Hello all you moop maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire, and welcome to the very last installment of Moop Map 2015! That’s right, I’ve got the complete (though not FINAL-final) results for the entire city grid of Burning Man 2015, all mapped for you.
I’ve also got one more person to introduce you to – though there are countless amazing, fascinating people out here working Playa Restoration, I can’t introduce you to each of them. Luckily, miss Auntie Social speaks for many of us.
Auntie Social was the Man Base Stage Manager this year, and has been a member of the DPW since 2009. She does many amazing things in the outside world as well, so I’ll be sharing some of her photos of a truly creative, original life. Get inspired!
This is a guest post from Shalaco, who has worked Playa Restoration the past couple of years and whose Instagram contains more Resto goodies. Thanks Shalaco! – Hun
Playa Restoration is divided into two specialized teams: Line Sweeps Division and Special Forces.
The line sweeps walk the city streets, arms length apart in groups of 30 with their well trained MOOP eyes that can spot a single sequin, wood chip or piece of carpet fuzz on the open playa. But when they find something that’s too BIG, too gross, or there’s just too dang many of it, they raise their MOOP stick to flag an oscillator to “cone it”. Taking a few minutes to cleanup what they can, then they walk-on, and keep the line moving. Special Forces will come in for the kill. “Killin Cones” is what these self described “Cone Killas” do.
So, who is special forces and what does it mean to be a ‘cone killa’ anyways? Special Forces Manager Phoenix Firestarter breaks it down for us.
The results of today’s inspection are NOT official. We’ll find out for sure, in writing, in a few months. However, I can tell you right now that – psst – we totally passed with flying colors.
“Hold on! But you haven’t finished mooping!”
Actually, we have finished line sweeping our way through the streets of Black Rock City – just yesterday, in fact. However, it takes us several days to produce the Moop Map images for you. So, for example, the map I posted yesterday reflected the results of last Monday’s line sweeps.
(Sorry for the confusion. Have you ever tried computering in this desert? It’s a slow process.)
“OK that makes sense. So what is this inspection again?”
NBD. This is only the most important part of the whole process. Each year, the Bureau of Land Management assesses how well Burning Man treated the Black Rock Desert (which is, of course, public land). The results of this inspection determine whether we will receive a permit to hold the event here next year.
In other words, if we fail, we can not return to the playa.
The BLM can’t inspect the entire 4.5 square mile event site in a single day, so 60 randomly-selected points throughout the city are chosen as a sampling. Each inspection point is one tenth of an acre. They cover all parts of the city, from the streets, to the Man and art sites, to the open playa.
In order to achieve success, there must be less than one square foot of moop found per acre. Therefore, each inspection point must produce less than one tenth of a square foot of moop. That’s a 3.8 inch wide square. It’s small.
And yet, once again, we passed with a visibly wide margin. Do you know how big a deal that is? It’s a tremendous accomplishment, and it’s something we all did together, as the community of Black Rock City.
From the BLM perspective, this is the most important thing. We share the same goal here, which is to return the Black Rock Desert to the way it was before Burning Man. We share your goals and the ‘leave no trace’ ethic. Thanks to all of you for this monumental effort.
— David, BLM Project Manager
“So how do we know we passed?”
It’s very scientific: each site gets a baggie, and into the baggie goes all the moop. Ten inspection teams, composed of Burning Man and BLM representatives, each cover about six different sites. They systematically line sweep the site, then seal the baggie and submit it.
The BLM then looks over everything that was found, and gives us the preliminary, unofficial result. Which, again, is a total pass for 2015.
Now they will go back to a laboratory somewhere and measure it all, create a detailed and much more official report, and send it to Burning Man as part of next year’s permitting process.
So first of all, let’s all thank the BLM representatives who joined us today, because they didn’t make us wait months to find out whether we passed!
And then, let’s thank our campmates, our neighbors, and our friends who took the time to moop their camps, pack it out, and Leave No Trace.
Finally, let’s give a big HURRAH for the Playa Restoration forces, who continually brave some pretty crazy conditions and do some rather brutal work in order to make sure that Burning Man keeps on rising from the dust.
As the inspection drew to a close, the BLM reps laid out all the baggies so we could see just how little was left behind from this city of 70,000. Champagne was popped and passed around. The cork landed on the playa.
“Pick it up!” someone yelled.
“No way, the inspection’s over,” said Summer. “That’s job security for next year.”
Hello out there, moop maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! The Hun here, checking in after a very R-E-A-L weekend.
Boy, did it rain in the desert.
Thursday brought a deluge, and by Friday the playa was limned with glinting streams – standing water just waiting to swallow vehicles and turn your feet into mudboots. And then … it rained again.
Now, we’ve been down this road before. As many of you will remember, early rains in 2010 caused the BLM site inspection to be delayed by EIGHT MONTHS as we waited for Lake Lahontan to dry. When the seasons change out here, they do it on a dime.
AND YET! Your Playa Restoration hotshots REFUSED to be grounded this year. I wish I could express to you what that means, what it takes to get people safely on and off the playa, not just people but busloads of DPW, fording actual rivers as the winds howl and the mud squelches. How many hours are spent by DA and his crackerjack team, just to find a route from the highway to the city. How many sleepless nights spent wondering… will we do it this time?
Black Rock City got hit with some harsh wind this year. Not as apocalyptically near-tornado-level wind as the playa can whip up, but still, 2015 saw enough consistent and prolific dust to monopolize half the Burning Man experience for some people.
What this means for Playa Restoration, in general, is dustpiles on the moon.
It means the DPW stays busy combating dunes across the city’s site. On line sweeps, we look for little serpentines with rare MOOP treasures in them, and we rake long arrays of fine-dust layers until they smooth out and/or blow away.
Then there are the larger dunes where structures and fences once stood, which need to be manhandled and sometimes even heavy-machined.
Dunes have become Bobtuse and crew’s bailiwick. Bobtuse, DPW’s prime dunebuster since after he started volunteering in 2000 or 2001, drives his truck in large loops and pirouettes all day, pulling a huge flat heavy metal square thing.
“You might get seasick riding with me,” Bobtuse says on a recent crackling-hot day on playa. This is his sixteenth Playa Restoration, and he hasn’t gotten woozy yet.
“Sometimes it’s worse for the passenger than the driver,” he offers. Luckily, this writer doesn’t get seasick either, but on Bobtuse’ crazy-eights route, we begin to feel that euphoric and yukey carnival-ride feeling.
The dunebuster he’s pulling behind him with a chain smashes through tiny hills of playa — BOOSH — making miniature dust devils and wee windstorms as he tears down the dune. This huge tool on a truck chain, a square of metal-with-rebar welded by the DPW’s metal shop at the Ranch as usual, resembles a spiderweb.
Pen-and-paper note-taking becomes chicken scratch and we soon give up on writing and dunebusting simultaneously. It’s like mowing the lawn, this writer points out.
“Mhm, except it’s kinda random and irregular.” Bobtuse calmly drives in crazy patterns while we hold on to the truck’s oh-shit bar. Perhaps his relaxed and balanced manner, cowboy-succinct speech, and ninja-level composure are all due to his job requiring him to shake and spin his organs up all day long.
We reminisce about the first dunebuster Demilitia, then head of metal shop, created around 19-2000 or so. Her dunebuster prototype was basically a big chain to drag.
After the chain, Bobtuse says, Demilitia fabricated “one that was a railroad tie on a chain — but it was too heavy for most trucks to pull. It was hard even on the bigger engines. Then there was a big fence chain kinda thing with a tire for weight on top of it, but that one created dust. It was just abrasive.
“This one, we’ve had it for a while. There’s two edges that push — so it doesn’t really dig, it just displaces. We also have a new one now — more heavy duty. Because it’s heavier, it pushes more instead of just floating.” (That’s the one Mr. Blue’s driving this year.)
We ride out to the fence, with Bobtuse busting big dunes marked with Special Forces cones along the way. We are instructed to drive right behind him, right in his dust line, because to the left of us is unbusted dune, and to the right of us is fluffy, flat, freshly-busted playa. (more…)
Greetings, you moop maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! I’m writing this from the still-dripping eaves of the Burning Man office in downtown Gerlach, NV. We had a doozy of a storm that blew the crew off the playa Wednesday morning, then turned into a day-long rain. The playa turned to mud, and the entire Restoration operation was grounded Thursday and Friday.
After three days on the sidelines, we are all raring to go. Your Playa Restoration hotshots really love their job, folks, and can’t wait to get back out there and finish the job before Burning Man’s site inspection with the BLM. As a matter of fact, we’re planning to work through the weekend and right up until the moment our BLM representatives arrive.
If you ever felt like cheering on the Resto crew, now is the moment! Let them know you’re rooting for them. Send a prayer on the wind. Whatever good mojo you’ve got, send it toward the playa – we’ll take it!
So About the Red Thing
So listen, I want to answer a question that’s been popping up in the comments ever since Day One:
What’s that red spot right in the middle of the Moop Map?
Would you believe it’s Burning Man’s clown nose? (more…)
Hello you moop maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! I’ve got more map, including the rest of the Esplanade, for you today!
How did your camp score? How did your favorite party spot fare? How did your mooping efforts pay off this year? Tell me about it in the comments please!
This year, I sat down to interview a few of the many fascinating people that make up our Playa Restoration crew. If you haven’t read Major Buzzkill’s story, you should – it’s powerful. And today I’d like to share a new side of the guy who started it all: D.A., manager and mastermind of Resto.
DA is somebody I’ve grown close to over time. We’ve done good work together over the past decade. But I always wondered: how did he get here? What path led him to this role? What inspires him to keep coming back, year after year, to lead an ever-growing crew in erasing the traces of an ever-larger city? (more…)
Ezra Li Eismont, or DJ Darkat, helps run the trash-collection circuit for the DPW in Black Rock City, with a stellar team of dumpster freaks who help reduce our waste by literal tons. Ezra also runs Chickenfish FM, a most eclectic radio station just about everyone on the DPW listens to during their workdays on playa. Ezra also DJs parties throughout the year, where even the non-dancers in the DPW find themselves dancing and having a good time. Ezra’s sets keep the woo flowing.
Last year in 2014, the Thursday before Last Supper, the event had ended and the DPW Ghetto threw a smooth-rock party to celebrate. Of course Ezra was to headline the DJs, so he ramped us up for the occasion by playing soft-rock hits from the 70s all day on Chickenfish radio.
For this writer, that era represents a small childhood surrounded by musician family and friends who paid a whole hell of a lot of attention to those songs. And that day, when the event had ended and the Chickenfish-listening DPW needed sonic support for strike, everyone on the desert had no choice but to pay full attention to the smooth rock hits.
Literally growing up learning to sing by singing these songs means feeling trapped in the past when the soft rock comes at you from every direction on an ancient lakebed which last week was filled with a cornucopia-cophony of music. The soft rock took over, knocking every other thought out. Childhood memories attacked — good and bad, one right after the other.
We tried to go to the smooth-rock party that night, but were already feeling queasy from having been forced to reminisce seemingly every aspect of our early years for a solid 24 hours.
We went to bed early, too exhausted to be irritained, but the party raged. Then, the smooth-rock hits continued on Chickenfish into the next morning and afternoon.
So, this writer left the playa, one full day early, to get away from it.
Not sure that classifies as a meltdown music event, but it was real. Still love that Chickenfish radio tho, every day. We just cringe at Lionel Ritchie now.
It all started with Metric’s now-defunct radio station, KDPW. Early days out here during cleanup, Metric curated the pre-Chickenfish airwave of choice for the workers. One day, when we were all already about to snap from the heat and exhaustion and starvation and dehydration and broken hearts, he played every version of “Moon River” he could find to download.
“Moon River” all day. All day. So many versions, so many genres. We had no idea.
Who needs drugs when you’re walking on an ancient lakebed in the searing heat and sun, picking up tiny bits of trash and listening to “Moon River” in almost all the ways humanity has ever interpreted rhythm and the holy twelve notes? (more…)