It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Merry Christmas and a hearty HO HO HO to you.

Just a weekend or so ago I was privy to seeing Santas in places I’d never seen them before as SantaCon met in packs about our fair town to drink strong concoctions from bottles of Pine Sol, whiskey dripping from their long white beards and down the front of their red frocks. I commingled with that strange red and white furry frill coat brigade who revel in the weird and are hell bent on spreading holiday spirit to every passerby.

There is nothing like hundreds of Santas walking along the sidewalks to get the car horns honking.

Santas on the March
Santas on the March

From all over the City Santas arrived at their undisclosed location by word of mouth, Tweets and Laughing Squid, Mr. Beale’s most excellent online resource. My peculiar jolly contingent met at Civic Center in the vomiting frozen mist amongst those sterile leafless trees. That day, Santa was jolly and sultry, swarthy, sexy and otherwise altered or soon to be, as we milled about all wet and festive, waiting for critical mass and once attained, our pod began moving against the falling rain with Santas dancing to “Thriller” and Santas of a huge multitude of candy cane stripes and sizes, several green Elves, the occasional random reindeer with jingle bells on her antlers and otherwise oddly Holiday adorned Santas to make our way up into Polk Gulch where the real party started.

When you have that many Santas in one place, you are a force to be reckoned with.

“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,
On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blitzen”

Bars filled up with the red and white at 1:00 in the afternoon, much to the delight of bartenders. Santas chanted and waved at the befuddled folks in cars who honked their horns as they passed. We offered cigarettes and drinks to homeless Santas.

Polk Street Bar full of Santas
Polk Street Bar full of Santas

Santas prowling and howling, lustily guffawing in grand Santa packs around San Francisco on this most festive of holidays and it was a jolly old scene.


Merry KISSmas! …and More Ways to Bring Radical Self-EnFUNment to the Workplace

It doesn't get much merrier than this
It doesn't get much merrier than this

Here at BMHQ, the year is winding down and we have only a few short hours until we lock the doors and say goodbye to 2009. I’m spending my final moments archiving last year’s files…including all of the pictures we took at and around the office last year. Looking back, it was a momentous one. Full of great achievements as well as some setbacks, enormous gains and sad losses. But one thing is for certain, no matter the pain or the strife, the thing that makes any day bearable is that we ALWAYS remember to have fun! Some people say “Well of COURSE it’s fun, you work for Burning Man!” but let me tell you, doing budgets and making copies and having meetings is no different here than any office. Granted, once in a long while a marching band may sneak attack us during an office staff meeting, but more importantly, what we DO have here are open minds, open arms, and a readiness to have fun. Those are things that only come with more practice! Below are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned over the past couple years that can be used in any workplace to bring at least a smile and certainly some fun to any day.

1. Try to make the fun something everyone can enjoy

Everyone's cookie cutters are welcome, here!
Everyone's cookie cutters are welcome, here!

Well, we didn’t want to pick any religious holiday in particular, so when Frog and I were talking about what we should do on December 22nd, which we knew would be a slow day at the office, we decided on a religion just about everyone could agree to….Rock & Roll! We called it Merry KISSmas Tuesday, and encouraged everyone to dress as the KISS army of elves and stop by the kitchen where we were making cookies. Frog was awesome and made the sugar cookie batter (vegan, so everyone could have some) the night before, so all we had to do was show up as our fabulous selves and start rollin’ in the dough! Err…rollin’ OUT the dough.

YES, I decided to be Peter Criss and no one forced me to, why does everybody keep asking that? Point is, we took an hour or so mid-day to wear platform boots, paint our faces, and try to salvage the feet that kept breaking off the clown cookies. In short, it was a success.


What the girls do in the off-season

What does a Flaming Lotus Girl do for the holidays?  You’d think after manifesting yet another work of art she’d be able to take a break, but no – you just can’t keep a good girl down.

We are currently doing work of Angelic proportions!

Margaret making some sparks
Margaret making sparks – photo by Matt Silvey

New Angelic Body
Girls making a new Angelic body – photo by Matt Silvey

The Girls have been working all winter braving the cold Boxshop to re-vamp the Angel of the Apocalypse in order to reveal her in Toronto January 29th thru February 7th, 2010 at the City of Toronto’s Winter City Festival.


Do We Have Your 2009 Lost Camera (Or Camera Card)? – Look Here & Respond By 01/13/10

The fine volunteers at Playa Info take great care of all the found items, including cameras and memory cards from Burning Man and SF Decompression. A small sampling of images from each of these items from 2009 are posted at the link below, with accompanying lost item inventory numbers, as in “09-###-G”.

Peruse the images. If not your personal images, maybe you’ll spot those belonging to a friend? The people who camped next door? Stranger things have happened.

  • Did you lose a camera?
  • Did you lose just a camera card?
  • Maybe a whole bag or backpack with a camera inside?

