« Mississippi finally ratifies amendment banning slavery | Main | Charter schools claim to be open to all students, but here is how they exclude the kids they don't want »

Taking your dad to Burning Man

A fun long read for the day. And the kind of piece that experience always makes me think is utterly faked.

Also--and this is nitpicking--but how can you mention the Slut Olympics and then fail to go into any detail?

Wells Tower's Burning Man Experience - GQ February 2013: Men's Lives: GQ


My father and I are staid, abstracted East Coast types without much natural affinity for bohemian adventures. But we are here less for the festival itself than in service of an annual father-son ritual. Fourteen years ago, my father was diagnosed with an exotic lymphoma and given an outside prognosis of two years. When we both supposed he was dying, we made an adorable pledge—if he survived—to take a trip together every year. Thanks to medical science, we've now followed the tradition for a solid decade, journeying each summer to some arbitrarily selected far-flung destination: Greenland, Ecuador, Cyprus, etc. This year, we've retooled the concept and departed instead on a bit of domestic ethnography. We have joined the annual pilgrimage of many thousands who each year flee the square world for the Nevada desert to join what's supposed to be humanity's greatest countercultural folk festival/self-expression derby. Or it used to be, before people like my father and me started showing up.
. . .
At the adjacent welcome booth, dreadlockers, having been duly greeted, are trudging back to their hippie wagon. "I hope it doesn't suck this year," one of them says, eyeing our vast and foolish RV. "We're surrounded by all these bougie people."

"I'm so fucking stoned,"complains a bikini-clad girl wearing a fedora snugged over dreadlocks stout as table legs. "Man, I gotta focus. Gotta get ready for the Slut Olympics."

We climb back aboard, tracking pounds of dust into the RV. My dad is enlivened. "What a nice greeting that was," he says. "Did you know that woman didn't have any trousers on? I was so focused on her breasts I didn't notice she was naked until after the ceremony."