I remember once bringing up Burning Man and having an embittered long time Burner lapse into a rant about how the whole thing has just become a cash cow for Larry Harvey and that the real soul has gone out of it. I talked to him in soothing hippie tones, the equivalent of saying “Hey man, don`t hijack my trip dude.” and vowed never to be like him. Well…
The Burn used to be better. Why people toss around the attendance numbers like it was some kind of achievement is beyond me. Yes we`re nearing fifty thousand freaks a year. I hope it feels good to say it, because having experienced it, I`d gladly go back to the thirty thousand of my virgin year.
So now, Kay O. Sweavers Top Ten signs the Burn isn`t what it used to be;
- No graffiti in the Johnny-On-The-Spots – What happened to this simple, universal custom? Did a teacher tell on you?
- No runners the night of the Burn – I saw a few people try, but everyone chickened out. Christ Paul Addis had the balls to set it on fire, but nobody thought it was worth running to get a big Ranger hug and front row seats?
- No DPW Parade – At least not that I saw. What happened to their madcap antics?
- Not that much fire art – I really didn`t see much out there this year compared to last. It is BURNING Man right?
- Logos – I remember fondly seeing not a single unmodified corporate logo in 2002. Winona Ryder being a personal fave. Now it doesn`t seem to matter if your truck says Budget in five foot tall letters.
- No killer art cars – Yes Drakka killed someone. Yeah well Draka was the sexiest art car out there and the dead person was drunk as a skunk. You figure out who to blame.
- The temple built before Monday – In 2002 I got to assist in the building of the temple, as did anyone else willing to go out and lend David Best a hand. Now its a specialized crew that has everything done before the week even begins. Lame.
- Everyone was a virgin – I mean everyone. Whos setting the example for these kids? I guess its me. Shit.
- No pyrotechnic foibles during the Burn – I mean what fun is it if a few roman candles don`t randomly shoot into the crowd?
- Not accepting gifts – Perhaps most telling I spent one night as a wandering bartender, offering whiskey, screwdrivers and sangria to the thirsty. The vast majority refused my offer. Gifting is a two part process, what can you do when people don`t even know how to recieve?
Fortunately I`m not a complainer. I intend to do something about all this. Some of this. Hell I dunno. I just intend to do something. Paul Addis` actions Monday night may have stirred up some much needed controversey in that sleepy little town known as Black Rock City. People need to wake up and take action for their city, their concept of freedom and creativity.
BMORG can`t mandate the Burn. Larry Harvey can`t mandate the Burn. The local authorities can`t mandate the Burn. Not without our compliance – and we don`t need to comply. This is ours. We made it. More than any other place on Earth Black Rock City is made by its citizenry. Ultimately we ARE the city. That`s democracy baby, that`s freedom.
If you`re going next year. DO SOMETHING. Do something outlandish, something wild, something creative, something perverse. Just fucking do something. Don`t just stand and watch. Be ambitious. Extend your boundaries. Thats why we`re out there, in the cruel rugged terrain of the desert. To struggle, to struggle and expand, endlessly, like love.
And set stuff on fire. There wasn`t nearly enough of that.