Balsa Man 2009
This year, R and I had to forgo the great joy of attending Burning Man. To be honest, we went last year and swore that we wouldn’t go two years in a row. Then I had the “year of illin” which has left me with sleep issues and my doctoral program started at the same time as Burning Man. This meant that it was just impractical to go (and we’re thinking of going to Hawaii in January anyway).
As an alternative, we decided to attend the mighty Balsa Man event for 2009. It, of course, is in no way, shape, or form related to Burning Man in any way nor does it derive any of its symbolism and forms from Burning Man, such as this:
This was Balsa Man’s second year (and I hear last year was better…). I am told by the organizer that last year saw about 50 people showing up by word of mouth. This year, it was 200 or 300 people. Still, that’s actually pretty small if you consider the would-be hipster numbers of the Bay Area.
Balsa Man, being a 1/16th scale event with its 35 inch tall man, encourages people to make art with this year’s theme being “Big Dreams, Writ Small.” R and I decided, late the evening before the event, to make our own art to contribute. I settled on the Monolith and ape-men of 2001 constructed out of legos. We did a late evening trip to target and R went and acquired the Burning Man stape of faux fur the next morning. With some glue, pain, and a bit of building, we created our piece:
This piece seemed to be accepted fairly well with its simple but iconic origins. I noticed a lot of people giggling and taking photos of it (and no one stepped on it).
R and I braved the mutli-bridge transit (with the Bay Bridge being closed this weekend) and made it to the unnamed beach just as things were getting going. We managed to run into a couple of friends and took a look at all of the tiny art. I put a picture set on Flickr and there is a Balsa Man 2009 pool of photos as well.
After a couple of hours, there was a fairly quick burn (man, balsa burns fast with accelerants!) and it was over for the year. I expect that there will be more Balsa Man events (and perhaps regional spin-offs) in the years to come as well.
Update: Here is video of the burn: