Art, Burn, Evolution, Music Festivals

Burning Mannerisms Part II – The Declaration of Interdependence

The funny thing about Burning Man, is that you can plan and plan and plan, and you still have very little idea of what really you’re getting into.  I consider myself to be a regular burner, on top of being fairly organized typeA personality… a Capricorn always prepared for the unexpected. I tend to spend a LOT of time pre-event and actually on playa during the event organizing my STUFF, so that on a whim, when someone needs a light-up corkscrew, I’ve got you covered. BOOM.  #whatimmediacy?

That being said, every regular burner also knows that expectations are pretty much the worst thing you can bring with you to burn the man, because with them, come disappointments. #letitride

This year, the burn was tough for me. Hardest one yet, dare I say. Incredibly challenging personally, and several times I had to remind myself. “This is why we go”, to push ourselves and to go beyond the rational all the way to extreme… because what’s left is pure magnificence.  (Usually.)

This was my fifth official Flaming Guy, though I have been “burning at heart” since 2004, and this burn was actually the 6th time driving to BRC and back again, being that I went twice this year and got to attend the Early Burn ritual that DPW and many of the departments celebrate as their own city celebration before the main event. Quite the spectacle:

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DPW Early Burn 8.17.2019

At the same time, I also was over the moon and fantastically fortunate to have had my fiancé-in-shine, Michael Ngarimu, affectionally known on and off-playa as Kiwi from Man Base, PROPOSE, to ME! Underneath the Man pavilion where the man stood, roughly 60’7”  tall and growing, he asked if I would and I said, “I do”.

  Or, at least I will soon!

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Thanks for the engagement shot John Curly!
Damn that man never looked so good!

So why the rough time, you ask?  Despite all of my pre-planning making plans to try NOT plan on this “vacation”, between my actual on-playa commitments, my work obligations, and my heart strings being tugged in different directions by old friends and new, I can easily say I had one of my most difficult experience of my life pushing my endurance physically, emotionally and radically. I heard myself saying several times to myself “I am never doing this again… not like this”.  Truthfully, most things worth doing aren’t easy, and I always did like learning the hard way. 

The thing about the playa, no matter how many times you go, it’s always going to teach you something…. Just when you think you know what to expect, it’s going to throw you a curve ball, whenever it’s you future self throwing your present self a curve ball, or perhaps the universe unexpectedly barreling bowl.   Undoubtedly, if you’re paying attention, the playa is here to push you to your limit.  For better or worse.

“Burning Man… where things to go die” was what I kept thinking.  From my bike, to my lights, to cars, clothes, tent zippers… it’s all there to DIE; and yet at the same time, it’s very much keeping our spirit alive.  From the moment I got there, to the moment I left, I almost couldn’t wait to get back to my “real” life (which my good friend pointed out to me is a lot like burning man all the time because let’s face it, cacophony is my middle name).  It’s not that I didn’t have moments of fun; but the effort far outweighed the pay-offs initially.  (In hindsight… I’m still not sure).  Fucking expectations.

Not that Burning Man isn’t great and all that it’s cracked up to be… it’s, quite frankly, my favorite place on earth.  I love it almost too much.  It’s like an unhealthy one-sided relationship where you put in all the effort but still go home alone.  Yet, I can’t get enough of it, and this teaser we get for a week of paradise, isn’t cutting it frankly.  It’s exhausting.  The preparation, the time crunching at work and after so I can afford to be away for ten days… the drive… the food prep… the set up, the clean up…volunteering, biking, trying to make art, be art, all of it.  IT’S. EXHAUSTING.

Bringing my first art piece titled baby “Grace” proved to be an additional layer of interest and responsablity, only in that I was struggling to find time to bring her out to be enjoyed by folks.  She did make it to Crimson’s El Diablo lighting ceremony, and the walked out to the Inner Sun for a sundown lighting on Monday.  Grace is the tiny fire pit baby carriage:

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Grace, made by TJ Lee, at The Inner Sun Installation, made by Nathan Altman, 2019

“Here, take everything of value to you, drag it out to the dessert where the dust that coats everything has essentially the consistency of drain cleaner,” my friend Brita nicely explained as we were communing in the heat one afternoon, “bring it all to a place that we CALL home, but can’t actually create anything of sustenance that will survive in it, and let’s like, see what shakes out, right?”

Wrong.  I’m tired. I’m tired, and I want more from my community, more from the “investors”, from the artists, and more from this “non-Profit” organization.  Personally, I want more from my time and my investment in a community.  

