Deuce of Clubs Book Club: Books of the Weak

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I'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski

Guy Debord: Revolutionary

No Place to Hide

Command of Office

The Christ-Myth Theory And Its Problems

The Christian Delusion

Lincoln's Wrath

How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself

The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex

Bossypants

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

Catching the Big Fish

Dig Infinity

The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones

Crazy for God

Basin and Range

Anarchy Evolution

The File

John Ringo

The Supremes

End the Fed

Burning Book

The Hohokam Millenium

God's Middle Finger

Narcocorrido

In Heaven Everything Is Fine

The Shunning

Wisdom Sits in Places

The Marvelous Country

Hamilton's Curse

The Secret Life of Houdini

The Trouble with Being Born

Schulz and Peanuts

First Into Nagasaki

Joe Miller's Jests

Human Smoke

Dirty Tricks Cops Use

A Futile and Stupid Gesture

All For A Few Perfect Waves

Systemantics

Death in the Desert

American Signs

Secret Proceedings and Debates of the Constitutional Convention

Secrets Of A Stingy Scoundrel

The Self-Made Tapestry

A Constitutional History of Secession

The Neurotic's Notebook

Interrogation Machine

Monster Midway

The Harlot by the Side of the Road

Forced Into Glory

Imperial Life in the Emerald City

J. G. Ballard: Quotes

The Compleat Practical Joker

Laugh with Hugh Troy

Pranks!

A Liar's Autobiography

Cobb

Chasing Rainbows

Letters from Tucson, 1925-1927

The Five Fosters

The Giant Cactus Forest and Its World

How to Cheat Your Friends at Poker

World Famous Cults & Fanatics

That's Not All, Folks!

God's Problem

Will Christ Return By 1988?

Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology

The Whiskey Rebellion

FDR's Folly

Wilson's War

Bully Boy

[If] I Did It

The Dark Side

Secret Origins of the Bible

Godless

The End of Faith

Why I Became An Atheist

"Life's Calendar for 1922"

Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War

The Negro Cowboys

EXPECT RESISTANCE

Monty Python Speaks

Baseball Between the Numbers

The Psychopath's Bible

Satisfaction

J. G. Ballard: Conversations

Days of War, Nights of Love

Gospel Fictions and Who Wrote the Gospels?

The Real Deadwood

Deadwood

The Revolution: A Manifesto

45

The Secret Man

Stormin' Mormon

From Psyche to Soma

I'll Gather My Geese

The Osama bin Laden I Know

Alias "Paine"

A Man Without Words

The Wild Trees

The World Without Us

Arizona's Changing Rivers

The Phoenix Indian School

Realm of the Long Eyes

John Dillinger: The Life and Death of America's First Celebrity Criminal

Buckey O'Neill: The Story of a Rough Rider

Thanks For Tuning In

Adventures in the Apache Country

Waylon: An Autobiography

My Life: Sunrise to Sunset

Mimes and Miners: A Historical Study of the Theater in Tombstone

The First 100 Years: A History of Arizona Blacks

Enter Without Knocking

City in the Sun: The Japanese Concentration Camp at Poston, Arizona

House by the Buckeye Road

Vanished Arizona

The Big Con

The Astronomy Cafe and Back to the Astronomy Cafe

A Handbook on Hanging

The Sinner's Guide to the Evangelical Right

A Mind Restored

Mr. Show: What Happened?!

Reclaiming the American Revolution

Stumbling On Happiness

Treasure Maps of the Superstitions

Sunny Slope

Did Genesis Man Conquer Space?

