Walkabout at Burning Man 2012

Burning Man is crammed with interesting people. Getting to know your neighbors is an adventure. Panzachual lived next door to us in the Dharma Dinosaur Camp and would stop by frequently to chat. One night he joined us for dinner. His group came from New Orleans and his costume was created by a prominent New Orleans clothes designer.

The thing about Black Rock City is it is big and bursting with creative energy. There is no way a person can see or do everything. Art is missed, lectures skipped, and late night performances slept through.

The Greeters handed Peggy and me a 160-page events catalogue and a map when we entered Burning Man on Tuesday. I checked out the day’s activities we were invited to attend. There were 360. That’s right… three hundred and sixty! It would take an hour just to skim through what we might do.

For example, I could go to the Moroccan Tent and energize myself with “some endorphin boosting exercise.” Or I could visit The Children of Chaos and obtain “Jewish Motherly Advice.”  Both sounded like things I needed.

Most great adventures involve moving beyond your comfort zone. I found this sign on a sculpture out in the Playa. It definitely applies to the majority of people who visit Burning Man for their first time.

I could learn to belly dance, make necklaces, twirl fire, pole dance, spin hula-hoops, create balloon hats and juggle balls. If I were shy, an alcoholic or had Bi-polar disease, there were caring people ready to help. I was invited to eat popsicles, spaghetti, hot dogs, pancakes, and Miso soup or do beer tasting, wine tasting, whiskey tasting and tea tasting.

Was I up for a naked pub-crawl? Did I need a lesson in bondage?  I had my choice of several types of meditation and yoga. Would I go to the prom, a popcorn feast or a lecture on unified physics? Maybe I should dress up in pink and pop over to the Pink, Pink, Pink Party.

You get the point. The number of choices is overwhelming. There is something for everyone at Burning Man. You are invited to be yourself or someone you have always fantasized being.

As an introduction to Burning Man, I advise newcomers to go on a Walkabout or Bikeabout and simply absorb the atmosphere… and then jump in.

Journey out into the Playa or down any road. While-away an hour… or four, at Center Camp. Poke your head into an interesting tent. Become involved in an animated conversation with a stranger. Go out at 2 PM and 2 AM. Climb to the top of a sculpture. Pick an event you couldn’t imagine going to and go to it. Allow your imagination to run wild. Maybe you will even find something that changes the way you perceive the world.

Today’s photos include a potpourri of things Peggy and I found amusing at Burning Man 2012 in our camp or on our walkabouts and didn’t include in previous posts.

My next blog will focus on the burning of the Man and be the last in this series.

Every street, in fact almost every block, contains something of interest. Peggy found this display of Mr. Potato Heads when she was on a walkabout. There must have been at least a hundred of them. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Center Camp is much more than a place to buy coffee and iced tea. Expect performances of some type almost any time of the day. Or just go to people watch, to see and be seen. Here Punkin and Luna relax in their formal evening attire after a busy night on the Playa.

Most Burners enjoy having their picture taken. They have gone to a lot of work on costumes, bikes, mutant vehicles, performances and art. A photograph is a form of recognition. For individual shots, it is proper to ask first. Often a fun conversation will take place. I loved this bike.

We came across this wonderful creation by Steve Blake out near the Temple. I dubbed it the Bauble Bike.

I was photographing a tall llama mutant vehicle when this six-foot-six guy jumped into the scene. I think he may have been the llama’s creator. Anyway, I found him as interesting as the llama.

This attractive, pregnant gal with pasties and a DNA model outside of Silicon Village invites people into the camp. All large camps offer events for Burners to attend. Among Tuesday’s Silicon village offerings was an opportunity to learn how to build yurts. Another was on sensuality. BTW, most Silicon Villagers come from the Silicon Valley. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

This is here because it has to go somewhere. Radical Self-Reliance, one of the Ten Principles of Burning Man, requires that Burners bring their own food. We are always amused that Don, AKA Scout, a retired judge and member of the Horse-Bone Tribe, considers this a gourmet lunch. The sun is serving as his oven. He eats right out of the can. “Why waste dishes?” (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

I’ll conclude with this little desert fish because it says to me you never know what you will find at Burning Man. (Photo by Beth Lovering) Next blog: The Man Burns.

