Well, this is it. I’m writing this from the passenger seat of the RV that I scored cheap on eBay before last year’s Burn. I reupholstered it and put in a significant stereo upgrade, among other improvements. It has since been blasting techno music everywhere from a road trip with my parents to Lightning in a Bottle to the Grand Canyon, Sedona and Zion National Park. Right now we are on I-80 heading up to the Playa, about to hit
This year’s Burn has been a huge logistical effort, for me personally eclipsing anything I’ve ever done before for Burning Man, or indeed at any other time of my life. Right now, if you ask me, I’m never going to do anything like this again…but I haven’t arrived on the Playa yet. And I’m reminded of many lame ass friends who swear “I’m never drinking/smoking again” on a weekly basis.
I’ve camped with some crazy fuckers in my time, in locations more extreme than Burning Man; and I’ve also just done my own thing with a small group of friends, not giving a fuck where we were. I met the Disorient crew back when they were Reorient, love those guys. In 2010 I camped with Overkill and was introduced to a whole ‘nother world of Burning Man. Look out for Yarrow and Leif’s Lady Bugs this year, I’m hoping they will make it. Our camp last year was a great bunch of people but our contribution was really nothing special, compared to Opulent Temple or Root Society or Osiris or Distrikt or Robot Heart, or so many of the amazing art installations, that get funded by the community much more than BMOrg. We’re pleased to say that most of the Kickstarter and IndieGogo projects that we promoted on this blog have been funded.
This year the Burners in our camp have lifted our game and come back hard, I think, with something unique and new and expressive of all of we, to give to the people of Black Rock City. The great thing about art is that it takes all kinds of different forms; the great thing about Art in the 21st Century is that the Future is Now. Marshall McLuhan famously said “the medium IS the message“. Well Burner Zos says that the technology is the message.
The technology that enables people to see something nice and paint on it is at least 60,000 years old. I’ve been to some of the most sacred Aboriginal sites in Australia, where some German tourist has graffiti’d their tag on top of such paintings. Not to be racist against Germans, perhaps “Jürgen” was Austrian or something.
Anyway, there’s art and there’s art. At Burning Man, art is a team effort, involving pyrotechnics, logistics, lighting, programming, metal fabrication, painting, structural engineering, robotics and aviation, nano-manufacturing, and all kinds of other disciplines.
Some would say that’s not “true” art. Apparently now there’s a legally dubious judicial distinction between Applied Art and Fine Art. For every one who would argue that Burning Man is the cutting edge of the Art World, there are many more detractors who would argue that Burning Man is to art, as cardboard is to furniture. And BTW I love cardboard furniture…
This year I made the decision to join a camp in the crux of the ticket crisis,. We were supposed to have 75 people. It has ended up being more than 200, with all kinds of stuff going on that is ”boundary pushing“, and more than 60% virgins. The bar was set high by our visionary leaders and their mentors, we’re taking it to another level, and a lot of people have stepped up to meet the challenge and donated their time and passion and care, for the benefit of others. This is the language of We – thank you so much Hot Sauce for listening to my ideas and framing them with this concept, which has rapidly become one of the defining mantras of my life. And it’s good to see that Mayor Ed Lee and President of the Board of Supervisors, Burner David Chiu, are all over the San Francisco sharing economy. There’s a reason why San Francisco is the smartest city on earth, and has been driving the world’s innovation since the beginning of Stanford – even before Hewlett and Packard’s original garage.
This whole year has been intense and amazing – tough for me in the first half, awesome since the eclipses and rare Venus transit in June. I really get the sense that 2012 is a marker year, a transition between the old ways and all the multi-dimensional opportunities presented by the future. Forget all the doomer porn, as if the Mayans would predict an end to our hypothetical future civilization, but not foresee an end to theirs. If it’s not Y2K, it’s 2016. People of the Universe: IT’S TIME FOR THE UPGRADE! We wish joyous blessings upon everyone.
From my point of view, I’ve been a Burner since 1998, and over 9 Burns have generously gifted plenty of stuff to plenty of people. Still, the more Burners I got to know, the more I felt that I’d never really contributed as much to the community’s experience, compared to the lengths some go to. So this year, inspired in particular by discussions with my friends about the ticket fiasco as it unfolded, I decided that I should give something back. Something that would be a fun hobby for me, a chance to exercise parts of my brain and talents that don’t always come into play in the day-to-day world.
Everyone has different talents, and different things they can contribute to the community. I can’t paint, I can’t sing, I can’t hammer and saw, I can’t sew costumes, I can’t cook pancakes. I can pour drinks, but at Burning Man that’s maybe an underage accident waiting to happen… and otherwise, something I do all the time for my guests anyway.
