Onward to 2022

We now have the official word from Burning Man’s celestial headquarters in San Francisco hat an on-site Burn will not take place in 2021 and the focus will move to building Black Rock City in 2022.  You can hear Marian Goodell’s statement on the BurningMan.org site, and you can read a detailed article about this decision at https://journal.burningman.org/2021/04/news/official-announcements/into-the-great-unknown/.

My feelings upon hearing the message were split between the relief of knowing I wouldn’t have to face a challenging decision between my own health and well-being and my responsibilities to the Temple Guardians, and the abject disappointment of another year without the power of a Burning Man experience.  But the reality is that I was more prepared for another “no-burn” year than for a burn fraught with the problems of a pandemic.

As it turns out, I wasn’t the only Burner with such mixed responses.  Reviewing the various comments I’ve seen from our Guardians, my response looks more like the norm than an aberration.

Burning Man has a famously libertarian DNA, and that reality might have impinged my personal ability to enjoy Burning Man with a sense of safety and security.  There has already been a kerfuffle over Danger Ranger’s public protestations about mask-wearing on Playa.  So we know that many Burners would come and choose to flout health and safety rules, even if the source was BLM rather than the org.  That’s simply who we are.  If you’re young, healthy and vaccinated, that might be fine; but if you’re older and burdened with underlying health issues (like me), then libertarianism might not look so enticing right now.

But the reality is that some of the Burning Man culture can be enjoyed with the same virtual protections that have been the hallmarks of 2020-21.  As Marilyn put it in her talk, Burning Man will continue, even without the build of BRC.  There will be another online burn week.  Last year’s event, while not without its hiccups (I personally never figured out the interface), looked amazing in the portions I was able to see after the fact.  Attendance was sparse compared to a live event, but substantial by online standards.  Be on the lookout for more details about virtual burn week this year.

There are other activities as well, including working on funded art pieces and helping build the Temple, but perhaps the best way to keep the spirit of Burning Man alive is by staying in touch with campmates and members of your team.  I stay deeply involved with Temple Guardians, and also keep in touch with other friends I’ve made at the burn.   In fact, whenever I see tattoos, I think about the people I’ve met at Burning Man who look so totally different from me yet share my values.

So, there’s a second year of “no Burning Man,” and the organization is struggling to survive with limited revenues.  I personally find the $2500 “cut in line” deal an insulting knee-bend to the almighty dollar, hence the least inclusive decision ever by Burning Man.  But it’s clear that money is the critical component to keeping the flame lit so I understand it even if I hate the implications.  Oh well, Onward to 2022.

Making the Pie Bigger

My last post clearly resonated with people (and hit a nerve with some).  I’m happy that so many people visited the site over the past few days and I was thrilled with the dialog (much of which was on Reddit).

I’m a committed Burner, and have been since 2005.  In fact, there are stories in this site’s archives (which goes back at least as far as 2007) about my first Burn, when I was dragged out to the Playa by my son who was 20 that year while I was turning 60.  I would never have gone on my own and I was prepared to hate every minute of it; but the instant I walked through the gate and rang the virgin bell, I knew I was home.

When I returned from that first Burn I felt 20 years younger, and I couldn’t wait to tell other people my age about the Fountain of Youth I had discovered in the Black Rock Desert.  I’m an enthusiast, and even something of an evangelist for the powers of Burning Man – especially for people 50 and over.  I’ve even met people on Playa who came as a direct result of reading this blog.

Hence, I wouldn’t want anyone to take my last blog as a criticism of Burning Man or anything other than my own personal experience, and the viewpoint I’ve arrived at from those experiences.  Burning Man could not exist without the commitment of dedicated volunteers.  When I see what DPW accomplishes every year in constructing and then deconstructing BRC, I’m blown away.  These are extremely competent individuals who give up a significant part of their year to turn the blank slate of the Black Rock Desert into a city of 70 to 80,000 people.  I’m proud to be a tiny part of that effort; to participate with my team and campmates and to push myself to do whatever it takes to ensure a successful Burn.

The Temple 2019, from a distance

I just believe in honoring all the work done by Burners, even if it’s in the name of fun vs. something more “serious” such as Rangering, Lamplighting, or spending time helping people get what they need out of the Temple.  Burning Man wouldn’t be the same without the discos, the bars, the camps that provide free grilled cheese or slushies, and most especially the camp that provides Bluegrass music.  No one’s work is more important than another’s, and many Burners put in a ton of effort before and during Burn week.  I only become uncomfortable when people start laying judgment on others around being a more important part of BRC, or a harder working piece of the Burn.  There’s one “hardest working man in rock and roll” (it’s James Brown, by the way), but there isn’t a “hardest working team at Burning Man.”

