August 12th: Super Dave & Meteor Showers

Last night we celebrated completion of the fence as well as our last big night in town. I hung out for a while with Ray Posado, Burning Man Transpo Manager. He’s had a looooong couple of days, organizing transportation of all the trailers, equipment, and big supplies from the ranch and various contractors. I think he’s gotten about a half hour of sleep since Wednesday. And yet! He made me laugh my ass off all night long. And it wasn’t just the fact that he has the best radio handle I’ve ever heard. (Tequila lovers will know what I mean.) We had a really great time playing pool and shooting the shit on the porch of the Black Rock Social Club. Afterwards, a few of us drove out to the playa, far beyond the fence, and spent the night under the stars watching the spectacular Perseids meteor shower.

Joe the Builder & SuperI spent the day driving around with Super Dave Pedroli, DPW Operations Manager. I’ve seen him around the office a bunch and talked to him briefly a few times, but I didn’t know until now what the hell he was doing all the time.

We started out in the Gerlach office around 9:00 this morning. Super had already been working for a few hours by then, and he was ready to roll out to the playa. There are five radios in his truck and two cell phones. Two GPS units, some battery chargers, and satellite radio. He will field radio calls all day long. Sometimes two at once on different channels. Here’s what his day looks like:

12-mile entrance: Dude in a car looks like he wants to drive in to BRC. Super pulls up next to him and strongly discourages him, pointing out the city is under construction and it’s not the best time to wander around. Recommends the dude check it out from beyond the fence. Dude complies.

ESD: Emergency Services Dispatch and law enforcement for Black Rock City. This is the area just outside the fence where dispatch control is housed. They are erecting a tall, expensive tower, which is just now lying on the ground next to Super’s truck. He asks casually if it would be a problem if he drove over it. The ESD crew needs a porta-potty, so Super calls it in to Hazmatt and gets it taken care of.

Two small planes fly overhead. They’re too low, so Super stops to get the tail numbers.

Shade CrewDPW Depot. This is the nerve center for Black Rock City. Super checks in with dispatch. All is going smoothly except that they had a deep cell battery and a bike stolen last night. Also, today is booty shorts day on the shade crew, and they are rockin’ it. They’re currently working on the large shade structure for the Depot. They pop up around the playa like a team of shade fairies, granting your wish for comfort and pleasure. Seriously! That’s how important shade is out here.

Commissary. The tent is up. Conditions were better this morning, so they were able to pitch the thing with the help of 50 people. Now they are securing the sides. This area is positively buzzing with activity. They started with bare ground yesterday and by tomorrow morning at 7:00 they’ll be serving a multi-course meal with hot and cold beverages to 250 people. Leeway is working on electricity and consults with Super about technical issues. Joe the Builder talks to Super about logistics. The water people are here filling up huge containers and need to go over a few things with, you guessed it, Super.

Commissary suppliesAndyman is organizing huge crates of food, drinks, and supplies. Weld Boy is back on the trencher. (He gives me a turn by the way. Love it!) After 20 minutes, we’re outta there.

Back to the Depot to look at something with Joe the Builder. Meanwhile, a crate has just been moved with a Hyster, from a flatbed trailer to a spot 30 feet away. It took about a minute and cost $8. Wow.

Chance meeting with Dan Das Mann riding around in his Cushman. He tells Super he needs diesel. And a porta-potty for his crew out at the art installation. Super takes care of both with two radio calls.

Chance meeting with Lone Star riding around in the Polaris. He needs fuel. Check.

The Man base. Check in with Big Stick, Support Services Manager. He’s re-engineering the re-engineered engineering he engineered. You’ll see what I mean when you get here. Also, I chat with Ludy, Ilo, and Otto van Danger. Right now they’re installing giant concrete footings for the trees.

Check in with Crude Awakening.

The TempleTemple. Chat with David Best. One guy on his crew needs a ride to San Francisco this afternoon. Does Super know anyone who’s going? Within minutes Super has organized for Patrick to get a ride with Blue. Here’s a sneak peak at the Temple:

Dust Sales

Chance meeting with Crimson Rose between Center Camp and the Temple. They consult driver’s side window to driver’s side window. Super tells me he has put 5,000 miles on his truck in the last month.13. Center Camp and Aftermath. Big Stick needs a voice recorder because “There’s way too many fuckups too remember.” In this area: augers & drills & fork lifts & anchors & drivers & cranes & guy wires & trenchers & giant beams. Oh my. Also, I laugh hard when I see this truck:

Truck to truck meeting with Joe the Builder. He needs a bunch of 2” PVC fittings. Super calls Ghost Dancer in Reno and asks him to pick up the additional supplies. They’ll be here in four hours.

Porta-potty camp broke part of their trailer and they need a weld. Super drives over, hitches the trailer to his truck, and we head for the ranch.

OolasThe ranch. Super drives over to the metal shop and pulls out a welder. He repairs not only the broken piece, but also three other weak spots. We check in with the auto shop and then the sign shop. Oolas is making progress on the entry sign. He’s done the last six signs, and this one will be beautiful too.

The playa. We give the fixed trailer back to the porta-potty guys who, by the way, are apparently rather well-known for their excellent playa meals. They are stoked. And so it goes. At 3:00 I head back to Gerlach and Super goes back out to the ranch. When we see each other during dinner, Super has a new hole burned into the front of his shirt. He says he “facilitates solutions.” I say he knows everything. Evidence: at one point during the day he breaks out fluent Italian. Nuff said. Tonight was our last meal at Bruno’s. And our last night at the Black Rock. Most people are moving out to the playa, so the trailer park is emptying out and town is relatively quiet.

Dan Das Mann had a shindig out at Crude Awakening to celebrate the meteor shower. I had a blast. A few of us pulled a couch out past the camp and sat there cracking jokes and watching shooting stars until one or two in the morning. Roo is hilarious and I laughed until I cried when we came up with her new radio handle. It’s a little crude for this venue, but it’s something like “Licks a Lot of Stick.” Radio protocol requires you say the person’s name twice and then your own when you’re trying to reach them. So Roo would call Ilo by saying: “Ilo, Ilo, Licks a Lot of Stick.” Ha-ha! Guess you had to be there.

-Wanda Power

About the author: Marnee Benson

Marnee joined Black Rock Solar in 2009 as an environmental journalist and project manager who had recently organized a worldwide sailing expedition and global warming lecture series. While growing up in New Mexico, Marnee played tennis in the high-desert sun, ripped it up at local ski resorts, and rode bikes with her friends. She’s lived in Reno for more than ten years, after stops in Jackson Hole and southern California– where she played beach volleyball and studied math at San Diego State University. Marnee traded in her tennis racket and bikinis for carabiners and climbing shoes when she hit the Sierra Nevada, and she recently graduated from UNR with two master’s degrees in Environmental Science and Environmental Policy. She organized the Tour de Nez bike race for three years and sailed with Greenpeace International before turning her attention full-time to Black Rock Solar. In her spare time, Marnee counts her lucky stars for being able to work with the Holland Project and March Fourth Marching Band.

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