Counting down to the launch of Tribes

The Tribes of Burning Man: How an Experimental City in the Desert is Shaping the New American Counterculture will start rolling off the presses by the end of the week and I should have boxes of books in my possession by late next week to sign and send to those who have pre-ordered it on my website (pre-orders through CCC Publishing, Amazon, and other sites will ship then as well).

We’ve also finalized details for our book launch party on Feb. 17 at Project One (251 Rhode Island Street, SF). The party kicks off at 7 p.m., with a program at 9 p.m. that will include a reading and speeches by me and several of the book’s main characters whose efforts make Burning Man so vital and relevant. After that, we’ll drop the beats for a dance party featuring DJs who appear the book: Syd Gris (Opulent Temple), Smoove (Bohemian Carnival), Mancub (Space Cowboys), and Clarkie (Deep End/Distrikt). Admission is $5, or $20 if you want a signed copy of the book.

After that, I’ll be doing a March 8 presentation on the book and its relevance to urbanism at the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association’s Urban Center (654 Mission Street, SF). That event goes from 6-8 pm and it will also include a discussion with key members of the burner community. And it also happens to fall on Fat Tuesday, so join us for a Mardi Gras celebration after the talk. I’ll also do a short reading from the book on Feb. 18 at Kinky Salon with help from founders (and book characters) Polly Superstar and Barron Scott Levkoff, so check their website for details, restrictions, and warnings. And we’ll have many more events to announce in the coming weeks.

OK, that’s it for now, but check back soon for original reporting on news stories in the Burning Man world featured in the book, including developments in the federal lawsuit over the arson attack on La Contessa and the latest news on Black Rock City LLC’s plans to open a high-profile headquarters in San Francisco and to turn control of the event over to a new nonprofit entity.

Burning Man tickets selling quickly

2011 art theme image by Dominic "DA" TinioReposted from the Guardian’s Pixel Vision blog:

Burning Man [1] 2011 got off to a big start yesterday as tickets went on sale, demonstrating that the 25-year-old event is more popular than ever. The demand for tickets at 10 a.m. was so strong that it crashed the servers for almost two hours, overcoming efforts to beef up a ticketing system that has functioned pretty well the last two years after being a frustrating hassle in previous years.

“People were happy with [the event] last year or they wouldn’t have pounded the servers trying to get a ticket,” Marian Goodell, the event’s communications director, told us. “The ticketing system had been tested pretty extensively, but the sudden demand for service was high that the ticket vendor had ever heard of before.”

More than 20,000 people snapped up tickets in the first 24 hours, outpacing last year and selling out the 9,000 tickets each at the first two tiers of $210 and $240. Goodell said that as many as 40,000 users appeared to be trying to log on yesterday, with many apparently not willing to endure a wait time of about six hours in some cases. Once the current tier of $280 tickets is gone, the price will be $320 until the event.

Last year, the population of Black Rock City – the temporary city that Burning Man attendees build in rural Nevada every August – peaked at more than 51,000 people on Friday night. Goodell wouldn’t make a prediction about this year’s population, noting that spring ticket sales are hard to predict, but she noted that many of the event’s marquee artists, such as Peter Hudson and Sean Orlando, are planning ambitious projects for this year that are already generating excitement.

“We’re very excited about this year,” she said.

For more on Burning Man and its myriad subcultures, you can find my past Guardian articles on the culture here [2] or look for my upcoming book, The Tribes of Burning Man: How an Experimental City in the Desert is Shaping the New American Counterculture, being released next month by CCC Publishing [3].

Book launching Feb. 17

The official launch date for my book, The Tribes of Burning Man: How an Experimental City in the Desert is Shaping the New American Counterculture, is set for Feb. 17, with a launch party that evening at Project 1 in Potrero Hill.

Come get a signed copy of the book and hear directly from some of its major characters — both on the microphone and spinning on the decks — and join in a festive celebration of this exciting culture. Details and DJ lineup to be announced soon.

For those who have ordered the book through my website, Amazon, or CCC Publishing, we hope to have the books in the mail a week or two before the official launch, but we’re awaiting final word from the printer. And Kindle users can start reading my book immediately.

