Monday, September 12, 2011

Rites of Passage.

The gate.
At the gate the person searching the car asked me to open the trunk. It had a bike rack on it. I only got it open a little ways because the bikes were heavy steel. He then he stuck his head all the way inside. We had been partying in the line neighborhood that had formed during the wait. Even with the energy of daybreak upon us my grip began to slip. He finished and pulled his head out never realizing the decapitation danger. We went in!

On Thursday the Circle of Regional Effigies burned.
On Friday the Trojan horse burned after having been towed into the playa by hundreds of costumed people. There was an absinthe bar in the horses belly.
On Labor Day, at the man base, after many of those who had burned the man had left to go work for the man, Moonfire built a large structure from parts of the 1111 Monument camp. It resembled the Golden Gate bridge and was to memorialize his child who had jumped off of it and those whose names were said by the people at the fire.
On Tuesday burn barrels were overflowing.

Shamans conducted compositions with hand movements from an elevated stand over a sea of dancers. Each note with a perfection a magnitude more perfect than a symphony of all musical instruments perfectly played,

Visionary Art in the Fractal Nation Village Dome; flying art in the form of whales, islands and strings of balloons; mutated vehicles as muffins, kayaks, and flame-throwing octopi.

Bars and art installations shared the theme of an upward spiral foot path to the second floor heights and then down to the intoxicants or the meditation. Jumps and ingenious obstacles presented themselves in bike paths drawing barkers and audiences. The dock, pictured above was the best.

There was life.

There was love.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Born to wine, swift water and wire wound by the NoblElectriCocoon; we won.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Burning Man MMX -- Metropolis the life of cities.

Opening Monday.

We set up a rudimentary camp in the hours before and at dawn. Stages and sets and structures near completion. A huge flaming sphere beckons. Beyond, swings and swinging wooden beds, a big bell cage and back stage hammocks, all just built.

An elevator, built in a day by the person who did the LIB Woogie Stage lighting, goes up four stories! From the top you can see art installations, other viewing spots, and intersections in part of the city. It is a universe in itself:

Malvoye the Mentalist -- An automated antique fortune telling booth, sharing versions and visions of the future.

UnNatural Selection -- bigger than life figures painted on an octagon kiosk. People turn cranks to rotate the top, middle or bottom segments to form 512 possible creatures.

The Muse, the Mant, the Peoples Art Congress.

Popcorn at the Corn Palace with eatable glitter, taco, lemon pepper and nutritional yeast toppings. Consume it at the bad idea theater and burn the paper bag. A Buddha and a Burning Ring of Fire, the basic element.

It rains. There are then two rainbows. Aqua and violet alternate in the inner arch of the inner rainbow. The double rainbow sidetracks, dropping in front of the mountain near Town Round. Town Round is the intersection of the internal streets of the Hushville village that are marked with filaments. There is room to frame various views of the rainbows, with the crest of the mountain behind it and with it springing from palms. For an hour afterward there is no bike traffic because of the playa mud.


The weather is dry, cold at night and warm in the day with a few dust storms. The air unpredictably sometimes cools after sunrise and warms after sunset. The moonless nights are so dark the milky way is visible.

City blocks are big, really big and deep on the outer lettered streets. Even tall things that are not right on a street are blocked from view. It is easy to get lost. Color, at night, illuminated color, is everywhere and thing. Chartreuse flags on poles and ever changing neon like lights atop tall structures are landmarks for our area. People wear a lot of color in their costumes. Some red is popular. So is blue and black and green, and flesh tone darkened by sun and dust and oil and time.

At the Megatropolis casino pirates play blackjack. At the Thunderdome fights, a diva sings Italian opera. The MC chants "Two men enter, one man leaves." The battle, between opponents in harnesses suspended from the dome collide on the ground facing each other with weapons. Medics stand by. The people perched on top of the dome, the DPW just inside it and crowd several deep around watch.
In the Central Playa:
Tiny Tropolis -- a row of standard cardboard boxes secured, one after another, upon a wooden beam stretching outward. Each box contains an exquisite diorama by a member of the Wu-Tang Clan.
The He(art) Communi-Tree -- a wooden assemblage sculpture of a tree.
Roots create a strong foundation and branches stem out in multiple directions so that the tree can feed on water, air, and sun. Likewise a community has a hub for converging and congregation. People grow in different directions coming back to feed the community in new ways.
The Honey Trap -- an 86 foot long, 21 foot tall Fibonacci Spiral composed of stacked interlocking hexagons.
The Nowhere2Nowhere Monorail and a bus stop bench.
Polygonia -- hundreds of large, colorful interlocking polygons and connectors.
About the Esplanade is the Promethian Fountain, hypnotizing fire burning on water. People hold flames in their hands.

At the core of a good camp is people who haven't met, getting to know each other. Hanging back, playing in the band, or tending bar are the burners who made it. Some provide gifts of food, such as grilled cheese sandwiches, and a line forms to get in. One forms outside and makes its way past a youthful person standing in a glowing entryway. He exudes energy, greeting everyone, one at a time, subtly bouncing up and down, softly repeating some or all of their replies.

"How are you, tonight?"
"Spectacularly phenomenal all night long."
"Phenomenal. . . . .

How are you?"
"Immortal and invincible."
"Immortal! . . . . .

How are you, tonight?"
"Welcome to my spaceship. Beautiful forever."
"Spaceship? . . . .

How are you tonight?"
"Rolling, and fantastically excellent.
"Excellent. . . .

How are you tonight?"
"Happy, trippy and free."

"Need a lift," says the guy offering a boost step of interlocked fingers.

The Unicorn masthead of the big unicorn bus eats a life size Barbie doll.
A rabbit with a chain.
An EL wire cane.
Chasing rabbits past the Neverwas Haul and Janky Barge through the orange Disorient Car Wash to the Opulent Temple.

