burning man 2003
August 30, 2003 3:57 PM   Subscribe

it does look like fun
burning man 2003. more links? photos? stories? from this years fun in the desert.
posted by specialk420 (40 comments total)
oh yes. a flat place. without trees. scorching sun. no facilities. fire. drugs. hordes of people. hordes of drugged people with fire. i'm filled with a burning desire. to stay far away.
posted by quonsar at 4:11 PM on August 30, 2003

I kind of agree, quonsar, but I think I'd like to see it at once. maybe from a distance.
posted by tomplus2 at 4:14 PM on August 30, 2003

Probably more links, photos and stories in a couple days, once it's over...
Oh, and by the way, the desert, and the people, are (for the most part) a blast.
posted by uosuaq at 4:28 PM on August 30, 2003

Yeah, I'm with qonsar on this one. I'm going to wait until there's pay toilets, air-conditioning and a Starbucks. It looks fun but I know I'd walk out of there with sunburn, heat stroke, and a bad case of sand-in-the-pants.

posted by car_bomb at 4:33 PM on August 30, 2003

Actually as one who goes there, it is great fun but more than that a journey to your own limits and a dismantling of reality. Other then the heat, (most events happen after sunset when it cools a bit). Explaining it would be pointless, Like sex, you'll only know when it actually happens to you.

And Like Sex most are not mature enough to handle it when confronted with it. Burning man is for adults to act like children, Not A$$holes, so Frat boys will not be tolerated at all (trust me on this).

Best way to describe it, is (Circe De Solie (SP) and Battlebots hold a joint concert with Rob zombie, Marilyn Manson and Dead can Danse, over three days in the desert, oh and definitely BYOB, BYOW, BYOF and BYOS!

I went this year two in fact just got back due to some time issues so I missed the burn,

Warning, Prudes and those with any ailments (ANY) do not go, you will not enjoy at all.
posted by Elim at 4:50 PM on August 30, 2003

I can be debauched in my back yard every day of the week.

And I am.

Still, I've always been intrigued by Burning Man, but the middle of the desert would fry me til I'm a pork rind.
posted by WolfDaddy at 4:54 PM on August 30, 2003

so sorry to have missed the burning man ,
i've just had to make do with Calixto Bieito's stunning production of hamlet at the edinburgh festival and a night spent watching the fireworks concert over edinburgh castle, but i'm sure i'll get by..... ; )
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:43 PM on August 30, 2003

a dismantling of reality

Well I hope you labeled all the parts and maybe made a few drawings. We're going to need that reality back when you kids are done pulling it apart.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:45 PM on August 30, 2003

i thought this was burning man 03.
posted by birdherder at 5:53 PM on August 30, 2003

We're going to need that reality back when you kids are done pulling it apart.

That reality was all that well put together?
Hint: when building a new reality use glue or Lag bolts people, nails don't do the job,

(sheesh, amatures)

oh, and FYI its "Burningman" one word, not hyphenated or two words. But I'm a stickler for the details....
posted by Elim at 6:03 PM on August 30, 2003

"I really love burning man, and I've been thinking about why for several years now. I think there are two key elements 1) NO commerce. 2) no reality. This second one is odd, let me explain. EVerything we bring to burning man exists because bman doesn't not stand alone. The food we eat, the materials we use, and the stuff we burn comes from some other culture. The week or so that we're at burning man is devoid of the day to day toils we all endure to provide for these things. So burning man is not reality. But it's quite refreshing nonetheless. Perhaps because it points a more appropriate direction for society to take, once we've reached a threshold of "sufficiency." In a standard capitalist world, it's more more more, but the ends, which used to have a means ( attaining sufficiency ) became rudderless when that threshold was acheived. Burning can provide a new direction to take human energies."

from The Making of Muybridge Reanimator, of which the short movie taken at burningman is a must see.
posted by quonsar at 6:18 PM on August 30, 2003

I've done a couple of these and it's much more than heat, fire and dope. Though it would be a mistake to ever underestimate the power of fire and dope. And art. Did I mention art?

There is something remarkable about the ability to put a city (and it is a city) up in the middle of the desert for a week. Then take it apart to the point that no trace remains, but for a few smoldering chunks of wood and a couple of empty water bottles. It's like a Rainbow gathering with a premium placed on hygeine (I have never seen so many people work with so little to get clean. Myself, I reveled in my personal dirt... well, my personal mud. It rained a little and that dust turns into a charming clay like substance when it gets damp... not too mention my clever plan to contain 50 gallons of water didn't work out all that well.)

