Posts Tagged ‘black rock city’

If Burning Man was actually what people think it is!


When I talk to people about Burning Man, people who have never been, I’m always amused by the array of the ideas of what they think Burning Man is like.  So this morning I got to thinking about what our experience on the Playa would be like if Black Rock City was really the place they think it is, so here’s a little thought exercise to take your mind off packing lists and ticket delivery dates, oh shit, I’ve got packing to do.



Arriving at Burning Man the excitement always builds, rolling down the dusty road, reading the entry signs carefully placed so that if you’re speeding they are too hard to read.  You start to get dust blasted and soon you arrive at GATE.  Of course instead of getting your car checked for contraband and stowaway midgets, in addition your GATE team would also make sure you’re properly stocked for the event and to make sure, would give you your welcome kit including a full weeks supply of LSD, Ecstasy, condoms and lubricant.

You then merrily make your way, after dropping  a tab or two, on to the GREETERS, which signifies your true entry into Burning Man so of course this is where you get out of your vehicle and take your clothes off.  Once naked you will immediately be felated by your choice of greeters.  This being Burning Man you will have your choice of felators, you can pick from any gender or sexual preference, there is even a special lane of course for group felating.

burning man



Being the multi-everything event that Burning Man is you will certainly have your choice of theme camps.  There will be a wide variety of sex or drugs or rave camps where people are provided with free uppers to keep the 24 hour a day party going.  Of course single themed camps like Bong World are really only for virgin burners as veterans, grizzled maniacs who’ve survived multiple previous burns, are more likely to be able to handle the multi-themed camps.  These multi-themed camps are very popular with the veterans as they often cater to very specific and demented kinks.  Decorum and several state laws in the midwest and south prohibit me from going into details but let us leave it with the names of some of the more popular camp names which include: Angry Dragon Camp, Dirty Sanchez Village, Coke Fueled Felchers, Monkey Wrenchers on Meth, Hot Rocks & Pearl Necklaces, Queefers on E, The Twisted Sisters, Fucked Up Figgers, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and Unicorns (Camp LSDU), Fucking Fire and Ice and my personal favorite Ookie, Gookie Cookie Quaalude Camp.

The real question of course is how do you win at Burning Man, you know, get into the best camp in Black Rock City.  Quite frankly it’s not easy, it takes years of debauchery and depraved indifference but if you can survive 10 years on the Playa, you may get an invitation to the most sacred and secret camp at Burning Man, The Full HST Experience Camp.  Out of fear and loathing  for my safety, I cannot tell you anything else about this camp.


Burning Man


Art at Burning Man

Let’s face it folks, the art is really nothing but a cover for the depravity, but it has to be made to look good.  That’s why professional art crews are flown in from around the world, San Francisco, New York, Paris, Florence to install massive art structures on the Playa.  I mean seriously, how would a bunch of naked, stoned hippies and ravers have the time or the wits to install giant art installations.  Also, this is the explanation for why the tickets are so damn expensive, seriously, did you think it costs over $400 to camp on a desolate and dusty lakebed in the middle of nowhere?!

burning man, bliss

Burning Man

fix shark car

Burning man, Thunderdome


Gift Culture

One of the best things about Burning Man is the lack of any kind of commerce, except of course when we sell things.  For those on the outside they understand that what truly happens is an “underground” commerce.  Sure, we don’t exchange cash for drinks at a Playa bar but we all know a gin and tonic costs a hit of “E”, a Margarita a hand job, and specialized cocktails go for, really, kids might read this for fuck sake, I’m not writing about what happens if you ask for a specialized cocktail on the Playa, don’t you have an imagination, sheesh.

Burning Man, Barbie


Burning the Man

Our New Years Eve equivalent, the big party, but people know what’s really going on here.  A drug fueled frenzy where cocaine is weaponized into a fine mist-like powder and sprayed through the crowd.  Of course the price of entry to the big burn is a hit of your favorite hallucinogen, a few caps or several drops of liquid LSD.  The best part of the man burn is when people watch it online from home, the confusion is epic.  You see there actually is no burning of the man, each year the drugs, group delusions and hallucinations allow the participants to watch the most amazing fire experience of their life and it doesn’t even happen!  Folks watching at home watch as the crowd grooves and dances to the imaginary fire while crews of technicians dissemble and remove the man dumping a pile of burnt rubble in its place.

burning man


Being Dirty

One of the things I always hear from people is I can’t go to Burning Man, I couldn’t be that dirty for a week, I need to shower.  I try to explain that there are both showers and also non-showering ways to stay clean but they no better and of course this is what we all look like all week.



