Posts Tagged ‘Burning Man’

Post 19 - Evo Hemp Pineapple Almond

Brand: Evo Hemp

Product: Pineapple Almond + Raw Protein (Hemp Powder)

Weight: 1.69oz /48g

Cost: $2.25/per from manufacturer

Stats

Calories: 205

Total Fat: 10g, Sat. Fat 1g

Cholesterol: 0g

Sodium: 0mg

Potassium: 280mg

Total Carb: 22g

Fiber: 4g

Sugars: 11g

Protein: 8g

Protein per ounce: 4.73g

Protein, Cost per gram: $0.28

Vit A: 0% DV

Vit B1: 4% DV

Vit B6: 4% DV

Vit C: 2% DV

Vit E: 15% DV

Magnesium: 20% DV

Zinc: 2% DV

Calcium: 6% DV

Iron: 15% DV

Phosphorous: 10% DV

Manganese: 15% DV

Organic, raw, gluten free, vegan, and soy free.

Flavor:

If you couldn’t tell from my previous posts, I love hemp, so the idea of a protein bar largely made of hemp definitely has some appeal. The flavor wasn’t particularly inspiring nor unpleasant in any way. It was somewhat sweet, yet savory, the dates that make up much of the bar are a large flavor component. This Evo Hemp bar didn’t have as good of a flavor or mouth feel as the last one I reviewed for post #4, but it did have more protein, magnesium, manganese and other minerals. The protein per ounce ratio on the Evo Hemp bars isn’t as high as many of the bars I have reviewed but it also isn’t the lowest, and for the price it makes this a very well-rounded middle of the road protein bar, with a lot of auxiliary nutrients for those who need them. The extra minerals and bromelian from the pineapple would be a great asset for anyone who is mineral deprived or needs a little extra boost recovering from an MDMA hangover, which could be great at festivals like Burning Man (if you take MDMA). The lack of chocolate coupled with the bromelian makes this an ideal protein bar for Burning Man, especially if you intend to take MDMA out there.

As stressed in previous posts on the topic, Burning Man is whatever you make of it. It is a place to lose yourself and find new selves amongst the dust and ashes. Some people go for the music and dancing, a few brave souls are there to fight in the Thunderdome, others go for spiritual reasons. I go for a mixture of the above and the below. This post is going to be about finding spirituality in the dust of the Black Rock playa. This year’s Caravansary is going to be ripe with opportunities for growth, as long as you are open to them. To begin I would like to borrow from Ron Feldman, Ph.D., a religious scholar and writer I met at a previous Burning Man. Quoting from his piece Sleeping in the Dust at Burning Man,

“The Talmud says, ‘Three things are a foretaste of the world-that-is-coming: Sabbath, sunshine, and sexual intercourse’ (Talmud Berakhot 57b). In various ways, all three of these tastes of the messianic era are to be had at Burning Man, the weeklong festival that takes place in late August near Reno, Nevada.”

Burning Man definitely has the sunshine covered. Not just the sun, but also the moon. Both sun and moonrise are very dramatic on the playa due to the natural geographic features, it tends to extend twilight a bit and give things and otherworldly light. The surreal feeling is only made more intense by the ritualistic howling at the moon upon nightfall, a time honored Burning Man tradition increasingly forgotten. As the sun and moon are both important symbol for numerous faiths and spiritual practices this is a major plus no matter what your beliefs are. Sexual intercourse has its own important role in spirituality, most notably in tantric meditation and yoga practices. It would seem, after reading Ron’s piece, that all of Burning Man itself is a Sabbath, a separate place in time and space for the sacred to happen, outside of the everyday world. The Playa isn’t just a Sabbath for Jews and other followers of the Abrahamic faiths, it’s a sacred place for everyone of all faiths or lack there of (it can also be a great place to find your faith, in self or something higher than).

I was raised as a Nichiren Buddhist, but now I primarily identify as someone poly-spiritual, embracing many faiths. A major component of my current spirituality is the belief that spontaneity and serendipity work together to bring us omens and gifts from the universe (possibly through quantum entanglement on the sub-atomic level…a topic for another post). My first burn I camped with a coffee camp, one morning while serving coffee I happened to meet three people from a Nichiren Buddhist camp. Burning Man is a crucible for serendipity, it loves to bring people together who need to meet. Last Burn I met two brothers I grew up with from my time as a Nichiren Buddhist, we haven’t talked in years and  they just happened to camp across the road from my friends. That small thing, a choice in a camp site, has now rekindled a friendship.

Another major component of my spirituality these days is alchemy, and there is a whole village dedicated to it, Sacred Spaces. This camp hosts classes on alchemy, yoga, tantra, sacred dance, and more. The alchemy village also has some pretty awesome music going on every night, generally with a bit more of a tribal sound than the generic wubwub dubstep you hear broadly across the Burn.  I am definitely a fan.

So whether you are out there for the music, out there for the Sabbath, or just to talk to people about God Burning Man has a place for you. The Playa is a big enough desert for everyone to coexist without even needing a bumper sticker to tell them so. And really, we’re better off for it. The world could do with less Priuses driving around sporting more bumper stickers than the number failed Nader presidential campaigns. Burning Man is certainly great for the lack of cars, which also adds to the spiritual element. Everywhere you go out there feels like a pilgrimage, especially in a bad dust storm. You are living in the present, in the scene, without barriers like cars or cellphones to keep you distracted. Nothing cultivates a deep sense of spirituality faster than dwelling in these Zen moments where you are connected to what is happening around you.

For many westerners that may be as close as we ever get to meditating in our daily lives. Burning Man can be a time to meditate on life in very active ways, it all is a matter of what you welcome and allow into you while there. You will certainly be welcoming a barrage of dust onto your person and into your being; otherwise it will be a rough Burn. Speaking as someone very OCD about dirt, it is easier than you think to be at one with the dust. Embrace it, do a dust angel in it, do whatever you need to be okay with it. Like in Dune, know that the dust permeates all things out there, you will sleep in it, eat it, and breath it.

You will become the dust. The phrase “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” comes to mind. We all will become dust together, Burning Man just serves to bring the transient nature of all things to the surface of our consciousness through the physical act of burning things. Once Burned the Man, Temple, and other art pieces are gone forever; just like the artists who made them will be gone to dust in time. Just like the cities they hailed from, and our very planet on a long enough time scale. Like mediation, this idea of all things coming to an end may be hard for westerners to handle. Many of them come from a religion that tells them their soul is eternal and will live on in Heaven, or they may embrace a materialistic culture that teaches them to ignore death to consume more in the present. The Sabbath at Burning Man helps undo these wrongs that have been done to the collective human conscious.

Stay tuned for another upcoming post on spirituality at Burning Man, reviewing the book The Electric Jesus.

This year’s theme for Burning Man has been announced, and it is Caravansary. If you are like me then your first thought was probably, “what the hell is a caravansary?” Quickly followed by the realization that it is a very tricky to pronounce word. A caravansary is a type of walled inn with a large central courtyard that was built along the Silk Road to protect caravans at night from marauders. You can think of a caravansary as a man-made oasis; they offered the same level of protection in their stone walls that an oasis saw from the harsh climate of the desert itself. Caravansaries and the Silk Road were crucial to the flow of information as they served as meeting places for all sorts of people from every corner of the globe, the crossroads.

Now, if you are like me, you probably then realized that this theme doesn’t really add much to the event like previous themes have. Burning Man has had themes for art since 1998, but the art-theme area of the website gives no hint as to the purpose of these themes nor their goal. Perhaps I am off base in assuming the themes are meant to modulate the event to make it somewhat different every year. Sure, Burning Man is always totally different, yet always the same, but the theme offers participants a filter or locus through which to view the event, it points us in a direction and says “go.”

Past themes, like Green Man, Metropolis, Cargo Cult and American Dream have forced us to re-examine our relationships with the environment, our cities, ourselves, and likelihood of realizing the American Dream. While Burning Man is always a leave no trace event, thus environmentally conscious, Green Man took it to new levels with art pieces like Crude Awakening. This was a giant oil derrick which showed humanity’s worship of oil which ultimately erupted into a mushroom cloud of fire when nearly 3,000 pounds of propane and jet fuel were ignited at weeks end. While that might not sound terribly green it is equivalent to “the amount of energy consumed in the Bay Area in one minute” and since the Bay Area was on vacation that week at Burning Man I imagine it balanced out. So while past themes have provided direction to the event in addition to the existing matrix of Burning Man laid out in the Ten Principles, this years theme does not.

