Burning Man Live | Episode 71 | 06|14|2023

The Streets of Black Rock City

Guests: Terry "Retro" Schoop, Stuart Mangrum

Our guests

Stuart and Burning Man’s Community Services head honcho Terry “Retro” Schoop riff on the streets of our fair city and the naming thereof, from the controversial to the miraculous to the misunderstood. Black Rock City has elaborate art themes, each with street names, each with curious conditions. Why does our recreational refugee camp even need street names? Were they always alphabetical around an imaginary clock face? And what’s a clock anyway? 

Hear this year’s art theme (ANIMALIA) express itself through cryptids (animals that no one can prove are real). Folklore and fandom brought us our new ABC street names: Afanc, Bigfoot, Chupacabra, Dingbat… and NOT the Easter Bunny, thanks to Encantados, which are were-dolphins that shape-shift into dapper dancers in search of a party! 

This is an episode with literature, lore, and laughter — and a pile of BRC trivia for extra street cred.

Streets of BRC 2023: Cavalcade of Cryptids | Burning Man Journal

Burning Man 2023: ANIMALIA

Terry “Retro” Schoop | Burning Man Journal

Burning Man Staff: Terry Schoop


STUART: Hey everybody. This is Burning Man Live. I am Stuart Mangrum. Today we’re gonna talk about the streets of the city, those mean streets, those crazy streets, those wacky street names. Where did that idea come from? How long has that been going on? And, what the heck do this year’s street names mean?

What in particular is a Grootslang or an Afanc? Anyway, my guest is… Terry, why don’t you just tell people who you are? Hello. Who are you my friend?

TERRY: I am Terry Schoop. I am the head of Community Services for Burning Man, which means I oversee 11 volunteer teams that provide services to participants during the event, and I have to call up my email signature to read all of the names. And they are Arctica, American Sign Language at Black Rock City, Center Camp, Department of Mutant Vehicles, Earth Guardians, Greeters, Lamp Lighters, Lost and Found (which is part of), Playa Info, Recycle Camp, Temple Guardians, and the Volunteer Resource Team.

STUART: Clearly the hardest working man in Black Rock City. You’ve been doing this for how long? My God, you’ve got more miles on the Burning Man odometer than I do. 

TERRY: I began Burning in 1998 and volunteering the next year. And in 2005, Harley K Dubois, our Cultural Founder, and creator of many of those teams, was looking for an assistant. I put my hand up and she gave me a chance. I worked for six months as her assistant, and then I became the Manager and she became the Director of Community Services.

STUART: Amazing. You rattled off that list pretty long, but I didn’t hear street names in there anywhere. How did you get involved in the street name game? 

TERRY: Well, it was for very practical reasons. I supervised the Placement managers and teams for many years. And Placement needed street names for their database in order to give camps their placement addresses, right? Then I took over drafting the CAD city plan in 2012, after Rod Garrett’s passing, so I needed the street names for the plan. And I will say that, the DPW Sign Shop needed the street names, certainly. So our Nevada operations partner Playground was always asking for them, as I was asking for them. And when you ask for things, sometimes you are invited to make a suggestion or a contribution. So Playground and I would submit suggestions and occasionally one or two of them would make the cut. 

STUART: This was back when Larry Harvey coined street names. 

TERRY: Yeah. 

STUART: I remember sometimes he would have the street names done even before he had the theme essay completed. And other years, it sounds like maybe you had to keep pinging him and pinging him and pinging him. It’s like, “Larry, what are the streets named? Larry, what are the streets named?” Is that an accurate recollection? 

TERRY: Yeah. So I just found an email from Larry, from 2017. The theme was RADICAL RITUAL. And by the way, Stuart, Larry forgave you for referring to the Radical Ritual theme as Beyond Belief 2.0. Anyway, Larry, the email from Larry, who like myself was an atheist, let me know that 10 of the 12 Radical Ritual themed street names were my submissions. So I’m gonna print that on Burning Man letterhead and have it framed, I think.

STUART: Since Larry’s passing, since I got the… honor and privilege

TERRY: Good save. 

STUART: …of designing street names along with the theme, you’ve been a great partner in that too, and so has Playground. 

I wanna take us back first because I remember a day — I started a little bit before you; I probably took more years off in the middle, but I remember a day when we didn’t have streets at all. We didn’t have lights, we didn’t have a pot to piss in. Actually, I think we did have one really bad porta potty. Back then when was the first named street? I heard 1997 was the first year we actually drew, had to draw out a city plan for the county officials when we moved the event that one year to the Hualapai Flat. Is that what you remember too? 