The Art of Gifting… Burning Man 2012

One of the neatest gifts people can give at Burning Man is working as a greeter. These folks welcome you to Burning Man with a generous smile, give you a hug, answer questions and provide information packets. They work around the clock through both heat and dust storms. This brightly garbed couple welcomed Peggy and me this year.

The official Burning Man folks, founder Larry Harvey and the Burners who devote their lives to making the event work, promote their vision of Burning Man relentlessly.  Like Moses with his Ten Commandments, Harvey has his Ten Principles. They are listed in the photo below. Go here for a detailed description.

Somewhere in my wanderings around Black rock City, I came across this sketched out version of the Ten Principles of Burning Man.

These visionary ideals work to varying degrees. One that impresses me the most is the concept of gifting. Things aren’t sold at Burning Man; they are given away. Everyone is encouraged to contribute something.

Gifts are only limited by the individual’s imagination. For example, Peggy and I were walking through Center Camp when this woman came up to us carrying a partially melted block of ice. “Would you like to be cooled down?” she asked. “Sure,” Peggy responded. It was hot. The woman handed Peggy the ice and put her freezing hands on Peggy’s neck. It looked fun and refreshing. “Me too, me too,” I urged.

The woman’s icy hands felt great on my neck but apparently I misplaced the ice block she handed to me to hold. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

My cooling was much shorter. “You were holding the ice block under her breasts,” my lovely wife pointed out. I had been too busy being cool to notice but Peggy had the evidence. The woman approached us again the next day. Maybe she liked icy breasts. This time I carefully held the block in my lap. When I stood up it looked like I had peed my pants. I couldn’t win. “No one will notice,” Peggy offered helpfully. I refused to let her take a picture.

We have received gifts ranging from lattes to scarves to T-shirts over the years. Once we were even handed a backscratcher. Free drinks and music are offered everywhere. One group featured Miso soup this year. Mystic Camp next to us provided cereal and Saturday morning cartoons. Punkin Beth from our camp, a master bike mechanic, put on pajamas and a tutu and fixed people’s bikes. There was a guy at Camp Center gifting colorful pasties (nipple covers) to women. He even offered to apply them… free of charge, as the saying goes.

Punkin Beth, decked out in feather ear rings, tutu, and leopard PJs, provides her master bike mechanic skills to Julie from our neighboring camp: Intense, Intents, In Tents.

My photos today feature just a few of the ways Burners gift other Burners. In my next blog I’ll take a quick look at things I found amusing or interesting around Black Rock City but haven’t been featured. I will conclude this series with the burning of the Man and the incredible show that surrounds the event.

While Punkin was fixing Julie’s bike, her friend Bob was teaching Little Pepper from the Horse-Bone Tribe how to twirl poi balls. Teaching skills is a frequent form of gifting at Burning Man.

I was out at Wall Street when I came across Lee Lanier plying his trade. He paints peoples bodies as his gift. “Pick a part,” his sign urges.

Here’s a photo of Lee at work painting a posy on a cheek.

Out at the temple a choral group dressed up like a church choir was offering a free concert. They provided a stirring rendition of “Black Rock City is a Burning Town”

Meanwhile, back at Camp Center, a man played the xylophone with Lawrence Welk flair as his gift to Burning Man 2012. I also found a large Kazoo band out and about on the Playa and was handed a kazoo to join them.

Many tribes offer activities as their gifts to Burners. The Black Rock Roller Disco provided a roller rink with roller blades and skates. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Just down the road from us on Sixth Street, a camp had set up a combined pool table and bowling alley.

Ever play the game Twister? Black Rock City’s Twista House guaranteed a fun time. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Drinks, food and music are the gifts offered by many camps… often in exotic surroundings. One of the most exotic is the Shipwreck Tiki Lounge. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Wonderfully, Whacky Vehicles… Burning Man 2012

The mutant vehicles at Burning Man 2012 provided ongoing amusement, as they always do. I encountered this Woolly Mammoth at the port-a-potty. Later he came down our road.

