How GroundScore Got His Name

All photos by Cloe

It was just another day on the playa. Line Sweeps crew was walking around, noses to the ground, mooping the Temple site. Bobtuse was driving through the major sand dunes, dragging a metal square to flatten them and expose any litter. Special Forces were roaming the city, going from one orange cone to the next to clean up the worst spots.

On Line Sweeps, we were taking an early morale break when DA called over the radio: Special Forces had found a bad hot spot, and could use some backup. “Finish your break,” he said, “and moop your way over here.” Easy enough.

Coyote was the first to arrive at the spot, where he found Special Forces raking up debris – and Super Dave on site, pretty worked up. Look at all this rebar they’d pulled out of the ground! Look how bad this site was! It was the sort of thing that the BLM would be very unhappy to see – the sort of thing that could get the event canceled. And then, he lifted one of the orange cones to expose the worst part of all:

The head of Blackbeard Matt, who was buried up to his neck in playa.


Chew ‘Em Up Lions

The Gerlach high school challenges DPW to volleyball

The Gerlach Lady Lions

This is a small town, and it would be impossible for the locals to ignore all these DPW kids roaming around with strange haircuts and black clothes. In truth, I think we provide them a little entertainment, you know?

A week or two ago, it was announced at our morning meeting that the Gerlach High volleyball team – the girls’ volleyball team – had challenged us to a tournament.

Needless to say, we took the challenge as seriously as we possibly could. We planned extensively: what are we going to wear? Who has zombie makeup? What cars should we drive into the high school parking lot in order to create as much disruption as possible?


Final Chapter, Burningman, 2005

I’ve been coming to Burning Man since 2003, but this year, I decided to buy a 1975 Winnebago for Burning Man. Without really testing it, I cast caution to the wind and took off a week or so early to attend the pre-event, and do some DPW stuff.

On the way there, I received a speeding ticket from a very polite officer in the town of Wadsworth, Nevada. I was speeding, and I only got a ticket, so I went on my way to enjoy my burn.

On the way back, after countless adventures, journeys, debaucherous episodes, and personal insights, I was cruising at about 35 miles an hour in my ’75 Winnebago with my new Canadian girlfriend whom I had met there. Once again, I got pulled over just shy of Gerlach. Looking out the window, I saw the SAME cop that gave me a ticket on the way in.

“Didn’t you see what happened?” he asks in a very obvious voice. Oblivious, I respond that I didn’t see anything happen. “You didn’t see ANYTHING?” he yells.

“Follow Me.”

At this point, I realize that fleeing across the state in a 1975 Winnebago isn’t going to work. My imagination is usually overactive, so perhaps it isn’t so bad.

We turn around and head back down Highway 447 for approximately one mile against the flow of 30,000 burners all leaving the playa. As soon as I pull up, the officer directs me to park on the side of the road. I get out, and I notice immediately on the opposite side of the road a black water sewage tank, about 100 feet from a huge pothole. Immediately following the pothole is a huge splash mark. As I begin to put the pieces together, I go back to my RV, and notice that I am missing a black water sewage tank, and could now see straight up into my toilet!

With my head hung appropriately low, I make my way back to the officer, just as two other cop cars pull up. “So what happened?” I ask, thinking that I know the answer already, but still trying to pretend that I haven’t figured it out yet, and hoping that this would be the end of the story.

The officer simply points towards his brand new 2005 Suburban Cop Car, and as I look over, my worst fears are realized. Sure enough, there is a brand new cop car with dealer tags, dripping from the top down with urine, vomit, condoms and whatever other disgusting entities that could exist in a Burning Man RV sewage tank!

Turns out, my tank decided to disembark at the exact time the officer was passing the other way on the freeway. He hit it head on, thus covering his unit with all of the freeborn playa pee that had been building up for the past two weeks! And there it stood, with the sunset over the mountains in the backdrop, minus that “new car” smell. It would have made a perfect postcard. You could see the trail the pee followed, as the car was dirty before, and it left a perfect “urine” explosion all down the driver’s side and down the back.