Let’s break down this year’s theme. A caravansary is an inn where people from all over the world would get together, drink, swap stories, and perhaps swap more than that in gifts, trade, and lovemaking. By default, in order to be at a caravansary, you were on a pilgrimage of sorts or you worked at the inn. If you have never been to Burning Man let me do a quite comparison for you. If you are at the Burn you are on a pilgrimage of sorts or you work for Burning Man/the Government (“the inn”). Burning Man itself is a caravansary protecting inhabitants from the harsh Black Rock Desert that surrounds, it is our oasis in time and space in a vast sea of dust. Within this grand caravansary there is arranged a smaller assortment of taverns, bars, inns, and lounges, nearly all having some sort of inner courtyard to offer weary travelers repose.

While I am rather underwhelmed by the theme, because it is basically saying “this years theme is Burning Man,” I am similarly impressed. I was forced to learn a new word and I’ve already had my consciousness expanded thanks to my initial opposition to the theme. Sometimes what sounds utterly moronic at first proves to be the best idea imaginable and Burning Man is a great place for testing the bounds of imagination and idiocy. I am also impressed by this year’s Burn because instead of placing the Man ever higher from the desert floor on huge structures, making him ever less ADA accessible, he is returning to the floor of the desert as a MASSIVE effigy.

So how is Burning Man a grand caravansary? And if it is what sort of folks go there on pilgrimage to trade ideas and craft a collective narrative?

Well, there are these kinds of people…

Burning Man – Fun for all ages, old and young.

There are there sorts of people too…

Sometimes a dance floor at Burning Man just looks like a forest of fuzzy coats and furry top hats. This can be both wonderful and very disorienting if high on drugs.

And yes, they’re out there too…the infamous sparkleponies.

A wild herd of sparkleponies have appeared. Not always female, know a sparklepony by their sass, ass, and magical ability to vanish whenever it is time to do work.

Burning Man is representative and inclusive of everyone, including the aforementioned stereotypes of sparkleponies, people wearing furry coats, and naked old people; honestly, they make the event what it is, God bless the sparkleponies and shirtcockers. Past the usual stereotypes and tropes, Burning Man has a lot of techies. Hordes. It’s like SF moved to the desert for a week. The Burning Man census reveals this to be true, showing that over a third of participants still come from northern California, mostly the Bay Area. Most participants identify as being white/not a person of color; the question has been asked in different ways in different years yielding different results.

There also are retired army generals, like former NATO Supreme Commander General Wesley Clark, who was hanging out at this last Burn in conversation with John Perry Barlow (an EFF founder and Grateful Dead lyricist) and Larry Harvey (the main co-founder of Burning Man and its informal mayor). It sounds like the start of a joke; a Dead-Head,  a retired General, and the founder of Burning Man all walk into bar to sit down for a drink. It would be funny if it wasn’t real and didn’t have major significance. The usual belief is that Burning Man is only a place for the fuzzy hats and that clean-cut Good-Ol’ Boys would scarcely want to go let alone be accepted there. Only he did want to go there, no one is forced to be there other than the police and Burning Man staff who provide the crucial infrastructure to keep the event functional and safe. Not only did General Clark go to the Burn he also was accepted and given a rather warm welcome.

Everyone knows that world-class DJs are at the Burn every year, such as Junkie XL, Paul Oakenfold, Beats Antique, and The Crystal Method, but many people don’t realize that non-electronic artists also go to Burning Man, they just aren’t performing yet. P Diddy was sighted around this last Burn as well, sporting a stylish pink parasol. Hopefully P Diddy will join the vast legion of performers who gift their crafts to Black Rock City every year. As previously stated there are hordes of techies at Burning Man, this includes the God-child of all techies, Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg is not alone, he is joined by the whole cast of The Social Network, including the identical Winklevoss Twins and Dustin Moshkovitz. Moshkovitz wrote a great piece about why the presence of techies and plug and play camps should be embraced rather than spurned. I still have mixed feelings about plug and play camps, but much of the bad taste has been cleansed from my palate. Some people need a very sterile environment in order to enjoy the Burn, sometimes for valid medical reasons; who is any one person to deny them that experience? I’m not that guy and I don’t care to meet him.

