Burning Man ticket program gives cancer patients or survivors a chance to go to the desert

My pal Aaron Muszalski has just announced Burning Wish, a wonderful new nonprofit that grants Burning Man tickets to cancer patients or survivors. He writes:

Do you know a cancer patient or survivor who’s always wanted to go to Burning Man?

🔥 We’re especially looking for first-time burners who’ve already decided to attend this year, but still need tickets. 🔥

Refer a friend or apply yourself at https://goo.gl/forms/6Cri3CscOn82bZXg1

Burning Man isn’t for everyone — the event takes place in the Nevada desert, where temperatures can exceed 100° F — but there are ways to minimize many of those challenges. For patients who are physically well enough to make the trip, the experience can be incredibly transformative and empowering.

My name is Aaron Muszalski. I’m a longtime burner and recent cancer survivor. Attending Burning Man during my treatment gave me the strength I needed to successfully complete chemotherapy. I’m now NED (“No Evidence of Disease”) and want to share the magic of Black Rock City with others facing this disease.

Burning Wish’s mission is to help connect fellow cancer patients and their loved ones with the resources they need to experience the burn safely — medically AND emotionally.

We’re also looking for volunteers. If you’d like to support this project in any way please tell us more about yourself at https://goo.gl/forms/7Glz3WwqcSDLTUju2

Read the rest

A look at how Black Rock City rises from the dust

Ever wonder how the dusty blank slate of the Black Rock Desert becomes Burning Man's Black Rock City each year?

Well, my pal Shalaco has started vlogging and in his latest video he gives an interesting glimpse into this process by talking to the Survey crew as they create it. It's a really beautiful piece!

On the Burning Man Journal, he writes, "One impossible aspect about Black Rock City, and part of the nature of a city that is born every year, is that you can visit it at different times in its growth and development. Each and every year I visit, Black Rock City it is younger and younger. You can never visit New York when it was a colony or San Francisco before the gold rush, but you can do that with Black Rock City."

[Cue the music]

It all starts from here. The center of Black Rock City, the Man it all starts as and radiates from The Octagon. #BuildingBRC #BRCsurvey

A post shared by shalaco (@shalaco) on Aug 2, 2018 at 4:20pm PDT

This is 7:00 & E. @phoenixfirestarter, Ankhor & Athibat use Euclidian geometry to square off the intersections along 7:00. This year intersections are smaller to encourage interaction. #buildingBRC #BRCSurvey

A post shared by shalaco (@shalaco) on Aug 3, 2018 at 5:01pm PDT

“The Lines” extend from the center of Black Rock City over a mile to the outer streets flagging the intersections of the annular city streets #BRCSurvey #BuildingBRC

A post shared by shalaco (@shalaco) on Aug 4, 2018 at 9:38am PDT

Read the rest

Check out these machine-learned Burning Man camp names

The theme of this year's Burning Man is I, Robot, which focuses "on the many forms of artificial intelligence that permeate our lives..." So, naturally, someone trained a neural network to come up with some camp names.

It spit out believable names like Spankles, Astro Sparkin, and Space Rock Screamin Camp, as well as weirder names like Corn Viral Hammers, Wiq Renames Spaghette, and Hellball Lounge. Then it went with some truly bizarre ones like Cohnie Stacefur Ass Chaos, Sir Liberains the Wreck Middle, and Awes Orpoop.

The woman behind the experiment, research scientist Janelle Shane, writes:

Thanks to an anonymous burner, I had a list of 1593 past Burning Man camps to feed to a neural network. A neural network is a kind of machine learning algorithm that learns to imitate the data it sees. My starting point was a textgen-rnn neural net that had been previously trained on metal bands and roller derby names, so it had a few ideas of its own to bring to the table. It did not disappoint.

There's a bunch more of these machine-learned camp names over at Shane's site.

Let's hope life imitates art and some Burners out there actually create one (or more) of these camps this year on the playa!

Image via simon of the playa

Thanks, Dan S.! Read the rest

I was gifted a scenic flight over Black Rock City ​

I have a long history with Burning Man, both on playa and off, but I did not know until last year that ​a small group of ​generous Burner pilots ​gift scenic flights ​-- ​at their own expense and discretion -- over Black Rock City during the event.

The catch? Well, first you need to go to Burning Man, which means getting a ticket. Then, once you're out there, you have to get up real early, put your name on a list at the Black Rock City Municipal Airport and wait -- in the heat, for hours -- for your name to be called. Since the planes are small and each ride is about half an hour long, the wait to get that amazing bird's eye view can be upwards of six hours or more.

