dBMblog

Burning Man's bacchanal: Big ticket sales, big costs

reuters1

The annual revelry in the desert brings in millions of dollars, despite its anti-capitalist vibe.
by Verne Kopytoff for Fortune

Money is frowned on at Burning Man, the annual desert bacchanal that runs through Monday in Nevada. Participants are instead supposed to adhere to the festival’s feel-good philosophy of giving gifts like glow bracelets, sparklers, and vodka shots.

The group that puts on Burning Man, meanwhile, rakes in millions of dollars from selling tickets and parking passes to more than 60,000 attendees. It’s a complex operation with a full-time staff and a huge budget that dwarfs many big businesses.

Burning Man has long been led by its co-founder, Larry Harvey, who helped build it up from an informal gathering on San Francisco’s Baker Beach in 1986 to an international happening. Ostensibly, it’s an art event and free-zone for “radical self-expression.” In reality, the event’s vibe has morphed into a mix of flower power, around-the-clock rave, and Silicon Valley wheeling and dealing.

Earlier this year, Burning Man’s owners fulfilled a promise to place the event—long operated by a private company—under the control of a non-profit organization. The switch was partly intended to mollify critics who accused the organizers of hypocrisy for espousing an anti-corporate ethos while operating Burning Man as a business.

In a blog post, the organizers said the change would allow the event to survive beyond the lifetime of its owners. “Our mission has always been to serve the community,” they wrote, “and a non-profit public benefit corporation is the most socially responsible option to ensure and protect the future of Burning Man.”

click for more…

Techies at Burning Man: Yay or Nay?

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A Line Is Drawn in the Desert
At Burning Man, the Tech Elite One-Up One Another

New York Times Aug 20, 2014

If you have never been to Burning Man, your perception is likely this: a white-hot desert filled with 50,000 stoned, half-naked hippies doing sun salutations while techno music thumps through the air.

A few years ago, this assumption would have been mostly correct. But now things are a little different. Over the last two years, Burning Man, which this year runs from Aug. 25 to Sept. 1, has been the annual getaway for anew crop of millionaire and billionaire technology moguls, many of whom are one-upping one another in a secret game of I-can-spend-more-money-than-you-can and, some say, ruining it for everyone else.

Some of the biggest names in technology have been making the pilgrimage to the desert for years, happily blending in unnoticed. These include Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the Google founders, and Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon. But now a new set of younger rich techies are heading east, including Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, employees from Twitter, Zynga and Uber, and a slew of khaki-wearing venture capitalists.

Read the rest at
http://nyti.ms/1tiEGoq

tech elites
Some of the technology elite who have attended Burning Man, include from left, Larry Page, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin


Tech Elites Aren’t Ruining Burning Man. They Get Their Hands Dirty, Too.
TechCrunch.com August 22, 2014

Don’t believe the hate. While it’s a juicy narrative that rich people spoil everything the common folk hold dear, there are plenty of tech bigwigs at Burning Man that work hard to contribute and embody the event’s ideals of inclusion. And the thing is, what they do has little impact on Burning Man as a whole. Whether they’re secluded in forts of cushy tour buses like The New York Times’ Nick Bilton rails, or they’re cooking food and giving it away to total strangers as I’ve seen in my six trips to the desert, you probably won’t notice. It’s a massive ad hoc city where your experience is what you make of it, so there’s no need to worry about how the upper crust burns.

Are more super-wealthy people coming to Burning Man? Sure. Because more people are coming to Burning Man. It’s grown from a few dozen people in 1986 to 30,000 in 2004 to 70,000 last year, so it’s naturally going to include more financial outliers.

Yet pouring money into Burning Man won’t even get you that far, since most everything outside your camp is free. And moneyed burners aren’t all from tech. One widely criticized luxury camp that housed venture capitalists and likely inspired Bilton’s piece was actually started by a C-level executive of a giant hotel chain. Some of those VCs have ditched that camp because it felt at odds with the spirit of self-reliance.

Arguably a bigger threat to Burning Man’s culture are techie spectators. They come with little forethought, buy what they need to fit in, glom onto a friend’s camp, but then don’t actively contribute much. While it can be tough to know how to add to others’ experience the first year, everyone should try — no exceptions. Those that only take and don’t give dilute the atmosphere.

Luckily, one of the great things about Burning Man being a decentralized event set across seven square miles is that there are near-infinite ways to experience it. A temporary city the size of downtown San Francisco is tough for a couple of people to wreck for everyone else.

