Burning Man 2007: The Green Man
You can go back here for the index of my burning man reports,
and you should first look at my Burning Man 2002 report
for details for the first time burner (and answers to common questions if you
don't know burning man)
Pictures and Videos
This year, I only took around 1550 pictures and videos (I must be getting old :) ) and brought the count down to 809 pictures (5 megapixels) and 21 mini movies (720x480).
They're all here.
Just like the previous years, it was a lot of work to process/fix/sort all the pictures and write this summary report.
As a way to say thanks if you enjoy the report, share it with your fellow
burners, or friends who might be interested in burning man. You can also
drop me a line and if you feel even more generous,
please make a donation to Opulent Temple, who is thousands of dollars in the red
for providing the best sound camp, parties and DJs on the playa out of their own
pockets (Burning Man LLC has a strange and unfortunate policy not to subsidize sound
camps, even though their contribution to the event is at least as meaningful to many
of us, as the art that was subsidized).
What can you do to help? You can write to the burning man folks and ask them to change their policy, and you can make a donation to Opulent Temple, like I did. Note that without your help, it is very likely that there will be no Opulent Temple and top DJs on the playa next year anymore: they can't keep putting all that work and lose a lot of personal money on top of it every year.
All video links require the Divx video codec. Go download it if you don't have it yet (mplayer on linux should work out of the box)
If you want to jump to a section directly, here are some shortcuts:
I was able, just like last year, to rent a Cessna 182 to fly to the playa. The flight would have been uneventful if I hadn't realized half way through the flight that I had spent too much last minute time packing, not enough time sleeping, and had left my tickets at home :(
I had to turn back, fly home, drive home, get my tickets, and redo the entire trip. While this only set me back 2H and we got there by 14:00 or so, before any dust storms, this reminded me how backwards the whole ticket system is, from the utterly stupid "blow up all our web servers fighting for a few cheaper tickets" game every year (as opposed to a lottery of some kind or some other way that doesn't blow up web servers), to the "if your tickets don't arrive in the mail, or you lose them, you just lost all your money, no refunds", to the fact that if you forget your tickets, they have no deal where they'll sell you $350 tickets at the gate and refund you your tickets at home when you send them in the mail later, or something of the sort (update: a fellow burner told me that they may actually offer people some kind of deal. All I know at this point is that the people at the gate I entered said there wasn't one. Maybe the deal(s) are on a case by case basis and the regular gate folks dont know about it? More info would be welcome).
I understand that simpler is better for them, but they are taking people's hard earned cash for many, and telling you to get bent if anything happens to your tickets in a day and age of bar codes, print at home tickets, and so forth. I understand that it would be more work for them to have bar code readers and provide online tickets, but for the amount of money they charge, they totally should.
Anyway, I started the Green Man by burning a lot of extra fuel flying back home to get my tickets, which kind of defeated the purpose of being green.
I suppose it's a recurring problem at burning man, on the BMord side or the participant camp organization side: sometimes some people get put in charge and really have no business being there, get on power trips and make everyone's lives either miserable, or much worse than it should be.
That said, none of this applies to the airport: Tiger Tiger, Dragonfly, and all the other volunteers did an awesome job setting up and running the airport. We had a record number of 151 planes tied down this year and our friendly neighbourhood Cessna Citation CJ1 jet came back this year for a couple of days.
While the C182 felt a little tired and slow, it did a reasonable job of lugging the weight of 3 people on board and our gear. We got there and back in a bit over 2H15 each way. I did a couple of scenic patterns around the city when I got there and left, and it was weird to see the playa without the man (more on this later), but cool to see the larger city (with a couple of rings added on the outside to accommodate the 45,000 people this year)
A big thank you goes to all the people who made the airport possible yet again, and all the volunteers who manned unicom and warned pilots away during dust storms
Notice how the man is missing
The ceram wrap and blue painter's tape did a great job of keeping the dust from the dust storms from inside the plane
A nice welcome from the airport staff
Who also did a good job checking my virgin passenger for contraband
Our returning Cessna Citation CJ1
I guess if you're trying to get it for free, it's not smart to land in parachute just in front of the man
Here's a link to all the planes on the ground, the flights, and the formation flight of planes in shape of a man over the playa.
