September 2nd, 2012  |  Filed under Building BRC, Culture (Art & Music)

All Good Things to an End Must Come

September 2nd, 2012  |  Filed under Building BRC, Culture (Art & Music)

Man Burn

As you’ve no doubt heard, there were a couple Burns out here last night. We had a strong showing by our valiant Man who held on as long as he could before slipping in a mass of fire and embers below to howls primeval. His pavilion lasted much longer than he and it was probably the most substantial structure I’ve ever seen the Man stand upon since he’s been on top of them. It was a fitting and beautiful tribute to the man who designed it, Rod Garrett.

Tonight the Temple burns and all of the emotion we’ve put in there this week will wash up in a cathartic column of fire, sparks and ash that will send those notes of love and loss and of grief and forgiveness swirling into the night sky. Dust tornadoes will form and dance around us as if they are our loved ones lost, caressing us in the firelight’s glow, saying do not worry, everything is as perennial as the seasons, or the plants that return each spring or the love that brings us all together eventually.

Princess with her Sparkle Pony

Princess Blahblahblah came by the ARTery with her pony that she’s been bringing out here for years. She’s with Kentucky Fried Camp and someone stole the pony a day or so ago and the camp was predictably bummed until yesterday when the pony mysteriously re-appeared and had been Sparkle Ponied, with new faux fur on her mane and sides, hearts and sparkles glued all over her. A Polaroid was left; a picture of the Pony with another smaller pony out near the Temple at sunrise, with a note that read “Thank you for dancing with me all night.”

Death Star

Speaking of Sparkle Ponies, my friend Absolutely stopped by just to tell me that someone in his camp named “The Austrian” came up with the perfect counterpart for “Sparkle Pony” (if you assume that is the feminine) and that new phrase for a male Sparkle Pony is “Sparkle Bronie” which sounds like a winner to add to our Burning Man Lexicon.

Also, you know how over the years new technology emerges like El-Wire that catches your eye and suddenly it becomes part of the landscape each year? I’m pretty sure that this year’s newest tech we may see more of are Radio Controlled flying drones, lit up at night, shaped like all manner of UFOs, including the Starship Enterprise that hovered over Burn Wall Street last night.

Frogbat at Burn Wall Street

The Burn Wall Street gathering was quite the scene last night before the big burn. There was a loud pounding rave scene of art cars pumping out music that created a warm strange space where you drift like in a dream and you think you know everyone. Everything looks so beautiful as you wander around. There and at the large sound camps beyond, danced crowds bathing in psychedelic floodlights beneath grand circles, domes and pyramids with grooves and colorful waves where sparkles fell down upon those dervishes. Those camps are where colors and sounds run like ink in circle shadows mixing all around.

Morning at the Pier, photo Bambi of Finland

Rumor had it that about forty BLM vehicles had converged on the Pier earlier and people were wondering what was going on. There were uniformed officers and dogs and all manner of Federal presence. We then found out that the entire Bureau of Land Management team went up into the Pier’s Spanish Galleon for a group photo. That’s just how cool that project is. Imagine that.

Sunset Saturday

Getting around wasn’t as hard as we thought it would be except for Friday night during a nice night storm that blasted across the center of the City out into the playa, hiding everything from view as our small group on bikes made our way from a Funk Club in the 9:00 plaza over to Thunderdome where we watched two Teletubbies, who obviously had a grudge, beat up on each other. One of the Teletubbies lost their yellow head and it was paraded around the dome on a spike for a while as they fought. The Pier area was rocking with pirate ships a plenty pulling up and the Front Porch hosting live music that used actual instruments like accordions and banjos and people singing to counteract the constant thumping of electronic music that crawls across the playa.

Fabulous BRC Bathrooms, photo portaplaya

One day we’ll have an Art Car. You aren’t getting lazier, it’s the City that’s getting bigger.

I’ve realized something this year and it isn’t just that shirt cockers are sweaty in all the wrong places. I came out early to work with the ARTery and document what they do there and to work on the Tech Team, but mostly to see how this whole thing happens from Golden Spike to the Last Supper. Those first three weeks I was lucky enough to watch the DPW and really appreciate the amount of work they do building this place. I’ve mentioned this before, but it is hard, grueling work in 100 degree plus days through dust storms and the sense of building this, then having the event actually start, can make you somewhat jaded when the gates open and our friends the Sparkle Ponies and Bronies flood in.

The Man, photo by portaplaya

It seems to me that it is kind of a badge of honor to have that feeling, knowing just how hard you’ve worked and with such efficiency and skill and even though I didn’t work anywhere near as hard as our DPW, that feeling gripped me. I thought, oh no, here they come. The horde. Tourists.

