Coyote Nose: Astro-not!

Was reading an article about Burning Man the other day where the writer remarks on how serious the participants can be about Black Rock City’s principle of “Leave No Trace”. He mentions a happening at a bar where someone flicks a cigarette butt down and the instant scolding he gets from his campmates. The writer also mentions how impressed he is with this because the playa was already protected with AstroTurf. Participants were so concerned with leaving no trace that they would never let it hit the ground even if it had a protective barrier on it.

Upon reading this it occurred to me that people can think that putting down yards of AstroTurf in their camp will safeguard it from MOOP.

This year’s public service announcement:

AstroTurf is MOOP!!

AstroTurf is some of the worst and most difficult to get rid of MOOP ever, and more and more camps are using it.

AstroTurf shreds and sheds worse than a dried up Christmas tree, and when you finally pull it up after an event’s worth of trampling and occasional soakings, there’s a billion little green plastic grass blades embedded into the hard pan playa. And this can stretch for a block’s worth sometimes.

The Playa Restoration crew dubbed this spot "AstroTurf camp."
The Playa Restoration crew dubbed this spot “AstroTurf camp.”

For understandable reasons, AstroTurf is exponentially growing in popularity. It gives your camp a lush and dust-free floor, and I’m betting that many believe that it doubles as a MOOP catcher. Turns out that it’s a MOOP nightmare!

We all need to get the word out far and wide that AstroTurf is right up there with boa feathers, wood chips, and pistachio nut shells as “Worst MOOP Ever”.

Leave no trace – leave no couch – leave no AstroTurf!!
Never let it hit your pack job.


Coyote Nose

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. (more…)

Coyote Nose Volume #1; Issue #09

120 degrees in the shade. Hell of a way to run a Christmas season!

Hey. all – Coyote here, and back on line. Been a bit busy lately. In true DPW fashion, I’ve been completely up-rooting my city set up and pinching off all the major arteries just long enough to create a ten week window so I can come out here to the northern Nevada high desert and sweat a city onto the playa. There’s not too many jobs that you have to actually move into, and this one’s even kookier with the infamous harsh and thorny conditions of, well, everything! Even the insects are assholes out here, and as-a-matter-of-fact, I just now had to brush a pretty hefty black spider off my computer screen. It’s good to be home. Talk about your running off to join the circus!

* * *

I’ve always found the construction and dismantling of Black Rock City to be truly fascinating, and have been waiting for the documentary to come out on NOVA for a while now. (Somebody make some phone calls!) It’s a kick to be in on the tip, and if the truth be known, the real underlying purpose of this column has always been to tell the first hand story of the daily challenges of the DPW at “Christmas in July” time, in a land where Murphy’s Law reigns supreme! Everything breaks, the weather seldom cooperates, the nearest hardware store is two hours away, sporadic deliveries can cause extreme scheduling hell, and sometimes duct tape doesn’t even work, for christ sakes! Every day is one big long McGuyver episode.

* * *

So why the hell do we do it, you ask. Well, writing this column is really just a side thing that I get a charge out of. My true job title with Burning Man is Festival Site Manager. In a nut shell, this means that my crew and I are the first ones on the playa, and the last ones off. I will not live to feel more pride and sense of accomplishment than watching our city grow and disappear through our own blood, sweat, and very real tears! The city is literally built by blistered hand. Join Gold’s Gym, or pound in Black Rock City… Let me see. Hmmmm…

It is amazing how your attitude changes out here. In the city, I blew off coffee the other morning because I didn’t really feel like going down all those stairs, and going across the street for the cream.

Out here, I got in my truck, and drove the thirty miles into Empire for the cream. Funny, that.

A city really does help to create a nation of invalids.

* * *

So, every year at this time, one of the first things I do upon my arrival, is to go to the shop and dig out my big green Greenly Box tool box and see what survived. It’s crammed full of things like boxes of survey flags, survey chains, sledge hammers, tape measures, trucker straps, etc. And as I was pulling things out and dusting them off, it occurred to me that it was just like pulling the old Christmas decorations down from the attic. (sniff!)

