A 60-foot Fire-Breathing Dragon Roars into Washington— 3 Days after the Election… The Mutant Vehicles of Burning Man: Part 1

If Trump had stared out his window and seen this fellow staring back at him, do you think it would have changed history?

If Donald Trump had stared out his window and seen this fellow staring back, do you think it would have changed history?

Today I am kicking off my Friday photo-essay series on Burning Man. Last week I went through the thousands of photos I have taken since I first went in 2004 and winnowed them down to a mere 4,000. (grin) I suspect you will see a few hundred of them on Fridays over the next six months leading up to the event. 

I had a long discussion with myself over what to start this series with. “What are you talking to yourself about?” Peggy had asked worriedly. Mutant Vehicles won out. I love the variety: from dragons to bugs to ships to rhinos to cats to Mad Max wannabes— Burning Man has them all! 

Peggy and I share photo taking responsibilities at Burning Man but we also have help from fellow members of the Horse Bone Tribe: Don Green, Tom Lovering and Ken Lake. I’ll try to credit Don, Tom and Ken, but if I miss a few, my apologies. 

Let’s start with Abraxas,  a 60-foot dragon equipped with a 10,000-watt sound system. Normally, Abraxas hangs out at Burning Man, but on November 11 (right after the election) he was in Washington DC on the Mall. I wonder if the new president looked out his window and saw him. Probably not. There weren’t any tweets.

He seemed quite proud of his offspring who followed him everywhere.

What would Trump have tweeted about Abraxas? Any ideas?

Abraxas has been going to Burning Man for a number of years. In 2016, he showed up with a baby.

Abraxas has been going to Burning Man for a number of years. In 2016, he showed up with a baby.

Early in the morning before sunrise, Abraxas likes to hang out at the Temple, you can see him lurking out on the Playa. When the sun comes up, it is time to dance and he fires up his 10,000 watt speakers as Burners gather around.

Early in the morning before sunrise, Abraxas likes to hang out at the Temple, you can see him lurking out on the Playa. When the sun comes up, it is time to dance, however, and he fires up his 10,000 watt speakers as Burners gather around.

Another close-up of Abraxas.

Another close-up of Abraxas. The tube coming out of his mouth spits out fire at night.

Abraxas the mutant Vehicle at Burning Man.

Check out the claws!

Most mutant vehicles at Burning Man take on a different look/personality at night. Here, Abraxas was getting ready to go out and party the night away.

Mutant vehicles at Burning Man take on a different look/personality at night. Here, Abraxas was getting ready to go out and party the night away. You may have noted the different faces. Most years,  Abraxas comes back to Burning Man with a new look.

The golden dragon is one of hundreds of mutant vehicles/art cars found at Burning Man each year. While you are required to park your car, truck, RV, etc. at your camp and leave it parked, mutant vehicles are free to roam the playa and Black Rock City, assuming they have a permit. Today I am going to also feature a warthog, a lion, an angler fish, a lizard dragon, a mammoth and traveling bar. There will be more next Friday!

Warthog mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

This warthog is a favorite of mine.

Warthog art car at Burning Man.

Head on! Check out the tusks.

Burning Man warthog mutant vehicle.

And a side view. I think he is kind of cute. I once followed a warthog and her kids across the Serengeti Plains in Africa. Mom and kids all had their tails sticking straight up in the air.

Burning Man is okay, huh. Are you ready for some reggae?

Burning Man is okay, huh. Are you ready for some reggae? The M.O.J.P. is taken from Bob Marley’s song, Exodus, and stands for “Movement of jah People.”

M.O.J.P. mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

A side view of M.O.J.P., which I assume is a lion. Note the big mouth.

M.O.J.P. art car at Burning Man.

My friend Tom Lovering found it quite comfortable. M.O.J.P., BTW, was once an RV.

Lizard dragon mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

Peggy found this small but ferocious looking dragon out on the Playa and climbed aboard. Fortunately it was missing keys. Otherwise I still might be searching for her.

Small dragon art car at Burning Man.

The dragon’s snout.

Head on view of mammoth art car at Burning Man.

Somebody had a twisted sense of humor when it came to creating this Mammoth art car.

Head and tusks of mammoth at Burning Man.

A side view of the mammoth’s head and tusks. I wonder if the wire around the head is supposed to be a halo?

Mammoth art car in Black Rock City at Burning Man.

A full view of the mammoth.

Angler Fish art car on Playa at Burning Man.

Whoa! If I didn’t have a clue about what was happening and saw this creature drifting by in a dust storm, I would be looking for the nearest exit.

Angler fish mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

Here’s the angler fish up close and personal. In nature, angler fish use the nose dangly as bait for attracting prey. Great teeth.

Front view of angler fish at Burning Man.

How the fish might look just before it chomped down on you.

I'll conclude today with the Playa's wandering bar complete with outhouse. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)

I’ll conclude today with four photos of  the Playa’s wandering bar complete with outhouse. Wandering around through the desert can give a person quite a thirst! (Photo by Tom Lovering.)

