Black Rock City – Holes. Nothing but holes. For day after day. Adirondack cow pastures before company asset reassignment brought a Comfortless Inn on the Delaware and the misery that is New Jersey.
Shimmering 2,500 miles past the sunset, a city began taking shape in the dust. Six weeks maintaining ‘merican infrastructure in record heat and the pilgrimage home could begin.
The story of black rock mostly begins long before the journey. Selling out continued causing problems. Months of silence and a lottery announcement brought dire warnings from denizens, but the brave new world forged ahead. One entry per please, best of luck.
Everyone thought about it. Many maintained their sense of dignity, fair play and burner values. Others put themselves ahead of the community and it would be silly to think there wasn’t a segment of the population actively abusing a system that never had a chance.
“Aunt Gertrude won’t mind me using her credit card. She loves my kooky antics and knows I’m good for the money. I’m really moving up in the rodent breeding world,“
“Well what can it hurt if I enter twice? It won’t affect anyone, they’ll never know anyway.“
“Alright gang. Everybody get as many entries as you can. We need to make sure everyone in camp is taken care of. We’ll get any extras to friends and family after core personnel.“
Or a thousand other simple decisions that snowballed into 80,000 entries for 40,000 beautifully rendered beholden tickets. Pleas to reverse course drifted up from below decks, but the ship steadfastly sailed onward into uncharted waters. “There is no such thing as bad publicity” an industrious man once said.
Chatter and nervousness. Successfully creating many of the aspects that make black rock city what it has become takes months of planning. Many burners spend nine or ten months working, if they don’t get started immediately after getting unpacked. Uncertainty and the ever calm party line out of the bay until the storm broke.
Two trips home created a stronger attachment than one’d like to admit. But it was for the people who built that place, going and spreading the message for over a decade for which I truly felt aggrieved. Empathy is a virtue requiring precedence.
Entire camps found themselves holding a handful of tickets for dozens. Few reported great success and many wondered where the tickets really went. Had scalpers won anyhow? Did some groups successfully game the system and were keeping mum? Nobody seemed to know and the organization in charge offered only condolences on the sad state of affairs.
Concern about the ticket situation left many artists, camps and participants dead in the water. Expending large amounts of preparation, into the five figure range for some and possibly beyond, suddenly became an utter leap of faith. Farmers waited to plant seed.
Burning Man is what the city’s denizens create. Bringing the mind blowing to life before transporting it to one of North America’s most hostile environments isn’t a last minute proposition. As the community overreacted scalpers began polishing their hooks. Others found humor.
Whispers and theme camps demanding satisfaction, doom and gloom from every corner about the end of all things burning. Cancellation of open sale in favor of selective distribution while demolishing a house that burned down around people who really had problems. Covered in soot and torched belongings for $8 an hour. Life is mostly perspective. Many “burners” forgot in the need for the self. Their desires mattered more than anyone else, hiding behind screens.
Dreams of a project were filed officially. Normally a lack of fanfare and red tape is the goal. Guerrilla tactics in presentation. Now with no tickets in hand and odds looking slim from a burner thin berg in the Northeast the chance to get in early and create became the most realistic option. Hurried to apply.
Managed to sneak into STEP as well despite endless crashes as thousands jammed servers to register for the possible sale of tickets maybe. Desperate times.
Last year’s home base reported throwing in the towel along with scores of veteran burners and a number of long running content providers. Frustration, forlorn longing, sadness, anger, jealousy and dozens of other emotions swirled endlessly as scalped ticket prices soared and scams flew into full effect. Virgins scorned more than their accustomed allotment. All may be welcomed, but that doesn’t mean all are welcoming.
Emotions continued ratcheting tighter, haves and have nots dividing further. Cries for patience and faith came mostly from folks holding entry vouchers. Some of the more meditative and realistic preached their brand of acceptance. All was not quite well as the show wound further into Act II. Perseverance and patience.
Scumbag contractor never paid on time. Finally got shut down when an ex-con on the crew robbed a house after finishing replacing flooring. Kid went back to jail for $50. Preparations staggered along in burner land. Camps folded, pieces connecting and reinventing themselves with other broken homes.
Heard back, acceptance of our artistic installation with some questions. Two lost jobs and months of uncertainty causing an unconverted to back out left realization an impossibility. There’s always next time.
