BLACK ROCK CITY — Here we are at Burning Man, deep in the Nevada desert. It's billed as an arts festival, held every year in the name of counterculture, mind expansion, loving your neighbor, and paying a lot of money for coffee at an event that purports to have a noncommercial, barter-based economy. Black Rock City, the festival's temporary locale, is laid out in a rough half-circle, with streets labeled from 2 to 10, in the style of a clock face. The vast, open expanse of lung-clogging, sunbaked wasteland in the center is reserved for a very special type of self expression: large projects that cause their makers massive frustration, huge amounts of debt, and the destruction of every sort of personal relationship in the space of a few dust-filled, windswept days. Yes, folks, we're talking about art.
In between battling for an Internet connection, twitching from dehydration, and telling random people who wander in that no, they may NOT use our Internet to send that "really, really important Twitter OMG," I actually encountered some pretty great stuff out here. We say "some" because letting your weenie hang out underneath your hairy beer gut and wearing a silly hat, while a valid form of self-expression on Planet Black Rock, is not art, no matter how much you argue your point. Oh, and people do.
We're going to highlight some of the better stuff I see so all our friends playing along at home can see things that Burning Man's live webcam isn't aimed at. (We can feel you all tingling with anticipation from here.)
Pictured above: Major Katasztrophie, of the Neverwas Haul, muscles around large objects with the help of a forklift. For large-scale art projects that the desert landscape practically begs for, it's a vital piece of camping equipment.