Hooligans Attack! White Ocean Sabotaged, Camp Collapses

2016 white ocean lineup

It seems the Occupy Burning Man Class War long promoted on eplaya.burningman.com (while being simultaneously dismissed as irrelevant at the BJ) has finally come to fruition.

White Ocean was sabotaged by hooligans, who trashed their camp and glued doors shut on their trailers. Rather than sympathy from the Org, they were told they deserved it.

Screenshot 2016-09-02 14.25.33

Some Burners might laugh at this, thinking it’s a throwback to the glory hole days of the Cacophony Society, but it’s not cool. This is way more than a prank. Pranks should be funny. Like this:

zos billboard

It goes against the whole point of Burning Man, which is radical inclusion. The vandals are MOOPing all over the Playa, “in the name of the Ten Principles!” What dicks. Not to mention that it might not be the smartest thing to mess with these people.

White Ocean put on a huge stage, bring some of the best musical talent in the world, give it away for free – so they deserve to be punished by Burnier-Than-Thous? For what, not gifting enough? Having people in their camp from other countries? First Camp is where people should be protesting.

The result of this attack is more likely to be “raise prices further so poor people can’t come”, rather than “all the rich people will now leave”. Camps will now be forced to have security staff, velvet ropes, members-only areas, all the things the vandals presumably hate. Generators will be closely guarded, strangers will be looked at with suspicion.

Sadly, this is symptomatic of the huge rift in the community caused by the BMorg 2.0 attitude, as exemplified by the “Man upside down” theme of this year. The message from Larry Harvey on the official Burning Man blog is that art comes from rich people sponsoring poor artists, instead of a communal effort by all of us where anyone can be an artist so everybody’s got to try.

These days, some people have $190 tickets and others have $1300 tickets. Burners don’t think “that’s so awesome that they paid more for tickets, they’re funding art” – because the extra money quite clearly is not funding more art. Instead many think “most of my friends couldn’t get tickets and these sparkle ponies don’t even care about our values or appreciate how  lucky they are to be here”.

Instead of Da Vinci tickets funding more art, the annual Art Grants budget was adjusted to include the Man, Man base, and Temple, as well as grants to Burner artists. Of course, all the same old names who’ve been getting grants for decades get rewarded each year, whether they need the money or not.

What about Vehicle Passes? Did this money go to art? Vehicles? To making Burning Man or the world a  better place? Or did it go to flying the 100+ full time, year-round Org staff around the world to a bunch of festivals on recon for Fest300 while courting wealthy patrons to finance off-Playa real estate deals?

Screenshot 2016-09-02 15.19.30

When vehicle passes came out, we were told it was for the environment and improving local roads. Were the roads any better this year? All we have heard about is Police stings at the Gerlach crosswalk.

Perhaps related to this attack, or perhaps a total coincidence, but a structure in an unnamed camp collapsed, injuring 6 people. 1 had to be airlifted out, BMOrg aren’t saying where. From SFist:

A Burning Man theme camp collapsed earlier this week, injuring six and requiring that one festival attendee be airlifted out of the desert for medical treatment. The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that this all went down Monday, and that festival organizers are keeping a tight lid on the details.

According to the paper, the structure was part of a theme camp — not one of the giant art projects that cover the Playa — but officials are not saying at this time which camp. Five of the injured six, whose names have not been released, were treated by medical personnel onsite and one needed x-rays from medical contractor CrowdRx. The sixth was sent elsewhere for treatment, although Burning Man spokesman Jim Graham did not confirm to the paper to where or for what injuries.

We can safely assume, however, that Paris Hilton was not one of the injured as she was still Instagraming away as of yesterday.

The 70,000-person festival is no stranger to accidents, and has serious medical care facilities on site as a safety measure. And while most years are free of accidental deaths, it was just two years ago that a woman died after she was tragically run over by a bus.

The collapsed structure was officially closed off Tuesday morning, and we assume the five injured and released attendees are, at present, dancing to some deep house.

[Source]

Meanwhile, back in SF, the Chronicle reports that the 3% drop in city population due to Burning Man has been quickly filled up with tourists. Probably taking advantage of the glut of week-long AirBnB rentals.

 

BRB: A History of Deaths

The Black Rock Beacon has published this history:

Compiled by Mitch, Rockstar and Brandon

Before this year, there were at least six deaths in Black Rock City. An additional number of Burners passed away after being evacuated.

