The Streets of Black Rock City

BRC Map 2008For richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, the romance of the road is a quintessential American dream. For Americans, cars have always represented independence, self-expression and the mythos of mobility. And yet, like any love affair, relationships with cars are fickle and results are mixed. The story of the American car industry, an oddly expressive combination of heavy manufacturing and show business, has always been a narrative of boom and bust. From the days of the iconic cowboy riding off into the sunset, to commuter gridlock and the rising price of gasoline, who a people are and how they get to where they’re going is a tale of destiny. This year’s street names, laid out in alphabetical order, showcase this history. It is a story about politics, economics and technology, as well as the vicissitudes of love.


The Allanté was a Cadillac. It was initially priced at $54,000, far above the price of any other Cadillac of its era. This luxury car was sluggish; it steered like a barge. It had a 4100 aluminum block engine, arguably one of the worst engines ever made. It was said to be “all show and no go.” By the mid 90’s junk yards were full of decent looking Caddies that had nothing else wrong with them other than a seized up 4100 under the hood. The cost to replace it with yet another crappy engine was more than most owners could bear. Between 1987 and ’93, GM produced only 21,430 Allantés. Some dreams don’t come true.


The Bonneville was unveiled in 1959. It had an automatic transmission, power steering , power windows, power seats, power brakes, a four-barrel carburetor with a high power rating, a powerful V-8 engine — pretty much power everything. Pontiac “full size” performance reached its peak in 1966. If you’re an American, this was your father’s or your grandfather’s muscle car. Staring out across its hood was like commanding the deck of an aircraft carrier. In other words, it marked the apogee of America’s world power. The Bonneville sold in large numbers.


The Corvair was introduced by Chevrolet in 1960. By 1965, it sported a new streamlined design and a new and more powerful engine. Car and Driver gushed, “When the pictures of the ’65 Corvair arrived in our offices, the man who opened the envelope actually let out a great shout of delight and amazement on first seeing the car, and in thirty seconds the whole staff was charging around.” In that same year, however, a then obscure attorney, the consumer advocate Ralph Nader, published a book which took to task the 1960-63 Corvair. It was said to show a tendency to spin out, roll over, and, in the public’s mind, at least, blow up. Sales plummeted. Fairly or not, the once frisky Corvair is still remembered as the car that was “Unsafe at Any Speed”.


The Dart was like a certain kind of dog. Not a show dog, to be sure, more like a faithful mutt. Over its 13-year sales span it served its owners with what felt like real devotion. It wouldn’t wear out. At various times it performed as a drag racer, a stock car, and even did a brief stint as a police cruiser. From the time of its debut in 1960, it proved immensely popular. It was affordable, and when souped up, the Dart could sprint a quarter-mile in ten seconds. Sturdy and dependable, it was the kind of car that seems to love you even more than you love it.


Amid much ballyhoo, the Ford Motor Company introduced a new car on September 4, 1957. It was actually shipped to dealers under wraps and thus exhibited on lots, awaiting “E-Day.” Earlier, during the design process, Ford had solicited the advice of poet Marianne Moore. She suggested several names for the car, including the Utopian Turtletop, the Pastelogram, or the Mongoose Civique. Instead, they decided to call it the Edsel, after the son of Henry Ford. Subsequent research indicated people associated this name with “weasel” and “dead cell.” The public also felt that its vertical “horsecollar” grille appeared to be sucking a lemon. To make things worse, the Edsel’s pushbutton transmission, mounted on the steering wheel hub, misled drivers into shifting gears instead of honking the horn. Jinxed from the beginning, the Edsel was eventually put out of its misery in 1960 by auto executive Robert McNamara — the man who later led his country into Vietnam.


The Ford Fairlane was introduced in 1955. Over the next 13 years it went through many transformations, but during the 60’s it grew into a kind of archetypical white shoes, Elks Club car. If you gave a box of crayons to a 6-year old, he would draw a Fairlane. In its deluxe versions, this workadaddy muscle car eventually featured custom carpeting, armrests, soundproofing and a passenger side window wiper. Its boxy middle-of-the-road styling proved immensely popular among a thriving middle class that lived in boxes. The Fairlane brand was so ubiquitous that it became one of America’s most face-lifted cars. Aptly enough, the Fairlane was the car that Janet Leigh drove to her doom in Psycho.


Knowing that their competitors were about to launch sub-compact lines in 1970, American Motors resorted to the simple expedient of chopping off the back end of their compact Hornet. This drastic truncation created a distinctive dwarfish look, and the Gremlin was born. As it happened, the Arab Oil Embargo began in October of 1973, and sub-compacts were off to the races; the Gremlin sold well. However, by 1975 growing stagflation had taken its toll: sales declined by 65%, and by 1978 production ceased. In any case, the gas crisis was over, and consumers ran back to the pumps. The Gremlin is described by some as the ugliest car ever made. However, because of its low sticker price, maneuverability and dependable performance, many first-time drivers fell in love with a car that was originally sketched on the back of Northwest Orient air sickness bag. There still exists a small collector’s market. Beauty, after all, is in the eye of the beholder.


What can one say about a vehicle that is chiefly useful for invading foreign countries? Its name derives from High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, or Humvee for short. Unlike its military counterpart, which saw service in the first Gulf War, the civilian Hummer sports no armor or weapons fittings. It also lacks child safety locks, child seat tethers, side air bags, stability control, and it is difficult to park — unless, of course, one makes the choice to park on top of someone else’s car. The Hummer’s future is uncertain. It guzzles gas and weighs 6,000 pounds. A pair of Indian automakers have expressed interest in buying this brand. However, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger still owns a stable of Hummers. He insists there’s nothing wrong with Hummers that a little bio-fuel won’t cure.


The Impala was introduced by Chevrolet in 1958. Its stylish braggadocio made it the ultimate cruise-pick-up-chicks-big-boat car. First presented as a show model featuring an emerald green metallic paint job, loads of chrome and a white interior, the Impala was powered by an alternative fuel, testosterone, and struck a nerve in every male libido. Especially as a convertible, this classic car looks totally at home with jumping shocks, and it remained a record best-seller until the late 1970’s. Although the brand is still produced, it is now virtually indistinguishable from every other anonymous chrome-grey car on the road. Times change. Indeed, this once swaggering ride is currently offered as a Police Package.


The jeep is an iconic car, its origins imbedded deep in U.S. history. Its first fully recognizable version was commissioned by the Department of the Army for service in World War II. The jeep went everywhere, through mud and sand and snow. Perhaps more significantly, it carried everyone — privates, generals, even presidents. For an entire generation this felt emblematic of united democratic effort. Furthermore, its simple and pragmatic logic of design created an aesthetic: form and function coalesced. This helped to make it popular among civilians as the first sport utility vehicle. Certain modern models are remarkably like the original: high clearance, solid axels front and rear, plus a distinctive differentiation of the hood and fenders (a feature that evokes America’s first automotive love affair, the Model T). Romance has its rewards. Great dreams, embraced by an entire people, can endure.


K-Car is, quite fittingly, the back street of our city. The story of the K-Car is the story of an underdog: it emerged from the back of the pack. In 1978, America’s auto industry was ailing. Low-cost Japanese imports were inundating the market, and the Chrysler Corporation was facing bankruptcy. After securing a 1.5 billion dollar loan from the government, Chrysler recruited Lee Iacocca, recently fired by Henry Ford II, to serve as its new chairman. The result was the K-Car. Iacocca later said that these new cars were, “The last train at the station. If we failed here, it was all over”. The K-Car, strictly speaking, didn’t refer to any single model, but a platform upon which to mount such cars as the Dodge Aires and the Plymouth Reliant. K-Cars weren’t distinguished by their style. They were “purpose built cars”, designed to be cheap, roomy and reliable. The advertising motto put it bluntly: “If you can find a better car, buy it”. Sales eventually ballooned, and Chrysler was back in business.

By Larry Harvey, with many thanks to Gary Taylor, Tony Perez, Rod Garrett, Al Honig, Flash Hopkins and Karen Grimsby

About the author: Larry Harvey

Larry Harvey

Born in 1948, Larry Harvey grew up on a small farm on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon. In the late 1970s he moved to San Francisco, and soon discovered the city's thriving underground art scene. In 1986 he founded Burning Man at a local beach, and guided its progress from that moment until his death in 2018. Larry was Founding Board Member and Chief Philosophic Officer of Burning Man Project. He scripted and co-curated Burning Man's annual art theme and collaborated with artists in creating aspects of the art theme and the design of Black Rock City. Larry also wrote articles and essays for the Project's website. As spokesperson for Burning Man, he was frequently interviewed by reporters, and lectured on subjects as diverse as art, religion, civic planning and the rise of cyber-culture in the era of the Internet. Larry was also a political planner, supervising the organization's lobbying efforts and frequently attending meetings with state, county and federal agencies.

179 Comments on “The Streets of Black Rock City

  • Kat says:

    Honestly I was curious why we used car names for our streets this year. It seemed to be a reminder of just what I am and was in for to keep my tank full enough to get me to the Playa. I guess you have a good intention in mind with what is explained here.

    Just dont want to be living on Hummer Street since I will always dislike that car because of what it stands for. You summarized it well.

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  • Vitamin Z says:

    Love the idea and top notch explanation/descriptions. Eloquent as ever.

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  • LadyMerv says:

    What at first seemed completely wacky to me after greater reflection seemed more interesting. 1st they have created conversation, (such as what we are doing now), are controversial and provocative. Someone once said “When it makes them howl you know you have touched a nerve”.
    What is the nerve? I can only speak from my own experience. The names of the streets inspired me and may inspire others, (and I believe this was deliberate as part of the choice to name the streets such) to reflect on my own relationship with the identity bearing objects of my life such as the internal combustion automobile.
    Where would I be, where would Burning Man be, what would America be without the fossil fuel based automobile and all its derivatives?
    How has the car effected this culture? How does the car effect Burning Man? This years theme is “American Dream”, all dreams come to an end, do they not? What is our relationship to the car with this one?
    How has the car permitted even Black Rock City Culture?
    I am just as guilty of wanting a mutant vehicle as the next person and yet this years theme has me reflecting on that. What happens when we have no cars? Or we are limited to 60 miles of travel from where we live though any means by the restrictions of power and fuel?
    And lastly, this inspired me to wonder what is the relationship between the “Burner Dream” and “American Dream”.

    Keep on Truckin’

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  • dave says:

    I Don’t want to live on Hummer street either…

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  • O Man says:

    I would like to hear Larry’s take on how the street names meld with the Burning Man principle of decommodifcation. Last year being my 12th year on the playa, I’ve seen many participants take pains to change or coverup brand names and advertisments in every which way and now they are our street names. I totally agree with Larry’s assessment of the automobile as one of the prime facilitators of the “American Dream”, but why not use (and pardon the uninventive choices on my part):


    as street names? I’m very interested, as are many in my community, in hearing how Larry resolves this in his mind because many cannot seem to understand.

    Thank you,

    O Man

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  • Tawdry says:

    What no Smart Car?

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  • Larry Harvey says:

    O Man,

    To answer your question, let me cite the language in the 10 principles that defines decommodification:

    “In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising”.

    The key word in this sentence is “unmediated”. The Burning Man Project and, I hope, our community has never been opposed to commerce. After all, society and commerce have been intimately linked since the dawn of human history. In our contemporary world, however, aspects of mass consumption, such as advertising and the notion of purchasable “lifestyles”, have come to usurp the kind of lived experience, immediately shared with others, that generates identity and culture. That’s why we have striven to create a social sphere in which the apparatus of consumerism ceases to “stand between” you and unmediated contact with reality.

    That said, I don’t see that the street signs have this same alienating effect. Were we to announce that “The Ford Motor Company is proud to present Burning Man”, this would be unconscionable. It would rob you of your sense of achieved meaning by subtly assigning it to a product. But I don’t think the bare mention of a car model on a street sign necessarily hijacks meaning in this way.

    Perhaps it would help if I explain my own process. When it was first suggested to me that we name our streets after cars, I was delighted by the idea. Like you, I thought that the automobile is “one of the prime facilitators of the American dream”. I even convened a kind of informal “focus group”, if you will, among my friends. I began to asking them to name their first car. The reaction was fascinating. Everyone remembered vividly. A certain look would come over their faces, as if they were remembering the first boy or girl they’d fallen in love with. It was a strikingly immediate response, and that is when I knew I was really on to something.

    If you compare your list to mine I think it demonstrates a crucial difference. Yours conveys the notion of a “car”, certainly (it does this quite well, in fact, so you needn’t apologize), but it only expresses carness as a sort of the abstraction. In fact, having had some experience with themes, I suspect this particular list of names would have generated even more bewilderment than mine. By contrast, the street names finally chosen are very tangible. This is to say that they speak to the immediately held passions that cars inspire in Americans. This even led to lively arguments, especially with hot rod pals who lobbied heavily for GTO over Gremlin (I only hope they will forgive me). The ones I ended up with resulted from a desire to do more than glorify cool cars. I wanted them to embody a broad range of experience, and I wanted this to express the breadth, depth and historical complexity of our entanglement with the automobile. In other words, as with themes of the past 2 years, I wanted this to function as both a critique and an ironic commentary on the world we actually live in. That’s why I wrote the little essay posted above.

