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