"Use all you packed for the long time away from camp
"Bliss. She watches and loves.
"What was the place that had the Psytribe set out on the playa early in the week, where the art car took us and the yogi was in a headstand?
"There are ways to learn to dance anonymously. Blindfolded or concealed in a costume.
"A near riot of consumption, a kind of potlatch extravaganza that symbolically culminates in the ritual sacrifice of material goods.
"What are you doing tonight?
"Ice Cream socials and The Daily Playa

One washed the guitar player behind the Harveywood sign.
A few shower in inflatable pools or go through the Human Carcass Wash.
Many go through netting hanging from a four story high scaffold on the Esplanade, head first, coming out naked and are bathed and reborn.

From stacked box seating in the side yard of the Mystical Misfits the Megaphone is heard:
"Pedal the machine yourself, no one else will ever do it as hard as you want.
"Hey you on the trick bike, try our jump.
"That's not a mister, it's a hose on a soda dispensing canister.
The best places to get misted are the back of the knee and the top of the head. A line of two dozen people holding hands surround the bullhornist demanding a particular song. They get it and dance to it.

Thousands witness the highest voltage of electricity ever observed by that number of people. The thick borderless electric blue zig zag buzzing zapping lightning bolt races from a Tesla coil to Dr. MegaVolt's grounding suit. It is an experience more than a mere sight. Rap is a Joke in Center Camp and Live Painting outside it. A Librarians' party with games, a rave at Drop it Like it's Hot, aerialists at Shiny Kitty Teah Ouse. A Massive at Root Society.

A plan is made at the Prod Pump and Rest coffee shade. People compare costumes at the Telescope Stand in the deep playa. Strings, cords and carabiners through loops, boundless creativity. The most intricately detailed hand made vest, bought, not made by the wearer. So what, he did with it what it was made for, put it on his body and went out. Lots of superhero costumes, lots of them superman. Lots of furry animal pillows with pouches, the Screaming Monkey doll.

Some people are leaving, some are just now arriving. A man pedals a cooler past the 11:11 Monument, four mammoth steel monolithic obelisk pillars. It is a tribute for the time 11:11, the only time of the day in which all numbers and digits are the same. He goes to the Restaurant, white tables set with plates and cups, glued down and painted white, and shares New Zealand wine and soft cheeses. Now comes the Burning Sky Skydiving Night Jump with a kinetic pyro display 2000 ft above.
Next, a big explosion. No show or fireworks, just a crew keeping a safety perimeter around the fuel tanks, then boom, the intense heat wave, the quarter mile high smoke stack and a mushroom cloud.

Megatropolis burns. Megatropolis, another city inside of Black Rock City, is a group of multi-story buildings built in the simplest way possible for their size. It glows in the distance. The colors change. It is lit from the inside as well as the outside. Some of the buildings are recognizable, like the Transamerica Pyramid, which houses the first huge bomb explosion, yet falls last. Others are more iconic: the smokestack, the apartment building and the mega mall. In the center sits the tower, the biggest of the buildings. Sirens blare. Lots of fireworks. Fireballs rage out the windows. The pyrotechnics of handmade liquid fire effects are amazing. One interesting effect happens after another, seemingly controlled only by timing and the fire. The show and opolis end, the embers obliterated by a dust storm.

See the big installations three ways, daytime, nighttime and in a storm.
Bliss Dance, the largest female nude figure in the world, dances on one leg. Designed by Marco Cochrane, the sculpture, weighs 7,000 pounds, and has 55,000 individual welds.
The Infinitarium, a botanic garden where people are dwarfed by the metal plantlife sculptures,
Choir of the Winds, singing weather vanes by Thomas E. Trower.

Mad Hatter Tea Party. Bodgi ball near the panorama from the top of the World Trade Center. Party Naked Tiki Bar. A dancer dances with flame-throwers that would incinerate anything within fifteen feet; the heat of the flames feels hot even twice as far away.

The walk up the platforms steps to the man.
"What is the coolest thing you have seen out here"
"Well, we built a stripper bar and the girls come in and strip for us every night
"Oh that is pretty cool
Gargoyles and Griffins on the Burning Man Platform and the Man all burn quickly. Another storm comes in and we go back to a bar.

Vegi Tacos. Burning wood at sunset in the wind. A jenga structure to the burning wood. Ample wood as people striking camp or leaving drive to the barrels. Chasing honeycomb cardboard that got away from a full burn barrel. It mellows from a danger to a plaything.

Temple of Flux, a canyon of wood between five structures, so natural looking it seems like a dust dune at first. A three person team Jess Hobbs, Rebecca Anders, and PK Kimelman, designed and built it as a Counter-Monument. Not to console but to provoke; not to embody permanence but change; not to be everlasting but to disappear;
not to be ignored but to demand interaction; not to accept the burden of memory but to throw it back and demand response. One structure is to mourn suicides, another the death of children, another unexpected deaths. The fire swirls into a burnable man standing on the ground in front of the Flux canyon.

Labor Day
The people who brought the GiantFlatPiano from Sweden give volunteer pulsers a ride to the top of Cone Zone 3. Gate Perimeter and Exodus give them a ride back to the Black Hole and tickets for breakfast at the Ranger commissary. People wander with a rocket launcher looking for their awaiting audience. It is even easier to get lost now. Not only are the street signs gone, but enough people have left that the streets themselves are vanishing. And so too the illumination on the landmark structures.
"Do you have fireworks"
A person whose birthday it is lights the fuse to a mortar canister.
Zzzzzz for a few long seconds then, boom and wow.
The height and spread and burst of the shells is as amazing as the Megatropolis burn because of the intimate setting.
"We are just here to pass the time until we die"
"How absurd to think that a being as powerful as the human could die. You will fireworks and fireworks are here. You will a friend and a friend is here. A person of your sway and stature should not say things like that. It will diminish everyone who hears you"
"I am insulted. I can say whatever the fuck I want"
"Sorry," the light accepted the dark.
"It's okay," the dark accepted the light.
Burn the delivered wood.
Water with a pump.
The different exploding sounds of fire extinguishers and emptyish fuel cartridges.