“But what about immediacy, and the radical self evolution,” half of you will chirp… And I don’t want to discredit that need for the temporary and the immediate, but I do want those forces to be working for us, and not against us.   I ask you, what kind of church or neighborhood, or community doesn’t invest in it’s infrastructure, in it’s future, and in itself?

One of my favorite installations this year was the “Free Wifi” signs around playa.  I only hit one, but word spread fast that the hoax was really a cacauphonous effort to get citizens off their phones.   Instead of wifi, you got a never-ending  scrolling terms and conditions that read a little something like this:

 

While I absolutely find great humor in this type of art, and encourage it, I myself am the first to jump on the pro BRC Wifi Train.  What do we want? WIFI! And when do we want it? NOW.”  We’re exhausting ourselves trying to work, navigate and track people down in a city that is as arguably the most high tech city in the world one might argue, and yet we still don’t have a good way to communicate with each other on-site?   This is just one way to make things slightly easier in such a harsh environment for many BRC citizens (and yes, I recognize this is highly debatable).

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My old ass doesn’t have time to wait around for playa magic to provide, especially if you want my participation at peak levels.   And when one of my shows was cancelled, it would have been really awesome if I could have saved some of my friends the trip during dinner time across the sea to a me that wasn’t there.  <<insert snarky comment here to appease nay-sayers>>.  I know it’s a big ask; I know it’s a big and somewhat unpopular change.  And if you don’t like it, you don’t have to use it.  I am asking, please, let’s make this city work for US.

WE HAVE GOT TO START CONSERVING RESOURCES FOLKS IF WE WANT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY

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I’m not the only one that feels this way, and I know our community is divided in some sense.  I’m writing this Burning Mannierism Declaration to give voice to the other side of immediacy, because If I am going to continue to participate as a citizen, not only do I value many voices having an active roll in shaping this scene, but I want to know our voices are being USED, let alone heard, and that this is a group effort towards enlightenment.  Evolution is one not one-sided.  #freeWIFIcentercamp2020 #somuchmore

Hard sell… maybe.  But wait, there’s more:

I’d like to radically propose to open Black Rock City for not just a week or two, but for a month or two, during the summer, culminating in the man-burn phenomenon we all still do religiously, without a whole lot of intention or reaction, but rather unguided passion.  Let’s us continue to commune, while opening our doors to the masses.   I’m serious… we all gather around for this ridiculously awesome ritual that gets more and more insane by the year, and we love it!  We all want more! Everyone wants more.  Let’s face it, nobody hardly batted an eye when the man pavilion fell away to a cross this year, and frankly nobody needed no.  This is cacophony. This wasn’t a maliciously planned act to feed the god of christ’s ego, and everybody who could see it had a chuckle.  You cannot plan this shit… at least not all of it. It’s okay to be offended a bit , it’s good for us.  And it’s okay to spread our wings.  (Of course a BLM permit is a whole other topic, and a whole other blog article).

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Yes, I want to see Burning Man establish itself as a still temporary, yet real and functional city during the summer months leading up it’s surmise/demise.  Allow artists and people to come from all over the world and make the pilgrimage accessible.  This need not be an exclusive event just for Instagram models, but radically, make it all INCLUSIVE for all walks of life.  Have a family week.  Have a sex positive themed week.  Show case different artists and burns all summer long.  Let different pieces burn that mean different things to hundreds of thousands.  Harness that money and put it back into the art and into Burners Without Borders projects.  If we aren’t going to commit to some property and radically change the way we are living full time, at the least, let’s OPEN THIS THING UP and try to let even more cathartic healing come through.

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The Temple of Direction, 2019

While I’ve got your year, we also want better street signs…these flimsy crappy wooden ones that nobody can see are not cutting it.  Also I think at $400-1000+ a ticket we can afford the comfort of cloth wrist bands if we are going to wrist band folks.  Also better Center Camp flags and lighting from a distance, and I’d like to see designated frontage streets to that people can easily navigate the outer roads without having to be bombarded by RVs that add no value to the community.  You want the city to grow?  We must grow conceptuality too.  Let the cacophony work for us, and let the artists solve real problems that needs attention (like how BWB is bringing compostable toilets to deep playa, THANK YOU!)

And yes, most of you will say, where is my radical self-reliance?  Where is my immediacy?  For that, I say, it’s right here, and it radically self-reliantly speaking up for what my immediate needs are.  There are interesting dialogues to have in the interest of evolution and succession, and at the least, I hope we can do it with laugh, hence, the cacophony.

