Being There – A Cardboard Trek

My wife found out we were (okay, she was) pregnant in December of 2000, just before our 10th anniversary. Having been woken up with a pee-strip and this good news, I quickly calculated the due date as August 25 or so, and my first words to her at 5:30 a.m. were, “So, I guess we’re not going to Burning Man.”

We are city folk and Burning Man has been a great escape to what reality should/could be. We discovered Burning Man in 1999 when our friends invited us for the umpteenth time. As is true with many, our first burn was a life-changing event. There we were on the playa, in the most surreal place on earth with thousands of like-minded persons. As all burners eventually find out, there is something pure and honest about Black Rock City. The gifting, the sharing, the simple oneness with each other. It is, as the greeters tell you, “Home.”

We were not going to make a burn trip with an infant of 2 weeks or less. Though the thought occurred to us throughout the year, it wasn’t happening. But we couldn’t face the fact that we’d miss the burn. As the day all our friends were leaving approached, we came up with the fabulous idea! We got six-foot pieces of cardboard and drew our outlines (eight months pregnant and all). Then out came the markers and paints. For our faces we pasted photos blown up to life size. We used the markers, paints, and paper to make our costumes, boots, makeup, jewelry, etc. We cut out the doppelgangers and shipped them up to Black Rock City with our friends.

On the night of the Burn, other friends came to visit us – so the stories go – and on Sunday, we were pitched into the flames so we could be a part of the burn.

Our daughter held on for two weeks. Everyone came back to the Bay Area and, expecting to meet our new child, still got to experience the surprise of “It’s a girl!” We’ve since left the Bay and now live in New Mexico. Our daughter made her first trip to the playa this year and had a blast. She was a gift magnet and often talks about the “little boy on fire.” Her EL Wire antenna still comes out for special events and we will all be back next year again, where we belong.

L:Gringo and Dandelion and the little Fire Faerie.

by James Kitzmiller

Why people dress funny at Burning Man

Of course by now you’ve heard some old-timer whining about how Burning Man was better in the early days. Well, it’s true in some ways, but really, Burning Man has changed every year so i prefer to just say it was different. There’s still nothing like it anywhere else.

There’s a long-running argument over whether “dressing up” in a costume is “participating” at Burning Man. I have heard some of my old-timer friends complain about being heckled and called “spectators” for walking around in khakis. Never mind they had built a three-story art project…. never mind they had been wearing khaki to the Burn since it came to the desert… never mind that some people wear costumes but really don’t participate or contribute much beyond that…. it has been argued from many perspectives, but to set the record straight, i felt i ought to tell this story. From the historical perspective. Because in the “early days” we didn’t wear costumes at Burning Man.

When Burning Man first came to the desert, it was extreme survival camping. Here we were, just a couple hundred of us, smack in the middle of some godforsaken nowhere. The alkali plain seemed to stretch to infinity. Our cars and tents were huddled close to each other, like a wagon train circled against the wilderness. Many of us brought freeze-dried food and camping gear. The Black Rock Rangers had guns….big guns. They patrolled the desert around our camp, keeping an eye out for those who might have wandered too far, into the very real dangers of the Black Rock Desert.

The Black Rock Rangers, led by the intrepid Danger Ranger, were dressed in paramilitary “Lawrence of Arabia” style, with camos and headgear. Some had flowing robes. Most of the rest of us wore….khaki. Camping clothes. Shorts, fleeces. But everybody had been told to bring formal clothes for the black-tie cocktail party immediately preceding the Burn. There was something innately curious about being there, in that environment, with formal wear, sipping martinis and watching the sunset in the glow of generator-powered neon from the Man. It was so ridiculously heinous, so bizarre and hilarious, that nobody even laughed about it. It was so wrong, it felt right.