As Caleb Garling wrote for SFGate last year, “if you try to cherry pick a few of them to build a story, you’re left with a basket of disingenuous anecdotes.”

http://tcrn.ch/1tw8Tzk

Burning Man isn't what you think...

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Burning Man Isn't What You Think, and Never Has Been

It is, and always has been, ruled by all kinds of techno-smart futuristic punks rather than nostalgic hippies or dippy ravers.

Consider: this is a week-long art party in a handmade city in an environment that is doing its level best to kill you. Either the sun is baking dry ground that is blinding white, leeching water from your body, or the wind is blasting mile-high storms of dust across this enormous barren plain at ninety miles an hour, or a starry desert night is damn-near freezing you to death.

Occasionally the climate likes to remind you you're actually partying on an ancient lake bed — the playa — and rains for days until the solid dusty ground turns to thick soupy mud that adds inches to your shoes in seconds.

Who thrives in that environment? People who are a little bit crazy, quite a bit determined, and a whole lot of wiry and smart. People with an Iggy Pop-style lust for life. Here are punks of all stripes: cyberpunks, steampunks, biker punks, punk punks. People who do what it says on the ticket — voluntarily assume the risk of death. People who are brought roaringly to life in this killer of a desert, and fight fiercely to build an all-inclusive volunteer-driven civilization that lasts for as long as a mayfly.

Read the rest at http://on.mash.to/1p7b6w0

Best Burning Man 2013 Reads + Photos

Essays

"Burning Man 2013"
http://www.paulduane.net/2013/09/burning-man-2013/

"How I Got F*cked by Burning Man, and Other Sacred Ceremonies"
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leah-lamb/how-i-got-fcked-by-burnin_b_3904071.html

"Radical Inclusion vs. Radical Self-Reliance at Burning Man"
https://medium.com/i-m-h-o/b6ab7a2a8321

"An Emotional Survival Guide to Burning Man: Be open. Be intimate. Be human."
http://www.fest300.com/magazine/an-emotional-survival-guide-to-burning-man

"Sixteen signs you’re still in Playa mode after Burning Man"
http://www.mybeatfix.com/2013/09/sixteen-signs-youre-still-in-playa-mode-after-burning-man/

Photo Essays

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(above) "10 things i learnt at burning man. {2013: the sexy, crazy, transcendental… and everything in between}"
http://www.katyanovablog.com/10-things-i-learnt-burning-man-2013/

"24 Hours at Burning Man"
http://www.buzzfeed.com/kevintang/24-hours-at-burning-man

"It was the biggest Burning Man ever, and this is what I saw there"
http://io9.com/this-is-the-problem-with-burning-man-20-years-ago-it-w-1278908305


Photo Galleries

radcliffe-ChurchonFiresong

^ Trey Radcliffe
http://stuckincustoms.smugmug.com/Burning-Man-Page


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scottlondon-BM2013_061

^ Scott London
http://www.scottlondon.com/photo/burningman2013/thumbnails.html


holden2013-theman

holden2013-balloons

^ Michael Holden
http://michaelholden.com/burning-man-2013-photo-gallery


neilgirling-truthisbeauty2013

^ Neil Girling / The Blight
http://www.flickr.com/photos/carnivillain/sets/72157635281483254


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^ Rolling Stone Magazine
http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/pictures/burning-man-2013-the-people-20130905/burning-man-and-wife-0466375


An Oral History of Burning Man

Burning Man, the annual super-rave in Nevada, has become Independence Week for a worldwide tribe of inventors, artists, and desert freaks. Brad Wieners talks to founders and fans about how the party got started—and the death, mayhem, and power struggles that almost shut it down. Written by Brad Wieners for Outside Magazine, 2012.