Exodus Tuesday
Intricate organization produces an event way more spectacular than anarchy or any utopia could. It has paid people; they are at work and have a less cheery attitude.
"How many shifts did you work?"
"27. I may take next year off."
"Why don't you just attend and go to the parties?"
"I don't want to party and . . . ," spotting the Dub Rocket BRC 2010 button on the backpack of the questioner, ". . . I don't like Dub," he added for good measure.

We left on the roads we came in on -- the 447, 95, 337, 208 and 336 through Lyon County Nevada into California.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Elysium Midsummer Festival

Been waiting for you, come on in. Nothing is far from the rushing river. It flows through the campground over boulders into waterfalls and swimming holes.
Tablecloths cover long tea party tables set with tea pots, large cups and crystal canters. The tables and mushroom stools lead rather steeply up the bank of the river. A spacious way away, yet still in the same camp are blacklight lit heather and flowers. Above are pulsating rope lights, paper lanterns, high branches, a mountain and the milky way.

People share the smoking pipes of many hookahs. The smoke is so mild it taste like flavored air. There are wins and loses. Ones who don't compete win, but it doesn't matter.

How light and little the need and how heavy and big the extras. Almost everyone is a burner, but there are also others, some who have never experienced Elysium. Giving to them may be easy to do. They are happy with a LED light or a can of beer. Giving and receiving in a more open wider form may take time, and time and time again.

A parade of ladies in lighted dress slides from camp to camp. Their skirts are so big and each so radiant that the whole road glows and moves. They arrive in ones and twos at the gully of the fabric mushroom lounge. Green laser dots fill the foliage and dash across the paths.

All the people gather, wait for and watch the fire shows. The fire spinners spin all about so perfectly weighted balls of flame on chains. Fires burn in chandeliers, in torches, in a sculpture of scales and the biggest one, in a swinging pit. The sun rises unnoticed by the fire watchers. The sky lightens; slowly the sun becomes stronger than the fire.

Faces face other faces with make up and red ping pong noses. Eyes with luminosity eye other eyes. Breaks of drifting, now thumpity, now trance play from the super sound systems of the stages. These have not been around long and only available to the DJ's for an even shorter period. Guitars play songs people know the words to. I-pods play everything.

Myriad merry motions are magical because of the characters making them. They ride a cart down the hill, blow bubbles and, for hours, play wiffle ball in the faded sparkle of parts of trippy raver coustumes. The ball game has bases and fields full nine member teams between a stage and a shower building. Reserves on the bench are too excited to sit. It is purple vs orange. The pitcher and the batter strut to the music.

Space and Consciousness
Details, patters and symbols abound, reflecting their creators and exhibitors. Spaces about things change, but slowly enough that the objects are understood. Groups cruise by them, apart but really together. So connected are they that even though there is plenty of space between them they sense each other and are sensed as one. One consciousness, one love. Everyone feels this.

Take down was fast, a complete vanishing of these physical manifestations. It left the earth healthier and goodness as the single unlimited dimension of the universe. Do all things in Goodness.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dreamland Station

The Art and the Land.
It was good to see the art; both the art created for this magical weekend and the art that is more permanently connected to the grounds. Sheepytime projected rotating sheep images onto big white fabric walls. To many late night walkers it promised sleep and dreams. For those who could not sleep it showed deep sleep as a wonderful thing even if it was beyond their experience. Though large enough to capture the attention of even a wide perception, the actual cut outs of the sheep were small.

A Shiny New Catheter was an interactive wishing well. One painted ones camp location and wish on a rock, exchanged it for a rock with someone else's wish and attempted to grant their wish. People really knew how to use black lights. Black light reflected from teeth highlighted with yellow highlighter on a drawing at the Art Creation Station, from the white string on the DreamCatcher and on the tapestries in the Down Tempo Dining Car. The baths were four outside cement pools each large enough for 10 people. Three were filled with hot water and one with cold. The would be back wall for the pools was a series of vertical tapestries depicting a mountain. Between them there was a view of a real mountain. The way the water drains is a part of its Institute of Perception design.

The Institute of Perception
The Institute of Perception is the site and its dedication to the evolution of the human spirit through the arts. It is forming an artistic family, magicians of the arts, to enhance, activate and broaden perception. The open land is used to free perception. Vision walks and inspirational meditation promote shifts in our usual assemblage point of Reason, and allow Pure Understanding or Silent Knowledge.

The Plasma Garden
The Plasma Garden was a group of visually stunning interactive light sculptures that conveyed the mind-blowing fourth state of matter, also known as plasma. It was like electricity in bottles. Delicate colorful lightning coils and bolts pulsated in their own worlds and in ours.

The Temple was in the Pyramid, a permanent structure on the land. It was the destination of a great pageant. A wedding party sauntered up from the Dreamland Stage, banner bearers in front, holding very long wood staffs. Thin blue triangle flags and cloth hung from them. In the Temple, they told how they met (they went separately to a couples only New Year's Eve party because neither wanted to meet anyone) and renewed their vows. Just outside a man in a natural open costume balanced on a column. He held high the staffs, the colors flying in the breeze.

Liquid O
Liquid O was a large black bus with a stage and a crane on top. A cage with a stripper pole dangled from the crane. A person in the cage hung onto the pole as the whole cage violently smashed into the side of the bus again and again. The person spun, lost control and was saved from a hard bang into the metal by the hands of the crowd. From the stage three of them played metal grinders that shot off sparks.

Colorful Mannequins
Along a sandberm were brightly painted mannequins. Some had only the below the waist half of their bodies. They were installed with their feet pointed up. Others had all but the top of their heads and their names were written on the top of their heads. All of them had detailed strips and swirls.

People wore costumes for visual effect -- Frogs, Zebras, and for interaction, pirates and belly dancers and gadget bearers with lots of pieces that called out to be played with. And of course, costumes for dancing and for eating and drinking. Sausages on sticks cooked slowly at the Acoustic Stage fire pit. Grapes came out of the Black Company Dead Pirates Lounge. It had a hollowed out monitor filled with glowing junk and looked like a broadcast at night. The Nocturnal Libations bar had a vaulted ceiling. At some random hours theatrical smoke left everything in a thick fog.

