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Our first annual Best of Black Rock City
Now really, what sort of alternative newspaper would we be if we didn't have a "Best of..." issue? Why, it's an alternative press clichŽ!

Since arriving here in Black Rock City, we've been combing the streets and hanging out in theme camps, discovering a few of the best things that make Black Rock City culture so much fun. Some of 32 things listed here will seem obvious, while others may be a bit off the beaten path. Either way, we hope you enjoy this list as much as we had fun putting it together. So without further ado, we're proud to present our very first annual "Best of Black Rock City."


Best Place To Get A Grilled Cheese Sandwich At Four In The Morning
The closest thing Black Rock City's got to an all-night bar and grill, Bianca's Smut Shack is that, and so much more. Bianca's Smut Shack is a full-on, 24-7 party spot, with far and away the most gracious hosts on the playa. These people really know how to throw a party. They're so friendly and nice and loving, and just being there will just fill you with enough warm fuzzies to get you through a cold Black Rock night. After all, Bianca loves you!

At any given time of day, there are interesting people hanging out here, lounging on one of the comfy couches, or flipping through one of several pornographic magazines laying around. To be honest, there usually isn't anything all that smutty going on at Bianca's, unless you consider the multitude of good vibes and friendly flirting that goes on to be particularly smutty.

And oh yes, about those grilled cheese sandwiches. They're simply the best on the playa, a Bianca trademark. Come for the grilled cheese, stay for the love.

Best Aluminum Recycling
It's about damn time Black Rock City started recycling, and nobody does it better than the denizens of Devil's Dozen Recycle Camp. Putting the 'cycle' back into 'recycling,' these are the people who have been swarming around the city on their Insectomobiles, collecting aluminum cans to melt and cast into those weird bicycle racks you've been seeing pop up. Bring your cans and other aluminum items to their camp for a truly smashing experience! Ride their Steamroller Bike! Create Trashy Fashions! Be warned though: they only accept aluminum. Any misguided individuals trying to unload any non-aluminum recyclables will have to deal with a Devil's Advocate, who may effect irreparable damage to their souls.

Best Lawn on the Playa
Incongruities abound on the playa, but for our money, nothing beats the sight of a lush green lawn spread on parched, barren earth in a neat rectangle. Top it off with some brightly painted balls rolling through arched wickets and a few lunatics waving wooden mallets around spewing torrents of vile invective at each other, and you've got some kinda sport, pal. Croquet, to be exact, and it's one of the most fashionable pastimes in Black Rock City.

Eileen Hoyt's Croquet Lawn at Fandango! camp (north side of Black Rock City) evokes much emotional responses from passerby. You'll want to touch it. "Is it real?" you'll ask wide-eyed, bending over to ruffle the blades of grass with your fingers, to prove it to yourself. "Can I water it?" you'll ask. Sure, go ahead, water Eileen's lawn. But don't think it'll make her hesitate if she has the opportunity to knock your ball into the next county.

Best Place To Score Drugs
If you thought that Burning Man would be an easy place to score some drugs, chances are, you thought wrong. Oh sure, there are people selling in Black Rock City÷at inflated prices. Besides, who wants to spend their weekend here trying to find drugs? Hopefully, you did what we do, and that's stockpile in San Francisco first, before coming out here. You'll remember that next year, okay?

Best Place To Watch The Man Burn
Unless you're part of the elite crew who built Tower Camp you can pretty much forget about scoring the best seats in the house for viewing the Burn on Sunday night. Hang out on the playa floor with the rest of the plebes, and gaze longingly at Tower Camp off in the distance. Oh, a Burn with a view. Sigh. Maybe next year we'll remember to bring our own scaffolding.

Best Place To Pick Someone Up
Cafe Temps Perdu? No. Bianca's Smut Shack? No, no. The Central Camp Bulletin Board? No, no, no. The best place to pick someone up in Black Rock City is standing in line for the porta-potties. Start practicing your pick-up lines now: "Have I seen you here before?" or "Hey baby, come here often?" or "God damn, these porta-potties fucking stink!"

Best Place To Get Laid
Not saying that you're actually going to be able to accomplish this or not, but certainly bumping uglies in the Haystack Room underneath the Burning Man would give you some richly-deserved hipster cred points, not to mention providing you with a scintillating topic of conversation at cocktail parties across the playa. One warning though: please don't try this on Sunday night.

Best Place To Soak Your Feet And Get A Manicure
Highly recommended by the Space Cowgirls, Camp Camp Village Quarter's Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence reportedly give the best manicures on the playa. These are some of the most gracious nuns we've ever met, and anyone who offers you a cool beer and a foot bath, along with a stunningly wide selection of nail color, is a friend of ours! Look for them at Camp Camp, next to the Bleu Light District, on the north side of Black Rock City.

Best Emergency Make-Over
You've got it hand it to those queens over at M*A*S*H*cara (Atlantic at South 5th). The Ladies Militia Forced Aid Camp are outfitted with the largest arsenal of make-up on the playa, and they mean business! They've got a stockpile of lipsticks and mascara, and they know how to use them! If you find yourself in need of make-up aid, these queens might be able to help. Or then again, maybe not. As Private Nambla the Clown says, "In the grand Burning Man tradition, M*A*S*H*cara is ground zero for great ideas executed poorly." Be on the lookout though for a rumored drag queen take-over of Bianca's Smut Shack on Sunday before the Burn!

