UFO Crash Lands Near Oppikoppiby Yelena Calavera / Images by Justin McGee / 19.08.2013
En route from Uranus, our spaceship fucked-out badly and our captain was forced to make an emergency crash landing on Mars. We went hurtling into the red desert, silvery slivers shaken loose from the space craft burning up as we fell through the atmosphere.
After extracting ourselves from the wreckage, we made a miraculous discovery. Yes, it’s official: there is life on Mars. It so happened that at the time of our crash, an ephemeral altar to sound and debauchery had sprung up in the dust-bowl into which we had plummeted. Accompanying this altar, was a sprawling settlement knows by its citizens as ‘Mordor’.
Mordor, simultaneously a campsite and a filthy place in your soul into which you crawled to uncover all your most debased tendencies. Once having trodden on the soil of Mordor, you’d never get rid of the lingering feeling of nostril-dust nor be able to escape your besmirched reputation.
Mordor is a place that can reveal how infinitely corruptible every human being truly is. Given a lack of amenities, surplus intoxicants and the proximity of a group of wild animals infinitely similar to himself in their desire for euphoric oblivion, man shows his true nature—both splendid and repulsive.
We were lucky. A caravan of Martian gypsies took us in, sheltered us, fed us and offered to provide us with a limitless supply of mind altering substances should we so desire. Of all the weird and wonderful semi-humanoids the settlement boasted, our company was surely the strangest (except for one man I saw near the main stage who was all but naked, covered in red paint and whose ball was dangling out of his soiled speedo).
The caravan was presided over by the honourable barbarian giant Rhenosterkoppi, the Beast of the Mountain. The man had a skull so hard he could head-butt an ox and come out the winner. By day Rhenosterkoppi resembled a normal(ish) barbarian giant, but when the sun went down, he changed I tell you.
He became a creature of the night. He was the kind of creature that would roll down the koppie for kicks. Of course, Rhenosterkoppi was invincible and so he was unaffected by rolling over hundreds of metres of jagged rocks.
He would roam the mountain, spurting gibberish to passers-by and occasionally taking a nap in an unoccupied bush. If he awoke during the night he would rejoin the other Bewilderbeasts and make a sport of molesting the masses. If he slept through and awoke in the morning, he would find his clothing all torn to shreds and his neck strung round with the skulls of lesser men.
Once, Rhenosterkoppi did not return to us for a long while and we were certain that he was dead, perished in the desert to be found and dissected by mad scientists lurking in the darkness. Indeed, to uncover the secret of his DNA would be like discovering the Holy Grail, and his abduction by men in white coats seemed to be a plausible explanation for his disappearance.
Soon after we’d arrived, I’d gone gallivanting. The herd had been too slow to keep up with me and so I’d ended up aimlessly wandering with a concealed bottle of wine as a companion. My energy level waned in a manner proportional to the position of the sun in the sky and the amount of wine I imbibed.
I stumbled upon an old high-school crush of mine who was doing a shamble that gave me a run for my money. His comrades looked little fresher. We were drawn up the koppie by the force known as ‘the bar’, somehow managing to defy the laws of physics.
We sat down at a table and things degenerated rapidly. The dealings between the alien man and me quickly turned sinister. A dispute developed, revolving around him shooting me down in high-school and me shooting him down much later (and much, much more venomously).
The thing culminated in him pouring his rum and coke over me, scattering ice across the table. Both his comrades looked off into the distance and whistled, not wishing to be caught in the crossfire. Gleefully, I gathered up the ice and deposited it in his lap.
“Look, Yelena. I’m sorry I poured rum and coke all over you, but it was the least you deserved.” He said.
“And I’m sorry I threw ice at your crotch, but I think it’s the least you deserved.” I replied.
Soon after this, I found myself at a random campsite. After a short visit, I concluded that I was very drunk and was in dire need of some water. I put on my gas mask and made my way through the dense cloud of brown particulate matter that hovered over the campsite and held my breath when I passed the toxic blue boxes. I went into the media section and found it to be a far, far worse place than Mordor.
Search as I did, I could not find a place to refill my water bottle (I’m a very unobservant person) and so resorted to having a temper tantrum at a stall that was selling water bottles and then giving free refills. The man who was unfortunate enough to have to deal with that, didn’t give a shit about my basic human right to have access to water and so I swore at him (eloquently, of course) and went in search of someone else’s ear to chew off.
Some official-looking folk wearing orange overalls sat on a very official-looking blue couch. I saw the bright colours and my instincts kicked in. I charged them and immediately upon arrival, began to complain about the fact that I was parched and in danger of dying of being drunken and dehydrated. The group listened patiently to my concerns and even offered me some dirty water which naturally I scoffed at.
