I tend to get depressed around the holidays. Last year, I sent the following message to the Media Mecca email list, in the hope that if someone else was getting depressed around the holidays, it would help. It was well received.
So now I’m putting it here, to strike back at a season that demands we smile when our hearts might be breaking. I hope it’s helpful.
“Happy holidays,” you say? “Merry Christmas?” “Have a great New Year?”
You couldn’t be more wrong.
You couldn’t be more wrong if you used creationism as an excuse to deny global warming. You couldn’t be more wrong if you said the Bush tax cuts would help acai berries cure cancer. You couldn’t be more wrong if you said the War in Iraq is filled with hot single girls just waiting for your call.
Lies. All of them. Lies.
This month’s holidays are not festive, whatever the propaganda machine at the Mall of America tells you. Don’t listen to CBS! Do not believe the internet.
Believe your eyes. Believe your soul. This is the darkest time of the year.
Literally and figuratively, the darkest time of the year.
I am going to speak up, now, on behalf of those of for whom “holiday” is synonymous with “blues.” (more…)
I was saddened to read on the Tuna Guys Facebook Page:
long time burner, Captain Jim Peterson of Tuna Guys is lost at sea. On 12/12 his boat capsized. The 2 other deck hands were rescued and they will be OK. The search for Capt. Jim has been suspended by the Coast Guard. A memorial fund has been established to help his family. Those of you who wish to donate can do so here.
Few people embodied the Burning Man spirit to me like Captain Jim & The Tuna Guys. I met him my first year on the playa (1998) and have made a point to connect every year since. The only meat I’ve eaten since going vegetarian was tuna caught by Jim & his crew. I am grateful to have been so blessed by his gifts and spirit.
I recorded a tribute to Jim during my weekly podcast.
Recorded live during Hug Nation, Dec. 13, 2011. **NOTE: I AM NOT AN OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF BURNING MAN. I am merely a Participant with a passion for the event, people, and principles of Burning Man. Half-baked ideas & views expressed aren’t necessarily those of the Burning Man organization.” **
The playa was rough and even with my flashlight it was too dark to see the bumps in front of my wheels. Every jolt was a surprise, and instead of relaxing into the ride it made me stare at the ground even harder, as though I could pierce the darkness by concentrating.
That’s how I almost missed the flaming altar, and the cluster of people around it. I nearly biked right into them. They were whispering to each other and nearly missed me too: one of a million near collisions that happen at Burning Man every day, averted at the last minute as I veered off to the east and hit my breaks, coming to a bumpy stop.
I turned and shone my flashlight on their backs. There were maybe seven people huddled around an altar with a small flame, and behind them were three large towers. Maybe climbable. Either they’d appeared out of nowhere, or I had.
I love the deep playa. I love it when something appears there, like a dream. I was going deeper tonight. All the way in. But first … I wanted to see what I’d nearly knocked over, concentrating on the darkness so much I’d missed the light. (more…)
Really? At Burning Man, is this even possible? A group of artists building Otic Oasis seem to think so.
Our experimental city provides us many things, but a huge gap in the structure of our temporary home are places for silence. It is rather funny isn’t it. Our city sits in the Black Rock Desert, a 400 square mile expanse of quite literately nothingness and during the week of the festival you’d be hard pressed to find a space of silence.
Otic Oasis is not your usually variety of “death to sound camps” grumpy harrumphing “Burning Man was better back in the day” project. Instead the reason I’m compelled by this project is its understanding of the need for both sound and silence. The creators behind Otic are calling for balance, creating a project that supports and expands the diversity of our city. They see that both environments are needed; the frenetic energy of the art, fire, people and music; and the silent spaces for reflection, grounding and pause. (more…)
I’ve always liked the Burma Shave sign that reads something along the lines of, “It isn’t that Burning Man is getting smaller, it is that you are getting bigger”
My dear fellow blogger, Mr. C. Magister has proposed a question regarding this year’s theme I believe is fairly summarized as: Are we truly a movement that even can partake in ritual due to our penchant for chaos?. I would not claim to be an expert on such things, and yes, Burning Man may be nothing more than a huge party in the desert, however, with all deference to my colleague in psychic crime up here, I would like to take the liberty to suggest that I suspect there is more to this Burning Man thing we’ve created than meets the eye. I don’t believe that ritual implies orderliness, but rather I believe that the Rites of Passage is more a concept of a transition from one state of being to another.
You never forget your first burn whether you return again to the playa or not. It makes an impression. When Mr. LH quotes the works of Arnold van Gennep and Raoul Vaneigem in this year’s theme, is it possible that those two tomes read together suggest, as in Rites of Passage, the movement from one status, through separation, transition and reincorporation, into another state of being and as Mr Vaneigem elucidates, on the whys and results of such a revolution of being.
