It’s About Flocking Time

By Ria Greiff

Well, if you ever sat around and contemplated Burning Man in retrospect and wondered, “When will the Bmorg allow animals into Black Rock City?” your wait for that answer is officially over, because this year, there will be ruminant ungulates all over the goddamn Playa. And I don’t mean that there will be gyro stands everywhere, even though as a Greek, that might be nice, except I don’t eat animals.

What I mean is that there will be, for your adoption pleasure, a bunch of sheep roaming around. According to their shepherds’ website “all they want is to mingle with the city residents, ready and lit” and “they bear gifts of bareback rides” and “good times.” But don’t get your furry costumes out yet folks, because these baaaad boys are actually robotic.

iSheep is a Burning Man 2018 honorarium art grant recipient. iSheep can be flocking to a theme camp near you IF you adopt them to be all yours. Otherwise, you may see them come and quickly go like the mythical lime green communal bikes that supposedly also show up every year at Black Rock City never to be seen by mere mortals like the 99% of us.

And it is affordable. If your camp has at least 50 members (and if it doesn’t, you guys might already be a bit much into sheep; go meet some people), 10 bucks a head gives you a sheep that does not give head, but may consent if you ask nicely to let you play with it. I will be there at some point as an ishepherd so don’t try to pull any hard wool over anyewe’s eyes if you know what I mean.

The absolute best part is that you can personalize your iSheep, which might come in handy if some silicon bro decides to take it because he feels entitled to everything. According to Bardia Saeedi & DC Regional Artists, the team of Burning Man vets and virgins from Alexandria, Virginia that is bringing you ewe, “A group of friends or a theme camp can adopt a sheep for $500. You then get to decide what your sheep says and in what voices (you send us recordings), design their character, name them, and decide on what they look like (accessories). Send an email to adopt@isheep.art for more info and to receive the application.” There’s also some additional background on the website at www.isheep.art and at www.gofundme.com/isheep.

Oh and did I mention that there is going to be an iWolf?

Burnie Goes to Washington

By Charlie

If you can’t drain the swamp, maybe you can fill it with Playa dust. The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in collaboration with The Burning Man Project, has brought “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man” to Washington, DC, after a prior installation with the Nevada Museum of Art.

The Renwick is an intimate space, recently renovated, a little removed from other Smithsonian museums. Like the best art on the Playa, you have to work a bit to find it and the effort is worth it. Curators managed to fill the playa-relatively small space with a great selection to give others a taste of what it is like to go to Burning Man.

Your attention is quickly drawn to the first room on the left, where a large dioramic paper-crafted archway has four peep holes in the legs, each with something to surprise you, like a big scary spider right there. Signage on the walls gives a primer to Burning Man, complete with definitions of MOOP and sparkle pony. It also introduces the 10 Principles. Overheard conversations of those getting their first experience with Burning Man were priceless: “They have a barter economy,” “Everybody goes naked!” “They blow things up.”

The next room holds representative “Burner” clothing. A sexy white leather dress with feathers is suspect (see MOOP, above) but impressive. What dominates this room, though, is a replica of Marco Cochrane’s “Truth is Beauty” from Burning Man 2013, his glorious towering metal statue of a naked dancer poised on tiptoe, arms raised, back arched. Brilliantly lit. She’s one third her Playa size but of the original cast.

A fire-breathing dragon art car appears in the next room, made of muffin tins and other bakeware, along with a movie showing the Playa evolving from empty space to a thriving city to empty space again all in two weeks. And did I mention the movie theater art car?

Upstairs the exhibit really gets cooking. A chill space beckons, with pillows on the floor and sound-activated neon ceiling lights. Giant mushrooms from the Foldhaus Collective collapse and grow. The Man stands in his own space in a gallery next door. The show stopper is a David Best Temple that takes over an entire 5,000-square-foot room.

