Bend it Over for Me, Baby

by Whatsblem the Pro

DPW PRC: They bend over for you 'cause it's so dirty

DPW PRC: They bend over for you ’cause it’s so dirty

When Burning Man is long over and Black Rock City just a thought in the minds of goddesses and gods for another year, DPW’s Playa Restoration Team is still out there, making “Leave No Trace” come true.

Maybe you think working Restoration is a piece of cake. It’s just partying on all the leftovers and picking stuff up, right?

Maybe. . . but “picking stuff up” may entail bending over at the waist eleventy squintillion times a day, every day, for weeks or months, with a distinct lack of all the shade and resources and entertainment that abound before Exodus. People who work Resto deserve your respecto.

A couple of picker-upper roughnecks who call themselves The Hun and Easygoin have paid tribute to our noble Resto warriors with a spirited video that gives us all a reminder of how grueling picking up all that MOOP can be. Can you say “lower back pain?” I knew that you could.

This video also reminds us, though, that the Restoration Team doesn’t just do our dirty work for us; they do our dirty work for us with gusto, èlan, verve, joie de vivre, esprit de corps, sisu, and a stiff upper lip. Under the circumstances, they even look pretty good doing it. . . and hey, useful is the new sexy.

Next time you’re out on the town and you see someone wearing Restoration crew swag, tell the bartender their next round is on you. Bend over backwards to make them feel appreciated; they have, after all, bent over forwards for you already, thousands of times.

From the Playa Restoration Team’s page at, here’s a list, in no particular order, of the top thirteen MOOP issues on the playa:

1. Rebar, Tent Stakes and Ground Anchors
There’s nothing that a pair of vice grips and some leverage can’t pull out. And anything hammered into the ground will just get squeezed out of the playa another day, after a series of freezes and thaws.

2. Abandoned Art, Abandoned Camps, Abandoned Stuff
Get your stuff off the playa!

3. Grey Water/Black Water Dumping
Dumping your grey/black water on the ground is nasty for the environment, and can get you a hefty fine from the BLM.

4. Dunes
Why do dunes matter? We share this land with others who use it, and it’s important that we keep it safe for vehicle passage by keeping the playa flat (The Black Rock Desert is known to be one of the flattest stretches of land on Earth). Dunes are formed when windblown dust bounces off stationary objects and reforms on the ground, attracting more and more dust to the pile and exponentially creating a bigger dune. A mere pencil can create a dune. Once they start, there is nothing to stop them, except us. Caught at an early stage, dunes can be stopped by simply raking them down with a landscape rake. Be sure to MOOP the area afterward.

5. Fireworks Debris
Fireworks are not allowed in Black Rock City; unfortunately, some folks do sneak them in, and more unfortunately, the people who light them off are rarely the same people that clean up after them.

6. Carpet Fiber/Debris
Carpets, rugs, and old tattered tarps are often shredded to bits, leaving behind micro-sized MOOP over large areas.

7. Cloth, Fiber and Rope Debris
Torn fragments of clothes, costumes, jewelry, and other fibrous materials.

8. Metal Debris
Nails, screws, fasteners, metal slag, beer bottle tops, etc.–there is hardly anything on the playa that isn’t fastened with metal. Whether your constructing something out of wood or welding, a magnet sweeper with a release handle (do a web search) will work wonders getting metal quickly and easily off the ground.

9. Cigarette Butts

10. Glass Debris
Broken beer bottles, broken windshields, etc.

11. Plastic Debris
Plastic bottle tops, packaging, baggies, zip ties, duct tape, caution tape, etc. Plastic is all too often airborne MOOP due to wind conditions and carelessness. Manage your plastic materials, keep them secure and recycle. Hint: Cut off the top of a 1 gallon jug of water and you have an excellent MOOP bucket.

12. Wood Debris
Wood chips, bark, palettes, splinters, sawdust, boxes, cardboard, paper, etc. Though often thought to be “organic,” wood is simply not found naturally the playa, and it is here where we must draw the line — it’s MOOP. The impact of wood is consistently the highest of all the traces and must be eliminated. We simply ask you to manage your wood. Place a tarp on the ground for your work zones, woodpiles, and burnable debris.

13. Plants
Plants, palm trees, pine needles, palm fronds, leaves, etc. Trees, plants, and leaves die, break, and shred, creating a huge mess of micro-sized MOOP spread out over a wide area. Factor in the dust storms and you’ve got a disaster to deal with on your hands and knees.

RUN, IT IS RISEN! A Burning Man Easter Story


by Whatsblem the Pro

On Good Friday, we reported that art car favorite El Pulpo Mecanico would be scrapped. Three days later on Easter Sunday, El Pulpo artist/designer Duane Flatmo commented on that article:

“The idea to decommission El Pulpo Mecanico has changed. El Pulpo Mecanico was in need of a newer, more reliable lower vehicle and a better, more precise fire system. We had decided to build something new in this process. Now after an overwhelming and heartwarming response, we have decided to bring her back this year with an even more detailed and beautiful transformation. El Pulpo Mecanico will be at BM 2013 after all. See you there and thanks!”

It’s a miracle! is proud to present:

A Burning Man Easter Story

For El Pulpo Cosmico so loved the world, that It gave Its only begotten Hatchling, that whosoever come too close to It should perish in everlasting flames. For El Pulpo Cosmico sent not Its Hatchling into the world to bore the world with tedium; but that the world through It might be delighted. (John 3:16-17)

And Its disciples went forth, and came into the City, and found It at the Embarcadero as It said unto them: and they made ready for the show. (Mark 14:16-17)

And as It did terrify the crowd and fill them with awe, El Pulpo Mecanico crushed an automobile, and blessed and broke it, and gave to them, saying, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And It took the 55-gallon drum of petroleum distillates, and when It had given thanks, It gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And It said unto them, “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto thee, I will drink no more of the fruit of the refinery, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of my Father. (Mark 14:22-25)

Then the policemen of the Mayor took El Pulpo Mecanico into the common garage, and gathered unto It the whole band of mechanics. And they stripped It, and put on It a scarlet tarpaulin.

