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The Assless Chapel Newsletter #42: New Beginnings Edition

The Chaplain’s Screed

Burning Man preparation is like a wheel.  You’re always moving forward on your journey, but the mechanism that gets you there is simply rotating over and over.  Last year around this time our place on the wheel was at the top, where preparation starts.  As that wheel turns, we’ll slowly move toward the position on the wheel that is the Burn itself and then move through the decompression period until we’re back here again: at the beginning of preparation.


When I heard about this year’s theme, it reminded me of a thought my younger son, Obi, shared with me when he was seven years old.  Obi was crazy about Bob Ross at the time.  Bob Ross, for those of you who are unfamiliar with him, had a show on public television where he would calmly paint nature scenes and explain what he was doing in a gentle voice.  It was the type of thing that people would watch when they were hungover, high, old or Obi.


Obi imagined an alternate version of the world’s creation story.  What if we all existed, but had nowhere to exist until Bob Ross painted the whole universe for us to inhabit?  My mind was blown, like an acidhead at a Grateful Dead concert who just found out that we’re all made of stardust.

Obi’s story sort of fits into the Curiouser and Curiouser theme.  More than that, it’s a large-scale, mystical analogy for Burning Man itself.  The Playa is an empty canvas.  And while we all exist year-round, I certainly feels to me like I’m able to be myself more during Burn Week than any other place or time.  It’s as if BORG and each and every one of us camps and campers paints a new world where we can finally exist as our true selves.  The blank canvas becomes a practically infinite universe for us to inhabit as burners.


“Row Boat on the Beach” from Season 24, Episode 10 of The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross


Group News


If you have any news you’d like to share with the group, please let me know.


Camp Planning


Wedding Planning


I'm planning to send a card to the Pershing County Clerk with a picture of one of the weddings she approved me to officiate (it’s the picture to the left.)  Just as a thank you.  And I was thinking of putting out feelers for couples to marry in early- to mid-March.  Is that too early?


I also wanted to think through what types of weddings to put on.  For sure we’ll do a couple legal marriages or at least pre-planned ones.  We’ll take walk-ins, too, of course.  This year, instead of calling our temporary marriages ‘Married ‘Til Monday’ I want to call them either ‘Marriage Curious’ or ‘Marriage Curiouser’.  Any opinions on which is better?


Last year we did night weddings one night and then had a reception.  In theory, they were supposed to be animal weddings, though that didn’t actually happen.  I like the idea of hosting a special night of weddings.  I don’t know exactly what we would do.  Can someone think of something that might be theme appropriate?  Or just something interesting?  Here are a few of my brainstorms:


·         Curious Weddings (the idea being people would come dressed theme-appropriate).

·         Groom Dresses and Bridal Suits (we’ve had some grooms do this anyway; might be fun to host gender-bender weddings).

·         Naked Weddings.

·         Weddings and Consummations (not sure we’d get many, if any takers, but hey, it’d be fun to watch if it happens!)

·         We Bring the Venue, You Bring the Ceremony (people would come with their own officiants and ceremony planned and we’d just serve booze, help with costumes, take pictures, etc.)


Let me know what you think.


Other Camp Planning

I’ve spoken with a few friendly camps about doing a HUBS.  It’ll be a good way to build community and ensure that we have good neighbors.  One camp I was really excited about I decided not to partner with – I’ll tell you all in person about that decision. 


Kelly’s is really excited to HUBS with us, so that’s a go.  I plan to – hopefully with the help of Stupid Seamus – saw a piece of plywood into three sections, put hinges on it to turn it into a trifold and attach some discarded carpet as a baffle for their generator.


Burning My Crepe has also expressed an interest in HUBSing with us.  We’re going to be female-heavy this year, so hopefully BMC will HUBS with us: I remember them having a bunch of hot French dudes in their camp.


Black Rock City News


BORG released details on the 2024 temple: Temple of Together, depicted in this picture:



Burning Man passed the BLM’s MOOP inspection.  Black Rock City’s average debris area for 2023 was under 0.4 sq.ft./acre — less than it was back in 2011 when our population was only 53,963!  Way to go, Black Rock City!  According to BORG, most of the large items left behind in the mud were retrieved by their owners, which is good to hear.


Placement / Ticket News


Placement News


First off, as many of you have already seen, we left our camp completely devoid of MOOP.  We should be immensely proud that we’ll be full green on the map and make sure to keep it up. [redacted] Placement has stated that we are in Good Standing, which means we should get placed and get tickets.


There’s more to that story, though.  First, the good news.  Someone mentioned us as their favorite camp in their Post-Playa Report.  Someone else mentioned us as their favorite camp when interviewed by PEERS.  Placement relayed this specific quote:


“Playa weddings. They were very welcoming and had a great vibe! Assless Chaplain is always up for a wedding, even spontaneous ones!”


