A couple friends of mine went to Burning Man in 2005, just to see what it was all about. They crammed five in a sedan and drove to Nevada from Kansas armed with drugs, costumes, and sunscreen. I can’t remember if they said anything was remarkable about the experience besides the things one usually hears, but during their last days in attendance they noticed that the gigantic water trucks that had been stationed at various points throughout the festival grounds to help prevent dehydration deaths among the day ravers were missing. My friends learned later that the trucks—each sporting a tank containing thousands of gallons of water—had been summoned to New Orleans to provide water for victims and disaster workers in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which, unbeknownst to the tribes of Burning Man, had decimated the Gulf Coast the day before.
Tomorrow night at Maple Street Books “longtime journalist Steven T. Jones, aka Scribe,” will discuss his new book, The Tribes of Burning Man: How an Experimental City in the Desert is Shaping the New American Counterculture. I requested an advanced copy of the book from the publisher a couple months ago with the intent of interviewing Scribe about his fantastic adventures among the urban tribes and the experience of chronicling them in a narrative that demonstrated how steampunks have in some way become a sort of avant-garde movement, but then I got busy and figured I’d have trouble muffling my snickers anyway.
If you want to learn more about the exciting modern phenomenon of Burning Men and Women, Scribe will be at Maple Street at 6 p.m. and the event will feature wine and cheese. Then again, if you just want to see some kids on acid wearing goggles and riding their modified bikes around looking for scrap metal with which they can build industrial-scale sculptures, you can just go down to the Bywater.