1997 SUMMER NEWSLETTER
Building Burning Man
The Official Journal of the Burning Man Project - Summer 1997 Newsletter
A Society of Activists
The Burning Man Project is a society of activists, and you can join us. We are looking to fill various important positions this year. Most importantly we are looking for a team of 150 Rangers. We are also looking for gate and cafe workers. In addition, we need individuals to help build and run the City infrastructure. Please email volunteers (at) burningman (com) if your talents and desire match with any of the following: camp construction, stage construction, hot springs gate protection, event gate, electrical and rigging, or Black Rock Gazzette contributors.
Attired in a cape and fire-spouting helmet, Steve Mobia, the community lamplighter, has become a familiar figure at our festival. Steve is a composer and filmmaker. Since 1994 he's led his dedicated helpers through the dusty boulevards of our metropolis. Clad in costumes that suggest a membership in some mediaeval guild, they carry chains of glowing lamps as they glide mysteriously through the dusk. Their mission is to hang these swinging lanterns on the many wooden spires that define the boundaries of our city. "These lamp posts," Mobia says, "give the sense of a urban space to what might otherwise be a haphazard camp. The lamps are controlled flames as opposed to the passionate flames of the Man: a balance of fires."
The task is simple, but peculiarly satisfying. Each lantern must be regularly cleaned of soot, refueled, then reignited and returned to its perch. "This has been a fulfilling job," says Steve, "a quiet ceremony suggesting a tradition that has been going on for centuries."
In spite of his affection for this role, Mobia is retiring this year, and seeks a new lamplighter to replace him. Ideally, he suggests, ten people might assume this role; a group of friends who camp together. The task, once organized, may easily be performed in less than one hour every night. Mobia has developed useful skills he wishes to impart to his successors. Consistency, he tells us, is of paramount importance in the task: it must be done regardless of the weather, and on inclement evenings some lamps must be lit a second time. Anyone who has ever been lost in camp at night can appreciate what Steve Mobia and his crew of lamplighters have accomplished. He's given our community the gift of light, and like Prometheus before him, the blessing of civilization. If you are interested in this position, please email us at volunteers (at) burningman (com) or call our Hotline and talk to the Lamplighter yourself.
If there is any social service as crucial to Black Rock City as the bringing of light, it is the making of coffee. For the past two years, P Segal has presided over our salon in central camp. As the gracious hostess of this crossroads cafe, she has provided lattes and espressos to participants 24 hours a day. P is a caterer, as well as editor and publisher of Proust Said That a magazine that celebrates the life and times of Marcel Proust. She is devoted to the culture of cafe society. Her establishment is our sole concession and her mission is to provide a gathering place where the entire community can mingle and meet. It's here you'll find the denizens of any coffee house. They lounge on hay bale benches in the soothing shade: writing in their journals, reading our daily newspaper, greeting friends and practicing the almost vanished art of repartee.
The cafe needs professional personnel around the clock, working shifts at the usual urban cafe wages. The extreme gratitude of coffee achievers for a latte in the wilderness, and the opportunity to host our community, make this job worth working. Late night and early morning shifts qualify for particular gratitude.
Black Rock Rangers
Danger Ranger is the legendary protector of our desert society. Some say he's a seventh son born of the scion of a seventh son. Others claim he possesses near-borderline supernatural powers, including the ability to bi-locate and appear at two places simultaneously. This seems plausible, given his penchant for pervading the playa. In reality, Danger is the founder of the Black Rock Rangers and grew up on the plains of Texas. The institution that he leads is patterned on the Texas Rangers and their historic role as guardians of a dispersed pioneer society. In addition, Danger is also a visionary. After the event in 1995, he informs us, he discovered a fertility amulet, a rounded female form, lodged within a fissure of the playa surface. He scooped up a handful of dust, depositing it and the small figurine in a container. "It could have lain there for eons," he says. Danger wore the talisman around his neck at our event in 1996. He felt that it protected him like a companion amid the "cathartic fires of Hell" generated by our art pageant "one of the most difficult and transformative periods of my life." After the event, he traveled on a pilgrimage alone to Fly Geyser. Here, he immersed himself in a pool, when suddenly the metal token slithered from its string beneath the muddy water and was gone. "I immediately felt a kind of panic," he recalls, but this was soon succeeded by a sense of vast and encompassing calm. "I felt as if it was supposed to be there. As if, by passing from me, it had seeded the waters. The amulet had guided me, in some way guided everyone, to our new home." Danger will reappear in the desert in 1997. He is seeking recruits to join with him on his patrol of our event horizon. It is a demanding job.
If you wish to become a Black Rock Ranger, volunteer for medical service or serve in our Fire Brigade, please (at) burningman (com), or fill out the online ranger application form. You may also write Danger Ranger at: P.O. Box 309, Gerlach, Nevada 89412.
We currently are in need of dedicated volunteers to help with administrative duties, and newsletter distribution. To offer your help for any of the above, please contact us on the Hotline, or via email: volunteers (at) burningman (com).