August 18th, 2014  |  Filed under Building BRC

A little of this, a lot of that, and some more of that other thing

"Embrace" so far, by dawn's early light

“Embrace” so far, by dawn’s early light

A good part of this morning’s morning meeting was devoted to the imminent arrival of the Bureau of Land Management’s law enforcement officers. They’ve bivouacked in Gerlach for now, but they will be a presence on the playa starting tomorrow.

You’ve already no doubt read the excellent advice on the JRS and the Burning Blog about how to have a trouble-free time at Burning Man.  http://www.burningman.com/media/doc/preparation/blm_stipulations/burning-man-closure-document.pdf)

The work crews got a visit from event operations manager Charlie Dolman and Government Relations Liaison Marnee Benson, who were there to go over some of the finer points and to review best practices. There were a lot of questions, and a lot of answers, but maybe the most important message was this: Stay cool. Don’t escalate the situation. If you’re going to get a ticket, the best path is to accept it and live to fight it another day, when you are off the playa and can take advantage of any number of legal resources available to you. One such resource is Lawyers for Burners, a grassroots organization with lots of success representing burners in past years.

Know your rights, to be be sure, and keep your ship tight, for doubly sure. The best way to avoid trouble is not to ask for it. But if you DO have a law-enforcement encounter, stay cool! Be professional! Be a burner! Don’t ruin your time here – if you want to dispute what happened, document your facts and have your day in court.

Of the 400-plus citations issued last year in Black Rock City, nearly all of them were downgraded after the fact.

The clearest path to trouble lies in becoming argumentative or confrontational. Guess what? You’re not going to win that battle. But as Dave X says, it might be helpful to view any law-enforcement situation as an opportunity to display Burner qualities. Who knows what culture change you might facilitate.

There were some interesting and unique hypotheticals discussed, though. Such as, if you have people riding on the roof of your vehicle on a couch, do they need to be wearing seatbelts? More info as it becomes available …

 

A big day for the big Man

My, what big arms you have

My, what big arms you have

So the Man is big. Very, very big, as we know. His legs are somewhere around 75 feet high, and when upright, the structure will be well over ten stories. And the Man is truly decked out this year. Not only is his external cladding extensive and graceful, but it will be lit from the inside as well as the outside. Mr. Blue and Smoke Daddy are in charge of the lighting, and honestly we can’t wait to see what they’ve dreamed up.

But tomorrow is a very important day. The Man Base crew has been working on the legs while they have been on the ground. Tomorrow they will be lifted skyward, and once they are secured, the torso will be picked up and placed atop his legs. It’s all very tense and high pressure, because a giant 240-ton crane is being brought in for the task. Keep your fingers crossed that the weather cooperates.

Monday was the final day to get ready for the big lift. To that end, the Man’s two enormous arms were attached to the torso, and that lift came off without a hitch. “I’m not worried about this one at all,” Chaos said. “Tomorrow’s the day.”

 “Embrace”-able You

Annie Harper and Rachel Heather Lee Kennison poked their heads out of Omega

Annie Harper and Rachel Heather Lee Kennison poked their heads out of Omega

Matt Schultz, who is building the Embrace project in the far playa, likes to jokingly refer to the heads, Alpha and Omega, which are now perched on top of towers, as Pez dispensers. At this early stage, they do look a little like that, but the skinning project is proceeding, and the closer you come, the more beautiful the figures are.

Yesterday Rachel and Annie were ensconced in Omega’s noggin, working on their murals and lighting and other effects. We couldn’t get a sneak preview, though, because the only way to get there right now is by boom lift.

“We’re trapped up here,” Rachel called down. “We’re like Rapunzel!” Read more »

August 18th, 2014  |  Filed under Technology, The Ten Principles

Technology and Immediacy at Burning Man (A slightly less than Socratic dialogue)

Ah, technology ... how it burns  (Image by Stefan Krause)

Ah, technology … how it burns (Image by Stefan Krause)

[This post is part of the 10 Principles blog series, an ongoing exploration of the history, philosophy and dynamics of Burning Man's 10 Principles in Black Rock City and around the world. We welcome your voice in the conversation.]

Every now and then someone proposes a new technological fix for what many at Burning Man don’t see as a problem in the first place. The debate that results usually boils down to a parody of intellectual discussion, as performed by a sparkle pony named “Meerkat” and a shirtcocker named “Thunder”:

MEERKAT: “YOU AND YOUR PHONE DON’T UNDERSTAND OR RESPECT THE 10 PRINCIPLES!”

