Tribes has arrived! And I explain it here

My book just arrived in San Francisco! I’ll finally hold the product of six years of work in my hand in just a few hours! Then I’ll sign and ship them to those who pre-ordered through my website tomorrow (those who pre-ordered through Amazon may have to wait another week, but that’s beyond my control, just like its cheaper price was).

So what exactly is this book about? That’s a good question that I’ve gotten a few times and haven’t really answered on this blog yet. So what follows is our press release and fact sheet, which should answer that question.


Author Steven T. Jones,, 415-305-3866

Publisher Brad Olsen,, 415-990-2122

New book chronicles how Burning Man is transforming American society

Burning Man is the premier countercultural event of modern times, growing over 25 years from a strange San Francisco beach party into an experimental city of 50,000 colorful souls in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, which burns brightly for a week before dissolving into dusty memories and changed lives, year after year.

Longtime newspaper journalist Steven T. Jones embedded himself in this blossoming culture starting in 2004, a dispiriting year for American politics but the beginning of Burning Man’s renaissance, when it began to explode outward in unexpected ways. The result is the most in-depth book ever written on this intriguing social phenomenon – The Tribes of Burning Man: How An Experimental City in the Desert is Shaping the New American Counterculture – being released in February 2011 by CCC Publishing.

From covering the Borg2 artists’ rebellion to learning to make large-scale fire sculptures with the Flaming Lotus Girls, from helping Opulent Temple showcase the world’s greatest DJs to cleaning up after Hurricane Katrina with Burners Without Borders, from regularly interviewing event founder Larry Harvey to covering Barack Obama’s nomination convention, Jones gives readers an inside, meticulously reported look at a time when Burning Man reached its zenith just as the country hit its nadir.

Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world have made the dusty pilgrimage to Black Rock City to take part in this experiment in participatory art, commerce-free culture, and bacchanalian celebration. Tribes reveals how Burning Man has taken on a new character in recent years, with the frontier finally becoming a real city and the many tribes that create the event—the fire artists, circus freaks, music lovers, do-gooders, sexual adventurers, grungy builders, and myriad other burner collectives—developing an impactful perennial presence in sister cities all over the world.

The book grew out of a series of cover stories that Jones wrote for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, where he has been the City Editor since 2003. But the project took on a life of its own as Burning Man’s story took unexpected turns, compelling Jones, aka Scribe, to delve deeper into this culture’s wide array of urban tribes.

“The physical landscape of Burning Man is a fascination – but of greater interest to culture watchers is the social landscape that forms there each year. What does this gathering mean to our modern times? Steven T. Jones is both a fearless explorer and the definitive guide to this astonishing terrain,” says Ethan Watters, author of Urban Tribes: Are Friends the New Family?

Wandering through Burning Man’s renaissance years from 2004 to the present, this epic journey features some of the culture’s most inspiring and colorful leaders. From its anarchic early days to its present dreams of world domination – and from the dark days after President George W. Bush’s reelection to the inspiring creation of the Temple of Flux in late 2010 – this is the untold story of Burning Man.


Fact Sheet for The Tribes of Burning Man

Partial list of tribes covered in Tribes: Flaming Lotus Girls, Opulent Temple, Burners Without Borders, Temple of Flux, Kinky Salon, Black Rock City LLC (aka The Borg), Black Rock Arts Foundation, Borg2, El Circo, Garage Mahal, Department of Public Works, Illumination Village/Agua Mala, Gigsville, The Mutaytor, Homouroboros/Tantalus/Peter Hudson’s crew, Black Rock Solar, Flock, Xian, Brass Tax, Space Cowboys, Deep End, Green Gorilla Lounge, Bootie SF, Piss Clear, Imaginarium crew, Crude Awakening crew, American Steel/Big Art Studios, Extra Action Marching Band, Anon Salon, Infinite Kaos, CCC/How Weird crew, Clan Destino, Bohemian Carnival, Vau de Vire Society, Fou Fou Ha, Red Nose District, The Fire Conclave, Ku De Ta, Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, Fishbug crew, Department of Spontaneous Combustion, Department of Animal Control, Figment, The Madagascar Institute, The Philadelphia Experiment, The Baker Beach crew, Impotence Compensation Project, The Burning Opera crew, Spin Camp, Electric Numbtastic, Burning Flipside, Neuroweapon, Shadyvil, and assorted tribes that work out of American Steel, The Shipyard, The Box Shop, CELLspace, NIMBY Warehouse, and other Bay Area work spaces and art collectives

The Tribes of Burning Man is the first book to present Black Rock City as the world-renowned electronic music venue that it has become, and it includes interviews with acclaimed DJs Paul Oakenfold, Carl Cox, Lee Coombs, Dylan Rhymes, DJ Dan, Christopher Lawrence, Scumfrog, Syd Gris, and more.

While much of the book is set in the San Francisco Bay Area, it includes coverage of Burning Man offshoots in Los Angeles, New York City, New Orleans, Denver, Austin, Reno, London, Philadelphia, Gerlach, the Gulf Coast, Nairobi (Kenya), Port Au Prince (Haiti), and Pisco (Peru).

The book also features well-reported journalism and a candid, six-year running conversation with Burning Man founder Larry Harvey.

About the Author

Steven T. Jones, aka Scribe, is a native Californian who has worked full-time for newspapers in that state for 20 years. Before becoming City Editor of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, he worked for Sacramento News & Review, New Times in San Luis Obispo, Coast Weekly in Monterey, Santa Maria Times, Auburn Journal, and Lassen County Times. Steve has won numerous writing and reporting awards along the way, including a Maggie and awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Association, Society of Professional Journalists, National Newspaper Association, and Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (he also serves on AAN’s Editorial Committee). For more on Scribe’s past work, visit his website at You can follow his personal blog at or read his latest work in the San Francisco Bay Guardian at

Paperback: 288 pages

Available in Kindle and other electronic formats

CCC Publishing (February 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1888729295

ISBN-13: 978-1888729290

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