01 September 2007

"His Friends Thought He Was Doing An Art Piece"

I've never had a lot of time for the Burning Man yuppiefest in the Nevada desert. Very possibly that's because of a lack of open-mindedness on my part (you'll note that I dub it a yuppiefest without ever having been there, and that in fact I'm simply repeating an insult initially lodged against the event a decade or more ago). On the other hand, I decided long ago that I could spare neither the time, money nor inclination to investigate further.

All I know is that virtually everything I've ever read or heard about Burning Man has led me to believe that too many of its participants are drug-addled dingbats for me to have any chance of enjoying myself in their presence. And I thought along these lines even in the long-ago days before I had given up drugs myself. Nearly every quote I've read has focused on the Burners' (Burnouts, more like) predilection for elevating the banal and tedious into the profound and insightful, a surefire sign that copious amounts of marijuana and other psychedelics have been running amok in what otherwise might function as serviceable brains.

Apparently not everyone in attendance is completely loopy, though, at least if this article is to be believed. Some of the parties involved manage to sound pretty ditzy nonetheless, abstinent from drugs or not, which reminds me of an old saying about alcoholics: "You can take the booze out of a fruitcake, but you've still got a fruitcake on your hands."

Anyway, I've stopped paying much attention to the event in recent years, but I couldn't help noticingthis particular story: apparently some hapless camper hung himself and nobody bothered cutting his dangling corpse down from its makeshift gallows because they assumed it was some sort of art installation.

Another awkward issue: apparently the brain trust/corporate interests behind Burning Man are undergoing an agonizing examination of their collective conscience over whether the festival was in danger of being taken over by big business interests. With its patrons forking over an average of $200 a pop for the privilege of spreading a sleeping bag out on an otherwise godforsaken desert, the concepts of barn doors and bolting horses inevitably come to mind, but according to this story in the organization's in-house PR sheet (which, remarkably, doubles as the daily "newspaper' for the greater San Francisco Bay Area, such is indeed the case.

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