9.22.2007

Robin's Adventures at Burning Man, Part IV

(This is the fourth part of a multi-part series about the Burning Man Festival. To read this series from the beginning, please go here.)

by Robin Forman
Special to iVoryTowerz

“Thank you, driver, for getting me here. Too much, the Magic Bus.”
–The Who

Premature Burn


En Route to Burning Man.
Seven days until the Man burns (officially).

I’m sitting at a table, on a school bus, playing Texas Hold ‘Em over Seagram’s and 7up with an Irish guy in a top hat and an artist from Los Angeles named Aaron who wears a skeleton mask. I am wearing a Darth Vader helmet.

There’s a sticker above our heads that reads: “When I’m not busy saving the planet I like to get drunk and screw.”

I couldn’t have been happier.

Finally, we pull off the last of the paved roads at the sign for Burning Man. I have tears in my eyes as I watch Black Rock City unfold before me. I can see the Man!

Some of the boys and I, beers in hand now, climb up to the couch on top of the bus to ride into the city in style.

I was a virgin burner. So, at the entrance gate I couldn’t just show them my ticket and enter. I had to ring the bell. And in order to ring the bell I either had to take off my clothes or make a “dust angel.” Next year I’ll take off my clothes. This year it was the dust angel for me.

My friendly bus escorts, Chris and the Voodoo Space Patrol were camping on the opposite side of the city from my camp site with the Gypsy Nomads. So I wandered over to my site. I had a beer with the neighbors, twirled fire down the street, got invited to the Mile High Club, and had vegetarian tacos with my fellow gypsies. Soon, it was time to get my gear from the bus.

“Let’s take an art car,” said Jasmine, a fellow gypsy. And just like that I was running after a girl in turquoise lingerie and sneakers who was running after a blue-lit metal dance floor on wheels.

There was supposed to be a lunar eclipse and parties underneath it. So Jasmine and I headed into the desert. We were accompanied by Aaron, and his pals from the Voodoo Space Patrol, Jed and D. We wanted to be close to the Man when the eclipse happened. We were standing just outside of the tent that was under the Man when the eclipse started. Everyone seemed to move in slow motion when it came time to watch it. And as we were standing there we noticed a guy climbing up the sides of the big tent. “That’s weird,” I thought. And the others seemed to have a similar thought from the looks in their eyes. Then again, this was Burning Man and everything was kind of weird.

But then something weirder happened: the climbing guy reached out and lit the Man on fire.

HOLY SHIT! THAT GUY JUST LIT THE MAN ON FIRE!

There we were, in the middle of the night/morning, all just watching the Man go up in flames now six days before he was officially scheduled to burn. I clung to D and his furry coat like they were the only things that were going to keep me from falling off the planet. I was so upset. Seemingly from nowhere, firemen appeared finally and extinguished the Man. But the damage had been done literally from his toes on up to his head.

“I wonder what we’ll do on Saturday now,” D asked.

“We should burn the guy who lit him like a witch,” I suggested.*

*Authorities in Nevada have charged Paul Addis with arson in connection with the early burn. His arraignment is set for next week.

(To read the preceding part, please go here. To read the next part, please go here.)

(Photo courtesy of Robin Forman. To see a video of the early burn from the 2007 festival, please check below.)






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