Burning Man.  We love you.  We want you.  No matter how much you argue radical self-reliance, I think it’s fair to admit that we have built a fairly codependence relationship that is flourishing while treading water; now we have to foster it if we want to keep it alive.  We’ve built this incredible community, with the art, with the organization, with each other, and now I think it’s fair to say that most of us want want more.   I’m talking serious relationship level investing. Fly Ranch can be our retreat, but we need land, we need it near the/a city(ies), and it we will require a lot of collaboration and mutation.   Metamorphosizing is just the beginning.  It’s time to jump. 

It’s safe to say this this level of changes comes with great difficulties and challenges, and the dialogue between opposing sides is just the beginning… our differences are to be over-come in time and strength in numbers.  We’ve got the smartest, most creative people in the world listening, and we are hungry.  We’ve all already bitten off way more than we can collectively chew… it’s time, to eat the whole damn thing.  Des(s)art and all.
#arewethereyet #iwanttogohome #forreal

MissConcflicted

I FUCKING LOVE YOU BURNING MAN 

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Opulent Chill Set Friday Burning Man 2019

Burn, Evolution, Music Festivals, Sacred Space

iBurningMan

The first time I rolled up to Burning Man in 2013, fresh off the festival circuit, I arrived at 6 AM, after being on the road for three days and in line for 10 hours, it got real. I jumped out of the car and the first thing I said to this stranger was: “I really like your necklace“ shyly, just trying to drum up conversation. He looked at me and said “UGH fine take it.“ And handed me the necklace, exasperated. Two strangers offered me some chocolates, I politely declined, and then promptly I hopped on my bike and rode towards “The Man” like I was supposed to. The first thing I encountered? A scene of people, full blown working out with barbells and equipment in front of these giant BELIEVE letters, as the sun was rising; I knew that this wasn’t just a party or an experience to be taken lightly. This was evolution in motion.

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-Burning Man 2013: Da Vinci’s Workshop-
A group of body builders pumping iron at sunrise by this Believe sign .
Letters by by: Laura Kimpton with Jeff Schomberg


This year, 2018, the art was unlike anything I’d ever fathomed. There was the iSheep, a roaming pack of sheep, that if you were nice to them they would let you ride them. If you didn’t ask consent, they were mean sheep, and would yell at you, so I am told. Could never find those buggers.

-iSheep by: Bardia Saeedi, DC Regional Artists-
from: Alexandria, VA

IF you were lucky enough to find “The Pole”, a random lite up pole, and you were lucky enough to know just the right way to shake your head, you would see the most incredible faces within the motion of your eyeballs. WHAT!? ETIPADO as it was called is a mysterious strobing pole. It displays images captured from an antique camera, but the secret to viewing them must be discovered.

-Said pole Installation titled ETIPADO: Extremely Tall Image Processing And Display Object-
by: Grant Patterson from: San Francisco, CA

Meanwhile, THESE poles were also amazing…and much easier to see. Made of 11,000 hanging LEDs in a volumetric field, these concentric pathways of light interpret movement and sound, mimicked shadows in a visual form throughout.


-Galactic Meadows- by Spectral Form out of SF-

I found out the rainbow runway arches were ACTUALLY demonstrating the speed of sound, and that art cars could actually hook up to the runway with a software that Robot Heart developed and play their set. Then the music that plays shows the wave frequencies that are displayed in lights down the whole the row.

Then there was the polar bear made out of white car hoods, advocating polar bear environmental safety. “Singularity” was the house, in a birdcage, in a house, inside a birdcage inside a house, and it was burned in the name of dispelling depression and honoring those that have suffered. “Let U.S Prey” was made out of pennies, nickles and dimes, 27,000 coins to be exact, or so I heard.

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-Let U.S. Prey by: Mr and Mrs Ferguson-
from: Alameda, CA

Burning Man really is like a beautiful train wreck that you can’t stop watching, even though you know it might not end well. Boop. Maybe it’s not as big of a crash as expected, but worth watching none the less. Even those overturn that have chosen not to return after burning for how ever many years, are still watching, because they know the magic of Black Rock City. This year, even Skirllex was amazing #shocking. You really never know with this place…

The drone light show coming from Amsterdam was an absolutely mind-blowing performative artwork at the interface between technology, science, and art. “Franchise Freedom” exposed the tension between individual freedom and safety in numbers, and was choreographed to music composed and played by Joep Beving. The patterned movements of the 600 drones apparently were based on the patterns of bird flights. I saw a hand beckoning the crowd to approach the Mayan Warrior. Perhaps I was just hallucinating?

