Epic Proportions


Burning Man is the best adult playground ever devised, a vast testing ground for one’s resourcefulness, imagination, and sense of adventure, managing to amuse 50,000 or so tech-addled, sleep-deprived, uncomfortable Moderns for up to a week or longer, while keeping them active, eating less, constantly testing their limits, morals, and comfort zones, and providing them with a social arrangement of managed freedom within limits acceptable to the paying participant.

It’s even more fun than college.

This was my sentiment on Thursday night of Burning Man 2010, as I sat by myself on the benches outside the Temple, aiming my dying headlamp into my little, red, dust-coated notebook. It was Metropolis, the biggest burn ever. In fact, it was my second biggest burn ever. The American Dream, 2008’s Thompsonian seizure of that mythological, materialistic nirvana for our own twisted purposes, was my first time.

When they first burnt the man on Baker Beach, I was negative one year old.

I think it’s safe to say that Burning Man has changed a few times since then.

Photo: Mischa Steiner

I would submit 2007 as the year Burning Man bloomed into its present incarnation. Veteran Burners had become increasingly fed up with what one participant called the “alterna-Disney” transformation of the festival, and The Green Man saw this come to a head in a… let’s call it a counterproductive way. Read more about it, if you like. My first burn was the year after that. (more…)

Dear Burning Man, Whoever You Are

This is My Decompression: A Simple man’s desire to understand why and to preserve why we attend.

I have been to this event for three years
I have survived as have those that have accompanied me
I like to think that I have helped in those survivals and experiences
But is that an honor I have earned?
Why do you make me question myself?
Burning Man what are you really?
Are you a test of my abilities?
Of my resolve
Or are you more
This event started as a challenge for me
But it has turned into a quest
I want to find the meaning
I want to understand
Is it the Art?
Is it the mutant cars?
Is it the participants?
So many
From so many different cultures
From so many different backgrounds
Is it the fact that you can join so many for so short a time and make them relevant and self supporting?
I have an opinion
I am not sure that it is relevant to any other except me
And I do not care
My opinion is as follows
You challenge me in January to come and see what can be
Can I survive and bring those I love to experience what you have to offer
I say that I can and will
You promise a mutually supporting society that can and will survive despite the actions of a select few.
You offer wonderment, excitement, and bewilderment
You insight creativity, artistry, and negativity
All the while providing a palette for each and everyone to express themselves should they desire
I am sorry
Yet grateful
I am sorry that the freedom and expression you allow for so few days
Cannot extend into the remainder of the year that we must endure
I am grateful for the time I get to spend with you
As you challenge me I return the favor
I challenge you to entice and dare me to attend
If you can do this
You have my promise that I and those I Love that care to attend will arrive.
We will experience what you have to offer and provide our own contribution.
For now I anticipate with bated breath what you have to offer next year.
My struggle continues I still have not figured out the why
However the desire to find the reason is enough to keep me coming
Just maybe the why is a magical what if….or is it what will I miss If I do not make the trip
I shall spend the next year looking for the why, however the why has suddenly become obvious, If we do not ask why, then how do we grow?
If you build it they will come
If you build it I will come
See you next year
Burning Man

by John Walmsley

Let’s Get Lost

I got to bm on Monday night, missed the rainbow, but was just happy to be back home.
For some reason, the universe was listening to my my thoughts, to my words and was manifesting it to me. My simplest desires, adventures or requests were achieved.
I have few examples but to make long story short here goes the best one.
Saturday after the man burn. I was with a “playa special friend” that I meet on Wednesday, first time burner and he had to leave at 2 am after the man burnt. We were sad that he had to leave and maybe we were not going to see each other on real life ever again, u never know how real world will treat you. We were at Temple of Boom just hanging before he leaves and he said:
– I have to leave in 2 hours. Lets get lost.
I said:
– ok.
We started walking, holding hands, kissing and enjoying our last few minutes together, we were going towards the deep playa, it had been a great time together and we didn’t want to finish so soon, but his camp mates had to go and for some reasons he couldn’t stay.
We saw a light maybe around 1:30 and H/G, and he said:
-what is that light?
I said:
– I don’t know, let’s check.
We walked to the light and did not believe what we saw… the sign saying:

We had no words to talk. We could not believe what we were seeing.
We never hear about this sign before, nobody that was camping with us saw the sign. we did.
After that, he had to leave.
The whole manifestation thing was so intense… that now we are together, and we are still getting lost when possible…

by Livia Paz

Regional Spotlight

If you Build It…

The ethos of the Burning Man community continues to spread far beyond the orange trash fence of Black Rock City. From coast to coast and out into the far reaches of cyberspace, Burners are creating the conditions for communal effort, radical self-expression, and public art.

Part 1: Asbury Park, New Jersey

“Momento Mori” in Asbury Park, NJ Photo by Marah Fellicce

Since back in the Spring, New Jersey Regional Contact Marah Fellicce has been participating in an interactive art piece she calls “Memento Mori.” On a vacant condo lot amidst the suburban sprawl of Asbury Park, New Jersey, Marah uses wood pilings as the base for large fabric wrappings. Marah says the pilings were drilled into the ground in 2005 on what was to be the site of a new complex but the pilings have remained unused as construction has yet to begin on the lot. The first pieces Marah created were a part of  “Sculptoure,” an annual outdoor urban sculpture exhibition presented by The Shore Institute for Contemporary Arts. The art work has continued to evolve since the May exhibition and has taken on a life of its own.