I hang my head lower, thinking that this was it. Jail in Wadsworth can’t be that bad, I’m thinking, and besides, I have a clean record, so maybe I’ll get off with just a year or two.

Never mind my new Canadian friend whom I am giving a ride to the Reno Airport, sitting in the passenger seat, totally unaware that I’m going to Jail, and that she is probably going to miss her flight. It was a great burn, and totally worth it, I keep telling myself, as the officer busily writes things down, and scrambles his report across the airwaves to other officers who are surely on their way down to crucify a Burner for the defecation of state property.

The officer looks at me, staring blankly in my face. He’s looking at me, to make sure that I know they are on their way, and they are coming for me. How could I not know, I want to scream. Just then, another officer pulls up, and they stand grouped together, staring at me. With my florescent orange dreadlocks, wearing nothing but shorts and sunglasses, they begin sizing me up. Visions of a crucifixion that I saw earlier in the week begin to take hold. As I see myself nailed to a make-shift cross, strapped to the hood of a freshly fouled cop car, left out to die as a lesson to all burners.

As I make my way back across the highway, I notice the officer getting into his car via the passenger side! As he settles in, I make my approach. “Sure glad you didn’t get hurt,” I say, trying to gauge what he is going to do. “Sure glad you didn’t have your window open!” I mention, secretly wishing that he did have his window open.

He scribbled down his report, shaking his head. “I’d love to write you a whole list of tickets” – raising my excitement that I may get out of this with only some tickets – “but there isn’t a judge around who would convict. It simply isn’t your fault,” he says with a very disappointed look. “Now get that tank off the road, secure it, and get your ass out of here.” At which point I turn, load my now empty sewage tank onto the top of my vehicle, and proceeded to crawl back in, laughing, trying not to run.

“Can I use the potty?” asks the Canadian girl. “NO!” I shout. Then I explain what has been going on out there, and we begin laughing hysterically about the entire event. I got away with it. Laughing, I blare the last remnants of good burn music and cruise to enjoy the night in a Reno Hotel with a hot Canadian girl and eat a good meal. I had more fun in two weeks than that officer has had his whole life. I dumped my urine and other bodily fluids all over his car, and laughed about it. I got away with everything, and somehow I knew I’d probably never top this.

I’d like to thank the Wadsworth Police Department for participating, all of the people who helped fill up that tank, and of course my 1975 Winnebago for its perfect timing. I couldn’t have had such an ending without them all!

by Dave Darling

Burners Without Borders – Report from the Field

Biloxi, Mississippi
from Tom Price, aka Thumper [as dictated to Will Chase]

Flying into Biloxi, Mississippi, I was stunned at the number of swimming pools until I realized that every house didn’t have a swimming pool, but a blue tarp for a roof. To give you an idea of the level of destruction, imagine a flat neighborhood near the ocean. Raise the sea level 15′ and bring it inland 10 miles. Then add 100+ mph winds for 12 hours.

I have yet to see a single home that’s habitable. There are no stores open. All the wrecks of homes have orange spray-painted runes, marking the number of bodies and the date they were searched. Four-story casinos the size of several football fields floated inland bulldozing office complexes before settling sideways in residential neighborhoods. It’s been a month since Katrina … but it looks as though it could have happened days ago. The stench of rotting flesh is everywhere, and a constant reminder of the many bodies of humans and animals left unclaimed.

One of the few bright lights (actually one of the only lights period) are the flood lights illuminating the bright red geodesic dome now serving as a gathering place and 24-hour free supermarket that the Burning Man Temple Crew erected in the parking lot of the Van Duc Buddhist Temple. Half the team of volunteers works from sunrise until long after dark, unloading, sorting and giving away food, medical supplies, clothing, diapers … everything a person needs to survive. The other half are using their tools and heavy equipment (cranes, bulldozers, etc.) to rebuild the Temple pretty much from the ground up.