The Temple

I’ve written pieces on The Temple including calling it The Heart of Burning Man, but people on the outside know what the Temple Burn is really all about.  Our friends at have already blown the lid off this one so I let you read all about it there, however this quote really says it all doesn’t it.

Heathen children utter the written lyrics from post-modern Satan-worship bands the The Atheist Phish, Snoop Lion and DJ Kalafi, until sweat drips down their brow and they summon The Burning Man himself, Satan. 


Burning Man

photo credit ~ Katrina Blum


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? 🙂



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


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




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


air mattress


small hand broom to sleep out tent


burning man

Dr. Megavolt




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



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



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



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




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



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



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



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: 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

30 Days of Burning Man – Day 12, Should I bring my children

This year there is a possibility that there will be a much higher percentage of newbies heading to the desert so I thought I’d spend the 30 days before the gates open throwing out some information, some images and a little bit of wisdom, advice and snark about the place I love so much. These posts will be generally directed at Burning Man virgins but hopefully some of you old dogs out there will contribute through comments or get some enjoyment out of them as well. So here we go.  .  I’ll include at least one photo from Burning Man each day and once a week I’ll do nothing but photos.  I hope the posts are sometimes helpful and also enjoyable, enjoy ~ ZD Blue

Tonight I’m posting a repeat of the most commented posting I’ve ever done on Burning Man, it stirred the pot up a bit but I think it provides some good information and reminds people that there are kids on the playa and if you’re bringing yours, get an idea of what others are thinking about the idea, enjoy ~ ZD Blue



My friend Kat found this, if anyone knows who the original author is please drop it in the comments I’d love to make sure they get credit for their work, it’s an awesome bit of writing:


I had to share the best thing I’ve read all year about Burning Man. 🙂 Thanks to whomever the author is, and I found this through Loadie Camp!

Since most of us won’t make it this year, thought I’d offer some usefull advice on how to bring bunring man into your life off playa. Or – 20 ways how to have Bunring Man anywheres:

1) Stack all your fans in one corner of the living room.
Put on your most fabulous outfit.
Turn the fans on full blast.
Dump a vacuum cleaner bag in front of them.

2) Tear down your house, put it in a truck.
Drive 10 hours in any direction, put the house back together.
Invite everyone you meet to come over and party.
When they leave, follow them back to their homes, drink all their booze, and break things.

3) Pay an escort of your affectional preference subset to not bathe for five days, cover themselves in glitter, dust, and sunscreen, wear a skanky neon wig, dance close naked, then say they have a lover back home at the end of the night.

4)Buy a new set of expensive camping gear.
Break it.

5) Lean back in a chair until that point where you’re just about to fall over, but you catch yourself at the last moment.
Hold that position for 9 hours.

6) Only use the toilet in a house that is at least 3 blocks away.
Drain all the water from the toilet.
Only flush it every 3 days.
Hide all the toilet paper.

7) Set your house thermostat so it’s 50 degrees for the first hour of sleep and 100 degrees the rest of the night.

8) Cut, burn, electrocute, bruise, and sunburn various parts of your body.
Forget how you did it.
Don’t go to a doctor.

9) Don’t sleep for 5 days.
Take a wide variety of hallucinogenic/emotion altering drugs.
Pick a fight with your boyfriend/girlfriend.

10) Spend a whole year rummaging through thrift storesfor the perfect, most outrageous costume.
Forget to pack it.

11) Tell everyone that you’re going to a “Leave-No-Trace” event.
Shop at Wal-mart, Cost-Co, and Home Depot until your car is completely packed with stuff.
Empty your car into a dumpster.

12) Listen to music you hate for 168 hours straight, or until
you think you are going to scream. Scream.
Realize you’ll love the music for the rest of your life.

13) Spend 5 months planning a “theme camp” like it’s the invasion of Normandy.

14) Walk around your neighborhood and knock on doors until someone offers you cocktails and dinner.

15) Get so drunk you can’t recognize your own house.
Walk slowly around the block for 5 hours.