As someone else mentioned, Burningman is participants only and it's not something that can be quantified and dissected on a website. You get it, or you don't. And if you don't that's okay too because that leaves more for the rest of us.

I so regret being poverty stricken and unable to travel that distance at this time.
posted by cedar at 6:25 PM on August 30, 2003

One of my favorite activities is riding my bike out into the open desert away from the camp at night. In the darkness, the ground and sky become almost indistinguishable; it's a sensation that's impossible to describe.
There are a lot of moments like that that you can have there if you don't think it's just about fire and dope.
posted by 2sheets at 7:09 PM on August 30, 2003

Wish this referenced site was still up, it would have been a great retort for this thread...

This is the first Burn I've missed in 6 years! :-( (I'm one of the wusses that does it in style though, with the air conditioned RV, refrigerated food, et al.) Maybe next year I'll do it raw, with just a $13 dirtbike and a tent. Yah, that'll do it!
posted by Fofer at 7:13 PM on August 30, 2003

I'm going to wait until there's pay toilets, air-conditioning and a Starbucks

You don't want Burning Man. You want Disneyland.
posted by ook at 7:16 PM on August 30, 2003

The very reason they moved it to the middle of nowhere, and I mean, you haven't seen nowhere until you've been to the black rock desert, is to make sure only the people who really want to go, go. And even after that they had to take extra measures to keep out the drunk frat boys who wanted to show up on the weekend and look at nekkid chicks. It's interesting to see people who haven't ever been there and won't ever go complaining about how terrible the heat must be. Welcome to the anti-demographic!
Yes, it's fun, and no, you don't have to go. What's the big deal?
posted by uosuaq at 8:03 PM on August 30, 2003

hordes of drugged people with fire.

Damn, makes me wish I'd thought about going.

Elim: FYI it's "amateurs"
posted by clevershark at 8:32 PM on August 30, 2003

I live in the area, and it's been about 7-8 years (sheesh - is that right?) since I've been to a Burning Man. It was way smaller (ONLY about 10k people). It was total chaos back then; people driving over your tent in the middle of the night, freaked out drugged-out whackos getting in your face, etc. In other words, pretty fun! Now I understand it's a lot more organized and that's probably a good thing. Still, 30K plus people , ooof.

I think the premise of the BM experience is total geographic isolation with total immersion in a variable subjective reality, and that sounds niftier than I found it to be. Quite a ride though - if you've never been, its worth the effort, even more so now I guess. Think if I ever did it again, I'd have to bring an RV - sometimes you just have to shut it all out for a little while.

Still I love going out into the Black Rock for a solo nights camp out - get past Gerlach, put cruise control at 85 across the playa, and slam on the brakes after 20-30 minutes - that's your campsite (process a little simplified). Total isolation, it really is sublime.
posted by elendil71 at 8:35 PM on August 30, 2003

Hot Damn, I tried Amateurs first and it didn't look right. HA!
I should learn to trust my first instinct...
posted by Elim at 8:48 PM on August 30, 2003

extra measures to keep out the drunk frat boys

I'm very curious as to what these measures are. Could be useful in daily life, don'tcha know.
posted by gai at 10:09 PM on August 30, 2003

something tells me the middle of black rock is a pretty interesting place tonight - with mars looming overhead and all. next year i'm in.
posted by specialk420 at 11:49 PM on August 30, 2003

Anyone for a round of Burning Man Bingo? [via Boing Boing, and more specifically Xeni Jardin, who apparently a. went and b. took a laptop to blog it, so expect more soon.]
posted by arto at 2:41 AM on August 31, 2003

I think the premise of the BM experience is total geographic isolation with total immersion in a variable subjective reality, and that sounds niftier than I found it to be.

So just what makes BM any different from being stuck in a K-hole? :)
posted by ed at 3:13 AM on August 31, 2003

Seeing as Burning Man has a wireless connection to the Net, I'd be amazed if some MeFi members who are attending this year don't take a few minutes to post their experiences sometime over the weekend.
posted by skylar at 7:33 AM on August 31, 2003

Frat boys will not be tolerated at all

sweet. glad to see that we can add intolerance to the list of things burning man's all about.
posted by chrisege at 9:21 AM on August 31, 2003

Such fun!
posted by Dennis Murphy at 9:28 AM on August 31, 2003

I can't believe I forgot to stock up on drugs before all the dealers left town for burningman =(
posted by nomisxid at 10:08 AM on August 31, 2003

A town of 30,000 and of vehicle death, Sad, an accident is always sad, I think the last death was in 96 and a vehicle related one too.. that being said you can't blame the event for a vehicle accident.

On the ticket It states the The holder assumes all responsibility for their own safety,.