If someone’s all caught up in their own thing, that’s fine.  Just don’t drag me into it.  I’m fully committed to the work I do, and to opening the world up to Burning Man’s principles.  But it’s not a winner-loser proposition.  Somebody doesn’t have to fail for me to succeed, and as competitive as I may be in sports and other areas, I genuinely believe the pie only gets bigger when we all do the right things for each other.  When I’m involved with Burning Man, I’m there all the way.  Otherwise, I’m doing the rest of the stuff my life demands.

It’s Just Burning Man

I recently completed yet another zoom meeting, this time regarding our Temple Guardians team, and it reminded me once again what’s both great and terrible about Burning Man.  Don’t misunderstand…I love Burning Man and love spending a couple of weeks out in the desert with thousands of other Burners every year.  But it’s a temporary situation, and when it’s over I return to my normal life; to my family and friends whom I see year-round.  I don’t live or die based on what happens in the dust, or what happens in the Temple.

But I realized during this meeting that not everyone experiences Burning Man as a moment in time.  For some individuals, it is their entire life.  If you’re shocked to learn this, then you may not have been deep in the weeds with some of BRC’s more emotionally connected participants.

My point is not to detail any such experiences or to call them out for criticism.  It is, instead, to advise people to keep Burning Man in perspective.  It’s there for having fun, for existing outside of yourself for a few days, for living Burning Man’s utopian principles for at least a part of your year.  But once you’ve turned it into the most important thing you do, the main support for your psychic well-being, you risk ruining it for yourself and for those around you.

It’s About Having Fun

We’re currently in our second major organizational upheaval, and the main reason for these seismic events is that a small percentage of our team have turned the Temple into their personal religion, or their raison d’etre.  Once this idea takes hold of Burners, they believe they have ownership of the work and demand ultimate appreciation and approval for what they’ve done.  It’s absolutely essential for people to take their missions seriously at Burning Man – especially if it’s a mission crucial to the event’s success.  Jobs like Gate, Exodus, Lamplighters, Greeters, and – yes – Temple Guardians must be done right in order to ensure a successful Burn that meets or exceeds the expectations of attendees.  But work is simply that – it’s work, and it’s not a test of your personal worth.

Most Guardians, as with most Lamplighters and others, take a balanced approach to their momentary roles at Burning Man.  They love the Temple, are devoted to their work, seek ways to support Burners who visit the Temple, and do everything in their power to keep the structure safe and secure before and during the Burn.  Carrying that work forward throughout the year makes sense as well.  We have to keep the organization operating smoothly, inform fellow Guardians of developments that affect their work, and solve problems that may have occurred during the prior Burn week.

But there’s a pit that some people stumble into, and it can result in a downward spiral into depression or – at the very least – expectations that cannot be met within the organization.  Balancing hard work with over-commitment is the key to avoiding disappointment, resentment, and self-loathing.  We all need to keep in mind that this is Burning Man – not life or death.  For us older Burners who may no longer have active careers, it can be tempting to transfer your lifetime of commitment to Burning Man activities.  And that’s fine, as long as we don’t commit our self-worth as well.

News from the Top

I just finished watching Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell’s April 10 update on Burning Man 2021.  This announcement – while rich with information – was not billed as a “go/no-go” report.  I wanted to review the content for all of the Burning Man enthusiasts who read this site but also to let you know that if you sign on to burningman.org you’ll find a link to the entire video.

Light at the end of the tunnel? Probably not.

So, here goes (in the order presented by Marian):

