Burning Man 2014

Burning Man 2014

 dusty playa
Hi there, It’s probably best to convey my 14th Burning Man to you now while it’s fresh rather than wait till the 11th, so, here goes.

After a Spring and Summer where I wasn’t doubting for a second that I’d be attending this year’s Burning Man, I suddenly got a very strong NO from the universe with about a week to go before the event. I earnestly talked to friends about the 500 reasons I didn’t want to attend; and it literally felt like there were that many reasons and more not to go. I may compile those reasons at some point, but to continue the story, I had a visit from Mr. Yes and that turned me around on the Thursday before the weekend we were to leave for the playa.

Mr. Yes? Why, yes!  One night, I turned off my phone, put it down, hopped on my bike, and started riding southeast from my house. During that ride I had the idea that I could adjust my course and visit a massage place that I’d heard about on 82nd and Division – a walk-in place. Well, that course adjustment and my subsequent excellent full-body massage for $20 reminded me of some of what I love about Burning Man – the opportunity to change course at will for something that caught my fancy. Sonad (“Spinning on a Dime“) as my friend, Abigail, pointed out! So, after my Mr. Yes visit, I decided that building my business could wait; that Eecole had arranged the most amazing transport/living situation I’d ever experienced at Burning Man; and that I could travel to Burning Man with my favorite person in the world, Eecole. Best friend, partner of almost 9 years – why would I not want to do this?

The Egg
The Egg

So, away we went!  Trailer (we called it the egg) lent to us by our friends, Dwight and Nicole; massage table; tons of food; clothes; bikes – we got going on Saturday. First up was an overnight at Summer Lake Hot Springs (one of my favorite places on the planet) where we pulled in by the lake/pond and had our first night of sleep in the Egg. Delightful. Quiet. The next day we cruised to Burning Man, spent 3 hours in line and another hour trying to figure out where to park ourselves. Then, we hopped on our bikes and cruised the playa for a couple hours and arrived. That night we also stopped by to visit our Portland friends Bob, Sam, and Ted who brought their amazing art car – Pipes of Passion (NSFW), to the playa. We had thought about camping with them, but their neighborhood was full of art cars/noise – so, instead, we plopped ourselves down in the quiet burbs of K & 7:50.  This is also one of my favorite areas to camp over the years as it’s a great place to watch the sunset – as it’s almost all the way out on the Western edge of things – facing some dear mountains. 

Playa sunsets rock  

Early Monday morning we heard the crashing sounds of thunder and lightening! 3-4 times – and then, Rain!!!! If you know anything about the Black Rock Desert, you know that rain can make the surface very clompy – and make it impossible to move about – especially with vehicles. We rushed outside, and brought in some of the things that could get damaged, and then went back to sleep. When we woke again and looked outside it was cool, and damp. We couldn’t easily leave, so just slept some more 🙂  But for thousands of Burners, this was a very hard time – many theme camps couldn’t keep building their infrastructure – art projects were stalled; and thousands of people were halted at the entryway to the playa – where a small lake had formed. Many had to wait in their vehicles for 24 hours until they were given permission to come in! Those who were along the road coming in were advised to travel back to Reno and try again the next day!

Burning Man Is Closed 2014 Part 1
Burning Man Is Closed 2014 Part 1

One result of the rain and the fact that Monday arrival didn’t happen was that the playa was quieter than I’ve experienced it since my first year in 2000 (after the rain that year :)(see above video). It also meant that the streets were not filled with cars trying to park; ports-potties were easily accessible and clean from the day before. It was really noticeable difference. We spent the morning setting up camp and then the rest of the day tooling about the open playa and enjoying the art and car-empty streets. This led me to think that it might be a good idea for Burning Man to try staggering the entrance, on purpose.  2 days on, 1 day off, would really make a big difference.

Burning Man 2014 Walks on the Playa
Burning Man 2014 Walks on the Playa

Burning Man this year was different from other years in many ways. For the past couple years there have been a huge influx of 1st-timers (virgins). Just like any activity, it’s useful to know the “rules” and Burning Man sends all ticket-holders a beautifully-written Survival Guide (after all you’re entering some very harsh conditions – hot during the day, cold at night – possible storms…) that really should be required reading by all. By now, I could probably write the guide in my sleep; but for those who have never read it and show up at Burning Man it’s very easy to hurt yourself, hurt others or make big mistakes. Note: leave your car keys, passports, valuables at your camp – don’t take your phone to a rave 🙂

Playastan Crossroads!