I woke up late on Saturday, the morning of the Burn. It was the last day pilots were gifting these rides for 2017, so I pedaled over anyway and put my name on the list. It was 9 AM and the guy in charge warned me it would be at least six hours before I'd be airborne, if I was "lucky." The airport was a fair distance away from where I was camping, so I decided to stay put. To kill some time, I asked the airport staff if they needed a volunteer. As luck would have it, they did.

I spent about 45 minutes organizing papers in an air-conditioned trailer (oh yeah) and the remainder of my three-hour shift checking passengers against flight manifests at the gate. Read the rest

RIP Larry Harvey, Burning Man founder

A few weeks ago, Burning Man founder Larry Harvey suffered a massive stroke. Today I have learned that he has passed. He was 70 years old.

Marian Goodell, Burning Man's CEO, made the announcement:

Our founder, friend, and original instigator, Larry Harvey has passed away. Larry suffered a massive stroke at his home on the morning of April 4. We resolutely held out for a miracle. If there was anyone tenacious, strong-willed and stubborn enough to come back from this challenge, it was Larry. Though we all hoped he would recover, he passed peacefully this morning at 8:24am in San Francisco, with members of his family at his side...

Read Marian's announcement in its entirety here: The Man in the Hat, Larry Harvey, Passes

Larry's friend of some 25 years and a director of the Project, Stuart Mangrum, penned a tribute that detailed Harvey's life:

...As a denizen of San Francisco in the 1980s, Larry found himself drawn to the sorts of Bohemian scenes that are often the breeding grounds for serendipitous collaborations. And when he started hosting his own happenings on Baker Beach, he lit a flame that in turn drew these free spirits to him. He joined forces with the San Francisco Cacophony Society, and its members became some of the first Burners. When San Francisco authorities shut down the Baker Beach Burn in 1990, it was these Cacophonist colleagues who helped orchestrate the event’s relocation to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

Over the next three decades, Harvey fought tirelessly to keep the event going, through dark days of organizational strife, government opposition, and financial uncertainty, as well as through boom times of community growth and unbridled creativity.

Read the rest

Burning Man founder Larry Harvey in critical condition after 'massive stroke'

Sad to hear my pal, Burning Man founder Larry Harvey, has been hospitalized since last Wednesday.

Burning Man's official blog The Burning Man Journal made the announcement Monday:

This is a difficult announcement to make. Our founder and friend Larry Harvey is currently hospitalized after suffering a massive stroke on Wednesday, April 4. Larry remains in critical condition. While his prognosis is unknown at this time, Larry is receiving excellent round-the-clock medical care and constant companionship from his family and very close friends.

We know this news may be startling and saddening for many of you, as it has been for us. Please send your positive thoughts and intentions to Larry and his family. If you feel moved to share well wishes, notes of gratitude, or your best and craziest Larry Harvey stories, feel free to do so respectfully in the comments below. For those who would to like to send messages directly to Larry and his family or share reflections more privately, please email TheHat@burningman.org.

More: Burning Man Founder Larry Harvey Hospitalized

photo by @Kmeron for LeWeb13 Conference Read the rest

Podcast: The Man Who Sold the Moon, Part 08: the FINAL INSTALLMENT

Here's the eighth and final part of my reading (MP3) (party seven, part six, part five, part four, part three, part two, part one) of The Man Who Sold the Moon, my award-winning novella first published in 2015's Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future, edited by Ed Finn and Kathryn Cramer. It's my Burning Man/maker/first days of a better nation story and was a kind of practice run for my 2017 novel Walkaway.

MP3 Read the rest

Podcast: The Man Who Sold the Moon, Part 07

Here's part seven of my reading (MP3) (part six, part five, part four, part three, part two, part one) of The Man Who Sold the Moon, my award-winning novella first published in 2015's Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future, edited by Ed Finn and Kathryn Cramer. It's my Burning Man/maker/first days of a better nation story and was a kind of practice run for my 2017 novel Walkaway.

MP3 Read the rest

Podcast: The Man Who Sold the Moon, Part 06

Here's part six of my reading (MP3) (part five, part four, part three, part two, part one) of The Man Who Sold the Moon, my award-winning novella first published in 2015's Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future, edited by Ed Finn and Kathryn Cramer. It's my Burning Man/maker/first days of a better nation story and was a kind of practice run for my 2017 novel Walkaway.

MP3 Read the rest

Podcast: The Man Who Sold the Moon, Part 05

Here's part five of my reading (MP3) (part four, part three, part two, part one) of The Man Who Sold the Moon, my award-winning novella first published in 2015's Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future, edited by Ed Finn and Kathryn Cramer. It's my Burning Man/maker/first days of a better nation story and was a kind of practice run for my 2017 novel Walkaway.

