9.05.2008

The Return of Robin's Adventures at Burning Man

(Editor's Note: This is the first part of a six-part diary posting covering the Burning Man Festival in Nevada, which ended earlier this week. Last year's series on Burning Man remains quite popular so here is the inevitable sequel.)

by R. J. Forman

It was a different kind of burn this year.

It was different for many obvious reasons like I was with a different camp of people.

It was different because I guess I’m a year older and maybe an eighth of that wiser.


This year at Burning Man, the police presence was unheard of, unnecessary, overwhelming, and completely obnoxious. There were K-9 units driving up and down the streets of our harmonious Black Rock City (BRC), and cops standing in the doors of the Root, one of Black Rock City's clubs, during the Bassnectar performance, and even completely unnecessary.... bullet proof vests.

But it was more than those simple things.

After the festival was over, I find myself sitting in the Denver airport en route back to my mundane life of non-neon colors, florescent lights and art you can’t touch.

$215 extra for an earlier flight back.

Radiohead via iPod the only comfort.

The dust from the Playa still clings to my hands and the pain of a heart pried open every so slightly rings in my chest.

Burning Man is so hard to explain.

Burning man isn’t just hippies and ravers in the desert for a week-long party. It is so much more and people who say otherwise invoke in me the very anger and rage I go to Burning Man to dissipate.

I will gladly laugh at Stephen Colbert’s jab at the Democratic National Convention using video footage from Burning Man. And I will gladly joke about the old school naked hippies from San Francisco who wander BRC. Or I’ll joke about being paid for my services to the Burning Man Media Mecca in sea shells.

But I will never joke about how Burning Man, for one week, restores my faith that the human species is good. That humans look after their own kind. That humans can find startling beauty in the most barren of places. That the species can find beauty in every shape and size of its own kind.

Last year, I told this tale in 13 parts. This year you will get a briefer tale.

However, there are good friends and interesting foes to this story. There is an element of magic and, of course, like any good story: love and lessons learned.

Shall we….

(To read last year's series on Burning Man from the beginning, please go here. To read the most popular posting from last year's series, please go here. To read the next part in this year's series, please go here.)

(The photo shows cars entering the site to Burning Man at sunrise on the first day of the festival. The photo is © copyright Jay Heffernan and is used with permission. To see a small slice of the dance party at the Opulent Temple at Burning Man 2008, please check below.)







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