Sure i had some batik cotton pants from Bali that i couldn’t really wear anywhere except the Burn…or maybe the Health and Harmony Festival. There was the occasional guy in a sarong, or a woman with a parasol. Other people took advantage of the opportunity to wear something outrageous, or nothing at all, since we had created a community where people felt comfortable nude. The authorities weren’t really aware of us yet. There were a few guys in dresses, and of course there was the Java Cow, but that was for a ritual performance…. and i’m digressing again.

Returning to the desert, it seemed everyone had picked up on that heinous juxtaposition of creature comfort in the desert. Kitchens grew elaborate. Freeze-dried became a thing of the past. No, we had to have chicken breast sauteed in a white wine – caper sauce, and champagne served – of course – in the good crystal brought from home. Disposable plates? No way. We had good china, and proper silver. Tuxedos and evening gowns for the cocktail party.

Then came 1993. I will never forget the sunset before the Burn. We had our first radio station that year, and the entire camp was arranged around a circle – a deliberate circling of the wagons. For me, that was the year it all came together. That one circle was our first street, and the prototype for what is now Center Camp. Remember, the entire encampment was smaller than today’s Center Camp. We held the formal cocktail party in the center of the circle — there was no cafe. (An aside: i remember a panel van serving coffee, for a reasonable fee, from my earliest Burns. I don’t know who ran it, but it was incredibly good coffee. This was the only vending going on besides ice. When it was decided not to allow vending, the coffee-drinkers rose up to remind everyone that there’s nothing like getting up to find the coffee already made – and so the cafe was sort of grandfathered in as an exception.) It was also the year of the first theme camp – Christmas Camp, with their fake snow and decorated Christmas trees, and their naughty, scrawny Santa (Peter? Whatever has become of you?) and their OBNOXIOUS high-volume caroling.

Anyway, cocktail party time. 1993. Sunset. Center circle. The clouds took on a brilliant magenta hue with orange highlights. The Man was lit, blue, to the East of us, standing taller than the mountains. We were all decked out, in our heinously formal jackets and gowns. I was watching the beautiful Calico Mountains to the west, with their streaks of white, orange and red soil. The sky cast a magical glow over the proceedings. And then….then they arrived. From one side of the circle, arm-in-arm, a troupe of fully decked-out and frocked-up drag queens from San Francisco came sauntering up to the party. All eyes were on them. They had pulled out all the stops. Velvet corsets, fishnets, enough make-up to embarrass Mary Kay herself. Boots, heels…stilettos. Vermilion, burgundy; skirts, lace, garters. In the glow of the sun-streaked sky their outfits were positively stunning. The conversation ceased, and something — something just *clicked*. It all fit so perfectly together. This purely gratuitous display of ostentation became the modus operandi of the entire community.

The circle opened, and the Queens (Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence perhaps, or an offshoot? I’m not sure) were handed cocktails and mixed in with the rest of us. It was at that moment, i think, with those totally camped-out, over-the-top queens grinning at us, that everyone realized that the Burning Man Experience we had created was a *forum*. Not a festival, not a party, not a show….a forum, where you could say or do or build or *be* anything you ever wanted to say or do or build or be (as long as it didn’t hurt anybody) and it would be ok. Not just ok…someone would be bound to come up to you and say “That is the most awesome thing i have ever seen, thank you so much for doing that.”

The next year, most of us came back with costumes.

by Dr. Lizard

Gathering All Our Playa Friends to Decompression

A whole day of friends shaking hands and celebrating a successful Burn. With plenty of music, dance and the occasional laughing spree, everyone from DPW to first timers gathered on San Francisco blacktop to reminesce about Burning Man 2003.

Photos By: Evrim D. Cakir (AKA Madonna)

Meow meow!! DPW kitties pose with fellow DPW
Meow meow!! DPW kitties pose with fellow DPW
Peaceful walk through the Labyrinth.
Peaceful walk through the Labyrinth.


Experiencing Burning Man

We went back to Black Rock City, Nevada, where we got married, to celebrate our second anniversary. Black Rock City? Where is that? It is not on the map – but that is where we wedded two years ago and where we returned to on the week before Labor Day.

Black Rock City is a “real life” Brigadoon. It officially appears in the middle of the desert at midnight on Monday before Labor Day and on that holiday it vanishes leaving no trace. For one week, Black Rock City residents – all thirty thousand – live like every individual deserves to live – in peace, love, harmony, sharing, art (oh … so much art), music, and unlimited creativity. There is no oppression or prejudice.

This festival of sparkling colors and surrealism culminates with the burning of a thirty feet statue of a “Man” amongst a tremendous firework exhibition on the Saturday preceding Labor Day. On Sunday it ends with the spiritual offerings at the Mausoleum’s burning – a temple made exactly for that purpose.

Many view this event as “paganism.” I disagree. Paganism carries negativity and “evil cult” connotations. That is not Burning Man.

What then is the truth about Burning Man? Somebody compared explaining this magnificent event to those who have never been there with describing colors to someone born blind. I am then expressing what it meant to me for it carries different meanings to everyone.

We arrived four hours before the festival officially opened – after a seven-hour drive. We realized we were in a very different place instantly: There were no grumpy faces making us return later because “We’re Closed.” Instead, a coed group of topless young adults, dressed in Catholic school pleaded skirts and fishnet stockings, warmly welcomed us. Early arrivals are mildly discouraged, except for theme camps – camp sites with visual art or entertainment centers. We were “somewhat” early – no big deal.

Setting camp in the dark and cold was a challenge but thanks to my husband, a determined skillful camper, we put the tent up and collapsed by exhaustion in little over an hour.

Next morning I noticed how similar I felt two years before, upon arrival. The four-thousand feet altitude played a tremendous part in my initial mood and physical disposition. We live in a semi-desert climate about forty miles from the Pacific Ocean. Like the first time, I felt tired and irritable. It seemed unacceptable that I could actually let go of stress and be myself for the entire week. This time however, I was wiser: I stayed out of my husband’s way and took naps while he set up camp. Unfair? Not really. The last thing he needed around was a whining inexperienced camper.

Oh … but I did help him. Together we battled a series of windy dust storms which were determined not to let our ropes be tied to the rebar poles around our tent and shade structure. It felt good, in spite of my inexperience. I felt like a naked cowgirl, long hair blowing in the wind, controlling a young colt in its first round in the pasture.

Incidentally, Burning Man is a clothes-optioned festival. My spouse and I, faithfully practicing nudists, wore nothing for most of the week. Thousands of Black Rock City residents chose to do the same. Thousands did not. Many modest but not necessarily gay men wore women’s skirts – it is a way to keep their privates free from the oppressive tightness of pants and be clothes-optioned participants. “Just wear anything you wish or nothing at all.” Costumes were popular for both genders. As a former dancer, I have boxed costumes forgotten in the depths of my closet and was glad to put them back in action – when I felt like wearing something.

Capitalism, profit, and greed have no place at Burning Man. You buy coffee and ice and the proceeds will go to the local communities – everything else you bring with you. It is a survival experience in the harsh desert conditions, but we all take care of each other through any forms of gifts we give and receive – there is no attachment to material things for the feeling of giving out things is tremendous liberating – we feel so free!

Every day was a different experience. In the daytime we would bike and follow our hearts through any of the make-shift streets, saluting neighbors, and looking in every direction – there was so much to experience. The colors, the art, and the people – they were there for us as we were there for them.

Meals were easy – it is amazing how little food our bodies need. Light non-perishable foods and lots of water were sufficient. Except for decorated art cars, bicycling and walking are the only allowed means of transportation, so we felt super-healthy.

Each night there were activities and parties at the theme camps. We consulted the provided guide for programs offered. But just biking around and seeing all the art made with lights – the colors, the glowing, the music, the joy was enough some evenings. Like many, our costumes and bikes were also sparkling with lights and colors.

On Saturday evening the Man burned. The fire effect surrounded by fire works and fire dancers was unforgettable. There was music and dance all night long – that was the climax of the week. And yet it was somewhat sad because it was all coming to an end.

