and that’s a wrap

Many people rose with the sun to greet the day at the Temple

Yesterday was our last day on the playa, and we tried to make the most of it. Up with the sun, down with the moon, and everything in between.

It’s a funny year for us, because leaving before the Man burns is a little like foreplay without the … well, you know, no need to get graphic. But maybe it’s a little like what many of you are feeling in this sold-out year; you wanted to be here for the good times, but for whatever reason you couldn’t make it. So we’re feeling kinship with you, even though we’ve been here for a month, watching the city grow and being with the people who make it happen.

But off we go, and the big final act for us was the CORE burn, where 22 effigies built by Regional networks from around the world went up in one big little Burn.

The Regional burns surrounded the Man

It was a giant collaborative effort among the Regionals to have a greater presence and visibility on the playa. It added significantly to the sense that there was more major art, and more quality art, on the playa this year.

And the CORE burn was a little like the Early Burn, too, in that it was much smaller in scale and scope than the torching of the Man (except with more Rangers around). You could have conversations. It didn’t feel like this big massive thing that was so much larger  than yourself.  It was personal; you could talk with the people from the Regionals who made it all happen, and they’d tell you how much work and cooperation it took to come up with the ideas for the effigies, and then to build them, and then to get them all to the desert.

And maybe the CORE burn looks like the future of Burning Man. We don’t know how long the city can continue its explosive growth, and we get the feeling that the Burn, the big central event of the year, might benefit from spreading out.

Like the big Burn, all the fires brought out the cheers.

Earlier we got to say goodbye to our DPW friends. Every year they hold a giant parade that winds its way throughout the city, a collection of outrageously Mad Max vehicles shooting flames and blaring music, and the people on them, just as outrageous, encouraging the citizens to contribute a beer or two to the cause.

That’s another funny thing about being here before the event begins; you get tight with the people who are out here working, and then when the gates open and the city fills up, you don’t see those folks anymore. They scatter to their various camps to be with friends from home, or they hunker down in the Ghetto, the DPW camp, for the duration, only to emerge when the guests have gone and it’s time for cleanup. The Playa Restoration team will be here until October, when every last stake, flag and piece of MOOP is picked up. Leave no trace. Where there was once a city of 50,000 people, there will be nothing. No Man, no Temple, no art, no music, no people, no nothing. Just the desert, which looks pretty much as it has looked for hundreds of thousands of years. Temporal and timeless, juxtaposed.

Brian's message was simple during the DPW parade.

And so it is with Burning Man 2011. Unforgettable, deeply moving, beautiful beyond words, heart-wrenching …. and done.

Thanks again for following along, and for your words of encouragement and appreciation. (It’s tough to be connected to the internets here, so we can’t always reply to the nice words, or engage with the more provocative comments, but when we catch up with them, we are always grateful for your time and attention.)

Others will take you the rest of the way Home this year, so check back for updates. And you can see the Burn from a live webcast too, which the team here has been working on tirelessly.

So thanks, be safe, and have a great Burn.

You could hear the DPW parade coming.



The Cobra Commander got a good dousing at the parade gathering.
He emerged unscathed and unbowed.
The Man was lit up by the glow of the Regional burns.


Only a few more days (and nights) of life for the Temple of Transition.
The mood was somber in the cathedral-like interior of the Temple.
There's still plenty more fire to come, from everywhere.
One of our personal favorite things on the playa this year: Make a basket, get a puff of flame. The Heavy Equipment crew set up a basketball court in front of their camp, and we couldn't get enough of it.


About the author: John Curley

John Curley (that's me) has been Burning since the relatively late date of 2004, and in 2008 I spent the better part of a month on the playa, documenting the building and burning of Black Rock City in words and pictures. I loved it, and I've been doing it ever since. I was a newspaper person in a previous life, and I spent many years at the San Francisco Chronicle. At the time I left, in 2007, I was the deputy managing editor in charge of Page One and the news sections of the paper. Since then, I've turned a passion for photography into a second career. I shoot for editorial, commercial and private clients. I've also taught a little bit, including two years at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and a year at San Francisco State University. I live on the San Mateo coast, just south of San Francisco in California.

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