Line Sweep panorama, by Vaughn Solo. Click to enlarge!

Hey there sports fans, MOOP maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! The Hun here, reporting from Gerlach where the DPW Playa Restoration team is steadily returning the Black Rock Desert to its stark and dusty glory.

Le Wrench and Feralina, lovin' their work.

After a couple of weeks doing Restoration work, we’ve got a pretty good idea of 2011’s most common MOOP. You might be surprised to hear that the worst offenders change from year to year. That’s because of YOU, and the efforts you make.

For example, we used to have a lot of trouble with feathers, plant matter and Astroturf. We spread the word to the community and asked you not to bring your feather boas, tree branches, straw bales and imitation lawns. And it worked! When we tell the community about our MOOP problems, those problems tend to go away, and for that we are endlessly grateful.

Yet, as we eradicate one type of MOOP, another rears its head. And so I present to you this year’s most common MOOP, and what you can do to prevent it next year!


MOOP MAP LIVE, Day 5: Special Forces

Hey there sports fans, MOOP maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! The Hun here, reporting from Gerlach where the DPW Playa Restoration team is steadily marching across the Black Rock City grid.

Drop Dead Ding Dong Darius on the front lines

If you’re just tuning in, it’s been an exciting week. We’ve been talking about theme camps, dance parties and what we the participants leave behind. Yes, there were some big messes in the front part of the city — but there were also many, many green blocks along Esplanade. All in all, it’s an impressive feat of Leaving No Trace.

Today, the Line Sweeps moved inward, off the Esplanade and into the residential blocks. Now the focus is off theme camps, and back to the community at large.

Can the residential camps match up to Esplanade’s performance? Did we, the people of Black Rock City, manage to clean up our own backyards? See for yourself:


There’s a reason so many Burning Man friendships don’t work out anywhere else

Hit me up on Facebook. I'll send you a cat video.

Yep – it’s that time again.  Dammit.

I hate that time.

You’ve shaken the dust off, caught up on sleep, detoxed your system, dragged your ass to work, put the pieces of your life back together, and found a place to store the giant copper monkey head you swore you’d take good care of because it meant so much to that one guy who … as of the Core Burn … was your best friend in the whole world.

Now it’s time to admit it:   that that guy’s never going to actually come visit you.  And, worse, you’re probably never going to email him.

In fact, virtually every goddamn one of the people who you magically fell in love with at Burning Man and swore undying devotion to after you realized they were the missing piece of your soul probably can’t actually be bothered to keep in touch outside of Facebook.

And neither can you.

Because … you’d like to, but … you’re busy.  It’s your mom’s birthday.  Or something.

I’d been through summer camp syndrome before, but I wasn’t prepared for the first time I made soul mates at Burning Man who disappeared in the default world.   I mean, they were my new family!  This was where I belonged!   If what we’d been through together wasn’t friendship and love, what possibly could be?  What kind of person doesn’t follow-up after something like that?

The one-two punch of this existential crisis was the realization that I wasn’t trying very hard either.

I hated them;  I hated myself.  Then I got over it, and had lunch.

The unpalatable truth is that very few of the people I’ve met at Burning Man are actually a part of my life the other 51 weeks a year.  I’ve been profoundly intimate with them, but outside of the desert I can’t expect them to show up at my birthday party, let alone bail me out of jail.

The experiences of trust and love and comradeship we have in the desert don’t seem to translate well into the rest of our lives.


MOOP MAP LIVE, Day 4: Blazing Sun, Biting Flies

Hey there sports fans, MOOP maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! The Hun here, reporting from Gerlach where our brave DPW Playa Restoration team is really starting to feel the burn. Burning sun, that is — over 100 degrees of it, beating down on the barren desert.

Samazon catches a moment's rest

Yes, Day Four was a tough one for your Black Rock City home team. The sun rose all red and yellow, and so did the city blocks. Our MOOP line was held up by huge messes in the 2:00 zone — and when they prayed for a cool breeze, they only got biting flies. The insects were so thick that the Restoration team could barely stop to rest — and so they pressed on, making their way through 21 blocks. A very respectable gain by what may be the strongest team this playa has ever known.

Darth Yoda is ready for any challenge.

Despite the many challenges our team faced, today’s score isn’t so bad. Take a look:

MOOP MAP LIVE: Share Your Opinion! Theme Camps, Big Messes and the Dirty Thirty

Hey there sports fans, MOOP maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! The Hun here, interrupting our ongoing coverage of the 2011 MOOP Map with a special report on THEME CAMPS.

Disorient's geodesic temple. Photo (c) James Addison.

