Our Meetings Are Better Than Yours

Logan reads maill call
Logan reads mail call

The morning DPW meeting is half performance, half communication of vital information, and half social catch-up time, which means that the meeting is greater than the sum of its parts.

DPW people are pretty good about making it to the early morning meeting, which is held at the Depot, way out at the end of the 5:30 road. They get reports from department managers, general staff messages, and news of upcoming events. It’s a good way to find out what’s happening in other parts of the city, because when you are assigned to a crew, you tend to get a myopic view of the world. You know only your task.

So the morning meeting is where you hear that the Russians are coming (and building a major art piece on the playa). You hear that a French filmmaking crew is recording a 3D Imax movie.

“They don’t speak much English,” Bettie June said, “but they’re very nice and they don’t want to get in the way. So if you need them to move, they understand that, and just tell them.”

Brainwaves lit up everywhere. A non-English-speaking crew will move if you tell them to? Imagine the possibilities. But Logan picked up the vibe immediately and said,  “I don’t want to rain on your parade, but don’t do that.” Groans all around.

Makeout Queen, who does a million things for a million people and is so busy she needs her own Makeout Channel on the radio, got up to say that shower swag would be bestowed upon people who behave well at the communal showers. By behaving well, that means not doing things you shouldn’t do there – no sex, no clothes washing, no washing the dog, no hair dying, no leaving hair in the drain, that kind of thing. She might have had more to say, but she got “crocodiled” at that point and had to sit down. (“Crocodile” is the radio safe word established by King Louie: If you take too long to say what you have to say, it is acceptable for others to break in and say “crocodile,” meaning finish what you have to say and get off the  channel. Of course, Louie was crocodiled for taking too long to explain it all.)

Makeout Queen was eventually crocodiled.
Makeout Queen was eventually crocodiled.

Other terms are used in new ways, too. Blow job, for instance. Blow jobs are very important in the desert. In fact, you need regular blow jobs to ensure proper functioning of … your fleet vehicle. You must bring your vehicle to the auto shop so that they can clean out the dust that can foul the engine and fuel lines. So by all means do what’s right and get regular blow jobs.

D.A. asked for people to apply to work on the Restoration crew, which begins shortly after the event concludes and gets the desert back to its pristine condition. Sweet Thang pleaded with people not to run over or otherwise harm the flags she and her placement team have put down. Leeway invited people to learn about what Rangers do  at evening get-togethers next week. “What are Rangers good for?” he began, but before he could continue  someone stage-whispered, “Kicking around?”

Coyote delivered his annual “Sustainable Jackassery” speech, reminding people that jackassery can be successful only if  1) it is funny, and  2) no one gets hurt. And Patches got up with a boom box that was playing “Eye of the Tiger.” “Have you heard this song? he asked. People started to sing along exuberantly. Then he took off his track suit, revealing his gold lame booty shorts and striped referee’s shirt. He blew on his whistle, which unfortunately didn’t whistle. “Kickball tonight!” he said. “Out in front of First Camp!”

Then there was mail and package call, where everyone who has received letters or packages are informed that there’s something waiting for them. Getting mail is a very happy thing.

The meeting is usually finished in 20 minutes or so. Any longer and the natives get restless.

Then it’s time to get to work.

Patches approaches the podium
Patches approaches the podium
Leeway tried to explain the virtues of Rangerdom.
Leeway tried to explain the virtues of Rangerdom.

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.

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