We’re a little out of words, because Black Rock City lost a good friend yesterday, and hearts are heavy. The pictures will have to do the heavy lifting.
But we’ll say this: The bugs are gone.
Ok, not every last stinking one of them, but pretty much. The swarms have dried up and blown away. People are working unmolested. Nature has run its course.
Yes, it was true, unknown bugs of mysterious origin showed up by the thousands or millions in Black Rock City over the past week, but the heat and the dryness have taken their toll. Larger insects came along, too, and there were plenty of smaller bugs for them to eat. Yesterday morning, we saw a small flock of birds down by the Depot, no doubt drawn to the area by the plentiful insect diet.
Please, though: The birds were not massing in Hitchcock-ian numbers. They did not line the trash fence, nor did they swoop and dive on us as we entered the commissary.
They were simply here to play their part in the natural order of things. The smaller get eaten by the larger. The heat ended the infestation as quickly as it appeared, and the inches-high mounds were blown away by the desert wind.
There were none at the Depot, none at the Center Café, none at the Man Base, none at the Temple, none at any of the places we visited a couple of days ago.
It’s all over. You can resume your packing. Sure, throw in some bug spray, because you never know, it could happen again.
(And it could rain. It could flood. It could be freezing cold or blisteringly hot. We could get dust storms. Winds could reach 100 mph. We could be stranded for days. And listen: We are not making any of this up. We are not hyperbolizing. Be prepared. Always be prepared when you come here. It’s called radical self reliance.)
It was pretty interesting, though, to NOT be a part of the media yesterday, but also to be a part of it, as the story. Just from the things we saw or heard about, our little report on bugs in the desert got picked up by CNN, SFGate, Gawker, Mashable, Rawstory, NBC News, Vanity Fair, Channel 4 in San Francisco, just to name the ones we
It was fascinating to see how the different outlets presented the same basic information, mostly based on the same slim details provided here. We were soooooo happy not to be a part of the 24-hour news cycle, where the identical facts are hashed and rehashed and then regurgitated again. We feel sorry for the lost souls who have to write and rewrite the sketchiest outlines of a story into headlines they hope will grab an eyeball or two. (Attn: lost souls: we say that lovingly; we’ve done the same or worse ourselves, many times.)
Most of the outlets used quotes just plain lifted from the blog. This was supplemented with Twitter posts and pictures. There was little, if any, additional reporting. Most of the outlets also used the photos we posted here, without asking permission (those that did ask were denied, according to Communications Director Megan Miller). By the way, the photos are copyrighted, with rights jointly held by me and the Burning Man organization.
We’d be assembling a legal team if we didn’t already know that the normal and customary fees for what would likely be called “freelance submissions” range all the way from nothing to about fifty or a hundred bucks. You don’t get the big money doing journalism.
So what the hell. It’s fine. It was a good story and lots of fun, even if it did throw a scare into people. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened.
But it was also predictable. After all, it’s Burning Man. You know, naked hippies high out of their minds, running around looking for the next person to have sex with. Then you add pestilence, and by damn god you’ve got a Biblical tale. God hath wraught fire and brimstone down upon Sodom and Gomorrah. It was a hard one to pass up. And very few outlets did.
(My favorite piece appeared on NBC.com. It used the same set of quotes and attributed them to “Burning Man organizer John Curley.” Burning Man organizer! Hey, I should get a raise!)
Anyway, the storm has passed. Little has changed. Life goes on.
And we don’t need any stinkin’ fire wraught upon our heads. We have our own fire, and plenty of it.
Loren out at the Temple had a good idea. “We’re gonna have a petting zoo,” she said. “Granted, it’ll be mostly insects.” But they could also include ravens, scorpions, black widow spiders, rabbits, seagulls and at least one owl, because we’ve seen all of them out here or in town in the past few weeks.
Nature. We love it.
And watch for the headlines appearing soon.