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Don't forget to pack a Newbie! - 2003
by Adrian Roberts


Every year we do this newspaper - and this is year #9, for those keeping score - there are always slight changes. New challenges, new writers, and, in the case of this year - new staff! Ladies and gentleman, please welcome ... the Newbies! It's what should be on every jaded old-timer's packing list!

As many of our readers know, we used to have a pretty piss-poor anti-Newbie attitude here at Piss Clear, going so far as telling potential Burners not to go, since "Burning Man used be cool, but now it sucks." Of course, we never really believed that - we just said it so people would stop coming.

So what the hell are we doing now, with three Burning Man virgins on staff with us? Well, there's been a change of heart.

Stealth virgins
Last year was one of those weird, magical years, where everything came together beautifully. We ended up hooking up with a group of Instant Playa Friends» who were so bursting full of good vibes and positive energy, that it couldn't help but rub off on us. They were pretty kick-ass and fun, and it wasn't until a couple days later that we found out that - gasp! - it was their first year!

They were total "stealth virgins," taking to Black Rock City as if they'd been coming all their lives. Needless to say, they warmed our cynical little black hearts, reminding us just how special it really can be out here on the playa. When the event was over, no one wanted to leave.

Then, on the ride back home to San Francisco, something strange happened - something that, in my ten years of coming to Burning Man, had never happened before. I started crying.

Yes, me, the editor of the most snarky, cynical, jaded, alternative newspaper in Black Rock City, was reduced to a blubbering mess upon re-entry into the Real World. Sure, I know post-Burn blues are common amongst BRC folk - but I had never experienced it like this. I ended up with crying jags for a week. Decompression can do that to you - and this was a really bad one.

I think it really says something that - even for someone like me, who's been coming out here for years - Burning Man still has the power to provoke that kind of reaction.

Good weather = good vibes
Then again, the weather might have had something to do with it too. Last year, the weather during the event was damn-near perfect: not too hot, not too cold, and only one minor, 20-minute duststorm. It's easy to want to stay in Black Rock City forever when it's beautiful and balmy and not 1000 degrees with duststorms every day.

Of course, the day after the event ended, when clean-up was just beginning, BRC got hit by day-long 100-mile-per-hour duststorms. And while there's nothing like a good natural disaster to pull a community together, weather like that also tends to wear you down. Most years at Burning Man - no matter how fabulous of a time we're having - by the end of the week, we're pretty sick of the weather and ready to head home.

Newbies on staff
Anyway, back to the Newbies we brought with us. When long-standing Piss Clear staff members Stewart and Layne decided to take this year off in order to save money for their wedding, there obviously was a void to fill. It was down to just me and the Mysterious D, and we had no idea where we were going to find media-savvy campmates who could put up with us in an RV for seven days.

And then there they were, literally right underneath our noses! We've known Halcyon, Eric, and Ned through many years of nightclubbing and bar-hopping - and I think it really says something that, through only a few drunken conversations made over loud, pounding music, this year's staff somehow effortlessly came together.

That should also give you an idea of how this particular issue came together as well, featuring possibly the most subversive cover we've ever done. (Feel free to use it as a template if you wish - it's near actual size!)

Time to rethink psychedelics
Yes, this is just the sort of issue that Piss Clear made its name with, printing things the BMorg would never dare put in their Survival Guide or the Black Rock Gazette. Keep in mind though, we're not exactly condoning drug use. In fact, we have quite a few testimonials that just might scare you off from doing anything other than snorting playa dust!

Let's face it though, despite BMorg's wishes, most Black Rock City denizens do drugs out here. It goes with the territory. Some people think the desert and psychedelics go together like peanut butter and jelly. But not everyone.

Maybe it's just me, but the bigger Black Rock City gets, the less fun psychedelics seem to be. Back when the art outnumbered the people, it was easy to just trip around the playa, watching things go zig-zag. But with so many here now, Burning Man has become more like a giant cocktail party, and it's hard to be a witty conversationalist when you're out of your mind on acid or 'shrooms.

Gather 'round kids, I've got a little drug story to tell. The last time I did mushrooms, my girlfriend and I shared a batch. About thirty minutes later, we both had the same sick, nauseous feeling - but without any trippiness. Where was the fun in this? We figured the doubled-over ookiness would soon pass, and we stumbled back to camp to ride out the nausea.

Except that it wouldn't stop. This was one ride we wanted to get off, and the only thing we could think of to counteract the 'shrooms was to snort a bunch of cocaine.

Well, this worked for me, but it didn't work for my girlfriend. She ended up laying in bed in the RV, still feeling ooky, and waiting for the mushrooms to wear off.

I, of course, all high on cocaine, wanted to run off and play. But if there's one thing I've learned in my many years of doing drugs at Burning Man, it's that if you're doing psychedelics, it is not cool to abandon the person you're doing them with. So I was forced to stay at camp.

Fortunately, we were on the Esplanade - the same spot we're camped this year - so there was a steady stream of people who wandered by, and I ended up chattering away happily with several visitors. The one thing I love about Black Rock City is how hyper-social it is, and cocaine is definitely a more social drug than, say, acid or mushrooms, or hell, even Ecstacy.

We've got plenty more stories to tell about doing drugs at Burning Man, as that's what this issue is all about! We hope you enjoy it, and we'll see you out on the playa!





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