That being said, drunk people, ArtCar, Night, do the math. The fact that it hasn't happened in 7 years or so is remarkable.
posted by Elim at 11:37 AM on August 31, 2003

tickets? is money involved? who organises this? who owns the land? what permits are required? why do i sound like my dad?
posted by quonsar at 12:42 PM on August 31, 2003

Damn, I meant to link to this.
posted by Fofer at 1:27 PM on August 31, 2003

When I was at Burning Man last, I was astonished at how FEW deaths and accidents there were. Considering that the place is full of people driving at high speed, drunk as hell, using flamethrowers, building unsafe creaky buildings, setting fire to stuff, dancing in burning cages.... it's amazing that the body count is so low.
posted by skylar at 3:01 PM on August 31, 2003

quonsar: yes, money is involved; the ticket price starts at around $125 in January and increases steadily through the year to about $250 at the gate. It's federal land, run by the BLM. The ticket is paid to Black Rock City LLC, who obtain permits from the BLM, set up infrastructure (lay out streets, bring in portable toilets, train rangers), build and run Center Camp, and of course build the Man.
posted by Mars Saxman at 5:04 PM on August 31, 2003

Quonsar, Check the site out and all your answers will come, as for the rest either go or don't.
posted by Elim at 7:00 PM on August 31, 2003

few deaths? How many were there?
posted by crunchland at 7:31 PM on August 31, 2003

I think in 96 one and then one so far in 03, although there were probably a few on the highways getting to BM. 10 - 30,000 a year there would tend to be.
of course we have a few drunks who tend to get singed and the man who attempted and failed in un-assisted flight,(98?) (he failed but did survive) interesting enough, they brought a dead guy who did get to fly (in a rocket) so alls even.
posted by Elim at 9:36 PM on August 31, 2003


This was my first year and I had a blast. Although I was, at one point, on the first day, plotting my escape to the Reno Hilton. The environment is unforgiving especially on those with the bad judgement to consume loads of Taco Bell prior to arriving. It took nearly a full day for me to acclimatize to the point that I could go for a bike ride.(btw... I think that the toilets were exceptionally well maintained given the demands. The pumper trucks worked continuously.)

The streets were well marked and better planned than most American cities. Traffic was mostly bicycles and the motorized vehicles seemed very careful.

I'm surprised that more people don't die out there. I could easily picture people just dropping and convulsing. Fortunately the event staff seemed to really be on top of things. The med. tents were obvious and well equipped. And there was definitely a law enforcement presence on the alert for dangerously intoxicated folks.

There was no Starbucks, but there was a Starf*cks. And there was large refrigerated trailers with couches for the overheated. There were enough open bars (like our neighbors' awesome Tiki Atoll) to keep one dangerously dehydrated.

The creativity and industriousness of folks is amazing. I was stunned (something that doesn't happen easily) at the quality of some pieces. There was an large sculpture consisting of 4 stone slabs suspended between steel arches that was mind blowing. And the temple, made of cardboard tubes, was just awesome.

At one point I was the only fan of an all-white reggae band setup in the middle of the desert. In the empty background, a life sized, Moby Dick went cruising by and then a larger than life shark passed in the opposite direction.

I'm giving it a 9 for quality art. I'm not generally a fan of experimental performance pieces, but there were some really cool works here.

I especially liked the Apocalyptic stuff. The Road Warrior sort of patched together desert cars rumbling, shooting flames, and cranking death metal.

The parties ranged from the elaborate fashion show to dirt stomping hillbilly. Drum and bass rumbled in the distance all night. It was good fun but started to wear thin after a few days.

Burning Man is definitely not for the frail, prudish, or faint of heart. And I'm thinking that it's a good thing that middle aged men wear pants in public.
posted by laptop_lizard at 11:04 AM on September 1, 2003

This is late off the mark, but here's the statement from the driver. He's asked for it be circulated.

By now I'm sure everyone has heard about Katharine Lampman, the 21 year-old woman who was killed early Saturday morning on the playa at Burning Man. What
follows is a message from the person who was driving the art car/Bar-car Katherine was on... he has asked for it to be forwarded so that everyone will know exactly what happened, especially since the media has said little more than that someone was killed at Burning Man.

Forwarded Message:

many of you heard about the tragic artcar accident early saturday
morning. my good friend was driving the artcar when it happened, and he
has requested circulation of his statment so that we may all know the
truth about what happened out there that morning. his forwarded
message follows:

Please excuse the group e-mail but I wanted to share a couple of
experiences I had this past week that will explain my actions,
currently and hopefully not too drawn out future.