The music was energizing. People danced and spun fire to multi-tracked beats. Electronica, also, House of the Rising Sun and Ring of Fire. Dancers spun poi from leather straps mostly wrapped about their wrists but also, as they danced, flung about their ankles and thighs. Fire spinners performed at night, on stage and in the middle of a blue rope light. Fire was on the ground, on the body, being put out dramatically by a speed up in the spinning. Sometimes multiple performers, sometimes one, it was all balanced and graceful yet strong.

Camping together people share how they live. Crack of Dawn put on eyelashes. Stories were told. One that was true was that life is a gift. One that was funny was that Mexicans sometimes go to the border fence not to cross it but to take pieces of it to sell for scrap. The sun shone through the green OttoPup frozen popsicle and through the green electric rope light. The creator of TMA-3 took low light photos. TMA stands for Tycho Magnetic Anomaly. Tycho was the name of the crater that the black monolith was in in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Magnetic Anomaly was the electromagnetic field emanating from within it. When a human touched it for the first time, it began to transmit a signal. The Tycho monolith was TMA-1. The second monolith, TMA-2, was discovered in orbit around the planet Jupiter. The monolith encountered by the apes in Africa was TMA-0.

Want to hang with you forever
Some pictures are at: Harry Dingle of the Harry Dingle and the Dingle Berries band played a harmonica on street corners from New York to New Orleans. On his Vision Walk atop the rocks behind the Temple he explained that some people just want to hang with you forever.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Evolution, a tangled bank.

Leaving Reno about 8:30 Sunday Night we got to Empire at 11. We stopped at the Empire store, bought cold beer and waited for a while. There were lasers, LEDs, hats and costumes for sale. The store owners were grilling on a barbecue and filled up water barrels for people who made donations. People who got to the burning man gate before midnight were directed into a corral and had to wait until long after the people who got there on time got through.

Reception of the Burning Man Information Radio (BMIR) broadcast was clear from the turn off off the pavement. We got to the ticket checkers just after midnight. We had $210 tickets having gotten them online on the first day they went on sale. They searched the car for stowaways and asked if we had fireworks. Fireworks are confiscated, and set off nearby or saved for the Department of Public Works (DPW) party. Some were exploding a few yards away.

The greeters gave us the What, Where, When book and maps. Many art cars were near the greeters station for the opening. People came up to the car with completely unofficial "welcome home" greetings. We found at large camping on Hominid at about 7:50. We were joined by other open campers and all set up with minimal problems.

A open framed black Mad-Max-apocalypse truck with a roll bar sped into the DPW camp. It was going at about twice the speed the big Art Cars went, maybe 7 mph, and had excitement to it. It had no panels or roof or covering and was coated inside and out with layers of dust. The truck and the DPW had been on the playa for weeks working on the city infrastructure. There were a lot of people there because of a burninator show, coordinated propane tank fueled flames spouting from towers, or it could be the show happened because the people had gathered. The vehicle stopped suddenly, with a noise.

The driver leaped out, talked to someone and went back to retrieve a bottle of champagne. He was the guy who, the night before, rammed the clunker in front of a wood frame house-like structure open to the playa. It had, as before, skateboards, whiskey and flags. A red light that had shone on one of the flags was missing. A punk with a microphone hooked up to an awesome sound system playing the angriest possible music overlaid curses at the DPW for allegedly stealing the light and for the crash.

In response, DPW picked up a ball and dropped it on the hood. It was the bowling ball painted to look like a beach ball that hilariously fooled everybody who tried to play with it, and it made a big thud.

Also suspecting the DPW of something, was Green Couch Camp. They had marked the perimeter of their camp with a green couch when they got there early to set up and went back to Gerlach for something. The next time they saw it, it was in use, a mile away out by the trash fence. At least we don't have to haul it back home said the person who had had the couch at his house for 10 years. In appreciation for their work, burners watch happily as the DPW people commandeer whatever they want.

Time, Travel, Transportals and Temportals
Many installations and camps speculated about time travel. Arch was a ceramic arch that depicted the passage of time and gifted medallions. Temportal 2.1 was a metal-framed canvas structure designed to transport your consciousness forward and backwards in the evolutionary time line. Time travel camp welcomed time travelers from other times, but did not know how to repair broken time machines. Ideas travel though time too, forward and backwards across the playa. The future enters into us long before it happens. "Set" learned to Hold his Space from the Playa Shaman who wore a sign saying "talk to me," while conducting his vow of silence.

This idea came to the 2:22 Amethyst Portal and to the Temportal 2.1, and those who received the idea held their space at those places. They stayed as others came and went. They were rewarded for it, meeting Harlan, the creator of the Amethyst Portal. The Amethyst Portal is an indigo stellated dodecahedron constructed of wood and steel with an open interior space. Inside it is the Quasar Wave Transducer (QWT). The QWT is a subsonic sound device that emits the deep frequencies of human brain waves and of the Earth's Schumann resonance. This resonance is a set of spectrum peaks in the extremely low frequency portion of the Earth's electromagnetic field. It is determined by a formula that includes the radius of the Earth and the speed of light.

Harlan moved the whole thing from the spot where it was shown on the map to a spot deeper into the playa. This made it hard to find. He did it with a trailer and a truck under the full moon, with two people in it. When the QWT is operative the Transportal vibrates and gives the feeling of being transported even when there is no physical transport. So may small dodecahedron necklaces.

The Temportal was in deep playa and people drew and wrote for each other on the canvas walls and in a book. Breedlove drew a creature unconstrained by gravity. Someone wrote, "How will it evolve," and someone redrew it, more stylized in parts and more detailed in others. Evolution does not make exact, or even very close copies. Everyone and every group is different. It was the Temportal's second year, having been here in 2007 also.

Endangered Species.
Six black ten feet high cylinders spiral across the Black Rock Desert and a sculpture of an endangered species spirals around each of them. There is one endangered creature from each of five realms: reptile, Blue-tailed Mole Skink; bird, Puerto Rican Broad-winged Hawk; fish, Sockeye Salmon; arachnid, Kauai Cave Wolf Spider and mammal, Gray Wolf. The spiral is the most ancient symbol found on every civilized continent. The spiral of nature, art, mathematics - a constant form at all scales revolves around itself, ever evolving in syntropy.