THUNDER: “YOU’RE A LUDDITE TRADITIONALIST WHO DOESN’T APPRECIATE TECHNOLOGY!”

MEERKAT: “HEY, LOOK, A GIANT PIRATE SHIP PILOTED BY COOKIE MONSTER!”

THUNDER: “I’M GOING TO POST ABOUT IT TO ALL MY FRIENDS!”

MEERKAT: “DAMN YOU, TRAITOR!”

THUNDER: “WHY CAN’T I GET A SIGNAL? OH CRUEL WORLD!”

 

This is a lot of fun to watch at three in the morning, but it’s not productive.

If we’re going to have a productive debate about technology, the terms of the discussion really need to change.

The first thing to realize is that an event in the desert founded on radical self-reliance can’t be anti-technology. Technology is a form of radical self-reliance. What you can’t do yourself you develop tools to do, and tools become machines, and machines become systems – and systems become “technology” as a whole. We absolutely rely on our tools to survive, let alone to build and thrive, and the idea that Burning Man culture is incompatible with the development of better tools is ludicrous.

Read more »

August 18th, 2014  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Spirituality, The Ten Principles

“It Changed My Life!”

“Burning Man changed my life!”

I imagine that refrain must be annoying to people who have no interest in going. And it might be frightening to someone who is going for the first time. Maybe that change is exactly why you are going (or continue to go) to that wacky gathering in the desert.

I admit that I am one of the ones guilty of making that grand claim. After 16 years attending, I can barely remember who I was before I went to Burning Man.

I’ve had pink hair (year-round) for over 10 years. I help run a charity based on Gifting. I do a weekly podcast to recalibrate to my Highest Playa Self. Even my corporate job is linked to Burning Man: My CEO recruited me after watching some of my Playa Tips & Tricks Videos.

I’m not saying it will affect you the same way. But it might. Be open to it.
In fact, be open to the possibility that ANY experience in your life could dramatically change the way you see the world. A setback on the road. An interaction at a truck stop. A massive dust storm. A conflict with a campmate. These “obstacles” can be the very treasures that give your life meaning.

These “obstacles” can be the very treasures that give your life meaning.

Here is a short video answering the question of how Burning Man has changed me.

Side note: To everyone working their butts off to finish and pack up their creations: THANK YOU! I hope to be able to hug you, look you in the eyes and say it to you face…but please know I am GRATEFUL for your artistic spirit and your heroic efforts. I love you.

I hope you can join me on my Pink Ride on Thursday or enjoy some of the refreshing treats at my camp.

Halcyon's Schedule

August 17th, 2014  |  Filed under Building BRC

The Story of the Early Man

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The work crews setting up Black Rock City had a little get-together out near the Man last night, an annual gathering that has come to be known as Early Man.

It’s not an official thing, and it’s not on any schedule of Burning Man events, but everyone here knows that on the Saturday night before the gates open, it’s ok to take a time out and … burn some things.

It’s funny that we’ve been on the desert for three weeks now, and there hasn’t been much fire. There have been burn barrels here and there, because some of the nights have been chilly. But there haven’t been any big communal fires to gather around, but last night fixed all that.

Like so many things at Burning Man, the Early Man has organic roots. It was born of necessity, and now it has become one of the rights and rituals of the city.

The Early Man, aka the Early Burn, started in 1999, when Will Roger and Tony Coyote had finished their survey of the city, all centered around the Golden Spike, the exact spot where the Man would be built. But the problem was, in all that expanse of desert, and with no identifying markers, there was a problem. Tony tells the story:

“The next day I went out and drove around, and I couldn’t find the orange cone (that marked where the spike was). That was back when we had only one cone!

“And Will said well, we need more of a beacon, so we can find the thing, so Peter Mars back then was running wood shop, and he just put a couple of sticks together, and painted them dayglo pink, and put a triangular head on him … and that was our Man!

Tony Coyote

Tony Coyote

“And we set up the whole city, and then when the real Man showed up, we had affection for our Man, that it was the worker’s man, and so we said, well, we should burn him!

“And so that’s how Early Burn was born. Because originally, it was the burn for the DPW, the burn for the blue collar, the people that set it up, for the Rangers and for the Gate, and so it’s for the staff, essentially, because after that the general onslaught comes.”

People started gathering as darkness fell, because Dave X let everyone know that all the effigies would be set aflame at the stroke of 9 o’clock. (They are all burned at once for safety reasons – you don’t want people still wandering around in them when they might catch fire.)

