Monday, December 26, 2011

Lost & Found

Burn, baby burn. Uh... no!

I traveled to Black Rock City for the first time in 2011. I’ve been talking for almost a year about Burning Man. I talked your ear off about my participation in Burning Time: the 1MileClock project. We built the largest working timepiece ever built: a clock with a one-mile diameter clock face. It was awesome.

I talked about my art piece for the 1MileClock, a woven newspaper piece; a 4 foot by 6 foot weaving glued and sealed on a ¾ inch thick sheet of plywood. I hauled that heavy artwork about 800 miles up to Northwestern Nevada from Palm Springs.

In October, I wrote about having an early arrival pass to Black Rock City to work with the 1MileClock team to build the number towers for the clock. The lead-in photo for that blog is a photograph of my artwork. Stick with me. There’s a point to all this.

On the Saturday of Burning Man week, the BRC DPW (Black Rock City Dept. of Public Works) moved the 12 clock number towers to a designated burn area. Forty-five minutes after the Burning Man burned, the clock towers were torched. It was an awesome sight. There were fire dancers doing their thing before the burn. There was a large crowd gathered for the burn. I looked for tower #5, where my artwork was. It wasn’t there. There was a blank space where my panel had been.

My art piece, along with 7 other art panels had been stolen between the time the DWP moved the towers and the time of the burn. My art panel was one of those stolen. Someone took the time to unscrew an incredibly heavy 4’ x 6’ panel from the clock tower and carry it nearly a mile off the playa. Not just one panel, but 8 panels.

On one hand, I was very disappointed to have created a piece of artwork specifically for the purpose of being torched at Burning Man. On the other hand, it was somewhat gratifying to know that someone liked my artwork enough to go through all that trouble. On the other hand, (wait, I have three hands?) it bothers me greatly to have my artwork out there not knowing who has it or what’s being done with or to it. Is it proudly displayed in someone’s home? Is it being used to patch a hole in the side of a barn? Where did it go?

Yesterday, I received a FB message from James Bowers, the brain & driving force behind Burning Time: the 1MileClock project. Jim wrote: “Jerry, Merry Christmas my friend! Guess what!? I've recovered your stolen art panel. It's being safely stored at my house (and on proud display). Not sure how to get it back to you.... Ever make it up to NorCal? Hugs – Jim”

What a surprise! I thought they were gone and lost forever. Jim was able to track down the eight stolen panels and have them all delivered to him! I have no idea how he did it. I suspect he’s being discrete about it on FB. I will certainly weasel it out of him in 2012 when we're all home again in BRC.

Jim wanted to know about how to get it back to me & did I have any suggestions? After thinking about it, I wrote: Great recovery job, Jim! I am happy to know their final disposition! It was the "not knowing" that bothered me most. My suggestion is to burn it. Perhaps we can take them to BM 2012 & torch them? That was to be their destiny. Burn it.

I created this artwork with full knowledge it would burn. It didn’t burn. Even though it will be a year late. Burn it.

Thanks for listening,

Jerry L. Hanson

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chain, Chain, Chain....

In my art, I love to take small bits and work them into a whole. I work with beads. I work with tab tops. I work with any collection of items that can be pulled together into a larger piece: tin can lids, key chains.

My BFA in Education background is in weaving… textiles. You take thread or string and weave it into a larger piece. Take something small and create something big.

Early on, I enjoyed using traditional techniques such as bobbin lace to create my artwork. I would use non-traditional materials such as choir or sisal with bobbin lace techniques. The results were strange yet familiar. Most traditional weavers would look at my work and not believe what they saw. I loved the mind phuque.

The bulk of my work over the years uses newspaper as my media. Woven newspaper. People look at it and can’t get their minds around it. “Did you paint all those little squares?” “Did you cut out all those little squares of paper?” “WHAT is that????”

I love using every-day items in non-traditional ways.

For 30+ years, I’ve been interested in using wire to make “things”. It began with my student teaching days: I taught a class in Beginning Jewelry. I needed to come up with lesson plans to teach jewelry making that required no heating of metal. How do you teach jewelry making and keep the attention of both the boys and girls??? AND not melt metal?