I was standing in line for the port-a-potty when the Woolly Mammoth with massive tusks came by and dropped off a half of dozen people to join us. He was one hundreds of wonderfully imaginative ‘mutant vehicles’ that provided transportation across the seven square miles of Black Rock City during Burning Man 2012. 

At any given time of the day you find these Black Rock City licensed vehicles parked in camps, driving up and down the roads, and wandering willy-nilly across the vast open spaces of the Playa. They range in size from one-person scooters up to fifty-person busses. Each one looks like something it isn’t. There are dogs, cats, rabbits, flowers, jungles, bugs, fish, dragons, stagecoaches, ships, yachts, and even a wart hog. The list goes on and on.

One of the main attractions at Burning Man 2012 was a fire shooting steam punk octopus that went by the name El Pulpo Mechanico. Created by Duane Flatmo from Humboldt County, California, El Pulpo’s eight tentacles shot ten-foot high flames into the air. His head added a thirty-foot spout. A typical night of flaming used some 200 gallons of propane. 

Peggy came across El Pulpo Mechanico resting up for his night of carousing out on the Playa. He had also been at Burning Man 2011. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Here, our flaming friend, El Pulpo Mechanico, gathers a night time crowd of Burners.

I believe this big eyed, floppy eared 2012 Burning Man vehicle is a bunny. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Some Burners at Black Rock City require a yacht for transportation. This boat is named Christina.

Others at Burning Man are quite happy with a one-seater. I think Yummy was the name of the camp, not the vehicle. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

We were admiring theBurning Man 2012 Temple when this wart hog stopped by for a visit.

Climbing on this orange bus just has to involve a ride to somewhere mysterious and wonderful.

Check out the toothy grin on this Burning Man 2012 vehicle. The creature’s name is Disco Fish.

Sometimes mutant vehicles at Burning Man can appear downright scary, such as this dragon. Flame shoots out of its mouth at night. Note his tire tread skin.

This bear and her cubs show up annually at Burning Man. She and her babies are pulled by a bicycle so technically she isn’t a mutant vehicle. I included her on an earlier blog. I couldn’t resist her charm for my last photo in this post. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)










The Fiery Demise of Regional Art… Burning Man 2012


Fire is a powerful force of nature. We are drawn by both its beauty and danger. But it can also be a symbol of impermanence. This photo shows people with a ‘front-row seat’ at Burning Man 2012 watching flames devour one of thirty-plus regional effigies burned simultaneously.

One explanation for burning art at Burning Man is that it reflects the impermanence of everything in life. Things don’t last forever; they decay and fall apart. Fire speeds the process along. You have construction and you have deconstruction. Let go. It’s an Eastern philosophy that has made its way into western thought.

But fire has it’s own attraction. We are drawn to its beauty and danger like moths. Our brains are hard-wired with the fascination of watching things burn.

When I was growing up, my father served as a volunteer fireman. He was an electrician and it was his job to show up first at fires and disconnect the power to burning houses so firemen didn’t have live wires bouncing around. That explained his presence at the fire… but not that of his wife, three kids and cocker spaniel.

Mother never missed a fire in our small town. It didn’t matter if we were in the middle of dinner or it was 3 AM. Pop was out of the house and running for the fire station when the siren went off. Mother was gathering us up and dashing for our well-used car. Tickle the Dog jumped in first.

I’ve often wondered if Pop found our presence embarrassing. I do remember him telling Mother once that he preferred that she not be the first car behind the fire truck, which is where she liked to be.

Mother would have loved the excitement of watching things burn at Black Rock City. I suspect that the majority of Burners are closer to her reaction to fire than they are to the philosophical and psychological implications of deconstruction and Zen.

Still, there is a definite release of emotion at the climax of a fire when the structure finally crashes down, when ultimate deconstruction takes place. It was powerful feeling when I was growing up and it is powerful at Burning Man.