On the plus side the event has continued to attract beautiful, interesting, gigantic pieces of art (and incredible thinkers, dreamers, revolutionaries, and the curious). And there’s nothing like plying the playa by bike and seeing specs in the distance suddenly turn into art before your eyes. And the backdrop of the Black Rock Desert is the greatest gallery that could be imagined – dusty or not. This year was not a huge dust year. It was a big heat year, though. Traveling around during the day I felt my back getting fried at times. Luckily, there are great camps like Northwest Mist, which provide a respite from the heat and light.

This year’s PO9

One of the things that guided me this year was my understanding of how to use mail at Burning Man as a guide. I’m overdue to write up the history of the Postal System at Burning Man. If you’ve been reading my thoughts over the years, you know I’ve been involved in this “theme camp” since 2002. This year I decided to retire, and instead used the Burner Map appto locate my friends and create cards to lead me to them. Each day I’d pull out some cards and travel to the camps listed – sending myself as post, in a way. I visited people I am friends with on FB, only, and people I work with. I got to visit Carrie Katz, who I lived with on Kibbutz Urim in 1979 and hadn’t seen since! That was certainly a highlight. She’s become a professional songwriter and is also out there changing the world like me!

Burning Man - the Man
Photo by Eecole

I had a hard year. I often say “this is my last year” or “I’m not going“, but this time, I really think I’m done. Though Burning Man is an incredible experience, I may have gotten what I need from the event after 14 years of going and it’s probably time for me to move on. It also can just be incredibly challenging to go, set up one’s camp, participate intensely and endure the conditions. This year felt harder on my body than year’s past. Maybe I’m just getting older 🙂

That said, wow – the lessons one can learn from going are quite incredible. I often say to people it’s like getting a graduate education in a week. Part of my excitement about the number of virgins going is that I hope they will learn some of what is offered and not just waste their time there. You can often learn lessons so quickly at Burning Man. Also, with a collection of so many smart people; artists; musicians; makers; you learn so many interesting references that it can take you a year just to follow up on all of the great ones. And, it can be super fun. And funny.  And sexy. And smart. And uplifting.

Being a part of a gifting economy for a week – I don’t know anywhere else on the planet where one can experience that.  Do you?

El Pulpo and Mini Pulpo
El Pulpo!

We left before the Burning of the Man. It’s something I’ve been doing for the last 3 visits to the playa. It leads to not having any lines on the way out and for some beautiful sunsets on the way North. This year we stopped overnight in the Modoc National Forest which I’d been wanting to do for years. Though we were a bit fried, we did not swerve for bunnies (which is one way people die leaving the event each year) – sorry, Mr. Bunny. We also did not swerve for a skunk. Sorry, Mr. Skunk. 

On the second day heading back to Portland, we overnighted outside of Sisters, Oregon and woke up to see the sunrise at the 3 Sisters Wilderness area – see these pictures – it was one of the most beautiful mornings and this lava bed area is worth a visit.

Dee Observatory near Sisters, OR

Dee Observatory near Sisters, OR

Today we finally finished cleaning the Egg and returned it. 

I’m so appreciative for the opportunity to make this pilgrimage each year. It’s such a luxury. If you have never been, you might want to try it, sometime 🙂  Tickets go on sale in the Spring. Also, there are a lot of ways to travel to Burning Man as a volunteer.

I’ll probably be writing a lot more about Burning Man 2014 because I think the event is at a crossroads. I’d love to see it continue to retain some of its greatness, but I think it can only do that if the people who come get a little more educated about what it is before arriving.  And, the numbers of people are also causing some challenges – this year there were about 70K people which stresses various systems. When I first went in 2000, we were 20K!

If you went to Burning Man this year, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts, and if you have any feedback about my reflections, please write back! Happy decompressing!

OK, enough about Burning Man! I’m home, back in Portland!  I’ll be speaking this coming Wednesday, September 10th, at the Alberta Rose Theatre as part of a marketing mega-event from 9-12 – come on out or tell your friends who are small business people to come! I also have a free class I’m doing with Heather Fulton, on September 24th about the use of Social Media – details below.