"This creed of the desert seemed inexpressible in words. And indeed in thought." —T.E. Lawrence, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom
It took some convincing to get me to
Burning Man, even though—or because—friends couldn’t shut up about it. Their pictures were intriguing, sure, but the camp back then resembled nothing so much as the costumey parking lot of a Grateful Dead show.
Not a sell for me. And I like people fine, but when I go camping I generally hope to see fewer of them. Finally, worn down by heartfelt entreaties—and especially the assurances from my great friend John Law, a main mover in the festival’s start-up era—I drove overnight from San Francisco and made the Black Rock Desert shortly after dawn.
What I will never forget about that first trip to northwest Nevada was striking out onto the playa, the vast, vacant deceased lake bed. It was 1994—the ninth Burning Man, the fifth in the desert—a time before cell phones, and the map of the area I was headed to was blank. Directions? Look for the second traffic cone and a line of those small red-flag wire thingies. Leave the road. Drive eight miles, turn right for two more. Really, that was it.
Five minutes out, I found myself in an alkaline whiteout, partly of my own making because of the rooster tail of dirt I was kicking up. When I finally made camp it felt like an achievement, and I had adrenaline to burn. So, despite being sleep deprived, I wrapped a kaffiyeh around my head and took off on a walk.
Immediately, I started to get what I’d been missing: the almost gravitational communal spirit (needed for survival) and the permission, even insistence, to get your freak on. Everyone seemed busy: erecting tepees, hanging wind socks, painting their bodies. It was Montessori for grown-ups, in the most astonishing void.
Eighteen years later, tens of thousands have made the pilgrimage, some a bit too avidly, it’s fair to say. As the event grew, a pop-up metropolis formed—Black Rock City, whose population this year may top 60,000. The outfit that stages the festival, Black Rock City LLC, is now a $23 million-per-year concern with 40 full-time employees, hundreds of volunteers, and a non-profit arts foundation that doles out grants. Demand for tickets is so great, the organizers used a lottery system this spring. That turned out to be a mistake. Big-time artists and veteran volunteers were shut out, while scalpers ran the tickets ($250 face value) up to $1,000 on eBay.
For Burning Man’s principals, the ticket fiasco was merely the latest crisis they’ve had to overcome to keep the dance going. They’ve been faced with such challenges every year, it seems, and somehow they’ve always managed to meet the task—or to finagle someone who could.
In this light, Burning Man is partly the story of a half-dozen eccentrics—an unemployed landscaper (Larry Harvey), an art model (Crimson Rose), a struggling photographer (Will Roger Peterson), a dot-com PR gal (Marian Goodell), an aerobics instructor (Harley Dubois), and a signmaker (Michael Mikel)—who made good. Less charitably, it’s the tale of a group of slackers who grabbed hold of the one thing that brought them notice—and, eventually, a paycheck—and have ruthlessly ridden it for all it’s worth. The truth contains elements of both, of course, but one thing’s for sure: it’s never boring.
IN THE BEGINNING: 1986–1989 Before it drew thousands of determined pilgrims to the Nevada desert, Burning Man consisted of a small group of friends torching an effigy on San Francisco’s Baker Beach, just west of the Golden Gate Bridge. Was it a summer solstice party? Guerrilla art? Or, as legend had it, one man’s attempt to exorcise his heartbreak?
LARRY HARVEY
(co-creator and executive director of Burning Man): My friend Mary Grauberger had done a celebration down on Baker Beach for years. In 1986, she’d decided not to do it again, and I thought we’d recreate that, but in our own way. I really wasn’t an artist. I was hanging out with these famous latte carpenters, all of whom, in their spare time, were writing novels or painting pictures or playing music. I think Jerry [James] may have asked me to repeat my statement on the phone so he understood what I was telling him: “Let’s burn a man on the beach.”
JERRY JAMES
(co-creator): There wasn’t much more to it than that. Larry called me and asked, “Do you want to build a figure and go burn it for the solstice?” OK, sure.click for more…

5 Ways to Make Your Life More Like Burning Man



by Steve Bearman and Troy Dayton for Burner Love. Photo by Spenser Jones.

So you’ve been to the playa, and you’ve seen the promised land – the promise of freedom, of self-expression, of immediacy and creativity and community. The playa fed you, and it changed you. It provided you opportunities for growth, you took advantage of those opportunities, and you came out the other side more the person you’re here to be in the world.

But then Burning Man ended, as it must. It was burned down, dismantled, packed up into dusty vehicles and carted away. Now, you find yourself without the the steady flow of magic that helped you become more yourself. You’re “home” (in the traditional meaning of the word), and you’re probably wondering whether you can still be the person you liberated yourself to become at Burning Man.

You can be. All you need to do is to make use of these 5 principles:

1. There is no default world
2. Expect more from strangers
3. Form your camp
4. Be part of the generosity economy
5. Embrace impermanence (at least for now)



1. There is no default world

Burners have come to use an unfortunate term when referring to life after Burning Man. They call it the “default world”, as if magic only happens in the desert during one week of the year. This is particularly unfortunate because there is one great secret to bringing everything you love about Burning Man into the rest of your life and to making the rest of the world more like Burning Man. What secret, you ask? As it turns out, there is no default world.

We’ll say it again, because this really matters.
There is no default world.