The closing of the festival happened on Sunday evening – the burning of the Mausoleum. It was solemn, silent, and contrite. We could hear nothing but the strong and yet sweet melody of a woman’s voice emanating from the crowd. She sang like an angel. With the Mausoleum flames went the past, the pain, and the deceptions each one of us wished to release. For all of us, the only real time of the year had just ended.

The next day, Labor Day Monday, we all left. It is hard to imagine traffic in the desert but it took us four hours to reach the main highway, instead of the normal one hour. Slowly thirty-thousand people left the desert, for – like Brigadoon – it was time for our beloved Black Rock City to disappear. But in reality, no one really minded because we all knew that in just one year it will appear again on the same spot – we will then be able to come home.

by Cecilia Smrkovsky

Surprise Baby Shower at the Burning Man Office

Harley was in for a big surprise Friday, mother to be entered work not knowing what she was getting herself into. With help from her husband Rob, and the office, everyone enjoyed a great party, ending with a striptease from Steven.

Photos By: Evrim D. Cakir (AKA Madonna)

Smile Harley, it's a party for you! Surprise!
Smile Harley, it's a party for you! Surprise!
Harley being crowned!
Harley being crowned!


For the Grace of God in the Desert Here and the Desert Far Away

First, what, exactly, is Burning Man?

Burning Man is an ephemeral, World’s Fair-class arts festival and neo-tribal gathering held for roughly one week in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Some two-and-a-half hours north of Reno, Burning Man culminates on Labor Day weekend and takes place on the “playa,” an absolutely flat ancient lake bed whose fine, corrosive, alkaline dirt/dust/sand seeps into everyone and everything.

30,000+ people plus attended this year. Keep in mind that before Black Rock City is built each year, there is nothing on the playa – no water, no electricity, no nothing. And, after the festival is over, the creed of “leave no trace” takes over. Why “Leave No Trace”? Well, if any trace is left, then the folks at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) might not let Burning Man be held there in the future. So, Black Rock City comes from nothing, and then returns to nothing … and in between, the most remarkable outpouring of passion, creativity, and partying that I have ever experienced, or, really, even imagined, takes place.

You might wonder: Is the Playa really as hostile an environment as some say? The answer is: Yup. This year we had it easy – no over 90-degree temperatures. So while we did bake and dehydrate during the day, it wasn’t that bad. But the dust was pretty bad. In the middle of nowhere, a complete white out can make things even a few feet ahead impossible to see. You always have to carry water, and are wise to carry goggles and a mask. As columnist Mark Morford points out, part of the festival’s great power comes from its juxtaposition of the gritty realities of having to build and live in a desert city (including the presence of fuming, snorting generators, and indescribably rank porta-potties) and an ever-presently astounding outpouring of creativity and open-hearted care.

Burning Man has a history of course, starting on San Francisco’s Baker Beach in 1986, reportedly as Larry Harvey and some friends burned a wooden man in effigy after Larry had been jilted by his girlfriend. This year, the man was 60 feet tall, made of wood and illuminated with neon, and placed on a Mayan temple-like platform.

The festival culminates first in the Burn of the Man (which was the largest object I’ve personally ever seen or felt burning), and then, the next night, in the more somber burn of David Best’s art piece The Temple of Honor. (This was a European-level castle-temple honoring the dead and departed … again, you have to see a picture to get an idea of the scale and quality of this piece of art.)

What did I experience?

Amazing art, amazing people, a hell of a good party, and the great collective will and generosity that makes an ephemeral desert city possible.

Let’s start with the people. One of the folks I met was a fellow named Rob Breszny, well-known for his decades-long promulgation of esoteric secrets through what he calls “the despised medium of the astrology column.” Rob was preaching at the Church of Wow, and giving forth on his development of the idea of “Pronoia,” which is the opposite of “Paranoia.” (Just imagine that there is a vast, world-wide, conspiracy aimed at nothing but your personal liberation and complete enlightenment…)

I also met Jeff Magnus McBride. One of the world’s top stage magicians as well as a trained occultist, Jeff put on an absolutely great performance at the Mystic Beat Lounge party on the Wednesday night before the burn. After his performance we had a conversation that I will never forget, which culminated in his offering me an Alchemical Blessing that will live forever in my heart.

See, Jeff also is the Creative Director of an intense nature mysticism event called Fire Dance. I have not yet attended this event, but I certainly hope to.

And then there was Bruce Damer, and his wife Galen Brandt, whom I met in my last two days of the festival. Galen was someone I immediately wanted to “put on a show” with (to quote Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney), and Bruce is a brilliant and kind evocateur of future philosophy.

Just as important, there were the hundreds of other people I met and interacted with, from my campmates at the Mystic Beat Lounge (our party on Wednesday night ruled!) to the woman from Hawaii who waited in line with me for 4 fruitless hours in the RV servicing line (the RV servicing company never showed up that morning). The thing about Burning Man is that there is no money exchanged (other than for buying coffee, lemonade, and ice), and so there is an ethic of giving away everything to everyone on a constant basis. You have no idea what a difference it makes if you go to visit a friend and you sit down in their camp (The Moons of Mongo, where they played laser tag on scooters at sundown) and out of nowhere someone offers you a grilled cheese sandwich after you’ve been hungry for hours and you didn’t even know it.

Or the folks who provided the swimming pool. Or the large trailer that was always kept at 60 degrees with constant dance music. Or the many folks (often but not always in art cars) giving away drinks of every kind. Or the 500+ people who created and drove around their astounding art cars of every description. (My favorite was La Contessa, a three story Galleon with many levels of dancing going on simultaneously.) Or the thousands of people who create or contribute to substantial works of art, from hanging concrete slabs to labyrinths to amazing laser and light displays and so on.

An Integral Analysis

I wrote an email to Ken Wilber and asked him if he ever would go to Burning Man. His reply was “Ugh.” Seriously gritty, rough and ready nature mysticism just isn’t for everyone. Nonetheless, in honor of Ken, here is a brief quadrant-focused Integral Analysis of Burning Man.

The four quadrants of Wilber’s theory, you will recall, come from crossing two axes: singular vs. plural, and inside vs. outside. Thus, my individual interior experiences while at Burning Man are the upper left quadrant; my individual exterior experience, that is, me and my body at Burning Man, is the upper right quadrant; the group-interior experience, or the collective cultural experience, is the lower left quadrant; and the group exterior experience, or the city-and-society for a week that is created each year, is the lower right.

In reverse order, the very fact that a City rises and falls in a week, that it is capable of handling 30,000 people, that the physical and energy and food infrastructure must come together without a hitch – this all amazes me. Out of nothing comes a City and a Society and the means for people to live together, and play together, and, for the most part, remain safe. (There was, as you may know, a death this year — a young woman was run over by the trailer of her own camp’s art car, at 2:00 in the morning. Very, very sad. We hold you and miss you, Ms. Lampman.)

And all of this in the middle of a butt-kicking desert! And then, when it’s over, dozens of folks stay on for weeks to make sure that No Trace is left. What organization! What daring! What imagination!

Plus, it’s not just a makeshift city of tents and RVs. Yes, it is that, but it is far, far more when the art and the activities and the facilities that people provide for each other are considered. It’s not just people bringing solar showers: It’s someone bringing a swimming pool and filling it. It’s not just making a few pancakes, it’s the Pancake Camp making pancakes for thousands of people, days in a row! It’s not just a place for people to have makeshift battles with batakas as they swing by each other in mid-air in harnesses – no, it’s the Thunderdome that is built around them so that people can climb up and hang on and jeer and make you think that you really are in a Mad Max movie. It’s not just the ability to get around: it’s the tens of thousands of bicycles and how they manage to avoid each other and the art cars and the scooters and all the rest. It is chaos! Chaos, I tell you! But it works. It works amazingly well. The collective exterior manages much better than I would have ever expected, from meeting food and water and excretion and medical requirements (there is a full-time well-staffed medical station and the ability to medi-vac people out) to making it possible to party past dawn and explore unbelievable art installations until you drop from exhaustion.