When I walk in, it takes my breath away and I’m overcome. I’d left a remembrance for my mother in Best’s Temple of Grace, in 2014. (I’d left the 2013 Burn just in time to be with her in her unexpected last moments.) The Renwick Temple design lives up to the beauty he achieved then, with its intricate altars, alcoves, and obelisks. Signage at the two entrances explains the place the Temple holds in Burner culture. A table nearby offers 3-by-5 inch balsa wood cards for museum patrons to write down their thoughts. Most are respectful and heartfelt, though I see a banal “LA, CA” juxtaposed with “Thank you, Larry, for all my friends (heart, heart, heart emojis).”

Outside, Mischell Riley’s “Maya’s Mind,” Kate Raudenbush’s “Future’s Past,” and Laura Kimpton and Jeff Schomberg’s “XOXO,” among others, are all a short walk away. This public art, however, has signs saying, “No Climbing.” I tell people on the sidewalk, “At Burning Man, if it can be climbed, it will be climbed.”

I return to The Temple the next day for another look; the day before was a lot to process. I had also said goodbye to my father in the 2017 Temple Burn. He died that year, four years after my mother. It was a Monday, east coast-humid outside, less crowded. A loud Hungarian couple argue in the corner. My dad was a hot-headed Hungarian, so I’m never sure when Hungarians are arguing or just talking. I approach a docent, appropriately adorned in a blinking blue neon necklace. I ask if she understands the sacredness of The Temple, even if in a museum. She’d never been to Burning Man but had done her homework. “Yes,” she says, “But this being a public place, it is hard to keep people quiet.”

I ask her the fate of The Temple when the exhibit closes. “It is uncertain,” she says. Maybe a tour around the country, maybe some regional burns. Maybe some unknown donor will endow it as a permanent installation. The balsawood cards, however, are collected every few days and are being saved, and they will be sent to a Temple burn. Eventually. Apparently, the cards cannot be burned on National Parks lands, so they are trying to figure out where. I suggest the Playa in 2019.

We chat a bit longer. The art, she tells me, was commissioned especially for this project. Which explains why everything was so clean. All the artists have had projects at Burning Man. I was struck by the thought that maybe what our nation’s capital needs is a little more Burning Man, and a little less of the other shit going on here.

Larry Harvey: The Burner We All Knew

[Editor’s note: The following is the Beacon’s contribution to the Global Celebration and Day of Gratitude for Larry Harvey]

By Mrs. Lucky

A fox knows many things, says the Greek poet, a hedgehog knows one big thing. Larry Harvey was a hedgehog. Alone among the promiscuously creative polymaths who founded Burning Man, Harvey stayed loyal to the big picture. He molded the rituals and tended the principles. He was earnest.

“Most people would have dropped out when Burning Man just seemed like a piddling daydream,” observed artist Mary Grauberger, who knew him at the beginning. “But he was sure of it, and he was right.”

Grauberger, quoted in Brian Doherty’s 2006 book This Is Burning Man, built and burned sculptures of shore-washed junk on Baker Beach in the early 1980s. Though her art was an inspiration for the first Burn, she claims she never looked for fame. “People seem to need Burning Man, and they come from all over the world,” Grauberger continues, “But I know it’s hard on Larry’s health.”

This summer, the festival’s status in the American psyche is on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. In late March, at the gala opening for “No Spectators, the Art of Burning Man,” Larry Harvey climbed the red-carpeted stairs of the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery. He’d left behind his Stetson, and his cap from the Empire Store. He had one hand on the polished brass rail, the other on the arm of a willowy woman in a graceful gown. Tiny horns peaked through the crown of her long, salt and pepper hair. It was a remarkable ascent for a man who described himself as “an outsider in every sense of the word.” At the top of the steps, Larry and his lithe friend paused before entering the Grand Salon, studying the stick figure that started it all.

Harvey was dating the daughter of a former Soviet spy when the first Man was built in the basement garage of her San Francisco row house. About as avant-garde as a garden trellis, with all the artistic sophistication of the guy you draw in hangman, the icon is so simple you can get it across with three pieces of duct tape. This was how he wanted it.

