Night At The Bijou

It was the most compelling illusion I’d ever seen in my life.

The movie wasn’t any good. Boys in letter jackets, girls with ponytails, drive-thrus, giant cars. Not that I had much to say about chronicity, but their vocabularies were dated. “Golly.” “Swell.” All the while, my mouth was bursting with stars. I was in, all right.

Stars were bursting in my mouth as I scanned the warmth of the theater, the dim, throbbing lamps, the flickering projector. People were kicked back in their seats. Most were still wearing dusty fur coats, even though it was pretty warm in there. A red convertible roared around the corner and skidded to a stop in the middle of the screen.

And the stars kept bursting as I chewed on their flavor, crinkling the paper in my hands. I’m eating star bursts… in a late-night movie theater… in the middle of a dried-up, prehistoric lakebed on a freezing cold night… and I began to snap out of it. The genius of it all began to overwhelm me. Before long, it took every fiber of my being not to shout the truth out to everyone in the theater, but I knew they weren’t in the mood for truth. (more…)

Out there

Sailing homeward

He’s gone deep tonight – as deep as you can before the trash fence suddenly appears in your headlights.  He’s come to be alone.  He’s come to get away from the thumping techno that still echoes even out here, he’s come to get away from the green laser lights that still soar just over head.  If he turns around He’ll be able to see all of Black Rock City displayed in the distance like a mirage of heaven and hell, but he doesn’t turn around.  He looks at the stars.  Out here they fill the night sky.

It turns out he can’t get away from the music and the lasers and the city:  they follow him to the stars.  The only thing he can get away from, out here, is people.  It will have to do.  (more…)

La Vie Parisienne, Burning Man Style

The Eiffel Tower at Sunset

I’ve long been fascinated by French culture—the fashion, art, film, music, and “je ne sais quoi” of French life—-and decided, after a busy Burning Man season, to hop a plane across the Atlantic and immerse myself in Parisian life. In preparation for my trip, I reached out to our French Regional Contacts, Filouz, Marc, and Eddy, to see if there were any Burner events happening during my stay. They assured me that there was always something going on in Paris and invited my friends and I to a lovely French dinner and to their monthly “Burning Café” event that draws in Burners and artists from all corners of the City of Light.

Burning Cafe at the Bric a Brac Bar in Oberkampf

The French Burners organization, which started as a small group of Paris Burners who decided to meet up each month at local cafés, has expanded over the past few years into a large and vibrant community that spans all of France. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the French Regional Contacts and the increasing interest in Burning Man culture in Europe, Burning Cafés now happen in the South of France, Aix en Provence / Marseille, Toulouse, Bretagne, and Dijon. These café meet ups are meant to be a place where Burners can get together to just hang out and get to know one another. They are a space where people make connections and where “Newbies” can get a sense of the community. (more…)

Is there too much positive energy at Burning Man?

Late Wednesday morning at the burn I was walked over to an unfamiliar camp.  Told:  “You’ve got to meet these guys.”

I sat down between their RVs.  They gave me a beer.  I don’t remember their names – I wish I did.

“Tell him the story,” one of them said to another.  “He’s going to love it.”

The story he told me went like this:

“So the other night we were passing by Playa Info, maybe around 11, and we realized that all the Playa Info staff leave at 9.  So we walked inside and sat in the staff area, behind the desks, and looked official.  People came in and asked us stuff, even though the hours of operation were clearly posted and there was a sign saying ‘we are not responsible for information you get after 9 p.m..’  Didn’t matter:  tons of people walked right up to us and asked question.   So we answered them.  Our rule was:  if they were asking for medical, rangers, or the bathroom, we sent them to the right place.  Otherwise, we told them whatever we wanted.”

My jaw dropped.  It was so simple … so brilliant.  Why hadn’t anyone thought of this before?

“So all night people would walk in and say ‘Hi, I’m Crystal and I’m looking for my friend John.  Where’s his camp?’  And we’d say:  ‘John’s camp!  Sure!  It’s right at 2 and E.’  Or somebody would ask where they could get their community bike fixed without having to leave it for someone else to take;  we’d say let us take a look at it, and ride off with it.  We made people sing karaoke for us before giving them bad directions … we had a whole line of Japanese tourists, and after the first one sang ‘My Way’ the rest all insisted that they get to sing it too.  it was amazing.  We stayed there all night, and when the real Playa Info came in the next morning and saw what we were doing … they asked if we wanted to be put on the schedule for any other nights during the week.”

Now, I can’t actually confirm that this really happened – but I sure hope so.

I mention this for two reasons.  First, because it’s awesome. Second, so that when I tell you that many of the people I like most at Burning Man are bastards, you’ll have a clear sense of what I mean.

A lot of people talk about Burning Man like it’s an ocean of “positive energy” – a spiritual experience that will take us to a higher level of consciousness if we open ourselves up.  In some ways this is true.

But often these people take the next step and say that “negative energy” and “negative” emotions have no place there.  These things belong in the default world, and it’s a commitment to positive energy and experiences that sets Burning Man apart.

Most years, my response has been “But I prefer hanging out with the bastards.  They’re more fun.” (more…)

Join Us at the ARTumnal Gathering

Immerse yourself in a realm rich in imagination, expression and inspiration! Be the art!

Saturday, November 19 at 6:00pm – November 20 at 2:30am


The Bently Reserve
400 Sansome Street
San Francisco, CA

The [BRAF] presents our fifth annual: Artumnal Gathering

Feast of Imagination Dinner 6:30 pm

Artumnal Celebration 9:30 pm

Join us at the magnificent Bently Reserve and enjoy fine fare, tempting libations, special treats, surprises, the best of company in their finest attire, original artwork by our favorite artists, auctions featuring one of a kind experiences and items, and abundant creativity!

Celebrate the creative spirit of our community! Enjoy captivating live performances and dance the night away in three elegant rooms of music and DJ’s. We’d love to see you!