Posts in american dream

September 14th, 2012  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Culture (Art & Music)

Opera de la Playa

[Jennifer Raiser is an avid long-time Burner, Burning Man Project board member, theme camp leader, and Black Rock Ranger. Her writing has appeared in the Huffington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Nob Hill Gazette and most often for her publication, SFWire.]

 “How was Burning Man?” they inquire as I ascend the shallow red-carpeted stairs leading up to the Opera House. It is five days after Exodus, and I am reluctantly back in San Francisco, Center Camp of the default domain. I am here to mark the festive highlight of another tribe, the ninetieth annual Opening Night at the Opera. To some, this happy occasion commands the same kind of importance that we associate with Burn night. Tonight’s task is to write about the grand gesture of opera and the people who are its patrons. I am charged with distilling and interpreting the evening into an article to be read by those who attend, and those who do not. The dual role as enthusiast and observer is familiar. On playa, I am a passionate participant, a Ranger, a theme camp leader, a volunteer and an author; here, I am a friendly alien who comes from that arid planet near Gerlach and happens to pen a social column.

Acquaintances here are polite and prodding about the desert. They indulgently inquire about Burning Man in the same way you might bring up a shared alma mater, or a mutual love of licorice, knowing it is a certain conversation starter. Some truly want to know, some want me to know that they know, or think they know, about my annual retreat to my happiest (and saddest, and most demanding) place on earth. I try to disarm their suspicion with the comparisons between tonight and the burning of the Man. In both places, I remind them, like-minded spirits gather to share a communal dinner, enthusiastic dancing, and well-stocked bars openly coursing with goodwill. We are corseted and costumed in ensembles carefully curated for the occasion.  We mark this artistic triumph with the biggest party of the year. Read more »

December 29th, 2010  |  Filed under Tales From The Playa

Ripe

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

The first drink I ever legally bought myself was a $7 airplane beer on the flight to Burning Man 2008. It was my first time. The theme was The American Dream, and as far as I could tell, this was it. Happy 21st birthday to me.

Diesel, my lover and associate, was in the seat beside me. She had more than something to do with getting me into this. We shared a blood brother, Harry; he and I played in a band together, and he was coming, too. There was also Val, AKA Human, another friend of theirs, whom I was just getting to know. But Vivid was the one who brought this all together. To the extent that going to Burning Man was any one person’s idea, it was his.

PHOTO: Jon Mitchell

Vivid hailed from Mendo, and he was in with the Phat Cat Lounge, a wild younger-brother camp to the Skinny Kitty Teahouse, which appeared to be a venerable outfit. He had the plan. Diesel and I would fly out to Oakland from Boston, where he, Val, and Harry would pick us up, and we’d strap our bags to the roof of his Subaru and take a midnight drive into the hills. The next day, we would buy supplies and try not to forget anything. Then, the day after, we’d go to Burning Man.

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November 22nd, 2010  |  Filed under Tales From The Playa

Epic Proportions

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

Photo: ADLERPRODUCTIONS.COM

Burning Man is the best adult playground ever devised, a vast testing ground for one’s resourcefulness, imagination, and sense of adventure, managing to amuse 50,000 or so tech-addled, sleep-deprived, uncomfortable Moderns for up to a week or longer, while keeping them active, eating less, constantly testing their limits, morals, and comfort zones, and providing them with a social arrangement of managed freedom within limits acceptable to the paying participant.

It’s even more fun than college.

This was my sentiment on Thursday night of Burning Man 2010, as I sat by myself on the benches outside the Temple, aiming my dying headlamp into my little, red, dust-coated notebook. It was Metropolis, the biggest burn ever. In fact, it was my second biggest burn ever. The American Dream, 2008′s Thompsonian seizure of that mythological, materialistic nirvana for our own twisted purposes, was my first time.

When they first burnt the man on Baker Beach, I was negative one year old.

I think it’s safe to say that Burning Man has changed a few times since then.

Photo: Mischa Steiner

I would submit 2007 as the year Burning Man bloomed into its present incarnation. Veteran Burners had become increasingly fed up with what one participant called the “alterna-Disney” transformation of the festival, and The Green Man saw this come to a head in a… let’s call it a counterproductive way. Read more about it, if you like. My first burn was the year after that. Read more »

June 27th, 2008  |  Filed under Building BRC

The Streets of Black Rock City

BRC Map 2008For richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, the romance of the road is a quintessential American dream. For Americans, cars have always represented independence, self-expression and the mythos of mobility. And yet, like any love affair, relationships with cars are fickle and results are mixed. The story of the American car industry, an oddly expressive combination of heavy manufacturing and show business, has always been a narrative of boom and bust. From the days of the iconic cowboy riding off into the sunset, to commuter gridlock and the rising price of gasoline, who a people are and how they get to where they’re going is a tale of destiny. This year’s street names, laid out in alphabetical order, showcase this history. It is a story about politics, economics and technology, as well as the vicissitudes of love.
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