War at Burning Man, part IV: idiots are weapons, too!

The voice on the radio was excited — almost orgasmic.

“Okay, people, the rumor has been confirmed – Bassnector will be playing at Monticello a couple hours after Daft Punk!  That’s tonight’s party, starts right after the core burn!  This is a private affair, but the secret word to get in is ‘footbucket’!  It’s going to be an incredible party!  Tell the people in wigs that BMIR sent you!’  We’ll see you there!”

The Governor of Monticello, gave me a pained look.  “They’ve been saying that all day, haven’t they.”


“We’ve got to stop them!”

“Good!  Yes!  Stop them!  The WarBringer is pleased!”

“You’re pretty much only going by ‘Wargringer’ now, aren’t you.”

“Don’t ruin this for me.”

He shrugged.  “Okay.”

“So how are you going to stop them?”

“We … we …” he paused.  “Shit.  I have no idea.”

Author’s Note: The following is an account of the events of The War of the Rites, an epic conflict at Burning Man 2011 between the camps of BMIR and Monticello. Read the whole series here.  Unlike previous playa stories I’ve told here, no part of the story has been fictionalized. All details are accurate to the best of my recollection.

BMIR was having a similar problem figuring out what came next.

“We’re going to strike again,” Christa said.

“The WarBringer is pleased, my children!”

Mao patted me on the back.  “That’s totally working for you.”


Christa was focused.  “We need to kidnap the governor again!”

“What?”  I shook my head.  “Kidnap him again?  Doesn’t that seem … repetitive?”

“Hmmmm,” Christa said.

“Yeah, I can see that,” said Mao.  “We don’t want to get predictable.”

“Well, then, who should we kidnap?” asked Christa.

“You’re set on kidnapping?”

“Yeah, it’s awesome,” she said.  “It’s our thing now.  It’s all we want do.”

I considered.  “How about Lady Vice?”

Christa smiled.  “Yeah, get his girlfriend.  That’s awesome.”

“The trouble is,” said Mao, “that we just don’t have the manpower to do it.”

Everybody thought about that for a moment.

I had an idea.  “Oh children of the WarBringer …”

Mao clapped.  “Work it!”

“… your faith in conflict brings my blessing down upon you!  I shall aid your plans by providing mercenaries for your cause!”

“Mercenaries?”  Asked Christa.  “That’s excellent!  Like … who?”

“Ask not from where the WarBringer summons his minions,” I said, because I had no idea, “but they arrive like death upon a pale white horse, like plague upon the wind, and woe befall the man who stands against them! ”

Christa nodded.  “That’d be sweet.  We’d totally use them.”

I spent the rest of the day visiting camps where I had friends who I thought would join a mercenary army.  Big Daddy of Feed the Artists said he would come when called and bring men.  Johnny Munney at Media Mecca also announced that he would join the war.  A man named “Beast” promised to be a member of my personal Praetorian Guard.

Burners seem to like the idea of being mercenaries.  “Just tell me who to kidnap,” Big Daddy said.  “You know, I bet we could get a white van.   Would it be cool if we put a canvas sack over her head and pulled her into a white van?  Is that going too far?”

It was impossible to organize a kidnapping for that afternoon, the playa being what it is, but I told everyone I would reconnect with them tomorrow and name a time and place to rendezvous.

Late that night I traveled to Monticello.  Their dome was overflowing.  People were pouring out of it.  I spotted Lady Vice outside and she pushed through the crowd to the Governor.  He was drinking a delicious mate punch in between dancing his ass off.

“Oh my God!” he said when he saw me.  “Those bastards!  Those magnificent bastards!  We’ve had, like, five times the people we expected coming through our dome.  All night it’s been people coming in asking ‘When’s Bassnectar playing?’  I have actually been mistaken for a member Daft Punk.  I have literally had people grab me and say how much they like my music and when am I going to play?  It’s madness.  And, on the one hand, it’s made our party totally awesome.  On the other hand …” he shook his fist in the sky.  “It’s the most epic party we’ve ever thrown, and it’s full of idiots!  Those magnificent bastards!  I swear we’ll get them back!”

Next:  A kidnapping and an epic art car duel – the final battle!

Warbringer is the Volunteer Coordinator for Media Mecca at Burning Man. Contact him at Caveat (at) Burningman.com

About the author: Caveat Magister

Caveat is Burning Man's Philosopher Laureate. A founding member of its Philosophical Center, he is the author of The Scene That Became Cities: what Burning Man philosophy can teach us about building better communities, and Turn Your Life Into Art: lessons in Psychologic from the San Francisco Underground. He has also written several books which have nothing to do with Burning Man. He has finally got his email address caveat (at) burningman (dot) org working again. He tweets, occasionally, as @BenjaminWachs

5 Comments on “War at Burning Man, part IV: idiots are weapons, too!

  • engineer2012 says:

    Great story. Love it. I think people will be talking about this for years. How many parts are there, much more I hope.

    Report comment

  • Badonkadonk says:

    Hey, I never found the free wifi that’s supposed to be out by the trash fence. Some ranger in cafe told me about it when I was asking where to buy water and food on Tuesday.

    Everyone keeps reminding me to think about “radical self-reliance”. Where can I buy that? Also, is it OK to pee in the middle of playa? I kinda dozed off at gate since we’d been drinking in line the whole time and I got tired of playing peek-a-boo with my beer and weed every time BLM drive by.

    Anyway, I’m writing to ask if I can get part of my ticket price back, that’s all. Please let me know – $elf-entitled@yahoo.com, thanks bro

    Report comment

  • purt e fun e, if I do say so mah self.

    Report comment

  • rory molloy says:

    YESSSSSSSSS, thats beautiful and hilariious, realy picked me up big time…… play on bitches

    Report comment

  • OK, I’ll be a mercenary, but only if I can be an officer. I have no patience for the enlisted swine.

    Report comment

  • Comments are closed.