When tickets looked impossible in January the decision was made to journey somewhere burning. Somewhat established and growing, Lakes of Fire sold out in three days, its first time handing out all the tickets. The same scramble took place afterward as participants from as far as texas to the carolinas, massachusetts and minnesota prepared to come together. Four days on a sandy peninsula amongst the midwest. Home on a smaller scale.
Took a job digging holes to hopefully make ends meet for a friend. He quit the first day. <— Bisco again before shipping to the watery edge between Pennsylvania and Jerseyland.
Shared a hotel room with a crazy pervert, who was fired, before bunking with a fellow and his jersey girl. Endless sex in the same room every night is…. well….. ended up pounding booze and drinking in a sleazy bar until it was time to pass out, hopefully comatose enough not to wake up to the screams of 4 am.
Another failure of management. $10 an hour for a position that would pay $35 if it wasn’t subcontracted. The local denizens who bothered to ask all seemed a bit shocked. Brutal labor, hardening a body so it didn’t kill it. Nonstop vibration along a four foot steel shovel handle left hands barely able to open or close afterward. Lost a day so the boss could go fight a guy.
Despite large amounts of scorn heaped upon a late ditch attempt to patch things up the Secure Ticket Exchange Program functioned as designed and branded 2,000 burners its somewhat loved stepchildren. Emotional confusion and issues are sure to linger in the decades to come. Made it.
Ticketed in July once more. Five more weeks of hundred degree asphalt hell. Arranged the arrangements and managed to find a ride from Penn’s Forest to Black Rock and back for about $350 through a mostly useless service. They’re trying.
Four strangers. A three year old, two women and me. One lied about herself quite a bit and by the time realization occurred it was too late. Four days across the ravaged heart of a stolen land.
Drove and slept and drove, snapping awake to strange places before colliding with I-80. A rider left all clothing in the car that dropped her off. Blamed others for it. Made good time. Spotted a few along the way, but heading out early it was not until the radioactive wasteland between mountain ranges that travelers began converging in numbers.
The simplest symbols often crystallize powerful ideas, beliefs and everything attached to them. People are people and even in a purportedly “radical” culture many of the same patterns emerge with norms, folkways, ceremonies and symbols taking shape.
Fallon for another evening, final preparations and supplies. Water is expensive to transport.
Earlier entry on Sunday brought about the first daylight run north. Traffic was a little heavier than usual, many hoping to beat the dark to their home away from home. Dodged trailers, drivers tired or reckless, & police across a remnant of native land.
Made time to Empire, the closed town. Traffic halted into a parking lot, curious heads peeking worriedly about. Long pauses and a few football fields progress. Entrepreneurs hawking wares around the single gas pump and its stretched waiting list. Officers of their own law lounging predatorily.
Dust drifted toward the darkening sky. One of the driest Sierra winters on record left many predicting an even dustier week than usual. Many scoffed, others quailed. Sunday evening the trail of vehicles exiting pavement was visible miles away.
Trundling through Gerlach to the end of the road. Darkness swallowing the dust, wind whipping loose particles until visibility was zero. A three year old laughing on my lap, leaning out the window to wave and cackle wildly at all the strangely garbed peoples.
First time at will call. Confusion at the window after dashing through the endless parade of head lights. Months of planning and expense, worry, hope and 3,000 miles traveled created terror at possibly being denied entry. All proved well, a smiling Nexite wishing luck. More panic at the gate, driver’s ticket hiding for a few moments. Greeters’ hugs and knowledge.
Police had a van of young men stopped at the city’s edge, crew cut marching a canine around their vehicle. They don’t look very different from Nazis in the dark. Prayers.
Found camp as directed. Lights and work ongoing while unloading. Hugged our fearless leader before he collapsed.
A much larger welcome home party at the Duck Pond. Relaxing near 3 am before a megaphone roused. Hoisted three tons of speakers into place.
Watched the sun rise on Monday, dust plumes pointing the way to arrivals rolling into place. Skipped sleep to pitch camp with the hope that the selected placement would be acceptable to the overall plan. Crawled inside to dreamless sleep.
Beating sun rays baked the tent to unbearable within a few hours. Staggered into the light with Mr. Daniels in attendance. Christened the longest hurried week of a year.
