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Anti-anti-Burning Man
by Adrian Roberts

I'm going to risk sounding like Andy Rooney here, but... you know what really pisses me off? People who have cynically dismissed Burning Man this year, claiming that "it's gotten too big," and that "it's not as cool as it used to be," and that "it's going to suck this year." Yadda yadda yadda.

Granted, last year did get a little out of hand, what with all the Medevacs flying in and the yahoos screaming "Show us yer tits!" from the backs of pick-up trucks and all the assholes driving their cars around fucking everywhere. I mean, hell, two people died last year, giving credence to CNN's ridiculous description of Burning Man as "the world's most dangerous art festival."

But what I want to know is, where were all of these nay-sayers during Burning Man '95? Okay, so maybe nobody actually died two years ago, but everything that was sited as a problem at last year's BM existed the year before. Was I the only one who noticed?

That was the year our campsite got vandalized. We very nearly got run-down every night by cars speeding off to Rave Camp. On top of that, "Fucking faggot!" epithets were hurled at me by backwards baseball cap-wearing yahoos. That was the year I realized that Burning Man had gone from being this beautiful experiment in utopian community, to turning into the world's largest tailgate party.

Which is not to say that, overall, I didn't have a good time. Okay, so sure, the glow from previous years has been tarnished a bit. Whatever. Instead of whining about it, I went along with it, with one mantra going through my mind: Fucking adapt.

So last year, I went to Burning Man with diminished expectations. And you know what? I had a fucking blast. With the power of negative thinking÷"Yeah, it's probably going to suck but I'm going anyway"÷I was surprised that I actually had a great time! Oh sure, the same problems from the previous year were still there. But at least I was mentally prepared for them. I adapted. And isn't that what survival is all about?

That's why I'm really tired all the Burning Man cynicism that's currently in vogue among BM old-timers. I mean, this being my fifth year here, I suppose I qualify as an old-timer myself. But at least I'm not walking around muttering to anyone who will listen, "It used to be so much cooler..."

Of course it used to be so much cooler. Going to Burning Man is like doing Ecstacy. You have no idea what to expect the first time, and it turns out to be this mind-blowingly awesome experience. So then you keep coming back to it, hoping to relive that initial ecstatic high. And while it's still loads of fun, it's nowhere near as good as the first time. Oh well. That's just life.

In other words, get over it. Yes, we all know Burning Man was cooler five years ago. So what? Because no matter how you slice it, being at Burning Man still beats Real Life by a long shot. And you know it.

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