Some pics from Burning Bush, a gonzo gathering on 4th of July this year (2003) 50 miles or so from the site of Burning Man. The idea is it's so in the middle of nowhere that we'd be left alone, which turned out to be true, whoa. Here's some good off-site pics if you want some orientation on what the place looked like.
In theory there was an art car parade in Gerlach (the town on the outskirts of Burning Man) before the bush started to burn, but Gerlach is way in the middle of nowhere so it's not surprising that only like 5 art cars showed up. But what the hell, we don't need all that much to make a parade. I love Herman in a parade, first of all he can join pretty much any parade because people just assume he's offical, and he can u-turn on a dime, he practically pivots, so I can make all sorts of passes back and forth. So at the height of the pandemonium we had 12 people piled on Herman, dancing to Freak Out and other goofball disco classics, and there were actually families along the "parade route" waving as we passed. As it says in the Cushman manual, Herman can "drive slow enough to find trouble, and fast enough to catch it".
After the parade the plan was to drive out to Blue Wing Playa, an oval shaped dry lakebed probably like 10 miles long, which is 50 miles by dirt away from Gerlach. I'd had a bunch of beers at that point and didn't feel like loading Herman back onto the extremely janky trailer again, and there's something about driving Herman while drinking that I just love, and you don't get too many opportunities to do it, so what the hell, I decided to drive the 50 miles of dirt. I hope I get some pics of that, what a feeling,.Cybirk and I driving through the sagebrush desert in a Cushman blasting hip hop. Everyone expected him to need help (the Cushman, not Cybirk), but he was going 35mph easy (both Cybirk and the Cushman), pretty much his top speed, we actually passed a few people just for effect. And everyone was getting flats, and Herman has a floor jack, so instead of needing help, he was the helper. Who'd a thunk.
The above is a picture of Lester, my van, right after he rolled off the jack. Oops. It was funny, all through the weekend there was this feeling that if you want to be safe you really shouldn't be out here.
A bit down the road I was driving behind Karl in his fancy pants new Bug and suddenly we were in the thickest dust cloud I'd ever been in, visibility down to absolute zero and the wheels were getting bogged in the deep sand. We had lots of speed, like 30mph, but the sand was slowing us down quick, and Cybirk and I couldn't see anything at all, and something I'd never experienced before happened, it looked like we were actually tunneling thru the sand as clumps of it went up over the windshield. Hard to expain, but it wasn't cloud, it was more like earth. I was just praying Karl didn't stop or we'd give him a really good bash, and who knows, with the shape of the Bug's ass maybe we'd have even driven up on his roof before the action stopped. Anyway, we made it out alive, and so did Karl, but our air filter didn't, absoltuely clogged.
Finally, right at dusk, and looking like non-survivors of Pompeii, me, Cybirk and Herman pulled onto the Blue Wing Playa. One art car that was there but didn't make it to the parade is this incredible dragon called Draka, it's like 5 or 6 cars and vans hitched together to form a gigantic dragon, fully mobile and spitting humungous bursts of fire. Here's a pic (thanks hugely to Newt for the Draka pics and vids):
That's actually just the front of him, you have to imagine the other 4 or 5 sections. Really an incredible beast. And just under the burst of flame you can see his whiskers dangling, that's important to note for later.
Here's the view from the driver's seat. This is Saturday night in the long 4th of July weekend, pretty late, like 2 or 3am I think, not that anyone was using watches by this time. Pretty much everyone who was conscious was on Draka at this point, probably over a hundred people, dancing to the Extra Action Marching Band while Draka weaved all over the place. Suddenly Diamond pulls up in Herman, speeding by and giving everyone the finger and yelling "fuck you" all pissed off. Everyone took to it right away and was yelling back, firing all sorts of bottle rockets and roman candles at him, totally hilarious. I jumped on at the next stop, and we started circling around Draka, trying to grab at those whisker hairs...
Enter Herman. We're going a good 30 mph, and when we'd get right under Draka's nose we'd be blinded by lights so intense they looked like landing lights, or cop lights when you're pulled over. So we'd get right under Draka going pretty quick and look back into those lights and the noise and that humungous thing just behind that, and try to snatch a whisker hair and then BLAST everything would go stark white and hot and the flames would miss us by inches.
It's a good thing we were so unsober, or it would have been scary.
Pass after pass, us zipping by then watching the lumbering Draka make a giant u-turn on the wide open Playa. Then the bottle rockets start wizzing by again, and the roman candles would explode on the windshield. Then another pass at the whiskers, another blast of dragon breath.
This is pretty amazing, here's some video shot from the cockpit. Man I love this for so many reasons: HOLY SHIT, VIDEO (4 meg avi vid. Windows, right-click and save. I'm not sure what Mac folk should do.)
Some off-site links with Burning Bush pics:
Newt's page (thanks again for the Draka vs. Herman pics)
BurningBush.org (some great pics of Draka and in general)
Amacker's pics, including some great ones of Bordello Hotsprings, on the outskirts of the Black Rock desert.
And if you got pics of my Cushman in action, possible to send them over?