Saturday, August 20, 2005

To burn or not to burn?
To blog....
This is a thinking-out-loud, a soul-search, and somewhat a prayer ('cause maybe i know the answer already)....
while contemplating another season's-end, as often celebrated at that giant flambe with my friends the pagans... i face another year of "hmmmm...."... to burn or not to burn. Having attended BM 5 years in a row, it had become in every sense a ritual... a sabbatical. And after last year finally facing the necessity of skipping one (came back sick from Mexico.. had to miss the Burn), and now this year, as my projects approach boiling point; well, with regards to this year's Burn, damn(!), like many of us, I have to consider the question of... productivity (time!). Because for all of its spontaneity, The Burn is certainly a commitment.... the often ridiculous gesture of hauling one's self, and one's most expressive trappings out to an ultra-remote patch of desert... living in the most harsh of conditions... piracy practiced en masse... sounds great! Sign me up... repeatedly... I'm a "lifer"!

Well, neither money (time), tamed electronics nor RVs grow on trees. And ever since moving my music studio (and my life!) into an RV, the year before my first Burn; my full-time nomadic shtick has been to combine all these elements EVERY DAY; and so each year when it was suddenly "Burningman Season" again (in terms of nomadic seasonal cycles); it was simply time to go carry on doing what i'd otherwise be doing in my motorHOME (albeit a bit dustier)... and go mix it all up with my friends the cyber-freaks, the ravers and the pagans. And while i'm certainly a Burner of the cyber-freaky nomadic persuasion, i'm not sure if i'd categorize myself as a pagan. I have belief systems betting on the existence of one incomprehensible and "supreme" being, and I view individual divinity as tied to our cognitive power (the bits of God within us... which strengthen as we seek truth), always striving for the best-possible interactions with others, with hopeful dividends spread for everyone... sharing information, intention, resources, and then celebrating our beliefs as we see fit... which is overall an ecstatic-yet-humble individual practice for me mostly. Could it be practiced communally? Maybe, though smacks a bit of "church"; and very much like the pagans, exercising ritual for the sake of ritual. well, I rejected the pomp and circumstance of Catholicism during adolescence and thankfully made my escape; and so i'm cautious of any sacraments exposing contradictory spiritual doctrine. I can't help but remain skeptical of any organized or improvised religion with belief structures "imposed". And to play devil's advocate here, to a certain extent, taken as a whole: The Burn has become a bit more "imposing" each year... in both infrastructure, as well as what seems a sometimes empty or even joyless flamboyance... instant and insistent "rituals" on parade and/or in your face... beauty or vulgarity, so much depends upon one's perspective. And Burningman has certainly grown in size over 20 years, and has welcomed ever-further extremes... that's its "thing". But what seemed at "my first Burn" a sort of healthy spiritual anarchy via pyrotechnic primal scream therapy now increasingly seems to be fostering more extreme cases of all-out spiritual nihilism. Hey, this is Burningman, not Disneyland, so idealists out there: be prepared to keep strange company; but spiritual anarchy vs. spiritual nihilism? There is a difference, and so as to not offend my friends the more positive pagans, i had to choose my words carefully (so consult your dictionary). Much as i believe in "punk", perhaps i appreciate the instant collaboration of BM more than the ethical abrasion (the impositions / inquisitions); and so if it was up to me i'd say let's put down our bibles, torahs, korans, star charts and tarot cards for just a minute... lower one's freak-flag to half-mast sometimes when given the opportunity... shut up long enough to listen and learn something, THEN let off the scream, light the fires and join the parade towards true understanding.

That said, Burningman remains one of the last true hardcore experiences to be had in this lifetime. Freaks mingle with fellow freaks, practicing radical self-expression, radical collaboration... and an ethic of tolerance if not all-out embrace; an over-riding excess to which Dionysus himself would be proud. The Burn churns out dreams and fantasies at an exponential rate all week, before the mysterious "man" becomes engulfed in flames... the famous climax. But I love Burningman on the post-Burn Sunday too... the dusty denouement to the ultimate future-culture festival reflect and make sense of the experiment, while grabbing the last smoldering bits of the experience... Sunrise/sunset on sun-day implies the follow-through and the analysis (a private sacrament?) to carry this ecstatic knowledge into the coming year: yeah, oracle my witness: 6 years of living mobile, rootless, 16 years self-employed, free (as can be) of "the system"; my mind has been trained a certain way, and as much as i'm oftentimes happily a lone wolf, a soul proprietor, i dig the phenomena of festival as catalyst... of art, intrigue and even love. and i dig the dynamics: chaos... and contemplation. Another square peg that fits perfectly into the Burningman demographic mold, I'm a barter-trader... in terms of the soul as well i suppose. I'm an objectivist, a libertarian with ultimate respect for "what works for you".... which is not necessarily "what works for me"... but ain't that beautiful just the same? ie) ...the essence of love. My spiritual beliefs employ the analogies of electricity... and with respect to human interaction: circuitry ((transistors, transformers, relays, variable resistors, fuses, inverters, chargers, power conditioners, amplifiers, circuit breakers...!!!))