    It is true, of course, these are the names of actual products (though only three of the cars named are actually in production, and the Hummer, at this point in our history, would actually be hard to give away, much less sell). But I don’t think living on Jeep street will actually influence anyone to go out and buy one. And I don’t think any of these names are likely to “stand between” us and our uniquely achieved experience. Instead, I’m hoping this device it will enrich people’s experience and, hopefully, make them think a little about the world outside of Black Rock City.

    Remember, the Ten Principles were never intended to be the Ten Dogmas. The choice to not display advertising at the event is a good one. When I give filmed interviews in the desert I even scruple to obscure the brand name or logo of any canned beverage I’m drinking by covering it with my hand. But, though these small gestures are expressive of genuine scruples, I don’t think we should treat this issue as if it were a matter of sin. It is the spirit of a principle that matters, and it is the meaning we actively instill in things, what we express through them, that really counts, and not some brand name labeling a product.

    To conclude, of the Ten Principles, the touchstone against which all the others can best be judged is Immediacy. It is my hope that by naming the street Allante, Bonneville, Covair, Dart, Edsel, Fairlane, Gremlin (yes, Gremlin), Hummer, Impala, Jeep and K-Car, I will ellicit an immediately felt response.


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  • LaurieB says:

    Am I the only person who is completely turned off by this seeming worship of the automobile? I find it disturbing that we go from the year of GreenMan and heightening awareness of sustainability to naming our streets after the biggest ozone destroyers of our society? Not to mention the completely male-centered spin that whoever wrote this blog chose to perpetrate since we are apparently too stupid to realize the romantic relationship of “true” americans to their death mobiles.
    In a city of group traansport, bicycles and pedestrians we have to live on streets dedicated to the glory of the fossil fuel burning personal car?
    This is yet another blow to this years burn, as far as I am concerned.
    I can only try to make my own creative approach to this year, since I am neither American nor a car owner, I am clearly not a member of BMorgs target audience. I am an 11 year vet, and it seems clear to me that BMorg has ventured far away from their original ideals. And al this spin just to convince us that it means something ethereal??? no thanks Larry, et al, I’ll be making this years burn into something else, something I can get behind and it has nothing to so with the American Dream or any car.

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  • Button says:

    Wow – what a kick in the face. Cars are not what I consider a “dream” but more of a necessary evil. They are what are distancing our families and causing many of the unnecessary hustle and bustle we put into our lives. The 2 years I was ablt to live without a car in favor of a train system was pure heaven. Many Burners dream of bicycles … and given all the negative publicity in recent years with this event and cars, really – was this such a great idea?

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  • Will says:

    Even after reading your explanation I still think this is a horrible idea. Hopefully you listen to the general consensus that your street names stink and change them.

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  • Catharticus says:

    So, raise your hand if you’re riding your bike to the playa this year.

    “Thank you! Drive through…” – Beavis

    Not bad, Larry. The first words my WWII-era grandparents taught me to spell were “Jeep”, “Buick” and “Ford.” I got yer American Dream, right there on the glove box. “Death mobiles?” I think if you’re not a car owner and you’re not riding to the playa with all your water, food and gear on your Harley or Schwinn, you’re either a passenger or an alien.

    The street themes sort of rub our collective noses in our own culture whether we choose to acknowledge that culture or not. I camped on “Amnesia street” in 2005. I don’t suffer amnesia or any other mental disorder but if I did, I probably wouldn’t have a choice about that either. The Green Man idea that the theme is being compared against never made sense; it’s ludicrous to haul convoys of people and products down the paved highways to the pristine desert just to build towers of wood and burn them and then pat each other on the back for being “green.” This theme, rather, is big and provocative and dangerous. It fits. It works better, although, I gotta admit: “Death Mobile” would have been an awesome art project or theme. Sexy!

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  • midnite says:

    A celebration of the automobile? Complete with brand names?

    The ultimate symbol that burning man is no longer a countercultural event; the transition to big expensive yuppie party is complete!

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  • sparky says:

    You could only reason that the street names are “commercializing” Burning Man, if you believe that Larry Harvey is either selling any of the cars depicted in the street names, or was suggesting you go out and buy them.
    He is doing neither.

    Cars are an undeniable part of our American culture.

    The street names refer to cultural icons, in the same way that Andy Warhol painted Cambell’s Soup cans.

    Andy Warhol wasn’t try to sell soup.

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  • playadreamz says:

    As a soon-to-be BM sophomore, I too am disappointed with the names. One of the coolest things about BM is the dislocation of saying that one lives at “7:30 and Coral” or “6:00 and Amnesia.” Now I’ll have to say “meet me at 6:30 and Corvair”…and just doing so right now gives me no sense of dislocation, but instead takes me right back to the traffic choked roads and casinos of Reno. The idea of Burning Man is to build upon and transcend what we’ve left behind for that one small week, is it not? To camp, say, on “Brake” street, for example, could bring up all kinds of allusions about how speed up or slow down in life, or even to think of cool ways to make a brake. Living on Bonneville street only brings up visions of someone’s white grandpa, and nothing more. Bad move, I say.

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  • Dick says:

    Jeez people,They are just names… who cares? Get over it and stop trying to make everything that Larry does so meaningful. So he likes old cars! As long as he keeps throwing this kick-ass party each year, he can do whatever he likes in my book.Rock-on!

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  • TallNeil says:

    Hey Larry,
    First off let me thank you for your years of hard work helping to create a cultural event that has become a huge part of my life, sincerely.
    Sadly though this car street names idea is yet another clear indication to me as to why choosing not to return this year will be the right decision for me:
    First off as a Canadian who is living in Europe your ‘American Dream’ theme is basically a symbol of American egoistical ignorance of the global community. About 4 years ago I had an amazing evening riding an art car full of Europeans and talking to a guy from Australia about how great it is that BM is like a safe oasis in the heart of America. You gave us hope, and maybe even belief that the American Dream was to contribute to the Global Dream. Both of us commented that the only reason we brave the border to the US is for BM. I felt welcomed and saw how the global community can come together on ideas of art, liberty, and social sustainability. Was I wrong?
    Why not make the theme “Culture Clash” or “Living the Dream”, “Community Sprit” “Culture” or something more inviting to others? That way people from all places can consider how they relate to their culture and what that means for their dreams…and most importantly consider how they relate to others. One can easily make a link between the global environmental and social sustainability crisis that has resulted from the individualistic consumer driven culture that is basically embodied in the “American Dream”. I think it is a great topic to discuss, should make great art, but it sure isn’t inclusive or inviting to others and therefore ironically highlights the inherent problems of American culture. I know what people will say; Burning Man is an American event and if I don’t like it I can make my own in my own country. Sadly it is that kind of mentality that creates wars, ‘with us or with the terrorists’ concepts, isolationism, fascism and more great things….and I think Burning Man as a collective can be a powerful vector for positive, inspirational and sustainable change but we all need to understand our place in a global perspective before we can really make positive changes at home.
    So the car names: I can see how if I grew up in the US maybe this would be part of my American car culture. I can imagine how riding in a big gas guzzling boat was a key part of many Americans youth and how it is an interesting symbol of American industry, development, pride and culture. But it sure isn’t inspirational as naming each street after American Artists, or Thinkers, Nobel Prize winners… would have been. Why not the Presidents of US? At least in theory the President is supposed to be creating a better country and society and celebrating and encouraging discussion on responsible government would be a good idea rather than an industry that has done little positive for human kind in the long term. If you don’t think your founding fathers are worth celebrating then it sure would prompt some serious American dream questions.
    Like another reader said, going from Green Man to this is just sad really.
    I hope at least the theme will prompt discussions about how the American dream should relate to the global community and where it is has gone wrong, so next year we can get back to the business of creating the Global Dream and include everyone in the discussion and celebration of humanity.
    Take care, have a great burn,

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  • Paperboy says:

    Well Larry, you’ve gone and done it again. I’ll admit, i was ready to tear them all down and put something else up, still not a bad idea(NOTE: Not tear down, but change!)till i read your second posting on the subject. Thanks for that.

    I do think it’s time for us to examine the Amerikan Dream, and if it is controversy you want, well by Gawd, you got it in spades!

    I am saddened by folks that think a name denotes commercialism, to bad they can’t tell the difference, they probably don’t even cover the big ad on their rental motor homes either!

    Let’s see where this ends up, it could get interesting before it’s all over!


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  • nicole says:

    Thanks, for the inspiration….I just restarted my driving lessons…driving can be a great freedom… Ever since I heard of the Burning Man two weeks ago….I have been intrigued and inspired to change my life…. Thank You

    FigmentNYC was fun and fabulous…..

    If i can get a ride from NYC I hope to be at BM this year!

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  • Amy says:

    Thank you, Larry, for explaining the car names. A fun choice for the streets.

    Then again, I’m a bit biased, being an American who loves road trips and a SoCal native who drives a 1972 BMW almost every day. I love cars — they’re durable, functional art — and attend a car show almost every Saturday.

    Folks who complain about the street names seem to be taking this too seriously. This is an art festival — an incredible, mind-boggling, soul-refreshing art festival. Please lighten up.

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  • Jym Dyer says:

    =v= This year’s theme is carsickness? Since when does Nevada need another Vegas? You are so petrodollar and you don’t even know it.

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  • tim says:

    Jeep was also originally manufactured for military purposes.

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  • Master Twist says:


    First, cars do not emit ozone-depleting chemicals unless you’re driving a 70’s model and you blow a hole in one of the air conditioning hoses. The active element in an ozone depleting compound is chlorine. Very little chlorine in gas or diesel.

    I think it’s funny how many peeps totally missed the point of Green Man, turned it into some faddish quasi-commercial venture, and are now bitching about the use of car model names for the streets as though it were a rape of Burner principles.

    We are all free to voice, however. This is America after all.

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  • Fish says:

    I smiled when I read that that the streets will be named after automobiles. Yes, I was surprised, and as I read down the list of cars, I was also comforted. The American Dream means many things for many people. Apple pie, a roof over your head, an education, free speech, freedom to choose, world peace, to end discrimination- these are all fine examples. I thank Larry for having the courage to choose this years street names, he’s taking quite a bit of slack over it. I love America, and this year my American Dream will come true- I’m going to Burning Man!

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  • Guy Wera says:

    As a Cycliste and one who is creating a world without cars and so many folks ridin bikes at BM why not help those who wish to ride a bike there and truck the stuff in. Instead of making foolish comments like cyclists are ridin on the backs of cars instead of wonderfull Burners who are reducin the Amount of pollution all those big american dream machines are producing.
    So yes as a believer of BM and hoping to get there someday (sadly enough my Reclaime the Streets activities has left me as a Terorist in the eyes of US border cops. So yes the car theme is not just a little disturbing.
    Yes cover up the wenbego names and all the brand names of the bikes and cars and and all the other things that are imposed on us. I’m not aUS person but was left very disturbed by Hollywoody shit and NEEDY commercialism.
    I was very pleased to notice the possibility of using the nqames of gereat thinkers and innovators not so sur about the presidents names I would have a hard time sleeping on Bushes streets. Why not call the names of trees yo or of alternative communities or of medicinal herbs and explaining there values. I’m a multinational persan and i go along with the idea that BM should be a place to promote thinking not just repeat the simplicity not to mention the stupidity of FORD or GM why not use the names of Gasoline companies while we are at it.
    i love yu all and trust people will work more together in the future so this kind of simple thoughts are thought of by more than one person.
    If yu are the fish I know have a great BM I’ll be there in spirit on a bicycle not a FORD motor home

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  • Jrod says:

    Sounds like my camp mates and I will have Hummer St. all to ourselves this year!
    Jeeze people, get over yourselves already.

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  • Jrod says:

    By the way Larry, thank you for the very interesting walk down car history lane. Too bad there won’t be an “P” street. I’d love to read your write up of the Pinto. I saw a hatchback the other day. It was so pristine it had to have just fallen out of a time capsule.

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  • Well!

    Gee, are there so few streets that they must all have car names? Why not be more inclusive. In true historical perspective, it’s not true that “For Americans, cars have always represented independence, self-expression and the mythos of mobility.”

    First off, there weren’t always cars. In fact horses are relatively new for Americans (including Native Americans in the picture).

    Second off, the first cars were seen as obnoxious toys of the rich. (So were bicycles, by the way.)

    As someone who researches bicycle history, and advocates for more sustainable cities, I’d really like more people to know about the massive boom years of the bicycle; in 1897, for example, there were over 500 bicycles sold for each registered car in the country. There were whole glittery strips for the bicycle. There were said to be two patent offices: one for the bicycle, and one for everyone else. The bicycle was revolutionizing daily life, and was a tremendous catalyst for women’s liberation (no more organ popping corsets and hoop skirts! no more chaperones! liberty to roll free!).

    Unfortunately, oil and car interests suppressed the bicycle, a little known story (along the lines of “who killed the electric car,” and “taken for a ride,” wherein those forces systematically undermined, sabotaged and suppressed the healthier, more sustainable modes in this country and in many others).

    So, the Vegas 2 idea rubs me quite the wrong way.

    What happened to “Greening the Man”?

    Personally I want to Critical Mass on Col. Albert A. Pope Boulevard and do a whirling O-turn at its intersection with John D. Rockefeller Way.

    And…remember the trolleybus.