Look Homeward, America

Radicals for Capitalism

Kayaker's Little Book of Wisdom

God Is Not Great

The Echoing Green

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll

K Foundation Burn a Million Quid

The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes and The Tao of Willie

Just Six Numbers and Our Cosmic Habitat

Wild Goose Chronicles

Behind Bars: Surviving Prison

Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce

The Gang They Couldn't Catch

Manhunt

A History of the End of the World

Al Sieber: Chief of Scouts

Apaches & Longhorns

Deep Survival

Captured

DINO

Sock

Bo: Pitching & Wooing

You Are Worthless

You And Your Hand

Access All Areas

Field Guide to the Apocalypse

The War on Terrorism

Those Idiots From Earth

September 11: An Oral History

Mortal Questions

The Heresy of Self-Love

The White Flag Principle

Medieval Panorama

An Honest President

Those Words

À rebours

Peterson's Incident Report Book

Boo! Culture, Experience, and the Startle Reflex

Victory Denied

Nothing, Arizona

A Porcine History of Philosophy and Religion

O Holy Cow!: The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto

DOME COMPENDIUM OF TOPICAL TREATMENT IN PROCTOLOGY

¿Hablas conmigo

Thirty-three Candles

Black Monk Time

Men of Distinction

Alexander the Corrector

Space Viking

Mark These Men

Hallucinogenic Plants

Prohibition: An Adventure in Freedom

JESUS! He's Our President

LOVE

How to Watch Football on Television

Merrill Markoe's Guide to Love

Lincoln: The Man and The Car

Whatever Men Know About Women

Biographies of Italian War Heroes

ABC of Espionage

Art Colony Perverts

Devil-ution

Starting Right with Bees

Planet Earth is a Cult

Baseball Letters

Fetish

Dopey Doings

Democracy: The God That Failed

Handgrenade Talk

Hi, How Are You?

het zingen van het ijs

The Museum of Jurassic Technology Jubilee Catalogue

The Rector and the Rogue

Colorful Cacti of the American Deserts

Odd Jobs: The World of Deviant Work

The Hungry Man's Outdoor Grill Cookbook

How to Get Invited to the White House

How to Work for a Jerk

Never Work for a Jerk!

The Mentality of Apes

Your Vigor for Life Appalls Me

Dr. Strange: Sorceror Supreme

Nautical Notions for Nibbling

A Short Introduction to the History of Human Stupidity

The Fake Revolt

Coup D'Etat

History of the Town of Felicity

Hood of Death

Dolls' House Bathrooms: Lots of Little Loos

Border Security / Anti-Infiltration Operations

Living on Light

God is for Real, Man

Did the Apostle Paul Visit Britain?

Twin Peaks

2001

Power Phrases

The Truth About Wagner

The Life of the Bee

Tombstone

Science Looks at Smoking

The Chiricahuas

The New Dark Ages Conspiracy

The Big Question

Everybody's Book of Epitaphs

The Death of the Fuhrer

Mindfuckers

Gorbachev! Has the Real Antichrist Come?

The World's Worst Poet

Alyssa Milano: She's the Boss

Home is the Desert

Nine Lives: From Stripper to Schoolteacher

How to Start Your Own Country

How to Found Your Own Religion

Sex Objects in the Sky

Indian Oratory

Bastard Without Portfolio

The Bedside Book of Bastards

Hopeless -- Yet There Is Hope

Bible in Pocket, Gun in Hand

Margie Asks WHY

Death of a Hippie

Wake Up or Blow Up

Feeling and Form

Guilt

A Mile in His Moccasins

Mojave Desert Ramblings

Passing of the Outhouse

This Way to Happiness

The Happy Life

Young Only Once

The Monkey Gland Affair

Bert Bacharach's Book for Men

The Two Babylons

For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes...

Why Christians Crack Up!

Why Do Christians Break Down?

Hava Nagila!

Beethoven or Bust

How to Abandon Ship

Livin' in Joe's World

The Last Democrat

Salvation Mountain

The Varmint and Crow Hunter's Bible

Love in the Western World

Jack the Ripper: Light-Hearted Friend

Little Men of the NFL

No One May Ever Have The Same Knowledge Again

The Secret Museum of Mankind

James Bond's World of Values

We Did Not Plummet Into Space

The Boy Who Didn't Believe IN CHRISTMAS

The Great Escape From Your Dead-End Job

All About Tipping

My Loser Godfrey

A Haircut in Horse Town

Mucusless Diet Healing System

Jefferson Returns

Lincoln Returns

Churchill Returns

Corporation Freak

Null Bock auf DDR

So You're Going on a Mission?