Under the Gray Wolf's face was the life mask of the project creator. The sixth column was bare until noon on Monday when the creator made a plaster gauze life mask of a bearded artist who then hung it there. He wrote Yippie Ki Yea in silver under his image.

The Man, the Portal of Evolution and Danger
The Man was made mostly of wood. He had an extra-terrestrial organ in his lower abdomen made of neon that glowed even in the day. His arms were down until before he burned Saturday when they were raised. He was on a pedestal surrounded by large piles of lumber fastened together and stenciled with the words "unsafe to climb." More than one person commented that it did not say "Do not Climb."

On Saturday after the Man collapsed in fire, the fire was much too hot to be approached. Near the fire two people sat down and opened their arms, hands and fingers out in the way that people do when they sit together and chant "Ommmmm". People joined them protecting others from running into the fire as it seemed they were wont to do. One person jogged between the seated people and the fire.
"Do you need anything notarized?" he asked.
"Of course." was the response and a State of Ohio seal was placed on a Zaemura card. The fire burned on. People who had been into this inferno, or other infernos of such intensity knew how life threatening it could be. Someone ran in.
"Get the fuck out of there!" the Shaman screamed. He made it out.

Portal of Evolution, near the man was supposed to be climbed. It was formed with petal like steel plates from which sprung fallopian tubes and ovaries. Emerging from the top was a kinetic butterfly. Burning Man can be dangerous. This is particularly so for those who jump off of tall places, jump bikes on ramps over couches, or aggressively stay too close to the hottest fires. Also, for those who sky dive in. Several parachutes did not open. In these cases the divers were saved by reserve chutes, yet some were injured.

People riding the Slide, a huge sculpture that people slid down suffered injuries. too. A couple of people showed up at a parties disoriented, became unresponsive and then medical take outs. The medical stations treated injuries from bike riding and dust in the eyes. The playa was in good condition for bike riding, but there were plenty of soft spots that would bring a bike to a knee jarring halt. Yet, the tangled bank was more alive for the danger than consensus reality could ever be.

Neverwas Haul.
One of the more creative mutant vehicles was the Neverwas Haul, a self propelled three story Victorian House. It was based on a Jules Verne inspired imaginary world. For the first time after several years on the playa, its engine room was open. An engineer explained how they got it working. One of the builders was 80. Another told of how badges can mean little at Burning Man. He had a Community Bike Liberation Force (CBLF) badge that he wore when he cut off locks from Green Bikes with bolt cutters. Green Bikes are community bikes that are not supposed to be locked.

Mutant Vehicle Polaroid Photo Booth.
The Mutant Vehicle Polaroid Photo Booth was a large outdoor photo studio where artists interacted. Huge black tarps were affixed to the vertical surface of a 4 story climbable scaffold. White tarps were laced together and strung by cables from the top of the scaffold to the top to poles that were the tallest thing on the playa. The cables didn't go in easily. From atop a tall ladder, with one person standing close to the top and two people below, they tried and failed to pull the cable in with their hands. They only succeeded after deploying a system of ratcheted pulleys. Once in place the cables were cinched and the tarps fluttered beautifully like the ones over Center Camp.

Even vehicles with tall masts fit in the Booth. It was oriented to put the vehicles in the best light. It was at a good distance from the Opulent Temple to hear the beats. The Booth was in its full undamaged glory for only a day or so. An antenna from a vehicle dragged across the canopy. It sprung up in the lacing between the tarps and tore them. The winds then did further damage overnight leaving the Booth still usable but much of its canopy ripping apart. The art cars also showed how harsh the winds could be. The Raining Man themed art car had its umbrellas blown off, but its dolls remained.

Summit of Artists.
Mutant Vehicles are a high art. Artists do sell them. If a sale takes place on the cell phone, one party in consensus reality and one at BM, where does the sale take place? The Mutant Vehicles are not cars, even though we all call them art cars. The operative word is Mutant. They can't look like their original form unless they are a big party bus and the value is community involvement.

People have hauled in their vehicles after investing lots of money and time, only to be denied a license by the DMV. The Mutant Vehicle Polaroid Photo Booth was to the DMV what the Greeters Station was to the Ticket Checkers -- a friendly and stress free stop after you had arrived.

The Mutant Vehicle Polaroid Photo Booth people greeted the artist and crew of each Mutant Vehicle. They took the time to understand the vision of each work of art. They amplified each others' happiness in meeting. It went higher and higher. It is infinite. They would part so the shot could be taken. Next, a countdown to the opening of the shutter: 3, 2, 1 . . . open. The essence of each of them then emerged in the long held poses they struck as Owen exposed the last remaining film of its type.

Raygun Gothic Rocketship.
The Raygun Gothic Rocketship was an immersive large scale installation consisting of a 40' tall metal rocketship. People explored the rocket's three interior chambers. The ship was set to launch early Friday night and thousands gathered for the event. Rumor had it that it would rise three feet off the ground. There was a delay because the winds were too fierce for the skydivers, who were to be part of the show. While waiting for the launch a dancer danced inside the perimeter. A Perimeter Keeper showed her a laminated badge and she in turn showed her badge to him and kept on dancing. Did they both get their badges from Lamination Camp?

After an hour delay, the show went on without the skydivers. Plasma gas explosions of most unusual and vivid violets and greens went off. Then, there was a fire and bombs. The astronaut jumped out of the ship onto the gantry. He shot massive fireworks out of all parts of his body, front and back, legs and arms as he did somersaults down the walkway to the crowd.

Blending into the Desert.
After a few days people adapt to the desert, and they look the part. They wear or carry their goggles or water or bandannas or hat or pack in a way such that one can feel that they are not affectations but part of their playa selves. "When did you get in?" was a good question because different words flow between people who have been there for longer. Even the same words, "How's your burn going?" or "Have you seen the Slide?" or whatever installation was on your mind will have a different meaning.