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, gang!

* * *

Current update:
-All attentions are on getting the ranch set up for an incoming crew of one hundred plus, right now. Big shade tent went up yesterday for the commissary, but not without a struggle.
-Meanwhile, a very well greased purchasing and receiving team is smoking the office in Gerlach, and materials are actually showing up early!!! (Yaowza!)
-I’m building a survey station that will sit over the man site, and will start pushing in flags on Aug first. (I love knowing that each tiny wire flag I site in will soon transform that bleak little area into a bed of some major party.)
-The day before on the 31st, we will have the ceremonial driving of the first stake that marks the Man. A bottle of champagne (already drained of its contents, of course) is broken over the stake, and the glass is immediately picked up, leaving no trace. (Clean as you go!)
-Marty Walker (the hot dog carpenter who is building the 80 extra spires needed for the new design) has already produced ten barrels of saw dust.
-Our current commissary chief, Brett Behrens – aka “Hayseed” somehow managed to put fresh baked roasted garlic bread on our plates yesterday, and we’re having home-made pizza tonight! (The DPW’s come a long way from Hamburger Helper, man!)

Will be giving you up dates, and tidbits as close to daily as I can. Things can get a little busy around Christmas time, don’t cha know.

All for now –

Coyote Nose

Coyote Nose Volume #1; Issue #08

Spic and Spam

Shoulder of pork and ham. Yupper, them’s the primary ingredients of a can of Spam, and also how it got its world famous name. When Jay C. Hormel invented Spam in 1936, a big hold up was what to call this new potted meat thing. “Chopped Ham” was the original idea, but that was far to plane a name for this tasty new product. So it sat on the shelf for several months until the Hormel’s decided to throw a “naming” party for the can of lunch meat, and this columnist would have loved to have been there with scratch pad in hand to capture some of the doosies that must have been thrown around. I mean, what the hell would you call it?! Maybe “Potted Pig Paste” or something. Well, anyway, the winner of the whopping $100 first prize was a local actor named Kenneth Daigneau who simply condensed “Shoulder of Pork and Ham” into Spam. Hope he didn’t spend the hundred bucks all in one place. Well, this puts my mind to ease that it was untrue what my buddy told me long ago that Spam was really a mixture of sperm and ham, but the Coyote New that wasn’t true.

Hell yea! We were out there on the work ranch last weekend, cookin’ Spam on mesquite and hickory, smokin’ cigars, poppin’ corks, and even danced a few jigs. And most of all, we relaxed our shoulders into the swingin’ hammocks of a job well done. We had some good ole’ fashioned reason to celebrate, and that was because we had passed the federal BLM spring site inspection with the best scores ever!! Yeeee-haa!!

For many burners, Black Rock City ’02 ended when the Man burned.

For many others it ended when the Playa was cleared in the fall.

But if the truth be known, last year’s city doesn’t truly give up the ghost until that spring inspection when the passing grade is determined by the inability to find her. It is spick and span out there gang!

Well she didn’t get up and just walk away, and it’s funny how this circular season called Burning Man finds its start and finish in the business of picking up litter and debris.

So come on there, ladies and gents, how ’bout a round-a-plause, round-a-plause! For the embedded bruisers who’ve been out there raking up butts to cover our butts.

These guys are like the magic mushrooms that grow up out of an old tree stump.

And a special back pat for Mr. Caleb Schaber. It’s a good feeling to just hand a job over with confidence, and it gets done. And also gotta spotlight the Bubble Gique and Wild Bill Carson for ferreting out the hot spots and being the solid scouts! These guys really do have the playa on the backs of their hands – (or at least mapped out on their lap tops.) Who ya gonna call?
Methinks that they’re are many who could use this good news pint of fresh blood, so I’ll say it again: either way, the man will burn!

Thank you – thank you very much.