Theme camps are a huge and central part of what makes Black Rock City a participatory community. And, it can be argued, theme camp members are the most dedicated Burners of all. Often working throughout the year to build and fund their camps, theme camp members continue working through the event itself, serving hundreds and even thousands of participants with music, food and other gifts.

Art cars like the Dust City Diner function as mobile theme camps, creating parties wherever they go. Dust City is a great example of a roving party that picks up after itself and Leaves No Trace. Photo (c) Mer Keen.

The result: an excellent experience, tens of thousands of happy Burners… and a whole lot of MOOP. Of the thousands who come to dance and play, how many leave tiny bits of themselves behind? How many glowsticks, cigarette butts and earrings fall unnoticed in the midst of an epic rave? Theme camps must then clean up after their guests, or risk being marked Red on the MOOP Map. Red comes with consequences, including a possible change in camp placement for the next year.

This year, the DPW Playa Restoration team performed a “MOOP Audit” of two major sound camps: Rites of Zion and Disorient, which occupied the 10:00 and 2:00 corners of the Esplanade respectively. Here’s what we found:


MOOP MAP LIVE, Day 3: Esplanade and the Big Black Spot

Hello sports fans, MOOP maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! The Hun here, reporting from Gerlach where things are starting to get VERY exciting for the DPW Playa Restoration team.

MOOP flees in fear from the intrepid team of Bad Ash, Drink Water and Deadpan.

On Day Three of Line Sweeps, your Black Rock City home team swept through the remainder of the back blocks, then made a daring rush up the 10:00 edge and onto the Esplanade. Now in peak condition and thoroughly trained for the task, our Restoration MOOPers were eager to tackle the double-wide blocks of Esplanade and Anniversary, the very center of Burning Man’s epic antics.

What will our brave Restoration team find on 10:00 and Esplanade? Will those heavily-trafficked blocks be Go-Go-Go Green, or Full Stop Red? Read on to find out…

MOOP MAP LIVE, Day 2: It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green

Hey there sports fans, MOOP maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! The Hun here, reporting from Gerlach where the DPW Playa Restoration team is in fine form.

Vaughn Solo, in full regalia.

In their second day of Line Sweeps, the team marched through the remaining blocks between Liminal, Kindergarten and Journey. Then, with barely a break for water, they continued through most of Initiation and Hajj, setting an all-time record of 62 blocks!

Those of you who know how the MOOP Map is made will immediately recognize that a record-setting day translates to a lot of green, MOOP-free areas. So without further ado, here’s your MOOP Map as of Day Two:

Welcome Home, Again

So, are you back? Are you all the way back?

Our guess is, probably not. Because it’s more than likely that you’ll never come all the way back from Burning Man. Things happen out there that tend to change you profoundly. … We don’t want to get overly cheesy or preachy on the subject, but if you had the kind of experiences that routinely happen out there in Black Rock, then  it’s likely that the way you see things, and the way you see yourself, and the way you let yourself be seen, have changed.

Who knew you could be so spontaneous? Who knew you liked to dance so much? Who knew you could talk to so many new people?  Who knew that all the gifting and openness and joy could have touched you the way it did? Who knew that you’d be so moved by simple but repeated acts of kindness?

Welcome to the post-playa club, you Burner you.

Here’s a prediction: There are going to be subtle but persistent reminders of the desert popping up when you least expect them.  They’ll be as mundane as getting a whiff of the playa when you turn on the heater  in the car. And they’ll be as meaningful as when you  remember what you were like when you were being your best self out there.

So no, coming all the way back from Burning Man may not be possible.

But still, you’re back. You are back in your world, your job, your life. You have your “responsibilities.” But maybe you have a slightly different way of looking at things.

So this is about what you might have learned out there, and what you can take back with you, and maybe what you’ll bring next time. You learned a thing or two, and again, they ranged from the mundane to the … well, we shy away from words like “profound,” but maybe you learned some more significant things, too.

For example, we learned (or were reminded) that peanut butter has remarkably powerful restorative properties.

Many of you eat far far better than we do. This is not news: Food is sustenance to us. We recognize and enjoy good food, but our world does not revolve around growing our own produce, making our own pasta, or inventing things in the kitchen with whatever happens to be on hand (because honestly, there is very rarely anything on hand.) These are not things we are necessarily  proud of.

But out there … out there … my goodness.  Grilled elk? Why, that’s very good, thank you. Barbecued eggplant with grilled garden-gown tomatoes? Delicious. And this doesn’t fall in the category of haute cuisine, but being handed a slice of pizza when you are tired and hot and hungry and ornery … well, that combines kindness with culinary art, and it is a fine thing. So thank you for that, mysterious but kind person.

In short, we were reminded, or remembered, that we might be missing out on something. And this is both a small lesson, and a large one. (more…)