The entire 3-acre complex is run completely as a gift economy. Some people bring things, some people take things … nothing changes hands except the occasional thanks.

Traditional non-profit groups like The Red Cross, Oxfam and World Shelters are now using an adjacent block at a catholic church that was also cleared out by the Temple Crew. To give you an idea of what that job entails, when they first arrived, the parking lot was covered in 3 feet of mud and filled with cars, boats, trucks, and two houses that had ripped off their moorings and drifted down the street. What’s hard to comprehend is that this description applies to everything in a 10-mile wide, 100-mile long strip of Mississippi.

One of the few amusing things here is seeing this 3-acre spotless parking lot with pickup trucks adorned with Burning Man Temple Crew logos and a bright red geodesic dome, and someone has attached to the front fence a sign that reads “Reserved for Theme Camps Only”.

At night the only sounds are gas generators and cicadas (but we’re working on getting some house music). And of course all of this is a backdrop for a constant stream of Vietnamese immigrants who don’t speak English, but immediately get their head around the gift economy. Temples are where the Vietnamese are traditionally used to coming to get what they need, so this is quite fitting.

As I speak, there’s a crew of Rangers building a shelter for people to sleep in at night.

How You Can Help
People are asking what’s needed. The short answer is everything. The needs change from hour to hour, as supply trucks arrive and unload their cargo. But what we need no matter what is fuel, cash, and people who can come and stay for a while to work. If you come, we have everything you need to live. There’s food to eat, places to sleep and people who need your help.

People want to see their money being used well … a bunch of my friends gave me money when they heard I was coming here, and I gave it to the guy who’s running the place, who used it immediately to buy gas to keep the generators running, the refrigerators cold, keeping a minimal electrical grid going, fans, power tools … and to fuel the bulldozer and crane. Essentially everything needed to keep this operation going. Material relief we have … for the time being, there’s no need for food and clothing … that time will come.

The important thing to remember is, even a month later, there’s still a need for basic survival supplies … those things are still coming, but we are at the receiving end of an avalanche of good will. What’s most needed is somebody who can help organize the receiving and distribution of these supplies. It’s hard to assess what people’s needs are … they first need to figure out where to go and how to get help. These people are incredibly traumatized, as you can imagine, and every bit helps.

If you’d like to show up in Biloxi and help, please call Tom Price on his cell phone at xxx-xxx-xxxx for instructions. The circuits are loaded, and sometimes sketchy, but keep trying. If you’d like to donate cash, you can do so immediately by making a payment to Tom’s PayPal account, which is the email address: He will ATM the money out and immediately put it towards the continuation of the operation. For any other questions or comments, please email katrina-relief (at) burningman (dot) com.


Fifty people, lost in the desert

The morning was cold but clear. I wore shorts, expecting it to be a hot day. We all did.

Around 10:00, Deanna looked up at the sky and exclaimed, “hey guys, look at that cloud!” It looked like some sort of spaceship: round, dark gray, with multiple layers. We dubbed it “the Mothership” and went back to work, pulling little tiny bits of green wax out of the playa. Wax! Why? It took us over an hour to unearth that particular scar, and our noses were in the dirt the whole time.

The next time we looked up, it was noon and the crew was gathering for lunch. The Mothership had stretched and grown, and started producing offspring. Then, the winds came.


My Thoughts about Burning Man 2005

The days were great, but the nights were MAGICAL! Very hard to explain in words; it must be seen to be believed. My senses were constantly bombarded with color and lights emanating from the city, theme camps and the people all dressed up in magnificent costumes all bedecked with blinking lights (many created just for Burning Man). Black Rock City is Disneyland, Las Vegas and Times Square all packaged together. If you want to get away from the sounds and lights of the city, you need only venture on foot or bike into the desert past the Man. The sounds become muted and the only lights you see are the billions of blinking stars high overhead. That is worth the price of admission!