Burning Man 2018 Studio Drift’s Amazing Luminous Drone Swarm & Mayan Warrior Dutch composer Joep Beving from ruprecht studios on Vimeo.

At sunrise on Tuesday morning, some circus friends I know presented a performance art piece called: “Straight No Chaser – The Great Straight Escape” … An escape artist was hanging upside down from a hot air balloon near the temple, and she did it!

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-Strait No Chaser : The Great Strait Escape by: LadyBEAST and GatorDox-
from: Oakland, CA

This ridiculous city has taught me more about freedom, and about who I never would’ve thought I would become, over the past four years. I’ve showered with total strangers in a completely non-sexualize way and felt so empowered afterwards #carcuswash. I’ve eaten ribs and salmon a top of a giant glowing pirate ship at five in the morning while Crystal Method the artist danced beside me. #pearlnecklace I’ve had more synchronistic and unexpected magical experiences in the middle of nowhere in one week then probably in my whole life before burning man combined. #ttitd


-Still trying to locate the project name-

This was a circus of light up wheels, that had traveled fixe desserts, and was destined for Black Rock City. Every night 15 volunteers committed 4+ hours of their time to walk these wheels to the larger inner playa installation and dance in loincloths for onlookers! What a spectacle! I still don’t know what to call it.

Speaking of names, one day, while hanging at my camp, the Pandora Bike and Fix it Shoppe bar, a women came up and when I asked what her name was, she said she didn’t have a playa name. My co-bartender, “Bish” said while she poured the girl a drink “Well silverbell, it’ll come when you’re ready”. The girl and I both looked at each other and I said “That’s it! That’s your name!” She said she liked it, and then I reached down and pulled off the bracelet of silver bells I had just put on minutes earlier, that I hadn’t worn in years, and promptly handed her the bracelet, deeming her Silverbell. And that’s how the they get you… before you know it, you’re covered in dust and loving it.

Oh yes, I have fallen in love with the dust… just the smell of it turns me on. This strong, smooth and sultry salt bed dust gets into everything, and yet I still can’t get enough of it. It’s in the air you breathe it’s in the food you eat and it’s definitely in the places you sleep and play and worship and dance and shit and cry and bathe… It becomes a part of you. It connects you to everything else through the vibrations that you can literally see the music waves pulsating through a dust storm. In the morning light you can see the dust kicking up off of art car wheels as they roll five miles an hour across the playa, spiraling out into fractals; it’s really a sight for sore eyes. #goggles.

This dust reminds me of sugar and every other white powder that’s worth indulging in, it serves a purpose and an important one at that. This dusty powder is a way of life; it is a medicine. And while it may not be the most logical, rational or economical “medicine” you’ve ever heard of, once you’ve tried this Kool-Aid, you’re going to want to go deeper. Down whichever rabbit hole you choose! There’s lots to explore. Even sober ones, it’s true.

This year, as I was biking Sunday pre-event, alone, across the playa under the stars, night one of my 2018 adventure, I realized that I was laughing, and crying, and singing and dancing, sweating and breathing heavy, and jumping WHILE riding my bike, all at once, and I couldn’t help but think “this is the closest to a religious experience as anyone in this day and age will ever get.” In that moment I felt invincible and ecstatic, like I hadn’t felt since I was a little girl. I felt like my true self, finally come into perfect alignment. How long can it last?


-The Alter of Intention-
by: Daniel Strickland, Vinicius Luz, M.Emoto Institute, Brazilian Burners
from: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil



Two weeks later, in the throughs of decompression and after burn withdraw, I still think that it’s worth every bit of energy and sacrifice, though a harder pill to swallow in my grumpy state. If you’ve never gone from hell to heaven and back again in two week’s time, it’s impossible to fathom the gravity of the circumstances. If you haven’t at least considered quitting your job and going to Burning Man, than this might not be for you.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. And I’ve lost 15 pounds! Burning Man is truly the pilgrimage of many lifetimes that I waited way too long to take. Black Rock City is forever etched onto my heart and pulses through my veins, daily, calling me to return home as soon as possible. 360 days we must wait. But the burn doesn’t just stop there, you know…. #openseasame



One of the most important facets of deeming yourself a burner is taking these principles that you operate under out into the world, pre and post burn. Otherwise, what is the point? Many of us struggle with the dreaded “exclusiveness” and “waste of resources” dilemma. Believe me, us burners are well aware of the discrepancies and issues within our community that are all over the news. “With all that money spend on a 747 we could have fed hundreds of starving children”, is an absolutely valid argument that many of us within and outside the organization have voiced and battled with each other concerning, but it’s really not up for ANYONE to decide whether or not something is art. The point is, we are out there, pushing the envelope in a very raw and real way. We build a community from scratch, and with that comes all kinds of pulses. The challenge with any community, and especially one of this force, is that you have the best of humanity, and also the worst of humanity, all under one roof. I do want to point out that radically inclusive doesn’t mean you have to include the rapist or the thief; but discovering who these people are is the hard part, as people are good at hiding in a crowd.


