This time of year, every year, as the sun returns and days grow longer, I am perpetually surprised and overwhelmed by the indubitable flourish of life that rises from a thawing long winter existence that held us cold and gray transfixed in darkness for what seems like so long. All around us rises the essence of resurrection as plants pop, bulbs shoot with flowers blooming, bees buzzing and every living thing is struggling upward towards the sun and suddenly where there was nothing but defeated pulverized grass, crawls extant these growing tendrils of life breaking through everywhere; climbing, exploding with color, painting the earth green and blasting fast across our part of the planet that is once again tilting towards our sun.
With spring sprung and flowers a poppin, whilst sugar demon peeps are peepin all seeping into your Easter EGGstatic consciousness and the vestige of winter sog slop slogging is stopping, I felt our newborn sun creeping warm across my whiskered face and my thoughts turned to reveries of my most resplendent time with some bunnies.
Those Bunnies are the Bunnies of Bunny Jam, and same Bunnies of the Billion Bunny March; a most happy hopping, seriously protesting, floppy eared kind of kindest fuzzy kin.
I’ve written about my love of Santas for I have been a Santa, drunk and boisterous, and of Clowns with whom I have marginally experimented, and I’ve mentioned my encounter with an aught two unholy alliance those unkempt ruffians formed against the Bunnies at Santa’s Black Market. My friend Mr. Evans with his fellow conspirators in thought crime, duly and most wonderfully documented the exploits of a motherload of culture jamming that manifested in the SF Bay Area in their “Tales of the Cacophony Society”, however, one group, the Santas, like all good things after one too many bottles of Pine Sol, began their inevitable slouch towards becoming a tad more of an interloper social menace party and less a group of spontaneous subversives. As the Santa stroll bar hop was hitting its stride a silly hopping kind of phenomenon rose from another holiday and rooted in carrot love, populated by gentle spring time sprung , furry familiars – raised its floppy eared head.
A long, long time ago there was the “Bunny Hole” hosted by “Bunnies with Chainsaws” at a Burning Man Flambe Lounge on Easter Saturday in 1999 at the old Oak Street gathering. Mein HARE tells me he has a day planner sporting a list that reads thusly: “Pack Helium tank, balloons, stuffed bunnies, Easter and polka music, astroturf, fake fur, tape, wire, plexiglas protective screen, chainsaw, Bugs Bunny on cross, marshmallow peeps, microwave, bubble machines, 196 plastic eggs, bags of jellybeans, Trix, Egg piñata filled with holiday candy from all other holidays, vacuum cleaner, extension cords” and he tells me they blew all the power in that part of the building and cut the piñata apart with a chain saw at Midnight in front of a supportive crowd.
The next year saw the first Bunny Jam in San Francisco which grew out of the fertile DISH collective of artistic souls. The gist was to create an environment of physical “cut-up” mutations, films, interactive sculpture, sound tracks, Easter egg art, and even whole identities and wardrobes, and then showcase it in an immersive environment at the event and it grew as all sincere events grow. I first fell into that uniquely Hoppy situation of Bunny Jam in 2002 after building several rabbits, mechanical and otherwise, that I lugged out to Black Rock City that were noticed by the Lepicular Illuminati who traverse the playa at all times searching for kindred spirits. As serendipity would have it, off playa, by this time, Bunny Jam was in full force the weekend of Easter, when the Christian Son God was dead in a cave and Bunnies would roam and dance the earth for three days.
