Church of the Wholly Sacred Billy Idol Cigarettes

A man I truly admire maintained the Church of the Wholly Sacred at Burning Man this year. It was a beautiful rectiliniear orange tent out the West gate of Central Camp, separate from its neighbors with four cardinal carpets leading to it. Inside, Black Rock citizens had installed objects of temporary, permanent, personal and global holiness. It was alarmingly quiet, moving, and effective.

The Maintainer mentioned that he only recently went through a box of altar offerings, assuming most of it was highly personal garbage until he spotted a small bundle wrapped in paper: a hindu deity, maybe, a medicine bundle.

I’m always dying to know what other people do in those tiny, private, sacred places. But was it appropriate to pry? would it offend the person who made it? Would it offend the deity(ies) it was made for? Naturally, I tore it open.
The Maintainer

Come to find out the bundle contained a small green bud. This knocked me out utterly. I was expecting to be told it contained a lock of hair, two subway tokens, a crinkly polaroid of a really good looking lover, and a bazooka joe comic. But no.

It was simply Found Bud.

This Story of Found Bud was such a relief to me. I had been carrying around my own Story of Found Bud and was really tired of it. It had none of this karmic richness,and involved stealing Billy Idol’s cigarettes. The Maintainer urged me to tell it anyway. To make room for the new Story of Found Bud, here’s the old Story of Found Bud:

It’s true: My wicked pal Brian Hanna was working at a restaurant (of course!) in the Village… Grove Restaurant, maybe, one of hundreds B. has turned upside down with his particular form of Waiter Patter. This time he espied Billy Idol in his domain, and served Billy and his mother a particularly glum meal. At this point in the story Brian goes on about everything Billy Idol and his mother talked about. I can’t remember it. I don’t have to. I just like the *idea* of Billy Idol going out to dinner with his Mom. Brings every thing right on home.

So Brian is really good at copping things, and especially things right out from under people’s noses. Palming Billy’s cigarettes (Marlboro Lights) was no big deal, even while Billy sat there patiently waiting for the regulations to change so he could smoke them.

Then two months pass and Brian comes to California for a visit and ends up in my studio apartment in the Heroin Subdivision of Downtown Sacramento. I was working at the time, but really available because I was on jury duty and was being ejected from every panel I was randomly placed on. The only thing I remember saying consistently to lawyers was: I think drugs are more of a health problem than a criminal justice problem. I digress.

Brian gave me the Billy Idol cigarettes as a hostess appreciation gift for all the good times I was showing him in Sacramento, California. We were dizzy with excitement. Before placing the Billy Idol Cigarettes into the House Shrine, I peered in to take inventory: two Marlboro Lights and a pencil thin bone that Brian was convinced was dangerous and lethal, because Billy was acting *very* strangely the night the cigs were lifted. Who knows? we kept asking. Is it more or less likely that Billy would carry around PCP in his ciggie box? Could Billy afford the good stuff or was this some trashy shake he picked up on his way through the park? Was the fact Billy Idol *owned* the drug an *endorsement* or a *big red flag*?

We forgot about it within the hour.

About a month later I went camping at Some State Park with my other wicked pal Juliet Musso. Right before we headed out, we scanned the studio in Heroin Subdivision and decided to bring Billy Idol’s cigarettes, just in case we wanted to have a smoke once we were in the great outdoors. Eventually we felt like smoking and smoked the Marlboro Lights, marvelling at how stale they were. Then we stared at the bone for about half a day before deciding against it.

Finally my not wicked pal Phil Dyer came round and smoked it during lunch hour in a single toke. Like I said, it was thin, and Phil was one of those himalayan lung-guys. It had absolutely no effect on him, yet he was very polite about it.

Brian found out we had consumed the Billy Idol Cigarettes, downed the bone and thrown away the box and became a little furious. It was a *trophy*, not a *dare*.

Fire that sacred object up. Easy come easy go.

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