Bowed but unbroken

One of the heads of the "Embrace" installation
One of the heads of the “Embrace” installation

So we got up, put on dry socks, maybe pushed some dried mud out of the tent or living container, and went back to work.

At the morning meeting, Logan quoted Coyote and said, “Next we’re going to have to work harder, stronger, longer and faster.”  Joe the Builder said it was “business twice as usual.”

The day after two big storms hit the construction site known as Black Rock City, things were bright and beautiful  – thick puffy big-sky clouds, and none of the dark ominousness of the previous days. The roads in the city were still muddy at midday, and you had to drive around the wet spots so as not to chew up the playa.

Despite the second “snow” day in a week, most of the crews were confident that they were on or could get back on schedule. The Man will have his legs raised in the air tomorrow morning, and the towers that will support the heads at the “Embrace” installation were being lifted into place Wednesday morning.

“The storm hit us right in the warp core,” Coyote said, “where we were most vulnerable. The whole west side was taken out, the Commissarry where we eat, the Black Hole is pretty devasted. Crazily enough, the east side of the city is just fine.”

Hey, Man, what big legs you have. (More than seventy-five feet, actually)
Hey, Man, what big legs you have. (More than seventy-five feet, actually)

For a time, trucks coming out of Gerlach were navigating to the city via Jungo Road, the usual path to the hot springs. But by the early afternoon, Coyote, Booya and the road team found a new path for cars and trucks to get on and off the playa. All the semi trailers and vital deliveries that had been held up in Gerlach could finally make it to the playa. The new route was immediately dubbed … River Road. It was also being called Bubblegeek Memorial Highway, in honor of the person who apparently found the dry route.

The road opening was good news for just about everyone, because the closure had led to the marshaling of certain resources, like water. The practical outcome of that action was that the showers have been unavailable for two days.

There were very healthy wind gusts in the afternoon, but instead of kicking up dust storms, they were mostly benign. The surface of the playa was drying nicely, and a new crust was keeping down the dust, at least for the time being.

“Sounds funny to say it, but you know we’re gonna have to water” the new road, Coyote said. It won’t take long for the trucks and other vehicles to break through the crust and crumble the surface to a fine powder.

The Man Base crew worked on the Man's legs (foreground) and his torso (in the back).
The Man Base crew worked on the Man’s legs (foreground) and his torso (in the back).

At this point it is unclear what long-term effect the rain will have on the quality of the playa, but the immediate effect is a good one.

Over at the Temple, it seemed like barely anything was out of the usual. At tea time, Little Wing delivered oranges and cookies to the lift operators and other folks who were stacking the first two big pieces.

More than 20 workers who were supposed to be on the Temple site yesterday had gotten trapped in town, but they should be able to make it out here soon.

We were told that during the height of the hailstorm, the Temple crew had a snowball fight with the hail balls. That might give you an idea of how large the pellets were. Laurent Le Gall, who is out here working on a documentary about Temple builder David Best, said he got some amazing footage of Best dancing and celebrating in the rain, and we’re very much looking forward to seeing that. Best is in constant motion at the Temple site, checking on everyone’s progress, doling out praise and encouragement and generally being an inspirational force of nature.

The thin cladding of the "Embrace" project is attached with long staples. As Joe Olivier put it, they would become "fiery butterflies with claws" if the structure burned, so as of now the piece will be disassembled and taken off the playa at the end of the event.
The thin cladding of the “Embrace” project is attached with long staples. As Joe Olivier put it, they would become “fiery butterflies with claws” if the structure burned, so as of now the piece will be disassembled and taken off the playa at the end of the event.

So the city snapped back to life today, and the roads were drying out, and the special orders and inventories were arriving, and the troop strength was building up, and things in general were moving forward smartly.

And as evening approached, a most happy radio transmission was received from Pillow Talk: With the roads open and things going back to normal, the shower station, aka the Wet Spot, would open again. “Come get yourselves clean,” she said.

Well, if you insist …

Here are some more pics from the day:

The first of the "water towers" that will support the heads in the "Embrace" project were being put in place
The first of the “water towers” that will support the heads in the “Embrace” project were being put in place

 

Gary does a lot of heavy lifting at HEAT
Gary does a lot of heavy lifting at HEAT

 

Laurent Le Gall is working on a documentary about Temple builder David Best
Laurent Le Gall is working on a documentary about Temple builder David Best

 

Wherever you find big art, you are likely to find Nick Morgan and David Shearer helping the artists
Wherever you find big art, you are likely to find Nick Morgan and David Shearer helping

 

Much of the wood for the Temple is reclaimed material, including wood from a Japanese guitar maker
Much of the wood for the Temple is reclaimed, including wood from a Vietnamese guitar maker

 

At break time at the Temple site, the first harness tug-of-war was staged
At break time at the Temple site, the first harness tug-of-war was staged

 

After a long battle, a draw was declared
After a long battle, a draw was declared

 

The first lift of the Temple took place on Wednesday
The first lift of the Temple took place on Wednesday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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