Burning Man 2012 added a new twist to its art of burning (or burning of art). Over thirty effigies built by regions from Lithuania to Maine and placed in a circle around the Man were put to torch simultaneously on Thursday evening. It was a spectacular event. Those responsible for creating the art were responsible for burning it.

Because the burn was spread out over a large section of the playa, spectators had a front row seat as is demonstrated in the photo at the top of this post.

Members of the Horse-Bone Tribe ended up focusing on two of the effigies: Kokopelli and the Lighthouse. Punkin Beth and Adios Tom’s home in Davis California is crammed with Kokopelli art. Peggy and I wander the West photographing Native American rock art including Kokopelli. All of us love the rugged coast of Northern California and its lighthouses.

The following photos feature the burning of the Lighthouse, Kokopelli and other nearby art.

Kokopelli was a trickster and a god of fertility of Native American and First Nation tribes from Canada to Mexico. New Mexico Burners chose him to represent their region at Burning Man 2012. Here he is in her first stage of burning along with 30-plus regional effigies.

In this picture, Kokopelli Rising is close to being totally engulfed in flame but he continues to play his flute, working to entice fair indian maidens.

Baby Brulee, New Orleans’ contribution to regional art at Burning Man 2012, lit up the sky next to Kokopelli.

Baby Brulee in his final stages.

I included this photo of the Queen Bee (Secret of the Bees) created by Utah Burners for Black Rock City in my last blog.

Here, the Queen Bee burns down.

As Kokopelli fell into the flames we turned our attention to the Lighthouse or the Twisted Upright House as the North Bay Burners from California referred to their work of art.

The Lighthouse was designed to burn for a long time and provide a beacon in the Black Rock Desert.

As more and more of the regional effigies completed their burns, Burning Man participants gathered around the Lighthouse. The mutant vehicle known at the Octopus lets out a fiery blast in the background.

The Twisted Upright House was still burning when we finally left. The colored  lights are from two mutant vehicles. The red one displays a long shark’s body.





From a Sinking Ship to a Huge EGO… Burning Man 2012 Art

Whimsical always wins me over. This is one cool cat… or is that cat woman. I had to travel far out on the Playa to find the cat sculptures.

Face it; I am frustrated. It is impossible to cover all of the art featured at Burning Man. In fact with over 300 works of art scattered over the seven square miles that constitutes Black Rock City, it was impossible for me to even get around and admire each piece. Maybe if I had devoted 24/7… but Burning man provides many distractions.

All I can offer is a tantalizing sample… and a recommendation: if you enjoy this art and you have never been to Burning Man, put the event on your schedule for the future.

A final note before I jump into photographs: this year featured regional art from groups that are organizing local Burning Man activities from around the US and world. I will cover this art, and its fiery demise, in my next blog.

Another photo of the denizens of the outer Playa at Burning Man. One gets a sense of how far out they are by the lack of people in the background.

Imagine cycling across the desert and seeing in the distance a partially sunken 16th Century Spanish galleon. It’s almost unbelievable but at Burning Man you learn to expect the unusual. Artist Matthew Schultz headed up this project.

What amazed me even more was the attention to detail, right down to the masthead. The story behind the sunken ship is that it crashed into the pier.

Further attention to detail, plus a sense of humor, was found below decks. Note the long fingers and the modern coffee cup.

The pier, without the ship, was a very popular sculpture in 2011.

It is difficult to be an artist, or a writer… or even a blogger for that matter, without a little ego. This is a big one.

Since the artist, Laura Kimpton, and I are both somewhat dyslexic, I thought I would reverse the E.

Replicas of 10,000 trophies went into creating EGO.

Wall Street, photographed here from the Man, was another major installation at Burning Man 2012. Otto Von Danger is the artist.

Buildings were given such names as the Bank of UnAmerica and Chaos Manhattan. The Greek front is a replica of the NYSE.

Like in many urban settings, graffiti was rampant. But we can all dream our financial institutions will become a little less greedy and a little more responsible. Wall Street was burned but not the American flag.

“It takes a village…” (Photo by Tom Lovering)

I found this large Praying Mantis and several buggy companions out on the far Playa. My bike, Horse with No Name, waits patiently. (I trust you will recognize the song “I rode through the desert on a horse with no name.”)