Visit this Flickr Set.

Twenty-four web photo pages of dusty, smiling burners!

If you spot your images, email lostandfound (at) burningman (dot) com and include:

  • The camera/card or bag inventory number
  • A description of the make and model of the lost camera/card, or bag.
  • A description of other (non-posted) images from the same source.

Hurry: we end preceding-year found item return efforts when regular tickets go on sale mid-January for the current year. Yes, that means we’re done with 2009 items on January 13th, 2010.

Here’s to happy reunions [para_end]

The Tree Spire in Reno

Please join us for the dedication of Tree Spire, k DSC_0502 As the sun was setting on this beautiful Reno fall day Tree Spire ends its installationa permanent installation, on Thursday, December 10th at 12:30 pm.

A gift to the families and citizens that enjoy Whitaker Park!

Funded by Burning Man and exhibited in Black Rock City 2007, “Tree Spire” was the first project created by the Seattle art collective, the Iron Monkeys.  They created 4 fifteen-foot tall trees that were part of the “Mangrove”, a group of simulated trees fashioned from recycled industrial materials, surrounding the center-focused icon The Man.  These artificial trees were not burned: they survived to subdivide the blue of other skies.

M DSC_0532 Tabasco, T-Bone, Dave Moore, Maria Partridge, Richard Johnson, Crimson Rose and Stacey Spain Brought to the south bank of the Truckee River in downtown Reno, on the corner of Sierra Street and Island Avenue after the 2008 Burning Man event, the “Tree Spire” was displayed in the center of a collection of eight tree sculptures made by five different artist collectives called The Mangrove.  The creative works were made from construction waste and reclaimed materials.  The [BRAF] and a Project Grant from the City of Reno’s Art and Culture Commission funded this project.


The Artumnal

artumnal2-6There was a whole lot more proof on Friday night, even if none was needed, that Burners clean up real nice.

The setting was the Bently Reserve in the Financial District of downtown San Francisco, and the occasion was the Black Rock Art Foundation’s Artumnal fund-raiser.

Everything about the event said class. From the truly fabulous sit-down dinner to the steady stream of entertainers and DJs to the generosity  of the art-buying patrons, the whole event was just plain first-rate. And a lot of fun. And there were plenty of old friends on hand, too.

There was Shrine, with an engaging new work in the center of the hall. Like the Temple he built on the playa in 2008, it was made entirely of recycled materials, and it was beautiful.

artumnal2-2And there was Maid Marian and Sting Ray and Michael Michael and other Black Rock luminaries. And there was Playground and Makeout Queen behind the bars. And there was Megs and Minx and Lily, and Affinity and Monkeyboy and Joe the Builder, and dozens of others who always look more familiar covered in dust. It was homecoming week.


Come Party With us at the ARTumnal!

artumnal flyerfrontart09web

The Black Rock Arts Foundation presents our third annual fundraising event,

The ARTumnal Gathering

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Bently Reserve

400 Sansome St.
San Francisco, CA 94111

The [BRAF] invites you to the grandest annual celebration of our community’s vital spirit and extraordinary artists.

Once again, we gather in the majestic Bently Reserve to revel in support of  BRAF’s mission to inspire art, community and civic participation worldwide.

Enter into an enchanted world of abundant art, captivating entertainment, and tempting libations. Participate in interactive art experiences created by community visionaries.  Be the art!

Join us for our pre-event dinner for delightful fare, cocktails and auction.

Last year’s event sold out. Don’t miss out this year!


The playa in fall

fall playa 002 copyWe were traveling along Route 80, and for once, Reno seemed almost pretty, or at least the parts of it you see from the highway. In summer you can’t believe how ugly it is, the  big brown  hills of sun-blasted dirt.  But now you were noticing the scattered trees, leaves glowing bright yellow in the slanting noonday sun.

We had to be up in Reno for a couple of days, and we had the chance to squeeze in a side trip to the playa, and we took it. It seemed wrong never to have experienced the Black Rock Desert when there wasn’t a festival going on, and we were determined to rectify the situation.

Now the car is full of playa dust again, and it couldn’t smell sweeter.

Parts of the journey felt familiar. You felt the tightness in your stomach as you left the interstate at Wadsworth and headed out across the Indian land. There wouldn’t be any art or any music or any fire waiting for you at your destination, and all the amazing people weren’t going to be there, either, but it didn’t matter.  You felt the pull. It was just going to be you and the desert and the dust.

fall playa 001 copyBurning Man has always had a quality of aloneness to it. Yes, you are surrounded by 40,000 like-minded souls, and one of the reasons you go is to feel connection and community. But still, there are times when you are alone with yourself, and if you haven’t felt that sense of being a single, solitary person, even in the middle of that  huge party, maybe you haven’t gotten all there is to get at Burning Man. People come to escape the loneliness, but it finds them there, too. Moments, in between,  it finds you.