talent runs rampant

PigPen at the hoedown at Heavy Equipment

It’s a little hard, and maybe a little humbling, to realize how much talent there is in Black Rock City.

To be here, you pretty much have to be able to weld or build or do the electric or do the plumbing. Builders with skill sets are what’s needed most.

And that’s how it should be, of course, but it doesn’t end there. Not at all.

There was a little gathering at the Heavy Machinery yard last night, and it was another reminder of just how varied and well-rounded the people here are.

Dylan was there with his accordion, and PigPen from Center Camp was on the bass. Various members of the Titanium Sporkestra were there too, playing guitar and the washboard and more. Gary, the crane operator, was keeping time on the bongos.

It was all relatively low key by playa standards, although the drinking songs were raucous. But at the end of another long day, under a mostly full moon, and lubricated by the generosity of the folks at Heavy Equipment, you couldn’t really ask for more.

The singing and the partying was a reminder of what’s to come. Everyone’s working hard here, but they know a big party’s coming —  your party.

Arias has a Savannah cat, which has the looks of a big cat and the temperment of a domesticated animal. … There were a fair number of mice living in the trailers when they were on the Ranch in storage. … There are fewer of them every day.
If you  were thirsty, Weld Boy gave you something to slake it.


About the author: John Curley

John Curley (that's me) has been Burning since the relatively late date of 2004, and in 2008 I spent the better part of a month on the playa, documenting the building and burning of Black Rock City in words and pictures. I loved it, and I've been doing it ever since. I was a newspaper person in a previous life, and I spent many years at the San Francisco Chronicle. At the time I left, in 2007, I was the deputy managing editor in charge of Page One and the news sections of the paper. Since then, I've turned a passion for photography into a second career. I shoot for editorial, commercial and private clients. I've also taught a little bit, including two years at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and a year at San Francisco State University. I live on the San Mateo coast, just south of San Francisco in California.

6 Comments on “talent runs rampant

  • TomCat says:

    Mew! I need to meet the Savannah Cat!


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  • alexis says:

    I love all of you. I love you for building our city. I love you for being such badasses. I love you for being the kind of person I want to grow up to be.

    I do have one question though, about the ADORABLE Savannah Cat.

    As I recall, the Survival Guide makes a big deal out of how pet-unfriendly the playa is.

    I also get that our lovely DPW/Heavy Machinery/we-built-this-city folk get to break the rules.

    What I *don’t* get is why a photo would be posted to the Burning Man blog with a cat, presumably on playa, when we are going to be overwhelmed with newbies this year. Now, I know, it’s radical self-reliance. I know, people should know better than to bring an animal since it’s against the rules.

    But, I worry that there will be those who read the blog, but not the survival guide, and perhaps be tempted to bring their critters along, too.

    Please, folks: Don’t do it!

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  • John Curley says:

    Alexis, you’re exactly right. Cat won’t be around for the event, and there are very particular and exacting arrangements made for any animal on the playa now.

    The bottom line is — don’t bring your pets with you. Show them how much you love them by not subjecting them to the conditions here. It’s not only against the rules, it’s just a bad idea. So please please please don’t get the impression that this is a good place for an animal. It’s really and truly not.

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  • TreyBones says:

    Thanks for all the work you guys are doing! I can’t wait to come “home” after a long absence! Yippeee!

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  • Wasted says:

    Adding to the Animals on Playa discussion:

    Alexis wrote:I also get that our lovely DPW/Heavy Machinery/we-built-this-city folk get to break the rules. – end quote

    Alexis, I appreciate your concern, but your statement isn’t factual. BRC DPW need to go through an extensive application process to bring along their most beloved non-human companion for build season. People on the crew have been forced to turn around/ leave for breaking this rule.

    We’re also not allowed to punch people :)

    Curley, Love your work!

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  • Eris says:

    It’s my understanding that *all* living creatures have to protect themselves from the elements in this desert. The surroundings during the live/work season are drastically different from the Burningman event. This cat has an absurdly posh setup living with the crew here, many of which were already friends of his. Even though he loves adventure and travel, he is not attending the event, as it is against the rules for good reason. Many of us are here living and working together for more than two months, where the event is dramatically different (and seems to pass in the blink of an eye.) When crew members find a niche for their partners, kids, and pets, I find it to be a rather positive thing. Also, for the record, dpw are subject to all the same event rules and law enforcement that participants are.

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