Best Place To Destroy Aliens
It's a little-known fact that the editor of Piss Clear is actually a closet classic videogame junkie, and probably owns the largest collection of Atari 2600 cartridges this side of the Black Rock Mountains. It's for this reason that we love Camp Atari! With games such as Asteroids, Breakout, and Space Invaders on tap, you can easily relive your pathetic twentysomething childhood memories. They've also got a few other classic videogame systems set up, such as the Odyssey2 and an original Nintendo. Whatever. For us, it's this camp's namesake that keep us coming back.

Best Shower
Sure, you can get by with one of those solar showers, or any number of the other makeshift showers out here. But why bother? You know you're just going to be sticky and sweaty and gross and covered with playa dust five minutes later anyway, so what's the point? The best shower you're likely to get is the one you'll take in Reno, before heading home. In fact, once you get off the playa, no matter where you are, the first shower you get will be the best.

Best Place To Make A Charitable Contribution To White Trash Nevada Kids
Many people know that the public landfill at Lockwood, right off Interstate 80 on the way to Reno, is one of the best places to dump all your post-Burning Man garbage. What they don't know though, is that there is also a dumpster there, where one can toss in assorted toys, games, books, whatever, which are then donated to children throughout the local area. I still cherish the thought that some cool kid in Nevada is tooling around his or her neighborhood on the fuzzy yellow fake-fur bicycle that I dumped off there two years ago.


Best Theatrical Production In Town
It's huge, it's epic, it's got a cast of hundreds, a great score, and a set that burns. Who cares if it makes no sense? Now in it's third year as a full-scale theatrical production, sculptor Pepe Ozan's annual fire lingam opera is truly a grand site to behold, rivaling even the burning of the Man himself. This year's opera, The Temple of Rudra, to be performed tonight at midnight, promises to be even bigger and better than last year's. Pepe and his team should be commended for producing one of the most epic moments of Burning Man, a magical presentation that can only be described as ecstatic!

Best Place To See Something You're Not Quite Sure Was For Real The Next Day
For your money÷in other words, none÷the Fandango! Stumble-In Theatre (Village Way South 3rd) provides you with the best rest stop on the road to nirvana. Every night around midnight, they present on their big screen a short film festival of the weird and sublime. You never know quite what you're going to see. That's the beauty of it. All in all, not a bad place to chill out while you're trying to come down off whatever drugs you happen to be on. And if you happen to have a short film or video that you'd like to see on their giant screen, by all means bring it by.

Best Place To Showcase Your Extraordinary Talent While Drunk
Unveil your fabulousness to your friends and co-campers in the brightest spotlight on the playa, Kimba's Spotlight. Emcee Kimba Cravemore, with the aid of luscious co-vixens Megilla and Mithril, hosts an open, nightly invitation to your inner celebrity. Sets, costumes, music, props, inspiration, and occasional scorn await you under the blaze of the Big Bright Spot in the Bleu Light District. If you missed last night's bizarre showcase of so-called "talent," then you'll definitely want to drop by tonight at 8 pm. Get up on stage and show 'em your stuff! Just be warned though: they don't always take too kindly to poetry and/or acoustic guitars.

Best Local Homegrown Sport
Where else but in Black Rock City can you watch a bunch of drunken idiots burn themselves while kicking and throwing a flaming ball of fire all over the place? We lamented its absence last year, but thankfully, Fireball returned to the playa this past Thursday. If you missed the classic battle between Shirts and Skins, then you'll just have to wait until next year...


Best Coffee
For that early morning java jolt, where else are you going to go? The CafŽ Temps Perdu, run by the fabulous Miss P, is the place. With over 10,000 cups served, how can you go wrong? Not only that, it has a reputation around town as the best places in Black Rock City to pick someone up!

Best Bar-Hopping On The Playa
Look, you can go wandering all over the playa looking for booze. Or, you can simply go to the NeighBarhood, your one-stop shopping for all your alcoholic needs. With over a dozen different bars and a rotating cast of bartenders, there's something for everyone here. Well, except a 12-Step Program. Just be sure to bring something to barter÷ice, liquor, mixers, sexual favors, whatever÷otherwise the bartenders will get a tad testy. As they say here, "Drink more, worry less!"

Best Mixed Drinks Served Without Attitude
The best laughs we've had all year were at the Black Rock City Country Club. Bust out your Hawaiian shirt and slip into those loafers and head on over for a lil' late night toddy. This is one of the Space Cowgirls' favorite watering holes.

Best Drink In An Ambient Atmosphere
Just imagine... chai tea and aerobics with a techno backbeat. What, you can't imagine that? Then head on over to the Nub Circus. For several years now, these Santa Cruz locals have been serving up the most groovalicious drinks in the desert÷and this year is no different. Not to mention, they've created one of the most comfortable spaces on the playa, with great chai tea, incredible atmosphere, and friendly service.