Speaking of leave no trace, can you imagine what it was like to live, say, 500 years ago as a Dakota Indian, perhaps, where your world abounded with hostile enemies that only needed to track your trail as you roamed, to wipe out your entire tribe and make off with your scalps? I guess you could say that it would give a whole new meaning to “leave no trace”! I’m betting that they didn’t travel with too many boa feathers, or eat too many pistachios. These people would break a camp of a hundred and fifty in the middle of the night and even pack the fires along, and not even a blood hound would have known they were there.

Once, I was at an Indian Pow Wow that was hosting “fancy dance” competitions where a dancer was immediately disqualified if any part of his costume fell to the ground during the dance. This was, again, because in the old days, he could have been tracked and killed.

Broken costume parts are in the top ten kinds of litter found in Black Rock City.

I know it’s tempting for a few, but scalping the participants probably isn’t the solution. As always, information is the key.

Was having a Pow Wow with Larry Harvey an the Jack Rabbit the other day concerning the nature of MOOP (material out of place – or litter) and we came up with some basic catagories:

1. Hand Moop: The most abundant and most frustrating – the things that simply leave the hand and hit the ground. This is the candy wrappers, cig butts, bottle caps, etc. The most frustrating because it’s the most avoidable.
2. Set up and Tear Down Moop: More with tearing down because of the rush to escape. This is all the construction shit. Wood chips, zip ties, curly-Q drill bit shavings, nails and screws – oh, and did I say NAILS AND SCREWS? This is frustrating because it can be avoided with a little for-thought and in some cases, a simple tarp.
3. Accident Moop: The necklace that breaks during the DPW parade. The bottle that fell off the deck of some crazy backward boat at sunrise. It’s not likely that someone’s gonna jump ship and moop it up on the spot.
4. Art Moop: – Leaves, twigs, grass, bits of metal and welding slag, sequins, beads, and mirror ball glass. You get the idea.
5. Blow away floaty Moop: Ash, plastic bags, an entire tent once, wood chips, etc. This stuff actually floats on the winter lake that forms on the playa, and prevailing winds pushes it to the north fence line, where it becomes embedded into the clay. It creates a “shore line” if you will. Most difficult to be rid of.

For the most part, the city is amazingly spick and span before we even get started in Sept., and it would be impossible to clean without our citizens’ awareness, but last year slipped some and we need to keep trumpeting out the message. It must always be in our minds and actions to remember the basics: Never let it hit the ground. Never let it leave your mind. Leave no trace. And this year’s new one –

CLEAN AS YOU GO! That way, when the annual after-burn dust storm hits, the dust will be covering an already clean camp. Hey, man, it could happen!

Did you know that glow stick goo was really radio active Mountain Dew? Who knew?

Now that we’re on the subject, our fearless DPW leader, Will Roger was talking about proper Porta Pottie practice. Of course this had to do with some of the crazy and frightening things that shouldn’t but can make their way into the tank of a Porta Pottie. Mike Enos, (or “Turd Burglar” out on the playa), who operates “Jonny On the Spot”, (now there’s a hero!), once was talking about some of these things. He said that one night they even had to tong a pair of blue jeans out of a tank!!

Coyote doesn’t know the story on this one and doesn’t want to!

Well, understandably this has annoyed the vendor to the point of rethinking contracts, so we have to trumpet the message there, also. The criteria reads that it simply MUST pass through your body before it hits the tank. So as Will puts it, if you’ve passed them through yourself first, you can leave a pair of Nike’s in there if you want!

Any takers?

So don’t forget, all you cats and kittens – Clean as you goes!

Coyote Nose

Coyote Nose Volume #1; Issue #07


“Captain! We’ve just been fired on! I think we’re under attack!”

“Damage report!”

“We’re listing about three degrees to the south, and there’s a hull breach on decks fourteen through twenty. It’s where we keep Black Rock Station, sir.”

“Oh Christ! Clear those decks until we can get to it! Helmsman. What’s our heading?”

“We took a bit of a tumble, sir, but our vision quest stabilizers kicked in and put us right back on course. The USS-LLC will still be arriving at the Black Rock City ’03 space dock on time, sir. She’s a well built ship!”

