Burning Question

September 14th, 2005

Once again, sooner than I expected, we're closing in on another Friday, the day we tape our shows for future broadcast. At this week's taping, I'll be interviewing Larry Harvey, founder of the annual Burning Man festival. Do any of you have stories to share about your experiences there? If so, please put them in the "comments" section below this item. It would really help me prepare for Friday's conversation.

Entry Filed under: tv episodes


  • 1. Mary D.  |  September 14th, 2005 at 12:24 pm

    Unfortunately I haven’t yet had the good opporunity to attend the Burning Man festival, mainly because it’s become rather pricey over the years. I understand that it costs a lot to rent out, say, a whole desert, but $300 a ticket is a lot. Perhaps you could ask him about Burning Man’s steadily rising prices for me? About the kind of person Burning Man is marketing to these days? And whether there’s any way to get around them for us poor starving college hippies (aside from breaking in ninja style)?

    Thanks and keep up the good work Josh!


  • 2. Eli and Chevalisa  |  September 14th, 2005 at 11:00 pm

    Burning Man.

    Or Burning Person, as our friend Ian insistes on calling it.

    Last year, we got turned away at the gate because our tickets were bad. Counterfeit. All dressed up, and turned away at the gate. This year, we were determined to get in, and get in early enough to help the whole thing grow up around us.

    Black Rock City, which becomes, for this one week, the third largest city in Nevada, and a whole universe unto its own.

    A universe of heat and cold and dust and wind, of light and sound and more sound, of bike rides and water truck runs, of chapped lips and cracked feet and hair that transforms into something else entirely.

    Burning Person. A universe where all the boundries dissolve — the boundries between day and night, light and dark, work and play, audience and performer, between this world and the next.

    A universe so harsh, you wonder if your body is going to make it though another day, and so full of magic, even a trip to the portapotty can be cosmic:

    It is Saturday Night, and The Man has burned. Back at camp, we have each taken a hit of ectasy and are gtting ready to go out on the playa. It my first time on E, and as an ex-East Coast jewish senstive-musician type (and a red diaper grandkid), I am feeling, well, scared.

    With my ex-Catholic, ex-sorority-girl, newly space-cowgirled girlfriend, Chevalisa, holding my hand, however, we are ready to venture out of the safety of camp and make an experimental first run navigating the miasma of the playa in an altered state. Our mission: a trip to the portapotty. Which is aptly brandnamed Johnny On the Spot, which could not better explain how I am feeling right now.

    I make my way across a few hundred feet of desert to the long bank of portapotties, and into a stall. I sit down on the toilet the feeling pretty good, and quite releived. All of a sudden, I hear a voice float in from another stall, somewhere down the way. Unbelievable. It’s a familiar voice. It’s my good friend and fellow Raisin Camp mate, Adam.

    And out of the silence and the dark, to no one and anyone, he exclaims:

    “Somebody put glow sticks in the portapotty!

    Fucking genious!!”

    A long moment goes by, and I hear his delighted, awestruck voice again.

    “Fucking Genious!!”

    Like he’s just stumbled upon the unexpected cure of a disease.

    I laughed so hard I almost fell off my portapotty.

    Still chuckling, I reached out for the toilet paper, and yelled up into the dark:

    “I love you, Adam.”

    A moment later, his contented voice floated back over, having recognized mine:

    “I love you too, bro.”

    And with that, the adventure had begun.

  • 3. wendy  |  September 15th, 2005 at 12:17 pm

    I went to Burning Man in 2001. It was an amazing experience being in the desert for an entire week, enveloped in playa dust and surrounded by an endless stream of creativity. Where else can you look up and randomly see a motorized high-heeled shoe drive by? I came to the realization that the only limitations I had to deal with were the ones I imposed on myself — I was confronted with my own inhibitions and fears — there was so much opportunity for free expression — all I had to do was act on it — and that was hard — seeing your own boundaries — your protection as your prison.
    One of the most liberating feelings was riding a bike topless — where else can a woman do that?
    I also experienced a tragedy that had a profound impact on me. As we left BM we saw a major car accident and I helped pull someone out of a crashed vehicle and attempted to resusitate him. I actually saw him die. His partner had been following in the car behind him and she was in total shock. I was so open emotionally from a week on the playa — during those moments I became acquainted with the intimacy of death.

  • 4. Josh Kornbluth  |  September 16th, 2005 at 6:56 am

    Wow, Wendy and Eli — such beautiful stories — thanks so much for sharing them! (And Mary D., keep up the good fight: you poor starving college hippies will be running things some day.)

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