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The Assless Chapel Newsletter #22: New Faces Edition, aka The Big One

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

The Chaplain’s Weekly Screed

Welcome everyone to the official(?) start of our group’s preparations for Burning Man 2023. I am, of course, already completely excited about this year! On the subject of welcoming… those of you who have been to Burning Man before know that, when we arrive, there are always Greeters telling us “Welcome home.” It’s a phrase you hear on the Playa over and over. An odd contrast to the Playa itself, which is very unwelcoming.

But that is part of the point of Burning Man. We’re all going to end up putting in so much effort just to arrive and survive at Burning Man. Yet, despite the great obstacles we don’t have to put up with in our comfortable non-Playa lives, we’ll (hopefully) thrive, create and enjoy life in a way that we never quite reach off-Playa. I’m keeping the screed short this week, since we have a lot to cover in this newsletter, but I just wanted to make this point first: remember, it’s a lot of work and it’s worth it!

Group News

The Group

Alright, so in group news, well, we’ve got our (for now) final list of possible campmates. I’ll forgo a long string of introductions and leave that for a future Zoom, but do want to welcome two newcomers to The Assless Chapel.

Katie Maher is a good friend of Curtis’ and, like him, an accomplished artist. She’s been to Burning Man a few times and we look forward to camping with her this year. A friend of Curtis is a friend of all of ours. Fittingly for this year’s theme, she creates amazing paintings of animals.

Seamus Quinn is a friend of mine from Sonoma County. He’s a Burning Man virgin, a hard worker, accomplished camper and kayaker, one of the best arborists in Northern California and, overall, a competent and fun human. Seamus has wanted to come to Burning Man for years, but never found someone to show him the way. I found this out recently and his lovely wife has officially granted him leave to join us!

Now, an action item for everyone. Everyone’s name is on the list below with their status in terms of whether or not they’ll be coming. Please verify whether my description of your status is accurate and, if you’re not coming, let me know if you’d like to keep getting these newsletters – otherwise, I’ll free up some inbox space for you and take you off the list. Finally, let me know if I forgot someone.

The Assless Chaplain: coming for sure. Red: coming for sure. Curtis: coming for sure. Sia: coming for sure. Katie: coming for sure (are you bringing someone with, Katie?, if so send me his/her email, please) Seamus: coming for sure. Squid: 50/50. Karine & Ziad: 50/50. Antony: not coming. Lishy: not coming. Tzvika: not coming.


New this year: paperwork! So, last year we just put on our big kid pants and made things happen. For the past year or so, I’ve been attending BORG events for theme camp operators. They have lots of things they encourage, but I ignore most of it, since it doesn’t seem appropriate to such a small and tight-knit camp.

However, since our team will shift from year to year and because it’s generally a good idea… I’m asking that everyone read over the attached Agreements. Initial the sections where indicated, sign and date and get it back to me. This is a requirement of being part of the camp. They are, in essence, an elaboration of the Ten Principles and how they apply to our camp – including a limitation of liability in a legal sense, which I think is important. If there’s something in there you need clarification about, please reach out: I love to hear from all of you!

I started a website for The Assless Chapel. It is meant to look good to BORG and to be a place for our engaged couples to learn about us. I also plan to add an archive of files, photos and resources for the group, along with other community resources, like a group directory and forum.

As of now, it has a landing page, an about page and a blog. The blog has all the newsletters on it, with a few redactions to keep from outing anyone’s secrets. If you’re new to the Assless Chapel, bored and/or want to get excited for Burning Man, feel free to read some past newsletters.

For those of you who have camped with The Assless Chapel before, please review the website for the following:

· Send me your general feedback on things you don’t like or changes you’d like to see. I’m not trying to put too much effort into this, but it belongs to all of us, so let me know what you think.

· It’s too focused on me. That’s because I didn’t want to just assume I could put anything about anyone up there. Please do let me know what you’d be comfortable with me sharing.

· Take a look at The Assless Chapel Crew section toward the bottom of the About Us page and let me know if you’d like to put up a different picture. I’d also like to put in some sort of bio. Please send me one, if you’d like to.