And when they had platted a crown of barbed wire, they put it upon Its head, and a beer in Its right tentacle; and they bowed the knee before It, and mocked It, saying Hail King of the Cephalopods! And they spit on It, and took the beer away, and smote It on the head. And after that they had mocked It, they took the tarpaulin off from It, and put Its own raiment on It and led It away to dismantle It. (Matthew 27:27-31)

And as they led It away, they laid hold upon one Flatmo, an Humboldtian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the fuel bill, that he might bear it after El Pulpo Mecanico. And there followed It a great company of people and women, which also bewailed and lamented It. (Luke 23:26-27).

And when they were come to the place, which is called Arcata Scrap & Salvage, there they dismantled It, and the malefactors, one on the right tentacle, and the other on the left. Then said El Pulpo Mecanico, “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:33-34)

Then the mechanics, when they had dismantled El Pulpo Mecanico, took Its parts, and made four piles, to every wrench monkey a pile; and also Its upper body. Now the upper body was without flaw, sturdy from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not scrap it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted me out among them, and for my superstructure they did cast lots.” These things therefore the mechanics did. (John 19:23-24)

And it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And the Sun was darkened, and the vail of the temple was rent in the midst. And when El Pulpo Mecanico had cried out with a loud voice, It said, “Father, into thy many prehensile arms I commend my spirit,” and having said thus, It gave up the ghost. Now when Flatmo saw what was done, he glorified El Pulpo Cosmico, saying, “Certainly this was a righteous art car.” (Luke 23:44-47)

When the even was come, there came a rich man of Australia named Zos, who also himself was El Pulpo Mecanico’s disciple: He sent his emissary to Flatmo, and begged the body of El Pulpo Mecanico for a reasonable price. Then Flatmo responded not, and the body was not delivered. He wrapped it instead in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. (Matthew 27:57-60)

And Whatsblem the Pro and all of Facebook beheld where he was warehoused. (Mark 15:47)

And very early in the morning, the Sunday of that week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the Sun. And they said among themselves, “Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?” And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a greasy coverall; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, “Be not affrighted: ye seek El Pulpo of Humboldt, which was dismantled: It is risen; It is not here: behold the place where they scrapped It. But go your way, tell Its disciples and all of Facebook that It goeth before you into Black Rock City: there shall ye see It, as It said unto you. (Mark 16:2-7)


Duane Flatmo just sent me this sneak peek of El Pulpo’s new front end!

Photo: Duane Flatmo

Photo: Duane Flatmo

The Man vs. the Man: Will Local Authorities Be Booted From Burning Man?

by Whatsblem the Pro

Big doings in the Nevada State Assembly! The website of the Washoe County Republican Party reports:

BOB-ZI! BOB-ZI! BOB-ZI! Photo: David Bobzien

BOB-ZI! BOB-ZI! BOB-ZI! Photo: David Bobzien

“Earlier this morning, the Chamber supported AB 374 in the Assembly Government Affairs Committee. This bill, pushed by Assemblyman David Bobzien, came about because of threats by some rural counties to start charging local permitting fees and increasing costs for the Burning Man festival that comes to the Black Rock Desert every summer. This bill would prohibit any local government from interfering with a federally-licensed event on federal land. We strongly support this concept because of the enormous positive economic impact that Burning Man attendees have on our region.”

AB 374 began life as a different bill, introduced by Nevada Senator Pete Goicoechea and State Assemblyman John Ellison, intended to allow grazing in Federal fire restoration areas as a means of limiting the growth of cheat grass, which creates repeat fire hazards. Under the leadership of Bobzien, that bill was amended with some canny provisions aimed at getting the State and County authorities’ hands out of Burning Man’s pocket.

Assemblyman Bobzien – who also sponsored AB 304, a previous bill that clarified and simplified permitting for fire performers – had this to say on the subject:

“I for one prefer to keep politics away from Burning Man. My own experiences on the playa are thankfully partisan-free, and AB304, a bill that enjoyed broad-based support from Democrats, Republicans and Governor Sandoval, was a true example of non-partisan problem solving to help constituents. And by the way, these are constituents who are part of a culture with economic importance in northern Nevada- it’s estimated that the Burning Man festival alone pumps $15 million into the local economy every year.”

As AB 374 has gained support, the authors of the original bill have moved to distance themselves from it, and now openly oppose it. Goicoechea and Ellison expressed their opposition to AB 374 during a conference call last Friday.

“If you have an outdoor activity on public lands of over 1,000 people, then the county has no involvement or enforcement on that activity at all,” said Goicoechea. “It all goes to the Feds. We’re not prepared or ready to let our police powers go. Technically they’d be on the hook for all the emergency services but wouldn’t have the ability to enforce any of their laws or public safeties. It’s just another intrusion into the County and the State’s rights when it comes to any type of enforcements on public lands.”

Pete Goicoechea and John Ellison - Photo: R. Dalton

Pete Goicoechea and John Ellison – Photo: R. Dalton

John Ellison agreed, noting that the bill as rewritten will have an affect on the ability of every County in the State of Nevada to regulate large festivals held on Federal soil. “If we open Pandora’s box and we allow this to happen, this could be on every event on public lands,” he said.

The full text of AB 374 can be found at the Nevada State Legislature’s website.

In an unrelated story, astronomers report that the stars over Nevada have spontaneously rearranged themselves to read “FYD PETE & JOHN.” Authorities at NASA were unavailable for comment.