Do you know what it means?

Wed. May 27, 2009
New Orleans, LA
(the backbone of middle Amerika; the soggy bottom of Old Man River)

Hi. I’m Summer Burkes. I just moved from the crispy Bay Area to the sweet warm fog of New Orleans and as a DPW/Gate desert rat, I experience a swampy deja vu on the daily. Here are the top ten similarities between Burning Man and New Orleans I’ve noticed so far.

1. You can walk down the street with booze in your hand, all the time.

2. You encounter random parades, second-line marching bands thrumming with brass and drums to hoardes of ass-shakers, and sexy “pony” girls pulling a modified shopping cart chariot with a man dressed as a flamingo.

ya heard?
ya heard?

3. Sometimes it smells. And you love it.

4. Everybody parties, including the teetotalers, because they know that death is certain – but life is not.


It’s Time To Hit It


My favorite playa projects were all started around this time of year. There is just enough time to visualize, begin work, screw up, fix it and complete it. I’ve pulled off things that were beyond my skill set, that took twice as long as I’d hoped, that were my most rewarding creations.

Here are some of my playa pro-tips:

If you’ve got a flicker of an idea, head to the supply store now. Walk the aisles. Let the materials come to you. Fabric stores are a lightning field of inspiration for me. Bonus: buying supplies now will help offset the costs that accrue in the lead-up to the playa.

Simple, cheap and clever: I swiped this mantra from a friend who is a real do-er. Good stuff.

Schedule project time during the week and not just big weekend pushes. An hour here and there really adds up. If you’re able to cut and measure in one night, you’re that much closer to being finished. Chipping away at the steps makes projects more approachable and less tiring.

Double the amount of time you think the project will take. I have a bad habit of convincing myself that because I’ve done something before, I can do it in half the time now. This is magical thinking.

One project at a time! If you work on one thing at a time, you are more likely to have a finished project instead of a pile of junk and two half-dones that you’ll “finish on the playa.”  In my experience, finishing things on the playa does not work out because I’d rather be riding my bike checking out your art than sitting in camp finishing mine.

If you start now you may just pull off that giant scented candle/DJ booth/dancefloor/actual working candle.

Cheers to finishing early.

The all new Burning Blog – a voice for our culture

In a manner quite fitting to our year of Evolution, the Burning Blog team is happy to share some very exciting news, just in time for the hot summer planning season for Burners everywhere (100 days today – yep, check your calendar, it’s true!). The Burning Blog is evolving again – this time, with a chorus of new voices we hope you’ll enjoy more than ever.

image by Ron Halbert
image by Ron Halbert

The Burning Blog has its roots in 2001 when Danger Ranger’s Silver Seed Tour , and Feeding Tofu To Cowboys (reports from the DPW fray during setup) showed the world our first crack at this thing called “blogging” on Since then, we’ve continued to nurture the blog concept and developed this space — a blogger was part of the setup crew for many years, and in 2007, we jumped in with both feet, creating four different content areas under one blog “roof” – still covering “Building Black Rock City”, but also documenting the Environmental efforts of the Green Man theme, sharing stories from “Black Rock City Yearround”, and reporting on the extensive activity around the Burning Man network as covered by our roving staff member, Bex, in the Regionals Blog. In 2008, talented writer/photographer John Curley told the story of Building BRC in glorious photos and words; that year the blog received more hits and comments than any year to date. (We still like to go back and look at that one.)


Piss Clear Book Release Party – May 28 in San Francisco

Piss Clear Book Cover

Coming up this Thursday is the celebration of the eagerly awaited release of “Burning Man Live: 13 Years of Piss Clear, Black Rock City’s Alternative Newspaper”. Piss Clear Editor Adrian Roberts and the rest of the gang are setting the stage for one hell of a release at Mighty. Piss Clear has been entertaining readers on the playa with its clever wit and snarky commentary since 1995.

Paging through these articles will lead you into a comprehensive chronology of the event, and you’ll delve into some of Burning Man’s controversial subjects in a way only Piss Clear can present them. This book contains all 34 issues and just about every article, except for a few that should have been cut originally because “we were too wasted to bother editing them,” says Roberts. This book is an anthology of everything Piss Clear will ever be, as Adrian has moved on to other projects since 2007. About this he remarked, “Piss Clear was in a grind. I had already bitched about everything possible at Burning Man.”

Thursday’s book release will feature many attractions for both the eager newbie and the jaded veteran. If you come early you can catch a happy hour screening of “Dust and Illusions” which Adrian feels is like Piss Clear in that “both offer a very comprehensive history of Burning Man. Not the white-washed history, but the real deal.”  This event also features a line-up of some fantastic DJs that “spin everything except clichéd Burning Man trance and techno,” including Adrian’s famous “Booty” mash-ups.

There will be “Playa Celebrities” on hand to entertain and amuse. When asked what exactly these big names will be doing, he stated, “I don’t know. Probably reciting cheeky, stupid, ridiculous haiku or something.” Don’t miss a little bit of Piss Clear’s Fashion Do’s and Don’ts when they give away their award for “Worst Playa Outfit”. Mighty’s bartenders will be serving up their usual concoctions, plus some of the winners of Piss Clear’s Playa drink-making “Iron Liver Contest”.

The Piss Clear Book Release Party is this Thursday, May 28th at Mighty.  Doors open at 7pm. Price is only $5. $20 will buy you admission plus a signed copy of the new book. Find more information at

Come out and support this fantastic piece of Burning Man history. See you there!

2009 Honorarium Art is up!

Fleeble Flobbler, 2008 (photo by Jaime Ladet)
Fleeble Flobbler, 2008 (photo by Jaime Ladet)

Check out the first fantastic page full of ART that will grace the playa this year … the Honorarium Art projects from the Bio*tanical Garden to Who Gave Birth with all manner of cool stuff in between.

From this small sample of all the 2009 art, it looks like we’re in for a great year. There are some large-scale fire projects in the mix including Chimera Sententia, Fire Of Fires (this year’s temple) and Flaming Lotus Girls’ Soma. Among this year’s exemplary batch are some sublime sculptures like Key Note and The Heron Project and some returning big pieces such as The Burninator Grid, FlameThrower Shooting Gallery and Towers of Shiva. Raygun Gothic Rocketship also looks very cool.

The first batch of projects to go up on the website always make me feel all giddy inside.  They just do.

Check them out for yourself.

And yes … the twisted, somewhat diabolical minds who came up with Gee-Gnome! sorta frighten me.

Regional Event Season!

Rainbow over Nowhere 2008 - photo by Bongo Pedro
Rainbow over Nowhere 2008 - photo by Bongo Pedro

Spring has sprung, the Man burns in 110 days, and there is no doubt that Regional Event season has arrived and is well under way.

For the first time ever, we have posted the list of Official Regional Events on – check it out:

The list is long and encompasses multi-day camping events that meet the event criteria and guidelines required to be considered an Official Burning Man Regional Event.