    JasonMM. +1 (510) 725-9991

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  • Teal says:


    These are street names, labels, landmarks for navigation, and obviously by the posts a heated topic of debate. Frankly I am very happy to be at 3:00 and Gremlin. My stepbrother had one. Let’s face it in our past history cars have been a major part of the american dream. Unfortunately, they are a necessity of our society as we have structured it presently. We have to the ability to change that for the future (and we should), but for now it is what it is. Let’s all just go home, try to be as conscientious as we can about our fuel usage as we journey back, bringing only what we really need to be radically self reliant and CELEBRATE THE COMMUNITY WE CREATE. This is the one week of the year where we can all truly self express and be embraced by those around us for doing so. Let’s not have a street name change that and if it does, well then tell yourself how much burning man sucks and stay in the default world. BRC does not need that bad energy. This is a celebration.

    Burn on in peace.


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  • Mary Bee says:

    Does anyone recall the green pavilion & how everyone’s skirts were ruffled over it?

    OMG! COMMERCE at burning man! We’re all going to fall! Next thing, Pepsi will sponsor it!

    I think that this list of cars are humorous – i don’t exactly fancy it, but i can see the humor in it. My ideal street names? Nah, not really. I wax sentimental about the fact that i wasn’t on the playa in 2004 for the planetary street names. I think that would’ve been the best!

    But, this is something that we’ll laugh over & move on. I think it means a good deal less than people are making a fuss over. Gremlin? Seriously. What would we be sponsoring there? Plus, i think that the sign bandits & grafitti will cover up & rename the streets pretty soon, anyway.

    IMO, Find your battles & fight them. It is just a damn theme – those who are going to have a good time, will have it anyway.

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  • Refflection says:

    wow i’m just confused. i don’t think i know enough about the founders to know why they would choose a theme like “american dream” during a time when so many of us feel anything BUT pride about what the U.S. is doing to the world… perhaps it’s like a wake up call, “team america” style? i dunno. but if it’s sarcastic, then i understand the car thing. otherwise it doesn’t make much sense to me. but whatever! the whole event is hypocritical, what with how much damage it does to the planet. but at the same time it is a catalyst for a movement of growing awareness, and i’m so grateful that it exists. i can’t wait till my little one is old enough so i can go again.

    i have mixed feelings about it all, to say the least.

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  • Fred Landers says:

    Larry, I enjoyed reading your thinking about your choices this year. I sense, however, an assumption on your part that all of us have the same relationship to THE American Dream as you and your friends have. You described asking your friends about their first car and seeing them remember this first relationship with an automobile. I don’t have this relationship to automobiles and I’m sure a lot of other people don’t either. I feel in your explanations you are assuming we are a monoculture of people marginalized by the American Dream in the same way. That’s an incorrect assumption.

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  • Sue Kaufman says:

    Speaking of both the 2008 theme ‘American Dream’, and the resulting street names, I don’t think they are sarcastic or hypocritical, but rather provocative. Larry strikes me as the last person who wouldn’t have realized that the time of automobiles is almost over. The point is to provoke thought and conversation and involvement. The pressing need of America now is thoughtfulness, of who we are and what we stand for, and whether we actually stand for anything or not. I’m glad to have this festival week to (hopefully ) explore the concept of American Dream with other concerned and enlightened folk :D It’s very timely.

    I don’t think it means that we are celebrating automobiles. However, having owned both a 69 Dart and a 69 Fairlane, I will be hoping to camp somewhere near one of them between 5:00 and 8:30 with my husband and friends. Stop in and see us!

    Sue Kaufman
    Northeast PA

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  • Crux says:

    …once, long ago, a guy and his buddies decided to take a wooden man out to a beach and symbolically burn it. They most likely laughed, maybe cried, had large feelings and an excellent time. People heard of this and year by year it grew to what we know now.

    Thank you for creating the epicenter for one of the most true and amazing American experiences and a perfect example of what is “an” American Dream. There are many different dreams. When dreams of different individuals merge than you’re onto something.

    Burning Man is a GIANT merge.

    ***This is your art project. Thankfully it happens to be “our” city. Name your streets, I’ll ride’em and smile and if I see you, Larry, let me give you a hug.***

    …all you naysayers? step off.

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  • Jrod says:


    Sounds like maybe you should consider changing Fairlane St. to Flagellation St. so everybody who is ashamed of their narrow interpretation of the American Dream can go and feel sorry for themselves. I am of the opinion that there are no boundaries to a dream, but that’s just me. To dream is to be imaginative. Maybe the problem is a lack of imagination for some.

    Next year the theme should Barbra Streisand’s Shoe Closet. I think you’d probably have just as much controversy, and just as many people would show up with their ticket in hand. Because really, how important is the theme when all is said and done?

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  • Jym Dyer says:

    =v= Cars have run over the American Dream. Sprawl has moved apple orchards ever further away, to the extent where apple pie is shipped in from offshore. That roof over your head is miles away from other needs, with the expectation that you’ll drive to and from them. Money for education goes into building, policing, and maintaining more and more roads.

    Free speech faces a two-pronged assault: (1) privatization of public space, which always devotes a large chunk to parking, and (2) policing public gatherings in the remaining space, on the pretext that “parading without a permit” will get in the way of car traffic.

    Freedom of choice is wonderful, but since cars are the most unsustainable and heavily-subsidized form of ground transportation ever devised, motorists are “free” to choose what the rest of us are paying more than our fair share for, and we are “free” to go to jail if we don’t pay it.

    I guess world peace will start just as soon as the oil wars end, and as for an end to discrimination, care to guess which communities suffer the most from transportation policies that favor the car?

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  • Larry Harvey says:


    In regard to your comment posted above, I ask you to read or re-read the theme text. A link is prominently posted on the front page of of our website. I hope you’ll see that this year’s theme, American Dream, is not about jingoism. On the contrary, it is, among other things, very much an attempt to get Americans to look beyond this country’s borders. As with our street names, it is instilled with irony (though not sarcasm, as you suggest). Sarcasm is irony’s lesser cousin. Anyone may jeer sarcastically (though I am not at all accusing you of this), but irony always implies a capacity for transcendence. It means one must have faith in an ideal, even while recognizing that in our day to day lives all of us frequently fall short of the ideal. Irony leaves room for charity and tolerance, while sarcasm only detracts; it merely serves to make one feel superior to what one criticizes. I say all this this because I’ve come to feel that, as a nation, we’ve grown tone deaf to irony. Maybe this is because we’ve been telling ourselves too many whopperoos for far too long a time. I suppose we’ve felt we could afford to do this — until now. I’m hoping this year’s art theme will help to wake us up; for, though I criticize the USA, I really do love my country.


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  • Jasmine Rice says:

    Thank you for taking the election into consideration, I appreciate our theme this year, we need change and this is the right event to get it started! As for the street names, not my favorite, but I understand your selection, they are only names; my the emphasis placed on a name!

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  • TallNeil says:

    Hey Larry,
    Thanks so much for taking the time to personally post on this blog, it shows a level of openness and transparency that gives me hope.
    I know you didn’t respond to me directly, rather to “Refflection”, but I was just struck by a part of your comment that I wanted to ask you more about. Irony and the Ideal. You comment that America can no longer afford sarcastic criticism and I think this is a great point that ties into the concept of the ideal and how we ‘frequently fall short’ of it.
    The fundamental scientific principles for a sustainable society are clear (Google ‘The Natural Step wiki’ or many other similar orgs). For me the Sustainable Society (both ecologically and socially) is the unifying goal we as a species should have right now. It is anthropocentric (almost everything we do is) but it recognizes our dependence on the environment, looks at meeting human needs not desires, and forces us to consciously choose to go on or go down. It is our generations Mission to the Moon: a time when Americans pulled together, had a clear goal, and everyone knew if they were contributing or not. Although the sustainable society is not a perfect society, it is about as close as we can come to an Ideal that all humans can share, and know if they are contributing to it or not. Maybe it is even an ideal to have faith in? If not what else is there?
    I am also done sarcastically joking around about it. Like you said, we have been telling ourselves ‘whopperoos’ while we have been running out of time. But now is not even the time for irony (as much as I like when you do that), it is the time for honestly, sincerity, co-creation and ‘transcendence’. This is why Im writing here. You have in your power, thousands of open ears. You have already pushed a million barriers down to get to this point in the game, so why not cut a little more crap? I believe the community is ready to not only cut the sarcasm, but the irony too and create an American and global dream or ideal that instills the ‘faith’ you talk of. I know BM is meeting human needs on many levels that few other things in this world do, so why not make it meet a few more and not just joke about what it is lacking? Lets go from this current reality to a desired future by taking strategic and systematic step towards a shared understanding of the principles of the ‘ideal’?
    Do you not think we are ready to stop joking around? I think we can have a great party to celebrate us taking on the biggest challenge ever…but we still need to be honest about the point of it all. Maybe the real challenge is finding the real human need thread that joins all burners together (creation, identity, participation?) and seeing how it fits into the bigger picture, then doing what BM does best and celebrating it while still being honest and not contributing to problems outside of BMs scope?
    PS Manfred Max-Neefs Human Needs: Subsistence, Idleness, Understanding, Protection, Creativity, Identity, Participation, Affection, Freedom, Transcendence.

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  • Larry Harvey says:


    Thanks for your response. I agree with much of what you say. Milton Friedman, of all people, said, “Only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around”. Normally, in politics, ideas are not much called for; established interest governs. But every 50 years or so, reality trumps our rationalizations. It’s only then that ideas and ideals get a hearing. I believe that time has come. It seems as if increasing numbers of people, regardless of their political affiliations, are ready to think. In particular, I agree with you when you say, “… the real challenge is finding the real human need thread that joins all burners together.. and seeing how it fits into the bigger picture”. Hence, the outward looking themes of the past 3 years.

    I want you to know that we’ve been thinking very hard about this challenge in a variety of ways. This moderated blog is a modest step in that direction. It’s meant to promote thoughtful discourse. But we’ve also been working on more ambitious initiatives. If discourse that inspires actions on a national or even international scale is to happen, then we must craft a concrete context to support it, just as we have built a city.

    I imagine you’re aware of Burning Man’s regional communities, the Black Rock Arts Foundation, Burners Without Borders, and Black Rock Solar — really, there are too many spontaneous initiatives to list. These are part of a great grassroots movement that has issued out of our event in recent years. Seen in aerial perspective, it forms a centrifugal wave, a self-reinforcing cycle of activism. Its rate of growth is almost geometric.

    I feel honored to have witnessed this and to have helped husband it. But now we believe the time is ripe for a second centripetal movement, a return to a center (these things appear to run in natural cycles). That center, however, is not Black Rock City. You ask for reasoned discourse and philosophy that will “bring burners together”, but as a veteran of the event, I suspect you can understand why the event is not entirely fit to house this process. Burning Man is preeminently about immediate experience. So much so, in fact, that, though this experience can be life-changing and passionately meaningful, it’s also hard to hear yourself think.

    After four years of quiet effort, we can now envision one thing that we think is needed (and how, very practically, this might be accomplished): a place where work and play, where rich and poor, where art and life and hard won thought can coexist communally. A place, in other words, that’s very like the Burning Man event, but in a more contemplative key. Here nature, art and new technology will coalesce sustainably, and people from all fields — scientists, artists, writers, engineers, economists, teachers and every other possible discipline — will be invited to collaborate and interact (and, possibly, get their hands dirty welding). I also hope they’ll publish their ideas. All that we would absolutely require is that people would experience the Burning Man event at least once before participating, and that they come ready to join with others in viewing the world through this particular lens. All I’ll say further is that our proposed project relates back to the first paragraph of this post. I am convinced a crisis is at hand, and we’re intent on generating some of the best ideas that will be “lying around”.

    I hope this sounds like good news to you. The bad news is that I cannot tell you more. We are in the midst of planning and negotiation, but we think this prospect shows great promise of becoming a reality (if not, we’ll find some other way to achieve this goal). As I say, I can’t answer any further questions, but, if things progress as we hope, we’ll make an initial announcement sometime next year.

    Let me end this lengthy post with one last observation. You say you’re ready to dispense with irony. However, our Survival Guide lists five basic attributes of community. Among them is laughter. I have never conducted a meeting (especially, in a crisis) in the absence of laughter. There isn’t any reason that humor can’t be funny, yet entirely serious As one example of irony achieved, I’ll close with a preview of two sets of signs that will appear along Gate Road as one enters Black Rock City in 2008. These quotations are broken down into the word groupings that will appear on each sign. The first is unintentionally ironic. The second is not.

    “I’ll be long gone

    before some smart

    person figures out

    what happened in

    this Oval Office”.
    — George W. Bush

    “The obscure we see


    The completely obvious.

    it seems,

    takes longer”.
    — Edward R. Murrow


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  • Oldguy says:

    i am reflecting on the possible meaning of the phrase ” second centripetal movement “, and why it is external to the Burningman Experience. The entire paragraph is cryptic. We realize BRC is not the center of all things. We also realize that many great ideas are generated here. But are those ideas simply ” lying around”?
    My guess is that you have already chosen the “theme” for next year. That theme will either be very funny or very serious. Mahahahahahah….

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  • Nurse Bacon says:

    I am attending my eighth year at BRC and must say now more than ever before, do I relaize the gift, and the responsibility, of being a burner. As a less seasoned participant, I could leave the playa and return to my place of ignorance and safety. Yet everyone once in a while, a memory, a feeling would creep in…a memory of the freedom it felt to be on the playa. To be living in art, in love, with friends and at peace.

