Tag Archives: Tony Perez

Burning Books

Ugh. Today I am struggling to be positive. In the spirit of Yes-Vember! I will continue on my path. But know that it isn’t always easy. I often wonder if those perpetually perky people have a dark side. Do they ever feel bad? Hate anyone? Are they really experiencing “love and light” 24/7? I’m skeptical. But I will persevere. Because…goals and shit. But if you know me…well, you knew it would be a struggle two weeks ago when I made my declaration. Hang in there with me? Oh. And I just sneezed salad all over my computer screen. Awesome. Onward!

I’m going to connect you all with a couple of awesome books about Burning Man, either created by or contributed to by friends!

s652046102856569313_p3_i1_w640Let’s start with a New York City local burner. Peter Armenia has created the first children’s book about Burning Man. “The World’s Biggest Playground” features photos of the event and text aimed at the youngsters. I went to the book launch event this past Saturday, where there was bobbing for apples and bacon!

jewelry-194-200x156If you’ve been to TTITD, you know that people give gifts. I’m a total shwag whore and especially enjoy receiving jewelry. My friend Christine Kirsten, aka Lady Bee, served as editor of  “Jewelry of Burning Man”   is “a coffee table book of meaningful gifts: stories and photos exploring the collecting, making, and gifting of jewelry at Burning Man,” written by jeweler Karen Christians. It’s pretty cool seeing stuff that friends have gifted on-playa given a wider audience.

51ecAR7gseL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_I met Jennifer Raiser through emails about the Burning Man “Burma Shave” signs. We volleyed back and forth about them back in 2013 (was it that long ago?) and wound up meeting, randomly — as is usually the case out there — when we were both hunkered down, taking shelter from the rains, in the Commissary. She’s a wizard of costumery so we’re kindred spirits. Her book, “Burning Man: Art on Fire,” was published in 2014. She contributes to HuffingtonPost, writes for the Burning Blog, and generally makes both Burning Man and San Francisco better places. She’s awesome!

frontcoverI met Judy Strauss when we both soaking in Frog Pond. She said she was compiling a book of Burning Man stories. I told her I’d contributed to one and it turned out to be hers! “100 Spectacular Playa Moments!” is jam-packed with playa-dipitous tales with themed chapters like “Awesome Art” and “Spiritual Sensations.” My bizarre story about how feathers became so meaningful for me is one of the many “Life Changing Moments.” It’s a far more homespun than some of the more official tomes and features recollections by, yes, 100 burners, some of who are friends of mine as well!

1798021_277166885782229_1132546230_nAnother recently published compilation is “Playa Dust: Collected Stories from Burning Man,” edited by Samantha Krukowski. My boss man (and previous profiled friend), Tony “Coyote” Perez, is one of the many voices of this communal memoir.  The Amazon blurb says, “Contributors include those who built the first wooden effigies on San Francisco’s Baker Beach from 1986 to 1990, in the gatherings that would later become Burning Man; artists who have installed works at the festival; musicologists, photographers and filmmakers who have made work there; writers who have written about their Burning Man experience; architects who have built there, sociologists who have studied Burning Man’s experimental nature and even lawyers who have brokered Burning Man’s controversial existence.” And I will say that if Ms. Krukowski consulted with Coyote, you’re gonna get gen-you-wine, boots on the ground lore. Truth.

StAbby the Line Boss (and her bosses, DA and Coyote)

Wow! I didn’t notice yesterday but it was my Fifth Bloggiversary here on WordPress! I guess I’m good at starting things on November 1st. Huh. I’m about to run out to an event. Hopefully it won’t run so late that I wind up needing to backdate today’s entry!

Okay. Phew! Just made it! It’s 10:30. Better get to work.

My last blog post before I disappeared into the desert was all about how much I loved my job as DPW Sign Shop Manager. Working with Black Rock City’s Department of Public Works has been the most gratifying job I’ve ever had. This was my tenth year — a decade in the dust — and will probably be my last. At least working a full season. I run the Sign Shop pre-event and for a few days post, de-installing what’s left of the signs, pulling up t-stakes, closing up shop, so to speak. Then the operation switches over to Playa Restoration, the final two weeks of Line Sweeps, when we walk every block of the city picking up bottle caps and cigarette butts. It has always been my favorite part of the process, a totally different vibe from the pre-event push and all the excitement you’d expect leading up to one of the world’s biggest parties. Er, sorry, art events! For the past five or six years (seven?), my job during “Resto” has been as Scribe, taking notes about what we find and coloring the MOOP Map. It was a great job, with lots of responsibility and a lot of work. But for my last year I wanted to bump things up a notch. I wanted to go out with a bang. So I emailed DA, the Manager of Playa Restoration, and let him know I wanted to be a Line Boss.

