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.
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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!
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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!
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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