As you’ll see within any city, you’ll find just about everything you look for. Bars, yoga studios, dance parties, parades, restaurants, balloon rides, roller skating rinks, temples, you name it, it’s at Black Rock City. Funnily enough, this year AND last year I had my megaphone stolen right out of my bag on burn night, when I wasn’t looking. It’s a small price to pay for a week of fulfilling magic, but still, it is a reality we are facing as a community. Just because you’re in an utopian society doesn’t mean you don’t still have to watch your back.

***WANTED: Silver megaphone, small frame, connected to swell rainbow water bottle inside a hemp-laced carrying case. REWARD IF FOUND***

One night an obviously disheveled woman came in to my camp. She asked if she could buy a drink which we explained to her there was no money used at Burning Man once you arrive. I asked her how she got there and she explained that her boyfriend had brought her she never heard of Burning Man she had never heard of the 10 principles and she wasn’t sure where she was going to sleep that night as her boyfriend had kicked her out and left her. She disappeared before I could get a ranger, after she realized she was most certainly out of her element. It was a tragic story and situation that really hurt my heart. But that’s what happens, you get all walks of life.



Every year the playa energy changes, physically, emotionally, spirituality, and weather wise of course. This year, the pulse was running hot, in my opinion. The virgin burners were prepared, the veterans seemed patient, lines were shorter than ever, and the flow was smooth, mostly until Wednesday night. I could feel a very direct shift in attitude once the city went from the week long committed artists and city builders to the weekend warriors who just show up to party. It’s an interesting observation to attend to. 



Still, it’s important to recognize that what you chose to pay attention to is what you will find at the burn. If you want to stay cranky at entitled assholes all week long, than that’s what you’ll see. I choose to focus on the art, music and friendships that we built. The best part about Black Rock City is the intensity of which things happen. Time speeds up. Emotions are heightened. Strength gets stronger. Weaknesses become glaringly obvious. Anything you haven’t dealt with in your immediate force field will rear it’s little head and say “you better check this right now or we’re gonna ruin your burn”. Happens every year, even to the best of us. The burn you want and the burn you need are never the same thing. Usually they balance each other out.


They say “the playa provides” bla bla bla… I say, YOU provide, for yourself and for your community. Almost every time I indeed needed something, it was right there, all I had to do was voice my desire aloud. I came as self prepared as possible, and then went out of my way to help others because that’s what you do with communal effort and civic responsibility. It’s a team effort, when it comes to building a city, running it, and then also tearing it down, it requires everyones help. If you don’t give, you won’t get. Everything is temporary here, and that’s part of the magic.

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-Galaxia Temple 2018-
By the incredible Temple Crew



Speaking of magic, or the unexplainable, the Temple comes to mind. Never before in my four years of Burning have I felt a connection to the temple. I would go, stop in, look around and leave feeling sad for others and underwhelmed for myself. I didn’t get it. But everything changed this year.

This year I took my broken ass heart to the temple and gave it away… by that I mean, I took a paper flower for every man who has broken my heart and released it into the spiral abyss of flame. Apparently I wasn’t the only one on this train of though, as the temple was FILLED with wedding dresses, old letters from ex lovers and notes to abusive partners saying “we will no longer stand for this treatment”. “Fuck your narcissism” and “Fuck cancer” It was so powerful, you could feel the thickness of tension, and when it burned on Sunday night, I could also feel the release. The vortex was undeniable, and some of us swore that Larry was even there, in the dust. Check out this video of the dirt devil tornado that surprised us all towards the end of the temple burn. I learned that at Burning Man people call these tornados “ancestors”.

