I remember when this felt special
by an Anonymous Journalist
I took a
break from Burning Man this year since my wife was eight months pregnant. Playa
dust and childbirth probably don't mix. Just a hunch.
grew to love Burning Man in the three years I attended. Here's how I saw it
from a purely selfish and experiential point of view:
left me pretty bedazzled, as I had never seen anything like it, and was
invigorated by the rampant creativity and anarchy. Besides, I was working, and
I had never covered such a fun story.
my Times photographer pal Alan and I
spent a good deal of time handmaking mirrored armor and wiring a tandem for
lights, and felt like proper Black Rock City citizens ÷ participants and not
spectators. (Why does that now ring like a Scientology trope?)
we sort of treated it like a beachfront stay, where the people-watching is
simply a bit more interesting than in Venice Beach. Go, set up a few
interesting structures, wear a few odd garments, take part in whatever
entertaining games, shows and activities were offered, ingest a few amusing
substances, make photos for ourselves, etc. Did a little cursory work with
photos and video, and called it a good party. By now, Black Rock City was
starting to feel like an actual place where we liked to hang out for a few days
every summer ÷ and thus, maybe it was no longer special nor energizing.
point, we had begun to burn out on it, and decided a hiatus would be no big
purely sociocritical standpoint, it's not a Bad Thing. Burning Man is, in fact,
probably a Good Thing in that it gives license to people who perhaps feel
otherwise restricted in life, inspiration to those who need an artistic kick in
the ass, and solidarity to a terrific cultural melange of folks who probably
feel somewhat isolated as individuals back in the "Real World."
other hand, the Burning Man organization has done a shitty job of keeping costs
down. The ticket prices are now a fucking outrage, and the rules against people
doing irresponsible shit to themselves are depressing and, frankly,
anti-Darwinian ÷ the whole thing is starting to feel a bit like a chaperoned
picnic. I'm glad we're staying home in 2000, and I can't say my wife and I will
want to bring our son out there in another few years if it's going to cost us
$200 a head.
line: What a great, preposterous, holy mess of an idea. Thank god someone
thought of it. Too bad this thing has gotten too big for its britches.
thing, though. I miss cruising across the faceless surface of the desert to
that "hidden," wide open, middle-of-nowhere playa site the first year
I attended. The semi-permanent site now in the crook of Gerlach's armpit is
almost meaningless, geographically speaking. There is little sacred grandeur to
it, and no frisson of danger in that you can always hop on a bike and ride into
town for ice, water or whatever other comestible you were stupid enough to
forget. It's no more adventurous than camping in your backyard with a Halloween