Posts during September, 2013


September 18th, 2013  |  Filed under Environment

MOOP Map Live 2013: Day 1!

Greetings MOOP maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for all year. The 2013 DPW Playa Restoration All-Star team is proud to present the very first glimpse at this year’s Burning Man MOOP Map.

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 1.

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 1.

The MOOP Map is a graphical representation of what we discover as we comb the Burning Man site for Matter Out Of Place. Find out more about how it works here, or read on to see the first day’s MOOP score!

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September 18th, 2013  |  Filed under Playa Tips

Project Fail?

The Great Rebar Pile

The great rebar pile.

 

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas Edison

Now that we’ve reminisced on all the great times, dissected the State Of The Man and searched for videos of our favorite art in action, I’m wondering: What did you try to do that didn’t work out?

People pull off some amazing feats in the desert. Fellow burners inspire and encourage us to dream big and go big. But sometimes things just don’t work out. Sometimes we have too much to do and not enough time or help. And sometimes, well, who knows what went wrong.

For years I’ve wondered what was intended for the piles of lumber and building materials way out in open playa, roped off but obviously not complete (and sometimes not even started)? There are the partial domes, crossed-out cardboard signs and piles of “camp stuff” off to one side. What were you supposed to be, towering stack of palettes and rope lights? Read more »

September 17th, 2013  |  Filed under Building BRC, Environment

MOOP Map Live 2013

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 1.

Greetings from the remains of Black Rock City, where 120 brave members of the DPW Playa Restoration team are storming the streets and doing what they do best: Making sure Burning Man 2013 upholds its promise to Leave No Trace.

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 1.

The stakes are higher than we ever could have imagined. With the Bureau of Land Management’s site inspection looming on October 2, we’ve got just 2 weeks to make sure our city is up to the BLM’s exacting standard. We’ve never failed before, but with so many Black Rock Citizens at Burning Man 2013 (not to mention a larger city grid than ever before), we’re certainly covering a lot of new ground.

Our goal: To scour the city and remove all Matter Out Of Place, in the process creating this year’s MOOP Map.

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 1.

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September 16th, 2013  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

2013 was a great year for pranks, too

Subway token 1Is it just me, or is too much attention being paid to the Art at Burning Man?

Yeah yeah, I know:  it’s an art event, we love art, we love artists, fire is awesome, blinking lights are cool, and giant churches tilted at 45 degree angles are just what we were missing in our lives.

I agree.

But the fact that there’s art at Burning Man sometimes overshadows the fact that art is *one of the things* you find there.  And so far I haven’t heard nearly enough people talk about the whimsy.

You know:  The pranks, the tricks, the inspired moments of lunacy that make you fall in love with people all over again.  The stuff the Org doesn’t fund … because who in their right mind would pay for a guy to stand outside a party pretending to be security and searching people’s backpacks for stolen bicycles … but that we do for its own sake.  Because we want to live in a world where this happens.

2013 was actually a very good year for whimsy at Burning Man.  I saw a lot of creative, topsy-turvy, and otherwise insane human interactions that make me feel good about life.  Whoever these 68,000 people who came out to the desert were, some of them were high-caliber tricksters.

So I’m going to take this time to list some of my favorite whimsical events that happened at the 2013 Burning Man, and I hope you’ll use the comments space to mention all the hilarious moments I know I missed. Read more »

September 13th, 2013  |  Filed under News

Burning Man Featured on PBS NewsHour

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 5.37.04 pm

See? See?

We’re very excited that the PBS NewsHour will be airing a fantastic KQED report tonight on the culture and artwork that emerged at this year’s Burning Man event, and the impact they off playa, year-round.

The piece features a number of Burning Man artists you may recognize, such as the Flaming Lotus Girls, as well as an interview with Tomas McCabe, Executive Director of the Black Rock Arts Foundation.

Check your local listings, and tune in!

Once it’s available, we’ll update this post with the archived video of the segment.

September 13th, 2013  |  Filed under News

Black Rock City 2013 Population

Black Rock City 2013 (photo credit: Reuters)

Black Rock City 2013 (photo credit: Reuters)

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Black Rock City, LLC (BRC) have stated that the 2013 Burning Man event peak population was 69,613. BLM will be reviewing the peak population number in association with the special recreation permit stipulations for the 2013 event.

Prior to reaching the peak population number during the event, BLM and BRC coordinated and implemented contingency plans, which included collaborative managing of the gate entrance, opening additional camping areas and streets within the city, deploying additional porta-potties, pumper trucks and medical vehicles. This coordination and the contingency actions were to further facilitate a safe and healthy event and city.

September 12th, 2013  |  Filed under Tales From The Playa

Holy War in Black Rock City

Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.

One hot Thursday afternoon in Black Rock City, Root and I stopped at Center Camp to catch some shade. We lucked out; the first Jamaican reggae band to ever play Burning Man was on stage, and people were getting down. I danced by the stage while she hung out in the front row. There’s nothing better than the ecstasy on dusty faces when a live band breaks through the week-long fog of indistinguishable DJ sets.

The band finished playing, and we all rejoiced. Wiped out, I sat down next to Root to watch the next act, a couple of lawyers dressed like ancient Egyptians who were there to tell us how to deal with law enforcement on the playa. That sounded useful.

After all, it had been a big year for run-ins with law enforcement on the playa. We had read plenty of stories about severe and surprising busts in the run-up to Burning Man, and we heard more tales of woe from friends after we arrived. The Bureau of Land Management had insisted on tighter control at the gate. It seemed like a good year to brush up on our rights.

