Missing Teen Reunited With Parents at Burning Man

15-Year old Nikki Peress reunited with parents 24 hours after being reported missing.

Black Rock City, Nev. — Burning Man organizers, in conjunction with local law enforcement, successfully located Nicole “Nikki” Peress, a 15-year-old girl who had been reported missing at the event Thursday afternoon. Following an investigation by the Pershing County Sheriff’s Department, Peress’s disappearance was classified as a runaway child.

When Peress was reported missing, Burning Man initiated its missing child protocol, including an Amber Alert and citywide shutdown operations, whereby all outbound traffic and airport departures are halted. Burning Man’s Black Rock Rangers posted flyers throughout Black Rock City and distributed public service announcements via Burning Man Information Radio.

“The system worked,” said Marian Goodell, Director of Communications for Burning Man. “We have a system set up to reunite minors who have become involuntarily separated from their parents, and it’s also effective for voluntarily-separated ones. This is a very tight-knit community, and it’s gratifying that our participants really step up to help in situations like this. We’re very happy that Nikki has been returned to her parents.”

Peress was found Friday afternoon when a participant recognized her, and brought her to a Burning Man medical station, whereupon she was reconnected with her parents.

About Burning Man:
For 22 years, the Black Rock Desert outside Reno, Nev., has been home to the increasingly popular and influential Burning Man arts event. Started on a beach in San Francisco in 1986, the event now attracts more than 60,000 participants annually, from every U.S. state and 22 countries. For media inquiries, please call 415-906-2441.

Wait, What? It’s the Middle of the Week Already?

Out between the Man and the Temple, a solitary woman danced in the dust.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Here we are on hump day, halfway through the week already. At least it is as gorgeous as you can imagine.

Yes, we’ve had our share of blowing dust, but nothing, NOTHING like two years ago. There was no way it was going to be one beautiful calm day after another like last year, but to these eyes it seems that balance has been restored. Sometimes you get caught in some nasty stuff, and you have to hunker down in your tent or in Center Cafe or whatever you have, and wait it out. But the waits have not been very long.

Folks continue to stream into the city, although anecdotal reports say the lines at both the Gate and the Greeters have been … dare we say it? … not that bad. Melissa and James, our guardian angels from S.F. who brought our backup camera to the playa, left Reno on Monday morning and were in their camp three hours later. Three hours! On Monday! … Another group of friends came in last night and pulled in to Gate road around midnight, and there were three cars ahead of them in line. Three.

Maybe the longest delays have been caused by the very noticeable police presence here. We are told by reliable people with direct knowledge of the situation that there are more law enforcement personnel here than in previous years, and they are keeping a higher profile. More cars than ever before are being pulled over and searched as soon as they pass the Greeters’ stations. And almost any infraction will be cited, so make sure your tail lights are working, and that your bicycle racks do not block your license plate. And of course obey the Black Rock City speed limit. Also, reacquaint yourself with your rights regarding searches, because in almost all cases officers will try to search search your car. And they have dogs to help them. A word to the wise.

Beyond all that, things proceed apace. The city feels positively crammed with high-quality art, maybe more than ever before. The 35 pieces associated with the CORE project enhance that impression, but in general, there is art everywhere. And there are art cars everywhere, as well. There are old favorites like the Neverwas Haul, and new favorites like Christina, the giant yacht. Really, it’s never been easier to hitch a ride around the playa on something fun, cool or loud – or all three.

Mike Garlington’s and Laura Kempton’s “Ego” draws visitors no matter what the conditions.