OK, so let me see. I’ve been fed, pampered, chauffeured around the desert, offered alcohol, plus I’ve been entertained with wonderful music and seen great (and not so great) works of art rise from the desert floor and then destroyed again. Is that why Burning Man is so special? As wonderful as all of that is, (and believe me it is), what makes Burning Man so special to me is the freedom everyone has to fully express themselves. Upon entering the front gate you are greeted with a “welcome home” from the people who work there. And, for all of the many return visitors, that’s exactly what it is, home! The freedom to be yourself, without worrying what other people think or say, became intoxicating. Everywhere I looked, I saw people dressed, or undressed, in any costume or piece of clothing that the “outside world” would probably find objectionable. Nothing at Burning Man is objectionable to the people that attend.

After two days I no longer felt that sharp twinge in my neck (probably caused by my constantly swinging my head around to see all of those undraped bodies). What was not “normal” for me before I entered the gates became perfectly normal and acceptable. Within two days my belief structure was permanently changed and it felt great! It was wonderful to see people give of themselves because they truly wanted to. There seemed to be a mutual understanding that the community of Burning Man will form a temporary society dedicated to creativity and fun. There are no bystanders at Burning Man because everyone puts in an effort to entertain, build something, or give something away just because it feels good. It was wonderful seeing people doing what they feel comfortable with, knowing that in this oasis of community people will only applaud their uniqueness, not deride it.

I didn’t see many handshakes. I saw hugs, many wonderful hugs. The handshake stems from an old practice of making sure the person your meeting doesn’t have a weapon in his hand the hug is given because you care. I like the hug better!

So now you know everything there is to know about BM, right? I think not. You still need to experience it for yourself.

Before signing off, I would like to share three personal experiences that made Burning Man so special to me, (I won’t bore you with the other 50 odd stories). My son, Marc, better known on the playa as the Sonic Connector or Urb to his friends, has wanted me to go with him to BM for more than three years. In January, I called Marc and told him that 2005 was the year I would attend, (many of you can guess what the impetus was). Marc and I went up on Saturday night and Lynnsey was to follow four days later. Sunday and Monday were brutal with sand storms and wind gusts exceeding 40 mph. It was impossible to put up a shade structure let alone pitch a tent. But we finally put up a tent, however, the netting we put up for shade was torn to shreds by the sever wind gusts. The second night the wind died down and Marc suggested a bike ride into the desert.

I need to give you a little background before I continue. When Marc was a young boy I took him to the NYC Planetarium see a laser show choreographed to the music of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. If you are a Pink Floyd fan you would have loved it; hell Marc and I went three times. OK, let’s fast forward to the desert. Marc and I are riding our bikes with headlamps on to see were we are going. He has his iPod with him strapped to the handlebars of his bike and a baby carrier behind to house the speakers. All you could here were the wheels rolling over the desert floor. After 20 minutes, Marc suggested we turn off our headlamps. We were immediately bathed by the light of a trillion blinking stars and off to my right I could see the outline of the moon appearing over the horizon. My senses were immediately awakened with the playing of Dark Side of The Moon. Tears immediately began to flow. We continued to ride for a few minutes then stopped and got off our bikes. Marc and I didn’t need to connect, since I have always cherished the relationship we have. However, being there with him was incredibly special. We spent a lot of time talking about love, relationships, children, and a whole lot of other stuff, just the two of us in the middle of the desert.

One day I decided to take a stroll around the city. After two hours or so, a magic carpet floated past me so I decided to jump on. It was hot and dusty and it felt great just sitting and taking in the scenery. A few moments later a woman ran from one of the camps along the road and asked if we wanted a hot dog, with that a man from another camp yelled out “hell, you can’t have a hot dog without cold beer” and he immediately poured beer from his pitcher to anyone that wanted it. As we kept riding through the city I began to chuckle. Here I was riding on a magic carpet through a desert city with a hot dog in one hand and a beer in the other. Wasn’t life a beautiful thing?

