Burning Man ’07: Gate sweeps, DPW fence

In this one time at burning man by summerburkesLeave a Comment

Right now, doing an evening shift at Gate in perfect weather where you can wear only a tank top until midnight and there’s no wind almost seems like a get-to-know-you gathering instead of a job.

But whether because of impending dust storms (it’s going to be a dusty year) or the fact that the Early Arrivals list is starting to trickle in, we know that’s all going to change drastically, and soon it’ll be more like waiting tables in the biggest slam ever.

We were so slow last night we got to practice twirling the golf club and Arwen made a stencil of this writer’s new Black Rockalypse doodle:

Black Rockalypse Logo By Summer Burkes

Soon, maybe tonight even but definitely by Thursday, there will be a line of cars at Gate Road that stretches forever. All ticketholders to Burning Man must be searched, ID’d, and confirmed on a computer list to be able to pass our Gate and come inside the event. One must be legitimate to live on the Black Rock Desert in the middle of August. We don’t want anyone here who’s lollygagging about. It’s demoralizing for the workers.

Yesterday we did our first Gate sweeps with Marshall and Spider and put wristbands on everyone who didn’t have one already. They’re pink and they say SUZY’S PONY RIDES for no reason. Spider ordered them; he’s gay but not just in a sex way; Suzy never actually seems to be available for said pony rides; she’s always just left for Gerlach.

Black Rock City. The Gate is circled in red

Black Rock City. The Gate is circled in red

Then we hung out with Cowboy Carl by his trailer at walk-in camping and he told Arwen the story of when he once had a tweaker fence-helper who didn’t want to NOT listen to the testosterock radio station out here before the event. Cowboy Carl told him to turn his radio off and listen to the sound of the world moving.

Dude turned it off, but bitched about how (like LL Cool J) he can’t live without his radio, and turned it back on. And then he went back to fencing, and seemed unsettled, and turned it off. And on. And off. And on.

Thirty minutes later he turned it off, and, finally OK with himself and the sound of the world moving, never turned it back on again.

This is why we love coming out here before the event starts. This is why we’re thinking about staying on Playa Restoration Crew until October.

So many new faces here inspired us and others to comment about the ever-evolving nature of the event, and of the staff itself. This writer has been DPW for 10 years; now defecting to bi-departmentalize for Gate. The old DPW, the one we love, has been replaced with a newer, bigger, more enthusiastic and less carny-jaded staff of mohawked and dreadlocked freaks who built a complex “ghetto” with a lookout tower and (of course) a very large bar.

Cowboy Carl remarked about how the old DPW were 40 percent workers, 40 percent half-time workers, and 20 percent lazy sunzabitches who could easily lure away the slack 40 percent to help hold the couches down back at camp. The new DPW, while we don’t know most of them, are more of a … machine. Like the Borg. Not the Staff “borg” but the Star Trek Borg.

We’re gonna go put up some fence with Carl at Gate Road now. Fence is one of the roughest jobs there is, but hanging out with Carl is worth it.


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