If it helps, you can think about it this way. Some art installations are just too big to bring to the playa. They need to be left out in the rest of the world. In fact, really the whole world is just one, big, world-sized, interactive art installation. It’s all just a series of temporary encampments in which humans have, through their ingenuity and creativity, figured out how to interface with the wilderness and live together in clusters. Just like the street clock and the open playa, the rest of the world is available to explore and interact with and play with while wearing one costume or another, playing one role or another. There is no default world.

When you start to recognize the true, interactive nature of what we’ll call “the extended playa” (that is, the world-sized, extra-playa art installation), you’ll find that so much more is possible.

2. Expect more from strangers

In a community like Burning Man, you can assume, even assert, the right to approach any random person and have an interesting interaction. There’s room to transcend the ordinary superficial greetings and interviews. You can introduce yourself effervescently, or oddly, or launch right into the middle of the conversation you wish you were having with someone. You can overtly express interest and curiosity. You can play. You can do all this because you expect, more often than not, that your enthusiasm and curiosity will be met with the same. You expect people to be interesting and to be excited by your invitation to play with them.

It’s no different on the extended playa. If you give people a chance to be their more expressed, more playful, more connective selves, more often than not, they’ll take you up on your offer. Everyone everywhere wants deeper connections, more meaningful interactions, less seriousness and more play. If you expect this of the people you meet, you’ll be right more often than not.

Hugs and affection are a particularly important domain in which to expect more from strangers. We all need love, and hugs are one of the best ways to deliver it. Take the risk to go in for a hug. You’ll be surprised how many people reciprocate. Of course some people will be hesitant. They may not even know that hugging is an option! Or they may just be plain scared of hugs. That means it’s your job not to be scary. You can pull this off by hugging people in a way that demands nothing of the huggee. Practice being sensitive to where the other person is at while still expressing your affection and admiration. If you get it right, you may notice them releasing and relaxing. Hugs bring us together. You are just the right person to initiate them.

Not only is there no default world, but there are no normal people. There are, however, many people who have gotten good at projecting the appearance of normality. At Burning Man, the endless parade of people flaunting their unusualness brings joy and excitement. The unusual is both delightful and challenging, enticing and intimidating. Out here on the extended playa, people love the unusual just as much as you love it at Burning Man, but there is such a constant press to conform to social norms, that we sacrifice our wonderful weirdness, our playful impulses, and our freaky freedom just so we can fit in. Without even realizing it, you have probably come to participate in this system of socialization, subtly and continuously discouraging people from coloring themselves outside the lines.

It takes some deliberate effort to reverse that tendency. Part of expecting more from strangers is noticing the weirdness in others and encouraging it to express itself. When you encounter someone who is already weirder than you, instead of looking away or otherwise indicating disapproval, remember the courage it takes to break with norms, and you’ll realize just how valuable that smile or that nod can be. Say “yes” to the strangeness of strangers.

Remember, nearly everyone you know was once a stranger. Expecting more of strangers increases the likelihood that the people you meet will become a part of that sometimes elusive network of connections we call community.

3. Form your camp
click for more…

Why Burning Man Didn't Suck This Year... and What We Can Learn From It



By Jay Michaelson for Huffington Post

There were many reasons veteran Burners like me -- this year was my 11th -- thought that Burning Man might suck this year.

There was a ticket fiasco, in which the event sold out and scalpers appeared online selling tickets at five times face value.

There was, we were told, an unprecedented number of newbies, threatening to overwhelm Black Rock City with well-meaning, but clueless, partying -- and, we were also told, accompanied by an increased police presence.

And then there was the bad weather: lots of dust, lots of wind, lots of reasons to stay away this year, which I and my partner almost did.

Yet Burning Man didn't suck. Although larger, it didn't seem that different from past years. It had all the magic, community, sacredness, emotional center and impossible-to-describe otherworldliness that we Burners struggle to convey to outsiders, many of whom still seem to believe this experimental city is just naked hippies getting high in the desert. (At this point, I'm inclined to let folks believe that if they want. Maybe letting go of that kind of assumption is a good prerequisite for participating.) And while the reasons for this non-sucking may largely be mysterious, I think that all of us -- especially those of us involved in building countercultures and cultural enclaves -- can learn a lot from how Burning Man managed to stay vital, and real, this year.

First, the Burning Man organization (BMORG or BORG, depending on how sympathetic you want to be) did much more than in past years to educate newbies about the values of Black Rock City. I've never seen Burning Man's "10 Principles" -- including radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, and so on - so prominently displayed as this year, including in the run-up to it. (One theme camp poked fun at all this preaching by depicting the 10 principles as the 10 commandments, stone tablets, thee's and thou's, and all.)