This sculpture by artist Kate Radenbush is called Star Seed. I thought of it as ‘fantasy arising from the dust.’ And why not. Participants are expected to put their own twist on Burning Man art.

I did wonder whether we are seeding the stars or they are seeding us.

If you look closely, you will note that this man’s skin is made completely of watch parts. I also liked the see through quality as you look up at the sky over Black Rock City.

Another of the wonderfully quirky works of art found out on the Playa at Burning Man 2012. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)

One sculpture featured a series of quotes. I found these two by Albert Einstein and Danny Kaye particularly appropriate for closing my blog on Burning Man 2012 art.

A Fairy Tale Land by Night… Burning Man 2012

Thousands of Burners, bikes and mutant vehicles make their way through Black Rock City, up and down the Esplanade and back and forth across the Playa at night. Almost all are decorated with lights as this 2012 mutant vehicle is.

Burning Man becomes a fairy tale land by night. Participants add lighting to their costumes and bikes. Mutant vehicles take on new personalities. Everyone heads for Center Camp, the Esplanade and the Playa. It is time to play.

This fascinating mutant vehicle caught Luna’s eye and camera as she was wandering through Black Rock City. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

I caught the same vehicle later displaying its night-time personality.

Here’s another example. This colorful mutant vehicle lived just down the road from us at Foxglove and 6th. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

This is my night-time photo of the vehicle.

Bikes are also dressed up for their night-time adventures at Burning Man. You want to be seen. We had no trouble following Tom and Beth. Beth, who owns B&L Bike Shop in Davis and is President Elect of the National Bicycle Association, had the latest in bike lighting equipment.

Horse-Bone Tribe member Scout, prepares for his evening foray into Black Rock City. His get-up includes an ear-ring that flashes in the dark.

Music is everywhere, from the deep booming rhythm of heavy metal to the softer sounds of blues and jazz. People are dancing and roller-skating and twirling fire and working hula-hoops and pole dancing and gawking, all to the beat of drums.

If the desert air creates a thirst, there’s bound to be a saloon or a pub nearby. After all, Burning Man is a Wild West town. The alcohol is free, provided by camps as part of Black Rock City’s gifting tradition. We discover a chocolate martini to die for at The Lost Penguin. The only requirement is BYOC: bring your own container. But smiles, thank yous, and costumes are appreciated.

A local chapter of AA is open 24/7 for Burners who need help resisting the temptation to drink the week away.

On our first night at Burning Man 2012, my wife Peggy and I headed out into the evening with our friends Tom and Beth Lovering. (In Playa speak, that’s Luna, Outlaw, Adios and Punkin.) A dragon with glowing eyes was preparing for an evening of revelry. A meditating Burner sat on a hanging rock sculpture with the moon as a backdrop. We came across a box guaranteed to provide a psychedelic experience. Adios climbed in and I took his photo. “Bye, bye.” They closed the lid and shook the box. Cheap trip… but colorful.

A dragon with glowing eyes, a red tongue, and long eyelashes prepares for its night adventures as the sun sets at Burning Man 2012.

A Burner respectfully welcomes the evening as the sun sets and the moon rises. He was perched on a large rock hung from a sculpture that rotated.

Adios, loaded into a box, prepares for his psychedelic trip. He has already grown an extra arm and leg. I am not sure what the magic button was for.

A fire dancer captured our attention next as he whirled a pair of fiery poi balls in circles around his head, behind his body, and between his legs. I felt a twinge of apprehension. Scars are not uncommon among practitioners of the art.

Fire dancing includes grace, beauty and a hint of danger. We found this 2012 performer twirling poi balls on the Esplanade at Burning Man.

A hundred yards down the Esplanade we found a merry-go-round for four people that required a push-pull action to make it go. Naturally we had to try.  At first it was difficult. Adios got off and pushed. We figured the contraption out and went faster and faster until we were flying. Punkin got in one “Whee!” before we crashed. I went bouncing across the Playa on my butt. Luna was thrown off and dragged through the dirt like she had her foot caught in a stirrup.

Battered, bruised and covered in Playa dirt, we dusted ourselves off and went limping on to our next adventure. Wall Street, beautiful sculptures, and Center Camp waited.

My major reason for going to Burning Man is the art. Most Burning Man Art, as this 2012 piece, is designed to be enjoyed both during the day and at night. The moon was one day away from being full. The Man is off to the right.

As we biked onto the Playa and into the Black Rock Desert, Wall Street loomed in the distance. This major 2012 Burning Man structure was scheduled to be burned at 9 PM on Friday but high winds and dust forced a postponement until 1 AM on Saturday. I slept through the event. (Photo by Beth Lovering)

Burning Man’s Center Camp with its glowing arch and flags blowing in the wind invited a visit on our way back to Horse-Bone Camp.

Clouds covered the glowing moon when we left Center Camp and made our way home completing out first day at Burning Man 2012.

The Temple at Black Rock City… Burning Man 2012

The 2012 Temple at Burning Man captured in the early morning light by my friend Tom Lovering. The courtyard and Temple are already filled with visitors.

My first trip to Burning Man in 2004 became a quest. A neighbor of mine, a veteran Burner, suggested I would enjoy the event. He was a strange fellow. I guess he thought I was too.

His description of Black Rock City reminded me of the Mos Eisley on the planet Tatooine, the Spaceport where Luke Skywalker began his journey to the outer worlds. Strange creatures resided there. Adventure beckoned.

Most quests involve a similar location, a jumping off place between the world you know and wherever it is you are headed. Your challenge, if you accept it, is to go out into the beyond, do battle with the bad guys, and come back with something good for your community.

I didn’t find any bad guys at Black Rock City but I did have a wonderful time. And the journey expanded my perception of reality, which is always a good thing. I returned to Sacramento and immediately begin recruiting friends to go with me the next year. Today I regard my treks to Burning Man as exotic, art-filled vacations with a dash of pilgrimage thrown in.

The pilgrimage part involves visiting the Man and the Temple. Today’s blog will feature the Temple, Burning Man’s spiritual center. It is the place on the Playa where Burners go to say goodbye to loved ones who have passed on or to simply give thanks. Visiting is a moving experience that I believe people of all faiths, or none, can relate to.

The 2012 Temple at Burning Man was exceptionally beautiful. Reflecting an oriental theme, its spire reached for the sky while its large courtyard opened to the desert and welcomed visitors. Intricately carved wood invited thousands of messages and photos about parents, friends, lovers, children, husbands, wives, other relatives and even cherished pets.

Normally raucous Burners become quiet when they enter the Temple Grounds. While it isn’t a place of formal worship, it is a place of quiet meditation, reverence and respect. People sit quietly, post messages, or wander around and read what has been written.

The following photo essay is designed to capture the essence and beauty of the Temple in a way that words can’t. My friend and fellow Horse-Bone Camp member, Tom Lovering of Davis California, got up at 5:30 AM on Wednesday to catch the sunrise pictures. My wife Peggy and I took the day, night and burn photos.

The sun greets a new day at Black Rock City and gently bathes the courtyard of the 2012 Temple. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)

Early morning sunlight provides a golden glow and captures the intricate woodwork inside the 2012 Temple at Burning Man. (Photo by Tom Lovering)

Music is found everywhere at Burning Man, including the Temple. I love the obvious joy of these performers caught on camera by Tom Lovering. I also think this photo provides a good perspective on the size of the 2012 Temple’s courtyard.

This daytime photo provides an overview of the 2012 Temple at Burning Man and the courtyard, which extends an equal distance on the other side. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Peggy captured a fun perspective here of the 2012 Temple at Black Rock City. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

I took this photo of the 2012 Temple at Burning Man to show the intricate wood work. Much to my delight, the light shining through created a sense of eyes creating a cat-like face.

Speaking of kitties, the people owned by this cat memorialized her in the Temple with this picture. Thousands of Burners use the Temple to say goodbye to relatives, friends and pets who have passed on with messages of love and gratitude.