The known deaths, reported by the Black Rock Beacon and other media or the Burning Man organization:

  • 2011 – Erika Kupfersberger, cerebral hemorrhage.
  • 2007 – Jermaine “Jerm” Barley, suicide by hanging.
  • 2006 – Adam Goldstone, a DJ with a known heart condition, died in RV after fainting.
  • 2005 – Sam Rich, a member of the fire-dancing group Controlled Burn, heart attack. Rich had sustained a head injury for which he was given stitches on Wednesday, the day before he died.
  • 2003 – Katherine Lampman, run over by art car she was exiting.
  • 2001 – A participant chose to run into a fire, according to the Afterburn probably the burning of Amazing Larry’s Lucky Seven Ages, the casino built into two large dice in the Deep Playa.

Among other event-related fatalities, an unidentified 52-year-old female Burner died in a Reno hospital after being transported from the Playa in 2010 because of an “unknown” medical condition, according to the Afterburn.

In 2005, a second Burner suffered cardiac arrest on the Playa and died that October after slipping into a coma in the hospital.

One fatality occurred from one of the two aircraft crashes in 2003. Barry Jacobs, the pilot of one of the planes, died after being hospitalized.

Two additional deaths in 2001 associated with the event included a Department of Public Works volunteer who died in a motor vehicle accident on the highway before the event and a second traffic fatality on Highway 447 during Exodus.

Michael Furey died in a motorcycle accident as the event was being set up in 1996.

The last edition of their newspaper was published on Thursday:

2014 BRB-Thursday-2-Page-PROOF-2

2014 BRB-Thursday-2-Page-PROOF-2

BREAKING: Woman Dies at Burning Man [Updates]

This just in, we will update the story if we get more details.

[Update 9/1/14 7:14pm]

The most recent version of events:

The art car was towing a trailer with heavy equipment including a generator. Burning Man founder Marian Goodell was on board, the accident happened just in front of First Camp. The 29 year old woman, Alicia Cipicchio from Wyoming, tried to jump on the bus while it was moving to climb a ladder to its roof, between the bus and trailer. She died at the scene. The driver has not been accused of any wrongdoing in what sounds like a tragic – and preventable – accident.

Preventable? Don’t try to jump on a moving art car, Burners.

Our condolences to Alicia’s family and friends – may she rest in peace. It seems that the Burner community came together, with the neighbors looking out for her distraught camp-mates.

Burner Gary said:

Dear Fellow Burners,
I’m attaching a very personal note we received from Alicia’s friends and campmates. This amazing act of kindness started the healing process for everyone. Our two camps met, shared the sadness, prayed and hope everyone understands this was a tragic accident, not reckless driving.

As you may know, Alicia tried to jump on the trailer ladder while the bus was moving and fell in between the bus and the trailer (apologies for being direct).

Our deepest sympathy goes out to everyone and please never jump on a moving art car, tragic accidents happen in a split second.

Please send your positive thoughts and pray this never happens again.

alicia note

 

 


 

From the SF Chronicle:

embrace and man and sun08-28) 08:49 PDT BLACK ROCK DESERT, NEV. — A woman died at Burning Man in northern Nevada early Thursday after she was run over by a bus carrying participants, authorities said.

Details of the crash were not immediately released, but Burning Man co-founder Marian Goodell described it as “a terrible accident.”

The victim’s name has not been released pending notification of her family.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and campmates,” Goodell said. “Black Rock rangers and emergency services department staff are providing support to those affected.”

The 500 rangers managed by organizer Black Rock City LLC are patrolling the art and entertainment event in addition to 95 federal and local law enforcement officers. Burning Man officials said they were working with the Pershing County sheriff’s office in its investigation of the death.

In 2003, Katherine Lampman of Belmont died at the event when she fell from an “art car” and was run over by its wheels. Lampman, 21, was a student at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco and an aspiring photographer.

Some 68,000 people are arriving in the Black Rock Desert about 120 miles north of Reno for the annual weeklong event. The gates opened Tuesday after a rainstorm hit the region, closing the festival Monday on its opening day.

The Shagadelica Bus

The Shagadelica Bus

The Art Car involved was Shagadelica, a double decker bus covered in fur. The incident appears to have happened just after midnight Thursday morning, in front of Center Camp and the keyhole. Burning Man updated their Facebook group with the news around 5am.

Fox47 News has a video story here. They are reporting that the woman fell under the bus and was run over.

From Reuters:

The woman, whose name and age was not immediately released, may have been riding on the bus before she fell under the wheels and was run over by it, said Sheila Reitz, dispatch supervisor for the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office.

Looking at the photo of bus, it’s easy to see how someone might fall off the top, but harder to see how they would then get run over. Perhaps she fell from the doorway?

