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Forums > Social Chat > Burning Man 2008: After-Burn Reflections

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Doc Lightning
Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Member Since: 28th May 2001
Total posts: 13920
Posted:This year was a very special, different, and novel Burn for me. This was the first year since 2000 that I have been able to drive to Burning Man. The last time I was able to get there by car was my first year. Since then, I have either lived in Michigan or New York and not had enough time on either side of the festival to arrive there by any means other than flying into Reno, renting a car, and then going to the Burn.

This year was also different because it was the first year I've done something really BIG to participate. I was tapped to be the kitchen manager for a camp of 150 burners, and to arrange for their meals for seven nights. It was a huge responsibility for someone who had no idea how to do the job. But I did it. It wasn't even hard; it was fun.

This was my seventh (yes, SEVENTH...wow) year at Burning Man and the eighth time I've seen the Man burn (if you were there Monday last year, you got an extra burn). I had the honor of working with one of the largest theme camps (the Red Nose District) with one of the most advanced infrastructures (full kitchen with running water, freezer, showers, private porta-potties). I made some amazing connections with some very experienced (10y+) Burners and with some very new Burners.

And I learned what makes a Burner. A Burner is someone who goes back and participates. Because I saw a friend of mine this year who was back for his second year. I hardly recognized him. He had been a newbie last year; this year he returned a fire-spinning, juggling, LED suit-wearing, hardworking, participating Burner.

And so, as every year, I return refreshed, spiritually recharged, and ready to unf*ck myself, and then go and unf*ck the world.

This year's cool sights:
*The view from the 60-foot tall "Hilton" tower
*The guy wearing EL wire only on his left leg at night so that at night it appeared that there was a disembodied left leg going for a walk around the playa. (Not sure if that was the effect he was going for, but it was funny as hell).
*The colored flames from the Flaming Lotus Girls' fire sculpture.
*The EL-wire animated breeching Humpback Whale out in the playa
*The huge dust devils on Monday after the Burn

This year's positives:
*The GORGEOUS load-out day we had on Monday that was calm and so cool that I was a bit chilly at high noon. Usually high noon on the playa is a torrid oven.
*We only had two windy days.
*The spectacular weather we had after the Man burn.
*The fact that it seemed smaller, even though it was bigger.
*The amount of "Ice Cream" that I got. grin
*Last but certainly not least, being able to share it with a certain Pineapple Pete.

This year's negatives:
*My tent blew down and was irreparably damaged. While I slept inside it (I'll tell the story later).
*The whole process of getting there on Sunday that had to start with me waking up at 6AM.
*The windstorm we had after the Temple Burn (although that was also a positive because it forced me to hang out with my campmates in the small house-sized tent that remained of our main structure for a few hours).
*The condition of the playa; all loose dust! Made cycling (first year I brought a bike) damned near impossible.

All in all, possibly the best year I've ever had in so many ways I never thought it would be. I hope that they only get better. ubblove

And on a completely unrelated note: Malcolm, I love the ninja! ninja And this guy: eek

EDITED_BY: Doc Lightning (1220345447)

-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

Returning to a unique state of Equilibrium
Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Member Since: 10th Jan 2001
Total posts: 3288
Posted:wow - Petey was lucky to get the BM with you Doc. I cant wait to hear from him at CG in less than a months time! smile

Help! My personality got stuck in this signature machine and I cant get it out!


comfortably numb
Location: The countryside
Member Since: 8th Jul 2004
Total posts: 2676
Posted:Sounds fantastic Doc! I'm jealous! smile hug

.All things are beautiful if we take the time to look.

Doc Lightning
Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Member Since: 28th May 2001
Total posts: 13920
Posted:I forgot the best part of the whole thing. At the end, I gave a bunch of different friends a huge hug and then said, "So, once we all get decompressed, let's go for a beer, K?" And because I live in San Francisco, I can.

It won't be a year before I see all my best friends; it'll be a week! grin

-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura


Now with extra strawberries
Location: Canberra
Member Since: 11th Feb 2002
Total posts: 810
Posted:Yup and then you have the SF decomp party to look forward to.
Will you be going to that??

