Burning Man: My Complete Gear List, Virgin & Photo Guides

fix final temp shroom

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.

~ Scott Adams

 

So it’s been awhile since I did my original virgin and photography guides part 1 and part 2 for Burning Man.  However, one of the things that I didn’t include with those guides was a really complete gear list, and let’s face it, getting your gear together is one of the bigger tasks at hand before heading to the playa.  So here you go, my complete gear list compiled over 6 burns, items are not listed in order of importance.  Two disclaimers, first I’m sure I’ve overlooked some things, feel free to add to the comments.  Secondly, my list has evolved every year, feel free to hit the comments section with questions and I’ll reply snark free. :)

First couple of things should be incredibly obvious, ticket, parking pass, directions to Black Rock City and DON”T bring things on the prohibited list, GATE people will turn your ass around and send you home.  Please leave your pets at home, the playa is a nightmare for them and dogs are prohibited.  Bring your schedules for any volunteering you’re doing, you are volunteering right? :)

 

Infrastructure

shade structure (2) – 11 foot metal poles, with T connectors, tarp 8 x 12 & 6 x 10, rebar, old tennis balls to cap the rebar, 100 ft of clothing line rope.  This is a simple and basic structure, keep it tight so that it doesn’t flap and it’s damn near indestructible.  The picture below is a similar design with a better view of the structure from one of the Alternative Energy Zone folks, mine uses steel instead of wood and I also hang camping clothesline wire around the side and have sewn fabric panels I hang for decoration and privacy, punch holes in them so the wind doesn’t catch in them.

burning man, shade structure

Here’s an external shot of my set up:

burning man, shade structure

 

work gloves

surveyor tape to mark out camp and flag camp lines

coolers

water jug cooler – fill with ice and let it melt for cold drinking water and ice for drinks

electric fans

home made AC for tent

Music source w/radio function – BMIR 94.5 is funny and gives good info, there are usually a couple of small radio signals on the playa.  I bring an old boom box with a CD player but you can get much fancier.

Tools (vice grips (not cheap ones, you use this to pull rebar that has become cemented in the playa by twisting and wiggling it out, have a veteran show you how), hammer, screw drivers, wire cutters, duct tape, electrical tape, zip ties (various sizes), pliers, staple gun, nails, screws, 5 pound sledgehammer, 3 in 1 oil, tie downs, bungees, knife, scissors, etc…

tent stakes – but supplement them with rebar on your tent and no dinky stakes, at least 8 inch metal.  I have seen a tent airborne in a dust storm

bucket and rebar – bucket for holding rebar, tools etc… bring extra rebar various lengths

ground cover – I look all year for cheap old carpets, however, if the edges are frayed they can be a huge MOOP problem, I’ve duct taped the edges before going out, works ok.  This year an experiment I’m using a canvas drop cloth, I’ve also seen artificial turf used.

lighting – camp lantern, flashlights, head lamps are essential, I also use cheap solar ground lights and some decorative hanging solar lights as well

Folding table

Sun shades for the inside of the car to keep it from getting super hot inside

camp chairs

small camp table

Shower, evaporation pool – 1 metal pole with hook, solar shower bag, thick black plastic .6 mil (not garbage bags), wood for frame, small platform to stand on, shower chair

Below is a picture of a similar set up from a shot on the web, don’t have a pic of mine, but do some research there are a million shower designs out there, mine is the most basic

burning man, shower

 

Dr. Bronners soap – can use it to wash dishes, teeth, body whatever

Big bowl and wash cloth – alternatives to showering, bowl (sponge bath) and baby wipes are the most basic alternative

towels

 

Tent

Sleeping tent – and years when camping with others I’ve brought a garage tent for storage, including a stand up mirror, usually use the garage for costumes, food other things I want access to that don’t involve sleeping

plastic painters tarp – put over your mattress, sleeping bag, pillow to keep dust off during the day

sleeping bag

pillow

air mattress

sheets

small hand broom to sleep out tent

 

burning man

Dr. Megavolt

 

Cooking

lighter

can opener

pots, pans, glasses, plates, utensils, etc… – if you go environmentally friendly, bring a bucket for dish washing and remember to evap the grey water, DON’T dump it on the playa

camp cup – if you want a drink at most camps you’ll need to have your own cup

ziplocks – they are great to protect everything from dust

stove – I go minimalistic Mountain House camp food (Beef Stroganoff is awesome) and a pocket rocket or other way to cook off of propane.  However the options are unlimited, camp grills or even full sized propane grills.

extra cooking fuel

 

burning man

 

Water

A minimum of 1.5 gallons per person per day, I bring 2.0 to be safe, it allows me to share and lets face it, you don’t want to be short on water.  Don’t forget you do get to buy ice, I fill one drinking cooler just with ice and let it melt for cold drinking water and ice for drinks.

 

spnonge bob, burning man

 

Food

This list is utterly personal, I like having my main meals as dehydrated camp food and lots of easy food.  Some fresh stuff for the first day or so, but I avoid things like bananas that leave green waste that will end up stinking.

 

fix a1 sunrise

 

Camera

I bring my by good cameras but that’s a choice, the photo guide will give you more info.  Using your phone for photos will open up your phone to a lot of dust.  I recommend cheap digital cameras or even the temporary digitals if you’re just recording fun shots.  If you’re shooting more seriously take a look at my photo guides part 1  and part 2 for more info.  One warning I have had cameras die after being on the playa for one burn.

 

burning man, temple

 

Bike

basket

seat post rack – particularly good for carrying ice but if a bigger camp bring a little kids wagon

tie downs, bungees – to hold ice on the bike rack

bike pump

extra tubes, patch kit

bike lock

items to decorate your bike with

 

burning man, bliss

 

Clothing

backpack – I bring both a small backpack and my camelback that has a bladder a small amount of storage space

goggles – really, sunglasses just don’t cut it in a dust storm

dust mask & bandanas

crocs, sandles or other shoes for late night porta potty runs

personal lighting – EL wire is best, glow sticks are MOOPey, but don’t be a darkwad on the playa

cold weather gear – layers to warm up, gloves, warm hat, sweat pants to wear in your sleeping bag if need be

hats – for sun protection, warmth and decoration

 

burning man

 

Costumes

Completely personalized but remember to have costumes for all the potential temperatures, something for sunny hot, warm evenings or freakin cold nights.  I’ve seen every temperature from 115 to 35 on the playa.

 

burning man

 

Miscellaneous

1st aid kit

Emergen-C, aspirin, ibuprofen any other meds you ordinarily use

vinegar – helps with playa foot (the acid counterbalances the alkalai)

baby wipes

hand sanitizer

car battery charger – this is a stand alone car battery charger I bring to be able to jump other cars or mine :)

garbage bags – for your trash and MOOP pick up, don’t throw your bags on the side of the road on the way out, there are lots of trash drop options on the way back to the default world

batteries, bring extra

sun screen

skin lotion – your skin will dry out on the playa

chap stick

toiletries and toilet paper – the porta potties usually have some but be safe and remember nothing but toilet paper and your bodily products in the porta potties, NO BABY WIPES in the porta pottie.

personal items – anything from sanitary products, to condoms to whatever you might need

journal, pens – I’m a writer so I spend some time on the playa writing

List of locations where people told you they are camping.

extra car key to hide in your camp

night time potty alternative if you don’t want to walk to the porta potties, here’s a final image for you

 

burning man

Art Project – if you are doing a project you know what you need

 

Gifts – bring something to gift people who have been helpful or nice or just because you want to.

 

burning man

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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