Why aren’t you here?

It's hooper heaven along the Esplanade
It's hooper heaven along the Esplanade

More random thoughts, because that’s the only kind we are capable of, and really, trying to get your arms around this beast is pretty damn impossible right now.

—-

We crashed a fancy party last night, and things were very fine. It was an outreach network gathering, bringing together a lot of the far-flung Burning Man operations.  The Black Rock Arts Foundation, Black Rock Solar, Burners Without Borders and a lot of the regional clans were represented.  For a lot of the folks, it was a reunion, like the people who were down in Peru helping after the earthquake. And there were regional reps from all over the world — Canada, South America, Japan … it’s a big Burner world out there.

—-

Maybe it’s just me, but there seem to be many more live performances on the Playa this year. The Red Nose District is in full swing, but it seems like there’s a lot more of everything live, too. Last night at around 8:30 and Esplanade, we watched a beautiful dance piece, the  dancers glowing under black lights in the desert night. Beautiful.

—-

If you live in the Bay Area, it must seem like you have the city to yourself these days. On the bright side, certain restaurants might be a little easier to get into. (And oh how we long for a restaurant experience, ANY restaurant experience:
Even though I have been eating relatively well (and by relative I mean probably better than I do at home), still, we will soon go to a restaurant, we will sit down, we will pick something off the menu, anything we like, and then they will bring it to us, and perhaps there will be wine. Oh yes, we are ready for that.)

There are lots of babies here, and Juniper was having a blast yesterday.
There are lots of babies here, and Juniper was having a blast yesterday.

But still, the Bay Area has to be lacking a certain energy. And maybe a common sense of longing for those not able to make it out here this year…

—-

You have to wonder how the BM people try to gauge the event; there’s no way of predicting, really, where the energy is going to go when people get here. At least I don’t know if there is. I’m sure clues emerge in the artist proposals and the theme camp registrations, but the hundreds and hundreds of camps that are off the grid or out of the book also help determine where this thing is heading. But who really knows? It’s not like the event can be directed in any major way. “It’s pushing with a feather,” as one insider put it.

There seem to be more than a couple of people walking around with tired eyes today, and the reason might not be exactly what you’d suspect. “I got plenty of sleep last night, but I still feel kind of tired. I’m not waking up,” one campmate said.  The diagnosis? Dehydration. You don’t know you’re even sweating out here. There’s no clue, because there is rarely any moisture on your body. But you lose water just the same. So yeah, for those of you not here, we’re really suffering. I know you feel for us. Really, I do.

—-

Thunderdome is in full swing, with places to hang onto the bars and watch the battles already hard to find. There was a cute scene there the other night; a young boy with a man we’ll say was his father were in the ring. The little guy was really going at it, taking out all that pent-up resentment of being told what to eat and when to go to bed and when to do the homework. The dad, admirably, was just doing a little jousting, pretty much love-tapping him when appropriate. No doubt they’ll use their words later …

—-

There's fire everywhere ...
There's fire everywhere ...

The “wheel” area of the camp is very much expanded this year, and it feels like there’s a lot more room. A lot of the familiar camps are still here — BMIR, Picasso Camp, the Information Booth — but it all feels more spacious. The Jazz Cafe is also going pretty much around the clock, and that’s a place I hadn’t checked out before. It’s kind of a combination performance/seminar scene, with lots of hot playing, but there are also lots of conversations about what’s being played, the influences, and the progression of the genre. Cool stuff.

We’ve been pretty wired to the election season in recent months, and it’s very strange to be out here and so out of touch. You don’t get much sense of anticipation about Obama’s speech tonight. Same with the Olympics; for the people here, it’s like they pretty much didn’t happen. But I’m looking forward to catching up via digital recorder, and I’m pretty sure Obama’s speech will be in YouTube shortly after he delivers it. So it’ll be there for me when I get back.

Politics feels more personal here; there are a lot of activists, but I haven’t come across any from the major parties. Instead, there are people who’ve learned how to do things like hang doors and frame houses and pour concrete at Burners Without Borders operations. There are a lot of Peru veterans here. It’s the politics of the planet.

The clown out in front of the Wheel leading to Center Camp looks a lot different at night
The clown out in front of the Wheel leading to Center Camp looks a lot different at night

Tonight’s plan; back to the Red Nose District, maybe another visit to Altered States, then out to the Temple (which I haven’t been able to get to since it opened), and then on way way out to Babylon and Peter Hudson’s Tantalus. It’s an aggressive schedule, given the condition of the playa (which is really challenging this year). But, hard as it is to believe, time is growing short. See you out there.

