Category Archives: Department of Institutional Memory

2011 Juplaya ROM

Advice to New Rangers

From Ranger Fuzzy:

“In an effort to demystify the process of becoming a Ranger, I’ve asked a number of second-year Rangers to share some of their experiences with you. My question to them was, “What would you like this year’s Alphas to know about what it’s like to become and be a Ranger?”

Here are some thoughts from Ranger Boxes:

I want to thank all of you for your interest in joining the Black Rock Rangers. The continued effort of all the rangers, new and old, is what keeps this group going.

A year ago I was sitting at my desk reading all those Alpha emails, that you all are probably seeing and reading, and I wanted take a moment to share my experience in going from the “desktop” to the “Playa-top”.

Overall, I have been burning since 2006 and every year until now I have camped with the Lamplighters. While working as a lamplighter my understanding of the city layout was extremely important to the success of my team. This knowledge of the city layout was extremely valuable on my first ranger shift, when we were called to a camp. My partner and I were given a destination for a camp that we needed to respond to and it was my ability to quickly locate myself in the city to realize that we we only a couple hundred yards away. I highly recommend that you are confident in your knowledge of the city layout because your mentor will check.

While with the Lamplighters I also gained experience with leading people and that includes making sure no one is left behind. When you go out on your mentor shift, remember that you will have a partner(s) and that it’s not all about you- your mentor will want to know you understand that point.

Next, I highly recommend that you just be yourself on your mentor shift. By pretending that your something that you are not, you are lying to yourselves, your mentor and the citizens of the city.

Lastly, there a some of you on the list right now that may not make the final cut following your mentor shifts, please do not let this discourage you from our great city. I get a lot of joy from being a ranger, but being a ranger would be nowhere as cool if we did not have the city to ranger in. There are many other areas to consider volunteering in, like the Post office, lamplighters, center camp, greeters, ect. In my opinion the cool thing about the Burning Man project is how well and efficient the city runs, many different pieces working together to create an awesome experience.

Ranger Taargus provides their personal insight:

I had been a Burning Man participant for six years before I finally got around to the task of becoming a Black Rock Ranger and I’m really glad I finally did it. Overall I couldn’t be happier with my experiences within the Rangers, each and every person in the org I’ve had the chance to work or talk with has been a pleasure. There are some crusty personalities, but they’ve often got the best stories to tell, so keep your ego in check, your ears wide open, and you’ll make some friends.

I’ve got three chunks of advice for you on your journey to Kakhi:

  1. 1. If you have the opportunity, volunteer at a regional as regional ranger before you get to the Playa. I did this at Critical Massive 2010 in the NW and worked the entire week as a Ranger in every possible way except I didn’t have the Hat. This really helped me set expectations and acculturate to the the Ranger organization before my mentor shift. When I got on playa I found the mentor shift to be totally non-threatening because I had already done some Rangering earlier in the summer.
  2. 2. The mentors all have their own style, but they’re there to help. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but also pay attention to what they have to say, this isn’t an interview where the more you say the better. Thoughtfulness counts. Spend some time before your mentor shift to figure out what it is about Rangering that appeals to you. Relax on your mentor shift, but also pay attention to everything around you.
  3. 3. If you are gifted a Hat, congratulations! Try to work as many different parts of the day in your first year as you can. The day shift feels totally different from a swing shift and Graveyard is something else completely. DEFINITELY volunteer for perimeter on Saturday, that was possibly the funnest thing I’ve ever done at the Burn. Seriously, managing the energy of the crowd is an unreal experience. It’s addictive. I cannot wait until burn night again.

Lastly, an observation. The most surprising thing about Rangering for me was that I expected to feel like I was ‘missing out’ when it was time for Ranger shifts. That somehow I was ‘going to work’ and leaving burning man behind. My camp mates thought the same thing and often said “sorry you’ve got shift, we’re going dancing!’ as I left. I’m happy to report though that being on shift is just as much, if not more, fun then not being on shift. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I saw more of the city with my partner while on shift then I ever have before. I met hundreds of more people on shift then I ever did as a participant. There is a big place for responsibility as a Ranger, but always remember you’re there to have fun too. Approach Rangering from that perspective and you’ll have an awesome time.

Ranger Reframe gives some perspective:

I nearly bonked mentoring because I couldn’t manage to tell where I was at any given time, no matter how many times my mentors asked me my whereabouts. What was really going on was 2 things. 1) I was feeling extremely self-conscious which made it hard to pay attention to what was going on outside my skin (and as we say “it’s not about you”). 2) I had had a habit in my day-to-day life of frequently assuming that whoever was with me probably has a better sense of direction than I did and relying on them to know where we were.

The solutions to those turned out to be 1) telling my mentor the moment I realized what was going on that I was feeling extremely self-conscious and nervous and just taking a moment to clear my head. My ability to be honest like that was one of the things that really saved me in the final call. And 2) realizing I’d been discounting my own situational awareness and taking a passive role on a regular basis and, well, stopping that and friggin’ paying attention as though it mattered.

The truth is that this issue would have been a fine reason to bonk me. I was prepared for it and would have understood completely. The upshot as I see it is this: knowing what you need and taking care of yourself (getting acclimated, studying a map, communicating honestly) is an important part of being there for others and ultimately having it be “not about you”. As a fine Ranger I know puts it: if the air masks drop from the ceiling, apply your own first before attempting to help anyone you are traveling with.

