Flutterby™! : Burning Man is Coming

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Burning Man is Coming

2002-03-08 20:45:56+00 by TC 8 comments

Only 170 days till Burning Man and I now have my snazzy tickets for the event. The natives are FRIENDLY and the weather warm. Nows the time to get your tickets and start planning your trip. Dan & I are trying to figure out projects and resources so if your interested in chillin with a cool group drop and email.

[ related topics: Burning Man Photography Dan's Life Todd Gemmell Coyote Grits Bay Area California Culture Travel Typography ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-03-09 08:04:53+00 by: Mars Saxman

Those are much cooler tickets than the generic TicketMaster ones they've been using. I hope you have fun with the venture. What sort of camp ideas do you have in mind?

I went last year and the experience pretty much sucked. I had planned to put up a web site with photos, but it's been hard to get enthused about the project. Now it's half a year old anyway, so it's probably not worth it at this point.


#Comment made: 2002-03-09 15:29:39+00 by: TC

So Glad you asked. We have been a small camp that hangs out on usually the 3:30 or 4:30 spoke in the mid to outer rings. We've been calling ourselves oddly enough "Camp Flutterby" so it seemed kinda silly not put the invite out to the community at large here. I'd say if enjoy reading Flutterby you'd REALLY like chillin with this crowd. We tend to over prepare and bring about double what we need (except water which is more like 4 fold to a magnitude more). There aren't too many constants(rules) just high caliber people make a high caliber burn. We are also considering joining Firetown this year which is a much larger (100 people plus) camp. Tell us about last year? What went wrong?

#Comment made: 2002-03-10 19:22:52+00 by: Mars Saxman

Hmm, I doubt I saw your camp, then. I don't think we managed to get out that far more than once or twice. What sort of place do you set up? Do you have decorations, themes, etc or is it designed simply for comfort?

Over-preparing is good! We had enough supplies left over to do it all over again. I spent a lot of time designing the camp and estimating quantities of supplies needed. It was especially challenging as the only transportation available to us was the back (and roof) of my Suzuki Samurai. We stuffed the back completely full, strapped boxes and rolls of carpet to the roof, and tied a pair of bikes to the spare tire...

What went wrong: quite a few things. I think I might have been able to deal with any one or maybe two of them. Put together, it was miserable.

- We hit a cow. There's a stretch of road between Gerlach and Eagleville with exactly one turn-off and no visible buildings. On this dark road stood a black cow, motionless. BLAM, at 70 mph. Amazingly, nothing vital was broken. Even more amazingly, the CD player didn't skip. We counted ourselves lucky, got over the adrenaline rush, and drove on.

- It was very hot. I used to live in Reno. I have been to the Black Rock Desert a few times, and I thought I knew what to expect. It was worse. I could barely move, barely think. I spent most of the week waiting for the sun to start going down so that I could actually get out and do things. I defied the sun, the second day, and went out anyway. Bad idea: half an hour listening to a guy talk about how to make absinthe, and I collapsed, nauseous. That ended that. From then on we basically waited under our tent all day until the sun started to go down. Which, coincidentally, is when a lot of people started shutting their camps down for the evening.

- The shade structure was not opaque enough. We saw lots of photos of camps using parachutes for their shade canopies. We thought this was a good idea. We were wrong: it was a sixteen foot tall, forty foot wide oven. We gave up and drove to Reno on Tuesday and came back with boxes of mylar emergency blankets, which we proceeded to affix to the inside of the tent. That worked, but the wind became our enemy. It was a constant repair job, trying to keep the sun out. By the end of the week the mylar was in shreds.

- Kelly, it turned out, cracked two ribs in the crash. The pain did not come on for a day or two, but then it became increasingly difficult for her to get around. She couldn't ride her bike because the potholes in the roads jarred her too much, and the pain made it harder to deal with the stress. She's, if anything, more sun sensitive than I, and that combined with the pain made it even harder for her to get out and do things.

- My expectations were too high. I've been hearing for years about how Burning Man is this sociable, friendly, artsy community. Everyone comes back with stories of meeting all manner of people and doing interesting things. I had concluded from this that there must be some unusual social dynamic at work which made it easier than normal to meet people. This did not turn out to be the case. People were friendly enough if you approached them, but no more talkative than in real life. There was more friendliness at the beach burn a month later than during the event itself.

- Finding things was nearly impossible. We knew some friends were coming. We had the address of their camp. They were three blocks away. We went looking every day, and we didn't find them until Thursday. We'd go out to do something, and it would take us an hour to find it, and the place would be closed or the event would be over or it'd be time to go back to the camp and make dinner or something.

- The fabled gift economy was a hoax. Kelly and I figured that since we didn't have enough money or space to bring an elaborate camp that people could come visit, we would pack loads of neat goodies to give away. We came armed with everything from lollipops and glow sticks to a gallon each of rum and vodka. Nearly all of it came back home with us at the end of the week. We couldn't even give away water bottles.