After landing we did the "fun" walk to the center of the city, to our camp (the walk in the sun isn't that bad until you're carrying 50lbs+ of stuff there). Luckily, we were able to catch a ride on an art car for the last piece of the walk.
Our camp, Devil's Spa and Workshop, was likely one of the biggest, and had many amenities like a full kitchen, cooled truck with food, chefs, generator of course, IP phone, fancy shower (except for the fact that it ran out of water), and more...
Ok, our private porta-potties had a small car accident and were now convertible
My good old friend Diva, and Dan Das Mann at our camp
Ok, so I actually knew that the man had burned the day before I flew there (tuesday morning in the middle of the night), but it was still weird to overfly the city with no man in the middle.
By the time we got there on wednesday, it was in the process of being rebuilt ("we can rebuild it, it'll be better, stronger, faster "). The base had been left mostly undamaged, but the original man had burned a fair amount by the time it was put out by firemen, so it had to be replaced.
People had mixed feelings about the person who managed to set it on fire (who at the time of this writing was arrested and released on bail), but my take on it was that even if it was indeed destruction of property, it was still the ultimate prank, and funny in some way. Several camps on the playa seemed to agree and joke about it too (note that the team who did this apparently tried hard to draw the crowd away from the man and make sure no one would be injured).
DPW did an awesome job rebuilding a new man in 48 hours, including a few parts from the old man, as a symbol.
This year, the art by the man were displays on how to be more green, and the man itself was powered by batteries that were recharged by an array of solar panels.
You can see all the other pictures of the man here
Like last year, I brought my handheld GPS, and had the city map loaded on it, courtesy of the boing boing post (many thanks to Wayne Correia for making those GPS tracks available to us).
I give more details about how this is all useful in my report from last year
As you can see on the Google Earth map and the GPS overlay, the city didn't move this year (the two cities you see are 2005 and the high res 2006). The GPS streets show that 2007 a total of 4 more outer rings (i.e. 4 additional streets), although while the block off esplanade was wider, all the other streets were narrower, giving the whole city a distance equivalent of 2 more streets.
That said, to bike them all would have taken more time than I had this year: I spent time with my fiancee and being a bit more social instead of making it a point to cover every last inch of playa.
I think I still got to see most of what there was to see, but since I didn't spend as much time roaming everywhere, I may have missed a couple of cool bikes or arts cars (I think in the previous years, I almost got every single one). Sorry if I did.
My coverage map for this year is here, and only totals about 60 miles of biking out of a possible 100+ to do all the streets, but I'm hoping what I saw was still good enough
Black Rock City and The Playa this year
In addition to what's below, you can follow this link for pictures of the playa and that link for pictures of Black Rock City
Noticeable changes to black rock city this year, in addition to the 4 rings of streets that were added, were a couple of mini plazas at 4:30 and 7:30 (sure, why not), and the addition of ice trucks at 3 and 9 o'clock (ok, that was a good idea)
Oh, I should also thank our anonymous donor, S., for the 1200 green bikes donated to the playa. While this was a great idea, those bikes were however hard to find, probably because they were quickly swiped by people who were on foot. That's a hard problem to solve I suppose, unless you provide 40,000 bikes so that they are truly everywhere. From my point of view, I wasn't able to find one when I needed one to go retrieve my bike and tent that was way out there at the Derrick right after I arrived, but hopefully the bikes that were there were very useful to the people who were able to find them. However, if you horded one, shame on you!
This year, we had the Temple of Forgiveness. It was pretty nice and drew the usual crowds and playa weddings.