Now I’d like to remind those who don’t know that the “theme” of “burning man” this year was iRobot, which didn’t please my tastebuds at all, initially. In response I chose to moonlight as Dorothy the Burning Man iRobot, who was created thanks to the Radicals Brining Back Ritual campaign, and she was sent to Burning Man to protest robots. Sponsored by the Anti Bot Coalition, the ABC didn’t end up having to protest in the end, when it seemed to be that the humans were a bigger part of the problem than the bots, however I felt like my mission was a valid one. “Who are these robots, and why are they taking over my burn? I miss Radical Ritual…”

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-Fractal the Turtle and The Nonsense Man and a Robot @ The Man 2018-

In the end, iRobot did turn out to have a very certain charm, and certainly put the tech folk to work. Thank you Silicon Valley. These are our hard earned tax dollars at work here folks.

As a lady who comes from the land of Oz, I used to think tornados were terrifying; these ones are ADORABLE. People chase them around, they carry dust and sparks and ashes with them sometimes. There truly is something for everyone at Burning Man, and these ancestors are for me. It was love at first sight.



As in love with this aspect of the burn that I am, there are others that chose not to attend the massive fires, ever. For some, it’s too crowded. Others, too painful. And it’s my responsibly to accept that and support their decision, as much as it doesn’t make sense to me. Everyone is there for a particular reason and season… no judgement. No blame. No shame. As long as your participating best as you can, then you are welcome

I chose to spend my pre-burn doing placement for my camp (Pandora’s bike and fix it Shoppe), working for the Artery (the art placement department, where we also do artist hospitality and give art tours for the mobility challenged) as well as performing several shows too, at center camp, theme camps and beyond. Learning about the art was invaluable, and being able to share with others “oh yeah, THAT hut is called LISTEN and you can go broadcast your heart beat through the speakers” was so special. I sacrificed sleep for sunrises and moments with FAMILY that I will cherish forever. I learned SO much, and most of all what I took away from this year’s burn was that all you can do is “Let it go”. Memories can live on, but the emotion and attachment to all things material and even surreal, we must let it go. And it felt REAL damn GOOD to let shit go. I had a lot of shit. I feel 800 times lighter. I feel like myself again, and I am so grateful for all the souls I encountered that made sure to tell me that I was on track and in alignment. THANK YOU. You know who you are. 



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-In Every Lifetime I Will Find You by: Michael Benisty, Love and Unity-
from: Brooklyn, NY

I learned the first year I went, in 2013, not to come to something of this magnitude with our your BEST FRIENDS around you. You’re going to want them there. And every year, I leave the burn thinking “God, I totally have to bring my mom to this.” Maybe next year ma?

Now, if you THINK You can’t make it to Burning Man, you know your options, right? First of all, set an intention to go, take off work, and TRY to get a ticket. Pay attention. See what happens. If it comes easy, then it’s a go, and if there’s resistance, LISTEN. Next year will be better anyway!

Second mission: find a regional, or start your own if you must, even if it’s in your backyard. Build something. Burn. It. Do something weird. Dress up. Go out. Start conversations. Be YOU.

Third, check out Burners Without Borders, or just start researching the burn culture in general an see where it takes you. Pick a principle and dive in unpacking it. People make all sorts of sacrifices to attend a burn. I always say “some people choose football, some people play golf, some join a gym… I choose to burn”. It’s become a way of life, like having breakfast, or playing tennis. The sacrifices I’ve made always are outweighed by the benefits. And every single day I think, “how can I turn the default world into a real life burn?” Maybe it already is… but one person can’t play THIS game. It takes a communal effort. 

If the world is your burn, what’s your next move? Be bold. No apologies. Go after what you believe in. And don’t ever let anybody tell you how to live your life. Especially burners, if it doesn’t jive with your soul.

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-Taken at the Morris Burner Hostle in Reno, August, 2018-



Burning Man started as a social experiment, and continues to unfold and evolve at it’s own pace and stride. Sure, there are organizations and the organization itself, but nobody is in the captain chair saying “this is who we are booking and this is the kind of art we are going to make”. Nope. That’s up to US. And that’s where WE need to take the power and make it something we can be proud of. I’m talking about functional art. Art that serves a purpose and makes the city or world a better place. For instance, I’d like to see an art installation grant for composting and decorative bathroom for deep playa, that are burned at the end of the week (waste removed). Or maybe a water fill-up oasis in the middle of the dessert, with water goddesses reciting poetry, filling up your hearts and your drink vessels at once. I’m not sure if/when I’ll have the resources to do such activities, but it’s fun to fantasize.

(I haven’t even gotten started on the art car scene… To be continued…)



City-wise, San Francisco and Reno are both already doing a stellar job of incorporating burner art and functions into their city, and so I challenge you to look around at your community and your city of choice. Where is the need? What are the needs? What are your resources? And how can we turn this shit up a notch. Because the dial is going to keep moving, it’s just a matter of which direction.