    The responsibilty I feel now is due to the fact that I no longer will settle for those moments only on the playa. I have a responsibility to create that feeling, share that knowledge and spread that love everyday.

    This is the knowledge that I use daily to change my world and make it better. This is the knowledge we will all access as our world continue to plummet into a unknown…that may not be as bad as we all expect…

    Thank you Larry for explaining the car names. I am the duaghter of a used car man, so I had no personal beef with them. I personally just enjoy hearing the thoughts behind the art.

    ~nurse bacon

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  • mrgrimm says:

    I just love it when a thumbnail image links to … the same thumbnail image. Boo.

    Anyway, between the “American Dream” and street names from Cadillac, Ford, and Dodge, Burning Man 2008 already seems like a self-parody.

    I only wish the BM organizers were that funny.

    While they might all have drive to get there (though most not in single-person automobiles) because it’s out in the middle of nowhere, I’d bet the percentage of car owners at this year’s BM is much less than the American population at large.

    Next year’s theme should be “Meat: Loving The Taste of Animals.”

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  • Australia says:

    At first perplexed and disappointed but after reading this blog you have obviously struck the zeitgeist. To have raised the ire is fantastic. Makes we want to come and see what brilliant ironies could be built. Congratulations of choosing such a hot topic, very gutsy and not popular. I hope there is passionate discourse and conflict. Art comes out of conflict. Juxtaposing ideas. Much more interesting then a bunch of back slapping happy hippies. We may no longer be preaching to the choir but searching in our souls. Come back with something good, we could all do with a new american dream. This is politics on the playa in a political year. It could be uncomfortable, it SHOULD be uncomfortable. I admire that you challenge yourselves. You are brave.

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  • HappyCJ says:

    I wonder if some of the confusion among the respondents here is founded in their age.

    At 40 years old (and a Burner since the beach in SF) cars like the Gremlin, Bonneville, Allante and Corvair are all vehicles I have a lot of personal experience with. The memory of cars like the Fairlane parked in driveways during the Gas Crisis of the 70’s, while Gremlins and Darts lined up at the gas stations for hours to get fuel…

    For some of the younger Burners, or Burners who did not grow up in the USA, these names may only be names… they just don’t carry the visceral response that most Americans have to them. Growing up in Europe or Asia, or getting your driver’s license from the late 80’s onward, would probably mean you don’t have a personal connection to any of these names. They are someone else’s history.

    I wonder if the street names this year might therefore reflect the aging population of the USA…?

    It is an interesting thought.

    Thank you Larry and the BMorg for once again creating something thought-provoking!

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  • 666isMONEY says:

    IMO, they are all obsolete cars (with the Jeep for war and the Hummer as a dinosaur).

    Smart Cars, electric & Hydrogen are the future.

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  • brett says:

    thanks for the great write-up as to why.
    also, GREAT BIG THANKS for keeping them in sequenced alphabetical order!!!

    after ten years, i revert to plain old A, B, C, D streets… otherwise i’d go mad.
    …likely calling them Sun Mercury Venus Earth Moon… as we did so long ago.


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  • Keith says:

    I was never worried about the theme itself. A nightmare is a type of dream after all.
    And the timing after the Olympics, concurrent with one political convention and right before the other.

    When I first heard theme though, I expected more of a 1770s-80s since of American Dream: Brotherhood, Democracy/Debate, Emanicipation, Freedom, et al. ending at Manifest Destiny…

    But it’s your art and I admire you for commenting on it. I wish there were no actively produced names on the list at all, though sticking to the 50’s-70’s even if it meant skipping letters.

    Ultimately though, I’m commenting to dispute the commenter who said street names mean nothing and have no influence. In 2005 I took the Green Tortoise and camped between Bipolar and Catharsis. I had a Catharsis on burn night…
    and a campmate was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder months later…

    I think I should camp on Hummer then… I might get lucky…

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  • Very interesting, reading various entries here.

    For the record, i am not in favor of the car names, although i really enjoyed reading Larry’s response to O Man. It almost convinced me and from his description and theory i’ll accept them on those grounds. I’m not in favor, however, because on the whole i think they’ll fundamentally fail to inspire people. I think inspiring people should be foremost in the mission of BM. Sure, the street names will get people talking, but what will it get them talking about? The evening news might get people talking, but we would be well-advised to be intentional about the water we want to lead horses to.

    I’m not saying that some people won’t take the extra steps to be inspired by the names, but i do think most will get stuck in the specificity and to a somewhat large extent, feel somewhat disenfranchised by the selections.

    In the spirit of not discouraging another person’s plans without some sort of offering, the following are some quick suggestions that — inspired by “The American Dream” — might more powerfully further the cause i think we all should be seeking.


    Finally, a ‘Thank You’ to Larry for being such an inspiration. BM ripples out in such fantastic ways and has been such a positive contribution to the life that i am leading.

    Big smile. Deep bow.

    – Robert

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  • spartacus says:

    America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.

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  • justathot says:

    For those who are disenchanted with the car-brand names, why not, in true DIY spirit, take matters into your own hands and make up your own names that you like?
    It’s not unusual for streets to have more than one name, for example: 6th Ave in NYC is also known as Avenue of the Americas.

    Why not make and install a sign below the (disliked) Hummer Street with an alternative street name starting with H?

    Like Head-Gasket?

    And et cetera…

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  • Les Cole says:

    Mornin All !

    Last year …2007… was my first at BurningMan. I believe I was the oldest person on the playa. (My pic and story ended up in the Chronicle). I was/am 83. My daughter had been to BRC a couple of times and had encouraged me to get there once in my life, and I’m very glad I went. My experiences and emotions were numerous. The people I met…The freedom I felt…the mysteries involved in all the art… to feel friendship among stangers…to observe without criticism…to know and share love. I’ll not be going again because the dust and heat at my age is not very nice… but I DID survive! I had the great privilege of meeting and walking around the construction of the Temple with David Best as my guide. He became an immediate friend. I had the benefit of a decorated golf cart so I was able to tour the area every day. I traded gifts and hats and made a necklace. I lived at the Bookmobile camp. Wherever I now go I encourage people to try their best to plan a trip to BRC for the pleasure (and benefit) of the BurningMan exerience. Thank you ALL…. Les

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  • Rainbowrings says:

    I’m with the folks saying chill folks – they’re streetnames.
    As a first time burner last year I contently camped out at Landfill! Noone seemed afraid to visit us…. or sit in our shade and share …

    I was concerned last year, as I prepared for my first burn, by the ranting about the Green Man theme. Now it’s the Dream theme and car names…

    I think I get it now – Burners as a whole are intelligent and opinionated and these rants are a good way to vent the building excitement about returning home to BRC.

    Larry – Thanks for all the input here and congrats on stimulating choices.
    It’s not easy to get so many individuals expressing such differing opinions.
    I look forward to your forthcoming announcement – it sounds like something I’ve thought of in reflective moments.

    Cheers y’all – see you on the playa!

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  • Big says:

    I enjoy the poetry of the juxtaposition of vehicle and medium. The conceptual interplay of movement and stability, place and time, velocity and inertia is reminiscent of Pollock perhaps as viewed against the whimsical and playful backdrop of Miro. At the same time it is evocative of the transcendence of civic weltanschauung vis-à-vis the cultural zeitgeist of the mid 20th century aesthetic milieu, while infusing it with an air of fresh vitality and hope – and avoiding the saccharin of nostalgia.

    Art is where you find it; sometimes you find it in the street.

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  • ken epworth says:

    Who ever said “Andy Warhol was not trying to sell soup” has it down. And I also like that people will change the sign names, what a great idea. It’s one of the world’s best parties, have fun for crying out loud. Or maybe walk to Burning Man, now that would be impressive!

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  • lc says:

    Relax, if you haven’t brushed up on your Nietzsche now might be a good time, oh, and perchance listen to Miles Davis “So What?” while doing so…….

    “You will never get the crowd to cry Hosanna until you ride into town on an ass. ”

    from Nietzsche’s Assorted Opinions and Maxims, s. 313, R.J. Hollingdale transl.

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  • tom jennings says:

    OK, this works for me. I’m all for sustainable industry, actual conservation, personal responsibility, unmasking pointless consumption, solar power, public transportation… but let’s dump the Green PC crap.

    Like it or not, automobiles, for better and worse, are and were utterly entangled in the American Dream. I’m a car nut of the highest order, and I daily ponder the paradoxes of them; waste and freedom, the best of American tinker DIY culture and plugged up streets and air. I deal with it as best I can (my cars are all frugal and relatively efficient ancient Ramblers — and I do appreciate the reasonably nuanced Gremlin text).

    We have to admit it — Burning Man itself is impossible without the automobile. What more is needed to illustrate the paradox? The truly best and worst? It’s not a simplistic matter of ‘we could get to the play via other means’ but it would not *exist* without the mobility urge. For us, the trip up and back through the Owens Valley is an integral part of the Burning Man experience.

    It is Road Trip. Road Trip is part quest, part test, in a deep way anti-consumer, and wholly immediately experiential. Road Trips are utterly ephemeral. We take photos, but they mean little but to the participants.

    Burning Man is a lot like a Road Trip; it’s the experience, not the souveniers that matters.

    Huge chunks of the American Dream left disaster behind (and in front), but if the current carnival of security fear and control was dumped in favor of a realistic but optimistic desire to change … but change means leaving behind, and going into the unknown, and the American Dream seems to be turning into a fear of what’s being lost, not the mysteries that might be gained.

    Too bad. I like the scary future, and I pick and choose from the past. The past are the words and phrases we use to tell the future’s story. And mine includes automobiles, whatever they mutate into (as long as I can build them I’m happy :-)

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  • Mama Burner says:

    Ah! the American Dream. The first thing I thought was, hum! Flags, Betsy Ross, Statue of Liberty, Declaration of Independence, Patrioism etc., etc., etc. Then I re-thought the Americam Dream, as a young girl, many years ago, I dreamed about owning my own car. It was a sporty red and white Plymouth convertable. I loved that car. I forgot how much the American Dream for me was that little auto and how much it meant to me. So Larry, I like the streets named after cars and thanks for the memories.

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  • Most Burners says:

    Please don’t let us down with another theme or street name like this year again Larry, PLEASE! What is your problem?

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  • MattyV says:

    perfect for how I like to refer to this year’s Burn.

    “The American Dream- The Ultimate Irony”

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  • Adam says:

    The comment policy says spirited discourse is welcome, and people won’t be censored for dissenting views. I hope that’s true.

    Larry, I have a tough question for you:

    “The Burning Man Project and, I hope, our community has never been opposed to commerce.”

    Larry, if you’ve never been opposed to commerce, then why did you chose to make a near total ban of commerce (other than your cafe) at Burningman? From 1998-2008, commerce has been banned at Burningman.

    How can you have banned commerce, and then later claim you’ve never been against it??

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  • TheFunkHole says:

    For anyone becoming upset by the street names, I wonder how many of you are driving a car, jeep, truck, and/or RV to Burning Man 2008?

    While not necessary, they sure make things convenient for us to travel long distances and to places like Burning Man.

    Don’t hate the names, the cars, or the corporations… they’re just marketing, products, and free enterprise.

    Hate yourself for buying into it all and then change it to the way you want it to be… yep it’s really difficult. :)

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  • Larry Harvey says:

    This post is a reply to Adam.

    You quote me as saying (in a reply to O Man near the top of this thread) that, “The Burning Man Project and, I hope, our community has never been opposed to commerce”. Then, ask how I can justify this statement, since, in your words, we’ve maintained, “a near total ban of commerce (other than your cafe) at Burningman?”. This is not, as you suggest, a ‘tough’ question to answer — especially, if one considers the remainder of the paragraph, which I assume you have read. For the conveinience of others, I’ll reproduce it below:

    “After all, society and commerce have been intimately linked since the dawn of human history. In our contemporary world, however, aspects of mass consumption, such as advertising and the notion of purchasable “lifestyles”, have come to usurp the kind of lived experience, immediately shared with others, that generates identity and culture. That’s why we have striven to create a social sphere in which the apparatus of consumerism ceases to “stand between” you and unmediated contact with reality”.

    To somehow be against all commerce, as distinct from challenging the quasi-ideology of consumerism, is to be against one’s shoes, one’s shirt and one’s shorts. Such items you have doubtless purchased in a marketplace. This confusion between the practice of commerce and the modern day experience of consumerism is not entirely uncommon. It has led a few individuals to call us hypocrites for selling tickets to the Burning Man event, but then how could we otherwise produce it? This is not a fruitful line of reasoning.

    I urge you to read an essay, entitled ‘Commerce and Community’, that addresses this subject, including the seeming anomaly of our cafe, in much greater depth. This appeared in the 2006 edition of the Burning Man Journal. Here is the url:


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  • Jen says:

    I love the irony that the streets are names of cars but you are not allowed to drive on them! And I believe the Hummer was designed specifically for the govenator – but don’t quote me on that.

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  • Jen says:

    And I also wanted to add that the “American Dream” theme can be interpreted in many different ways; nightmares are dreams too, aren’t they? I am eager to see what people come up with around this theme. I have faith that there are enough burners out there who don’t take themselves too seriously and who can remind us that humor is the ultimate form of expression!

