Media Mecca Musing From the Master of Flack

I know that millions of words have already been thrown like MOOPy glitter at the subject of Uncle Larry’s Family Reunion not happening in person this year. No Zoom will do. Since we are all such a creative cult of people, there must be a way around this, right? I know many are thinking, “By August everything is going to be semi-tolerable and even if Burning Man isn’t there, the playa still is. I think several thousand of my friends could peaceably assemble and it would be no big deal.”

That’s not going to work. Stay home and BRING no trace. I was there when Burning Man was only 5,000-ish, and it still created a mess that needed weeks of restoration. So please — and I don’t use this expletive lightly — Rainbow Gathering the place. Hijacking public land never ends well. Stay home, build a Lego Burning Man, make mini backyard burns or whatever it takes to distract yourself from that August urge to spawn.

This is coming from one of the least “burny” Burners you are likely to meet. I love Burning Man, but always with a lower case “love.” That said, this would have been my 24th consecutive year at Burning Man and 20th consecutive year building Media Mecca.

35 years of institutional Memory, Jim “ronjon” Graham (left) and Dennis “Flackmaster” Hinkamp (photo by John Curley)

What is Media Mecca? I think one of our first slogans was, “We cover your ass, so you don’t have to.” There is plenty of free nudity on the internet, why our hot dusty place to see it? Of course, our task was a lot easier when photos and videos were analog and there was no internet or cell coverage on the playa. Media Mecca continues to exist to discourage the media who want to monetize the event and encourage those who want to experience and explain the event. In other words, honest journalism. We are also the cliché police. There are only so many documentaries that people will watch on “first timers’ experiences” or “what the founders of Burning Man envisioned.”

Beyond media wrangling, one of the highlights of my year has been building Media Mecca. Since I started in 1997, the Center Camp structure has changed from a pile of dusty couches and carpets to near theme-camp artistry; generally taking a team of 10 people a week to build. Last year we decided that Mecca had been around so long that we would build a museum. If you saw it, Media Mecca was the really white thing near Census and Arctica. Inside were memorials to ancient recording devices and Media Mecca team members who have passed through this life.

2019 Media Mecca Museum build crew (photo by John Curley)

It is with much sadness that I reiterate, “please delete August 2020 playa from your COVID-19 freedom bucket list.” Just use the extra year to pack smarter and make all that art that you never got around to. Like other annual events, Burning Man just sneaks up on you. This time it will be sneaking up at half the speed.

I don’t want to leave you sad. I want to help. Remembering all those crappy times at Burning Man will help us get through this. I will dwell on all those meltdowns over two yards of plot space, the smell of porta-potties in the morning, the rebar wounds, everybody else’s annoying music, the uninvited naked guy, the entitled journalists, those two times I got pink eye from swimming in Pyramid Lake on the way in, all my tools destroyed by playa dust, the 10 days away from my dog, and that clown thing that ended up in the Pershing County court. I’m sure you have your own demons you can resurrect for de-inspiration.

Media Mecca Media Circus build crew, 2015 (photo by John Curley)

Anybody can make it through good times. The bad times are what strengthen our bonds. Here’s hoping for lots of awkward hugs in 2021.

Top photo: Dennis Hinkamp “contemplating” (photo by John Curley)

About the author: Dennis Hinkamp a.k.a. Flackmaster

Dennis Hinkamp a.k.a. Flackmaster

Dennis Hinkamp lives in Logan, UT. His playa name is Flackmaster, though he is using it less frequently. He would like to be remembered mostly for the conceptual art project Twinkie Henge and the many elegant iterations of Media Mecca.

23 Comments on “Media Mecca Musing From the Master of Flack

  • June Bug says:

    Hijacking public land? More like, there’s a real anxiety that a lot of people will go out to the playa for that week and call it, Burning Man… Just relax, man. Don’t worry about. Stay home and play with your Legos. What we do that week on the playa is out of your control. Let go of the ring. Stop calling Burners terrorists if they choose to hang out together on the playa. Sure, we’ll call it Burning Man and you’ll have to deal with missing a year, but we’re not going to shove it in your face. Just stay of Instagram for September.

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  • john curley says:

    Nice work!

    Stupid Covid.

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  • divoc91 says:

    Your opinion does not count because you are a white man.
    We real burners listen only to the opinion of black women.

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    • Skippy says:

      This is very true. BLM has taught me to check my privilege. I am woke! On the question of going out to the playa over Labor Day weekend, I consulted a black woman and she is also a lesbian and active member of BLM, so you know her opinion is gospel. She said, “Whatever! . So the party is ON.

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  • Stitch says:

    Thank you for being the Voice of Reason (or at least Reasonableness). If we just paused to think of others, this mess will be over sooner and we can once again responsibly gather in the dust. Until then, stay home, wash your hands, and wear a mask (it’s not as if you don’t have half-a-dozen or more).

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  • The public’s use of public land would be “hijacking” that land?

    How about, if Burning Man doesn’t get an SRP, then Burning Man gets no say over how the public uses ***its own land***?

    Your point is well-taken that 5,000 people on the land without any organization may well be a disaster. But whomever decides to take part in that disaster is free to do so *because* it is public land. If there is actually some kind of dangerous condition being created, I am confident the BLM is more than capable of issuing a closure order or taking other remedial action.

    Stop telling us what to do, and fuck your burn.

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    • MadMaxine says:

      OK, I just hope you clean up after yourselves as well as the Rainbow Gathering people do.

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    • Larry says:

      Also there was no permit for the first years of burning man. Larry and Danger and John and Cacophony were anarchistic. They didn’t pay until forced to. there’s no permit needed to camp on playa when black rock city isn’t there.

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  • sparkle donkey says:

    Can’t honestly think of many better things to do than to head to public land on Labor Day. Thanks for the reminder!

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  • Dennis says:

    thanks for reading

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  • murning ban says:

    …in my minds eye…I’m already there



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  • Hi Jack says:

    Was 97 the first year the playa wasn’t hijacked? All those hijackers before, they should be arrested for hijacking. Such hijackers.

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  • Juan says:

    Nice post Flackmaster!

    If last year we built a museum then this one will be invisible, and everyone is going to either like it or not, as always happen…

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  • Rio says:

    That clown thing????
    Oh yeah.
    “Comedian brutally attacked by clown at Burning Man”

    I’m no comedian but I’ve been attacked by a clown every year I’ve gone.

    Of course that happened.

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  • Artifex Felix Solarianus says:

    Best wishes, Flackman, and thanks for all your contributions and support to TTITD that we all love so much. See you next year.

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  • Larry says:

    Per the Woke internet Mob it’s ok to gather by the thousands, Blind people with lasers, attack, spread covid, burn , loot and destroy in every city in America. In Seattle and Portland for three straight months. And police don’t stop it. But should people DARE to Peacefully camp on Our public empty desert the woke mafia will tar and feather them. Fuck the politically correct do gooders and whiners. Law enforcement is busy with the rioters. If they aren’t Specifically tasked and paid they Won’t be harassing campers.

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  • Izzy says:

    Thanks Flakman. Helping build (well paint, really) media mecca 3 years in a row (2016 to 18) is among my best souvenirs on the Playa. I’ll be there in 2021 if COVID let us… Hang on to it.

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