This was a crucially good decision. True, it was a departure from Burning Man's more anarchic, choose-your-own-adventure beginnings. It had a whiff of indoctrination. But compromising on some of that original ethos in favor of maintaining community norms was exactly the right move. The first-timers I met, and they were indeed plentiful, were a little naïve, a little clueless, but also generally enthusiastic, willing and prepared. They were kind of cute, really: like boy and girl scouts in EL-wire, happily replicating the memes of Black Rock City.
click for more…

Burning Man ticket fiasco creates an uncertain future

http://www.sfbg.com/print/pixel_vision/2012/02/02/burning-man-ticket-fiasco-creates-uncertain-future

Is it the end of Burning Man as we know it? That's certainly the way things are looking to thousands of longtime burners who didn't get tickets when the results of a controversial new ticket lottery system were announced on Tuesday evening, particularly as big picture information emerged in online discussions yesterday.

Personally, I was awarded the maximum two tickets I requested at the $320 level (my sister already claimed the other, so don't even ask), but I'm feeling a little survivor's guilt as I hear from the vast majority of my burner friends who didn't get tickets. And if it wasn't already clear that scalpers have effectively gamed the new system, that became apparent yesterday when batches of up to eight tickets were listed for as much as $1,500 each on eBay and other online outlets.

As I've attended Burning Man since 2001 and covered it for the Guardian and my book,
The Tribes of Burning Man, I've become involved with many camps and collectives over the years. So over the last couple days, I've been privy to lots of online discussions and surveys, and it appears that only about a third of burners who registered for tickets actually received them (organizers have refused to say how many people registered for the 40,000 tickets sold this week, so it's tough to assess whether scalpers were more effective than burners at buying them).

The huge number of burners without tickets is a big problem for theme camps and art collectives that rely heavily on their members to pay dues and work long hours to prepare often elaborate camps, art cars, or installations, some of which are now in doubt. Many people are so frustrated that they've pledged not to attend this year, and even those of us that did get tickets are questioning whether we want to go if some of our favorite people aren't – particularly if they're replaced by rich newbies willing to spend a grand on a ticket.
click for more…

Media coverage of the 2011 Burn



Most corporate media outlets attempting to write about BM fail miserably. Slate has done all right this week in their 5-part series by Seth Stevenson: http://slate.me/rlIsdY. "The plan was for us to meet up with a large camp of people who'd be providing us shelter and food for the week. But as we pulled into the encampment...we couldn't find our group. And the sun was setting. We gave up, parked the car, and began to wander around. And this is when my brain melted a little...."

‎Part 2 of Slate's report on BM:
http://slate.me/r52fK2: “I’ve never personally had the urge to just hang out with my wang out, and that hadn't changed since I'd gotten to Burning Man. But late one night I biked deep into the desert, turned off my headlamp, and removed some clothes...let it be said: Reader, I shirtcocked. And I sort of liked it."

‎Part 4 in the Slate series on BM: http://slate.me/n9Arn9: “On Saturday night, the man burns. This moment means different things to different people. The transit of the human spirit. The exultation of pagan ritual. The simple, ancient joy of fire. The culmination of a 150-hour party. Whatever its meaning, it is spectacular—a colossal, billowing inferno, with explosions and face-searing heat blasts, and people cheering and dancing and stripping all their clothes off. At this point, stuff gets crazy."

Final installment in Slate series on BM: http://slate.me/n2be8K: “Whenever strangers at Burning Man briefly chat and then part ways, they bid each other farewell by brightly saying, "Enjoy your burn!" It occurred to me—as I thought about the desert dust that was the only thing here before this week started, and will be the only thing here when we've left—life is really just a burn writ large. We emerge from nothingness. We join together to create beautiful, temporary relationships, full of kindness and joy and love. And then we disappear again. Dust to dust."

‎”Silicon Valley has a long history with Burning Man that became most notable in the late 1990s when the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, began going. The first Google Doodle...was an “out of office” message they left on the homepage when they went to the festival in 1998. It showed the Google name with a drawing of a stick figure “burning man...Legend has it that Eric Schmidt won the job as CEO after showing up at Page and Brin’s camp at Burning Man."
http://on.ft.com/quIvkm

"As the anti-establishment arts festival and survival project disappears piece by piece from the white sands of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, participants and organizers say Burning Man -- which just had its largest week in its 25-year history -- is going through some growing pains as plans to expand its size and scope moving forward over the next year." http://reut.rs/pX8iB2

"A circular temporary city plan built around the spectacle of art, music and dance: I wish all cities had such a spirit of utopia by being built around human interaction, community and participation.” : RIP, Rod Garrett, designer of our beloved Black Rock City: http://nyti.ms/n8cxWP.