Superman, flamingos, and tikis, oh my! Photo by Ruby Re-Usable

Over the past several months, Marah has added elements to the football-sized art piece and has held space for others to participate in creating “Memento Mori.”  A local grafitti artist was inspired to contribute and painted bright tiki faces on many of the pilings. Reflecting the idea of constant change inherent in this temporary sculpture, passersby also rearrange rocks and leave contributions such as a prom dress with colored stencils, pink flamingos, a brightly colored Superman bust, and other found objects that become part of the artful display.The lot has become a place for locals to express themselves and the eclecticism of the project inspires conversations. A writer known online as “Wizard 343” from the website Weird New Jersey happened upon Marah’s work and, after talking with Marah, wrote a lovely article on the artwork, on Marah’s creative process and on how Marah relates her art to the Burning Man principles. For photos and a great story, visit http://tinyurl.com/marahnj.

On the Ground in the Dirt — Burning Man 2010

The Man and Fire Conclave burn night

We arrived Saturday afternoon under iron gray skies. It had been an effortless jaunt from Sparks; we had taken a lazy lunch in the parking lot where the weather alternated between chilly in the shadow of the clouds and blazing hot when the sun poked through. We had heard the reports: that though last week had hit 115°, this weekend promised rain, and the forbidding horizon did not dispel that fear. But we were not worried: we’re varsity. We’ve done this before.

Replicating the success of last year, we — my old friend and stalwart companion, Evan — packed little past essentials and stayed the night in a hotel in Sparks. Too tired (unmotivated?) to move our gear inside, plan “Let’s Leave it and Hope For the Best” was successful, and our pickup truck of dusty gear was unmolested in the morning. Refilling our ice chests from the free hotel ice machine, we headed to our usual supermarket to load up on water and last minute essentials (beer we had in spades; Irish cream, cup-o-noodles, eggs, cheese, crackers, some vegetables, more ice were procured) and we were off.

The Temple of Flux; us photographers all discussed how we didn’t really know how to capture it.


Celebrating Our New Year Across the World

I like to think of Burning Man as a family reunion. The Burn marks a time when we, being a colorful and vibrant family, come together to create a space for both celebration and reflection. If we’re lucky, we make the annual trek out to Black Rock City and re-emerge dust-soaked, full of new ideas, new relationships, our perspective shifted. We return to the default world only to start mentally preparing ourselves to return to Black Rock City next year.

Rakuville Temple Fireworks Photo by Linda Loca

So what happens when friends and family can’t make it back to our desert home for the Burn? How do they stimulate new ideas, new relationships, and personal growth?

Though technology has made it possible for thousands of wayward Burners to experience the Nevada event through simulcast, there is something that happens out in the dust that is hard to really feel anywhere else. Or so I thought.

Returning home, I began to talk with friends of mine about their off-playa experiences. Through these conversations, I started to realize that some of the more meaningful stories about the 2010 Burn that I was hearing didn’t happen out in the Nevada desert. The stories I loved the most were about the magic moments that happened when our wayward Burner friends came together to create a sense of home during the Burning Man event in cities all over the world.

This year, our beloved Bex Workman, who has participated heavily in Burning Man for over a decade was unable to make it to Nevada for the first time in 14 years.

Now living in London with her new husband Tom, Bex reports, “I admit that I kinda freaked out and started talking about Burning Man non-stop. The more I freaked, the more I talked to people, the more I learned that my fellow community members here in London were going through the same thing and weren’t going to the playa either.” (more…)

Burners Without Borders – Dispatches from Peru

For those of you who may be unaware, a Burners Without Borders contingent has been in Pisco, Peru for years now, helping the locals recover from a devastating 8.0-magnitude earthquake that took place in 2007.  Chriz (aka North) just spent his first week in Pisco with BWB, and we thought you’d enjoy his account of his experiences there.

If you’d like to join Burners Without Borders in Peru, or anywhere else they’re engaged (including Haiti), learn how on the Burners Without Borders website. Here’s Chriz:


Hello from Pisco!

To start, I’d introduce myself as a long-time Burner with a mere 3 days with Pisco Sin Fronteras (PSF), so this is coming from a curmudgeonly old it-was-better-last-year Burner who is a wide-eyed  gobsmacked Pisco virgin with a fresh optimistic view. (more…)

Monday, After the Rain

The playa showed a bit of her history,
Not wet, but soft and sticky,
Growing around my feet,
Like she wanted to cover me with,
A muddy gown, clinging to my soul,

The shadows laid out like spider’s legs,
Long and black, straight and crisp as we embraced,
The sun, just now orange and half gone,
Was giving up the last of his day’s warmth,
And, we layered on the costumes,
Bright and shiny, soft and silky,
Still sexy, not giving in to it,
Expression is our skin,

Mother Nature’s cold embrace,
Paws at our bodies, numbed by,
Fuzzy eyes and the vibrations that come,
From a life’s worth of love,
Rounded out by the comforting,
Hug of a dusty nest, that was made for us all.

by Christopher Robin Drake AKA, Ace