One Rocket ship launch viewer had close to every possible bandanna on his head. Bandannas come in stock colors and patterns. Camouflage, baby blue, dark blue, gray, white, yellowish. People lose and find them, give and receive and return them. Soaking and wearing a bandanna provides relief from the sun, a shirt provides even more. The bandanna guy had also had leggings and strings and pieces of cloth tied to him as bracelets and necklaces and a sling shot. He had found everything he was wearing and wore it perfectly.

A rickshaw pulled up and the people, one peddler and three riders wanted to know where the French people were camped. The Europeans were festive and had a lot of style and miscellaneous good costumes. Other people had a Rainbow Festival look. None of them looked as cool as the American kid in the bandannas however.

Food, Hammocks, Rope Swing, Om and BRCPO.
The Black Rock Diner had grilled cheese sandwiches at Midnight Tuesday and at 4am Thursday. The Philadelphia Experiment had pancakes Sunday morning. The Hammock Hangout had really comfortable hammocks. Mystical Misfits had a big rope swing swinging amid their party and chill space inside a high ceilinged scaffold structure. Zome Mani Padme Zome had a thousand English word translation of Om Mah Nay Ped May Hoom. Jewel in the heart of the lotus ... path and experience of universality ... The Black Rock City Post Office (BRCPO) sent post cards.

Geodesic domes won over scaffolds, carports, campers, yurts, RVs, shade canopies, vans and tents. They are the coolest subset of the cool climbable steel sculptures that are as much a part of burning man as bicycles. The coolest of the domes was very big and unskinned, that is to say uncovered. The struts averaged about 5' and were painted many different colors. The whole thing was lit with powerful black lights from a dozen columns mounted around it. Jessue built it.

It was at least 6v. The number of varied strut lengths of a geodesic dome, the v, indicate its complexity and size. For example, a 2v dome requires 35 struts of one length and 30 of another. Specifications for the higher v domes are much more involved. Whereas, a 1v can be made well with PVC and duct tape. Bigger ones are made from steel tubes that come in 10' lengths. They are cut leaving room on each side to flatten and to drill bolt holes in. A press is needed to do this well. The struts have to be bent to specific angles. After setting up even a simple 1v, one can appreciate the skill involved in building a big dome. And, also how help is needed to do it. The best playa gifts are not trinkets or food, or substances, but being there for somebody with a tool or a helping hand.

People climbed on this dome day and night all week long. The slope of the climb lessened closer to the top. The views were great, of the playa and of the other climbers. They hung on it, rightside up and upside down, from their feet, from silk and from ropes. They stretched and swung and played catch. White socks and clothing glowed and moved in the black light visible from the Golden Cafe, Tetris Camp, other nearby places and from as far away as the Rocketship. It made the people look so vibrant. It was better than bar lighting.

Jessue Dome was bigger than the Thunder Dome. It might have been the biggest Dome out there other than the Root Society Dome. The Root Society is an institution with many people in it spending on not just the dome, but fuel, trips to consensus reality, big diesel generators, service trucks, equipment repair and replacement, electrical and electronic circuits and work and power plants.

As human nature and perception have evolved, whether we feel with our heart, question with our mind, or attempt to explain our reality, fire has been at our center. At the center of the temple, a three story, lotus shaped construction, is the fire. There was a wedding at the temple. Later on, as the temple burned Calico stepped in and encountered a heat wall -- space so hot that it formed a force field. He set down the offerings of his deceased relatives in the spaces to which he was moved by the force.

The precepts of Zoroastrianism may match burning man principles and reality more closely than any other religion. Particularly, rejection of monasticism and participation in life through good deeds to ensure happiness and free will. Also, somewhat, fire as an agent of ritual purity and prayer in the presence of fire. As for purgation of evil from earth through a tidal wave of molten metal, this may be a long while into the future. There is not enough metal around to create a tidal wave, nor enough heat to melt it. We can wait. Burner evil is mild, mostly just tin can Matter Out of Place (MOOP.) Zoroastrians do not proselytize. Don't try to convert someone to be a burner. She has to want it on her own.

Alcohol was plentiful and probably the most widely shared substance. A Bloody Mary with extra Tang and vodka at Duck Camp started off the burn. Absinthe Camp had a wonderful variety of wormwood infused liquor. The Monsoon Masala was spiced with a powerful array of Indian fragrances. A Grenadine, Bacardi and orange juice was enjoyed at the Swashbuckler Sunrise Saloon in the company of the Janky Barge people. This bar may change its name from year to year. There are things to know about it. First, enter only through the imaginary front door. Second, there are no other rules but gifts of liqueur are really appreciated.

Back to the recollection of drinks -- vodka at Arachnophobia. The bottle was dusty but the liquor was clean. Tabasco sauce and bitter beer after tablets of miracle fruit extract at Miracle Fruit Camp which made hot mild and bitter sweet. Coconut Vodka from a Pirate Rum bottle, with a ship on it. This was a delicious drinking round as the person who most needed a drink explained his woes as the bar opened. He had wanted to do the shade structure in his camp the right way, but everybody else decided to do it the wrong way. As it turned out the drink solved the problem.

Even though drinking had an amplified wonder it was only one of a thousands of physio-psycho-social themes. Many people did not drink at all. It is as hard to tell what the most significant substance on the playa is, as it is to tell its predominate religion.

Music and Games.
Axle played his guitar. Don played the Piano. A Diva sung French and Italian operas in Center Camp. Caveboy cut a CD -- Connect the Dots, Sounds from the Deep Playa vol.3. Infected Mushroom and Armin Van Buren played at the Opulent Temple. A high ethereal trace vibrated throughout the city.

People played a die game. The person with the die asked who wanted to play. He would then name something that the players would have to do if he rolled a 1. Next he would roll. Most of the people were in. The, bartender wasn't; he said he had to watch the bar. The shooter named his thing -- Grab the man of your choice and give him the hardest spanking you can. "And, that includes you," he said to the bartender, who then became interested in the roll of the die. A game of a different kind was Groovik's Cube, an electronic version of Rubik's Cube the size of a house. The power to solve it was split between three separate control stations. Participants solved it at least five times.

