Stoking the embers of Burning Man

OK, look, I realize I’m having a little too much fun writing about goddang Burning Man this year, and I also PROMISE this will be the last column I write about the Blazing Bastard until next August, but an article that appeared in the S.F. Chronicle on Friday the 14th gives one a chance to get a more secure handle as to what the festival has become in its 18th year in Nevada.

“The Black Rock City population soared to 47,366 this year, up more than 8,000 from 2006.” That’s pretty big. In fact, that’s a town the size of Fallon, Fernley, Elko and Tonopah combined. And yet, out there on the outer streets, it was amazingly roomy. I was completely surprised at how much camping space was available in my neighborhood at 645 and Jungle. Big gaps all over the area, where trailers and motorhomes would have had no problem squeezing in. So all you folks who crammed your funky butts into those tight little spaces in the “urban” parts of town, feel free to join us yuppie scum next year in the suburbs. Oh, you’ll still need ear plugs, for sure, but you can also get a little elbow room, should that notion be appealing.

“The population surge led to a rise in larceny calls, with officers responding to at least 10 cases where RVs were looted of cash, credit cards and electronic goods.” Not a surprise there. Not at all. And 10 is not a ridiculous number, considering how many RVs were out there. In fact, it seems fairly reasonable. But for those who think that by locking your valuables, you’re somehow bringing the paranoid negativity of the “default world” into B.R.C., well, all I can say is, “Good luck!” Negative, schmegative, the first thing I do when I find my spot in town is take my wallet and keys and lock ’em in the truck. And the key for the trailer is used and hidden. What a drag, to be cleaned out by opportunistic vermin whose numbers, very likely, will increase next year.

“Eight people were arrested during the eight-day event, Sheriff Skinner said.” That’s it? Eight? That’s gotta be a typo or something. Eight? What happened to all the pot busts? One thing’s for sure—the guys ripping off the RV’s obviously got away with their crimes.

“Perhaps most disturbing was the fact that deputies were inundated with calls reporting sexual assaults. Deputies are investigating 11 cases, but have made no arrests, largely because of the difficulty of investigating crimes reported at Burning Man,” said the sheriff. Indeed. One can imagine the following exchange at some big dome in town, where a deputy pulls up and begins asking questions. “Folks, we’re looking for a fellow who goes by the name of ‘Gotcha.’ Last seen wearing orange and blue striped pajama bottoms, no shirt, five red glow necklaces around his neck. Possible forehead paint. Reportedly under the influence of absinthe, acid, and Cialis.