Bunny Jam was an experiment in ideological alchemy and locations were transformed from warehouses to environments that Bunnies painted springtime bright where you would be greeted by stuffed bunnies hanging everywhere, with Dr. Frankenpeep’s Microware Laboratory & Bunny Chop Shop, enough Easter grass to choke a snake, Art to the EGGstreme, fabulous photography of Supersnail, CameraBunny, Florendipity and Furtographer, bunnies everywhere playing with foxes, carrots and chicks, comfy spaces and Bunny art galore, psychedelic black light Easter Eggs and fluffy Chicks. There was a certain Mad Hatted Man, a white rabbit and Alice all in the rotogravure. Plant Trees would appear with platters of suspicious sushi to share with the Hares there. There was Scotty the Blue Bunny with Mein HARE! MCing and overseeing the most splendid soiree of talent supplied by Spoonish Bunny, Starbunny, Karrot Lewis, Bison Bunny, CeCe Bunny, Dr. Furiendly, Kharmabunny, Sandwich Bunny, Skibit, Hot Damn Bunny, Marcia Cross Bunny, Shimmery Bunny and Jonny Q Rabbit, NAMBLA the bunny, Jackie Jack and Scarlett O’Hare, to name a few. Their combined talents made your whiskers shiver and ears perk up as you entered their hutch, like a chocolate bunny melting into a pool of neon yellow marshmallow. It was a place of Furshion Shows, bunny belly dancers and overflowing brain-popping colors of the springtime kingdom like every flavor of the rainbow. It was such a psychedelic candyland of color you were tempted to lick the walls.
When I remember the Bunny Jams I’m immersed in pastel colors of acid pinks and shimmering blues, quivering sugar purples, lucid shamrock greens and memories of one of the happiest and strangest dance masses of gyrating manic furry frolic hopping musical mixes only lepus-kind could have ever concocted. Masterful musicians, DJs, VJs like Neonbunny, Harebert, Trademark and Princess Frilly Pants of The Evolution Carrot Committee (ECC), Dr. Friendly, Gooferman, Dr. Wabbitkiss (who once hopped away midset because his wife needed to go have their baby unexpectedly), HelgaBunny, Bob, aka Super Space Boy all created an eclectic mix of bunny theme or culture jamming or really high energy spastic music interspersed with live bands and performances.
Those Saturdays, as that happy mass of ecstatic rabbits hit crescendo there was always that moment when the chittering insanity of maniacal icons of rabbit town such as “Peter Cottontail” and “Bugs Bunny” and “You wanna buy a bunny” all gelatinized suddenly, warbling backed by some pelvic beat, and you’d look over, sweating as you danced with ears a bobbin, and see Dr. Frankenpeep all Dr. Moreau in his white lab coat with his Recombinant Peep-N-A Experiments steaming fresh out the oven, his torch fusing Chick onto Bunnybodies and the sweet sick scent of bubbling sugar permeated everything while all around triumphant bodies wearing full fursuits or in full Marie Antoinette bunny garb moving madly to “Who Killed the Wabbit, Lightening, THUNDER!” and your face was melting into every square inch of the space overflowing with happy bunny smiley faced apparitions, Easter grass in obscene places, painted eggs, chocolate bunnies, cute crucifixion scenes, Hare-etical Golgothas, jamming rabbits and bears and other undefined acres of fur, Easter Bonnets, razor teethed rabbit tunnels, small bottles with labels that read “Eat Me”, cute bunnies prancing and dancing, hopping and pumping in a place where everyone is the epitome of vernal, everyone wearing some form of rabbit ears, with revolving unexpected beats about hedgehogs and bunny rabbits, cheese and Easter while the ceiling is dancing Eoster bright pastels, waxy crawling images that dip into your skull to drop in more jelly beans till you think you might break, then the music crashes and slides into a polka five times slow or an Easter song ten times fast with a sudden unexpected hopping madness and the Bunnies take it up a level, hypnotized by all that is sprung eternal in that Bunny Jam Madhouse.
It was somewhat “immersive”.
However all was not just hoppiness. In the early aughts as the Bush/Carrot regime began their march towards a neocon nocturnal emission, protest was in the air in the San Francisco Bay Area. As Mein HARE describes the first Billion Bunny March, it was to, “bring the spirit of Bunny Jam into a public street as absurdist protest…no bars…not inside a hidden space, but in broad daylight, sober and through public streets! That first year [we] marched on City Hall in San Francisco dressed as bunnies and protested humanity. It wasn’t about Republican or Democrat, right, left, or any race…it was that the human species–indeed all of humanity–was equally messed up; and bunnies, we argued, would be better caretakers of the planet”.