I haven't been to BM but i did go to that party last year beacuse i was in SF and looking for some people to hoop with and was invited to go with them.

It was amazing I had so much fun. I can't even begin to imagine what the actual festival is like, It must be great!!

I {Heart} hand me downs and spinning in the snow.<br /><br />


Elusive and Bearded
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
Member Since: 2nd May 2007
Total posts: 3597
Posted:My first burn was amazing....

I rolled into our camp around 2am monday morning. As soon as i got out of the truck i was immediatly overwhelmed...I gotta do this and that, set up my tent and shade structure, mvoe this, unload that...i got some stuff sorted then decided that dark was not the time i wanted to do all that (i lost my head lamp in Beatty NV) So i got drunk and passed out in my truck.

later that morning i was awoken by my friend...i was a bit hung over and still a bit overwhelmed but after seeign everyone who had their tents up i decided it was time to get to work.

Everything went up nicely, and got it guylined to my truck (it all held up very nicely the whole time too. Monday got a bit dusty and windy, a nice initiation to BRC.

Most memorable moments....
Two friends and i were spinning at Opulent Temple (the biggest party camp i think...definatly the loudest) One friend went, then the other then the first friend got a mouth ful of lamp oil, i took that moment to dip my staff and sneak in behind him and lit off of his breaths. Let off a HUGE burn off and a adrenaline rushing spin followed. We did this the next 2 nights as well...it was nice being down the road from them.

Walking around the playa on wednesday night. It was the first time i had been out at night really and i had some psychs. Spun at a few random locations and when i got back to camp im sure i had a HUGE smile on my face because i got a "F*&$ yer experience!!" hahaha

Wednesday i went to the staff building thign to help out but i got there late and everyone was finishing up. So i hung out for a bit and ended up teaching staff for...my guess is 3ish hours...that was a blast.

Sunday was one of my favorite days, after the temple burn there was a crazy night white out. our camp was crammed into our carport drinking and singing and playing guitar, it was so much fun.

Things to know for next time..

I really wish i had hopped on an art car to tour more deep playa art...only stuff i explored was in the center area and a radius around 2 and C....still wondering why i climbed that tower 3 times.

Lock my bike even in camp..a campmate barrowed mine then brought back a different bike lol

Try to get to the hop meet up.


Owned by Mynci!


old hand
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Member Since: 17th Nov 2004
Total posts: 768
Posted:This was my fifth burn, and it was a great mellow, chill one for me. I had a lot of quality time with some of my closest friends and got a good night's sleep every night, but I did stay up all night and saw a beautiful sunrise Friday night/Saturday morning when I served as concierge on the Fish and drove it just before and just after the sun came up for a couple hours in the deep playa. Had some great, interesting conversations with all the random people that hopped on board which was really fun and enriching and got hit on by a really foxy Australian guy which is always nice. smile

Hung out with a bunch of hoopers mostly at the camp Hoop Heaven which was the camp I almost camped with. They moved from their planned location and ended up less than a block away down the street from my camp, so it worked out great.

My art highlights were the nighttime view from the top of Babylon a.k.a. the "Hilton" tower (any truth to that rumor, does anyone know?), the blue & white shimmering dream-tree thing and the giant duck art car. Not the little one, but the enormous one with the flaming mohawk and evil laser-shooting eyes and gold discoball head and pounding house music.

Overall it was an introspective burn focused on interpersonal relationships and coming face to face with some of my "issues". A good antidote to last year's experience, during which I was completely over-committed to too many projects and never had a day or night without a committment of some sort.

Also, although I typically get 2 or 3 nosebleeds each day from the dryness and the dust, this year I had not one single nosebleed. I am so grateful for that! Maybe I've developed a resistance to the dust...I never get playa foot either.

taken out of context i must seem so strange
~ ani di franco


Keeper of the Spitfire
Location: Calgary Canada
Member Since: 24th Oct 2003
Total posts: 2317
Posted:This was my second year on the playa, and it was very different from the last. Less of a party/ dancing atmosphere, and more of a time of reflection, with some big lessons thrown in there.

