Thursday, September 30, 2010

Burning Man 2010 Rap Up

One of the Rovers with Burner gifts
I love Burning Man.  We had heard about it years before we actually started going.  And before I quit nattering on about 2010, I wanted to mention two more important aspects of Burning Man that I really hadn't written anything about before, especially for you who have never been there before.

First is that no money changes hands at Burning Man.Yes, you do pay a big ticket price to get in for the week, but if you are on the email list, you know when the tickets for the coming Burn are first put on sale, which are the cheapest ones.  The longer you dither about going, the more it will cost you.   Of course, it used to be free.  But that belongs in another post about what it used to be.  It is what is now...we have to live with that...there is no going back with over 51,000 people attending.  Okay, you can buy ice which benefits the Gerlach community.  And you can buy coffee, etc. at Center Camp. But THAT IS IT!  If you missed out, go read about BM as a gifting society, or better yet, visit the Burning Man web site.

S-Car-Go  (Totally Solar Powered)
Second is about participation.  I have mostly written about playa art.  That is significant, but so much goes on everywhere. Many Burners (as we are called after attending a Burn) create a theme camp and devise interactive events.  There is a printed guide that tells you about almost everything going on...when and where...activities galore. Just reading it every day is an activity.  Of course, it is important to read it ahead of each new day, and I don't think a lot of folks do, or so many more would show up at the activity if they did.  You can participate in so much.  In the past I have made tassels (yes, those kind), formed a clay star cup and glazed it before it was fired on the playa, learned some knot tying, and participated in the CT Parade.  Pretty tame stuff really, yet interesting and fun. I still have those tassels and that cup.

The Many Faces of  Hope and Fear

There are discussions, debates, socials, teas, cider, hurricane, home brew, sangria, margarita, martini, whiskey, wine, and bloody Mary parties.   All graciously provided by your Black Rock City community.

Many people try to set group world records, such as fire eaters, hula hoopers, stilt walkers, and fire dancers.  You can find all kinds of music, dance, and performances, with fire included, to view or to get involved.

Hells Bells

Our participation over the years as artists has been important to us.  The second year we went, Boyo brought into being those nine incredible Rovers visiting from the other side of Scorpio, and I created their Mothership.  As he designed and built S-Car-Go, I made Your Psyche's Wish.  Next were Boyo's Hells Bells and my Many Faces of Hope and Fear. S-Car-Go continued to evolve while he created the Sundial with Chimes.   This year we had no car, no project, just old tennis balls for your kickstand.

Nighttime S-Car-Go

Now it is time to begin preparing for Burning Man 2011 Rites of Passage. Will you be a part of it? Will I?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

BM Saturday September 4, 2010

It was windy; so much so that we feared it would be like last year when the Burning of the Man was delayed by a couple of hours.  Short white outs were happening.  We decided to leave early...BEFORE the burn.  This is serious.  Well, we have seen many burns, extremely close up, from afar, and in between.  It can be downright scary, especially when the wind creates fire vortexes like fire tornadoes.  But the Burn is the catharsis.   It is why a lot of people go to Burning Man.  For others it is the cycle of life:  birth, life, death, rebirth.  I am not sure what it is for me; maybe that is why I still go.  I go to see the art. People create the most amazing things.

And one of the most amazing works of art at Burning Man is always the temple.  The first temple, Temple of the Mind, and many others after were created by David Best.   These most beautiful structures on the playa are for public expressions of grief.   People create the most moving tributes in words and pictures to their lost ones.  Sometimes the memorials are searingly angry; some are extremely forgiving; most are just saying goodbye.  The temple is a highly emotional place. It is hard for me to be in one for very long.  This year's temple, Temple of Flux, created by many from the Flaming Lotus Girls was very different, but incredibly beautiful in its own right; and a glorious burn on Sunday night, if the pictures are close to reality.

When you leave early, you not only miss the Burning of the Man on Saturday, you miss the Burning of the Temple on Sunday (which we have never seen). But by leaving early, you can get off the playa in 20 minutes.  Think of that!

BM Friday September 3, 2010

The wind started up today forming funnels which actually create a shadow on the ground.  I never knew that until I almost got caught in one while riding on my bike.  Some people try hard to get caught.  The wind did not stop all day, but it did not create white outs as sometimes happens.  It also did not stop us from spending three hours life drawing.  The models would sit from a minute up to 15 minutes.  You had to learn to sketch quickly sometimes.