Burning Man in the Age of Rick Perry: Revelation, Pluralism, and Moral Imperative



We cannot know his legendary head  with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso  is still suffused with brilliance from inside,  like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low, gleams in all its power… You must change your life. —Excerpt from Rilke, “Archaic Torso of Apollo” 

At this moment, over 50,000 people from around the world are gathered, again, in a temporary city in Nevada’s Black Rock desert. By now, I suspect most RD readers have heard of Burning Man, though the nature of this temporary city—please don’t call it a festival—remains elusive. Some call it a Temporary Autonomous Zone devoted to radical self-expression and radical self-reliance. Others call it a utopian experiment in commerce-free living. Others, well, others call it a festival.

Like any pilgrimage site, Burning Man is less a destination than a pretext for the journey. These days, of course, flying into Reno isn’t so hard—but actually opening up to whatever Black Rock City has to offer… that journey can be arduous. If you go looking for a festival with sex and drugs and dance music, that is all you will find. But if you pause to wonder why there’s a temple in the middle of it, why people come back year after year even if they don’t do drugs, or, for that matter, how it is that the art, community, and culture of Black Rock City is constructed without a Them putting on entertainments for Us, much more can be received.

Generally speaking, those who intend to be open in this way come away changed by the experience. I’ve been to dozens of “festivals,” and some of them have been very cool. But they didn’t inspire me to change my life. Burning Man did, when I first went to it in 2001. What it presents are ways of being that most of us never imagine. It’s possible to be like this, it says, to live so richly and creatively and expressively and sensuously, to be this in love with life. And once one has really seen that such a life is possible, one cannot go back to how one was.

click for more…

Painting on the Playa

Painting on Location with Roger Bansemer - Burning Man from Roger Bansemer on Vimeo.

BBC in BRC

While dBM has produced and then offered up for viewing many videos over the past several years, it is always great for us to see somebody else's take on trying to interpret Burning Man through video. We were especially tickled by this heartfelt report from BBC Radio 1 and Booby Friction. From Burning Man 2009 Evolution :









Have to admit that any hesitations I've been holding towards going to BRC this year were pretty much erased as soon as I saw the scrub brush desert road leading up to the city and remembered the feeling one get when one's tires hit the playa and you pass through the portal...

Ritual, twisting logic, release, transformation, giving, synchronicity : A report from Burning Man

The Man: Humanity in Transformation
Story and photo by Eric Francis Coppolino
From
www.chronogram.com



Editor's note: We read a lot of online media stories about Burning Man, most of them following the same sensational, overused storylines, most of them failing to capture the true soul of the gathering. This one from Chronogram magazine is a wonderful exception, and manages to hit on several themes we can relate to. It ruminate on the collective powers that get raised on the playa and positions the gathering in relation to mainstream society in an authentic and insightful way. The author knows what he's talking about, though we may not follow all of the astrological references, and we're thankful to read somebody else's thoughtful interpretation of Burning Man. (We bold-faced ideas that are especially meaningful to us.)

I spent a week in early September at something called Burning Man, a kind of festival in the Nevada desert held each Labor Day. The event takes its name from the burning of a giant neon and wooden effigy of a man, which is burned on Saturday night as 40,000 people gather around and watch. The photo above is the Man, which has become something of a cultural icon, now more than 20 years in circulation. Burning Man traces its history back to 1986, when the founder, Larry Harvey, burned an effigy of a man on San Francisco’s Baker Beach. The event was moved to the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada several years later and is now the annual meeting place of a far-reaching, extremely energetic subculture.

Astrology is about symbolism, and in this article I’d like to look at a few of the messages of the fire ceremony that’s at the center of this elaborate, creative project called Burning Man. I think for most people who participate, the theme is so intuitive, they don’t really think about it much. You get the message in the creative fire that surrounds the symbol; it comes across as real world. Given the freedom and the safe space to do so, women strip to the waist and walk around in public. Many guys wear skirts and tutus. Everything is connected to a concept, an idea, a game of twisting logic around into something sensible in a different way.

In effect, Burning Man grants many people permission to be who they are, and, in the absence of concrete knowledge, to test out some ideas of who they might be; and not have to worry too much about the legacy of who they were yesterday...

