JRS Volume #6; Issue #34


Whoa! Yes, it’s true. Maid Marian is posting a Jack Rabbit Speaks. It proves that I am less busy once I hit the desert than I am for the rest of the year. For the record, I miss writing the JRS, but my workload was keeping me from producing them on a regular basis. Now, as I sit here in the office in Gerlach, Nevada..I have the time and impetus to pen a brief JRS.

Beautiful City and Weather:

4 days until the start of Burning Man 2002. Black Rock City is looking beeeuuutiful. It’s been Hot Hot Hot, however it just started to cool down a little today. We are expecting a change in the weather in the next few days, however it’s always cyclic out here. My favorite weather site… http://www.weatherunderground.com search for “black rock city” !!

My personal on-site be-here-now report is this: I’ve been here since late July, and 2 weeks ago it was SOoooo HOT that we were miserable. Evenings were mild, of course. It has, however, slowly begun to cool. This morning at 8:30 am it was 67 degrees. There was almost no breeze all day, and the temperature was lovely, whispy thin clouds kept it from getting HOT. Evening is starting to cool down. I’ll need a medium weight jacket tonight. Prepare for heat and cold, anyone who’s come to BMan over the past 4 years can confirm the vagaries and unpredictability of mother nature.

Playa surface is great. Possibly best we’ve seem in a few years. Bikes will be FINE over most of the city. Dust is not as severe as last year, but you all can do your part by not driving too fast on Gate road. Interestingly enough, there has been a breeze FROM the North during the past two evenings. That the opposite direction of the wind we typically experience. Conclusion on weather…it’s exhibiting characteristics we’ve experienced in other years, but not with any consistency to guarantee anything! Just what you wanted, huh!

Miscellaneous stuff:

David Best is back. This year it’s the Temple of Joy, and you can expect a spectacular burn on Sunday night. There’s a “treasure hunt” that includes theme camps and art installations, with a reward to reaching into the higher levels of the Lighthouse. Speaking of the Lighthouse, what a beautiful structure upon which you’ll find the Man. Architects and carpenters are likely to really appreciate the 12 sided structure with walls leaning inward at 15 degrees. So much work goes into so many wonderful projects, it’s hard to believe much of it burns! A project by Dadara from Holland arrived today. It’s a boat that was originally funded in that country for a river festival, and it’ll burn here. La Contessa the galleon upon which the Extra Action Marching Band will perform arrived yesterday. A massive octopus by Madagascar from NYC is being worked on as they have been for 3 weeks of 18-hour days. Those who have missed seeing Pepe Ozan and his elaborate projects will be thrilled to know he’s back with a beautiful project that looks partially like a fish and will be pulled by participants while performances happen on it’s back. And, then there’s the Duck. Octopi, galleons and ducks, oh my!

Sigh….I’m so glad to be home.

There are SOME important things I should remind everyone about…this year’s cool word is: “safety”. Burning Man is a place to push boundaries and experiment with your self and the world around you. For some that might mean teasing fate and flirting with danger. We’re not here to throw a wet blanket on your good time, but we’d like to keep everyone alive and healthy for as long on this earth as possible. It brings great pain to the organizers when we hear of a serious injury or death related to Burning Man. We recently received an email from a staff volunteer reminding us to emphasize safety issues in a JRS. Here are excerpts from her letter.



Kev and I were having a chat with Dave over pizza at Chez Pt. Richmond, and he suggested we write you with this suggestion for JRS. It’s not something we’ve seen before, and it’s never really come up in most of the BM circles we hang with or even in the survival guide, but I think it’s important information to include to the burners at large.

Every year, when the burns begin, some bright soul decides it might be fun to run over the burning coals. Now, we all know this is ill advised and we all know this is an A-Number-One way people get messed up at BM. The thing is, many people who get hurt aren’t usually the ones who take the first walk. It’s a crowd mentality thing: someone sees someone else do it, and then six or eight people do it until someone trips, goes head first into the fire, and gets carted off by medical. People only stop AFTER someone gets really hurt.

Sooo… maybe it might be a good thing to point out in a JRS… before they hit the playa and before they get themselves in a state where they aren’t thinking clearly… to let people know that playa coals aren’t like those you see firewalkers undertake in their backyards. There is usually a lot of debris, glass, nails, wire, corrugated metal from the burn platforms, two-by-fours and other hazards that cause people to lose footing and trip. Once you go down, you’re toast… literally. I’m wondering if it might be appropriate to make people aware that playa fires are not for firewalking because there’s a lot of things burning in those fires beyond coals. If we can get those first few people…if only one or two of them… NOT to take that initial walk, then others won’t follow. And if we can make an effort to let people know it’s a reallly, reallllllly bad idea, then you won’t have those people on the sidelines cheering them on and stirring the less-enlightened members of the crowd to make the run.

And if people recognize what a bad idea it is, the ones who are more sober can stop those who aren’t BEFORE they run across.

This has become a very big thing for us because last year we witnessed just this type of thing happen in the Mausoleum burn. All of a sudden, from around the crowd of those enjoying the embers, one guy ran across the coals. Then another. Less than a second later, three or four went. All the time, people around the fire watched and cheered. Then, finally, in a crowd of five or six, one guy tripped, fell on all fours, and then (as he) attempted to get up using his hands, he tumbled into the fire, again and again. Fortunately, we happened to have a five gallon jug of water with us, which we doused him and his hands with. The skin was peeling from his fingers to the bone as I poured the water over him. After medical carted him away, I had as close to a complete and utter mental break as I ever wish to have. I became completely hysterical. And you know me: I don’t get hysterical. Though I know this poor guy will have physical scars much deeper and painful than I can imagine, the mental scars that experience left with me (and many of the other witnesses that night) almost caused me to never attend BM again. It took me months of recuperating to get to a point where I can talk about it, and that came only by the grace of becoming e-pals with the best friend of the guy that died in the Dice Bar fire in a similar way…

So many people get hurt this way… and not just the ones who get burned. It’s sickening to see. It’s scary and horrifying and unspeakable… It’s what I imagine hell must look like. And, for the most part, it’s completely avoidable.

Anyway, just food for thought…

Love ya, grl.



I can confirm that there were two tragic burn incidents at Burning Man last year. Both the Dice and Mausoleum burns had careless participants involved in serious accidents. The man from the Dice burn did die of infection 8 days later. During exodus from the event on Sunday night before the Mausoleum burn, a man driving an overloaded trailer tried to regain control of his fishtailing vehicle and swerved into oncoming traffic and lost his life in the explosion that ensued. This is serious stuff folks. We’re all sad about these event-related losses. They can be avoided. YOU must remember to be self-reliant and cautious. Take care of yourself. You’re in a highly connective environment, and it’s designed to erase boundaries and give us cause to trust others. It’s a place to play and draw a new line in the sand for yourself. However, it is a city of 25,000 people. Use common sense. Be kind to others. Be safe. Be smart. Have fun!

Maid Marian


Burning Man
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