The biggest of our lessons was probably patience. This year we decided to drive there (set off on Friday, got there on Monday). In Nevada there's a tiny town called Wells, about 2 hours east of Winnemucca. Our car broke down 30 miles outside of Wells, on a fairly smallish road with nothing but desert scrub around us for miles, with no cell phone signal.
Several things were on our side at least, and with the help of a local cop who happened to be passing by, we managed to get our car to limp its way into Wells.

Again luck was on our side- we managed to find a mechanic that was open on a sunday, and he was willing to send somebody to the next town along (2 hr round trip) to pick up the part we needed (a fuel pump). We also found out that all 4 of our tires were literally falling to pieces- huge cracks, nails in them, and pieces actually peeled back on the side wall. With a decent length drive still ahead of us to get to the playa, and a long drive back to Canada afterwards, we decided to get them replaced.

Whew... a 7 hour wait in a town that just contains a truck stop, a casino, a cafe, and a garage is something I never want to do again.
Emptying out all our bank accounts to pay for repairs... definitely something I never want to do again!

When we finally got to the playa on the monday we arrived in the middle of the big dust storm, and were funnelled into D-lot to wait it out... and watch people who were behind us in the queue of traffic get let straight into the city. WTF? I don't think it bothered anyone at first. Everyone seemed happy enough to just kick back and have a beer, crank up some tunes, and make some new friends... until the hours stretched on and people became cranky. They finally started moving people sometime after midnight, and we arrived in our camp, where everyone was asleep, like ninjas in the night. ninja

I didn't get to see half the stuff I wanted to in the week. Partly because Spitfire hurt her knee on the second day and had it strapped up all week, and partly because of how difficult it was to get around (my pms and those dunes don't mix very well! *shakes fist* ).

So, all the talk of bad stuff- the highlights of my week were well worth the price.

1. Seeing the 2 of our camp mates that we knew for the first time in 2 years (since we left them on the playa in 2006). They are the firespinning yin to our yang, and incredibly grounded, beautiful people. They both work for the Artery, placing the art on the playa pre burn, so are always able to give us a lot of info about the art.

2. Getting to know the rest of our camp mates (who we didn't know before the burn), and fitting together like family within the first half a day.

3. Seeing our good friend SJ Tucker (aforementioned friend who works the Artery) perform at centre camp. She sings and plays guitar, and is basically a modern travelling bard. Her songs are stories, and she has the most beautiful voice I've heard in a long time. (Her songs are on itunes if anyone's interested).

4. Fire spinning. I'm sorry to say that it's something I've been doing less and less of in the past year. I didn't do a huge amount of it on the playa, and mainly just my fire snakes, but it was good to light up again.

5. Hooping with SJ Tucker's beautiful led hoop ubblove

6. Every morning Kim and I would go to centre camp for coffee. We would find a place to sit, and spend the next couple of hours chatting with somebody new. It ended up being a part of the day I cherished, and met burners new and old from all over the world.

7. The man burn and the temple burn for 2 very different reasons. For the burning of the man we were part of 'the conclave that didn't happen' with Colorado Fire Tribe (half of whom we were camped with), so we were seated inside the circle. I both love it and hate it in there, but always relish the mix of adrenalin and awe.
For the temple burn Kim went out with a camp mate on a golf cart from the Artery. I walked out with the rest of our camp, and we never could find them. Everyone in our camp curled up into couples to watch the burn, and I positioned myself behind everyone, taking the chance to watch it on my own. It took such a long time to burn it left a lot of time for thinking and reflection. It was hard and pretty brutal (I tend not to be easy on myself), but it was very necessary.

I'm sure there was lots more that I just can't think of now, that will come to me again in time.
It was an incredible week, and I'm sad that I won't be there next year. Maybe there's a chance of making it to the Texas regional instead though.

Lets steal a spaceship and head for the sun, and shoot the stars with a lemonade ray gun.

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