Even though the population of the city is ahead of last year’s pace – there were 40,000 people here yesterday, and today we’re at 47,249  – the city seems quieter than in recent years. The public spaces like the Esplanade and Center Camp seem almost eerily quiet. It’s hard to figure out why, but one theory goes that because there is so much art out in the playa, and so many ways to get out to it, that more people are out exploring than gathering in the more public meeting places. (more…)

Distance Does NOT matter. The Spirit of Burning Man is limitless!


by Monica Hilt

Rumors that during Burning Man you experience a transcendence in humanity, have ignited in me an incredible curiosity and attraction that seem like a siren’s call to my heart. I first found out about Burning Man about two years ago. I was very much touched by the almost divine respect that artists such as Chris Weiss or Adam Lambert would relate of the experience. It was then when the dream to be part of the Burning Man was born. However, the more I researched the event, the more I became confused with not understanding what actually happens there. It wasn’t until this morning, August 28, 2012 when I read Seth Stevenson’s article in Slate “Why Would Anyone Go to Burning Man?” that I finally got a clear picture of the magic people experience there. Actually I got more than a picture… even though I am currently in Saarland, Germany thousands of miles away, today I experienced the spirit of humanity during Burning Man.

I took a short nap this afternoon and I dreamt that my husband and I went to the Burning Man. Neither of us has done drugs or been drunk. Our sexual experiences beyond each other are negligible. So in my dream, when we were checking in at the event we both were a bit nervous and uncertain about what to expect. However with faith on the ten principles of the burning man, we held hands and walked in. Then it was like Magic, like Disneyland but 10,000 times better. There was a feeling of complete freedom. Patrick, my husband dressed in his Elvis Rock n’ Roll marathon outfit and I dressed with white sheets in the shape of butterfly wings that I painted with my favorite colors and designs. I love to paint and so during that week I did what I love most… I painted: what I saw, how I felt, what would cross my mind then and there. When someone would walk by and would like the painting…. either I would give it to them or we would paint together. I also painted my body and would walk with nothing else on but paint. It was beautiful and full of color and life.

Then the final night of the festival arrived. I had painted a very special painting to hang on the temple to let it burn as a symbol of the soon departure and death of this paradise of unconditional love and freedom. This painting represented all the incredible idealism and complete freedom that a human being can experience without fear of rejection, judgement or fear itself. With each step I took towards the temple, my heart seemed to be breaking with bigger pieces. When I looked down at the painting one last time before hanging it, I was startled and breathless to realize that it was in fact a self-portrait. I froze! My eyes were cemented on my face on canvas. “Here I am ready to die” the canvas said. “I can’t exist in the real world out there. The rules and norms of everyday society would lead to nothing but pain and suffering. Rationality, intelligence, and “good” judgement drive the interaction of humanity in the everyday life. The ways of the soul, of feelings and instincts, have a very low survival rate out there…. many break not only of body but of mind and soul.

Judgment and pressure are very tough and torturous. Better to burn this side of you and go back to everyday life without any distracting nonsense, ready to make money and succeed. Let it go. It was good for one week. Now it is time to die in the humanity of the burning man and go back to the real world.” Tears were cascading from my eyes as I realized I had no other choice but to hang the painting and walk away. Had I not prepared the painting as a departing symbol of the experience? Yes! So now the time had come. As I was hanging the painting, I heard someone scream behind me “Stop! Don’t burn it. Can you give it to me instead?!” I turned around to see who had said that, but there where many people standing around waiting for the fire to start and I could not tell where the voice came from. “I like it, please can I have it?” To the right of me there was a silhouette coming forward. Hmm… I took a deep breath to realize what was happening.

Wait, who is this person? What does this mean? Is this just someone who likes the painting and wants to keep it as a souvenir? Or is this God’s way of sending me a message that I don’t need to die. Maybe this idealistic way of being has a chance to be part of the real world out there? If this person likes the painting and nothing more…. well I could just give it to them as I did the others. However this painting is not like the others. This is me. The “unconditional love” and “let’s make the world a better place” idealistic part of me. Would this other human being take care of it?