The collective-interior, Wilber’s lower left, is just as amazing. As mentioned earlier, no money is used at Burning Man, except at Center Camp, which has an acre of shade and is, for one week each year, the world’s largest 24 hour coffee shop. This means there is a lot of what you might at first think would be bartering, except it’s not a barter economy, it’s a gift economy. You give it away, give it forward, give it the way you want to be given to. From supplements to backrubs, the congenial give-it-away ethic permeates all of Burning Man. (Which isn’t to say that I didn’t see an almost fist-fight the night of the Burn … but if you bring that many people together, you can expect some sorts of uncivilized behavior. And an occasional death: Miss Lampman, we hold you and we miss you.)

In part, it is because everyone who is at Burning Man recognizes, on some level, that (a) it is hard to get there and be there, and (b) it is a privilege to be there with so many other wonderful and creative people. So, very quickly, a trans-generational atmosphere of “Anything and Everything is Possible” builds and sustains itself, in ways that are always different and always changing, but are nonetheless characterized by politeness, open-mindedness, and inter-personal creativity and kindness. Again, this isn’t to say that you might not have a tiff with your RV-mates (yes, we had a little one), or that someone might not cut you off in line (which happened to me, but then I made friends with her, and by the end of the four-hour wait we had become close), but rather, that by and large the dominant inter-personal vibration is one of openness, wonder, and workability. Everyone is there to expand and be who they are, and gosh-darn-it, most people are basically nice, and Burning Man gives them a chance to be that.

Moving to the upper-left, the interior state of the individual, my personal experience was one of awe and wonder from the moment I got there. So many people doing so many creative things! So much spirituality, some of it disguised, but much of it flagrantly revealing itself! Thanks to the heavens and the Earth for the Grace of the God in the desert here and the desert far away (to quote Leonard Cohen). All in a context of altered schedules and unfamiliar landscapes and the need to take care of oneself physically (as described below).

I came to Burning Man looking for enlightenment, and I believe I found it. Not Maurice Bucke’s cosmic consciousness, but rather, the enlightenment of possibility, of art, of wonder, of joy, of openness, of daring, of allowing, of simply being. I only had a few days to plan before going – my opportunity came because a friend was ill and I took his place in the RV – so most of my scrambling around beforehand was about personal physical survival items. In short, on the interior dimension I was not really prepared for Burning Man, which was probably just perfect for me. I got to see all of my patterns against the starkness of the desert and the unfamiliar emotional territories that I found myself wandering in. And I found my way. I made it into and through and back from the desert. And it was all perfect. And at the very end, if nothing else, my personal sense of gratitude was greatly enhanced – gratitude both for the experience of Burning Man, and for coming home from it! There is nothing like contrast to make one aware of how good life really is. (I’ll never forget how lush my backyard garden and trees looked upon returning!)

Finally, there was the upper right: my physical body and what I had to do to protect it. The first thing is: Drink Water. The second think is: Drink More Liquids. And the third thing is: Drink Even More Water. Blessedly, I was able to follow these three rules, and as a result – except for that one stint on line for four hours – I never got dehydrated, and never had a problem with the heat or the desert climate or the way the playa sucks the moisture right out of you. In fact, as a result of drinking so much water, and eating relatively little, my “set point” seems to have changed, that is, I seem to weigh about 10 pounds less than I did when I went to Burning Man, even one month later. (SpiritRiser DVD, here we come!)