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  • Dommer says:

    This will be my third burn. The experience of my first year completely changed my life. I spent my teenage years as what you would call a “free spirit,” and over the last few yeras I’ve degressed into a comfortable spot in a professional industry, and until I experienced Burning Man, I had lost quite a bit of faith in human nature. Black Rock City holds the best example of what I believe is a truly instrinsic American value- a confluence of every type of person from every type of background together simply to experience together. Many people in this country have lost their way from that value, but that’s all that matters in my mind- the experience, the community. I have had some amazing times on road trips with my friends, experiencing America in part through a drivers-side window. As drive-in theaters evaporate into memory and our environment is obviously in need of salvation, cars will become a thing of the past, at least as we now know them. We are on the brink of a serious socio-environmental revolution, and the classic American cars on these street signs are a good representation of an era we are moving away from, and the romanticism that era inspired in all Americans. I think it’s a great theme, a great set of street names, and I can’t wait for the conversations I’ll have over coffee with the other burners this year, and new ideas on how we can all progress towards a new romanticism. Cheers~

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  • TA says:

    i think this is a great idea since California embraces cars more than any other country in the world and since most burners are from CA.

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  • JV says:

    I’d say the theme is brilliant and the street names certainly provocative. Look at the discussion already generated! Does anyone think street names like the planets or other themes people may more readily associate with Burners (though I would say, mistakenly), generate any discussion at all? Of course not. Preaching to the choir is not what Burning Man is about, to me, at least.

    To mrgrimm, why wouldn’t “Meat: Loving The Taste of Animals” be a viable theme? Because every Burner is a vegan, right? I understand that many people go to BM to be amongst like-minded folk, but the great thing about BM is, once you’re out there, you realize the incredibly broad spectrum of people attending. Last year, someone drove a Hummer down one of the streets, and people predictably booed and hissed. It drove by our camp and I got into a discussion with the couple camping next to us, who were farmers and backpacking guides. They said the Hummer is the best off-road vehicle on the market and would buy one in a second if they could afford it, as it would be perfect for both of their jobs. I didn’t expect that response from anyone at BM, and that’s why it stuck with me. The best thing about BM is being confronted with perspectives different from yours.

    In my opinion, the worst thing you can be is certain you are right.


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  • Adam says:

    Thank you for engaging in this dialogue with us Larry.

    > To somehow be against all commerce, as distinct from challenging the quasi-ideology of consumerism, is to be against one’s shoes, one’s shirt and one’s shorts.

    Perhaps, but there hasn’t just been a ban forbidding commercialism at Burningman. There has been a long standing ban of commerce.

    If the selling of shoes in good and necessary, why do we forbid attendees from selling shoes at Burningman?

    There are tons of people who would love to sell handmade clothes and jewelry at Burningman. But since 1997, we’ve always forbidden that. Why?

    You haven’t shared the details of what you’re planning. But from reading between the lines, it sounds like in the future, there might be many more things of “commerce” tied in with things that are Burningman. Please don’t take Burningman down that path.

    I’m also going to disagree with your base assumptions. I do not think commerce has been around since the start of human history, and I do not think that it’s necessary.

    Look at the example of the !Kung people of South Africa. They managed to live simple, commerce free lives, helping each other, and only working 2-3 hours a day.

    Burningman is based on several values that speak directly against commerce. Not only Decommodification, but also Radical Self-Reliance, and Gifting.

    Commerce is our default model. Burningman should be about building something better, rather than falling back on our default world model. By combining the ideas of Gifting and Radical Self-Reliance, we might be able to create a community or society that is entirely commerce free. It’s works for one week each year; how far can we extend that?

    Let’s keep this experiment going. Let’s not celebrate commerce. Let’s not embrace commerce. Let’s keep Burningman as free from commerce as physically possible!

    How far can we extend this experiment? Can we create something that exists year-round that is based entirely on radical self-reliance and gifting instead of commerce? We won’t really know until we try.

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  • janas says:

    not a fan of amerika, and definitely not a fan of car-culture.

    cars kill, hurt, maim, sicken, crowd, cheat, impoverish, and ugly up our world.

    and i agree with others, what about the ban on brands?

    the more i learn about the politics & business of burning man…

    there is no ‘us’ & ‘they’, there is only ‘burners’ & ‘larry’.

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  • Danger Bunnie says:


    Mr. Harvey,

    Thank you for Being. There’s times I see you as one of the wisest asses on the planet, and other times I swear you are Coyote’s cousin. Your themes and street names make people think, something most monkeys just don’t like to do. We were sitting around the lunch table today wondering and laughing when you would just outright claim the theme to be “F*ck You!”, what about next year’s theme? Wait, that would be too obvious, read between the line folks, it already is.

    I look forward to seeing you on the Playa.

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  • Sam says:

    Many were very dispointed believing last year’s burning of the man was a publicity stunt. Whether it was or not – BRC has dramatically changed over the years to the point that we believe this to be our last year sadly; however, we shall see…

    In line with statements made by “Adam” … And being that several dedicated BRC citizen’s have made much the same statements without voicing them here…

    When people think America, quite frequently “ingenuity” comes to mind. America’s melting-pot society has long attracted the best and brightest scientific minds the world over, and our glorious wellspring of capitalism has consistently watered their mental gardens. In our nation’s two centuries and change lifetime, we’ve directed the course of world history innumerable times with our inventive genius. Therefore, seeing as the invention of the automobile was only one invention whereby we helped the world – Does it not make more sense to utilize actual American inventions rather than praise the commercial automobile industry which really does not align with the nature of why we attend this festival – to get away from commercialism (commerce) and advertising…

    For Example: (taken from a “huge” list at:
    A – Apple Pie
    B – Birth Control (or Bubble Gum)
    C – Cotton Gin (or Computer)
    D – Disney (or DOS: Disk Operating System)
    E – Electricity
    F – French Fry
    G – GPS
    H – Hot Dog
    I – Internet (or Industry)
    J – Jazz
    K – (KPA) Kiln Phosphoric Acid (KPA)

    PLEASE Don’t go down “that path”….

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  • Sam says:

    Larry – these will be the people very soon who will be populating BRC as we move on – sadly…

    Dick Says:

    July 2nd, 2008 at 7:59 am
    Jeez people,They are just names… who cares? Get over it and stop trying to make everything that Larry does so meaningful. So he likes old cars! As long as he keeps throwing this kick-ass party each year, he can do whatever he likes in my book.Rock-on!

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  • Sam says:

    I wish to leave you all with some thoughts that now weigh heavily on our minds and hearts….

    I’ve been witness to many beautiful festivals over the years which have ended due to publicity (intentional or not). Two excellent examples are Chico, CA – Pioneer Days (many years of tradition) and Poly Royal (California Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo). Only a short time after receiving the “best party school in America” by Playboy Magazine over a decade ago the event ended abruptly in chaos due to outsiders raking havoc throughout the town of Chico. The following year, the word got out that Poly Royal was the “party” to experience; I was witness to the riots that transcended over the quiet town as a result. Tear gas, riot gear, cars over-turned, street signs through business fronts, … A bit extreme, but I do recall then many people feeling the irony & humor derived from the statements the press published prior to the incident about our safe and laid back little college town of San Luis Obispo.

    Larry – you do have a huge presence and incredible responsibility on your hands, but there are so many other opposing forces in this world seeking only to do harm for their own benefit. Individuals who have never had any interest in attending have queried us about the event. People who really do not have any good reason to go are now interested due to the huge amount of publicity from last years early burning of the Man.

    For those using the excuse that we need an automobile to get to BRC, have you forgotten we’ve been asked to leave the automobile at the gate? DMV (Department of Mutant Vehicles) does not stand for the government agency of the real world. Unfortunately, it does exist to protect us from ourselves, but it would be great if it was not necessary to have regulation too. Moreover, every art vehicle I’ve been witness to does it’s best to remove branding of any sort prior to setting out on the Playa. Even “Jiffy Lube” from our understanding has been renamed due to branding.

    We’ve been very dedicated Burners, and we’ve also proudly posted “We’re Going Home” on our modes of transportation. We’ve walked the streets of BRC feeling very safe and left our doors unlooked (unlike what we have to deal with in “real world”).

    Up until last year, we have considered BRC as utopia – the sort of home that was really intended for the good people of the world. However, this last year we brought our parents and family members to their first burn, and we felt we let them down. We did feel a much different vibe in the air, and we were witness to several un-BRC like situations. We were certain we’d never return due to the turn in the vide I’ve described as well as there being far too many intentional wrong-doers, and Shirt-Cockers (a bit of humor to lighten up this “memo”). Worst of all was the morbid art installation that was not….

    So you ask “if they’d made a pack never to return then why are they even bothering to respond?” Well… We lost a VERY dear friend this past year who was instrumental in adding to the Burner experience for everyone. He had a huge impact on our lives while he was with us. Only a few months prior to his passing, he was able to share with us his intention of an Art Cart entitled “The American Excess” to be used at BRC ’08. We had not intended on attending this year, but we felt it our obligation to execute on his idea and to celebrate his life in memory of our dear friend.

    2008 Art Theme: “American Dream”
    In 2008, leave narrow and exclusive ideologies at home and carefully consider your immediate experience. What has America achieved that you admire? What has it done or failed to do that fills you with dismay? What is laudable? What is ludicrous? Put blame aside, let humor thrive, and dare to contemplate a larger question: What can America contribute to the world?

    It will be ironic seeing commercials for Jeep and/or Hummer making inferences to their presence on the streets of BRC in the very near future of America.

    BRC once was home to us – the only place we could transcend the problems of society if only for a single week – it was something to look forward to…. “dare to contemplate a larger question: What can America contribute to the world?” Come up with a way to do away with fossil fuels rather then bow to our unfortunate dependence upon them for our existence on this planet – for this world to prosper and future generations to thrive and co-exist (on this planet and hopefully others for our children’s sake).

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  • Tawdry says:

    Cough Cough…. I am a Canadian, It is difficult to embrace this “American Dream” …

    But perhaps all of us from this side of the border could play a good ol game of street hockey while wearing toques, of course not forgetting to yell out “CAR” !

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  • Larry Harvey says:

    This is a very partial reply to Sam, who wrote, “Up until last year, we have considered BRC as utopia – the sort of home that was really intended for the good people of the world”.

    I’ve never regarded Burning Man as a utopia. Utopia’s have always seemed to me a little dreary. They are one-size-fits-all propositions. They are rigid schemes that make little allowance for the pluralism of reality. How can we expect to inhabit a perfect society when no human being has ever been perfect? In practice, utopian efforts often reduce down to a search for the ‘like-minded’. But by what cheap signboards are we to know the like-minded?

    I will give you an example. Out on the playa in the early 90’s, I remember encountering two locals. We were preparing to manually raise the Man off the ground, and they had parked their pickup a few feet away from the figure. I could see a gun rack hung with rifles through the window of the cab. They stood there stiffly, arms crossed tight, and narrowly regarded our efforts. They felt this was their turf, of course, and we were the intruders. Finally, one of them asked me what what on earth we were up to.

    I told them we were trying to raise a big wooden man, and that to do this we were using a boom to gain mechanical leverage. I didn’t tell them what it meant, as is my habit (nor would I have ever told them, in this life or the next, that we were trying to establish a utopia). Instead, I offered them a very practical run-through of the work at hand, including the need to man a pair of lateral guy lines that would stabilize the figure during its ascent. Then I added, “Hey, we’re about to raise it, and we’re short of help. Would you guys grab these cables? You’ll need to keep them taut”. They’re faces immediately softened. They understood labor; they knew what that meant. This was not a cult; it was a piece of work. Later that evening, I encountered one of them. He was stripped to the waist, his body was painted and he was dancing around a fire. His face was lit with joy.

    I’ve no desire to stretch out human nature on some Procrustian bed of ideal perfection, nor have I ever wanted to hand pick the like-minded. We prefer inclusion to exclusion, and I’ve faith that in the end our culture is capable of sorting things out. Most people can’t resist a thousand ever-present invitations to participate. Rough edges often rub away. One year’s ‘yahoo’ may be next year’s activist. People who come only to consume and party tend to fall away. I suspect they feel that simple dissipation and bad behavior shouldn’t require so much effort. Having given little of themselves (or having given with a strict eye to a tangible return), their investment doesn’t net them the expected of a payout. This is part of the reason I don’t believe we’ll ever be Fort Lauderdale.


    P.S. I hope you give something of your friend to this year’s temple.

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  • Catharticus says:

    A great way to do away with fossil fuels rather than bow to our unfortunate dependence up on them is to stay home instead of going to Burning Man.

    An interesting thing about the Black Rock region is that there’s nothing there. Yet for the last, what, 13000 years, people have fought over who/what gets to call it home. Before Burners and the BLM were the Emigrants and the Indians. Before the Emigrants, the Washoe and Paiute–Panatu–warred with each other over territory; lesser tribes fled or faced extinction like the woolly mammoth and saber tooth cat which likely encountered the intruders from what white men now call CANADA, and from Siberia before that.

    “Americans”–not just nationals but tribals and immigrants prehistoric–shed their blood for the Black Rock and for northern Nevada. Referring to Manifest Destiny as some sort of Anglo Saxon invention is, arguably, racist. Dust, guts and glory, our dearly beloved lakebed is the absolute embodiment of the American Dream; making something among nothing and calling it “home.” And, Woe unto any Sonofabitch that tries to stop us.

