Crude Awakening at Burning Man 2007: The Exploding Oil Derrick Installation

I just ran into an acquaintance who very recently returned home to L.A. from this year's Burning Man Festival. She told me things that made me yearn to return to Black Rock City. She then directed me to go to YouTube and search for "Burning Man + Derrick." The video above was described thusly: "Crude Awakening", one of the many imaginative art installations at 2007's Burning Man, features a 99 foot tall oil derrick. On Saturday night it was set ablaze to 'dramatize the worshipful relationship and dependence modern man has toward oil'.

To say nothing about the worshipful relationship and dependence modern man has on big-ass explosions. Hey! It's just like war but nobody gets hurt. This time. Every year I say I'm going to return to the playa and try to relive the highs of 1999 and every year the numbers of just how many people are expected to turn up turn me off. In '99 there were about 24,000 and that was a lot. I've heard conflicting reports but this year there were at least 42,000 there. And that is just too many people for me. (I had a major panic attack at Coachella last year -- or was it the year before last? -- when 60,000 sweating hipsters poured into the fairground to see The Pixies reunion. I was hyperventilating so much I couldn't even stay to finish watching their historic set. Oh well, at least I beat the traffic.)

However, when I see something like this I start flipping through the Yellow Pages to reserve my Winnebago for next September.

But is it true? Was 2007 Burning Man's "Altamont"? (Given the double bummer that someone set The Man on fire four days early and one poor soul hung themselves in their tent.... and their friends let them hang there for two hours thinking it was an 'art installation'! ) Anyone out there witness the madness first hand this year? If so, please send in your report! Oh, and check out the video below which features a close-up look at "Crude Awakening." Wonder if the going-ons in Iraq are this 'cool'?

Jeezus! It is truly amazing no one got hurt!

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