Friday, September 7, 2012


Well it's been a few days now since Burning Man 2012 finished so I can laugh a little and relax a lot.  The last month leading to the event were crazy and I was basically working a 90 hour week for all of August.  It was 50-55 hours at work during weekdays, then a few hours after work, and 8-9 hour days at the shop on weekends.  It is laughable now, but I had checklists leading up to departure with to-do items like: finish art car/ steps, buy diesel containers, buy dryer duct (measure?), print early arrival pass, take ticket, change clothes.  It was insane.  I have never worked so sustainably hard in my life.  But it's all in the past now, as is the week of Burning Man.

So I built my first art car and took it to Burning Man.  I have to say it turned out pretty well and looked cool.  My only intention was to see it out there, and I succeeded at that.  While it's only been a few days since I got back, my initial conclusion is that this was the worst burn ever for me.  It comes down to the fact that I worked like a dog for the entire summer and ended up a taxi driver until I finally said fuck it on Friday last week.  That was when I took the event back and started to have fun.
The 2012 event was markedly different in feel compared with prior years (I've been going since 2006).  I have never seen such a sense of entitlement from participants.  It's like the art car was god's gift to them for showing up or something.  I don't understand how a complete stranger can expect a ride on a crowded rolling dance party when I can barely see out the front window and know damn well that the amount of people on the back is probably the limit.  Then to demand "what's the name of this art car" like he's going to turn me into the art car police or something for violating his preconceived newbie notion that "that's not the Burning Man spirit".  Later on, when I had to yell, "for the love of god, get down from there before you get yourself killed.  I built this and know it will fall through", at least people had the sense to listen.  There were exceptions, thank god, because without assistance I could not have put the art car together.  The main structure requires about 6 people to lift into place, and strangers helped there. I got a lot of encouragement and help assembling and disassembling it from Shane, Gumby, James, and Phil.  DJs Fingers, Poptart, and Lighthouse made a major contribution too.  Special props to Joe and Maggie for driving it Thursday and allowing me to ride on the back deck for the first time for once, and for Shane driving it too and for Bjorn for generously offering.    Of course, everyone that helped build it back in Orange County deserves huge applause too.

For about one hour on Saturday night, I was on a natural high and had a kind of permagrin.  This was the night.  That was some cool shit.  If I could thank anyone for that, it would be the octopus owner, Heart Deco owner, and all the cool people dancing in front of our art cars.

But all in all, I have to say the actual event was a sucky experience for me.  It was a lot of work, and not a lot of reward, other than my internal gratification for seeing the art car out there.  And that is/ has to be enough.  But seriously, I didn't realize this until this trip, and it was my 7th burn: Everyone at Burning Man is either drinking alcohol or doing drugs.  Why this is a surprise amazes me, but I think it's because I used to generally be completely sane and sober about every other day at Burning Man and somehow assumed everyone else was on a similar schedule.  Nope.  They're either wasted, in the process of getting messed up, or planning to get intoxicated soon.  That was a little bit sad to me.  And I guess I was in the same category, because I only noticed this when I was desperately trying to get someone else to drive the damn thing so I could crack open a beer on the upper deck.  And generally failed to get anyone to drive it.  So I was sober a lot last week. I only partied on Wednesday and Friday nights after parking around 1-2 am and abandoning ship for the night.  Otherwise by day or night, I was completely sober.  And the drunk people all around could become pretty annoying.  I'm really at a loss right now if I want to do this again, but I did always plan to bring the art car to at least two Burning Man events.  And since it's finished, I guess it will be no problem to take it back next year.  But I'll be with a camp that helps out and has some kind of shift sign-up schedule so it's not all my burden. And even a bad day at Burning Man is better than 99% of other days not at Burning Man.  Maybe I'll have a different perspective in a month... I'll post some more pictures and thoughts later.