I took this photo to provide an idea of the number of messages Burners leave for loved ones. Previous photos have shown the size of the 2012 Temple of Burning Man and its courtyard. By Sunday, when the Temple was burned, close to every inch of reachable space on the inside and outside of the Temple plus structures in the courtyard had been covered with messages.

The 2012 Burning Man Temple at night.

A night-time view from the inside of Burning Man’s 2012 Temple.

Things burn at Burning Man including the Man and numerous works of art. Impermanence, deconstruction and celebration are all involved. The Temple has these elements, but it also includes the burning of the thousands of messages,  sending them skyward, or Heavenward if you prefer, and providing closure to those left behind.

Silence accompanies the burning of the Temple. No mutant vehicles spout fire, no music is played, no Burners dance. Only the sound of crying or the shouted “I’ll miss you,” breaks the stillness. We too have honored those who have passed on. This year we remembered my sister’s Mother-in-Law Betty, a woman full of life who had adopted us all as family and who had passed away shortly before Burning Man 2012 began. Go in peace, Betty.

Eventually, all that is left of the Temple and the courtyard is the structure… and then, it too collapses, returning to ash and dust. A very special thanks to David Best from Petaluma California, the architect and builder of the 2012 Temple at Burning Man, and to the Temple Crew that devoted thousands of hours to putting the magnificent building together.

Living at 5:50 and Foxglove… Burning Man 2012

I’ve just arrived home from Burning Man 2012. For me, it was the Year of the Burn. Featured above is the lighthouse, which was one of numerous regional sculptures that surrounded the Man and went up in flames on Thursday night.

The world disappears and then magically reappears. Strange beings wander by. A huge jack rabbit with 15-foot long ears slips past in the dust followed by 30-foot tall Conestoga wagon filled with gyrating people. An 80-year-old man strolls down our road, naked.

A rabbit with large ears slipped by our camp on Foxglove Street in Black Rock City. A dust storm limits our view.

The next day I went to visit the rabbit. He lived down the street from us.

A large Conestoga Wagon with blaring music, gyrating Burners and clearer skies followed the rabbit.

Welcome to Burning Man 2012. 

These are the sights from our front porch at 5:50 and Foxglove. We have just arrived and I am sitting outside with Luna, Adios, and Punkin watching the world meander down our dusty road.  Just opposite us a gypsy cave billows. A man-sized stuffed bear sits inside on the left. There’s a piano on the right.

The gypsy tent directly across the road from us at 5:50 and Foxglove on the inner circle at Burning Man 2012.

Past the gypsies and past the Intense-Intents-In Tents Camp from Los Angeles the Purple Platypus Band is setting up on top of their bus. Soon they have added their raucous music to the ceaseless rhythm of the Black Rock City.  Two women climb onto the RV and begin working hula-hoops in time with the music. Outlined against the sky, they are quite sensual.

The Purple Platypus Band at 6th and F on top of their bus in full swing and wearing their Playa get-up.

A pest control man walks through our camp and sprays Luna and Punkin. Is he for real?

I consume a couple of cold brews and my bladder suggests I hike over to the porta-potties.  It’s insistent. Grumbling, I leave my comfortable chair and front row seat. Thirty-two toilets and a crowd greet me. I line up behind a Martian, two vampires, and a statuesque six-foot tall woman wearing purple pasties, a purple G-string, and purple platform shoes. My attitude improves.

Back in camp the desert gods are playing the devil with dust. The Man is there and then he isn’t. Center camp disappears and suddenly we are in a whiteout. Dust trickles into our eyes, ears and noses. Our shirts, shorts, shoes, hats, bandanas and socks turn playa white.

A dust storm rapidly approaches, wiping out the view and guaranteeing we and our vehicles will soon be covered in Playa dust.

It is good to be back in Black Rock City.

Over the next two weeks my blog will feature Burning Man 2012. Join me as I explore the colorful world of Burning Man at night, attend burns, check out the art and spend time with fellow members of the Horse-Bone Tribe.

While Burning Man is fascinating by day, at night it approaches magical.