Of the 10 principles of Burning Man the idea of inclusion was nearest to Harvey’s heart. It set him at odds with the other principals, who held a more raw vision. A 2007 article in the Black Rock Beacon details the troubled transition of the original triumvirate into a corporate structure. Between the charismatic Danger Ranger and the elusive John Law, it seems Larry Harvey was chosen to wear the mantle of leadership because he had the least to lose.

As a kid Larry Harvey planned to change the world. He got a slow start. He was 30 before he earned a living. He had a knack for attracting supportive women. He lived with an elementary school teacher. She won the bread. He took the bus to the public library to feed his mind. He worked as a bike messenger, and with a cadre of latte-carpenters, but described himself to Doherty as destined to head Burning Man, “a job for which there was no applying and no standardized curriculum to prepare for.”

A kind of a cosmic juggler, what Larry Harvey made was plans, not for portable potties and ticket sales, but for grand themes and big ideas. None more than the elaborate Burn Night ceremony styled Release the Man: herds of fire spinners, processions of cassocked torch bears, and tens of thousands of voices chanting “burn the Man.”

Interviewing him was like trout fishing. You cast your questions into his stream of consciousness. You’d get bites on Kant and Freud. But ask about the first Burn or the movie Wicker Man and you’d get skunked. He would come by the Black Rock Beacon camp. We’d brush the dust off the least broken chair and put it at the edge of our shade structure, where he’d puff his cigarettes, ashing carefully into the container he’d brought. He was the only one who didn’t get shit for smoking at the Beacon.

Some years he’d give us the scoop on the next year’s theme. We’d make it front page news, because at the Beacon we’re hedgehogs too.

Just days after his Smithsonian triumph, Larry Harvey suffered a stroke. Lucid in the first days of his hospitalization, he was visited by one of his first buddies in San Francisco. “You’ve done what you came to do,” the old friend told him. After several unresponsive weeks, Larry Harvey was released.

Fuck Your Peak Experience

By Ria Greiff

Like all good intentions, this column’s path went straight to hell. As your mensch in the trench, my goal was to offer a monthly column. Blame it on the chocolate, blame it on the green beer, but this item took two months to get here.

So break out your bump stocks, automatic rifles, silencers, Kevlar, and legislature, and throw them all away with abandon, cause ain’t nobody gonna do anything about them anyway and instead let’s talk about peak experiences.

Over the years, people have asked me to describe Burning Man. My response has always been, “The world’s A+ humans, bringing their A game (except you, you pieces of trash, who threw whole rolls of toilet paper into the potties at Tycho’s sunrise set in the Deep Playa).” My response fell short of describing how it felt, however — until now.

Have you heard about Maslow? Have you learned about self-actualization? Most likely you have, if you are reading this right now. But does the phrase “peak experience” roll off your tongue like a keto shake? It should, because that is what your Burn is all about.

A peak experience comprises transcendental moments of pure joy and elation. It involves a heightened sense of wonder, awe, or ecstasy with such an intensity of perception, depth of feeling, and profound significance that you wonder if you are having a psilocybin or MDMA flashback; moreover, the memory of these moments is everlasting, like Sandra’s love (pronounced Sondra).

So take my words for it. If you are questioning whether you should come Home again in about 90 days, think of the GroundScore motto, “Just Say Yes!” (except you, you pieces of shit, who took apart art installations). Now go refresh your profile on the website and get your fine actualized self ready for the Burn!