[Update] 8/28/14 12:06pm

The 29-year old woman from Wyoming has been identified, From KRNV news Reno:

PERSHING COUNTY, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) — Pershing County officials have identified the victim of Thursday morning’s deadly bus incident at Burning Man.
 
According to a press release from Pershing County authorities, Alicia Louise Cipicchio — a 29-year-old resident of Jackson, Wyoming — suffered fatal injuries early Thursday morning after falling under a large vehicle at the annual Burning Man event in the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada.

Event officials, including representatives of Black Rock City, the Bureau of Land Management, and Pershing County Sheriff’s Office express their condolences and sympathies to the family, friends and campmates of the victim. Support is being provided to those affected by the tragedy.

Organizers are working with investigators from Pershing County Sheriff’s Office to determine the series of events leading to the incident. Anyone with information that may assist in the investigations is asked to contact (775) 273-2641.

 [Update 8/28/14 4:42pm] 5 Time Burner has shared a better photo of the Shagadelica. It pulls a trailer, which sheds some light on how a tragedy like this could occur:

shagadelic art car sand-ship

This is not the first time someone has been run over at the festival. There have been at least 2 other deaths there since 2011 – a fact that is news to me. The number of police sounds lower than previous years. From the Reno Gazette-Journal:

Humboldt General Hospital CEO Jim Parrish said earlier this week that deaths do happen at Burning Man. He said at least two other people have died there since the hospital began providing medical response in 2011.

This is the first reported Burning Man death this year.

The woman…sustained fatal injuries after she was struck and died at the scene. (Daily Mail)

No foul play is suspected, the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office said. (Raw Story)

Burners commenting online have shared details on some other incidents:

Tristan: another year i saw someone also get rolled over by a (smaller) art-car (only minor injuries). they learned it is a really bad idea to sleep under an art-car parked on the playa.  

…a few years ago a random guy was mugged by a guy dressed-up as a clown, it was pretty serious (broken arm).

Marco: the last time i was there we were in line and person got ran over by the family that was in their trailer

Leja: We had someone in our camp years ago who happened to die from his congenital heart defect just after setting his tent up. His family was contacted immediately. We were amazed by the rangers and other staff in how organized, thorough, solid and kind their response was.

Cameron: Remember the woman we found sleeping on the playa in the middle of the night last year and took back to her camp – no lights, no neon. Scary. Temple Burn.

Partick: At least we know what happened now…. All night we heard things like stab or massive gunshot……

El Chingdon: lets not forget the people who died in a burning airstream in 2003 because they left candles burning

Mr Fang: No one died in a burning airstream in 2003, but someone did die that year from injuries sustained when a small plane crashed

Laurie: We found a girl last year passed out face down in the middle of everything and had to call the rangers. She was in the dark and this could have happened then, it’s very hard to see out there in the in between spots

The Sheriff JD: may the clouds of your own heaven hold you gently and rest your soul in peace

from the UStream feed

screen cap from the UStream feed – definitely looks like Shagadelica

2014 shagadelica fatality

Photo of the victim from Facebook. Our condolences to her family and friends, and all the Burners who witnessed this tragedy. May she rest in peace.

alicia cipicchio

[Update 8/31/14 3:33pm]

Burner Frank is just back from the Playa, and took this photo of Shagadelica and Embrace. It looks like the trailer is full of speakers, which would be very heavy.

motorbike embrace

[Update 8/31/14 4:59pm] Someone who works at DMV has shared some further details about the accident:

It had nothing do to with driving while drunk. The girl jumped on the car while it was moving on the back and lost footing and the port geni ran over her that they tow. I work for DMV and all of the drivers are very responseable about keeping with brc rules/laws. In my time with DMV I have never come across a drunk operator.

 

How Not To Die At Burning Man

Fest300 is a web site that aims to become the Fortune 500 of festivals. It was founded by Burning Man Project Director Chip Conley, a prominent gay entrepreneur who is also on the Board of hippy favorites the Esalen Institute and Glide Memorial Church.

Fest300 today published an article “How Not To Die At Burning Man”, by Joseph Pred. Pred used to be Burning Man’s chief of emergency operations, until he stepped down in 2013 after new operations director Charlie Dolman was brought in to run the Nevada event.

From Fest300:

fest300 safety tips burningman-shorter

image from Fest300

There are some good tips here, like capping rebar – tennis balls work great and are easier to see in low-light conditions.

Almost 60% of patients are there for basic first aid – bring a first aid kit and be radically self-reliant, Burners. Your camp should have at least one fire extinguisher too.

Although it says do not leave fires unattended, there are more rules than that if you want to have a fire at Burning Man.

Sexual assaults probably occur without being reported. Here are the ones that were reported:

2009    5

2010    4

2011    9

2012    10

2013    7

As far as I know, this information has never been made public before. We covered this issue in The Dark Side of Burning Man – Rape on the Playa.

We’ve also looked at injuries on the playa before, in our post How To Get Hurt At Burning Man.

One Medical physician and Veteran Burner Dr Michelle Rhee has 10 Tips for Staying Healthy at Burning Man:

 nurse1. Plan for at least one gallon of water per day.

You’ll be walking, biking, and dancing in desert conditions during the day and night, so Rhee suggests you “double or even triple the amount of water you’d normally drink at home—at least one gallon per day.”

To make sure you’ve got water on you at all times, Rhee recommends a CamelBak. “I love my CamelBak.  It is always on my back and much more difficult to lose than a water bottle,” says Rhee. “My CamelBak Mule holds 3 liters, and I go back to camp at least one to two times to replenish.”

You should also watch carefully for signs of dehydration, including feeling dizzy, weak, or hyperthermic, decreased urination, and increased heart rate. “You are in the danger zone if you stop urinating and have really weak pulses,” cautions Rhee. “If this happens, go immediately to the medical units to get IV fluids. This is the quickest way to hydrate.” On the way over, she recommends that you start drinking coconut water or something that has sugar and salt in it to help keep the fluids in your blood vessels.

2. Bring a spray bottle to mist yourself.

When it comes to sun and heat protection, Rhee also suggests that you bring a spray bottle with a fan or a mister. “Spraying yourself with cool water with a fan will actually cool you down quicker than dousing yourself with a bucket of water,” says Rhee.

Also watch carefully for heat-related distress—if people start acting delirious, they stop sweating or are unconscious, seek immediate help.

3. Pack a basic first aid kit.

While the medical clinics at Burning Man are well stocked with things you might need (Rhee even had a friend get an EKG onsite!), she recommends you that you bring:

  • Band aids of all sizes (and antibiotic ointment like Neosporin)
  • Sports or paper tape with non-adherent pads for larger cuts and wounds
  • Moleskin for blisters
  • An ace bandage for sprains
  • Tylenol/ibuprofen or pain killer of your choice
  • Sudafed/Benadryl for congestion
  • Emergen-C packets for hangovers
  • Tryptophan 500 to 2000 mg or Melatonin 5 mg to help you sleep
  • Inhalers if you are asthmatic or prone to asthma-like reactions
  • Saline drops for your eyes
  • Saline nasal spray for your nose

4. Anticipate UTIs and yeast infections.

Given the very dry and often less-than-hygienic conditions, women may be more prone to urinary tract infections (UTIs) and yeast infections on the playa (in fact, One Medical often sees a spike in UTIs immediately following the event). To prevent lady troubles, Rhee recommends that you take a daily probiotic and cranberry tablets and drink plenty of water, as well as urinating after having sex, always wiping from front to back, and wearing loose, breathable materials like cotton.

“Just in case, I would bring some boric acid (for bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections), Monistat or oral Diflucan (for yeast infections), Azo (for dysuria), and possibly a UTI treatment such as Cipro or Macrobid, if your provider OKs it,” says Rhee.

If you do get a UTI on the playa and you don’t have medication on hand, visit one of the medical clinics—they should be able to help you, says Rhee.

And don’t forget that when you get home, you can use the One Medical mobile app to treat UTIs without an appointment. Like www.fhatscasino.co.za tend to create the need for a larger way to accomodate a marketplace cellular apps.

5. Prepare for dust storms.

Dust storms are a fact of life in the desert, so most people wear goggles and some sort of scarf or bandana to protect their face and nose. If the dust gets to be too much, Rhee recommends flushing your nose/sinuses with a Neti pot and irrigating your eyes with cool water followed by saline drops.

Dust storms can also be disorienting. Rhee suggests bringing a compass to help you know which direction you’re facing… and also keeping a close eye out for vehicles that might not be able to see you. “Accidents are the thing I am most concerned about when it comes to dust storms,” says Rhee. “People still operate their bikes and art cars in the dust storms and can come at you when you least expect it, so be extra vigilant when you’re walking around in a storm.”

6. Avoid “Playa Foot” by keeping feet clean and moisturized.

“Playa foot” is a condition caused by the alkali dust that makes up the desert—essentially, it’s a chemical burn on your feet.

