August 30th, 2014  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

Burning Noir: The Happiest Secret Stays That Way

Black Rock City 2013 (by Mark Harmon)Augustus St. George is never easy to track down, but fortunately I know all his favorite bartenders.  Playing a lucky hunch, I was able to find him at the Jazz Cafe in Center Camp late the other night.  I found him saying terrible things about Miles Davis to the patrons and staff in an attempt to get kicked out.  He’d only tell me what happened to him after I agreed with him about Fusion Jazz.  This has made my friends at BMIR very upset with me, but I think it was worth it.

See other entries in the Burning Noir series here.

Everyone who knows anything about First Camp knows that it has two levels.

Two levels.  Sure.  And David Best doesn’t lace the temple with Illuminati Symbols.  Uh huh.  Of course not.

Two levels are for chumps.  The Rangers took me to the third level – an underground bunker beneath the playa built out of 100% recycled materials by a special “black ops” squadron of the DPW.  I don’t know what their call sign is, but I’ve seen them at work:  they can do things with rebar and plywood that prove there is no God.

The bunker goes down beneath the Black Rock Subway system and into what I’ve since learned that Burning Man calls its “War Room” – a collection of conference tables, computer monitors, and translucent naked statues representing the eternal feminine.  Together it looks like a cross between the Pentagon and an art history teacher’s sex dungeon.

Big Bear, who’s responsible for connections with law enforcement, and Board member Harley DuBois were there waiting for me. Read more »

August 30th, 2014  |  Filed under Building BRC

Touching the elephant

 

 

Here are some quick stories from the week, in hopes of giving you a little sense of what’s been happening at Burning Man.

When the event starts, it is impossible to keep up with. The Roshomon effect is especially strong, except we’re not touching various parts of an elephant, but a fire-breathing Tyranosaurus.

The day starts early and ends late, it is full of both giant spectacles and tender intimacy. All things great and small.

So from our narrow little perspective, a peephole view of the past few days.

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A sliver-y moon brightned the eveing skies on Friday

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Erica drank a margarita from the end of the Zebracorn

Chris and his Zebracorn

Chris and his Zebracorn

And then out of nowhere you meet a supermodel

And then out of nowhere you meet a supermodel

Scott London and Sydney Erthal, whose wonderful new Burning Man book, written by Jennifer Raiser, is tearing up the Amazon charts

Scott London and Sydney Erthal, whose wonderful new Burning Man book, written by Jennifer Raiser, is tearing up the Amazon charts

Little kids seem to adapt to the desert extremely well, especially when they have experienced and self-reliant Burner parents

Little kids seem to adapt to the desert extremely well, especially when they have experienced and self-reliant Burner parents

"Are those heavy?" we asked. "My shoulders are killing me," she replied

“Are those heavy?” we asked. “My shoulders are killing me,” she replied

The Lamplighters off to light the lanterns around the city

The Lamplighters off to light the lanterns around the city

Read more »

August 29th, 2014  |  Filed under Photos/Videos/Media

Burning Man 2014 Installations, Part One

If I had an intern, or a ghost writer, or even another fifteen minutes, this space would be occupied by poignant observations, a vague reference towards the weather, a witty quip about Burners and their general resilience to adversity, and finish with a snarky zinger. But…it’s sunset, the light is great, I’m going out to shoot, so let’s get down to it!

The Man

Big Man, little moon, Burning Man 2014

The Man at Sunrise with Dragon Smelter by Danny Macchiarini maki

The Man and the Temple of Grace at sunset, Burning Man 2014

The Man and Embrace as seen from the  top deck of the Cosmic Pra

 

Embrace, by the Pier Group

 

The Temple of Grace by David Best at Sunrise

Embrace by The Pier Group

Embrace by The Pier Group

Embrace by The Pier Group

Scale: HUGE

Scale: HUGE

Under Construction

Under Construction

 

The Temple of Grace, by David Best

Sunrise Panorama, Burning Man 2014

The Temple of Grace at Sunrise, Burning Man 2014

The Temple of Grace by David Best, side view

The Man and Embrace as seen from the  top deck of the Cosmic Pra

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And last but not least, El Pulpo Mechanico…

El Pulpo Mechanico

Stuff is exploding outside, gotta go. More  either late tonight, or early tomorrow.

August 29th, 2014  |  Filed under Building BRC, Participate!

Cop Whispering: A call to unity

Working DPW and Gate at Burning Man has given many of us on staff our first taste of what it feels like to be an Enforcer. Of any type. In order to build and run a city out of thin air, sometimes a bunch of anti-authoritarians have to figure out how to tell other anti-authoritarians what to do, in the way we’d like to be told ourselves.

We workers are enforcers of necessary rules like: Don’t bring your guns or dogs here, don’t run towards the burning thing, and what if you’ve tried to stow away a hippie and now they’re suffocating underneath your bad plans.

