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Urban blight comes to Black Rock - 1996
by Adrian Roberts

To be honest, I‰m actually somewhat surprised that my friends and I are even out here this year. While last year had its moments, it was definitely tarnished by several negative incidents. For instance, it was quite disturbing to wake up Sunday morning to discover an unshod vagrant, reeking of alcohol, crashed in our spare storage tent, shamelessly helping himself to our food and water. When I ever-so-politely confronted him, saying, ‹Hey there, you know, it‰s usually customary to ask permission first before you start eating someone else‰s food,Š he replied drunkenly, ‹Oh, yeah, uh, well...can I eat some of your food?Š This is exactly the sort of unsavory element that had us questioning whether or not we would return.

Another incident occured on Sunday night. Having set up our camp out in the ‹suburbs,Š we constructed an eight-foot tall metal tree, and adorned it with several blinking lights and flashing beacons, to assist us in finding our way home easily. For the first three nights, it worked like a charm, easily defining from a distance where our campsite was. So it was with great frustration when we found ourselves wandering around the playa late Sunday night, desperately trying to find our campsite. After a good two hours of searching, we finally stumbled across our tents. The reason we couldn‰t find our camp? Our tree beacon had been horribly vandalizedÖall of the lights attached to it had been stolenÖabout $75 worth actually. This steamed us to no end. That was when we realized that things at Burning Man had definitely changed.

Granted, anytime you get thousands of people together for anything, you‰re bound to get a few assholes. Still, what was once a beautiful experiment in utopian community living seems to have degenerated into transplanted urban blight. It‰s unfortunate that we now have to be ‹streetwiseŠ out in the desert. Needless to say, we keep our car doors locked.

Speaking of cars, the biggest assholes on the playa this year are the ones who can‰t seem to stop driving everywhere! This isn‰t fucking L.A., y‰know! Why can‰t you people just come out here and park! As everyone knows, driving around the playa creates huge dust plumesÖcausing, in effect, pollution in the desert.

At night, the level of vehicular assholishness gets even worse. We‰ve nearly gotten plowed several times by idiots speeding their way out to rave campÖfucked up on drugs no doubtÖthinking that out in the wide expanse of the desert, they don‰t need to worry about hitting anything. Except for maybe pedestrians.

Look, if you‰re going out to the Techno Ghetto, walk, or at least ride a bike. If you must drive, please do so slowly. The way things are going, it‰s only a matter of time before someone gets hit. Think about how large this desert is, and then think about how ridiculous that sounds. Get a clue.

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