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The Assless Chapel Newsletter #49: Immediacy Edition

The Chaplain’s Screed

Many people know the Burning Man history bit about how, after getting kicked off Baker Beach in San Francisco, Burning Man moved to the Black Rock Desert on advice of the Cacophony Society.  But fewer people know about Cacophony’s relationship with the Black Rock Desert.  They had done a couple previous events there.

The first, in 1987, was Croquet X Machina, where a group of people in color-coordinated clothes played croquet with 6-foot balls, 15-foot wickets and used their pickup trucks (with tires mounted on the front) as mallets.  The game was quite chaotic and difficult because of – no surprise – dust storms.  Like Burning Man, this event happened on Labor Day.

In 1989, these weirdos returned to stage the Ya Gotta Regatta, again, on Labor Day.  This time they brought wind-driven, kinetic sculptures to the Playa: giant chess pieces with sails, big balloons and desert kayaks.  They weren’t just ready for the wind; they were planning on it.  So, of course, it was a year with eerie calm – no winds!

In 1990, when the cops shut down the Baker Beach burn, the Cacophony Society made an in-the-moment decision and said, maybe this is the thing we’re supposed to do out in the Black Rock Desert.  That’s when Burning Man, as we know it, got is start.  It was a moment that demonstrated many of the Ten Principles, years before Larry Harvey enumerated them.   It was also a fitting example of Immediacy for us to follow when we’re in Black Rock City.

This year, I am planning to find a couple of love/sex/relationship workshops.  But, as we all know, it is rare that anyone makes it to anything they plan to once they’re in Black Rock City.  And that’s fine – at Burning Man, we are in the moment, appreciating Immediacy.  We are there to explore, to experience what one might call conscious distraction, to go with the flow and enjoy the intersection of who we are, whom we’re with, where we are and what we’re doing.  We are surrounded by places and moments like nowhere else.  In a world of practically infinite options, we have no choice but to surrender to the randomness and kismet of our experience.  This year, I am committing to rejecting FOMO, trying to make it to a couple workshops, but being ok with wherever my burn takes me.

A post shared by Burning Man Project (@burningman) on Aug 14, 2018 at 2:15pm PDT

Group News

Red has a new baby!  Mazel tov, Red!  Also, as discussed below, we should consider adding new campers to our camp.  FYI, Cassidy is no longer planning to bring anyone with her, though this may still change.  Below is my current status update on the group [redacted].

Camp Planning

Wedding Planning

I still hope to work on the Dutch wedding this week.  Still no one for the Center Camp wedding, but another couple did reach out for a pre-planned wedding.  If you’d like to help with this, feel free to let me know if you have an idea for a couple, food, music or drinks.

Other Camp Planning

Mo, let me know what ingredients we need for Mojito Monday.

Red Folder Video: Our First Aid Kit

Here’s your Red Folder assignment for the week (I’m putting them on YouTube now to save my own cloud space).  If you want a podcast, download it here.

Black Rock City News and Acculturation

·         Here are the theme camp listings for this year, featuring The Assless Chapel!

·         Burner Express tickets are on sale now.

·         The Desert Arts Preview is coming up.

Placement / Ticket News

Placement News

Big news! BORG is moving us to 4:45 & Delight.  We’ll be mountain-facing, as before and I’ve confirmed that we’ll be next to Burning My Crêpe and very near The Dusty Mules.  The Brazilians, unfortunately, will be at 5:15 and C.  Also, BORG has allocated us twice the space we had before, so we need to make sure to make use of it!

·         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

Support Access Passes

We’ve been assigned our Early/Work/Support Access Passes.  They’re for the 22nd (Thursday).  BORG has been kind enough to allocate us 10 passes, but they want to know that we’re actually going to use them – otherwise, they want some back.  Please, within the next 10 days let me know if you’re interested in coming early!

Ticket Allocation Plan

[redacted, please see Word doc]

Adding New Camp Members

Seeing as it’s a reasonably easy ticket year, we can add campers right now.  If you have someone you’d like to add to our camp, let me know.  Just think long and hard whether this person is a good fit for Burning Man and The Assless Chapel.  S/he must read and sign the agreements and get them to me.  I also need to do a Zoom with any additions to the camp but am mostly relying on you to bring someone who is going to be a good campmate.  Now, I’d love some feedback: should we recruit 1 or 2 new campers from a Facebook group?  We’ve gotten some great folks this way in the past.

Ticketing Calendar

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

·         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.

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

[redacted, please see Word doc]

Upcoming Tasks

To Do in the Next 10 Days


   Let me know ASAP if you want to come early!

   Send me any updates on your plans to join us or bring friends.

   Let me know if you think we should recruit new campers or not.

   Buy / sell your Burning Man tickets to one another!  Then let me know.

   If you haven’t yet, please look through the spreadsheet, so you know where to find essential information.

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

   Let me know if you know of anyone who would want to get married at Center Camp.

   Here’s your Red Folder assignment for the week (I’m putting them on YouTube now to save my own cloud space).  If you want a podcast, download it here.


   Try to find a couple to marry in Center Camp.

   Write and approve a script for Jolanda and Marcel.

   Schedule 2nd meeting with Jolanda and Marcel.

TAC and Stupid Seamus

   Pull out altar and old signage and spruce up.


   Let me know how Mariah’s leaning on joining us or not.

To Do in the Next 30 Days


   Let me know ASAP if you want to join us for Build Week!

TAC and Stupid Seamus

·         Spruce up the Dusty Altar Bar and consider adding wheels.

TAC and Molly

   Put our events into WhatWhereWhen.

To Do in the Next 60 Days


   Finalize WAPs.

   Tune up truck.

   Tune up bikes.

   Check in with County Clerk.

   Print wedding certificates.

   Template for impromptu weddings.


   Get food permit

TAC and Stupid Seamus

   Put up shade structures

TAC and Curtis

   Create new nighttime signage

Closing Thoughts

Immediacy may be the one of the principles that is hardest for me to explain and may also take more different forms than any of the other principles.  One aspect of it, for me, is the way Burning Man creates so much meaning from meaninglessness.  Like when you see two strangers having a staring contest while dancing polka or something of the sort.  It means nothing.  But the fact that these two people are doing it means so much – it’s the type of thing that makes you glad you’re at Burning Man and may spark in you a feeling or thought that, in some small way, changes your life.

At Burning Man, we enjoy what we’re doing in the moment.  We marry people that we’ll never see again.  We watch the sun come up, in silence, taking no pictures, doing nothing else – just enjoying that moment.  We make art – and then set it on fire. 

That’s Immediacy and, possibly, the hardest of the Ten Principles to take back into the world, as a habit and also as a way to describe Burning Man.  Yes, you can explain to your friends about how you live in the moment at Burning Man, instead of being suffused in planning and working and wasting brain space online, in the default world.  But they won’t get it.  They’ll tell you about their transformative experiences while camping or interpret what you’re saying as a wild vacation full of care-free decadence and the shedding of responsibility.  Brings to mind this quote:


“Perhaps the two most common things participants say about Burning Man is that it has changed their lives, and that it cannot be explained — one has to be there.”

~Burning Man founder Larry Harvey, 1948 – 2018 (Burning since 1986)


The Man Burns in 81 days! 

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