Category Archives: Homo sapiens

Walkin’ with buddies

XyloVan doesn’t usually do requests – we like to show up where we think people will have fun with us. But Jim Hodgson, a Burner alum, asked us to park at the Down Syndrome of L.A. Buddy Walk last weekend, and it turned out to be a nice experience. We gave a lot of kids smiles – probably the polar/thematic/social/atmospheric opposite of the playa. Here are a few snaps:

Xylovan at L.A. Burning Man Decompression Arts Festival

We’ll be there – come by and say hi (hi!), bang on the van, rock out.

You and yours (alllll ages) deserve a tasty slab of dust-free Burning Man culture – Decom runs all day today, noon to midnight.

And a huuuge amount of art, music, playa couture, activities for all ages … It’s a very good thing.

We’re in a pretty noisy neighborhood – should be an interesting sound-mixing challenge. Nice neighbors, though.

Right about here.

Packing up – and heading home

Sunday started out nicely enough – then quickly deteriorated to a headlong death march as the wind picked up over 25 mph and brought half the playa with it in dust-cloud form.

Biomass was a tremendous help playing roof-monkey – we pulled in all the rigging and began loading up the bikes and lashing them down.

Hitgirl – not yet possessed of a proper playa work ethic at age 9, despite this being her fourth burn – supplied attitude and hijinks. Not much help to the rest of us.

Before too long we had the carport stripped to a skeleton, then broken down to bones and skin and packed away for travel.

What I didn’t take pictures of was the rest of the evening. We had planned to head out to the temple burn, but the dust was pretty much unrelenting, the crew was contrary, pissy and cold, and in the end we just hunkered in center camp, sharing a cooler-emptying smorgasbord with a family of Boston-to-CarsonCity transplants (and 17-time burners) and a fellow in a thoroughly gorgeous jester’s outfit who spoke in a twee fancy voice and devoured all our pickles.

Perfect end to an epic burn.

Exodus was 2 hours, and we were back in L.A. by mid-day Monday, the maiden voyage a ripping success.

Except for having murdered Hitgirl’s bike on Tuesday with the van. Fail.

Post-burn chilldown

Here are a few clips from XyloVan’s final hours on the playa – from just before the burn on Saturday night to just afterwards – and then a bit from Sunday morning before we began packing in earnest.

Seeing all these people play again while I was editing the clips (and I mean play, as curious, rhythmic humans, not as professional musicians) – was deeply satisfying.

I’m in the first clip – and really very joyful, despite the glum exterior. Building this vehicle, bringing it out and igniting people’s passions with it has been simultaneously deeply fulfilling and raw, bareknuckled fun.

The second-to-last clip is one of my favorites, a view of the van from inside our camp, where you can hear – but not see – the people playing Keyboards 2 and 3 on the other side of the vehicle, as it glitters in the dark.

XyloVan on Burn night – a blessing of flame and ashes, or What’s It All For?

At some point we all seek meaning in our lives.

Some dive into religion headfirst, damning all who fail to follow them and shaming the very values they claim to hold dear. Others plunge themselves into work, drugs, sex, gaming – or even a quiet spirituality that has little to do with god or gods.

But the more we learn, the more obvious it becomes that our time here is limited, so we all run around willy-nilly trying to either ignore death or plug into what we perceive to be immortality.

I guess I’m somewhere between those two camps. Raised Catholic, I walked away from the Church at 20 when I learned how deeply soaked in blood, money, power and misogyny the institution itself really is. I try to keep what really matters from that dogma close – love, respect, charity, empathy – and I do believe the communal energy that humans share is something approaching divine.

But mostly, I think we’re just plain lucky to be alive on this pinprick of light somewhere in the belly of a small galaxy in a massive universe – and we’d better spend our time making the most of it for ourselves and those around us before the light goes out.

That’s why I built this thing – and it has paid me back a hundredfold.

Burning Man – the raw creativity, the debauchery, the noise, the ritual of torching the man on Saturday night – is not a religion. It’s a relentless, if Brigadoon-brief dedication to life and to art and to each other.

If that’s not a crystalline kernel of meaning, a reason for living that’s worth throwing hundreds of hours of your life and thousands of dollars of your hard-earned money at, worth slicing your fingers open, filling your nose with aluminum dust, depriving yourself of sleep, worth stomping through hellacious dust storms and standing close enough to the fire to hurt, well then I’ve probably missed the Entire Point. Let me know what that is, soon as you can figure it out.

Meantime, I always liked Bill Hicks‘ little riff about the purpose of educating each other – “so that we can all learn, evolve and get the fuck off this planet.”

And with that thought close to mind, here are the videos of the Burn. Enjoy: