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  • Writer's pictureStuart Sheldon

Seeing Grover Norquist Naked

I have longed for years to punch Grover Norquist in his bullying, doughy, self-righteous face.

HOWEVER, even though this tightass wonk’s life-quest is based on the false, cruel and short-sighted premise that taxes should never be raised under any circumstances … and his obstinance has stunted the growth and vitality of our country when we needed it most, I am going to give him props. Norquist attended Burning Man. And, apparently, he got it.

This man, who for decades has fought tooth and nail on the wrong side of social history, wrote, “Burning Man is greater than I had ever imagined. I have been to large demonstrations in favor of the environment, and the trash left behind is knee-deep. At Burning Man, you are hard-pressed to find a cigarette butt on the ground. There are no trash bins. Participants carry it in, and they carry it out. I have been to the Louvre. It is a very big place with many nice paintings. I knew that. I was not disappointed. Burning Man is more like Petra, the lost city in Jordan, which I found more impressive than its advance billing or reputation.”

Welcome to Juicy Camp!

I feel you, Grover. I’ve been to Burning Man 7 times.

My crew was called Juicy Camp. We served fresh fruit smoothies in the scorching heat of the day, under a carpeted, geodesic dome pumping with great dance music. We planned for months and worked hard to make that camp the oasis that it was. And those parties remain some of the best I’ve ever thrown or attended. Truly joyful. Our guests came in every stripe, costumed and bare (it didn’t hurt that Swimming Pool Camp set up right across from us). I always grin thinking back to rocking out in my friend Vivian’s nurse’s uniform.

Sideburning Man

Sideburning Man

Yet, among all the hotties and goofballs, one of my favorite partygoers was a short, bald guy who’d painted every inch of his pudgy, naked body bright red – eyelids, earlobes, back, sack and crack. He kinda looked like Grover. I did not know anything about him except that he danced his hairy, red butt off with an infectious smile. And he didn’t care one bit that his little, bright red pecker was bouncing to the beats like a pingpong ball.

New and improved Norquist?

New and improved Norquist?

The mere mention of Burning Man glazes the eyes of many who view the massive annual gathering as nothing but a group of dirty hippies flagellating in the desert.

Norquist says as much in his essay. But he goes onto to capture its essence, “A community that comes together with a minimum of “rules” demands self-reliance – that everyone clean up after themselves and help thy neighbor. Some day, I want to live 52 weeks a year in a state or city that acts like this. I want to attend a national political convention that advocates the wisdom of Burning Man.” So do I, bro!

Burning Man’s mantra is NO SPECTATORS. The social contract is, in fact, different there. Life is not a quid pro quo at Burning Man. You work hard to add something to the mix for everyone else. And in return, you get 69,999 people working their asses off to do something for you

The Tower, acrylic and mixed media on panel, 72"x44", 2003, Stuart Sheldon

The Tower, acrylic and mixed media on panel, 72″x44″, 2003, Stuart Sheldon

Most of us keep the bright lights inside us on a low dimmer switch.

What Burning Man manifests is Courageous Expression, the very thing that turns those lights up and makes our life deep and multi-hued and meaningful.

And teaches our kids to be fearless and powerful. And allows our country to innovate and create. So that guys like me can meet minds with guys like Grover. We don’t learn this in school. We’re taught to conform at work. Our politicians are grotesquely self-serving. We need to self actualize. And Burning Man is the largest self-actualization experiment that ever was. It’s about working as an eager team to celebrate our magnificent differences.

Are you a spectator in your own life?

Watch this beautiful video!

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