Ranger Miss Ginger has some suggestions:

Prior to becoming a Black Rock Ranger, I had been doing TTITD for about 10 years, where my participation consisted of doing many different theme camps – fro. the huge theme camp with over 60 people, to just a small group of 5. So in 2009, I came back after taking a year off and decided that I wanted to give back to this fantastic event by volunteering as a Black Rock Ranger.

Because of car trouble, I ended up arriving at BRC a day late and not having a day to acclimate before my “tryout” mentor shift (which ended up being with Fuzzy). I thought I would totally blow my chance at being a ranger during this mentor shift because my brain felt literally fried (it takes me a day or two feel normal once in the Black Rock Desert). Turned out it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me, because instead of trying to prove to Fuzzy and myself why I’d make such an awesome ranger, I just listened to him and his experience and his expertise, and took it all in.

The best advice I could give to any Alpha would be to LISTEN to your mentors during your shift – they have valuable input and experience – that’s why they were picked as mentors in the first place! I can say that now when I’m on shift, I don’t go looking for things to “ranger”, but I am there to help – and oh yeah – working the perimeter of the man on burn night is THE best. After 10 years of TTITD, I can say that I probably became a little jaded. But watching the burn form the eyes of the participants (first timers & old timers alike), was a fantastic paradigm shift for me – and that gave me an even more renewed appreciation for what we all spend a week (or much more) of our lives doing each year.

And finally, Ranger Messenger:

I walked onto my mentor shift with a few things set in my mind about how I was going to do it and as you can tell, there was a reinforcement of those beliefs. As a result I am going to share and expanded on the following things: this is not a test though it is a test, burning man is about having fun, and no matter what, you is the best thing you can provide. Please take the following information in context of your own limits and abilities because no matter what you can provide to others in service to your community, your limits need to be seen and understood by you and your partner.

This is not a test, though it is a test: In a special way the mentor shift is a test to see if you are a good fit for the goals and principles of the BRC Rangers. But this is not a typical test like you would do for a fire dept or a final exam. If you behave as if you are being tested then you will be seen for that and the results of the mentor counsel will reflect that point of view. The best way to test for this is to act like it is not a test. Be yourself and all yourself. Don’t worry about the results. I went to my mentor shift with the idea of “I get to do this thing that I want to do, and so I will do it to the best of my abilities.” If you make a mistake, others will support and correct you. The best thing to do is be you. Burning man is about fun: Fun takes many different shapes and sizes and the goal of much of the Black Rock City population is about having fun for that week in the desert. If you go to your mentor shift with the idea of having a good time, then it will be just that. My mentor shift was a fun time of getting to know new people, seeing the sights and wandering around. Make sure you have everything you need to have a good time, including food, water, sun block, a cool costume, etc. Also the “not a test” will feel more like not a test if your goal is to have a good time.

You are the best as you are: Be yourself! Don’t be who you think your mentor wants you to be, just be you. If you need to sit in some shade, make the need known because that is part of you. Need to stop and eat, inform and do. If you are not taking care of you then you can not be you, so just be yourself. Yes there is a dress code (as in please cover your bits but do it your way). The BRC Rangers are wanting and looking to add you, nothing more or less.

I went to my mentor shift with the goal of having a fun day and enjoying the playa. Yes, I wanted to be a Ranger but my first goal was to enjoy my time. Because of this I felt free to “ranger shade”, make funny radio calls and interact with the other participants. I drank my water, made my needs known and enjoyed myself thoroughly. Because of my keeping this and my training in mind is the reason that I was chosen to don the hat. Remember that this is an obligation as far as you wish it to be and as such, have fun with being a help and pleasure to your community.

Crow and Haggis - Circa 2002

It was in the afternoon on Wednesday post-event, 2002 (I think), and I was Shift Lead.

We got a call for Rangers from the strike crew at the Café (which at this point during the event was referred to as “The Aftermath Café”. They reported a participant in their work area acting crazy and being an asshole. The workers there were in the process of cleaning up and dismantling everything. The guy was about 22 and seemed like he was altered. He was deliberately getting in their way, wouldn’t leave, and he was carrying around one of those BBQ lighter fluid squeeze bottles and squirting it onto the couches there, and then sometimes squirting it into his own mouth. He was also carrying a lighter, and threatening to set things on fire.

I put a call out on Control 1 and asked if there were any Green Dots left on the playa. Luckily we found some and sent them over to the Café to talk to this guy. He was uncooperative, hostile and unstable, but after a little while, he told us his name. For confidentiality purposes here, we will call him “Stanley”. After more difficult conversations, he finally told us where his camp was. We sent some Rangers over there to see if we could find any of his friends. They reported that there was almost nothing left at the address he had given us, but the Rangers there canvassed the surrounding camps, met some of the neighbors and asked about him. As it turns out he was marooned in Black Rock City because all of his friends were fed up with him and had decided to exit BRC without him and leave behind to fend for himself. He had been on one substance or another for many days in a row, and his campmates were completely fed up with his antics and attitude and did not want to ride home with him.

