Breaking Down

Watching the city come apart piece by piece

Setup is such a slow process, it seems – but the initial cleanup goes very, very quickly. Once the event is over, most people are more than eager to get out of here. We’re all dusty and tired, and lots of us have jobs to get back to. A large chunk of DPW left in the last few days, and more are leaving this week; some are going home, some to New Orleans, some to explore the world. Those of us left here are at least ready to move back to Gerlach where we’ll have water and electricity – though we’ll miss the Commissary’s food.

All of the theme camps are gone now – most disappeared completely, a few reduced to piles of junk waiting for transportation off the playa. Some intrepid burners have stayed here past the event’s end, but BLM will be coming around soon to ticket them for wearing out their welcome. My neighborhood is mostly empty, save a few DPWers and one abandoned RV (brand new!).

In Center Camp, most of the structures are still there and working with skeleton crews, but Lanceland came through today and pulled out everyone’s power supply. Goodbye, Rangers! Goodbye, Lamplighters! Goodbye, Arctica and Recycle Camp! Now it’s just the DPW Depo, the hardy souls at First Camp, and the Cafe.

Cafe itself, easily the most difficult structure to build and by far the most densely populated during the event, is going to take a long time to go away. Simon, Wednesday, Bonnie Blaze, Snatch, Hippie, Ski Patrol – and plenty of others I don’t know – will be working to take down all the rigging, flags, cloth, and poles for a long time. They worked night shifts for weeks leading up to the event; now, working in the daytime and with the possibility of severe dust storms, it’s a job I don’t envy them.



When the music’s over…

Then they left. Just shut off their generators, packed their trailers, tied their bikes to the back of their RVs and left.

Exodus is an interesting time. The cars, as most of you know, line up for miles with their engines running (hmm), waiting to leave the city. Lone burners stand by the roads with cardboard signs requesting rides and supplies. For years, I’ve been stuck in that line on my way out; this year, I found myself working the Donation Station with a bunch of half-drunken DPWers. We stood at the side of the road next to a big green trash container, and yelled at the cars.
“Got any booze?”

“Booze, beer, cigarettes, socks?”

“Hey, this is the donation lane. If you’re not donating, you’re not participating.”