“That it is, helmsman! So what in the blazes is going on here?! This area is not supposed to hostile territory! Where the hell did the firing come from? Mr. Spock, can you shed some light here?”

“Well, sir, it was an isolated missile that seemed to come from the north. If I’m not mistaken, sir, it was directed right at the Black Rock Station decks! the Black Rock City Space Port is not reporting any hostility.”

“Deploy our experimental secret cloaking device. That should give us a chance to look into this hull breach.”

“But, Captain!”

“Just do it!! Mr. Scottie, are you near the hull breach? Can you give us a report?”

“Aye, Captain. I dinna get a good look from engineering, but we’ve got our DPW boys in there working on it right now. and, you know those lads can fix just about anything! We may have to relocate the station, but it’s way too soon to tell. What shall we do Captain?”

“Steady as she goes! The cloaking device should buy us some time. What I’d like to know is why? Spock, Can you tell me about this area?”

“Well sir, we are still fairly new to this region, so logically there are going to be advisories. I think this attack was staged by a small locally entrenched group that happens to have powerfully advanced weapon technology. We’re temporarily out-gunned sir.”

“We’ll see about that! What we have is the power of a community that’s full of masters of invention! We’ve been through bigger scrapes that this! You remember that battle on Planet Hualapai back in ’97!”

“Very well, sir.”

“Don’t they realize that advisory only binds us together stronger? Red alert and battle stations, everyone! But think sharp, and keep you phasors on stun – we don’t want to start a war.”

To be continued

* * *

A strong plant grows slowly and under very harsh conditions.

Coyote Nose

To be continued

Coyote Nose Volume #1; Issue #06

bu·reau·cra·cy (byoo·rok·rå·sé)
1. An administrative government divided by departments; also the non-elected government officials.
2. The undue extension of government departments and the power of their officials.
3. A state or organization operated by a hierarchy of paid officials.
4. Complex rules and regulations applied rigidly.

li·a·bil·i·ty (lí·e·bil·e·tê)
1. Legal responsibility for something, especially costs or damages.
2. Anything for which somebody is responsible.

Oy vey! So we got growing pains already!

Good day everyone, this is the Coyote coming to you after being embedded recently in the harsh ravages of the northern Nevada Black Rock Desert. (Please send baby wipes! Our work ranch soldiers need baby wipes!)

Well, it seems that our unique and beloved event is now entering rock stardom, and, as all rock stars of fame, the cost is anonymity. Our ever-growing operation is starting to turn the heads of Nevada’s bureaucrats and their agencies.

I guess you could say that our project is reaching a sort of adolescence. It’s like our skeleton is growing too fast for itself. I remember when I was a string bean teen, my jaw was growing at a different rate than my skull. I had to sleep with a wine cork holding my mouth open to keep it from shutting and locking! It was a big hit with the girls. (Ever had your jaw lock while you were kissing? It’s a date ender, let me tell ya!)

Well, our crazy city is growing exponentially, and is continuing to heap stacks of yester-burns on a ranch that’s struggling to keep up. It was only a matter of time that the agencies started knock knockin’ with complaints from some local ranchers about the “eye sore” that is our work ranch. And yes, we are very liable.

eye.sore (i.sor)
1. A convenient phrase that can be attached to most anything to make a handle that can be easily be grasped.
2. A painful result from a fist fight.

* * *

A few columns back, (Coyote Nose – Zoned out!) I talked of the Zoning Commission trying to place us into some sort of category. Yea, right! Well, they’ve come up with a box set for the ranch that breaks down into four parts. That’s four permits, and four big fees:

– Custom manufacturing. We build stuff.
– Operable vehicle storage. We call ’em “art cars”
– Salvage. We call it art.
– Commercial camp ground. Move aside, KOA!

This whole thing actually works to our advantage as it will make living conditions at the ranch greatly improved. We’re talking power grid, running water, septic, showers, etc. It’s of course gonna take time and money, but can you just imagine?! It’s the tight timing that’s the painful part. They are indeed putting the screws to us, but all in all, our event is a solid benefit to the local community. We can and shall work it out.