Monday is preparation. Arrivals and arrivals. Star eyed gumshoes and joyful embraces among friends. Finalized media registration with laughing stares at disposable cameras followed by questions, “Are you sure you registered beforehand?”
Affixed the decorated device modified to hold a resume / cover letter combo. Guerrilla job hunting in a cut throat economy seemed like a better idea than not. Little luck over three years finding anything resembling a career path breeds creativity.
Riding along city streets found various stages of construction. Shade going up alongside tents. Located RV Fortress theme camp, dozens of identical vehicles in a defensive square.
Back toward camp to see what else needed doing, with a few unexpected detours along the way.
Bringing a large scale sound system and creating the atmosphere for success in a desert takes planning, belief and a lot of hard work. Assisted one of camp’s organizers / djs, Mr. Daniels and another new friend in bringing hunks of metal to life.
Estimates of new burners ranged as high as 60% of city population. Discussions with long time burners in the past found many questioning the direction of leadership and contemplating retirement from a scene they built.
While new blood is essential, the right balance of aged wisdom is required. The fact that most large scale projects, parties and camps are all built by people who have grown to love this place also leaves something lost every time they remove their energy. The change was apparent in many corners if one cared to look.
Others succeeded brilliantly. Several of the most ambitious projects took shape despite the duress on a culture’s fabric. A Spanish galleon sunk beside the returned pier complete with the crew’s artifacts. Built to scale it was awesome to behold. A builder told it will return.
Poor quality gloo had the guidebook crumbling within a day. Probably a good thing for lots of people who have trouble trusting the fates.
Drifted across the dead sea bed. Delivered supplies to some friends who’d flown before heading home. Sorted piles of speaker wires into manageable groupings tucked away from snarling feet.
As the sun sinks low the decibels start to creep up. After a day of hard work Monday night is many participants first real chance to put on their party pants. Art cars began cruising past in numbers, bass throbbing through the calm.
Spent the night exploring the reconfigured urbanity. Things change and stay the same.
Dawn broke again to find a day already gone. The heat of the desert can kill, but it’s the hollow cold filling the dark of night that finishes creatures off. Radical self reliance is a tenet to be taken seriously. Sleep is for suckers. Champagne is for the exhausted.
Bringing some east coast love to the early morning Bubbles and Bass returned on the opposite side of the city nestled amidst the PEX village. Heavy bass and bubbly sparkling wine (its not champagne if its not from France they say) daily from sunrise to just before noon. Nice to connect.
Despite early cries of defeat the Black Rock Syndicate ended up playing host to the survival needs of the Reno based sound monstrosity Osiris. A 60′ pyramid is a good foot forward in the burning world of outlandish creations.
Coming together, a sound camp with excellent infrastructure met a group of people with the technical known how and an awesome backdrop built through hard work. Fundraising and a party in NYC helped pull together the greenbacks necessary to up the ante with an unbelievable booth.
Tuesday passes too fast. The early arrivals are, as a whole, more worthwhile than the weekenders. People who truly love and care about this place come together with the party animals and newcomers trying to understand what it’s all about. Nothing like watching a wine hose.
(Some photographs may contain sunglass supports… it’s f’n bright!)
Black Rock works because everyone brings what they can to improve the general welfare, may that be physical, nutritional or spiritual. This hardworking burner spent his day walking the streets looking for items needin’ fixin’. Dolly hauling tools of trades.
Found a beverage for wandering. Crawled awkwardly into a clam shell, observing the scurrying below from higher heights. A break from the relentless overseer above is always welcome.
Giant guitar and a cylindrical man that never got any closer than this. Dust laden breath and continuous dehydration by an atmosphere devoid of moisture. The search for refreshment found a long line aside stairs.
A queue normally means something worth waiting for, although the line ride has been known to appear from time to time. If you just stood somewhere for a while and acted like it was important people would probably start lining up arrears.
Black rock is whatever one wants it to be. It is a place to ponder, reflect, immerse, forget, stumble, race, lust, laugh, cry and every emotion possible in between. Many of the converted talk about how it is the one place they’re allowed to be free, too scared to resist the societal pressure crashing down upon most of us in every day life, one week a year comes to encapsulate their majority of genuine expression.
Tuesday is for reunions and greetings. Old friends and new through the dusty glaze. Liberal libations for the polite and amusing from every corner.
