Under the Radar

Mad Max Mayhem in SoCal


“…death is listening, and will take the first man that screams.”

The second ever Wasteland Weekend was, by all accounts, a huge success. It was attended by several hundred people, all dressed up in their post-apocalyptic finest and ready to get to brawlin’ in the Thunderdome. Most attendees (and subsequent commentary on various Facebook pages) agree it was bigger and better than last year and that appears to be a trend that will continue.

Wasteland Weekend has been likened to a high production quality Mad Max version of Burning Man, though that may not be entirely accurate. Costumes are mandatory and you’re not even allowed to camp inside the walls if you’re tent and gear isn’t “in character”. They definitely strive for an immersive environment.

The ground truth of Wasteland Weekend is about what you’d expect from the name. Bottle cap currency (like that of Fallout 3) you can spend at Disco Dan’s or the brothel, leather-clad be-mohawked refugees prowling about and even tribes of survivors (there are many of the latter, such as Dukes of the Nuke, the Petro Pirates and others, but the one with the best name is undoubtedly the Dystopian Slut Militia.

This is definitely a case of a subculture manifesting with a will. The lengths some of the attendees went to for verisimilitude are nothing short of astonishing—there were two guys who showed up with actual Australian Ford police interceptors with real, working superchargers on the engines. When you pull up to the gate there’s a “technical” with a pintle-mounted machine-gun blocking your way, along with a collection of post-apocalyptic soldiers and spike-shouldered cannibals lurking about. You should beware of scavengers who will ask for water, food, ammunition and whatever else.

According to our undercover operative, cunningly disguised as a kilt-wearing feral journalist, the staff of Wasteland Weekend is very big on volunteers. You can volunteer for sentry duty guarding the front gate or help build the Thunderdome (they do have one, though fights therein are choreographed—unlike, it should be noted, the unscripted jugger games).

He advised us that everyone there seemed very friendly, but that you should probably ‘go as a responsible adult if you’re going to attend a party’. “It was a little piece of anarchy out in the middle of nowhere,” he reported via sat-phone when the bruisers and maniacs weren’t looking. “Lots of barbed metal, flames, whirling spiked chains…great parties, but definitely only for adults.”

Apparently you have to at least 21 to get through the gate, which is probably a Good Thing. We asked our man on the ground if he had any advice for those Under the Radar readers who might want to attend a future Wasteland Weekend.

“Be prepared to keep loose standards of what goes on around you,” he advised earnestly “I mean, there’s topless women playing baseball with full cans of beer and iron pipe.  Lots of lethal cutlery and guns, but being California you should leave the real guns at home. It’s overall a very friendly environment, for one bristling with spikes and crossbows and machine-gun mounted cars. Also, this is open desert. If you’re going to go, take water and shade. There’s no vegetation in sight higher than your knee. If you’re going out there, fill your tank every time you see a gas station, take lots of food, take lots of water. If you’re going to go, get into it. Go in costume, breathe it in.”

WW is still still looking to expand things and is working out some of the kinks. They do have their own security and local police are invited to walk around, but our operative there never saw any conflicts or issues that required their intervention. There is a medical tent if needed, but potential attendees should keep in mind that it’s miles to the closest real town. The nearest potable water is 8 miles away, at Borax Bill Park (and by park we mean some rocks piled up next to a rest stop style bathroom).

Your GPS probably won’t work, so make sure you have your route mapped out ahead of time. California City (which is where the event takes place) is one of the largest incorporated towns (geographically) in the United States but it’s essentially barren. A lot of the ‘roads’ that show up on GPS or maps are literally little more than goat trails with names.

So, no word yet on the dates for next years Wasteland Weekend, but as close as it is to Edwards AFB, you can get there pretty easy if you want to catch a space-A flight. If you spend enough time sleeping on the ground on the job (talking to you, grunts) then you can get a hotel in Mojave. While you’re there, you can grab some chow at Mikes Roadhouse (or of course you can get a pie at Chuck’s Pizza, in California City).

If you do go, get your picture taken with the Dystopian Slut Militia and tell them the Mad Duo sent ya.

Special thanks to Uncle Alton, our post-apocalyptic investigative correspondent (and Cold War era Ranger) for the insight and the pictures.

My life fades. The vision dims. All that remains are memories. I remember a time of chaos. Ruined dreams. This wasted land…

The Mad Duo can be contacted here on UTR or at Breach-Bang-Clear. High speed, low drag celebrities of the action figure and steely-eyed snaker-eater world, the commentary of Richard "Swingin' Dick" Kilgore and Jake "Slim" Call has been likened to a .308 op-ed to the head. They don't like the Taliban, marplots, hippies, sissies or SNCOs and officers who don't grasp the concept of Noblesse Oblige. Loyalty starts from the top down, assclowns.


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