Posts by Tony "Coyote" Perez

January 29th, 2014  |  Filed under The Ten Principles

Coyote Nose the 10 Principles – Red Wagon

[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.]

di-as-po-ra noun 2. the dispersion of any people from their original homeland

Lakes of Fire encampment, 2008 (photo by Tony "Coyote" Perez)

Lakes of Fire encampment, 2008 (photo by Tony “Coyote” Perez)

It should be no surprise that Flipside was the first Burning Man regional event. Of course it would be the Texans to be the first to secede. I remember feeling slightly cheated on when we started catching wind of their “anti” event. How dare they just dump us like last week’s boyfriend and have a burning event of their own! Even the name, “Flipside”, implied that they were some sort of Yin to our Yang. Like jilted lovers we started watching close while pretending not to care. But as we watched, something new started to occur to us. Maybe they weren’t defecting – maybe they were just simply taking our seeds and planting them into new pastures.

Burning art at Lakes of Fire, 2008 (photo by Tony "Coyote" Perez)

Burning art at Lakes of Fire, 2008 (photo by Tony “Coyote” Perez)

It was as if we now had a twin and through this we were seeing the threads of similarities. Both were amassing communal bodies that were gaining strength in numbers with a refreshing free-spirited mindset. But because of this grand flourish, both were starting to feel the fast mounting pinch of growing pains. We could see our two events busting their seams and things were starting to spin out of control. They were taking off at an exponential gallop and the buckboard was getting away from us as the horses started racing toward the mirage – and like a mirage it was in all directions. Isn’t this the part of the movie where the wagon wheel flies off and the buckboard smashes into the ravine? Scrambling to find the reins, we were trying to pull the horses into a direction, but which direction? It was becoming clear that if we were going to right our spinning compass, we were going to have to polarize our energies and define its sources.

Why were our events growing so rapidly? What was it that was becoming literally life changing for so many? Why was the most popular conversation in camp about next year’s Burn? Watching the vitality of spirit burning in people’s camps was like peering into a kiln and seeing the glaze of our credos baking into the pottery. You could see a principled nation forming and needing guidance. Read more »

October 2nd, 2012  |  Filed under Building BRC, Tales From The Playa

Vodka Socks

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

Coyote is Black Rock City Superintendent and an original member of the Department of Public Works. Photo by Vertumnus; click to enlarge.

Here’s an urban myth — don’t care if it’s true or not.

Story goes that a construction worker had been given his last warning about drinking on the job. Being a hardcore alkie, he solved his problem by soaking his socks in vodka and wearing them inside his work boots all day, getting drunk anyway!

I say again — don’t care if it’s true or not, I just really want to believe it. I’m sayin let’s go “MythBusters” on this one. We have the technology.

For several years, DPW Playa Restoration has been stockpiling a cellar of rotgut vodka that not even we will drink. (Have you ever tasted “Vodka of the Gods?!) All we need now is a Sunday off, some volunteers from the audience (would DPW have some takers?), and socks.

(If it works, this could be a start of a new DPW tradition … “Vodka Sock Sunday?”).

Read more »

June 23rd, 2010  |  Filed under Metropol

Clock Town

[Tony "Coyote" Perez first set foot in Black Rock City in 1996, where he immediately went to work, ultimately becoming the Department of Public Works' Site Manager. He is renowned amongst the staff as Burning Man's Poet Laureate, as well as being an accomplished saxophonist with his band "Second Hand Smoke." This post is part of the Metropol Blog Series.]

Our twin boys turned two this spring. How much do they see already…? I’m carrying one boy down the hallway of bedtime and he points to a newly hung Black Rock City plan on the wall from years past. “CLOCK!,” he says. Wow, I’ve lived in that clock for so many years that it took a two-year old to remind me that it was a clock. It was always a clock, wasn’t it…?

Skydiver Over Black Rock City, 1996

Skydiver Over Black Rock City, 1996

When I showed up in ’96, that “communal geometry” was just starting to congeal. On the advice of my buddy/guide that was schooling me on how to “play” this thing – this Burning Man place – we showed up early to help set the “thing” up. (Early meaning about three days early…) No fence, no gate, no DPW, no commissary, no wrist bands, no lammies, no cops…. no clock. But it had form. It had a definite form. Looking back, it was like looking at an embryo. One could just start to detect the spine and budding limbs of hazy districts. They showed all the promise to one day be streets and neighborhoods. And toward the mid part of the camps, maybe the beginnings of grey matter – and maybe a brain stem.

And at the center, the translucent squirming of its beating heart – an icon doomed to be burned.

The Man Through the Camera Obscura, 1996

The Man As Seen Through the Camera Obscura, 1996

I had been artificially awake for three days and had just made a scattered and hectic launch from the city’s gravity. I would have been finding the inner meaning of bus tires at this point…

And to then be out there for the first time.

I was a snowflake in hell.

“Let’s stake down here with Will and Crimson at Check Point Station. Then we’ll be in on the tip! Hurry and set up your tent – they need our help putting up these spire lamps that are going to line this road that’s going to lead out to the Man. Pretty cool!”

“Yea – sure – whatever you say – our gallon of water is getting low. I’m not hungry but I guess we should eat.” I was feeling overdosed, badly frayed, and washed out. My brain was a thrown-off hub cap in a b-grade chase scene. “I think I see sharks in the distance.” Hunter S. Thompson was coming to mind.

Tom Kennedy's Shark Car, 1998

Tom Kennedy's Shark Car, 1998

We now have full fleets of trucks, semis, fork lifts, cranes, heavy equipment, ranch and crew, and the fortitude of powerful armies, but back then… I remember Will putting around on a mini bike, carrying form stakes from quadrant to quadrant as Crimson picked them up and paced them out on what would be the three radial roads. And intersecting these roads was to be an inner ring road. Even then it was already a clock. Just no numbers on the dial yet. I woke the next day to the amazement of cruise traffic! The roads were working. It was the slow low parade of a raw and raunchy BRC in the rough, sharks and all! It was a blood stream of madness brought right to your camp. It was the ticking second hand of Clock Town.

Hunter S. Thompson would have liked it, I’ll bet…!

April 20th, 2010  |  Filed under Metropol

Road Tripped

Skydiving Over Burning Man, 1996

Skydiving Over Burning Man, 1996

[Tony "Coyote" Perez first set foot in Black Rock City in 1996, where he immediately went to work, ultimately becoming the Department of Public Works' Site Manager. He is renowned amongst the staff as Burning Man's Poet Laureate, as well as being an accomplished saxophonist with his band "Second Hand Smoke." This post is part of the Metropol Blog Series.]

Did you know that the basic layout of the city of Boston was planned by the cows? No, it’s true. It’s not just something I heard on “Cheers” from Cliff Clavin. Boston was one of the earliest-settled cities of the new world and the settlers of the times, being from various parts of Europe and such, threw down camps apart from one another to start their own separate farms and villages. The open range pastures of these early farmers allowed the cattle to roam from farm to farm and from village to village as they were raised and traded. Paths formed.

I remember my first Burning Man. No, it’s true. The ’96 burn didn’t have a fence yet and the dust plumes of caravans came from all points like slow motion meteors. People started throwing down camps apart from one another to start their own separate camps and villages. A road formed.

Put a group of people together and, given time, communal geometry happens. Old as the hills. Given time, the single celled life of pre-history took a billion-year old leap and started arranging themselves into organisms where cells started taking on tasks – started working together. In a sense, multi-celled organisms were single-celled communities. A blood stream formed. Funny how the conduits are amongst the first things that a community builds. Funny how one can get the word “communicate” out of the word “community”. Seems the words have something in… common… Read more »