So we had a couple of big events over the past couple of days, and we are moving inexorably forward. The time has become impossibly short – the gates open in *gulp* seven days.
It doesn’t seem real.
We get this feeling every year, that “Oh my god there’s no way we’re going to get everything ready in time” feeling. There’s not enough art! The Man is still on the ground! Where is everything??
But it’s probably just us. Because Burning Man happens. Every year it happens. Like we’ve said earlier, it’s like someone pours Jamesons on the playa and the city and the art and the camps and the people just pop up overnight and before you know it things are in a full-throated roar.
But there is a cloud on the horizon, though. Actually, many clouds. The National Weather Service has issued a “hazardous weather outlook” for this area that will extend through Wednesday. They forecast showers and thunderstorms, with possible hail and wind gusts to 50 mph. It’s unsettling, at least to us, but not everyone is worried.
“I’ve seen big clouds roll in,” D.A. said, “and then when they get to the playa, pffff, they just go around us.” So let it be this year.
The playa is still in amazing condition from the rain that came the week before last. It’s firm in most places, with the occasional thigh-busting mounds. But overall, it’s really really good. More rain would of course foul things up royally for the artists, because they go into high gear this week. But for the playa, wow. Once it dries out, it is left smooth and hard.
And we hesitate to say it out loud for fear of jinxing things, but there has not be a single whiteout so far this year. Not one. The wind has been blowing, the days have been hot, and a dust cloud will occasionally blow through, but overall … beautiful. The nights have been warm and still. Couldn’t be more perfect.
Everyone got together to wax the Man on Friday night. To make sure there will be a big fire on burn night, the wooden Man is stuffed with wax-soaked bundles of burlap – up his legs, in his midsection, and down his arms.
Chunks of multicolored wax were melted in big metal pots. We’re guessing that the wax was salvaged from a candlemaker, because as it melted, lots of wicks floated up to the top of the goo. Then the burlap pieces were dunked in, and after they cooled a bit, people attached them to the Man’s innards with wire.
There was music, of course, live music. It’s ironic that during the build, musicians and singers are everywhere. Austin and Dylan and Dan and Rachel and all the rest work on new songs, form new playa-only groups, then roll out to play and play and play. And when they’re not playing, they’re practicing. “I’ve got a weird notion of what a vacation is,” Dan said.
The neon crew was also working on the Man that night. Smoke Daddy said the colors this year will be green, orange and gold. Why that combination? “Well, little green men come from flying saucers, don’t they?” he asked. True enough. But what about the orange and gold, then?
“Well, it’s actually the same color combination as 2007,” he said. But he never got to see it, though, because that was the year that Paul Addis set the Man on fire early. Crews had to work day and night to rebuild the Man during the event, a decision that’s still talked about to this day.
“I only got to see those colors through my tears,” Smoke Daddy said.
Saturday night was the early burn. After a slow start, crews rallied to build effigies, and by the time evening rolled around, there was lots to look at. The Burning Man headquarters team set up an office with all the trappings – a paper-stuffed person behind the desk, a faux playa map on the wall. On it you could find your way to “Plug n Play Playland,” “Shut Up Ville,” “Playa School Dropouts,” and “Don’t You Know Who I Am Bar and Footwashing.” There was even an area called, “Marion Said I Could Camp Here” right there on Rod’s Road.
The Power team built a giant electrical outlet, and the Oculus crew made a miniature replica of the Center Camp Cafe entirely without fasteners (a little poke in the ribs to the Temple). And the Man Base team built a classic space alien, entirely appropriate for the week that the CIA finally confirmed the existence of Area 51.
Dave X made sure there were plenty of fireworks, and of course they were great. They boomed right over your head, and at times you thought they were going to come right at you. But that’s what made them a success: they were scary, and no one got hurt. And bright and early the next morning, D.A. was out at the site, leading the cleanup.
So yes the artists are rolling in, and one of them is Bunnie Reiss, who was commissioned by the Temple team to do a gigantic fabric installation inside. She got word of the assignment when she was traveling in India, and it’s been nonstop work ever since. “People don’t really understand,” she was saying. “You do get a commission, but you spend every dime on materials.” She said she’s never been poorer, but never been happier, either.
“This is the only place in the world where you do an exhibition, and people come up and say thank you, thank you for what you did.”
Thank you Bunnie. Thank you Dave X, thank you D.A., thank you Smoke Daddy. Thank you all, thank you thank you thank you.