Buy the ticket, take the ride

Burning Man 2011 begins at 10 a.m. tomorrow. That’s when tickets go on sale, an annual ritual of queuing up in an electronic line, sometimes for hours, hoping some technical glitch doesn’t boot you off, and eventually paying $210 (or $240 if the first 9,000 tickets are gone, or $320 if you dither for too long) for your ticket.
But that ticket doesn’t really buy you anything, except the privilege of entering Black Rock City and the responsibility of helping to create it. And that central tenet of Burning Man is what baffles outsiders the most, some of whom express amazement that tickets go on sale so early for an event that doesn’t even start until late August.
The reason, as Larry Harvey and others who run the corporation (soon to be turned into a nonprofit) that stages Burning Man have told me, is one of acculturation, which takes time. It’s about getting people to commit early to building this city so that they have the time and inclination to ponder what this is about, how they will go, and what they’ll contribute.
“Buy the ticket, take the ride,” outlaw journalist Hunter S. Thompson wrote in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and it’s a good way of looking at Burning Man, mostly because Hunter meant it metaphorically. Buy the ticket (make the commitment), take the ride (see where that commitment takes you).
When burners buy their tickets tomorrow, it isn’t just a ticket that they’re buying. It’s a commitment they’re making to help build and burn one of the greatest cities on the planet, at least for the week that it exists. Similarly, Burning Man doesn’t really begin on Aug. 29 when the gates open – it begins tomorrow.
Last year, I had already been on the playa for more than a week building the Temple of Flux when the gates opened, and some were there much longer. Your decision about what role you want to play in creating this city determines the conditions of your visit, and the ticket is barely worth the holographic paper it’s printed on.
Even for those who building a simple theme camp with their friends, the ride you take starts now, when you buy the ticket. My camp, Garage Mahal, has its first camp meeting scheduled for Feb. 2 – and we already have a swanky art car in our possession. If you’re starting with less, you have even more to do.
And that isn’t the work you do before the ride – the work is the ride. This is about the process creation, party people. It’s about what you want to see and who you want to be. Buy the ticket, take the ride.
Oh yeah, and if you’re inclined to buy the book, do that too. It’ll give your ride much more depth and meaning.

Tribes released on Kindle

I’m not simply going to keep shamelessly pushing my book on this blog, I promise. I’m going to start using this space to discuss developments within the Burning Man culture and how they fit in with the larger American zeitgeist at this strange time. Really, that’s my intention.
But I’ve been pretty busy seeing to the myriad small details involved with getting ready for the pending release on the book, and we’ll be dribbling that self-promotional stuff out along with more general burner news that I’m about to turn my attention to gathering, starting this Wednesday when Burning Man tickets go on sale.
So, for now, let me just announce that the Kindle version of The Tribes of Burning Man has just finally gone on sale on Amazon. Have at it, Kindling.

Buy my E-book, but not my book….yet

I’m proud to announce the release of the electronic version of my new book, The Tribes of Burning Man: How an Experimental City in the Desert is Shaping the New American Counterculture, the inside story of the event’s renaissance years of 2004 to present. It’s available in PDF version through my publisher here, and on Kindle and book pre-order through Amazon here.

We’re waiting for final word from the printer about the release date on the printed book, which we hope to announce in the next few days, but it’s looking like it should be around Feb. 1. My personal website is now retooled and ready to directly receive orders – giving you a signed version of the book and me more money than other sales options – but I’d suggest that you hold off until I actually have books on hand to mail you.

We’re currently making arrangements for a book release party in mid-February and hope to announce that by the time Burning Man tickets go on sale Jan. 19. This release has been six years in the making and I’m looking forward to finally getting my book in people’s hands. I’m honored to be part of a remarkable culture filled with truly amazing individuals – and to share their stories with you.

My book is coming soon

With the impending release of my first book – The Tribes of Burning Man: How an Experimental City in the Desert is Shaping the New American Counterculture – 2011 promises to be one of the biggest years of my life. In the very near future, I’ll have much more to say about my book and regular posts on the Burning Man culture, so check back soon.

But for now, I just wanted to briefly update this long-dormant blog and to let everyone know that the book should be available in Kindle form this week and in print form by the end of the month. You can order it on Amazon now and on my website,, by the time it is released. Stay tuned for an exact release date and a book release party in early February.