Like so many of the crews and departments this year, there’s been a big turnover in the Oculus crew, the people who build the Center Camp Cafe. Some of the alumni have gone on to bigger and better – Niko Peachez is helping to run the ranch, and Goatt is out on the Man Base crew, building one of the most challenging designs ever.
Karl Not Karl is taking a year away from DPW, but Austin aka PigPen is back this time around after a year away. Monkey Boy keeps soldiering on, and he’s been with the Cafe crew since 2002. “It’s the best job in town,” he says simply.
At the helm this year is the guy they are calling King Pole (real name Paul King). He’s one of the more surprising additions to DPW this year, because for the last couple of years he was operations manager for the Gate. You have to understand, there’s not much cross-pollination between Gate and DPW, rivalries and competitiveness being what they are. But it would seem that is all subsiding, at least a bit. There’s a fair number of former DPW who have moved to Gate, and vice-versa.
Probably no switch is more surprising than King Pole’s, but he’s made the move appear to be the most natural thing in the world. Maybe that’s because so much of his life is inextricably linked to the playa.
“I’ve been coming for eight years,” he said the other day. “I met my wife here.” Not only that, but both of his children have been coming for their whole lives, and in fact King says one of them was conceived here.
‘I just plain love it,” he says in his amazingly enthusiastic and upbeat way.
And how has his reception been? Once upon a time, a Gate exile would have been shunned in DPW. “I’ve been shown nothing but love,” Pole says.