What, no fire?

We’ve been out here for almost two weeks now, and with the exception of a burn barrel here and there, we haven’t seen much fire. So naturally we were drawn to the flames the other night when we saw the bright light down by the Depot.

It wasn’t really anything special, just the accumulated burnables of a couple of days. The two Mikes were down at the Depot this evening, Rest Stop Buddy and Alipato.

It was quiet. Gameshow was inside getting pimped out for the boys and girls social. There wasn’t much chatter on the radio. We hung out and had a few beers.

“I’m a little suspicious of you,” Alipato said, looking sideways at me.. “The blogger doing the organization’s bidding. … It could just be my normal paranoia though.”

Nomad came walking by, on his way to the social. “Be home by 10,” Rest Stop said.

The night was absolutely gorgeous. Calm, warm, quiet.

“The biggest and earliest camp hasn’t arrived yet,” Alipato said.

“Which one is that?” I asked.

“Camp Woo Woo,” he said.

“Who are they?”

“Well, we’ve been out here awhile now,” Alipato said. “We’ve accilmated. But pretty soon the big camps will arrive, and you’ll here the people hootin’ and hollering, going ‘Woo! Woo!’ … They’re so happy to be here. The air really carries the sound. It’ll sound like coyotes, and Camp Woo Woo will be here.”

We were talking about how much time we’ve spent on the playa, and Alipato did some figuring and realized that when you totaled it all up, he’d spent most of a year here.

“That’s a little scary,” he said.

When he’s not doing the Burning Man thing, Alipato works the Oregon Country Fair with Gameshow and a few others here. “There’s a lot of crossover,” he said.

Then it got chilly and late, and it was time to go. Don’t tell anyone, but they signed out a bag of ice for me.

So see you soon, Camp Woo Woo. Light the fire.

Don't try to keep up with Gameshow. You're bound to fail.

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.

6 thoughts on “What, no fire?

  • Just thinking about the invasion cycle of BRC. First there is what is there. Open playa, tracks from previous visitors, maybe some other remnants of their stay. Then comes DPW, hard core builders who create the infratructure of our city. Then early theme (woo woo) camps and additional crew, then the general population of BRC. We commune, we laugh, we enbibe, and we celebrate. Then the weekenders come, the energy shifts, the city grows in its frenzy, reching a fever pitch, and then the Man Burns. We celebrate wildly into the wee hours of the morning. Sunday is about what’s left, of the beer, of clean clothes, for some of their dignity. Overnight and throught the day, pieces of the city begin to disappear. Its the beginning of the end. We start to pack as the idea of the default world encroaches upon us. The Temple burns.

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  • Just thinking about the invasion cycle of BRC. First there is what is there. Open playa, tracks from previous visitors, maybe some other remnants of their stay. Then comes DPW, hard core builders who create the infratructure of our city. Then early theme (woo woo) camps and additional crew, then the general population of BRC. We commune, we laugh, we enbibe, and we celebrate. Then the weekenders come, the energy shifts, the city grows in its frenzy, reching a fever pitch, and then the Man Burns. We celebrate wildly into the wee hours of the morning. Sunday is about what’s left, of the beer, of clean clothes, for some of their dignity. Overnight and throught the day, pieces of the city begin to disappear. Its the beginning of the end. We start to pack as the idea of the default world encroaches upon us. The Temple burns. Large chunks of the city are now gone. In the morning we give last minute gifts and hugs and line up to go. Then, its the strike crew and those who lingered still. DPW begins to deconstruct the backdrop of our culture and scores of volunteers come back to be sure the playa is returned to the blank slate that we started with.

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  • Is Pele there? Not Pele the soccer player. Pele the Hawaiian goddess, of the volcano, goddess of fire. Surely she has to be there. Well, unless she prefers being off out in the Pacific ocean, she might not think much of the Nevada
    desert. But then again, the middle of the desert is probably an easier place for putting up impressive art installations than the middle of the ocean. It gives people more of a chance to see the art if it doesn’t sink right away. Of course
    there is also the matter of clearing it all away at the end, which would be quite simple if it could just sink down to the bottom of the ocean. Actually, I think that is a nice thought, what if somehow each year, all the parts that weren’t being kept for the next year (those should be put in a dry storage spot), could just sink down into the ocean? Then people could go on scuba diving trips to see it. Coral reefs would grow all about, and fish in silvery and brilliant hues would inhabit all the crevices.

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