The World’s Largest Cockroach… Burning Man 2013

Burners blithely ignore the fact that they are about to be attacked by the world's largest cockroach. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Burners blithely ignore the fact that they are about to be attacked by the world’s largest cockroach. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

They grow things big in Texas. Just ask a Texan. But I never thought that the folks from the Lone Star State would fess-up to having the world’s largest cockroaches. Apparently they live in Houston. Regional Burners from the area brought a replica of one to Burning Man. Eventually it was sacrificed to the fire gods, burned up. But, hey, that’s what Burners do, right?

Houston was one of 24 locations from around the US and world that brought art to Burning Man 2013 to represent their regions. The Dutch bought a windmill, for example. Utah had a rock arch. Sacramento featured a riverboat and Reno a wedding chapel. You get the point.

The Netherlands brought a windmill to represent their regional group in Holland.

The Netherlands brought a windmill to represent their regional group in Holland. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)

Burning Man is big on regionalization. Groups are now located in areas ranging from France to Taiwan and Israel to South Africa, as well as all over the US. Their art this year was organized in groupings around the Man and burned simultaneously on Thursday night. It made quite the bonfire.

Texas cockroach at Burning Man 2013.

A front view of the Texas Cockroach. The media center was set up to teach facts about the cockroach, such as they will be around long after humanity has gone the way of the big lizards.

Utah regional art at Burning Man 2013.

Utah chose to represent one of its famous rock arches, the type you find in Arches National Park. It also featured petroglyphs, a subject I have written on in my blogs. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Arches National Park

One thing Utah has a lot of is beautiful rocks. I took this photo at Arches National Park.

Dinosaur National Monument petroglyph.

Nor could I resist posting this petroglyph I found at Dinosaur National Monument given Burning Man’s 2013 focus on aliens. This guy and his dog are about as alien as you get.

Dinosaur national Monument petroglyph.

I may have seen this guy walking by our camp. I am surprised Utah didn’t include him on its arch.

Idaho Marvin, regional art at Burning Man 2013.

Idaho produced this sculpture that they named Marvin. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)

Reno appropriately produced a wedding chapel. My parents got married at a Reno wedding chapel. But did it make me legitimate? Hmm.

Reno appropriately produced a wedding chapel. My parents got married at a Reno wedding chapel. But did it make me legitimate? Hmm. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)

Sacrament brought the Playa Queen, which represented the Delta King, a Sacramento Riverboat that once carried passengers between Sacramento and San Francisco. Before that it had carried rice. It was brought over from France by the grandparents of a friend of mine, Jean Snuggs.

Sacrament brought the Playa Queen, which represented the Delta King, a Sacramento Riverboat that once carried passengers between Sacramento and San Francisco. Before that it had carried rice. It was brought over from France by the grandparents of a friend of mine, Jean Snuggs.

New York regional art at Burning Man 2013

I found New York’s piece, a representation of the iconic top of the Chrysler Building to be particularly graceful.

New Orleans regional art at Burning Man 2013.

There was something fishy about New Orleans.

Lithuania art at Burning Man 2013.

Peggy and I were particularly interested in Lithuania’s regional work, which featured birds. While we were at Burning Man, Peggy’s sister, brother and cousin were visiting with relatives in the country. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Burning of Lithuania's regional art at Burning Man 2013.

Our connection with Lithuania’s art brought us back to watch it burn on Thursday night.

Burning of Lithuanian Regional art at Burning Man 2103.

The piece comes tumbling down.

Washington DC's pyramid at Burning Man 2013.

The glowing remains of Washington DC’s pyramid stand behind the embers of the Lithuania’s work. 22 other regional pieces were burning at the same time.

New York City's regional art burns at Burning Man 2013.

NYC’s art piece burns on the right.

The East Bay Area structure burn.

The East Bay Area’s structure burns.

I've included this because of what appears to be an eerie face burning at the bottom.

I’ve included this because of what appears to be an eerie face burning at the bottom.

Beth and Tom Lovering, along with Peggy, glow in the firelight from the burn.

Beth and Tom Lovering, along with Peggy, glow in the firelight from the burn.

NEXT BLOG: The incredible ceremony surrounding the burning of the Man.

18 comments on “The World’s Largest Cockroach… Burning Man 2013

    • Didn’t get to see the cockroach go up in flames (grin), but having been a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa, I might debate with the Texans over where the largest cockroaches grow. -Curt

  1. My favorites – NY, New Orleans and Lithuania. Too pretty to burn. And thank you for adding some of your Utah photos, Curt.

    I recall from my nuclear holocaust studies that certain insects and weeds would represent the living. I’d say, let that big Texas cockroach burn.

  2. So glad to read that cockroaches will outlive civilization.. not surprising those sturdy buggers..
    Now on to the Burning art..I understand why it is burned by darn all that beautiful creativity gone up in ash.. that NY piece is indeed gorgeous and of course I love the fishies 🙂

    • I remember when I used to spray cockroaches in Africa. They would run off and lay eggs before rolling over and dying. I agree on the art. But besides appealing to the pyromaniacs in all of us, the burns do carry a message of impermanence and letting go. Still, as an artist who may have worked months on a project, it must be tough. At least there are several thousand photos. (grin) -Curt

  3. Hey! A little respect, please! Those aren’t cockroaches – they’re tree roaches, AKA palmetto bugs! They are big, that’s for sure. But they prefer to live outside, and any one that you find in your house is seriously lost and would be most grateful for a little assistance in getting out.

    The best thing about them is that they’re so large they tend to be noisy critters. That attracts my cat, who likes to catch them, hold them down with one paw and then yowl until I come to see her prize. Three, four times a year it happens. Not bad. And yes they can be larger than anything I saw in Liberia! (Did you ever imagine you’d have a reader with direct, personal experience of cockroaches in Liberia and Texas? Ain’t blogging grand?)

    I thought the New York and New Orleans pieces were wonderful, but I was fond of the Playa Queen, too – nice memories of time I used to spend in Rio Vista, right on the river.

    • Thanks for the enlightening words on cockroaches. (grin) I can see you cat yowling for approval.

      Can’t believe you have also been in Rio Vista. What’s the story there?

      As for Liberia, I am working hard on my book. I finished the epilogue on the tragedy of the civil wars and am now working on the introduction.

      –Curt

  4. Yikes Curt, that IS one big cockroach! I thought ours were big when we lived in Texas until we moved to Khartoum. Wow! They grow ’em big in Africa … even the cat gave them a wide berth. 🙂 I wouldn’t have minded seeing that sucker go up in flames. But as for some of the other art, I would have spared the birds. ~Terri

    • For a while, as a young Peace Corps Volunteer in Gbarnga, I kept a count of the cockroaches I had squished on a paper I had taped to our door. Along about 90 or so, I gave up. Later we came to a truce. As long as the cockroaches came out after we had gone to bed, and they stayed out of our bedroom, I would leave them alone. 🙂 Curt

  5. Burning Man represents so many different things for each person that attends. For me… Where do I begin? It’s with that question that I began curating a selection of essays from fellow burner enthusiasts to better understand just what happens at this pivotal event. My book, Playa Dust, does just that. Published through no easy feat, it is here and ready to be devoured. Purchase your copy at – http://www.playa-dust.net!

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