Forever from the trenches – GroundScore

Editor’s note: for readers who do not speak fluent GroundScore, we offer the following elucidations:

Tycho is a San Francisco-based musician known for his DJ sets at sunrise. In 2017, he took the Dusty Rhino art car out and played a sublime two-hour set for what he called the, “absolute favorite morning of all time.” https://dancingastronaut.com/2017/09/ascend-alternate-dimension-tychos-uber-chill-two-hour-burning-man-sunrise-set/

Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist who was created Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a theory of psychological health predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization. His biggest contributions to psychology were to humanistic psychology and the modern positive psychology movement. https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/abraham-maslow

Self Actualization is something you have already achieved if you have attended Burning Man, but just in case you are still wondering, it is the the realization or fulfillment of one’s talents and potentialities. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-doesnt-kill-us/201609/what-is-self-actualization

Keto Shake, the drink of choice for those committed to a ketogenic lifestyle. High in protein and fat but few if any carbohydrates to keep you in the ketosis zone to burn fat and build muscle. https://www.reddit.com/r/keto/wiki/faq

Psilocybin mushrooms, popular recreational psychedlics, have been shown in preliminary studies to be useful in treating depression and anxiety and alcohol dependence and in aiding smoking cessation. https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/will-psychedelic-therapy-transform-mental-health-care-ncna805466

MDMA (methylenedioxy­methamphetamine) can be a pressed pill that is called Ecstasy or Rolls or it can be in a crystalline form called Molly. It is a psychoactive drug used primarily for recreation, The desired effects include increased empathy, euphoria, and heightened sensations. https://rollsafe.org/mdma/

Sandra Ann Lauer, commonly known by her stage name Sandra (German pronunciation: [ˈzandʁa] was a German pop singer who enjoyed mainstream popularity in the 1980s and early 1990s with a string of European hit singles, produced by her then-husband and musical partner, Michael Cretu, the Romanian–German musician, singer, songwriter, producer and founder and musician behind the German musical project Enigma. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandra_(singer)

A Burner Guide to Crowdfunding

By Ria Greiff

If you beg for it, they will come.

Burners seeking to bring art to the Playa have turned to the Internet to raise funds, opting in droves for crowdsourcing sites that offer several approaches to appealing to the masses who have extra cash to spare. The differing rules matter because they attract varying classes of donors and have different requirements for those looking for dough.

You might think that the Burning Man organization would offer guidance on which to pick. It does — sort of. The official statement is, “Create a fundraising project on whichever crowdfunding service best meets your needs.”

As your resident Burner from the trenches, I parsed them a bit for you.

Kickstarter is more of an innovation platform. Artists, designers, inventors, or any variation of that trifecta, can be found here. They also have been vetted, which saves time sifting through MOOP, because Kickstarter only accepts 60% of its submissions, and if the project fails to achieve its funding goal, you are given your money back instead of a coaster depicting a defunct BM project. I’d rather get Playa Dust in my metal cup than have that depressing thing next to my futon in my tent as I slightly shiver in the desert night.

Kickstarter remains one of the most-well-known platforms, however, because it was one of the first players on the block, along with its indie-headed step-sister, Indiegogo.

Indiegogo is like the Deep Playa. Anything goes. Do what you want, take whatever it will give you; additionally, like the Deep Playa, there is so much out there that you are bound to miss something (bet you didn’t see the stationary bikes in 2017). If not fully funded, an artist can take the money and run on Indiegogo. Artists are free to use the cash they receive to put a tutu on a giant flamingo on Tuesday. To assuage any trepidation a patron may have in donating to a project, an artist can keep their integrity over their greenbacks, by setting up the campaign to be an all-or-none type of scenario, as is the rule at Kickstarter. Not fully funded, no gargantuan avian tutu.

The newest darling with a super catchy name is GoFundMe. Like, “Go Fuck Yourself.” Don’t even try to tell me you haven’t said that aloud when looking at some of those campaigns! Go Fund Me is exactly that, a platform for financing personal causes. You will find individuals or a group try to raise some funds to bring their art car to BM, or construction of some camp structure. I wouldn’t look for tantalizing projects on GoFundMe unless you desire to help a Sparkle Pony lose his Burginity. If he doesn’t get fully funded however, he is not required to go the full monty while pocketing the small change he collected.