In addition to drinking enough, and eating enough, and avoiding sunburn, there were general issues of getting around, especially at night. At Burning Man, there is no substitute for the bicycle. Black Rock City is set up in a series of concentric arcs, each (I’m told) more than two miles long. (And the streets have great names: our camp was near the intersection of Evidence and Received, and one night I had dinner with my friend Larry at the intersection of Theory and Paradox!) Put simply, it’s pretty big, and so almost everyone bikes around. But you have to be careful when biking, especially at night, or you can easily run into something or someone. Which is why everyone carries lights of all kinds – shimmering, pulsing, reflecting, concentrating — so they can be seen and not run over. (Have I mentioned how absolutely gorgeous the entire playa is at night, with powerful lasers emanating from the man, and mobile fire belchers of all sort lighting up the sky, and zillions of LEDS and glow fabric lighting up everything you can imagine…)

Then there’s the partying. Definitely don’t want to party too little, and definitely don’t want to party too much. Everyone has to find their partying level, and I managed to get it just about right. It would be easy, far too easy, to completely “let go” and trash one’s body entirely, getting very little sleep and doing many outrageous things for night after night after night.

Obviously, I’ve left a lot out here. I haven’t even touched on what I believe generates the level of creative outpouring that leads to all the music and all the art and all the performances and all the art installations. Note, though, that this creativity can be seen as an outpouring of all 4 quadrants: the upper-left stimulation of the individual interior (including the various “lines” and “levels” of development); the upper-right challenge and response to the desert environment; the lower left establishment of an alternative social reality; and the lower right physical construction of a City and all the art and the playthings that make Burning Man so unique.

What good, ultimately, is this kind of Integral analysis? Well, think about how you might fare (or have fared) at Burning Man in terms of these four quadrants. How would you handle your body’s needs? What about your social needs? What about the group dynamics in your camp? What about interacting with the City? And so on…

The Long Road Back From Burning Man

The drive from Burning Man was about the same as the drive there: eight hours or so from the Bay Area. That’s not the long road I’m referring to. Instead, I’m referring to what happened when I came back: my personal computer died and had to be replaced; my monitor died (maybe killed by the computer’s power surges, but that’s a long story), and had to be replaced; Enlightenment.Com was seriously hacked and defaced, and had to be repaired; our refrigerator needed a sudden substantial repair; my minivan’s brakes needed sudden repair (not the car used to go to Burning Man); and the guy who bought the house next door politely informed us that not all of the land we think is ours is really ours (a situation which we have subsequently worked out). And even after I got my new computer, it took a long week to complete the migration from one system to another.

The point is: I unplugged pretty deeply in Burning Man. I unplugged so deeply that an ungodly number of technical and especially electronic devices, devices which I regularly rely on, stopped working. How I can possibly “blame” all this on Burning Man, I do not know. And yet I do see a connection. And I know that the three weeks that it took me to re-start my normal life after returning from Burning Man was just perfect. And makes perfect sense.

After all, to go to Burning Man – especially in this year, when Mars-over-the-playa burned closer and brighter in the sky than it had for 59,000 years — one has to take a long road. A mythic road filled with much that is unexpected, and much that can not be absorbed immediately. Like it or not, I needed three weeks after Burning Man to reintegrate into my normal life, and, somehow, the Universe made sure that I got those three weeks.

Not just my physiological set-point, but my emotional and karmic set-points were reset, for the better, at Burning Man. I know that seeing and experiencing the world of wonder known as Burning Man has forever changed me, for the better, and that for those who hear the call, there is no time better than the present to start planning for next Labor Day weekend.

Reintegrated and Raring to Go.

by Jordan Gruber

White Hot Monday/Temperate Tuesday

White Hot Monday

Gentle wind gets out of hand, unruly
flurries dusting faces:
ancient grizzled camera-laden lecher
drifts from group to group, mutters:
“Care for a misting may I take your picture?”
only said to topless girls, of course.
They flounce and flutter
sultry eyes, and pout and pose
with friends, so natural that friends and breasts should touch
below their playa-powdered faces, Burning geishas
for a burning man.


Temperate Tuesday

9:05 a.m. and mercy – clouded skies!
Mountains still distinct but not so crisp
look sharply up
and hope to cut a slice of rain
from this, our friendly liquid parasol.

by Ellery Sorkin