To prevent it, Rhee recommends keeping your feet covered out on the playa, washing your feet well every day, and applying moisturizer before getting in bed and before heading out. If you do notice irritation, soak your feet in water and wash your feet extra well, being careful to remove any dust embedded in the cracks of your skin.

According to the Burning Man prep guide, soaking your feet in water with a small amount of vinegar can also help to neutralize the alkali (1/4 vinegar and 3/4 water is a good mix). When you’re done, make sure to dry your feet very well and check for any errant playa dust. Continue to wash your feet a couple times a day to allow them to heal.

If you see any signs of infection (redness, swelling, increasing pain, red streaks running up your legs), if you develop a fever, or if your feet become so sore that you are no longer able to walk on them, seek immediate medical attention.

7. Don’t wait for blisters to happen.

Walking, biking, and dancing can also take a toll on your feet. To prevent blisters, Rhee urges people to “wear shoes that you can wear all day. And just don’t buy a pair of shoes that you have never walked around in before you get there.  You need to know they are comfortable.”

If you do get a blister on a weight-bearing location, Rhee suggests moleskin cut out in a donut to fit around the blister.

8. Eat hydrating, nutrient-rich foods.

To keep your energy up and your immune system strong, eat meals that include a protein, a complex carb, and healthy fat.

“A common dish I like to make is quinoa, chick peas, green onions, spinach, walnuts, dried cranberries, and feta with a honey, grainy mustard and red wine vinegar dressing,” says Rhee.

Rhee also recommends bringing lots of “simple things you can just pull out and eat,” such as Odwallas, cut-up fruit, raw energy bars such as Kind bars, or a smoothie that has proteins, greens, and immune boosters. “I also like to bring something warm for the evening when it gets cold, such as soup with some spice,” adds Rhee.

9. Party smart.

While overindulging in alcohol and taking drugs isn’t something Rhee condones, she does acknowledge that “lots of people party on the playa.”

To avoid trouble, Rhee recommends the following:

  • Eat something that is nourishing and lines your belly before you go out.
  • For every unit of alcohol, drink 8 ounces of water. In fact, Rhee suggest you “double fist” your drinks—water in one hand and the drink in the other.
  • Before you go to sleep, drink a good amount of water with electrolytes and take some ibuprofen.
  • Always have a buddy—someone who knows you and can help if you’ve had one too many.
  • Never mix alcohol with drugs (or mix drugs).

10. Know how to get emergency help.

“If you’re suffering from serious dehydration, if you think you might have an infection, or if someone is bleeding or unconscious (or in danger of harming themselves or others), it’s time to stop the party and get professional help,” says Rhee.

Black Rock City’s Emergency Services Department (ESD) operates two medical stations on the 3:00 and 9:00 plazas, and behind the Center Cafe at 6:00. Look for the neon blue cross on top of the buildings. These stations are staffed by emergency health care providers (doctors, nurses, medics, etc.) who donate their time and medical expertise; they’re also set up to provide rapid first-response medical care anywhere within Black Rock City.

If you’re not close to one of these stations, look for a paramedic wearing a yellow T-shirt with the ESD logo—they can be found walking around some of the more popular sites. You can also get help from the khaki-clad Black Rock Rangers, who are trained to respond to emergencies and will know how to get the appropriate resources to the scene.

Be well, be safe, and see you on the playa!

Take care, Burners! Your ticket entitles you to medical insurance that covers on-Playa treatment, the situation is less certain for those who have to be medivacked to Reno.

 

9 Ways to Die at Burning Man

by Whatsblem the Pro

The Craig Nielson Memorial Intersection at Burning Man - Photo: Danger Ranger
The Craig Nielson Memorial Intersection at Burning Man – Photo: Danger Ranger

The motto “keep Burning Man potentially fatal” is more than just humor; it’s a reflection of the fact that Black Rock City, for all its rules and regulations, began as an Autonomous Zone. Likewise, the warning on the back of each and every ticket: YOU MIGHT DIE, and that’s your responsibility.

It’s kind of an odd responsibility to have, given that the corporation that runs Burning Man ostensibly began as a response to a string of grisly deaths on and near the playa. You’d think that if co-opting an Autonomous Zone was a proper and necessary response to those deaths, the Org would want to explicitly take responsibility for people dying at Burning Man. . . but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, so the Org gets to put a fence around everything and sell tickets and make rules, but the potentially lethal nature of the event is still your problem and yours alone.

Keeping Burning Man fatal means hanging on to as much personal autonomy as we can in the face of the continuing Disneyfication of the event; paradoxically, it is also what prompts control freaks and opportunists to come up with new and unwelcome rules for us to burn by. The heart of the paradox is that in order to keep Burning Man potentially fatal, we need to look after ourselves well enough that our deaths remain unusual or even rare occurrences. Failure means being swaddled in overprotective regulations that smother our culture.

