Bob wrote:The Man is up and lit all week, on a four-storey pedestal. What's not to like?
Formerly it would be raised only a couple of days before the burn, by ordinary people yanking on ropes. They had to get on a megaphone to ask for help. No laminates, no official department t-shirts, no 300-foot perimeter. You got a chance to hang out a few feet away while people you knew first or second hand clipped on the neon and attached wads of burlap that had been soaked in paraffin in hot pots a few feet away. Then the pyro. Then hope the arms raise and nothing breaks.
Now, it is what it is. They raised it on a tall engineered base to make it visible from the greater Esplanade distance, increased the fuel, and added interactive bullshit in the pavilion beneath. I've worked as a carpenter on it a few times. I helped design the sand pad underneath and get it approved by the BLM. Little known factoid -- their main objection was "foreign material" being introduced to the playa, in the form of the sand. In the mean time, someone else had introduced fire-resistant cloth made of woven tempered silica (same material is used for welding blankets and high-temp insulation) as a possible alternative. Nope, I tried building a fire directly on the cloth and it burned through in about a half hour, but it worked fine with a couple inches of sand on top. So we ended up buying rolls and rolls of this stuff at about $5/square foot, and its only function was to physically segregate the sand from the playa. After a few years of this, and substituting cheap woven fiberglass for the tempered silica, they and the BLM got smart and simply used a sand pad with no barrier cloth underneath, and relied on the cleanup crew to make things right in the aftermath.
I relate this simply to say I have something invested in both recent iterations of the Man. There were three, really -- it was originally rooted to the same ground you stood upon, and not on a ten-foot platform surrounded by straw bales, but I never experienced that. Like Eric, I've always gone there to 1) socialize and carp 2) play with weird shit 3) carp and socialize some more and maybe watch stuff burn. However, I don't like huge crowds or large vehicles piloted by drunks, so after the first couple of years of prancing like a beer-basted peasant around the Man burn I watched from the Esplanade. I also worked with DPW for many years, working periodically out there at odd times between May and August, so the event itself became something of an anticlimax, except for hanging out with fellow builders, art types and volunteers in camp.
The Man logo on the stickers and company stationary *is* corporate by definition and trademark. In any case, it has little to do with encapsulating my experience, because most of my projects, and 99% of what DPW does, don't involve it. The year a DPWer brought his tattoo equipment out there, the then-head of DPW simply had a large lit wooden match put on his arm. I drew up a complicated little thing with a hornytoad in the center that's now fading on my left shoulder, that would be instantly recognizable to anyone who's been there, despite that it doesn't include the stick figure. Larry's teenage son, on the other hand, had something done that you might describe as Oedipal.
So yeah, I've left before the burn, and I had my reasons, but I still like the idea of the burn and fully expect people to fix upon it as the physical and figurative centerpiece of their bunringman vacation. Just don't stereotype people for not reflecting your expectations.
mdmf007 wrote:Like all things pleasant, BM is in a state of transformation from what it was to what it will be. I noticed a definite change this year over years past. Was it the number of newbie first year virgins on playa? Even the music changed it seemed like. Ten years ago you could not escape the pounding Oontz OOntz OOntz OOntz all day and night. This year the band Scorpions and Def Leopard was blasting!
Savannah wrote:"Beer-basted Peasant" is my new favorite phrase.
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