I enjoy reading and writing, I love the Web and the opportunity for conversation rather than broadcasting. I love it when you Burners talk back to me, even if it’s to “diss” on me. That’s what it’s all about, from Plato to Voltaire, from Timothy Leary to Daniel Pinchbeck: intellectual discourse, hopefully polite and civilized and informed enough that all participants, both lurkers and talkers, benefit from our shared interaction.
To me that’s the difference between the Internet and Burning Man. Embrace, extend, include, contribute, collaborate, crowdsource; …versus dicate, dismiss, deny, deceive. De-ca$h.
Since we’re talking Fertility 2.0, taking the seed from the Burners is something BMOrg needs to embrace. Especially in their present time of transition. They’re not cut from the right cloth to be dictators, and they might know how make $40 million throwing a party, but for sure they’re not the world’s best party organizers. What do you expect from a heady mixture of hippies and volunteers?
Technically that title would go to Tomorrowland in Europe, according to this years’ UMF voting. In my own experience I have to hand it to the DoLab for being consistently brilliant. And I’m not saying they’re the only ones – just that they’re one of the very few who really impressed me, and repeatedly. Especially when you go to LIB and see what happens when the Lucent Temple of Consciousness broadcasts spiritual awesomeness from a mountain peak, while the super-on-to-it pros of Do Lab run the best dance party I’ve been to, anywhere.
See now I’m ranting…A friend of mine has called me the “Rush Limbaugh of Burning Man”! I love it, but personally I’m more of an Alex Jones fan.
In my opinion – and yes I am very opinionated, especially when it comes to writing a hopefully entertaining and informative and occasionally sarcastic, snarky, and self-indulgent commentary blog about Burner culture – history shows the vital role that the critic plays in shaping cultural evolution. In the past, people were afraid to criticize Burning Man for fear of a very real psychological tactic consciously employed by the BMOrg and members of their volunteer army, known as shunning. The Burning Man equivalent of Solzhenitsyn’s being sent to the gulag archipelago.
You can see that mentality at work in this simple fact: if you go check out Burning Man’s web site, Burners.Me doesn’t exist. Despite the fact that we have more Facebook Likes than Disorient, Opulent Temple, or Burn After Reading…they’d rather promote blogs like this or this.
This isn’t such an issue for me. Fame is a false glamour. Substance is authentic power. Truth is truth and spin is spin. Sometimes the truth hurts. Sometimes criticism hurts, sometimes irony and sarcasm can be biting. Sometimes sticks and stones break your bones, sometimes names hurt you.
Some would argue that at times maybe my opinion has not been the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – I will concde that I have detractors who hold that viewpoint, though of course I don’t agree with them. Show me the evidence that their opinion is the whole truth, and nothing but!
By all means, feel free to be a critic of the critic, whether you’re BMOrg, the founders of Burning Man, “just” a Burner, some know-it all grammar afficianado who’s never even been to Burning Man, or someone who’s been multiple times but still sues them to shut it down and foil their plans anyway. Create your own blog, argue against me, refute my logic, dispute my facts.
If you look at number of words published alone, Burners.Me has wiped the floor with the decades old, multi-author Burning Blog or any other site dedicated to Burner culture. From bath salts to space flights, from smart drugs to no drugs, to even smarter umbrellas and invisible bike helmets – Burners.Me has brought it to you.
I’m not after notoriety or other forms of self-promotion. Photos of me are on this blog, my name is not – this is to do with my Default World career more than anything to do with the Burner community. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But let’s face facts, what the name “Burning Man” means to Burners, is not what those words mean to many, many people in the Default World. Hence, “playa names”.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all my friends, in particular Toburn, Hot Sauce and Menkini who have given me ideas, tips, moral support, posts, the works to help with this blog. Thanks for not fearing the Rush - or at least the public stigma of association with one who dared to speak out against Holy BMOrg in a time of ticket unholiness. And I’m not talking Canadian 80′s bands here…
I‘d also like to thank all of you, my dear readers, for reading this blog, whether you glanced at it once, or only read it for the pictures, or picked up a few tips or news items, or read my longer philosophical posts and argued for and against my arguments…or read every single thing I ever wrote. I’d like to thank you also for reading this here long post, and hopefully for considering some of the things I’ve said. I’d be amazed if you agreed with everything I think, I’ve met nobody like that, ever. So we can agree to disagree, and still be friendly…as long as you understand that, most likely, you will disagree with me and still be wrong. Or, if you have any brains (or humility!) you’ll get with the program, and learn what’s up – it’s the 21st century, it’s time for all of us to step up, evolve, follow our passions and dreams, open our hearts and minds and third eyes, as we take it to the next level, fifth wave, Kali Yuga, Rapture, or whatyamaycallit.