Best Blender Drinks On The Playa
For those suffering Tiki Camp withdrawal, Chez Newt's Slow Toxic Amphibian Lounge, located in the NeighBARhood, will offer you that little slice of the tropics that you've been craving. Wear a mumu or at least a leia, and bring something to barter: a bottle of rum, tequila, triple sec, cream de coco, ice, frozen strawberries, limes, bananas, pineapple juice, margarita mix, Midori, or any other assorted blendable fruits. The Newt King will be glad to blend you up a little frosty one. If you have nothing to barter, you might be able to score free drinks by doing menial labor, like doing dishes and filling tiki torches.

Best Mobile Bar
Have you seen that living room driving by? That very well may have been Pepper Mouser, the man with the traveling living room. Pepper and his team outdid themselves this year with their new-and-improved version of last year's model. Wild leopard prints, zebra stripes, velveteen Lazy Boys, and blender drinks... all on wheels!


Best Radio Station
Work music, trip music, dance music, sex music, sleep music, non-sleep music, it's all there, in a fantastic, eclectic mix of tunes. Disturbia Radio Broadcasting's KFRK (K-Freak) 107.7 is far and away our favorite radio station out here on the playa. And we're not just saying that 'cause Piss Clear happens to be camped in Disturbia! As they say, it really is "where the freaks get their beats."

Best Morning Jog/Quick Shower Combo
When you see that water truck comin', it's time to start strippin'. Be sure to wear a pair of thongs so your feet don't get too muddy, then start chasing after that truck. Woo! Doesn't that feel good?

Best Way to Waste Several Hours Each Day
It's the middle of the day. You've already read last Thursday's edition of Piss Clear twice, and you've even skimmed through the latest Black Rock Gazette. You're bored. You're restless. You're sick of your campmates. It's too hot to nap, but too hot to do much moving around either. You've got some time to kill. So grab your hat, water, and sunblock, and head on down to the Central Camp Bulletin Board. There, you can easily spend the next several hours÷or days÷reading all the shit people have posted there.

Best Way To Be Obsessive/Compulsive/Anal-Retentive
If you're an obsessive/compusive/anal-retentive person, who needs some rational, concrete, itemized method for knowing that you're getting all that you can out of the Burning Man festival, then you must pick up a passport from the Artists' Republic of Fremont. That way, you can obsessively visit each and every single one of the 414 (or so) theme camps, in order to get your passport stamped. If a theme camp doesn't have a stamp, be sure to throw a loud and obnoxious conniption fit, complaining how they must have a stamp, otherwise they're going to screw everything up. Don't stop until they finally÷somehow÷stamp your passport. At the end of the weekend, after you've got all 414 stamps, feel good that you've accomplished so much at Burning Man.

Best Delivery Service
Although they're starting to get some competition from Penfold the Postman of the Playa, along with young upstarts FedUp, we think that the Portland Cacophony Society's Disgrunted Postal Workers still rule! Hell, they've been distributing Piss Clear for us since our very first issue, way back in 1996. Besides, we're afraid of what they'd do to us if we didn't put them on this list!

Best Use Of Your Black Rock City Tax Dollars
God damn if that Nebulous Entity thing sure isn't impressive. And it better fucking be, considering that part of your admission ticket went to pay for it. Still, aren't you glad that your hard-earned cash helped to pay for such a cool piece of performance art? It was either that, or the money could have gone to pay for more porta-potties, and really, does Black Rock City need anymore porta-potties?

Best Way To Attract Media Attention
Does anyone remember the end of the Fash-Un Show last year, when two scantily-clad women began dancing suggestively with each other at the front of the stage? And does anyone remember how all the idiots with camera swarmed around them faster than flies on shit? Not to overgeneralize here, but have you ever noticed the sort of person who's usually behind a professional videocamera? That's why the best way to attract media attention around here is to engage in displays of PG-13-rated faux lesbian acts, while looking like a hot-and-bothered sex industry worker.

Best Burning Man Web Site
Oh sure, you can get all the important BM info you really need at http://www.burningman.com. And of course, all the important BM info they won't tell you can be found at http://www.pissclear.org. But for all the important BM info you had no idea you even needed, go to Seth Maxwell's Burning Man FAQ page at http://malice.org/burn.html. It's seethingly, hysterically cynical, and makes Piss Clear seem downright benevolent! Also includes a link to the equally brilliant Lawyer's Guide to Burning Man.

Best Sound Bites About Burning Man
"It's Disneyland in reverse." "You can plan a society, but you can't plan a culture." "It's primal self-expression." "It's art that generates society." One thing's for sure: you can always count on Larry Harvey to give good sound bite. And considering he started this whole mess, he better. It's no wonder the media loves him so much.

Best Place To Piss Clear
Look, if all you have to do is pee, why stand in line just for the privilege of being in a stinky, smelly, gross porta-potty? Hop on your bike and pedal your way away from camp, out into the middle of the playa. Then let it loose. Don't worry, the little bit of mud you create will dry up in about five minutes. Besides, this is by far the easiest way to tell if you're pissing clear.

÷ The Best of Black Rock City was compiled by Adrian Roberts,

© 2002 Piss Clear
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