There is one other crowdsourcing crowdfunder that just hatched, and it brings more crowds to the yard than these other (vegan) bacon milkshakes. Mainly because this platform is powered by a charitable organization. Hatchfund got started as a micro philanthropy platform and then nestled into AIM (Legal Name: Applied Information Management Institute), a not-for-profit that grows, connects and inspires the tech talent ecosystem to “improve thousands of lives in the Silicon Prairie.” The prairie dogs themselves are outstanding artists who already have more than a Playa Name; they are grant, award, fellowship, or residency recipients.

HatchFund also has a MatchFund, because matching funds encourage and maximize contributions … natch. Big donors make their grants contingent on smaller pledges that they match up to a specified limit.

The projects that make their way to Hatchfund seem to be the largest among the sites. Well-played Hatchfund, you dirty ol’ silicon dog, well-played.

Most projects on all of the sites offer rewards for different levels of contributions. These can range from a heart-felt thanks to giving a big donor the entire project at the end of Burning Man.

That is almost all the theoretical that matters. Now, let’s see this in practice.

As of the end of April, Art Project fundraisers on the BMorg page broke down like this:

GoFundMe – Had five fund requests in the mid thousands of dollars
Indiegogo – One in the hundreds, two in the thousands
Kickstarter – Three in the hundreds
Hatchfund – Had two in the $100,000 range, three in the $10,000 range

So how to decide? Go with Hatchfund if you are already a rockstar and people rush to do your bidding. Kickstarter is good if you are either sure that your project is so awesome-yet-reasonably priced that you will be able to garner all or most of the funds you need from an adoring public (and, you know, make the last $500 an anonymous donation from yourself). Use IndieGoGo if you just want to raise some money and care a little about the projects listed on either side of yours, and GoFundMe if you don’t.

Position Wanted

By Ria Greiff

My necklace is broke, my cuff is bent, my rib is fractured, and my spirit is bereft. Welcome to the post-holiday season in the Default World.

True to GroundScore form, I managed to receive over the course of three shifts:

• A custom-made Black Rock City t-shirt
• The honor to be within five feet of Elon Musk and Larry Page
• An airplane ride
• Pickle juice martinis at the airport bar
• Really neat laptop stickers
• The responsibility to direct airplanes onto the Playa

Now onto what I will be doing this year. I love my Heebeegeebee Healers camp. But do they love me back? It is so hard to tell when you are a chronic wanderer. You need to wander so you blame those around you for not liking you enough and venture out to find a new tribe. You find the next one, think you’ve found Nirvana until you realize that not everything is that fucking great and wander off again. And again and again and again. Perhaps why I keep finding shit. I am always roving.

Not to get to insane with you right now but I wonder if I will ever find Home. At least I have for one week a year at Burning Man. This is the one place that makes sense to me. When I hear the words, “Welcome Home!” I really feel it.

For my next pilgrimage Home, I am putting my authentic self out there to you fellow Burners.

Who wants an intrepid, pretty talented, fairly sexy, writer, in their camp to hang out and then mysteriously disappear all the time? Maybe there is a cute pilot that will let me sleep in his tent under his ride.

Who knows what will happen? But the Playa always provides. This month’s task: prepare my profile for the sale. Forever from the trenches — GroundScore

City to City: Biggest Little Meets Black Rock

By Hydro

As Reno journeys along a path of deliberate cultural evolution, its art scene is evolving as well. Being that Reno serves as a commuter community for Burning Man residents, it is no surprise that little bits of ma gical Playa Dust have been sprinkled around the Biggest Little City in the form of murals, sculptures, hotels, and events. It was only a matter of time before the Nevada Museum of Art hosted an exhibit on the history and culture of Burning Man.

Man In Dust
Man In Dust

Titled City of Dust: The Evolution of Burning Man, the exhibit is open now and runs through Jan. 7. It is one part counter-culture history lesson, one part biographical spotlight on key characters who helped make Burning Man what it is today, and one part introduction to the ethics and do-goodery that spring from Black Rock City.

