Posts during November, 2013


November 22nd, 2013  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

Burning Man and the psychology of the “exotic”

And this represents ... what ... to the stranger?

And this represents … what … to the stranger?

Having reached the point where any development from Burning Man provokes a media storm (we’re just a few years away from “Larry Harvey sneezes, stock market slides”), I can’t help but wonder:  what is the Burning Man shaped hole in the western psyche?

That might not make any sense.  I apologize.  It’s dark out all the time now, which adds a lazy, self-indulgent, streak to my writing.  Like this paragraph.  Completely unnecessary.  Yet here we are.  I know better.  Ah well.  What’re ya gonna do?  To fix this I’d have to edit the first paragraph, and who has that kind of energy?

Let me explain, in a drawn-out, round-about, kind of way, what I’m asking.  Those of you who aren’t charmed by unnecessary digressions might want to skip to this article about sex in the U.S. Senate.  Salaciously speaking, that’s the high point of this post.  I’m not going to mention fellating a U.S. Senator again.

In his magisterial new book “Anti-Judiasm,” historian David Nirenberg traces … not exactly the “history” of anti-Semitism, but the various shapes it has taken over the last 3,000 years.  What he demonstrates is not just that a lot of people have hated Jews for a lot of stupid reasons, but that the justification for the hatred has often taken the shape of whatever was supposed to be wrong with Western culture at the time. Read more »

November 21st, 2013  |  Filed under Events/Happenings

Event: Crowdfunding: Trends in the Sharing Economy

Please join us for this special discussion on December 12 at Burning Man Headquarters!

Crowdfunding: Trends in the Sharing Economy

The crowd at Distrikt, 2013 (photo by Jared Mechaber)

The crowd at Distrikt, 2013 (photo by Jared Mechaber)

The sharing economy is taking off – whether it’s peer-to-peer rentals, skill sharing, crowdfunding, ridesharing or unused parking spots. Spawned by a confluence of the economic crisis, environmental concerns, and the social web coming of age, the sharing economy is quickly becoming the hottest trend in economic paradigms.

We in the Burning Man community are particularly interested in the dynamics and the future of the sharing economy, since it reflects our principles of gifting, communal effort, civic responsibility and decommodification.

Please join us for a panel discussion focused specifically on the future of crowdfunding, one of the fastest-developing areas in the sharing economy. We will explore the role it plays in creative community development, and how it’s being applied to entrepreneurial endeavors in the form of spaces (local real estate) and support for small businesses (micro loans).

When: December 12, 7-9pm
Where: Burning Man HQ
Address: 660 Alabama Street, San Francisco

Panelists:
Daniel Miller, Fundrise
Harry Pottash, Kiva
Kate Drane, Indiegogo

Moderator:
Will Chase, Burning Man Project

Please RSVP to attend.

This program is part of an ongoing series of events produced as part of the non-profit Burning Man Project’s Educational Program, supporting its cultural, philosophical and educational initiatives around the world. For information about past or upcoming events, or to propose one, click here.

November 20th, 2013  |  Filed under Tales From The Playa

The Playa Has Her Own Plans

Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.


by Playalive

This was my first year. I was so careful in my planning & research. I thought I had prepared myself as much as one could. Newbies! The Playa has her own plans for us. She decides what will happen. She is a living entity. I could feel her energy almost immediately.

Day 2 I stopped trying to fight the dust as I realized it was a losing battle. I went ahead & breathed her into me. I ate the food she got on. I let her live on my skin. I became one with the Playa. The deeper I got- the more she showed me.

One evening while walking to my block from middle Playa, a little dust storm picked up. I braced my back against it, put my mask up & pointed my flashlight around to see how thick it would get. I told the Playa it looked like we were under water. She told me she was showing me how she used to look. She remembers when she wasn’t dry & dusty. She remembers when water & life were a part of her day to day. I fell totally in love with her that night.

When people started packing & leaving, she was very sad. So sad- it was pulling me into the depression. I didn’t want to leave her alone but when the time came for me to leave, my RV wouldn’t start. I realized that we had to talk. I sat down put my hands on her & explained that I knew she missed hosting life & she looked forward to us coming home every year because for the shortest time she wasn’t alone & she was useful… almost like old days for her. I told her I loved her but that she had to let me go. I promised to always return to her & assured her that I knew this was now my home. The tow truck that had been blocked at the gate showed up shortly after.

Next year- no planning! I know our beloved Playa is the one that spins the magic & I will dive right into her dust & let whatever she has planned for me happen.

November 20th, 2013  |  Filed under Tales From The Playa

Phoenix: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of Cape Carnival

Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.

by Josh Boyer

 

When I left Burning Man in September 2012, I thought I might never again see the alkaline dust that lines the dried lake bed we burners call home. I had a rough go of it. After helping build a theme camp and an art car, I was left feeling disinterested in both by the time they were finished, so much so that when I had an opportunity to bask in the gift of a week in the most amazing place on Earth, I had trouble enjoying it. If not for a Saturday experience at the Temple, a place that the citizens of Black Rock City, NV consider sacred.

