Lahontan is Lake Again

Image: Renee Aldrich via RGJ

The Interwebz are all abuzz with pictures of people kayaking on the Playa, which has been under water for a couple of months now. Check this story at the Reno Gazette-Journal Kayakers Take Over Black Rock Desert.

Once upon a time, the Playa was a prehistoric mega-lake


Re-blogged from djbios.com:

THE BURNING MAN PLAYA IN THE BLACK ROCK DESERT IS CURRENTLY UNDERWATER

03.12.2017

A weather phenomenon in the Black Rock Playa is creating a stir amongst this year’s prospective Burning Man attendees. The innermost basin of the 200-square-mile expanse located outside Gerlach, Nevada has flooded as a result of torrential downpour, and some question whether or not the transformational gathering will still take place.

Over the past couple weeks, murmurs have circulated about how the flood has left the Playa submerged in up to 6-8 inches of water. Much of the Burner community dismissed the rumors as “fake news” (with varying degrees of apparent seriousness), but Nevada Magazine Associate Editor Eric Cachinero posted the following photo in the Burning Man Facebook group:

To verify the authenticity of the photo, Cachinero followed it up with a video:

However, perhaps the most picturesque photos of the flooded Playa were posted by another group member named Ted K. Stoltling:

Several Burners have speculated that the water will evaporate by the time organizers start setting up for the gathering in August, and indeed, a visit to the Friends of Black Rock-High Rock website reveals that floods take place on the Playa every few years. However, if uncharacteristically high precipitation did threaten the event, Burning Man promoters Black Rock City, LLC (BRC) would not be held accountable. An excerpt from the organization’s legal disclaimer to ticketholders reads:

Tickets are nonrefundable even if the Event is terminated early or canceled due to harsh weather, acts of nature, government regulation, or conditions beyond BRC’s control. BRC is not liable for acts of God or actions taken by government agencies.

Burning Man has taken place annually in one form or another since 1986; 1990 marked the first edition that graced the grounds of the Black Rock Playa. As opposed to similar large-scale festivals, the ethos of the event is built upon ten principles which include radical inclusion, decommodification, and radical self-reliance, among others.

As of this writing, BRC has yet to issue a statement regarding the Black Rock Playa flood. The 2017 edition of Burning Man is slated to take place from August 27th to September 4th.

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$1000 Reward

I am offering $1000 via PayPal to anyone that can give me a copy of the 1996 Burning Man Helco Contract, called “Standard Short Form Contract for Purchase of Soul”. The contract is discussed and shown in this presentation around 1:57:00:

There are some interesting Helco photos in this FlickRiver set

Crimson Rose hails Satan (Flash Hopkins) while Larry Harvey explains the devil in the details to a reporter. Note the shadow black cross on the wall

I can’t quite make out clause 1 but the sections appear to be:

  1. CONSIDERATION
  2. DISCLAIMER
  3. NO COOLING OFF PERIOD
  4. TERM OF CONTRACT
  5. WARRANTIES BY SELLER
  6. OWNERSHIP AND LIEN RIGHTS
  7. AGENCY
  8. TAXES AND FEES
  9. INDEMNITY
  10. TIME OF ESSENCE
  11. VENUE AND JURISDICTION
  12. ENTIRE AGREEMENT
  13. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF UNDERSTANDING

ADDITIONAL TERMS AND CONDITIONS

From the table with the skull on it (very Masonic) it seems like there is also some sort of certificate which was presented, in addition to a copy of the contract. It may well be that BMorg kept all the contracts and did not give the signers a copy. I have had more than one reader over the years tell me that they have a copy, but I have not yet been able to get an original document. I hope the reward will inspire someone to come forward with this important piece of Burner history.

Another contract for the sale of souls was handed out at Burning Man in 1998 by the Church of Mez – see Transhumanist Former Cult Leader Says Burners Responsible For Innovation.

the terrain was alien, the people were all different colors, there were huge and frightening creatures, and the name of the place – Black Rock City – doesn’t appear on any map at all.

We worked really hard on our vacation this year.  So hard I’m amazed we all stayed friends through the vacation!  We bought a rocket ship disguised as a bus and got it all gussied up for the trip.  We got ourselves a big old tent and a giant scaffolding to make a tower with and packed ’em up.  We nabbed lotsa couches and carpeting and loaded ’em on the roof rack to decorate with.  And of course, we brought lots of t-shirts and contracts to buy people’s souls with. 

Souls sure are cheap!  We brought back 150 of ’em, each one purchased for a t-shirt, condom, and fortune cookie.  Most of ’em we got pictures of in our book of souls, and all of ’em signed a contract as airtight as we could make it.  Heck, if it weren’t for the dust storm, pretty naked girls, and other distractions, I’m sure we would have filled out all of the 300 contracts we took with us.

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I will pay a bonus reward of $500 for this one, but I am really looking for the original 1996 Helco one. If you have either contract please contact us.