BMorg published a map of how much MOOP had been left behind per camp location last year
The new ice trucks were very welcome
Remnants of many playa green bikes
The temple looked good, but was eclipsed by the nearby derrick and structures from Crude Awakening
This year, the Dan Das Mann team (which I happened to camp with at Devil's Spa and Workshop) outdid themselves again with Crude Awakening: a warning about our dependence on crude oil (if you don't know about the peak oil problem, read up on it, it's an eye opener)
Some would argue that burning 10,000 gallons of jet fuel to denunciate our problem with oil is questionable, apparently the jet fuel was given by Nasa as unusable for their needs, and you can argue back that it may be a necessary step to make the point.
Either way, the art was beautiful, and the view from the top of the Derrick was great, especially now that the recent structures that man has been on, are nothing you can climb and get a nice playa view from. You can see all the nice pictures from Crude Awakening
We had our share of dust storms this year. They were so bad before the event that big installations like Crude Awakening weren't finished on time because the build crew wasn't able to work for a few days.
The 2nd or 3rd dust storm we had on friday brought some rain that then kept the dust to a minimum for a while. We were greeted by a nice double rainbow.
That said, my fellow pilot and friend, Ed Falk, remarked after flying in during a dust storm, that the weather was generally good nearby the city, but bad almost exactly where the city was. His point was that the city is very badly placed in a wind tunnel between the mountains, making it very prone to high winds and therefore dust storms. This doesn't mean that the city would be totally immune to any winds or thunderstorms by just moving it a few miles, but the effects of wind could likely be significantly reduced if it was carefully moved a bit further.
I have to agree with him and hope that short of moving the city back to some nice temperate beach, BMorg will at least consider moving the city to a better location on the playa where it is more sheltered from the wind. At least they are more likely to do so, if all of you ask them to consider it. I am of course assuming that the BLM would allow them to do so, I don't know how much leeway they have, but in my mind, BMorg is a customer and should have some say. If the BLM won't budge, they always have the option of taking their "business" elsewhere (as in the close to a million dollars paid in use fees for the land)
The night art displays were nice eye candy as always, from the Big Round Cubatron, which was still a crowd favourite and ran on solar panels this year, to a new favourite: the new animated monkeys, which were run by bikes and dynamos. The monkeys were lit via a stroboscope to create an animated flipbook like display (note that they were more a ape-human hybrid with no tails and the art piece was called Homoroborous, thanks to Brad Templeton for those notes)
Speaking of Night Life, as a trance lover, my favourite club was Opulent Temple this year again: they really outdid themselves with their DJ lineup, which included DJ Dan, Paul Oakenfold, Gabriel and Dresden, and Christopher Lawrence.
As always, our beloved lamplighters made sure that we could see at night (although the full moon helped quite a bit too)
The Solar Panel powered Round Cubatron
And the burner powered monkeys
We even had a hot air balloon do short flights at the crack ass of dawn
I have to give big thanks to all the DJs that came and played for free, and of course the entire Opulent Temple crew for setting all this up. As mentioned earlier, they are deeply in the red financially again (which wouldn't be the case if BMorg actually subsidized big sound camps that need it, please change that policy), and at this rate, it's not likely that they'll be able to come back again later.
If you can, please donate to their fund. Anything you can give will help.
I have many other pictures from Opulent Temple that you can look at.
While it is just impossible to both see all the camps and be at each one at the time(s) they have events, I can still give you my best shot for this year, as a few pictures below, and you can follow the link to pictures of all the camps
Fine French Dining in BRC, a first this year. Too bad I missed reservations
A Sauna, what a nice idea
That monkey chant was a great idea and sounded great (see video to listen to it and video 2)
Tss, as soon as you add 4 rings of real estate, some people are trying to take advantage of it
As usual, people are what makes Burning Man, and I have a few good pictures for this year too (and you can see the rest of the people of Burning Man to get more).
It was also a great surprise to run into the charming lady offering drinks out of her breasts. It was a trip in memory lane for me .
Bunnies, before the bunny march, which I missed due to a dust storm
Yes, your disguise is perfect
Those two FBI guys were totally awesome, and acted very authentic
The famous naked guy with blue umbrellas was back
Yeah... about that...