TERRY: I’m looking at our record of street names and I only see it starting in ‘98, with just four street names: Village Way, Atlantic Ave, Baltic Ave, and Outer Ave. So there were some references to New York City, right?

STUART: Is that what Baltic is from? Baltic is one of the Aves from Monopoly. I think of an area in Northern Europe as the Baltic. I don’t know.. Larry, what were you thinking? 

TERRY: Weren’t they just lettered streets for a time? It was A Street, B Street…

STUART: I’m not sure there ever were just letters without words associated with them. What I’m remembering from ‘97, the Esplanade, is that that inner circle street, facing in towards the Man in open playa has been, I’m pretty sure that that was called the Esplanade as early as 1997, when we did the first real survey of the city. But yeah, the whole process of naming kind of got weird there for a while. 

TERRY: How so, Stuart? 

STUART: The idea of alphabetizing the streets did not come around until it looks like at least 2007, THE GREEN MAN.

TERRY: Yeah. 

STUART: Where it was Arctic, Boreal, Coral Reef, Desert, Estuary, and the oddly named Habitat. That’s like the meta street, I guess, because all the others are habitats. Before then, they were all, there were some interesting names in there, but that idea of alphabetizing them so that every year we had an A B C D E F G street, but they had different words associated with them, kind of dates back to 2008. 

TERRY: Which can be very challenging finding the right word for that letter, but I’m seeing 2005 as the first alphabetized list with Amnesia, Bipolar, Catharsis, Delirium, Ego, Fetish, Gestalt, and Hysteria. 

STUART: I believe you’re correct. 2005. 

TERRY: Well, thank you to Vav for creating this resource for us. 

STUART: Yes, we’d be lost without a spreadsheet. This is surprisingly challenging to backtrack into the days of yore and figure out what the streets were called. I liked 2000, THE BODY, there are a couple of names, there are a couple of streets in there that I’m not sure I’d wanna live on. I mean, Anal Avenue…

TERRY: or the year before that you could live on Uranus. 

STUART: Actually, you could live on Uranus two years in a row — speaking of Larry doing 2.0s —  1999 and 2004, WHEEL OF TIME, VAULT OF HEAVEN: same street names. It’s just the planets, people. 

“I was on Uranus last year. This year my camp backs up to Anal Avenue!”

  1. What’s “The Pantaloon”? 

TERRY: Isn’t that like an elderly person? Was it THE AGES OF MAN, and that was a character from Shakespeare, a crone, yeah.

STUART: It must be a crone. I just thought it was pants. Okay. The Infant, The Lover, The Soldier, The Justice, The Pantaloon. It must be. And then Oblivion. I think every year I’m on Oblivion Street. It just has a certain charm to it. There’s more of this kind of like anal influence here. 2002, there’s Fantail Street right next to the Abyss. 

In 2003 the radial streets were named as well, rather than simply hours on the clock.

TERRY: Sacred at 10. Oh yeah, they have numbers. 

STUART: Sacred, Profane, Real, Imagined, Reverent, Ludicrous, Ridiculous, with Paradox at 6. 

TERRY: That seems really confusing. 

STUART: They only did it for one year: BEYOND BELIEF 1.0. 

TERRY: And they did it the year after they had done THE FLOATING WORLD where they, meaning Larry, had decided instead of clock face points, it would be compass points. And that was really confusing. 

STUART: because it didn’t map to actual compass points. Because they’re a circuit. 

TERRY: Well, because they’re round. We don’t know our compass points. And the Street Sign Liberation Front was prepared. They had cardboard replacements that they put over the compass point signs with the clock face numbers.

STUART: Oh, thank you. Thank you for your service. Speaking of people not knowing the compass, I wonder what percentage of people have never really seen a clock face, and don’t naturally get the 2 o’clock, 6 o’clock.

Is this sustainable, Terry!?! Can we keep doing this or at some point are people just gonna say, “I don’t know why they have numbers on the radial streets”?

TERRY: When I was a kid they taught us the clock face. There’s a little thing that you could move the hands.

STUART: Yeah. 

Moving on through the years: 2008, AMERICAN DREAM, controversial theme, and kind of controversial street names because it’s all American cars. 

TERRY: But, there’s something to that. I remember Larry asking us in a meeting that year, he went around the room and he asked us what our first cars were, and everybody knew what it was. (Chevy Bel Air!) Those were all cars that had failed. They were cars that had been disasters, and that was the irony. 

STUART: That’s not true. The Impala was not a disaster. The Impala is the greatest lowrider car of all time. 