    If you find that idea discomforting then, why are you driving across the great black asphalt ribbon through the wilderness onto the Black Rock Desert? To trade with the Paiutes?

    Every year people from all over the world drive to the playa and shit there, in manufactured plastic cubicles hauled there and serviced by men in trucks. Whether it’s five hundred people or fifty thousand, whether Larry calls it Green Man or Hummer Street, it’s the same shit. If you’re one of them, treehugger or raver, you’re shitting in the wilderness in containers made of oil.

    And here we are arguing about what Larry Harvey decided to call the “streets.” Isn’t that fascinating? -Chris / Portland

    “It is fairly easy for man to assert his mastery over his earthly environment, but once he has asserted that mastery he has to go on exercising it no matter where the exercise takes him. Invent a simple device like the automobile, to get you from here to there more quickly than you could go without it; before long you are in bondage to it, so that you build your cities and shape your countryside and reorder your entire life in the light of what will be good for the machine instead of what will be good for you.” – Bruce Catton

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  • Sam says:

    Our intention is to add something to the temple. I also included him on the plaque for this year, and I received notice that his name will be there. By the way – not sure if you are aware, but he shared with us that he had the honor of taking you on your first tandem jump. We too learned how to fly over the past years by this wonderful sole. “Jump Therapy” as he called it.

    I guess I should have elaborated on what I meant by “utopia”. After reading your response, I immediately drew back to college and some deep discussions of **The Forms within the Meno as my intent with the word utopia was to paint a picture of a place where each individual can equate to what he/she imagines to be “HOME” rather then a commercial haven for party’n, get’n altered and do’n some damage. Unfortunately, our daily lives in the real world produce constant reminders of a lesser world than what most of us had foreseen during adolescence.

    The Burning Man event had been described to me as a Disney World for beautiful people nearly 10 years ago. I’d also often seen the signs in people’s windows driving through Sacramento, Tahoe, and Reno stating “We’re Going HOME!” This was what drove me to BRC – the wish to be a part of the “Gathering”. Ever since my first day on the playa (and every year since), I’ve made many very close and dear relationships with people I consider sole mates (people who’ve been tightly involved in the pyro -team, burning sky, heebie-Jeebie healers, DJ’s, rangers, artisans, the list goes on). We’ve been involved with setting up the city (Lamp Lighters, our theme camps, assisting others erecting dozens of camps each burn, handing out water on the streets, so on and so on…) as well as assisting in art installations and staying after to ensure the playa’s as it was. Additionally, my fiancé’s family comes from a long line of professional artisans and is a long time burner herself (as well as the Oregon Country Fair). However, this year we’ve had several long time contributing burner friends who’ve opted out and may never return. We too would not be going if it wasn’t for our friend, and we believe that we may not stay longer then the time we need to say our goodbyes.

    Believing in the cumulative good of our society is wonderful. Unfortunately, I’ve been witness to far too many bad-apples who’ve altered really good things for their own reasons rather than thinking of the cumulative good of those around them. Hell… Michael Moore’s proven time and time again many unfortunate underpinnings within our culture; however, relatively nothing he’s made public has been sorted out…. Sadly enough – he was asked on Larry King if he was afraid for his life. It was obvious he was, but he made light of the question. Too bad Bob Marley’s not here to join with Michael Moore…. Just think of the kind of festival these two could have put on.

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could also share our gifts with the world without requiring anything in return? Where would our culture be if this was the basis of our existence?

    A question was once posed to me in a philosophy debate – “is there really anything done solely without personal gain?” For example – a man taking a baby from a burning home… Could it be that he would not be able to live with himself had he not? Even Linus Torvalds (an exceptionally wonderful and gifted man) eventually gave into our culture to retire a millionaire on a very non-commercial and unselfish initial endeavor. I myself still continue to believe some can give without expecting in return…. Accordingly – I think… therefore I am.

    **The Forms
    As Socrates had proposed in the Meno, the most important varieties of human knowledge are really cases of recollection. Consider, for example, our knowledge of equality. We have no difficulty in deciding whether or not two people are perfectly equal in height. In fact, they are never exactly the same height, since we recognize that it would always be possible to discover some difference—however minute—with a more careful, precise measurement. By this standard, all of the examples we perceive in ordinary life only approach, but never fully attain, perfect equality. But notice that since we realize the truth of this important qualification on our experience, we must somehow know for sure what true equality is, even though we have never seen it. (Phaedo 75b)

    Plato believed that the same point could be made with regard to many other abstract concepts: even though we perceive only their imperfect instances, we have genuine knowledge of truth, goodness, and beauty no less than of equality. Things of this sort are the Platonic Forms, abstract entities that exist independently of the sensible world. Ordinary objects are imperfect and changeable, but they faintly copy the perfect and immutable Forms. Thus, all of the information we acquire about sensible objects (like knowing what the high and low temperatures were yesterday) is temporary, insignificant, and unreliable, while genuine knowledge of the Forms themselves (like knowing that 93 – 67 = 26) perfectly certain forever.

    Since we really do have knowledge of these supra-sensible realities, knowledge that we cannot possibly have obtained through any bodily experience, Plato argued, it follows that this knowledge must be a form of recollection and that our souls must have been acquainted with the Forms prior to our births. But in that case, the existence of our mortal bodies cannot be essential to the existence of our souls—before birth or after death—and we are therefore immortal.

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  • vanessa says:

    What’s happened to Sam’s final posting? Interested in seeing it posted.

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  • Sam says:

    Ironically enough – we’re not going to be burning any unnecessary fuel or contend with commercial exploits… The decision’s been made for us. We’re not going, and we’re okay with that…

    Mutant Vehicle Application # 498 “Wes Express American Express”‏
    Funny they even got the name wrong – We called the vehicle Wes Express American “Excess.” Wes’ vehicle over the past years was much the same as the one we’d suggested only he’d added a paper mache mushroom on the top on his golf cart. We’d have easily put this too if it would have allowed us the cart on the playa to hand out DVD out of the back of it. We’d even intended to make an American Express card down the center, but it appears from the response that “their too busy” with other applications. It took a couple hours to think out & write up the application, yet it took only a moment to deny the app. which was turned in on the first week on June just prior to our trip to CO to assist with a Solar installation though the end of July. Had I had someone’s assistance, I’d have modified it as needed. It is an antique WEScoaster from the 1950’s we’d come across only a week after his passing. Thought it was intended to go to BRC, and we believed that with all the safety and such we’d devised it would (and whatever additional requirements the DMV people could have helped with). So…. If anyone is interested in a pair of tickets, please write: We purchased at the moment they went on sale.

    Our (DMV) Response:
    Mutant Vehicle Application # 498 “Wes Express American Express”‏
    After a careful review of your mutant vehicle application for Burning Man 2008, a team of at least 6 DMV Hotties has determined that your vehicle, “Wes Express American Express”, does not meet the criteria for such a license.

    The reason for the denial was that the vehicle as submitted was found to be a decorated vehicle, and not mutated enough to meet the Mutant Vehicle criteria.. Please review the following link for examples of vehicles that meet the Mutant Vehicle criteria in both radical modification and the spirit of ‘wow factor’ noted in the DMV guidelines:

    We know this isn’t the answer you wanted to hear; many of the Hotties are mutant owners themselves, so we know the amount of effort that can go into these creations. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at Please understand that we are all extremely busy dealing with not only the remaining DMV business, but are also all preparing for our trip to the playa…so there will be some delay in answering your queries. You should also feel free to visit us on the playa.

    NOTE from DMV:: “With over 50,000 people and 500 MVs, (1%) the motorized few are in a position to affect the experiences of many.” We were app #498.

    DMV Questionnaire
    Mutant Vehicle Name:——————-Wes Express American Excess
    Plan Submission Method:———————- file
    Image Upload:————
    Previously on the Playa?:————————no
    Prior Mutant Vehicle:——————–no
    Camp Information:—————-4:00 & B
    Day License:———–yes
    Night License:————-yes
    About the Vehicle’s Mutation:—————————-This vehicle is an antique “Westcoaster” electric golf cart (3 x 12volt deepcycle’s in trunk to run & 2 x 12volt for lighting and sound system). It landed in our laps only weeks after the unfortunate death of a very dear “once in a lifetime” friend and fellow “long time” burner Wes Harberts( & Pleasetake note “Wes-Coaster.” Wes has many contributions over the many years he participated at BRC. Only weeks prior to his death (on Easter Sunday), he’d shared with us that he intended to modify the mutant art vehicle (a golf cart) he’d brought to past burns to reflect the theme “American Express”. We’ve had many visits from Wes since his passing, and we firmly believe this would be something he’d have wanted. Therefore, what this vehicle will do is play a long list of his favorite tunes, offer some incredible footage of his skydiving experiences(many of which are scenes of tandem jumps over BRC) via gifted DVD’s, brightly lit with E-wire, Blacklighting & LED Tubes on white refective meshcloth all around (difficult to depict in photo). This vehicle will exist to continue to spread the Love Wes was known for – Fly’n High… Fly’n Free!
    Lighting Plans:————–The vehicle currently has working blinkers on the sides and brake lights. Dune Buggy chrome headlights will be added to the front. Additionally,Blacklighting eluminating upon white mesh material (copying what we did to Wes’ vehicle last year). LED tube lights will accent all the edges of thevehicle as depicted in the photo. We’re also working on getting someadditional E-wire from a friend in the Pyro team
    Mutant Vehicle Intent:———————As stated, we’re pursuing Wes’ wishes (who was always a true giver in anexcessive way); everyone, (including Mr. Harvey who we’re told had his firsttandem with Wes some years back) would agree that Wes deserves to beremembered in a big way this year. His girlfriend of many years alsointends to have a memorial with everyone’s help – as this cart will assist in as needed on the playa. We are also owners of the adult lingerie store TeazN Pleaz ( so (as we’ve done in the past two years) we’ll also have several boxes of adult novelties to hand out in an “excessive” behavior (as well as Wes DVD’s). Excessive American behavior!!
    Street Legal:————no
    Vehicle Length:————–6’7
    Vehicle Width:————-5′
    Vehicle Weight:————–290
    Frame Base:———-Antique 3-wheel golf cart
    Frame Year:———-1950
    Number of Trailers:——————None
    Sound System:————yes
    Sound System Wattage:——————–80
    Standing Passengers:——————-no
    Design Safety:————-We intend to keep well within the speed limits set by DMV – 5mph. Though thecart is completely electric, we do have an extinguisher on board just in case. We have working blinkers, brake lights, and an air horn which make forwonderful safety devices which will be used as needed to make people aware bybroadcasting of our driving intentions.This is relatively light coach for its size and there’s no sharp edges (mostlyall fiberglass); however, we’ll be furring it out to further decrease any harmif brushed up against. The frame is completely grounded to the groundingterminals of the batteries in sequence. The foot brake also acts as anemergency brake and the brake system has been gone over – it’s in top shape. The cart can handle three persons at approx 150 lbs (which I never wish toexceed this weight to ensure the motor life), and “NO ONE” will ever beallowed to sit on the back deck which will be filled with gifting items. There is also an electrical control shut-off over the drivers left foot to cutpower on the lighting & one will be added for the sound system.
    Operating Procedures:——————–We have rear view mirrors on the vehicle and there is a 360 viewing radiuswith no distractions/blind spots which makes for very safe traveling in thisvehicle. Speed will be kept to DMV speed limit at all times. Obeying allsigns, restrictions on vehicles, and common sense. There will be a first aidkit and fire extinguisher in clear view on-board (they’re on the back deck ofthe cart). Every passenger will need to be briefed on procedures prior tobecoming a passenger on this vehicle. This is a very simple design. No willcan exit or enter the vehicle while in motion (must come to a complete stop). Difficult passengers will be asked to exit the vehicle as we hope to keep ahigh profile on the playa (no horse play, no one will be permitted to drivethe vehicle other then its owners and we’ll be clean/sober when operating the vehicle at all times. The driver willbe tasked with driving and sharing operating procedures and safety procedures with anyone wishing to ride on the vehicle. The passenger will be tasked withassisting the driver with watching for possible traffic and safety problems asneeded and when the vehicle is “stopped” both individuals will hand out gifts(only when the vehicle is stopped with the parking brake set).
    Enter/Exit Procedures:———————People can Enter/Exit the vehicle only when the cart is completely stopped. Stopped is defined as: Cart is at a complete stand still & Parking Brake set(floor brake peddle completely depressed to floor and locked). Entering cartwill require a debriefing of Safety and Operating procedures – NO EXCEPTIONS! Existing can only be done when cart is “stopped.”
    FuelType:——–Electric (3 x 12 Volt Deep cycle marine batteries)
    Flame Effects:————-no

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  • Larry Harvey says:


    I woke up last Saturday morning in the throes of a dream. I’d somehow flown in a small plane to a foreign country; it looked like Mexico. I found myself with Rob Dubois, a good friend of mine. He is married to Harley, another intimate friend who has worked with me for many year’s and is one of the six members of our company, Black Rock City LLC. Like you, Burning Man has furnished me with soul mates, people who are part of my family.

    In any case, Rob was showing me a clubhouse that he and his friends had made. The real Rob lived for years with a group of friends, all guys, who inhabited a series of houses. They were a clever and quite funny bunch, and it is because of these friends and a theme camp they produced in the desert one year, Camp Fink, that he met his wife. All of this seems very parallel with you and your friends.

