1997 burning man report

see also: bruce sterling's article in wired
& the official burning man site

This was the email that I sent out upon returning from burning man in 1997.

"I set out early Friday AM in my little new Honda hatchback, loaded with bicycle, 15 gallons of water, and several bags of nonperishable groceries. I also had a travel companion in Jeremiah, who called at the last possible moment, one of the serendipitous coincidences that are his trademark.

We made amazing time at 75 MPH up the sierra nevadas, made an obligatory stop for cheap fatty food in Reno, and made it to Gerlach by mid-day. Having no camping equipment, i immediately set out to find friends to stay with. Bianca's Smut Shack was large and shady, full of couches, but they were playing loudish music around the clock. The Lycaeum folks had a nice shade structure but it wide-open and exposed to cross traffic. Thankfully Maureen had her full tent, trailer, and surrounding billowing shade, like i set up with her last year.

High points of this year:

  • The "daughters of Ishtar" opera. Hundred of people, semi-clad to unclad, wild costumes, enormous set with lots of things on fire, quite a spectacle. I recall at one point Ishtar (ancient fertility goddess) belting out the lyrics "and Whooooo will plow my Vulva?" prompting
    giggles from the crowd.

  • The hot springs. Missed them last year. There's an actual geyser out there, spouting boiling hot water into a system of pools or decreasing temperature. Murky, but delightfully warm with soft mud. Did the "cover yourself with mud and lie in the sun till crispy" thing. Again, hundreds of naked folks -even ran into an old roommate of mine from Mill Valley (Jaime), by chance, while swimming across a pond to the geyser.

  • A mud pit, near my car, tightly packed with naked squiming drunk 20-somethings. We attracted a lot of photographers, whom we taunted with the admonition that if we're being photographed naked, THEY should be naked too. Actually, it wasn't put quite that tactfully - thanks to a fair amount of tequila, it became a chant of "no dick, no pic!" and "no clit, no pic!". Most of the photographers obliged, except for two shy korean tourist-types. I was impressed that over half of the photographers had genital peircings, straight through the penis or multiple labia.

  • The Man himself. Somehow it was more exciting and less anticlimactic this year. I met up with friends at the Fray camp, who were proudly flying their Fray flag (and hosting an unplugged version of the Fray!) I brought them peaches and pound cake before we suited up with abundant glow sticks and set out into the darkness toward the Man. Adam of the the open window brought a large drum with which he and i were carried along through the crowd by the surging tide of exuberant humans.

The nicest thing about the event, though, was spending quality time and catching up with fellow members of my far-flung tribe, like Adam (from LA), Julie (3 hours away and usually busy), and Rob (from Kyoto!), and meetings members for the first time as well, Derek and Drue (the nicest people!), Jim Kent (from Seattle, of the Resonance Project).

Now my tan lines have vanished and my sunburn is healing, my bike and car are still covered with playa dust, and i'm looking forward to next year.



obligatory man photos:
someone else's picture of the mud pit i was in:
still looking for a picture of the pit with me in it..
i met these guys at Intel who were in the pit with me
but i didn't catch their names

silver hat, shirt & car

w/ jeremiah

my fave photo


solid ice

derek & fray "unplugged"

mud at the geyser

ravers the morning after

adam (my only picture of him)