Working in the DPW auto shop is tough, the crew is on call 24-7 right up to the end of the event and through clean up. It can get more than a little hectic. We’re trying to keep all the DPW vehicles up and running and assist all the participants off the playa. I was having one of those days and running on fumes myself when I got a call to go out and assist yet another vehicle to get it started and off playa. I rolled up on this janky old RV in Kidsville sputtering and cranky from lack of sleep and was all ready to make everyone’s day even more miserable than it already was. When I rolled up and got out of the truck one of the kids came right up to me, gave me a great big hug and said “Thank You for helping us out.” and I hadn’t even pulled a tool out yet.
Well… All that cranky nastiness just seemed to melt away when that young man hugged me and thanked me, it made my day. I was able to get them on their way and the rest of my day was just that much better for having heard two simple words… Thank You
It started with an evening of work. It was early in the week and I had a beginning shift of watching a gigantic sphere spit fire with a best friend of a month. The benefit of this was that we had almost all night to explore the newly created city. Just a little virgin biscuit and a veteran heading out to see the center of our dusty universe: the man and the temple.
Compared to the other nights of burning man tonight was relatively free of distractions and we made short time to the base of the man. It was here that I lost my mind. We climbed the narrow and winding stairs. It was dizzying even without intoxicants. Luckily I gazed into the zoetrope closest to our bikes, otherwise I may have become entirely lost. (more…)
It was Wednesday night of my first burn, and I was dancing amongst the treetops of a mobile tropical island. I can’t remember what time of the the night it was, nor did I care, having let go of any inclination to know the exact hour and minute the night before. There are only two tangible times on the playa – sunset and sunrise. Whatever happens between those events seems to blur from one to the next, yet the sun’s daily arrival and departure were already becoming ritualistic times to take a deep breath and smile.
So there I was, some time between sundown and sunup, deep into Wednesday night yet still rocking a Tuesday tutu having not slept a wink the night before. We were far out in deep playa – total darkness in three directions. To the west, a city skyline unlike anything else in this solar system (more…)
A little over three-weeks ago I set out from Toronto, Canada in the Hippie Van with my friends Yana and Germaine as well as my Mother.
Over the past three weeks I have probably heard the exclamation, “You’re bringing your mother to Burning Man!?” at least a couple dozen times. Some inquirers were amazed my mother would want to come to Burning Man and others were amazed that I would want to bring her along. (more…)
Every year on the Playa I experience moments of random synchronicity, when something that can’t possibly happen, does. Usually it’s something minor like we’re passing a theme camp and they’re playing a song that I haven’t heard in ages, then later that evening we’re out on the open Playa and a mutant vehicle passes by playing the very same song. Or maybe we’re hot and thirsty riding around the backstreets and we just happen to find a camp where they’re making snow cones. Whatever it is, it’s usually the kind of thing that has me say to my companions with a knowing smile “Playadipity”, or even “The Playa Provides!” And strangely, it usually does. It’s also been my experience that the more I’m open to it and the more I trust it, the more it seems to happen. (more…)
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.
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. (more…)
“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.