Stanley was treating all of our attempts to help him like it was a game to see whether he could make us mad, or get himself arrested. Nothing we could say or do seemed to make a difference

Stanley had no way to leave BRC. He had no desire or intention to leave either. He seemed to enjoy the attention and consistently twisted every conversation and interaction to end up negative. He was a smart kid (and a smartass) and really had a talent for figuring out how to push people’s buttons. This was the only thing that seemed to make him smile.

After some discussion with the other Ranger present, we were unsure of what to do. I was very reluctant to turn him over to the minimal Law Enforcement officers present, as I believed it was our duty to try to do everything we could to care for all participants and to protect them from unnecessary escalation to the local authorities. For lack of another good option, I was beginning to get the impression that we were going to be in for a long haul with Stanley. (With hindsight, the story thus far has become a prototypical scenario, and this is now a common Ranger experience during the post-event period. At this point, however, this was one of the first times I had ever dealt with such a situation, and I was really trying to do the right thing.)

I had to go out to the BM work ranch (about 12 miles away in the Hualapai Valley). I asked that Jynx and Haggis monitor the situation, and step in to support the Rangers currently dealing with Stanley if they needed help. In the course of this discussion before I left, I tried to get these Rangers to monitor a second radio, and they looked at me like I was crazy.

I continued to monitor the radio while I was gone, and Stanley continued to be an ass, consistently managing to piss off everyone who was trying to help him. I got back into the city after about two hours offsite, then checked in. Every time we gave him any slack, he used it against us, and went somewhere else and got in someone else’s way, resulting in another call. Not only that, but we could not honestly say that he was not a danger to himself and others. Nightfall was approaching, and we were resigned to babysitting him in order to keep him out of everyone else’s hair, and because that was our job.

While I was gone, Jynx had spent some time with Stanley and tried to talk with him. This was not fun for either of them. Jynx was triggered by this interaction and made it clear that he was done with Stanley, and wanted nothing else to do with him.

Stanley was treating all of our attempts to help him like it was a game to see whether he could make us mad, or get himself arrested. Nothing we could say or do seemed to make a difference. This began a series of different Rangers taking their turn trying to keep Stanley within arms reach, out of trouble, and out of jail. (There were only about 5 of us still on-playa). Haggis took a long turn overnight with Stanley and was absolutely ready to feed him to the dogs by morning. There was an increasing amount of grumbling amongst the troops about my decision for the Rangers to take care of this guy instead of LE.

Finally, I relayed this story to Danger, and as it turns out he and Dusty were planning to leave that afternoon. They agreed to take him with them to Reno. (There was some talk about “dropping him off in Limbo” which was something Danger had done with others in the past, but he had been judged to be a danger to himself, so we decided he should get taken at least as far as Reno.)

Danger and Dusty finally rode out with him, (we were very happy to see him go) and they eventually dropped him off in Reno. It was later discovered that he had opened Dusty’s purse sometime during the ride, and taken some things.

“All history is current…” – Alice Walker
“What is past is prologue.” – Shakespeare

Author: Ranger Crow date: 02/08/2017

Jersey1 and Pirate

Clan In Tan Songs

Ranger Pirate provided a number of tunes over the years.

Here’s “Black Rock City (South Australia Version)”.
Enjoy. It’s a sing-along, with the [text in brackets] sung by the crowd.

Black Rock City is my home
[Heave away, haul away] In my geodesic dome
[We’re bound for Black Rock City]

Haul away, you Clan in Tan
[Heave away, haul away] Saturday night they’ll burn The Man
[We’re bound for Black Rock City]

I pitch my tent in Camp Bhutan
[Heave away, haul away] The Welcome lamp is always on
[We’re bond for Black Rock City]

Haul away, you Clan in Tan
[Heave away, haul away] Saturday night they’ll burn The Man
[We’re bound for Black Rock City]

Tokyo, they love ya there
[Heave away, haul away] They beer is cold, the flesh is bare
[We’re bound for Black Rock City]

Haul away, you Clan in Tan
[Heave away, haul away] Saturday night they’ll burn The Man
[We’re bound for Black Rock City]

DILIGAF is up the street
[Heave away, haul away] Coolest spiders you’ll ever meet
[We’re bound for Black Rock City]

Haul away, you Clan in Tan
[Heave away, haul away] Saturday night they’ll burn The Man
[We’re bound for Black Rock City]

Thermal Shock’s the place to be
[Heave away, haul away] When the temperature reaches 1-0-3
[We’re bound for Black Rock City]

Haul away, you Clan in Tan
[Heave away, haul away] Saturday night they’ll burn The Man
[We’re bound for Black Rock City]

Burn night, Rangers got it made
[Heave away, haul away] Cos’ madness is our stock in trade
[We’re bound for Black Rock City]

Haul away, you Clan in Tan
[Heave away, haul away] Saturday night they’ll burn The Man
[We’re bound for Black Rock City]

If you’re burnt or if you bleed
[Heave away, haul away] E.S.D.R.’s what you need
[We bandage Black Rock City]

Haul away, you Clan in Tan
[Heave away, haul away] Saturday night they’ll burn The Man
[We’re bound for Black Rock City]

Monday morning, shed a tear
[Heave away, haul away] But I’ll see you all again next year
[We’re leaving Black Rock City}

Haul away, you Clan in Tan
[Heave away, haul away] Saturday night they’ll burn The Man
[We’re bound for Black Rock City]

Black Rock City is my home
[Heave away, haul away] In my geodesic dome
[We’re bound for Black Rock City]

Haul away, you Clan in Tan
[Heave away, haul away] Saturday night they’ll burn The Man
[We’re bound for Black Rock City]

Here’s another one Ranger Pirate posted back in 2002. Enjoy!