- There was no ice. We'd counted on being able to get ice to keep our food cold. That worked - for two days. Then they ran out, and for two days straight every time I went by they were either waiting for another shipment or had just run out of the last one. Oops, there goes the cold food. Good thing we had a backup plan.

- Our neighbors sucked. We came in late at night and set up camp in the first big empty spot we saw. At first we were alone in the middle of nowhere. By the end of the week people were camped so thickly around us that we literally had to leave some of our tent pegs behind - people had placed their tents on top of them. This would have been OK if they had been friendly, but two of the groups seemed to be there primarily to sit around and drink beer (and didn't want our company), and the third group never seemed to get around to saying "hello".

The burn was cool, but I wouldn't have driven from Seattle for it, and by the time the week ended I was so exhausted and disappointed that it was hard to enjoy anything.

So that was my Burning Man experience. It would have sucked less had we not hit the cow, but I don't think there's any way it could have lived up to the hype.

I'm occasionally tempted by thoughts of trying it again. It's hard to believe that it really sucks that hard for everyone all the time, because people wouldn't keep coming back if that were so. There ought to be something special there, that I wasn't able to find. I never managed to feel like part of the event: I was just sitting out on the edge, looking in, trying to get in, and yet I remained invisible. But I don't know what I could do, or have done, differently, and the experience simply wasn't worth a couple thousand bucks, a week of solar misery, and a new front end for my jeep.


#Comment made: 2002-03-11 01:48:42+00 by: Dan Lyke

Ouch! Sorry your experience sucked so badly! Not at all like my 4, but then I haven't hit a cow, and I'm extremely temperature insensitive. Heck, I haven't even hit one of those kamikaze rabbits yet.

The only neighbor problems we had last year were the leeches who kept asking for fuel for their generator, then someone else in the camp would think it was spare gas and fill a vehicle with it. I hope the guy who ran that camp ditches the loser hangers-on he was struggling to support, he had some great infrastructure dragged down by some real morons.

But generally I've had to fight off being dragged into camps and plied with alcohol and various substances and nourishment and related to. Barely after the domes were up we were in a yurt across the way, talking with two porn-starlets who were Ecstasied out of their minds (they didn't hang around long, to everyone's mixed emotions), a few folks with some big art projects, and lots of other interesting people.

As I said, I acclimate really well, so during the day when the rest of my camp was zonked out on the carpets I'd go out and randomly help people with projects. Met lots of cool folks, learned things about metal working, geometry and embedded systems.

The burn and most of the big installations from center camp to the Man I can take or leave, and last year I left early, but all the other art, both day and night, I just... well... I realize that here in the Bay Area I can find performances and exhibits of a lot of this stuff separately (except, perhaps, for some of the big art like the Impotence Compensation Project), but to have everything within two miles for one week...

On the other side, I am one of the people who'd vote for moving the rave camps to a separate site 15 or 20 miles down the playa.

I guess we thrive in different environments. I've been close to not going back a couple of times, all for different reasons, but your note got me outside bending wire for the Sound Goddess version 3.0. Need to figure a way to make this a part of the Floating Worlds theme...

#Comment made: 2002-03-11 18:19:05+00 by: TC [edit history]

Wow! Mars, I'd chalk a lot of that up to extreemly bad luck. A few tips I would give. Come early! The very coolest people come early so you have a much better chance of getting cool neighbors if you come early and try to get there with some daylight to spare so it's easier to get a lay of the land. I like to roam around a lot too but a stratagee I found a lot of people use is to scope out interesting places at night and then go and visit/chill during the day. Wear costumes! anything that will break the ice. shave your legs & wear skirt, tape feathers to your body or paint, do anything but wander around in shorts & tshirt! hook up with some cool people before and plan.

Anyone interested in our camp send mail to Nevin nevman thisiswhereyouputthe@symbol berzerkeley thisiswhereyouputhte.symbol com our mail mom and ask to be added to the list.

#Comment made: 2002-03-11 18:55:42+00 by: Dan Lyke

Hey, Todd, I'm going to be making the archive entries search-engine accessible in a shortly, would you mind editing Nevin's email address to something that the spam harvesters won't be able to grab? ie: "nevman at"

#Comment made: 2002-03-11 20:24:32+00 by: TC

sorry bad form on my part (I forgot) and the old "joe at domain dot com" doesn't always hide either as the spambots are getting more clever and aggressive.

#Comment made: 2002-03-12 01:01:42+00 by: Mars Saxman

On reflection, I think I ended that comment on an unnecessarily pessimistic note. Of course I have thought of ways to get around most of the problems we experienced - I can't help doing so, really. But having once been to the end of the rainbow and seen no trace of the pot of gold, it's hard to believe it'd be there on a second attempt. Maybe, the doubts say, I'm just not the sort of person who fits in at Burning Man. And that's the real obstacle to another attempt.

Anyway, I hope y'all have fun. It'll be neat to see how your camp turns out.