Christmas in July

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

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 McGiver 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 champaign (already drained of its contents, of course) is broke 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 updates, and tidbits as close to daily as I can. Things can get a little busy around Christmas time, don’t cha know.

About the author: Tony “Coyote” Perez-Banuet

Tony “Coyote” Perez-Banuet

Tony “Coyote” Perez-Banuet has been coming to the desert to build and strike Black Rock City since 1996. A professional musician for over twenty years, Burning Man culture was an easy shift for him. He co-founded the Department of Public Works of BRC in 1998 and has been the City Superintendent ever since. Known as the “Bard of the Desert”, telling stories around the campfire is among the things he does best. He has been blogging under the moniker of “Coyote Nose” for many years, and he is Burning Man’s first Storytelling Fellow.