  1. Should Burning Man occur this year, proof of vaccination will be required for anyone to enter the gate. There’s also consideration of an on-site testing program, but details have not been worked out at this point.
  2. No matter what, the BRC population will be reduced if a 2021 Burn occurs. The org has requested a BLM permit for 69,000 people, vs. 80,000 at the last Burn.  Feedback from surveys among camp leaders has further reduced the expected population to 50-55,000 Burners.
  3. Additionally, there will be an international impact on attendance because some countries do not allow travel (or will not be allowed to travel to the U.S.) primarily because of the unavailability of vaccines.
  4. Burning Man is on solid ground financially because of the generosity of attendees and other contributors. At this point, the organization is not dependent on holding a 2021 Burning Man in order to survive.  Even art funding is continuing.  In fact, a group of donors has provided a $1 million grant that has allowed the org to fund art now, whether it ends up on Playa this year or next.
  5. Typical funding for art covers 70 on-Playa projects. Proposals have already been received for 59 projects, and the $1 million grant will expand that number.  Art proposals have come in from countries including Russia, Ukraine, Indonesia, Spain and others plus 15 U.S. states.  Proposals can be viewed online at burningman.org/2021art.  In Marian’s words, “Art is going to happen” in 2021.
  6. While BRC remains “up in the air” for now, work at Fly Ranch continues apace. Burning Man’s LAGI – Land Art Generator Initiative –resulted in 10 prototype projects on sustainability proposed for Fly Ranch.  One, from MIT Labs, has been selected for funding and will go forward, according to Marian.  Learn more about it and about Fly Ranch at FlyRanch.org.
  7. Another sign that Burning Man is alive and well is The Hive Labs, an interactive project to expand Burning Man’s cultural impact around the world. While “membership” is currently capped, additional Burners may be able to join in the future.  Check it out at hive.burningman.org.
  8. The Burning Man multiverse will take place this year whether or not BRC is built on the Playa. Last year’s virtual event attracted 165,000 attendees, including 100,000 on Burn Night alone.
  9. Tickets – Burning Man has begun working on DGS tickets (direct sale tickets for major theme camps and art cars) although this effort should not be interpreted as a decision on holding the Burn this year. On a more concrete level, the org is introducing “Invitation to the Future,” an opportunity to reserve tickets for the next two Burning Man events (whether that’s for 2021-2022 or later).  The ticket price will be face value, but the cost of the reservation has been set at $2500.
  10. Finally, Marian promised updates over the next few weeks and a go/no-go decision on 2021 by the end of the month.

My take:  While the meeting had all the positive vibes you might expect from an organization that has bucked the odds and survived the pandemic, I do not see any indication that there’s going to be a (non-virtual) Burn this year.  The safety and health obstacles are too great, and I suspect (based on my conversation with an insider) that BLM will not be willing to approve it.  The liabilities seem too high to justify the rewards.  But it’s great to know that the organization is so vibrant during this difficult period, and is continuing to expand its culture into new realms.

Are You Kidding Me? Yes!

It was around midnight on March 31 when I spotted an article about Burning Man on my Google News feed.  It declared that the 2021 Burn would take place under a huge dome that could house 60,000 people, all of whom would be protected from the outside world and its lethal germs.  This dome was made of a material that the Burning Man org had invented and patented, and which they were prepared to offer free-of-charge to other events because – well, because we’re good guys.

According to the article, “Burning Man’s Chief Science Officer Nicholas Riviera said. ‘Housing the festival inside a dome will ensure no dangerous particles can enter Burning Man and it will mean our family can congregate and celebrate life on this precious earth in peace and harmony, as the founders of the Burn intended.’”

That one made me scratch my head.  I’ve spent some time at Burning Man headquarters in San Francisco and never heard of a Chief Science Officer.  Then the article mentioned “Burning Man’s Head Of Innovation Christine Chapel”, another job and person I had no knowledge of.  By that point, the clock had turned past midnight and my wife reminded me that it was April Fool’s Day and this article was probably an April Fool’s joke.  By the time the article described how the smoke from the Man Burn would go out of the dome and only fresh air would come in, we were laughing out loud.

Burning Man to take place beneath "Truman Show-esque dome"Burning Man will take place beneath a ‘Truman Show-esque dome’ later this year.” — MixMag

Then came the best part.  It seems that Google had secretly become Burning Man’s sponsor in 2019 and would pay for the dome.  I started imagining Google logos all across the Playa, and the elimination of our “no commodification” principle.  Larry Harvey must have been rolling over in his grave.

Anyway, the story seems to have disappeared from the news feed and was clearly a full-on April Fool’s joke, so there’s still no reason to believe that Burning Man 2021 is a certainty.  My understanding at this point is that a decision will be made in May.  Even with that possibility still extant, I’m personally not optimistic about going for reasons I’ve already stated here:  age, underlying medical issues, the inability to hold Burning Man with social distancing in place (will we have to do “air hugs”?).

But I have to keep in mind the great value of Burning Man to people my age, and search for ways to keep such youth-inducing activities in my life.  I don’t want to just shrivel up and grow old simply because there’s no Burning Man to give me a jolt every summer.