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"The Life Lessons of Burning Man"

A columnist at the San Francisco Gate recently published a meditation on Burning Man that doesn't suck. It begins: "As I've been lured back to the sweltering, dusty sexed-up madness that is Burning Man again this year -- my sixth time -- by a gaggle of delicious friends, I am hereby reminded of a few hundred truths, half-truths, outright lies and astonishing epiphanies offered up by the world-famous, Christian-feared, beautifully debauched, sensory overloaded, impossible-to-describe art-survivalist-camping-rave megaspectacle now underway in the remote Nevada desert. If you've ever wondered at the appeal, the urge, the drive to attend such a thing, if you've heard wisps of the mythology and the mystery and the epic weirdness or even seen a few pictures and wondered, you know, WTF, maybe these tidbits can help..."

Read the entire article, alongside many other first-hand reports and interpretations, on the
"What is Burning Man?" page in our "About" section. Alright then.

"5 Things Cities Can Learn from Burning Man" by Time.com

Hot Links for BRC '09


Photo by John Curley; Center Camp 2009.

Required reading: The 2009 Survival Guide. The Evolution theme. First-time's Guide. FAQ. The Ten Principles. 2009 Honorarium Art Installations. An audio art tour of the playa.

Building Black Rock City, including Center Camp and Temple construction and the landing of the Raygun Gothic Rocketship. An awesome interactive map to this year's theme camps.

The Arctic Monkey's
Completely Unofficial Burning Man Guide & Packing List. Matt's guide to photography at Burning Man. Stoke-enhancing playa videos. Downloadable soundtracks for playa explorations. Da'Bomb's Best of Burncast reports and BurncastTV episodes on Vimeo, including an emotional tribute to Burners Who Have Passed On. The "Go Bag."

Rideshare. Driving directions. Black Rock City weather forecast. 24-7 Live Gerlach webcam. And BMIR 94.5 FM should start broadcasting any day now.

Fuckin'
3G cell phone service on the playa?

Bassnectar's
on-playa WHOMP schedule. Disorient's new Art Car Wash (and the return of Dex!). Unverified Sound Camp DJ programmes at Root Society and Opulent Temple, Simpler Times (The Do-Lab + Cirque Bezerk=SICKNESS), Basscamp, Bootie, False Profit, Rock Bottom, Space Cowboys, Shift Camp and Disorient. PleasureSean's Playa Party Guide. Or, skip all the preceding links and take it straight to Rockstar Librarian's essential 4-page schedule of DJs and dance parties at Burning Man 2009.

The Onion is reporting that nobody made it to Burning Man this year.

Love and dust, moontroll --
see you in a few days!

PS. Apparently, some people take drugs at Burning Man. That what
some blogger claims anyway:

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Adam Lambert : Bringing the Burn to mainstream America



On Jun 10, 2009, at 9:38 AM, moontroll wrote:
Subject: "I realized that we all have our own power, and that whatever I wanted to do, I had to make happen."

I don't know this guy, never even seen "American Idol" once, but can appreciate his awakening at the Burn:
NY Daily News.

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On Jun 10, 2009, at 10:09 AM, Edub wrote:
Subject: Re: "I realized that we all have our own power, and that whatever I wanted to do, I had to make happen."

"Drug fueled"  Yeah, that's there, but we all know there is more to the Burn than that!  Through portal we come face to face with the Pure Power of Potential.  How we choose to harness it - on the playa and in the default world, is up to us.  In the immortal words of Master Yoda, "Choose, but choose wisely."

Onward toward the Burn.  May the Force (i.e. the Pure Power of Potential) be with us.

~ Master Doobsauce


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Are you ready to Evolve?



Thoughts on the
forthcoming Burn from www.examiner.com:

"For this year's theme, Burners are asked to contemplate three questions: What are we as human beings?  Where have we come from? And how may we adapt to meet an ever-changing world? There is perhaps no better moment in time to ask these. We stand at a unique epoch, amidst a world in turmoil that is transforming literally before our eyes. How will humans evolve to meet the challenges of a world besieged by war, overpopulation, economic depression, climate change, and over-consumption, yet one that has never been more consciously aware and interconnected? A world daunted by convergent crises, yet equipped with tools and ideas unimaginable to generations past? Will we find a collective pathway out of the morass, or will we end up our own worst enemies and seal our own fate?

For Burners and the vast culture they have spawned, the key to surfing the apocalypse (from the greek meaning "lifting of the veil" or "revelation") is creativity and community, and the endless ways that each are continuously reinvented...."

