Burning Man Is Not A Damn Music Festival

burning man

Every burner has lived through a similar moment many, many times because of the confusion that exists in the general public over what Burning Man really is all about. In this particular instance I was sitting in my mother’s kitchen back east with two of my brother’s friends, these guys are about 15 years younger than me and they knew that I go to Burning Man.  They were excited to talk to me because they too were planning to go that year.  You see they had met a band, whose name meant nothing to me although I could see in their eyes that I was supposed to be impressed.  This up and coming band they had befriended had told them that they were playing the main stage at Burning Man and these guys were going to get back stage passes if they showed up.  I blame Woodstock, Glastonbury  and Coachella.  You see there are some commonalities between Burning Man and these types of large gathering multi-day festivals.  However having attended a couple of them and spent several years on the Playa, I can tell you there are some major differences.

fix robot 991

There certainly is tons of music on the Playa there are radio stations, entire theme camps dedicated to nothing else but cranking out 24 hour dance beats, I have visited blues camps and jazz cafes and I’m quite sure there are a myriad of music based theme camps that I’ve missed in my years in the dust.  Individual musicians and bands have shown up and even played on the Playa, hell Joan Baez probably holds the distinction of the only artist to play Woodstock and sing at Burning Man.  However, Burning Man is not centered around the music, the music is just another art form at the festival.  There is no main stage, unless you consider the small stage at center camp to be the “main stage”, but if you’ve been there you would not confuse that stage with the main stage, or even a side stage at Coachella.

fix a6 barbie

A huge difference is that every music festival I’ve ever been too, not matter how hippy driven the vibe, is highly commodity driven.  There are food vendors and booze vendors, you can buy t-shirts and knick knacks and a full assorted range of shit that once you get it home you wonder why the hell you bought it.  At Burning Man you can buy, ice, coffee, tea and lemonade.  Burning Man is a no trace event, there are principles involved, hell the community builds an actual physical community for a week, infrastructure and all.  The venue if you will, is a dry lake bed in the Nevada desert, there is a lot of fire, there is more art than you could imagine, did I mention the fire?

fix fire car

So what’s my point with this piece?  Simply that if you, as the ticket deadline is approaching are thinking about going to Burning Man for the first time understand what you’re getting into it.  There is a lot written about what the festival is and what it means to people, I’ve written virgin guides, 30 days worth of warm up pieces, hell 70 pieces in total on this blog.  There are tons of other pieces written as well, the organization’s website and even their own awesome survival guide.  So know what you’re getting yourself into, Burning Man is a lot of things to a lot of people, but it’s not a damn music festival. ~ ZD Blue

Burning Man: The Dissolution of Normal

fix my grn penis 2

I love Burning Man and I’m able to say that almost all of the time.  I don’t love it as much watching some of the comments I see by Burner’s online, or watching them transition from peaceful, loving desert dwellers to maniacal default world drivers 10 feet outside the gate.  I really can’t say it during Exodus.  However I love Burning Man in the middle of 70 mile an hour winds, I loved it in the rain after a brief meltdown over my obliterated tent was washed away with a double rainbow and a tub of homemade chocolate chip cookies I remembered I had.  I’ve love Burning Man in the well over 100 degree heat and at 34 degrees shivering in my tent all in the same 24 hour period.

Dr. Megavolt

Dr. Megavolt

I love Burners on the playa, amazing creatures who exude love and light and snark all at the same time.  A glorious cacophony of colorful freaks who will give until it hurts, take care of those who sometimes don’t deserve it and teach virgins the ways of the dust.  Burners contain a higher than imaginable number of insane geniuses, spectacular artists, and folks who create and burn in ways I never thought possible nor practicable.  A place and a people who can eat the focus of your life so intently for a week that you blissfully forget the other life you had mere days before.

I’ll seek the dust again this year for perhaps my last time, I’ve spent a number of years on the playa and I’m seeking new adventures, new stimuli, a new collection of freaks to expand my mind.  Seems appropriate as I will turn 50 on the playa this year, my own unofficial theme this year, my playa name is The Dean, will be Deanapocalypse 2014.  You are all invited to the party!

fix a1 double bow

The thing that I find most amazing about Burning Man however is not the art, the insanity, the relaxation or even the Playa Magic.  No what I love the most is something I call the dissolution of normal.  You see I think one of the problems we all face in the default world is that we have been fed the idea that there is something called normal.  Given that the actual reality of normal is nothing but an artifice of statistics, we all, in so many ways are not normal.  We constantly find ourselves falling above or below the line, not normal and conventional wisdom tells us normal good, not normal freak.  This paints freak in a negative connotation which I refuse to accept, some of us have found ways to embrace our inner and outer freaks even in the default world.  What did this for me was the dissolution of normal.

