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The Ex-Gazette Files
by Sage Collins

Somewhere in the small bundle of papers you got on the way in, between a useful map and an informative guide to playa activities, there was a useless piece of over-funded and over-edited piece of hack journalism better known as the Black Rock Gazette's Gate Edition. Last year, space on the front page was reserved for trashing the good people at Piss Clear simply because it was time take a swing at the editors of that pre-playa published piece of tabloid trash, and I was the first one who volunteered to put on my boxing gloves and step into the ring.

After all, ever since my first time on the playa some four years ago I've watched Piss Clear harsh the Gazette issue after issue ÷ and that's just what I attacked when I wrote what was to be the Gazette's angry reply. I wrote about how Piss Clear likes to use big fonts in their articles. Hyphenated beauties like Propaganda-Fueled and Corporate-Newsletter jump in your face as Adrian rants and raves about how much the Gazette's air-conditioned trailers shouldn't be funded out here on the playa. No, you don't have to be a Sage to know Piss Clear will have more anti-Gazette articles this year. (Editor's note: see first page.)

After that it was a lot of boasting about the Gazette's daily miracle of printing a paper in a harsh desert environment: "A message for the people transmitted over 100 miles of playa dust and Nevada hicks to keep them informed and up to date on important developments, keeping radical self-expression alive and delivered by noon." Something like that ÷ I've actually blocked it out. And why? Because you didn't see that article last year, did you?

Yes, like so many articles submitted, it was cut. But even after three different editors from three different cities hacked at it, even after clichˇs started attaching themselves to the ends of my paragraphs like parasites ÷ even after wordings like "we get the real scoop" and "it's the naked truth" spelled DOOM for this article. Still, after all that, it somehow managed to get a go for the Gate Edition.

But when I got on the playa and through the gate, there was no article. After unpacking, I headed down to Center Camp where a Much Acknowledged Representative In Articles and Newsletters introduced herself ÷ and told me she cut the article because it was offensive. I suggested that offensive was the mood we were going for and I'm guessing that offended her even more. Frankly, I didn't mind. [Editor's note: I'm sure we at Piss Clear would have loved it.]

And therein lies the fatal flaw in the Black Rock Gazette ÷ no guts. That isn't to say there aren't reasons for the Gazette to hold its tongue on certain issues, and there's a certain sensibility in getting a law firm on the Burning Man payroll to address the county's legal issues with the police rather than sending a bunch of oddly-dressed hack volunteers out on the playa trying to get "the real scoop."

After all, some of those Gazetteers are real Playa Vultures! During a meeting concerning walk-on staffing, a reliable eye-witness source claims he saw a walk-on Gazetteer aggressively climb over another potential Gazetteer, screaming "No, you must publish my human interest travel story! Not hers!" and waving a typed page frantically at a managing editor. The ambitious writer then assaulted the other reporter, cracking them over the head with a piece of rebar repeatedly until the victim dropped her half page blurb just short of the submission bin and remained unconscious until the deadline. She was later revived and given a complimentary cafeteria pass and two sodas out of the Gazette's cooler.

Alright, so some of that might not be confirmed, but getting the news is something we have to think about. The self-proclaimed provider of accurate news to Black Rock City puts more and more emphasis on public service announcements and sponsored events each year. For you dot.com yuppies out there, last year we saw articles on everything from the stock market to a stock market related art installation that never got built! Not to mention the shameless promotion of BurningMan.com and Jack Rabbit Speaks! The Gazette even had something on fire safety ÷ does any of this sound like news to you?

Ending on a high note, I asked Larry Harvey about the anti-Piss Clear article. He said the only thing he didn't like about it was the part about Nevada hicks. As for me? I'm just wary of anyone from a town named Nixon.

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