Back from the Burn

courtesy Brandon Frenderick

courtesy Brandon Frenderick

I’m still going through all the ziplocks and sorting the laundry from the schwag, but I just had to write and tell you all about the CORE burn. I arrived on playa midday Saturday before the event. We spent most of the day setting up camp in Outpost Berlin, heading out to check out the inner playa long after midnight. We rolled up to the Twisted Upright House around 1:30am or so, and were greeted by people at the effigy. Someone I didn’t know began to tell me all about the burn structure, and the team creating it. We had middle of the night random volunteer docents and the gates weren’t even open yet!

courtesy Brandon Frederick

That is the kind of diy enthusiasm the Humboldt Burners brought to the project. Despite a glaring lack of schedules, shifts, organization or paperwork the lighthouse needed for nothing. Keepers arose from the dust, did what was needed and then receded once again, like the tides. Called by their own desire to be a part of the show, fueled with information gathered by word of mouth, the Twisted Upright House has fans. And I’m one of them.

courtesy Espresso Buzz

courtesy Espresso Buzz

My favorite part of the CORE Art Walk on Tuesday afternoon was potato pancakes with the Blukis CORE. Yum! And yes, I did drag the stump around.

courtesy Christopher Schardt

courtesy Christopher Schardt

Hey, whatever works. Never can have too much “burn off the old year and prepare for the new” activities if you ask this girl. What a bunch of cuties. Out there in the heat frying up blynai for the cit’zens to enjoy – how cute is that!  Very.  And we were hungry too. So thank you Baltic States. Or Lithuania. and in my case the RC from Czech Republic because I heard it from her first! Yeah Blukis Project.  Way to be. (this endorsement in no way minimizes the amazing things going on in other parts of the CORE circle. Basically if you weren’t placed next to me I never found you…but I wanted to. So hi!  Isn’t this fun? and all of that sort of thing)

courtesy of Dr Placebo

courtesy of Dr Placebo

I can’t say what my favorite part of the CORE Burn night was, because the whole thing was just outer limits amazing peak experience for me. Surrounded by friends new and old holding perimeter for the burn structure we stood with lit flares in our hands, waiting for the signal to begin the simultaneous ignition. I stood there next to our FAST rep Jeff, with Goatt, the Project Lead, after the last of the fuel was poured on the driftwood, our flares held high on sticks we would use to light the fuses and begin the burn. My heart beating a million miles a minute I turned to Goatt and said “you have brought honor to our clan.”

“Wait until it’s on fire and thank me then,” he replied. We stood for what felt like forever, I look over at my partner Justin on Perimeter Lead and we nod at each other and smile. Barry, who brought all the driftwood to the playa, is beside me with a fire extinguisher. He will follow me in when we light the effigy. We go in, light the fuse, back away slowly, and nobody gets hurt. Jeff gets the call over the radio, he gives us the go ahead, and we move towards the lighthouse in unison. Our steps are wide with purpose, heads down, headlamps focused on the playa. Goatt approaches the back of the Twisted Upright House, and I head for the pier. Using the flare to light the fuse we shove the stick under the wood and back away.

courtesy Leah Jade Snow

courtesy Leah Jade Snow

When the rest of the CORE effigies were dropping perimeter the lighthouse was just getting started. After a while it seemed like everyone gravitated towards the Twisted Upright House, the ring of participants and art cars spread out from its center like an ocean of blinky lights. After several hours most folks moved on, even the hard core professional photogs gave up, their feet asleep, leaving the burn to me and the few die hards who refused to leave before perimeter dropped. The structure burned for hours before we were given permission to drop perimeter, you have to wait until the upright timbers are below head height. The base of the structure finally fell after about six hours. I believe I was the only one still there who was at the ignite.

courtesy Eddie Hartman

courtesy Eddie Hartman

The fire burned all night long. Around dawn our lighting designer Daniel sent some folks out to ask if it was ok for them to make a peach cobbler in the bed of coals. Um, yeah! They baked an amazing concoction and the folks still there shared it. Best breakfast ever. I did leave to pee at one point, otherwise stayed literally at the fire until around 8:00am. Fueled by nothing other than yerba mate and rank enthusiasm I happily stood around all night long. Seriously some of the most fun I have ever had at Burning Man. So thank you for that. What A Night.

courtesy Jesse Hartman

courtesy Jesse Rather

The sun went down and the moon came up, then the sun came up, and I went home. I hear the boys came and cleaned it all up, I have no clue. I was asleep by then. But apparently they finished so quickly they had time to go help the CarouShell from San Diego. That’s my boys! And girls. Pyroglyphics and all of their many friends, family and enthusiastic supporters did it all without being asked, with a big smile. Who could ask for anything more.

My camera battery was dead when I arrived on playa, and I seriously didn’t manage to charge it until Friday. After the CORE burn. So thank you to everyone who got pictures and video of the Twisted Upright House.  I’m going to repost some of them here, more to be found on our Facebook Page as well.

8 Comments

  1. After a while a lot of people left, but then, because it was such a long burn, we actually had a whole new shift of art cars & visitors show up to see the thing still burning. It was the same height after 3 hours as when we started. Amazing. I’m wearing the shirt now!

    • ha, that’s awesome! How long were you there? I wish I could remember exactly when we dropped perimeter, or when it finally fell. Wasn’t really checkin’ the watch there…

      Thank you so much for being there Sam. It was awesome having you on the circle.

  2. CORE Burn was one of the most magical nights/collection of moments of my entire week. I was so happy to be able to run into you, just before, and hug you in the twilight.

    You’re an amazing lady, K…. surrounded by a group of stunningly, large hearts..and, I’m proud to know to you. <3

    • Aw, thank you. You are adorable! I’m so glad we met, it’s been really fun to see your excitement post burn. reading about all the connections you made, and how fired up you are about your work is so inspiring to me. LOVED running into you too, thank you so much for finding me! I wish we could have hung out more, but seeing your ooo I found my bike happy face even for that one moment was a great start to the night. Next year maybe we actually like, go for a bike ride!

  3. Kelly, thank you for posting this article, I very much enjoyed reading it. I feel like a bit of a wimp for leaving the Lighthouse soon after we were allowed to drop the perimeter – later to find out that diehards like you literally stayed until morning to make sure it burned in its entirety.

    • Nah, we never expected everyone to stay all night. People kind of came and went as they felt inspired. It’s better that way 😀 Did you happen to notice when we finally dropped perimeter? I didn’t mark the time…

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