    In my dream, I was inspecting a series of recondite mottos hand-painted on a wall inside of the clubhouse. All I can recall is that these had a philosophic cast, and I began to talk to him of Plato. I told him that I am part Platonist, being a lover of ideals, and that I was quite affected by these philosophic writings in my youth. I actually remember saying that for Plato the concrete world was only an, “adumbration of the Ideal”. But another part of me is Pragmatist, I told him, and that attractive as I found the notion of some heaven (and haven) of Ideals, I also felt that Plato’s system was repulsive, especially when applied to politics, as in his utopian vision, The Republic. This moment suddenly dissolved, and I was standing outside in the street. Rob had disappeared. I looked around me at a loss, then I awoke.

    Groping my way out of bed in a state somewhere between dreaming and normal awareness, I went to my computer. Obviously, your previous post and my reply to it were in my mind, and I clicked on this blog. Imagine my astonishment at what I read! Your friend , I now realized, was Wes Harberts, the man who had originally invited me to skydive at the event in 2002. He was the person you are honoring this year.

    About a week ago, in fact, I attended the San Francisco premiere of an excellent film about Burning Man entitled, of all things, “Voyage In Utopia”. It focused on David Best (another dear friend) and the Temple. At a certain point, a participant, raised high in a lift, deposited her mother’s ashes at the Temple’s apex. Everyone in my row, including myself, was weeping. I heard the muffled sobs all around me. It seemed every person in the theater, nearly one thousand strong, was weeping.

    Moments before, Marian Goodell, who was sitting close by, had told me that one of the skydivers had died, “But not”, she said, “the one who jumped with us”. At the time, I took comfort from this, I think she is right, but now I understand whom you have lost. We both tandem jumped with a skydiver named Bob, and Wes, I believe, jumped afterwards with our friend and colleague Andie Grace. Both of these men spent part of that evening with us on our deck. I offer my heartfelt condolence.

    To tender you a gift, let me share this reminisence. Marian, who jumped after I did, loved the thrill of falling. I did not; my reptile brain was screaming, “No! No! No!”, all the way down. Joe had told me — told me twice, methodically — to arch my back and stretch my body outward. While I was waiting for the plane, one of the other skydivers had mentioned that some people reflexively curl into a fetal position, and this initiates a ‘death spin’. I followed all of Joe’s instructions very carefully.

    The wind was like an icy buzz saw at my ear as soon as we ejected, not at all what I’d anticipated. I guess I’d thought that we would float in blue tranquility, like figures in a Miro painting, but this was altogether violent; the roar of rushing molecules was deafening. In those extrapolated seconds, life and death were pressed together, like the far off seam of the horizon.
    He pulled the cord, the parachute deployed, and we cruised down into a giant rendering of the Burning Man logo. You surely know about this; maybe you were one of the participants. The skydivers had apparently organized an entire community to form a giant drawing on the desert floor. It extended on a line from the Keyhole nearly to the precincts of the Man. This was their gift to an entire city, but, at that moment, I couldn’t help but feel that it was meant especially for me. We skidded heels-first into the dirt not far from First Camp, where I live. Joe had delivered me home.

    I hugged him, and I thanked him. Not often at a loss for words, I could only stammer a few syllables; I think it was enough. We walked back to my camp, and when we arrived, a friend of mine, a trickster, came rushing up. He thrust his face quite close to mine, and rapidly uttered this statement, “It’-not-about-the-adrenaline-coming-down! It’s-about-endorphins-once-you’re-on-the-ground!”. Then he ran away.

    It turned out he was right. For at least, two hours, as I paced back and forth in front of First Camp while waiting for Marian to descend, it seemed that the part of my brain that had been screaming was now intent on reassuring me, “Everything is alright here… everything is alright now… you belong to this place… you belong to these people”. A sense of utter well-being completely enveloped me. It felt organic, earned, achieved, and I’ll never forget it. This is the gift the skydivers gave me. It helped me understand their camaraderie, and I will always be grateful for this.
    As to our interesting discussion of Plato, let me say this. As one who has fallen from heaven, I do not yearn for “perfect certainty” as you describe it. If perfect certainty means “that 93 – 67 = 26”, isn’t this rather cold comfort? Platonic Forms, I think, are far too hard to hug (I’d rather hug a skydiver). I have learned, instead, to live by faith, and that means always being open to whatever is unknown – in one’s self, in others and in the wide world around us.

    The ancient Greek philosophers were in love with both words and the process of thought, and this is their signal charm. But science, as we know it, didn’t yet exist. They tended to reify abstractions of thought, and thus attributed to ideas a metaphysical reality. I do believe ideals should guide us (I’ve always tried to live according to ideals), but I don’t think they are really destinations. My only parting thought is this: beware of the perfect in life. Leave that to art and heaven.


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  • SpaCE says:

    very happy , just very very happy.

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  • Pixie says:

    Larry – I’m sorry to follow your post with a “yes, but…”

    It will be my 5th burn and my husband’s 8th. We met there my first year and married off-playa last year. With so much good sparkle attached to the place and the event, I don’t usually find disappointment. If something doesn’t suit, just bike a little further…

    This is the genesis of my frustration. The last few burns have been great; they have also inspired increasingly (to my view) political art. Heavens knows we’re political and art is good. All art. It’s nice sometimes to have your chain pulled out there – stopping the revelry for reflection and for angsty moments.

    For many of us, it has been 7.5 years of increasingly angsty moments. Burning Man, to me, has been a beautiful opportunity to stop and look at other things. Refocus my brain away from politics and toward light and beauty and thought-provoking art on subjects I never encounter.

    The American Dream theme was disappointing because it felt like an invitation for the pervasive raw nerves and political statements to join the playa of largely like-minded people on an even grander scale than ever. Still, we hold out hope that some artists will dream and hope and shape little pieces in ways we cannot yet imagine in between the minefield of angry art that we are anticipating.

    And then….we read about the street signs.

    I apologize for the length of this post but I wanted to explain why the street signs disappoint. I realize that there are truly some car enthusiasts in the world and even on the playa. There are actually some people who love and care for a particular type of BRANDED automobile.

    For the rest of us, this year looks to bring angry art and car brand street signs…even as so many of us are taking such pains off-playa to use them less. The use of cars, themselves, is a divisive and sore subject. Cars as street signs are American but don’t, to my view, speak to the best of the United States.

    I have two alternate street sign suggestions. My husband and I will rename them in our own heads as consolation.

    Suggestion 1:
    Old Time Hollywood Movie Stars
    SIGNS: Brando, Chaplin, …Garbo…etc

    Suggestion 2:
    Speak to anyone from Canada or Mexico, Latin or South America and they take great exception to our proprietary takeover of the word “American”
    SIGNS: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, …etc


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  • steve boyett says:

    Look, it doesn’t matter if you like or dislike cars; there’s no denying America’s long-held fascination with them and their attendant phenomena. This country invented the road movie, the drive-in movie, the drive-through restaraunt, the drive-by shooting, the backseat boogie. This is about an examination of the aspects and implications of the American Dream, not a whitewashing of it. Love America or hate it, it’s hard to ignore it.

    This country has long had a hard-on for guns, too, and there are people who would claim that gun ownership is an integral part of the American Dream. Imagine the reaction if Larry Harvey had named streets after firearms. I personally would have loved the furor it would ignite.

    That said, I do think a golden opportunity was missed: to name the streets after products that are perceived as integral to the American experience. So you could have (quite arguably, of course) Automobile Street, Firearm Street, Hollywood Street, Celebrity Street. The potential is ridiculous. :)

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  • Jym Dyer says:

    =v= Look, it doesn’t matter if you like or dislike wars; there’s no denying America’s long-held fascination with them and their attendant phenomena.

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  • steve boyett says:

    You make my point for me, Jym. You don’t think America’s involvement with, influence over, and frightening innovation in warfare are something that should be commented on, either? How bland, exactly, do you want your theme? Let’s pick the Green Man again. Nobody wants to go again ecowareness.

    People who think this topic is somehow innately patriotic are as reactionary as the things they think they stand against.

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  • SFNathan says:

    I’ve been going to Burning Man 13 times since 1994. I was probably about ready for a break anyways, but this year I decided to take a break partly because I found the theme to be a turnoff. While it’s true that the theme may inspire some, I find that the theme also has inspired some ugliness that I really don’t like to see. If you read some of the chat discussions in the E-Playa this year, there has been a fair amount of xenophobic comments made, and nationalist flag waving, that while not necessarily the way most Burning Man attendees will interpret the theme, these types of comments (and eventual sentiment on the playa this year) are inevitable I think with this theme. This theme is political, because it talks about a historically political theme “American Dream”. While not “The” American Dream, it’s too close to that historical idea not to conjure up whatever nationalists want to conjure up about American greatness (and negatives about things that are considered “un-American”).

    I’m going to the Democratic Convention to watch Barack Obama be nominated instead of going to Burning Man this year. That’s my concept of the American Dream, and how to participate in politics. Sure I could create something about my feelings about America on the playa, but that’s how I’m choosing to celebrate the American Dream this year – by taking direct action and responsibility for it.

    I know a lot of people who are turned off by this year’s theme are just choosing to ignore it. I think that’s a great choice, and I’m sure that most everyone who goes will have an amazing time, like always at Burning Man. But for me, it was one of the factors that made me decide not to go this year, and I’m posting here so that the people who choose the theme know what I think. I would suggest that there be a more participatory way for the community to be involved in choosing the theme so that if the theme has a political aspect to it, at least the community has chosen those politics.

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  • suzanne says:

    FANTASTIC! Couldn’t think of a better match to the theme considering America’s love affair with the automobile! I’ve riden in every one of those cars except the Hummer and being someone who has lived and worked (or at least visited in) 5 of our continents, think the American Dream choice for the theme this year is stellar. I think it resonates more with those of us who have traveled the world than those who have yet to have the opportunity. Personally, I want to live on Impala … I have great memories of an old white Impala when I was in high school!

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  • Dyana says:


    I’ve been to BM on and off since showing up unintentionally at Baker Beach years ago, but it has been three years since my last trek.

    I tend to show up on the playa when going through a personal transition and need to reconnect with ideas and invention that foster my creativity and inspire survival. That’s what the experience is for me – it’s the opportunity to stretch those muscles and remember how to discover the next steps.

    Catching up on the blog tonight reminded me of something (I think) Amy Goodman said: “Competitive spin on a controversial issue does not constitute truth. Facts coupled with a wide range of perspectives on those facts does.” Where does the dialogue on the theme this year go once we hit the Playa? Maybe metaphors (street names/ themes) are no longer enough…

    Timothy Leary said in a somewhat condescending tone to my generation: “We are dealing with the best-educated generation in history. But they’ve got a brain dressed up with nowhere to go.” Many of us have felt the need for that contemplative place you described in an earlier post…I know it’s what I have been yearning for these past few years.

    The playa is a huge burst of energy – but that energy more than ever needs good minds and hearts to convert it to real social change. The BM community has the means and capacity to move to a higher level….I applaud the burner who is going to the Democratic National Convention – his activism has found a focus. I hope to hear about his experience and what it meant to him.

    I’m down on the new concept…how do i participate?

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  • sooper trooper says:

    Being a European, I find that the American Dream theme for a start is utterly ridiculous and egotistical, surely this theme is TOTALLY tongue in cheek??

    Most of those car names mean absolutely nothing to me, and certainly nothing to the ever-growing younger population of BRC.

    What happened to ‘Radical Inclusion”…. so why stick YOUR country name on this year’s theme? Most people I have spoken to who are not American (and, in fact, a lot who are) find this theme totally alienating; they feel left out, jeered at, looked down upon…

    Just street names? Sure. Bad Move BMorg

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  • SFNathan says:

    “The BM community has the means and capacity to move to a higher level….I’m down on the new concept…how do i participate?”

    Here’s a very ‘American Dream’ idea of how participation could work for deciding each year’s theme (and other big issues concerning the direction of the community):

    1. Hold an on-playa “Convention” for all those who are interested in participating in the development of next-year’s theme. Have a Morning Session for the convention that is about community participation. Allow any speaker to speak for a set amount of time (so that anyone can participate), and a facilitator will simply record and gather ideas from the community for a theme for next year, or other ideas the community would like to share with the organizers. Have an Afternoon Session where the BMORG shares its ideas and proposals for the coming year. BMORG can propose ideas for the theme, for changes to the event, ideas for off-playa projects, and let the Black Rock Arts Foundation present their projects for the coming year. This would be a brainstorming and listening convention – nothing actually gets decided at that point.

    2. As a representative-organization, (sort of like a representative democracy) the BMORG could take those ideas into consideration as they come home from the playa to develop next year’s theme (and other larger community decisions). The BMORG announces at its Decompression Parties 3 different options for themes that will be voted for online. The BMORG encourages the community to share their ideas for each theme prior to the vote on E-Playa, to get people excited about their choice for theme, but also to share any concerns people might have about a theme. A vote could also be held for any other big issues the BMORG wants community feedback on.

    3. The community decides by online vote what the final theme will be. Hopefully it will incorporate aspects of the on-playa meeting. Certainly BMORG can ensure that BMORG is supportive of all 3 themes before putting them up to the vote. The community can feel that it’s had a role in selecting the theme.

