Burning traps

That big freaky cocktail party in the desert gets going in just a few days … and if HAN splits town, how might that change Reno/Sparks’ relationship with The Man?

I’ve been up in Gerlach a lot recently, working on the new radio station up there called KLAP-FM (“You’ve got the KLAP” is one obvious slogan. My old pal Richard Cabeza showed up recently and will be doing some shows from the studios in beautiful downtown Gerlach in the days before the Big Gig. Dig?). Anyway, I’ve had a chance to chat with some of the volunteers who are building Black Rock City. Of ever-present concern to burners is the condition of the playa, which in recent years has been less than ideal. The volunteers report that the playa is in pretty good and firm shape this year, but that the hummocks of sand that have plagued bike-riders lately are still present. That means there will still be loads of opportunities for you to be stopped in your tracks in the middle of the night as you cut across the playa, brought to the proverbial screeching halt by a big pile of collected playa dust. Fat tires, as always, are preferable.

Burners would be wise to remember that the state of Nevada and Washoe County both have something in common. They’re frickin’ broke. That means, of course, that agents of the state and county, namely the cops, will be out there looking to dredge up some income to insure the health of their future pensions. The best way for these agents to do this is to go into a ticket-writing frenzy. And the targets aren’t just traffic violators, but those who engage in those pesky victimless crimes that are perpetually upsetting to both Puritans and the Brain Police. If there’s one thing the authorities hate, it’s people getting ecstatic without proper authorization. It’s estimated that 60-90 percent of burners engage in victimless crimes on a daily basis (my figures have a plus/minus factor of 10-40 percent, and could very well be on the low side).

So remember that the speed traps will not only be ever-present, but merciless. In Wadsworth, make sure you go 25 in the 25. It’s torture, but you gotta do it. That’s a pissy little speed trap. In Nixon, do 25 in the 25. That’s an ornery little speed trap. And the worst one, the one that Washoe County is counting on to save 40 to 50 teacher’s jobs, is the one you encounter as you enter Empire. The sign says 45, before you even hit town. As you make the curve into the store zone, most folks aren’t doing 45, but in the process of slowing to 45, which means actual speed is between 50 and 60. If that’s you, and a cop is working that spot, parked just beyond the gas pumps facing south, radar gun in hand … you’re toast. Trust me. I’ve been hosed at that very location.