Marc, Lynnsey and I left the playa after the burning of the Temple on Sunday. The Temple has four or five wooden structures and is located in the desert past the Man. During the week the Temple is used by many people as a resting place from the heat of day or cool of night. Many people write all sorts of things on its walls and place personal notes between its cracks. I visited the Temple on a very hot day, two days before the burn. I placed a note hidden away from all others to see. The night of the burn, I was standing with Marc and Lynnsey when a cool breeze went through the crowd. Just then a lone voice rose up and sang Ave Maria. There are no words to describe the feeling. After she finished, the temple exploded in cascades of fire. As I watched my old life burn away I held Lynnsey and Marc until the fire died down. We turned and left. Being there with them, at that time, is something I will always treasure.

Next year, when I hear the greeting, Welcome Home, I will understand!

Meet me on the Playa!

Love to you all

Leon (Big Urb)

How To Make an Awesome MOOP Bucket

(and how to use it: Line Sweeps are here!)

Everyone needs their own mooper scooper. Here’s how to make one in four easy steps!

1. Find a water jug (one- or two-gallon will do nicely)

2. Locate your knife

3. Cut hole in jug

4. Fill with tiny pieces of trash (pictured is one day’s spoils).

…So you wanna be hardcore? Try doing line sweeps for two weeks, kid. I’ve only made it through two days, and my brain is already fried.

DPW Cleanup Crew is getting grungier and grungier, and every day things seem just a little more absurd. People’s work clothes are slowly turning into bizarre costumes, and attitudes get brasher and surlier as we all inch our way toward mass insanity.


Hurricane Katrina – What we’re doing, how you can help …

Luna Sea, Biloxi (Photo by Tom Price)
Luna Sea, Biloxi (Photo by Tom Price)

By now you’re all home and unpacked, and coming to terms with life in Reality Camp — and with the enormity of the damage left by Hurricane Katrina.

Although news was sketchy during the event, as noted in this piece by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford, as soon as Burners found out about the hurricane they did what comes naturally — they stepped into motion, organized and helped out which you’ll read about in a article and this Reno Gazette-Journal story. It just made sense — after all, as many have noted New Orleans is a sort of free spirited sister city to Black Rock City.

Biloxi Katrina Disaster (Photo by Tom Price)
Biloxi Katrina Disaster (Photo by Tom Price)

The Regional Information Center, Playa Info, BMIR and Media Mecca all participated in the effort to provide information and support. Media Mecca was turned into the New Orleans Disaster Relief center, where free satellite phones and a laptop were set up so people from the affected area could reach home, receive housing offers, post news updates, and collect materials to help people on and off the playa.

Collection at Center Camp Cafe (Photo by Scott London)

Collection at Center Camp Cafe (Photo by Scott London)

Volunteers from all over the playa and every Burning Man department spent hours sharing information and collecting resources. During the event, cash donations of over $35,000 were collected, and thousands of pounds of food and water were delivered to the Salvation Army for refugees displaced to Reno (at that time we were their single largest contributor).

“But wait,” you might be thinking, “wasn’t I told that food and water wasn’t needed when I tried to donate it during Exodous?” Yes, you were — we didn’t learn until very late during Exodus that they would be needed and accepted. Had we known we could have collected much, much more. As you’ll see mentioned in the RGJ article cited above, as soon as the Project discovered the need for dry goods for refugees in Reno the Exodus crew took in as much as participants wanted to give, reserved enough to feed the crew for the next few weeks and then drove 3 truckloads of food and water donations to the Reno Salvation Army.

Makeshift Supply Store (Photo by Tom Price)
Makeshift Supply Store (Photo by Tom Price)

In addition to the money and food raised, materials and funds were donated directly to a group of people from New Orleans who, along with some circus performers who met in Black Rock City — now calling themselves the Third Line Circus — left the event and went directly to Houston to provide aid and raise the spirits of people displaced by the storm. We’ll provide updates of their progress and efforts as we receive them.