So, nobody panic just yet. The whole switch-a-roo is slated roughly over a three year plan. It’s much too late for anything major to happen this season, so it’s business as usual for the most part.

One does have to marvel at the methods of a bureaucracy. They came to our home and knocked on our door. We showed them around the house where they told us we have to clean up our messy room, and then they are going to tag fees on the whole thing! Am I playing for the wrong team? naaaaah!

* * *

Speaking of eye sores – a buddy of mine has a salvage yard in the hills, and he was getting grief from his neighbors about his own “eye-sore”. He told his neighbor that he felt that his ugly kids were an eye-sore to him! He was saying that maybe there should be some zoning laws regarding ugly children, and that the neighborhood would certainly benefit from the enforcement of these laws! He’s a wild one.

And upon returning to the city, we started noticing that, well, there were eye-sores everywhere!! I guess we’re gonna need some sort of eye-sore chart.

* * *

So the gang at the work ranch has been cleaning up the messy ranch room and man, it’s mighty cleaned up out there! I was dragging my jaw around looking at how neat and straight everything was. It’s all stacked and bundled, up on palettes and labeled. I even saw a barrel that contained all the spare crutches, for christ sake! Now how does it happen that the ranch would amass a barrel of spare crutches? — not to mention Re-bar Rotunda, and Refrigerator Row. I am certain that I was looking at at least one thousand shin-biting, back-breaking, full-sweat man hours. Huge accolades to ranch manager Metric, and his rotating, rugged crew lads!! Looking good, esse!

* * *

On a more somber note, we lost a cool burner cat last week to a motorcycle wreak. His name was David Crusen, otherwise known as “Wavy Dave”, and was a key mover and shaker out at the very popular Duck Bar on the playa. Lord knows I greeted the dawn a few times at that place last year, and it’s people like Mr. Crusen that fuel the playa magic that we all whole-heartedly wallow in. Burn on, brother!

* * *

A little funny to leave you with –
At the last Town Hall Meeting, LLC member Harley Dubois was chatting with a woman, whom Harley chose to keep anonymous. Harley was wondering if she was going out to work with the DPW again this year, to which the woman replied, “Oh, I dunno, that depends on if the Coyote is going to be wearing those same damn dirty shorts again or not!”
OK, I get it, I’ll do some shopping.

All for now

Coyote Nose

Coyote Nose Volume #1, Issue #05

Last week on this channel left me and fellow DPWer, Will Roger, down somewhere in Sunnyvale giving a lecture to retired Air Force officers and such. I have gotten the most response, so far, from this column. For the most part, my readers were enjoying the main purpose of the article, which was seeing our event through the eyes of a very different ilk of people. What I didn’t expect (still pretty new at this) was the healthy trickle of mild controversy that it caused. Fellow Burning Man staffer, Nicole Maron, posted a response voicing her alarm at the concept of the DPW aiding the military with our very specialized desert methods. Especially at times like these.

“I don’t want to see the Cafe’s twin end up as field HQ for any war,” was part of her response. I sat back and thought about this one for a sec, (I like it when I’m made to think), and wrote her a response. It has since caused a cascade of discussions that I find healthy. My response:

Your point is well taken. This event was much more light-hearted than you are imagining, though. I’m thinking that this lecture was generated more out of simple curiosity than anything. We are talking about a group of elderly and retired officers that recognized a thread of similarity between BRC and some of the situations that they found themselves in during the brutal wars of yester-year. I have doubts that the cafe blue prints are likely to end up in the Pentagon.

I usually prefer to keep my personal views of todays hot politics separated from the light natured purpose of this column, but I do harbor at least some respect for the grunts who find themselves on the front lines of war at the orders of politicians who deal with human lives like poker chips.

I also understand that these old timers come from a very different era of patriotism and one can see in their eyes that we will never know or understand the events that forever burned a way of thinking into their minds.
So I hope this e-mail lets you rest a little easier. The DPW is not quite ready to be purchasing flight tickets to Kuwait.

