Sonic BOOM! Help Bring Super Street Fire to Burning Man

The inner playa at night is a circus. There are lines at all the rides. The MCs all vie for your attention, boasting into their microphones and shining their spotlights on you as you meander through, your headlamp bouncing around looking for the next distraction. The music bombards you from all directions.

But every year, there’s that one thing, that one Esplanade structure that demands all attention. You can hear it for a mile in every direction. When the flames go off, it lights up the whole scene, showing you the faces of all the darkwads creeping around you for just a second or two. At Metropolis in 2010, it was Ein Hammer. Their German accents were questionable, but their dominance of the Burning Man night carnival was not.

This year, with your help, the center of attention will be a game. A game of live-action, flame-spouting, hadouken-slinging, mind-reading hand-to-hand combat. It’s called Super Street Fire, and you are player one.

From the Super Street Fire website:

Simply put, it’s Street Fighter 2 only with the fire of a thousand suns (aka 32 flame effects). Set on a real-life version of Ryu’s classic stage, Super Street Fire sees two brave fighters duke it out for up to three rounds of ridiculously intense gameplay. The two players stare each other down while poised ten metres apart on their own elevated platforms. In front of them lie two rails of fire just waiting to be provoked. A Master of Games officiates each bout with play-by-play commentary, heartfelt cheering and the odd disparaging remark. As if this wasn’t epic enough, we then surrounded it all with a glorious ring of fire.

Before battle, both fighters are outfitted with motion-sensing gloves. The gloves are designed to capture every throw from perfectly timed blocks, to fierce right hooks, to deadly hadoukens. With each attack, a coloured line of fire hurtles towards the opponent as they scramble to retaliate or succumb to fiery damage. Still remember combos? Good. The stronger the attack, the greater the spectacle. As the countdown clock winds down, punches are thrown, life is lost and a victor is named.

Super Street Fire is built by Toronto’s Site 3. They’ve received an honorarium grant from Burning Man this year, but they need our help to get over the top.

If this project blows your mind, please consider contributing to their Kickstarter. It closes on July 14, and they’re almost there. If you contribute to the project, I will let you personally hadouken me to death when we’re out there.

Help Kickstart Super Street Fire!

You can follow the construction of Super Street Fire on Facebook.

What do you do at Burning Man, anyway?

Why yes, there is a gospel choir. Why do you ask?

The most common question I get from people who are never going to go to Burning Man is “So … what do you DO at Burning Man?”

Which is funny, because the question I’m most frequently asked by first-timers about to go to Burning Man is “What will I do there?”

Huh.  Well … it’s kinda tough to explain.  You see … oh geez … how to say this … Okay:  Burning Man presents you with the same number of existential choices you have in real life.  Maybe more.

Does that not make sense?  Maybe not.  Okay, let me try explaining this the long way.

Most of us, long before we ever ended up dusty and sunburned, had heard a story about something that happened on the playa, or a tale about Burning Man’s exodus from San Francisco to the desert, or expressed a wish out loud only to be told … right or wrong … “oh yeah, Burning Man’s like that.”

These stories, whatever they are, are what keep thousands of people walking through the gates each year, and many coming back.  We all know why.  In the absence of traditional commerce at Burning Man, experiences … what Chicken John has called “units of interesting” … are the coin of the realm.  We may be absentmindedly jealous of the guy with the biggest RV and the camp with the fresh seafood kept in a refrigeration unit that costs more than a house in Miami – but that’s something you can find anywhere.  The stories of Burning Man experiences, built on 100% pure units of interesting, are what we go out into the desert to find and bring back. (more…)

Kaip Tau Sekasi? A Burning Dispatch from Lithuania

Photo by Meghan Rutigliano

Kaip tau sekasi? How’s it going? WOW. It’s been a lovely few days here in Vilnius. And, it seems, the universe is on our side. We’ve met really lovely and friendly people, recovered two lost bags, and we’ve been graced by warm and wonderful hospitality. I’m proud to say that my little Youtube language tutorials have paid off as I can now order my morning coffee in broken Lithuanian and greet people, in their language, with a bit of confidence. I always find it fun to at least try to speak the local tongue and the locals have been all too happy to guide me through the nuances and tricky pronunciations. My curiosity about the Lithuanian Burners and sense that their creative spark was something special have led me to just the right place at the right time. Things are really happening here and it’s fun to participate. (more…)

John Law and Last Gasp announce Cacophony Society history book!

