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The only thing the Love Parade made me love was Burning Man
by Tokyo Rico

Here's me mumbling to myself during last year's Burning Man, my fourth: "Fucking ravers with their stupid trance -- at least try some drum and bass, you moron robot fuckers! No *fire* allowed? It's called BURNING Man! Fucking cops.Goddamned yahoos everywhere...shithead rangers giving me attitude...oh, and hey, isn't the desert supposed to be HOT? Fuck you, God!And fuck you, Larry Harvey, I'll come back to this hell when it FREEZES OVER."

Here's me today: "Thank you God, and thank you Larry Harvey, for Burning Man. Thank you thank you and a thousand times thank you, oh blessed, blessed beings. When I get back to the playa I'm not just gonna drop to my knees and kiss it -- I'm gonna drop to my knees and FRENCH it.I might even whip out my thing and give that playa the deep, soulful fucking it so rickly deserves."

What turned my head around? What unsoured my ass and put me solidly back on the hardcore Burning Man tip, kicking it super-live in the I Heart Black Rock City hizz-ouse?

Two words: "Love Parade."

The Love Parade in Berlin, Germany. I'd heard so much about it. The European Burning Man, I'd heard. Only bigger, much bigger, and billed as both a celebration of techno music and, more generally, of almighty PLUR Peace, Love, Unity, Respect. There's a gorgeous Love Parade photo book with big bright pictures of Love Parade attendees in full candy-raver garb. Oh yes, I thought, very Burning Man, all that body paint and brightly-colored hair and proud nudity and atittude. I simply must go one day.

The day came. Last month I found myself in Berlin on a lovely summer day, surrounded by an estimated 500,000 fellow paraders and many millions of watts worth of amplifiers, blasting trance as we all waded through the Brandenburg gates and down toward that big angel monument that figured so prominently in "Wings of Desire."

And folks, there was no love.

Here's what there was, though:

Huge balloons with corporate logos and brand names plastered across, advertsing Durex condoms, Mobile Telecom, Intel and Microsoft.

Constantly circling blimps, like at an NFL game, advertising Goodyear and Fujifilm. It was well-nigh impossible to take a low-angle photgraph without getting one of those fuckers in the shot.

Drunk people blowing on whistles. Hundreds of thousands of shrieking whistles, right in your ear.

There were people selling the whistles so as many people as possible could blow on them. There were also people selling balloons, and sunhats, and beer, and Pepsi, and hot dogs, and Love Parade T-shirts, and Love Parade CD's and hats and patches and stickers and keychains.

And there was especially trash. The Love Paraders were so filled with love that they couldn't bear to stop loving one another long enough to pack out their own trash. So they left it, lovingly, on the parade route, which quickly became coated with shattered glass. It was impossible to take a step without crushing a bottle.There were also loving knee-high mounds of trash, miles of them, piled up lovingly on the curbs, and in the nearby park, and all around the city, left by Paraders on their way to love love at the Love Parade.

So here's what I'm saying.

You know how Burning Man's become pretty big, almost uncomfortably so? IT COULD BE BIGGER.

You know how Larry and his pals are finally making a living off the fest? THEY COULD BE MAKING A LOT MORE.

You think Burning Man has "sold out?" HOW? TO WHO? It would be so easy for this event to become a Love Parade -- so easy for BMORG to sell broadcast rights to MTV (the Parade was actually co-sponsored by German MTV-wannabe channel VIVA), and hang a few Budweiser banners here and there, and sell water for five bucks a bottle. We'd all stop going, but millions of teenage kids who don't know any better would show up for the very first time. Probably blowing on fucking whistles. Larry wouldn't have to listen to it because he'd be holed up in a mansion in Pacific Heights that he bought with his briefcases full of cash, sipping single-malt and laughing at all us dumb suckers who thought we'd created something -- ha! -- REAL and BEAUTIFUL.

Yeah, Burning Man's got its bureaucratic evils now. and it's not as hot on the playa as it used to be. But it hasn't sold out, and goddammit we leave the desert CLEAN. That's a miracle. And I'll take miracles where I can find them. Watch out playa, I've got my thing in my hand and you're about to get seriously laid.

2002 Piss Clear
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