A 2016 take on the perennial Hero’s Journey story of a transformational experience.
A 2016 take on the perennial Hero’s Journey story of a transformational experience.
A guest post from Terbo Ted, the first DJ at Burning Man (1992) and first Mayor of the Techno Ghetto.
TERBO TED TERBOLIZARD·FRIDAY, 9 SEPTEMBER 2016
“Make America Mexico Again” – overheard in Black Rock City
Whether they were contributing by financing, creating, designing, building, staffing or populating Black Rock City, 2016 was a year noteworthy for outstanding input from Mexican nationals.
Mexico City’s Mayan Warrior art car returned to the playa with millions of dollars worth of mind blowing improvements. Their blend of music, form, sound and light was unprecedented and sets a global standard for art cars. Whenever it would slowly enter the playa playing solemn processional music, dozens of bicycles would dutifully follow along in anticipation of the festivities to come. The night Mayan Warrior linked systems with playa veterans Robot Heart set an unbelievable benchmark for sound in the desert and attracted an enormous crowd of thousands that danced well past sunrise. Equally impressive was watching the Mayan Warrior return to their large, well organized camp to go through the vehicle’s round the clock daily servicing; it was like watching a pit crew at the 24 hours of Le Mans automobile endurance event.
photo from Burning Man Festival at https://www.instagram.com/p/BKDwqYDgxeS/
Burning Man has become an international jet set destination and along with some very impressive camps from Mexico lining Billionaire’s Alley- such as Humano The Tribe-, there were other high end luxury Spanish language camps in that area as well, including Ibiza camp from Spain. All day long at the end of Lorenzo one could witness beautiful young people talking in Spanish strolling or riding by while modeling designer swimwear, tall boots and disco ball bedazzled military officer caps, which were very much in fashion this year. I’m glad I speak Spanish; I found myself having several conversations a day en Español on the playa.
Many of the Mexicans had elaborate feather costumes or wardrobe items, which was quite interesting in the wake of all of the strong social media dialog before the event regarding respect for Native American and First Nation traditions, especially the donning of Plains Indian style war bonnet headdresses. Mexicans, of course, may be descended from- or not- a range of indigenous civilizations that have long made use of feathers in ceremonial costumes and headgear, which might be influenced by Aztec, Mayan, Olmec, Toltec or other American cultures. To directly address the war bonnet controversy, while I never saw an authentic, actual Plains Indian Eagle Feather Headdress on the playa this year, I certainly did see one wasted, sunburned and pale beer-bellied white bro with his shirt off, wearing unfortunate Spring Break styled swim trunks and a low-cost child-sized neon green faux feather war bonnet headdress that looked like it came from the Spirit Halloween store. This poor fella looked like the only guy on the playa who couldn’t actually get laid, and I don’t think we should take his costume choices too seriously, he obviously doesn’t.
Black Rock City has all of the cultural sensitivity of an owl vomiting up a frog carcass it has recently devoured. Countless booths and kiosks line the city offering ‘Bad Advice.’ Ironically, these are usually unstaffed. While traveling around BRC, it is inevitable that some drunken clown, prankster or provocateur will yell at you through a bullhorn or distorted microphone with a message as succinct as ‘Fuck You!’ or ‘Fuck Your Burn!’ Which is usually followed with a sturdy hug and an offering of a drink. This is how a society built on ritualized destruction of a male effigy conducts itself on a normal day to day basis. If you are new to BRC, the culture is very likely to rudely invade your personal comfort zone and via ‘transformation’ help you redefine your own boundaries.