I developed a six-week lesson plan that utilized wire. The girls made earrings and pendants from wire. The boys made bracelets and, well, bracelets from wire (turned out they weren't interested in other forms of jewelry). I showed the girls how to make jump rings from copper wire and how to use them to make chains and other items. I showed the guys how to twist different gauges of wire into “wire ropes” and how to hammer them into bands for bracelets.

The students love the class. Everyone one left class with the jewelry they’d made.

Thirty years later, I’m still “playing” with wire. And newspaper…

I taught myself to make chain maille. I wove together links to make fabric. What I didn’t know was that I was making Japanese 4 in 1 chain maille. I knew it worked but it didn’t look like the chain maille I’d seen in medieval armor. I wanted to make THAT chain maille and I never could figure it out.

For years, I searched on line for instructions: they were so obtuse, no one could be expected to follow the instructions. And then… I found them! Thank you Ring Lord!

My 30-year (passive) quest for Chain Maille has come to fruition. I now know how to make the European 4 in 1 Chain Maille….

Now, what am I going to make???? Something totally useless.

Thank you for listening,

Jerry L. Hanson

Monday, November 28, 2011

Music Man (Virtual)

I love music. I can’t sing but I love music, most music. There even a few (very few) Rap tunes I like.

I’m slowly going deaf. I stopped listening to the radio, records & cassette tapes. Records and tapes: that pretty much tells you how long ago that was!.

And then I got hearing aids. They changed my life. I could hear again. I rediscovered music and began listening to music on the radio again. We got a CD player in the early 90’s & I began purchasing CD’s I found interesting. Over the next 15 years, I purchased almost as many CDs as I did novels. loved me.

Three years ago, I got a Sony eReader. That changed my life too. I’ve read exactly two paper novels in the past three years. I read over 50 novels a year and no longer have to find space to shelve all those novels. Our bookshelves are no longer over flowing with pulp fiction.

I never thought about how many CDs I have or what kind of music I’ve collected. I hear music on NPR or KROQ & I go to and look for it. Amazon has that insidious “help” function, “People who purchased this music also purchased…..” I would purchase the CD I was looking for in addition to several others. Amazon .com really loves me.

In past years, I uploaded my CDs into iTunes on my PC. However, if you don’t purchase your music through iTunes, it’s not saved if your HD (Hard Drive) crashes and if you purchase a new PC, it’s not easy to transfer those saved CDs to the new PC. I switched to MAC when I retired and I am now able to back up my HD on the Time Capsule.

A week or so ago, iTunes began a new service where you can upload your CDs NOT purchased via iTunes and they will save them for you in the iCloud: costs $24.99 a year but it’s well worth it.

It was time to transition my music collection.

I spent last week uploading CDs into iTunes. I began with about 1 GB of music on iTunes (that was about 5 hours of music). It takes about 3 minutes to transfer a CD. I transferred 75 to 100 CDs a day for over a week. Where did all these CD’s come from? It took over 48 hours to upload the music into the iCloud. I have nearly 1,000 CDs! I think I’m getting my $24.99 worth.

I now have over 90 GB of music saved, which is over 33 days of music. If I put my entire collection on shuffle, I’ll not have a single song repeat for a month. That could make for a very strange mix: Bach followed by Macy Gray followed by Frank Sinatra & The Mutators. Yikes!

I have my entire music collection on my iPod and the entire collection backed up to the iCloud. I can purchase music from iTunes with assurances it will not be lost with a HD or iPod crash. Using Play Lists and Genius, I’m now utilizing my entire music library. There are no more CDs cluttering up the stereo cabinet. The CD player is no longer needed. The CD’s have gone into storage.

I’m not purchasing books anymore. I’m not purchasing CDs anymore. is no longer in love with me.

Thank you for listening,

Jerry L. Hanson

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dig It!

One of two raised garden planters
I built a garden this past week. Tuesday, the lumber was delivered for building raised planting beds and 64 cubic feet of topsoil. We live in a desert. The ground is either rock, or sand or both. Our property is mostly sand which is not particularly good for raising vegetables. I’m glad it’s not rock: that’s too difficult to dig in.

We also have an unusual pet that has run of the back & sides of the property. Tortuga is a 75-pound African Sulcata Tortoise, which is the third largest tortoise species. He’s a tank that lets nothing get in his way. He will walk through it or over it: walking around it is his last resort.

We used to have lovely plantings in the back & side gardens. Tortuga either tromped through or ate every plant in his way. I’ve experimented with ornamental plants trying to find ones he will ignore and leave alone. I’ve had little success.