There was a storm. It was videotaped passing through the Whine of the Winds, a collection of sounding weathervanes. Other than that, the weather was pretty good -- fairly warm, even at night. Some meteors came out of the NorthEast perhaps from the Perseid constellation, as that known shower was not that long ago. People lingered and danced through the sunrises and sunrise parties at Space Elevator. One morning the moon set just before the sun rose. Thank you Sunrise Coffee Camp, for the coffee.

More Fires and Fire Effects.
All week people left burnables at the burn barrels. Paper bags are great for this purpose. People also dropped off wood. The really big burn barrels, ones so big you could stand in them and not touch any end, were used more toward the end of the week. They were burning during the day Saturday and Sunday and the Monday after the temple burn. People played kickball with flaming wood. People met at the Dustfish burn barrel on the Esplanade, at the Vamp Camp cauldron in the city and at burns and fire effects on the playa. There was a fire ceiling effect on a big sheet of plywood that was anchored in the huge 9:00 burn barrel in such a way that people looked up at it.

Two good fire effects were the Chimera Sententia aka the Fish Bug and Soma. The Fish Bug was a steel based structure. Fire shot out of the extremities of its spine increasing its space. Soma was sculpted as two neurons and fire used for the transmission of information.

Evo-Wall, The Maze, Lighthouse Project 2.0 and Vishnu's Dream.
Oh, so good too were: The Evo-Wall -- a woodpile; The Care Factor Nil Maze -- the trick was to overcome the misdirection and duck under the fence where the bottom half was removed; a Lighthouse and Vishnu's Dream, a ring of cobras framing scenes from evolution and supporting a lotus flower above.

Happy New Year
Our year rolls over as the last burning ember of the temple fades into oblivion. We spent more than a week on the tangled bank. There was enough to see and do for a lifetime. Some pictures are at and
videos at

Evolutionary progress transcends the individual. Mutation of social systems now occur, sometimes quickly. Social and personal boundaries, the structures of society, may dissolve leaving an unpredictable meaning to random contacts. A good and lasting advancement for the human species. Calico is now also Random. Ganesha is now also Parrot. The default world is now also known as consensus reality.

2010 art theme: "Metropolis: The Life of Cities."

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Dark Skies Fire Arts Festival

Space Pirate Greeting
The gate was down a dirt road deep into the old growth Joshua tree forest of Mojave Drums. We were greeted there, next to the Porno Pyro Pirate Dome. Got a slap on the butt, a map and a blue black Dark Skies 2009 sticker. Took a swig of spicy dark rum and became a space pirate! The Pirate Queen found us a spot. It overlooked much of the city, being near the top of the road from the Dome to Party Naked. Paths lead quickly down to the DJ Stage and to Eros Queer Camp.

Sky Wind and Temperature
It was the first weekend after the April new moon. The nights were moonless and cloudless. The Milky Way shimmered. The widest part has the shape of cumulus clouds and swells as the night darkens. Friday the wind gusted; Saturday it was calm. All three Icons burned simultaneously Saturday night. The disassembled pallet pagoda burned pre-dawn Sunday. It was calm from the time the icons were lit though the time the last pallet had been reduced to embers. Slight breezes did blow the sparks away at an angle. The roman candles went straight up. Friday it was cool in the day and chilly at night. Even naturalists wore tops. A poncho or hoodie under a pirate costume or fur playa coat helped battle the cold. So did fire: burn barrels, burning icons and bonfires.

Theme Camps
The theme camps let us get back the love. They were all really good at what they did and had done it many times before. Party Naked had green drinks in a misty radiant punch bowl. The Dome had porn from the silent film era. Eros Queer broadcast high ethereal music interspersed with public service announcements such as "Life Sucks. If you're happy your probably stupid." Playful Adventures had their front door open as well as an opening in the back though which you could peak. Food camp had what would have been an abundance of food even if twice as many people had shown up. They had ribs and seafood and salad and fruit. Journeys had Sno-Cones and a ATV which tooled around letting everybody know about them. Pancake camp had Black Dark Skies 2009 Frisbees. Vegas Lounge had a drum circle.

Drum Circle
Vegas Lounge is a Dome. It was skinned with pure blue cloth as vivid as the Arizona sky above. The beating of drums drew us in. Through the opening we saw a Ganesha tapestry. Beach welcomed us. Inside there was another Ganesha and watermelon. There were several drummers. One of them added some energy and the others picked up on it. Later one of the drummers told of how a well loved drum likes abuse, and another of how music came to him. He could spontaneously lay in his own beats on top of other music and make it work.

The Show
Malicious, the MC, kicked off the show and introduced a panel of judges -- Admiral PainJoy, Viagra (it was his birthday), Lady Frog, Pirate Queen, and Ribbons. First was the mans tightey whitey contest. The Admiral was replaced on the panel by Pirate Ron so that he could compete. As the judges deliberated, Malicious passed the microphone. We learned the three reasons to tattoo $100 on your cock. Next, the womans wet t-shirt contest. The hula hoop act may have been outdone by the erotic water dousing. The judges deliberated and the microphone passed. What do gay reindeer do for fun? They go to the Elks Lodge and blow a few bucks. Next the hot legs dance event. Mystery and Marcos were in it. During the deliberations the sausage joke was told. It is too long to tell it now, but next year it might be retold and be even dirtier. Lastly, there was the banana event which involved seducing and blowing a banana and lots of whipped cream. A team won an the prize was split.