It seems that well over half of the population of Black Rock City are virgins now. What is remarkable is how all of the shared cultural history, knowledge and information has been of great use in preparing these people for their first visit. Sometimes virgins might even be over indoctrinated before they arrive these days. We should be reminded that in the early years of Burning Man on the playa, people were NOT good at it. Over 20 years ago people would routinely show up in the desert with no goggles, no mask, no sunscreen, no hat, no shade, no water. Back in those days, you’d find someone passed out on the ground, intoxicated, with a blistering sunburn and desperately in need of help. Now virgins show up in designer outfits tailored to the desert lifestyle. In conversation with virgins this year, I’d inevitably ask them how does being at BRC differ from all of the impressions they had beforehand, from all of the wealth of pictures, videos and stories they had experienced prior the event. Most people answer that they are surprised at how friendly everyone is in Black Rock City, and by how indescribable the desert environment is, including scale and conditions. You have to be there on the playa to truly understand.
Bicycles are an integral part of Black Rock City, but that has not always been the case. In the early 90s, BRC was small enough to easily traverse on foot, and you could drive your car in any direction you chose at any speed. Times have changed. A great deal of difficulties face bicyclists on the playa. LOCK YOUR BICYCLE or it will be ‘gifted’ from you and become a ‘playa bike.’ While literal bike theft seems to be down in BRC- in previous years people would actually throw bikes en masse into trucks to steal them- ‘borrowing’ or ‘appropriating’ of bikes is rampant in BRC. This is especially common around turn key camps that provide a fleet of bicycles to their guests. A turn key guest probably doesn’t have much attachment to their provided playa bike, and it is understandable that they would not lock it up, but once their allocated bike disappears, the consternation of this situation is generally inspiring enough to motivate their borrowing of someone else’s bike, which has an impressive cascading effect. LOCK YOUR BIKE OR YOU WILL LOSE IT. The amount of discarded bicycles strewn about after the city begins to fade away is heart breaking. If you do not want to take your bike home, please take it off the playa and donate it to any one of the local groups along Highway 447 who specialize in restoring and renting playa bikes to future guests.
Further bicycle notes: If you spend any time at all in the busy bike repair shops around the city, you will notice that one of the most common repairs is eliminating a derailleur and shortening the chain to transform it into a one speed bike. The playa is completely flat and the roads are rutted. Derailleurs fail regularly from all of the bouncing, dust and falls a bike encounters. If you are putting together or purchasing a new playa bike, one speed beach cruisers work fine. Consider avoiding multi-speed bikes to eliminate yourself some hassle. Also, while people are great at illuminating their bikes to avoid ‘darking’ at night, it seems more people could use bells or horns to notify other pedestrians, vehicles and bikes. It is remarkable how many people ride their bikes while not looking where they are going, there are many distractions in Black Rock City.
“Communities are not produced by sentiment. They grow out of a shared struggle.” – Larry Harvey
It was great to see ecstatic good vibes from the old timers in attendance this year. The recent purchase of Fly Ranch leading up to the burn warmed many hearts. But the path to this year’s joy has not been an easy one. Burning Man has faced much adversity over the decades. The festival almost collapsed after the deadly HellCo chaos of 1996. For every single one of the early years in the desert the festival only lost money, which seemed like a lot in that era, even insurmountable at times. Their have been countless lawsuits over the years against various government agencies. Early stalwarts such as John Law (who designed the man’s neon) quit long ago and vowed never to return. Others have passed away, such as Pepe Ozan, who helped pioneer large-scale ritualized spectacle in the earlier years. But every single time this year I ran across folks such as Larry Harvey, Crimson Rose, Will Roger, Maid Marian, Steven Raspa and more, they seemed to be in the greatest of spirits. Que vaya bien.
About the storyteller:
Terbo Ted Terbolizard first visited the Black Rock Desert in 1992 when there was no gate, no perimeter, no road, no trash fence and you could drive your car as fast as you wanted in any direction. Terbo was the first DJ to play in Black Rock City, with no one there to hear his set on a dusty Friday afternoon. Later, in the early years he was the only one ever to be called “Mayor of the Techno Ghetto.” His playa self and default world self can be remarkably similar these days.
Header image photo by Craig Ellenwood
#burningman #playa #artcar #mayanwarrior #robotheart
A guest post from Kevin O’Neill.