Would the best part of me be safe in their hands? Or should I say no and let it burn in peace giving closure to this magical experience? Then at least I know and can control what happens to it and that it is over. Hmmm No! I will give it away and let it be what it is. If someone else likes it. It’s theirs. Let hope, love and trust be. I turned around, unhung the painting and walked toward the silhouette. When we were a few feet away from each other, I froze. “Patrick! It’s you!” I could not move. Patrick said “yes, please let me have it? I’ll take good care of it! I will treasure it!” I started crying. Patrick walked forward and held me in a tight embrace. Through tears and sobs I said “But Patrick, this way of being is so difficult out there! It has brought us so much trouble. We get hurt all the time. I don’t like to see us in pain.” “ I know” he said, “but it is the best part of who we are. If we don’t strive to live life with it… is life even worth it?” At this point the painting was on the floor as we were both sobbing and holding each other. Then the heat from the flames behind us was getting very intense as the burning of the Temple had begun. Patrick and I looked at each other, we held hands and walked back to join the rest of the crowd. After a few feet I remembered “Patrick the painting!” We looked back to the spot where we had been, but the painting was gone. We stared at each other and then I woke up.

As I woke up I realized I was crying. I am not sure if these were tears of joy or sadness, but I did not care. If this is not the spirit of the burning man I don’t know what is. Talk about the spirit of humanity and the universe having no barriers or limits.

The State of the Art

The Temple in progress

Despite four days of nightly white outs, including the mother of all sandstorms and 12 hour delays on I-80 over the pass, being surrounded by hundreds of wild fires burning, and rumors of a fuel line break that would make gas impossible to procur, somehow most of the art for this year is either complete or almost there. This is indeed a fertile year for art as it springs up seemingly everywhere on the playa.

A few of the larger pieces are still putting on finishing touches. The Temple of Juno is built and there are only cherry pickers affixing the intricate decorations to the outer walls as they finish the altars inside the courtyard and Burn Wall Street has all their buildings up and at night you can see the neon signs.

Zonotopia and the Two Trees

Now that the gates are open, playa citizens wander along in fresh packs wearing clothes that have yet to be brushed with the color of playa. They ride through the art on blinking bikes as mutant vehicles boom or blast disco and the city now hums with the sound of construction as themecamps spring up along the Esplanade, and points beyond are filling in. Scaffolding rises, Pink furry places with fluffy couches and Shipwreck Tiki Lounges are close to being open for camaraderie. The graceful French Quarter, BaalMart, Spankys and large scale sound camps of pyramids and enormous domes lit from inside at night out at the ends of the city are appearing with wild abandon in this frontier town.

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Off and Running

The view from the top of the Otic Oasis in the walk-in camping section of the city.

The sense of anticipation reached a high point last night around midnight out at the Man base. The gates had been open for  six hours, and blinky crowds and art cars were gathering around the beautifully lit Man base. and everyone was ogling the Man and panting for the chance to get inside and clamber around.

There were a few final touches that needed to be finished first, though. Mr. Blue and his lighting team were making sure the big hanging flower chandelier at the main entrance was secure. The wind had been blowing hard all day, and the crew wanted to make sure everything was stable.

Every now and then an overanxious participant would wander past the safety cones, and one of the guardians would tell them the time hadn’t come yet. So we watched and lingered, waiting for the big moment.

When it came, it was joyous. People couldn’t get inside the Man base fast enough, and within a minute the base was mobbed, and the Pistil had people climbing all over it. A couple of guys scrambled to the very top, whooping and hollering and waving to their friends. Cheers all around.

Although it’s only the first day of Burning Man, the streets around the center of the city have filled in quite nicely. Folks are setting up their camps and dusting off their bikes and generally getting in the swing of things. The Esplanade isn’t crowded with people yet, but there’s lots to see and many places to go.

Lou and Brian, two of the carpenters who worked on the Man base.

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Camera Fail

Do we have time for a personal anecdote before the gates open and Burning Man gets started? You might need a distraction as you’re waiting in line to get in. (Speaking of which, we heard that the wait was three hours long at midnight LAST night, so maybe you might have some time on your hands.) So with your indulgence we shall proceed.

