When a Vehicle Mutates… 11 Years of Burning Man

Having trouble persuading your kids to climb on the bus and go to school? I bet they would climb on this Burning Man mutant vehicle in a flash. When they arrived at school they could exit via the slide! Woohoo!

Once again I am returning to Burning Man on my blog and posting photos from the 11 years I have attended the event: 2004-5-6-7-9-10-12-13-14-15 and 17. As I have over the past couple of weeks, I am focusing on mutant vehicles today.

I’ve featured some pretty wild land and sea creatures in my past several posts. Today and Wednesday I’ll be introducing mutant vehicles that are closer to their cousins in real life. For example, a number of retired school and city busses make it to Burning Man. While their look has changed, they more or less maintain their original form like the school bus featured above and below.

Orange mutant vehicle  bus at Burning Man.
Here’s another view of the school bus with its intricately carved exterior. This bus has always been a favorite of mine.
This school bus has been decorated with orange somethings. What, I’m not sure. Writhing beetle grubs are about as close as I can come.
A psychedelic paint job and horns served as disguise here.
The silver bullet hides the bus, sort of. Think of it as a see-through outfit.
Bus mutant vehicle at Burning Man
This fellow added a neon top knot and cutouts.
Mutant bus with tail feathers at Burning Man.
And finally, a bus with tail feathers. It had a beak on the other end.

Do you remember the cult film Mad Max where Mel Gibson and a cast of seedy characters went at each other with souped up, modified vehicles? Well, there is a whole genre of mutant vehicles at Burning Man that look like they belong in the movie, or a demolition derby. These vehicles are not among my favorites but I find them interesting and they belong in any compilation of Burning Man mutants. Besides, some of you might say, “Wow, that’s my dream car!”

This one was prepared for battle. It came with a missile and a coffin! What kind of bad dude carries a garbage bag for his trash, however? And the empty bottle and mattress suggest the 60’s mantra “Make love, not war.”
Feelers swept back from the hood of this vehicle. And maybe it had legs.
Equipped with flame throwers.
I think these these seven toothy heads also shot out fire.
Was she glad to see him or was it a hold up. It appears that the guy is high on something.
Tom Lovering took this photo at night. Playa dust was reflected by the flash from his camera creating a desert ‘snow storm.’ Is that an alien piggybacking on the vehicle?
One of Burning Man’s tribes, The Death Guild, likes to decorate its mutant vehicles with skulls. Not surprising.
Definitely a Mad Max vehicle.
I’d give this guy the right-of-way.

Art cars are different than mutant vehicles. They are simply highly decorated cars. Therefore they aren’t allowed to roam the playa and have to be parked. None-the-less, some of them make their way to Burning Man and are on display. Here are a few examples.

Art car featuring Kilroy at Burning Man.
Kilroy was here.
Art cat VW bug with aliens at Burning man.
The aliens have landed and they are running around in a VW bug.
O My Gawd!
Art car with glasses at Burning Man.
Here’s looking at you.
Highly detailed hood of an art car at Burning Man.

I think of the following vehicles as modern day ‘hot rods,’ so I googled ‘hot rods at Burning Man’ and what did I find? My photos of ‘Burning Man hot rods’ from earlier posts. Oh well. Here they are again for those of you who haven’t been following me for several years.

Modern hot rod at Burning Man.
Speeds are limited on the Playa, and maybe that’s a good thing.
Gears on top of modern day hotrod at Burning Man.
All of the gears, shown here in black and white, suggest a touch of steam punk.
Exhaust pipes on mutant vehicle hot rod at Burning Man.
Exhaust pipes?
Side view if mutant vehicle hot rod at Burning Man.
A side view. Not sure about the camel’s role.
Mutant Vehicle hot rod at Burning Man with attractive woman.
The few hot rod magazines I thumbed through in my youth featured attractive women. Given my interest in cars, I suspect that may have been my reason for perusing the pages.
Hot rod photo session at Burning Man.
It turns out I had walked in on a photo session, which always presents an opportunity I am more than willing to take advantage of. That’s it for today.

NEXT POST: More mutant vehicles including trains and planes!

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.

The Best of Burning Man: The Top Ten Series (#5)… Mutant Vehicles

The tusks on they mammoth are what make this art car one of my favorite mutant vehicles at Burning Man. People sit inside the rib cage. The driver climbs into the head.

The tusks on this mammoth are what make this art car one of my favorite mutant vehicles at Burning Man. People sit inside the rib cage. The driver climbs into the head.

 

I am going to be on the road for the next few weeks, so I decided to produce several blogs that might be of interest to my readers but would be easy for me to do: Voila—The Best Of Burning Man series! I’ve now been to Burning Man for ten years starting in 2004 (and will be going again in 2015, assuming I get two tickets and a vehicle pass). Each blog will feature a top ten category such as top ten sculptures, mutant vehicles, etc.

Important: 1) These are from my perspective. Other people will have different points of view. 2) I never see everything that is available to see at Burning Man. There is simply too much. So it’s quite possible that I have missed some really great things. My apologies. 3) I missed 2011. 4) These photos are not in order of choice. That is beyond me. (Grin)

Basically, this series will include a brief introduction and then my top ten choices. There may be captions on my photos, or not. Finally, while Peggy and I have taken the majority of these photos, I have also included photos from Tom Lovering, Beth Lovering, Don Green, and Ken Lake… all members of our ‘tribe,’ and friends.

Series 5: Mutant Vehicles

Burning Man requires that you park whatever you happen to be driving when you arrive at Black Rock City. You are expected to ride a bike or walk where you are going. The exceptions are mutant vehicles that are free to wander about. A mutant vehicle is a vehicle that has been modified to resemble something that in no way resembles the original car, truck, bus or golf cart it was. (There is a three-masted sailing ship that looks exactly like it did when it sailed the seven seas, however. And this year the playa is supposed to feature a recovered 747 jet.)

Some of the mutant vehicles are quite artistic. The best of these creations are jaw dropping unique. Most mutant vehicles take on a totally different persona at night when the Playa becomes magical with their comings and goings. I’ve included an example.

Here are a few of my favorites. If you have been following my blog for a while, they will be familiar.

El Pulpo Mechanico became an instant Burning Man classic when it first made its appearance on the Playa a few years ago. At night, its arms pump up and down shooting out fire.

El Pulpo Mechanico became an instant Burning Man classic when it first made its appearance on the Playa a few years ago. At night, its arms pump up and down shooting out fire.

Fire breathing dragons are also perennial favorites at Burning Man.

Fire breathing dragons are also perennial favorites at Burning Man.

Another, more ferocious looking dragon in Black Rock City.

Another, more ferocious looking dragon in Black Rock City.

Never Was Haul resembles a Victorian House that has been converted to a steam engine train.

Never Was Haul resembles a Victorian house that has been converted to a steam engine train.

Mutan vehicles, such as this vase, take on different personalities at night.

Mutant vehicles, such as this vase, take on different personalities at night.

The same mutant vehicle vase shown above, parked in Black Rock City during the day.

The same mutant vehicle vase shown above, parked in Black Rock City during the day.

Smaller mutant vehicles often brim over with character, such as this polar bear with its red rose.

Smaller mutant vehicles often brim over with character, such as this polar bear with its red rose.

The sailing ship I mentioned above.

The sailing ship I mentioned above.

A rhino even more massive than its counterpart in East Africa.

A rhino even more massive than its counterpart in East Africa.

And finally, a wart hog.  NEXT BLOG: The buildings of Burning Man.

And finally, a wart hog.
NEXT BLOG: The buildings of Burning Man.