I was part of an annual 33,000 attendees week long party in the
desert called Burning Man. A gathering I've come to understand and
love. A community that to most is questionable, but to some
perfectly defined. Survival is extreme and the ideals and standards
are stentorian in every direction. It's a place where judgment is
left at home and inhibition has run wild, ultimately ending in the
spectacular burn of an 80-foot, imposing wooden structure of the
"Man". Primarily, an adult playground. Each individual interprets
the reason and meaning of the "Burn". Some see it as re-birth of
themselves, some see it as aspiritual revolution, and others see it
simply as a pyromaniacs dream
come true. Part of my draw is the creativity, selflessness, beauty
and the gargantuan events in partying. Outsiders and possibly, with
preference, some insiders see it as Sodom and Gomorrah, but I see as
a giant love and art festival that comes out to the middle of nowhere
for a week and leaves without a trace. can only scratch the surface
of what this is all about. Experiencing it first hand is the only
way to comprehend why so many people are magnetically attracted to
the "Burn".

Unfortunately, with this many people, coupled with the heightened
party environment, there are chances of misfortunes. I was a part of
one of those misfortunes this past weekend.

Some may have heard of a fatal accident at this year's "Burn" but
didn't get any definite details. The news traveled worldwide and is
continuing to grow as the days pass. Information remains vague
because of the nature of the "accident" and individuals are not being
exposed for protection of those involved and also for the fact that
no criminal charges have been placed from both the State of Nevada
and the members of the victim's family. But, for those that are
close to me, I want the story to be told.

First, a little background on the "I'm OK, You're OK Corral"; I'm
second year burner and have joined a beautiful circle of old and new
friends. Most have attended the "Burn" for many years and have
always encouraged me to go; now I'm hooked. This last event, the
group has grown to fifty plus, ranging from young and old, rich to
poor, artsy fartsy types to corporate types - you get the idea. Our
camp is composed of rented motor homes, custom busses, small tents,
movingtrucks and the hand built, two stories high "House of Folly". Our
pride and joy-center piece is called "Bar Car". Certain individuals
in our camp have converted a simple van into a serious, moving party
machine that can only be described as a two story high, extremely
loud and bright, rolling night club. This year Bar Car was also
pulling a trailer with additional bass speakers, full size couch and
beverage containers. Following "Bar Car" was a self-powered "chill
out" lounge comprising of an Air Stream trailer. It was call "The
Love Sub". The spectacle was a magnificent sight and truly a magnet
to anyone nearby.

A typical night out starts around 9 or 10 and continues anywhere from
2 to 5 in the morning. We cruise around to many of the hundreds of
theme camps, parties and dance areas, occasionally visiting many of
the freestanding individual art pieces sprinkled about the two-mile
diameter of the open "playa". The art pieces range from big to
bigger, with a wide range of expression and costing anywhere from a
few bucks to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Part of the beauty
and immensity is that no one is out to make a buck. All the money
goes back into the event's art and organization.

Friday night was an evening of enormous proportions. We started off
with and event called "99 Brides" where everyone from our camp, along
with folks from a few other camps, wore wedding dresses. We all went
out and got married to the "Man" and to each other. Not to be taken
literally by most, but a fun event nonetheless. We traveled around
the "Burn" and just had a ball. A few hours later, we all decided to
go back to the camp to re-group and change into warmer clothing.
(Desert weather is brutal in both directions of temperature). Around
2AM we were on our way again, this time with me in the driver seat.
We cruised around the camps for a while before I started to head for
the "Temple of Honor". The "Temple" is the second largest icon of
the "Burn" and goes down in flames on Sunday night. It's a
multi-story structure made of black and white patterned paper on a
cardboard and wood frame, a dignified architecture where people leave
written messages and gifts to those who have passed on. Doubtless,
the most emotional area, filled with an infinite amount of grief,
pain and reminiscence. I passed by the "Temple" and moved on so as
to not disturb those inside by the high volume of the sound system.
A few moments later, the most horrific tragedy ensued.

Cathy, our newest and youngest member was a tall and beautiful young
lady, a quiet person with eyes that enjoyed every second of her
newfound experience. If a camera that could take a thousand pictures
a second existed, she would've owned it. She wanted to take home and
share this event with everyone at home. I only knew her for a short
time, spending maybe a total of 2 of hours of interaction with her,
but in those brief moments I found a new friend. We had a couple of
conversations, we danced, I watched her dance, she danced some more,
and I guess you can say she liked to dance. Her long straight, black
hair flowed with every move and all I could think was that her
expressions were genuine, full of life, full of passion. Even though
we all just met her, we all knew her. She was each and every one of
us the first time we stepped foot on that ancient desert lakebed.