Being a relative late comer and having arrived in a very Nebulous year, the longer I attend the less of a late bloomer I become and the more I appreciate the wild wind up to leaving for Black Rock City. But I remember being a tender neophyte full of anticipation. A veritable pre-initiate.
I like to think we are all at first beckoned by the Siren’s call of one of our more eccentric friend’s insistent beseechings of “You GOTTA check it out”. At the moment you make that preliminal decision to depart and traipse to some god forsaken dry lake bed of unforeseen consequence, the ritual of initiation begins and the journey there has been aptly explored by one or two of us up here and elsewhere. Plan, make, buy, load, get the hell out of dodge, leave your town behind to journey to somewhere unknown. It is just a roadtrip to make the celestial border jump from freeway to two lane to where the pavement ends and it is there that things become interesting.
You are off the road and right onto the Anteroom off the pavement where you begin splashing around in nihilist dust, then you approach the GATE, where one could conceivably imagine a magic portico of emperors where ‘“guardians of the threshold take on monumental proportions”. “Winged dragons. A sphinx, other monsters” are sometimes parked off by Will Call. It is a place where you don’t fuck with the people who fuck with you and if you do, you fail the test, you can’t pay the Stygian toll dumbass. Is this a ritual? I have no idea.
After GATE has impressed you with the fact that if you thought you were at some Kind Brother hippie vibe love circle jerk where we all sit around singing Kumbaya you were mistaken, and if you mess up you really *could* die, you drive into the Narthex where you learn your first rule is slow the fuck down as you receive your meditation on those Burma Shave signs. Then you are to the Greeters where you used to be pulled from your car if you were a virgin and lost your pants to be ass smacked several times then to have your provisions pilfered. Now I believe they ring a bell before pilfering your provisions. Welcome Home.
Once inside the City you realize that at every threshold there is another invitation to initiation. (more…)
To The Burning Faithful –
Senior officials in the Earthalujah church have informed me that my god-reaching pompadour collapsed midway through this sermon. This is like the Nike swoosh turning into a swastika – a total brand collapse. But we stand by the heartfelt hysteria in this week’s lesson. We must inject joy back into our activism, and you who erupt in dance and song every year in the desert are the prime example. See you on the playa! -Rev.
I only discovered him recently. He wrote this book, you see, back in 1942. An autobiography. It’s called The World of Yesterday.
All of a sudden, people out of nowhere were recommending it to me. An old college professor. A friend’s wife. My mom. My freaking mom asks me on the phone “Have you ever read Stefan Zweig’s autobiography?”
So I call up a local independent bookstore.
“Green Arcade books,” says the man on the other end of the phone. “How can I help you?”
“Yes, hi. I’m wondering if you have Stefan Zweig’s autobiography, The World of Yesterday?”
He responds immediately. “You’re JOKING!”
I give this some thought. “No, I’m pretty sure I’m not.”
“Okay,” he says. “Yes. I have The World of Yesterday.”
“Great. How late are you open?”
He considers. “I don’t know.”
“Well, you’ve been a great help.”
“There’s a poetry reading tonight,” he explains. “I don’t know how long it’s going to go.”
The thing about Zweig is, he was once a world famous author. You’ve probably never heard of him … I’d never heard of him … but he was published in all the big literary journals for almost half a century. He was friends with Rilke and Rodin. He knew Freud. He knew Borgese. He knew Yeats and Pirandello and Gorky and Ravel and Joyce and Anatole France. He was kind of the pre-WWII Johnny Carson. He was a big deal, is what I’m saying. I kind of want to be him.
The thing is, he saw that whole world wiped away by the Nazis. Gone. Obliterated.
This had actually happened to him before. (Yes, yes, I know: I’ll get to Burning Man eventually. Stay with me.) (more…)
It might not be an overstatement to suggest that the single biggest challenge facing Burning Man as it transitions to a non-profit is explaining what-the-hell-it’s-good-for without making it sound like a therapy weekend or an erotic spa.
Why do we need to do this? Well, one reason is that the Media Team frequently gets emails asking things like:
“What bands are playing at Burning Man this year?”
“How many stages do you have?”
“How do I get my act in your lineup?”
Telling these people to look at our website and see what we really do only leads to return emails saying “I still can’t find the bands! Except, is one of them named Temple Burn? Are they playing at the Arctica stage? Is that the main stage?”
Actually, wow, “Temple Burn” is a pretty killer name for a band … I’m calling it. It’s mine. Get your own band. You can be: “Dust Storm.”
Actually, “Dust Storm” is a pretty good name too. I’ll need it when “Temple Burn” kicks me out for creative differences. Hands off.
Your band can be “Gift Economy.” It’s kind of a folk-rock thing, very 60s influenced, writes a lot of songs about peace. (more…)