Home > Uncategorized > The billion bunny march and more

The billion bunny march and more

September 1/Day 46. This morning the dust has settled and the air is clear and cool, with just a slight breeze coming from the northeast. I take to my bike, not even bothering to bring along the goggles and respirator, only water.

I revisit many of the art installations I could see yesterday only through the dust, and I ride all the way to the “outer playa,” an area extending about a mile beyond the temple and bounded by orange industrial fencing whose construction was mandated by the BLM, the government agency responsible for

A lonely cinema

much of the public land in Nevada. Even out at this distance there are unexpected art installations. One is a cinema about the size of a large shipping container that actually screens movies, popcorn and all.

My greatest fascination, though, is with the people. Many are dressed in the most elaborate and outlandish costumes imaginable. One committed Burner named Chip Conley is the executive chairman of a company that operates a

Dressed for success

number of boutique hotels throughout California. Others are artists, dental hygienists, bankers, and so on. The general rule at Burning Man, however, is anonymity. It’s a place where people can come to try out their alter-egos, where the social norms of the so-call “default world” don’t apply.

To many, Burning Man is the outward manifestation of an inner acculturation that has its roots in a New Age ethos. I’m surprised, for example, at the number of toddlers I see happily tagging along with their obviously committed parents, who are consciously exposing their children to a lifestyle that will mold them as thoroughly as consistent Sunday school did me—perhaps more so because of its profound immediacy.

Another profound characteristic of Black Rock City is its evanescence. It

Clothes make the man...or woman

appears virtually instantly once a year on the playa, offset a mile or two by the BLM in order to allow the desert to be reclaimed fully by natural forces. One day there is nothing; the next there is a community of 50,000 people, complete with infrastructure such as sanitation, medical care, police, an airport, newspaper, etc.

Next week it will all vanish. Volunteers will remain for up to a month cleaning up MOOP (Matter Out of Place) which ranges from bicycles to ice

Nice bike

chests to the smallest piece of plastic left in the sand. Metal detectors will sweep the area, locating tent stakes, coins, lids from cans, etc. By the time the winter rains have come and gone, all traces of the City will be obliterated and the desert will again be pristine. The impermanence of the city alone makes the experience almost magical.  Now you see it; now you don’t.

One of the basic tenets of Black rock City is self-reliance; you must bring all your own food, water, shelter and other necessities. Any need you have you are expected to barter for, or have “gifted” to you. Use of cash is not forbidden, but is seriously frowned upon. Finally, you are expected to clean up after yourself, to remove everything from your campsite when you leave, trash and all. Not everyone follows this cardinal rule perfectly, but enough do that the BLM has so far permitted Burning Man to return year after year.

Dale, Samuel, Gary

Last night Samuel, Gary and his longtime friend Dale, and I went to the Billion Bunny March. In this annual event, thousands of Black Rock citizens don bunny costumes, or at least bunny ears, and converge on a geodesic dome about 20 feet high to re-enact the battle in the movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome where, to quote, “Two men enter, one man leaves.” In the playa version the paraphrase is “Two bunnies enter, fourbunnies leave,” a comic reference to the reproductive capacity of rabbits. At any rate, a mock battle ensues with combatants suspended by bungee cords within the dome, flailing away at each other with foam rubber bats until a winner is declared. I know it sounds weird. It is.

Bunnies

The spectacle continues until a pro-carrot contingent, which shows up seemingly out of nowhere, begins to protest that they are not food for bunnies. Then a wolf splinter group intercedes and begins to chase the rabbits. All very silly, to be sure, nevertheless on a certain level a reenactment of the dog-eat-dog “default” world.

Strangely, I end the day feeling lonely and a little depressed, in spite of the fun. There’s nothing that makes me feel more alone than to be among a crowd of people, no matter how good-natured and accepting they may be. By myself on a mountain trail, or somewhere solitary in the vastness of a desert, I never feel that sense of loneliness that sometimes overwhelms me in a throng of people.

Gary with bunny

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Anonymous
    August 7, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Hi – I’d like to use your lonely cinema photo for a presentation I’m doing – would that be ok?

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