By Kevin O’Neill
I got kicked out of Burning Man last year. To this day, I can’t quite tell you what offense I committed heinous enough to warrant it. Neither could the law enforcement officers or rangers that escorted me out, for that matter. We were all shrugs, head nods and baffled faces, as we drove through the desert night, kicking up a cloud of dust behind us on the road to Reno.
It all went down the Thursday before the burn. I’d been looking forward all week to my girlfriend arriving to meet me that afternoon. Her birthday was burn day this year and she could only make it in from Chicago for the weekend. I had gotten early entry as a plus one to a veteran ranger friend of mine, who I had driven to my first burn in 2012 with. This year we were all camping together at Ranger Outpost Berlin.
Having rangered 5 times at the Great Lakes Regional Burn, Lakes of Fire, I thought camping with the BRC Rangers would be a good opportunity to learn from the pros, get immersed in the culture, and ready myself for my third trip to the playa, when I would finally be eligible to start training for dirt shifts on the playa. If nothing else, they had a kitchen, I didn’t really use because they kept mentioning how good the vitamix 300 vs 5200 review was and I just didn’t wan to touch anything. they had a shower, which I was able to use once to rinse off the layers of dust skin I had grown during 2 windstorm greeter shifts. I had to be presentable for my girl. After all, she was flying in from across the country to be with me on her burn day birthday at our favorite place on earth.
My girlfriend flew in from Chicago to Reno Thursday afternoon during my last greeter shift. I called her when I got off. She was at the airport, about to board the Burner Express Bus. We arranged to meet at the shuttle drop off location by 3 and G, a couple blocks down 3 from Berlin, which was next to the keyhole at C. Just about the only thing I was on time for during the burn was arriving at the moment the shuttle dropped her off. It was serendipity, really. While walking back to camp with her stuff, I broke the news to her that our Ranger friend, who brought us to Berlin, was still out and about with her bike. A week before, in Chicago, all three of us were loading up my bike and hers on the Cobra bus to transport them 2,000 miles to the middle of the northern Nevada desert. It was there that my friend agreed to lend her bike to our Ranger buddy for the week until she arrived. There was one explicit condition she had: that the bike be returned to her upon her arrival at camp.
Suffice it to say, when we reached camp the bike was not there. Having had a negative experience where her bike was stolen from her during her first burn the year before, she was disappointed by her new bike’s absence. The bike was still where it had been locked up since the day before, when we rode it to the naked greeter shift, somewhere between Rod’s Road and 5. By the time it did make it back to camp, it was dark, cold, and we were about to evicted from Black Rock City.
I knew my friend had a shift that night, but I didn’t know when. After asking the rangers around the outpost Berlin if they knew the whereabouts of our ranger friend or when he might be expected back, we had no answers.
My girl and I decided to go for a walk in the meantime. She had had her heart set on having a dusk bike ride out to deep playa as soon as she got there, but a stroll around the neighborhood would have to suffice. We met our neighbors at a campsite toward the keyhole at C. They asked how we were, and we told them about my girlfriend’s birthday, how she had just arrived from Chicago earlier that day, and how we were walking around until our friend got back to Berlin with her bike. They encouraged us to seek help with the rangers at Tokyo Outpost, on the other side of the playa, because they might be able to look up his schedule to see if he was working that night and when. They said the Tokyo rangers would be more helpful.
We, instead, returned with this idea to our campsite at Berlin. After mentioning the notion to go Tokyo to ask about our friend’s schedule, the Berliners acted like “anything that Tokyo can do, we can do better.” While my girlfriend inquired about our friend’s schedule and when to expect him back, I passed out in my tent from the exhaustion of 48 hours of no sleep, during which time I was working 12 hours of sandstorm greeter shifts. Sometimes you just gotta go to Robot Heart for the deep playa sunrise set. Sometimes you have to lay down before you collapse. It’s all about balance.
I woke up to the sound of yelling. My girlfriend rushed into my tent, telling me that there was a ranger accusing her of going into tents that weren’t hers. Groggy and disoriented, I staggered out of my tent to be met by a guy in a ranger outfit, accusatory and hostile in nature. With an inflammatory tone, he demanded to know who we were, and what we were doing at the ranger’s camp.
“I’ve been camping here at Berlin for 5 days as a guest of my friend, a Black Rock ranger of 6 years,” I told him. The ranger before me said he didn’t know my friend, and interjected his doubt of what I told him and his suspicion that I was not supposed to be here. I insisted that he leave. He did leave by the by, only to return with more rangers shortly thereafter.
By this time the sun was settling behind the mountains, the temperature had dropped. I grabbed the first shirt with long sleeves I could reach, which happened to be my friend’s Black Rock City Ranger shirt. I had mistaken it for my similar Lakes of Fire Great Lakes Regional Ranger shirt that I had gotten a couple of years before, my 3rd time Rangering there. Now I was wearing a ranger outfit too. Similar in color, texture, and size to the Lakes of Fire Ranger issue, it was an honest mistake grabbing the BRC shirt instead. But it did turn out to be a huge mistake.
When the ranger who confronted us and disturbed me from my dust coma returned with more rangers, he saw my friend’s ranger shirt and said I was impersonating a ranger. He claimed I was there to steal from the tents of rangers.
At this point, we had drawn enough attention asking about my friend’s whereabouts, and getting into a yelling match with an unrangerly ranger, the situation was escalating fast. Rangers were gathering by the minute, surrounding our tents. Ever been surrounded by rangers before? It’s a little threatening. I may have offered to jump kick the unrangerly ranger who started this whole defuckle. I wonder if I can even do that.
They said I was trespassing. Without my friend there to corroborate, all I could do was remind them that I had been here all week, that I had seen such and such at the Berlin Outpost party on Tuesday, circumstantial stuff. Of the few rangers at Berlin friendly enough to talk with me all week I’d been there, none of them were there right then. I got mad. They threatened to call law enforcement. I encouraged them. That turned out to be a mistake too.
When law enforcement got there, my ranger friend had yet to return. The rangers at Berlin proceeded to file paperwork with them to have me evicted. They told me and my girlfriend that I was going to be kicked out, but she was going to be allowed to stay. She said wanted to stay with me, sweet woman. She was filming everything at this point on her camera.
I started yelling that this was unfair, and that I hadn’t done anything to deserve this. I was assaulted briefly by a police officer who slammed into me from behind and restrained me.
They stopped short of handcuffing me.
I was allowed to pack up my tent and belongings under the flashlights of a dozen rangers. Right before the time when the packing began, my friend finally shows up with my girlfriend’s bike in tow.
He was immediately confronted by law enforcement and questioned.
“Who’s bike is that?”, the sheriff asked.
“It’s (Kevin’s girlfriend’s)”, replied my friend.
“Are these your things”, inquired the sheriff, holding up the dust-rubbed Khaki garb I had worn earlier.
“Yes”, says my friend after investigating his shirt.
“It seems Kevin here was going through your tent while you were out”, the law enforcement officer informed my friend. “Would you like to press charges?”
“Kevin is my friend, he has permission to go into my tent whenever he likes.”
The law enforcement officer then asked my girlfriend if she still wanted to press charges for bike theft.
“No,” she said. “The bike has been returned”. Albeit too late.
The situation seemed to deescalate. All conflicts were resolved.
The rangers told us that we could stay in festival but we had to leave Berlin. Gladly.
Not 20 minutes later, my Ranger friend came out with the law enforcement officer and told us that they were just kidding about us getting to stay.
“The paperwork had already been started”, he said. You know how it is with paperwork, am I right?
As it turns out, while the situation outside was being diffused, inside of a trailer at Berlin, the Khaki on duty made the tough decision to evict me and my girlfriend from Burning Man. They feared that if we were allowed to stay at the festival, we may retaliate or seek vengeance. That definitely wasn’t a possibility after the paperwork to remove us had been filed with the state sheriff.
The paperwork that we were given was 2 yellow carbon copies of trespassing notices, from the Nevada State’s Sheriff’s office, signed by the khaki on duty at the time. We were escorted out to the law enforcement camp, at the festival entrance, right next to where I had spent 16 hours greeting 1000s of people with hugs all week long. Now it was time for me to say goodbye. 2 hours later, my girlfriend and I, along with all of our stuff (her bike included), were toted in a white van with no windows through the dark desert toward Reno. I fell asleep. When I woke up, that dream that we all share – of making it out to the playa and having our intentions, hard work, sacrifices, resources, and time [combine] into the culminating experience of everything we each bring and believe to be Burning Man – was gone. I’ve been woke ever since.
I returned to the Lakes of Fire this past June, my 7th regional. I attended ranger training. I’m not sure why exactly I felt compelled, but it had to do with forgiveness and closure. A respected veteran to Lakes and Black Rock was leading the session.
There’s no way he could’ve known what had happened with us last year. The rangers that were there didn’t talk about it, and if you’re reading this, you’re one of a few that I’ve told the story to. Still, this veteran ranger looked me in the eye, standing in a crowd full of attendees, and gave a pretty good speech.
“We’re rangers. We’re not cops. We don’t have any authority over anyone else. We’re here to help”, he told us. “Part of Burning Man is radical participation. Rangering is my art. It’s my contribution to this community.”
We all give back in our own ways. While I wasn’t ready to put on a “Khaki Lives Matter” patch, I did end up taking a shift at the perimeter of our 2016 Lakes of Fire effigy burn. Rangers and FAST had to tackle a disoriented participant, who was running toward the burning wooden monster to prevent him from jumping into the fire. Other than that, it was pretty uneventful.
A guest post from Joycebird. You can check out some of her other writing at The Art of Transgression
Burning Man is great for couples; Burning Man is hard on couples.
My fiancé recently posted a picture of the drive home. Our close friend, prone to carsickness, rides shotgun beside him, while I peek out from amidst a ton of crap in the backseat, Waldo-esque. My ego throws its umpteenth tissy fit. I should be beside him. Not her. Me.
We’d gotten off to a strange, unsettling, but ultimately very cathartic start. On Monday night, he stayed by my side while I lost all touch with reality and ran through people’s camps in my fur-kini, celebrating the coming of the First Nirvana. While I had my own personal Mormon-turned-Taoist jubilation, shouting “Hosanna! Hosanna!” and literally rolling on the ground with joy, he followed me, just as high, navigating the google dream network, picking up my belongings as I shed them, and crossing his fingers that no undercover cops would witness what was clearly a hallucinogenic trip, as he was far from sober himself and had more substances on him.
It was a struggle for him not to leave me behind the way he himself was left behind by his father at a very young age. But he didn’t leave me. For the next several days we were on a close and loving high, mine fueled by humility, gratitude, and a sense of security, his by the realization that I am helping him to become the man his father couldn’t be.
Our friend, away from her lover and feeling shy, spent much of the burn with us. Nights huddled against the cold of the desert, she opened up to us about her insecurities, about her troubled relationship with her partner (who was not at the burn), about how hard it was for her to feel desirable anymore. We kissed her and told her she was beautiful. We opened up our abundant love to her.
The morning after one such night of loving conversation and snuggles, I’d retired to my tent for a nap. I expected him to join me at any moment, and when I woke up to find him still missing, I felt a pang of sadness.
I asked another camp friend where he was and was informed somewhat cautiously that he was in her tent. My heart began to pound. I crouched under the tent fly. His face emerged wearing a goofy grin. “What’s up, baby?” I asked, failing to sound casual.
“I just ate her out.”
Everything inside of me constricted. “I don’t think her boyfriend is going to be very happy about this.”
There was a pause. “I didn’t think about that.”
“Yeah, well,” I muttered. I backed out and stumbled to my tent, observing the emotions rolling over me. The tears felt small and petty but I let them come.
