The Streets of Black Rock City

BRC Map 2008For richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, the romance of the road is a quintessential American dream. For Americans, cars have always represented independence, self-expression and the mythos of mobility. And yet, like any love affair, relationships with cars are fickle and results are mixed. The story of the American car industry, an oddly expressive combination of heavy manufacturing and show business, has always been a narrative of boom and bust. From the days of the iconic cowboy riding off into the sunset, to commuter gridlock and the rising price of gasoline, who a people are and how they get to where they’re going is a tale of destiny. This year’s street names, laid out in alphabetical order, showcase this history. It is a story about politics, economics and technology, as well as the vicissitudes of love.
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The Cutting Crew

Red Ryan saws a ring
Photograph by Ben Stoelting

Black Rock Station, NV. June 22nd, 2008 – The Black Rock Playa is known for its strong winds, and the all-encompassing dust storms that they bring. But there’s no wind today, and yet here, at nearby Black Rock Station, there’s already a thick layer of dust covering everything. Sawdust, that is.

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The Krew Convenes

Crew Parking, Black Rock Station

Black Rock Station, NV. June 20th, 2008 – The Man Krew has begun to assemble. With each new arrival, a small homecoming celebration breaks out; everyone is excited to see one another again, and glad to be back at Black Rock Station. Even though planning and logistics for the build take place year-round, nothing signals the true beginning of our task more than this: arriving, once again, in the strange, yet familiar landscape of the Black Rock Desert area.

This year’s reunion is especially exciting, as we’ve learned that a number of veteran Man builders will be joining us. Although the majority of the krew are experienced builders, the specific knowledge of the Man that these veterans have is invaluable, and promises not only to speed construction, but to be very educational as well. Like the culture of Burning Man itself, the building of the Man is a communicated tradition – more story than formula – and when a veteran builder speaks, everyone listens very closely. The Man that we build is their tale made manifest.

At night, gathered around a burn barrel, it is noted that this is the Solstice, and that tomorrow is the first day of Summer. An auspicious day to begin our build!

How to Build a Burning Man

There are countless colorful rumors surrounding the creation of the Burning Man: That it can be ordered, in kit form, from Home Depot, provided you know a top-secret SKU#. That it has been fabricated entirely by machines since 1998. That Burning Men are constructed overseas, in bulk, and that at any given time there are several dozen of them stored in a warehouse in Wadsworth.

The truth, as many participants witnessed at last year’s event, is that that the Man is created just like every other work of art at Burning Man: by hand, and through the combined talents and dedication of a diverse team of artists, engineers and craftspeople. Every year our team, known as the Man Krew, gathers at Black Rock Station (Burning Man’s Nevada work ranch) to once again create this sculpture that is so central to our event. Now, thanks to the Burning Blog, we are able to share this process with the greater community. We’ll be posting Krew updates during the initial building of the Man all the way through to his erection in Black Rock City, and ultimately, the burn itself.