Since I launched this blog in February of this year, I think you would be hard pressed to find any member of the Burner community, whether connected to the BMOrg or not, who has donated more hours of their time, attention, and ideas to Burning Man and the much broader global Burner community. I’ve done this for free, asking for nothing in return - not even recognition or credit. And I still ask for nothing – the act of repeatedly giving to all of you, 325 posts in just over 6 months, has been a reward in itself. This is beyond Burning Man’s dogmatic requirement of a “gift economy” (except for the Priest class).
I don’t write this blog caring if anyone reads it, or agrees with it, or hates it. But I do care that Burning Man continues to get better in the future – instead of sinking to the lowest common denominator of unemployed broke volunteer hippy anti-1% groupthink – ”jumping the shark” and fading into Elvis memorabilia bobble-head oblivion (this life-cycle of Memes is brilliantly described in the book “The Deviant’s Advantage: How Fringe Ideas Create Mass Markets” by Watts Wacker).
Burning Man is made anew each year by us, the Burners. The more Burners there are, the more time goes by, the more theme camps and art cars and art installations and guides and blogs and opinions and wisdom we get. It should continually improve – not, get worse and worse as more hippy volunteers come up with more rules they expect the rest of us who drop thousands at Burning Man to live by. I mean, if you didn’t ask ravers or DJs to organize your rave, why would you ask hippies?
It’s been fun creating AND giving all of this. Sometimes it’s nice to have a hobby amidst all the chaos of the modern world. If it’s fun, then it’s not really work. I’ve enjoyed the role I believe Burners.Me has played in a turbulent year, where the community has grappled with some major underlying demographic, political, legal and ideological trends that are reshaping our entire society. Even if it’s all just dust and illusions.
The intention of my writing from the beginning has been to help Burning Man evolve, by triggering dialog about the important underlying issues, that are not immediately obvious when you are in the honeymoon period of being completely in love with the spectacle. Some of these topics are well known to experienced Burners but have been verboten in online discourse, a taboo topic quickly shut down by the BMOrg and indoctrinated cult members who spout the 10 Principles yet have never hammered in rebar or taken responsbility for MOOPs cleanup of their entire camp or jump started an RV in their life.
I get peoples’ point of view that Burning Man is not a party, or it’s more than just a party. It’s special and magical to me too. There are things I get out of Burning Man that I’m not going to share with you, even now. And for the last 14 years, Burning Man has been like a credit bank for me – I’ve taken many withdrawals as a Burner in my last 9 Burns. The Playa gave more to me, than I gave to it. I’ve definitely contributed too, but up until this year my balance would have been an overdraft. The more I’ve learned the more I’ve wanted to do. So this year I’ve made a huge deposit, of time and love and resources and my self – back into the Burning Man culture bank.
That doesn’t change the fact that me and my friends are coming to the Playa in 2012 to RAGE. With a capital Z.
So many dreams have come true for me at Burning Man, seriously, even the most seemingly crazy and outlandish ones, and I would like to thank everyone – EVERYONE – who contributed to make that happen for me in the last 14 years. I know you did it for all the other Burners too, but everything you did has felt incredibly special to me.
The magic we experience on the Playa is sacred, but it’s not owned by the BMOrg, and it’s not enshrined in the Ten Principles as if one day some prophet appeared from the sky on a
golden Trojan Horse and dictated the way we should behave in an environment of anarchy, chaos, art, and total freedom.
The magic of Burning Man and the Playa is made by us, it is in us, and we can all re-create it. Anywhere, anytime, with anyone. Don’t believe me? Go ask a shaman. Go look up manifestation. Read “The Secret“, even. Don’t ever give your power away to anyone – whether it be lover, boss, or party promoter. I’m talking about authentic power, creative power. The power and the passion.
Thanks for reading, lately as we go nuts before the Burn we’ve been sharing our personal perspective and biased opinion with around 5000 of you a day, from more than 150 countries. We have Burners in places from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia, from Mexico to Yemen, from Norway to New Zealand.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my Playa Gift for you this year as much as I’ve enjoyed making it. Let’s get out there and rock. Remember, no matter how hot, loud, dusty or challenging it gets – keep smiling…remember it’s the BEST FREAKING PARTY THE WORLD HAS EVER KNOWN! And it just keeps getting better and better.