Gameshow ‘n Burnin’ Man

Gameshow ‘n Burnin’ Man

June, 2013

My first Burn was ’99 and I swore I would never go again ~ way cold and waay dry for a nose the size of mine. So I did it again in ’02 with friends in an RV. I began my “ten-year” at DPW in ’03 on the Night of the One-Armed Man. After missing the left turn from the North I drove through Gerlach and, sensing I’d fucked myself, I found one person working at the gypsum plant. He sent me off in the right direction which means I encountered Gringo staphing the work ranch (we lived there rather than at Gerlach Estates back then) gate at about 2:30 in the morning. Sobriety was not his strong point at that particular point in time. I wanted to just beach for the night and find my friend and new boss Rivka (aka Miss Rivka aka Phoenix) in the morning. He insisted that he take me to her here ‘n now which is how I got the crease in my truck’s passenger door: He was driving a cut-down DPW’d Econoline van and left it in neutral when he got out. I watched in my headlights as the driverless van s-l-o-w-l-y backed into my truck which I couldn’t move because it was towing my trailer.

The next morning in ever-so-appropriate tie dye I stood at the morning meeting, introduced myself to everyone there (my knowing only Rivka) and said that I knew I didn’t know shit and with their help I would be able to help them as their new DPW Dispatcher (an honor shared with Alipato that year though I’m sure he was smart enough to not wear tie dye). My first shift was 11 hours long dispatching out of Rivka’s Suburban (or some such land yacht) on Soldiers Meadow peak cuz the radios wouldn’t reach from the ranch to the playa. At the next day’s morning meeting Mr. Kleen proclaimed me to be Gameshow (Host) as TPR in concert with others felt I sounded like one when I dispatched.

The next year, 2004, I was asked to be Dispatch Manager, a position I happily accepted. Over the years Dispatch and the Depot progressed through cigarette smoking exploding watermelons, near death by marine flare, and other such significant events. In 2008 my wife Katy joined me as a Dispatcher and became my unofficial assistant manager. Three more of our clan joined the playa family in 2010: step-daughter Aimee who found a home in Art Support Services and step-son twins Andrew and Benny. The playa family took them in including Topless Deb who had the boys help create Greeter packets and Shelly and the Commissary crew who blessedly took them on as volunteers.

As many of you already know, on March 13, 2013, I received a phone call from my immediate supervisor, Playground, in which she told me that the new Operations Manager wanted a closer working relationship between DPW Dispatch and ESD and I therefore no longer had a job at Burning Man ~ the new Ops Manager whose name I did not know and to this day still have not met or talked to instructed PG to fire me.

I have processed my thoughts for the last several months, my feelings have run the gamut, believe me. And this is what I’ve concluded: My goals as Dispatch Manager were to create a department of people dedicated to safety, the flow of information, and the best service possible to all of our clientele both internal (DPW, Gate, HEaT, etc.) and external (citizens). I approached my position with honesty and integrity.

There is nothing I have to gain personally from spending my time presenting this information – fired is as fired does. But my goals have not changed. And firing me does not solve the problem. One point of relief I discovered in my processing is that I neither I nor anyone working for me will be put in the position of impotence by a radio system that is grossly deficient. And therein lies the series of events leading to my firing.

Joseph Pred and I used to be friends. That can no longer be said and I have no doubt that he was the primary instigator of my departure. I asked for mediation with him in 2011 and he refused. He has stated in the past that DPW Dispatch does not handle matters of life and death. I experienced a much different reality.

I don’t know how long Burning Man has an Executive Committee (http://www.burningman.com/whatisburningman/organization/exec_committee.html, that website page says it was last updated in 2011, a tad before Mr. Dolman was hired) which, according to the Burning Man website – that’s where I found out Charlie’s name – includes all Board members plus Charlie Dolman, Events Operations Director, Doug Robertson whom I don’t know that I know, CameraGirl of IT fame, Joseph Pred, Emergency Services Operations Chief, Kat Steinmetz, head of HR and Administration, and Ray Allen, Government Relations & Legal Affairs Manager. I find it curious that two weeks after PG’s phone call to me a Board member told me he had no idea that I had been fired...

You will find a number of files in this collection of data. Many (maybe all?) of you know that managers are expected to write EMBER reports post-event. What went well, what didn’t, and how to change the latter. I am including my 2010, 2011, and 2012 EMBER reports. As I looked them over I realized that, in a way, the Quote of the Day list is the canary in the coal mine: ~ when the radios don’t work there is less communication and much more user frustration which means people with radios become both disinterested AND unable to “play.”

You will also find my letter to Mr. Dolman and a chronological list of events Dispatch experienced in 2011.

Many of you are my favorite peoples ever and I will miss what we shared in the desert. I wish you well and if you’re ever in Eugene…

If you wish to contact me, you’ll find me on Facebook or at palmerp4@gmail.com . My old email address of gameshow@burningman.com is not the best route to try…

Gameshow clear

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