Burning Man Table of Contents


Courtesy of Greg Rodenberg

"So, I went to this anarchi-techno tent city in the desert where there are, like, NO LIMITS, right? 'cuz I wanted to do my OWN THING an' be artistic an' stuff? I got there like a whole day early just to set up this mellow space for myself. When I turned in, there was nobody within 100 feet of my tent, well maybe just a few...but anyway when i woke UP it was, like, I'm in the middle of a GHETTO or something, I couldn't even move the bus 'cuz some guy set up a tarp like FIVE FEET away from my stuff! Well, I tried to be cool about it, but all day long more and more people kept showing up and squeezing into the space until by the end of the day it's like, wall-to-wall camps as far as I can see...

"Then it turns out that half the camps brought, like, generators and amps and huMONGous speakers, and they turned 'em up loud and just LEFT 'em that way all FUCKING WEEKEND!!! Like I go over and ask this one camp 'Would you please point that the other way, or turn it down, or something?' and they just LAUGH at me. I figured they'd have to get tired eventually but NOOOOO!! they didn't even SLEEP!

"Well, I couldn't deal with it, so finally I just took my sleeping bag and wandered off into the desert so I could sleep, y'know? But I was so crashed by then that when I finally did drop off I didn't wake up until it was already like 120 degrees! Jeez, I about puked in my bag it was so hot! I mean, they said it got hot but this was like... unreal. I felt like shit, and I didn't have any water 'cuz I'd left the whole gallon back at my tent. So I headed back toward my stuff, only...I couldn't find it! I couldn't find my bus! There are like NO LANDMARKS out there....I carried my bag around until my arm about fell off, then I said 'Fuck It' and just left it on the ground.

"Oh man...it took me about another hour to find my bus. And I'd left it just sitting there unlocked, you know...well, somebody'd been there before me, ripped me off while I was out in the desert. Took my stash, my tapes, just helped themselves, you know? So much for trusting your neighbor..

"I was like ultimately bummed by then, and I had a headache that just wouldn't quit. So I finally just said 'That's IT!', threw the rest of my stuff back in the bus, and managed to back out of there, except I put a gash in the side - some guy's rebar stake or something. I got outta there OK but then I must've got turned around or something, 'cuz I couldn't figure out how to get off the desert! I just drove around, and man, I scared myself silly out there - I mean it was just empty forever, once you got away from the tent city. I just got more and more lost...

"Finally I hit what looked like a way out, and was so glad to be getting out of that hell-hole desert that I just punched it, you know? And all of a sudden it felt like I was driving in quicksand! Before I knew what was going on the bus got stuck in some kinda ultra-slick mud. Man, I was pissed! I tried gunning it but it just got stuck worse...couldn't even see the wheels after a while.

"I gotta tell you, that was the worst...nobody in sight; all I could do was sit in the shade of the bus, 'cuz it was too hot to move. I polished off that gallon of water in about 3 hours; couldn't believe how fast it went. Some guys that I'd been camped next to had been telling stories about these wild birds that live by the desert - 'playa chickens' they called 'em - about how they hunted in packs and could strip a person like a school of piranha. I was like, freakin' out, thinking about being chicken feed...

"Finally it started getting dark, and I could see all the lights from back at the tent city. What else could I do? I just started walking...in seconds, my shoes got so much mud on 'em it was like having bricks on my feet. I just threw 'em away, like with the sleeping bag, and kept going. When I got back to the tent city I asked around 'til I found somebody who was headed to the closest town and he gave me a ride so I could get a towtruck for the bus. Now get this...this 'town' was like 400 people! The only place even open was the tavern. I had to wait until the next morning for the gas station to open up, so I decided to get stinking drunk if I couldn't do anything else. Ended up passing out somewhere...I dunno.

"Anyway, when I finally came to, I was sick as a dog from the booze and the heat. Shit! I ain't never been that fucked up before. But the final, I mean the FINAL straw was when I told the guy at the gas station I needed a tow off the desert, right? He just looks at me like I'm a talking grease spot and says "$100 cash, up front, and there's six rigs I gotta tow before yours." Oh, yeah, like I'd even started out with $100...

"Well, that was it, man. Just walking down the road to the station had blistered my bare feet, so I just hung around until a bus with Cali plates pulled in for gas, then I hit 'em up for a ride wherever they were headed, as long as it was away from Nevada. I probably looked as bad as I felt by then, but I had no shame left, man - just kept beggin 'em to help me out until finally they let me ride in the back. The only open space left in their bus was next to a couple bags of garbage. I spent the whole trip back jammed in with the coffee grounds and cigarette butts, wishing I could die and get it over with..

"I don't even know what happened to my bus, and I don't care. I ain't never goin' back to that shit-hole festival they call Burning Man!"

Courtesy of Gene Rodenberg.
Copyright © 1997 Gene Rodenberg. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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