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Themes suck "beyond belief" - 2003
by Adrian Roberts


I've been holding off on this all week, but since this is our last issue for the year (everyone say, "Aww!") I'm just going to say it now: this year's theme sucks "beyond belief."

Okay, practically every year's theme sucks. But this one is especially sucky. It's as if the BMorg tried to think of a theme vague enough - but not too vague - that practically anything anyone does out here can somehow fit in with it.

Got a weird abstract blinky sculpture? Now it's the Altar of Weird Abstract Blinky Shit! Have a barter bar? Now it's the Church of Booze! Building a theme camp about, uh, whatever? Now it's the Temple of Whatever! See, no matter what you do, it can fit in with the theme! How about that?

I have to admit though, I'm pretty impressed with the Man this year. When we got here on Monday evening, the first thing I did - as I do every year - was visit him. It's this little ritual of mine. Some years, I don't even make it back there until they burn the fucker down. But this year has been different.

Yes, the whole Towering Ziggurat Great Temple of Burning Man thing is actually pretty cool. Every year, they manage to ramp it up, but this year, they really went all out. Perhaps they realized that the Man was starting to get upstaged by the Temples of Tears/Joy/Honor. It's simply amazing that they build these immense, gorgeous structures, just to burn them down a week later.

I could do without all the quasi-religious temple idol stuff though. Seeing people hanging out as "living icons" around the base of the Man feels like I'm watching strange creatures in cages at the zoo. If they do something similar next year, maybe they should play that up - the Black Rock City Zoo! "Here's a rare blue body-painted freak, usually only found in California. And here's a Shiva goddess wanna-be, doesn't she look cool? And there's a giant bunny rabbit - I've never seen one so big before!"

Stupid street names, yet again
Past readers will know that I'm beating a dead horse here, but can we please talk about the street names ... again? How hard is it to name the city's streets in an order that is instantly and easily understandable to people on drugs? At least they're in alphabetical order this year - but they skipped a bunch of letters, which still makes it slightly confusing. The streets go from Authority to Creed - skipping a "B' street entirely. What, they couldn't name a street "Belief'? And as for the outer streets, entire sections of the alphabet get passed over, resulting in Reality, Theory, and Vision, instead of Hogwash, Issues, and Jadedness.

At least the clock dial system got mercifully reinstated, especially after last year's "points on a compass" debacle. But still, the city planners - okay, Larry Harvey - had to get all smarty-pants on us and give the streets secondary names like Absurd, Dubious, and Ridiculous, all of which are apt descriptions of yet another stupid Burning Man theme that is obviously trying way too hard.

The Blinky Light Tour
Successfully navigating the city's streets at night while fucked up on drugs is probably a losing proposition, so why not just avoid the city entirely and head out to the playa for a Blinky Light Tour? If you're doing psychedelics - or hell, even if you're not - it's highly recommended.

Like we do every year, a bunch of us went on a Blinky Light Tour last night, and we had a blast. We lit ourselves up with glowsticks and EL wire (it sure is dark when it's a new moon, huh?) and hopped on our bikes and rode out into the open playa - otherwise known as the Wholly Other. After we got way the hell out there, we stopped and looked around. Aaaaaah! Don't you just love seeing that long row of twinkling lights that is Black Rock City? Prettier than Vegas, I say.

Then, we all got quiet for a moment, zoning out and listening to the distant sounds of the city - the pounding thud of the bass from Xara, a snippet of movie dialogue from the Starlite Drive-In Theater, the distant cries of "Woooo!" from, uh ... Thunderdome, probably.

I pointed at a blinky light in the distance, and said, "There!" And off we went, pedalling straight toward ... something. You never know what you're going to find out there. It is, after all, the largest, coolest, open-air art gallery ever!

Some of the art we found was good, some of it was great, and some of it was just a complete waste of time. But remember, it's the journey that matters, not the destination. It's that sense of wonderment and mystery as you ride your bike or art car (do not attempt this on foot) off into the inky void, heading toward something that's going to turn out to be either magical or mediocre - you just never know until you get there.

Every year, I'm just amazed at the massive amounts of creativity that goes on out here. I mean, it's just sickening, this outpouring of intense craziness. I just want to give mad props to all the artists out here - thank you! And who out here doesn't want to get mad props?

Giving the Nod
Hell, why do you think I run a photo of myself on this page? It's so if you see me out on the playa, you can stop me and say hi. Or just give the Nod. I love the Nod, and would like to give it to some of Black Rock City's artists, such as David Best, who created the Temple of Honor, or Zachary Coffin, who did the big slabs of granite hanging precariously out there over the playa.

As you've probably figured out, this is our annual "Best of Black Rock City' issue, and it's our way of "giving the Nod" to some of the theme camps, bars, art pieces, and performances that we've really dug out here. The Mysterious D has been blundering around the playa all week, compiling a list and taking names. It's all very highly-opinioned, but we hope that you'll agree with our favorites.

It's been a great week so far, and we hope you've enjoyed Piss Clear this year. Have a great Burn everyone, and we'll see you out on the playa!





2002 Piss Clear
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