Ya wanna find out what kind of Ranger you are? Do a
late week day shift and find yourself at noon trying
to gently explain why some some Burners can’t set up a
roadblock to keep the traffic out of their part of the
neighborhood (Dragon & Toecutter, can I get an AMEN!).

For those who brave the fury of Sol with a hangover
you’ve decided to name Atilla, I offer “Ranger Day
Shift: We Roll with the Sun” (sung to the tune of
“Only the Good Die Young”)

Wake up my Rangers, Don’t make me wait
It’s 8 in the morning & we’ve got a date
I know we were partying much too late
Oh, my head is beating like a drum

Oh I know you were drinking & smoking some grass
They took you to the Temple to paddle your ass
Now you think that Pirate will give you a pass
Oh, but I was there too, young one!

We’re Ranger day shift, we roll with the sun
That’s what I said
We’re Ranger day shift, we roll with the sun
Day shift, we roll with the sun

So, you’ve chosen to run with the khaki crowd
We try to look pretty, avoid being proud
People look to us when they’re lost & it’s loud
We’re help when they’re under the gun

And Ranger day shift, we roll with the sun
That’s what I said
We’re Ranger day shift, we roll with the sun
Day shift, we roll with the sun

You’ve got an old tan shirt & some baby wipes for
Perspiration
You’ve got a beat up bike
Ooh, and a speaker-mic

And the call on the Comm says some camp is talkin’
Instigation
I’m sure someone’s just misunderstood
Let’s go F.L.A.M.E. it, it’ll all be good

Whoa-oh-oh

I know DPW works really hard
They’re free with their whiskey & don’t cheat @ cards
But swingin’ a hammer ain’t life for this Bard
Oh, I’m not saying they’re not fun

But I’m a Ranger who rolls with then sun
That’s what I said
We’re Ranger day shift, we roll with the sun
Day shift, we roll with the sun

Oh, the heat beats down like a hammer on the top of
your noggin
Feels like you could sweat to death
What is the number of your SPF?

So you’re poppin’ more advil cos’ the fibers of your
body are throbbin’
But keep in mind we’re off duty tonight
I got the ganja if you’ve got a light

Whoa-oh-oh

So pull on your khaki, stick your thumb down your
throat
Gigsville is waiting and so is The Goat
I hear some themecamp wants to dig them a moat
Oh, that ain’t leave no trace, by gum!

So lets go find some bleeders & people in pain
Mediate conflicts & watch for the rain
I got me a bottle of brandy from Spain
But that’s for when work is done

So RANGER UP, & let’s roll with the sun
That’s what I said
We’re Ranger day shift, we roll with the sun
Day shift, we roll with the sun

I tell you the day shift!
Day shift, we roll with the sun
Ranger day shift!
Day shift, we roll with the sun

Pirate could not get enough about making songs about the Rangers. Here’s another lil’ tune for y’all.

It’s that time again. Though Lexica & I won’t be with
you this year, our hearts will be. And as Ranger Bard,
I once again offer this to the Clan in Tan once again
as one Ranger’s take on this beautiful insanity of
ours.

The Tao of RangerLove

1.
Where is the RangerLove? Where are the Rangers?
Who has the RangerLove? Who are the Rangers?
What is the RangerLove? What is a Ranger?
When is the RangerLove? When are the Rangers?
Why is there RangerLove? Know the RangerLove and know the answer.

2.
RangerLove wears khaki, but not always.
RangerLove is sweaty and dusty, except when it isn’t.
RangerLove walks on the Playa, and also on the pavement.
RangerLove is clear and focussed on duty, except when it’s blurred and partying off-duty.
Seek not to put it in a box, but to experience it.

3.
Those who walk the dust under the Sun’s hammer.
Those who roll through the city beneath the stars.
Those who stand post at “The Stick”.
Those who make sure there are fresh batteries and laminates.
Those whose voices come through the ether to guide us where we are needed.
Those who bandage the bleeding, hydrate the fried, and comfort the freaked.
Those who bust their asses for the sake of our city & its citizens.
Those who know the Rangers know the RangerLove.

4.
The Sun will cook you.
The night will chill you.
The yahoos will annoy you.
The smokers on “The Stick” will bitch at you.
The dipshits will berate you as a fascist tool.
The self-centered will complain that you’re not searching for their missing bike.
The clueless will demand the right to block the road.
If you have a button, they will push it.
And still you have the RangerLove.
What was it that was bothering you?

5.
The RangerLove is not a jewel to be hidden away in a vault, glimpsed by only a privileged few.
The RangerLove is not an exclusive club at which only certain lucky ones get past the velvet rope.
The RangerLove is not a wall which we erect around ourselves, keeping the barbarian hordes at bay.
The RangerLove is a song. Let us go out into the festival and sing.
The RangerLove is a deep well of sweet water. Let us find the thirsty and offer them a drink.
The RangerLove is a gift whose value grows in proportion to the number of people to whom it is offered.
Much RangerLove on out to all our friends we’ll miss this year and all our newest members, friends yet unmet.