This Bunny Rebellion miasma mixed up with Mr. Beale’s Squidlist and the first Billion Bunny March rallied at City Hall on Easter Sunday. Mein HARE recounts the story, “as we approached within a few blocks of city hall we saw a sea of colorful characters clogging the street and spilling over on to the great lawn in front of City Hall! It was incredible!!! So many bunnies had shown up and my heart was filled with an absurd joy! As we neared, however, we noticed something was a little weird with these bunnies. These bunnies looked different than other bunnies. Was that a superhero bunny? An alien bunny? Some kind of bear? Those ears are not quite right! It was colorful as heck and there were banners and flowers and bright costumes, but these were not bunnies at all! They were Japanese anime characters and cherry blossom floats and people dressed for the annual Cherry Blossom Parade. And they were as confused by our presence as we were by theirs. We stopped to pose for pictures with our anime compatriots and then worked our way through the crowd to the steps of City Hall to announce through a megaphone our Bunny Manifesto.”
Thus was born the first Billion Bunny March in the most kind of cities, San Francisco and that year as spring gave way to summer and summer fog flooded the California coast, the movement traveled to the playa because really, is there a better place than Black Rock City for a Billion Bunnies to protest a MAN? All that over flowing Hoppiness had to spill over somewhere.
Bunny camp hit the playa as an organized disorganized centralized decentralized meme discordant hutch of loosely entirely planned caravan of trucks brimming with stuffed bunnies popping out of every crevice and landed at Lepus Land where they created the most glorious brightly colored camps, complete with chill domes, see saws, bunny banners, odd discordant chirps and insane laughter as hopping Lepus loving peeps came all festive and prone to break into prance and dance amongst the faux flowers. It was a place where people passing were always welcome and eventually a bar with the Bunny Oath appeared with bold lettered words one would have to read aloud and declare with utmost sincere profundity before partaking in a Fuzzy Carrotus Correctus or a Hot Damn served by Corn Dog. It read:
“I freely and hoppily renounce my dirty stinking messed up carcass of failed and foibled humanity in order to evolve as a sentient, furry being.
I hereby come over to the Bunny Side.
I will HOP. I will wiggle my tail.
I will deliver colorful Eggs to the masses and support a Universal Campaign of Fluffy Goodness and Jellybeans for all
Over the years you could find the ears at Bunnywood, Fur and Loafing, Billion Bunny Voyage to Lepus Landia (which was not named the “Lepus Colony” due to camp concerns), Angoraphobia, Bunnyside from Canada, and a others. BunnyJam always sought anonymity and surprise whereas the Billion Bunnies of Black Rock City set camp and decorated their space with all manner of sunshine spectrum madness, moving lights, painted eggs and filled it up with all that is springtime fruition in the dusty dog days of summer.
During the week Mein HARE made several Public Service Announcements for the radio stations around our fair City calling for all Free and Furry Sentient Beings to show up on Thursday for the March and to partake in the protestations of the MAN. Eventually other bunny camps popped up and joined in the clarion call.
Those weeks on the playa were lazy days of preparation however amidst such bunny bliss, our spies uncovered ever present threats to our leader filtered through the rumor mill in Black Rock City as tradition would have it. Mein HARE was to be kidnapped, oh my! One year the rumor went that he would be captured before the march and every fifteen minutes an inch of his esteemed beard would be delivered to us until all demands were met. What those demands were to be, the Bunnies were never to know, thereby making the situation all the more paradoxical to the point of causing an utter consternation and instillation of trepidation that would no doubt paralyze the Bunnies into inaction, thereby canceling the march and ruining the entire day. This was obviously unacceptable.
