Lovers! Heathens! Burning Man 2012 is upon us. This year, that means a record 60,000 attendees ambling out to the world's wildest, weirdest, most sublime neo-survivalist art/music/camping/self-expression festival in the Nevada desert. It's the 26th annual, and it's something to behold. What should you bring? What do you need to remember, if you go? Take it from me, a quasi-expert (nine burns and counting). Start by asking:
Do you have enough sunscreen? You do not have enough sunscreen. Not the right kind, anyway.
SPF 30 is not for you. Too obvious, too meek. Skip right by the SPF 50 and 75, too -- what do you think this is, Florida? What you need is about a gallon of something we regulars like to call WTF 100.
You read that right. Perhaps you've heard that the entire nation is in the midst of a record-breaking heat-wave/drought, scalding the earth from here to Greenland's disappearing ice sheets? Crops are dying, livestock are melting, air conditioners are making the energy barons very rich as global warming deniers look at their ugly shoes and mumble something idiotic about God's will and U.N. science conspiracies.
And you? What are you doing? You are leaving the naturally air-conditioned bliss of San Francisco to trudge out to the blistering Nevada desert to intentionally subject yourself to scalding conditions for multiple days at a time, a place where it's 100 bone-dry, desert-hot degrees in the daytime and plummets to 45 at night as your body goes, "WTF? WTF, times 100?" This is the protection you need. Try Costco.
Water? Do not even talk to me about water. You will need so much water out there that your bladder will be having a non-stop make-out session with your kidneys. You want to consume so much water you rinse all toxins away and "piss clear." This is the mantra of Burning Man. This is the requirement. (It was also the name of a scrappy, playa-only newspaper back in the day, printed every morning right there in camp and delivered around the entire site by beglittered women in leather and tasseled nipples. But never mind that now).
Out on the playa, you will need to hydrate more than you ever have in your life, because your body is working overtime to keep you alive as the leering sun whisks away moisture like the GOP whisks away hope. Also, all those hallucinogens and MDMA can make you a little thirsty. Goodness, did I say that out loud? Go ahead, pretend to be all shocked.
Speaking of hallucinating, no one will believe what you've seen out there. No one back home -- particularly your nervous relatives, particularly those friends who won't even see R-rated movies much less venture anywhere near nipple-pierced, flame-throwing festivals, particularly those Americans who sleep with Bibles or guns (or both) under their pillow for fear of attack by zombie Mexican drug rapist liberal dubstep DJs -- no one will understand what the hell you mean when you say you've seen a 10-ton neon cruise ship carrying 200 revelers float across the desert floor at 3:00 a.m., lit up by 4,000 LEDs and shooting fire 20 stories high and bouncing lasers off the moon.
Consequently? You need a camera. A real one. Trust me: your pathetic little cellphone will die out there like a whiny vegan in a Vegas steakhouse. Besides, you do not want to be whipping out your precious $400 iToy in brutal conditions like these.
Get yourself one of those indestructible, all-conditions point-and-shoots that can withstand the apocalypse as it snaps 30-second video clips of the dusty, full-moon pagan wedding ceremony you witnessed in the Temple before dancing all night and accidentally dropping the camera into the dust where it will be run over by a fire-breathing art car shaped like a giant serpent. Not to worry.
Do you have enough bungee cords? Rope? Rebar? Good. What about bidirectional filament tape? Do you even know what that is? It's OK; only perverts, heathens, gay-loving Satan worshippers and maybe a few learned book readers know that BFT is useful on the playa mainly to hold together the sturdy, industrial-strength cardboard panels of one's kinky, Burning Man-ready yurt.
What? Industrial yurts? Bidirectional perverts? Does it sound like I'm speaking a foreign language? That's because things like bidirectional filament tape, to much of America, are an abomination. Blasphemy. Should not exist. Real Americans only use unidirectional tape. It says so in the Bible.
What are you, an amateur? A sorority girl? Born yesterday? Real Burners know that you don't spend multiple hundreds if not thousands of dollars on supplies, water, transport, food, illegal stimulants and related delights (Burning Man tickets alone are $400 a pop now, if you can get one) to make this event happen, only to insult both your liver and the desert gods alike by imbibing, say, a case of Two-Buck Chuck or some magnums of Moet for the week. Playa, please.
Here's a tip: Plan your Burning Man vices like you would a very classy, very debauched wedding. At Charlie Sheen's house. On Mars.
Which is to say, defy and salute the ridiculous conditions by enjoying a mixed case of high-end Pinot, maybe some dry rosé or crispy Sauv Blanc. Add a bottle of Woodford Reserve, some Casa Nobles or 1921 premium anejo for late-night sipping. Top-shelf champagne is an excellent choice; bring a separate cooler.
Personally, I love to fill a classic leather bota bag with ice-cold junmai sake both for personal enjoyment and for squirting into willing but unsuspecting mouths as I stroll around center camp. Always good for a surprised look of delight.
Bottom line: this is not the place to hold back. This is not the place for cheap swill. You did not work this hard to get here only to subsist like a bloated frat guy on bologna and Pop Tarts and Coors Light. Besides, this way, as your camp offers free shots of Stoli/cranberry from a giant barrel to mostly naked 22-year-old hottie newbies riding by with their glittery bikes and wide-eyed wonder, you can smile benevolently as you chug Veuve Clicquot from a Nalgene bottle. Word...
Read the rest of this column by clicking here
Mark Morford is the author of The Daring Spectacle: Adventures in Deviant Journalism, a mega-collection of his finest columns for the San Francisco Chronicle and SFGate. He's also a well-known E-RYT yoga instructor. Join him on Facebook, or email him. Not to mention...