Cathy decided she wanted to see the "Temple of Honor". She climbed
down from the second story, stepped to the back right of "Bar Car"
and jumped off while we were in motion. Somehow, she ended up
falling back towards "Bar Car". I will never forget the feeling that
surged into my hands through the steering wheel. My worst fears were
followed by a myriad of terrified voices, screaming for me to stop
the car. I ran back and discovered that the trailer ran her over.
Her life was slowly coming to an end as she breathed less and less.
Revival was attempted, but failure was inevitable. Someone grabbed a
spectatorís bicycle and speed off to a nearby ranger. Soon after the
Sheriffs showed up with an ambulance, taking her to the medical
center. A helicopter was on its way. As I was writing out my
statement, a deputy told me that the helicopter left without her and
that she didn't make it. My heart sank deeper than the oceans; my
life paused for what seemed to be an eternity. The terrible news
eventually reached everyone on "Bar Car", a new level of desolation
proceeded and the mourning began. The standard criminal
investigation started and lasted just passed 5AM. I took two
Breathalyzer tests, both coming up zero. I also volunteered to take
a legal blood test. Most of you who know me are aware of my
preferences to keep any illegal substances out of my body. Needless
to say, for my sake and for the outcome of the accident, I was
relieved the situation went only this far.

Saturday's events took place. A funeral, a few moments at a
memorial, a visit to the "Temple" and a slow walk back to the camp.
I went back with my cousin and found the location of the accident.
We constructed a simple shrine made up of extra pieces from the
"Temple". I slowly walked back alone with my collective thoughts.
Back at camp, everyone floated around in gloom and sadness. The
sounds of crying and quiet conversations whispered as our tragic
story replayed itself in our heads. Sometime in the afternoon,
everyone silently started the breakdown of the camp, a few of us went
to clean up "Bar Car" and our evening meal was prepared. Just before
9PM, we all changed and gathered behind "The Love Sub". On foot, we
followed the "Sub" to the "Man" and waited for the burn to begin. As
expected, we witnessed the impossible to explain burning of the
"Man", an event so large and amazing we've all come to appreciate
it's immense power. But, this time there was an added meaning.
Amidst the largest party in the world, there stood in a group hug,
fifty people weeping for our boundless loss. We closed our evening
at our camp surrounding a small bonfire. A few speeches were spoken,
a song was sung and folks slowly retired to a much-needed slumber.

Sunday, the majority of the camp went home. My cousin and I stayed
behind to watch the "Temple" burn. An experience most of the camp
have yet to encounter. I found it more to my liking, much smaller,
more intimate and most appealing, very quiet. I felt it even more
necessary for my own healing to witness the burn as to honor Cathy's
last wish before leaving us. It was beautiful. I've never seen such
detail and contrast in a fire. It looked like magic as the different
colors flew around forming shapes and spirals found only in such a
unique structure. Compounded with the dramatic display of sorrow
amongst the observers, I encountered another facet of my soul. Cathy
will be missed. Cathy will be remembered.

Adding to my already heavy weekend, I got more bad news. I found out
that my first piano teacher, Joyce Rae, fell very ill to cancer of
the liver. Mom Rae is my surrogate mother. She's known me since my
childhood and taught me from age five to age eighteen. But her
teachings never ended, for her strength and wisdom has been a source
of energy that has continues to grow throughout my adult life. She's
not in the habit of showing people her ailments and believes dearly
that this will pass. Unfortunately, her condition has left her
without an appetite. My heart dropped even further below the ocean
floor as I saw how thin she had become. I spent a couple of hours
with her before driving home to LA. Time will tell how long she'll
be here with us.

I've always been resilient, able to get through difficulties with a "get down to business" attitude. However, this time around it's become apparent that my threshold is being challenged. I know I'll be OK, I'm still breathing, I'm still healthy, I'm still loved and I still love. Thank you for listening and helping me to process my adventures. Till next time.

posted by jokeefe at 4:52 PM on September 4, 2003

"Yeah, I ran over someone and killed her. But I'll get over it, and I'll be back on the playa next year! Party on!"

Self-absorbed motherf*cker.
posted by crunchland at 5:07 PM on September 4, 2003

a journey to your own limits

Indeed. Many got no further than this thread.

BTW quonsar: We get it. You melt in the heat. Stay home on AC life support then.
posted by scarabic at 4:46 PM on September 5, 2003

THANK JEBUS. Someone finally said what I've been trying all this time to say.
posted by scarabic at 3:14 PM on September 9, 2003

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