Burning Noir (3) – The oldest strip in the book

Augustus St. George didn’t keep our appointment last night, and I would have missed him entirely if my friend CrunchyMama hadn’t seen him crossing through Gigsville.  When I did catch up with him, he wasn’t happy to see me – but he filled me in on what had happened next. Read part 1 in this series here, and part 2 here.  – Caveat


Burning Man's French Quarter, before the Mardi Gras celebration
Burning Man’s French Quarter, before the Mardi Gras celebration

It’s nothing personal.  If you can find me, Larry’s boy scouts can find me, that’s the trouble.

Do you hate people with merit badges?  I hate people with merit badges.  The whole thing screams “validate my daddy issues.”

I like being hard to find.  Look … half the fun of being here is getting lost in somebody else’s dream, right?

Last night a woman with pink nylon butterfly wings attached to her back stood underneath a turn of the century streetlight, asking passing strangers to help tie the laces of her stiletto boots.   This might have been a once-in-a-lifetime offer.  A crowd gathered, but only a small one, because she wasn’t the most interesting once-in-a-lifetime offer on this particular corner.

Burners like to tell themselves that they’re big on costumes.  It’s not true, but it’s a helpful lie:  the kind of self-deception that opens doors.  That’s how I tracked him down.

Sure,*some* burners are really into costumes – but most of us really aren’t.  We’re into color.  We’re into spectacle.  We’re into skin:  lots of skin.  If we were really into costumes, we wouldn’t be so enthusiastic about people who take their shirt off and call it a day.

As long as it’s colorful, as long as it’s a spectacle, we give them a thumbs up and a blowjob.  Be neat to look at.  That’s all we want. (more…)

If you’ve been here, you’ve been there

Where else in the world would I be walking down a street and have a man who looks like he recently got out of prison, with highly questionable tattoos, hold a greasy cardboard box up to me and say “Bacon?”

And without hesitating I think “I’m SO LUCKY!”


The Burn So Far

The Man welcomed crowds to his saucer
The Man welcomed crowds to his saucer

So after all the months, and then all the weeks, and then the days of prep and planning and building and worrying and leave-taking, guess what? Burning Man snuck up on us and blasted right out of the gate.

Just like that, the doors opened and thousands and thousands of people poured through, some more slowly than others, and swelled the population of the city to holy crap 55,000 by midday on Tuesday. So it’s pretty clear that this won’t be a year like last year, when the population declined for the first time.

We find it next to impossible to even pretend to have a handle on what is happening at Burning Man. We only touch one part of the elephant; your results may vary.

All we know is that people couldn’t wait to get here this year, that tickets seemed in demand right up until the the time of the opening, and the our little bubble of a world has been colored a rusty shade of red from the wildfires that rage nearby. Sunrises and sunsets are orange and red, and at night the moon looks like it is in eclipse, because it is so perfectly orange.

Is the city having growing pains? Hard to know. How big is too big? Also hard to know. We do know that most likely there will be more burners in Black Rock Desert this year than ever before; we also know that there are more people who consider themselves Burners who have never been to the Nevada desert, but they feel part of whatever this is because of the associations they have made on the Regional level.

“There is a Burning Man movement,” Larry Harvey his own self said this morning, “but we didn’t generate it. … We don’t provide the content, just the theme. … And we know that this community is allergic to pronouncements.”

True, true and true.

Crimson got ready to light the cauldron (Photo by Erica Bartel)
Crimson got ready to light the cauldron (Photo by Erica Bartel)

The Burning Man ethos strikes us as the same as a successful startup – first create something cool. Worry about everything else later. And it seems to us that the Burning Man organization has been doing that since the beginning, out there on Baker Beach.


Yes, It Is a Long Strange Trip, But It Is Worth It!

TIB Rainbow seWe all have a story.  Sometimes getting to Burning Man is difficult, connections missed, you see all those broken down trucks on the way that look like they have an entire theme camp wired on precariously and then the tiny Prius that looks like it could not hold enough clothes and water for the two people in the car, sitting at the I80 Smoke Shop in Wadsworth with their hood up. BUT…there is the amazing international crowd that you see at Savmart in Reno buying everything they need. They have come from Russia, and South Africa, and Saudi Arabia, and China and everywhere else. The 2012 Black Rock City Census indicates that 24% of us on the Playa last year, did not reside in the U.S.  My husband and I have been the registrars for the Global Leadership Conference for the last  six years so we know a lot of people that come across the world to be a part of the Burning Man community. I said all that to say, that since I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I always feel like I should not complain about whatever little hardships happen along the way since I know so many Burners are coming from so far away and sometimes those trips are filled with mishaps. (more…)

Burning Noir (2) – The Bicyclist Strikes at Midnight

Augustus St. George is hard to find, and despite my promise I almost missed him.  Many thanks to Kanizzle at BMIR for helping me locate him today.  Love you, man.  Read part 1 of this series here.  Here’s what Augustus told me happened next. – Caveat


Nexus Bobo’s BayouI didn’t have much hope as I walked up to Nexus’ new location at 10 & GDP.  People dancing to house music are unreliable as a Florida jury.  But it’s like they say:  90% of life is showing up, and the other 10% hurts like hell.

