Corrections from Burning Man 2012

Correction – this photo is of the 2011 Burning Man. We regret the error.

In an attempt to keep our community informed, I am correcting some of the more egregious errors I propagated at 2012’s Burning Man.

Correction:  Turning in a Census form is not, as some of you may have heard me say on several  radio broadcasts, mandatory.  You do not need a sticker from the Census in order to see the Man burn.  The Rangers were not checking to see who had stickers.  None of this was true.  I regret the error.

Correction:  Despite what was said on the radio by the Census in response to the previous lie, you did not need to get an image release form from Media Mecca in order to participate in the live Squirrel Nut Zippers video being filmed on the playa.  Not only does Media Mecca not have image release forms, but there was no Squirrel Nut Zippers video.  Really now.

Correction:  It turns out that really was Harley Dubois’ niece the other night.  I regret my loud, unnecessary skepticism.

Correction:  Even though several people you know might have said it was true, the Census was not actually offering a free dinner in exchange for going through a half-hour long “detailed demographic interview.”  I honestly don’t even know where that story came from.

Correction:  In an earlier correction I said that I honestly didn’t know where a particular story came from.  This was untrue:  I know exactly where it came from.  I apologize for the typo that led to this error.

Correction:  It was not a typo that led to this error. (more…)

Lessons Learned 2012

For the “Question of the Week” for my podcast, I asked people to share lessons they learned while at Burning Man.  The responses were amazing.

FYI, the Hug Nation hug starts at 10:22 if you want to pull out before it gets too pink & fluffy.



Black Rock City Aerial Tour 2012

When I arrived home and started to miss [BM] I saw this amazing video that I wanted to share with you.

And here is some information that Experimental Airlines wanted to share about the video:

The most huge thanks to my spotter and ground crew T.R. “Deluxe” – I could not have done it without you!

“Ready To Fly” by Clayton Joseph Scott, from his album “More Love”, gifted to me by the artist himself on the playa. Listening to this song on the way back to the default world I realized that the lyrics encompass the Burning Man experience quite perfectly. The flying reference also made it great for this video. Clayton has kindly allowed me to use his song.

Pier 2 and La Llorona

Pier Crew, photo portaplaya

Building Art in Black Rock City isn’t easy. Schedules mean something very different on the playa. You have to do all your pre-fabrication off playa and may never see the whole thing built before you get out here. You have to tow all your stuff out there, set up camp on a desert floor, stirring up fine alkaline particulate that seeps into every tool, utensil and tent you have, and you have to include “dust days” in your set up time. Sometimes the weather just won’t let up and cranes and other heavy equipment can’t be used until it calms down. We saw a lot of dust days this year during set up. And there’s heat, and swarms of stinging ants and frogs raining. Actually, I haven’t seen the ants and frogs, but it really is hot out there. Regardless, despite the challenges, every year artists bring out their installations to grace Black Rock City for the short week of Burning Man.


So, Burning Man 2012 – what was that like?

Yep, we burned that.

The Temple was burning.

The intricate wooden structure’s central column was a pillar of flame rising into the air, sparks and blazing debris erupting to hover directly above us like a galaxy of shooting stars.

Munney and I stood in the bed of a golf cart and looked up into that shimmering ash cloud as it flew … never the same from second to second … and then began its descent towards the ground, towards us.  We wondered how much trouble we were in.

I’ve been close enough to burns to get the falling ash on my clothes, on my face.   But that’s nothing:  yesterday, watching the Man burn from a distant rooftop, everyone around me winced as one heat tornado after another threw itself into the wind and through the nearby crowd that scattered and ran before it.  A magnificent, terrifying, spectacle.

We had been safely distant then, but not now … not now, as we looked into the air and saw hot ash descending like an army of distant angels.

The beautiful temple was burning:   four nights ago I’d visited and left the final draft of a poem an ill friend had asked me to write for her;  two days ago I’d come here to officiate the wedding of two dear friends in the middle of a white out dust storm.

Now it was a single blazing column of fire and a swarm of debris that was flying directly above our heads.

But we were blessed:   when the fiery cloud flew up over us the wind pushed it to the left, so that though we were right under the burning storm it did not touch us us.  We saw everything, we could not turn our eyes away, and yet were unharmed.

Burning Man 2012 was kind of like that. (more…)

Ego on the Roads

“EGO” (20 feet high letters) Burning Man 2012 Laura Kimpton and Mike Garlington

Burning Man 2012: Big letters spelling E-G-O on the playa horizon. Designed to burn. Conceived and produced by Laura Kimpton (of O-I-N-K and L-O-V-E fame), and built by Mike Garlington.

One of many altars on the “O” of EGO. Burning Man 2012.

Mike’s take on EGO: he and his girlfriend poured hundreds of gypsum plaster casts of evocative objects found in life and at the dump. The objects de EGO were then spraypainted gold and rigged onto the wooden frames loaded with firewood. The objects were designed to survive the burn. Mike instructed participants to dig through the ashes after the fire to find symbols that survived. (more…)

Keeping the Portal

This year at Burning Man, I figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

My dream job was just there waiting for me. No one was doing it, so I did it. I climbed up into the 12:21 Turquoise Portal, and I became the Portal Keeper.

Photo of Harlan Emil Gruber
by Jasmin Zorlu

A man named Harlan Emil Gruber brings portals to Burning Man and other such evolutionary gatherings of people. Each year’s portal is placed at an auspicious location on Black Rock City’s clock face. It’s given a color and gemstone, and it’s shaped with sacred geometry. The whole portal resonates at the super-low frequency emitted by the Quasar Wave Transducer built into the heart of it.

The portals are designed to bring our minds and bodies in tune with the planet b tech’re on and the galaxy we’re in. When you climb into the portal and harmonize with the waves, you can feel it working on every nerve in your body.

I sought out the portal this year after my first couple of days at Burning Man played eerily out of tune. I didn’t realize when I left camp that I was walking toward the rest of my life.


Halcyon’s Tips & Tricks #13: Decompressing

Time to return to our Alter Ego's
Time to return to our Alter Ego’s

Well, that was amazing.

Now comes the hard part: Adjusting back to life in the default world.

I am not going to pretend it isn’t rough. But after 15 years of making the transition, I wanted to share a few things that help me.

1) You can be the same person.
The default world will not treat you the way that the people of Black Rock City do. But you can still treat everyone here the way that you did out there: Be kind. Be wacky. Open your heart and share your gifts. In time, more and more people will respond as Burners…whether they’ve been to BRC or not. (more…)