Dusty Tuesday Exodus

Center Camp Cafe’

Monday night they began tearing down the Center Camp Café. I was walking back from dinner where entire camps were disappearing with great expediency, leaving gaping holes in the once urbanized wall of themecamps that were there only one day before. Gone were the Home Brew camp, the Beacon and Eggs bar. As I passed the Café I saw two of the last stragglers; a tall naked man stood with his back to me next to his female companion who wore a flowing paisley robe, both staring wistfully into the Café that had become a deconstruction zone. I could tell they only wanted just one more Tai Chi or Chai Tea but the Café is closed for business.

Packing up

Driving around the city on Monday, I was surprised by how many camps were still up. We’d had a steady dribble of folks fleeing ever since Friday’s nice dusty night storm but on Monday they seemed to be staying put. Over here by the ARTery, we had a potluck dinner and a long table of friends eating all the event leftovers. There was hearty laughter and stories told by the light of fire barrels about what a great burn it had been. There was wine and absinthe and smiles all around.

Shekky from Radio Free Burning Man demonstrates MOOPing techniques

I woke up a bit absinthe minded Tuesday, but made my way out to visit some camps. We stopped by the 3 o’clock plaza, then out to the edge of the city. Radio Free Burning Man was all packed up and MOOPing with rakes and magnetic rollers to make sure they didn’t leave a trace. Actually all over Black Rock City, citizens were breaking down and finding a lot of MOOP. If you don’t know what MOOP is, you should. It is “Matter Out of Place” and it is anything that is on the ground that shouldn’t be there. We had some great first timers (aka Newbies) this year who I met everywhere I went in the city. They did a great job acclimating and becoming acculturated as far as I could see, however one point should be made just in case it wasn’t clear enough. Leave No Trace means not only not dropping your trash on the ground, but also picking up anything you see blowing by. We’re all in this together and leaving not a trace of the event afterwards is a huge job that takes everyone to pull it off. Every little thing you pick up helps to make that a reality.

Collexodus Loot

By Tuesday it seemed we had a bigger Exodus and the dust picked up considerably. I checked in with Collexodus and am happy to report that they had a banner year so thank you for bringing the DPW stuff to keep them going and working to tear down Black Rock City once you’re at home all showered, in clean clothes and looking at the pictures you took this year.



We’ve been in day long dust since Tuesday morning with occasional breaks where the sky above is bright blue with cookie cutter bright white clouds that cast strange shadows on the sides of the mountains to the west. Along Black Rock City’s roadways in a few places, you could see piles of those big two gallon water containers with a sign that read “FREE”. People, no one wants those. Take them with you.  And bikes… oh my, I had no idea how many of you either just get wasted and forget where you left your bike, or decide to “donate” it to the organization. If your bike is broken or if you don’t want to take it home with you, do us all a favor and TAKE IT HOME WITH YOU. I was riding up 6:30 out to the Gate and I passed some FREE water, quite a few abandoned bikes and a youngish hippie girl with a hitchhiking sign that read “ANYWHERE”. She was the only thing that made it out of here.

Nikita and David Silverman on Joe’s bus

A few of the larger villages are still tearing down. I was over at Mansonian and Insane the Transpo God who has a button with a Hyster on the other end of it, was joking and said, “I tell them, take your driver’s license, read your name to remember it, and right below your name is an address. Go there now.” You don’t have to go home, you just can’t stay here.

They’ve graded the service road and long trucks and semis are arriving to take out the thousands of porta potties and pick up trailers from the depot. Staging areas for campers are being set up. You can once again see all the way across the playa where once there was a city. And the DPW are again running things as the last party camps hit the pavement. There is heavy equipment movement everywhere. People are excited knowing this is almost done. They’re almost giddy but also ready for hard work days aheaed. Dave X was spotted wearing a panda hat and I heard an anvil explode off somewhere on the Esplanade to a great chorus of cheers. There are random explosions of an indeterminate nature and at night, as structures become more and more sparse you realize just how different one feels living in a vibrant city as opposed to staying in a camper next to two containers at the end of a dusted out expanse of nothingness.

A break in the dust

It becomes more and more apparent with each wall of alkaline powdery grit shaking your domicile that this will all be gone very, very soon. Teardown is a lot easier than the build I’m told. Erasing the evidence of us being out here happens like clockwork and that’s how it is meant to be. All the hours of work to build the place, then the hours of preparation for people to come out here to be with friends or to discover something they’ve never seen before, and all the hours to tear it down are part of this process of creating something new and beautiful in our world.

Bone Tree and yes, more dust

We don’t  leave a mark on the ground out here, but rather in the spirit we bring with us. The spirit we give to each other and then take back stronger into the world to share so that next year even more will arrive with their dreams and inventions and inspirations. I’m convinced that we’re on to something. It sounds kind of ridiculous, but we really seem to be doing something more than just having a big party out here.