· Finally, like I said, I redacted the newsletters, but if there’s something you’re worried about having in there, let me know. I will also be posting new newsletters on the blog to make it easy for people to see. And I’m happy to put up anything someone would like for me to post.

Black Rock City News

I don’t have any BRC news for this newsletter, so here’s a picture of my younger son’s favorite Burning Man art, El Pulpo Mecanico:

Placement / Ticket News

Placement Application

So, I still need to fill out the 40-some page application for placement. I certainly don’t mind doing it, but I do want to involve everyone else who makes The Assless Chapel happen. So, this week, I’d like your feedback on what we should do for interactivity. My proposal follows, but please let me know what you think:

Sunday: Nothing official. Maybe we can host our neighbors.

Monday: One hour of Married ‘Til Monday and one hour of Playa Weddings in the evening, followed by an hour of open bar (reception). Keep in mind this basically just means we’ll be doing our thing for 3 hours; actual plans always shatter upon contact with reality.

Tuesday: Same as Monday, but in the heat of the afternoon.

Wednesday: I want to try the sunrise weddings again, but this time at the Man, not the Temple. This means a very early morning event that will be optional for the camp.

Thursday: Animal weddings for one hour, followed by reception, night time.

Friday-Sunday: Nothing.

Keep in mind that we’ll also have pre-planned weddings at our place or out on the Playa. This time, Curtis will be helping with officiating duties.

Ticket Pool

Those of you who were with us last year remember that we did a lot of planning when it seemed uncertain that we would all be ticketed. BORG didn’t let us know that were even placed until mid-June. But, in the end, we all made it onto the Playa. I plan for that to happen again this year. But we’ll need to work together to make that happen. I’d like to create a ticket pool. If you feel that this won’t work for you (perhaps you already made a ticket pact with someone not in our camp,) can’t work for you or you plain old don’t want to be part of it, let me know. That’s totally fine, but let me know now, please. What follows is our plan for getting tickets, along with important dates. If you are part of the ticket pool, you must read this carefully and make sure you are doing everything you can to get tickets (except buying FOMO tickets).

1) FOMO Sale: You’re welcome to spend the $1,500 or $2,750 tickets, if that appeals to you, but I am not including this in our plan. Ongoing as of February 8th.

2) Stewards Sale: Get allocated tickets. Done. BORG has allocated 4 tickets to the Assless Chapel. I believe that we will all get ticketed. Keep in mind, however, that if we do not all get tickets, I will be allocating these based on what will best make sure the camp succeeds. Again, I have faith all will work out great. Form opens for Theme Camp Operators Feb 22 to Mar 3; Sale Period March 8 to March 10.

3) Mona: Curtis has a hookup. Our friend and former Playa Mom, Mona, created the Burning Man logo years ago, when tickets were cheap, readily available and barely necessary to attend. Since then, she’s been gifted 2 tickets every year. Curtis will be calling Mona to make sure they’re sold to our camp. I will leave it to Curtis whether he wants to add these to the pool or just give them to whomever he’d like to in the group. Timing uncertain.

4) Ticket Aid Program: If you can, please apply to the Ticket Aid Program. This is for people on limited income. It’s a lot of paperwork, but the success rate for low-income applicants is, as far as I can tell, 100%, so long as you apply early. It’s important that you apply right away – if we get you a ticket through another pathway, they’ll cancel your application or award. If you do get the award, get the car pass, too, as it’s half-price! If you do apply for this, then talk to me about helping with other tickets, as making the wrong step could get your ticket cancelled. Opens March 15th.

5) Main Sale: So, by my calcs on anecdotal info, any one person without a bot has a 3% chance of scoring tickets in the Main Sale. You must register first and then you have to get in a cyber-line on April 12 for a sale at noon PST. Your IP address has to be recorded as trying to buy the tickets at the exact millisecond the sale opens. If you haven’t done this before, please talk to me so I can prepare you for it. EVERYONE should make sure to take time off work in advance to do this. Even if you got a ticket some other way, be prepared to do this. If you got tickets through FOMO or Stewards, you’ll have to register in someone else’s name to do this. If you haven’t officially gotten a ticket yet, then you can try AND have another person try for you! Registration Apr 5 noon PST to Apr 7 noon PST. Sale Apr 12, noon PST (but login an hour early).

