Talking to God

Talking philosophy(me, king of segues), I was sauntering along, minding nobody’s business when I spy this forlorn phone booth with nothing close to it. “Black Rock City Phone Co., Talk to God.” Really? Except for Abraham, Saul, Moses, or Donald Trump, how often does one get a chance to do this? I picked up the receiver.

“Hi, this is God.”

“Hello, God. I imagine that if I were actually talking with God, I’d let Him do most of the talking.”

“That’s o. k. . . . [pause]”

“Oh, there would be so many questions. Why’s there pain and suffering on Earth? Was there a JFK assassination conspiracy? Will my sons be happy?”


“Sorry to bother you. It’s rather a stranger in a strange land to be talking with God.”

He replied with the standard BM greeting, “Are you having a good burn?”

“WOW! I’ll be integrating this experience the rest of my life. I suppose I should let you go. You have more important things to do than chat with me.” Inspired, I asked, “Would you forgive me my sins?”


Yao! Yao Ming! Perhaps “God” didn’t hear me, so I repeated, “Would you just say, ‘I forgive you.’” [God going deaf would be weird, and S/He theoretically could read my mind.]

“I don’t feel comfortable doing that.”

“I suppose since we all have God within us, I can forgive myself. Thanks.” Oh, well. Nice try, Mr. Mellow. I left the confessional booth, and the next person picked up the receiver. She had a different approach.

“Hi, God! How ya doing?”

by Mr. Mellow

Art and Whimsy are renewable resources

Significance of the Water, by Alexander Spivak. (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License)
Significance of the Water, by Alexander Spivak. (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License)

Where’d all the fun people go?

A recent San Francisco newspaper article was ostensibly about a book – the newly published history of the Cacophony Society.  But its headline asked a very pertinent question:  “Whither the tricksters?”

San Francisco used to be full of mischief makers who played extraordinary pranks on normal society – or at least as normal as it gets in SF, a city where phone apps for vegan bicyclists are considered a literary form.  But many of their greatest feats have been institutionalized (Santacon … runners in salmon costumes “swimming” upstream during a major race between the ocean and the bay), and new public activities seen to have just … disappeared.

What happened?

There are many answers, but one of the big ones is that Burning Man sucked all the air out of the city.

That’s not intended as a hostile comment – and indeed there’s quite a bit of truth to it.  Burning Man became a San Francisco Cacophony Society event early in its history, turned into the definitive Cacophony event in the mid-90s, and soon a small army of whimsical geniuses who otherwise would be setting up rappel lines between corporate rooftops were working on art cars, theme camps, and port-a-pottie logistics for the annual trip to the desert.

Even for the high-energy aesthetic dissident of means, there are only so many costume parties and conceptual mind-fucks you can come up with in a year.  Those of us who have to work for a living have even less time to spend in gorilla suits.  At some level yes, Burning Man took all the time and inspiration that otherwise would have been spent doing Cacophony events in San Francisco.

What are we to make of this?


Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signs AB374 – Streamlining permitting process for Burning Man event

Governor Sandoval signing AB374 into law
Governor Sandoval signing AB374 into law. Seated: Gov. Brian Sandoval
Standing from left to right: Adam Belsky, Counsel for BRC LLC; Robert Shirley; Tom Clark, Lobbyist for BRC LLC; Shannon Hogan, Lobbyist for BRC LLC; Jim Shirley, District Attorney for Pershing County; Sen. David Parks; Assemblyman & bill sponsor David Bobzien; Marian Goodell, Founder, BRC LLC; Raymond Allen, Government Affairs Representative for BRC LLC

CARSON CITY, NEV., June 5, 2013 — Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval today signed AB374 into law, a bill sponsored by Assemblyman David Bobzien that streamlines the permitting process for events like Burning Man held on federal lands.

“This is a huge victory for the Burning Man event,” said Raymond Allen, Government Affairs Representative for Black Rock City, LLC. “The law ensures local permitting requirements won’t infringe upon the First Amendment rights of Burning Man participants. It also ensures the continued right of assembly for the entire event.”

The new law gives counties the right to opt out of state permitting requirements for events held on federal land that already undergo a comprehensive federal permitting process. As a result of collaborative negotiations involving Burning Man representatives, Pershing County officials and the Nevada Association of Counties, Pershing County commissioners already passed a resolution exempting Burning Man from county permitting requirements in perpetuity.

“It’s a win-win for everyone and a testament to the benefit of collaboration,” Allen said. “Our goal has always been to adequately compensate Pershing County for the services it provides to our event. This law ensures compensation occurs through a contract with the County per the requirements of our Bureau of Land Management permit.”

The bill passed unanimously in the Nevada Assembly and Senate, and goes into effect on July 1st.


BurnerHack at FreeSpace SF

Cool logo, BurnerHack.
Cool logo, BurnerHack.

Burners will be gathering at FreeSpace — a 14,000 sq ft warehouse in San Francisco’s SOMA district hosting a month-long pop-up community center focused on hacking the civic experience — this weekend for BurnerHack. BurnerHack is an opportunity to learn, share and teach a wide variety of skills to help one prepare for the playa (or wherever you want to take them!).

The offerings include such things as hacking arduino software, working with LEDs, making costumes, soldering el-wire, building shelters, Mutant Vehicle modifications and more. Take a look at the full listing of projects so far, and add yours into the mix on the BurnerHack website.

Burning Blogger Jon Mitchell will be attending and will report on both BurnerHack and the FreeSpace concept for us after the weekend. If you plan to attend, and would like to hook up with him while you’re there, ping him on Twitter at @ablaze.

FreeSpace is located at 1131 Mission Street, San Francisco.

A reading list inspired by, but not about, Burning Man

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA few weeks ago a call went out on the Burning Nerds list:  ideas for books and articles that aren’t about Burning Man in any way, but that contain ideas and concepts that make you think of Burning Man, or could be applied to Burning Man.

The result was a pretty amazing list, and I’m including it below for your perusal.  There’s what sounds like some pretty amazing reading recommendations there.   It’s particularly interesting to realize:  this is what Burning Man makes people think of, and then delve into that.

Ideally the list should be organized alphabetically, or by topic … but I don’t have that kind of time.

Meanwhile, the most comprehensive list of academic books and articles about Burning Man per see (should you be inclined to stay on topic) can be found here.