As I’ve noted before, there are some things about Burning Man that are specific to infusing my life with that youthful feeling: the diverse and mostly young crowd of people; the abundant creativity blossoming everywhere on the Playa; the erotic environment that helps remind me I’m still a living, vital human; and the constant state of joy among attendees.  All these elements combine to have an effect on my spirit and my body that take years off my chronological age, and echo throughout the rest of the year.  I want those feelings back.  And that’s no joke.

 

 

Living Like a Burner When there’s no Burn

I read a report in my Google News Feed the other day breathlessly announcing that the heads of major camps have been told to start the planning process for a 2021 Burn.  The implication was clear:  there’s going to be a Burning Man in 2021.  I’m not so sure.  The source of the Google News report was most likely Burning Man’s Placement Department Newsletter that recently went out to people key to theme camp operations.  The newsletter requested preliminary plans from heads of the bigger camps, including location requests and proposed camp layouts.  It’s certainly a positive sign, but I believe it’s premature to consider it anything more than that.  The Placement Newsletters are SOP, and the requested information is necessary to even the most preliminary planning for the build-out of Black Rock City.  So I’m not ready to whoop it up and start packing yet.  It’s a wait and see for now, at least for me.

Meanwhile, we try to keep the Burning Man spirit alive despite this horrid pandemic when we’re stuck at home with nothing but booze to ease our souls.  We’re pretty involved with Temple Guardians throughout the year and are constantly in communications with members of our team.  In fact, we participate in regular meetings of the Guardian leadership team.  So, if you’re part of a  theme camp, you can volunteer to help throughout the year.  You’ll find yourself welcomed by the camp leaders who always have more work than they can handle.  Apply your personal skill-set to whatever the camp needs and you’ll soon receive buckets of appreciation for your efforts.

It also helps to keep Burning Man’s 10 principles in mind, perhaps by picking out one to concentrate on each month.  For example, Radical Inclusion has particular resonance for me right now as we’re going through another round of hate speech against an ethnic group – in this case, Asians.  I like to make an extra effort to re-direct my natural prejudices toward “the other” into efforts to reach out to those who don’t look or act like me.  By making certain I practice diversity in my life choices, I feel I’m honoring the radical Inclusion principle.

Teml

The 2019 Temple

Last year, we hosted two wonderful young ladies from Peru in our Tahoe home where we live and work every winter.  They were serving as TA’s at our ski resort during their summer vacation from college, and they became part of our family for ski season.  Then the pandemic hit and our ski resort was precipitously closed down.  It was no big deal for us.  We just had to pack up our stuff and take it back down the hill to our home near Sacramento.  But for the girls, it was a bit more traumatic.  Just as they were preparing to head back to Peru, that country closed its borders to minimize transmission of the virus.  They couldn’t go home.  Meanwhile, their classes were starting for the fall semester.  So we ended up packing them and us into our car and heading “home” together.  They stayed on for several weeks, taking their classes online (at very odd hours due to the time difference).  Eventually they got a call from the Peruvian embassy and were told a plane had been booked to take them and other ex-pats home via LAX.

Over the months of our hosting these two Peruvians, we grew to love them as if they were family.  We still talk to them every couple of weeks just to catch up.  It’s a joy to include them in our lives, but it still took a leap of faith – one that was at least in part sparked by Burning Man’s principle of Radical Inclusion.

Will We Burn in 21? Should We?

As time has passed since the last Burn, I have felt more and more disconnected from the Playa and the spirit that makes Burning Man so important to my life. I know many of you feel the same, which means a lot of people are eager to see the return to BRC this year. I’m just not sure that can happen yet. And I’m absolutely certain that I’m not ready for a week in the desert with 70 or 80 thousand people while the virus remains active.

I’m now 76 years old, which makes me a prime target for Covid-19. In addition, I’ve recently been diagnosed with early-stage multiple myeloma (a blood cancer) that puts me even more at risk. So there’s almost no way I would feel comfortable attending a full-scale Burning Man even if it does go forward.

But, in truth, I don’t think it will happen this year – at least not in the form we know it. The risk of Burning Man turning into a super spreader event (perhaps the biggest of all time) is high, and such a result would do more than cause sickness and death among attendees and their families; it would irreparably damage the event’s reputation. Burning Man might never recover.