Nudes in My Camera

Why I Hate the Nazis

Flesh, Metal & Glass

The James Beard Cookbook

Mortal Refrains

Deadbolt

Amy Grant: A Biography

The X Cars

We Were Five

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder

Hello ... Wrong Number

I'll Kill You Next!

Murder in Vegas

Did MAN Just Happen?

Terror at the Atlanta Olympics

Criswell Predicts

Your Next Ten Years

They Pay Me to Catch Footballs

The Phantom Menace

Just For Fellows

The Lopsided Gal

Astrology and Horse Racing

The Cokesbury Stunt Book

The Origin of Things

Remarks on the History of Things

U.S. Government Sewing Book

Funeral Tributes II

Blinky, the Friendly Hen

The Serbs Choose War

My Mystery Castle

Iggy

Funeral Customs the World Over

The Right to be Let Alone

Mormonism and the Negro

The Church and the Negro

Preacher with a Billy Club

Fighting Parson of the Old West

Invisibility: Mastering the Art of Vanishing

How to Disappear Completely

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies

How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man

Langenscheidts Konversationsbuch

Marlene Dietrich's ABC

The Bible in the Hands of Its Creators


Burning Book: A Visual History of Burning Man

Jessica Bruder (2007)

 

So why do the pilgrims, in growing numbers, still journey to that bleak desert? They go because the burning Man—a one-ton monument in flames—isn't the whole of Burning Man. At best, the Man is a vaguely coherent ambassador for everything else that happens in the five square miles around him, the area known as Black Rock City. This settlement—a place that writer Stephen Black once called, with admirable precision, an "Ephemeropolis"—requires the work of their own hands. They fill the desert with a staggering variety of art and amusements, gatherings, and performances, and when the week is over, they scour the dust to make it all disappear. The festival runs on a simple credo: "No Spectators." To put it plainly, the city is the work of the people who live there. If everyone came to sit back and absorb the culture, there would be nothing for them to see. (xi)

Since thousands of people are enacting their own visions of what Burning Man ought to be, Black Rock City is inherently plural and constantly changing. (xii)

The gambling halls of Reno, like most casinos, don't have windows. There are no cues to distinguish day from night, nothing but the constant rhythm of slot machines—bells chiming, quarters hailing down on chrome—to mark time. Still, the casinos, decorated in gaudy circus and Western themes, have cheap rooms and even cheaper food. That's enough to pull Burning Man pilgrims through the doors. They drag duffel bags still coated in stubborn dust from last year's trip to the desert. They pass the game tables and disappear into the elevators up to the rented suites without a backward glance. (2)

[SIDE NOTE: That sounds strikingly like a newspaper description of visitors to The Mojave Phone Booth: "Waiting in the casino lobby, the Phone Boothers look like they're from another planet. They seem strangely ecstatic and alive, whooping and cracking jokes to the unamused staff. [...] It's the sound of money, the wonderful and never-ending siren song of the casino. A siren song that doesn't touch [them]."]

Don Lawson, who is forty-four years old and grew up in Reno, has been encountering burners since he began running the Empire Store in 1995. "When it first got started, I used to call it my thirteenth month," he says. "It got to the point where it was an extra month's worth of business." Now Burning Man generates up to a fifth of his annual sales. . . . Don and his staff have to hustle to keep up with the shoppers, but he says they enjoy it. "It's one of the few times I allow drinking on the job," he declares. "We have a keg tapped in the garage, and it helps with the madness." (24-5)

