torquill: The magician Howl (happy things)
I'm going to go for it.

I realize that I'm typing this as my body is screaming at me with an inflammatory flare brought on by sticky joints and unaccustomed exercise. I realize I could run into more chemical exposures, sprain something again, get the hormone wibbles and lose weeks of productivity. I realize Murphy could utterly screw me.

But I'm going to shoot for it. I'm going home.

Go for broke )
torquill: The magician Howl (happy things)
I have come to the realization that what I love most about Burning Man is those enormous, obnoxiously loud art cars with 43 subwoofers and enough LEDs to light up a small city.

Seriously, you see praise of the amazing art cars out there... the smaller ones shaped like praying mantises, or skeletal mastodons, or giant flaming octopuses. But when it comes to the big ones with sound systems -- the two-story birthday cake, the Dancetronauts cube, Flying Heart, some of the others I can't name but see hear every year -- you hear people bitching about how loud they are and, sometimes, how unimaginative. (I would like to point out here that, so long as they turn their systems down in the city and near the Temple, judging what people choose to do with their $150,000 mutant vehicle isn't really in keeping with Burning Man's principles... but I digress.)

But I love them.

My favorite thing out there, hands-down, is going out at night on my bike (which is kitted out as a hippocampus) and finding an art car which is playing decent music -- usually some form of house or trance, but sometimes general electronica or disco -- and shadowing it. I play pilot-fish as it cruises at 5-10mph across the open playa, listen to the music, try to steer around dust patches, and generally relax. You'll find me mounted up for 2-3 hours at a time most nights, sometimes longer.

There are several advantages to this practice: some of the cars have great music, on amazing sound systems (I like to feel the bass); being next to an art car means I'm less likely to get hit by some other bicyclist or vehicle, which is a real hazard given how badly lit some of the bicyclists are (light yourselves, darkwads, it's so that you can be seen!); and the cars have better lighting than I can manage on my bike, so I can see the dust snakes and obstacles before I run into them. They also choose a destination, when I don't really have one in mind... I'll attach myself to a car and take a tour of the playa, and often I get to visit things I didn't know were out there. There's a lot of art and a lot of attractions in mid- to deep playa that you don't see from the city.

So I come up to the mutant vehicle, settle myself out of the cone of the loudest speakers, and ride along. I try to stay well back of the front wheels, so that if they need to turn, I'm not in the way or making the driver nervous (we had an art car fatality this year, so they were really twitchy by the end of the week). Beyond that, I just have to avoid the exhaust and whatever engine or generator is riding on the back, and stay 8-12 feet to one side. Easy, on a good bike that coasts well. The passengers often call out when they see my hippocampus, and enjoy sharing the trip.

There's something comforting about having that slow-moving bulk at one hand, wheels turning steadily as the music thrums. I was watching the LED outlines on the Space Shuttle dim slightly as it did bass drops this year; apparently they don't have a separate power source for the amps. Kalliope does, but none of the VW camp's cars (Kalliope/Vanguard included) do cruising, they just park and set up shop. Quite a shame. I just stood and took in a Kalliope set this year, with the VW bus (Walter), VW bug (Big Red), and Vanguard providing a wall of lights... it was a Serious Experience. But I prefer to be in motion.

I fondly remember the first art car I did this with, in 2009: the Reel Mobile, with its giant tape deck reels rotating endlessly, taking me on a tour of deep playa in the wee small hours of the morning, playing an odd mix of German industrial and Russian techno. It's been gone these last several years, and the birthday cake seems to have joined it, but I found several newer ones this year that filled the gap. And there's always Soul Train to offer my daily requirement of funk.

Keep cruising, sound-system art cars. I look forward to pilot-fishing with you.
torquill: I like PIE! (weird)
Hey, SF East Bay locals: I'm planning an art installation at Burning Man. It would require Amazon boxes... lots and lots of Amazon boxes, preferably of various sizes. Collapsed but intact is OK, as they'll be flattened for transport. Can you help?

Also required: wired computer mouses, of any interface type. If they are not already dead, they will be by the time I'm done, so make sure you aren't giving away something you care about. (Ha.) I'll talk to electronics recyclers and Urban Ore for those as well.

If you're of the crafty sort, and can think of a cheap way to create a large, lightable sign that looks like a yellow PayPal/Amazon One-Click button, please let me know... I'm brainstorming on that one. It must stand up to W I N D Y conditions.

torquill: Art-deco cougar face (headdesk)
In my post-Burn fog, I had the "bright idea" of tucking our ticket stubs into the pocket of my shirt for safekeeping. They were next seen as a small, tightly wadded bit of pulp in the lint catcher of the dryer. With a touch of glitter from the holograms. Sigh.

I collect the stubs of the years I've attended, otherwise I wouldn't care. But this time, I find myself in need of one ticket stub from "Rites of Passage", any denomination so long as it's in good condition. Email me a postal address (I'm at, user torquill) and I'll mail you a SASE and a heap of goodwill. :)

Please amplify signal as appropriate -- I know there are a lot of Burners among my FoFs. :)
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)
Just to confirm, however: there is no cake.

I did get back from the Burn; it was a very good trip. I had to plunge straight back into a full-time job, though, so this last week has been spent catching up on sleep and things like "what am I going to take for lunch". I have a bunch of equipment to unpack and clean. I'm hoping that somewhere in the middle of all that, I'll be able to sit down and write a trip report before it all fades from memory.

I'm also taking a few deep breaths as landing and decompression was unexpectedly hard for me to adjust to this year; this is also the first big block of time in a couple of months that has not been consumed by Burn prep. I just washed my car, which has needed it for nine months or more. I'm fixing things that fell apart because of neglect. I'm juggling new angles on interpersonal relationships that have me alternately cheerful and befuddled (clearing my head in the desert often has aftereffects). So I'm bound to be a bit distracted and mentally unavailable for a bit as I settle everything and get comfortable again.

I'm better off than I was, and improvement is always good. Beyond that, I'll get back to you.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)
This year's Burn was more satisfying than the last in a lot of respects. That said, there is still room for lots of improvement next year.

a basic rundown, though not day-by-day )

I'll see about posting pictures once I pull them off the camera. I don't have everything, especially since that little $60 camera didn't handle darkness really well, but I have some good shots that represent my experience out there.

I understand that others decide whether they'll go based on time off and money available, but I can't imagine missing it, even if I have to panhandle the ticket money. I guess I'm a Burner to the core.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (happymaking things)
Back from the Burn... we survived (it feels like by the skin of our teeth, as this was The Year Of Equipment Failures) and had a good time, for the most part.

We saved $60 on gas this trip, thanks largely to those of you who switched to using our Safeway card at the grocery store. Thank you all!

I'm only at skip=120 on my friends list, so as long as you don't all get insanely chatty in the meantime, I expect to be caught up within a couple of days. If there's something you want to make sure I don't miss, you might post a link or reference as a comment here.

I hope everyone's doing well! :)


torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)

September 2017

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