Coyote clear

* * *

So returning to the aforementioned lighter note, here’s an e-mail that piggy-backed in from BM staffer, Raines, that was amongst the various comments about “Coyote Greets the Air Force:”

Apropos of Nicole’s note, today’s SJ Mercury News story:

Life in the desert continued to present problems for thousands of soldiers as they readied for orders to move north into Iraq.
Winds of 35 mph whipped up the third sandstorm this week at the Army’s Camp Virginia, another outpost near the Iraqi border. Hundreds of soldiers eating spaghetti dinner in one of three mess tents were ordered out because the tent, billowing in the wind, started to collapse — for the second time in a week. Many of the soldiers, caked with ashen silt and choking on sand, wandered in circles looking for their sleeping tents because of the lack of visibility.

Holy christ! Maybe the Army could use a few pointers from Black Rock City! 35 miles an hour winds?!! That’s kite- flying weather for us. I can just see it – some craggy old war generals going out to the playa to get some advice from “a bunch of artists” who happen to be better campers than they are. Well, ok, there is the little detail that we don’t have to cart our city 250 miles across southern Iraq, so no disrespect intended – it’s just pretty fun to think about.
I did like what our chief commissary chef, Michael “Catfish” Jansen had to say, “I probably make better spaghetti, too!” I’d put money on that one, Catfish!

* * *

Speaking of war time, (for some reason it’s been on my mind), one can imagine the rising hassles for some of our, shall we say, strongly clad, fellow DPWers at the various airports of our paranoid nation. The tattooed face of one of our main welders, Skitch, for example, created quite the delay, especially when they found the very “bomb-like” tattoo equipment in his luggage. “No really! Just look at my face! These are TATTOO GUNS!” Then he went and said the “Gun” word… I think he made the next day’s flight.
Our shade manager, Shady Shooter, also had similar problems with some of his luggage. Being ever the clever, he had created last year’s shade report, (how much shade used, how much money spent, etc), out of two red-painted pieces of plywood, zip ties for a binder, and a stapled-on logo of The Man made out of barbed wire. I reeeeally would like to have been there to hear shooter explain that one!

* * *

Don’t usually stray from Burning Man items, but I just gotta for this one. Apparently, because of the current “code orange”, the notorious surf break under the Golden Gate Bridge has been closed. Well, now the surfers are outraged, dude! So they organized their own protest called, “Paddle for Peace!”, where a group of thirty or so paddled out on surfboards into the bay sporting anti-war signs. I couldn’t help but notice one sign saying, “WAR IS GNARLY!”

I was wondering where the sign was that should have said, “War is BOGUS, dude!” Maybe next paddle rally.

Even funnier, when Channel 4 interviewed an old fisherman, watching the protest from the shore, he replied, “Maybe they should have used boats”. A little unclear on the concept… dude!

Stay tuned for next column entitled, “Growing Pains”. It will be covering the up-and-coming required changes to Black Rock Station – our beloved 280 acre work ranch twelve miles north of the Playa.

All for now

Coyote Nose

Coyote Nose Volume #1, Issue #04

And it’s only February –

During last year’s clean-up, we were all sitting at a mechanically separated work ranch breakfast, when Winnemucca Dave, or better known as WD 40, (he just turned 40), started telling of a nightmare he had. We where in the thick of clean-up, mind you, and the end of our rainbow was solely to have every trace of us off the Playa. Mr. Dave, at the time, had been bailing our butts out by spending his hours of the day dragging a chain-link ‘dune buster’ behind his big ole’ truckety-truck, when his dream put him back out in the field working, (I hate when dreams do that!). And what did he see?! A big fat line of cars, trucks, and campers marching toward us, and in to Black Rock City ’03! Horror of horrors, he sat up bolt right in a cold sweat! Well, he didn’t actually tell me that, but I’ll bet he did! With the wheels of our event spinning ever earlier, It made me think of some of the lore of Burning Mans past, when Danger Ranger Mr. Michael Michael and company would trek out to the playa just a day before to set things up for ‘the big weekend!’