Mostly you find lots of people like me. We dress however the hell we please regardless of where we are; I wore a three piece suit many days this last Burn, then other days I looked like a “steampunk hobo wizard” to quote a friend. People like me do work, often more than our fair share because we recognize that without someone doing work Burning Man doesn’t happen. People like me are kind of artists, maybe writers, often wearing many hats at different times filling many different roles in camps and in life. We’ll gift you things at the Burn unprompted and without any expectation of return, the way any true gift should be given.

The only people who are not welcome are asshats like Krug champagne who either cannot read, can’t be bothered to read the rules, or worse of all read the rules and think they are exempt from them. Burning Man makes it very clear that you are not to exploit the event for marketing or promotional reasons; this isn’t your photo-op to make your brand seem edgy. Krug thought it would be in the Burner ethos to have a huge invite-only champagne party out on the Playa, exclusively to take promotional photos. They then felt it would be neighborly to leave the place trashed; isn’t that one of the Ten Principles? Oh wait no, it’s not “leave it trashed,” it is leave no trace. Way to go asshats. Some Burners did come by to help clean the mess up, but it wasn’t their mess and that really wasn’t fair to them, but then when is life ever really fair? Burning Man often teaches us, sometimes brutally, that life is not fair (see the yearly ticketing melee).

All things said and done, I love Burning Man as much as ever and would love to make it back out there this year, though I worry about the chance of that given massive medical bills. People complain every year about the theme, how it’s not like it used to be, and how it used to be free, etc. Nope, it’s not how it used to be, no one is driving over tents in the night or shooting guns in city limits. Nope, it isn’t free either, but there are bathrooms provided and other services (an awesome medical system with 3 major locations in the city). Burning Man used to embrace anarchy more than it does today, now it is radical self expression that is embraced. I prefer what it is today, a temporary experiment in city building and the world’s largest living art museum/gallery, and I for one love being part of that grand social experiment in the most famed caravansary of our time.

The second short story I am posting from my novel and the first of which coming from the Burning Man section of the book.

Branded

It was Sunday, that made it God’s day out there in the Christian world. Here at Burning Man, Sunday means it is time to burn the Temple and bring the formal Burn to a close. Tomorrow will be the last official day of Burning Man, but you can stay longer. Right now, tomorrow feels like it is a lifetime away.

For me, Sunday also meant my facial wound from an amazing and daring swordfight was now healed enough to begin flaking off, and the fight itself legendary enough to earn me my own Playa name, Captain Safety. I was amazed by how quickly I healed out here and suspected it had something to do with the climate or alkaline dust. If I nurtured this facial wound right during healing, in time I could have a real bad boy scar. You know, one of those scars with a story, a scar right over your eye. This Sunday also meant I’d regained enough serotonin to be my normal talkative self again, mostly.

The best way I’d discovered to spend the long, hot hours in the middle of the day was with hookah, friends, and Pabst Blue Ribbon. PBR was a fine beer, with a better flavor and usually a lower price than Budweiser and other cheap beers. Yet one had to cope with the hipster stigma attached to it. A devils bargain, but everything was a trade off.

At Burning Man no one seemed to care what you drank or wore, in fact I don’t recall even hearing the word hipster all Burn. Most burners complained more about tourists than hipsters; tourists were people at the Burn as observers, often considered to be not true burners because they didn’t fully embrace the burner ethos. But tourist, like hipster, was in the eye of the beholder and a pejorative applied to a person by a stranger who knows nothing of who an individual really is, other than the caricature they are presenting at a given moment. And moments are merely snapshots in time. Maybe I looked like a tourist, maybe I looked like a hipster. Neither one was relevant when we were all covered in the same dust.

