||Random rants, tips and tricks - 1995
by Adrian Roberts
There are no observers, only lofty ideals
The slogan, "There are no observers, only participants" is a nice thought, even if it is total bullshit. There are tons of people here just observing and not participating. After all, if everyone were participating, there would be no one left to observe them, and then what?
There’s just too much going on!
Perusing the long and ever-growing list of performances, bands, theme camps, and other attractions and diversions taking place at this year's Burning Man, a creeping feeling came over me, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks: "Shit! I can't be fucked up on drugs this year! There's just too much going on that I want to check out! If I were on drugs, I'd probably be too messed up to care, and I'd end up missing out on some of this cool stuff that's happening! I'd feel so lame! I'd be so out of the loop! Fuck! How did this happen?"
I used to worry about the Burning Man festival selling out. It was something I termed the "Lollapalooziation" of Burning Man. I was fearful of showing up to the Black Rock Desert one year, only to be inundated with a plethora of greasy food trucks and cheesy souvenir vendors, hawking everything from Burning Man t-shirts to Burning Man spoons to Burning Man shot glasses to Burning Man snowglobes. You know, the usual assortment of tourist trap hellspawn.
But then, I started to realize ????? ???????? ? ?????? ??? ??????????? something. Despite the fact that the festival gets larger every year, attracting an increasing amount of so-called "participants", I don't think it will ever completely Lollapalooziate. Why? Because, let's face it. Hauling your sorry little ass out here to the middle of fucking nowhere, to camp for three days with no running water or electricity, is hardly what anyone would call low-maintenance. Being at least two hours from anything resembling civilization doesn't help either. It's just too difficult of a trip for most coddled urban dwellers to deal with.
Think about it. How many people did you talk to about Burning Man, and how many of them are actually out here this weekend? You know the story. They all hear about how great Burning Man is, make plans to come out the following year, and then, one by one, they all flake out. Knowing that the basic inconvenience factor will, by its very nature, probably never change, we can take solace in the fact that your average, everyday person probably won't deal very well with this environment. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing either.
Be nice to people on drugs
The desert presents an opportunity for people to explore another side of themselves, and oftentimes, that exploring involves drugs and other psychoactive substances. They probably don't do this very often from where they come from. But out here, they are on vacation from the responsibilities of their everyday lives. So please, be considerate.
The sun is your enemy
After rigorous real-world testing, we here at Piss Clear have determined that the best possible sunblock you can buy÷at your neighborhood drugstore, that is÷is Coppertone¨ Sportú, SPF 30. It's creamy blend of ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate, oxybenzone, and 2-ethylhexyl salicylate clearly makes it a winner. Gliding smoothly into your skin, it then totally stays there, resisting sweat, water, and, most importantly, ultraviolet rays. With both UVA and UVB protection, its PABA-free formula doesn't run into your eyes, and it doesn't make you feel slimy either, like so many other sunblock brands. Okay, so there is that little problem of it being a real bitch to wash off, but for those as sunburn-phobic as we are, it's a small concession.
One-track-minded pyromaniac artists
Are the performers here one-track-minded, or what? It's like, someone came up with fire as an artistic motif, and it worked so well that now everybody's doing it! It's all fire-this, and burn-that. Whatever happened to originality? Geez, all anyone can think about out here is burning stuff.
Burning Man burn-out
It's sort of ironic how the Man is meant to be the focal point here, but by the time we get around to burning him down, it seems practically anti-climactic. We spend so much time cramming in so many other cool activities, that when we finally get around to Sunday night, it's like, "Okay, we've done all this cool shit, now what?" "Oh, I suppose we should burn down that big neon figure now." "Oh sure, okay, whatever."
Mixing organic with synthetic
For some reason, early-80's synth-pop and techno music work really well for me out here. The more synthetic, the better. I think it's a context and irony thing. Besides, drum circles just seem so obvious, don't you think?
Sex and drugs
A lot of people come out here for spiritual enlightenment. Some come here to revel in earthy paganism. But mostly I think, people come here for two things: sex and drugs.
Fortunately, both are relatively easy to find. All you have to do is ask around!
For those less socially-inclined however, there are other options. The bulletin board at Central Camp provides an easy forum for those in search of drugs. There are always fliers posted from people who are looking to either buy or sell psychoactive substances. Just check the board.
And though it's been three years since there's been anything resembling a sexual personal ad on the Central Camp board, it wouldn't hurt to check. Or better yet, post your own! After all, it's worked before.
Of course, you could always place a small ad in the Black Rock Gazette. I'm sure they'd run a personal ad if you asked them÷or if you gave them money. Don't worry, it doesn't conflict with their ethics. Besides, they could probably use the advertising revenue anyway.
No better place to rave
The only time I ever seem to rave these days is when I'm out here in the desert. There's just something about dancing outside on the playa, underneath a blanket of stars, that not even the best warehouse party in the City can compete with. Once I raved out here, it became difficult for me to rave anywhere else.
Bicycle light debacle
In this year's registration materials, it states: "Finding your own tent...may prove to be a challenging task at night. A small bicycle flasher on your tent may be helpful."
Oh, great. So now everyone's going to bring out to the desert a small bicycle flasher to hang on their tent. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how this is going to work.
"Where's our camp? Oh, it's that one over there, the one with the flashing bicycle light. No? Well, maybe it's that one over there. No? Well, there's a flashing bicycle light over there. Maybe that's the one. Or maybe not. Is that one is ours...no? Well, maybe that one..."
Ground Control to Major Tom...
Walking around the Black Rock Desert at night without a flashlight often feels as if I'm floating through deep space. Especially when I'm all alone. Especially when I'm walking all the way out to the rave camp.
My omnipresent backpack begins to feel like an astronaut's jet pack, as I gaze up at the stars and float through the cosmos. Eventually, I head toward some distant star system, the one with the bright star that pulses at regular intervals. Jetting across the inky black void, the deep space waystation becomes visible, and I prepare to dock. After landing, I decide to hang out, visiting with the people whom I know. Removing my astronaut's jet pack, I dance around, reveling at the fact that I can be so far from home, yet feel such bliss.
Soon though, it is time for me to be on my way. I bid farewell, and leap back into deep space, to float toward my own space camp, somewhere in the distant night.
Flaming Man: Big & Pink
It seems as though the buzz surrounding this year's Burning Man festival is, "Okay, well, betcha didn't think of this!" But we have.
In honor of the queer contingent at Burning Man, we welcome the arrival of a bigger flamer. Yes, Flaming Man, Burning Man's younger queer brother, is here. He has at last made his way to our desert to partake in some enchanting pagan fun. (He thinks the idea is totally cute!) So salute!
It was hard work outing the creature, so please, come visit him Burning Man Eve. (That's Saturday night.) Share some stories, drink, and dance to music in celebration of us queers in the desert. Or just bring a nice pair of shoes to offer up. Flaming Man forgot his. See you there!
It is one of the great injustices of life that chocolate melts in the desert.
Why there are more people out here this year than last year: "They told two friends, and then they told two friends, and so on, and so on, and..."
Try not to camp downwind from the porta-potties. You will regret it.