Black Rock revisited

OK, they’re one week late, but here they are—a few crucially important observations on PlayaFest ‘07:

• The Premature Ignition Episode. Now that I’ve had time to think on it, I’m just fine with that malcontent’s quasi-dastardly deed. I mean, that’s easily the all-time prank in a city that, at its best, embraces and celebrates A Good Prank. And it sure sent a cracklin’ buzz streaking through the town. Yes, sometimes pranks cross the line into high crimes and felonies, but at its heart, this was nothing more than a royal pisser of a prank. And not for one second did I feel that, just because Burning Man became Blackened Man, the considerable mojo of Black Rock City was somehow jeopardized. Are you kidding? I understand that Burnt Man had to be removed for safety reasons; one couldn’t very well expect the powers that be to risk having chunks of charred lumber blow off his torched, wobbly carcass to bonk some too-high nudnik in the noggin. And make no mistake—Man #1 was wasted. At least 90 percent charred. In that sense, the assassin had to consider his mission accomplished.

• That wind event on Thursday afternoon was one for the books. First, it blew in from the southeast, wreaking 20 to 30 mph havoc for the better part of an hour. OK, swell. It happens. But then, something took place that was just weird and downright ornery. This accursed weather system moved off to the northwest, as you’d expect, but then it got out there, stopped, turned around, and came right back at us, delivering wind/dust bitchslap number two! The playa at its testiest!

• The wind event on Friday afternoon was slightly less nasty. It came in from the southwest and rocked us pretty damn good, with winds again in the 20 to 30 mph zone. This system, though, was accompanied by dark clouds, bringing the possibility of … rain? Yes! Please? Well, it didn’t rain, it just spit at us a little. Standard Nevada tease. But after the rain had passed, and the wind had faded, the elements gave us a break and declared “Showtime!” As thousands of us watched, a single rainbow in the east began to materialize. It got stronger and stronger, becoming a radiant, shimmering spectral vibration spanning the eastern edge of Black Rock City from one spot on the playa to another. You’d search a long time for a sturdier rainbow. Then, as that one continued to gain color and strength, there appeared a second, above the first, much fainter but still clearly visible.

During this wondrous display, people on my street began cheering and applauding this most cheerable and applaudable event. The guys next door then declared “Kamikazes for all!” and started serving up drinks in celebration of this meteorological wonder goin’ down. Just one more reason to have great affection for this ephemeral and not-so-little city.