Robert Cormack

1 year ago · 4 min. reading time · ~10 ·

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Why I Have Dust In Strange Places.

Why I Have Dust In Strange Places.

And why I feel gritty about the future.

The veterans have brought their own pennants, bicycles, flashlights and tiki torches, plus enough water for anything.” Larry Harvey

I was looking at some pictures of the Burning Man Festival the other night. Besides the outfits and the sculptures, I was particularly impressed by one sign that said “I Have Dust In Strange Places.”

I’ve wondered about that since I started following Burning Man. How do people — some wearing only bikinis — deal with the desert dust? You’d think they’d have more grit down there than a transport truck’s front grill.

Somehow these “burners” deal with it, often with nothing more than a few portable showers set out in the midst of strange teepees, tents, and massive sculptures.

Burners (a term for regular attendees) describe themselves as people who share a “communal interest in creativity.” This past year, 75,000 people showed up, dressed in odd and outrageous outfits, admiring the outcroppings of someone’s imagination.

We feel transported to something beyond our own lives, hopefully beyond the stupid nonsense we face each day.

Sure, it looks crazy, but no more crazy than when we go see Black Adam or Avatar. We feel transported to something beyond our own lives, hopefully beyond the stupid nonsense we face each day.

Burners are essentially doing the same thing. There’s something about being at one with crazy that suits them. Maybe it’s escapism, or maybe it’s what we all do when shit’s everywhere.

Considering what’s happening in the world these days, communing on a 4,000 acre dried-up lake bed with other like-minded people makes sense.

We should all get out of town.

It’s been a crazy past year. Along with pandemics and the growing discord of war, we discovered a strange empathy. Instead of adopting the usual “us or them” mentality, nations stuck together and stood their ground.

This obviously chuffed people like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. As much as they thought they could have their own Burning Man, they never had the capacity — or the interest — to commune peacefully.

It wouldn’t be a lot of fun, that’s for sure. These aren’t fun guys.

They’d probably run around tearing up tents and sculptures, acting like they owned the place. No doubt they’d have their own Mad Max characters, maybe the Wagner group, threatening everyone with baseball bats. It wouldn’t be a lot of fun, that’s for sure. These aren’t fun guys.

Kim Jong-un would be a natural at Burning Man with his haircut. That is, until he set off his fireworks, leaving great craters in the salt flats. The burners would eventually run him down on the back forty, and hang him from one of their forty-foot sculptures with a card saying “Kimwit.”

It is art afterall, and when you’ve been an embarrassment as long as Kim has, he deserves to be mistaken for effigy and lit up like a Roman candle.

But let’s not dwell too long on these despots. We had our own version of Burning Man here in Canada last February. Thousands of transport trucks arrived in Ottawa to protest vaccine passport mandates.

What started as a peaceful protest outside the Parliament Buildings, soon devolved into horn honking, sitting in hot tubs, and calls for the government to surrender its authority.

They ended up raising hell at local Starbucks and jumping back in the hot tubs again.

It might’ve been revolutionary, except for the fact that many truckers didn’t know what the organizers were talking about. They ended up raising hell at local Starbucks and jumping back in the hot tubs again.

Eventually, local residents proceeded with a class action suit, and the government brought in The Emergencies Act. Ottawa streets were cleared along with border crossings at Windsor, Coutts and Emerson. This came after considerable pressure from U.S. officials who claimed both countries were losing billions in trade.

Nobody wanted that, especially the trucking industry.

With organizers of the Freedom Convoy now facing jail terms, they must be wondering why their Burning Man fizzled. Especially since the real annual Burning Man keeps growing in popularity.

Possibly it’s because the folks at Burning Man leave agendas at the door. They’re more into communing than committing crimes, which neither Putin, Xi or that little twerp in North Korea can understand or deal with.

The very nature of Burning Man is passive, enjoying freedom in the true sense, meaning you can make an ass out of yourself in purely enjoyable ways that affect neither the economy nor the environment.

We could simply wander around in our bungee shorts, riding bikes and sleeping under the stars.

If the rest of the world followed Burning Man’s example, we’d have far fewer deaths and destruction. We could simply wander around in our bungee shorts, riding bikes and sleeping under the stars.

It’s what Woodstock was back in the 60s. People gathered, listened to music, and smoked the occasional joint. Perhaps that was the basis for Burning Man, although future Woodstocks were anything but peaceful.

Spoiled brats burned the food concessions, threw up everywhere, then raped some of the female participants. Judging from the film footage, they hooted and hollered through the whole thing, thinking it was a great day.

Perhaps that’s what the world has become. We seem to prefer shock to sensibility. Show us miles of uninterrupted salt flats and we don’t see peace and tranquility. We imagine Mad Max racing across in his Charger, followed by a bunch of crazies who were probably never right in the head.

Meanwhile, the burners out at Black Rock take it all in stride. Like the first Woodstock attendees, they’re happy to create and congregate.

It’s escapism and fantasy, sure, but it’s better than watching the destruction of cities in Ukraine and missiles landing dangerously close to the Taiwanese mainland.

Instead of dreaming of dystopian worlds, they’d do well to pay attention to Burning Man.

Let’s face it, Putin, Xi and Kim are craven sociopaths. Each day, they make the world an uglier place.

Instead of dreaming of dystopian worlds, they’d do well to pay attention to Burning Man. They need to watch 74,000 burners communing with nature and each other.

It may seem crazy at first, but when these people leave the Black Rock Desert, there are no craters, no deaths, no families torn apart.

The only pain is sunburns. It’s hot out there on the desert flats. It’s a lot hotter where Putin, Xi and Kim are going. There’s a special place in hell for people like them. Hopefully, they get there sooner than later.

The world will be a better place without them.

Robert Cormack is a satirist, blogger and author of “You Can Lead A Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive).” You can join him at: robertcormack.net

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Comments

Robert Cormack

1 year ago #2

Ken Boddie

1 year ago #1

Build a man a fire and you’ll keep him warm for a day. Send him to a Burning Man Festival and you’ll let him see how the northern half of Australia feels every day … hapless, hirsute and hot, bloody hot, not to mention hallucinogenic. ✌️☮️😴🐪

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