I cried my fear that his tenderness towards her and their many commonalities of personality and interest would transform into a love stronger than our own. I cried an imaginary future of being the wife of that particular village hero who is good to everyone at the expense of his own family. I cried the loss of my uncomplicated bliss.
I’d said he could have a Burner girlfriend (a fairly common thing among Burner couples). We’d even talked about the possibility of helping this friend to feel sexy in a more hands-on way. But I was in no way prepared for something to happen without my presence or explicit consent.
She came in and put a hand on my back. She spoke my name gently. I didn’t respond or bother to hide from her the fact that I was crying. After a moment she let me be. Then he was beside me, calmly and gently fielding my hurt. Misunderstandings were unpacked. My lover’s concern was genuine. He hadn’t expected me to react this way. I began to calm down. This kind of thing is hard enough, I told him. It’s something I want to be open to in the right circumstances, and it’s also very hard. “Please don’t ever, ever make assumptions or jump to conclusions again. Please make sure to ask me first.”
“Your feelings are the most important thing to me. I would never do anything to jeopardize our relationship. You’re the most magical thing that’s ever happened to me,” he said.
“All of the stories that you hear about this kind of thing end in pain and separation.”
“They don’t have to.”
I took some deep breaths. Wiped away my tears. Emerged from the tent into the sun and walked over to our friend. I straddled her, wrapped my arms around her, and hugged her for a long time. She hugged me back. “I love you,” I told her. “I love you,” she said.
Another challenge was put to me on the night of the temple burn, an event we were highly looking forward to. We’d missed it last year, and our experience there together this year had been very poignant. As sad as I was to see the city come down around us, I was feeling particularly close to both my lover and our mutual friend now that I’d mostly taken in stride their unexpected encounter. I was enjoying the afterglow of how rewarding openness and forgiveness can be.
There was another woman in our camp now, someone who’d identified my lover as a kind soul and gravitated toward him and shared her woes. Our friend had bristled at this addition (which I found amusing, considering) and I’d been magnanimous, giving my blessing again for a sexual encounter. He reassured me that his feelings were nurturing and nonsexual. We both celebrated this new development.
One thing led to another and we looked up from our camp to see the smoke of the temple rising. He swore and took off with the new camp mate, accidentally leaving us behind with one bike too few. We searched for him fruitlessly. When we finally made it back to camp, his pack was waiting at the tent, light on, and his headlamp was on the steps of our new friend’s RV. Once again, my heart sank.
We knocked on the door and called out his name. He answered. “Can we come in?”
“…Give me a second.”
Despite having technically given him permission, my feelings this time truly overwhelmed me. I threw my pack on the ground and sank down, shaking and crying. Our close friend told him to hurry; that I needed him.
Our society puts such a lot of weight on sexual indiscretions. We treat physicality as the holy grail of fidelity. Is the sex act ever really the problem? Or is it the violated trust, the lack of consideration? Is it the forced encounter with feelings we hate to experience, with realities of our partner’s otherness we’d prefer not to know?
I asked him repeatedly, shaking him, “How could you? How could you? I don’t understand how this could happen.” It took me a while to listen to his response, but I really did want to know. I didn’t just want to punish him. I didn’t want to wallow in my victimhood.
When he went down on our friend, I knew that it came from a place of wanting to help her heal. I knew it came from a place of affection. I knew he trusted my offer to let such a thing occur. This, it was clear, came from a very different place. He was angry he’d missed the burn, and then upset with himself for leaving us behind. He wondered why we didn’t catch up with him; imagined we had simply wandered off without a care. He felt anxious and self-loathing and maybe a little vengeful.
I could have demonized him for succumbing to these emotions. I could have distanced myself from his weakness. I could have turned away from his pain and focused exclusively on my experience.
But the more I listened to his excuses, the fudged details about who had actually initiated, the attempts to self-exonerate, the closer I felt to him. He sounded exactly like I did when I’d allowed a situation to make a decision for me in order to satisfy some urge or soothe some wound to my ego. As crazy as it may sound to you dedicated monogamists out there, his infidelity made us closer.