Buckle up buttercup. 

And burn bright friends.

Check out ALL of the art at Burning Man here on the website

Until next year….

MissCompact


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-MissConcompact the Unicorn Barbie! “Put ‘er in your pocket”-

Yeah 

Burning Man 2018 dang came and went.
It’s been a good run, time and play well spent
The gate was on point and the greeters greeting blow for blow
With so many more virgins there was lots of room to grow
Watching the sunrise never gets cold
with your new best friends but especially the old.
The dance floors were banging, the fires, oh so lit
“Hey can I borrow some self reliance a bit?”
I brought a band of newbies and they did just fine…
(except one of them) leaving no trace, most of the time.
We all get a bit sloppy sometimes, it’s true
but it’s our civic responsibility to take care of ALL our moop.
So I’ll look after you, you look after me, too
as this cultural utopia blooms into an interfuse
That connects us to our art, our heart, also our dark
and is there no safer way to explore this part?
Surrounded by radical self whatever you call it
making it a point to give freely, no wallet.
It’s an exchange of wonder, magical by design empowerment…
Show me your tricks and I’ll show you mine, with consent.
Whatever intention you put into the effigy or temple
let it unfold, truth be told, baby steps, keep it simple
Usually the burn you want isn’t the thing you need,
but if you pay attention to the lessons and processing
With our reflections can grow what’s been unfurled
as we take these teachings from the burn into the real world.
So thanks for playing. Better luck next year’s turn.
And if you don’t mind, would y’all quit fucking my burn?

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-Burning Man 2018 iRobot pre Temple Burn #Pandora-

Music Festivals

Waka Waka Wakarusa

Precursor: Accuracy of dates and information are as reliable as my memory.  Please forgive any inaccurate facts, as being ass-deep into this experience for 12 years leaves some room for misconceptions.

200px-Wakarusa I attended my first Wakarusa in 2004, when I was 18.  My friend told me to buy a ticket that some great bands would be there. I loved OAR and they were the headlinder, so it seemed like a reasonable experience.   When my parents dropped me off at my camp site, they almost didn’t let me get out of the car.  After having my eyes blown open to a culture I had known very little about, I told myself I would go every year if I could afford it, and that I would never look back.

