Hey there sports fans, MOOP maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! The Hun here, reporting from Gerlach where time is running out for your Black Rock City home team. As I type this, the DPW Playa Restoration crew is pulling up all the last T-stakes and cones, our final points of reference in an increasingly featureless desert. There’s a storm coming, see, and whether we’re ready or not, our time on the playa is almost up.
But let’s look back to Day 6, when our intrepid Restoration MOOPers swept through 22 blocks — from 4:30 to 10:00 between Coming Out, Divorce and Engagement. How did the C-D-E camps fare? Here’s the report:
Nice work there, folks! That’s a lot of green, and very little red. Way to keep it clean and keep the MOOP line moving!
Today’s score: 91% green, 8% yellow and 1% red. That’s the highest score we’ve seen since Day One.
Coyote Nose: A day in the life of a Playa Restoration Mooper
Here’s Tony “Coyote” Perez, Black Rock City Superintendent and O.G. DPW, with a taste of what it’s like for the crew still working here in Gerlach.
6:30 am alarm clock. Head off the pillow — still swimming a bit from last night’s beer at the Black Rock Saloon social club in the heart of Gerlach, NV. Got pretty cold in the mid Sept. wee hours — good to have that extra blanket. Swing your legs out of bed and start dressing in layers — several rag tag crazies topped off with the notorious and ubiquitous DPW black hoodie. Gonna need the layers, gets pretty blazing hot out on playa still. It’s like we’re living on Mars. Scrub some teeth, I guess — and step into the crisp autumn morning of the cramped trailer park to head to the crew’s buffet breakfast and 7:30 morning meeting in the back chow hall of the Saloon. There’s about a hundred of us and it’s a surreal and strange movie-ish sight to see the tiny main street of Gerlach at 7:00 am flanked with the dark zombie mob of the DPW resto crew lumbering along, most wearing our dark hoodie with that bright orange dot on the back, announcing to all just how bad ass we really are! Was that a look of astonishment on the face of that random bird hunter just rolling through town, witnessing this and wondering, “What the…?!”
The chow hall is full of the noisy clank and clatter of warm breakfast and the smell of bacon abounds. The friendships and fellowships of Resto crew always tighten up when there’s no one left out here but us and the press cameras have been pointed away to next year already. Conversations around the tables are mostly regarding crazy antics of last night and odd events that only happen out here in the high desert playa. Pool game victories and card game sweeps are recounted. “Was that the start of a romance I saw between so-and-so and who’s-it?” is always a favorite topic. What a breath of fresh air that nobody is talking about Obama vs. the republicans, yesterday’s ball scores, or who got voted off Dancing With the Stars.
7:30 on the dot and our volunteer coordinator and crew chief stands and bellows out in a fourteen year DPW tradition, “GOOD MORNING DPW!” This is met with the proper pirate’s, “YAR!” of sorts — depending on how late the club was open last night. Need-to-knows are cited — where the bus is leaving from — changes on crew roster — talent show signups — has anyone seen my knife — it had “buzz cut” inscribed on it — Shotgunn is cutting hair tonight in the back room of the Saloon — no bootie shorts in Bruno’s — and so on and so forth. Everyone scrapes their plates and shuffles out through a thick bank of cigarette smoke in the main front bar (Nevada will always be California’s smoking section…!) — then it’s back to the trailer park to grab the needs of the day, onto the various trucks and buses, and then onto Highway 34 to the massive Burning Man site of Black Rock City.
What a sight is the fleet of DPW desert rats sending up plumes as they streak across the playa. It really does have the look and feel of a moving road warrior army unit with its dusty old buses carrying the bulk of the crew, a fleet of support trucks carrying rakes, shovels, and tools of attack, belly dump trucks and front loaders to deal with the ash piles of the large burns, other support vans and trucks carrying water, Gatorade, energy snacks, lunches and supplies, (they’re called the fluffers, by the way), medical support vehicles, personal hacked apart and welded back together battle cars with garbage barrels and brooms aboard, a full tech team that is equipped with iPads and GPS units to document all that is discovered, and one very important truck pulling the potties and blasting the tunes. And all this in a roadless wing attack formation as it thunders along. Zeroing in on the coordinates of the morning, we circle into a bivouac and it looks like paratroopers bailing out as the bus doors open. We are a force to be reckoned with!
Then it becomes a matter of getting down to business. The heavy equipment team digs in on the biggest piles at the Man site and Temple site for instance. The “Special Forces” teams fan out on the site chasing cones that mark the larger problem areas such as moopy dunes, severe spills, burn scars and such. The walking “Line Sweep” crew, the largest crew of the DPW, starts walking the city, block by block with MOOP buckets in hand and meters out to 70 strong, two blocks wide, with two line bosses keeping the line, while pickup trucks follow to hit the “hot spots”. The tech “scribes” travel along with the moopers and Special forces, photographing and filming, and logging everything into their iPads to be analyzed and entered into a data base, and then on to the MOOP map. It’s a awesome system that’s been developed over the years, and is still improving.
This would be the scale of the endeavor of what it takes to make the MOOP map happen. It ain’t easy being green.
Somewhere around 5:00 pm a line boss suggests that the “morale” of the team might be sagging and maybe we should call it a day. After walking several miles in the desert sun staring at the ground for every cigarette butt and wood chip, (the most abundant MOOP, by the way), all flop down in the shade created by the long shadows of the trucks and vans to crack some cold ones, (except for the drivers, of course), and to sit and jabber, high on the sublime buzz of an honest days job done. It will always be the best cold one I’ll ever have.
And all are treated to, and bewitched by the vast expanse of the Black Rock Desert once again as it stretches its featureless canvass to the mountain horizon, awash in the glowing gold of the late afternoon sun.
Whatever reason any may have had for coming out and joining the Playa Restoration team, we all leave with the shared reason being simply out of respect for such a land as this.
With stomachs rumbling on earned hungers, the busses and trucks load up and head to the town of Gerlach for beer-thirty at the Saloon, then to the chow hall again to load up a plate of good western comfort food, then back to the our bar to play cards, shoot pool, blast some tunes, and make even more gold memories out of our coolest summer job ever.
By the way, the Black Rock Saloon social club is the only bar I know of that has neither a cash register nor a television. What a concept!
The BLM inspection of Black Rock City is now just a few days away. Will the Restoration crew finish in time? Will the wind and rain stop them in their tracks? We’ll know the answer by Thursday. Until tomorrow, this is The Hun signing off.