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The Assless Chapel Newsletter #29: Gifting Edition

The Chaplain’s Weekly Screed

I just recently came upon this, BORG’s ‘Statement of Values on Gifting’:

“Burning Man exists solely because of contributions to and from our community. Whether these gifts are made manifest in funds, labor, artwork, or other forms, they are the fuel that powers our work in the world. As a culture we are devoted to acts of giving that are unconditional, and as individual contributors, we acknowledge that all such gifts are given freely, with no expectation of reciprocity or exchange. Each gives according to his or her nature and capabilities, and no one is entitled to special treatment as a result. No contributor, regardless of the magnitude of his or her gift or position, will receive preferential treatment or undue influence over the course of our actions in the world.”

It kind of wowed me. I know that BORG lives this. When they raised millions of dollars to buy Fly Ranch, they made clear to all donors that they would not get recognition, sponsorships, perks or anything else in return, except personal appreciation.

One part of Burning Man’s evolution that I’ve really loved is how gifting has changed. More people are giving meaningful experiences. And we seem to have nearly eliminated the constant and lazy giving of shitty little trinkets that just end up in the trash. I can buy my own Mardi Gras beads, thank you very much.

What really wowed me, though, is how well the Burning Man community actually acculturates burners. The gifting principle is readily apparent in Black Rock City. That’s an understatement. Maybe we could say it’s as in one’s face and obviously apparent as human genitalia (of whatever type one likes) when you’re performing oral sex (of whatever type one likes.) On a more personal note, many of you may remember signing on to this, from our Agreements for The Assless Chapel:

· “We each give what we can and want in order to make The Assless Chapel happen. Gifting involves no expectation of financial or material reimbursement.

· There are no expectations of what you give to the camp, except that together we make it happen and everyone is part of the gift we give to the Playa.”

The former bullet point touches on our gifting to one another. The latter refers to our gifts to the Playa. To continue the analogies between Burning Man gifting and lovemaking, think about what it is we gift. Yes, we’ll all bring booze to gift, along with other material goods: rings, thongs, wedding certificates, treats (like Linda’s whiskey peaches and ice cream last year or Curtis’ shrimp cocktail.) But our real gift is us, just as we give of ourselves – our focus, attention, bodies and love – to our lovers; so, too, do we give of ourselves to our neighbors at Burning Man.

And I don’t mean it’s our labor/time. It’s an experience we create. The raw material is, for lack of a better term, our souls/heart/spirit/inner selves.

Maybe that’s what makes it so natural and easy (in an emotional sense). Unlike sometimes when we give money or labor to charity, I certainly don’t feel like I’m giving something up. In fact, I feel enriched, maybe even self-indulgent. After all, when we give weddings we get something back even greater than appreciation: confirmation of our own inherent worth.

Anyways, I don’t have much of a way to cap off the screed this week, except to say that I am so excited that you are the people with whom I’ll be intertwining my own soul/heart/sprit/inner self to gift to our Black Rock City neighbors. Muah!

Group News

One big piece of news… Red just had a baby boy! Look at this beautiful little man! Congratulations to you both, I can’t wait to meet him in a few days. Now that you’ve proved your balls work, Red, it’s time to be the great dad I know you’ll be and help this lil’ guy turn into a wonderful human like you and Shiran.

In much less important and exciting news, I removed all the group features of our website. I was having a lot of trouble getting it to do what I’ve wanted and it seems really unlikely anyone would use it. You can’t download files from it anymore, but it will still have a censored version of our newsletter in the blog; has information about the camp that we can share with people; and has my contact info.

The rest of this section contain information 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 got another request for a wedding from a second couple. Talking to them soon – will keep you all updated. 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 believe WhatWhereWhen registration opens June 22nd.

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

· A second bartender / DJ who can 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 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

· From what I understand, WhatWhereWhen registration will occur between June 22nd and June 29th.

· Here is a great and concise article about making small art on the Playa. Just so everyone knows, we do have space in our camp for a small art installation, if the muse strikes you.

· June 16th to 19th is Cosmic Burn in Ithaca, just an hour away from you, Red. I know your baby will be less than a month old, but maybe you can have your parents babysit and take Shiran for a day trip?

Placement / Ticket News

Placement News

Almost all this section is repeated from last week for reference, with the WhatWhereWhen dates added in.

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

June 22nd: WhatWhereWhen registration opens.

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, with minor updates.

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: Ticket Aid is closed. Hopefully, we’ll get word soon that Sia has won a ticket.

3) STEP: I believe that all of us are registered for STEP.

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

This section contains the same, weekly updated schedule as the spreadsheet.

Over time, I’d like to add everyone else’s dates for when they plan to pack, head out and arrive on the Playa and, of course, when they plan to Exodus. I’ll also add in any pre-planned weddings. So, please let me know as you make your Burning Man plans.

Upcoming Tasks

· Curtis, Dreammaker, Stargazer and Truthseeker: please send me your signed agreements document.

· Anyone who objects to or wants to give feedback on the plans for the sunrise weddings and the animal weddings, please do so.

· Curtis, let me know if you’re getting a vehicle pass from Mona.

· Please update me on your travel and prep plans as you make them.

· Some of you I have already texted about the meeting times below. If I haven’t please take a look at your calendar and let me know if these times work.

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: Ziad and Karine Thursday, July 20th 8p: Antony

As always, I have attached the most recent organizer file.

Closing Thoughts

In this week’s screed, I did not say that The Assless Chapel is our gift to the Playa, but that we are. That was intentional. We are giving of ourselves. Last year, Curtis and Linda led the way on welcoming neighbors into our camp and treating them to, well, treats. I’d love if we do more of that this year. Our theme is not conducive to a gift with wide appeal: getting married isn’t going to find as many takers as, say, cocktails or, in our neighborhood, cocks. So, we just have to give of ourselves in smaller ways: treats, shade, drinks and, most importantly, ourselves.

And, of course, if all goes well, we’ll each spend most of our time away from camp. I think we all find it easy to gift of ourselves when out and about. I’d just caution each of us that we not get too busy with FOMO to stop and smell the burners.

A couple more words of caution. To give of yourself, you need to take care of yourself. Eat, drink water, bring everything you need to maximize your ability to sleep. Slow down when you need it. Protect yourself from the sun. Bring a first aid kit. Ask for help if you need it. You all know the drill (except for you, Seamus: make sure to read up on how to be prepared.)

Finally, let me just say that self-care is not the same as selfishness. I, as much as anyone, need to remember to take the time to think “Am I the one being the dick in this situation?” We’re all adults and I don’t anticipate any issues but know how you’re supposed to behave to respect your campmates and neighbors. We all slip up sometimes. The important thing is being able to course-correct with grace.

“I think the things that people seek can’t be purchased. The things that matter most in life have an unconditional value. You can’t buy them. You can’t buy a friend. You can’t buy a lover. You can buy the semblance of those things—and you’ll live to grieve over that.”

-Larry Harvey

“I’ve always said that love is like tomatoes. If you’re paying for it, it’s not the real thing and it will always taste best if you grow it yourself.”

-The Assless Chaplain

The Man burns in 100 days!

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