September 15, 2016
Burning Man 2016
Where I volunteered to work four 6-hour shifts which were pretty enjoyable.
The art car Discofish early in the week, still being put together. They were camped just across the street from us, so I thought that ought to make it really easy for me to get on board and ride this prestigious craft around the playa. Across another street was Hippocampus which has the slightly less exotic Hippocambus that plays only acoustic music. That one would have been even easier to get on as they announced their departures on their excellent PA system. But, no, I never rode either.
Some portion of the tips at Ice goes to family planning in the valley we drive through to get to the Black Rock Desert. I asked somebody how this works and was told that each worker is given a choice: keep all the tips, give all the tips to family planning (or whatever this year's charity is) or split them 50/50.
A hamster wheel for humans. It's nothing more than a hamster wheel. It doesn't pump water, grind grain, generate electricity, or anything!
The interior of the Temple. Try to find a seat. Try to walk through! This is the smallest temple interior I've ever seen at Burning Man, despite that on the outside this appeared to be one of the larger temples built. I estimated this interior space at 40 feet by 40 feet.
Somebody made some intaglios out there. Not on any official art list. You just had to stumble across it and know what you were seeing.
Anyone who does the LA World Naked Bike Ride will surely remember June - that's her name, June.
At the beginning of the Naked Pub Crawl. I had never seen anything quite like those shoulder thingies at Burning Man and asked the man about them. He made them and it was the first time he had tried anything like that, he said. My jaw dropped.
The fuel depot that is beyond 10 O'clock and L. I know this is for art cars, but it may also be the fuel stop for official BM vehicles too. I imagine law enforcement has its own fuel somewhere else. One has to prepare for this place in advance, IIRC. You have to make reservations or pay before coming to the playa or something. It's not like pulling into a Chevron.
On the Naked Pub Crawl I spotted this pink Schwinn saddle and asked the nice young man to stand up so I could get a good photo. I spotted this saddle on Amazon just before coming to Burning Man and didn't have the time to buy it...and pink handgrips. Those items have since been purchased and installed, so my trike is even better than it was.
Don't ask me why somebody who wants to do a nude Vitruvian man would cover himself up like this, but he got over it pretty quickly and I have other photos of him.
Steve Jobs. This was part of an exhibit of portraits under the Man. Leonardo was also depicted. Everyone else was someone who had been in Apple's "Think Different" advertising campaign, IIRC.
Looking up at the mechanism behind the Man. The Man never worked. It was connected to a wheel at ground level that several people could push to rotate. That motion was to be transferred through these gears to make the man spin! Fab-o idea. But Leonardo wasn't there. Bolts sheared and a finger was lost even before they could open it to Burners. So they just made sure the man was upright and locked everything down. The wheel the Man was mounted in didn't even fall off during the burn and start rolling across the playa. That would have helped with our disappointment.
This is the lounge at Box Office where we waited before our shifts and where we ate. All the dust and fresh air you could want, plus cold water. In the storage box in the background there was a kitchen and a storage room for snacks.
The complete set of photos is here. My videos will come later.
My new tent worked wonderfully. I installed the fan and I believe the interior of my tent may have been more comfortable than any RV in our camp. I noticed RVers sleeping in chairs midday. We need to organize a big napping area. I have never had the interior of any tent so free of dust at Burning Man. The only dust was what I tracked in. I took to leaving the sheet on my air mattress all day long and it was never dusty when I turned in. Usually, one takes his bedding and packs it up somehow during the day, so that it doesn't become dustier...if you're a tent camper, I mean.
The tricycle was a far greater success than I expected! Everyone at BM should have a tricycle if they have the storage and shipping capacity. Once my body fully realized that I didn't need to worry about balance, steering became much easier. I discovered I could now ride and video simultaneously! Expect to see some horrid videos as a result. Any place I wanted to stop, all I had to do was stop pedaling, and just sit. Made it easier to sit out a brief whiteout. You never have to dismount and find a place to lean a trike before you run into wherever you are running in to. The big storage capacity of the trike allows me to pack cameras and a tripod and ride without a backpack. In the past, I've had to choose whether I would go out on the bike or would I do a photo walk. The bike was a big inconvenience when I mostly just wanted to take photos.