Media perks include shade, blessedly cold water and a daily happy hour for rubbing elbows with everyone from photographers to writers, & journalists from all manner of publications.
A savage bunch really, Media Mecca hosts the registered cohorts large and small. All are welcome, unless you decide to destroy your welcome as some learned the hard way during the madness preceding.
A week is a long time for most to spend cut off from the daily drone. Others escape.
The streets of black rock provide constant laughter. All day long. Around every corner is something devised to elicit an experience, crafted with hours of thought and love or slapped together ad hoc. The fathomless well of understanding is pried loose at one turn only to be forgotten by a string of radio fliers toting teddy bears behind a senior hippy.
The gift economy was alive and well. The early week is for the people who truly love and care about the place. Endless enthusiasm for nearly everyone and everything left pockets loaded down with tokens and trinkets galore. The only things worth having are those given freely. Giving is its own satisfaction. Receiving without expectation makes something priceless.
Food is at one’s discretion. Radical self reliance requires planning or an excellent sense of timing. A selection of camps serve a variety of fare announced or otherwise. Unless you spend the week following food you’re mostly on your own. Many camps offer communal meals for a flat fee. Two meals a day left one hungry if a feeding was missed for any of a thousands reasons. Hustled home more than once to catch the end of service.
As the temperature drops and stars replace the sun above the brightening glow of lights, neon and bursts of flame much of the city rouses to life. Mutated conveyances roll by regularly blaring thousands of watts in all directions. A quick scramble for warmer apparel, illumination and supplies before sallying forth into the darkened streets.
Collecting the bike past midnight someone called my name. An absent friend recognizing from 100 ft. through inky blackness. Hugs and introductions before womping the night away at Camp Question Mark and the insanity constructed by a revitalized Root Society. A 270° LED screen wrapped around platforms into a coliseumesque disco.
Awoke to watch the sun rise, climbing smogramento’s CORE construction to chat with the docents about their first burn and the project they helped bring to life.
Dawn is stillness, the gift of another morning bursting upon scuttering inhabitants below.
Wandering home found the last stragglers enjoying the space of an Opulent morning.
Pit stop before angling toward the horizon’s ant colony. You’re just moving the ground.
Dozens dancing, ushering in the dawn before a bus loaded down with speakers from end to end. The giant heart piece rising above the current mix master glinted dully in the rising sunshine. By night its illumination allowed easy identification across the playa.
Chatted with the group equipping official Robot Heart goggles. “They just try to bring the craziest shit out here they can,” laughed the man as he recounted offering to adjust their womp system a few years previously. “It sounded great a mile away,” laughing.
Gasping for breakfast. Days in a dehydrating desert environment with minimal respite really takes it out of ya. Gracious Tahitians managing the rotating slate of campers fulfilling obligations for the good of all.
It’s a strange thing, but contrary to logic appetites decrease quite a bit for many. A little fuel tasting better half burnt than the finest meal at a default eatery.
Collapse for a few more hours. The public houses open early and while there was a smaller selection of establishments the libations flowed freely by noon with a little leg work. Uncovered a packed dome of sapphire.
Wednesday is wonderful. Construction is mostly complete and the city isn’t yet completely inundated by tourists. Space is left to do with what one will.
With the ticket debacle came everyone’s plan to exclude a group for the betterment of all, mostly themselves. Recreational vehicles and children came under the most fire from the tribe at large. Nevada later took steps to bar children from future events.
Rode out with a three year old who was incredibly good considering. Nursemaid across the mountains and plains. A young one gets so much more out of time in black rock than any other could hope to. Safety is the first consideration. Kidsville provides a safety net for family camping. Watching a pack of burner babies cackle across the playa means a lot more than seeing the four thousandth trustafarian stumbling around in pink fuzzy bullshit.
Checked on the pair that provided transit before just sort of wandering off again. Art is everywhere you look, even in the silliest of shapes.
Attrition took its toll on the daytime spots to boogie down. Distrikt dominated, drawing massive crowds at all times it seemed.
Skidded to a halt at Busted’s tea party. “We were just talking shit about you” chirped a pair of smiles. Refilled the tea as Camp Beaverton’s woman pleasing workshop let out across the street.
Swam upstreet, only allowing distraction a half dozen more times. It’s important to be firm about these things.