On the other hand, two people mentioned us as non-interactive.  No specific feedback, though, so I don’t really know what to do with that.  I think that we do quite a bit of interactivity.  One I can chalk up to [redacted].  Maybe the other one is someone who wanted to get married and I didn’t have it in me?


We also got a complaint about poor generator placement.  I assume this was from [redacted].  I wrote to Placement to let them know we didn’t have a generator, so they should disregard that complaint.


PEERS rated us as such:

·         Open and inviting: YES

·         Friendly and welcoming to all: YES

·         Having obvious frontage: YES

·         Being lit at night: NO


Now, I gotta say that I was pretty lit every night and most days.  To take this feedback seriously, though, I’d like to improve our nighttime frontage.  It would be great to put together a lit-up sign that says “The Assless Chapel” or at least “Chapel”.  Mo thinks it should have a butt on it.  Curtis, is this something you think you could design? I don’t have the artistic talent, but I could bring some materials to possibly assemble on Playa.


Here is the current calendar for the placement calendar for this year (estimates my own):

·         I’ve already sent in our Statement of Intent. 

·         March 28th: Our actual Camp Questionnaire is due.  I’ll send a first draft to everyone in February.

·         May 15th (est.): Camp listings go live.

·         June 15th (est.): Placement announces approximate location.

·         June 22nd (est.): WhatWhereWhen opens up.

·         July 10th (est.): Placement announces neighbors.

·         August 19th: First WAP entries.

·         October 24th: Post-Playa Report due (opens in September).


Ticketing News



Here is the ticketing calendar this year (note that typically these events occur at noon PST):


·         January 31st to Feb 2nd: FOMO sale registration (don’t buy FOMO tickets!)

·         February 7th: FOMO sale opens (don’t do it!)

·         February 21st: Stewards Sale tickets allocated.

·         March 1st: Stewards Sale form opens.

·         March 8th: Steward Sale form closes.

·         March 13th: Stewards Sale opens.

·         March 15th: Stewards sale ends.

·         March 20th: Ticket Aid opens.

·         April 10th: Main Sale registration opens.

·         April 12th: Main Sale registration closes.

·         April 17th: Main Sale.

·         April 26th (est.): STEP opens.

·         June 5th: Ticket Aid closes.

·         June 29th: Last date to make changes to WAPs.

·         July 20th: WAPs allocated.

·         July 24th: OMG registration opens.

·         July 26th: OMG registration closes.

·         July 30th: OMG Sale.

·         August 10th (est.): WAPS sent to Assless Chaplain.

·         August 12th (est.): WAPS, tickets and vehicle pass distribution finalized within camp.


Curtis, have you spoken with our Playa Mom?


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


Here is my very preliminary schedule for pre-build, build week, burn week, Exodus and post-Exodus (keep in mind there will be many changes and additions):



I’ve checked a moon chart and this year should be interesting.  The full moon for August will be on the 19th, which means we’ll have a decent bit of moonlight during build week, especially when we first arrive and are yet to put up much lighting.  September 2nd, however, is a new moon, which means the nights of the Man Burn and Temple Burn will be dark.


Upcoming Tasks


To Do in the Next 10 Days


Everybody

·         Please look through the spreadsheet, so you know where to find important information.

·         Let me know if you have any news you want to share.

·         Let me know if you think it’s too early to solicit married couples in early or mid-March.

·         Weigh in on whether our temporary marriages should be called Marriage Curious or Marriage Curiouser.


Curtis

·         Can you design an Assless Chapel sign that will make us look nice and pretty at night?

·         Can you reach out to our Playa Mom and (a) prod her to join us; and (b) let her know we’d like to buy her tickets?


To Do in the Next 30 Days


TAC

·         Send letter and picture to county clerk.


To Do in the Next 60 Days


Everybody

·         Come up with wedding themes.


TAC

·         Report on Stewards’ Sale allocation.

·         Review red folder and begin Quixotic quest to share with everyone.

·         Manage Stewards Sale.

·         Begin advertising for couples to marry.

·         Attend Camp Symposium and visit Placement BORG HQ - San Francisco.


Closing Thoughts


In addition to Obi’s imaginative alternate narrative for the birth of the universe, this year’s theme reminded me of a quote from one of my favorite authors, Hunter S. Thompson:


“I learned a long time ago that reality was much weirder than anyone's imagination.”


I love this quote and Burning Man is quite the case in point.  There is a reason we can never really explain Burning Man to people who have never been there.  One cannot imagine the reality of Burning Man.  Like walking on the moon, making love, going to war or taking psychedelics, until you experience it, you have no reference point through which to understand it.  It’s not more of something else nor a new twist on something else.  It is a reality much weirder than anyone’s imagination.


The Man Burns in 227 days! 

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