We were relaxing in the long shade created by the RV by the afternoon sun; the whole crew was assembled. There was the Trio de Chicas Locas, the three gorgeous and fierce girls Foreman had helped out earlier in the week when one of them got a concussion. It was nice having a medic in your camp. There was, of course my camp, Coffee and Cigarettes, our leader Rhyno, Foreman, my friend Chyutknee, and various others. We were based after comedy movie of the same name and gave away the very obvious and appropriate coffee and cigarettes, as well as having nightly open mic comedy. We also had some new faces. The Chicas had managed to find a Trio de Australians and brought them over. Two of them looked like decent blokes, and one of them looked like a fucking butcher. It was something about his eyes, kind of shifty and not trusting, which made him seem out of place at the Burn and not trustworthy to my drug addled brain. His eyes and his Mohawk, which was held together by some combination of Elmer’s glue and safety pins, made him look rather menacing. Matching the mis-matched pins through the glue-ridden unicorn horns of his hair were two larger safety pins through his ear lobes. They looked to be the same thing he pierced the holes with originally, who knows how long ago that was.

Ramona, easily the most loca of the trio, was soberly and then drunkenly telling us how this was her last day out here and she had to leave before the Temple burned. Missing this experience was something she was not okay with, but she had a backup plan. She insisted on having an image of The Man branded on her. She wanted a true hot iron brand, cowboy style, though maybe not hog-tied. This gorgeous young girl wanted us to leave a mark on her physically, as we already had emotionally, and specifically she wanted that mark on her ankle.

Her ankles were slender and beautiful. I could wrap a hand around one and touch my finger tips together. In all ways imaginable this was a less than ideal location for a brand. We were in a desert, over 100 miles from the closest hospital. Instead of getting the brand on a nice fleshy area, like her gloriously round ass, she picked her dainty yet boney ankles.

One of the Australians, not Crocodile Dundee or Steve Irwin, but The Butcher, offers to do the deed. “Oy, I’ll burn it on you,” he says with a sly, suspecting, and suspicious grin, “let’s go back to my camp where my tools are.”

When he says tools I see a twinge of something cross his maniacal face and I know what he means.

“My Gods,” I exclaim loudly in my head, still not fully able to articulate speech after the MDMA crash. “This scheming bastard with a rat’s nest for a head wants to take her back to his camp and work her over with his tools. He wants to whisk her away and have his way with her. By the looks of him he’ll rape her, chop her up, and then maybe eat her and only maybe in that order.” You can never tell how depraved these types can be. Retrospectively I am not sure how much of this was the drugs talking to me and how much was legitimate worry for a new friend.

I come back to the present moment, out of my head, to see Ramona beginning to fall into this twisted cannibal’s plot. I grab her by the shoulder, gently but urgently and pull her aside. “Don’t go with that kangaroo fucking madman, you cannot trust people who fuck marsupials. Besides that, did you see the look in his eyes? He sees you as meat, fresh, warm, red meat for the slaughter. The man is a butcher, a kill you first and fuck you later type. Jeffrey Dahmer dressed in a t-shirt and furry boots, every safety pin jammed through his body a former trophy. I count six trophies Mona, do you think this crazed wingnut likes symmetry? I doubt it! Do you see what I am saying?”

She was hesitant to reply, looking torn between perplexed amusement and sage decision making, “I think…”

“What I am saying is we have a propane stove, vice grips, and hell we even have the saran wrap and medical tape we need to doctor it up right. We have you covered, stay here with friends.” She nodded, I had won her over.

“Oy, are we doing this or not?” The Butcher was getting antsy to leave; he knew I was onto him. I could smell his fear.

“Yes, but I’m staying here. Coffee and Cigarettes has everything I need and I would rather not walk a bunch after branding my ankle.”

As a man of many talents who had traveled the world over, Chyutknee offered his services at this crucial juncture. “I’ve branded cows and sheep before how different can this be?”

At this utterance The Butcher dejectedly signaled to Crocodile Dundee and Steve Irwin that it was time for them to piss off. He scowled at me, a crudely mohawked savage with pins through his ears and murder in his eyes. They walked out of camp into the dust laden winds and were soon nothing but a memory.

***

“Alright, if we’re going to do this we’re doing it by the books, as best as we can.” Foreman settled into his role and drew from years of experience as an EMT to make sure our semi-sober selves did not make a complete mess of things. “Captain Safety, get your medical tape and vicegrips. Rhyno, start wiping off that metal necklace you were gifted with this sanitary towelette, we’ll use that as the brand. Chyutknee, get some gloves on. I’ll turn on the stove and grab the saran wrap!”

