The Man is not the only Man who arrived on the playa yesterday.
The other arrival we’re talking about that other Man, the po-lice, aka law enforcement officials, who have blown into town and made their presence felt in a very big way.
At least two DPW workers were cited for peeing on the playa (which carries a $275 fine, plus the threat that the offense could, at the officer’s discretion, be elevated into an indecent exposure rap, which would make you a sex offender and screw you for life).
There were also citations for speeding, although there seemed to be a disagreement about the current speed limit in Black Rock City. Burning Man staff has set the limit at 10 mph, but people were being pulled over for exceeding 5 mph. In addition, art cars were being cited for not having valid current registrations.
“There are new officers here this year,” event operations director Charlie Dolman told crews at the DPW morning meeting on Wednesday. One of the citations that was issued yesterday “was by somebody literally in his first half-hour on the playa.”
Coyote said the officer who had pulled over the “Volare” had a deer-in-the-headlights look about him, to which one wag in the crowd shouted, “We don’t have headlights!”
Dolman said that Burning Man lawyers will “have your back,” and he encouraged anyone who was issued a questionable citation to contact the staff.
Midmorning on Wednesday, the “Gypsy Queen” art car was pulled over for an obstructed license plate, and eventually the owners were issued a warning for an expired registration. The car had been stored at the Burning Man work ranch, about ten miles away from the city, but it had made it safely through the city gates. But once it got here, the trouble began.
Three BLM vehicles, including a K-9 unit, surrounded the art car and an accompanying van. Officers had their dog sniff the fan, and the when the dog got a “hit,” officers searched both vehicles.
“They got a hit on a drill handle,” the owner said. “I told them that it was used by a bunch of people.” Although he was very obviously shaken up and intimidated by the stop and search, he said that the officers had been “cool.”
But it’s clear that law enforcement wants you to know that they are here, and they are using whatever means necessary to effect a search of your vehicles and camps. Drivers are being told to have a driver’s license on them at all times.
Motorcycle drivers were also being cited, even though the flat ban on two-wheeled vehicles doesn’t take place until the event begins.
The officers “haven’t made a good impression,” Dolman said. “But we can do better than them.”
So, the message is, handle yourself well, but be prepared to be pulled over for the slightest infraction. Be safe out there.
The big blow and rain on Tuesday night doesn’t seemed to have caused much damage. The Man was still standing, and as Joe the Builder said, “If he’s still standing, it’s all good.”
The shade at the Center Camp Cafe was intact, although a few zip ties attaching it to cables were ripped. There Cafe was busy with decor crews spreading out rugs, and DPW crews were building cafe counters.
The Temple crew lost a couple of shade structures, but they will be moving off the work site relatively soon, and the damage didn’t have much impact. The Temple itself was secure.
Other than numerous PortaPotties being knocked over, Black Rock City escaped pretty much unscathed. Perhaps the most symbolically appropriate development was that the shade roof over the DPW bar iwas blown off. So yes, there is now a topless bar in the Ghetto.
There were more clouds in the sky on Wednesday, and the forecast once again called for isolated thunderstorms., but the cloud cover was keeping temperatures down, and everyone was thankful for that.