Archive for Burning Man

Terrance McKenna

Posted in CoJo with tags , , , , , on Monday, September 8 by Cojo

Terrance Mckenna is to human beings what burning man is to festivals. I didn’t really prescreen these, they just happened to be two videos I watched today at work. If you are interested in unique thinkers you really should spend a few hours and see what Terrance McKenna has to offer…

A Simple Plea

Posted in Chainsaw with tags , , , , on Tuesday, May 13 by Chainsaw

It’s that time of year again. Time to buy your tickets for Burning Man before the price increases another fifty bucks (due to posting delays this jump has already happened). Now I know what you’re thinking; but Spencer, I’m a huge square with a full-time job and even if I could get a week off I wouldn’t spend it at some hippie extravaganza. Or, in the case of Josh, but Spencer that will ruin my Cal Ripken-esque streak of consecutive Bumbershoots attended. Well before you completely close your mind to the possibility let me tell you a little about the life-changing experience that is Burning Man.

Last year I received perhaps the best birthday present of my life, a ticket to the Burning Man Festival, from myself. Following a week long, miserably unsuccessful attempt to convince someone I knew to attend as well I accepted the fact that I would be going solo. So I hit the road, fully loaded with both snacks and supplies, with my sights set towards Northern Nevada. I originally intended to take the drive easy and arrive at Burning Man in a couple days, but somewhere in Central Arizona after my third Old Glory Energy Drink (only 99 cents for 24 oz.!!) I threw my plans out the window and continued on my Neal Cassady style cracked-out marathon drive all the way to Black Rock City (the name of the fake city formed by Burning Man participants) in one crazy day. Driving through Nevada at night is truly a surreal experience. I traveled at 90 mph on a two-lane highway for six hours without seeing anything but the occasional shanty/ghost town and oncoming semi that appeared to be attempting to run me off the road. I made it to within a hundred miles of Black Rock City before the insanity caused by sixteen hours on the road by myself made me rethink my safety and pull over for a catnap in a Motel 6 parking lot. The following morning I arrived at Burning Man not really knowing what to expect, yet incredibly excited by the possibilities.

Prior to making my pro-Burning Man decision a friend of my informed me that the event “has absolutely everything that anyone could be in to.” I would soon discover that his incredibly small scope of things a person could possibly be in to included only fire dancing, electronic music and naked old men…pause for laughter…but seriously, there were a lot of those things. It is beyond my abilities to accurately describe Burning Man, but if you can imagine a barren dessert converted into a makeshift city constructed and inhabited by 50,000 of the weirdest people you have met you will begin to have an idea. I guess the closest comparison would be Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome with less horrific violence and more all-loving new agery. In fact, there is even a Thunderdome replica in which contestants battle with Nerf swords, surrounded by a screaming mob of freaks. By night the city becomes illuminated entirely by glow sticks and glow stick-like light sources. Electronic music permeates the city leaving no refuge from its thumping, pulsing robot beats. In a matter of hours you have gone from being surrounded by awe-inspiring structures, sculptures and people to being trapped in the heart of the largest rave on the planet. While I am not the biggest fan of the rave scene and was definitely not in the right mind state to fully enjoy the experience (some combination of coke and horse tranquilizers would be about right) I still found myself amazed by the sheer magnitude of partying, plus the ubiquitous fire dancers that were pretty awesome to watch. Speaking of drugs I am fairly ashamed to admit that, due to the unreliability of mushroom salesmen, I was more than likely the biggest square at Burning Man last year, consuming just half of a joint and a case of Natural Light. However, I found that drugs weren’t exactly necessary as throughout the week just walking around Black Rock City feels as if you are constantly riding a wave of hallucinogenic euphoria (this doesn’t mean that I won’t be taking any drug I can get my hands on this year though). For the majority of the week I experienced an inner peace and feeling of perfect contentedness for no real reason except that I truly enjoyed being in the midst of insanity.

Despite the sensory overload of wackiness, the best aspect of Burning Man was the sense of unconditional acceptance. In place of the feeling of being constantly watched and judged while walking the streets of a civilized city is a welcome feeling of brotherly love. Never before have I been around so many people who are ecstatic for no other reason than the fact that they are a part of this world. People are unrestrained by social norms and free to be whoever the fuck they want to be. Burning Man is a “gift” economy, meaning that you can’t buy or sell things within the city (unless, of course, you are Burning Man itself which allows it self to peddle ice and coffee) so one can trade some beers to get one’s bike fixed, receive dinner for camp construction assistance, or be given a grilled cheese sandwich for absolutely no reason while walking back to one’s tent. Greed is replaced by generosity; rigid individualism is replaced by the caring community so lacking from modern society. Yes, there are some glaring flaws, sanitation comes to mind, and sustainability is near impossible but overall Burning Man is a city re-imagined, an example of what humanity is truly capable of creating. Plus, you can get super fucked up and climb on crazy shit. And if my meandering, overly positive thoughts on Burning Man aren’t enough to convince you to come with me, perhaps the possibility that you could run into people like this will.

So, who’s in?

If interested, Burning Man 2008 will be held from August 25th to September 1st, outside of Reno, Nevada. Tickets are $295 and can be purchased at http://tickets.burningman.com. If, like me, that’s a little outside your price range you can apply for a low income ticket for $145 before May 31st. Instructions are on the same page. If you need some more convincing, talk to Cojo.