Visitors first get a bit of Burning Man pre-history descriptions of the Communiversity, the Suicide Club, and the Cacophony Society. To the neophyte, this sounds suspiciously like less-violent versions of Palahniuk’s Project Mayhem. These cauldrons of counterculture creativity brought together outcasts and creative minds, the likes of which were to one day build a vaguely humanoid structure out of scrap wood on Baker Beach in California.

Fainting Man
Fainting Man

Details include the very first time the Man was brought to the Playa, during a trip organized by the Cacophony Society that was titled “Zone Trip #4: A Bad Day at Black Rock.” The era of the modern Burning Man event includes biographical portraits of legends like Larry Harvey, Will Roger Peterson, Crimson Rose, and Harley Dubois. Also included are bits of the Man’s ashes from a number of years, a Golden Spike and the decades-old sledge hammer used to drive this marker of Black Rock City’s geometric center, a walk down memory lane in the form of posters illustrating the various event themes over the years, a brief insight into the design of the Temple, and a pocket-sized crash course in the 10 principles of Burning Man for the un-or under-initiated.

Lastly, an overview shows how Burning Man has grown past being simply “the world’s most dangerous festival” and has inspired regional events worldwide, spun off Black Rock Solar, and cultivated Burners without Borders in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. All of this is accompanied by modern day artifacts, photos, sketches, maps, Moop, and Playa jewelry to keep the eyes moving from one dust-covered shiny object to the next.

Little City
Little City

Those with limited knowledge of the event will find that this exhibit delivers a solid basic understanding of where Burning Man came from. Visitors in the jaded “Burning Man was better next year” crowd may find themselves cursing the ignorance of the bewildered tourists, but those crusty old-timers will also appreciate seeing the evidence of the event’s fabled history. Salacious spectators expecting to see walls full of photos showcasing the drug use and rampant nudity so often attributed to the event will be sorely disappointed. The exhibit is almost entirely family friendly. A few photos with genitals or female breasts can be found, but anyone spending time searching out every last beaver or trouser snake will have a hard time obfuscating their intent.

Burners heading from or to the Default World via Reno should definitely make time to visit the museum to see this exhibit after testing the dust-handling capacity of their hotel’s plumbing, gorging on all-you-can-eat sushi, and probably enjoying a sand-free massage or yoga session.

A description of the exhibition, including a 21-minute video and information about a series of related lectures that runs through December, is posted at http://www.nevadaart.org/exhibition/city-of-dust-the-evolution-of-burning-man

The Nevada Museum of Art is at 160 West Liberty Street in Reno. It is open Wednesday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. except Thursday, when it stays open until 8 p.m. More information can be found at www.nevadaart.org.

BURNING MAN SPECIAL: The museum will be open on Tuesday, Sept. 5, from 10 to 6, in honor of Burning Man. Admission will be free.

Reno Burner Hostel Haunted by Oakland Fire

By Jimmy Olsen

A spectral finger from the Ghost Ship in Oakland has reached out to Reno to threaten the existence of the Morris Burner Hostel, a whimsical outpost of Burner culture in the world’s biggest little city.Morris Burner Hotel

A fire in the combined artist collective/performance space/residential building claimed 36 lives in December. The tragedy set fire marshals and city inspectors all over the country to scrutinizing buildings and enforcing codes. When they turned up at the 43-room hostel at 400 East 4th Street in downtown Reno, they found the sprinkler system in the Steampunk Saloon and Ballroom was lacking, according to Jim Gibson.

The bar was closed, pending a $50,000 upgrade, cutting off a major revenue source for the Morris. But the bad news did not stop there. Transportation officials required that a performance stage in the building’s back lot be temporarily removed while they upgraded utilities on either side of the hostel, part of a plan to improve connections between Reno and Sparks. That shut off the other major source of income for the hostel, which was compensated to the tune of $35,000, but the yard in the back will be torn up for at least three months and may never again be suitable for outdoor performances.