For a plant to survive in Tortuga’s realm, it needs to be protected until it’s large enough to NOT be walked over or through. This brings me back to the lumber & topsoil being delivered.

Raised gardening beds are a must with Tortuga on the prowl. They need to be tall enough to discourage his climbing into them. The ones I built are approximately 11 inches tall. Each planting bed is 4 feet by 8 feet, which need 32 cubic feet of soil each. This solves my poor sandy soil issue, too! I’ll mix in a layer of topsoil with the sand to ease the transition between the strata of soils.

On Wednesday, I constructed the two planters. While I was leveling one planter, I noticed Tortuga exploring the other. He managed to pull himself up over one 2 x 6 layer and got hung up mid way. He couldn’t go forward. He couldn’t go backwards. He was stuck. Thankfully I was there to lift him off. He is inquisitive but he has a very small brain. How did these marvelous creatures survive for millions of years? I quickly realized I needed to complete both planters to prevent a repeat performance of Tortuga’s balancing act.

Friday, I turned and dug into the sandy soil, mixing it in with new potting soil. That 64 cubic feet of soil was a lot of work! Damn! My back was all out of whack… thank god for Pilates. I begged my instructor to go easy on me Friday afternoon.

Saturday, my husband & I headed over to Lowe’s Garden Center. I’d been asking him, “What do you want to plant in your new garden?” “Vegetables.” “OK!”

Doc filled a shopping cart with plants then into the trunk they went. We planted 7 tomato plants, 8 lettuce plants, 2 peppers, 4 pimento (why pimento???), dill, 4 zucchini, 4 cucumbers, basil, green onions, & Greek oregano. All were planted in two 4 feet by 8 foot planters.

So many plants in such small planters. Cozy. I am praying for a bountiful crop and wondering how all those plants will co-habitat in such tight quarters! Is that a tomato or a red pepper? Bite it & find out!

Thanks for listening,
Jerry L. Hanson

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Art & Friends

For 7 months, I had been focused on creating an art piece for Burning Man. I was invited to participate in a project: Burning Time, the World’s Largest Working Timepiece. Forty artists created over sixty art pieces for the One Mile Clock. I created one panel for the clock – 4 ft by 6 ft.

I then volunteered to bring my artwork and work on the construction of the clock at Black Rock City. I received an early arrival pass which I now know is highly prized. This was my first time going to Burning Man. I have friends who have been going for years and have tried unsuccessfully to score an early entry pass. Perhaps I am blessed, or stupid. I think the latter is closer to the truth.

I arrived on Tuesday morning & spent the day setting up my camp: there was nothing for me to do on the clock. Wednesday; however, there was a lot to do! We dove into the construction project and worked 12-hours every day through that week. We worked our butts off that first week!

I worked primarily with the principle builder of the One Mile Clock clock towers. Arlen is a carpenter, 13 years younger than me yet he seems older and wiser than I ever expect to be. Arlen is a perfectionist who knows when to be a perfectionist and when to “let it go.”

After the first day working together, I began to anticipate his needs. I’d be connecting the nail gun to the power source, winding up the cord and getting ready to hand it up to Arlen about the time he’d say, “Jer! Hand me the nail gun!” Arlen would be rummaging around in his toolbox. I’d spot the screwdriver & hand it to him. “How the f**k did you know I needed that!” I don’t know… I just knew he was looking for that screwdriver. We worked well together.

Arlen is a seasoned Burner. This was my first Burn: I was a Burgin (Burner + Virgin = Burgin). I sensed that Arlen was truly at home in Black Rock City but was still holding back. But, that wasn’t my concern. I was workin’ my own experience processing all this new stimuli.

Arlen and I worked every day building that Clock. He told me much about his life and his girlfriend, Shannon. He brought tears to my eyes, the way he talked about her. I couldn’t wait to meet her.

Sunday evening, the gates to Black Rock City opened and Burners began to pour into Black Rock City. I didn’t see Arlen after Sunday morning and didn’t see him for several more days although I looked for him. I didn’t meet Shannon until near the end of that week. That was OK. They needed their time together. My Palm Springs friends had arrived and there was plenty to occupy my attention.