TERRY: That was, you know, after the Bel Air.

STUART: and the Bonneville.

TERRY: But that was Larry’s explanation that it wasn’t really the dream, that there was irony in there, and that the Edsel wasn’t a dream, but I don’t know. A lot of people love the Edsel. 

STUART: Larry’s knowledge of cars, a country boy from Oregon, then a city boy from San Francisco. When I met him, he didn’t even drive. I don’t think he even had a car. Maybe he had a broken down truck somewhere. 

Do we ever get controversial street names?

TERRY: Street names that we had to change because they were so controversial?

STUART: Yeah. 

TERRY: Well, this year we had a problem with E.

STUART: Did we? Tell me? 

TERRY: Well, we had “Easter Bunny” for the E street, and we test drove it with the staff at the conference in Reno, and people did not like “Easter Bunny.”

STUART: I still don’t understand why! I mean, we were trying to keep to the cryptic theme of imaginary animals that some people think are real, and…

TERRY: Harvey, it should have been Harvey!

STUART: But that doesn’t begin with an E!

STUART LIVE: You guys know the theme for next year? I thought maybe you might want to know the street names of Black Rock City. Does that sound good? Yeah. We went down an animal path and, uh, we particularly became obsessed with cryptids. What’s a cryptid, Terry?

TERRY LIVE: Kind of a made up thing. Kind of a folklore, I guess.

STUART LIVE: Something that may or may not exist. Yeah. But we like to believe that it does. Anybody wanna take a guess at E?

TERRY LIVE: We tried to talk him out of it. 

STUART LIVE: Think Candy… Easter Bunny!!!

TERRY LIVE: This is a fun theme. 

STUART: This is part of the challenge of street naming, right? To try to get everything consistently in a set of something or other, in ‘22 for WAKING DREAMS, I tried to get all surrealist artists and it got really strange. There was, we had to go to like the backbench, the C celebrity artists that nobody ever heard of before. Same thing with ‘21, THE GREAT UNKNOWN, getting astronaut names where you had one in each of those letters all the way up to, that year we just went up to J.

TERRY: That’s the year that nobody knows because we never published the plan.

STUART: What? You’re kidding me. We never published it? Oh, that was the lost year. 

TERRY: There was a thinking that we didn’t want to constrain folks who were doing their thing out there by giving them an official list of streets. 

STUART: Got it. Well, some day in the future, some archeologists will uncover this list of street names and go, “Jing Haipeng. Who was that?” And how would the Bureau of Land Management Rangers have pronounced that on the radio if they had an incident at J Street? That’s always a consideration of mine. That’s why, that’s actually why I loved “Easter Bunny” so much. I just could not stop giggling at the thought of big brawny men in body armor calling in incidents. “I’m at six o’clock and Easter Bunny.”

TERRY: “We got a problem at Grootslang right now.”

STUART: That’s this coming year. I know a lot of them are just gonna refuse. They’re just gonna say it’s Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta. 

TERRY: Oh yeah. They do that, don’t they? I think our medics do that as well, and the Rangers. 

STUART: They’re just no fun at all. 

All right, let’s go to this year, shall we? 

TERRY: Sure. That was fun. Was it my idea to do cryptids or was it your idea to come at the idea at the same time? 

STUART: Let’s say we came to the idea at the same time. That’s usually how things work at Burning Man. It’s fun to go through this list, and researching some of these mythic animals. I mean, none of them quote scientific quote proof. Some of them have a lot of myth and lore around them. Others are pretty clearly just hoaxes.

Okay, so taking it from the top. Let’s go. The Afanc.

TERRY: A lake monster from Welsh mythology that is variously described as a crocodile, demon, or beaver hybrid, any two of which would be scary. 

STUART: Is that a crocodile-demon or a beaver-crocodile? Yeah, you’re right. Those are pretty scary.

Also resembling a dwarf-like creature or a platypus. This is a really old one. This dates back to the days of the Arthurian legend, and one of the variations is that it was actually killed by Percival, by Arthur’s boy, Percival. And, it had some mad powers. I mean, it reads a little bit like, almost like the Perseus legend here.

Perseus, Peredur, Percival. I love this: He wanted to kill the creature to increase his fame and honor. On his journey he meets a maiden who states that the Afanc will slay him through cunning as the beast is invisible and kills his victim with poison darts! 

So this is not a tooth and claw monster at all, sounds more like Batman. The maiden gives him an adder stone that will make the creature visible. That’s classic mythology right there. My God. So Afanc, everybody down A Street, you got deep roots. 