Hostel steampunk barThe performance spaces accounted for the bulk of the hostel’s income. The 13 currently available guest rooms on the second floor are typically filled on weekends but visitors are few during the week. An additional dozen residents occupy the top third floor on a longer-term basis. The hostel is run as a private club, requiring a minimum $20 membership, with a berth in a dorm-style room costing an additional $15-$20 a night and deluxe suites running about $100. Room rates depend on the membership type.

The facility was originally built as the Bonney Hotel in 1931, directly on the country’s first transcontinental highway.  For its time, it was one of the finest hotels around. After many name changes, it was sold in 1949 to E. F. Morris, whose name still graces the establishment.

Marshall Compton paintingThe building’s transition from a hotel to a hostel dedicated to the art, the culture and the 10 principles of Burning Man, is a tale of two Gibsons. Don Gibson was leaving the 2007 Burn when he realized that his brother, Jim, would find Burning Man to be a wonderful experience.

The next year, Jim came to the Playa with his Jungle Bus art car and immediately fell in love with the people, the art and the principles. Eventually acquiring the Playa name Jungle Jim, Gibson worked on the Temple of Transition in 2011, and started looking for ways to spread Burner culture. The brothers bought the Morris for $425,000 in 2013, according to Washoe County records. Opening as the Morris Burner Hotel, Gibson later changed the name to the Morris Burner Hostel. As a hostel, the Morris encourages higher turnover rates that mean it can expose more people to Burner culture.

Following the Burner ethos, the hostel is mostly run by volunteers. As you approach the front door, you notice it is locked. You need to ring the doorbell and wait for a volunteer to usher you in. On the ground floor is the remarkable Steampunk Saloon and Ballroom where artistic events were held. The 10 Principles are prominently displayed just inside the door of the bar. A small sign across the room reads “Hippies use backdoor – no exceptions”.

The second floor has the guest rooms, decorated in individual themes by Black Rock City artists. It is reminiscent of walking the streets on the Playa and visiting theme camps, each with a different and unique style. The Sparkle Pony room is quite obvious, while the DaVinci’s Workshop room is stylish;  the Booby Bar room is inspired by the legendary Terminal Village bar, which existed on the Playa from 2007 to 2011. The pride of the rooms is the Temple Suite, inspired by the magnificent 2011 Temple of Transition.

The Hostel supports local artists as well as volunteering for food and clothing drives for the homeless. Its presence has helped to revitalize its neighborhood. There is a wonderful black and white mural on the front of the building. It is a memorial for Marshall Compton, a Burner, artist, token hippie and a contributor to the Temple of Transition.

To keep the business going, there is a GoFundMe campaign to raise $10,000 as the hostel works toward getting the sprinkler issue in the bar resolved. More than $7,300 was pledged by mid-August. Reopening the bar would bring in much needed cashflow, but the situation is tricky because there are different rules for hotels and hostels and for bars, private clubs, and cabarets.

The hotel is raising money at www.gofundme.com/help-the-morris-stay-alive and its website is morrisburnerhostel.com/

Burners We Once Knew: Rod Allen

By Mrs. Lucky

You must be brief when you write for the Beacon. Each inch of broadsheet is allocated. Rod Allen could plug in your thumb drive, click on a story, and with a few adroit taps remove 40 surplus words.

“Why those?” I asked him once.

“They didn’t advance the story.”

Rod Allen and Nod Miller
Rod Allen and Nod Miller

I had been struggling alone in my steamy trailer. Writing tight is tough when your friends are leaving to dance. These days every phrase I diddle too long gets marched up Rod’s editorial scaffold.

I met Rod Allen and his partner Nod Miller at their first Burning Man in 2007 when he volunteered at the Black Rock Beacon. He was a big, white-bearded British guy in a loud shirt and failing health, holding a stuffed panda. Nod had a sharp wit, flashy glasses, and tendrils of magenta braids framing a friendly, forthright face.

Being around Rod and Nod was part “Mother Goose” and part “Clockwork Orange.”