This tractor pulls the bar around.

This tractor pulls the bar around.

Burning Man's traveling bar.

Action at the bar! Tom and I stopped for a taste of moonshine. It was potent stuff!

Kitchen of wandering bar at Burning Man.

Peggy walked through the bar’s door and came out in this kitchen!

NEXT BLOGS:

Monday: I’ll conclude my Boston series.

Wednesday: It’s back to the Sierra Trek and the “pot smoking orgy.”

Friday: My next post on the mutant vehicles of Burning Man.

44 comments on “A 60-foot Fire-Breathing Dragon Roars into Washington— 3 Days after the Election… The Mutant Vehicles of Burning Man: Part 1

  1. Curt, these are amazing, all reminiscent of the Mad Max films! The distant shot of the angler fish really puts it into perspective and how wonderfully absurd and out of place it looks on land. Love the idea of the wandering bar – why hasn’t this idea caught on?! Sure it would do well.

    • Kind of like an ice-cream truck for adults. 🙂 More Mad Max is coming Annika. There is a whole tribe at Burning Man that creates Mad Max like-vehicles. I was really pleased when I caught the angler fish dashing through the dust storm. The storms are an integral part of the Burning Man experience. –Curt

    • 🙂 I don’t think they have made a vehicle that can protect you when a major dust storm crosses the playa, Sue. We can be in our van with everything closed up and still the dust manages to find a way in. 🙂
      The warthog does have a fun personality. There are more metal creatures on the way, however, so you will want to withhold judgement! –Curt

  2. Amazing gallery of lovely weird vehicles. I’m afraid Abraxas is too cute to scare the head of the office. But I’m sure you’ll come up with something. We’re counting on you now, Curt! 🙂

    • Junk yards do a great business when it comes to Burning Man, Dave. 🙂 Some of the artists have special relationships with their local junk dealer! Burning Man tends to be optimistic but never shirks on political commentary. I will be very interested to see what messages are emphasized this year. It will probably be worth a blog or two. 🙂 –Curt

  3. I absolutely love that sign: “Burning Man — It’s ok, I guess”. Of course, I’m quite a Marley fan, and “Exodus” is a favorite, so there’s that. I’d forgotten about the warthog. He is a charmer. I’d pet his nose any day.

  4. Super creative work of art “vehicles”. The warthog has to be my favorite! Terrific collection of photos.

    B.M. used to be top of my list until I figured out the cost of going…especially coming in from another country. Sigh…

    Peta

    • It is expensive, all thought the costs of modern concerts and sporting events can easily surpass it. Would be worth it if you incorporated a trip around the west, for sure. 🙂 Thanks, the warthog is a delight. Wait until you see the rhino and the octopus! –Curt

  5. I have to wonder how all those less than aerodynamic vehicles, not to mention the mammoth sculptures get to Burning Man and into their “show” configurations. There must be a fair bit of logistics and advanced staging that goes on.

    Cool mutants. The Angler Fish in the dust storm is surreal.

    • Huge trucks, for one, Dave. I watched 18 wheeler pulling out of one of the major Burning Man art centers in Reno packed with shipping containers. Things had been built, labelled, taken apart and shipped up the road for reassembly. There is a whole array of construction equipment at Burning Man. You are absolutely right— both advance staging and logistics are called for.
      Surreal is a good way to describe the Angler Fish in the dust storm is a good description. In fact, it applies to the whole event. –Curt

    • Laughing. She knows I’ll punish her going up hills (my forte), if she does. She’s strong on the flats and going down hill.
      We always carry water when we are out and about in the desert. –Curt

    • Not much shielding goes on! Desert dust has a way of getting into everything. 🙂 It goes with the territory, however. I’ll show some photos of the dust storms later in the series. Thanks for commenting. –Curt

    • I talk about some of the safety issues in this coming Friday’s blog, Rusha. People pretty much climb on anything that doesn’t have a ‘don’t climb on this’ sign, which some of the more fragile art pieces do.The dust storms do create a certain ambience… 🙂 When visibility approaches zero, however, all mutant vehicles are required to stop. Everything pretty much does. I once spent an hour wandering around on the Playa totally lost! Scary. –Curt

  6. The Angler Fish in the dust photo: Sooooo great! At first I saw the bikes and then, what the—

    The closeup of MOJP shows that the patterns in the lion’s snout are ….wait for it… people!! I loved noticing that! ha ha ha

    I am sure that Abraxas spent his time appropriately at our nation’s capitol. I, personally, am happy to have a 60-foot fire-breathing dragon represent our citizens.

    • Good one on the MOJP! It always pays to look at mutant vehicles (and other art) at Burning Man closely. All sorts of things pop out.
      I was ever so pleased to catch the angler fish out in the dust storm.
      And yes on Abraxis! 🙂 –Curt

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