I’ve got a whole bunch of goodies for you today, so go ahead and get excited. It’s gonna be a good day.
The autumn days here in the Black Rock have been sunny and calm, a bit on the warm side maybe. The pre-season bugs have not returned, the dust storms haven’t been battering our skin, eyes and lungs … heck, it isn’t even too cold in the mornings.
With calm and clear conditions, the Playa Restoration line sweepers are making good progress. On Day 2, they marched through 54 city blocks, along the back ‘burbs of Black Rock City. What they found was a mixed bag, if we’re being honest here. Again, the vast majority of the territory was impressively vacant of moop. However, a couple of spots got a little out of control. Want to see? Of course you do!
We sure love all that green, folks. Thank you to everyone who really tried to Leave No Trace this year. And for those who really tried, but wound up in (or near) a yellow or red zone: you know what, it was a dusty year. When it’s mega dusty, the moop can be pretty hard to find. So we get it. There’s always room to improve, and there’s no such thing as perfection – right? Right.
And Now: Major Buzzkill
This year, I want to introduce you to a few of the many fascinating, beautiful people of the DPW. And to kick it off, here’s one of my personal favorite humans: Major Buzzkill. I asked him to share some of his thoughts on Burning Man, DPW, and life, and here’s what he had to say.
I found out about Burning Man in 1998 when I got my first computer and there was this brand new thing called the Internet. That allowed me to, at least virtually, explore stuff that was outside of the small world I lived in.
I always had a strong desire to escape my hometown. With the Internet, I stumbled somehow onto this whole Burning Man thing, and it just sounded really cool! I’d never imagined having an adventure like that before in my life.
So I connected via the email lists with a bunch of total strangers. I drove here with a total stranger, and I drove another total stranger’s van full of a total stranger’s art. That was a harrowing adventure…
1999 was the year that I moved to Austin, Texas, so that I could get a PhD in molecular biology from UT Austin. One of the main things factoring into my decision was that, at that point, Austin had the most active regional Burning Man community of any of the college towns I was considering. Shortly after I moved there for college, I went to Burning Flipside, and I just spent all my free time with those wacky people in Austin, Texas.
The initial thing that brought me to DPW was because I felt that Burning Man – the event, the experience and the community – had enriched my life to a high degree. I felt a civic duty to give back, not just by doing a theme camp or creating art or any of that stuff, but by doing something that other people could benefit from without even knowing that I was part of it – which is infrastructure.
We’re surrounded by infrastructure every day in the real world, and there are people who work very hard to make that happen. We don’t even think about it. But they make our lives possible. That was the original impetus – because I loved the event and the community so much.
Now, however, I believe I do this because of the people that I have been building this event with for so many years. I love them, and I want to spend as much time as I can with them, for however much time we have left together.
Buzzkill joined the Black Rock City Department of Public Works in 2002, and came back in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. Then he stopped, and went back to focusing on his career for six years. In 2015, he returned to the DPW with a new outlook.
I’ve been doing my best to put by career first and be a good normal person for six years now, and it hasn’t gotten me anywhere. The rewards that it offers are not worth what I’m giving up.
Last year, I had a job that was incredibly stressful and not rewarding.
Then, after I’d been dealing with that for a while, a friend of mine got into a place where he was definitely going to die from an untreatable medical condition. I had to watch him die over the course of two weeks.
Part of his condition was that the language portion of his brain was shut down, so he wasn’t able to communicate. While I was there for two weeks, at hospice, looking at him in his bed, I often wondered, ‘What is going through his head right now?’
I know one thing that he wasn’t thinking: ‘I wish I had invested more time in my career. I wish I made more money, I wish I had a better title.’
But I think one of the things that was going through his head, what certainly would be going through my head, was, ‘I wish I had spent more time with the people that I loved.’
Once it was all over, I just felt like I needed to change a lot of things in my life. I decided coming back to the DPW was really important to me at that point, because there were many friends who I loved very much and who I hadn’t seen in at least six years.
So this year, I got to spend some time with Spoono. We had some really good times together. When he died, that convinced me that I had definitely made the right decision.
If I’d just continued to try to enhance my career back home instead of coming out here to spend time with the people that I loved, then I wouldn’t have been able to see him one last time.
Family is where you find it, and our family is lucky to have a Major Buzzkill in it. Love you buddy.
That’s all for today, folks. Call a friend this weekend and tell ’em you love ’em.
Then come on back soon for more moop, more map, more people and more stories!
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