I am saddened to report that while being dedicated to following the different parades, I missed all of them but one this year. It's now time for a rant: whoever thought it was a good idea to "streamline" the "what where when" guide, caused more damage to the event than the guy who burned the man early. I'll give more details below in the rants section, but long story short, the guide was responsible for me missing both the critical dicks and french maid parades (among several other events).
The Bunny March, I missed due to a heavy dust storm, so we were only left with Critical Tits, which itself was likely cut short too due to weather, but at least I caught the beginning of it.
Then again, my web server logs seem to indicate that people are much more interested in Critical Tits than they are of the bunny march, so I guess it works out. Funny that...
Another favourite at Burning Man is of course all the interesting art cars, and bikes that are getting fancier every year.
You can follow the link to see the rest of the playa vehicles
While the green penis camp had some wind damage, their anatomically correct art car was shooting loads just fine
I didn't get to see the spider working, and that's a shame because it must have been mighty (just got a link from GroovePod, thanks much)
This year didn't beat 2006 in the number of weird and interesting bikes I saw, but it did win the highest bike contest as you can see in the picture below and the rest of the rest of the interesting and weird bikes is here
Ok, below was the winner of the highest bike, but he needed help to get on or off
While the actual burns have their own section and picture galleries, there was of course many other excuses to set things on fire, or display fire. A couple are shown here, and the rest are behind this link
So, as you know now, people who got there early enough got two burns for the price of one .
The actual man burn, was nicer for its fireworks than the burn itself in my opinion: structure the man was on was pretty small and it was held by cables so well that the man burned almost entirely on its pedestal without falling. I'm told it had to be pulled down on one of the cables. By the time it was down, there wasn't much to run around: just a small fire. We did however get a big mushroom of fire for a few seconds, apparently from a lot of jet fuel to start the slow fire to the man itself
In addition to the pictures below, you can follow the link for many more pictures of the man during the day/sunset/night and the burn
Jennifer & me, waiting for the burn
But because two is better than one, whether we're talking about a man burn, or a fireworks and setting stuff on fire on a given night, Crude Awakening had planned the burn of their derrick for 1h30 after the man.
I have to say that this was the best burn I had seen so far. It beat any prior man or temple burn by a long stretch in my opinion. The fireworks beforehand were truly beautiful (and very colorful), and the fire explosion of the derrick was impressive.
We were however not allowed to run towards the fire this time due to fears of toxic elements during the fire. That was fine by me, I had to go see Christopher Lawrence at Opulent Temple right after that burn anyway
You can see more pictures of this great burn
It was nice to run into random people I knew but hadn't seen in forever, as well as being recognized by random people like you who had read my pages.
Jennifer did a bit better this year with the elements considering that they were harsher, but the playa dust just isn't good for her eyes, even with goggles, and we felt that sunday morning was a good time to go.
The runway was closed when we were ready to go (due to having been just watered down), but we just took off parallel to it, on an empty piece of playa, did a pattern around the city, and flew home.
So, as I mentioned earlier, I'm not really planning on going to burning man in the next years, until there are some changes at least. Some of the reasons are:
But eh, despite those complaints I still had a good time and may come back in the future. We'll see how things change and what BMorg does.
- Well, 6 years in a row, ain't that bad already.
- Jennifer, my fiancee, got to see it a couple of years, enjoyed it, but didn't do too well with the elements. During the next summers, I think we'll both be happy to do something else with the time.
- Is the location with the harshest conditions possible really necessary? Even within that desert, BM could be moved outside of the wind and dust storm tunnel it's currently in. Don't worry, we can still have thunderstorms and rainbows after moving the event a bit and cutting down on the wind. If the BLM is inflexible, move elsewhere.
- While BMorg's efforts to be carbon neutral and good neighbours with the nearby towns through gifts like solar panels is to be commended, ever increasing ticket prices are a bit out of control. 45000 people at an average ticket price of $275 is 12 million dollars to work with. Is that much really needed? Among other issues, what if this shifts the attendees from people who had the BM spirit into rich yuppie spectators who only go to party and throw their beer cans on the ground? (for the record, I can afford it, but I'm sensitive to the fact that not everyone can).