Also the bunnies learned from moles in the Animal Control Camp that there were to be no less than four trucks with fenced in enclosures and all manner of zip tie handcuffs, tazers, stun and potato guns, cattle prods and other instruments of tortuous enslavements with which the evil freedom despising Animal Control would use to ambush Bunny camp between the hours of 4 and 6 on Thursday, the day of the Billion Bunny March. As fate would have it, kind defenders of the gentle bunnies came to their rescue. Betwixt kidnapping dangers and the ever constant threat of Animal Control rounding up the Bunnies, good people stepped forth like Durgy, Francis and Badass, a sultry Jedi fellow who came to the Bunnies’ aid with a 50 pound box of light sabers and who promised to send no fewer than 500 of his finest Jedi knights to defend the bunnies on the day of the march.
Another year Animal Control threatened to kidnap Mein HARE before the march to stop the protest. That year the bunnies had a few first time burners who were in the U.S. Army and when they heard Animal Control was after Mein HARE they offered to be his “Bunny Guards” and watched over him. During the Billion Bunny March, some members of Animal Control tried to take Mein HARE down and at that time all music was primarily playing through his megaphone, so if they succeeded, they would stop the march. As the evil Animal Control moved in to tag him, the Bunny Guards went into military protection mode and decked and tackled Animal control quite hard and with much enthusiasm. The story goes that the next year some members of Animal Control sent a message asking if the Bunnies could please “not hurt them this year.”
On the day of the March each year, Bunny camp was abuzz with preparations. Lines of bunnies began milling about that Rabbitat Against Humanity, sucking lollypops, becoming one with the Rabbit mind. At the Hop n’ Fur bar drinks were poured a plenty, bubble machines were activated, blow up bunnies inflated. Paints were positioned in the dome as peeps hopped in all tittering with Bunnification Anticipation. The dome was alive with misting and much bunnyfying and earification, with splendiferous dehumanification and rebirth into rabbitation! Mobile music arrived with Spoonish, Neonbunny, Starbunny’s Dragon car and slowly the ranks of Rabbit and Penguin cars, giraffe troupes, Cupcake and Cat cars, the monkey screaming Zebra Car and bunnies of all flavors and fuzz arrived. That scene is an anthropomorphic mass of fuzzy frolic that draws to it not just bunnies, but all kind of furry sentient beings dressed as Foxes and Monkeys, Dogs and Cats, to name only a few.
Neonbunny knows all about this phenomenon and he nailed it when he told me, “…to get deeper to the root than just anthropomorphic camps, is the concept of “Play”, which is more of what this is about. As kids, Play comes natural, but as we grow older and are taught to be responsible and adult, we forget how to play. We Play dress up, we Play pretend, we Play a character, we role Play, we Play with others. Art, music, culture allows us to Play while pretending to be adults. Burning Man, in that it creates a autonomous zone that is separate from our day lives, lets us all Play. Our day lives may have us being an Accountant, a Programmer, a Chef, even a CEO, but on the playa we can Play, and for one week, or even a part of that week if we want to play different roles, we can Play being a Bunny, Play being a DJ, Play being a Crane Operator, Play being a mayor of a large camp. The Billion Bunny March, and Bunny Jam, has been about creating a set of themed parameters so that people who come can abandon their adult conditioning, and get back to Playing.”
And Play those bunnies do. Virgin bunnies saw their Inner Bunny reborn and once critical mass EGGsploded, overflowing in all directions along the Esplanade, the Bunnies disembarked each year, a large, long eared, flowing free, hopping parade, heading to Center Camp where Mein HARE made his way to the middle, blasting the Bunny Hop on his megaphone thereby inciting the ever growing crowds of Bunnies and other furry familiar types to pack in and RENOUNCE your HUMANITY! Tai Chi meditating hippies were sent fleeing forth as this mass of opened floodgates with hundreds upon hundreds upon millions and billions of lunatic happy hopping MAD bunnies descended carrying signs that read “Long Ears Good; Short Ears Bad!”, “Zee only goot human iza keychain!”, “Bunny Power”, and “Fluffy and Free” “HOray!”, “My Bunny Feels Funny”, “Down with Humans Hop with Bunnies”, “Fuzzy” and other hu-man protest slogans. Each year the destinations change and some years Bunnies descend on BMIR to proclaim the Bunny Manifesto or they invade EggChairSteve’s splendiferous Eggs Bar to dance and prance, leaving gifts of plastic eggs full of candy in their wake and other times they’ve taken over Death Guild’s Thunderdome to rechristen it Thumperdome as a way of protesting an ultimate symbol of human aggression. That Thumperdome year, Bunnies in overwhelming numbers tied pink bows, flowers and stuffed bunnies all over the dome and did the bunny hop in the center of it to purify the space.
Where ever Bunny March went, they always ended at the Esplanade up on their way to the MAN and usually by that time the Bunnies were joined by legions of Carrots marching alongside and in carrot cars, orange roots carrying signs protesting the bunnies, always complaining about something, pleading not to be eaten, but MY are they DELISH! Some years Animal Control is there and bunnies are snared, tagged and “fixed” with a shot of some red liquid in a syringe called a “Damn You Ra$pa” so that they cannot reproduce. They are absolutely Wascally! Mein HARE remembers, “One year dirt creatures showed up with signs to protest the carrots for stealing nutrients. Over the years we’ve had thousands of Elmer Fuds hunt us, Animal Control tag us, packs of wolves try to devour us, and shark-bunnies simultaneously hugging us and biting our heads off! But the march must go on! In fact, there’s no stopping it at this point.“
And the Bunnies march, full force through the throngs to the MAN, proud gentle playa Creatures asking only, “Let me Hop, Let me Skip, Let me Nibble in Peace!” There have been antics including a certain naughtiness one year that shall not be named, but eventually the Bunnies overtake the man and great hilarity and celebration ensues with joyful Hop Hop Hoorays heard for miles. Dancing and protesting, wanton abandonment with much merriment and momentous wonderment comes into fruition. Drinking and just being Cuddly Creature Comrades in the MAN base is enough for them to last another year knowing they have accomplished their goal. The MAN is taken, long live the BUNNY and the after party begins which is a pre-party to the next party because that weekend at Burning Man you realize that you are probably at the greatest party on the entire planet. However it is more than just a party, it is a movement and as the 11th principle of “Radical Self Enfunment” tells us, Play and Improv rooted in the Theater of the Absurd with Situationist Art and freewheeling protest, make for a life changing experience with YOU participating.
Just as the spring is sprung with each year, Bunnies of all shapes and sizes return to the MAN. Each year they are joined with more and more bunnies. Billion Bunny Marches are held in Ottawa, Canada, with a contingent that marched on the capital building there. Seattle went on to have the largest bunny gatherings. There have been other Bunny marches across the country, including New York, Portland, and Chicago, the home of “Environmental Encroachment” marching band, which became a year-round bunny band. The Hare-Story of this movement does not stop here, but continues to grow. Life is a silly cycle of birth to the Max, all ‘Ella cool, and newbies landing on planet Burning Man, exiting their gate Thursday afternoon will perpetually be treated to an ultimate absurdity, hundreds, thousand, BILLIONS of Bunnies protesting the MAN. Do you have ears to hear? Do you need bigger ears perhaps? The Bunnies have those for you.
At best, the Billion Bunnies reboots something inside our insidious system of messy calculated mind control by hijacking “sacred” symbols of our modus operandi to subjugate those symbols through sheer mockery with a sense of humor. To make us question what the hell we’re doing and why. To beg us to PLAY.
At worst, it is one heck of a lot of fun.
thank you NeonBunny and Mein HARE for sharing the Hare-story for this post.
for more on Bunny Jam go to http://bunnyjam.com/