Home found night enveloping once more. Dinner leftovers snatched from the cleanup crew and warmer clothes that still left the Californians wondering how one didn’t die of exposure.
Spent some time enjoying the fruit of so many’s labor. Another year of hard work brought a steel pyramid to life in a barren wasteland. It’s nice be part of something, no matter how small the role.
‘merica’s continued obsession with drugs is unfortunately attached to everything burn. Stereotypes about the people who attend, an overtly aggressive Nevada police force seeking to arrest anyone and everyone possible (while mostly ignoring rapes), strangers asking for drugs because someone seems spaced out. In reality a most powerful playa substance is sheer exhaustion. Strange days, survival, dancing and dust altering perception without substances.
Managed breakfast before succumbing to the carpeted floor of our dome. Lengthy sleep is needed sometimes, foot care following.
A week of swirling dust had remained fairly clear overall. Thursday brought a shift of the winds. Blearily wandered through the mid day sun, dust riding the strengthening gusts.
A blessedly familiar bar top, motorboats exchanged for trinkets in the shade. A civic minded organization, the Black Rock Center for Unlearning returned once more to help rearrange the societally aligned functions built into most modern drones.
As the desert obliterates existence, black rock is an opportunity to unlatch oneself from the restraints binding each to their perceived reality. Recognizing one’s lack of knowledge is the first step toward enlightenment.
Each moment is as life changing as one allows it to be. Many come expecting. Only by opening to the unknowable is one truly able to experience everything meant for them. Dragging preconceptions, expectations and the cumulative toll exacted by survival alters the truth presented, distorting what is understood.
Knowledge and charisma, wit and wisdom are currencies in a place where paper currency is sparse. The ability to conversate can carry one further than looks and style. Substance is valued.
Air currents blasting dust around the gifted sunglasses dragged an addled consciousness back to the present. Open air beverages tend to thicken wandering through the streets.
Blasts of saxophone escaping a ramshackle structure along the way.
After one of the driest years on record in the Sierra Nevada much discussion ensued about playa conditions after the incredibleness of Rites of Passage. Some warned, others tried terrifying virgins into giving up, while the dismissive reminded everyone it’s always dusty.
The concerned were correct. Deep pockets of dust littered streets on the east side. Wiped out in the dark a few times, launching over handlebars as the front tire buried itself in two feet of dust. Thin tires on the ancient bike made deep playa visits impassable.
Human’s live in packs for protection. Escaping the city’s outer limits brought the moderate shelter from wind and airborne particulates provided by domiciles.
Luckily many of black rock’s inhabitants sway with the breeze, events continuing as anticipated, mostly. An environment continually seeking your demise is rather invigorating, body and soul, or maybe it’s walloping. Always get confused…
Heading inward helps put more obstacles between the prevailing wind and one’s self. Found center camp full of folks enjoying the nonstop entertainment provided by two stages and an array of art covered walls.
While not actually the city’s center geographically, center camp is situated in the middle of most of the city’s municipal services.
A troupe of whoaman centered attention while deftly elevating themselves through a flurry of suspended acrobatics along a length of fabric.
Back out into the dust along 6 o’clock, walking blindly and less so in turns. As the street spilled into the emptiness of the city’s center activity buzzed about a tree.
A blonde banker more concerned with chasing women brushed us aside before a smiling Dutchman explained. Built as a symbol to the futile stupidity of valuing paper over people, the Transformoney Tree offered artistic currency in exchange for decorated legal tender.
Finding the like minded is a relief for anyone. When viewpoints drift away from the indoctrinated inanity it becomes more difficult. Speaking with another who traveled halfway around the globe to help manifest his belief in the misguided values of a downward spiraling society reinforces battered conclusions in a way nothing else can. Money is paper.
A likeness of Washington found bouncing along the breeze days previously became creatively improved and affixed to the trunk while a locomotive womped beats through blinding dust nearby. In exchange for our tribute the Exchanghibition Bank gifted beauty.
Scurried home through the failing light for warmer clothing, water and momentary respite from the dust. A dinner date on the opposite shore awaiting one of the bigger moments along the way. Regional effigies increased from 23 to 34 in the project’s second season.
