Sunday, September 20, 2009

Is that what I think it is?

Welcome to the world of mutant vehicles.

In Burning Man-speak, these are rolling contraptions of all kinds that serve a wide range of purposes from the purely artistic (a giant rubber ducky) to the completely practical (a bus with a night club inside and dance floor on top).
Without a doubt, mutant vehicles made up one of the best aspects of Burning Man. More than 600 of them roamed the streets of Black Rock City and the expansive art-filled playa day and night. Many were little more than parties on wheels, picking up strangers as they roll along with music blaring and drinks pouring.
Mind-bending exteriors hid every motorized vehicle imaginable - golf carts, cars, trucks, tractors and city buses. The effect was a near constant questioning of the surrounding sights. Did I REALLY just see that 60-foot-long pirate ship float past? Have I suddenly been transported into some science fiction movie or into the depths of a Dr. Seus book?
Click on any pic to view it larger.
Here's a pic by Tim. His shots are sprinkled throughout my Burning Man posts.
And I have one more disclosure. Several of these pics, including this one and the one that opened this post, were taken by my friend Steffen P.

Steffen is also from San Diego, and he's a Burning Man veteran. Faithful readers of Scoopzone might recognize him from some of my posts about hikes by the San Diego Trail Tramps.

So why am I using some of his pics? Because they're great!

One of the things you realize after your first trip to Burning Man is how much passed you forgot to document with your camera. It's also a matter of volume. There's just too much for one person to see everything.

I'll make a point of identifying Steffen's pics as the post continues.
Even among mutant vehicles there were sub-classes, such as the ones that simply falls into the category of engineering wonder. Pic by Steffen P.
This is the Soul Train, one of my favorites which was a real-life version of the cartoon train that opened each episode of the Saturday morning dance show. Just like the cartoon, the one at Burning Man featured an accordion nose that squeezed in and pushed out as it rolled across the desert.

The train would appear, seemingly out of nowhere, blasting funk and disco tunes. When it came to a stop, crowds gathered around and danced for 10 or 15 minutes until one of the train's riders ended the set with a heavy dose of jive talk.
Like the other mutant vehicles, the Soul Train became a glowing beacon once the sun fell. One of my favorite moments of the trip was dancing around the train to the Village People's "YMCA" on our last night in Black Rock City.San Francisco meets Flash Gordon.
Yes, this is a double-long city bus converted into some sort of Captain Nemo undersea explorer.
A clear nod to Burning Man 2009's evolution theme.

This dragon's head and neck were fully articulated, and it shot a four-foot stream of fire from it's mouth.
Some of the vehicles were all about frivolity, like this one called Joyism.
All of the vehicles were required to register with the Department of Mutant Vehicles, an "agency" run by the organizers of the event.
Another amazing pic by Steffen P.

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