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Burning Man 2010 was my wildest trip yet and I’ve been around the world and ah ya ya, like the hook in that Lisa Stansfeild song. From Africa to Asia, From Jamaica to Brazil, I’ve logged some major miles, seen many amazing things and stayed in interesting places. From 5 star luxury hotels, to favelas in Rio. But my visit to the Black Rock desert to party and camp on the dusty Playa with 50,000 plus, was a non stop overload of fun creative expression and, super surreal.
I’ve had detailed descriptions of Burning Man from several friends who’d gone and I’d been waiting for an opening in my end of summer schedule to allow the major journey to happen so I could see for myself. Thanks to meeting and becoming friends with Tex and his girl Kat, the cool folks who built my web site that your on right now, it all came together, lovely!
You just need to spend about 15 minutes on the Burning Man web site to realize it will take you a week to read all the information regarding what to do and not do, the whole philosophy around the Burn and most importantly, what you need to survive in such a harsh environment as the Black Rock desert. But my boy Tex extracted the essentials needed and along with his partner Kat they did all of my food & water shopping, provided me with a tent to sleep in and of course, they brought some excellent bacon which is so loved by hardcore burners its allowed to be used as currency on the Playa. I never figured out if it needs to be cooked or slabbed, for fair exchange.
My trip to Burning man started in LA where I’d gone for meetings with Jeffrey Dietch, an old friend and recently the new director of MOCA about a huge “Art In The Streets”, show I’ll be in and helping curate this spring. Everybody I mention my coming Burning Man to either says to me, “your going to what? where? and why”? Or their response is, “COOL, I can’t believe Fab’s a Burner”, Awesome dude!
I fly to Reno Nevada the night before and stay in some old school casino hotel, The Gold Rush or Nugget I think it was so I can be rested and ready with no issues to be picked up the next day by a guy who calls himself, “Bobster”, a local high school teacher who I’ve only seen a picture of in an email courtesy of Tex telling me to be at the Reno airport for a 2:30 pick up for the 2 ½hr ride to Black Rock City. At 2:00 as I’m in the cab to the airport he calls to tell me he’ll be a little late but to sit tight and he’ll be there no later then 3:30 and to look for 3 other girls who’ll be riding along with us. At 3:45 I see a guy run up with a cardboard sign that says, “BOBSTER” on it and I go “hi, I’m the tall dark and handsome guy riding with you”. When he asked me the night before what I looked like that was my response, tall dark and handsome, and very dark as in an American black guy.
After a few minutes of Bobster running up and down the front of the air port looking for the other passengers I see him heading back towards the car with 2 blond girls and soon after a 3rd girl appears and we all hop in and are on our way!
Bobster turned out to be the best tour guide for virgin Burners which it turns out we all were as he points out various high lights and has loads of local insights about the Sierra Nevada mountains which loom majestically in the distance where the Donner Party went wrong over 100 years ago heading to California and had to cannibalize each other when they got stuck in snow. He also informs us that when we approach the Playa and are driving in to enter BM officials will approach the car and ask if we are experienced Burners and if not, you’ll be put through a light hazing which primarily consists of you rolling around in the Playa dust which is a pale shade of grayish beige and screaming out a few stupid sayings. It’s fun and cool he tells us but will take a moment so we opted to say, “yes, we’re all experienced Burners and we were finally driving onto Black Rock City after a 3 ½ hr ride including 45 minutes on line to crawl through the gates.
At this point, about 7:30pm, it was magic hour as we call it in the film game essentially meaning sun set and every where I looked and as far as I could see, were clusters of various sizes of RV’s, campers, tents and cars aligned in rows that are actually streets intersected by avenues that are the hours and half hours running from 2:00 to 10:00. And people, tons of’em, every where, flowing to and fro in wild outfits, walking and on bikes, sprinkled with cute little flashing and blinking colored led lights. Bobster was ready to get to his camp and he’d mentioned to me several times that he was dropping me at Center camp and all I needed to do was stop an art car and they would certainly give me a ride to my camp which was titled, “Unicorn Ranch” within “illumination Village”, at Esplanade and 4:45.
I had my trusty and well worn burnt orange Moroccan duffel bag, heavy as hell. Smaller black canvas duffel, my computer bag, also heavy and a plastic bag with several hats. I was loaded as I stepped out of Bobster’s soccer mom mini-van onto this whirling dusty City in the middle of nowhere filled with an electric energy and I was feeling a bit confused and also excited but wondering, “is an art car gonna stop for us”? One of the other women who rode with us out was a tech engineer from Toronto who’s camp address we figured was not far from mine so we stood on the dusty Playa with our luggage and an art car soon approached which was a small 1950’s looking motorboat sitting on what must have been a golf cart or a Volkswagen Beetle chassis. I raised my hand and hollered out, “hey, can we get a lift to Esplanade and 4:30?”. “Sure thing”, he blurted out in a friendly mid western twang and we tossed our bags in this guy’s boat-art car and off we were as night crept in overhead.
So the motorboat art car got us close to our camps. The Canadian woman was met there by her camp mates, we said good bye and I grabbed my bags and hobbled a short distance up Esplanade and there was Tex on a megaphone saying, “here comes the only African American at Burning Man, FAB 5 FREDDY”, as other Unicorn Ranch members warmly greeted me and my Burning Man experience had officially begun!
No more blog words because I took a LOT of pictures and Flip video clips and you know that old adage about how many words a pictures worth so see for yourself.