6) STEP: After most or all of us fail to get Main Sale tickets, we each have the option to register for STEP tickets, which are those resold through BORG. This works much like Main Sale, except after you register you can get the tickets at any time, if someone sells them back to BORG. I’ve never known anyone to get tickets this way, but we’ll all give it a try, even if it gets us only 1 ticket. Timing TBD.

7) OMG Sale: This is another chance to get tickets that works much like Main Sale, except you’re also excluded if you got Main Sale or STEP tickets. Registration Jul 26 noon PST to Jul 28 noon PST. Sale Aug 2, noon PST, (but login an hour early.)

A few final notes on ticket sales:

· I will assume you are in the ticket pool once you send me the signed agreements, unless you indicate otherwise.

· This is a communal effort. We are all trusting each other to do everything we can to get tickets and we must live up to this commitment.

· Once we have more certainty on who’s in the group, I’ll begin sending detailed updates showing how close we are to our ticket goals, with computerized simulations to show probabilities of reaching our goals.

· We will have a Zoom meeting prior to Main Sale.

· Generally, if you get tickets, you should get a car pass, but we’ll discuss this closer to the opening of Main Sale.

Upcoming Tasks

· Send me an update on whether you’re coming to the Playa. If you’re not, but you want to still get newsletters in your inbox, then let me know.

· Read, initial, sign and date the Agreements document and send back to me. Let me know if you plan to come, but don’t want to commit to the ticket pool.

· If you are an Assless Chapel veteran, please take a look at the website and send me your feedback. If you have never camped with us before, consider reading some of the old newsletters on the blog.

Closing Thoughts

We will not be camping with a theme camp, because we’re not tourists. We’ll be doing a theme camp, creating a theme camp, being a theme camp, sharing a theme camp – because we’re participants. If we wanted to watch something, we’d go to Coachella or put on porn. And just as with porn, as I learned as a teenager, it’s much more fun to make than to watch.

We’re going to Burning Man to do something. And that thing we do involves, among much else, welcoming each other; welcoming the couples we marry; welcoming our neighbors; welcoming the wedding guests; welcoming that hippie guy from Land of Monkey who clearly brought too much watermelon to the desert.

I can sometimes be a bit unwelcoming. In 2022, I was kind of a dick to two different couples that I felt didn’t have the right attitude and I refused to marry them. At the time it felt right to me, but I feel bad about it now. I hope to do a better job this year.

In 2008, some hippie asked me if I had water. I asked him why he came to the desert without water. He said he thought there’d be vendors. I didn’t give him water. Again, seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Now I look back and think I was just a dick. Radical Inclusion says that “we welcome the stranger.” Even the Torah says to welcome the stranger and give him food and water and that book is really old.

Though uncommon now outside of Game of Thrones, many cultures used to welcome the guest with bread and salt (or, in Albania, ‘bread, salt and heart). At my wedding, my uncle Nachman made a point of hand-serving each guest bread dipped in salt. I think back on this as my inspiration to take upon myself a more welcoming attitude, seeing as we’re running a fucking wedding camp!

Well, I’ll try my best with the strangers – even the ones I don’t like. But the more important point is that I cannot wait for us to all welcome each other to The Assless Chapel. And, of course, I’m happy to welcome our new Playamates, Katie and Seamus.

Hospitality is simply love on the loose..

-Joan D. Chittister, rebellious Benedictine nun

This is the Bike with 2 Brains. In 2005, Curtis, our campmates and I accepted it as a guest in our camp for 3 days. Some might say that Danny stole it and brought it to our camp. You can read more about that story here. The black Kia and the two tents are my and Danny’s camp. As you can see, we did, by the end of Burning Man, keep a clean camp. You can also see that we were scraping the bottom of the definition of “prepared to live in a hot-ass desert.”

The Man burns in 192 days!

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