For those who don’t know me, I’m basically the guy who grew up as the all-American kid. I played sports all my life. I spent a large amount of my adolescent life in the Boy Scouts, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout on the eve of my 18th birthday. I was a letterman in football in a town that lived for its local team. I graduated high school in 2000 and two weeks later left for the Marine Corps, in which I served as an infantryman. At that point, it was all looking up for me and my future. I had no idea of the impact that decision would have on my life going forward.

As we all know, about a year after I joined the military, this country entered a state of war the likes of which our generation had never seen. Of course, with the job I signed up for and the way things went, I found myself leading young men into the deserts of Iraq at the ripe age of 20. I turned 21 somewhere on the way to Bagdad. I look back on that time and can say I did everything honorably and got my guys home to their families. For that, I will feel pride until the day I die. Read more »

November 20th, 2013  |  Filed under Tales From The Playa

The Dancing Lady

Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.


by Kevin “Kabi” Rigby AKA “Outfit”

DSC_3918“Truth is Beauty”, the sculpture created by Marco Cochrane was probably one of the most talked about and beautiful sculptures and was recognisable from anywhere on the playa. The second in the trilogy by the renowned sculptor, most commonly referred to as the “Dancing Lady”, presented me with my first Burgin “playa moment”.

As I approached the statue after photographing from afar, I noticed the inscriptions on the plinth. As I squatted down to read the text, a Mutant Vehicle passed and some yobbos yelled out,

“Nice arse! Show us your tits!”

I immediately burst into tears and was sobbing.

I tried to pull myself together as I walked back to my bike but an approaching woman saw my red eyes and asked, “What’s wrong honey?”
“The statue”, I blubbered.
“Yes, it is so beautiful”, she responded.
“It is beautiful yes, but that’s not why I’m crying. It’s the inscription on the plinth”.
“What does it say?”
I led her over, we both crouched down, “What would the world be like if women were safe?”
And with that we both began sobbing and rode out the emotion by hugging it out together.

DSC_3920

Photos by Outfit

November 20th, 2013  |  Filed under Tales From The Playa

Remembering

Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.

by Venus de Playa

 

We have to push the rocks. We have to make them spin. Who cares that we are all three out of water. Who cares that there is nothing in it for us except for our own self-satisfaction. We join the small crowd surrounding the sculpture. It’s so hot. We’re so secluded, so alone, but so absolutely not alone…surrounded by a family of seventy thousand people in the middle of the desert. It’s surreal. And we are going to move this sculpture. We are going to move tens of thousands of pounds of stone. The crowd around us grows. More people are going to help. More people willing to work their hardest to gain absolutely nothing tangible in return. The crowd reaches about thirty people. We all grab on. “Counter clockwise!” our unofficially appointed leader shouts. We push. It moves. Not far, just a few feet, but damn it’s satisfying. Everyone is beaming, smiling, irrationally excited about our small accomplishment. We hug. We high-five. We congratulate each other. We disperse, taking off in different directions across the desert. Who knows who those people were, but we feel a connection with them akin to the strength of a connection to those of our own flesh and blood. We are stronger. We are happier. We are home. Read more »

November 20th, 2013  |  Filed under Tales From The Playa

BELIEVE

Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.

by Wild Cherry

 

All through the week, pedaling out or back home across the playa, I would see on the horizon: “BELIEVE.”

I’d always believed in people. I’d always believed in myself. Now, for the first time, I was losing it.

A month before Burning Man, I had given up on my first real relationship. It was my fault. I was young and in a time of transition. I didn’t want to be in one but he was so important to me that I tried anyway. There were clashes in what we wanted from each other. There were clashes in what was important to us.

After months of uncertainty and ups and downs, I took the easy way out. I cut myself free because I couldn’t be tangled up with him anymore.

A month went by, one of the hardest months of my life. I cried every night for weeks. I drank and went out alone and kissed strangers in dark bars. I was so lost and confused, I wanted to be self-destructive, I wanted to punish myself for shutting off the light in my life. I only had myself to blame.

We were going to be camping together at Burning Man, and I made a decision. I knew that I had to try again. Because how could we throw away something so beautiful? Let it go to waste? We loved each other, wasn’t that enough? I hadn’t given it my all yet, and before we could part, I had to know that I’d tried my hardest. Read more »

November 20th, 2013  |  Filed under Tales From The Playa

The Birth Of My Playa Name

Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.

by Turn Signal

 

This happened to me early in the setup week, and was a nice reminder of how serendipitous encounters often leave a mark on you at the burn. They’re usually full of warmth and enjoyment, and really are part of the magic. In this case, it was the birth of my first (given) playa name.

This was my fifth burn, and I came for setup. I flew in from London the Sunday before the event started, and was in full swing getting our camp built the following day. On the third night the team and I hit the showers late evening. I was still pretty heavily jetlagged so ready for bed as soon as we were done. I was driving, and going very slowly, very carefully. There weren’t many other camps placed by this point so as we approached camp I lost the markings, and drove in the general direction I thought was home.

All of a sudden we see a lady run towards the car (it was pitch black by this point by the way).

“Oh dear” I thought, “I’ve just driven through someone’s camp”. Read more »