Well, technology is NOT God, but evolution is... or rather: the upward stride of evolution is evidence of God's handiwork; because evolution implies ascension, mutation, DNA like snowflakes (no 2 alike), the untapped 90% of our brains, communication, originality, our 6th sense(s), the next "giant leap for mankind", ESP... and language (according to Lori Anderson) is a virus. And beliefs? like superstition, urban legend or oral tradition? symbols and human systemology, ie)
Numerology is whatever we want it to be.
Dispensed so casually, does this make me a non-believer? Because i don't subscribe to any one form? am i a skeptic, due to a rather rigid mystical analysis? (Well i'd have to spend an entire lifetime gathering evidence... an entire lifetime for each one of us, in order to pass judgment. So who am I to find fault with your beliefs?) Rather I am an ultra-believer. I believe in whatever works for you. Whatever works for you without causing harm to another. Harm might be defined as something that you wouldn't want to happen to yourself. And so with respect to my friends the pagans (many ready to impose their beliefs with profound surety... many others not taking anything BUT the rituals at all seriously), well, i wouldn't want rigid multi-diety belief systems to 'happen' to me. Marley said "Jah live, children yeah...." and i think its that simple: one god and/or central energy source... reflected through all of us.... lessons of which learned from day-one... childhood beliefs (or lack thereof) carry though unto our adult realities. I rebelled against imposed Catholicism. And I'm so glad that a Catholic upbringing made me into a responsible rebel!

20 years of BurningMan, and the phenomena has indeed evolved for many into all-out religion, or at least part of their religion. From day-one on the playa in '99, I swore a vague-but-certain allegiance to BurningMan, as reinforcing my belief that ART still "happens", and is important, and is tied to our survival (the desert being part of the experience). And so i'm trying to come to terms with perhaps another year of missing Burningman (!)... and in-part my 11th hour uncertainty of attendance is due to my strict adherence to my own self-imposed "religion", year-round sacraments: auto-mechanics, the financial concerns of driving my "house", my studio, my RV... upon such a Mecca pilgrimage: $3 gas and everything... all consuming perhaps: The Re-Creational Vehicle... I "live it" every day... nomadic. The pursuit of modern-day nomadism has taken over my life. The pursuit of freedom has in many people's eyes left me anything but free. Vehicular living. And yet i'd have it no other way. Am i a fanatic?

My brother is a world-record-holding marathon runner. Yes, my sibling (2 years my junior) also sometimes pursues the super sacrificial sport of DOUBLE marathon... running 52 miles in one stretch, and his particular land-speed world record is for running 50 kilometers... on a treadmill. Such sport is all about pushing limits... and some might say to the point of ridiculous. Regardless, the pursuit requires amazing focus and discipline... and is a solo experience... perhaps the domain of fanatics. To some extent, the self-imposed ethics i've built into "my" own project ( might be seen as tedious or as sacrificial as treadmill running... because once the RV-realities enter into the equation of mobile multimedia... as a full-time credo; i've found that hardly anybody else is really ready or willing to take on the same unwavering challenges of "eclectic electronics everywhere" to the extent that i am. Yes, electronic media is rocket science to begin with, and then you add the uncertainties of ever-changing atmospheres, highway wastelands or urban conditions, alternative energy sources, distractions, dodging asteroids... often excruciating, yes, but I see the more painful parts as "conditioning"... for extreme expression.. the eventuality! If the end result was ONLY to do music, then as compared to a cushy air-conditioned studio with dedicated engineer, of course this would be doing it the hard way! And for those only interested in the fruits, the polished results as opposed to the purity of process; they're missing the essential point. The analogy of spaceship is there for a reason. We are seeking to go somewhere never before explored.... creating in motion or "on-location", real-time improvisation, techno-virtuosity, transceiverism.... yes, in the case of some of my very best friends, it has sometimes taken weeks to fully explain the prospect of what it all means (which is why i'm writing a book). And to what ends? Instigation. Yes, in simple terms you could say i'm trying to change the world. I believe the world is worthy of such effort, and i believe i've got enough re-creational life and recent knowledge (learned from such unique RV angles) to propose to actually move such mountains as today's forms of media.... mountains so sorely in need of moving (to break corrupt commercial paradigms and begin anew). I am only one mere artist, but I am fortunate to live in such exciting times (early daze of pre-revolution... and its inevitable)... and so to motivate others who might think the same, i'll shelf my other art if i have to, and i'll write. I'll write about the fight, and the fighters. David and his slingshot... little techno volcanoes (independent laptops and blogs) vs. mountains of sick media: I will shake their foundations, pass the marathon finish line or die trying.