“It’s time to shoot up, love,” she’d say to remind him to take his insulin.

They cruised the Playa in a black London hack and took a Basil-Fawlty-like glee in teasing silly Americans. But when it came time to prepare a story for publication, it was quite apparent he was a pro.

Rod Allen was born with a digital mind in an analog world. He had a gift for arriving at the threshold of media changes. In the early 1970s he was a British ad man in New York City. When the 1980s dawned, he returned to the U.K. bent on a career in journalism. He championed satellite transmission as an executive producer of London Television, an early non-BBC network.  He chaired the Edinburgh TV Festival and edited and published Broadcast Magazine. In the 1990s, he headed Harper Collins’ effort to take the dictionary from paper to pixels.

For all his professional accomplishments he was soppy creature. A stuffed bear collector who once called Nod from an overseas conference in tears, his beloved Panda-Panda had been left beneath the hotel bed. A special flight home was arranged.

Rod and Nod met on an academic panel, later collaborating on scholarly work including a 1993 paper that anticipated the rise of reality television. Their domestic relationship developed over time. They cared for Nod’s aging mother at home until her death last year. They delighted in finding the name of Rod’s son, a sound technician, in the closing credits of “The West Wing” and went to back to Burning Man together.

Being edited, like being kissed, is not always a good thing. It is an intimate act. Your work awakens in the hands of a fine editor. The best editors, like the best lovers, leave you better the next time. They pipe advice in your ear long after the encounter.

Rod died on Christmas morning. His son Nicholas Allen survives him, as do three grandsons, a pair of curly-coated Cornish cats, and Panda-Panda. Nod Miller has lost the love of her life. Were it possible to “shoot up love,” we at the Black Rock Beacon would pass her a powerful dose.

Now that Rod won’t be coming back to Burning Man, with his deft edits and crazy shirts, a bit of magic is gone. I’ll remember his advice when I’m desperate to finish up so I can get out to dance. The story must advance. Beacon writing need be terse.

The Heart of Letting Go

By Elly Mancinelli

Blank small blocks of wood at the altars act as paper, with messages written in marker ink. One block asks a wayward family member to come home, another forgives, another withholds forgiveness –acknowledging that the person who is now gone had failed them.

Some blocks pray with gratitude for the end of suffering, some apologize, some growl “fuck cancer” or “fuck meth”, one confesses “it was my fault.” Some assert ways to live a better life, some make peace with their difficult family situations, and some proclaim “I am enough” or “I am amazing.” Other blocks ask “why could you not love me back? “ or “why did I survive?” Another pleads “let me let go of my self doubt” and one warns us never to take love for granted. There are many photos and letters written to our beloved pets who are described as “pure soul” – we thank them for being our friend. Mostly, the messages reflect the hole in our collective heart and simply say “I miss you.”

In the Temple of the temporary city, Burners took time to tend to the soulful experiences of their lives. In sharp contrast to the epic flame-throwing fireworks display of the Man burn, the Temple burn was a solemn event. During the last burn of the festival, silence filled the air as a single flame slowly and quietly overtook the structure, taking with it symbols of painful events gone by.

The Temple collectively acknowledges that to hold on, you must first let go. A poem stapled to the Temple wall informs its visitors: compassion for the broken; forgiveness for the blamed; gratitude for hardship.

Acting as a reliquary, the Temple – located at 12 o’clock – stands 100 feet tall and 50 by 50 feet wide. It is filled to the brim at all 8 altars with photos, letters, poems, collages, prayers, memorabilia and affirmations – all for the purpose of attempting to let go in the final burn. Burners sit quietly in prayer and meditation, some holding onto each other, while Temple Guardians stand by holding the sacred space.

Whatever the message, at the Temple one can feel a palpable collective heartache; a reminder that we are not alone in our temporal journey. With the final burn, the Temple and its messages evaporate into the night sky. Perhaps some pain evaporating with it, creating a small opening for a ray of light to find its way to our aching hearts.