The next morning I apologized to the woman involved for letting my negativity affect her experience. I saw that she fully trusted my acceptance of the situation and had no thought of disrupting the sanctity of our relationship, and we became friends. Forging another story of how women interact in such circumstances–not as competitors, but as sisters and friends.
Back at home, I still have some anger to express, I still have fears and doubts, and he meets it all with love, honesty, and patience. I still find myself anxious over our mutual friend, and he reassures me. She and I are closer than ever.
This whole thing has rebooted our too-comfortable sex life. It has offered new perspective. He was surprised and grateful when his new friend asked his consent before giving a blowjob. It had never really occurred to me that men might need and deserve respect for their sexual agency in the same way women do (rather than having their desires taken for granted).
Burning Man offers unique opportunities for exploration, self-growth, and for destroying negative patterns and forging new ones. As scary as new territory can be, safety and comfort are not the same as happiness.
I look at the picture again. Our friend is glowing and transformed. My lover and life partner wears one of his trademark crazy grins. My ego and I sit in the backseat, tired and happy. Soon after the photo was taken he reached his hand over the back of the seat, grasping mine, holding it as he drove, and whispered to me his love and appreciation and admiration.
It’s not for everyone, I understand that. But I wouldn’t trade our Burner love for the status quo version–not in a million burns.
Thanks to Peter Ruprecht of Ruprecht Studios for putting together another amazing stop-motion animation. Music by The Scumfrog. Peter created this from more than 22,000 still photographs that he took this year. He says:
“I left it full length so people can use it as a set they listen to by Scumfrog and have visual eye candy behind it”
Apparently the YouTube one works better on mobile:
[Update 10/25/15 11:43pm]
This video has got a lot of Likes and Shares on Facebook, but has drawn a small amount of criticism here and there. Some Burnier-Than-Thous complained that the people in it are too good looking and not dusty enough. I mean, really? That’s next on the Ban list, hot people? Well, according to burningman.com for the last few years they have been actively trying to get fewer celebrities to attend. That hasn’t really worked out very well, given The Simpsons, Katy Perry, Oprah and Dr Phil. So who could they want to ban next…?
The idea that the way to make Burning Man better is to promote uglier Burners sounds ludicrous to me. But some seem to feel very earnest about it.
Anyway, here is a response from the artist:
…its sad to see yet another comment disparaging the “art” being created about experiences on the playa…i believe i have an opinion about this piece that merits attention..since this is the video I created. … i am going to use that liberty and write …well until i feel i have written enough of a response to yet ANOTHER unfounded statement by righteous people…
Lets get a few things cleared up here…as far as the video goes…THERE IS FAR MORE TIME TO EVERYTHING OTHER THAN PEOPLE POSING THAN ANYTHING ELSE….but now that you have attacked me by attacking what i have made i feel inclined to respond…AS a photographer that is known for taking photos at Burning Man, my work and my motives have been challenged and scrutinized many times over the years. Any negativity I have received over the years was continually due to the “type of woman or man” I would display in my photographs.
I have been accused of only photographing beautiful people. That all had to come to an end as I started to make my “Playa Gift Photo Shoots” for anyone to come and be photographed more publicly known.
I have gone out of my way to “give back” and give ANYONE the ability to come and be photographed under studio lights on the playa in the hopes that they take home a treasured memory that captures them in a nicer light than their cell phones will allow.
I have also NEVER said no to anyone who has asked for a photo and asked for my email other than RUDE people.
Beautiful girls or boys are NOT the problem. Uneducated, uninspired, lazy, entitled, conformist and mean people are the problem. To tell anyone to mind their behavior at burning man because it might be misconstrued since they are pretty is LUDICROUS. The only thing we have to curb are MEAN, shallow, entitled attitudes but some times worse…RIGHTEOUS ATTITUDES.