That evening, Pat, our neighbor to the east came over and introduced himself. He is a big land owner in the corner of Nevada next to Oregon and California who builds and restores stagecoaches by remaking everything utilizing his blacksmith shop.  Judy, his wife and life partner, are dedicated individualists living off the land, honoring the traditions of the past and rejoicing in living life at its fullest.  In case Burning Man gets kicked off BLM land, the festival may move to his property.

Across the street was a Seattle pizza group with a mobile pizza oven.  Each evening they fired up the oven with applewood to produce the BEST PIZZA ON THE PLAYA in about 90 seconds to pass out to everybody.  What a treat!  Their group included an Oregon beekeeper who provided the honey for the yeast in the pizza dough.  He regaled us of bee tales for at least an hour.  We also ran into an old friend from Southern California.  There are lots of interesting folks in the outer reaches of Black Rock City.  And it was such a good time that we did not even go out to the playa.

Monday, September 27, 2010

BM Thursday September 2, 2010

We decided to move today because the generator problem wouldn't stop or go away.  Since this group wasn't very conservative during their week on the playa, they needed the honey pot drivers to come and relieve them of their burdens.  Then they ran an even noisier pump to run water from their water trailer to all their RVs.

There was just one tiny, little reason we couldn't leave until mid afternoon.  The eye sugeon from the group to our left had pulled in and parked his SUV exactly in the spot to block us from leaving.  He had had an adventurous evening the night before and was sound asleep.  Apparently no one knew where the keys were.  Since it was another gorgeous day, we pedaled out to the playa to see the areas we had missed.  There was also time to do some more life drawing.

I found a wonderful homage to Richard Serra.

We moved over to about 5:15 on Jakarta.  (Some signs replaced it with Jerusalem.)  Our neighbors were scattered individuals, no roundups, no square ups.  It looked great.  One guy had a motor home with the ubiquitous generator running, but it was a lot quieter.  Hopefully, he would turn it off after an hour or so.  That night we wandered around the SE quadrant.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

BM Wednesday September 1, 2010

Another beautiful day!  Cloudless and no wind.  The weather was getting warmer.  Seeing art on the playa was naturally on the agenda for our day.

We heard the Kinetic Art Cars were going to be on the playa as self-propelled taxis.  They are such amazing, beautiful vehicles that are built to run (and race) on land or water solely through human pedal power.   Races take place around the USA yearly.

I found Anti M, a woman who provides a venue for unwanted art to find a new home, over on 4:00.  Last year I took home several pieces.  This year I took none, but I left several pairs of earrings for new owners.

I climbed the man- three flights.  There were gargoyles on each of the four corners at the top.  At night he was mostly lit with green and pink neon.

We saw the very nice Dragon Labyrinth.  The artist was one of our fellow life drawing devotees.  She was a gallery owner from Calaveras County, California.

Some art is more of a statement: many trophies around a skeleton in a coffin; a heap of debris including an old ripped chair, a colorful empty stage...  all part of a Metropolis.

As for the continuing saga of the noisy generator back at camp...Boyo talked to the owner again, this time trying to convince him to move a car in front of the area of the noise to block the sound because the plywood didn't really help very much.  The owner wanted to move the looked bad, it touched the paint of the motor home.  What to do?  What to do?  The owner left saying he would move a car.  There wasn't any action, just talk, and Boyo moved the plywood back in place.

Brief describes our foray out to the Esplanade (the first parallel street) tonight. The mutant art cars were moving all around lighting up their immediate areas.

This moving sphere changed colors from blue to red and back again every few minutes.  We found a ride on a bus from which we could not see out, but it did take us across the mile+ playa from 3:00 to 9:00.  The night was warm, and we sat and watched the lit walkers make their way up and down our street.

BM Tuesday August 31, 2010

Tuesday was a great, clear, coolish day to ride out and view art on the playa. We started out together, but my bike broke-a loose bolt, and Boyo took it back to camp for tools to fix it.  I continued on his bike which is light and different; it seemed easier to ride through the playa snakes.  The condition of the playa is the third phenomenon to address.  Depending upon the weather over the past year since the last burn and the weather in the last few weeks (which included snow this past Saturday), the playa is either easy to ride on with a light, easy crust or difficult with deep, drifting areas of sand that can stop even the hardiest of mountain bike tires.  This year seemed relatively easy compared to some years, although there were some sandy areas to watch out for and dodge or find the shortest distance through.