Instead I got the kind of pleasant surprise that usually only comes with Christmas and adultery:  next to the giant geodesic dome was a trailer made of 100 year-old wood, set-up as a New Orleans speakeasy.  It looked decked out to play techno, but just at the moment someone had put on a little Louis Armstrong.  It helped soothe the savage desert.

I’m not a techno guy:  I don’t know a dubstep from a Bassnector.  But the Nexus always has a place in my heart. (more…)

State of the Art, Burning Man 2013

[Editor’s Note: We’re happy to have photographer Michael Holden documenting the art and experience of Burning Man for you this year, and posting regular submissions to the Burning Blog. You can find all his posts by clicking here. Enjoy!]

I think that y’all like my photos more than my prose. In the spirit of doing what one does best, I’ll cut this short and get back out there.

Burning Man Art Preview:  Truth is Beauty panorama

Truth is Beauty by Marco Cochrane


Burning Man Art Preview: Victoria CoRE

Flor de Muerto by Victoria CoRE, during construction


Burning Man Art Preview: Victoria CoRECompleted

Flor de Muerto by Victoria CoRE, on the evening of it’s completion


Burning Noir: a chance meeting with Augustus St. George

The Pierre Lafitte Ice Company bar in Burning Man’s French Quarter.

The following was told to me today by Augustus  St. George, who I understand to be the top private security expert at Black Rock City (if you know, you know), and I thought it was interesting enough to repeat here.  – Caveat

It was hot.  But it’s not the heat at Burning Man that kills you.  It’s the heat and the stupidity.

The Pierre Lafitte Ice Company keeps a stool at the end of the bar for me.  They know my cup.  If they see it on the bar, and it’s empty, they know what to pour.  That cup was made out of the ash and remains of the Temple of Transition.  A client made it for me.  Clients do the damndest things.

You know what I like about this bar?  You know what keeps me coming back?  Nobody ever asks if I’m having “good burn.”

A pair of topless aerialists were going at it in the corner like their husband was home from war, and I watched it the way a man does when he’s at the best party in the world and wishes he had someplace to go.

That’s when Krista walked up behind me and whispered in my ear:  “Augustus, there’s a man here says he’s looking for you.”

I didn’t turn.  Looking in Krista’s eyes means falling in love all over again.  I don’t need that.  “Tell him I’m at the trash fence.”

“Augustus … he looks desperate.”

“They all look desperate.”

“I don’t think this was a bad trip.”

“You can tell just by looking at him?”  I growled.

“Yeah,” she said.  “And so can you.”

“Give me one reason I would even consider getting up from this stool,” I said as The Mayor filled up my glass.

“I like to watch you work.”

I took a hard slug of the hard stuff.  “Dammit.”


“Send him over.”

She flashed me a smile straight out of a Vegas billboard and walked across the room.  A moment later a slender man in leather chaps and red clown wig sat down at the bar next to me. (more…)

Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Offers Trash Collection

Photo via USDA NCRS on Wikipedia.
Photo via USDA NCRS on Wikimedia.

We’ve talked a lot about trash: how to reduce it, ways to manage it, and where to take it after Burning Man is over. The latter is always the biggest challenge, year after year.

New this year: The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s stores on Highway 447 in Nixon and Wadsworth will be accepting Burner refuse for 24 hours a day, starting Saturday of the Burn until Tuesday after the event (more details below).

The program is offered through the Public Utilities Department (PUD) of the Tribe and is designed to target last year’s issue of nasty overflowing dumpsters at both stores.  The PUD will have dumpsters at both stores again, but this year they will man those stores for 24 hours a day, Saturday of the Man Burn thru Tuesday post event. The PUD will charge $5.00 for regular and properly bagged refuse. They will also accept (but charge more for) carpet ($25), sofas, bedding, etc.  Check out both stores on Highway 447 to properly dispose of your trash, support the tribe and grab a snack for the road.  And don’t forget to say “THANK YOU!”

The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (PLPT) has lived here for thousands of years. The land we travel through–and the land we camp on–is considered sacred and has always been theirs. Visit the Paiute Tribe’s website to learn more about their history, Pyramid Lake, their business amenities, and the incredible work they do with endangered and ancient trout.  By providing trash services to Burners, this year the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (PLPT) is raising money for the community while doing you a BIG favor. Don’t forget to say thank you!

Details on trash drop-off:

  • Drop off points are at the PLPT stores  on Hwy 447 in Nixon and Wadsworth (at Interstate 80).
  • Trash is $5 per bag.
  • Carpet and oversized items will be accepted, but will cost more to drop off.
  • All of the money collected will benefit the tribe.

Ways to say “thanks”:

  • Drive slowly through town! You are passing schools and neighborhoods.
  • Stop at Fry Bread stands, have a snack and donate to the local food drive.
  • Visit the Museum and Visitors Center (near the junction of 446 and 447 at the Nixon store) to see great art and learn about Paiute culture and history.
  • Respect the lake: you must obtain a permit to camp there.
  • Saty “Thank you” to everyone you interact with from the tribe – it’s that simple!

A final reminder: Nixon is 60 miles from Gerlach. Your trash needs to be secured well enough to make that 60 mile drive. There is no place to drop trash near the Black Rock Desert. Pack it out!