1996 berning man report
rid bruce sterling'z articul in wired also,
hi ekspleinz it much
beter than ai du and it'z u greit articul wether yu wer ther or nat
This wuz thu imeil that ai sent aut upan riterning frum berning man.
Mai frend Maureen and ai jest gat bak frum 5 dez at berning man, in thu Blak Rak dezert ov northern Nevada. Thu dezert izn't al that big rili, mebi 15 bai 40 mails or so... yu can alwes si sum mauntinz in thu distens so yu don't get disoriented (at list nat in thu daytime). Thu serfis iz flat, crakd mud; thu "playa" az pipul cal it iz akchuali an ainchint drai lekbed, perfektli flat.
Setting up sufishent shed tu kip thu brutel sun of ov us wuz a lat ov werk; tuk most ov u de tu set up and unuther 5 aurz tu brek daon. Ther wuz uraund 5,000 pipul, but meni ov them didn't uraiv until Saturde (de bifor thu man bernd). Most pipul wer set up in thu mein camp, wich had rodz leid aut and had u centrul ariu with redio steshin, stej, etc. Rev camp wuz 2 mailz north (last yir the wer onli 1 mail south, and thu hevi beis batherd sum foks). We wer campd hafwe bitwin men and rev camp.
The scene was total anarchy; people drove wherever they wanted, wore bizarre clothes or (a good-sized fraction of the population) nothing at all, made whatever strange noises/music they wanted, and of course those into recreational substances did so with great gusto. There was the usual weird art projects and challenging performance art, strange encampments, and odd vehicles including art cars, self-propelled parasails, hand-built helicopter, motorized skateboard shaped like squid, etc. One camp had a replica of Stonehenge made to resemble mud called Mudhenge, which had a mudpit nearby which typically had 50 or so naked people lounging in slippery wet mud. The sound of techno, motorcycles, airplanes, and flame-throwers was overlaid with the howl of the wind which picked up each afternoon and early evening. At Fern Grotto camp they had a portable hangar filled with real live ferns and a misting system; it felt *really* good to stand near them during the hot day. In the Chai tent they had really groovy dub playing, soft couches and hot Chai for free in the middle of the cold night.
Some music I recognized being played: Loop Guru / Duniya, Orbital / Orbital 2, Delerium / Semantic Spaces, both albums of Banco de Gaia.
On Saturday (the main party night) there was a big performance involving some people dressed up as Satan and female devil with giant strap-on dildo, numerous symbols of corporate America such as a 7-ft. box of McDonalds fries, a SRL (survival research labs) robot (tank tread with a 10-foot robotic arm capable of lifting, crushing, and hurtling a shopping cart), more than one flame-thrower, and a "towering inferno" building which put off such a blast of heat when it burned that the thousand or so people present screamed and ran for cover in panic. After the she-devils finished sodomizing the fries, the robot sloppily hurled them into the inferno... actually this was all weirder than it sounds.
Sunday night was the burning of the Man himself. At about 40 ft., he wasn't a big as I would have thought. Still, he was loaded with paraffin-soaked canvas, fireworks and other small explosives, etc. and was quite a sight when he burned. Everybody was present in their finest/weirdest costume (or lack thereof, showing off some really impressive body piercings) and we screamed and danced and pounded drums etc. The heat was so intense that there were mini-whirlwinds coming off the man filled with flame.
Sadly in this state of chaos there were a handful of fatalities. One fellow was driving drunk in the middle of the night on his motorcycle with his lights off and smashed into a truck, another person fell asleep at the wheel and ran over two people in a tent. There was some shock and much sadness on the last day as people dealt with the loss of their friends and the realization of the risks of having so many people camped so crazily in an open desert without roads or speed limits. Part of the problem was that it was Labor Day weekend and many of the people driving around weren't even burning man people, they were locals come to gawk at the nekkid wimmen and get drunk.
At rave camp there were 3 big soundsystems and several other smaller camps had big speakers as well. At Gateway Sound System, they had a beautiful tower with billowing gossamer black-light-illuminated glowing fabric and a 7-ft. light-green female alien, luminous and beautiful in the black-light, crafted by Maureen. I helped transport and set up the alien. Maureen and I put a container of Gummi Octopus next to her alien and labeled it 'Alien Food'.