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The Assless Chapel Newsletter #26: Starting Line Edition

The Chaplain’s Weekly Screed

A couple of these newsletters have claimed to be the start of preparations for Burning Man 2023. But this one really is. We’re now temporally closer to Animalia than Waking Dreams and, of course, we just got through Main Sale.

So, here we go. We’ve got a lot to do, a lot of fun to be had, a lot of heart and soul to fulfill. We’re going to fall down and get back up; fuck up and fuck down; make mistakes and accomplish great things. In the end, it will be amazing. So, let’s all roll up our sleeves, get to work, be patient with and kind to each other and ourselves and make magic and love happen.

Let me thank everyone in advance for everything we will do together. The Assless Chapel means so much to me – it really is my Waking Dream. And doing it together with you all means the world to me.

So, as we get started, let me share with you a couple things I hope to change with preparation that I think will be beneficial. First, we just naturally have a bit less stuff to do, since we’ve done it already. On the other hand, I hope to improve our camp every year, so we offset that a bit (more on this in later newsletters.)

Second, I plan to stick more closely to the KISS principle this year. Last year, I overdid the planning a bit and made things overly complicated. This year, simpler processes and easier collaboration.

In the big picture, I’ve also been thinking about the way we organize the camp and my role in that. This is a subject that comes up often at theme camp events and Burning Man soirees. I have spent a great deal of effort in my life avoiding management roles. I would rather make my living on my own than with other people – it’s easier.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, not all aspects of the Theme Camp Operator role come naturally to me. In fact, I think my main qualifications for the role are inertia, a newly rekindled obsession with Burning Man and passion for The Assless Chapel, ownership of a truck and trailer and proximity to BRC and San Francisco. And, frankly, I’d be pretty fucked if it weren’t for all of you, but especially Curtis, whose contributions to this camp are vast and varied and whose leadership is crucial to its proper functioning.

So, I’d like to set down my Five Theme Camp Operator Principles to provide myself direction and as a commitment to all of you:

· Radical openness to criticism: Please let me know when I’ve fucked up, pissed you off or dropped the ball. Don’t be a dick about it and I’ll take your criticism seriously. I have thick skin, though, so you can be a dick about it, as long as you’re funny in proportion to the level of dickishness.

· A strong preference for consensus: I hope that virtually all group decisions achieve buy-in from everyone. That doesn’t mean that everyone agrees with the decision, but that everyone can live with it. Of course, you don’t have to weigh in on anything you don’t want to, as long as you can live with the decision being made without your input. I will strive to ensure that there will be very few exceptions to this principle.

· Principled ticket allocation and camp inclusion: We have a limited number of campers we can include, a limited number of allocated tickets and a limited number of WAPs. I will strive to ensure a fair distribution of tickets based on each member’s contributions to the operations of and social fabric of the camp. Those campers who indicate that they will be part of the ticket pool get priority. I will hear everyone out on ticketing decisions, but this is one area that will not require consensus. Most importantly, I will dedicate myself to ensuring that we are fully ticketed, so we can avoid the tough decisions. I will also strive to avoid divisions in the camp that stem from ticketing. If someone is lucky enough to get tickets in the Main Sale and someone else doesn’t, that has no bearing on what is expected of the two of them, as happens at most other camps.

· Quest for collaboration: I would like for everyone to contribute whatever they can and would like to. This camp belongs to all of us and should reflect all of us.

· No formal leadership structure: I manage our interactions with Placement and BORG in general, maintain the website and send out the newsletter. But anyone is welcome to share these responsibilities with me and to take charge of anything else, as many of you have. There is no hierarchy in our camp.

Group News

The Group

Well, now that we know we’re looking pretty good on tickets, it’s time to ask everyone on the fence how they’re feeling about making it to the Playa this year. Squid? Awads?

I’d also like to have our first (of two) all-in meetings on Zoom. Please be as open as you can to setting different times. It is really hard to get everyone on board for a single time, due to the varied time zones. If some people can’t, in the end, make the meeting, I’ll meet with them separately afterwards at a more convenient time. But I need everyone who is interested in possibly coming to send me meeting times.

I’ve attached a spreadsheet that will help me find a time. Please open it, put the number 1 in any time slot you can make and then Save As and rename it with your initials or name added to the file name. If it helps to block off times you can’t do, before putting in the 1s, you can put in 0s. The cells won’t accept any other inputs. Please don’t do any other edits to the files. Then please send it to me by 4/18. While it would really make my life easier to do things this way, if you need to use a different format, please do that.

In actual group news, Ziad’s son, Antony, aka Truthseeker, may be joining us this year. Finally, if you may be coming and you haven’t yet sent me your signed Agreements, please do so.

In for sure:



The Assless Chaplain Red Curtis Sia

Maybe coming: Squid Dreammaker, Stargazer & Truthseeker

Still need to get me the signed agreements document:

Curtis, Dreammaker, Stargazer, Truthseeker

Finally, I just want to throw out there now that I’d like to, if possible, add some number of new campers. It’ll make break easier. It’ll help us ensure we can staff the weddings (remember, this year we’ll be in the WhatWhenWhere booklet, which will bring a lot of people). And it’s good for our lovely camp to rub off on people.

Website News

I’ve created a page on our website called The Chapel Archives. Here you can find our (un)official graphics to use; general camp info; documents that will go into the “Red Folder” (with important and emergency information); a copy of The Assless Chapel Agreements; and a spreadsheet detailing everything we need to do before we head to the Playa.

To access the page, you do need to join the website. I sent a link awhile ago. I think you can also go to the Chapel Groups page to sign up. If necessary, I can go into the backend and add you manually (I think). I will also send these files to you by email for those who prefer. Keep in mind that none of these files are “real time” updated. They are only updated when I upload a new version.

Anyways, we’ll go over everything in the Zoom meeting, but feel free to browse. And, in case you’re wondering, I will upload camp photos eventually.

Wedding Planning

So, we submitted a schedule to Placement already and you can find that in the TAC Organizer 2023 file under the Schedule tab. In addition, I’d like to do a few private weddings. Curtis, if you’re still interested in doing some chaplaining, we should plan this together and let the burner community know soon, so there’s plenty of time to fill out the official paperwork and plan the ceremonies.

Black Rock City News

We’ve got plenty of news, so I will only share a couple of promising bits of media here:

· Here’s a story of the creation of the Petaled Portal, by David Oliver (Red and I married two young Ukrainians here last year.)

· Here’s a Burning Man Journal Podcast about art, including a preview of Animalia, includes Stuart Mangrum, who you heard of a bit in the last newsletter.

Placement / Ticket News

Placement News

For the curious, here’s the Placement calendar:

March and April: Placement team reviews each questionnaire we receive (over 1,800)

May: Placement team creates the map of Black Rock City

June: Placement team announces approximate locations and approximate addresses of placed camps

July: Placement team announces neighbors

July 17: Last day to make changes to Work Access Pass requests (for theme camps/villages only)

Early August: Work Access Passes emailed to placed theme camps/villages

August 21: Placement begins on playa; camps arrive according to their WAP arrival date

August 27: Gate Opens @ 12:00 am (midnight) — BRC begins!

September 2: The Man burns

September 5: Camps must depart BRC and leave no trace!

October 25: Post-playa Report due

November: Statement of Intent opens for 2024 returning theme camps and villages

January 2024: 2023 Camp Standing announced to placed theme camps/villages

Ticket News

So, before we even talk about Main Sale, I’ve already got some great news to share, courtesy of Curtis (whose Playa name should be Curtis-y). Mona, who designed the Burning Man logo back in the day, can sell us two tickets! Curtis, does Mona also get a vehicle pass?

In additional good news, we got lucky in Main Sale. [Redacted to conceal our patented ticket-winning technique]. Voila, two tickets and a vehicle pass! Oh, I was also wearing a leopard-print thong and assless chaps. I think that’s what did it.

Four DGS tickets, 2 Mona tickets, 2 Main Sale tickets puts us at 8, with a high probability that Sia is allocated a Ticket Aid ticket. Still, with Truthseeker possibly joining and without knowing if Sia has a ticket, we still must all try to get tickets in future sales – STEP is around the corner. In addition, this would help us recruit quality camp members.

We also, at some point, need to distribute the tickets: how to get Mona’s, how to transfer those in Gianna’s name, how to coordinate the Will Call tickets, etc. But that can wait – let us bask in appreciation to the ticket deities for now.

Dates for STEP have been announced. April 26th at noon PST. Mark your calendar! You can learn more here. [Redacted]. And the only way to have a chance of getting STEP tickets is to try to sign in the second it opens. The sale will happen much like Main Sale, so get your assless chaps ready, conscript any good friends and try my technique.

If anyone else may qualify for Ticket Aid, please start getting your application for Ticket Aid ready. When you’re approved, also buy the vehicle pass. You can see what you need here. Applications are already open.

For everyone: make sure you are clearing your schedule in advance to participate in the STEP and OMG sales.

Ticket Status: xxxxxxxxoo 80% of targeted tickets secured

See below for our running list of the remaining ticket purchase options:

1) FOMO Sale: You’re welcome to spend on 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) 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.

3) 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, and be happy even if it gets us only 1 ticket. April 26, noon.

4) 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.)

Upcoming Tasks

· Please fill out the meeting times spreadsheet and send back to me.

· Mark your calendars for STEP and OMG and make sure you can get in right as STEP opens. Apply to Ticket Aid, if you can.

· Curtis, Dreammaker, Stargazer, Truthseeker: please send me your signed agreements sheet or at least confirm that you’ve read them and agree to them by email.

· Squid, Dreammaker, Stargazer and Truthseeker: send me an estimate on likelihood of making it out this year and, if you know, what your do-or-die decision date will be.

· Curtis, let me know if Mona also gets a vehicle pass.

Closing Thoughts

Every burn is different and this burn prep is way different than last year. If you look at the TAC Organizer 2023, you’ll see that I’ve already taken care of many of the tasks that I hadn’t even started yet at this point last year. The moon will, thankfully, be much brighter this year during build. The theme is different. The weather will (hopefully) be different (but a little bit the same, right?) The group will be different (but a lotta bit the same, right?)

And each of us will all be a bit different than we were last year. But there is a constant: we will all still be imperfect. I know I will – more than most, in fact. Last year, I twice sent poor Lishy and others in the camp on some goose chase for some wedding plans or another. Once it was at sunrise. I also showed up with a bunch of rushed, cobbled together infrastructure made out of whatever wood I found in my barn. And the list goes on and on.

I can guarantee you that I will continue to make mistakes and drop the ball. I will likely be too drunk once or thrice, say the wrong thing at the wrong moment on a semi-regular basis, forget something really important and do at least one thing that makes your life noticeably harder. I promise you, though, I’m trying and I know you are, too. So, on that note, here’s to the start of our real preparations for Animalia!

“I’ll believe in utopia when I meet my first perfect person, and this community is made up of 70,000 imperfect persons.” -Larry Harvey

This is The Great Train Wreck, from Burning Man 2018, the year BRC’s population exceeded 70,000 people. It is my inspiration for my burns: a train wreck, but wonderful, beautiful, amazing!

The Man Burns in 143 days!

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