Playground

Playground

The work lights dimmed and crew members put highway flares to their sculptures. Fireworks started exploding, and the burn was on. The fireworks weren’t huge, but they seemed appropriate. Because the crowd was small and intimate, the fireworks were enough to make you duck when the booms started happening. Read more »

August 16th, 2014  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

Burning Man soundscape = Audio Magic

Photo by Polaris

Photo by Polaris

The following is a description of “An Audio Journey” through the 2013 Burning Man – which can be listened to and downloaded for free here – by creators Josh and Jex of BMIR.

Almost one year ago to date, Joshua and I were running around the playa with a recorder capturing soundscapes, bikes, art car tires, wind, art project bass tones, fire, the burn, thoughts, moments, tears, anxieties, and messages of love. The goal: to create a piece of audio magic that embodied the soundscape – sampling, creating drum kits, crafting music all with nothing but sounds from the playa and using the words of the burners that inhabited the dust as the lyrics. A job we knew would be full of sweat, time, and technically detailed passion. A job that would be well worth every moment. *EVERY SINGLE SOUND ENCAPSULATED IN THIS PIECE IS FROM THE PLAYA, 2013, NOT ONE OUTSIDE PIECE OF AUDIO WAS USED.* This is a piece of audio magic whose soul intention is to be a gift to you. To you, our fellow burners, to you the ones who’ve never been, to you the ones who aren’t going this year, to you the ones who are already en route, to you the ones who are just a bit curious of what our magic tastes like. After almost one year, Volume 1 of what we hope to be a yearly gift for your auditory pleasure is complete. Please enjoy a journey into the dust…a massive thank you to the art projects and burners we recorded: $tephen Ra$pa, Carmen Mauk, Madeleine Belle, Joe Everyday, Davina the Dragon Crew (Christian Breedon, Kristin Bowdy, Parker Galore, Carter Smith, etc…), Shanna, Ted the Weather Pimp, the Playa Jazz Cafe, Cleu Camp, the Center Camp Cafe Marching Band Competition, Keno Mapp, Matt Fusello, Polaris from Media Mecca, Nick Sunderberg, the Cathedral of Celestial Mathgic, Ilya Pieper, the whole BMIR crew, the fires and drums of conclave, the Man, the Temple, Orson Welles, all of your damn P’s that were popped throughout the recording process… and everyone else who contributed to this anonymously…we love you all! Burn bright…)’(

 

Check it out … and think of home. 

 

August 15th, 2014  |  Filed under Building BRC

With the Gate folks, on the lonesome highway that won’t be lonesome for long

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It’s a big challenge to get cars to go from 2 lanes up to 16, but no doubt the bigger one is getting them from 16 lanes back down to 2.

That’s how participants make their way in and out of Black Rock City – off a two-lane blacktop roadway onto the desert floor, where the road widens to 16 dusty lanes.

“It’s got to be one of the biggest roads in the world,” GSN (Glow Stick Ninja) says as he lines up row after row after row of orange cones. “Sixteen lanes is pretty big,” the Indeed it is, and Gate Road this year is about four and half miles long.

That’s the road that will seem endless as you make your way to the city, and then again as you head back from where you came.

The Gate, Perimeter and Exodus crew have loads on the plate to make ingress and egress from the city safe and at least somewhat sane, and it begins with finding an appropriate route through the desert from the highway to the event site.

Here’s the good news: The rough weather that hit the playa this week has really tamped down the road. Dust was at a minimum as the crew did its thing, but we’ll just have to see how long the hardpack lasts. “This was a lake for a couple of days,” GSN says.

GSN in his natural habitat

GSN in his natural habitat

It’s hard to get one’s head around just how many cones are used in guiding folks into Black Rock City. “We’ve got a whole container full of them,” GSN says. We’re not good at this, but let’s do a little math: 4.5 miles, 16 lanes, a cone in each lane every 100 feet or so … yes, that’s a lot of cones. And that number doesn’t take into account the “diamonds” in the road that that guide drivers from 16 lanes down to 8 down to 4 and then down to 2.

The crew has a hard deadline; tomorrow morning, the Gate road will open for guests who will be visiting for Early Man (the mini-burns the crews stage).

