I have lived in San Francisco practically my whole life. The City is interesting and wondrous, but to me, it is mostly that way for adults. Growing up here was just as hard as anywhere USA. The girls who were my best friends in elementary school taught me how to spell my words wrong to try and make me look bad. They were not good friends. My freshman year in high school, I started to do drama, but it was melding in with the people who did not fit in anywhere, which is not to say I had found my niche in friends, or in life. Still, alone.

1996 in San Francisco, I was living with my friend on Twin Peaks and was not in a relationship, for the first time in along time and I was starting to go out and do things outside the little world I had created, where I still felt alone. My roommate/friend introduced me to a guy he had met. This guy and I hung out a bit. He was amazing ….full of fire and energy, blazing his trail in life. He did not try and tell me too much about Burning Man, but did tell me it was important that I go. He talked me into it. The Life-Sized Mousetrap was what he was working on. It took six flatbed trucks full of stuff to build it. He drove them up to the playa himself.

Two of my female friends, maybe my only two female friends at the time, journeyed with me to the playa. We left San Francisco in the evening, met people in a Suzuki Samurai who were going to the Burn as well. They were five people in the little car and it was full of stuff. Our car had just finished packing our supplies when they pulled in. Conversation was struck and we decided to wait for them, since they had gone to the playa before and we were virgins. They came out of the store an hour or so later, and now had two grocery carts of stuff to pack into the car with them and their other stuff. That took another hour or two. Running out of room, they asked us to carry their rug. We did so.

They had to stop every ten miles or so to pee. It was like watching a clown car: car stops, everyone jumps out, scuttles into the darkness, pees and then jumps back in. They are driving kind of fast and Samurais are known for their tippage factor, the car going up on two wheels, and we are wincing in fear for their lives.

We drive up to the gates just an hour or so before dawn and they take back their rug, which confuses us, we are thinking, we will just see them on other side of the gate. Little did we know!!!!!

At the gate, the gatekeeper greets us and says, watch your odometer, and five miles from now, you take a right and then you will be there…. Now, I am adventuresome, probably more than most, but “watch your odometer and take a right” is just not making me feel comfortable. What choice do we have? We start off in a line with five other cars, who also pass gate at about the same time. Soon we are enveloped in a huge cloud of dust from the other cars, which have passed us. I am driving and my friends start to shriek about running into the back of the cars ahead. We were fine, but it was like entering into another world, trusting a stranger at a random point on the desert, and driving miles off into the desert, with no idea of where I was going or what I was going to see.

We kept on. Still in the dust cloud, I am trying to figure out how to make sure I am going straight, which was the other direction I received from gatekeeper, but figured that as long as I did not get too far off course, we would be ok. I think I asked my friend to watch the steering wheel to make sure I was not straying off course. At the mark, we turn right and lo and behold was The Man, standing in the sky, a beacon. I want to cry just thinking about that moment.

It took quite a while to find my friend, who just said, look for a huge bunch of stuff, and I will be there. We drove around for hours and hours, there were no streets, no Porta-Potties could be seen. It was utterly wild! So unknown, it was like being installed into the twilight zone. We did eventually find him after hours of asking and circling.

During the next few days, I helped build the Life-Sized Mouse Trap. Mark (my friend’s friend) still remembers me from those days and I also found out about Burning Man, the credos, and the people; coming home (Again, with the tears!).

There were no music camps, just drum circles. I had a new friend I met on the playa, play music for me one night and I danced all night long on the edge of the playa. People came up to me for the rest of the weekend and asked me if it was me who was thrashing my body at the edge of the desert. I was drunk on red wine and high on desert. I had many amazing adventures. My friend built a two-story tower, which collapsed with me and eight other people on it. I met one friend who is still my friend today. One year, I found an old high school buddy. These things seem tame, but it is what makes up my home and heart.

Burning Man, to me, is home. It is the place where I became part of the community I (my heart) was searching for. A group of people who recognize corporate power and want to bring that power back to the individuals. Who do things for the things’ sake or for plain desire to do, then burn it, or take it home after sharing it. Everyone gives hugs to each other. We are self reliant and responsible. Once we have that sorted, we have something left to share with others. People who enliven their dreams and do what they want to do, everyone be damned, especially the naysayers!

I am proud to be human and my belief in humanity returns in full force every year I attend the event. When I read Jack Rabbit Speaks or think about the event too long or too hard, I cry. It moves me deeply. I have a home and all of you are my family, we live at home, in our hearts, Burning Man.

by Deidre Howell

Why Go Home?

Photo by Andrew Penn, 2002, I was just thinking recently, very few people have ever asked me WHY i go to Burning Man?

Living in the Bay Area, one becomes accustomed to people having some sort of opinion on Burning Man, and most people are at least aware of it here.

But for people in my life who don’t get it, say, like most of my family, they ask the typical uninformed questions like “What do people do there?,” “Isn’t it hot?” or “Aren’t there a lot of naked people?”


And it’s funny, I’ve switched my attitude completely in how i react to people who criticize and/or make snide comments about Burning Man.

