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.
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.
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. The tube coming out of his mouth spits out fire at night.
Check out the claws!
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!
This warthog is a favorite of mine.
Head on! Check out the tusks.
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? The M.O.J.P. is taken from Bob Marley’s song, Exodus, and stands for “Movement of jah People.”
A side view of M.O.J.P., which I assume is a lion. Note the big mouth.
My friend Tom Lovering found it quite comfortable. M.O.J.P., BTW, was once an RV.
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.
The dragon’s snout.
Somebody had a twisted sense of humor when it came to creating this Mammoth art car.
A side view of the mammoth’s head and tusks. I wonder if the wire around the head is supposed to be a halo?
A full view of the mammoth.
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.
Here’s the angler fish up close and personal. In nature, angler fish use the nose dangly as bait for attracting prey. Great teeth.
How the fish might look just before it chomped down on you.
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.
Action at the bar! Tom and I stopped for a taste of moonshine. It was potent stuff!
Peggy walked through the bar’s door and came out in this kitchen!
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 thoughts on “A 60-foot Fire-Breathing Dragon Roars into Washington— 3 Days after the Election… The Mutant Vehicles of Burning Man: Part 1”
The warthog looks like it belongs in a Star Wars movie.
Hadn’t thought of it that way, but now you mention it, Ralie, yes. –Curt
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 think Trump may have tweeted something like – “It’s fake gold, just fake gold!”
Well said, Andrew!! 😀
And I think you have hit the proverbial nail on the head, Andrew! Then he would add something like, “Even if it is real gold, I have more.” 🙂 –Curt
Really these vehicles are astounding. I think the Warthog is my top pick. Although perhaps whichever could protect me from the dust!
🙂 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
Abraxas is fierc-er at night. 🙂
That he is. 🙂 What has always been amazing to me about Burning Man is the creativity, Timi. You will see much, much more of it. –Curt
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! 🙂
I am chuckling away here, Dina, and I have to agree, at least with his daytime persona. You have to admits that he is a little more frightening at night! Bottom line, however, I expect the head of office is much more scary. 🙂 –Curt
Ok Curt. Let us wait for Nightfall. Will make Skyfall look pretty bleak. :-):-)
And you are right. He scares the shit out of us in Europe. Shiver, shiver. 🙂 We have our history books and we are not applauding, but we don’t look away, the next tweet is coming …
Bad times, Dina. –Curt
I could hitch my wagon to that bar any time!!!
And my guess is that they would welcome you, G. 🙂 –Curt
Oh yeah, the warthog is my favourite. Rather partial to the fish too.
You always capture this so beautifully in photos. Makes me want to go.
As far as what Trump would tweet about the dragon? God only knows. There’s no way to predict what nonsense will come out of his mouth.
Thanks, Juliann. Your answer about the Donald seems to fit, but it is fun (scary) to speculate. –Curt
So much creativity arising from recycling junk … symbols of hope, I’d say!
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
Look forward to that, Curt!
I love these and they make me want to start building again. The warthog hath charms, but the mammoth has a lovely sculptural feel.
I trust your artist’s eye, Hilary. The twisted tusks had a certain humor. –Curt
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.
Isn’t the warthog a treasure, Linda. As for Marley, I agree. I went back and listened to Exodus. I couldn’t resist the sign. –Curt
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…
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
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
Glad Peggy did not take off and left you to bite sand, Curt. I am thirsty just looking at it all.
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
Truly these vehicles are dumbfounding. I think the Warthog is my top pick. Albeit maybe whichever could shield me from the clean!
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
That wind storm photo just enhances the creepiness and hugeness of these creations. And I’m surprised that people are allowed to climb on them. They look sturdy enough . . . I’d just hate to see them damaged.
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
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