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Burning Man ’07

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me in dust storm the ‘second’ man some of you may have seen media about what occurred at burning man, ‘the green man’ , this year… in brief: for the last thirteen years at the event there has been a news-sheet, one of the local papers if you will called “piss clear”… this a reference to staying hydrated in the hot desert by making sure that ones piss is clear, not yellow… so there is an announcement in the paper that after all this time its gonna stop publishing, likely a big deal to some not much of a deal to others… so on tuesday i guess that was the 28th of Aug. what is supposed to be the next to last issue comes out (they only do like three issues a week i think, something like that)… piss clear is always very sarcastic and caustic and contains a lot of ‘anti-establishment’ raving about burning man being too commercial etc etc and in this particular issue there was a ranting editorial by somebody calling themselves ‘maldorar’ or some such reference to Lautreamont the mysterious 19th century French poet and writer… in this rant the guy goes on about the selling out of burning man, the idea of dubbing this years event ‘the green man’ as an attempt to appear politically correct in the eyes of the world when in fact the thing is intrinsically overfed and full of gasoline… then he goes on to suggest what a gas it would be if someone set fire to ‘the man’ before all of the yuppies show up on friday night spoiling their fun etc etc… so thats the set up… that very night, tuesday night was the night of the lunar eclipse and absolutely everyone who was awake at two in the morning was watching the moon which was on the other side of the horizon than the man during the eclipse, in other words to watch the eclipse you had to be facing away from where ‘the man’ was standing… the perfect diversion… we slept through the thing sadly but i was told by several people that “a gasp arose from twenty thousand throats” as first one then another then everyone who had been watching the moon spun around to see ‘the man’ blazing away four days early… the fire department that is on call there put out ‘the man’ but not before he was good and charred… a day or two later some guy was busted for ‘arson’, his mug shot shows him grinning happily with his face covered in war paint… another ‘man’ was quickly put together with a phoenix painted on his forehead… for me i thought the premature burning was totally in keeping with the spirit of the thing, i’m just sorry i missed it… when the second ‘man’ finally burnt amidst all of the usual pomp and ceremony i was struck that his fire seemed less majestic than it did in previous years, i asked and people said that the one that had been burnt on tuesday was similar in its lack of blaze… so whats happening in ‘Black Rock City”? in the four years that we’ve been away certainly some changes; for example i just didnt see many of the amazing costumes that i had i previous years, there were a few great ones but just not the same magnitude… every year apparently the crowds at burning man increase as does the percentage of ‘first timers’, this year there were 44 thousand people and fifty percent there for the first time… i had a great time though, still no matter how ‘commercial’ it ever gets as long as it goes along the same lines as it has it will always be a little bit amazing and beautiful… “the monkies”…one of the most amazing installations, ‘the monkies’ were a huge Zoetrope, really impossible to describe, one had to see it working… it was very far out on the playa and one was always seeing people wandering around saying “where are the monkies?”… at night when five or six people rode stationary bikes that powered it the huge carousel would turn, strobe lights would go off and the illusion of one monkey swinging through the air and eating an eternally slithering snake was just fantastic “the monkies” at night ‘man’ burns officially finally we were all saddened by the passing of Hilly Crystal, i had a really great affection for him, he was a father figure for all of us, i am just really glad that near the end he was hailed as an innovator, that he finally got a little of the attention that he deserved all along