flag day

Flags are everywhere.

Posts, beams, cables, spikes … eventually, all these flags will have something put in the ground where there are only flags now.

Surveyors have been out walking, consulting maps, stepping off distances, trying to make sure that drawings and plans become actual facts on the ground.

the orange flag marked the very center of where Center Camp is being constructed
the orange flag marked the very center of where Center Camp is being constructed

Yesterday, Monique and Danny were working their way around the rim of Center Camp, repeating the same process over and over and over again: Go to the pink and green flag, put a stake on the digging machine, slowly rotate it into the ground,  adjust the sheath, put it in a little further, adjust the sheath again, then sink it so that only a  loop of steel was peeking out of the dust.

Later, cables will be attached to keep the shade sturdy.

Danny is very much like a lot of people out here: He’s got another life in the default word, but more and more the Burner life and the default world are intersecting.

Earlier this year, he went to Peru in the wake of the earthquake there to help put devastated villages back together again. He’s got a variety of skills — plumbing, electricity, carpentry — so he brings a lot to the party. He planned on spending a week helping out, then he’d spend a couple of weeks traveling around. “Two months later, I was still there,” he said.

Danny adjusts the sheath
Danny adjusts the sheath

The villagers were accustomed to having water for only an hour a day, and that was before the earthquake.  “But they were happy,” Danny said. “They’d just say, hey, it’s Peru.”  So he and the other Burners Without Borders were building concrete tanks that would gather water, so the villagers would have water when they needed it, not just when it was running.

So how does a guy find it possible to go helping people out around the world? “I sold a software company at the right time,” Danny said.

Monique in the cab
... and just because we've declared this flag day, and because of this year's theme, here's one that seemed appropriate ...
... and because we declared this flag day, here's one that seemed appropriate.

About the author: John Curley

John Curley has been Burning since the relatively late date of 2004, and in 2008 he spent the better part of a month on the playa, documenting the building and burning of Black Rock City in words and pictures. John is a longtime newspaper person and spent many years at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he was a deputy managing editor in charge of Page One and the news sections of the paper. Since leaving the Chronicle in 2007, he was a contributing editor on Blue Planet Run, a book about the world's water crisis, and for the past two years has been a lecturer at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. He has also started an event and editorial photography business, and is also working on a book about the "Ten Dollar Doc" from Arco, Idaho, which will make a lovely film someday.

9 thoughts on “flag day

  • In some of the pictures, the playa surface looks very rough and crumbly.
    Could you comment on the general conditions of the playa surface so we know what to expect as far as bike riding and dust?
    It would be greatly appreciated!

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  • I think I know that Danny! My first two trips to the playa were with his Paradox Lounge camp. Can’t wait to see his crew again soon! Is the Convenience Store artcar returning, Danny?

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  • awesome work, john! i am soooo excited and soooo freaking that i have so little time to get ready! i’ll be there tuesday am – look for the pete hudson crew… no idea where we are placed.

    d00d – i’d be more jealous but your photos are so dang goooood!

    sparky – odwally (head of the dmv) is out there and sent out an update to volunteers and mv owners that the surface of the playa was the worst he”s seen it – i’ll just go ahead and quote the man –

    “You may have heard already that the playa surface this year is at it’s
    worst. The dust is deep and the bumps and humps are big and fierce.
    While in the past they have mostly been individual bumps that don’t
    shake you up too much, this year more than ever there are virtual mine
    fields of little dunes that tend to shake and rattle vehicles the crap
    our of whatever is going over them. What does this mean to you? Well,
    more than anything else if you have passengers that are not in a seat
    and strapped down, you run a big risk of knocking them over or dumping
    them off your vehicle. Especially with those vehicles that have standing
    passengers higher of the ground. So drive extra slow, and keep a keen
    eye out for dune mine fields.”

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  • Terrific pictures of an astounding task–all y’all are the most dedicated and inspiring bunch of folks in the Western U.S. And how great that you do so much for and with Burners Without Borders. My very first Burn Experience happened last year half way through my 60th year–what a gas! My kids were stunned, impressed and supportive, and horrified. How great is that! Hope to be back next year! (And I worked at B.R.C., wasn’t just a tourist:-)

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  • Love the blog. I swear I can smell the playa. Can’t wait to get out there and make DPW some coffee!!! See those of you who are early risers (or nocturnal) on the morning shift.

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