Pirate Games
There was horseshoes and there was Treasure Hunt Extreme! Treasure Hunt Extreme! began with a Scavenger Hunt. Items included a kite, personal objects and sex toys which were worth more if presented on a person. The main part of the game was a search for buried treasure worth more than any of the scavenger items. Journey S. 60 paces, no further. Turn N. From the tree behind your left shoulder, 5 paces W; 8 N; 3E 10S 4W and dig. Drunken pirates wandered the place, shovels in hand. When Calico encountered a pirate with a shovel he would hint that the treasure was under the Creeper, the central icon. One team dug up a box containing the map to the treasure, but they thought it was the treasure itself and didn't open it. Another found an X, but it was a fake X. Other teams collaborated enough to find the treasure spot, but they didn't dig deep enough to get it. Too much time was lost and the game ending without any points being awarded for the treasure. Later that night DNA displayed the treasure, the cock of Davy Jones and awarded prizes. This was before the Truth or Dare game.

Burn Barrels
Fire in Dark Skies burn barrels has a lot of character. Holes punched through the barrels make up patterns and symbols. The ones in the top of the windward side of the barrel by Party Naked formed the words DARK SKIES, illuminated in orange against the dark of night. When the wind picked up flames flickered through the holes. Due to the smoke this was also the only side where no one stood and everyone could see it. The air just inside the barrel was very hot. People put a hand or other part in there to warm it up. There were no major burns, and people were proud of the minor ones, showing them off the next day. People turned and stretched and, all warmed up, went back to the bar. Two people who had just set up their camp long after dark Friday ran up to a burn barrel looking for the party. There was only a solitary person there who offered them some wine. One of them took the wine, drank it, asked what kind it was a slowly said, "Isn't it strange that you have to drive out all this way and down a dirt road to get good wine," mellowing his energy to match the person who was there. He had the most polite manner.

People meet and then they meet again in different clothes, or in a different way and don't remember the first time for a while. That's why so often two people turn out to really be the same person. Some wear and change personalities like costumes. One can both hide and stand out in costume. Many decorative light costumes can be turned on and off, that means they have perfect extrovert and introvert settings. The Arizona people who were there didn't wear costumes so much. Yet, attire or personal objects that provide warmth or joy, such as coats or hats or pipes can be even more festive than a costume. A dancer moved in front of the DJ Stage in basketball sneakers. Friends looked on from the hay bales in green high tops and black striped low shoes. A good costume has a history. It is liked by its owner and worn again to another event. The best have been ripped and repaired, molested and mended, recognized and wondered about. Whose is it? Where will it be seen again? Does it burn?

Sights and Smells
All around the city the desert was in bloom. There were tiny flowers of all colors and also bigger flowers. Even the cactus and chaparral were flowering. Some campers carrying burning sage and sweet grass, walked fast, almost jogged, about the perimeter bring smell of shaman with them. The higher parts had a view of Meadview. Pallet Man drove around in his yacht car that shot propane flames out of tubes mounted in back. To the east is a butte that is part of the very Western Grand Canyon. The butte shades Mojave Drums at dawn, so it becomes light long before the orb of the sun makes it into the visible sky. And, at sunset the butte shows Grand Canyon sunset colors, violet and magenta. There is there, a small ancient building, Turquoise House, made out of rock. It was part of the Pony Express Route. There was an Alien Pirate head on a stick near the Burn Artist Camp.

Nightmare Nevada, Gurrwolf and Junior created the Harvesters. They are three Icons each about twice the size of a man: the Creeper, the Reaper and the Collector. They are icons, not effigies as they are worshiped and they are not of people. They seemed too good to burn. They arrived in a truck Friday night and were positioned in the Burn Bowl by Saturday. The Creeper was in the middle directly in front of the Pagoda Arch. He had deep set eyes of white within red within black. Also, fangs and triangle and square teeth, and an elongated arm stretched out way in front of him all the way to the ground. The Reaper, to the Creepers right held a scythe on a long pole that extended far above his head. The Collector, to the the Creepers left held a sickle and had pumpkin like head with a green stem growing out of it. The papier-mache in the work was glazed in places so that parts of the sculptures looked to be metal. The icons were dressed in black corduroy shirts and green burlap scarves and hoods. They had elbows and knees and even joints in their fingers and toes all bent in a balanced way They cast longer and longer shadows as they day wore on.

It may have been about 10 or 11 pm when they burned. The paper and paint flashed and the cloth went up in flame leaving burning wood skeletons. Their skeletons were wood. As Mustang described it was built bone by bone. Wooden hip bone to wooden leg bone to wooden spine and ribs. This made their skeletons more in common with humans than their outsides, and they did look more human when burning for a while, but still monstrous. The Reaper's scythe collapsed in the inferno, landing on the Creeper and bringing it down. The Collector's rib cage and mask glowed orange. His head fell off and rolled in front of us. Gurrwolf reached for the head, picked it up by a stick sticking out of it and held it aloft triumphantly as it continued to burn. One could still make out parts of the Harvesters hands and heads after an hour. There was some metal in the Icons -- a crosshatched iron grate and chicken wire, picked up afterward for use at another burn.

The Live Stage had jam bands, lights and a mixing board. The musicians played and the fire spinners spun. The saxophonist was very gifted. Erica painted two hula hooping skeletons live on the screen she used to perform her shadow dancing show. The DJ Stage was slick with lights and sound emitting from the back of a trailer.

The Pagoda Arch was the source of the bonfires. It was built by Pallet Man. It was 16' high and 20' wide. It was 65 pallets in the making. It looked like Stone Henge. At first it seemed as if the Pagoda would not be burned. Sometime after the Icons had burned, it still being calm, it was decided that it would be safe to burn it after taking it apart. We made seven piles of pallets stacked 1-3 high. One was started with gasoline, another by diesel, others by burning wood. We rode a bicycle around the bonfires while they were burring. The heat from the fires was so intense one couldn't walk the tracks left by the bike tires. It was a fabulous fire festival.

Sunday over coffee there were stories of sublime beauty -- Amazing Grace sung at BRC and of officious interference -- fee demands by the BLM. Boris gifted posters of his stylized paisley space pirate. The being is a space alien given the head is larger than a human's and a pirate as it has about it a parrot and an eye patch. A white DS formed from painted rocks sits above Dolan Springs between Mojave Drums and highway 93. DS for DARK SKIES to welcome big happiness -- pirates from space -- to the broader Mojave and default world.
Some pictures are at: