Caravansary – First Impressions

Burners are trickling back from the Playa, and reporting on some of the shenanigans.

Marsea:   Just spoke to my friends who are fresh off the playa. An amazing burning time was had by all. They didn’t notice any difference in participation. They had full on fun, meaningful experience and expression and celebration of creativity. Burning Man is NOT over!!!!!

Burner Stephen: Just returned from the playa after a three year break and could see changes in just that short time period. Our theme camp ran an open bar, so we got to meet and talk with many people; seemed like there were many more virgins and college aged kids than previous years. Feels much more like a Vegas experience to me than it used to with the increased focus on the blinky lights, bigger and better art cars with private parties requiring wrist-bands and flying in famous EDM DJs. Still an event with all forms of human expression, however, I can feel the invocation of a class system of high-rollers versus everyone else that “walk the strip”.

Veteran Pam: Best burn ever. Our neighbors were the nicest. Loved the rain! Kept things nice and cool, low dust, a little disappointed by the art. (6 year burner camped with a 12 year burner started in 96. His best ever too

Burner Regina: Very beautiful year. Was a bit crowded but had lots of fun!

Veteran Brian: 12th year, possibly the best. I’m convinced the vibe you give is the vibe you get. Doesn’t matter if it’s your first year or 20th, Burning Man was once an event and now it’s becoming a movement. Most people who make it out there “get it” by the weeks end. I was afraid of the growth, but all this new energy is adding new elements to the event, like more live music, bigger productions and just people having a much better concept of what the event really is.

Veteran Stephen Brooks, master of Permaculture from Punta Mona, Costa Rica said:

Wow wow wow!! Burning man once again was BEYOND all I could have imagined. Thanks to all who I crossed paths with. The magic ended with an invite on a private plane direct to Oakland airport. I feel so grateful for all the magic and clearer and more focused than ever!

The private plane wasn’t the first luxury of this year’s burn. He elaborates further:

A glimpse of the week….. I married my dear friends Edward Zaydelman and Brooke Coleman at the temple. Gave two talks out and about and a Burning man radio interview and I served as the bridge between our controversial “fancy camp” and the rest of Burning Man. It may have been ultra fancy and there was lots of talk about it… I had the opportunity to orient each of the 120 guests to the ethos and philosophy of Burning man and truly helped guide their experience and make sure that our camp fully embraced gifting and was as welcoming as a camp could possibly be. It felt like a true success.

Congratulations Ed and Brooke. We wish you all the best for a happy and successful life together. And congratulations Stephen for pulling off a successful “fancy camp” for 120 people, and acculturating them.

Burner Tatianna:

To the fuck head dude bro that chased and tackled my boyfriend off of his bike on burn night after he heckled you and your friends for not having lights: FUCK YOU! He yelled at you for not having lights because we both almost ran y’all over. Physical agression for heckling is not part of the game. I hope you get run over by a fucking art car and get pulled over on your way out and caught with drugs. You’re an embarassment to the community.

Too soon for art car jokes, Tatianna. Too soon. We do hate darkwads, though, they are a danger to all of us as well as to themselves. They deserve to be heckled. Or at least sent straight to the Blinky Lights camp to re-up.

Burner Tenbears got told off for nudity:

So apparently you’re not allowed to be naked near the Man early Thursday morning because someone else brought a baby to Burning Man? What the F&^^$ has happened to Burning Man? You can’t be naked because there is a baby at the event? Leave the kids at home folks if you can’t handle your kids seeing naked people.

The rebbi has some good suggestions:

This Thread is a Positive Discussion on how to change Burning Man, before it Dies…

I think the Whole Event needs to Rethink its “Chi”, and make Changes Accordingly…

For me 1.: No Weapons within the City’s Boundaries. Disarm the Police at the Event.

What the fuck are these guys armed for? Every goddamn body is Naked? It’s a Murder waiting to Happen. Are you fucking Morons not watching the Goddamn News? Get rid of the Fucking Storm Trooper attire, and make all on duty officers were Keystone Kop Uniforms. And all those intimidating fucking Nazi Mega-Whips, and make them drive Clown Cars with 10 Cops per Car…

2. Bus Stops. Not more fucking Cops. 

The reasons why are self-explanatory. Why is it, People never Stop to really think out the Problem. When you let the “Entitled Mindset” make decisions for you, generally they start with Brute Force, and heavy handed Tactics, rather than non-evasive Diplomacy, yeah…

3. If you are not going to open the Wireless Cell Towers to anybody but the Rich and the LEO’s, they all must be Removed. The main reason we are here is to escape that bullshit. No, not Technology Asshat… People who think their shit don’t stink, the arrogant, entitled trappings that come with the “haves” as they mill through the Crowed in gauze covered carriages by their team of paid Slaves, eh er Sherpas…

4. Tickets. Ok this Fiasco has to be fixed. Everything you guys did only acerbated the problem, and gave scalpers, who do this shit for a living, got a monster edge. And running around pissing on craigslist posts, was beyond sophomoric. You can’t sell people Paint, then wonder why they’re Painting everything…WTF…

Christopher, our cartoonist, had a run-in with a Burnier-Than-Thou.

soul-trainI wanna share. I guess because I love reading the occasional debate in this group and love hearing both sides of an opinion, even if I disagree with them.

So every year at Burn night I play a specific playlist from the Soul Train. When the fireworks start, the Star Spangled Banner, followed by the 1812 Overture. By that time the fireworks are done and the man is simply burning… then I play “Disco Inferno”, “Fire” and “Burning Down the House”. Then I just play music as usual until The Man falls. I’ve been doing this enough years to know most (if not all) folks really appreciate this.

All the really big art cars got out there early, so I had to drive to the 12:15 side to find an open spot. I found one, pulled in and parked, told my passengers “We’re parking here”. The driver of a nearby art car walked over and said “Do you play during the burn?” I said “Yeah, I play the whole time.”. He said “Dammit…” and walked away. Then a ranger came over (presumably after being complained to) and asked me to turn down my speakers a bit. I never argue with anyone, so I complied…. although considering how noisy burn night is, I thought it was an odd request. I also remember thinking “If I didn’t show up here, a louder art car would simply park here and do the same thing.” But he moved his car several yards further from me, so I thought everything was cool.

Then the fireworks started, and I started playing my burn set. Then a woman came from that other art car, stood in front of me, flipping me off and was literally yelling and screaming at me. She was clearly NOT LIKING what I was doing. I think she even kicked my art car. I say “I think….” because I felt like I was doing nothing wrong and was ignoring her, but she certainly kicked her leg AT my car, not sure if she made actual contact. At that moment I felt I had to actually pay attention to her, because then she was looking underneath my car, as if she was looking for something to unplug. Finally she walked away.

I’ve been on the planet long enough to know that one has to have a thick skin around certain people…. and of course, you can’t please everyone. So I pretty much let it go, but the experience did weird me out a bit.


black rock roller discoIt’s Freebird all over again, this time without the Temple. I guess this is what constitutes “Art Car Road Rage” at Burning Man. They didn’t think his cartoons, his art car giving tons of free rides for years, or his amazing contribution to the city through the Black Rock Roller Disco meant anything, compared to their requirement for Burning Man to be a quiet place.

Hmmm, yes, that makes sense, I want somewhere quiet so I go to literally the world’s largest rave with the largest number of sound systems and stages over the most area. And then I really want it to be quiet at the climactic moment of the entire week long event. Sounds fair to everyone else who also chose to spend their vacation time there! [/sarcasm]

Christopher’s playlist was not exactly to my taste, but then neither was BMIR’s selection of dark gothic death-rock. To each their own, though. Surely, if there is one event in the whole world where you’re allowed to play your music without getting told to turn it down, it’s Burning Man, right? An event featuring many of the world’s best DJs for free with your ticket price, which happens in a remote desert powered by ten thousand or more generators and  a thousand or more 10kW+ sound systems. In which the many large music stages are packed with people, because of how popular they are with the residents of the city.

The solution’s simple to me: if you don’t like the music next to you at Burning Man, turn your own music up! If your stereo isn’t loud enough, go somewhere else in the 1000 acres to do whatever your trip is at the time.

It seems not everyone agrees. Burner Karen says: Reflective question on Burningman – why do the art cars have to play loud music by every burning art piece. I have heard enough dub step for my ears to bleed (and I actually like it), but what I don’t get to hear in life is the incredible sound of the raw power of a fire burning a structure. I would love to have heard that sound.

….Burner Nick: This was especially annoying by the large art piece made up of many white cubes / speakers that was playing classical music with choreographed visuals. I stopped by to show a friend and an art car was parked right next to it blasting its own music. Rude.

Burner Jill: I think having everyone wear headphones is the best way, then they can listen to whatever they want. silence is something that ANYone can break for EVERYONE. but choosing what you listen to privately? that breaks no ones silence and silence is WAY harder to come by. That said, and I hat dubstep too, I do like stumbling upon a dance party. I just don’t like having the value of silence taken for granted so much.

Burner Marsea: Interestingly, a few years ago there was a Giant Bass on the playa and it actually played, but the bMORG wouldn’t let them turn it on because it was “too loud” for the other art pieces in the vicinity. I thought that was hilarious given the noise level of art cars and everything in general. And I thought it was tragic that they were trying to put that much control over the art. Safety, yes…but noise? Ridiculous. If you don’t like the sound somewhere, walk away and come back later.

Alex: the silence is not a right or a rule, and at no point during the rest of BRC’s week long existence are you ever even given the option. Sound is everywhere. Therefore, why expect it somewhere and force the stifling of someone’s expression of tribute to a person who helped build the damn city.

We’ll let Reg have the last word:

You do realize, don’t you, that if Burning Man were tailored to just your likes and dislikes …you’d be the only one there.

TTITD is chaotic by intent, design, and execution. It assaults all the known senses …and some you didn’t know about. And this is exactly what it should do. I came home fried, burnt, exhausted, 4 pounds lighter, sore, badly in need of sleep, ready to kill for a cold glass of milk, and will probably blow playa clay pebbles out of my nose for the next week.

To you whiners, let me quote the words of an unknown sage: “You’re doin’ it wrong.”

Next year, try the entertainment section of your local paper. It will list any number of structured, orderly, properly loud, PC events at which you can lean over to the person next to you and whisper, “Gawd I’m glad at not at Burning Man.” …and you know what? The rest of us will be glad too.

…and people wonder why I often say I’m glad to be old. Too many of the current gens are largely self-entitled, self-involved twits.

(Now ask me how I really feel)

Here are some photos from Burners:

Limor Ness - "first time Burners turned die hard Burners"

Limor Ness – “first time Burners turned die hard Burners”

2014 playa and temple




photo: Peter Wardlaw

photo: Peter Wardlaw

motorbike embrace

Shagadelica art car to the left. Embrace was a $266,000 structure made with 170,000 lbs of would that they burned Photo: Frank Sindermann

photo: Peter Wardlaw

photo: Peter Wardlaw

Dennis Kucinich gives a talk. Photo: Stephen Brooks

Dennis Kucinich gives a talk. Photo: Stephen Brooks

templ 2014

photo by Eli

embrace reflection

mebrace at embrace

2014 playa reflection girl

2014 crowd robot heart

2014 skrillex robot heart

photo: Eleanor Preger

photo: Eleanor Preger

2014 baby

2014 flowers2014 pyramid

2014 embrace burn side2014 man gold


10 comments on “Caravansary – First Impressions

  1. Thank you for quoting me. However, I was not suggesting that the art car turn it down, or that they were doing anything wrong, per se. I was merely pointing out that there was an amazing opportunity to experience a subtle but powerful noise while Embrace burned – the raw and dynamic sound of fire taking a structure. I love the music at BM. In fact, to me, BM is the opportunity to bring forth the sounds of joy in whatever form that is for you and that is a piece of what makes it so special.

  2. It was my first burn and I had a great time despite that my beloved music was no where to be found after tons of riding around trying to find it. ALL of the music playing the whole week was the same. I would think that such an event would have an abundant amount of various genres to cater to the many people from all over the world. House was all that could typically be heard, sadly. Not everyone wants to hear flippin’ house!! That was and is my only complaint…

  3. Myself and a group of about four of our friends were standing less than 20 feet from the Soul Train when the burn happened. The 2-3 cars on either side were playing their wubwub dubstep step and oontzoontz techno just as loud (if not louder) than the train. 12:00 was certainly the ‘quiter’ choice on burn night, comparatively, but anyone out there wanting a serene night was in the wrong place.

    The areas close to the sound camps and the big bars were VERY full of 20-something festival goers. You got a completely different vibe when you were in those areas, but I wonder if that had to do with the “advertising” White Ocean did and the fact that EDC was just a couple of months ago?

    My only complaint was that I had a bike stolen on Wednesday, along with another bike from our group. My fault for not locking it obviously, but it put a major damper on the whole thing for me.

    However, the weather was beautiful. We were able to experience everything from amazing thunderstorms to beautiful white outs. Low dust, cool temps, perfect burn.

  4. Burner Marsea is surprised and honored to be quoted twice in this blog! I like how you’ve put together all these different points of views. Looking forward to hearing from more burners as they come off the playa. I didn’t go this year, but I’ve got my mind on the playa and the playa on my mind!

  5. I haven’t ever asked someone to turn it down. But I do find that art cars that blast their music everywhere they go, disrupting the vibe that they are happening upon, to be missing the point. Like mentioned above, the music at BM isn’t to be curated by you alone. As a large art builder and a small art car owner I’ll tell you there’s a lot of awesome sound out there that’s not what you brought. Why not turn down the songs you’ve heard a dozen times and see what else is going on? People spend all year on their art and often sound is a part of the experience. If an art car comes and brings it’s own music it is missing much of the experience.

    And as an 8 year burner I’ll tell you that I miss the quieter places that used to be found out in the deeper areas of the playa. Someplace where you could sit on a dusty couch under a rustling palapa and quietly reflect upon your day. Now those areas are overrun by large sound buses hosting “impromptu’ raves.

    It is interesting to see how things change.

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