Beauty on the Playa from the 2019 Burn

However, there are some things that the org could do to mitigate the potential for super-spreader results. First, they could mimic many of the states’ rules on attendance at sports events – say, limit the Burn to 25 percent of last year’s number. They could also require any attendee to be verifiably fully vaccinated, and they could test everyone daily. Social distancing rules could be put into effect at seated events and where lines (such as the Center Camp Café) exist. That all sounds painful, costly, and the antithesis of our desert love-fest (how would you handle the Orgy Dome?), but it would be a way to keep the Burning Man culture alive because skipping only one year will cause far less damage than missing two in a row.

I hear rumors from time-to-time about BLM and whether it would even permit Burning Man amidst the pandemic. One positive note I heard was that the BLM budget is sorely missing the money we bring in, so they may be eager to have us back as soon as possible. A smaller Burning Man would provide less revenue to everyone – BLM, the Org, the state of Nevada, and the two counties that gain tax revenues. Reno merchants usually make a ton off of Burners, and I’m sure they’d like a little of that money back. So there are plenty of economic reasons to re-ignite the Burn. But the risk/reward equation still seems out of balance, so my bet is that we’ll have to wait for 2022 to return to the wonders of Black Rock City.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

On another topic, I watched Nomadland the other night on Hulu and felt remarkably close to the Playa. The main character (played by Frances McDormand) lives in Empire, NV at the beginning of the film. She lost her job when the gypsum plant closed and when her husband dies she gets on the road to join other nomads. Her journey begins on what sure looks like NV 447, the road we take from I-80 to Gerlach and on to BRC. Nomadland is a unique and magical film with a few reminders of our desert home.

Preparing for a “No Burn” 2020

I’ve begun to set my expectations for a “no Burning Man” year.  Logic tells me it’s unlikely that in the age of a virulent virus and failing fortunes our love-fest in the desert will take place in 2020.  This reality is just one of the reasons I feel an unsettled sense about life right now, as if the foundation underpinning my 75 years of living has weakened. 

What does it mean to set an expectation for no Burn this year?  First, the good news.  All the hard work required to get ready for our two weeks in the desert may not be needed.  Money that has not already been spent might not need to be spent (it’s expensive just to drive our RV out to Black Rock City).  On the negative side, I won’t experience a joyful week that is always the highlight of my year; I will not camp with mostly younger friends who help make the years slip away from my aging body and mind, and I won’t have that spiritual and creative charge that comes from walking among the art-pieces that dot the canvas that is the Black Rock desert.

I’ll also miss serving as a Temple Guardian where I am privileged to help ensure that visitors experience what they need as they work their way through their grief over lost family and friends.  And I’ll miss that erotic charge that it always part of Burning Man and that helps keep us and our marriage young.

I went to my first Burn dreading the experience because I feared the harsh environment.  Now I miss everything about the desert – the dust, the wind, the daytime heat and the chilly nights.  I used to worry about sunburn, but I’ve never burned out there.  Although I use sunscreen religiously on playa, I’ve come to believe that my body is protected by the layer of dust that quickly forms on my skin.  Playa dust may well be the perfect sunblock formula.

2019 Temple Burn

As we hunker down in our ever-more isolated life, I think about the diversity of people that I’ll miss seeing if Burning Man is canceled.  My relationships at Black Rock City are distinct not only from my immediate family but from my neighbors and co-workers as well.  One of the best aspects of Burning Man is that I meet and get to know a spectrum of people from geographically and emotionally diverse backgrounds.

Can I live without Burning Man?  Of course.  Will my life be lessened without it?  Absolutely.  Let’s hope for a positive outcome for the world’s health this year so Burning Man happens and we’ll all be back together sooner rather than later.

UPDATE:  I attended Burning Man’s Theme Camp Symposium on March 28 and heard the latest information on whether Burning Man will go forward this year.  According to Marian Goodell, CEO of the Burning Man Project, no decision has yet been reached about the 2020 event.  Marian described the situation as “too early” to know whether the virus will still be a threat in late August.  The org is considering a number of possible steps, including delaying the main sale of tickets that is scheduled for April 8, with registration on April 1.  Check burningman.org for more info, and review this Burning Man Journal entry for a summary of the current situation.

Will There Be a Burning Man in 2020?

It’s hard to know what the Coronavirus situation will be in August of this year when Burning Man is scheduled to commence, but there’s no question in my mind that if today’s situation is unchanged by late summer, then a gathering of 70,000 half-naked, hug-hungry people in the desert of Nevada will not take place.