Most art I saw was rather uninteresting, uninspired.  Then I saw the woman, the giant dancing woman.   She was, by far, the best piece I saw. The artist had left her grounded foot uncovered, and you could see how the internal structure had been built.

The second best was a movie theatre way out near the Perimeter Fence.  It wasn't finished yet, but it looked like an old building with Coca Cola painted on the side wall over painted bricks. There was an art deco decoration in front with two movie posters...Metropolis and The Last Picture Show.  The entrance was covered with plywood.  A separate ticket booth wasn't completed either, but you could tell both buildings had great potential.

Soon after, amazingly enough, I ran into Boyo. He told me he had talked to an artist who has come every year for 12 years with a project.  His commentary seemed rather negative: 20,000 early entry passes had been given out this year (no wonder the city seemed half full when we arrived); he had only a short time to set up his art; and funded projects have to be done on Sunday or before Monday's opening (a plus in my book).

We went back to AEZ to do more nude drawing hoping it would not be all males today, and it was, but the guys running the activity gave us all very cool pins for our hats of a nude woman with the man in the background.  One guy said some female models would be there on Wednesday.

It was substantially warmer today.  On the way back in to our camp, Boyo picked up some scrap plywood to attempt a generator noise blocker, just in case.  Good thing.  The generator was going great guns.  He went over to talk to the owner again, but this time he was met by two women of the group.  One of the problems was that they thought you had to run the generator to have heat at night.  The generator was turned off immediately.  They advised him that if he wanted anything done, always talk to the women.

We got to sit out and watch the crowd go by.  I put out my tennis balls (my gift); old ones with a small knife slice in them to allow it to be fitted onto a kickstand to hold the bike up easily in the sand.  I gave away several to grateful bike riders.  Burning Man is a gifting society.  You don't gift to expect something in return. You gift because you want to give, to share, to express friendship, to commiserate, to participate, to be a fellow human being, to show joy....  And that gift isn't always tangible.  It could be a hug, a smile, a pair of spare goggles to someone during a dust storm,  a chance encounter that leads you on to imagine, to create, to inspire.  Larry Harvey, a founder of Burning Man, really started something big.

It was still cool out tonight.  I got cold, my feet got sore, and I was behind in my journaling, so I only made it out to catch the last of Dr. Megavolt's performance.  He controls huge bursts of electricity wearing only a shiny silver suit with simple head gear.

BM Monday August 30, 2010

It doesn't take long to suss out your our right and growing behind us was East Coast Overdose, a group of professional guys from Manhattan who set up an awning with stools and a bar full of alcohol bottles to draw in the babes.  They seemed to be highly effective in doing so and always had a crowd of twenty somethings gathered to drink and chat and drink.  The head honcho, a lawyer, told us he would make us whatever we wanted whenever we wanted it.

To our left was a group of friends with their kids in funky trailers, motor homes, old Volvos and trucks.  We could not see them as they were in a roundup formation facing away from us.  Friendly but focused inwardly.

Across the street was the problem.  Sunday night we had noticed the ominous, giant motor home.  It, too, was part of a group of recreational vehicles but in a squareup due to their size, but these were the same slick-looking brand, high-end, "We use all the amenities and more" kind of rented motor homes.   The first time boyo went over to ask them about THE GENERATOR, the owner assured him he was only topping up the batteries for a couple of hours.  Okay, we can live with that.

The second most observed phenomenon at Burning Man after the neighborhood is THE WEATHER.  Usually the weather is the first topic, but not the first day. This Monday was windy and cool.  After participating in a session of life drawing at the AEZ (Alternative Energy Zone) theme camp, we rode our bikes out onto the playa to check out some art.  As it got windier, we headed to Center Camp to escape dust.  However, it looked like rain, and we battled against the wind and dust to reach home before it began to sprinkle.  The clouds just seemed to open up and dump out the water.  It has never rained like that before...really, really wet. Gradually the rain clouds moved on, and it began to clear and dry.  In the east we saw a rainbow form, then a second rainbow.

