There are 40+ thousand people these days eating on the playa every year and there’s really no way to encapsulate that entire experience but if I had to point to one word it would be BACON!
Sizzling salty swine in a pan. Love the smell and the taste of that stuff out on the playa. Make it free range if you will, but BACON.
At Burning Man, Bacon is a gateway meat for vegetarians. Bacontarians, if you will. They may taste it when that morning pan fried aroma is slinking through camp and offered to them. They’ll promise to swear off the pig when they leave the playa with much consternation, but for now they’ll imbibe in the irresistible bacon.
BACON MAN! Bacon without Borders, Bacon as currency, Optimus Bacon, Megs and Bacon, Bacon Gunz, Squeez Bacon… just search for “bacon burning man” on Google and you’ll find everything you need to know.
Fannie Brice once sang a song called “Cooking Breakfast for the One I love” where she says, “My Baby likes Bacon and that’s what I’m makin’” Fannie would have had a good time on the playa.
In 2000 this tall, tan guy was pushing his bike around the playa and he had a gas stove attached to his handle bars. This was right after the sun came up and Bird and I were relaxing on our dusty couches on the Esplanade at the Headless Maiden. The guy stopped and asked, “Would you like some bacon?” to which we stood and said, “Yes please,” and he stopped there naked with his bacon sizzling, pushing it around with those metal tongs.
We asked him if he’d ever burnt himself and he said, “So far, so good”. This was the first time he’d done it and he did it because he’d always wanted to make bacon for the City naked.
That was some of the best bacon I’ve ever had. Sharing food, simple and sweet, fruit, meat, pancakes, whipped crème and all manner of breakfast is the GRAND POTLACH defined as:
“… a festival or ceremony practiced among Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. At these gatherings a family or hereditary leader hosts guests in his family’s house and hold a feast for their guests. The main purpose of the potlatch is the re-distribution and reciprocity of wealth.
.. The word comes from the Chinook Jargon, meaning “to give away” or “a gift”. It is a vital part of indigenous cultures..”
There is Canadian Bacon, great veggie scrambles, granola and coffee of every variety, power bars and scrambled eggs. Smoothies, wheat grass for the hippies and snow cones sometimes. Early morning at sunrise can be a great time to take a bike ride and you’ll encounter a great cooking of meat and eggs, protein delivery to the Tribes waking up on the playa. If you are sincere and lucky and not expecting anything, wonderful things can happen in Black Rock City, you may encounter the equivocal American frontier meal of breakfast to fuel you after your dreaming.
And what dreams may come from such a MAGNIFICENT POTLACH?
That first morning after sleeping sound from your trip out there…. and you’re crashed in your tent or tarp or yurt or trailer or RV or camper special or container or whatever and your bed is the most fantastic dusty rose you’ve ever seen, a Lake Lahontan Strawberry Rose into which you slumbered even with all the ambient 24 hour noise.
And regardless of what baggage you brought with you, that first sleep in the morning you may perhaps partake in the greatest breakfast ever will you have pilgrim, as if it were your last ever. Or you may go another 72 hours with no food, it is all up to you. Just make sure you drink water and Piss Clear.
However, whatever demons may have tagged along with you, with a good night of dreams and a hearty breakfast, you will have the strength to make those demons flee if you tell them to. Black Rock City cleanses.
And for many of us, vivid dreams start coming from the GREAT UNWIND as we sleep.
Our City is full to the gills with the Potlach, be it Meat Night or grilled cheese or Food for Artists or Vegan Paradise, vegetarian or Tuna Guys or any random chance upon feast laid out before you, unexpected, or planned, there will be feasts. Bring your own to share and everything will be good out on this desolate lake bed.
Morning Bloody Marys, afternoon Mai Tais, Gin and Tonics, any iteration of drink and potent potable you can imagine, is at your reach if you want it. Share and share alike. Gift. And everything from your camp stove to a bus equipped with stoves and refrigerators is making food and sharing it. I even hear there are slushy machines full of BullFrogs and Mohitos day and night. There are bicycle powered blenders, and the swirling smoke from some camp’s grill cooking Tri Tip or Chops as you pass along the avenues is there offering itself to you.
This is just alkaline minutia, like every particle was a moment of our short experience in this human, most wonderful realm. For some the landing is a never ending propulsion of work, raising scaffolding, radio towers, tents and tarps, installations and other sundry things to make Black Rock City what it is. For some it is landing and going to your predetermined almost ridiculously large RV you hired to bring out here, because you bought your way past the gate.
...we ALL dream out here regardless of whether we are maimed by privilege, or are here as a working pilgrim to the vibe of the now. And the playa calls to you all because you are a creature crawling along with scuttling claws across the dry lake bed where you lay your head regardless of your accommodations. Welcome to the amplification station zero, the crash pad of flowing dust that pulls you away from your situation in society to a place where the roles are up on their heads because if you have water and AC and electricity and can keep everything together in the worst of climes, you are the billionaire there.
This is a place where the reality that is part of your DNA says come to find the reason for your season. You are a second in time’s eye and you are here to be all you are, to share all you have inside you.
Let your dreams speak to you, because they are you’re telling yourself where you really want to be. Remember them in that waking moment when you’re sitting there in your structure with the cold pale morning seeping in.
Or you dream of that girl or guy you want, the damn reason you came out here, only to hook up with them. Or you dream about the demons or angels that got you back before the playa made them dissipate. The default world for so many is illuminated by that ambient moon that out here dripped down long before she was bought and trademarked.
Those dreams…those initial times where you sit up and try to remember where you put your toothpaste or where is the water, or that one time you wondered where your keys and wallet were laughed over that for about 5 minutes. No, in that first morning, with the cool gray morning pallor on your face is when you hopefully realize that everything “back there” melted away into the sudden realization of life “out here” and you slip outside your blankets and sleeping bags, exposing your entire carapace to the lake bed chilly reality and you stretch, stretch and see the sun up. And the humanity is not a bad thing, it is the sacred caring thing that doesn’t know who you are but still wants to make sure you have water if you look like you need some. It doesn’t steal or covet, it doesn’t want to compete with you, it wants you to be ok, so your dreams will help you manifest what good lives inside you.
Let your dreams be your teacher out there. The dreams that come unnatural to what you’re used to. Learn from them and realize that you are alive while you sleep.
Realization of that simple fact will make your life twice as long.
And in this Grand American Camping Trip, may you emerge in your morning to the mess tent with bacon and sausage and coffee and eggs sizzling, with friends abundant when you realize, what’s that SMELL??
let there be BACON