freak flag

At Burning Man, stop wherever you are, slowly rotate 360 degrees, carefully take in the crowd around you and I promise you, within that view, you are not the biggest freak, never.  Do it every day, five times a day, you will never be the biggest freak and if you are, find me because I want to know you and I’m sure as hell buying.  This realization is incredibly freeing and truly allows you to let your freak flag fly.  This is why I love Burning Man because if you embrace it, merge with it, normal dissolves and the real you can emerge, is accepted by the community and if you’re lucky you can carry the real you back into the default world.

fix a1 bliss

See you in the dust ~ ZDBlue aka The Dean

The Burning Man Season Begins: Tickets & Theme

fix man s7

Well my friends the Burning Man Season has officially started.  The kickoff of course is the announcement of this year’s them Caravansary.  Personally not my favorite theme but some people seem to really like it, I guess that is the way of if every year isn’t it.  For me, I hope to be celebrating my 50th birthday on the playa this year so my personal theme, my playa name is The Dean, is going to be Deanapocalypse 2014, you’re all invited to the party.

Also the ticket process is underway, including the massive irony of implementing a vehicle pass fee the same year you make a theme about caravans, want to bring a caravan, it will cost you this year.  I truly hope the irony was not lost on the org and they got a chuckle out of it.  Pre-sale tickets, those of the guaranteed type are as usual mighty pricey, but if you’ve got the cash and you don’t want to worry about tickets $650 a piece will give you peace of mind.  Anyone feeling the need to gift me one for the Deanapocalyspe celebration, drop me a note and thank you in advance.  Otherwise I will be queuing up with the rest of the mass of humanity for ticket registration and purchase.  Good luck to all of you, the playa will provide and don’t freak out if you don’t get a ticket through the process, there is always the STEP resale process and lots of tickets floating in the community as the event comes near, and other than the pre-sale, which purports to help subsidize the reduced price ticket program, remember to never pay above face value for your tickets.

See you in the dust ~ ZDBlue aka The Dean

Fun Friday Halloween Edition

 

So a range of things for your Friday today, some interesting, some amusing, some terrifying, enjoy ~ ZD Blue

 

halloween horror

 

A true freaky Halloween story, how do I know it’s true, I witnessed it.

 

The twenty-five scariest science fiction and fantasy episodes of all-time.

 

Twenty scariest movies of all-time, I’ve seen them all this is a great list.

 

The fifty scariest books of all-time.

 

Twelve scary two sentence stories.

 

Haunting stories.

 

 

A little pinterest madness today, links to crazy pinterest pages

 

sink pinterest

 

Bizarre pages

 

Mannequin Madness

 

Crazy shit pinterest page

 

Some weird but funny pinterest pages

 

 

The curse of Lane Kiffin: endgame?

The smokin hot Mrs. Kiffin

The smokin hot Mrs. Kiffin

 

So almost three years ago I wrote the original post, The Curse of Lane Kiffin Lands on USC.  Today it finally came to its absolute fruition.  Lane Kiffin really signifies everything that is wrong with big time college football.  He’s someone who seems to be willing to do just about anything to recruit talent and win.  While at the University of Tennessee Kiffin racked up both a 5 star recruiting class and over a dozen recruiting violations.  He obviously doesn’t care about the rules in either recruiting or on game day.  He’s had a back-up quarterback switch jerseys with a punter in mid-game, a “rogue” student manager deflated balls when USC was on defense one game, basically the whole idea of any Kiffin regime is win at any costs, no matter how blatant or stupid.

Now, I’m not naive, I’ll go out on not much of a limb and say that every major college football program cheats.  Whether it is by slutty hostesses, illegal cash, rewards for good play, no-show jobs, “homework assistance”, special classes or unbelievably good used car deals.  A lot of what happens can be laid squarely on the shoulders of so-called “friends of the program,” however I have never believed the head coaches who claim to have had no idea it was happening.  The blame goes all the way around, the students know it’s wrong, the parents of students know it’s wrong as do the college administrators.    However the fans, the alumni and the donors all want to see winning football seasons, it has become a twisted culture of win at all costs.  The fact is most programs are really good at getting away with it, but they all get caught and penalized from time to time.  In a piece on NCAA violations, called the NCAA’s dirtiest programs, the article lists over 30 programs that have had 5 major violations or more with some schools having had 7 major violations including USC.

Lane Kiffin’s problem is that he is not nearly a good as coach as his defensive genius dad, although he’s living on his rep as a coach.  Lane cheats like everyone else it just seems that he isn’t smart enough to pull it off.  The real indictment of major NCAA football though is that he will likely be on the sidelines of another major program again just in time to put to work his “fabulous” recruiting skills and bring shame to another school, just like he did at Tennessee and USC.  I’ll finish this piece the same way as the last, at least Lane, you still have that “hot wife” for now.

kiffin football tennessee usc

 

 

How parents and society condone bullying

driving magoo

 

So over the last few years there has been a number of high-profile bullying cases, instances where teenagers and others have even committed suicide in response to the acts of others.  This of course is a tragedy and also much less linear than it is made out to be in the media.  The act of suicide is a complicated process that occurs at the intersection of a person’s brain chemistry, their socialization, their coping mechanisms and support structures.  It’s rarely as clear as a perfectly happy person with abundant emotional reserves and great support structures faces adversity and just kills themself.  I’m sure it’s happened, but I’m also sure it’s not the norm.

