August 23rd: It’s Art, Not Math

At this morning’s meeting we talked about the completion of the solar array, the progress of the Community Bike Project, and plans for the DPW parade on Saturday of the event.  Johnny Amerika and Rock Hard announced plans to fire up the Trebuchet for Doyle’s birthday tomorrow night.  D.A. briefed us about plans for Playa Restoration.  (Only ten more days til clean-up!)  There were five separate sign-up sheets floating around, one for each project, only nobody knew which sheet was which because, in true DPW fashion, they were all blank.  It was awesome.

We also got DPW stickers today and bandanas.  Logan was mobbed by DPW personnel as soon as he said he had swag.  It was a beautiful thing.  I immediately put a giant sticker on the hood of my Subaru.  I guess it’s the first step before cutting off the top, removing the doors, painting it burned black, and adding a flame thrower.

I joined the Artery team this morning, reporting to Betty June for a day of art placement.  The Artery is where artists report when they arrive on playa.  It’s located on the inner circle around Center camp, near Arctica. Artists get checked in at the Artery and confirm the location on playa for their installation.  There are nearly 300 registered art pieces this year, with each piece needing a certain level of logistical support pertaining to space, electricity, safety, and heavy equipment.  This is the first day of the major push for early arrivals, so the Artery is buzzing.

I hopped in Betty June’s art car, along with Girl Scout and King Mob, and we headed out to the Pavillion at the Man base armed with maps and Sharpies.  Our mission was to place dozens of floofies along the circular perimeter at the Man.  The design this year includes about thirty different sets of “trees” to be erected by artists around the circle, and we needed to mark their spots for them.  We started out by calculating angles and carefully measuring distances with one of those rolling measure thingys, but this is art placement, not survey, and we soon abandoned our scientific approach in favor of a less structured method.  Something we like to call “random placement,” or “yah, that looks good.”

At the same time, the shade structure for the Man base was going up and the masks for the trees were ready to be installed.  The shade structure is huge, and it was being erected with the help of a boom truck.  I was talking to Davis during a break, and he offered to take me up in one of the booms.  Heck ya!  I put on a harness, clipped in to the bucket, and up we went.  I tied shade cloth to the frame with zip ties while he maneuvered the machine.  It was so cool!  We were up there pretty high, about 40 or 50 feet, working on the longest piece of shade going right up to the base of the Man.  Check it out:

Marty made two amazing flame spires for the 6:00 Promenade at the Esplanade.  They were trying to light them last night but were having a hard time in the wind with how tall the spires are.  Will Roger happened to drive up at the right moment and lit them both with the flame throwers on his art car.  Only at Burning Man.

I was in the Gerlach office yesterday for a while, working on a computer in the back, and I overheard a bunch of people stop in and talk to Trixie.  They were all trying to get in early.  Either by pleading, persuading, or offering to volunteer.  It doesn’t work.  It’s too late to volunteer, and the Early Arrival list is set- you can’t get in unless your name is on it.  Just to emphasize this point, a guy rode his bike from L.A., hoping to just show up and get in, and he was turned away.  It’s a bummer for him, but the event opens at 12:01 am on August 27th, end of story.

After Hours
I met up with Doyle around 5:30 and we went over to Camp Carp to hang out and drink beer and Bloody Marys (Thanks Snatch and Mel!)  It was a good time as it always is over there, sitting around shooting the shit.  Then we drove out onto the open playa for an art tour.  We checked out the Temple and arrived just in time to watch Zach Off move a huge heavy piece of Big Rig Jig.  It was excellent.

Dinner, shower, change, and off to a party at Jub Jub.  It was Cendo’s birthday, and he went big.  There was fire, music, art cars, dancing girls, and 50 bottles of Jamesons for the DPW.  The seven sexy bitches have become 12, and they were out in full force.  It was my birthday too, along with five or six others including Alabama, Entropy, and Sandman.  Alabama gave me a Burning Man necklace that he made, and I really love it.  Got home late and crashed!

-Wanda Power

About the author: Marnee Benson

Marnee Benson

Marnee is Burning Man Project’s Associate Director of Government Affairs. Her work focuses on permitting and relationships with the Nevada Legislature, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Pershing County, and multiple other Nevada agencies. She helps Burning Man navigate Nevada politics and federal issues affecting the Burning Man event. Marnee’s first trip to Black Rock City was 2001, and in 2007 she worked with the Department of Public Works and the Communications team, writing and photographing content for the Burning Blog “Building Black Rock City”. From 2009 to 2013, she served as the Deputy Director at Black Rock Solar. She loves the way Burning Man expands her world and flips ideas upside down.