And the BEST thing we can do is inspire those people to become better people. Maybe teach one of these “wallflowers” YOU COMPLAIN ABOUT that they can create art, that it is liberating to be inspired. I feel much more sorry for the “wallflower” that doesn’t “Get” burning man than the “average looking” person that gets it and is sharing in the playa magic.
Human Beauty has been idolized since the DAWN of man. Were the greeks and romans wrong to sculpt the way they did. Should Michael angelo have made the david look fat? Should the venus demilo be regarded as an affront on our Burning Man Culture because its proportioned in an aesthetically pleasing manner?
I think everyone should stop worrying SOOOO MUCH about the people around them and focus on their own shortcomings and work on those.
WE ALL HAVE them.
The righteous judgment should be sidelined and if critique is to be made, make it specifically on the issue, NOT on the generalizations that lump people into groups like “the beautiful people” or the “ugly people”
Make the groups something that can be representative of your interactions with them. The nice people, the inclusive people, the inquisitive people, the shallow people, the mean people, the entitled people.
AND THEN DO YOUR BEST TO HELP THOSE LATTER TRY AND GET IT!
Oh yeah one other thing pretty much everyone I photographed close up. Is a personal friend. And I know and see them off of the playa. So you are right it’s not representative of the playa. It’s MY experience on the playa with my real friends. And honestly you DONT know them to judge them. And quite frankly you shouldn’t judge at all. But you have already passed judgement of this piece as having to conform into some form of a documentary. For you to be ok with it this video HAS to include some arbitrary group of strangers Iso that includes some arbitrary 98% For you to deem it worthy of existing. Guess what. It’s not a documentary. It never was. It was simply my burn experience through my camera. No one asked you to like it And as a matter of fact you are welcome to hate it. Hate it because it sucks. Hate it because the photos are terrible. Hate it because you hate my point of view. But please spare me the tired argument that it’s not authentic or real because it doesn’t include he people YOU want to see in it and only your concept is authentic. And the saddest thing of all is if all you saw are hot girls.
You missed the best parts of the video. Which are the sunsets. For your own piece of mind. Here is what I wrote about those and what they mean to me:
I am often asked what my favorite part of burning man is. I try and explain to people, that, while it is an amazing party, my favorite times have been during the blessings the universe has sent me while completely ALONE on the playa.
There have been several moments now over the years when i have felt a bolt of electricity curse through my body, knock the wind out of me, and reduce me to my knees shuddering pools of tears.
Bringing me to the realization that i am in the presence of UNIVERSAL LOVE, GOD, ENERGY, HUMANITY, NOTHING, EVERYTHING, you take your pick, BUT, there is something out there definitely palpable and communicating with us.
I am a photographer and every year i find myself in a situation where i look at what is happening in front of me and via nature, not our LEDs or music or sounds or parties or friends, but nature’s simple beauty knocking me over and bringing me to tears.
While i sat looking at the sky, it was all i could do but lift my camera through the tears i shed for the beauty that was presented to me and snap a few shots. I looked around during this sunset expecting to see ALL of burning manas professionals out there with tripods getting FAR better representations of GOD painting the skies for us, and once again i found my self COMPLETELY ALONE. OFF of the 10 o’clock side at the trash fence.
This was on wednesday at the end of the dust storms, and it was me and one jester looking like completely naked german woman maybe of 60 years. She was jumping up and down in circles thanking the heavens laughing hysterically and drawing a circle in the ground which she sat in and kissed the playa. While she looked completely out of her mind, she looked at me ran up and wiped the tears of of my face, so i realized that there was really no difference between laughter and crying. Both opposite ends of the spectrum on a circle touching each other.
We both sat there in complete silence in her circle and i kissed the playa with her, reminded that the universe provides FAR more than we can create by ourselves. For there is no BY OUR SELVES. we are within the universe and the universe is with us. Neither exists without the other. This photo is dedicated the the stange german woman who helped me raise my camera and shoot some of my favorite photos of the burn. Here are two…ill post more as i get to them and give them the love and attention they deserve
Thank you wherever and whoever you are!