But there’s way more to consider than just the timing of the Burn itself. DPW and Burning Man staff will begin working in the desert in the next couple of months, and the org will have to decide ahead of this time frame whether to risk people’s health by putting a concentration of workers together in relatively close proximity. Therefore, I would expect to hear a decision from the org very soon.

If you have tickets and are making plans to attend the Burning Man Festival in August, keep doing what you’re doing for now. But stay in touch with the org to get the latest information. Subscribe to the Jack Rabbit Speaks email publication — an excellent and accurate source of news. Also, you can always check in on the Burning Man.org website, or the various Facebook sites that cover Burning Man activities. If you are part of a theme camp, check-in with your camp mayor or leader and make certain they are planning to communicate the status of Burning Man as soon as they hear something.

It’s urgent that you rely only on knowledgeable people and reliable sources of information. Rumors and conspiracy theories are the lifeblood of many internet sites, so be cautious about blockbuster news that comes from only a single, lesser-known source. Real news about Burning Man will be big news for all media, so wait until you hear it from one of the sources mentioned above or from the so-called mainstream media.

Meanwhile, we can all do whatever we can to keep ourselves and our family and friends as safe and healthy as possible. Staying well is the best way to know that you can attend Burning Man if it is held this year. Getting sick is to be avoided at all costs. Stay home and take advantage of the robust entertainment sources that we all receive daily. Work on the house, do that project you’ve been thinking about for years, build an art car; but, please, don’t party down with large crowds of people for now.

If we all work together we can get past this pandemic with the least possible impact on our lives. Then we’ll be sure to meet at Burning Man sometime soon — whether this year or next.

Watching the Man Burn

Some five years ago, we were fortunate enough to help carry in the fire that starts the Man Burn, and it was an awesome experience.  We were as close to the burn as we’ve ever been, and since then we’ve put more distance between ourselves and the fire and taken a leisurely approach to the big event.  This year we sat on top of our camp container, with drinks and snacks, where we had an awesome view of the Burn and no need to locate our bikes among the mass of blinking lights.

We soaked in the image of thousands of festively lighted bikes and walkers streaming out of the city and toward the Man; observed the vista of lights across the Playa – all powered by generators and batteries; and waited for the Man’s arms to rise marking the beginning of the burn celebration.

Hippie Bus Redux

It was an awesome sight, humbling us before human creativity and endurance that makes Burning Man such an important event in our lives.  It is nearly impossible to capture the scope of it all in words or pictures.  You have to be there to truly experience it.

Last night’s Burn was one of the quickest we’ve seen, probably because of the five propane bombs used to kick-start the fire versus the usual two or three.  It’s possible that the Burning Man org was purposefully shortening the burn cycle to lessen the possibility of crazies running into the fire.  Last year, an individual avoided all perimeter patrols and ended up losing his life after he launched himself into the flames.  No such event this time around.

The shorter burn cycle seemed to make the entire evening more mellow and less raucous (although in fairness the raucousness is way closer to the burn then we were) and perhaps a little anti-climactic.  Everything this year was a bit less than expected, although still amazing and inspiring.  One of the top art pieces – a flaming, winged horse near the entrance to Center Camp – worked only intermittently.  Several major art pieces weren’t ready until the final couple of days.  And no single piece had the impact of some of Burning Man’s greatest hits, e.g. last year’s tree of lights or kaleidoscope of LED lights that shifted shape and color in time to classical music; however, the multi-hued elephant out in deep playa was a major attraction.

Sculpture on the Playa

Also, there was a magnificent structure far out in deep playa called The Folly, a two-tower building with a windmill on one of the spires that featured a top-notch musical theater performance.  The building burned with great intensity on Friday night.

However, this was definitely the year of the art car at Burning Man.  There seemed to be more and a greater variety than ever roaming the Playa.  But it was an oldie that seemed to draw the biggest crowds, “El Pulpo Mechanico” – a many-headed octopus that shot fire from its arms and head and whose eyes sprung out of its sockets at onlookers.  El Pulpo played music that seemed to be composed just for it and spit out its fire to the beat.  What a sight!

Space Vehicle? Not Sure

As Temple Guardians, we always keep a special place in our heart for the Temple.  This year’s edition was both simple and beautiful, using a Japanese theme found in many Buddhist and Shinto shrines.  Its atmosphere was calming and provided the perfect environment for introspection and contemplation of lives lost and found.  It burns tonight.