Burning Man: A Media Circus— Or, Possibly, the Greatest Show on Earth

Media representatives are required to check in at Burning Man each year.In line with the 2015 theme, this was the media tent.

Media representatives are required to check in at Burning Man each year. In line with the 2015 theme, this was the media tent. The clown opened its mouth when ready for business.

Burning Man has been in the news a lot, lately. The event has a way of drawing media coverage like, uh, The Donald (that’s in Trump, not Duck). Among the stories: “One-percenters have taken over; The Bureau of Land Management wants Burning Man to pay for million dollar accommodations— plus ice cream, and; (my favorite) Gazillions of bugs are crawling out of the ground. ” The list goes on. Naked people, hippies, and drugs are almost always worked into the story. It improves ratings and readership. If accuracy suffers, oh well.

I thought the 2015 theme, Carnival of Mirrors, was one of the best ever, not to mention an excellent reflection of most media coverage for Burning Man (and presidential politics).

I didn’t think I would be at the event this year, having failed to score in the annual grab bag ticket sale, which rarely works as promoted. But three days before Burning Man, my friends Don Green and Tom Lovering managed to find tickets on Craig’s List in South San Francisco. Don drove down from his home in Lafayette with a thousand dollars cash in his pocket and met a person he didn’t know around midnight on Thursday at a coffee-house he had never been to. The money was for two tickets and a vehicle pass, a real bargain in this age of massive scalping.

I spent all day Friday racing around taking care of the myriad details that involve surviving in the desert for eight days. (Peggy sat this year out since she had just returned from a two-week trip to England with her sister.) The van had to be made ready, my bike checked over, food and water purchased, and a minimal costume assembled. Plus there were the inevitable questions. Where had I put my goggles and bandana for dust storms? Which box hid my bike lock? Did I have enough glow sticks to avoid being run over by mutant vehicles at night? Etc. Eventually, I had everything together and by 10 a.m. on Saturday I was on my way to the small town of Cedarville on the northeastern border between California and Nevada.

Cedarville is our jump off place for Burning Man. We normally stay at the fairgrounds. Not this time. The Modoc County Fair was taking place. You know the old saying, “When you are given lemons, make lemonade?” So I camped at the City Park and walked to the fair. It was perfect. The pigs hammed it up, a goat nibbled on my shirt, and country-western singer sang “Pistol Packing Mama.”

The pigs were 'hamming it up' at the Modoc County Fair in Cedarville, California.

The pigs were ‘hamming it up’ at the Modoc County Fair in Cedarville, California. Check out their cute curlicue tails.

I’ll be writing about Burning Man off and on over the next few months, adding stories in between the other things I blog about. Those of you who have followed my blog for a while, know that Burning Man is one of my favorite things to do— that I love the art, the creativity, and the magic. Regardless of what the media may report, it is one of the greatest shows on earth. What’s not to love about an event where a huge catapult is built to toss a flaming piano for 100 yards? Or where Susan Sarandon shows up with a portion of Timothy Leary’s ashes to re-cremate. (Leary was the guru of LSD in the 60’s and coined the phrase, “turn on, tune in, drop out.” His ashes were distributed among friends after his death. Some were rocketed into space, along with those of Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek. Susan decided that Burning Man was the perfect place to distribute her share.)

Today, my objective is to introduce Burning Man 2015 with a series of photos. Enjoy. NEXT BLOG: I’ll return to my backpack trip into the Grand Canyon.

A carnival of sorts, complete with sideshows surrounded the Man this year. This was one of four main entrances.

A carnival of sorts, complete with sideshows surrounded the Man this year. This was one of four main entrances. I arrived on Sunday and wandered around before the crowds arrived.

A close up looking up at the Man.

A close up looking at the Man.

Side show posters were located through out the Carnival. I'll show many more in another blog, but this was one of my favorites.

Side show posters were located throughout the Carnival. This was one of my favorites.

Another 'view' of the Man.

Another ‘view’ of the Man and surrounding carnival through a glasses sculpture.

Burning Man is known for its unique sculptures, such as this dragon protecting its egg created by the Flaming Lotus Girls out of the Bay Area.

Burning Man is known for its unique sculptures, such as this dragon created by the Flaming Lotus Girls out of the Bay Area.

Burning Man dragon created by Flaming Lotus Girls for Burning Man.

The same dragon at night.

The Temple of Confession where Timothy Leary's ashes were re-cremated.

The Temple of Confession where Timothy Leary’s ashes were re-cremated.

Susan Sarandon donned a wedding dress and led a parade out to the Temple of Confession to deposite Leary's ashes. El Pulpo Mechanico, a 30 foot high octopus was part of the parade.

Susan Sarandon donned a wedding dress and led a parade out to the Temple of Confession to deposit Leary’s ashes. El Pulpo Mechanico, a 30 foot high octopus, was part of the parade.

Medusa with her snake hair was one on my favorite sculptures.

Medusa with her snake hair was one on my favorite sculptures. Note the tennis shoe mutant vehicle to the right.

The dragon mutant vehicle on the left brought its baby this year.

The dragon mutant vehicle on the left brought its baby this year.

Costumes are big at Burning Man, as are the dust storms seen in the background.

Costumes are big at Burning Man, as are the dust storms seen in the background.

Sculptures come in all sizes at Burning Man. From this giant woman...

Sculptures come in all sizes at Burning Man. From this giant woman…

To this 'Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe' sculpture...

To this ‘Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe’ sculpture…

To this unique sculpture that I found very attractive.

To this unique sculpture that reminded me of flower pollen.

This robot with his dog and a flower was in front of the Center Camp Cafe. He would raise the flower up to his nose and sniff it.

This robot with his dog and a flower was in front of the Center Camp Cafe. He would raise the flower up to his nose and sniff it.

Performance art is found everywhere in Black Rock City.

Performance art is found everywhere in Black Rock City.

The Burning Man Temple at sunrise is guaranteed to draw a crowd. Burners had spontaneously joined hands as the sun little up the Temple.

The Burning Man Temple at sunrise is guaranteed to draw a crowd. Burners spontaneously joined hands as the first rays of the sun bathed the Temple in a gentle light.

I'll conclude with this shot of the Man taking on a ghostly appearance as he burns on Saturday night.

I’ll conclude with this shot of the Man taking on a ghostly appearance as he burns on Saturday night. Hopefully you have found these photos fun and interesting. Many more will follow over the next few months.

 

20 comments on “Burning Man: A Media Circus— Or, Possibly, the Greatest Show on Earth

    • Indeed it was Gerard. And the art is indeed obtaining worldwide recognition. I was reading the other day that several art museums are now seeking work from Burning Man for their collections. –Curt

    • It is kind of a bummer, Carrie. (Laughing) But seriously, you do want to be seen out there. This year I notice a lot more bicyclists running around without any lighting. I am assuming they were newbies, or virgins as they are called at Burning Man. Scary.

  1. What wonderful news that you got to go!! I was truly saddened when I read that you didn’t get your tickets, despite all your efforts. And here you are: there anyway. I am thrilled that it all worked out and that I get to benefit by seeing your photos. I have been away from your blog for awhile, and this was the absolute best I could have wished for, in my re-introduction to WTTAP.

    My fave of these: Medusa! Wow, just breathtaking. I’m a huge fan of dragons, and I like that so many showed up. Great story about Susan Sarandon too. Oh yes, I love the pig butts too. It was nice of them to pose for the photo.

  2. Delighted to hear that you did go this year – we’d have had withdrawal symptoms so hate to think what you would have felt. Hope your rushed departure didn’t mean anything truly important was left behind, apart from Peggy 😉

    • Only Peggy. 🙂 I’m an old hand at packing for Burning Man and have most of my Burning Man stuff in the same place. I’m looking forward to sharing the adventure again. I thought this year was one of the best. –Curt

  3. I did get to see a bit of BM on the live webcam that operates 24 hours a day…aimed toward the playa. However…..it is not quite the same. Just thrilled that our friends came thru for Curt!

  4. Fascinating pictures of fascinating art. I’ve come to love this event as seen through your eyes. My favorite sculptures in this post are the glasses through which the man can be viewed, the dragon — lit at night, and the Medusa. All your photos indicate to me that these are no only creative but quite involved in terms of construction, delivery, set-up, and take-down. I’m truly amazed at what goes in to this event. Thanks for great photos. So glad you got to go — last minute trips can be the best!!

    • I almost enjoy blogging about Burning Man as I do going. (Note the almost:)) There is so much to appreciate and admire. Like you, I am blown away by the work and creativity that goes into the event. Thanks. –Curt

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