2015 Rebar Ceremony with Ranger Splinter

2015 Rebar Ceremony

Thus spoke Ranger Splinter:

“Rangers, newly minted Rangers…

“A long time ago, a group of artists, misfits, miscreants, and performers manned the beach in San Francisco around a statue of a man. And then they burned it and they saw their community grow by 100%. What we do is about community. That community grew and grew until it outgrew where they were at. And they had to find a new place to practice their community, to spend time with each other.

“This desert was found. That group traveled out here to this desert, and when they got here at the edge of the desert, they were in awe in what they saw. They stopped their vehicles at one of the entrances, they got out, they marveled at what they could create out here. They saw that they could build any kind of community that they wanted out here. And in that moment of silence, there was a need. There was a need for someone to step up and say something. To lead them. And in that moment, Michael Mikel stepped up, took a piece of rebar, and he drew a line in the sand in front of them all.

“He said to everyone there, ‘When we cross this line, move into this desert, nothing will be the same. Everything will be different. And it’s up to us what we create.’ That’s the first thing about a Ranger. There’s a need for someone to step up and that’s what the Rangers do. And they do it with theater, with style.

“Later, as other people came and got lost in the desert – same guy – Michael Mikel saw that we don’t want to lose anyone out here. So he gathered teams together of people who were well armed, well liquored, and who had been to the desert at least two or three days more than the people who that were lost. And they went out and found them. In the documentation, it says we were Search and Rescue. Nope. They called it, ‘Let’s go play fetch.’ And they went out and found people, they brought them to the camp and built a community that way.

“There was a need to do something, Danger stepped up, being from Texas, he called what they were doing “rangering.” Rangering comes from one person taking care of a large area, creating law, creating order, helping order. That’s the other part of the Rangers: you step up to do something, you step up to help, and it’s fun. The idea of a Ranger is that you’re having fun helping all these people. So those are the two main things that are in our lore: stepping up…doing it with style and having fun with it.

“Danger couldn’t be here today, but he wanted me to impart two new things. One of them is that things aren’t always what they seem to be. So keep that in mind as you’re rangering. Part of finding out is listening and it may not be what it looks like. The other thing that he wanted to impart to me was that when in the portopotty, put the lid down before you pull your pants down, that’ll keep you stuff from going in the porto. I’m not kidding. I had to write this down because that’s what he told me to say. In other words, still keep it fun in the most solemn of our times. We want to have fun being Rangers.

“So now, with the gathered Black Rock Rangers we have here, veterans, we like to invite all you new Rangers to step over that line and when you do, join our community of Black Rock Rangers in taking care of this community, this desert, each other, and all the regional places you come from.

“Please step over the line.”

Silent Wolf, Gondaff, and Southpaw - 2002

It was Saturday, burn night, in 2001, and I was Shift Lead.

In the late afternoon, Silent Wolf’s “significant other” had been arrested for allegedly messing around with a small cluster of ATVs which were parked near the Center Camp Café, and which belonged to Law Enforcement. When they returned to their ATVs, the LEOs found her standing there next to them. They had a person in custody and asked her if she knew the guy. She did not, but for some reason, she said yes. Then they moved forward and attempted to arrest her. Both parties became aggressive in response to each other. They got one cuff on before she jerked free, then they took her to the ground. She was laying on her stomach and had her hand clenched together underneath herself, with one cuff on. She was then arrested and taken into custody, for resisting arrest.

After the burn, we received a report of a sexual assault. A woman had been raped and was now with our Green Dots. Description of the assailant was “Asian male in his mid-twenties with long black hair”. (We also had a report on the clothing worn by the assailant, but I cannot remember what he was wearing.)

I was angry and shocked at this report and the information that was being relayed from the interview. I resolved to do everything we could to find this individual, and then attempted to organize a block by block sweep of the entire city using all available Rangers, and beginning nearest the last known location. Some bike-mobile Rangers on the open playa were asked to spread out and ride to all of the fires, looking for someone fitting the description.

His face was dusted white from the playa, and his eyes looked dark like they were all pupil and no color, the darkness of his eyes accented by the whiteness of his dusty skin.

Black Rock City was on fire (literally, in several places), and “going off”. There were a lot of incidents, medicals, reports of stolen stuff (much of it found missing after participants returned back to their camp after the burn) participants shooting off pyro, people driving their unmutated vehicles around, vehicles driving through the trash fence in both directions, etc. People were burning their art pieces (which were sitting directly on the playa), couches, and some were even burning structures and art in their camps.