For a while, this talk felt righteous. We were becoming better citizens. But the conversation gradually turned toward philosophical pronouncements, indignant rants, and wild warnings about undercover narcs. “This is a little too us-versus-them for my taste,” Root said to me. “Plus, I’m getting kind of paranoid about there being cops everywhere. Aren’t you?”

I sure was. So we hopped up off our floor cushion, hoisted our packs, and stepped out of Center Camp into the afternoon heat, only to be greeted by an enormous convoy of federal agents in SUVs with their lights flashing, rolling right through the middle of Black Rock City.

BLM1

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September 10th, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World, The Ten Principles

To Our Coy Mistress

Truth is Beauty, by Marco Cochrane

Truth is Beauty, by Marco Cochrane

But at my back I always hear

Time’s winged chariots hurrying near;

And yonder all before us lie

Deserts of vast eternity.

– Andrew Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress,” 1650

San Francisco, early September, 2013. I awake before dawn to the sound of the garbage truck lurching and braking a staccato samba up my steep street. The clearest confirmation of returning from the land of Leave No Trace is being roused by a heaving, clattering garbage truck, dragging my recyclables of melancholy to the curb. Inside the bin lies the low, slow ache of having to wait another forty-nine trash pick-ups to reconstitute that other awakening experience from which I’ve recently returned. It’s never perfect out there, to be fair; each year it gets harder to inhale the dun-colored dust,  to tolerate the all-night electronica at twentysomething volumes, to flaunt the corsetry of a coy matron.  But it is more perfect than many places on earth, perhaps because it exists in suspended time. The days flow longer and shorter out there, so crammed with dazzle and depth that the sacrifice of sleep feels noble and necessary, and being awakened presents an opportunity to discover new wonders. Adrenaline and cooler-chilled cans of coffee fuel marathon days and nights, punctuated by protein bars and ambrosial encounters with soft-scrambled eggs and maple bacon ice cream. Despite its hardships, it is still the place that rouses my psyche year-round, the week that slowly brakes and lurches up the calendar until it mysteriously crests and suddenly barrels down the hill with unstoppable momentum. Which happened a few weeks ago. Now I am making the jerking, awkward journey up the hill once more.

Black Rock City has a curious relationship with time.  It is unsurprising that navigation in Black Rock City is marked by the face of a clock; in a place where time is so fluid and compressed, the rhythmic cycle of twelve hours is appropriated for other uses. A man base that takes four months and four days to build is dispatched in less than an hour. A relationship that has taken five years to coalesce is witnessed and sanctified in a brief ceremony. An art installation that has been imagined for a decade is auditioned, funded and accomplished in eight months, and evaporated in a flamethrowing fifteen minutes. We wait all year for our seven days in the desert, our touchstone of timelessness. We are willing to abandon most commitments and comforts to spend evanescent hours with dear soulmates, remarkable art, transcendent music, even our imperfect selves.

We want time to speed up so that Burning Man will come again, but once we are in the desert, we want time to slow down to appreciate every moment. Marvell tells his coy mistress, “Though we cannot make our sun/Stand still, yet we will make him run.” Once there, we don’t want the Man to Burn because that means we have to begin counting the days until the Man Burns again.

Once there, we wait at the gate, in line for gifted chai, on the queue for our turn on the teeter-totter of death. But we wait in Black Rock City with an enthusiasm that should be bottled and gifted to every parent of a tired toddler at the grocery store, every arid airport bar, every applicant at the Department of Motor, not Mutant, Vehicles. In our temporary city, time passes with speed and delight because we handle the experience of waiting as an opportunity. We engage with our tutu-bearing comrades, we appreciate our surroundings, we challenge ourselves to celebrate the principle of immediacy. Time becomes an opportunity rather than a penance or a means.

Coyote, artist Brian Tedrick

Coyote, artist Brian Tedrick

Being generous with the time span of the early years, the actual Burning Man event has occurred for around 150 chronological days.  “Had we but world enough, and time,” Andrew Marvell pleads with his love interest, we would be able to be patient for the thing we desire, but our life span does not afford us that luxury. For all of the miscommunications and buzzing generators, the funky smells and rebel yells, Black Rock City is our coy mistress, flirting with the moment. Had we but world enough and time…we could actually make it to all of the things we circled in the What/Where/When. We could encounter every single piece of art in deep playa. We could catch the early early show at the Bijou. We could learn to make kombucha, join a drum circle, and volunteer with the Lamplighters.

We dally with this inamorata for seven, or five, or three days, and impossibly try to cram in a year’s worth of imaginary encounters into that time. We ride from the three to six to nine o’clock plaza on our wheeled chariots, but we never manage to make our sun stand still. It beats down too hard and sets too swiftly, and hurtles us back into the rest of our lives with an abrupt and noisy awakening.

Temple of Whollyness, artist Gregg Fleishman, Syn Barron, and Lightning Clearwater

Temple of Whollyness, artist Gregg Fleishman, Syn Barron, and Lightning Clearwater

So we must bring the light of that sun back to break through the fog of everyday life. The desert has taught us how to radically include, express, and rely. Now is the time to apply the alchemy we have tested in our desert crucible. Now is the time to treat  Starbucks like Center Camp Café, to acknowledge our fellow caffeinators with enthusiasm. Now is the time to rediscover the local newspaper as our resource for a workshop. Now is the time to become a Greeter at the bus stop, the hardware store, the office lunchroom. We cannot wait another year for this ravishing mistress to enrapture us with a mere seven nights of her delights; we must incorporate what we love about her into our lives, to adopt her characteristics, to make her run and not stand still.  We must ride time’s winged bicycle, or its garbage truck, into every rising of the sun, so that our awakening in the desert does not make this year a vast eternity.

Photos: Sidney Erthal