So, I went to Burning Man this year, my first burn. (In playa terms, I am no longer a virgin but a burner.) It was truly a glorious experience, filled with images like the one above. Yes, that's an untouched photo [source] (click to enlarge.)
Here's a photo of the Temple in front of one of the four pots of gold:
Geoff, one of my campmates, climbed on his bike to see how close he could come. He returned with this tale (paraphrased): "Out of everyone in the world, 45,000 people come to Burning Man. Of those, 100 chase the rainbow. Of those, three hop the boundary fence to get there. I could not die satisfied without meeting the other two."
Later, he wrote:
So I did the (emotionally) logical thing: I hopped on my bike and tried to find the end of the rainbow. I could see it out in deep playa, for Christ's sake.
I discovered that the trash fence was in between me and my goal. At the trash fence were a hundred people who had just been forced to the same conclusion.
Indistinct on the horizon were two people who evidently did not care that someone had put up a piece of orange plastic in between them and the end of the rainbow: a dangerous and radical concept.
I dropped my bike and jumped the fence. I wonder if I have ever felt so uneasy in a situation that I knew to be entirely safe. Looking back at Black Rock City, and a hundred rainbow-seekers gawking at me, and thinking about my four years on the playa, I felt a tragicomic exuberance in the back of my throat and the pit of my stomach. When I look back on that moment and imagine it, our little city seems so painfully beautiful, and the people in it so proud, fierce, and vulnerable.
I had a long, surreal conversation with the Boys of the Horizon that I will carry with me as a protective talisman for many years.
Eventually Perimeter picked us up. They said very little beyond these sage words: "Inside good, outside not so good."
I am holding in my hands a big black oily rock from the society beyond the fence.
may the playa provide,
ps. I do not recommend harassing Perimeter. They are really nice people and they are working while we are playing.
The double rainbow happened on Friday afternoon, after the second huge dust storm in two days. You cannot fully appreciate its beauty without surviving one of these things. This video demonstrates the winds, but not the full white out conditions (which were sometimes an alien yellow or red). During the storm on Thursday, I briefly ventured from our camp's hookah dome, in which 30 or 40 people eventually took cover, to check on my battered tent. I barely made it back. The dust burned my chest, visibility was 5-10 feet, and I had to walk slowly with my arms out to avoid collisions. Here I am (second from left) in the dome with some campmates early in the storm:
(In the foreground is Josh, who programmed and built some of our brilliantly trippy lighting displays. Yes, that's a red monkey tail.) The dome soon filled up, but really, there's nothing like a good weather emergency--and some music and beers--to bring people together.
More tales from the burn to come.