Building Burning Man newsletter from Spring 1996

 

Do No Harm: Initial Prescription Details Influence Chance of Opiate Dependence

By Terry Gotham

One of the biggest problems with writing about the War on Drugs is the almost exclusive focus on problems. There’s this myth that drug use is a combination between a ratchet & Russian roulette. It’s going to keep getting worse, and it gets harder and harder to “not be addicted” the longer you do it. This continued narrative is believed widely (just ask your family at Easter dinner), while being only lightly supported with evidence. Harm reduction & physician/client education is surprisingly effective at mitigating a lot of the factors that contribute to this “it’s probably going to kill you” problem, but outside of needle exchange/safe injection sites & drinking water while partying, complex harm reduction ideas rarely make it into non-academic circles. So, I’m going to start talking about constructive, modern ideas and research that have been either theorized, published or put into practice, about how to fight this deluge.

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RIP Lost Tom

Image: Facebook

The Burning Man blog has a lengthy eulogy about Tom LaPorte aka “Lost Tom”, a captain of the media team who passed away last week. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends, vale Lost Tom from Burners. We will pour one out for another fallen comrade.

There aren’t enough adjectives in the English language to describe Tom and the effect he had on everyone who had the privilege to know him: Loving, kind, passionate, selfless, inspirational, collaborator, confidant, innovator, gentleman, mentor, the real deal, a class act, community organizer extraordinaire, an embracer of the chaos, “a grown-up amongst us kids,” and, to everyone, a dear friend. He truly loved people, individually and collectively. He found the best in everyone — and touched everyone.

…Tom’s first year at the Burn was 2005 as a member of Bop Camp, a fun-loving crew of Chicago Burners that had somehow achieved Esplanade frontage offering an ungainly jousting experience utilizing motorcycle helmets and stuffed animals duct taped to PVC pipes. He dove in with gusto, cheering the burning of the Man dressed as the ace of spades, his first and only costume of choice.

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According to Tom’s friends on Facebook, his first year at Burning Man was actually 2004.

He came up with the idea of broadcasting the BMIR radio station live from the Man base in 2009, the year he and his Chicago Crew took over Burners Without Borders camp and turned it into what it is today.

The playa was never big enough for what Tom had to offer. When participants left the event in 2005 to help communities ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, Tom followed. He immediately grasped how Burners could do work that matters not just in the desert but in the hearts of communities everywhere. In fact it was what he had been doing himself for years, bringing creativity to the streets of Chicago and creating unlikely connections.

Tom came back from Katrina and started promoting Burners Without Borders in Chicago, and suddenly all his projects became BWB projects. He was constantly pushing the boundaries of BWB. He initiated the Chicago takeover of BWB Camp in 2009 and turned the camp into what it is today.

He also started the Music Box Project, his attempt at explaining “Cultural First Response” to the world. Musicians could become first responders themselves and give the art of healing through music in the hardest of times.

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It doesn’t seem like anyone responded to the Cultural First Responder idea. I always thought Burners Without Borders was more about “send in DPW Heavy Machinery” than sending actual Burners in to, well, hang out and play guitar and stuff. Whatever it is we Burners do when in a group setting such as Burning Man, or the Standing Rock protests.

Coincidentally [ding], when Hurricane Katrina struck – being watched live via military satellite from the Playa – and Burners Without Borders was formed in response, Tom had gone to Burning Man to spend 2 weeks setting up an emergency broadcast system.

Image: Facebook

So his first second year at the Playa, he shows up with pre-recorded Public Service Announcements to hand out as part of a test of a pop-up emergency broadcast system in a place with no cell service. Because if it’s one thing everyone brings to Burning Man, it’s CD-ROM drives. This was an “art” project that several many people thought was worth spending 2+ weeks on. They tested it on Tuesday, Katrina hit on Thursday – and by Monday Tom was off to Katrina, large sum of money having been raised. Then he headed straight back to Chicago to found Burners Without Borders.

Where is that Emergency Public Service Announcement system today? Would’ve come in handy during last year’s false Amber Alert.

“Temporary art serves its purpose, it goes away and mankind goes onto the next step. It’s like a shooting star, it’s really beautiful, then it goes away, but the poetry doesn’t stop. We’ve found a way to achieve collective poetry, to achieve creativity in a group. It’s no longer the age of the lone genius working in isolation, waiting for the great discovery. It’s people working together, discovering stuff together, realizing what they have, taking time to celebrate it, but wondering what’s around the next bend.”
-Tom LaPorte (1953-2017)

 

Lost Tom died of heart failure, aged 63. He previously had a heart attack on the Playa.

Colleagues and friends are mourning the passing of Tom LaPorte, a versatile and innovative communicator over four decades throughout Chicago media. LaPorte, who was 63, died Wednesday of heart failure, according to multiple reports. He most recently served as Chicago’s assistant water commissioner and spokesman for the department. Before that he was webmaster for CBS Radio all-news WBBM AM 780, webmaster, editor and managing editor of former all-news WMAQ, and producer and news editor for news/talk WIND AM 560. LaPorte also headed media relations for Burning Man Project, a nonprofit arts and performance festival, and taught broadcasting and production at Columbia College Chicago. A graduate of Southern Illinois University and six-time Peter Lisagor Award winner, he began his radio career as public affairs director and news anchor at WCIL in Carbondale, Illinois.