I know that finances are a touchy subject, BMorg gets credit for publishing a finance report, although it can be hard to find (so here's the one for 2006). It's nice to have a breakdown, but it's not really possible to know if they could run a tighter ship, or not, unless you work there. Quantitatively, however, my feeling is that they shouldn't have to raise the ticket prices with an attendance that is rising that much.
- Or if they are going to have that much money, they should subsidize more worthwhile camps like Opulent Temple... (although as Brad Templeton noted, that would only be if those camps can be made to play nice with other nearby camps by keeping their sound local and not blasting towards over camps which then can't talk). I think that BMorg could actually set some ground rules for sound camps so that there are few/no complaints about them, and only subsidize the good ones that play by all those rules.
- Speaking of tickets, I don't want to be turned away at the gate because I left my paid for ticket at home, or it got lost in the mail (my first pair of ticket did get lost in the mail, and I was told that my money was lost and I had no recourse). BM should have a more modern ticket system to deal with all this, pretty much everyone else does: I should be able to download my ticket/print a bar code, and get in. Oh, and please stop this stupid race to get cheap tickets on overloaded servers, through a self-inflicted denial of service situation. Setup a lottery or something smarter.
- This one isn't BMorg's fault, but I heard that this year, the "authorities" changed their custom of sending hand picked "understanding" law enforcement people, and sent some who thought they would save the world by showing up with 4 ranger/sheriff cars with lights blasting because some guy was smoking a little pot at a party at 2 o'clock and esplanade just to make an example. Way to go guys, you really made this world a better place, and definitely improved your image with the community (for the record, I don't use drugs, but I'm against enforcement of soft drug laws)
- And I need to finish by saying that, like many burners this year, I was especially irked by the awful job that whoever changed the "what where when" guide did. In order to "streamline" something that had been fine so far, each event was listed by name and time with no description. You then had to find the name elsewhere in the book, and look for the description, which in turn gave a camp name, but no location. Come on! Was that so fscking hard to put the location there? You then had to look on a big map they gave you to find where that camp was.
Not only was this a huge pain in the ass in the best case scenario, but it was often a "2 out of 3" problem where one link was missing, and you'd miss the event because its time wasn't listed, or you could not find where the camp/location was, as it was unlisted in the map's list.
I personally missed 5 different events I wanted to attend due to this :(
- Thanks and kudos to DPW for rebuilding the man so quickly and in time for saturday.
- Thanks go to Jennifer for doing her best to follow me while I was biking around the playa taking all those pictures. She also gets credit for a few of the pictures shared on this page.
- I also need to thank Diva for having me in her camp again, and making sure we were setup and taken care of (and huge thanks for getting the stuff I couldn't take in the plane, there and back).
- Thanks to everyone who contributed to the event through a theme camp which offered music, jokes, funny signs, services, stories, food, cool drinks and more, as well as people who wore funny outfits, rode interesting bikes, or had an art car.
- Thanks also to Martha Van Inwegen from Life Elements for sending me a big box of towelettes which were awesome for cleaning/freshening up on the playa. While I had to hand carry a lot in my backpack across the playa when I did the long walk from the airport to our camp, I don't regret it as everyone I gave a pack to, loved them, and I loved them myself. If you'd like to try your own, or want more, you can get them here.
- And a big thanks again to all the volunteers and organizers who made the airport happen this year agin. Next year, we just need a TERPS'ed GPS approach into 04 and 22, and we'll be all set
(or if you want to setup an ILS, I'll take that too )
Here are a few links:
- Go see all the pictures here
- My other Burning Man reports
- 10mn Time lapse of the Man
- RE/Search Publications has recently published BURNING MAN LIVE, which has the best of all 13 years (1994-2007) of the Burning Man Journal Piss Clear. If you're a burner, you already know Piss Clear. If you're not, but are interested in BM, you may be interested in that compilation. You can get it from here
Please let me know if you'd like to take pictures or text for online or
publishing use, I'll work something out with you, and help you get direct access
to the raw pictures if needed.