Friday, September 23, 2011

Spire of Fire

This'll have to tide you guys over for a week.  Murphy's gallivanting off to Montana for two months and we're road-tripping her stuff up there.  This was from July in downtown Reno and I've been meaning to post it since then.  Burning Man art makes its way into the default world from time to time.

Making the world better one BTU at a time

Catch ya on the flip side.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Burning Man 2011

Ethel and I journeyed out to Burning Man this year with her mom in tow.  Fresh off the plane from Ireland on her first visit to the US, Jane was ready to jump head first into a week in the dust surrounded by the freaks.  Or whatever people around the world think about Burning Man.

What you're really here for is some photos, so I'll keep the stories to a minimum and only say that I made a decision this year to spend more time photographing people.  In the end, it was equal parts interesting people and art at nighttime; I wasn't too excited for photoing daytime art this year, for whatever reason.  As such, let's start with some people.

Murphy in dust-protecto mode

That's for real

Happy couple

Martini Village, with which I've now camped for 7 years running, threw four pretty fantastic theme parties.  It's an awesome bunch of people and they do know how to have a good time!

Martini Villager with amazing hat

Party-goer after having an inch-long gash in her forehead glued back together

September Nevada sunset

The playa was positively hopping at night; more so than I remember over the last few burns.  Lights and fire and lasers everywhere!  This year was substantially colder at night than I can ever remember, so cruising around in the unpopulated parts of the playa wasn't as enjoyable as it would have been otherwise.

Ooooh, light and designs and stuff

Avatar-ish tree; climbing people for scale

El Pulpo Mecanico

On the right; oodles of facts about the Milky Way.  On the left; crazy zooming stars

Singing Tesla Coils (too dark to be visible here) make lightning and music; incredible!

I have a theory that the size and quality of the art at Burning Man is a good barometer for the economy.  After a few decidedly off years for art, it seems to have made a resurgence.  Fingers crossed that this trend continues.  Moving on to a few more people...

Bumblebee wings vs Phoenix wings

One-man show

Dancing the evening away

Performance artist

We had a great spot to watch the Man burn; second row in a designated Sit or Be Screamed At section.  This also ensured great views of the fire performances ahead of time.  Also, you've all seen photos of the Man on fire, so we'll just skip that.

Pre-burn festivities

One of many unique performances

We spent the remainder of Saturday night cruising around and taking in the sights before snagging a couple hours of sleep and then heading back out for sunrise.

The magnificent Temple at night

Abstract view of the super-trippy Tunnel of Enchantment (I think)

Sunrise from the perimeter fence

Sunday was Ethel's birthday, which we observed with a massive AM Bloody Mary party, a nap, and a trip out onto the playa for some fun evening photos.

Totally hopeless at timing the jump

Murphy acts all primal

The Temple was off the hook this year.  Utterly massive, it dominated the landscape from any position.  As expected, it was a burn with a quiet intensity that's hard to describe.  Far hotter and with none of the whiz-bang of the Man burn, the atmosphere created by 40,000 dead-silent people is a special experience not to be missed.

The Temple is "fully involved," in fire-speak

Rapt attention for the Temple

A quiet moment

Unfortunately, the word is out that the Temple burn shouldn't be missed, so our Exodus on Monday was orders of magnitude more painful than it's ever been before.  After two solid afternoons of cleaning and sorting everything in sight, life has returned to normal save for our memories and mementos of a fantastic year on the playa.


Sunday, September 11, 2011


OK, first things first: Burning Man photos are coming soon. Real soon. Before that happens, though, we're going to spend a few minutes with the sculptures. A couple weeks ago, the entire lot of 'em got installed down in Carson City, and I took time last night to make a few photos of them with Ethel and Jane as highly skilled photo assistants.

2 explorers chat

Same 2 explorers and their view

Native woman and her dwelling; gesturing to children

Explorer leads two pack horses downhill

The project is finally complete, and I couldn't be happier about it. Paolo and I devoted just shy of a year to this one, and it's nice to have some, um, free time now.

If you're curious to see them (of COURSE you are), keep your eyes open the next time you head down to Carson. Here's a map, and a spotter's guide follows. Also, they view better and video better during the day, but I think they photograph better at night, so don't let my photos fool you into avoiding a daytime trip.

2 of them at the 5th St overpass. Most visible when driving south through Carson. Look up and to the east (left) side of the overpass as you approach. Also easily visible from 5th St.

3 of them at the Fairview interchange on the north side. Most visible when driving south. When approaching the mandatory Fairview offramp (until they extend the freeway), look up and east (left) to the close side of the straight onramp to 395. Also, if you happen to be entering 395 from Fairview westbound, you'll see the tops of these 3 out your left window at the top of the onramp, especially if you have a tall vehicle. Also visible if you enter 395 through the 270deg onramp; look up and right immediately after the loop ends.

And the mother lode...11 of them at the Fairview interchange on the south side. All 11 are in the 270deg looping onramp to 395 from Fairview eastbound. This is your only choice if you're returning to Reno from points south. Look to the inside as you're (safely, kids!) negotiating the onramp (hint: might be better for passengers). There's lots to see and it's a very dynamic view as you move around them and change elevation.

All 16 of these sculptures tell their own part of the same story, and I'm sure this won't be the last post featuring them. If you have seen them since they all got installed, please leave a comment (for better or worse; we can take it) with your impressions, reactions, etc. We're most curious to know what people who haven't spent a year neck-deep in the project think of them. Thanks!


Past Detritus