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This was one of the warmest events we have been to. It was in the hundreds on several days, and the nights were warm enough for shorts and T-shirts (or less) until nearly dawn. And, of course, there was the pre-Burn during the dark, pre-dawn hours on Tuesday.
This year, we got two burns for the price of one. We slept through the first one, but we got lots of photos of the charred Man the morning after. And we got some video of the reassembly of the Man on Thursday night.
One of the issues I have raised before in other essays is that the rituals of Burning Man that involve the Burners have been eliminated, and the video of the reassembly of the Man shows an emotional ritual which was clearly involving for the particpants, but which prevented ordinary Burners from being anything other than specators. We had to watch this spectacle from behind a barricade guarded by BRC rangers. The rituals of Burning Man have become entirely corporate.
In addition to having two burns, this was the windiest and dustiest Burn we have been specators at in many years. There were three or four days when we had dust storms blow through, some lasting several hours. None of the dust storms was individually the worst we have seen, but they did take their toll on structures. We saw a few collapsed shade structures and tents, with some in shreds.
We would like to thank all concerned for the cleanliness of the porta-potties. I think there were maybe four or five times during the entire week that I found one unuseable because the seat had been sprinkled with urine, but at no time did I find one full. There was almost always paper in every potty, and if I had to look in a couple, there was always a potty with paper. I credit BMOrg for getting it right and Burners for not screwing it up. Thank you, one and all.
The cops also seemed less offensive this year. We saw them arresting a few people, but they were not as obviously in evidence this year as in the past ten or so, and they never came up in conversations we had.
After our experiences with Exodus in previous years, Louise and I volunteered this year as flaggers, taking shifts in Gerlach on Sunday and Monday. Our departure on Tuesday went fairly quickly, even taking into account it was during Yet Another Dust Storm Whiteout. The official Black Rock radio station was given a 2-way radio, and they called Exodus on occasion and got updates on the delays in Exodus (varying from two and a half to three hours from camp to blacktop, as I recall), so information was more nearly current this year.
One of the limits to Exodus is the lack of volunteers, we learned. Volunteers can work within the city to guide traffic into lanes with less traffic and out of lanes where there is a breakdown (which happens depressingly often), and flaggers can work out of the city on the highway to keep Burner traffic and local traffic flowing more nearly smoothly on the way into Gerlach. (Flaggers must pass a Nevada-sponsored course on flagging and get an ID card. You can take the course independently or take it during the Burn at Gerlach but miss a day on the playa.)
Nothing is going to make tens of thousands of cars get out of BRC in minutes, but more volunteers for Exodus will make it go somewhat faster. Plus you get to stay legally until Tuesday when the Exodus is over. You can even volunteer for tear-down and stay, I think, till Wednesday. Check the official Burning Man site next summer for details on volunteering.
(We did not realize it, but people thought since we had not posted annual updates for awhile that we had stopped going. Far from the truth. This was our twelfth straight Burn. We have continued posting photos from all the years since 1996, so scroll down the table of contents page to see images both still and moving.)
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