The trick is to keep people who are likely to die away from the event. We don’t publish stories about how dangerous and uncomfortable Burning Man is because we hate Burning Man; on the contrary, we love the party and are committed to the culture, but we recognize that it’s not for everyone, and that encouraging just anyone to come is a Very Bad Idea. Radical inclusion shouldn’t ever be a matter of luring or dragging someone woefully unprepared into a howling wilderness where they will be unable to cope with the prevailing conditions.

Technically, you can be almost certain that you won’t die at Burning Man. . . because even if your heart stops or your head comes off or you otherwise cease to function metabolically at Burning Man, you probably won’t be declared dead until you get to Reno. The Org’s propaganda machine takes full advantage of this technicality, and conveniently does not include deaths declared off-playa in their tally of deaths at the event, no matter how or where the mayhem happened.

This is not meant – by a long shot – to be a complete list of the many, many deaths that have occurred in and around Burning Man. This is an overview, intended to give you an idea of what might be in store for the unwary, the feckless, and the star-crossed among us.

1. GETTING THERE/LEAVING

If ghosts really do haunt the places where they died, then the highway to and from the playa must be an ectoplasmic fiesta of epic proportions. Insane, horrible traffic accidents; battered, overturned, burnt vehicles; blood and body parts strewn across the asphalt.

The examples of typical, ordinary – but horrific – highway accidents are too numerous to pick a single example, but here’s an extraordinary one: Craig Nielson, a young man who joined DPW for his very first burn in 2001, never quite made it to Burning Man. Nielson died on the road, reportedly crushed in a vehicular accident that led to him bleeding to death on the way to do his very first load-out. Details are sketchy, but he may have been riding on top of an RV.

One of two Bonanzas wrecked at the '03 burn - Photo by Rigged

One of two Bonanzas wrecked at the ’03 burn – Photo by Rigged

Let’s not forget that Black Rock City has an airport, too, and that it handles something like a hundred takeoffs and landings a day during the event. In 2003 there were two incidents involving aircraft; in one, a Beechcraft BE-35 reportedly lost engine power on takeoff, severely injuring the four people onboard. One of the passengers had to undergo several surgeries to remove pieces of the plane’s control panel from his sinus cavity, and the pilot, Barry Jacobs, later died of his injuries.

Please drive (or fly your small plane) carefully, avoid engaging in highway hijinks no matter how boisterous your spirits get in anticipation of the burn, and keep emergency supplies – like water and a first-aid kit – in the vehicle. The road to the burn takes you into a remote area; if you have an accident there, help is liable to be quite far away. One of the reasons that Barry Jacobs died is that it took well over an hour for first responders to get to the plane and get him out of it.

2. ART CARNAGE

The ban on driving anything but art cars and the five-mile-per-hour speed limit are not preventative measures; they are direct products of vehicular manslaughter on and near the playa. As Danial Glass reported in the Boston Phoenix, the 1996 burn brought some serious change:

Michael Fury, a friend of Larry Harvey and a creative influence at Burning Man, was killed in a collision while riding his motorcycle at night, playing chicken with a blacked-out van. Others died near a rave camp when a truck ran over their tent while they were sleeping inside.

In 1997, driving was banned on the playa, and fire art was prohibited in areas where people were camped. The admission ticket, which used to admonish participants to “Please keep weapons unloaded in camp,” now warned that firearms were banned within its borders. The county imposed its own restrictions as well. As Burning Man staff toned down the potentially destructive elements of the event, the rough-edged freedom waned considerably.

Those weren’t art car deaths, but the backlash made it a lot less likely for anyone to be killed by any vehicle at Burning Man that isn’t an art car.

In 2003, a burner named Katherine Lampman jumped off a moving art car because she wanted to get a closer look at the Temple of Honor. Somehow, she lost her balance and fell backward after landing, which placed her directly in the path of the car’s wheels. “I will never forget the feeling that surged into my hands through the steering wheel,” remarked Randy Emata, who was driving the art car that ended Lampman’s life. “My worst fears were followed by a myriad of terrified voices, screaming for me to stop the car. I ran back and discovered that the trailer ran her over. Her life was slowly coming to an end as she breathed less and less. Revival was attempted, but failure was inevitable. Someone grabbed a spectator’s bicycle and sped off to a nearby Ranger. Soon after, the Sheriffs showed up with an ambulance, taking her to the medical center. A helicopter was on its way. As I was writing out my statement, a deputy told me that the helicopter left without her and that she didn’t make it.”

