep, buttery, late–afternoon light. The shadows were silent and elegant and long like giraffe necks. Adam, Boris, Jenny, Skot, and I had all stopped at a Del Taco just west of Reno to get some cheap, hot food after 10 days of eating nothing but desert dust.

Just across the parking lot from the Del Taco stood an obvious photo opportunity.


There once was a time when people of this humble planet had to wait in line to get smog. There was a dark age when people had to actually burn fuels and operate factories in order to get their fill of delicious smog. Ah, but no longer is that the case! We are living in the Golden Age of Smog Convenience! If you want smog and you want it now, then you must come to us and we will embrace you with open arms! We will give you smog right this very instant! There is no waiting! This is the age of Instant Smog!

I giggled and pointed and laughed when I saw this mini–building. The building was just small enough to look useless. It was too short to be a service station; it was too narrow to be a store or an office. More important than its dimensions, though, was its sign. Don't people think before they name their businesses?

I cracked joke after joke in my head about instant smog. Well, joke after joke is a bit of an exaggeration. Actually, it is more like I cracked the same shallow joke over and over in my head. Instant smog is really sort of a one trick pony as far as joke material is concerned. But, I am always easily amused, so I thought it was pretty funny. The mouth in my mind got tied up between giggling and snickering and contented smiling.

And then I took a picture of the silly scene—maybe so that someday I might stumble upon that photo and remember how I felt during the moments surrounding the image. And maybe if the gods favored me, I might even remember the weightless feeling of how silly I thought (and still think) everything was that day—Instant Smog, myself, and the big, crazy carnival world I live in.


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