Bitch Bitch Bitch About Burning Man
by Stewart McKenzie
recall my ramblings from one of last year's issues of Piss Clear, you'll remember my brilliant reflections on why I
wasn't going to go to Burning Man. But indeed, I actually did go last year÷just to spite you all!
however, I promise that I won't be there. Really. I have fears of people
burning fires in the bad way, the way that causes surrounding brush and stuff
to catch fire as well. Therefore, I thought I'd share with you my experiences
from last year that made Burning Man especially enjoyable for me. Something
that many of you probably weren't up to.
many ways it was the perfect plan. Adrian, the editor of this esteemed rag,
managed to convince me÷long after I had convinced myself of the opposite÷that I
was going to Burning Man. Now mind you, I was completely relaxed and content to
stay put in San Francisco last Labor Day weekend. And then, three days before
the event, Adrian broke me down and convinced me to go. Besides, as it turned
out, I was the best driver for the scary rental RV.Ê
ended up being good for me÷because going up incognito was the best thing. On
top of that, we camped way out in the 'burbs, where it was quiet and pleasant!
I was on vacation from Burning Man, at
Burning Man. Fuck it all, dude.
course, while I was having this bitchin' keen time out in the Black Rock
boondocks, there were still way too many people getting wasted beyond
control÷driving over tents and causing all sorts of general brouhaha. I was
removed from the majority of it, but reading about it after coming home didn't
exactly make me do somersaults. "Burning Man is finished," said
conventional wisdom. "Everyone's gonna get sued."
Man has survived. Granted, it now has to be done in nearly a new setting, with
new pricing, and even in a new county with new jurisdictions. Of course, in
many ways it will still be the same old Burning Man, but now I realize that
Burning Man is no different from any other festival or gathering of the tribes.
It presents an image of anarchy and creative expression, in a setting of
unquestioned emptiness and beauty÷and people, desperate for a sense of
community and bored with the sameness of First World culture, come in droves. It
attracts wonderful people from all over the country. It attracts suburbanites
and college crowds and urban dwellers in search of "meaning" and
"freedom." It attracts opportunists looking to make a buck or to
experience a temporary feeling of power found lacking in their normal
surroundings. And, it attracts crooks, vagrants, and scoundrels looking only
for amusement and tomfoolery.
Like it or
not, Burning Man is not about survival. At its most extreme, it's about
projecting our God-fearing, red-blooded, American values of waste, greed, and
debauchery on an empty canvas of dust and air. And at its most innocent, it's
an escape valve from the societal rules that bear down on us daily.
Many of us
want to return to the innocent model of Burning Man from years long past, but
find it impossible÷we've "let" too many people know about our Own
Personal Valhalla. If Burning Man is to continue, either it must end and begin
in a fresh vein÷a new setting, a new focal point, a new organization. Either
that, or its members must teach the experience of Burning Man to the newbies
and the day-trippers. What is that experience? You must be prepared. Sharing is
good. Inhibitions are banned. Learning is crucial. You must be responsible for
your actions. You know the mantras.
that made the journey this year into a new setting, I congratulate you. You are
all ushering in a new era of Burning Man. If the foundations you set this year
are sound, I'll be sure to see you next year. Because we all deserve our own
community and a good time. Because I like to sit on my ass. And, most of all,
because there's just something about driving a million hours out into the
middle of nowhere, where you and all your possessions get covered with dust a
half-inch thick... just so you can feel like a human being again.
Stewart McKenzie is the former editor of the Black Rock Gazette, and a future mayoral
candidate of Black Rock City.