The early burn

early-burn-141Early burn is a lot like the regular burn, except that it’s completely different.

The work is very much the same. The Estonians out at the Man base were working like crazy to finish the Early Man in time for the burn on Saturday night. They worked right through dinner, with Big Stick and Roo doing the heavy lifting to get the not-so-little guy loaded onto the burn platform.

(Pretty much everything is done on a burn platform out here, with burn sand laid around the base to protect the playa from damage. Come the morning, everything gets scooped up and hauled away, and there is very little scarring left on the desert floor.)

early-burn-21The carpenters were really hammering to finish on time. It was the biggest Early Man I’d ever seen, but that really isn’t saying much. I’ve only seen two. Some of the long-timers were saying that there have been bigger ones, but it would be hard to believe they had more heft. The Little Man, as we’ll call him, was built in the same way as the Man base is being built, which is to say, bang a bunch of trusses together, then whack a bunch of 2x4s to them, and hope that it comes out looking cool. At least, that’s what seems is happening. I’m sure it’s all much more complicated, but they just seem to be winging it. And it’s coming out spectacularly, at least to these eyes.

early-burn-31(There are some nicknames popping up for the Man base, too. My favorite, because it  harkens back to the Belgian Waffle that the base somewhat resembles, is Eggo. Another name heard now and then is Hash Brown. … Feel free to offer your own right here.)

When darkness fell, people and vehicles started moving out beyond the Man. The Lamplighters had all the spires glowing in the twilight. The wind was really blowing, and it felt very much like burn night a year ago, when the wind was howling all day Saturday and you couldn’t see five feet in front of you and it never stopped blowing until about 10 at night, just in time to get the Man torched.

The Early Burn felt a little like a Halloween party, because a lot of people were dressed up. But instead of dressing up like well-known characters, the best costumes were of Logan and Camera Girl and Gameshow and Dylan Blackthorne. Now, I realize this doesn’t mean a hell of a lot to you, because you don’t even know these people, but think of that episode of the The Office when Jim dresses like Dwight, with the nerdy hair and glasses and short sleeve shirt. It was pretty funny on TV, and it was pretty damn funny last night. People were walking around like their dopplegangers, and it just worked. (more…)

One of the reasons why we love it like we do out here

Me, the sky and the spires.
Me, the sky and the spires.

You can be going from here to there, just doing the things that you need to do, and you don’t even notice that the sky is changing and the colors are intensifying and the desert floor is beginning to glow. You’re just going about your business. And then you happen to stop and look up and you realize, wait … look at that. Just LOOK at that.  The sky is  all dark, the hills all glow-y, and the crusty playa surface all contrasty and textural.

And then you remember, yeah, it’s not really the very worst place you could be.

Getting ready for the Little Burn

oculus-2-copyThe Center Camp crew was up late Friday night getting their Oculus burn structure ready for Saturday’s Little Burn.

Erik, Jamie, Goatt and the rest took turns carving out their fancy new camp insignia in the wood, then worked late into the night to get it ready to go.

It’s just like the big burn, only little. People work long and hard to get things just right, then they burn it up. Gone forever.

Even though it’s a Saturday, and even though the Little Burn is tonight, it’s still very much a regular work day. It’s not quite as hot as the past couple of days, but there’s no question there are more than a few people feeling more than a little baked.

More people seem to arrive every hour. The Commissary is more crowded than ever, with long lines for food snaking out the door. And outsiders will be welcomed to the playa for the evening’s festivities. But the witching hour comes at noon on Sunday, when only paid-up people with permission to be out here early are allowed to stay.

See you later when the sun goes down and the first fires get sparked up.

Ready to welcome you home

gate-copyThe stakes are in, the fence is strung and the flags are flapping in the breeze. All that’s missing is a line of cars and vans and RVs a couple of miles long, and things would look like opening day.

The sense of anticipation here is building, even though there’s a certain serenity to the Gate scene now.

Last night the Gate crew held a fence-tying party. Everyone was invited to participate, in return for copious amounts of beer and whisky. Wild Child reported this morning that he’d never seen a jankier fence, but thanked everyone for helping anyway.


Is it hot enough for ya?

Joe the Builder checked on the Center Camp crew

Ok, so the word for today was hot.

I mean, hot hot.

I mean, really really goddamn hot. And you know what? It’s cooled off since yesterday.

Yesterday it was 108 degrees in the shade. Some say 109, some say 107, so we’ll go with the average. It was hot yesterday, and it was hot today. Sun beating down on your head and shoulders hot, and oh by the way, there is no pool. No beach.


There were warnings at the DPW meeting this morning to watch out for each other. “If one of you breaks yourself, the whole crew suffers.”

So the word went out that electrolytes were available, and to watch out for each other, and to watch for the signs of heat exhaustion. The question was put to the assembled group: What ARE the signs of heat exhaustion?

“Irritability!” someone shouted, irritably.

Of course, it might not just be heat exhaustion that causes irritability. I mean, this is a group of people who labors all day long in the sun, and again I mean realllly labors — digging, pounding, dragging, hammering, bending, you name it — and then at night carries on whole lot more. There might be a few PBRs consumed. There might be some Jameson quaffed. There also might be stories told in the morning about puking the night before.

And yet there they all are at the morning meeting, getting word about what’s on tap for the day. At 7:30 in the morning, and that’s AFTER breakfast. This is a tough crew. (more…)