On the Saturday the Man was to burn, I was out on the Playa taking photographs of artwork installations. I turned around and there was Arlen! He was in his truck, doing maintenance on the One Mile Clock numbers. It was as if I was running into an old friend. We hugged & I asked Arlen about his reunion with Shannon.

Arlen apologized for not being around, that Shannon & he needed their space. He told me that he & Shannon were using their time at Burning Man to re-align their lives. He told me their story of addiction, how they’d hit bottom and how their Burning Man experience is pulling them through detox. I could tell this was difficult for Arlen to talk about. I offered assistance; whatever they needed. He told me I’d already done that by listening and being non-judgmental.

I pulled Arlen into a hug - thinking about yellow tutus and tiny top hats – and thanked him for being honest & including me in his life’s story. I said he & Shannon would be in my thoughts for good karma and, “Get your ass back to Center Camp and be with Shannon!” He smiled and drove off towards camp.

What do you do in situations like this? I took a swig of water, headed for the Temple of Transition and wrote a note on the wall sending Arlen & Shannon good thoughts.

I saw Arlen only once more that week: during the clean up of the Clock burn site, my last full day in Black Rock City. Three weeks later, I received a letter letting me know they were well, “ Burning Time and enjoying life.”

You never know from where friends come. Be well, my friends and welcome home.

Thank you for listening

Jerry L. Hanson

Monday, October 3, 2011

I Just Need a Hug

Photo from the day of the Black Rock City Naked Pub Crawl

I arrived in Black Rock City on Tuesday, August 22nd. I receive an early arrival pass for Burning Man to assist with building the One Mile Clock which is the world’s largest working time piece. On Tuesday, there was nothing for me to do which allowed me to set up my camp out on the fringes of Black Rock City.

On Wednesday morning, I arrived at center camp ready to work. My fist assignment was to remove the tie-downs from “that trailer” and get “those bicycles” off the trailer. There were two 20-foot sections of steel tower that needed to be moved out onto the Playa. They were buried under bicycles and securely strapped to the trailer.

As I’m studying the trailer trying to decipher the chains, straps and cinches holding the bicycles and equipment, I spotted a woman wearing a very short tu tu and nothing else walking towards me. Oh, she had a ridiculously small top hat pinned to her hair. And boots. She had on boots.

With outstretched arms and crying, she pulled me into a ferocious hug. She sobbed onto my shoulder. I wish I had worn a shirt. She cried and sobbed for several minutes, her chest heaving next to mine. All I could think was, “this is the first time EVER I’ve had a woman’s naked boobs pressed into my naked chest.” OK. I’m shallow.

I just held her as she cried. When the sobs subsided, I asked her if she was OK. She shook her head “yes” and then shook her head “no”. “I just need a hug,” she said, “I’ve had a very bad morning.”

She looked me in the eye, smiled, gave me a great big sloppy kiss and walked away. I never saw her again.

Welcome to Black Rock City!

Oh, and the woman in the photo? I have no idea who she is. I just had to get a photo with her since she had on the same ridiculous top hat.

Thank you for listening,

Jerry L. Hanson

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Burning Man & Spider Man

The Temple of Transition at sunset

It’s been a while since my last blog. Lots has happened. There’s still a lot for me to process. My Burning Man experiences are swimming around my head, so I’ll get one or two of those images out of my head and into print.

Thursday, August 25th: after a day working on my Burning Man art project, the One Mile Clock, I was back in my camp out in the middle of nowhere. I was actually out on the edge of Black Rock City but it felt like the middle of nowhere. Four days before the gates opened to the general public, my area of the city was totally undeveloped. My nearest neighbor was over 10 blocks away.

From my camp, I could see all the way across the city where the Burning Man was standing on his pyramid. The Temple of Transition was visible off in the distance looking like a Salvador Dali painting. The sun was setting with the Playa dust playing havoc with the light. I was sitting there enjoying the sight, the sunset and a martini.

I had just finished washing 18 hours of accumulated Playa dust off my body and was enjoying dust free skin. It was relaxing: Ice cold martini, clean skin, the Burning Man glowing in the distance and the Temple of Transition glowing beyond the Man.

Out of nowhere, I hear, “So! How are you enjoying your Playa TV?”

I was so engrossed in the view, I didn’t hear him pull up. OK. I’m partially deaf. That could have had something to do with it. I’m just sayin’…

Without my noticing, a Cushman three wheeled vehicle pulled up next to me. A life sized Spider Man was mounted on the back of the Cushman. It looked like Spider man was humping the rear window. Question: Was Spider Man mounted or was the Cushman???