Made Esplanade in time for thirty-four concurrent concussions igniting the darkness. Months of preparation, many thousands of miles of transportation and four days of appreciation disbursed in a blinding blaze against the night. A full moon hovered above the mountain splashed horizon.
Making up for the extra time every four years with a leap can skew things somewhat. A blue moon is an extra full moon in the lunar cycle. Thursday night clear skies allowed an evening bathed in blue.
Many spend their evening atop mobile dance floors and among the city’s sound camps. For the more intrepid explorer events await. Wandering the back streets toward the glow of gathering, turning a corner found snow flakes drifting to the desert. Après ski and wonderful machines blasted soap into floating white to not techno.
Off again on foot after many thanks to find dim blue lights and a bar wrapped in shadow. The Midnight Bacon Bar provided much needed protein out of the blue, offering seconds upon request. Booze, bacon and strangers helping meet playa necessities.
After the lights start winking out along the city streets the nocturnal crowd gathers to pay homage to the aural love lining black rock’s north side. Aiming speakers toward the empty wasteland beyond, by weeks’ end the major sound providers are crowded. Root Society returned smashingly. More missed friends, hugs without a word in the sonic wash.
A pack of twenty something kids racing around on bicycles in the dark. Ducked through the pirate ship to climb atop, one perching in the rigging. Home again home again jiggidy jig. Time is uncertain in the night, sleep accidentally claiming dark’s last hour. Jerked awake to find the gathering moved to a twenty foot trailer with assisted seating for sunrise.
Hugged goodbyes. See ya when I see yas. The odds of randomly finding someone for the third time amongst 50,000 is remote.
Pedaled home to discover the tent occupied. Roused the squatter before a passing inquiry about a corkscrew led to an hour in a van complete with speakers and turntable. Wine bottles passed up and down between seven.
Sat to watch some folks get down with the sound before ambling toward a champagne breakfast.
Police are people and while anyone sporting anything saying Nevada should be avoided at all costs the federal folks protecting our jointly owned lands are a different matter. Offered to snap some photographs in the early morning light. After he looked at all the oddly angled photographs an explanation of the zoom function ensued. Nodded along before chatting about the week. Accepted the temporary BLM tattoo with thanks.
Bubbles & Bass one more time before walking back up the avenue to find pancakes. The queue was already forming as a member of the Pancake Playhouse warned it would be a little while yet. Friday is the end of many wonderful services, camps packing up and escaping the weekenders clogging things by late Friday.
Blissful rest hiding under the dome, exhaustion helping to hide from the noonday sun. Scattered awake to a room full of snoozing dust bunnies a while later. Stumbled upright, foot care, fresh socks, shirt.
The brakeless bike held up fairly well despite the poor tire choice. Pedaling toward center camp found the Champagne Lounge finishing up their week with the last bottles of bubbly and shotskis. Dodged the teeter totter to wait in line.
Greeted the Bar Jew with gifts before settling for floor space. Ahead a distressing sight tapped away on his screen. Still remote enough to escape reception, the first sighting of a cell phone out & about disturbed. Black Rock is a space away from screens, but an increasingly technology dependent society seems set on forcing itself into a place where absentia is a major part of the point.
Like the rest of the world, black rock is at a crossroads. Decisions about the future of an experiment in living are taking place at all levels. Old guard deciding if the org has really lost its way. Youth’s enthusiasm adding new blood.
Wandered the afternoon away pondering. Comic relief everywhere by Friday, the first timers who really had no idea what they walked into conversating loudly. Married men drunkenly ogling signs for gang bangs beside unsure wives. Laughed past a yurt who was singled out by an insightful young woman in one of the city’s fine publications.
Crashed again in center camp before the day’s last light prodding wakefulness once more.
Darkness again, a still full moon blotted out by endlessly swirling dust. Debating the plunge into the writhing mass of Ashram Galactica a dapper gent walked up and stated “I’ve been coming here thirteen years and you are by far the dustiest person I have ever seen.” A smile cracked through. Discussed the successes and failures of Burn Wall Street, getting the real scoop before bidding farewell to fight to the bar of some kiwi’s.
Finally sleep deprived and nutritionally deficient enough to fill out this year’s census. Hunkered down in the relative warmth of center camp armed with pencil and collapsible survey. Corrected as necessary, more accurately reflecting what they should have asked.