Also, a while back I learned about the Garcia Birthday Band (GBB) and thought they’d be fun to dance to in a ballroom.  Join me this coming Friday for the first (and I hope first of many!) time the GBB will be playing at the Village Ballroom!

I hope all is going well in your world and that you’re enjoying yourself and nurturing yourself.

Sincerely,

 

Albert Kaufman

“Nutmeg Alfredo” (my playa name)

 

Gray
Albert Kaufman

Upcoming Events

Social Media Marketing for Small Business Success

Wednesday September 24, 2014 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM PDT

Come learn about social media from local expert, Albert Kaufman. This presentation is a guide for small businesses or nonprofits who have been using social media marketing, but need some tips to take them to an intermediate level and/or add new channels to their marketing efforts. Heather Fulton, Social Media Worldwide, will also be speaking – see link above for more information about Heather! 

Uptown Billiards – Coffee and drink service available. Also, so many people responded positively to the idea of having lunch together after class – that we’re definitely on!  

Heather Fulton

Moving Time!

sunflowersHello, and welcome to this month’s The Eleven, my monthly e-letter.

Have you ever had a destination in mind but had to complete many tasks before you could get there? That’s how this edition of the 11 has been for me. Whew, and I’m there and ready to write!!!!  First, the news.

Yes, after 3 years of happy clamming I’m going to take my show on the road and relocate to … Southeast Portlandia. Yes, I know, you were possibly expecting something a little more exotic, but actually, living in SE Portlandia is pretty frigging awesome, and I can’t wait to get there. I left Burning Man this year partly to get a head start on the moving process, cause I’m so jazzed! I’ll be over in the Division/44th/Stumptown/Village Merchants section of town – the house has a great porch and I’ll be living with two women I’ve known for a good long time. I’m looking forward to a quieter neighborhood and closer proximity to work and and and!
And, doesn’t it seem like life is speeding up a bit, lately? Between Syria, Climate Change, the R’s bringing us to the brink of not having a government budget, and traffic speeds increasing (at least that’s my sense) it just feels like the pace is quickening. Which is why it’s great that this calming site exists 🙂 Go ahead, take a minute or two 🙂
shoes post burn 2013
shoes post burn

In fact, this has been my lesson from Burning Man this year – which if anyone who can help is listening – WAS WAY WAY WAY TOO LOUD.  We take some of the most intelligent people on Earth; bring them to an incredibly beautiful part of the world; fill that space with amazing art; and then drown everyone in a sound mush that is so abrasive that I don’t think I’ll ever go back again. My 13th year was so loud that I think my system has been completely overloaded and I’m having a very hard re-entry. What?  And, if you’re interested in links to pictures/videos, let me know – I have a great list, because of course, this was also the best year ever. Yeah, it’s like that out there…

One of my favorite parts of this year’s Burn was actually our SideBurn – time spent with friends at Summer Lake Hot Springs in Paisley, Oregon.
I’m finally finding work that I am passionate about – teaching social media and email marketing to small biz people. If that’s you or someone you know I have a bunch of classes (mostly free) coming up – look to the right. I’d love you to refer me to people, thanks!
I hope your life is full of love, laughter, surprises, dance, magic and lots of touch. If you haven’t seen the video on touch put out by my friends, please have a look. Make sure you get plenty of hugs, rest, healthy food and I’ll speak with you soon,
With gratitude for life’s abundance,
Albert Kaufman

Upcoming Events

Facebook for small businesses – You Can Do It!

Come learn how to promote your small business via Facebook – I’ll help you take out the frustration and add in the fun! – Monday, Sepember 23rd, 9am-12pm – $30

1823 NE 13th Avenue

—————–

The Power of Email Marketing

Monday October 14, 2013 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM –Free

This information-packed seminar will demonstrate how email marketing can really help drive business success.

Holladay Park Church of God

—————–

Getting Started with Email Marketing

Tuesday November 12, 2013 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM –Free

This is a guided discussion about how email marketing works and how to get up and running.

Holladay Park Church of God

Sarah
Sarah is my favorite comedian
todays’ soundtrack brought to you by my new friend, Spencer. He gifted me with a collection of dance hits from the 70s – got me shaking my head while writing this, Keep on Truckin! yeah!  
Albert and Sunflowers 2013
The sunflowers are doing well this Summer – click on the pic to learn more about my sunflower project

First Burning Man on Mars?

