Posts in review

April 21st, 2011  |  Filed under Afield in the World

Book Review: The Man Burns Tonight

[Matt is a professional writer and editor, former journalist, and a proud member of the Death Guild (see: Thunderdome) since 2000. We've invited him to write a series of book reviews for the Burning Blog ... this is his first installment. Please note that Matt's opinions don't necessarily reflect those of the Burning Man Organization.]

It’s not easy to write about Burning Man.

By its very nature Burning Man is difficult to describe accurately. Most news articles end up labeling the Burn as some sort of “dance party with art in the desert,” with the possible descriptive word like “rave” or “hippy” thrown in for effect. But as any Burner knows, that’s nowhere near close to what really encompasses a proper description of all that Burning Man is.

The same problem applies to fictional stories set at Burning Man… it’s all well and good to try and set a story at the Burn, but usually they come off a bit like trying to describe a dream you had the night before. No matter how you try and explain it, it won’t come across quite right. The unattainable nature of what makes Burning Man… well, Burning Man, just doesn’t live very well on the page. It’s extremely difficult to accurately get across all the little details of the dust, and the heat, and the body paint and the technobeats long into the morning and everything else that’s a large part of why Burning Man continues year to year.

It was this literary challenge that I had foremost in my mind when I read “The Man Burns Tonight,” by Donn Cortez. Touted as “A Novel of Murder, Madness… and the Burning Man Festival” it follows a Virgin Burner’s arrival at the Gate, and a subsequent murder he’s witness to. That main character, Dexter Edden, escapes the killer by rushing out onto the Playa. He soon fears he’ll be held complicit in the crime, and is therefore forced to interact with a strange cast of Burner characters around him as he tries to prove his innocence, by catching the killer of course.

Dexter Edden is almost the stereotypical newbie Burner in that he’s a nerdish programmer who doesn’t want to be there so much you can almost see the pastiness of his skin. Forced to attend by his overbearing boss who insists he needs to experience something different, Edden’s first such interaction getting spanked by Greeters in drag and running screaming back into his RV, refusing to come out again. Having decided that he’ll begrudgingly spend the rest of the week hiding in the RV with his boss, it’s only witnessing the murder that forces him out to interact with others on the Playa. Which is, of course, where the story begins. Read more »

August 6th, 2009  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

Moze’s Top Ten ART PROJECTS And Then Some

It has been said that the culmination of evolution is procreation.

I say it is the process of working your ass off for months in your grimy, stinking sweltering warehouse, breathing the pulverized metal of so many grinders or the pine diaper stink of wet sawdust and every day burning, bashing, smashing, or otherwise breaking your body upon the wheel with a precarious group of batshit crazy artist friends to build something you know will be the GREATEST ART PROJECT EVER to hit the playa.

I say it is spending the last of your paltry paychecks or foraging dumpsters or crawling all over junk yards for supplies and that MISSING LINK to bring your ART TO LIFE and it is the toil and exhaustion of back breaking work, as you are covered with grime, stressed out and sweaty, wondering if you’re going to finish the thing in time, then, when it looks like you won’t pull it off, actually “finishing” and then loading up and driving out to the godforsaken desert to work another week in the dust and the heat that would kill any sane HOMINID.

It really is about SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST and the playa will devour you alive if you lose your focus, but if you’re lucky to finish building your masterpiece sometime around when the floodgates open and Black Rock City fills up with the ART CURIOUS who are searching for YOUR ART TO BLOW THEIR MINDS, you will be able to sit back and watch with wonder what you have wrought and realize…

IT WAS ALL WORTH IT.. . and what’ll we do next year…

Those of you who DARE to IGNORE THE OBVIOUS RIDICULOUSNESS of even trying to make ART in BLACK ROCK CITY are truly EVOLVED.

This year we jump aboard the merry ship HMS LARRY HARVEY to sail to Lake Lahontan where OUR FEARLESS LEADER has decreed that in 2009 our dry lake bed will become the GALAPAGOS of ART, and this year’s EVOLUTION THEME just tickles my PHENOTYPE so much I’m hoping to catch some HOT ALLELE on ALLELE action as we all swim to the bone dry end of the GENE POOL.

Now, I am just a lowly blogger, and not a member of the mighty ORG, so getting your LINKAGE all DISEQUILLIBRIUMED over perceived COMPETITIVE EXCLUSION is futile. I don’t know much about ART, but I know what catches my eye, and let me tell you, we have 160+ projects this year, many of them DANGEROUS, but if CONTROL OF FIRE is a turning point in HUMAN EVOLUTION, I’d say we’re pretty evolved in Black Rock City, if you catch my GENETIC DRIFT.

So, if you can put down your faux fur leg warmers, fairy wings, EL wire, body glitter and ThemeCamp planning maps for a few minutes, I give to you …


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