3. DIY

There have been a number of suicides at Burning Man over the years, most notably that of Jermaine “Jerm” Barley, who hung himself in a Moroccan-style tent full of gym equipment at Comfort & Joy camp. The suicide went undetected for some time; as witness Don Davis remarked, “It looked like someone was playing a joke with a dummy.”

Rumor has it that a number of people saw Barley’s corpse hanging on a rope, and thought it was art.

Barley wasn’t the first, and won’t be the last. . . and there are also post-burn suicides to tally up. Some people can’t handle the coming-down phase of Burning Man; they return to the world outside Black Rock and everything seems so muted and washed-out by comparison. It can be a real downer. . . and it can and has led to suicides. If you count that as “dying at Burning Man,” then post-burn suicide accounts for more deaths than any other cause on this list. In at least one case, the suicide came several years after the actual event, but was very clearly related. Rest in peace, Paul Addis.

4. MOLECULAR MISADVENTURE

Drugs are like guns, kids. They’re just tools, and the important thing isn’t so much what they do to you; it’s what you do with them that makes the entire difference between use and abuse. Responsible adults use drugs responsibly, or not at all. Sometimes using responsibly means refraining from mixing your pharmaceutical experience with an overly-perilous environment. You don’t want to be wandering around in the middle of the desert alone with your head full of a drug like ‘cup,’ with its well-known side effect of dehydrating and disorienting the user. Even the effects of a drug as ordinary and seemingly harmless as Tibetan poon oil can lead to a serious health crisis on the playa, with your body in a constant state of overstimulated exhaustion and your environment sucking the moisture out of you like you’re inside a giant dessicant sachet.

Do we even need to talk about garden-variety overdoses? Your body is going to be taxed quite a bit out there, and you need to be sensitive to that fact if you’re going to chemically alter yourself in any way that might present a risk.

On the sunny side (along with sunstroke) there’s something positive to mention: although there have been drug-related deaths at Burning Man, burners seem to be quite a bit more responsible about their recreational substances than the average festival-goer. The 2011 AfterBurn report’s Medical section includes this comment from the emergency medical personnel that attended: “The numbers for alcohol- and drug-related patients continue to be remarkably low for an event of this size.”

5. REDRUM

There are two words you don’t say around Org people, or around your supervisors if you’re DPW: one is ‘rape,’ and the other is ‘murder.’ The Org doesn’t like these things – or any of the things in this article, for that matter – bandied about too freely. They actively instruct workers, both paid and volunteer, to stay mum regarding anything that might make them or the event look bad.

Johnson arrived at the DPW ranch wounded... and talkative

Johnson arrived at the DPW ranch wounded… and talkative

Happily, we don’t get a lot of murders at Burning Man (rape is another matter; they are depressingly frequent out there). That doesn’t, however, mean that nobody gets murdered. In 2003, Christopher Scott Johnson (aka “One-Armed Bandit”) showed up at the DPW ranch looking for work. His erratic behavior and his bragging about having killed a man prompted Will Roger and Ranch manager Matthew ‘Metric’ Ebert to call the police, who discovered that Johnson had indeed stabbed a man to death in a van on the road to the playa.

6. AUTO-DA-FÉ

It hasn’t happened so far, but give it time; someone without a posse is going to crank up FREE BIRD at the perfect moment, and an angry mob of zealous whatever-worshippers – enraged at this insult to the highly-evolved and enlightened wisdom that allows them to live superior lives of peaceful Buddha-like tranquility – is going to nail the offender to a cross and toss it into the flames of the Temple. . . and then we’ll have two religions to contend with on the playa.

7. WHOOPSIE-DAISY

Plenty of garden-variety accidents happen every year at Burning Man; people climb things and fall off; people ingest spoiled consumables; people trip over tent stakes; people have bicycle mishaps. Once in a while, especially in a city of 60,000 souls, these things are bound to be fatal.

In 1999, Jim Keith fell from a stage at Burning Man and broke his knee. The week after the burn, he entered the Washoe Medical hospital for knee surgery and died in the Intensive Care Unit shortly after surgery was completed, when a blood clot released from his broken knee entered his lung. The coroner’s report listed cause of death as “blunt force trauma.”

