Posts by Summer Burkes

February 6th, 2010  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Culture (Art & Music)

Mardi Gras (And Another Pre-Event Costume Frenzy)

Mardi Gras in New Orleans, like the Burning Dude, is impossible to explain during just one cafe conversation. Like the Burning Dude, too, a newcomer needs to remember EASY DOES IT: enjoy the first year, don’t be too ambitious, focus in on one or two aspects, and branch out from there. Mardi Gras is a lot to swallow, and us, we’ve only just begun to chew.

For a good history of Mardi Gras: read here. Zulu parade: Here. And Mardi Gras Indians: Here and here.

(Mardi Gras Indians = feather envy)

Someone asked yesterday what we going to wear for our first Mardi Gras as New Orleans residents. “Do we NEED a costume?” Yes!, they said. Ohhhhh crap. Another lesson learned quickly: This is the high holy holiday in New Orleans, and even if thou art just walking down the street, thou shalt style thyself accordingly.

We are not the kind of people to show up un-costumed to a costumed event. In fact, quite the opposite. A friend offered to loan us her costumes from last year … but that just didn’t … feel … right. For our kind, costumes must be hand-crafted, filled with the spirit, and wearable post-event — not store-bought, forgotten about, and donated to the community center along with the bridesmaid’s dress and the fondue set. Our threads won’t be anything fancy — but they’ll be ours. Even at this late date, we’ll get it done.

Preparation for the fete is the spell we cast; costume, the pre-battle warpaint. As we make black-and-gold streamers for the Saints Superbowl game-day party at the Village, we wish on the Saints to win. As we cobble together the effluvia found during our Year One in NOLA, in hopes of crafting a costume that doesn’t suck … our fabric, our spirit, our memories, our treasures ground-scored and laid aside for occasions just such as this, and for that one other burning dude in August … we reflect and ponder and plan for the future. Certainly, many folks in New Orleans — especially the Mardi Gras Indians — are doing the same.

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January 15th, 2010  |  Filed under Events/Happenings, Participate!

Evolver Spores: Give It Up — Thurs Jan 21st, New Orleans

Evolver.net and Burners without Borders present:

Evolver Spores: Give It Up

Thurs Jan 21st
Swan River Yoga Downtown
2130 Chartres St, in the Marigny
8:30-10:00

Debt-based currencies controlled by closed syndicates of private banks are not the only way that humans can make an economy. Many tribal cultures have organized themselves around an entirely different way of exchanging value: The gift. Where our financial system expertly moves resources from the many to the few, gift-based cultures like to share what they have – as writer Lewis Hyde noted, “The gift moves toward the empty place.” At a time when billions are enslaved by passionless work while inequity reaches new historic heights, we are seeing a postmodern revival of sharing and gifting, with examples ranging from the open source movement to the annual Burning Man festival.

In this Spore, we explore the abstract theory and practical dynamics of gifting, the challenges of implementing this innovative, yet archaic, way of getting what you want and wanting what you get. We invite fellow Evolvers to bring their precious gifts – whether it be witticisms or wood-carved totems to the Spore and spread them around. Local Spores can screen “Burn on the Bayou,” a mini-documentary chronicling Burners without Borders gifting efforts during seven months of relief work in the Katrina-battered Gulf Coast towns of Biloxi and Pearlington, MS. Since that time, BWB has grown into an international, grassroots organization whose projects are based on the principle of gifting.

We will have Summer Burkes as a presenter. She is a longtime worker for the Burning Man festival outside Reno, Nevada, moved to New Orleans on April Fool’s Day of last year. Anyone who toils in the hot sun for three months at a time — staying in a van / tent / trailer in a landscape so harsh it harbors no living things — to help build and strike a temporary city of 60,000 people … learns a peculiar skill set, to say the least. Inspired by her crowd’s “Do Stuff” philosophy, and interested in seeing how the things she learned at That Place In The Desert could translate into the real world, Summer chose to migrate back home to the South to see what was up in the Lower Ninth Ward and how she could help. Currently, she has started working with Burners Without Borders and the Lower Ninth Ward Village to initiate a program called “Where’s Your Neighbor?”… and they need volunteers!

Be there or be L-7.

September 26th, 2009  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Environment, Participate!

all hands on deck pt.2: lowernine.org, New Orleans

Hi. I’m a DPW / Gate clowngineer who now lives with some other “derelicte” members of D.I.Y. society, building up a Katrina-bombed house in the Holy Cross neighborhood of New Orleans. The Holy Cross is the sliver-by-the-river area of the Lower 9th Ward which didn’t get crushed by a tsunami shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit landfall. All around our neighborhood, during the day, you can hear hammering and sawing and the shouts of construction workers complaining about heat and sun. It sounds like a Deadwood background reel, or Black Rock City being built.

Meanwhile, we’re living with no refrigerator for the moment. Also, zero grocery stores exist within biking distance — reasonable biking distance — so for the past we-don’t-know-how-many days in a row, when we’re not being fed at the fancy-pants restaurants at which we toil, we partake of the HOLY CROSS BREAKFAST: Fried chicken and a pickle.
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June 30th, 2009  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Environment, Participate!

LOWERNINE.ORG: yall come down now, y’hear?

ADOPT-A-DIRTBAG: Why not send a DPW / Gate / Burning Dude desert-rat hooligan (or yourself) to New Orleans to help rebuild with Lowernine.org?

Hurricane Katrina still haunts New Orleans, and she likely always will. She is an ogre. She is an abusive ex-lover out on parole. She is the backdrop, the turning point, the literal dark cloud hanging over everyone’s past, seeping out into the present, humidifying the future. Her human survivors remain buoyant — awash with both what-can-you-do resignation and silver-lining contentment.

Katrina gave America the biggest mother-nature bitch-slapping in its history … right upside this murderous and gorgeous city’s face. 80 percent of New Orleans flooded, and 1500 people died — half as many humans as the ones who perished on September 11th, 2001. Then, while the government callously sat back and watched in catatonia — like an 8-year-old pouring gasoline on an ant-hill — the good people of the United States mobilized to help.

When the storm hit, for a blessedly large number of out-of-towners, horrified empathy morphed into positive action.

Ricks the one in the grey T-shirt

Rick's the one in the dark grey T-shirt

In 2006, Rick Prose chaperoned a church trip from Maine down to post-Katrina New Orleans with his daughter’s youth group. Working mostly in the Gentilly area, Prose shot some video of a man scavenging gutting debris on the curb. The scavenger said something like: “You think it’s bad over here … Wanna come see my house in the Lower 9th Ward?”

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May 30th, 2009  |  Filed under Environment, Participate!

Do you know what it means?

Wed. May 27, 2009
New Orleans, LA
(the backbone of middle Amerika; the soggy bottom of Old Man River)

Hi. I’m Summer Burkes. I just moved from the crispy Bay Area to the sweet warm fog of New Orleans and as a DPW/Gate desert rat, I experience a swampy deja vu on the daily. Here are the top ten similarities between Burning Man and New Orleans I’ve noticed so far.

1. You can walk down the street with booze in your hand, all the time.

2. You encounter random parades, second-line marching bands thrumming with brass and drums to hoardes of ass-shakers, and sexy “pony” girls pulling a modified shopping cart chariot with a man dressed as a flamingo.

ya heard?

ya heard?

3. Sometimes it smells. And you love it.

4. Everybody parties, including the teetotalers, because they know that death is certain – but life is not.

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