Co-founder preaches the importance of Burning Man

BLACK ROCK DESERT — At his camp, called “The Outback,” at the outer edge of Black Rock City, Michael Mikel cradles his plastic yellow mug on an overcast morning at this year’s festival and reflects on how it all began.

One of the founding members of Burning Man, he joined the Burn in 1988, when the festival was still just a group of free spirits gathering on Baker Beach in San Francisco on the summer solstice.

In the years since then, Mikel — better known as Danger Ranger on the playa — has had a hand in many of the facets that now define Burning Man. He fueled the festival’s growth by advertising the event in the freewheeling Cacophony Society’s newsletter. At the time, the group was, Mikel says, a “randomly gathered network of free spirits united in the pursuit of experiences beyond the pale of mainstream society.”

They hosted a variety of events in abandoned places — warehouses, bridges, railroad tunnels — and, because many society members became Burners, much of that group’s ethos resurfaced as Mikel started the Black Rock Rangers, the city’s mediation team. He helped institute the Department of Mutant Vehicles to regulate the use of art cars. After 1994, he instituted a perimeter around the event and established a sophisticated radar system to detect both attendees who have strayed too far and those who attempt to break in.

Twenty-eight years later, his loose-fitting Western-style shirt tucked into saffron-hued slacks, tufts of white hair peek out from beneath his moss green top hat, aviator goggles propped on top in to be ready for the dust storms that whip up at a moment’s notice.

His camp setup is equally stylish, having been carefully curated. Under a wide swath of camo netting sits an oasis of wicker benches and chairs, faded throw pillows and ornate magenta rugs, all of which has been procured from street corners or thrift stores over the years. In the back corner, a bar is set up.

Today, Mikel is Burning Man’s director of genetic programming. The title doesn’t come with a list of concrete responsibilities. He’s a futurist, he says, who envisions what Burning Man could become.

“If you view Burning Man as kind of an entity, almost biological, I can make small changes in the DNA if you will, which multiply and have larger effects in the future,” Mikel says.

As someone with roots in several Silicon Valley tech companies in the 1970s, Mikel is particularly interested in how technology can enhance the Burning Man experience.

“Our technology will reach a point where it’s so pervasive where you’ll be wearing special sunglasses and you’ll walk out here, and you will see a piece of art on the playa. If you take your sunglasses off, it will go away.”

His take on present-day Silicon Valley’s infiltration of the event? “Burning Man is very important in what we have to teach the world,” he says. “And if we are to teach the world how to get along with each other and how to live on this planet without destroying it, we need to reach everyone. We need to reach these people, we need to reach people of means, we need to reach community and world leaders. And so we welcome it.”

When asked what message he would send to his former Burner self from the future, knowing what he knows now and knowing what Burning Man has become, Mikel takes a moment and then begins vigorously digging around in the front pockets of his shirt.

He comes up empty but settles on one thing: “It will be OK.”

He smiles and takes a sip of from his mug. Then, he goes back to his left front pocket and roots around again. This time, he pulls out a tiny slip of paper with white font on a black background. It says, “It will be OK.”

“It’s a message from the future,” Mikel says. “I find them out here all the time.”

Read more from Sarah Corsa at reviewjournal.com. Contact her at scorsa@reviewjournal.com and follow @sarahcorsa on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
The "13 Reasons Why" mustang cruises down the Las Vegas Strip (Courtesy Netflix)
4 fun and fascinating museums in Las Vegas
U2 in Vegas through the years
U2 in Vegas through the years
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Black Tap In Las Vegas Makes This Instagram-ready Golden Knights Shake (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Nevada Ballet Theatre Premieres Until December
‘Until December’ debuts at ‘Ballet & Broadway’ season finale (Carol Cling Las Vegas
Celebrate The Golden Knights With Knights-inpired Latte Art (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single Ramsey, who shot to fame after a viral video of him yodeling at an Illinois Walmart surfaced, just debuted “Famous.” “If I'm gonna be famous for somethin'/I wanna be famous for lovin' you/If I'm gonna be known around the world/I wanna because of you, girl” Mason Ramsey, “Famous” It’s been quite the rush to stardom for the 11-year-old, who appeared on The Ellen Show and performed at Coachella earlier this month. “I’d been to Nashville a few times before, but never thought something like this would happen. It’s a dream to sign with Atlantic and Big Loud.” Mason Ramsey “I loved recording ‘Famous’ and can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala. (Janna Karel Las Vegas review-Journal)
"Hamilton" Fans Line Up Overnight At Smith Center To Get Tickets
"Hamilton" fans line up overnight at Smith Center to get tickets. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 concerts to see in Las Vegas this week
You can visit the speakeasy in The Mob Museum's basement... if you know the password
6 new foods hitting movie theaters in 2018
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl! The 45-year-old actor posted an adorable photo on Instagram, celebrating his newborn baby girl, Tiana Gia Johnson. Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram This is Johnson’s second daughter with his girlfriend, Lauren Hashian. His oldest daughter, Simone Garcia Johnson, came from his previous marriage. Johnson and Hashian first announced they were expecting another child back in January. Congratulations!!
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend Car Show celebrates 21st year
The Stray Cats, Jerry Lee Lewis, Duane Eddy, Elvira and Mitch Polzak make appearances the 21st Annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend car show at the Orleans hotel and casino on Saturday, April 21, 2018.
This "Alice in Wonderland" cocktail changes colors and flavors while you sip
Take a tour of The Underground at The Mob Museum
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Big Bounce America visits North Las Vegas
Billing itself as "the biggest bounce house in the world," Big Bounce America visits Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
Disneyland debuts new foods for Pixar Fest on Friday
Pixar Fest takes place ahead of California Adventure’s Pixar Pier expansion. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sneak Peek at New Decorations, Merch and Parade for Disneyland's Pixar Fest
Las Vegas Philharmonic celebrates 20th anniversary season
Orchestra’s 2018-19 season features premiere, more (Carol Cling/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Las Vegas' newest bar is a reggae lounge
Jammyland serves island-inspired cocktails. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
This boozy milkshake is big enough to share with seven of your best friends
Fiddlestix makes an "8 Man Milkshake" that's packed with alcohol. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five Chris Stapleton songs you need to hear
Life
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Companies bet their futures on cryptocurrency
Two Las Vegas entrepreneurs talk about finding their niche in blockchain enabled technologies and digital currency.
Solar panels reduce energy bill for CCSD
Wilbur and Theresa Faiss Middle School is one of 42 CCSD schools with solar panel installations, saving approximately $514,000 per year in energy costs.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like