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The second year, I remember spending $79 on my ticket (I got the early bird special).  Wilco and Gov’t Mule were apparently a big deal?  Lawrence, KS never looked so good that summer going into sophomore year of KU.  Chipotle sponsored a food/music tent, and it was the greatest event known to man in my eyes.  Andrew Walker wore a red speedo with Trey Anastasio’s face and I spent most mornings on a fallen tree branch that hung out over Clinton Lake, thinking to myself “why couldn’t we live like this every day?  In some sort of village…. with our friends.  And great music.  And good food and art?”  I’m an idealist, what can I say…
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2006 I joined the art team.  Terribly proud, we painted street signs and snarky reminders like “wear sunscreen” which hung all over the festival and promptly got stolen.  Lesson: Make art that is indestructible and that won’t walk off.  Meet me at the piano is a great example. Meet-Me-At-The-Piano-Wakarusa
That year I slept on top of my car because there was a spider in my tent.  The Flaming Lips were there, wearing orange hazmat suits and doing what appeared to be very silly, yet important work, all weekend.  My friend tried to buy me a hula hoop, but I said no.  Didn’t really look like my thing… I can tell you that Michael Franti  changed my life, though.
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The 2007 lineup was fresh.  I took it upon myself to run the Wakanvas, a giant piece of plywood that was an open canvas for anybody who wanted to paint.  It was a lovely experience…these people worked on it all weekend and it was incredible.  I walked away for a short while on Saturday night and somebody covered the entire mural with black paint while I was out, ruining this amazing piece of art.  Lesson: Don’t leave important projects unattended.  Anything is possible at Wakarusa.
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2008 I became an intern for Pipeline Productions, working for the Barrett brothers in Lawrence, KS. In 2009 I began  working on the street team, handing out fliers in Lawrence and KC in exchange for my ticket.  I was more than thrilled with this arrangement.  That was the year of C-mon and Kypsi.  Another story, for another time, but I think it’s safe to say that weekend still may have been the best weekend of my life, to this day.
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Then the next year, everything changed.  The arrangements in Lawrence became heated. From what I understand, the police situation was getting a little outrageous, and the festival itself was damaging the National Park land of Clinton Lake.  The festival made a decision to move the event to Mulberry Mountain, outside of Fayettville, Arkansas, however at first, nobody trusted it.  In reality the magic was never lost.  The festival’s original name stemmed from the Wakarusa river in Kansas, from a native word literally meaning “ass-deep”.  Mulberry Mountain and the wacky nature of Wakarusa itself, never ceased to fulfill that title.
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2010, The Black Crows headlined, and I’ve never seen a show like that again. STS9 was a staple at this point.  G Love.  Galactic. Yonder Mountain.  EOTO.  JJ Gray.  Everybody that was anybody was there.  I was thankful to be  there, in Arkansas, the year I FINALLY learned how to hula hoop…  and I wanted MORE.
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Wakarusa allowed me bring a small team of fire spinners to help with the crowd entertainment.  We called ourselves, the Vibe Tribe.  Cicada Rhythms hosted a spoken word intermission featuring MissConception and Nightlife Jones.  It was a good year for artists.  That year Widespread Panic took the lead with Umphrey’s McGee, and Wookiefoot came on the scene.  Spoonfed Tribe met The Heavy Pets, and it was all smooth on the Waka front.
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2011, the vibe came on strong, with Thievery Corporation and Mumford and Sons to name a few.  I worked the artist check-in that year, and while it felt like one small step for my kind, it was a tough position because I missed all the action!  I wanted to be out in the thick of it.  Not just experiencing the festival, but participating in it.  Creating it.  This experience gave me a huge appreciation for the people who run and work this festival, all of the volunteers and Pipeline Staff, who work endless to create this experience for us.  THANK YOU WAKARUSA for doing it right.
2012 Pipeline brought Primus and Girl Talk…. OMG!  What more do you need?  I upped my game by bringing a team of 30 people and we created an artistic village, with light up jelly fish puppets, workshops and costumes galore.  MissConception and the VibeTribe even had a set that year at the Satellite stage.  Maybe a highlight of my performance career. The year there were storms.  It was hard, on everyone.  But NOBODY was prepared for 2013.
“Muckarusa” was a very real experience.  Humbling.  If you’ve never tromped around in nine inches of mud for four days, you really haven’t lived on the edge. It doesn’t matter who was playing, half of it was cancelled.  I really only remember Snoop Lion bombing.  Nobody had fun.  Everybody was miserable. Nobody ever wanted to go back again.  Ever.  It was a low moment for the Waka crew.  But it only made us stronger.
I went back.  Those of us, who died hard the year before, we STILL went back.  I went back namely because of the shrine that was built for Toby Keith out of the broken tents and chairs when all of the shows were cancelled during the mud storms.  I went back because of the moment we were under Yosh’s geo dome and the tarp ripped off by the rain and we all scattered like ants for safety.  I went back because, how could it get ANY MORE insane, right?  I went back because that is the exact kind of wacky-waka spirit that was there since the beginning, and I couldn’t not see how it was all going to go down.
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The only thing that could have saved 2014 was the String Cheese Incident… and by golly they did.  By the grace of the Gods and the String Cheese Incident, Wakarusa prevailed… It was the Greatest Show on Earth.  It was everything you would want in a festival and more.  It was home, again.  Bassnector, Wookiefoot, the Flaming Lips, Infected Mushroom, Edward Sharpe, John Butler, Claude Von Stroke, Nahko.  That 1 Guy.  It was BIG.  We were larger than life.
Proudly, as this year’s the 2015 Live Art Coordinator for the Wakarusa Music Festival, it is with my whole heart that I jump into this experience year after year…. knowing that there is no greater place on earth for my soul, than ass-deep amongst my best friends rockin’ out to Slightly Stoopid, spinning fire beneath those mountain stars – it’s EXACTLY where I need to be June 4-7th.  You buy the ticket, you take the ride, and you never know what you’re going to find…. but I find comfort in knowing that at Wakarusa, it’s going to be something interesting that leaves me begging for more. Wakarusa. “Where music meets mother nature”.  This year it is with deep gratitude that we bring to you not only more live painters and interactive art, with an emphasis on participation and circus entertainment, installations and also with a focus on leaving no trace.  You can attend a solar workshops.   Reusable and functional art are the goal.
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  I look forward to making it to  Mulberry Mountain every year, and for many years to come.  Thank you Wakarusa community for sticking it out and making this so all so magical!  Until next year, you have my heart, Wakarusa.  You always will.
Unknown Love,
MissConception