I burst out laughing. Playa TV! Perfect! And I’m watching the Playa like it’s the most engrossing TV show ever!

And you know? It was.

Spider Man and his Cushman driver drove off and I settled back into my camp chair waiting for the next program.

Thanks for listening,

Jerry L. Hanson

Monday, August 1, 2011

I Love Those Gaudi Things!

( I wrote this blog in early July before we joined the RSVP Cruise. I neglected to post it! So, here it is - out of sequence.)

Doc & I spent three short nights in Barcelona. Most of that time was spent at tapas bars and, well, bars. In addition to traveling with Ronny & Hernan, we met up with friends from Cleveland; friends we’ve known for 20+ years. At the hotel we stayed at, we ran into even more people we know. And then we met more guys from the States.

Seems the Axel Hotel was/is a popular hotel stay to adjust to the time change (8 hours later than SoCal) and a great staging area for the RSVP cruises. Most of the guests staying at the Axel Hotel were booked on the RSVP cruise! In one evening, I met no less than 6 guys from Palm Springs!

With all the Yanks, it did not feel like Europe on the 8th floor rooftop sun deck, bar and pool. If you looked through the glass railings, you would certainly know you were not in the USA. Only Europe has spectacular rooftops like these. English was the predominate language at the hotel: American English. There is a difference. It doesn’t often translate.

Yo no hablo Espanole, especially bar Spanish. Try ordering a dirty martini; up with extra olives and see what you end up with. Martini is a brand of vermouth and evidentially people DO order a glass of vermouth straight up or on the rocks with an olive or twist of lemon. The bartender thought I was an idiot. I SHOULD have ordered a DRY Gin Martini, dirty with extra olives. I sent it back and was duly chastised. It still came with a twist. I drank it anyway.

The highlight of our stay in Barcelona, for me, was our visit to Gaudi’s Sangrada Familia Church. I don’t know if it is considered a cathedral or just a church. Doesn’t the church need to be the seat of a Bishop in order to be called a cathedral? It’s been too many years. The building is absolutely stunning, none-the-less. And it’s not finished! Estimated completion date is about 2030.

Friends told me that the stained glass windows are being built and installed. For that alone, I wanted to see the church. I last saw the “work in progress” in 1987 or 88. Most of the roof was missing; everything was covered with dust. Although impressive, it was hard to get your head around Gaudi’s concept. There were all those marvelous towers with no point of reference. Only one of the façade’s was completed, but it was still jaw dropping stunning.

They’ve made great strides in the past 20+ years. The building is even more awe inspiring: the stained glass windows are spectacular. I’m guessing that only 25% of the windows are completed. Even so, they dramatically change the “feel” of the interior of the church. It is difficult to describe.

Check out the photograph above. Don’t the windows to the right of the pier give a warmth to the space and feel like a church? Where as the windows to the left of the pier feel stark and cold.

Even Doc was impressed with the space. He was impressed enough to say, “I’m going to sit over there with the other penitents and contemplate. Come get me when you’re done gawking.” I spent another 45 minutes taking it all in before collecting my contemplating penitent & dragging him down the crypt.

The crypt is currently a “museum” dedicated to the history of the building of the church. Lots of interesting history there and Doc was loving it, especially the films. That made me happy. And the crypt is huge! To date, there’s just one body in the crypt: Gaudi. I thought it interesting that he is interred directly behind a closed circuit TV monitor. What is the unintended message here? Is he watching us?

After 3 ½ to 4 hours wandering through Gaudi’s masterpiece, we headed back to the hotel & a bite to eat. Doc & I found a great tapas bar where we whiled away an hour outside on the sidewalk with our beers and assorted tapas thingies. We somehow manage to find these incredible tapas bars where we eat & drink our fill for the cost of one mixed drink at whatever hotel we happen to be staying at.

So, of course, we headed back up to the rooftop bar, sun deck and pool for an expensive cocktail before dinner. Hernan and Ronny were heading back to Ghent the next morning. Doc and I were joining up with the cruise the next morning. We planned an early dinner. An early evening in Spain means: before midnight.

Thank God for alarm clocks and wake up calls!

Thank you for listening

Jerry L. Hanson