I went to Burning Man ‘97 with a loose collective of friends, acquaintances and strangers, about thirty in all, from the Center of the Universe known as Fremont, a funky neighborhood in Seattle.

I flew to Reno on the Wednesday before Labor Day weekend and spent the night at the Silver Legacy Casino where, earning my living as a master laserist, I had to document Laser Fantasy International’s laser show on Thursday.

Jason arrived late Thursday afternoon and we rented a cargo van from Budget for twenty bucks a day, a generator for $165 and shipped down an LFI school tour (air cooled) laser system to bring along.

We spent $180 at the grocery store (about $120 too much) for a case of beer, a five liter box of wine and a pint of tequila - and didn’t finish drinking any of it. Hell, we didn’t even open the tequila.

Then we stopped at Wal-Mart on the way out of Reno and bought tarp and batteries and a $115 point and shoot Canon Sure Shot. We had wanted to leave by 5 p.m. but didn’t actually hit the road until 8:30 or so.

The drive to Burning Man was about 120 miles, the stars were out in full force and were magnificent, and we plowed through the night following the directions printed on the newsletter that came with the tickets for the event and made our way through the towns of Empire and Gerlach. Seventeen miles out of Gerlach we noticed a glow on the horizon as we made our way around the last bend in the road before the entrance to B-man.

It took about 45 minutes of waiting in lines to finally be admitted into the site. The gatekeepers were mostly concerned that we weren’t sneaking any extra bodies into the event in the back of our van and that we had our tickets taken care of. They gave us a camp lay out map and we set about finding the Artists Republic of Fremont.



It didn’t take much time to find the camp, just a wrong turn or three. When we finally found Maque and Roger, the mood was a bit tense and somber. Rumor had spread that the sheriff was garnishing all the ticket proceeds being collected at the gate. Eric explained to me that on top of that Roger was not excited about his having to run into Reno the next day to pick up those who would be arriving at the airport on Friday.

After setting up our tents we discussed the logistics of the situation. Roger wanted a second vehicle to go to Reno with to pick up additional supplies - something that Jason and I would’ve done that day if we’d known what was needed. The prospect of going back into Reno wasn’t too attractive, but Jason was willing since he hadn’t really done much prior to the event for our little community. The topic was laid to rest when Roger realized that he was going to have to pick up supplies anyway for the newcomers who were going to need to pick up water and other necessities anyway, whether they had room in the vehicle or not. To top it all off, the Sanicans nearest to us were filled to the brim with shit, piss and toilet paper. It didn’t look (or smell) like the weekend was getting off to a good start. But by mid morning the sanitation crew had emptied out the overflowing Sanicans and given them a good hosing down. They did a great job of staying on top of the only creature comfort provided to the attendees for the admission ticket.


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