Silent Wolf’s SO was still out at the Law Enforcement compound, which at that time was on the southern side of the city, outside the perimeter near the DPW Depot (which was not as close to the trash fence as it is now). The SO was a foreign national and did not have her ID on her when she was arrested. Silent Wolf and his SO were camped at Outpost Tokyo, and he had back to Tokyo to search for her ID in an attempt to secure her release after many hours in custody at the compound. When I went back to Tokyo to meet with Silent Wolf, several other Rangers camped there then informed me that there was a BLM vehicle parked a couple of blocks back watching our camp through binoculars. (The city was a lot less condensed back then, with more gaps in between groups.) The BLM officer in the truck seemed especially interested in the camp where Wolf and his SO were living. Later on, this same BLM truck decided to roll right through our camp (between tents and vehicles) pulling into to the Tokyo camp off of “D” Street, and rolling all the way through onto “C” Street. He drove right past me where I was parked in camp, sitting there in my truck.

After a little while, I got out of my truck. Another Ranger in leadership came up and offered me a pill. He said it was Adderall, and would help keep me up, and said that several other Rangers had been taking some to “party all night”. I politely declined, but he asked again and again repeatedly, ultimately holding his hand out and becoming more insistent that I should take it from him. His face was dusted white from the playa, and his eyes looked dark like they were all pupil and no color, the darkness of his eyes accented by the whiteness of his dusty skin. I declined one last time, a bit taken aback at his insistence, and then finally walked away. A little later, Moebius came by to meet and discuss a problem with me, and I noticed that his face was also white and his eyes seemed to be black too. (I told myself this must be an optical illusion.) He had a strange request, and I was unable and unwilling to help him out to resolve his issue.

Another Ranger called me and asked for a jump, he was stuck out near a fire around 8 o’clock and open playa. I agreed, then Jynx and I climbed into my Suburban and we drove out there to give him a jump start. We pulled up, got out our cables, and jump-started his Jeep. I turned to head back to Tokyo and was only a few minutes away when he called me back, asking for another jump. He had apparently floored it when he went to leave and dusted out the group of participants he had been talking to, then his Jeep died again. (His vehicle was cold-natured and not idling correctly.) The participants were a little agitated about his dust stunt, and we needed to get him out of there and back to Tokyo so he could get the Jeep parked and stop driving. By the time we pulled back up to his vehicle and parked grill to grill, Jynx had fallen asleep in the passenger seat. I popped the hood and set up the cables again. I got back into the Suburban to rev up my engine a bit and charge his battery. We were sitting there with our hoods up, our headlights shining at each other’s vehicles, and Jynx asleep. After a few minutes, the Ranger got his jeep started again, and went to rev up his motor to make sure it kept running. However, this Ranger neglected to make sure that his vehicle was in neutral before he hit the throttle. The Jeep jumped forward and banged into my grill.

Jynx awoke with a start, sitting up abruptly with his eyes wide open. I saw the opportunity to pull his chain, so I said: “Dude, we just got into a head-on collision!” Jynx said “WHAT?!” All he could see was the hood up and headlights shining underneath it. He sputtered and started to freak out, then I laughed and told him what had actually happened. I hopped out and talked to the Ranger with the Jeep, who apologized sincerely and promised to repair any damage to my truck. I told him to drive to Tokyo and that I would follow him there to make sure he got home safely (and parked the Jeep for the night).

“We are looking for the Double Dice Lounge, but can’t find it! It is an emergency!” Painless and I looked at each other, then I started the engine and slammed the truck in gear.

At about 0400 I was driving around on the open playa, trying to clear my head and still looking for a long-haired Asian rapist. There was a medical call from the former site of the “Double Dice Lounge” (two big, cube-shaped structures that had been a giant pair of dice, way out beyond the Temple. (The dice had been set ablaze a little earlier that night, and had now burned down into a giant fire circle.) I heard Painless answer his radio, and it turned out he was near my location and on my way to the call so I ended up picking him up. Painless and I were glad to see each other, and greeted each other warmly, chatting on our way out to the scene. It turned out that the medical call was from El Mano (a DPW worker, formerly known as “Circus Boy”) for a non-responsive participant. We pulled up to the edge of the fire and looked around. El Mano showed us the guy he had been concerned about, and Painless checked him out, while I walked around the fire. I said hello to a few people I recognized while I scoped out the scene; the remnants of the Double Dice Lounge, the ruins of their bar (which was still in operation, although almost dead) and the human dregs leftover from their party, scattered about in varying states of costume, sobriety, and consciousness. Most of the people there were sitting on benches or laying on the ground. 

After we were clear of this scene, we say goodbye to El Mano and hopped back into the truck. After cruising somewhat aimlessly back towards the city, we ended up at the Temple. (I had already been there once, earlier in the week. I did not then realize what the Temple was, and kind of blundered in expecting to be entertained by the art. After a minute or two I was struck hard with the realization that I was standing in a mausoleum or some sacred and solemn structure that I was in no way prepared to deal with at that time. I had left immediately. At least now I knew what I was headed into.)

We parked on the south side of the temple, circling the truck around to face the East, and we sat there for a few minutes looking at the dawning light before we got out of the truck. We walked away from the truck and away from each other, approaching the Temple separately, from different angles. Neither of us said anything to the other, we seemed to share an unspoken understanding that we each needed some time alone with our thoughts. Near the front of the temple, there was a metal coffin sculpture made of melted firearms welded together. Next to this was a large crate that was filled with small pieces of wood scraps, all various shapes that had been cut out from the building material. The scraps were cut into angles and arcs, about 2 or 3 inches long, and each of them had something meaningful written on it, done by participants who hoped to burn all these words and experiences away. I found a bin nearby with more small blank scraps of wood and picked one up. I wrote “I still love you” on my piece, and put it in the crate. I felt sad, and yet calm and peaceful. After walking through the Temple, I went back to my truck and sat in the driver’s seat to wait for Painless. He came back after a little while and got back into the passenger seat. We watched the sun appear in the east, as it began to rise. Just then we saw an ambulance pulling up with all of its lights on. They pulled up to my window and said “We are looking for the Double Dice Lounge, but can’t find it! It is an emergency!” Painless and I looked at each other, then I started the engine and slammed the truck in gear. Turning to look back at them and pointing northeast through my windshield, I said: “Follow us.”