This process, while done with the utmost expediency, was being conducted on “Burner time,” meaning time became quite relative. Two beers later we were all assembled and ready to go. Ramona was propped up in the comfiest folding chair in the camp, the one with all four legs and no rips in the fabric. Her intended leg was elevated, bare, and erected for this moment of great anticipation. While the necklace was being transmogrified into a hot brand, Mona cracked open another beer and we toasted to her decision.

I had always hoped to witness a live human branding someday. I just never expected to see one so early in my life, or to be so intimately involved in the experience. I even had my camera there to get photos.

The brand was ready and we readied Ramona with a cloth bit in her mouth. With a big grin, the grin of a proud craftsman birthing a new creation, Chyutknee let the scalding, blistering hot metal kiss the delicate ankle of our dear little Ramona, gently, like a politician kissing a baby. As one would expect, she squirmed from the pain but took it well and ended up with a very decent looking brand of The Man. We wrapped it in saran wrap, taped it down like one does a tattoo, iced it, and she was good to go.

Like a real champ, while many of us were still paralyzed with wonder, Ramona laced up her boot over the newly minted brand. She stood up, chugged the rest of her beer and was ready to go party. I was awestruck by this beautiful, tough as nails desert flower who just bloomed before my eyes. This girl was of a breed too strange to live and too rare to die.

Last night I went out to see Infected Mushroom and Savant, it was my first time seeing either and the first I had heard Savant (who was amazing). It inspired this poem, I may still add more I may leave it here. I want to do some readings on it before deciding, but I am definitely bothered by one stanza ‘missing a line,’ but not sure what I want to add/subtract. Time till tell.

The Man Burns (2013)

The Man Burns (2013)

Silence

In that silence you can hear a pin drop,

Like the bass dropped only moments before.

Body still thumping pulsing to ghostsounds,

That drown out the reality that surrounds.

 

Body becomes subwoofer, reacting to bass and sub-bass,

That falls loud enough to drown out the treble and mid-bass.

The bass that falls like a thunderclap, manna from Heaven.

The bass that plays now only for me, a mental music box.

 

And now, in that eternal silence… lifetimes, eons, fit into seconds.

Like a furry coat fits into a handbag on your way home,

Too overheated still to wear despite the winter’s cold chill.

 

All around, the silence dwells, a veil covering mouth, muted speak no evil,

Stuck on introspection, pausing for self reflection in these quiet moments.

The joint sits burning in his hand, my hand, her hand, our hands.

It burns but doesn’t go out, like the sound resounding in my head.

 

What I wouldn’t do for a beat that grabs my heart by the strings,

Forcing me to dance like a marionette, DJ as puppetmaster.

What I wouldn’t give for a beat that massages my neo-cortex,

Producing vortex of thought, paroxysm of emotion.

 

And in that silence, I see the joint drop,

Like the pin I heard a moment before,

Reminiscent of the bass, but a memory

Embers on the floor.

You may or may not have heard of Burning Man, growing up in the SF Bay Area I’ve known about it and suspected I would end up there since middle school. Most people think of Burning Man as a giant RAVE in the desert, like Coachella (only cheaper than Coachella and it lasts a week instead of four days). But Burning Man is so much more. You could spend all week out there and listen only to live music or at least not electronic, or even no music at all. There is a TEDx out there as well as the Palenque Norte lecture series and countless other talks and classes on nearly every topic you can think of. Simply put, there is something for everyone of all ages in that desert, from the very young to the very old.

There are art cars, vehicles of all sorts transformed into living art projects.

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While music primarily is electronic there was still live music to be had, namely this badass drummer.

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Along with music Burning Man is riddled with philosophy and thought provoking works of art.

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Burning Man honors many American cultural landmarks…

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And at the end of the week everything burns, even the Temple.