We had an incident last night. It wasn’t a good one. We were out and about, getting a look at the progress of the art pieces on one of the last nights before the crowds arrive.  We were way out at Burn Wall Street when, it pains us to report, our camera died. It’s dead. Kaput. Finito. Done.

The end came suddenly, if not completely unexpectedly. For the photo nerds, we’ll tell you that we still use the Canon 5D Mark I. It has been a trusty, faithful beast, and it is a veteran of five, count them, five, campaigns here in the desert. And they have been  LONG campaigns, when we arrive before there is anything out here and as we watch the city rise from the dust.

In short, the camera doesn’t owe us anything. We got probably more than we could have expected from it. We spent a moderate amount of time protecting it, but that damn alkaline dust, as fine as talcum powder, gets EVERYwhere, even inside the best weather-sealed DSLRs. On top of that, it has been strangely humid here this year. We suspect that the moisture-attracting dust, combined with the ambient wetness (there were raindrops last night) were a deadly combination for our beloved 5D.

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SimulBurns 2012

Photo by Sidney Erthal

There are a number of “SimulBurns” happening around the world … if you can’t make it to Black Rock City, but want to feel the Burn, and you’re near one of these areas, hook up! (Note that these aren’t official Burning Man events. Your mileage may vary.)

Location: North Bay Area B.F.H.C. (die guessing) — Undisclosed Location in Sebastopol, CA
Date: Thurs Aug 30 @ 4pm through Mon Sept 3 @ 4pm
Name: Captain Cluck
Description: This a rad, 3rd annual, 4-day, under-the-radar event on an awesome property with a superb cast of seasoned burners. Due to space limitations, this event is INVITE ONLY. We may already be maxed out, but if not, we will pull names from a wait list. If interested, please send us your contact info and a Facebook link and tell us why you are jonesing for a BM-like experience. Bear in mind, compelling theme camps or large pieces of artwork or other unique contributions to the event may put you on top of the list. Please send inquiries to: howhuman here: howhuman (at) comcast.net Thanks!

Name: Pete Wyatt
Event: Hekeburn
Location: The Domes, Waiheke Island, Auckland, New Zealand
Date: Sept 1st from whenever
Description: We are not going to Burningman this year instead The Man is going to burn here in our Home of the Domes. Grab your finest Playa gear and other essential supplies and head to Waiheke Island for a Full Moon and other burner mayhem. Contact Pirate Captain Lumos on +64210572722 or lumosnz here: lumosnz (at) gmail.com. PS: I will be taking a vehicle over to the island so I will have room for your extra gear (and I will sell it to the highest bidder upon arrival on the island).

Location: Central (contact for details) Christchurch Canterbury, New Zealand
Event: Burning Man sucks, so we’re not going!
Date: September 2nd 11am-11pm
Name: Hippie Tim
Description: A party to celebrate the burning of the Man while our friends with the means to do so enjoy what’s shaping up to the dustiest year ever on the Playa.

The Man burns at about 4:00PM NZ time so we’ll have it up on the big screen so we can all celebrate, hopefully it won’t be too dusty for us to be able to see it! And throughout the party we’ll have the live stream running on it so we can all check out the art etc etc, it will be as if we’re there!

Come dressed in your finest costumes (if you’ve got something that is still playafied then bring that!) and we’ll do our best to mentally transport ourselves to the Black Rock Desert. We’ll have a themed bar running and will be getting right properly day time drunk! We’ll have a BBQ going for dinner so please bring something to cook and share with everyone. If anyone has any installations they’re making for Kiwiburn then feel free to bring along models and drawings to share with everyone so we can all get excited!

Feel free to bring anyone and everyone whether they have been out to the desert or not to enjoy this lovely event! It will be a great chance to show newbies what we’re all about. Feel free to participate! This is a Do-ocracy, if you want to do something DO IT! Drop a line to hippie here: hippie (at) kiwiburn.com for more details.

