Burning Man 2009

Playa sheep.
Playa sheep.

Wednesday, October 14, 4:59 AM
En route to Taipei, Taiwan

For each of the last three years, I have made the pilgrimage to Burning Man. I use the word pilgrimage because for me, BM is a kind of religious experience, and it definitely has its share of trials and hard work. Of course, it’s always worth it, or I wouldn’t be traveling back and forth. This year was an exceptionally long journey “Home” to Black Rock City, as I flew-back all the way from Thailand to attend, putting my then 9-months of international travel on pause.

For me, the Burning Man odyssey is also a sacred one, so much in fact that I never really took pictures there before. In fact, fate actually intervened last year, taking my camera just before and not revealing it until after we packed-up camp to leave! The first year, I didn’t leave camp with it for fear of ruining it in the dust storms. (This year I finally did take some pictures, but practically only for the sake of showing some snaps to my family, who has to hear about it for 3 years now and whom I doubt will ever make the trip. Although you should totally go, Rob!) I don’t want to try to explain what Burning Man is here, except to say it’s not a music festival, or a hippie festival, or a drug orgy… it’s a very different things for many people, and this year I didn’t even feel like talking about it for weeks. Perhaps “What happens on the Playa stays on the Playa” sums up its personal nature for me, but also it’s impossible (and tiring as well as inadequate) to explain it to somebody who hasn’t experienced the magic for themselves, because it won’t come across. It’s too big, literally and figuratively, to “capture”. So go yourself if you want to know!

...and another Playa sheep.
front: The Raygun Gothic Rocket Ship. back: The Neverwas Haul, a 3-story Victorian house (on wheels).

That said, there is much written about it, you’ve probably already seen blips in the papers and news about it, and you can easily find photos, videos, and even documentaries made about it online too. So I took a few hundred photos this time on only 3 brief occasions:

  • the morning I arrived there, about 5 hours after I got in line when the gates opened at 12:01AM on August 31.
  • one blazing hot afternoon, mid-week, when I went out exploring with my friend Sandra to find bloody marys
  • and finally, I took some nighttime shots of some art cars and art pieces that were still around after the temple burned on the last night, when my whole camp, except for Jordan and I, had already made exodus, as well as 90% of Black Rock City.

loved this bike. simple & effective. must GLOW at night!
camp Red Lightning at night

It’s weird to have these photos and not share them. Seeing the desert, art, and people in silly costumes without fair context is a corruption of the thing, but I’m putting it out there anyway for what it’s worth. I hope you enjoy, whether you were there or not.

Now, please check out my Burning Man 2009 photo set on Flickr!


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