t g i f

So, a few words about playa conditions. In a word or two, they are not bad. Yes there are chunky areas. Yes there are areas that will force you off your bike. But in general, not bad at all. There is a surface crust of an inch or so in most places, with some patches, like the area above, a bit deeper than that. The surface is hard-packed right now, but obviously that's going to change when everyone gets here. Will there be dust? Yes there will be dust.
So, a few words about playa conditions -- they are not bad. Yes there are chunky areas. Yes there are areas that will force you off your bike. But in general, not bad at all. There is a surface crust of an inch or so in most places, with some patches, like the area above, a bit deeper than that. The surface is hard-packed right now, but obviously that's going to change when everyone gets here. Will there be dust? Yes there will be dust.

So maybe you’ve been reading about the people who have been building the city for you for the past several weeks, and maybe some of you have been kind enough to say stop on by when you get here and have a drink. That’s really awesome and great and appreciated, but you know what? You can help even more if you want to.

There will be dozens and dozens of people here for weeks AFTER the event, too, cleaning up after everyone. Yes, this is a “leave no trace” event, but … well … it doesn’t really work out that way. Lots of people leave lots of traces, and it takes a lot of work by the Playa Restoration Crew and others to get the playa back to the shape it was in before all this started.

So that’s where you come in. These people need simple things, like food and drink. Yes, people donate their leftover stuff on their way out of Burning Man, and that is very much appreciated. But you might even think about PLANNING to give some stuff to the DPW crew. You have to remember, they are the ones who have been out here busting their butts to make this thing happen, and they will be here for a long time afterward. And, like everyone else this year, they are having money troubles. So if you want to show your appreciation for their efforts, maybe do more than offer free drinks during the event. Drop off some good stuff and help them make it through the year. Thanks so much.

There was some doubt that the Thunderdome people were going to make it out to the event this year, but rest easy: They arrived Thursday night and are setting up the dome as we speak. And DPW fight night at the dome is Wednesday, so you might want to make a note of that.

Goat Man Dan of the Nimby crew, near the Museum of Unnatural Selection
Goat Man Dan of the Nimby crew, near the Museum of Unnatural Selection

The sculpture outside of Center Camp looks completely awesome, and it hasn’t even been fired up yet. It’s called the Museum of Unnatural Selection, and it’s the creation of the Oakland Nimby crew, specifically Goat Man Dan, Lex and Jen. They were putting on the finishing touches Friday, getting ready for their pyro inspection later in the day. (Yes, all the pieces and vehicles that involve fire have to pass an inspection. So you can tell your mom that everything is quite safe out here.)

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Are things getting a little testy out at the Temple? Maybe.

I was doing the thing I’ve been doing for awhile now, just kind of walking around, taking snappies, trying to be as invisible as possible, when a guy sanding one of the panels in the center of the structure said I had to get out. So I just backed outside. No problem. And then I started to walk around to the other side, and he said, “No, I mean out beyond the cones,” which are like 30 yards  away. Hmm. Not too many “people shots” out there. So I walked back inside for a second and went over to him and asked softly if there were anyone I could talk to about getting access to the site, because I’m doing it for the Burning Man folks and all. And he said nope. No one to talk to. Not now there’s not. This is an active construction site, and I was going to have to leave. So I left.

It’s a beautiful piece, the Temple. It’s quite complex, and there are a lot of moving pieces, so I totally get it. But I was remembering that last year the Temple didn’t open until the middle of the week, so really, this crew has plenty of time. But I think they’re going to open on schedule. And I can’t wait to see how the flame works in the middle of the thing.

Word is that there’s a lot of pink eye going around the playa. About 30 people have it so far. So when you get here, wash your hands a lot. There were a ton of people coughing at the DPW meeting this morning too, so that’s another reason to practice good hygiene.

It's really hard not to smile around Helen. Why? Because she's always smiling, and you can't help yourself.
It's really hard not to smile around Helen. Why? Because she's always smiling, and you can't help yourself.

The flags on top of Center Camp may be an endangered species here at Evolution Burn. They may not last until the time the gates open. I haven’t yet found out exactly what the issue is, but I was told that the issue was discussed at a senior staff meeting, and it has something to do with a construction thing. More when I know, and we’ll have some pictures for historical purposes, at least.

A cold front was expected to move through the area Friday afternoon, with 30 mph winds coming along with it. Uh oh. Batten down the hatches. The good news was, it was expected to blow through quickly, then calm down again. And the weather forecast is looking good through Wednesday.

Lily is the cartographer for the city ... in other words, she mapped it all out before there was anything else here. She's also an artist and a fire dancer. She's like a lot of other people here, in that she has a very diverse skill set. Hi, Lily, and thanks.
Lily is the cartographer for the city ... in other words, she mapped it all out before there was anything else here. She's also an artist and a fire dancer. She's like a lot of other people here, in that she has a very diverse skill set. Hi, Lily, and thanks.

Today is miniskirt, tutu and kilt day. And again, I find that my radical self expression has once again not included this aspect of the festivities. Tomorrow is Stoopid Joke Day. Ok.

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.

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