    With a process like this, a lot of the angst that has plagued this year’s theme would be dealt with in the same way tension is dealt with on the playa. What makes an event with 50,000 people, fire, big art cars, divergent politics and radical expression work? The attendees are full participants in the creation of the event rather than spectators. When you have the buy-in of the participants, they cooperate and become assets rather than feel alienated and at odds with the organizers.

    Participation is the ideal of the event – it should be the ideal for the theme. It’s not too late for the BMORG to organize something like this for 2008…

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  • Kelp says:

    “See the USA in your —.” Larry, right on EXCEPT Corvair was a nightmare. Should have been Corvette – the American Wet Dream.

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  • Larry Harvey says:


    This is a response to your last post. You ask that the art theme selection be democratized and suggest a method for doing this. A somewhat similar call for democratizing our art grant process was voiced 2 years ago. Here’s the url of the response I wrote then:

    It’s exhaustively thorough and very long, I admit. Sometimes a simple question breeds a much more elaborate response. Answering questions, it turns out, often isn’t quite as easy as conscientiously answering them.

    However, your proposal is not quite the same as the petition I responded to, so let me add a few brief observations. The Project constantly deals with various kinds of politics, including relations with two counties, the state of Nevada and, of course, the BLM. We also meet with members of Congress and officials within the Department of the Interior in Washington DC. In other words, we face a lot of politics in the world outside of Black Rock City. If we were to adopt your proposal, at least from my point of view, it would put quite of lot of politics behind us, as it were, within the community of Burning Man. As the author of our themes, I can almost feel this physically as a kind of vise grip pressing in on me, squeezing every last bit of creative juice out of my body. The conception, crafting and implementing of our annual theme is the only fully creative thing I do that appears at the event. It is my art, if you will. Even at the the age of 12, I was a pint-sized impresario: this is a very meaningful to me. Maybe some day I will give this up, but I have never believed in creativity as managed by committees, much less by a democratic process. I do believe in collaboration, and I collaborate with dozens of very talented people in creating each year’s theme. But this requires intimate rapport.

    Practically speaking, submitting our art themes to a popular referendum would generate two other difficulties that have nothing to do with my personal needs. First, three years ago we decided to announce the new art theme our website immediately after the Man fell in order to give every artist a much-needed head-start if they wished to do theme art. This has worked wonderfully. But your proposal, as you’ve formulated it, would make this impossible. Furthermore, if we were to start this process of meetings, voting and evaluation much earlier in the year, not only would it cost us precious time and effort to administer, I don’t think it would accomplish your goal of reducing ‘angst’ about either the theme or our organization. My experience tells me that factions who disagreed with a choice at any point in this process would probably be even more angst-ridden (though angst, as amplified on the Internet, is very over-rated) than they are now.

    Really, I’m not sure I mind the current controversy. Witness this moderated list. Would it be better if we all agreed? Would that provoke thought? As a leader of people, I’ve learned that the most popular choices aren’t always the right ones, and, on the whole, I’d rather be a leader than a politician (who must always seem to please everyone). In the end, whether I’m right or I’m wrong (and, yes I’ve been wrong), my mode of producing a theme has one public convenience: you needn’t blame one another; you can always blame me.

    This will probably be my last post. I’m leaving for the desert. There, I will log some hours in my trailer putting the finishing touches on the announcement of next year’s theme (and immensely enjoying this). I think our discussion here has been a success, and I sincerely thank all of you for participating. Isn’t it great when people behave as if they were politely conversing and are more able to feel personally present to one another? You can thank our moderators, Will Chase and Andie Grace, for this.



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  • Toolstud says:

    You forgot the Bat Mobile!

    Ha, ha, ha, ha…..


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  • MDMF says:

    Whats more american the the car? its the ulitmate symbol of freedom. To a 16 YO it represents another step to becoming an adult, and the ability to cruise and be cool.

    Cars in america are tools used in commerce, status symbols, toys for some, places of lovemaking for millions, and many people live in them.

    I find it most appropriate that we go from the GreenMan to a symbol that epitomizes excess, and waste. Cars in America get some of the worst mileage ever on average, but at the same time have lower emissions all at the cost of burning more fuel to process the other half of the fuel so it can actually power the vehicle.

    With GM, FORD, and other US auto makers reporting losses quarterly that are larger than the smallest 140 countries GDP on earth, it seems appropriate.

    so lets game on, and burn more oil.

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  • SFNathan says:


    Thank you for writing a response. I appreciate you taking the time to consider my point of view. I wanted to respond to you on a few levels.

    First, I have spent much of my life since 1994 participating in Burning Man and learning from the values of this event. What was originally just kind of a party in the desert for me became a context for creating much of my life. We Burners envision a limitless expanse of creativity and community at Burning Man and beyond, and I thank you for being the Genesis of something so large, it’s touched tens of thousands of people and personally changed my life.

    Why did it have such a big impact for me? Because most of our experiences in American culture today are about passive spectatorship. But Burning Man challenged me to look at life a different way and to find my own voice as a creator. That’s what the invitation to participate is all about. Burning Man isn’t any one leader’s event where the rest of us are spectators – we are all invited to take ownership of this event in order for it to be a true community happening. That makes Burning Man transcendent for all of us.

    While it is a shared community, I appreciate that organization and leadership must take place for an event like this to succeed. And more than that, I hear in your response to me that you do not simply want to be an organizer for the safety and success of this event – you must be an artist for this event, or it is meaningless for you. I respect that.

    I actually find much that is admirable in this year’s theme. I am very politically active and love the idea of engaging the Burning Man community in a broader discussion of the world and how we can create change beyond the playa in all of our communities. It’s just that if you are going to engage we, the community, in a discussion about the world, we would like to be involved in shaping that discussion as full participants (not as spectators reacting to an already designed theme that has a political narrative woven into it).

    I want to disagree with you on one point you made. You said that “if we were to start this process of meetings, voting and evaluation much earlier in the year, not only would it cost us precious time and effort to administer, I don’t think it would accomplish your goal of reducing ‘angst’ about either the theme or our organization. My experience tells me that factions who disagreed with a choice at any point in this process would probably be even more angst-ridden.”

    This statement stands contrary to the very principles of Burning Man and the American Dream. What makes a community like Burning Man or a people of a nation stand united are their participation in the dream. They might not always agree, but they continue to stand united because they have a place at the table. Really, just a little bit of involvement in the designing of the dream can go such a long way to inspire loyalty of the people who are involved.

    If a more open process for selecting the theme is not going to happen this year, so be it. But I truly believe that BMORG and the community would be served by having some form of including community involvement in designing the theme. There are many ways you could do it. It doesn’t have to be a democratic vote. My proposal was just one idea. The real point is – include us (in some way) so we are not spectators to the event’s theme.

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  • Starburner says:

    I love the idea of the street names being cars (though personally I’d have chosen different cars). Its Larry’s party, and he can name the streets any names he wants. Most of these people need to lighten up (and aquire a sense of humor). Its Burning Man for pitty’s sake. I know of no one who will stay home because of the street names. At one time “The American Dream” was a house, two cars, and 2.5 kids (now its probably two houses). The fact of the matter is Americans LOVE our cars (I own five, all gas guzzelers). Cars are our freedom. With then we can travel almost anywhere in our beautiful country. Without them, how would we even get to Black Rock City? -Starburner

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  • Chris says:

    I view this as a very brave and, from my perspective, noble theme to take on for this year. I agree with the reasoning behind most of the complaints and critiques stated above, which is exactly why the topic of automobile reverence and nostalgia is so timely and useful to debate. Because active, creative debate is what’s missing from current political and social narratives.

    For those of us against the hegemonic role of the automobile in American transportation, does it help us to ignore the heartfelt adoration of the car? Yes, I know Detroit and the oil companies lobbied the politicians into building the highways and tearing down the railroads. But we didn’t get where we are without the automobile serving a vital purpose in both mundane transportation and creating the American adventure mystique. It is counterproductive to deny the emotional response that many, many Americans have about the freedom of mobility and cultural significance of their cars.

    From the flip side, even the most ardent supporter of the gun-rack sporting, extended cab pickup realizes that times are changing, if only due to the many costs of gas. This look through the history of Detroit provides the opportunity to examine the wide range of vehicles and their true impacts. It celebrates the design and engineering triumphs, calls out the duds, and opens everyone to a discussion on the future place of the automobile in American life.

    To me personally, this year’s theme is about relaxing my dogmatic critiques of American consumerism enough to appreciate the true beauty and value of our country and community. It’s about an honest appraisal of our collective values and actions, and the gaps between the two. When politicians are terrified that straying off-message will land them on Youtube in shame and ridicule, we’re left with Republican inculcation and Democratic pander. Personally, I’m pleased that the street names reflect neither, and I’ll be happy to discuss them at 4:30 and Allante.

    A Burning Man virgin,

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  • steve boyett says:

    Of course, art cars are okay, right? Because they’re, you know — art.

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  • Dee says:

    People need to take a chill pill because they are just words/names that can have all the meaning in the world or have no meaning at all. For all of the belly aching going on by the people so offened by the street names then don’t go to one of the most amazing experiences I have ever been to. All who spout discontent are still going to go but just want to stir the pot instead of enjoying a wonderous esperience that is Burning Man! The theme and street names are only the beginning of the oydessy one ventures into when stepping across the threshold from the default world into paradise. We are all apart of the process that brings this Black Rock City into being and leave no trace at the end. Like them or hate them automobiles are a part of our every day life!



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  • Dancing Bear says:

    You rock.
    I loved the hypocracy of last year’s “Green Man”. We love to burn things yet complain about the ill effects on the environment. We have to lighten up and realize we all are products of the problems in this world and step up to help minimize the impact. Volunteer.
    Love to all,
    Dancing Bear

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  • Maurice Duffy says:

    Is it not Strange that the Burning man 2008 is named “The American Dream” and whose Streets are named after 5 Automobiles that were for all practical purposes Junk (ALLANTE, CORVAIR, EDSEL, GREMLIEN, K-CAR). Three cars that will be best remember by their paint and hair color and that lost their true identity due to Alzheimer (BONNEVILLE, FAIRLANE, IMPALA). Or a car that born in the sixties and like a flower child that did way to much bad acid suffers from a strange acute case of schizophrenia (DART). Last but not least are two general purpose military vehicles that have become Icons; one that anyone could afford (JEEP) and one that only rich person could afford (HUMMER).

    2008 Burning Man name becomes more Ironic is while the Burning man is taking place in Black Rock the Democratic national convention is taking place in Denver and the Democratic candidate for President Senator Barack Obama campaign for President of the United States has been dubbed ‘An American Dream and a Promise for Change’.

    Yet if you enter in to Google ‘American Dream’ what hit comes up first is Wikipedia. What follows is from Wikipedia.

    May I make a sugestion for alternate names of the streets of The Americian Dream


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  • Rainbowrings says:

    “I hope this sounds like good news to you. The bad news is that I cannot tell you more. We are in the midst of planning and negotiation, but we think this prospect shows great promise of becoming a reality (if not, we’ll find some other way to achieve this goal). As I say, I can’t answer any further questions, but, if things progress as we hope, we’ll make an initial announcement sometime next year. “

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  • Rainbowrings says:

    Larry – I was talking with you at the gas pump on my way out of BRC on Thursday after the burns when a truck decided we should move on. I wanted to ask you about the following quote from this blog but didn’t get to.

    “I hope this sounds like good news to you. The bad news is that I cannot tell you more. We are in the midst of planning and negotiation, but we think this prospect shows great promise of becoming a reality (if not, we’ll find some other way to achieve this goal). As I say, I can’t answer any further questions, but, if things progress as we hope, we’ll make an initial announcement sometime next year. ”

    This is more than good news to me – it sounds like a ‘call’. Is there any way you can use some volunteer help for this mystery project? or can I at least assume that I will hear the ‘announcement’ when it comes? I get the JRS and Lamplighters announcements.

    Thanks again for everything you started and are doing.
    Cheers! Jenny

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  • MagicfromMaui says:

    All I can say is WTF!@?# i’m so blessed to have caught the last of the Burning Man Magic going in 07 as a Virgin and this year again after hearing for so many years what Burning Man was. This controversy of relating the Green Man to naming the streets is insane, I’m stoked i read this explanation and remembered how when I looked out at my neighbors driveway in the snowy winter morning to see my 16th Christmas present in 82′ and look upon a piss/puke green 72’Gremlin that my dad bought for $200 and feel elated beyond belief. (I had to put a milk crate where the front seat should have been and taught myself how to drive a clutch after my dad disappeared to the bar.) It represented my American Dream of becoming an adult!
    Mahalo Larry, for that recollection and for all your efforts of creating this vehicle that restores our sick-ass Society/culture into a meaningful spiritual journey towards collective consciousness for our planets’ eventual culmination towards enlightenment and community living in complete Peace and Harmony.

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  • Mrs.Sunshine! says:

    I dont have a comment, but a very desperate Question! And I need a answer from someone who can answer my question and knowing there answer is correct 100%. I will only be 17 next year, my parents are all for me going, my boyfriend is only 20, I have the money in hand and am waiting for Jan 14 09 to buy my ticket! But I am afrraid that I will not be able to get in because of my age! There will be someone responsible watching me, my boyfriend of 2 years, almost 3 by the time Burning Man comes along!

    So my question is, Me being 17 with someone who is only 20, but responsible, will I be able to attend? We will be with three to four others as well!

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  • Forward to anyone = 1!

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