Laughed at a college student from SoCal who told about how hard it was to get here. Gave her a sticker and her more congenial friend a hug. Fat rain drops splattered the playa as dark clouds rolled over head. Frigid air after a long week shortened the nightly excursion.
Awoke to a wall street that had not burned, an $8,000 pyrotechnic display not taking place. Stayed for breakfast, readying for the weekend finale. Clogged streets are best for striding, bikes a bit dangerous in the press.
Saturday is for drinking, most canteens attempting to rid themselves of any excess alcohol before breaking down for the journey home. Cups filled liberally at every corner, some sangria before heading bassward.
Another day, another packed house at Distrikt. Blended beverages blessing the throngs.
The whole city falls to a hush toward sundown Saturday. The action that spawned an idea has grown along with his worshipers. Towering above his surroundings, the Man is the keystone to a gasping metropolis.
By an hour after nightfall the slow procession of his gathered citizenry begins in earnest. Art cars trundling alongside pedestrians toward the loose perimeter around the collected acolytes of flame.
Circled before settling in to wait.
Awash in the babble of virgins freshly arrived over the last 48 hours for a moment that fails to capture the real message splashed across the playa each year. Spotted BLM officials writing a ticket for unspecified reasons, didn’t hang around to ask questions.
Glimmers of whirling flame above the sea of dusted scalps while seeking calming influences to reflect on another week in a land of specks. Too many assholes with bullhorns. Gifted while gifting, champagne bottle in hand, fireworks beginning to pop before
Another year gone, another yet to come. Cheers and firing flashes from all corners. Fire protection personnel in place, the mob soon descended upon the Man’s collapsed bonfire, a wildly whirling mass running counterclockwise. Escaped the vortex.
Wandered in circles for a while. Without the Man standing proud geography becomes guess work in the dark. Landmarks have been deconstructed and most of the street signs swiped by the midnight break of Sunday.
Wandered home to watch ill.Gates work the decks. Fought for space on the dust floor, pressed by the constant shifting of humanity.
No breakfast for the weary, baking in the sun. Across the city camps had their final hurrahs, if they hadn’t already departed. Parting gifts and bars emptying their stock. Managed to find some handfuls of sustenance before moving on.
Three trips back and forth from 10 o’clock to 5 and back again, carrying everything needed to survive a week that wasn’t used up in the process.
The gift of a book is always cherished.
One of the major accomplishments of the event is successfully Leaving No Trace. Participants are expected to pack out what they pack in and an army of volunteers remain many weeks afterward cleaning up everything left by those less mindful of their footprint on a sacred space.
Cleaning up along most travels throughout the week turned what would have been a single half full shopping bag full of waste into a garbage bag bursting at the seams. Cleaning up what others couldn’t bother to is tiring, but the continuation of the event in the black rock desert requires satisfying Federal requirements. Hard work brought success again.
Found some ice pops and shade along the way. It’s important to look around.
Waited in line for a scalding pancake, covered in dirt with blackened hands. Finally finished the arduous task as the sun began heading home. Wandered out to watch the Temple go.
A rain of cinders, virgins creating noise where there had only been silence before. One man’s final creation collapsed before many. Many hit the road immediately afterward.
Caught the ride out of neverland. Exhaustion overcoming everything for almost a day until it was time to take over and drive across Wyoming’s high plains.
Three hurried days to brokenly reflect upon the jagged scatterings memory leaves behind meaningful events. Less than tearful partings in the dark, a long dead chieftain left safely as promised.
More asphalt before the endless stretch of water ending our land, final ferry ride awaiting.
Happier greetings on our island retreat. Time to recover and reconnect with the world fled for the balance of two weeks & 6,000 miles.
Everything had changed even though the shifts were long in movement. Alone with the tiny wonder, decisions about the future reached while wrapped in the swirling trails of black rock’s dust began their grind onward.
A third year of immersion and reflection upon the message of a city built all year upon hope, dreams and earnest effort for a fleeting week wound a weathered mind closer to the broader truth.
The future of Burning Man remains dependent on its citizenry. Decisions about the next iteration slowly budding, preparing to ripen toward a glorious summer’s end. Careful steps by the caretakers are needed to heal a battered plant.
Alone on a beach with a blue eyed wonder everything paused before the truly important,
if only for a little while. )°(