Hello out there, you moop maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! I’m back with the information you’ve all been waiting for: the results of Day 3’s mad march through the streets of BRC, and the first glimpse of this year’s ESPLANADE scores.
But first! A flying piano!
If you were lucky enough to be in just the right place at just the right time this year, you saw a very rare spectacle: the DPW’s infamous trebuchet, being cocked, loaded, lit and LOOSED with a flaming piano flying through the air and smashing into smithereens onto the playa.
“WHAT!!??” I can hear all of you screaming in unison. “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MOOP??” (more…)
Here’s a world that’s hard to describe. Possibly the only postmodern non-patriarchal city-state on Earth besides Cristiania, Black Rock City is built and run by women and men. If not in race, at least in gender, BRC seems, to this writer at least, as equal a place on Earth as anywhere that’s ever been.
The American sense of freedom (and freedom to complain) lies at the heart of Burning Man. Sure, when the gates open, some media outlets gravitate toward boobs, painted boobs, and sparkly boobs — making BRC look like a giant strip club to the dude-bro Youtubing us from the flyover states. Fact tho: Everyone’s mostly naked because it’s hot, and because we can be.
In real life, people run this place. Women and men. Burning Man would be nonexistent without the Cacophony Society and its predecessor the Suicide Club, both of which were founded by an equal number of men and women. Burning Man’s LLC has always been equal gender-wise as well. The women have insisted on it.
When a majority of the population doesn’t feel powerless in some way, systems can thrive. There’s a larger rant about patriarchy, monotheism, capitalism, and two-party-system-government’s controlled effect of subjugation here, and/or the steady pressure of negative realism meant to demoralize the masses into feeling too powerless to take any action for change … but we’ll spare you it. However, the point can be corseted into this: Imbalanced power relationships keep capitalism humming at the expense of the user, while collaboration breeds respect, community, and anarchy (the good kind).
Women run the top echelons of Burning Man, along with the men. It’s a slight majority, even. That may be why this event is such a modern touchstone; a cultural breath of fresh air; something nobody can pin down but everybody likes to complain about and tear apart.
What’s more, so many people, justices, and injustices go into this dirt-rave production and its worldwide yearlong tentacles, we’ve collectively found the patriarchal idea of ‘leader’ or ‘figurehead’ to be outdated. We prefer leaderless, radical interdependence, and for our IRL bosses, we just defer to their individual ability, thanks. Lattices of benevolent dictators and dictatrices are welcome if they’re nice.
Through the decades (especially in the early times) there have been disagreements, unfairnesses, and creeper things that happened around us in the DPW, but at a fraction of the percentage they occur in the default world. Most DPW women will tell you nobody has ever taken the tool out of our hand. Mansplaining is socially illegal and, in the rare event it arises, it’s hilariously rebutted before spectators.
This change was so imperceptible over time, it took this writer 18 years of DPW life to even realize that’s what’s so refreshing about working out here. These men building Black Rock City, the men who respect women as equals and don’t try to vibe them off the forklift … they are the sexiest men alive.
Things haven’t always been so equal-feeling. In the earlier, grittier days of the DPW, our crew wasn’t only patriarchally-based — it was a slap-up sausage fest. Fledgling DPW women like this writer just happen to be attracted to traditionally dude-ish things like explosions, construction, heavy machinery, people with weapons and apocalypse skills, and a full-contact sovereignty lifestyle.
Over time, Burning Man’s traditionally most macho department has become a beacon for multitalented, alpha-level, overly-skilled women and the protective-fixer-type dudes who love them. Like moths to a blowtorch, seemingly every badass woman on the West Coast with a bent for — or proficient in — explosions, construction, and heavy machinery came a-runnin’. (more…)
I’ve got a whole bunch of goodies for you today, so go ahead and get excited. It’s gonna be a good day.
The autumn days here in the Black Rock have been sunny and calm, a bit on the warm side maybe. The pre-season bugs have not returned, the dust storms haven’t been battering our skin, eyes and lungs … heck, it isn’t even too cold in the mornings.
With calm and clear conditions, the Playa Restoration line sweepers are making good progress. On Day 2, they marched through 54 city blocks, along the back ‘burbs of Black Rock City. What they found was a mixed bag, if we’re being honest here. Again, the vast majority of the territory was impressively vacant of moop. However, a couple of spots got a little out of control. Want to see? Of course you do!
There are certain DPW types among us who have been here long enough to start “in my day”-ing people. We try not to do it that often — regale newer volunteers with horror stories of our pre- and post-event Ranch living back at the turn of last century — but when we’re asked, we can go on sometimes. Crews wandering off, rice with maggots in it, overworking constantly, stress-fights, and piles of junk with no OSHA regulators in sight.
We try to use as little emotion as possible when telling the kiddoes about the days before the Internet exploded, before the DPW developed a vast and internecine infrastructure.
This writer joined the DPW in 1998, staying for cleanup here and there sometimes over the years, until 2008. As always with this Burning Dude thing, the DPW was making it up as we went along. Seven years later, this writer has once again stayed in the desert past Last Supper to document Playa Restoration, and boy have things changed.
Playa Restoration manager D.A. joined DPW cleanup in 1999 and changed the name to Playa Restoration in 2005. He’s now the general who strategizes with maps, leading the charge at day’s beginning as we set sail from the shoreline for the open sea of Lahontan to search for MOOP.
“It was raw,” D.A. agrees about the olden times. “We weren’t as well-funded. We weren’t as healthy becaause we didn’t know what it meant to be healthy out here. The Fluffers changed everything for the DPW.”
[Fluffers, for those who don’t know, have nothing to do with pornography and everything to do with driving around huge utility trucks full of snacks, drinks, and self-care sundries. They huck heavy coolers full of water and ice and make sure we don’t die.]
“We used to get dropped off in the middle of nowhere with just a bucket of water, and sometimes it spilled over,” D.A. says. “Now we have buses that stay with us — and radios. We didn’t have portapotties with us. We dealt with it but it was time-consuming. Now we have a person whose job it is to keep a portajohn with the lines.
“We have a 24/7 auto shop,” says D.A. “When we broke down before, it was for the whole day. We didn’t get as much done. The system we have is still the same system — it’s just evolving.”
D.A. branched out in his own Burning Man DPW cleanup career by joining Special Forces in 2002 — a new crack team of capable people assembled by Phyxx to deal with the moopy hot spots. There was rivalry at first. These days, everyone on the line sweep crews gets to be Special Forces for a day or two.
“But the line sweeps are the heart of the matter,” D.A. says. “They just needed love. We put the Fluffers, Portajohns, and buses at the line sweeps. Special Forces can roll.”
When speaking of ye olde DPW Days, it’s always hard to avoid sounding like a Russian grandmother visiting an American grocery store for the first time. Some of the vintage DPW crew still huddle together to gush over the delicious meals our Resto kitchen now serves us — serves us with a smile, without yelling, without leaning over to dump their shirtless tits in the food, and without maggots.
SHOUT OUT to Playa Mike, who posted this inspiring album from Burn Night 2015. Mike says:
Every year on Burn Night my friends and I walk around the playa collecting as much MOOP as we can find and attach it to a caution tape tail of mine.
That’s the spirit, Playa Mike (and crew). You made mooping fun. Thank you for leaving no trace, and for picking up more than you dropped. The Playa Restoration crew salutes you!
I’d like to take this moment to remind us all of what moop is [it’s Matter Out Of Place] and why we pick it up [because Burning Man is a Leave No Trace event, and keeping that incredible commitment requires everyone’s participation].
Burning Man is the largest Leave No Trace (LNT) event in the world — LNT is one of our core principles — it is up to all of us to remove all Matter Out of Place (MOOP) from Black Rock City. There is no garbage collection service in BRC — we are all responsible for properly removing all trash. Everything you bring might become trash: tent stakes, bottle caps, ashes, wood debris, orange peels, cigarette butts, pistachio shells, rope fibers, sequins —even abandoned bikes. According to our permit with the BLM, we have a very short window of time to restore the playa to its original condition. We can only satisfy BLM stipulations and pass inspection if ALL citizens share in the responsibility to line-sweep their camps and the city.
No matter how big and crazy our temporary city gets, it’s always going to be a community. And it’s always going to attract awesome people who find their own ways to participate. Including mooping their way through BRC with a tail made of caution tape.
Did YOU pick up moop in a creative, photogenic way this year? Tweet me your photos @jhfearless. I’ll totally RT.
And hey guys, I’ve seen Day One of the Moop Map results and I can say for sure that you’re going to see them too, very soon. Tomorrow maybe?
HELLO out there, all you MOOP maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! Step right up as we kick off the final show of 2015: the magical, miraculous, totally mind-bending escapades of the DPW Playa Restoration hotshots.
Can it really be only two weeks since you bid the playa adieu, people of Black Rock City? In that achingly short time, the city vanished back into the dust, leaving behind only a few faint traces. And now, the Resto MOOP lines are erasing even those.
As always, it’s a race against time: as the winds bluster their way through the vacant heart of the Wild West, as the clouds lower and the Bureau of Land Management prepares its inspection of our desert home, everything hangs on this one question:
Will the MOOP lines make it through the city in time?
If you’re unfamiliar: Playa Restoration, now in its tenth year, is a hotshot crew of 140 diehards and blowhards, who brave the heat, the cold, the dust, the boredom, and the biting flies as they walk every single block of Black Rock City, picking up every last bit of MOOP, so we can pass our annual site inspection with the BLM. A successful inspection means Burning Man happens next year, if you want it to. A failed inspection … well, let’s try not to go there.
After the citizens of Black Rock City (that’s you!) pack up every bit of the carnival and take it back, in tattered, dusty pieces, to the real world, the Resto crew comes in to restore the playa. We walk the city, picking up every last piece of MOOP we see. As we do, we track everything we find and report it back to you in the form of a Moop Map. This is our collective report card, a record of how well Burning Man erased its tracks. It’s a shared effort that involves every one of us, and with every year that passes, we get better and better at leaving our site clean and green.
Over the next two weeks, I and my fellow blogger Summer Burkes will be giving you the real stories of Restoration, and oh yes, we’ll be unveiling the 2015 Moop Map as fast as the Resto crew can fill it in. 2014 was overwhelmingly green. Can we repeat that victory in 2015?
~ Leaving No Trace ~
The Burning Man community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.
In the midst of the bass-thumping, fire-florid, neon-edged glory of Black Rock City, we forget ourselves, lose our boundaries, recombine with our neighbors to become something new. And even as we’re out there, as Larry Harvey might say, “jiggling our molecules around,” there’s an awareness — this doesn’t last forever.
We have this window in time, this brilliant moment to reinvent ourselves into something slightly better, truer, more vibrant and conscious.
Well, I’m here to tell you that, even though the window for 2014 has closed, it will open again in 2015. Congratulations, Black Rock City: You successfully left no trace on the playa, helping to ensure that Burning Man can return to the desert we love.