But for now, the roughneck, frontier wilderness is stretching and stirring back to life as the insane week long experience of Burning Man empties out gate road, first in hectic exhausted bursts then slowing down to a dribble, like this is some hourglass we turn over each year and watch all the grains of sand flow into then out of Black Rock City.

The hourglass will soon be emptied and readied to flip over again. But for now I’ll be cleaning the sand out of my camper.



About the author: Moze


John Mosbaugh aka Moze is a SF Bay Area heretic and writer who's been hauling himself out to Black Rock City since the Nebulous Entity first beckoned him to check out this phenomenon known as Burning Man. Moze is a "Life Collector" who scribbles down encounters with you to share on the blog. He enjoys the hyper reality of that week in the desert enough to keep coming back. He's been on the Burning Man web team since aught two and has written for Piss Clear and the YEP (Yahoo Education Project). He doesn't speak for the org and he finds you fascinating. He celebrates you and loves it when you take away ideas from Burning Man and share them with the rest of the world. He likes to make grilled cheese on Burn Night afternoon and gift it to you because you're probably hungry. Moze is a big fan of fire, art, freedom and community.

9 Comments on “Dusty Tuesday Exodus

  • DASHING says:

    That was a really great wrap-up Moze. Thank you!

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  • jason says:

    I saw the MOOP also and spent time cleaning up. thanks for letting other people know about that. It is more than a party in so many ways but the party sure is a hell of a lot of fun. Thanks for your blogs this year Moze.

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  • Bruno says:

    A mark on the spirit that we bring back with us, share here, and then take back stronger into the world to share… I’m a burgin, and this handful of words helped me more than you might imagine. The trace we leave is what we bring back with us. I have been in a slough of post playa depression since Monday, and these words are like a cool breeze on an otherwise stagnant week so far, sitting at a computer terminal in an office building, wearing a tie and a watch and a cell phone and feeling so eerily disoriented. The Playa has forever changed me. The fertility of the dust has gestated within me and something new is growing. As for MOOP, I’ve gotten so used to picking it up that I just do it without thought now, here in the streets of San Diego … because we are all stewards of the land right where we are. I am finding the sacred in the mundane. I am finding meaning in the MOOP.

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  • pink says:

    I picked up MOOP until I couldn’t carry any more, just from the small place I was sitting at BWS. I left Tuesday, and was pleasantly surprised at the amount of people who stayed compared to last year. I think the ease of exodus may have been helped by spreading it out over two days.

    Monday night was beautiful; so still our windmill didn’t move, mostly quiet, more like camping in the desert, being visited by other camps nearby. It was a nice way to end up the burn.

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  • Cooky says:

    I passed 2 of those “free” water piles on Monday…. aka MOOP. When I saw the third pile, I pulled in, rearranged the already full load and packed up as much of that MOOP as possible to haul it back out and donate it somewhere it can be used.

    I wish folks would understand that the things they leave for “free” like that are a pain in someone else’s rearend that must be cleaned up. Definitely NOT a Gift.

    I was also super saddened by the piles of garbage bags left once again at the rest area on I 80 toward’s Reno. I know Burning Man does clean that up (or at least pays for the cleanup) but it still made me sad. With the copious amounts of 24 hour trash and recycling drop offs why oh why are folks still dumping?

    And in Reno I had a long chat with a store manager at Trader Joe’s who was very sad about the piles of packaging and trash that had been left by Burners in their parking lot pre-event.

    My lesson again this year…. we might be doing okay and even a little better on de-Mooping the playa but we’re still have a long way to go to be fully respectful with our trash in the surrounding communities.

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  • Pink says:

    The Paiute Food Bank was taking water. There are people in the tribe with no running water. Thanks to Comfort & Joy for publicizing this fact, and setting up big pink & orange flags at the dropoff points. And not only did I rid my vehicle of a ton of food & water, but also found out that, as promised, Bunny’s Taco stand DOES have the best fry bread!

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  • Gayle says:

    Love Pink’s comment.

    TONS more moop this year on the Playa, and odd that people would just walk past it. Years past I collided with Burners as we all dove for the MOOP. We need to get the word out way more to Newbies about MOOP. I was especially horrified to see all the cigarette etc. butts on the ground, folks using the Playa as an ashtray, not knowing that someone (including me, a nonsmoker, who collected enough icky butts to fill an elephant’s ass), was going to have to pick up after them. Mint tins, folks! BYOAshCan.

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  • Chrispy says:

    As a newbie, I was amazed at the amount of MOOP on the playa when I arrived Tuesday morning. It bummed me out. I picked up MOOP all week – the (once) silly basket on my bike carried it back to my camp, where I’d empty it into my trash stash. I was one of the last people to leave our camp (75+) the following Tuesday and spent my last 4 hours at BRC picking up MOOP others had ignored.

    Maybe I was more sensitive to it because I know some awesome DPW fuckers and have a clue about what it takes to truly leave no trace. I got a few thumbs up from DPW vehicles passing by as I sat my ass in the dust and picked through itty bitty pieces of MOOP. I knew it was everywhere but I didn’t want a spec of it left in our camp. Not on my watch.

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