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Communications guru Tom LaPorte reveals the five steps of persuasion artists can use to win attention from collectors, the media, and the public. He also provides a plethora of other practical advice, from how to write a press release to how to incorporate video and live presentations into one’s marketing.

“Artists, by their natures, are often not drawn to aggressive self-promotion…. The ability to communicate through the conventional channels, to get your work known, to get yourself known as an artist and build your communities is something that takes a little bit of practice. Just as your art does.”

Tom LaPorte is a public relations and communications expert based in Chicago. LaPorte was born in Boston in 1953, and his family moved to Chicago in 1960. He earned a Associate of Arts degree in Speech Communication and Rhetoric from the College of DuPage in 1976, and Bachelor of Science in Speech Communications/Radio-TV from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale in 1979. LaPorte held positions in the radio industry for approximately twenty years, including as a writer, producer, and manager of a news room. In 1996 he began working with the Internet, spearheading an effort to audio stream that year’s Democratic National Convention. LaPorte worked as a writer, editor, and webmaster for WBBM-AM for several years before becoming Assistant Commissioner for the City of Chicago in public and media relations. He spent nearly thirteen years in the role before leaving to act as an independent consultant. Since 2004 LaPorte has also coordinated media relations for Burning Man, an annual festival which brings approximately 68,000 artist-attendees to the Nevada desert. Through the festival, LaPorte acts as a pro bono consultant for artists and creatives of all types.

[Source]

Lost Tom was an Elf to his college roommate Jim Belushi’s Santa-con:

Long before his interest in Burning Man, Tom was already a Chicago legend. As Jim Belushi’s college roommate and partner in mischief, he went around to the Albanian homes in the suburbs dressed as “Frostbite the Elf” to Jim’s blotto Albanian Santa.

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dartmouth10n-2-web

Tom encountered Abbie Hoffman of the Yippies (not Albert Hofmann of the Trippies) as a teen with a high school radio show, before rising up to use the infamous Chicago political machine as a force for good:

Tom embodied the best of Burning Man before he ever set foot on the playa. He was first and foremost a storyteller. Inspired by an interview he did with political and social activist Abbie Hoffman for his high school newspaper during the Chicago 7 trial, he pursued a career in journalism, working for some of the top Chicago media outlets, eventually working for the City of Chicago as Assistant Water Commissioner, where he honed his second strength — collaboration — working with residents, local businesses, community and church groups to leverage the infamous Chicago bureaucracy and political machinery for the forces of good. He always looked out for the less fortunate and those in need.

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Lost Tom was involved with trippy visuals for the Grateful Dead and something called The Human Avatar Project:

Tom was a founding member of the Burning Man Chicago Steering Committee, which gave rise to the local Burner 501c3 Bold Urban Renaissance Network. He created and led art teams at the Rothbury and Electric Forest music festivals; Second Thoughts, which made videos that opened up for Bob Dylan and the Dead; The Human Avatar Project and Einstein Moments, which created participatory creativity games.

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There is only one festival, Electric Forest which is in Rothbury, Michigan.

The Human Avatar Project is a way for billionaires to achieve immortality by merging with the Internet. It has been endorsed by the Dalai Lama. It seems like the same idea as the “Singularity” being promoted by Billionaire Burners Elon Musk and Those Wacky Google Guys.

Image: Daily Mail

Image: 2045.com

In Tom’s case I think it’s more likely they were talking about this art project:

Image: Facebook

Einstein is someone you should have Second Thoughts about for a moment. There are a couple of amazingly coincidental [ding ding] links between Einstein and the Sixties counter culture that spawned the Grateful Dead, as we explored in 50 Years of Flower Power. Wavy Gravy aka Hugh Romney used to take walks around the block with Einstein as a child; Ram Dass aka Richard Alpert’s father George founded the Albert Einstein College of Medicine…but that’s another story.

Lost Tom’s Einstein Moments was an Electric Forest art project, perhaps symbolic:

Image: Facebook

Sounds like Lost Tom was quite a character to be part of the Burning Man media team, rising in the ranks to Captain, and a pillar of the Chicago Burner community. Rest In Peace, or come back to be born into a new life and a better future. May your flame burn on forever.

 

The Elephant In The Emergency Room: Heroin & “Standard” Treatment

By Terry Gotham

I know that sometimes I can seem all doom & gloom about the state of the drug-consuming universe, but once and a while I happen upon something that justifies my concern. This letter by Dr. Leon Gussow, published in the Emergency Medicine News (March 2017) journal is one of those things.

The filtration of fentanyl & fentanyl analogs into the recreational opiate supply has pushed us into a place where the simple “opiate overdose” prognosis in emergency rooms & EMT visits is no longer simple. Previously, treating an opiate overdose involved a single dose of narcan/naloxone, with a few hours of observation before the patient was back on their feet. The patient was then assessed for discharge and removed from the workload of the emergency room if released. This allowed even severe opiate overdoses to be handled in a timely, almost mundane fashion, if the EMTs were timely and the staff was experienced. But as Dr. Gussow explains, this is no longer the case.

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