Cliff Flinging: Stage 1: Complete!

We have returned from The Man What Burns Dustfest 2016!

I started keeping a journal of what all was going on but had a bad day and lost all interest so you are spared such things as a nerdy chart of the temperature of my forehead from day to day. You are welcome.

There are a very few pictures as well, but the camera I was using was not really suited to the task so I didn’t really try terribly hard. I’ll post a few later if any of them are any good at all.

The Good:

Burning Man continues to be an expanding and evolving explosion of unbridled creativity. The things happening there are mind-meltingly amazing on all kinds of levels and it is absolutely impossible to accurately describe the many encounters and experiences that make up that very strange week in a place humans were not meant to survive.

I was able to spend time with old friends, meet new ones, connect with people who I would otherwise never meet. I got to use my problem solving skills to help rescue someone who found their outfit  had become integral to their bicycle and made martinis for strangers in the middle of the night.

Our camp, Briny Depths, was one of the easiest to set up and tear down of any I have ever been a part of. Our nights of serving Ramen (Chicken and Miso broth with seaweed flakes, onion, baby corn, and lovely noodles) were highly successful and fun. The camp-mates I already knew were people I was delighted to spend more time with and the ones I did not were people I am now happy to know.

The weather was… really nice! I never felt terribly hot, or so cold that I needed much more than a lab coat. I think this is partly because it was a very mild year and partly because I am used to living somewhere where the weather is trying to kill you most of the year and barely tolerable for about three days every season.

Despite one of them injuring Damon a little… most of our neighbors were really pleasant, amusing, accommodating, and not at all annoying. Since almost every year there has been a camp nearby that made me want to strangle the entire world to make them stop… that was pleasant.

The Bad:

I have been reading for a few years about the propagation of “plug and play” camps where very rich people essentially have a camp created and delivered for them with cooking and administrative staff and the like… and they were certainly in evidence. A certain kind of person seems to come out of these camps and that kind is very entitled and not very invested in the community and city. Softening that a bit however, they seem to have somewhat displaced the last minute frat boy explosion that used to occur… and since they have people to clean up after them, the playa seemed less trashed the night of the burn.

The city has grown a lot! The downside of this is that there is no way you can go, nowhere you can walk, to find a truly dark and quiet place. Even with early entry you could walk into the deep playa and turn in circles and not see a dark spot in any direction. With this explosion also comes and explosion of art cars… which are really neat, and some are an absolute wonder to behold… but many of them are mobile sound systems that would get clubs shut down for violating urban sound ordinances, and the sound overlaps and combines into an arrhythmic drone of unending dance music and terrible hip hop. This has always famously been the case to some degree, but the intensity has been turned way up!

Tents suck! Even with the mild weather, a tent that does not have additional shade and wind protection is a terrible place to be. In the past I have always brought some sort of extra shelter if I was using a tent, or used some sort of shelter other than a tent… but as I was flying in to California then being entirely dependent on others a tent is what I had. I made it as homey as possible but it made a terrible retreat from the world.

One of the tenets of Burning Man is “Radical Self Reliance.” I absolutely pride myself on having everything I need to survive and the ability to improvise anything I need to conquer whatever challenges arise out there. This year I was very much dependent on my camp-mates which (as much as they were awesome and amazing and provided everything I needed) vexed my sense of self. This is a mixed thing and something I sort of feel OK with and sort of like I am not OK with it enough.

The Ugly:

When I was making martinis someone gave me a cookie. I kind of expected it was the sort of cookie that made you giggle too much and crave macaroni and cheese. What I was not expecting was to spend over 24 hours unable to do anything more than sit very still with my eyes closed. Breakfast took three and a half hours to eat and if Jess hadn’t been feeding me water every so often I would have dried up and blown away. Very Yikes! I would have very much liked to have spent that time exploring and meeting people.

I also missed a bunch of time wallowing in a very deep and uncomfortable pit of depression and self reflection. I have a lot of very difficult things demanding my attention and facing them is part of why I am doing all of this. It did put a damper on my (perceived) ability to leave camp and wander the city. I think I saw the requisite big art pieces… but missed all the little things you find wandering the streets.

So in summary… In some ways this was one of my best years out there and in some ways it was my worst… but I still want to go back and my brain is churning with art projects and things I want to do out there.

Time to jot down notes, make lists, and recover a bit before the difficult days on the horizon!

2 comments

  1. Mom says:

    I love you love you.

  2. UrDad says:

    Very interesting. I look forward to seeing you soon hearing more details if you wish to share them.

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