Lock up your conservative co-workers’ tiny brains, lest they explode all over your shiny new copy: It’s finally happening. A book concerning The Cacophony Society’s proto-history is coming out.

Fans of Last Gasp already know the wacko publishing house’s books are always fun, and this one in particular will be the gorgeous graphic novel which you hand people when they come over to your house and ask you, “So how did Burning Man start, anyway?”

Drool on the cover art:


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Burning Man Desert Arts Preview 2012 – June 21

Burning Man 2012 Desert Arts Preview – Annual Artist Lecture Series

Thursday, June 21, 2012
6:30pm-10pm (program begins at 7pm)
Location: The International Art Museum of America
1025 Market St between 6th & 7th St, SF 94103 (click for map)

FREE admission!
…But if you wish to make a donation, proceeds will support the Black Rock Arts Foundation artist grant program and the Burning Man Project
Limited seating for 100, so COME EARLY to ensure your seat and not miss anything!

Portal of Evolution by Bryan Tedrick. Photo by Oly Rivas.

This is our very popular annual artist lecture series, where you get a sneak preview of some of the many notable art projects in progress right now for Burning Man 2012. You’ll hear directly from artists who are creating revolutionary works of art, often in radically collaborative ways. Some have been doing work on the playa many years and will be sharing humorous war stories associated with creating art under extreme conditions. This is also a great opportunity to learn how YOU can get involved and support these and other artists and projects.

If you can’t make it, look up their projects at the link below and directly contact these and other artists/projects you feel inspired to help and work with. Get involved and help make the art you wish to see in the world! (more…)

Burning Man Lietuvoje!

Logo Courtesy of our friends, the LT Burners

I’m sitting in Warsaw airport in Poland, waiting for my long-anticipated flight to Vilnius, Lithuania. I’m on my way to Degantis Jonas, the first Burning Man Regional event to take place in the Baltic States. A few years ago, when Goku, our Lithuanian Regional Contact, first reached out to us at BMHQ to tell us about the burgeoning Burner scene in Lithuania, I remember being completely fascinated that a Burner community had sprung up in what felt like so foreign and far-flung a place. Lithuania? And, where is that, exactly?  Not only did the community’s existence seem exotic, but it was also clear right away that the Lithuanian Burners were an impressively ambitious lot. During our first Skype call, Goku told me about the LT Burners’ plans for a large-scale theme camp at Burning Man 2011. Camp “Blukis,” made to look like the Blukis tree stump, a symbol in Lithuanian folklore, the space would house a bike-powered cinema (the “Velocinema”), potato pancake pow-wows and drum circles. Goku was also in the midst of planning the first Burning Man Film Festival in a Box in Kaunas, and seeing to it that films were translated into his native tongue. Though we’ve only met once on the playa, Goku and I have become close comrades through countless email exchanges, Skype calls, and Facebook posts. I’m now picturing him greeting Playground, my traveling companion, and me at the Vilnius airport in a few hours. I’ve been practicing my greeting: “Labas, kaip sekasi?” (Hi! How are you?) and, though sleep deprived and delirious from 21 hours of travel, I couldn’t be more excited. (more…)

Burning Man, BLM and Happy Times

Did you know that Burning Man is the largest permitted event on Federal land?  As such, we are required by law (the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA) to evaluate our impacts on the environment.  The process is called an Environmental Assessment (EA) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), as the main steward of Federal Land, oversees it.

The EA Process

Burn Night 2011, Photo by Ales Prikryl

It took almost two years for the current EA to be researched and written. In December of 2010, we (together with BLM) asked our neighbors in Gerlach, Pershing County and Reno for their feedback, concerns and comments about the possibility of growing the Burning Man event. Our proposed action (the technical term for a proposal, in EA speak) requested approval for expanding the maximum population of BRC from 50,000 to 70,000 over a period of five years.