We raced up and parked at the Double Dice scene, the ambulance trailing behind us. A grim scene greeted us as we approached the fire we had so recently left, less than an hour previous. A young man had chosen to walk into the fire. His feet began to burn and stick to the coals, and he fell down. Then his hands and arms made contact with the giant bed of coals, and he could not get up. A couple of people had somehow grabbed him out of the fire, laying him down and immediately calling for medics. (This was before Khaki had two radios, so we did not hear the call.) Al Mano was still there, trying to help, and he was fairly shaken. The young man was laying on a blanket, shivering, and there were grey rolls of skin curled up all along his limbs and some on his torso. The paramedics from the ambulance rushed forward and began trying to stabilize the patient, while we watched in silent horror, standing in between the observers and the scene. The patient was alive but in critical condition, and he was transported to an LZ in the ambulance, and put on a chopper to a special burn center. (I think he ended up at UC Davis.)

After we finally left that scene we wandered about in the truck, talking quietly and trying to process what we had just witnessed. Sometime later, on another random arc of travel, we came across a golf cart parked at about 1:30, halfway between the Double Dice scene and the nearest section of Esplanade. The cart was sitting alone in an open expanse of the playa in the middle of nowhere. There was someone sitting in the driver’s seat, slumped over the wheel. We approached to check and see if the person was ok. It was El Mano, and he did not respond to our questions or our touch. We shook him a bit but still got no response. We called for medics. It turned out that Tulsa was working at (what is now) ESD Station 3 and he showed up in a golf cart called QRV3. He came out and I think he gave Mano a sternum rub or awoke him somehow. We were glad to see that he was now conscious and responsive, and then we followed him home to make sure he got there ok.

By morning, there had still been no sighting of anyone matching the description of the rapist.

I think I finally went to sleep in my Suburban in Tokyo about 0930. When I awoke, it was almost time for the Ranger party. I called the Shift Lead and asked for any update on the search for the long-haired Asian, and heard back that there was no joy. It was now assumed that he was no longer in the city.

(NOTE: Back in the days before there was a “Ranger Social” at Tokyo after the Temple burn, there was another tradition. Boggman, the Ranger Operations Manager, had a standing arrangement with the Gate management to acquire a stash of donated liquor and beer from the Gate, and he would bring this to Ranger HQ (which was located at the back of the Center Camp circle in those days) on Sunday evening for the official “Ranger Party”. This was an attempt to blow off steam, begin decompression, and congratulate ourselves and each other at the end of each event for a job well done. Ultimately this practice was frowned upon by his manager, who did not believe it was a great idea to get most of the Rangers drunk at HQ on Saturday night.)

I pulled up and parked at HQ, noting the party had begun, and Rangers were spilling out from under the shade structure, milling about with drinks in their hand, talking loudly and having a good time. I started walking towards the group, then suddenly realized that I was not ready to face the party. I turned on my heel and ducked into the old green Korean war era “GP Medium” tent set up behind HQ, which we had affectionately named “Hotel Moron”. There were cots set up inside intended for use by participants, some of whom were too unprepared to camp or survive at the event, and who was (in our ungracious estimation) “too dumb to ask their neighbors for help”. (Thus, the origin of the “Moron” designation.)

As I stood in the quiet tent, the temporal representation of what would ultimately become known and utilized as “Sanctuary”, I realized that I was not ok when tears began to cross my dusty and sunburned cheeks. I leaned over and held onto a cot, crying almost silently as I thought of all I had seen in the past 24 hours, the past week, the past 3 years, and the past 32 years. A rapist in our city, and we can’t find him. My friend’s girlfriend thrown down, stomped, and arrested. The young man laying on the playa, layers of his skin curling off of his body. The Temple at sunrise, and my lost love. After a few moments, I stood up, took a few deep breaths and felt better after this small release. I checked the volume on my radio and headed out to the party.

Boggman smiled and handed me a drink when I arrived, and a few friends clapped me on the back, asking where the hell I had been. I wasn’t at the party for very long before it started to get dusty. Then it was announced that it was time to mobilize for the Temple Burn. We weren’t used to this new schedule and this “Temple burn” yet, as 2001 was the first time the Temple burn happened, the Temple of Tears.

By the time we were all loaded up in the trucks and halfway out to the Temple, a dust storm had enveloped most of the inner playa, if not the whole city. No way to tell, as visibility was for shit. As I pulled up I could dimly make out the outline of some Ranger vehicles I recognized, so I parked next to them and ventured out towards the perimeter, where I found the group of friends and Rangers I respected most. Nearly all of us were in that one section of the crowd about 5:45 on the perimeter. I was wearing my dust mask and goggles, and as we watched the Temple ignite, I thought of my wood scrap and the love it represented. I felt the tears begin again under my protective layers of gear.

