Situation Back to Normal

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Leeway at the morning meeting urged the DPW not to drive over power boxes, because that turns them into desert art. Pretty, perhaps, but not very useful.

The day after the night before the rains came, things got pretty much back to normal. With maybe some exceptions:

1) The playa is in achingly perfect condition. The downpours have tamped everything down hard and firm. Because roads had already been mapped out before the rain came, vehicle traffic has been pretty much confined to defined areas, so much of the playa that had gotten chewed up in the early days is now nice and firm. This situation may change, of course, and there are still rather large mounds to negotiate around the city, but as of now, wow.

2) The hardships that the rain imposed have bonded crews together. “I have the tightest bunch ever,” Big Wig Mig said out at the Man base. “They’d do anything for each other.” That’s what happens when you get stranded in inches-deep water and have to spend the night in a shipping container with basically nothing. You get closer. (Or, I suppose, you tear each other to shreds. Fortunately, this was not the case.) “We’ve welded ourselves together with playa mud,” Muse said.

3) Crews may or may not be behind schedule. It’s honestly hard to tell, and no one is going to come right out and admit that they hey, we’re screwed. But if body language and general demeanor are any indication, the lost time is being made up nicely. There aren’t THAT many good actors out here. And Mig said he thought he’d actually picked up a day, because his crew was working as such a team now.

The road was crowded on the way to the meeting.
The road was crowded on the way to the meeting.

4) Traffic on and off the playa was re-routed for a day, to a new route dubbed “Dead Antelope Road.” Apparently a desert critter had picked that place to die, and in that it was on a dry path to the city, traffic started using that route. (We did go looking for the antelope, but we came up empty. It already might have been whisked away for eventual placement at the Black Rock Saloon. There’s already a big (stuffed) bear in there. A regular menagerie is coming together.)

So we’re about to head into Week Two with the distractions finally out of the way. Logan held his first on-playa morning meeting down at the Depot today, and he thanked everyone for persevering. “Thanks for keeping your wits about you,” he said. “Thanks for not panicking or freaking out or eating each other.”

Speaking of eating, the big-top commissary tent is in full operation now, and holy crap it’s amazing. It’s not just the tent, of course. Spectrum Services does the food, and it is good. “This is s good place to gain weight,” Just George said. “Yeah it is,” we said as we munched another piece of perfectly crisped bacon.

Also in the category of firsts, the bar at the Ghetto (where the DPW camps) was open for action last night. Customer Service, the guy in charge of logistics there, somehow managed to have cold beer on tap for all who wanted it. Dylan, Pigpen and other Jerk Church-y players sang for hours. And in the morning, all was spic and span. Miraculous.

The commissary is all fancy-like.
The commissary is all fancy-like.

 

One of our favorite pieces, the Bone Tree, made out of the skeletons of animals from the area, was pulled from the ranch to the playa.
One of our favorite pieces, the Bone Tree, made out of the skeletons of animals from the area, was pulled from the ranch to the playa.
The Man Base seems to get bigger by the hour.
The Man Base seems to get bigger by the hour.

 

 

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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