Location: Thames Beach, London
Event: Balsa Blighty
Date: 9/1/2012 7pm – high tide
Name: Miss Cheeky
Description: Balsa Man London regional Tiny burn on the Thames beach.

Location: SF Bay Area, 20600 Aldercroft Heights, Los Altos, CA
Event: Summer Blaze: The Orphans
Date: 8/29/2012 – 10/3/2012
Name: Hibbard Engler
Description: http://orphans.kcd.com Summer Blaze: The Orphans
An Alternative to the alternative! We will have up to 1200 people gather at Lupin Lodge for a Burner friendly event. There are 30 artistic events and 12 DJ’s going on to handle the unticketed. The Blaze goes from Wednesday August 29th to Monday morning, September 3. Phone hotline is 408-310-5297 email orphans here: orphans (at) kcd.com

Location: Netherlands, Magneet Festival Grounds Amsterdam Noord-Holland
Event: Burning Mill
Date: 9/1/2012 23:00:00
Name: Marco Antonio Morales
Description: http://www.magneetfestival.nl/idea/burning-night We celebrate Burning Night at Magneet Festival honouring something unique to the Netherlands and relevant to this year’s theme (Fertility 2.0) in a uniquely Dutch interpretation of fertility: the ubiquitous Windmill, which has turned otherwise unusable land into fertile soil across the Netherlands.

The Windmill will be a beacon of expression and interaction – until September 1st. On this night come along wearing your best Burning Man outfit and *no shoes*, and we will set the Windmill alight after a celebratory ceremony of fire and non-amplified music. (drums, guitars and other instruments)

The resulting ashes will be mixed with fertilizer and a tree-pot built on Sunday, so the following weekend a meiboom tree can be planted to complete the fertility circle – just in time for all those returning from the Burning Man to join, adding their own ashes from the Man. Ribbons will be available where you can write your wishes for the coming year and tie them to the tree until the end of the Magneet Festival.

Get involved, participate, find out how you can help, dance around the fire – and make this Burn one to remember!

Taking the High Road with Pershing County

Pershing County Courthouse, Lovelock, NV, Photo by Nathan Aaron Heller

Last week, Burning Man filed a lawsuit against Pershing County, Nev., to stop the county’s attempt to impose drastic fee increases on our event.

Many of you have been very vocal about your support for the legal actions we’ve taken in response to Pershing County’s unreasonable fee hikes and attempts at regulating our event.  Others have generated lots of ideas and suggestions, which we appreciate and will continue to read and listen to.

We are tremendously grateful for your support and our intention is to work through the legal system to reach a satisfactory outcome for our event and our community. As we do, we’d like to remind our fellow Burners that while the actions taken by Pershing County officials might ignite passionate responses, and we’re grateful for your engagement in the community, it’s important to remain civil and respectful as this process plays out – this goes for online communications as well as participants right here at Burning Man.

Importantly, the Pershing County deputies patrolling the event are not party to this lawsuit, and are also completely independent and different from the BLM officers onsite. These are the same deputies who worked the event last year, and Black Rock City staff members are very pleased with the service and professionalism of the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office. We ask that you please treat these officers with the respect and kindness they’ve earned.  Pershing County deputies are a trusted and valuable component of our community – they contribute daily to the safety and well-being of all citzens of Black Rock City!

Just as your actions reflect on our entire community as you make your way through nearby towns en route to and from Black Rock City, your response to this situation reflects on Burning Man as well. Let’s keep to the high road as this lawsuit works its way through the judicial system. Please set the vitriol aside and help us demonstrate that Burning Man is home to a community of givers and doers, with the best of intentions and a lot to offer our neighbors in Pershing, Washoe and Humboldt Counties.

For more information about the Pershing lawsuit, please visit: http://www.brcvpc.com.

Thanks all, and if you’re en route to BRC, we’ll see you very soon!