The playa is amazing at soaking up the water.  By dark we were able to head out on foot in our Leopard coats and LCD lights to try to catch Dr. Megavolt as we had heard him interviewed on 94.5 BMIR, the local Black Rock City radio station.  Walk, walk, walk.  He didn't show, but we saw a lot of other night life.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Burning Man Metropolis 2010

Sunday August 29, 2010

Sunday is usually the day we say goodbye to friends in Fernley, buy the final freshest fruits and vegetables to last a week, and fill up the tank of our 1988 20 foot Sprinter Motor Home for the hour and a half trek to Gerlach, Nevada.  Today was no exception. Last year we had found a great place overlooking the playa to camp before heading in line to get in soon after midnight Monday morning.  It was about 6:00 pm, and I was settling down for an evening of freshly roasted chicken, chopped vegetable salad, and red wine.  

Not the boyo.  He had out the binoculars scanning the area, looking for the staff way in, and figuring out how to get in to Burning Man early.  To his supreme joy, he discovered that the DETENTION vehicles were moving. (Detention is for those cars, trucks, vans, buses, rvs, and other zealous folks who arrive early.)  It took a while to confirm his belief, but disregarding food and drink, he said, "We're going in now."

To those of you who know what that means, you might be surprised to know that we were in by 8:00 pm and camped along the 7:00 radial between Florence and Guangzhou.  WOW!  We are not really sure why it happened, but one rumor thrown out by folks around us was that there was a 'soft' opening because too many cars were filling up the roads around Gerlach.  Perhaps the most compelling reason was that there was a big party planned by the usual suspects in detention.  A night of revelry purposefully planned outside the gates was perhaps enough to spur the officials of the area...BLM, Washoe County, and Pershing County... to act and have the gates opened six hours early.

We did not bring so much this year, so we just set out the chairs and went walking around.  The streets were a bit emptier.  I loved it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Post Impressionisms

Spain - familiar, earthy, the perception of an unhappiness or heaviness in people,  the presence of graffiti in Madrid, Barcelona and other cities that was more interesting than in other countries, the gales of laughter that made our stomachs ache in a wonderful way, the ubiquitous Burger King and McDonald Restaurants, the many reminders of the Civil War which still deeply affects the nation, five days in Barcelona, the long alleyway that wound down into the vibrant center of immigrant life in Madrid,  the swallows swooping past the balcony with their loud chirps as they ate the insects that rose up from the roadway into the heat of the day in Madrid, the evening heat, the summer light at 10 pm, the Pepsi/Coke, massages, hamburgers, and water hawkers on the beach, the great cafe con leche, the public notices of pick pockets on the metros, the plaza majores, the pet dogs, the great shoes and summer dresses of the Spanish women, the secretive obscure/private...even the language.

France - greater prosperity than Spain, how we literally broke bread together every day, almost every meal and how satisfying it was and how it held us together, the ripeness of the melons and peaches, baguettes and ice cream everywhere, the greens of the countryside and covering the hills of limestone - so different from the golden colors we saw in Spain, the narrow winding roads strung with small villages, each punctuated by a church steeple, a day on the smooth flowing river with its trailing water plants and feeling we were a moving tableau pulling together toward an unknown, living within the rock walls and feeling the sense of being a part of history, descending into the earth and feeling closer to death, riding on the River Styx and rebirth as we walked away from the round hole in the earth, hearing the sound that did not end in the Monastery.

England - practicality and common sense, friendly, thoughtful, helpful people, the neat and tidy and compact character of Dover, the whiteness of the cliffs with afternoon tea, hearing the echos of centuries in the Canterbury Cathedral as we sat in the wooden choir seats at Evensong, looking up to see Big Ben when reality touched concept, completing complicated underground rides with huge escalators, riding a tourist boat down the Thames with guide patter, lunching in Greenwich, hearing the diversity of languages and listening to the variety of English dialects, noticing how noisy London was, loving the taxi ride to the airport when the driver called me Luv.

Norway- how amazing it was to use the internet to find my relatives and how welcoming they were to Austin and me; how so expensive it was...two burgers, one French fries, one coke for $45, $13 beer, incredible glaciated scenery, huge slabs of granite, farms and water and more farms and water, wheat grain for cows; caviar, cheese, whole grain bread, sliced cucumbers, and eggs for breakfast,  Sood: lamb meatballs in thin broth with boiled carrots and potatoes, roller coaster sled ride with sharp corners and a ski lift to pull you up the hill in your sled, Lolita and spheres at the lake, very clean tidal fjord water.  Jim