Yes, it can be fun to role-play alpha tribe-protector out here, all fancy with a radio. Yes, the Stanford Prison Experiment was real, and we’re sure the lead Black Rock Rangers have had to pull some “excited fake cop” people off their Burning Man Ranger routes and take their radios away. That’s human nature. Working through it is what happens next.

For us regular blue-collar workers in Black Rock City, sometimes in this heat we get to feeling harsh, whether from a long work day, a few bad apples’ stupidity, or their mis-assumption of our stupidity. Worse yet, sometimes, as Enforcers, we harsh someone who doesn’t deserve it, because someone else tried to run and hitchhike through fast-moving intake lanes just a minute ago.

So the workers of Black Rock City have a heightened sense of empathy for Burning Man’s law enforcement. In Black Rock City, we have DPW who builds and stewards the town, we have Rangers who walk around and interact with the community, we have Emergency Services which provides medical and fire protection to anyone and everyone who needs it, and we have Gate and Perimeter as our internal “border security.” Together, these Burning Man departments handle all the regular, run-of-the-mill problems a society might have, such as power outages, dehydration, or domestic disputes.

Then the big guns are also here — the BLM and local law enforcement — whenever we need them.

We have always been glad they’re here. We workers have dealt with some scary shit, and while we talk a big tough game, DPW doesn’t know what to do with a transient one-armed man who’s wandered in from the desert during setup 2003, bleeding from his crazy-eyed head, talking about having just murdered a friend and his dog. Uhhhh, that’s beyond our scope of knowledge and ability.

We call the cops. We need cops. End of story. Read more »

August 28th, 2014  |  Filed under Building BRC

A pause

The Temple of Grace

The Temple of Grace

We’re going to stay quiet for a little bit, out of respect for the family and friends of the woman who lost her life in Black Rock City. Keep them in your thoughts.

August 28th, 2014  |  Filed under News

Pershing County identifies victim of Thursday morning fatal accident at Burning Man

Alicia Louise Cipicchio, a 29-year-old resident of Jackson, Wyoming, suffered fatal injuries early Thursday morning after falling under a large vehicle at the annual Burning Man event in the Black Rock Desert in Northern Nevada.

Event officials, including representatives of Black Rock City, the Bureau of Land Management and Pershing County Sheriff’s Office express their condolences and sympathies to the family, friends and campmates of the victim. Support is being provided to those affected by the tragedy.

Organizers are working with investigators from Pershing County Sheriff’s Office to determine the series of events leading to the incident. Anyone with information that may assist in the investigations is asked to contact (775) 273-2641.

August 28th, 2014  |  Filed under News

Fatal Accident Occurs at Burning Man Event

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UPDATE
Pershing County Sheriff’s Office has made contact with the victim’s next of kin and will publicly release additional information soon.

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A woman died at Burning Man early Thursday morning after reportedly falling under a bus carrying participants, according to law enforcement officials. The woman has not been identified pending notification of her next of kin.

Burning Man organizers are working with law enforcement investigators from the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office and will provide more information as it becomes available. The Pershing County Sheriff will release information after the conclusion of family notification and investigation.

“This is a terrible accident,” said Burning Man co-founder Marian Goodell. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and campmates. Black Rock Rangers and Emergency Services Department staff are providing support to those affected.”

August 28th, 2014  |  Filed under Tales From The Playa

Anatomy of a prank gone wrong

Rockstar Librarian GuideBMIR is a major distribution site for the Rockstar Librarian Guide, which means they have people coming in and asking for it all the time.

Last year, the prevailing way to handle it was to shout “BOX!” over and over again at anyone who came in and asked for a guide.  “BOX!” we’d shout at them.  “BOX!” until they’d realize that the box they were standing right next to had a bunch in it.  Only then would we explain the rules about limiting them to one per camp to make sure they get the widest possible distribution.

That’s still happening this year, but there’s a lot of other approaches too.  BMIR Station Manager Mao’s favorite, when I’m around, is to tell them “Sorry, we just ran out.  We don’t have anymore.  But Caveat’s got it all in his head.  He’s basically the living Rockstar Librarian database.  So you can take him.”

They always give me a strange once over.  “What, you mean, like, ask him what shows we want to know about?”

“No,” says  Mao.  “Take him to your camp!  Go ahead.  It’s fine.  He’ll fill everybody at your camp in on whatever you need to know, and then you can send him back.  Keep him as long as you need.  He’ll be really good.”

This goes on for a while, but no one actually takes the bait, and eventually we tell them where the guidebooks are and give them the “one-per-camp” spiel.

But the other day, a young woman desperate to bring a Rockstar Librarian Guide back to her camp said.  “Um … okay.”

“Great,” I said, picking up my backpack.  “Where are we going?”

“Okay,” she said again, as though trying to convince herself.  “We’ll, um, take you back to camp.” Read more »