Feral Kid, Nacho, GSN and Knotty Boy

Feral Kid, Nacho, GSN and Knotty Boy

They center-lined the whole thing so the cones would line up squarely, and they stuck little blue flags in the ground that are guiding their way now. They also did all the stake-pounding for the flags on either side of the road, but without all the hoo-hah of  Fence day. “There wasn’t a dawn patrol, but for us it’s a fairly big event.” They got some help from their DPW brethren for the task, and they had the whole thing done in a matter of hours. The Gate helps the DPW, and the DPW helps the Gate. It’s a two-way street.  Read more »

August 15th, 2014  |  Filed under Building BRC

Road warriors

The Transpo team

The Transpo team

The guys in the Transpo crew are a pretty rough bunch.

They were out at Trailer Row near the Depot the other evening, having a little “safety meeting” (wink wink) at the end of their big week of hauling everything from the work ranch out to the playa. And by everything, we mean allll of the stuff – hundreds of containers and trailers, living containers, boxes, tanks, supplies, vehicles … really, all of the things.

It’s a logistical and practical nightmare to manage, and it’s all done in the heat of the first days that Burning Man folks are allowed to be on the playa. While the fence is being pounded and the first pieces of the Man base are brought out and HEAT is setting up its camp, the Transpo team going back and forth from the ranch, picking up the right stuff and dropping it in the right place, making sure that everything arrives at the right time. And pretty much everyone wants it right now. “It must be a lot of pressure,” we said. “I don’t feel any pressure,” Cuervo answered evenly.

You can’t listen to the work radio here for more than five minutes without hearing Cuervo’s name. The man and his crew are much in demand. A few years ago, when the radios were extra wonky and just not working, Cuervo would go around to various spots and leave written notes for his drivers about what was going on and what needed to happen next.

“It worked,” he said. “It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.”

This year didn’t have that kind of technical difficulty, but still there were new challenges. Cuervo made sure at the end of last season that everything came off the playa in a way that made sense for when it had to go out the next year. Alas, there were procedural changes made in the offseason that changed the order, “but I think we’re reacting pretty well,” Cuervo said.

There was also a new emphasis on weight control and tie-down methods this year, and an emphasis on adhering to every safety regulation on the books. While it was the right thing to do, it still might have slowed down the pace of the move. On top of that there was rain to deal with, too. Still, as the crew stood there Saturday in the golden glow of the late afternoon, it was pretty clear that things had gone smoothly.

“I just want to thank you guys,” Cuervo said. “You’re a hell of a crew.”

And that they are, full of the kind of characters that you’d expect to find working the trucks at Burning Man. Among them are Vaughn Solo, an aggressively tattooed dirt-bike rider, Railroad Mike, who brought is six-wheel drive M931 Army surplus vehicle with him this year; and Scotty V (do NOT call him Fubar), a water-skiing grandfather. Then there is Rusty, who was born in Empire and has been coming to the playa his entire life.

“It’s in my blood,” he says.

Rusty’s nickname is Big Ugly, and while we don’t know about the Ugly part, there is no disputing the Big. The dude is large, but the thing is, he used to be a lot larger – 400 pounds with five percent body fat.

When Rusty pounded stakes, he used an 85-lb pounder

When Rusty pounded stakes, he used an 85-lb pounder

“I used to come in the bar and guys would say, man, he’s big and ugly,” Rusty says. We’re guessing that they didn’t say it out loud, though.

Rusty is an ex-military man, an ex Hells Angel, and an ex con. “I spent five years in the pen,” he says matter-of-factly. “I saw a guy beating up a woman, and I broke his back.” Read more »

August 15th, 2014  |  Filed under News

Burning Man Traffic Updates — Every Hour on the Hour

No, not *quite* like this.

No, not *quite* like this.

Want to know what the traffic situation is on Highway 447 or the wait time at the Gate? Beginning Sunday, August 24, we will begin broadcasting hourly traffic reports on BMIR 94.5 at the top of the hour. We’re aggregating real-time traffic information from Nevada Highway Patrol, Nevada Department of Transportation and our eye in the sky (ok, an IP traffic-cam on Poito Peak) to give you up-to-the-minute details on the drive to the event.

BMIR will be streaming via iHeartRadio again this year beginning Aug. 21. You can download the app here, and tune in on your mobile device before entering the communications dead zones north of Wadsworth and south of Cedarville for a no-snark traffic update. Long wait time? Consider sitting tight until the back-up lessens.

Wait? You want more? We’ll also be providing real-time traffic updates 24/7 via Twitter. Just follow @BManTraffic.

BMIR will also begin providing Exodus wait times and highway traffic reports on Saturday, Sept. 1 through Tuesday, Sept. 2.