And so back to the topic at hand, today: nomadic decisions: dusty destinations?: time: unless approached seriously and productively, much as i'd love to just party with my friends: damn, there's so much news to spread, and BurningMan (while ultra-fun nonetheless) would be time spent with the already-converted... and for the price of admission and transportation, i could probably otherwise afford to finish off the retrofit of the 2nd eklektro van, and jump start the karavan!) And so Burningman or Karavan, friends sensing that i'm seeking advice say with all sincerity, "Do what you gotta do man". And i love them... like we were all back to being children... in a treehouse after school, no rules, just imagination. But when met with my inexplicable (and perhaps they feel unnecessary) intensity; then with a tapped curiosity or just best friends in healthy competition: they invariably suggest a Thoreau-like simplification, "Do what you gotta do man"... But i'm SURE that they don't fully GET IT (the quest for mobile art/media ESP at light-speed), 'cause if they did they'd know that until a few others pick up the full-time doctrine (sprinkled with each one's own favorite flavors, compositions, agenda...), then i'm all alone running the double marathon. Just in terms of breaking the news, inspiring and outlining the proposition in rough-draft: until i can better explain exactly what this IS: i know i gotta do it ALL. Why? Because it IS communicable and achievable in our lifetime: FREEDOM (individual / communal): as uncompromising, and NOT mutually exclusive. If only i could clone myself and one of us goes to Burningman.

The message: MC or DVD, main stage or street: To busk or not to busk. Burning or busking? Bottom line: If i don't go to this year's Burn, i might be able to get our street-jam project legitimately off the ground. And this is what i'm feeling... the next stages of Eklektro require a return to instrument in one's hands and feet on the street. Why must everything seem like one or the other, but not both? Time. I'm not a great subscriber to the "everything in its time" ethic. I feel the moment, and feel the moment's draw... and i can feel those lost moments dissipate too. And with respect to the contemplation of difficult decisions such as modern-day Burning? Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) said "I want to be everywhere, I want to know everything...." and ever since Downward Spiral came out and i first heard that song, I've felt every line, and i've lived life at an often manic pace, thinking that at some point Trent's supposition could start to become true; 'cause starting with a virtual reality: technology, communication and positive intention would catalyze and allow us mindful practisioners to lead multiple lives (clone ourselves psychically).... to BE everywhere. No better perspective to start than street level... "eclectic electronics everywhere", just like Eklektro first started way back in '97: Get the permit if need-be, build the rig.. and jam.

Describing the Burn to one of my best and yet-to-burn friends, i used the analogy of medicine. I picked out certain friends we had in common who were also yet-to-burn... saying "they could sure use a dose of Burningman". When asked to clarify, i said that while that particular person seemingly had it all together, in reality their main aspirations were yet to manifest, and that i felt part of the reason was that they needed to let go of certain things.... and that the Burn was an experience where they could finally "get it"... and could finally fully let go... begin to absorb, and enjoy the immersion. Well, i've immersed 5 times... and every time i've LET GO of some thing or other, major or minor, and it has been amazing! And yet "my" project of 6 years has yet to fully manifest. And just last night i felt compelled to justify this scenario to this yet-to-burn best friend (who was telling me that perhaps i needed to "let go" of certain aspects...). Am I in need of more medicine? Rather it is time to post the results of the experiment. And it is time to take these findings to the general public.

All this writing, and there is no direct answer to my question. There is no solution other than to create in motion, every moment.

Some great soul (I think it was Warhol?) said "Write, write, write: Don't wait for the muse to strike!" And so Andy certainly prophesized the act of blogging. And so if one's conscience says "Burn, burn, burn..." What do we follow up with to complete the rhyme? "Don't wait for the tides to turn" ?? how 'bout "There's lots more about life to learn" ??

Burners about to depart: i wish you all the best times of your lives! And for me, EKG: i welcome spontaneity to come grab me. Whether its Black Rock or beach busking, I'm with you... and we're all sure to be burning!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Summer Summary

The past 3 months... wow! One month leading up to the summer solstice, then 2 months of summer scramble, JuneGloom at PointDume, Moontribe 12 year anniversary desert gathering 115 degrees in the shade and seeing all those crazed friends, GreenDependence Day, the LA arrival of Derek Lotek, Cyberstock, followed by the disintegration of the proposed TechnoRanch out in Hemet CA, even before it fully got off the ground... sweltering in desert heat, 2 weeks of mechanical duties trying to resuscitate the damaged "Camel" (original tan-colored Eklektro RV)... frame welding and getting ready to put it back on the road... and now, the preparations for Burningman. So this blog spot has been empty while i've been working multiple fronts and testing the waters for the best directions: developing a presence on, now 2 months into it. Also, Breakbeat of the Week on has been vacant of new video, but i began an audio blogger of real-time unedited drum tracks using the 'ole faithful HPD15s with the ever revolutionary Ableton Live software, now unleased with version 5! yeah, Eklektro in general took a back seat to new web developments... or at least the new propositions (pre-launch):,, and right now And the best news is that despite the retreat from the Hemet TechnoRanch, the cyber RV park concept is about to catch new fire, urban style... in San Francisco.. exciting news forthcoming... another seasonal migration... so stay tuned!