Once when I was leaving Box Office to return home, I forgot I had cable-locked one of the rear wheels to the frame. I got about 10 feet. The cable had wrapped itself around the rear axle a few times. Unfortunately, the locking mechanism was cheap enough that it bent, making a normal unlock impossible. The wheel, however, was completely undamaged. I guess it's pretty easy to build superstrong 20-inch wheels, especially since they don't have to be dished. I needed bolt cutters, and my sense was that I would get no help there from the Box Office crew, so I walked next door to the Gate Crew. A nice looking, shirtless man with a handlebar moustache smoking a cigarette was standing in front. I approached and complimented the masculinity of the Gate Crew generally and of this man in particular, and so that's why I came to them to ask for bolt cutters. The nice looking smoker looks at me askance and says, "Yeah, I can help you with that." We walked down to the Gate Crew camp where he found a pair of bolt cutters nearly as big as himself. He explained that no one on Gate Crew could keep track of the combination of the lock on their storage container, so every year they just brought bolt cutters, cut the lock off and bought a new one. Gate.
We came back, he snipped the cable, I gave him a hug and thanks, and that was it. Fortunately for me, I had another pink cable lock back in camp; a Schwinn.
The next night, after my shift at Box Office, I saw that my trike had been moved from where I left it. Somebody had tried to steal it, but had suffered the same problem I did just 24 hours earlier. The new cable lock was wrapped around the axle, but the locking mechanism was undamaged, so I could unlocked it and unwind it. The only damage was a cut to the outer plastic casing of the cable. The wheel was still fine.
I realized that a pink cable lock in the rear alongside all that pink tubing and pink tires, is camouflaged. After that, I only wheel-locked the front wheel, where the lock was obvious.
Klank gave me a shade structure he no longer uses, and I erected it in front of my Costco tent (which my new tent was under). It worked well enough. Once I put a couple of chairs out there, it began to attract Burners. Like ducks seeing a decoy on a pond.
One small improvement I made was to reduce my battery size. I bought this smaller, deep cycle, 12-volt battery. I used it charge my camera batteries and to charge the small 12-volt power packs that ran the fan in the tent. I never attached the solar panels to it, since I saw no need. It weighs only 23 pounds and takes up a space only a little larger than 5" x 7". Much nicer to haul around than the regular deep cycle 12-volt automobile battery, which is even heavier than water. I could probably eliminate the solar panels too, freeing up a little space in the truck. Frank, another of us Burner Buddies, had a similar battery but just half as big that he said was a motorcycle battery.
Working at Box Office was a lot more pleasant than I expected. All the volunteers are friendly and usually helpful. Even more impressive were the Burners coming to window to pick up their will-call tickets. They were so happy, that even people whose debit cards were being declined, remained pleasant to deal with. It was also nice to see that I still know how to get up to show up for work on time, dressed appropriately (there is a dress code: You have to be dressed) and listen to my supervisors. A little to my surprise is that they always use playa names, even on records. When I first introduced myself, they said "No, your playa name." Then they could look me up. My first day on the job I sat next to Brisket, who was very lean. Costumes were not a big thing at Box Office...except for me. I usually made it easy for them to remember my name.
I had two morning shifts (6 AM - noon) and two evening shifts (6 PM - midnight). In the city, Box Office is at 5:45 and E next to Gate Crew, but the Box Office is pretty discreet. I couldn't find it at first.
This is what Box Office looks like in the city. It says "Box Office" on the mailbox.
Next door to this is the Lamp Lounge where the decor features regular old table lamps fastened at right angles to uprights, or hanging down from a beam above. I wonder why I haven't seen more of this. There the shift would gather and then, at a sign, walk together down the road, just past Gate Crew to board a yellow school bus. Gate Crew was with us. Or, really, it's Gate Crew's bus and we're with them. The bus moseys at the 5 MPH speed limit out to Greeter's Gate and then through a break in the string of pennants that line the entrance road. The other side of those pennants, I learned, is a Free Zone where there is no speed limit. We would get up a decent speed as we shortcut that long curve that comes after Gate going to the Greeters. There are openings in the pennant string there, too, so we can drive across the entrance road to Gate Crew's headquarters. Box Office crew had to walk all the way, uphill, in the snow, against the wind to the Box Office, but at least we didn't use the same porta-potties as Gate Crew and we had our own kitchen. Not saying that they aren't fine, good-looking, helpful and masculine people in that Gate Crew.
Six hours later we do it in reverse. Once or twice we missed the express bus and took the local, which ran us out to "Point 1," which is the lower left angle of the pentagon. There's a gate there for vehicles that get to skip the entrance road - like cops, official Burning Man vehicles, and I think the Burner Express bus. It's dark and cold out there, but the law enforcement village is not far away.
We got fed while we were on the job. Some sorts of warm meals made their way out from the commissary to the Gate and us. Having these meals seemed to be an important reason for some people volunteering. The quality was like not very good dorm food. But, it was oversalted (at least to my taste) and that made it wonderful! I inhaled that food.