When I was a relative newbie (i.e. the first three years I went to Burning Man … and yes, sometimes it can take THAT long to be fully acclimated), I used to be very defensive about Burning Man and would often argue that ‘no, it isn’t just a bunch of tweaked-out, naked cyber-hippies rolling around in the mud celebrating free love and all that’ — and no offense to those of you who consider yourself tweaked-out naked cyber-hippies who roll around in the mud.

But these days, I have come to realize that there’s no point in defending Burning Man to those who do not know.


Treehugger Contest Winner: Hexayurt!

(or, how to add two whole days to your BM experience)

Background for the below info: In 2008, for the first time in history, more than half of Earth’s human will be living in urban areas. — from United Nations Population Fund report: State of the World

The construction industry currently consumes 40% of all materials and energy worldwide and is responsible for 30% of all global warming.
Wow. We knew that having a contest with Treehugger and CurrentTV to find the best open source solution to environmental issues would be interesting. But we had no idea we’d get something so….perfect.

Introducing Hexayurt. Designed by burners, for burners. Perfect for the playa, for disaster relief, for long term housing in the backcountry. It’s cheap–less than $200. It’s easy–you can build one within 15 minutes. It works–see the video to see for yourself.


Here’s the big picture, from “More than a billion people do not really have good housing. It not that they do not want a good place to live but they often simply cannot find one they can afford. They do not have access to modern building materials, and local materials are often really unsuited for building. Europeans used to thatch their roofs and now we mostly use tiles and shingles because we prefer the results. We are probably not alone in this preference.”

Here’s more, and why this idea should appeal to you:

Why is this a good idea?

Millions and millions of people do not have proper housing. Designing like you give a damn can help.

Oh, you meant why for the Playa?

That’s simple. Hexayurts really enhance the Burning Man experience. You get two or even three hours a day more sleep. You have a cool place to hide out mid-afternoon. You have a warm place to party at 4AM.

In short, it rocks.

That boiling early morning? You sleep right through it. At 9AM a tent is an uninhabitable solar cooker, a hexayurt is blissfully cool and dark. Sometime around 11AM, maybe you wake up, mist the hexayurt down to cool it off and doze for another fifteen minutes, then get up fresh and ready for another wonderful day. On the Playa this is life-changing because it means that at the end of the week, you’re still fresh and sharp and ready to have fun. Your gear is dust free, and you feel great.

This is like extending your Burn by two days every year.

And you did it yourself, without lugging an RV with air conditioning to the Playa. You built your own shelter with your own two hands. It’s creative and very participatory. By building a hexayurt you’re joining a community of engineers and creators who are helping to transform the planet.

Hexayurts aren’t just for the playa, they’re for the world.

August 13th: Via the Playa

Morning meeting at the DepotWoke up at 6:30 (with great difficulty) and headed out to the playa for a 7:30 meeting at the DPW Depot, our first morning meeting on the playa. Everything’s different now. There are so many more people than there were two weeks ago, and they’re all scattered around the playa versus centrally located in Gerlach. Some people are living in the Ghetto, others are stationed at the Depot or their own camps. It’s only going to get bigger from here.


August 12th: Super Dave & Meteor Showers

Last night we celebrated completion of the fence as well as our last big night in town. I hung out for a while with Ray Posado, Burning Man Transpo Manager. He’s had a looooong couple of days, organizing transportation of all the trailers, equipment, and big supplies from the ranch and various contractors. I think he’s gotten about a half hour of sleep since Wednesday. And yet! He made me laugh my ass off all night long. And it wasn’t just the fact that he has the best radio handle I’ve ever heard. (Tequila lovers will know what I mean.) We had a really great time playing pool and shooting the shit on the porch of the Black Rock Social Club. Afterwards, a few of us drove out to the playa, far beyond the fence, and spent the night under the stars watching the spectacular Perseids meteor shower.


August 11th: Day Two on the Playa

Thirst quenchersYou might be wondering what the DPW subsists on during long hot days on the open playa while they toil away pounding t-stakes, tying fence and erecting huge structures. You probably figure that they know what their doing, and maybe you could learn a thing or two from their years of experience. Well, they eat whatever’s around, and here’s what they drink:

I told you they were different.


So What’s The Deal On Arrival?

Arrival - Photo by Heather Gallagher (CameraGirl), 2005,

This is my big bad meanie post to help you remember shite you’re supposed to, like, obey.

Pardon me while i temporarily step out of character and get all macho on you. I mean, at least I’m not saying “I was young, I needed the work.”

For the vast majority of you reading this, there is no such thing as arriving early. It’s a fanciful fantasy, a vicious pre-playa rumor concocted by rumor mongrels that roam the low seas of the the outer playa, just because they can.

Burning Man begins at 12:01 a.m., Monday, August 27. No ifs, ands, buts — or even whens. Yessir and Yes’m, that’s when it starts. That one whole minute after the midnight hour on that one Monday.

So please don’t even bother the gate crew. They have enough crap to deal with. They’re extra-severely-outta-control busy.

I’m sure you can relate. In fact, I’m betting you’re freaking out a bit right now trying to figure out how the hell you’re going to fit all that stuff into your Yugo, the Ishtar of cars. And when you leaving? Righto, that busy!

If you arrive early, you’ll be turned away at the gate and promptly be sent back to Reno. Do you really want to head back on down the road to Reno?

Do you really, honestly, and like, for real, want to feel dejected too?