In the following years they [the San Francisco Cacophony Society] toured the Oakland sewer system, rode a cable car naked, and scaled the Golden Gate Bridge. They launched an annual treasure hunt during the Chinese New Year parade that ended in a pie fight. The most daring adventurers staged a number of "infiltrations," posing as prospective members to probe the Moonies and the American Nazi Party. Suicide Club initiates also infiltrated the National Speleological Society but found they enjoyed caving expeditions too much to keep up the ruse and befriended the explorers instead. (58)

At the start of Labor Day weekend in 1990, around eighty friends assembled near a baseball diamond in Golden Gate Park. They loaded up a Ryder truck with sleeping bags, tents and the Man. By the time they set off in a caravan across the Sierra Nevada, it was already after dark. They reached Gerlach at dawn and stopped at Bruno's for breakfast, then continued onward. The procession stopped at the edge of the Black Rock Desert. Folks tumbled out of their cars. Michael Michael drew a line in the dust and pronounced, "On the other side of this line, everything will be different. Reality itself will change." Everybody held hands. Together they stepped across the line. (61)

Fiddling with your radio dial is like spinning a roulette wheel. You might catch an actual traffic update, or perhaps something like the report prepared by an act called the Evolution Control Committee:

(68-71)

In the early days of Burning Man, one clever saboteur revised a NO SPECTATORS banner to read NOSE TATORS. That phrase entered the local vernacular; it evokes nostril plugged with playa dust. (81)

For the most part, the only logos you'll see are satire. The newspaper Piss Clear is full of fake ads that riff on the real thing, inviting you to buy a game called Grand Theft Artcar, or shop at Playazon.com. (97)

It's worth noting that, volunteer peacekeepers aside, there are plenty of genuine police at Burning Man, including federal ranges from the Bureau of Land Management and officers representing the State of Nevada and local counties. Undercover cops prowl for drugs, and openly smoking a joint could land you in handcuffs. The officers also intervene in rare episodes of violence, though Dave Cooper, who manages the area for the federal Bureau of Land Management, says of Black Rock City, "My perception is it's one of the safest places you could ever be. It's certainly safer than being in any other city of 40,000 people." In 2006 there were six arrests and 157 citations issued at the festival; 80 of the citations went to burners found with illegal substances. (133)

[At Thunderdome, a] guy took an upward kick in the groin so hard that he had to spend a few days in Reno, getting a bit of his anatomy surgically extracted. The Death Guild coined a descriptive cheer for him: "Two balls enter; one ball leaves." (168)

Food is a popular gift, but its popularity can cause problems. The Tuna Guys have found trouble on the playa since 2000, when officials from the Nevada health department shut them down, demanding to see a food service permit. Since then, the Tuna Guys have kept a low profile. To keep from violating state law, they must cook for special events and camp members only.
"We didn't violate any rules," Jim says impishly. "Although there was quite a few people who claimed to be camp members." In other words, the Tuna Guys' camp turned into a seafood speakeasy. (237)

Most burners use costumes to create new identities, but a few people focus on disguising their old ones. When Joan Baez went to Burning Man in 2005, she spent most days incognito, with an orange scarf wrapped around her head. This also made it easier to decline solicitations, including one from a gentleman who offered to whip her. Of course, there were moments when the mask came off, like the time she posed for a picture, licking the face of a life-size representation of President Bush, clad in a soaked and somewhat transparent slip (she'd been chasing a water truck). (270)

In early September, when the festival has just ended, there's a list that often makes the rounds by e-mail. Anonymously composed a few years ago, it's called "How to Experience Burning Man in the Comfort of Your Own Home." People keep adding to it. The list includes such suggestions as:
Stack all your fans in one corner of your living room. Turn them on full. Dump a vacuum cleaner bag in front of them.
Set up a DJ system downwind of a 3-alarm fire. Play a short loop of drum 'n' bass until the embers are cold.
Sprinkle dirty sand in all your food.
Spend thousands of dollars on a deeply personal artwork. Hide it in a funhouse. Blow it up.
Throw a sprawling, drunken, week-long party. Spend the next five weeks meticulously cleaning every square inch of your house. (333)


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