August 28th: Man Down

Singed ManLast night at about 3:00 am, as the moon was fully eclipsed and thousands of people were celebrating out on the playa, someone set the Man on fire.  He’s still standing, but he’s burned to a crisp.  We had an emergency DPW meeting this morning at 9:00 to organize for action.  It was optional, but a lot of people showed up.  When I arrived, they were already strategizing.

The Man will be re-built.  It’s going to be really tough considering limitations on time, supplies, and labor, but we’re going to do it.  I think everyone at the meeting felt the same way:  the Man will burn on Saturday night, as planned.

Emergency meetingI looked around the Depot and saw bloodshot eyes and haggard faces.  Most of us got little or no sleep last night and all of us had slipped into event mode, ready to enjoy the festivities and raise the roof at Burning Man.  And despite this, I saw everyone pulling together in true DPW style.  Prepared to go full throttle.  Ready to throw down for the team.

Steel ToeCoyote, Super Dave, Thumper, Hazmatt, and Cobra Comandante were all there, considering logistics and planning next steps.  They briefed us on safety issues and asked us to work with each other according to skills and experience.  Sign shop, heavy equipment, electrical, Man Krew, and the bike project were all represented.  Commissary was there.  Cowboy Carl and George Bush showed up, ready to go. Jack Rabbit told us how strongly she felt about us and the situation- that she loved how motivated and professional DPW is, and that she was proud of how quickly the site was secured last night.  She talked about leadership and she reminded us that the city is growing.

Snatch & SuperThe meeting broke, and within minutes people were on their way out to the Man.  They set up a restricted area and set into motion moving things around.  The radio hasn’t been quiet since.  Everyone’s in work mode, and there’s a lot to organize.  Transpo was supposed to take the day off but drove to Reno instead and got all the materials they’ll need for Man II.  Mayfield’s been on com all day, working dispatch.  I’ve heard Super’s smooth and reassuring voice coming through channel 4.  Dave X and Railroad Mike have been responding to countless fuel calls.  Chaos, Cobra, and Quiet Earp are out there along with Degenerate and Leeway and Jalapena.  There’s talk of t-stakes and fence, sanders and battery chargers.

As I write this post later in the afternoon, the Man has been taken down.  He’s no longer on his perch, visible to everyone in Black Rock City.  I imagine we’ll all be looking that way over the next few days, waiting for him to reappear like a Phoenix from the ashes, feeling a little disoriented until he does.  In the mean time, there’s a lot to enjoy out here.  People are having fun and making plans for tonight.  The energy at Burning Man is building, like it does every year.  And I just heard a radio reference to hippies on the playa, so I know we’re good to go.

-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.

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