More
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Burning Bookshelf: Books about Burnign Man

Reviews by moontroll

In less three weeks, the Man will burn. Over 45,000 revelers, seekers, artists and freaks will gather around an effigy on a remote, desolate, dry lake bed in a forgotten corner of Nevada to drum, dance with fire and lose their minds to the magic of the moment. The energy of Burning Man 2008 is growing in strength daily, and Burners the world over can feel the pull to the playa.

In 2007, I went to Burning Man with a large group of Bellinghamsters organized under the Boogie Collective umbrella. We built a 40-foot tall Boogie Pyramid, threw all-night dance parties and lived communally beneath a billowing green parachute for ten days. While it has long been obvious that I wouldn't be returning to participate in The Event in the Desert this year, I have to admit that with the arrival of August, Black Rock City's invisible, inevitable gravitational forces are agitating my soul. I have other projects I am dedicated to this year, but that doesn't negate my natural affinity for ritual and release, intentional gatherings, inward reorientation and creative pranksterism.


I might seek for a vicarious Burn instead, browsing the many different books about Burning Man published in recent years.

Jessica Bruder's "Burning Book: A Visual History of Burning Man" (Simon Spotlight, 2007) is a dizzying piece of artwork, a shuffle-play of favorite Burning Man deliriums throughout the years, designed by the venerable collagist Martin Vensezky. It features photo contributions from hundreds of playa snapshooters and loads of playa ephemera, like reproductions of tickets and maps from past Burns, stickers and buttons from different theme camps and all the little trinkety stuff that are gifted out and circulated throughout Black Rock City.

The trajectory of the book is shaped to represent the journey to and through Black Rock City, and thus early chapters include drives through Gerlach and the first burns in San Francisco before introducing you to playa legends like Thunderdome, Dr. Megavolt, Contessa and the Belgian Waffle. There are chapters on music, vehicles and costumes/identity before the reader is brought face to face with the Man and his many inflammations. The end of the ride lands softly with a retrospective of David Best's temples and closes with a look at the city's dissolution in the chapter "Leave No Trace."

Dale Pendell's "Inspired Madness: The Gifts of Burning Man" (Frog Ltd., 2006) is a loose interpretation of the tribal, post-pagan gathering told through short, abstract episodic vignettes and sketches, which could be hell to read if Pendell wasn't such a interesting storyteller wading up to his eyeballs in the spirit and joy of each moment.

"This is Burning Man" by Brian Dogherty (Benbella, 2004) is much less abstract and subjective, and less fun too. It seeks to tell the story of what BM is, where it came from and why it is what it is from a journalist's perspective, though Dogherty claims no impartiality: he has been burning for over a decade. Warning: knowing *too* much about the people pulling the levers behind the curtain can spoil the fun and dull the mystery. Mostly, Dogherty does a fine job of translating the untranslatable and he has a deeper grasp than most on what draws so many diverse people to the desert gathering year after year.

What happens when a bunch of academics go to the Burn, drop acid and start taking notes? You end up with the book "Afterburn: Reflections on a Burning Man" (Univ. of New Mexico Press, 2005), offering essays like "Utopia, Social Sculpture and Burning Man" and "Fires of the Heart: Ritual, Pilgrimage and Transformation."

Finally, I love the exquisite collection of black & white photos presented in A. Leo Nash's "Burning Man: Art in the Desert" (Abrams, 2007.) Nash's is an unusual look at Burning Man – his colorless, arid photographs focus on the diversity of art that is brought to the party. His camera is trained on the sculptures, interactive installations, vehicles and structures that populate the empty playa on the outskirts of the city. Nash has a natural gift for composition and capturing detail, though it is unsettling to view these otherwordly, fantastical dreamworks frozen in time and outside of their original dusty context. Rich and mysterious.

If you are a Burner left behind this year, you might consider buying or borrowing something from this reading list to keep your soul in alignment in the dim days of the Default World.

Bassnectar in Bellingham, Nov. 17

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"Burning Book"

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Burning Cartography



Here's an amazing hand-drawn map of Black Rock City 2005 by Lisa Hoffman.



and here's a map of Black Rock City 2006: Hope and Fear done in "Acid Deco" style.



I found both via the website
info gargoyle. The guy who wrote the posts is very serious about his cartography -- it is the gift that he brings to the community: "This year, I'm seeing more and more people come together with their interest in cartography than ever before. The sponsored mapping group, PlayaInfo is also expanding their geographic reach by supporting a GPSDrive friendsd server so that participants with art cars can broadcast their location to the main map. Seems like a perfect fit for cyborgs and technomads alike!"

He's got an interesting slideshow too
right over here.