The accidents can usually be avoided, if you’ll just keep your eyes open, keep your stress level manageable, and use common sense. You know how it works: one minute you’re stressing yourself out arguing with your campmates while building some large structure as the Sun beats down on you, and the next minute you’re taking it out on the work, pounding nails a little too hard, until you end up applying your claw hammer directly to your forehead on the bounce-back. Or maybe you’re just walking around, not paying much attention, when a truck full of ice swerves to avoid a pothole and tips over and falls on you. Maybe you’re tired and want to get home as soon as possible, so you stay at the wheel for Exodus and end up falling asleep on it.

Most fatal accidents happen in the home; most in the bathroom. Leave the bathroom at home and you’ll be safer. The dust is your friend.

Nobody knows for sure what killed 37-year-old Adam Goldstone. The East Village DJ hit his head on some rebar, suffering at least a mild concussion, and later slipped or fainted in the shower in his RV, injuring himself further and eventually dying. Emergency medical personnel were summoned, but were unable to save him. Goldstone’s father was of the opinion that his son may have been felled by a heart condition.

Even in the absence of an accident, you might just happen to be on the playa when your time comes. Sometimes there’s just no dodging that bullet with your name written on it.

Erika the Red died tragically young with no warning

Erika the Red died tragically young with no warning

Erika “the Red” Kupfersberger died of an aneurysm on the playa in 2011, for no particular reason that had anything to do with being at Burning Man. People have heart attacks and strokes at Burning Man, not infrequently, and not always because of any particular environmental factor.

8. IN THE SOUP

The hot springs in the vicinity of the playa can be really wonderful, but they’re also perilous as hell to the incautious. . . especially Double Hot, with its twin maw of boiling danger. In 1849, a traveler by the name of Bruff wrote this about Double Hot:

Sept.22. In the first part we reached a pretty clear sparkling rill, about six feet broad, and a few inches deep; when to my astonishment the mules halted short at the edge, and refused in spite of the whip and shouting, to put a foot in it! I guessed there might be a vapor from it, but on putting my hand in, found it quite hot – not sufficiently to scald, however. So we had much trouble here, pulling and urging the teams over; and when they did go, it was accomplished by each pair of mules, in succession leaping over like deer, and thus jerking the wagons after them.

Next, on left, observed a cluster of hot Spring mounds, with their circlets of marsh and tall green grass.- In one lay a dead ox, apparently fell there yesterday; one hind leg in the basin of hot water, which had so well cooked it, that nought but white bones and tendons were left, of that limb, as high as the water had influence.

Some 150 years later, a burner gave the following report to Erowid.org regarding the local springs:

Probably the most dangerous hot springs is Double Hot, which is north of Black Rock about 10 miles. Great camping spot and really nice tubs, even a real bathtub at one location. The *usable* tubs are a hundred feet or so away from where the hot water comes up out of the ground and begins flowing downhill in a boiling hot stream. The tubs are holes dug to the side of the stream, and water is redirected according to the users’ comfort requirements.

The place where the hot water comes out of the ground is called the maw. There are actually two of them and they are incredibly beautiful, deep blue water and you can see down into the sweltering bowels of the earth several fathoms. The water is about 200 degrees. IF YOU FALL INTO THE MAW YOU WILL DIE. In 1994 I witnessed a family from Reno out on a little tour fail to exercise care around the maw. Their beautiful golden retriever–the family dog obviously for many years–thought she would go for a swim. I became aware of the disaster when the screaming began. The whole family was crying horribly as the father stuck his hands in the boiling water to pull out their pet. The little boy and the little girl were absolutely devastated and that is where my friend Louis directed his marvelous efforts to calm them down by telling them distracting stories, away from the scene. I helped the father who was cursing himself and crying uncontrollably. The dog went almost immediately into shock, as her skin began to slough off in patches about as big as my hand. Eventually most of the fur was gone. The family bundled their pet into a blanket and slowly made their way back to Reno. I am sure the father had second and perhaps even third-degree burns on his arms.

Note that the maw is not marked or protected by any sort of barrier.

9. DEATH BY EXTREME OBVIOUSNESS

Being burned to death at Burning Man, really? Sadly, yes. According to the 2001 AfterBurn report, “a participant who chose to run into a fire” later died of his burns in a Reno hospital. The incident apparently took place the night of the burn, somewhere on the deep playa.

You’re never going to know just exactly how much mayhem and death takes place at Burning Man, because the Org actively discourages anyone from talking about it, and discounts deaths that happen on the highway to or from the playa, or in places like Reno hospitals as a result of injuries sustained on the playa. . . but the number is probably much higher than you think it is. Please, don’t make a secret statistic of yourself. It’s your job to keep yourself safe and healthy out there, and the fewer who succeed at that, the harder it will become to keep Burning Man potentially fatal. Do a good job!