Larry Harvey and Andi Grace and Harley Dubois had a press conference yesterday, and it was a little like what the National Football League does right in the middle of Super Bowl week: The football commissioner gives a “state of the game” address.
On Tuesday it was Burning Man’s turn to talk about the shape of things this year and years to come.
My transcriber will be getting the source document online for you shortly. But in the meantime, here are some of the talking points:
— When you turn 60, as Harvey has, “You start thinking of what the world will be like without you. You can’t imagine it at 20 or 30 or 40, maybe you do it at 50, but at 60 you do it.”
— The entire organization has been charged with thinking about who will eventually take their place. “We’re mentoring the staff. … (You) think of everything you know and give it to them. ”
— He’s proud of Burning Man’s longevity. “Most scenes, creative scenes, last for a year, year and half. … How long was the Beat scene, really? … We’re still here.”-
— Oh, and the big news: The theme for next year’s event is “Metropolis; The Life of a City.” … Which is something Burning Man knows a little about, after all. They invent a city every year. Out of nothing. For a week. And then it goes away. What makes life here work? How can you bring it back from the playa?
— It’s already coming off the playa, as the Culture Labs installation shows very deftly … the Black Rock Solar, the Burners Without Borders, the network of Regionals, the Nowhere event in Spain. Where will the next development come? “We may already have seen it,” Harvey said.
— Harvey said the Bureau of Land Management can’t tell Burning Man what it’s done with its money for the past two years, and that’s what at the heart of a withholding of funds.
— The recession has hurt. “All our vendors are asking for breaks.” And maybe the BLM should take notice too? “Don’t you think the government ought to find ways of saving money like everyone else?”
— Harvey was asked if he had a favorite Burning Man “moment” this year, and he said he’d had a number of them. … He liked the Onion-style story in the local press about the Unicorn Flu that was going around the city. Some thought it was caused by playa dust. Actually, it’s dust MASKS that are causing the outbreak. Perfectly absurdist.
A public service announcement: There is a lot of law enforcement here. Just saying. Don’t be dumb. Yes, it FEELS like Black Rock City is a parallel universe, but it’s not. So be cool.