Sunday, September 8, 2013


Hi Team!
So, in a rare bit of traveling repetition for me, I returned to Burning Man this year.
I didn't feel like I got everything I could out of the festival last year. As amazing as the experience was (SEE BLOGS HERE I felt like there was more to see, do, feel etc.
And there was.
Walking into the fire...

First off, RENO.
Yep, this years burn adventure started in Reno, NV with us picking up some bikes from fellow burners Bryan and Denise Warner, who might possibly be the nicest people I have ever met. Their generosity is staggeringly awesome. My roommate Brian had connected with them on facebook / twitter before the event and they said they had some bikes they would gift to us and other burners. Reno Bryan wasn't going this year and wanted to help out/participate somehow. (I've noticed that this happens with Burner's who don't go. They want to be a part somehow.)
Well, on top of two great bikes we were gifted for the week, they let us borrow a 35 gallon water jug, venager, tools, tape, vasaline, vegatables from their garden. They let us sleep in their trailer the night before and after. Use their shower. They cooked us breakfast and dinner and breakfast again. Gave us beer. Tequila. I mean, for the love of God these two are nice! :)

New friends!

And in many ways they were some of the best connections I made on this trip, ironically not on the Playa. There's no way we could repay their kindness, and that after all is part of the point of Burning Man. It's gifting. It's not trading or bartering as many folks think (and I did before I went for the first time). It's a gift. It does not need to be repaid. Though it's interesting how gifts make you WANT to repay. Not because you have to, but because gifting rules. Roommate Brian took awesome pictures of their firespinning daughter after we returned (She's 12. She's awesome). That was a great gift from him.
PLAYA, take 2.

So we drove in on Tuesday around sunset. I was super hungry, so the 1 hour and 45 minute wait to get searched (they're looking for stowaways and nothing else) and get our tickets was pretty rough on me. I wish I hadn't gotten so frustrated, but I did. That's me and food. I get like that. It sucks.

Especially when you realize other people waited 6, 7 or even 12 (!!!) hours to get in. No shit. To me that's a serious problem that Burning Man needs to deal with. It wasn't that many years ago this event was 30,000. Now it's almost 70,000!. I've got some suggestions I'll email them that will hopefully streamline things for next years event (assuming they listen. :). Maybe that'll be my gift to the Burner's next year.
We camped with the French Quarter Press Corps this year. A nice group of folks, though I never really bonded much with any of them. I tried, but for some reason it didn't happen. We even had a meal plan, where we help cook a meal one dinner or breakfast and (in theory) have food the other meals. But it's still burning man, and people might not show up, or might not do it. Most meals we had, and I was always grateful for what I did eat. It was nice to not have chili and clam chowder every meal like last year. :)
This years theme was "Cargo Cult". I'm not sure what that really means. I had a few people explain various versions to me. In the end, it didn't matter. But it is what led the man to be standing on top of A GIANT FLYING SAUCER!!!! How awesome is that!?!?! It was amazing to see at sunset and you could climb inside it and slide down slides. It pretty much ruled. (If you goto the blog page you can see a picture or two of it).

Pyramids. 5 Pyramids. Power. Strength. For me this was no temple of sorrow or death. It was something else. However, for many others the death and sorrow were there. There are tales of this years temple I will put in another email...

Black Rock City. It was fun to be back. It did sort of feel like "home". People welcome you home when you get there with hugs and smiles. ANd it did feel much more familiar than last year when it was a giant bunch of "What the heck is going on?!?!?" :). This year I knew what was going on... but was still regularly surprised. There were some familiar staples, like the giant fireblasting octopus art car. The shark. The boat. But there were new things like Steam rooms, foam parties and more.
It was really fun to see some of those happy familiar things, but also discover new things. Also, camps and art were in different places. For instance, Crossroads, the great live music camp, was in a different location with a bigger stage. Burning man is always in flux. Everything is temporary after all.
Just like German Language Camp!

This is the area outside the "city" blocks. It's where the man sits (or stands or flies), where the temple is and also tons of art and sculptures. Many of which get burned. This year there was a giant Mir space station replica (which burned), a 85 foot tall woman that lit up with different patterns (which didn't burn), and a "forest", where you lay on sheepskin (like) rugs under these waving ribbons of white while ambient music played. It was pretty cool, and apparently a romantic destination, as many folks around me, half hidden in the "trees" were smooching and doing other things you would normally not do in public. :)

But that's burning man. Do your thing, whatever it is, as long as it doesn't hurt someone else.
As I said last year, if you're not comfortable with people expressing themselves however they want to, this might not be your best choice for an adventure. That being said, I think everyone could go to burning man and have a great experience. It'll rock you out of your comfort zone, but also let you see things you could never see anywhere else.
A lot of critics of Burning Man have said "Ahh, that's just a place for dirty hippies to get naked and walk around". Or "That's just a place to do drugs and be delinquents". (Yes, I've heard both of these). And though there are definitely naked people walking around, dancing around etc. And there are people doing drugs (more on that in another entry), many of the people that go to burning man are the smartest, most driven folks you could ever meet. THey are CEO's of companies (Mark Zuckerberg anyone?), they are creative, engineers, artists, scientists, cops, movie folks, doctors, dreamers, psycholgists etc etc. It's kind of amazing. It's generally that you don't ask folks what they do in the real world, as it doesn't matter. But it's fun to see these people create things.
Like the Pirate Ship. Which I missed. It was not there this year. It was incredible, and it turns out Bryan (Reno) was one of the folks who worked on it. For months and months. This group of people built this amazing thing (which did not burn). It's awesome to see the drive and creativity.
I'm rambling... more to come.
Burning Man 2013!