Notes From Here and There

It’s a somber day, and a there’s a somber mood.

One of the great friends of the DPW has passed away, Chris Bishop, former proprietor of Spike’s Vampire Bar and Rathskeller, and the man who gave more beer to the Ghetto bar than it could drink, something you wouldn’t think possible but was actually and literally true.

BoyChaos, as he was known here, went on to become associated with the Lagunitas Brewing Company, and when he was no longer working DPW, he’d make sure that kegs and kegs of beer would make it to the playa to quench the mighty thirst.

“He did a bunch of things right,” Cobra Commander said at the morning meeting. After his time in the DPW, “he went on to bigger and better things.” But he never lost his fondness for the DPW, and Cobra noted that there was a DPW hoodie in his hospital room during his final days.

“He was a friend to me, and a friend to you, and he left the world a better place than he found it.”

Raindrops on the hood

The weather seemed to fit the mood. It’s weird to wake up in the desert under cloud cover, but that’s what we had this morning, and it is supposed to linger until at least midday. The sky was spitting in the morning, and it’s as if Karl the Fog got an early arrival pass.

It was a good day to get work done, even as the social scene of the building season kicks into high gear. Already there have been nighttime gatherings at HEaT, Trash and Oculus, and if you wanted to, you could do something fabulous every night.

The Spires installation crew

The Spires crew has lined the walkway to the Man, and nothing makes it feel like we are truly in Black Rock City more than seeing the Spires go up. “They sure look great,” we said to Blackthorn as he got ready to roll out for another day. “Yeah, except for those first two,” he said, not happy with the way they were situated. He might be the only one who’d notice, but of course he’ll be straightening them out.

We heard that another person got stuck on the playa while on a meteor-sighting expedition. We’ll use no names, but they had to get rescued in the morning after hitting some muck near the shoreline. Made us feel a little better about not making the journey. … Did you know that Rusty of the Transpo team wears size 15½ triple E boots? He’s a large man. He also used to make jewelry, and Trailer Park Romeo now occasionally wears the turquoise ring that Rusty made as a teenager. … Milo, a true artisan in the suspension world, has stoked the fires of more than a couple of people who may decide to be hung on hooks for the first time this year. We’re curious about the experience as well, but we’re concerned that the quality of our skin (akin to parchment paper) might not stand up. Milo explained that it’s more about how well your body handles stress in general. He was saying that one woman invariably passes out when she is first suspended, but after they lower her and bring her back to consciousness, she goes back up and can hang for an hour and a half without incident. …

Hazel, rocking the hat that Shotgun made for her

Hazel, the cute baby girl that Flip and Nips brought into the world this year, was born the same day that Bruno died. Gerlach townsfolk got a kick out of the fact that the town’s population, already challenged, stayed constant. … Flip was at the morning meeting with Hazel in a pack, and she was putting up a fuss until her bottle was delivered. We remarked on how sweet her gurgling sounds were, but Flip said they always sound to him like she’s complaining about the bad service. … Cowboy Carl was once a seminarian. … Jake has started a roadkill club. They’ll meet soon to compare notes on how best to preserve pelts and safely clean the dead bodies. …

So far, there’s still plenty of room out here

One of Starchild’s other playa names is Barack Obama, and of course anytime anything goes wrong, people shout, “Thanks Obama.” … Yes it’s strange to be pretty much out of the political maelstrom here in the middle of the desert. But cell service is better, so there’s really no escape, which only increases your feelings of irrelevance. But we remember how in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, a group of workers started Burners Without Borders. After they left the playa, they helped for months in the New Orleans cleanup effort. We’re not sure what might be brewing now, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it were something good. …

The further out the better for Cowboy Carl

A friend had his art trailer stolen right out of his driveway in San Leandro the other night, and we’ve alerted the Gate crew here and the folks at the Eclipse festival to be on the lookout, because these would seem to be likely destinations. Keep an eye out too, and notify the San Leandro police if you see anything …

The missing trailer

Barack Obama has set up a basketball hoop and backboard on his pickup truck. This has made us inordinately happy. We remember when HEaT had a hoop in their yard, one that shot fire every time you made a basket. Bring it back! … We also remember when some management types played the BLM in badminton. We don’t know how that worked out, but we’re confident we could kick their ass in hoops. Challenge issued. … PS: Barack Obama got game.

Have hoop, will travel

Here’s a few more pics:

Yes there are politics out here


Walk-in camping is all flagged off


The sun popped out briefly and it made everybody happier


Lucky Charms knows you have to be a Shadomasochist to be on the Shade Crew


The fancy facade of the Ghetto bar went up today. Donations happily accepted.

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.

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