MP3 Read the rest

There's a semi-secret Burning Man calendar that you can (shockingly) buy

While some can only think of the Burning Man as a party in the desert, diehard Burners, its citizens, will tell you that it's much more than it. They'll tell you that it's a year-round community whose leadership is, amongst other things, determined to protect their unique culture from commodification. People looking to exploit the culture with "commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising" will promptly be shutdown. Amazingly, besides some coffee and ice, nothing at the annual Burning Man desert event is for sale.

In fact, decommodification is so important to them that they've made it one of their 10 Principles.

Now, I've been in the Burning Man community since 1995 and I've just learned this week that the Project does actually have one product for sale: a calendar. You can buy it online, like I just did.

Through a recent blog post on her site, I discovered that my pal Arin Fishkin has been the calendar's designer since its beginning in 2004. In the post, she not only shares the calendar's history -- highlighted by lovely sample pages of each year's edition -- but also tells why an organization that protects itself from commodification is selling it to begin with. She writes:

The funds from the purchase price go to producing the calendar which is primarily gifted to staff, volunteers, visiting dignitaries, politicians and….mayors. As I understand it, having items available for purchase is one way to claim and protect their trademark. So we make this beautiful thing, that is mostly given away, and mostly kept secret.

Read the rest

A clever way around high school reunion small talk

So, you've learned you've got a high school reunion coming up. Well, if you've decided to go and want to stave off awkward conversations, take some inspiration from my author friend Benjamin Wachs. Last year, he went to his reunion in upstate New York and brought stacks of laminated flip books he made in advance. His "Benjamin Wachs Small Talk Experience" answered the basic questions about his life since high school and then prompted some more thoughtful ones. It made me smile.

Take a look (click on each image to see it bigger):

Read the rest

Podcast: The Man Who Sold the Moon, Part 04

Here's part four of my reading (MP3) (part three, part two, part one) of The Man Who Sold the Moon, my award-winning novella first published in 2015's Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future, edited by Ed Finn and Kathryn Cramer. It's my Burning Man/maker/first days of a better nation story and was a kind of practice run for my 2017 novel Walkaway.

MP3 Read the rest

Podcast: The Man Who Sold the Moon, Part 03

Here's part three of my reading (MP3) (part two, part one) of The Man Who Sold the Moon, my award-winning novella first published in 2015's Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future, edited by Ed Finn and Kathryn Cramer. It's my Burning Man/maker/first days of a better nation story and was a kind of practice run for my 2017 novel Walkaway.

MP3 Read the rest

Podcast: The Man Who Sold the Moon, Part Two

Here's part two of my reading (part one here) of The Man Who Sold the Moon, my award-winning novella first published in 2015's Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future, edited by Ed Finn and Kathryn Cramer. It's my Burning Man/maker/first days of a better nation story and was a kind of practice run for my 2017 novel Walkaway. Read the rest

Black Rock City, NV: The New Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man by Philippe Glade

Photographer and 21-year playa veteran Phillippe Glade saved me about a grand for a ticket (plus expenses and brain damage) with this beautiful, cloth-covered photo book surveying the domestic and communal architecture of the annual temporary city of 60,000 souls in the Nevada desert.

I've been following Glade's blog for a few years, and bought his book, Black Rock City, NV The New Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man ($40), because I live in the Southern California desert and have a more than casual interest in durable shade structures. However I was just as fascinated to learn about the urban planning of the city, with its fantasy-novel semi-circular grid of streets: [its designer] "Mr. Garrett was one of a short list of city planners who get to see their ideas realized in their lifetimes".

The book contains almost 200 photos spanning several years, with useful captions, interior shots of many structures and a handful of informative essays.

Glade writes about the most common types of personal shelter – tents, hexayurts, monkey huts, parachute shades, domes, etc – and discusses the pros and cons of each:

"...parachutes are tempting [but] they wear out quickly on even dull edges and balloon with the slightest breeze [...] they exert tremendous wind pressure on the structures and trap heat without any UV protection".

Glade contends that the harsh conditions of the Playa have created a "vernacular architecture that rejuvenates the world of camping" and is relevant to those designing emergency shelter.

Despite favourable reviews in Wallpaper, Architectural Digest and Wired, only around 300 copies have sold. Read the rest

Podcast: The Man Who Sold the Moon

After a two year hiatus, I've restarted my podcast! It's my New Year's resolution. Read the rest

More posts