16) Tell your boss you aren’t coming to work this week but he should “gift” you a paycheck anyway.
When he refuses accuse him of not loving the “community”.

17) Search alleys untill you find a couch so unbelievably tacky and nasty filthy that a state college frat house wouldn’t want it.
Take a nap on the couch and sleep like you are king of the world.

18) Go to a museum.
Find one of Salvador Dali’s more disturbing but beautiful paintings.
Climb inside it.

19) Before eating any food, drop it in a sandbox and lick a battery.

20) Spend thousands of dollars and several months of your life building a deeply personal art work.
Hide it in a funhouse on the edge of the city.
Hire people to come by and alternate saying “I love it” and “this sucks balls”.
Blow it up.

21) Set up a DJ system downwind of a three alarm fire.
Play a short loop of drum’n’bass until the embers are cold.

22) Make a list of all the things you’ll do different next year.
Never look at it.

Burningman Ticket Lottery Blog-roll

A little tour around Facebook and the web has yielded some interesting responses to the lottery, life is never boring when shit goes sideways in a community full of very creative people enjoy:

 My original post

An awesome blog post on the real roots of the lottery problem in true burner spirit

Huffington Post piece, blah, but 180+ bman photos attached

Hitler finds out about the Burningman lottery

Another little snarky video about the lottery

A freakonomics perspective

Some interesting foreshadowing here:

Lodie Camp's Shark

Burning Man: My 2011 Afterburn

I rolled into the 25th burn on Monday morning, left the pavement at 9:15AM and hit the gate at about 12:45.  Drove into the spot I was aiming for at 4:00 and J and set up.  Almost immediately adopted a couple of virgins who were seat less and shade less and my neighbor on the other side was a fabulous burner named Juicy, his camp quickly became the neighborhood hangout.  As usual at Burning Man, the neighborhood including a wide swath of geographic origins including British Columbia, California, Utah, Belgium and Holland.

The first surprise of the year was the weather, this was by far the best weather I’ve ever seen on the playa.  The first few days were breezy (15mph) winds and Monday in particular was a warm day, but nothing like some of the sweltering days I’ve spent on the Playa in the past.  On Wednesday we saw some 35 mph gusts but again that’s nothing.  So bright sunny days, comfortable nights, low winds and once they swung around from the East after Wednesday, the most dust free days I’ve ever seen out there.  Now I split on Saturday so I can’t comment on winds for the big burns but from what I’ve heard the good weather continued.

The first thing I have to talk about is the Temple, it was magnificent, and I know people all have their favorites, but this was my favorite Temple construction.  Between the size (120 feet tall), the five spires, the gargoyles, and the chime system it was truly spectacular.  The temple was visible across the playa at night when lit up, my hat off to the designers and the Temple crew, as always you all did a magnificent job.  And of course as the spiritual heart of the community the Temple is always a deeply special and moving place.





The people are always the best part of Burning Man and to be sure I met some great people this year and many thanks to those who allowed me to interview them for a piece I’m doing on children at Burning Man.  Special thanks to the Mayor of Kidsville and the munchkins within who I interviewed while they were deeply involved in sock puppet construction.  Also thanks to the Mayor of 4:00 and J and her faithful companion.

For me the fire highlight of the week was the Flaming Lotus Girl’s extravaganza which included the single best fireworks display I’ve ever witnessed.  Another big fun burn was the Trojan Horse burn, a towering art piece that burned spectacularly on my last night on the Playa.


My favorite art car was easily the Steam Punk Octopus you can check it out at the following link:

My favorite static art piece was the one pictured below, Aurora named for the artist’s 3-year old daughter’s favorite princess.



It was a very typical burn for me this year, a few nice little parties, some unexpected camp surprises, ran into some people unexpectedly, some things went right, others went wrong.  Missed some people who couldn’t make it.  I was a bit disappointed to hear how many people had at least enough cell connection for text messages and personally I think connectivity will really change the event, but that discussion is for another piece.  I was happy to track down some old friends and misconnected with some others.

For me Burning Man is refuge and escape from my life, a period of time to truly relax and as always I got that this year.  I also hurt my back late in the week, not seriously and given that I had gotten what I needed from the week, I decided to slip out early and miss the exodus traffic.  Another good year on the Playa, although it may be my last for a while, new adventures to be had and all.  Finally, a few pictures for your viewing pleasure and my fellow burners I hope your burn was magnificent.