This was my first experience at the Temple, and I was a participant, standing in the crowd watching the flames. To this day, I have still never worked as a Ranger on a Temple perimeter, in all of my years at Burning Man.

Author: Ranger Crow    date: 01/10/2017

Annual Service Pin, Shiny Penny Pine, and Toaster Pin

Toasters, Pennies, and Ceremony

A bit of history about the service pin ceremony from Ranger Big Bear.

When we instituted the Ranger pin ceremony a few years ago, I adapted the Oath of Office pledge from Texas and the Texas Rangers to Black Rock City the Black Rock Rangers. I read this “swearin’ in” ceremony at our pin giving out ceremony, probably the last one where we were able to muster as a total assembled group. The year was probably Burning Man ’99. Its no longer used, but I’ll share it now:

“This pin certifies that the recipient has consistently demonstrated the true spirit of the Black Rock Rangers, has begun to master the ‘Art of Rangering’, has earned ‘the Khaki Dot’, and is therefore duly entitled to enjoy the many wonders of being a Ranger in Black Rock City and an important and constructive part of the Burning Man Project. May this rightful honor serve to provide access to the great bounties of our unique community, dutifully earned by a true protector of the Black Rock Desert and the citizens of Black Rock City.”

Leave the “true protector” sentiment in place and sub-Texas for Black Rock and you’ve got a little taste of the history of the Black Rock Rangers.

Here are the years and their respective colors:

  • 2019 – Seafoam Green
  • 2018 – Navy Blue
  • 2017 – Yellow
  • 2016 – Dark Teal
  • 2015 – Salmon
  • 2014 – Light Purple
  • 2013 – Light Blue
  • 2012 – Jade
  • 2011 – Pink (*ahem* Sunrise Rose)
  • 2010 – White
  • 2009 – Light Orange
  • 2008 – Medium Gray
  • 2007 – Pumpkin Orange
  • 2006 – Yellow
  • 2005 – Green
  • 2004 – Plum Purple
  • 2003 – White

Ranger @pparatus describes the background of the Toaster Pins from their 2008 introduction –

This year all Dirt Ranger shifts will be scheduled for 6 hours throughout the event. Yeah. We are taking this risk eyes-wide-open with faith that it is the right move for the well-being, effectiveness, and longevity of the Rangers.

To make this work we need more Rangers and we need every single Ranger’s help to get there.

We all agree that compromising on the caliber of new Rangers is absolutely not an option. Some of our best Alphas are going to be people that we already know that “get” the event, “get” our community, and have the temperament and skills that make good Rangers. This year we challenge every Ranger to recruit at least one “Ranger that we haven’t found yet”. To make this fun we have a plan.

Toasters

I’m dead serious. It used to be that if you brought a friend or family member to the bank to set up a new account the bank would give you a toaster. This year we are making metal pins in the shape of 50’s style toasters with toast popping out of them and a Ranger logo and 08 on the side. A Ranger gets one of these pins when someone they recruit passes Mentoring.

Here’s how it works: Every Alpha that becomes a Ranger will be asked who recruited them. That shiny new Ranger will be given a toaster pin by the Mentors (they are in cahoots on this one). The shiny new Ranger gets to go find the Ranger who recruited them and give them the pin … and there will be much rejoicing. They don’t get to keep it, especially since it is likely that people will ask them year in and year out who they “earned their toaster” for and, as the saying goes, you can’t toaster yourself. If you recruit multiple people that pass mentoring you get multiple toasters. I personally hope to earn a couple this year.

Change is constant. Burning Man is no exception. The growing pains and the challenges that we face together have been discussed in encyclopedic detail on Allcom. The fact is we have some flagging spirits and some skeletal shifts and the two are directly connected but, I never cease to be amazed at the abilities of my fellow Rangers to find and meet the needs of our community. Now is the time to make a concerted effort to take care of each other, to make sure that we really have each other’s backs out there by finding enough of the best people to be with us riding the edge of chaos. It’s time for the Rangers to inhale … and do it with style.

Ranger Flint describes the suggestion of the Shiny Penny Pins.

Reading through the feedback from first-year Rangers, a message of, “We’d really like to have our first and possibly our second shift with a more experienced Ranger.” With that idea, I began thinking of a simple incentive and a token of appreciation that rookies could partner up with the old salts: the Shiny Penny pin. Similar to the Toaster Pin, the Shiny Penny pin would be given schwag-like to the more experienced Rangers as a sign that, yeah, I supported our up-and-coming, newly-minted Rangers with their first shift. It’s a small thing, and I believe that building of culture between Rangers, the ritual of process, and passing on experience after the mentoring process is invaluable to beginning Rangers.

The token of appreciation would be part of their shirt, hat, toaster pin issued package. Perhaps give them two of these pins, so that by their third shift with a bit of experience under their hat, they aren’t such shiny pennies themselves anymore.

The following is provided with each pin:

You are a shiny penny. New, clean, and perhaps a bit nervous. Find a seasoned partner for your first shift and gift them this pin as a token of, “Hey, thanks for walking with me.”