Kids bully, the AACAP reports that 50% of students surveyed report being bullied at some point, 10% reporting a chronic level of bullying, frankly I bet those numbers are a bit low.  Kids, as they figure out how society works, will push the boundaries of what’s acceptable to see what the consequences are going to be.  So it happens, hopefully a kid sees that they have done damage to the other person physically or emotionally, find that doesn’t feel good and they stop doing those sorts of things.  However if someone is rewarded for their act, then they will continue.  When you pick on the fat kid, the poor kid, the dirty kid or the minority kid, kids who fit into groups that society generally has a poor opinion of, you often get rewarded by peers, so those kids take the brunt of this type of aggression.   Of course, society as a whole gets to adjust this, as minority and alternate lifestyle groups are more accepted, as society raises general awareness of the harm of bullying, there will hopefully be fewer instances where bullying activity receives positive feedback and hopefully fewer kids will be bullied repeatedly.  But kids are kids, they are learning and testing the world, bullying at low levels and young ages will always occur at some level.

However, society in my opinion is doing less and less to teach children to accept the differences of others.  What, we have civil rights, marriage equality spreading, bullying awareness campaigns, how can you possible suggest this you say?  Well I can say it and I am suggesting that in fact every day adults in this country reinforce that bullying is utterly and completely socially acceptable.  First off, look at partisan politics, read any comment section to any article on just about anything and quickly the comments devolve into how Republicans are Nazis, Obama is a fascist, Liberals are morons and much viler remarks than that.

Take a look at social media, once Adria Richards publicly embarrassed people making sexist remarks at a tech conference she began to receive threats of rape and murder via her social media accounts.  People actually threatened to rape and kill a woman for exposing someone else’s inappropriate behavior.  What kind of message does that send to children?  This of course was a national news story that any child had access to it on the six o’clock or cable news shows.

Finally, before you old fogeys and Luddites blame this all on social media, the internet and technology, let me point out the area where Americans most acutely demonstrate to children that bullying is ok.  All it takes is a little drive on the highway.  On the road, in a large vehicle everyone is the boss, we cut people off, tailgate and then if someone does it to us we lay on the horn, or speed up to them so we can flip them off and scream out our windows.  This is bullying behavior, conducted by parents and authority figures that occurs regularly in front of children with no perceived negative consequences.

I think recently Louis CK hit the nail on the head in his discussion of why children shouldn’t have cell phones.

The use of these devices reduces human contact and thus our ability with regularity to experience the impact our words and ideas have on others, which in turn reduces the amount of empathy we possess.  Louis CK was ranting on children having smartphones; I’ll go much further because this is a much older issue.  One step back, cable TV news allows us to hear about every murder, disaster and depravity around the world thus making us feel less safe in a country, where every statistic shows we are safer now than we were 30 years ago.  The overload of negative news causes us to trust strangers less and to develop less empathy for others who are strangers (also known as people who are different from us).

One step back from that, driving in the United States is typically a singular activity.  We drive to work or the store, generally alone, in a powerful machine, fully equipped with a horn and the ability to quickly speed away from any situation.  So we feel empowered when someone cuts us off to lay on the horn, flip the bird, yell and then drive away.  There is no consequence to these actions at all these are impersonal interactions that further drain our empathy.  The horn failed on my car once when I was in graduate school, I was sure this was going to be a huge problem.  After a month I no longer worried about it, you see, if you have time to angrily honk your horn at someone, you were in no danger of an accident.  When you truly have to brake and maneuver to safely avoid an accident, there’s no time for horn honking or finger waiving.  So we do these things simply out of anger to make someone else feel bad.

The commonality between all of these things is anonymity and distance.  I’m not a huge man, but I’m not small, at five foot eleven and two-hundred and fifteen pounds I’m definitely bigger than average and I’ve been told I don’t necessarily look friendly.  So generally, the person who calls me a name on Twitter because of my ideas, or the person who writes a horribly offensive comment to one of my posts, or the 60-year-old woman flipping me off, honking the horn and screaming at me, wouldn’t consider doing that to my face.  And in fact in a couple of driving situations I’ve put that to the test and people are quite apologetic face to face.  So given all of this behavior and almost all of it happening within plain view or our kids, how do they get anything but the message that it’s ok to bully, because our actions certainly speak louder than our words and quite frankly we’re a bunch of bullies.