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The "Free Mass Shower"

Art installation consisting of an interactive water fountain, by the Tomales Bay Explorers Club. Other working titles for our theme camp included "Mass-Wedding Shower," "Tidepool Scum Camp," or "Baywatch Camp." The shower was a reprise of our 1996 theme camp, also called the Free Mass Shower.

Free Mass Shower 1

More, more, and more. naked, mud-covered participants.

Proposals for next year include the "Mobil-Unit Spritzer-Kar" (MUSK), which will roam Black Rock City spreading Chanel No. 5 and Old Spice. The MUSK unit will shave, scrub, detail, and then perfume all body and chassis surfaces. All waste water will be treated and reused to water the palm trees which will be planted in the center divider of the Esplanade next year.

Camp concept, structures, and operations by Karl, Steve, Bob, Dave, Russ, Brad, Paul, Mike, Karin, Meredith, Paul, Andy, what's-her-name, and what's-his-name. Thanks to Mauricia for the palm trees, and the copy of this article from the Brazilian magazine "Época."


BeYonder Camp

At the far south edge of Black Rock City, BeYonder Camp built a fabric-over-wood rocket ship armed with an array of weapons like the Spanish Inquisition, the chief element among them being surprise.

Very Large Array

Aaron Ferrucchi's Very Large Array, beyond BeYonder Camp, emitted sounds natural and imagined from a field of an hundred speakers planted in the playa.

Chinese Junk

Far off in the southwest, Steve Heck created a ghost ship out of discarded goods.

Pedal Camp Steel

Pedal Camp's steelworkers made dozens of steel-drum woodstoves for the Black Rock City Department of Public Works, to protect the lakebed surface from burn marks from open fires. Oh, and they built crazy bicycles, too.

The Cafe

The Cafe was the most satisfying project I've been involved with, despite some tragedy. Many volunteers helped Mauricia and me on the Cafe - - we love you all and thank you so much.

Rain and aftermath

The rain that sprinkled the playa on Saturday came back and poured down Monday and Tuesday, leaving our tent stranded on an island in Lake Lahontan. Karl the fence-builder abandoned his mushroom tent for a dry room downtown. We finally got a tow from Tom, a local mechanic. Oddly enough, Tom missed the entire event, but towed many people out afterward, and stayed on as a mechanic for the Project.

pic-black rock rain, 1998, photo by sabine
by the shores of Lake Lahontan


The heart and soul and shining morning face of Burning Man is the crew of roustabouts, roadies, welders, and wood butchers that raises the framework of Black Rock City and takes it down after the tens of thousands go away -- the Department of Public Works has become a name for absolute heroism in the face of weather and adverse circumstance that would peel the face off of a stone idol and leave it trapped in a world we never made. They come to the western desert, the Great Basin on which little water drops, and from which no water flows, in the heat of mid-summer, tattooed bags of bones wearing bare black rags and steely sinews, from Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, LA, San Francisco, and dozens of little burgs that pounded and pushed them from van to squat to cobwebbed warehouse, wraiths who could only populate a ghost city in a hellish valley of dust devils and silty sinkholes, abandoned by God, rejected by Man, but drawn to the silence and clear horizons and sagebrush fires in a circle of new-found friends. Somehow, in a few weeks time, over the polyhedral patterns of an ancient forty-mile-long dead-level basin filled with the aluminosilicate grit washed from desert canyons stretching over millions of acres and millions of years, they scribe an annulated cyclopean geometry of avenues and courtyards for the Grand Event. The Citizens arrive and raise a more tame variety of Hell, DPW kicks back for week... and then they clean up. Not without breakfast, of course.

Mandy serving pancakes, 1998

Creatures great and small

Wheezer, an abandoned kitten, found Lexie and me near the Grant Ranch north of the playa. We gave her a name like her voice when she first called to us from the sagebrush.


With pebbles.


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