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The Assless Chapel Newsletter #28: Participation Edition

The Chaplain’s Weekly Screed

I often think of how much our day-to-day life lacks participation. Many people function primarily as cogs in their jobs, with little input into how things run. Our entertainment is generally 100% voyeuristic, mostly within the comfort of our own homes. The internet, person-to-person discussions and our politics are full of criticism and critique, all valued – at least by the person who generates it – in the same ballpark as the actual creation at which it is aimed. And the level of reticence to get involved in the world around us ranges from the mundane failure to pick up litter to the more horrific instances of passive inhumanity that stem from a diffusion of responsibility.

On the Playa, contrarily, we see participation in action all around us. It’s one of the principles that most Burners really live for that week or so they’re in Black Rock City. Some participation is planned - perhaps in the case of this camp, sometimes over-planned. Some participation is unplanned, like when I won a certain award on the Playa that will go unnamed on our website. (I’ve since lost the ribbon and hope desperately to find it; in all likelihood, my children will find it when they clear out the house when I die and I will be laughing from the grave.) But whatever it is, I think it really helps make our Burns what they are. I also believe that we need to live this principle in the default world.

This is, perhaps, the way that Burning Man has most bettered me at as a person. It has strengthened my drive to volunteer, to help the stranger, to be a part of the great cultural milieu around us, to sometimes say, “Somebody has to do it.”

On that note, let me just thank everyone for participating in The Assless Chapel and making it happen. I look forward to participating with all of you. And now comes the ask:

I’d like to do a 1-on-1 Zoom meeting with each of you to coordinate the things you plan to work on this year. More about that in the upcoming tasks section, so please take a look.

Group News

No new updates. Information below is repeated from last newsletter.

In for sure:



The Assless Chaplain Red Curtis Sia

Becky Squid

Maybe coming: Dreammaker, Stargazer & Truthseeker

Still need to get me the signed agreements document:

Curtis, Dreammaker, Stargazer, Truthseeker

Wedding Planning

I should get my new, temporary license to marry people in Nevada later this month. More importantly, after listening to everyone’s feedback, I think the current plan is to do sunrise weddings at the Man pavilion and to list both those and the animal weddings in WhatWhereWhen. Please let me know if you want to weigh in on this before it becomes final.

I’m leaving last week’s info in this section for a bit longer before I take it out, but it’s nothing new – just there for reference.

Roles that won’t change during Burn Week:

· The Assless Chaplain will be conducting most of the ceremonies but will be available to pitch in in other ways during the receptions. Curtis will be available as a relief chaplain.

· Red will be serving as Assistant Chaplain. He did great with this last year. It’s amazing how much help I need to not fuck up the weddings.

· We need a photographer. If you are interested and can commit to this, please let me know. Katie mentioned she might be able to do this, but I wanted to give everyone a chance to volunteer and give Katie a chance to back out, without feeling pressured. This is a big responsibility. You need to take good pictures, in digital and Polaroid (I have an old Polaroid and some film, but if it’s kind of shit – we’ll need to talk about it.) In addition, you need to gather people’s email addresses and not lose them and share our email address ( You can share this role with someone else on Playa, but I do need someone to at least take charge of the plans for this to make sure we pull it off.

Essential roles that can be anyone at any given wedding:

· We need a head bartender who can serve drinks and handle music during the ceremonies and the receptions.

· We need a fashionista / clothing coordinator to guide people to and through all the wedding clothes, jewelry and makeup. We have so much wedding clothing and I’ve supplemented this recently with a decent bit of animal costume stuff and a 200-pack of rings. But only a minority of last year’s wedding parties took advantage of our costume collection, because they didn’t know where to start. So, it would be good to have a point person to show them what we’ve got available. BTW, feel free to bring any contributions to the wardrobe you may come by, especially assless chaps, thongs and animal costumery.

Roles that are not completely necessary, but would be tough to do without:

· A second bartender, especially during receptions. If we advertise any of the weddings, this will be essential.

· A greeter to help direct people guests. This is unlikely to require much, unless we get a rush, in which case it will be good to have someone to ensure some bike parking coordination.

· An usher / ringbearer / flower girl is not something we had last year but could be fun.

Black Rock City News

· Want to get inspired about designing our camp frontage? Check out this video.

· Tuesday, May 23rd from 5p to 6p is a Campfire Talk about making build and strike easier for everyone. I can’t attend (meeting of the Burner Network Grants Committee). If someone could attend and report back, I think we could learn a lot.

· City names are in! They’re all named after cryptids.

· Just came across this great article about Burning Man. Surprised I never saw it before.

· Videos from the Camp Symposium are available here.

Placement / Ticket News

Placement News

The neighbors we had at the back of our camp, Camp Caralho, - the ones that got to watch us shower last year - are interested in collaborating with us to share some resources. I’ve talked with them a bit but told them we should figure it out together on the Playa. I’ve got some ideas, but don’t want to commit, though I told them I might be willing, as an individual, to help them out with some things.

We have officially been placed, location to be revealed next month. All placed theme camps are listed here.

For the curious, here’s the Placement calendar:

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

No news on the tickets front. Below is just a recap from last newsletter.

Burner Express Bus tickets went on sale May 10. More importantly, there will once again be a Burner Express Plus program, where you can get a Burning Man ticket by traveling to Burning Man on Burner Express. This means that it is highly probable that everyone in this group can make it to this year’s Burn, as long as you’re willing to take Burner Express as a backup!!! Details are to be announced in June.

So, to recap where we stand with tickets:

· We need 11 tickets;

· Curtis got 2 tickets from Mona;

· We have 2 tickets in Gianna’s name and Gianna cannot come;

· The camp was assigned 4 tickets by Placement, in my and Red’s names;

· Becky has her own ticket.

· That’s 9 tickets.

· Sia has applied for Ticket Aid and, hopefully, everyone is signed up for STEP. Plus we have OMG and BxB Plus tickets coming up. We should be set, as long as we keep trying.

Gianna and I and Red each have a Vehicle Pass. Curtis, do you have a vehicle pass, too?

At some point soon-ish, we need to figure out how to distribute the tickets and confirm whether we need more vehicle passes and how to distribute those.

Ticket Status: xxxxxxxxxoo 82% 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) BxB Plus Tickets: We’ll find out more in June.

5) 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.) This is also the time by which we should be sure we’ve distributed tickets

Current Pre-Build, Build Week, Burn Week and Exodus Schedule

See the newsletter in your inbox for this schedule.

Upcoming Tasks

As I said, I’d like to do a 1-on-1 Zoom with everyone. This will be instead of trying to put together another Zoom with everyone. The best time for me is Thursday evening 8p, with the exception of the next two weeks. I’m putting my proposed schedule below. Please let me know right away if that date or time doesn’t work for you.

Wednesday, May 24th 8p: Becky Wednesday, May 31st 8p: Curtis Thursday, June 8th, 8p: Red (since I’ll probably be visiting him) Thursday, June 15th 8p: Linda Thursday, June 22nd 8p: Katie Thursday, June 29th 8p: Sia Thursday, July 6th 8p: Seamus Thursday, July 13th 8p: Dreammaker and Stargazer Thursday, July 20th 8p: Antony

I’m going to text each of you to confirm these dates.

Also, attached is the most recent organizer file.

Closing Thoughts

I often think of participation as something that overlaps with gifting, plus being open to novel experiences and interactions. But it’s a significant piece of something bigger that I love about Burning Man and try to take into my off-Playa life: accountability and responsibility. Two heavy, serious words that don’t often make their way into the same paragraph as another two words: “Burning Man.”

Perhaps surprisingly, Burning Man runs on those two concepts. Burners build structures for others to climb on; they burn things down; they launch things through the air. And people rarely get hurt. In many situations, I trust unknown burners to keep me safe more than I trust off-Playa builders, performers and others, who exist within a framework of lawsuits, regulations and inspections.

If you need help on Playa, it’s easy to get. The saying in an airport is “If you see something, say something.” On the Playa an unspoken ethos is, “if you see something do something.” That’s something we could use much more of off-Playa.

Many other aspects of Playa life fall into these two concepts: accountability and personal responsibility: affirmative consent; LNT; radical self-reliance. The important thing is to hold in your heart that you are not paying to go to a festival, but to be part of building and living together with 80,000 others in a unique and amazing city. It is your chance to focus on creating experiences, solving problems yourself, being the entertainment, accepting the consequences of and owning your decisions and actions; and doing it all in a brutal environment. It is your chance to be the person you’d like to see in the mirror. Hopefully, we leave the Playa closer to being that person year-round.

My plan for this year and one I’ll assign to all of you is to be that great person: always do the right thing to and for the people and environment around you; create and curate for yourself; build and engage and hug and make love and be a part of it. In short, let’s all try to make this the year we spectate least and participate most. Or not… we’ll see how hot it is out there…

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Shame on the man of cultivated taste who lets refinement to develop in to fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a work day world.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

“Out of nothing, we created everything.” -Larry Harvey

The Man burns in 106 days!

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