can’t stop me now, burning man

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Note: NSFW video below.
Ordered my ticket for what will be my 10th Burning Man if nothing gets in the way of attending. Each bullet point below represents one or more random recollections or fond memories of burns past, and yes, I realize the first and last items are exactly the same. It’s my entrance and exit.

  • Heading out across open desert late at night on my bike, into a blinding dust storm, a fierce grin on my face.
  • Hushville playacakes –  a delicious tradition. (Get well, Nathan.)
  • Organizing three performances of my play, Is Todd God? on my first visit in 2001.
  • Ascending stairs that led to the rear end of a giant goat, inserting my head, and finding two people inside giving advice to visitors.
  • Watching the mighty sailing ship, La Contessa, cruise recklessly through the night.
  • Someone shooting my boxer shorts out of a homemade, hand-held, hairspray-fueled cannon.
  • Encountering the Petermans in their inflatable tourist outfits.
  • Finding a surly group of Santarchist Santa Clauses at the top of the pyramid on which the The Man rested one year.
  • A guitar-playing, singing, campmate giving a concert to people waiting in line at the porta-potties.
  • Finding a group of people doling out a literal truckload of ice cream (un-labeled Ben & Jerry’s) to anyone who happened across them.
  • Getting sucked into the emotional grip of the Temple and the messages left there, and yes, leaving some words of my own.
  • Witnessing the massive “Crude Awakening” explosion – an unbelievable front row seat at the apocalypse.
  • Giving “animal spirit guide” divining card readings at the Skeptical Bastards camp.
  • Wandering Black Rock City at night, through a galaxy of blinking lights, bursts of exploding propane, laser beams, EL-wire butterflies with flapping wings, flaming bicycle men, and monstrous fiery octopi.
  • Encountering a demented open-air dentist office with the “dentist” injecting saki into patients’ mouths.
  • Finding a deep-playa diner with 50s-era wait staff, some with beehive hairdos, serving grilled cheese sandwiches.
  • Seeking out a cool place in searing afternoon heat and finding a dark tent filled with fake foliage and pipes spraying a fine water mist into the air.
  • Finding myself in one of those daytime dust white-outs with about three feet of visibility.
  • Actually drinking something out of paint can offered to me by a big man named Ohio who helps organize Hushville.
  • Standing in a Faraday cage with Gretchin while Dr. Megavolt shot huge bolts of lightning at us with his giant Tesla coil. (Linked photo is not us.)
  • Playing kazoo with a playa band while standing on the top floor an art car, and watching a pizza delivery bicyclist come by and hand off a slice in a box to someone on the lower level of the car.
  • Watching the Man burn when he wasn’t supposed to be burning one night in 2007.
  • Watching weird movies at Bad Idea Theater with Scot.
  • Navigating the terrifically fun maze at the base of the Man in 2005.
  • Hanging out with Scot’s mom and watching her dance beneath The Man.
  • Watching Rev. Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir perform on a stage under The Man.
  • Many, many good times as an Oracle behind the desk at PlayaInfo.
  • Meeting a Montana skeptical bastard while on a nature tour outside of the festival and deciding to start our own camp.
  • The road trip there and back is often a memorable event of its own.
  • Distributing pre-stamped homemade postcards with poetry and rubber stamp art to random people and watching their delight.
  • Witnessing some people attempt to make the Guinness Book of World Records by gathering the largest group of people dressed as Superman.
  • Heading out across open desert late at night on my bike, into a blinding dust storm, a fierce grin on my face.

I’m just scratching the surface here. I’ve thought of another two for every one listed. You’ll note that very few of these memories involve the big art installations. None involve the official burning of the Man, which is one of my least favorite parts of the event.

I was alive at the time of the Woodstock music festival, but a bit too young and too far away to attend. I missed a cultural watershed moment that would never come again. The following decades seemed to be lacking in iconic events. It was a complete surprise then, to find myself at the Burning Man festival and realizing, particularly as I drove away the first few times, that this was something just as significant or more significant in its own way. This place offers an unusually large number of pure-joy-and-wonder experiences. This may be my last year – too much of a good thing – tired of the increasingly cumbersome and lengthy ingress and egress – high ticket prices – but never say never.

The video below that someone made in 2010 makes me very happy every time I watch it. I don’t know the people, but, for good or ill, they’re my people. (Particularly the nerdy fellow around 2:25 with the gray T-shirt and metronome fingers.)

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3 thoughts on “can’t stop me now, burning man

  1. gl.

    congratulations! may this year be the best year yet.

    that Faraday cage was the BEST! i’m so glad you were there with me. sorry i missed the maze, though. i think i really would have enjoyed it. and now that i think about it, i think burning man was the beginning of what eventually became my love affair with bikes. thanks, burning man!

    “Getting sucked into the emotional grip of the Temple and the messages left there, and yes, leaving some words of my own.” yeah. i remember that. *hug*

  2. David

    Any chance I can join this camp? In Austin, I camp with KFLiP, the Flipside radio station. I don’t have a camp yet for my 2013 return to Burning Man (having skipped 2012). I live in SF.

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