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BRC: the world’s coolest gated community - 2002
by Adrian Roberts


Last year, we scored in the Black Rock City real estate department. Our offices were located on the outside of Center Camp, right in the middle of the Esplanade -- basically, the playa equivalent of beachfront property. We couldn't have asked for better placement.

This year, while we're still technically in Center Camp, we're behind the Artery, facing into the city. And we have to admit, we miss the view of the playa from last year. Basically, we feel like we've been demoted.

If you help organize a theme camp, chances are, you have similar issues as well. Waiting to find out where Harley placed your theme camp feels sort of like waiting to find out if you got a good part in the school play, or if you made the team. And if you didn't get a good spot this year, you're probably thinking, 'What did we do wrong?'

Is Piss Clear simply not a big enough operation to warrant prime Esplanade placement? Maybe. I mean, we try to be as low-maintenance as we can with this here newspaper thing. And, like most businesses this past year, we've experienced downsizing -- although in our case, that's actually turned out to be a good thing.

Less campmates = less drama
Our core staff is the smallest it's been since our first year of publication. We've found that camping with less people means less drama, critical for people like us who are fighting a print deadline every other day.

Plus, we have a history. The four of us have been doing this a long time. Hell, this is my tenth year at Burning Man. Ten years! I can't believe I've been coming here for this long!

Stewart McKenzie (left), our assistant editor, used to be the editor of the Black Rock Gazette back in the day, before they had their own air-conditioned trailer. We wooed him away to the 'dark side' in '96, after he spent the previous year stuck in a Gerlach hotel room fighting with a laser printer. His partner, Lois Layne (right), has been our 'Distribution Dick' since '98, delivering the goods and coordinating paper routes with our fabulous volunteer paperboys and papergirls -- who, by the way, rock my world! Thank you so much for delivering Piss Clear!

Mysterious D (left), is the (wink, wink) 'assistant to the editor,' as well as the compiler of our soon-to-be-annual 'Best of Black Rock City' issue, which hits the playa on Friday. She's been out scouting the city for the best theme camps, the best mobile bars, the best, well... everything!

Hard liquor = hard currency
Actually, I think the only reason D volunteered for the job was to work press privilege and get free drinks. Then again, that might be the reason we all do Piss Clear! That, and giving back to the community, of course. Consider Piss Clear our contribution to the Black Rock City gift economy.

Oh yes, that whole 'gift economy' thing. Who doesn't like receiving a gift? Well, us, for one -- especially if it's something we don't even want. Most gifts are simply landfill fodder. Do we really want more useless trinkets and stickers? Look, there's really only one kind of gift Piss Clear likes, and that's booze.

Yes, in the absence of cash out here on the playa, hard liquor equals hard currency. And if you appreciate all the hard work we put in to bring you Piss Clear, we'll gladly accept alcohol as a thank you gift!

We ™ the DPW!
You know who else you should thank, especially with some good booze? The under-appreciated Black Rock City Department of Public Works. These tough desert rats have been out here for months, busting their collective asses in the hot sun, all in an effort to create a city for you to come and live in for a week.

We feel that the DPW has never truly gotten the props it deserves. We're attempting to remedy that with this issue's cover story, an in-depth interview with Will Roger, Flynn Mauthe, and Ada Chester, three of the core DPW crew who help make Black Rock City happen.

We visited the DPW work ranch this past Independence Day weekend, where -- in addition to doing an interview -- we also drank beer, shot guns, and lit fireworks with a flamethrower. Believe us when we say these people know how to party as hard as they work. It was definitely the best 4th of July I ever had.

Obviously, we love the DPW, so it upsets us when we hear people slagging them off as attitudinal snobs. In our opinion, the DPW's 'tude is richly deserved. If you don't think so, camp out here in the harsh desert for three or four months. One week at Burning Man is nothing. There's a good reason this is the least-populated area in the United States. It's 10 below zero in the winter and 110 in the summer -- in the shade. And there's practically no spring or fall. That's why Gerlach has five bars and no churches.

So if you see a DPW worker throwing some attitude, cut 'em some slack. During our interview with the DPW, Dispatch Manager Frank Dometrovich, aka Spinner, stopped by and offered this insight as to why the DPW gets such a bad rap: 'When everyone first sees us,' he explains, 'we're at our absolute worst possible point. We're finalizing everything with the city, we've been out here for months, and we're burnt out. We look like the desert. We're all playafied.'

Think about how dirty and dusty you are already -- and you've only been out here for two days. Now multiply that by thirty times. Exactly.

So mad props to the DPW! We hope you enjoy this issue of Piss Clear. See you out on the playa!



2002 Piss Clear
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