As the gate opened and themecamps started going up, I saw the population explode and the clean people who had no idea what went down out here before they arrived hit the playa in their art cars with their pretty costumes partying it up. I lost track of most of the people I’d seen working every day as they retreated to their own circles.

Long before Burning Man opened the gates

Then on Monday I went out to the Man pavilion and climbed up the stairs to the top balcony and watched all the “horde” streaming up the stairways with grand immaculate costumery flowing, eyes wide and faces full of smiles. Some of them wore flashing rows of lights and El-Wire and assorted blinking bracelets and necklaces hanging all over them, enough to give you seizures if you didn’t let your eyes wander off into the night sky periodically. I saw the fascination and wonder in their eyes as they crawled all over the Pistil, climbing up and down just like bees, stopping to talk and cross pollinate each other with the idealism, joy and hope they’d brought with them. I saw the people fill in and celebrate each other and themselves, to share and live where no one is trying to sell them anything. I saw artists finish projects against all odds and I saw participants take part in that art. I saw first timers take it all in and say, “This is it. I’ve got it. What are we going to do next year.”

And I realized how fortunate I was to have been here while Black Rock City went up and to have felt that shared sense of building the thing, then having that feeling of disdain for the “horde” and finally to have that disdain evaporate upon seeing everyone and realizing why we actually build this most temporary of cities.

We’re now having Exodus and the city will shrink by the hour. After the Temple burn tonight and into Monday it will empty out entirely and the DPW crews will begin the work of tearing it all down and I’ll miss that horde. They’re good people.


9 Responses to “All Good Things to an End Must Come”

  1. num-num Says:

    This made me tear up. Thank you for the reflection of the city in your eyes.

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  2. Ukulele Kate Says:

    Thank you for the beautiful writing, especially regarding the temple. I had to leave Sunday before the Temple burned but I left the ashes of my dead brother in a small jar there. As a first-timer, I was overwhelmed with emotion every time I went to the Temple. I watched it burn on the webcast and was so moved even from a distance. Your words captured it so beautifully:

    “Tonight the Temple burns and all of the emotion we’ve put in there this week will wash up in a cathartic column of fire, sparks and ash that will send those notes of love and loss and of grief and forgiveness swirling into the night sky. Dust tornadoes will form and dance around us as if they are our loved ones lost, caressing us in the firelight’s glow, saying do not worry, everything is as perennial as the seasons, or the plants that return each spring or the love that brings us all together eventually.”

    Thank you!

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  3. Frances Arnold Says:

    Thank you for this beautiful recap. I didn’t get to attend this year. My husband and I thought of Burning Man the entire celebration. I’ve been going through my photos, recalling just how special the event is. I think I’m more bonded to it this year, when I didn’t go, than in years past, when I did. Strange how distance works.

    I appreciated seeing through your eyes the experience of building the city. My husband and I are from Reno, and our friends help build the city every year. We think we’ll do it one year too. We just have to score tickets in the future.

    Much love and appreciation!

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  4. NachoMama Says:

    We did not get to go this year either. I missed you all more than I thought I would. Moze, your recap is beautiful. It summed up how I realize I feel about Burning Man. I always thought that, while I am committed to BRC, I am a realist. Burners are just folk, and not some higher plane mystics. Well, I am not completely sure of that anymore. There IS a unique emotional connection among the denizens of BRC, I am honored to have been a part of it for the past 6 years, and, hopefully, Nacho Mama Camp will be back next year. Love and cheese, NachoMama

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  5. Nadinski Schmetterling Says:

    True to the last word. Building it is a whole different experience than visiting for a great party. Much love and peace.

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  6. k8 Says:

    always love your writing but this one brought me extra joy as it helped wrap up a story i was told on monday afternoon by some friends who had stolen a brown horse and, only once they had thoroughly sparkled it – but always with an intention to return it, stopped to wonder if the pony actually wanted to sparkle.

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  7. jason Says:

    Moze is Burning Man’s Sage. Great stuff.

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  8. Melynda Schudrich Says:

    Not ever having gone, but just hearing about it this year, I understand it through your eyes. Many years ago I used to work at Bike Week in Sturgis. To be on the inside of such events is wonderful and the only way to go. Maybe my kids will help build one year, maybe I will. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. Ray Smith Says:

    No wonder I couldn’t find you, NachoMama. We missed you greatly. I was sure to have my sunglasses along for the stay too! See you next year!

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