Piss Clear  -- Black Rock City's favorite alternative newspaper


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Another year, another Burning Man... - 1998
by Adrian Roberts

And another issue of Piss Clear. Okay, let's get one thing out of the way first, because anyone who hasn't been here before always asks. It is our job÷nay, our duty÷as Black Rock City's only alternative newspaper, to be sassy, snarky, and silly. But we're also looking out for you. Yes, you. And the name of this here humble publication is meant as a constant reminder for you to drink enough water so that you piss clear. That is, and always has been, the number one survival tip for the Black Rock Desert. So don't you forget it.

As for other survival tips, we're full of 'em. After all, when Piss Clear first launched, way back in 1995, it was originally meant to be an irreverent survival guide. Now in our fourth year on the playa, Piss Clear is that and so much more. For instance, this issue is chock full of tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your stay here. We're proud to have the Space Cowgirls with us this year÷check out their fashion and beauty tips inside. Sister Dana Van Iquity comes over from the dark side÷er, I mean the Black Rock Gazette÷to explain why even in a city as open-minded as Black Rock, there's still a need for queer awareness. And, just for something a little different, we scored an interview with someone who came to Burning Man last year and÷gasp!÷hated it! Can you believe it?

We're also proud to feature the triumphant return of our popular Drug Guide for the Playa. This is just the sort of information the Black Rock Gazette would never print, wanting to spoon-feed you instead with a steady supply of propaganda straight from the BM Powers That Be. After all, they don't want to give you any ideas. But like I said, we're looking out for you.

Speaking of drug use though, there are so many cool things going on this week in Black Rock City, that I'm not so sure I even want to be on drugs, at least not the hallucinogenic kind. As if there weren't enough trippy things going on out here! And that's the thing÷each year I am absolutely blown away by the amount of cool shit that people shlep out here to the desert! It's utterly amazing! I look around in awe at the elaborate theme camps, the beautiful costumes, the immense pieces of artwork, and all I can think is... damn, someone spent a shitload of money! I think a lot of people here are in a much higher income bracket than me.

And that's something no one here ever really talks about, the dirty little secret about Burning Man: it's sort of classist here. There, I said it. Face it, if you're poor, chances are you're not going to make it to Burning Man. And I'm not even talking about the ticket price, which I still think is a deal, even at $100. I'm talking about everything else÷the camping gear, the RV rental, the gas, the food, the water. And then, if you don't want to feel like a loser once you're out here, you have buy 500 feet of rebar and 1000 square feet of tarpaulin, along with whatever else you need so you can build your fancy-schmancy theme camp. It all adds up.

And that's not all. Have you noticed how white Black Rock City is? With all this talk about how we're such an open, inclusive community, we're not exactly very ethnically diverse now, are we? What's up with that? Not that I'm making a judgment call here or anything, but call a spade a spade. The demographic here skews mostly toward upper-middle class white folk÷essentially, Black Rock City is what is known to real estate brokers as a "nice neighborhood," or at least a "gentrifying area."

Of course, I don't really care, since everyone here is so fucking "cool" anyway. Have you noticed how fucking cool everyone is? Everyone's trying to show everyone else how fucking cool they are, trying to outdo everyone else. How cool.

Look, even Piss Clear tries to be cool. We may not have much of a theme camp, and we may not have shlepped a Ryder truck out here filled with the most amazing art you've ever seen, but we try÷in our own little way÷to take a stab at Black Rock City glory. I mean, come on, a big part of the reason anyone does anything out here is for the attention. Sure, we go on and on about "contributing to the community" and all that, but what it really comes down to is ego-gratification. Piss Clear is no different. Like any other theme camp out here, we're just a shameless vanity project gone amuck.

Quite unlike any other theme camp though, the Piss Clear World Headquarters has no theme÷other than "grab a paper and get the hell out!" Or something like that. In fact, just about the only interactive portion to our camp is the fact that you're reading this right now. Woo-hoo. If you want to come visit though, we're located over in the village of Disturbia, on the north side of Black Rock City. Stop by and we'll give you Piss Clear stickers. We didn't bring enough last year, so this year we went all out. I want to see Piss Clear stickers on every stop sign in this city!

Hopefully, if all goes well, we'll have another issue of Piss Clear for you on Saturday. It's slated to be our first-ever Best of Black Rock City issue, and we're looking forward to doing it! Be on the lookout for the Disgruntled Postal Workers, who will be distributing Piss Clear throughout the weekend. You can also pick us up at the newspaper rack by the Bulletin Board in Center Camp, and at finer theme camp establishments across the playa.

Until next issue, enjoy!



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