“What kind of festival are you running here?” I moaned.
The pieces came together slowly. I looked past their overalls and took in their dishevelled appearances and befuddled demeanours and suddenly it all became clear to me.
“You are not officials!” I exclaimed.
“No, we’re just here to party.” One guy replied.
“My god man, but you were being so nice while I went on and on! I’m really sorry guys.”
“Ja, I was wondering why you were being such a bitch.” He replied.
We all had a good laugh at me and then I joined them for a sprawl on the blue couch. It did not take me long to discover exactly how unofficial they really were…
To my amazement, they then appeared (with their couch) on the Dome Stage while Shadowclub was playing. I was proud of my homies for looking so official-like up there with the famous people.
Alcohol done, water done and only a bit of warm sprite donated to me by die kinders Oppibank to keep me from shrivelling up and expiring in the dustbowl, I realised I needed to return to base. But… I made a fatal error when I left the campsite. I neglected to look where the fuck I was going. I believe it to be a common mistake people make in Mordor. I passed a few shrivelled corpses lying next to the road and was filled with terror.
I wandered through the desert for forty minutes, after which I was as downtrodden as a person can be at 4pm with the beginning of a hangover creeping up on them, no water, no clue and lost as fuck. When I finally reached the Promised Land after my torturous trek along perdition road, I had way more sympathy for the Israelites who spent forty years shuffling around in the desert.
Every lane looked the same, full of dirty cars, tents crouching beneath thorn trees and hordes of insane, sunburned aliens. The worst sort of thing happened to me then. I turned pensive. And when I turn pensive, only bad things happen. Soon I was dronk verdriet and hopelessly lost in Mordor. When I finally arrived back at the campsite, I promptly got stuck in a thorn tree. I hung there until someone came and freed me. I then advised the attending company that I hated everything but would be back in a short while.
“No, Yelena! We’ve seen this before…” A gypsy foretold.
Soon, I would find out why they had warned me. You see, I was walking the same path as the cowboy jester freak Kallak Jonesic, who had shuffled off the planet some time just before I arrived back at the camp. The gypsies wanted to protect me from the same fate as the lost cowboy.
Our camp was haunted by the disgruntled spirit of a writer-gone-wild. Later that night, I was sitting around in the campfire light with the ghost of Kallak Jonesic. Jonesic appeared after midnight, after Bittereinder had brainwashed us right, brainwashed us back to how we should have been.
My dear friends and I sat and watched, petrified and amused, as the ghost of Jonesic threw his lithe body around the rim of the fire, sometimes tripping and almost diving into it only to recover at the last moment. He clucked and cooed and rattled dustbins. He danced and pranced and did politically incorrect impersonations of disenfranchised minorities. His tongue flapped wildly in an attempt to convey an undecipherable message to us all. It was a demented soliloquy, dripping with contempt for an aspect of existence invisible to the rest of us. It was a state dear to my heart, though my displays were more subtle (I think).
My memory is brim-full of impressions of the dust-bowl and the pantheon of bands that graced the stages. I remember bits from here and there and the motley images form a kind-of Jackson Pollok painting of the place in my mind. One of the first sights I saw was something like an Amish strip-show. A friend and fellow journo described Volkspeler as an ‘eisteddfod on drugs’.
Bittereinder mangled my brain and I heard someone nearby remark that they were Satanic. It was an invitation for a conversation that I could not let slip by.
“Why do you think they’re Satanic?” I asked the long-haired dude.
“They like brainwashed everyone.” The dude replied.
“Doesn’t it make you want to brainwash people?” I asked.
The dude looked at me like I was a demon spawn, so I thought I’d better make myself clear.
“Brain does need a good scrub once in a while. And they did it with such style.”
The man eyed me suspiciously and moved away, deeper into the crowd.
Deftones had much the same effect on a buddy of mine. I had a thoroughly orgiastic listening experience (except for the fuckers who put their bloody couch in the middle of the crowd and blocked the view for hundreds of people behind them—yes, that’s right, fuck you guys) but my friend was convinced that the stage was a shrine to ego, greed and capitalism! Ahhh! Unless I missed #satanism trending on Twitter, I’d say there were some bad dwelmpies doing the rounds.
When I crawled out of the tent late the next morning and surveyed the decimated landscape of Mordor, I knew I would be taking a bit of Oppi back home with me, mainly dust particles imbedded in my lungs. But it was not only the dust that’s got such staying power. It was a demented adventure of epic proportions.
Also, I took some devastated camping chairs home with me and made them into a mobile that’s now hanging from a tree in my garden.
*All images © Justin McGee.