Three fantastic Burning Man stories
You non-burner blog readers are probably sick of the flood of Burning Man stuff this time of year, but I need to tell a few remarkable stories from the Playa this year about how sometimes, it all works out in amazing ways.
The fuel filters
We put a big effort together to have a large biodiesel power grid for 7 different camps around 2:30 and Esplanade. And with a lot of crazy work, we put it together, and it was cheaper than doing it on our own. We provided power to well over 1,000 folks.
However, Kohler, our generator provider whom we go to because they do (at a higher cost) biodiesel generators, provided a generator that had never had biodiesel. That's OK, if you have the right fuel filters to start it going. There we were on Sunday without those filters. I was able to reach center camp with my directional wifi antenna and was able to connect to my home PBX for phone calls via my laptop -- pretty amazing by old Playa standards. So we started calling around supply houses in Nevada to see if we could get the filters. Some had them but refused to work on the weekend, and we seemed stumped. Kohler might express them to us which would mean we would not get power up until Tuesday, and a lot of camps were depending on it, including Entheon's giant dome, and our own Mondo Spider crew needing to weld.
Then I recalled that my fellow camp manager, Ed, who is a pilot, had flown out to go to an important dinner with his GF in San Francisco. I called his cell.
"Hi, Ed, where are you?"
"Actually, I'm at the airport, doing pre-flight," he says.
"Is there a Marine store near you?"
"Yes, actually I was just across the street from West Marine," he says.
"Hold on." Then I call West Marine, and I literally get to say this...
"Hi. I'm calling you from the middle of the Black Rock Desert. We've got a pilot standing by at Palo Alto airport right now, and we need this special model of diesel fuel filter. Do you have it?" After a bit of discussion back and forth, it turns out they have 3. "Ok, hold those, he'll be over there in 5 minutes."
And so he was. They looked at him kinda funny. We had the filters, express flown from the Bay Area, in 2 and a half hours!
Sometimes it just really comes together.
The Playa Money
I built an ATM machine, and in it place a variety of denominations of Playa money. On almost all the Playa money I put images of the Man, but on two of the designs I put something else. The "Pleasurable Favour" bill has a picture of Larry Harvey. I made a new bill, for giving the gift of "The spark of fire in your soul" this year, and I used one of my favourite fire pictures. Some of the money is "reverse" money or "gifting certificates" in that you give a gift with the money (and pass on the obligation to gift it forward) instead of getting something for the money. Very Burning Man. The gifts are mostly symbolic, like the spark on this bill.
Anyway, I met the very nice manager of Monkey Puzzle camp, one of the members of our power collective, as we were working out the costs, and she introduced me to her partner on playa. He said to me that he used to be in Pyromid camp, and was the guy who wore stilts and a firework hat. He was the guy in my picture. I took him to the ATM and withdrew some bills for him. He was overtaken with emotion at the memory of his old camp and all the joy he had there. I gave him a stack of 100 of the bills, and he passed them out -- along with the true gift of fire in your soul -- to all he met on the Playa.
The other phone booth
For 4 years I've put a phone booth out on the Playa, at first because it was so incongruous, but later because people appreciate it so much, being put in touch with loved ones in the middle of nowhere. I heard a report of another booth out there as well, but never saw it, and figured it must have just been a rumour. Then I decided to mail the guy who made the great time lapse from the solar platform to ask for a hi-res version. In the mail, I said by way of introduction, that I'm the guy who makes the phone booth. "Yes, he responded. I'm the guy who makes the other one..."
This year we also were surprised that the very first minute we left our camp, to visit our campmate Mark's excellent cubatron when I should hear some people singing. I join in and find it's a recently made friend from LA whom we had resolved to go visit at Gigsville early in our stay on the Playa. She had come to us. And then another friend who now lives in Vancouver was there too, all before the event opened.
Do you believe in coincidences? No? Me neither. Isn't that interesting?