Brain Games on the Playa

It was well after midnight (our favorite time on the Playa) and we were trying out food and drinks gifted by different camps when we began to hear some music wafting toward us. We were drawn in like moths to a flame only to discover that a live hip-hop group was performing at an intimate tent-based nightclub. As people in their 70s, we have never been especially fond of hip-hop. In fact, we’ve found most of it repulsive – especially the “gangsta” style rap with its violent and misogynistic lyrics. On the other hand, we’ve enjoyed work such as Common and John Legend’s Oscar-winning song from Selma, which combined Legend’s singing with Common’s rapping. And that was the very type of hip-hop we ran across that night at Burning Man.

The group consisted of two male rappers and a female singer. They were uniformly excellent. The music track was pre-recorded, but it was their own composition and performance. We fell under the spell of this group. The woman’s singing was tuneful and enticing. Best of all, it meshed perfectly with the rap, which was poetic, funny, and pointed. This may have been the first time we listened so carefully to rap lyrics. We stayed around for the entire set, dancing and joining others in urging the group to “play one more” whenever they announced that this was their final number.

The jellyfish from last year’s Burn. Is this what made my brain work better?

We’re never going to be hip-hop aficionados, but we discovered that rejecting all hip-hop out of hand was limiting our artistic experiences. So now we’re paying more attention to rap, aware that it’s both poetic and musical, and watching as the art form evolves and broadens its appeal. Without this Burning Man experience, we’d probably remain in our musical bunker and continue to avoid rap/hip-hop as an art form.

Finding and engaging with new experiences (whether it’s music, art, or the people we meet), is a positive brain exercise – especially important for older people. It’s probably one of the reasons that we return from Black Rock City energized and feeling younger. So, you can choose to dine on jellyfish (or take Prevagen) or go to Burning Man for a shot of youthful energy and brain stimulation. I don’t know if Prevagen works, but I am certain about Burning Man.

On another topic, many of you may already be aware that the 2018 theme for Burning Man is “I, Robot,” which is the name of a hit movie starring Will Smith. The film was originally inspired by a short story by famed Sci-Fi writer and biochemist Isaac Asimov. But this year’s theme is not the only Asimov-inspired aspect of the 2018 Burn. The Temple (artists’ rendering above), which is currently in early stages of construction, will also be named for a work linked to Asimov, “Galaxia”. According to the Org, the Temple is “inspired by Gaia in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, GALAXIA, which celebrates the hope in the unknown; it is the ultimate network, the fabric of the universe connecting living beings into one entity.”

So BRC in 2018 will be a sci-fi lover’s feast, and personally, I can’t wait.