Along with a lot of support came some legitimate concerns. Using this feedback, the BLM, together with cooperating agencies including the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, decided to closely analyze five areas of impact of the Burning Man Event: Carbon Footprint, Economic Impact, Traffic, Light Pollution/Night Skies, and Sound Pollution.

Research and Mitigations

Once the research team (from Aspen Environmental Group in San Francisco) knew what areas to focus on, they began creating technical reports under the supervision of the BLM scientists in Denver and Washington, D.C. The researchers started crunching numbers and consulting Burning Man about what we already do to mitigate the impacts of the event (“mitigate” is EA speak for lessening).

What they found was that Burning Man was already doing great work in these areas (hooray!) – but that there is always room for improvement. So, Chapter 6 of the EA is dedicated to additional steps we must take in order to grow the event successfully and sustainably.  The “Cliff Notes” to Chapter 6 Mitigations are listed below.

Highlights of the Chapter 6 Mitigations:

  • PREVENTING OIL DRIPS: BLM will conduct Oil Drip Surveys to determine if hydrocarbons from cars are increasing on the playa. (There’s a simple way we can all prevent hydrocarbon drips: Put a drip pan or piece of cardboard under your vehicle! And secure it from the wind!)
  • PORTA-POTTY AWARENESS: BRC will create a webpage so that participants are aware of how dangerous it is to improperly dispose of human waste. (Want to know how you can prevent human health disasters? Empty RV Waste only at the RV DUMP!)
  • INBOUND/EXODUS TRAFFIC SOLUTIONS: BRC will continue to work with NDOT and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe to create speed limits, signs, and flagging stations at key locations along the 447 and 34 routes, including Gerlach and Empire. (How can you help the traffic flow? Carpool! Plan for delays! Keep calm and drive safely! Prevent accidents!)
  • BRC will continue to clean up trash along the roads after the event and will provide increased education on the numerous locations where participants can properly dispose of waste.  (How can you lessen the trash impact on our neighbors? Tie down your load! Dump your waste responsibly and only in designated locations!)

While these mitigations sound simple, being “mostly there” isn’t good enough. Even small acts of noncompliance – one sneaky RV dumping on the roadside here, one stray bag of trash tossed in a ditch there – can negatively impact the future of the entire event.

We need you! We’re asking for your help in spreading the word and teaching each other about these issues because we need to make sure the Black Rock Desert will welcome us back year after year.  The only responsible approach to the increased interest in Burning Man is not to just grow the event, but to grow the event safely and sustainably. In order to ensure responsible and sustainable growth, we must all be prepared to comply with the mitigations outlined by the EA.

So let’s get creative: tell us how YOU will help spread the word about these important environmental issues!

 

It’s okay to be miserable at Burning Man

I wish someone had told me that before my first year at Burning Man.  Or my second.  I figured it out myself on my third.

We’re under 100 days ’till Burning Man. People are excited – and they want it to be contagious.

So do I. This year’s going to be awesome.   But in that well meaning spirit I’ve recently been asked: “why don’t you use the blog to be more positive? You should only write stories to get people fired up about Burning Man! Why don’t you stick to that instead of talking about negative stuff?”

Well I’ve already said that there’s too much goddamn positive energy at Burning Man.  I stand by that.  It’s also true that Burning Man affects me profoundly in ways that are challenging and difficult.   I’m guaranteed at least two existential crises every Burn, and they were much worse before I realized that they weren’t a result of my doing something wrong at Burning Man – they were just part of the experience.  I’ve heard similar confessions from a lot of people.

But I’d really like to answer that question with a true story.

Two years ago. I was walking through the desert, across the open playa in the early afternoon. It was hot, and I was very, very unhappy.

I don’t remember why, anymore, but I remember what that mood felt like. It would have been depression if I hadn’t been so angry, so resentful. I wanted to bite someone. I wanted to yell at someone. I wanted to punch you in the face. You, personally.

I think I was heading over to one of the Irish bars. I wanted to start a bar fight. Right now.

Out in the middle of the dust I saw four desks separated from a small line of people by a velvet rope. Three men were at the desks, and a fourth was behind a small podium managing the line.

The bouncer spotted me. “Hello sir!” he shouted. “Is there anything you need?” (more…)