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One thing I have learned from years of researching Burning Man it is that no one knows exactly how or why it was started, either that or people know and are unwilling to come to a consensus on the facts. This has left the event’s origin shrouded in rumor with an elaborate mythology. Stories range from the tragic death of a friend or pet, to an explosive divorce with an awful wife, to the mundane desire to just burn a man on the beach. I’ve developed my own theory about the roots of Burning Man, and choice of current location. I call it a theory but it is meant more as a humorous observation, rather than something taken with the weight of actual science, and it meant to be seen as inclusive (not mutually exclusive) with all other theories. You may call this the Dune Origin Myth for the starting of Burning Man.

If my first post didn’t make it clear I love Dune, the David Lynch movie not the book. I have not read the book yet, which I’ll admit is a failure on my part because books are awesome. In Dune, there are several planets, including Caladan and Arrakis; I will only be discussing these two as the only relevant ones to this post, as well as a small bit of the plot without spoiling anything. The main characters, the royal family of Duke Leto Atreides, live on Caladan, a planet covered in a vast ocean. They are instructed by the Emperor of the Known Universe to go to Arrakis to take control of the spice mining operations. Arrakis is also known as Dune, it is a dry desert planet where nothing grows and there is no life other than giant sandworms and the hardy Fremen people. The only thing of value on Dune is the spice Melange; this spice is vital to space travel and expands consciousness. Over years of using the spice people can evolve to be more than human, as is evidenced by the Spacing Guild navigators.

Now that you know the relevant literary context let me address how this applies to the founding of Burning Man. I was born in San Francisco, and the furthest I have ever lived from there is Santa Cruz; being a lifetime Bay Area resident the ocean is the salt in my blood. Burning Man was started by Bay Area residents, artists and crafters, as well as a fair few jolly pranksters, in my hometown of San Francisco. In a quick four years, it grew too big to be housed on Baker Beach in SF and they had to find somewhere new to burn a Man. They found the Black Rock Desert, a geographic feature known as a playa, which coincidentally is Spanish for beach. Burning Man had now found a beach big enough to hold countless many more free spirits and pleasure seekers.

Thanks to help from John Law of the now mostly-defunct SF Cacophony Society, the 1990 Burn was moved to the Black Rock desert, where the virgin BMORG effectively co-opted the Cacophony Society’s Zone Trip #4: A Bad Day at Black Rock making it the first Burning Man. I use the term co-opted rather lightly here, Larry Harvey and Jerry James were invited by John Law and Michael Mikel of Cacophony to come along to burn their Man. The co-opting happens in history where the event is solely remembered for being the first Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert, part of this posting is keeping the history of Cacophony alive in the wake of a dominant countercultural force like Burning Man. History is written by the conquerors, even the history of counterculture movements. I guess you could say I have a soft spot for Cacophony.

Like the Atreides family these brave adventurers embarked on a grand pilgrimage to a place they had never gone before, a place radically different than the world they were leaving behind. Duke Leto comforted his son with some sage advice before they set out for Dune, “A person needs new experiences … Without change something sleeps inside us and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.” Larry Havery also recognized the vast potential for change out there in the desert, “I drew a line on the ground, and I said on the other side of this line everything will be different. And everything has been different.” On the other side of the line is a desert and deserted world, void of plants and animal life, a place of nothing but dust. In Dune the spice is said to be in everything on the planet, to permeate all life there, just like the dust in the Black Rock Desert saturates all things brought onto its alkaline expanse. While in Dune it was a spice-dust that expanded consciousness for us Burners in the Playa there isn’t anything spicy about it, though it is alkaline.

Despite Burning Man being a global phenomenon, according to 2011 census over half of Burners still came from California with over a third from Northern California. While we are beginning to see more participation from inland areas as Burner culture permeates deeper into humanity’s collective conscious, it remains primarily an activity of us coastdwellers. Like Arrakis in Dune, Burning Man exists as a context where ocean people, or put broader people that are not of the desert, can go to the desert and learn how to survive out there in its harsh and unique climate. Whether you go to Burning Man as a survivalist, you will leave the Burn as a survivalist. This event trains you to survive in one of the harshest environments out there, which for me is part of the appeal; testing my limits to further my personal growth. The great thing about the Burn is that there is something for everyone, no matter your age or personal background; nothing is forced on you and nearly anything is permitted that doesn’t violate relevant state or federal laws. It is a blank canvass for each individual to paint their masterwork, before burning it away and starting fresh.