Here are a few snappies from the Regionals bash yesterday:

Larry Harvey and Maid Marian
Larry Harvey and Maid Marian
Miss Kelly
Miss Kelly
Bex and Neil
Bex and Neil
New York is in the house
New York is in the house
Burners without Borders people had a reunion at the Regionals gathering.
Burners without Borders people had a reunion at the Regionals gathering.

David Silverman of Simpsons fame broke out his flaming tuba.
David Silverman of Simpsons fame broke out his flaming tuba.

About the author: John Curley

John Curley (that's me) has been Burning since the relatively late date of 2004, and in 2008 I spent the better part of a month on the playa, documenting the building and burning of Black Rock City in words and pictures. I loved it, and I've been doing it ever since. I was a newspaper person In a previous life, and I spent many years at the San Francisco Chronicle. At the time I left, in 2007, I was the deputy managing editor in charge of Page One and the news sections of the paper. Since then, I've turned a passion for photography into a second career. I shoot for editorial, commercial and private clients, and I'm especially fond of shooting weddings. I'm also the editor at large of the Tasting Panel magazine, which is devoted to the beverage industry. I've also taught a bit, including two years at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and a year at San Francisco State University. I live on a (house)boat in Alameda, California.

23 thoughts on “Why aren’t you here?

  • Why am I not there? One word: Cancer.

    Fighting it with all my BM regalia in full swing. Have to take off the red abalone BM pendant I was given in ’05 every morning for my daily radiation. But it is the first thing I put back on afterward! Yeah, had to sell my ticket, but I’ll be back next year.

    If you’re reading this on the Playa, give my best to my buds and budettes at Anti-Camp. Isn’t their tower and Giant Boom Box great?!

    Burn On!!

    Report comment

  • I do long to be there with hubby, daughter and all the beautiful people & art.

    Sorry to dissapoint, Bay Area not lacking………………Outside Lands festival rocked with 3 days of amazing music, groovin and 150,000 + folks enjoying it all! Thanks for your great posts.

    Report comment

  • Yeah… that longing to be out in all that dust with everyone REALLY doesn’t go away. And darnit! … it’s waaaaay too quiet here in Oakland. Can’t wait for everyone to return and fill me in on all that I missed.

    Report comment

  • Hey Burners!!! We were at BRC all week, beautiful!!! Survived the dust storm Monday……liked the weather afterwards on Tue, Wed, Thurs……:) Writing here because that cute photo of the baby inspired us…..Too many parents(?) wandering around with babies who have no hats, face protection…….those little bodies can’t fight the elements so well….seems like a class in parenting is in order….just a comment from a concerned burner….

    Report comment

  • Ok, finally you frickin’ got the whole blog thing together. Thanks tons, John Curley! I have seriously visited this site twice a day in hopes of getting a dose of playa candy since I cannot be out there. Amazing to see Baby Juniper, too! I am in Oaktownbootyville with tons of jaded Bay Area fucks who are all, funnily enough, planning mini day rages and beach burns tomorrow to commemorate what you are doing out there. Keep it coming!

    Report comment

  • But still, the Bay Area has to be lacking a certain energy. And maybe a common sense of longing for those not able to make it out here this year…

    Actually, you couldn’t be more wrong. Saturday here in the Yay Area looks to be awesome! Really, y’all on the boring playa are missing out: there’s the Balsa Man event full of tons of mini-art and afterwards the Space Cowboys’ Spurning Man will be rocking and then sunday morning Black Sabbath Pancakes will be served at NIMBY.

    Report comment

  • Somewhere out in the flickering beauty is my darling friend, devil mother. She travelled over the seas without a burner friend ’cause her chaperone’s out of action. if you meet her, treat her merrily.

    Report comment

  • I think you must ban the phrase “full swing” from these posts. It’s okay in comments, but in posts, you must desist. For the sake of the language. Thank you.

    Report comment

  • I saw that blacklight play — it was beautiful! Can anybody tell me who they are or the name of that camp? I looked at the placement list for 8:30 and Esplanade, but none of those names scream “live performances.”

    Report comment

  • Looks amazing wish i could have been there but i still haven’t fiured out the best way to get there from Edinburgh Scotland :( if any1 know what the best way would be to get there for next year please let me know thanks.

    Report comment

  • Comments are closed.