The Line Bosses — there are three — each run a crew of “line sweepers,” between 15 and 25 folks on the Resto team, motivating them and making sure the lines are (relatively) straight so no real estate goes uncovered. Or unMOOPed. I knew that it would be a challenge. I wouldn’t be able to be quite as hungover or grumpy as I could be as a Scribe. It’d have to be “on” the whole time. DA actually interviewed me for the job on-playa. He had already told me I was “under consideration” but before he made his decision we had a fairly formal conversation. He asked me why I wanted the job. I wanted it because I wanted something more. More responsibility than the Scribe position. Something more difficult. I wanted to stretch. So when he asked me how I would handle “people I didn’t like” I told him I was going to need to really work at it. And when he asked if I thought I was a good manager, I let him know that my sign crew had been virtually the same for years, with new people always wanting to join or make cameo appearances or bring in friends. They were a happy crew. I knew in my heart that I could do a good job as Line Boss. Well, he thought so to ’cause he gave me the job! I was so fucking excited! Seriously. And flattered. And honored.

When it came time to start, I’d bought a bunch of stuff to “drop” for my people to find. Things that I wrote messages on: “StAbby hearts me!” and “Super MOOPer!” I dreamed up little contests to make things more fun and interesting. I was READY! My friends — my former Line Boss and my Oscillator — had a bet that I’d melt down on my people before the morale break on Day 2. And ya know what? I never melted down on them. I made it through the whole two weeks without ever freaking out or getting pissed off at them! I praised them! I told them how awesome they were. How hard they were working and how great our line looked. By the last few days, with horrible weather and everyone getting sick with sore throats and colds — myself included — I managed to hold it together. Through all of it, the same people came back to work my line every day. Every day! They told me they loved me! That they were super happy not to be dodging dirt clods. To just chill  and get the work done. It was so great. Really, really great. I came to like people I hadn’t and appreciate everyone for their contributions. I was able to take a step back and see the bigger picture and not obsess about what few pieces of MOOP they might’ve missed. I drew on parts of myself that I didn’t even know I had. And it was the cherry on the whipped cream on the frosting of working with the DPW. It was fucking great. SOOOOooooo fucking great!

cat-482729So I want to thank DA, aka Dominic Tinio. He’s believed in me and my passion for the process from the very beginning. Thanks DA! Oh, and while I’m at it, I’d like to introduce you to him! Aside from managing Playa Restoration, DA attends other big events and advises them on how they, too can Leave No Trace. He’s also an artist and has created many of the Burning Man posters. He is a fan of storytelling and the way it brings people together, so he designed Black Rock City’s Fireside Circles to foster people gathering around a fire to share stories. He’s a pretty deep thinker, that DA.

300x300And while I’m appreciating my managers, I’ll give another shout-out to my other manager, Tony “Coyote” Perez. Aside from keeping my ass in line for these past 10 years, he surveys Black Rock City, laying out all the streets and plazas, and serves as the Site Supervisor. It’s a pretty big job but he does it with humility and a sense of humor. When he’s not in the desert working with DPW he lives in San Francisco, where he sings and plays a mean sax in a band called Second Hand Smoke. He, too, is a fan of storytelling and in recent years has begun writing down his memories — of his mother, his early days with the DPW, of life on the road as a musician — with the goal of publishing a book. I’m happy to be one of his cheerleaders. And editors! Lastly (but certainly not lastly), he’s the dad to seven-year-old twins and a partner to my dear friend Mel. Love them all!

So there ya go. Not one but two of my incredibly talented friends who’ve also been my bosses. Bosses at the only job I haven’t gotten fired from! Bwahahaha! And man, I’d better hit “Publish” before today becomes tomorrow! I was busy attending a fab gala for Rosie’s Theater Kids. Thank you, Chi Chi! More on her later this month! Now I’m gonna go watch some Netflix!