Friday, September 19, 2008
Burning Man - American Dream
The American Dream was the theme of Burning Man the “BMC” held on the Playa of the Black Rock Desert in Northeast Nevada. I went with Maggie after a long series of river trips and we stayed for four days out of the six (we had to go to work!). As the theme of Americana was imprinted though the layout of clock-wise (there is no “counter” at BMC) by naming those avenues after Iconic American Cars: Corvair, Falcon, Dart, Corvette, and even… Hummer. Additionally, this year’s costumes mirrored the theme with scatterings of flags and a plethora of red, white, and blue cloth, skin, and lights.
The American Dream is essentially the realization that you/we “have everything”: cars, clothes, houses, food, entertainment, friends, family, etc. The Playa provided that: no one went hungry, art cars were everywhere, music never stopped, there was plenty of housing, people were surrounded by friends and family (real, constructed, and evolved), and entertainment was always within eyesight and arm’s reach. The American Dream came to fruition on the inhospitable soil of the Black Rock Desert. Everyone was from somewhere and the indigenous people provided the venue (through the BLM). The gates of the BMC were an approximation Ellis Island and the Playa succumbed to the “Manifest Destiny” of those who had conspired to stage this American Dream. The citizen’s of the world were present with representatives from most continents (Antarctica didn’t have a contingent; however, the others did!). So the World was represented by folks from countries such as: England, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Ireland, Greece, Russia, The Ukraine, Israel, Iran, Iraq, India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, China, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Canada, and even Oklahoma! Many others were there as well…we just met or heard of folks from these Countries.
Our founding “fathers”…yes, the old, dead, white men who allegedly “constructed” our constitution and Declaration of Independence (based upon their readings and interpretations of Locke, Hume, Payne, and others that they plagiarized freely) would have thrived: B. Franklin by creating electrical madness and Art Cars, T. Jefferson would have raged the Deep End, set-up the bachelor party and Domes while hooking-up, and G. Washington would have piloted the largest of land-yachts across the Playa day and night. The rest of their posse would have created a killer theme camp (colonial columns, wheeled ships, exploding muskets made of L-wire, and rivers of rum). All in all, they would have approved.
Not a bad “Dream”. No one went hungry, thirsty, un-sheltered, optionally clothed, and un-transported (in the real and imagined senses). The American Dream lives through our excess, excesses, and Burning Man ’08 was just that: a celebration of our collective and global excesses rammed at hyper-speed through all of the available senses.