Burning Man - Travel Without Tickets
Ranger Rigged (photo by John
Burning Man 2000
|You brush your teeth every morning before
|Whatever you pick out of your teech in the
morning IS breakfast.
|You can't wait to wash the dust out of your
|You cake mud in your hair and shape it into
a cool style.
|Your clothes are full of dust.
|Your clothes are stuck to you.
|You prepare a hot meal for dinner.
|You eat a stale cheeseburger and cold fries
that someone left sitting out since lunchtime.
|You have a cool tattoo.
|You have a cool tattoo on your face.
|You carefully wash your hands and eating
utensiles before a meal.
|What utensiles? Playa dust is a condiment.
|You wear shiny platform sneakers.
|You can't remember the last time you wore
|You go to Burning Man to get freaky.
|You've read the newspapers. Reality Camp
is the real freakshow.
My lips are seriously sunburnt
-- dry and cracked like the alkaline
plane that is the canvass for the art of living that Burning Man is.
I'm two shades darker than when I left. My stuff if full of playa
dust -- It will never completely wash away.
I have memories of a beautiful race of people who live in the
desert. They decorate their bodies with paints and colored lights
and dance to strange music that emanates from behind surreal images
on a large video screen.
Just behind me, people are skating in an open-air roller-disco while
just down the street people are playing chess with three-foot
wrought-iron pieces shaped like aliens -- glowing, like the
chessboard, under black-lite.
I can hear the distant chants from the Thunderdome where contestants
are strapped in their harnesses doing battle with foam weapons.
I watched fire-spinners showering sparks of burning steel-wool in
magic spirals of golden light.
I danced with fire along the Esplanade. I can still hear the whoosh
of the flames as I twirled my flaming staff so close to my bare skin
that the heat of it was like a caress.
A dragon rolls by belching flame. It has a bar, a strip club, and a
disco in separate sections linked together by welded sheets of steel
scales. It picks up a few passengers and rolls out across the open
desert, roaring with fire and vibrating to techno beats.
I Rangered again this year and was on the emergency medical crew. I
treated hypothermia, referred a food poisoning, cared for victims of
a cupola furnace explosion that sprayed them with molten iron.
I fell in love -- several times.
I almost froze to death.
I endured hurricane winds, freezing rain, thick mud, hot sun, sleep
I listened to one of the 43 radio stations in town while eating
granola cereal with Rice Dream and watching the sun rise pink
and orange over the Jackson Mountain Range.
The Man burned. The Rangers partied. I packed and came home.
In a few weeks, there will be no trace of Black Rock City except in
memories and photographs. The desert will be the same as it was a
quarter-million years ago.
I will never be the same.
The sun rises over the Jackson
In what seems like minutes, sixy-five
Becomes ninety-five degrees.
Forhead burns like being sliced by a laser
Out ahead the vast expanse of emptiness
Seen through whisps of dust
Like the ghosts of ancestors.
Just over my shoulder, the Grim Reaper
His scythe raised, waiting...
Extremes (Getting Psyched)
Extreme Sensory Deprivation
Extreme Sensory Overload
Extreme Sleep Deprivation
Your host taking a break.
Photo by Jim Bowers
Part 1 --
The Ranger Orientation Meeting
2 -- Exploding Man '98
3 -- Afterburn
4 -- Drowning Man '98, The Death of Faddah or "Aim for The Hat"
Why is Burning
Man important to me?
Why would someone spend so much time and money on airline tickets and supplies to spend a few days in a brutal
desert environment to do hard and sometimes dangerous work on behalf
of a bunch of total strangers?
I do it because I can be myself