What We’re Doing

Distributing Relief Supplies (Photo by Tom Price)
Distributing Relief Supplies (Photo by Tom Price)

Of the money raised, over $13,000 was placed in containers specifically ear-marked for the Red Cross and has already been donated. In order aid two particularly hard hit parishes we chose OXFAM to receive a $15,000 donation. The remainder is being held temporarily and is earmarked for non-profit groups and on-the-ground agencies delivering immediate aid. We share your concern that resources not be used on overhead, and will keep you informed as this process moves forward about exactly where your donations went.

We are also creating a Katrina Relief announcement list to connect people affected by the disaster with those who wish to help, and to keep people up to date with our latest information. If you provided your email address on the playa for this list, you will be contacted soon.

How You Can Help

Destroyed Buddhist Temple (Photo by Tom Price)
Destroyed Buddhist Temple (Photo by Tom Price)

There are several simultaneous efforts underway to help people displaced by the hurricane. Right now we’re working to get a sense of what people are doing, and how the Project and participants can best help coordinate and facilitate those efforts. If you’d like to assist in any way, please email us at

Feel free to join our Katrina Relief announce list to keep apprised of the latest updates, and to see how you can directly help those in need. To join the list email:

DPW Represent (Photo by Tom Price)
DPW Represent (Photo by Tom Price)

For those that like the connectivity of you have a few options that provide information: There is the New Orleans Burner Tribe which is moderated by the official Burning Man New Orleans Regional Network Contact, Anthony De Cognito. And there is the “New Orleans” tribe (which seems to be moderated by a burner “jennconspiracy”, and includes periodic posts by the regional contact). Lastly, there is a newly created tribe specifically for Burners interested in helping with Katrina, however, neither the moderator of the tribe nor the content of the tribe are known to the Project. Search for “Burning VanGuard” on

Finally, please work with your regional contact to put something together (a Mardi Gras decompression, anyone?), and let us know how we can assist you.

Here’s what we know of right now …

Projects Now in Motion

There are a number of different projects and efforts in which Burning Man participants are engaged in to help the relief efforts from hurricane Katrina. We are only including projects that the Burning Man organization has researched and have an understanding of the purpose and goals. However, like the playa one should use one’s own good judgment when getting involved in a project

Build Biloxi!

A group of Black Rock Rangers and other volunteers are going to Biloxi, Mississippi, to build shelters for emergency workers, in conjunction with World Shelters, FEMA, and OXFAM.)

Third Line Circus

Third Line Circus was born on the playa, and includes members of several departments, participants and circus folks from the UK. They first traveled as a group to Reno and participated in a Red Cross training. The group then divided temporarily to convert vehicles to vegetable oil, stock up on supplies while the others headed directly to Houston to research how and when New Orleans would allow their return. They have recently regrouped in Austin to decide on their next move.

Here is a portion of their mission statement:

“The Second Line is a long-standing, long-dancing New Orleans tradition; best known as the band that follows funerals, somber on the way to the grave, joyous and celebratory on the way back.

Inspired by this fine tradition, Third Line is a rapidly expanding hurricane relief team, with a core comprised of New Orleans residents and entertainers, and a vast network of friends who also want to help. Primarily we are a circus, which will provide entertainment relief (in the form of circus acts, a mobile film theater, puppet shows, and music) and children’s day care (with an educational focus on creating their own children’s circus), although we seek to fulfill other needs as we see fit (e.g. housing, clothing, etc.).”

You can donate via the site, and view their blog.

Hurricane Katrina Relief Film Project

With a bus full of supplies and necessities Estee Blanchar will drive home to Louisiana bringing relief to as many lives as possible.

She hopes to feed, clothe and unite families, and just help in the ongoing rescue mission to restore life to those who have been severely affected by Hurricane Katrina. She will also be making a documentary of her journey to bring to light the conditions of those in need and what is being done to help.

Visit the website for contact info and to make a donation.

Got something you’re working on?

Let us know. We’ll do our best to keep this list current!