Burning Man on Mars

The view from here

Man on Mars at night

Leave it up to my Burning Man friend, Larz, who is a master with the photoshop. He shared this link with me yesterday – a moveable panorama from Mars, and my first thought was, “let’s put a man on Mars!”  Here’s the outcome 🙂  Enjoy!

Click images for much larger (desktop background size) images!

On the move on Mars with the Man

Man on Mars – he gets about

Man on Mars

1st Man on Mars – On top of the “world”

First Man on Mars

First “man” on Mars!

If you’re packing for Burning Man, a couple quick reads

This one by Mark Morford of the San Fran Chronicle (I recommend subscribing to his weekly column…) is very good.  And then there’s this… for those staying at home, but a reminder to those going to Burning Man, too 🙂

From Aspen Madrone, goddess.  “As I feel you all prepare for the burn, embody the words of Mo Lohaus. may i burn the man at home this year”

may i burn the man at home this year may i finally become a full participant
may i kick the culture consumption habit cold turkey and get on with resonating funky genius and vulnerable enthusiasm

on my
own channel, 24-7
may i see every public space as center camp and roll around on the ground with strangers lovingly and with worshipful presence
as we contact one-in-other
may i strut my feathers and leathers and muppet cape
and naked benevolent childish soul everywhere i go
feeling fully in character
may i trick out my apartment like a theme camp and invite people in off the street
to lavish them with exorbitant gifts
of presence and affection, lovingly prepared because i can
because i am rich and overflowing and giving is why i am here
may i share shattering rock-bottom truths
with everyone, as casually as tea
like old lovers with nothing left to prove or improve on in the utter safety of the silky oscillation
between me and we
may i strip the locks off my heart and hold open house
with everyone i meet on the bus in line for groceries
or at the gas station
granting them the hallucinated embellishment of fur, goggles, nudity and dust
and allowing myself full excitement
and wonder at who they might be
may i look past the surface
and see into everyone
recognizing pirates
alien ambassadors, superheroes and translucent mermaids
may i call my campmates
or show up at their houses
as easily and shamelessly
as i might wander up to their tents
and never need a reason
for pressing my nose on their cheek
or for flopping on the couch and snuggling
may i love fully, fluidly
everyone who pulls me deeper into living and put away any residual shame
about how my love looks
remembering: we’re in the desert!
remembering: we’re dusty and unkempt and beautiful! remembering: we are mad ones and saints and divas all and there is no expectation of tidiness
remembering: there will be grit and friction, there always is,
but in the cathartic blessing
of our meeting and self-discovery
no one notices
remembering most of all
that my emotional nudity is my ticket to the event past the gate and greeters
to unity and a friendly universe
and is always honored and gratefully received
may i hallucinate freely
seeing volvos as giant bunny slippers and hondas as mobile cupcakes
may i notice the installations of genius and wild vision
all about me
may i see the dreams made real in my daily built world
may i touch the wide round belly of the pregnant possible
with both my hands
may i witness those around me
strutting their beauty and hope
their frailty and unfinishedness
and quirky unique poised artful
equilibrium above the abyss of judgment and may i yell out my approval, and applaud
may i witness the gifting that happens
every moment
the trade of glances, smiles and kind words
that are as quenching and comforting
in this daily wasteland of formality and alienation as popsicles and mist baths ever were
may i burn the man every day
may i take his idealized ass down
may i take the icon of who i am supposed to be and gently release him to flame
may i take his habits, opinions, head noise timidity and ego-protective arrogance and lovingly douse them with gas
this is my religion,
humbly, devotedly, and persistently performed: THAT MAN will BURN
may i build the temple every morning
and honor and celebrate
those who have sung the song of my life, who have held my life
like their own dear infant in their arms
may i build the temple every morning
and be awestruck by its beauty every day as i smear it with prayers and tears,
and then at dusk
release it in holy smoke
may i smell it burn
and know that that was it: this one day was my whole life and it is over
and if i am blessed to wake once more…
may i do it all again
more fiercely, more passionately
more graciously, goofily and generously
until my life measures up
to the love i feel
as i walk, bike or ride an octopus through the eternal city of dreams in which my soul is at home
mo lohaus www.lohaus.mobi
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