Well, part of my job descript out there is to orient and survey the city, and lord knows, even trying to find true north can be a city-altering fiasco. So after hearing about how when Danger used to ceremonially orient the original city camps so that the sun would rise right smack over the man’s head, I had to ask him for his secret method of Boy Scout mapping. I mean, did it involve an almanac, a sextet, and daily observations?!
‘Well no,’ he replied with a well-seasoned chuckle, ‘We just went out there the day before, looked to see where the sun was rising, and then stuck the man there!’
Now there’s some last minute civic planning!

And now, the BRC ’03 city plan is sitting on my draft board in February. — Hope I can find true north —

Though it’s hard to imagine doing it all over again so soon after doing it all, ‘tis a good thing, I think. People are motivated, man. I’m thinking that the city is happening earlier and earlier every year because folks like their lifestyles in Black Rock City, and want to live like that for longer periods of time. ‘Why can’t we live like this all the time?!,’ is a common cry amongst our good citizens. A long ago weekend in the desert has quickly bloomed out to a week, and now with so many large scale projects and camps with scheduled early arrivals to allow for the needed extra set up time, (some villages are now bigger than all of Black Rock City used to be!), our population numbers have been growing exponentially even as far as two weeks before the burn. Makes you wonder what might happen if there were no government restrictions… Hmmmmm.

It was eerie sifting through DPW crew rosters from last year in the dead of winter. Was it possible to even phone some of these people? Do they keep emergency wake-up pagers in their hibernation dens? It’s crazy, but I have some solid friends and fellow crew members that live just a few blocks from me here in San Francisco, and we only see one another in the desert. Does this happen to you? Guess we’ll have to start thinking more about that winter burn in the southern hemisphere… It could happen —

Speaking of eerie wintertime out-of-desert experiences, I had some late night cocktails with Larry Harvey the other night. Never have I had an ordinary conversation with this man, and a recent essay that my mother wrote about her bizarre experience of ‘shopping around’ for her own cemetery plot darkened our line of talk considerably. We started talking of different stipulations people had attached to their funerals and such and we had both heard of some wild ones. You know, things like spreading ashes here and burying bodies there. (I was thinking that for myself, I would maybe like to somehow preserve my tattoos as a lampshade, or maybe a drum head, or something. Why should good art perish with me?) I’ve recently heard of another wild one where a mother had her son roll her ashes into a ‘cigarette’ of sorts, and smoke ’em! Well Larry had some unique thoughts surrounding his own mortality, and he told of a running joke he’s got going with his ex-wife. Apparently, she is to actually – DANCE – on his grave! Providing she outlives you, Larry. ‘I mean in a good way,’ Larry says. ‘Dancing is a good thing, right?’ I’m wondering what ‘special music’ she might pick. James Brown?

DPW commander and chief, Will Rodger asked that I include this powerful quote from Theodore Roosevelt in this column. It’s called ‘Courage’ and we believe that it captures at least some of our spirit in the long months of planning, organizing, setting up and tearing down Black Rock City. It’s a wonderful thing to experience the many departments of our event come together like cogs to create that thing that we create.


It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena;
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly;
who errs and comes up short again and again;
who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause;
who knows in the end the triumph of high achievements;
and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly;
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither defeat nor victory.

Theodore Roosevelt, April 10, 1899’

I guess spring is around the corner – you know, mating season. And here comes another wedding announcement. The big surprise of last week’s Staff meeting was Ada Chester and Mike Durgavitch ‘popping’ the news. Yup, another big ol’ sparkler has been put on another pretty finger, (it can be seen from across the zocalo), and let’s have some more parties! Plenty-o-time to plan, though, the date is set at April 4th, ’04. I love it! Durgy and Ada Dego Bay. Ada Durgy go Dego Bay Durg Day Go… or something. All for now.

The Coyote Nose