TERRY: Wow, that’s impressive. 

STUART: Bigfoot. 

TERRY: A legendary race of ape men found or not found around the world from the Sasquatch of Pacific Northwest to the Yeti of the Himalayas. Enkidu from the ancient Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh circa 2100 before the comedy era arguably marks the beginning of this wild man’s grand genealogy. 

I read a translation of the epic of Gilgamesh and it occurred to me that this character, this friend of the king, who was described as a wild man with hair all over his body, was the beginnings of Bigfoot. I think a wild man is kind of an archetype. 

STUART: I think you’re onto something here. Yeah. I went and did some research on that myself. I read Gilgamesh years ago. I didn’t remember that fact, but here it is: abundantly hairy and primitive. He lives roaming with the herds and grazing and drinking from rivers with beasts.

Here we go. The king sends Shaha, a sacred prostitute who seduces and teaches in Kdu. After two weeks with her, he becomes human, intelligent and understanding words. At that point, he becomes best buds with Gilgamesh. Actually, they fight. It’s like Han Solo and Chewbacca really. They have this fight to the death where they end up not killing each other, and impressed with each other’s abilities, and they become pals.

And then I guess when Enkidu dies is when Gilgamesh decides that life is unfair and he’s gonna go kick some God ass and get that whole death thing taken care of. 

TERRY: So kind of the dynamic duo like Batman, because it all comes back to Batman, right? 

STUART: Well, if it was Batman and Chewbacca. 

The chupacabra. Back in the turn of the 21st century, everybody was seeing chupacabras.

TERRY: The dreaded goat sucker of the folklore of the Americas, a meter high reptilian monstrosity said to have greenish gray skin, sharp spines running down its back and a taste for goat meat. 

STUART: Mmm. Cabrito. 

TERRY: Black Rock City has reportedly not been spared from this cryptid’s attacks. 

STUART: I went and pulled this issue of the Black Rock Gazette because I wasn’t on the team that year, and I was stunned to read this article that I missed: “Martial Law declared by the Chupacabra Polícia” Can I just say that again? Chupacabra Polícia. That just rolls off the tongue so beautifully.

This is the Black Rock Gazette 2003, as reported by Stabber and Summer. “This is the Zodiac Year of the Goat, the big goat housing the anus of truth of 2001 was found damaged at the Black Rock station. The Chupacabra Police have moved the goat terror alert up to Glowstick Pink.”

Then they explain the mission, I guess, of the polícia. “The chupacabra is a small vicious beast that strikes during the night, sucking the blood out of goats and other animals. The Chupacabra Polícia are an international organization sworn to protect goats from these little suckers that strike in the pale darkness of desert night.” So they’re kind of like Agents of Shield for protecting goats. 

TERRY: The Chupacabra Polícia, I had heard about and I had seen, there were references to it. There were  patches on people’s shirts at Burning Man, but I had no idea what the backstory was until I found the Gazette from 2003 in my research.

STUART: Well, you know, “chupa” means to suck and “cabra” means goat. It is literally “goat sucker.” 

TERRY: And there’s a really either horrible or cute or horribly cute Netflix movie right now where kids find a chupacabra. It’s like ET only it’s a chupacabra. Yeah, we watched it. It was, It was a thing… 

STUART: So instead of “Phone home,” he says, “Goat meat. Goat blood.” What’s it called? 

TERRY: Chupy or something like that. Chupy?


TERRY: The Dingbat: A fearsome critter from the tales of lumberjacks North America from the 19th and 20th centuries described as a large bat or a bird-like creature with a short feathered body, large wings and short deer-like antlers on its head. And then it says, “It’s also described as resembling a very fast owl.” I’m like, “So it was, it was an owl…” 

STUART: Or a sitcom housewife. That’s where we insert the clip.


TERRY: Isn’t the legendary Mothman really just a misidentification of a very fast owl? 

STUART: Mothman. Your knowledge of comics exceeds mine easily. 

TERRY: Oh no, that’s a cryptid.

STUART: Oh, come on. Mothman? Is that DC or Marvel, Terry? 

TERRY: You don’t know about Mothman? I hold in my hand “The Field Guide to North American Monsters. Author is W. Haden Blackman, Published in 1998, my first year at Burning Man. But Mothman is a crazy story. You should check out Mothman. It’s really interesting, they tried to tie it to the failure of a bridge in Point Pleasant. 

STUART: Wow. The first newspaper report from 1966. I love this. This is great headline writing. “Couples See Man-Sized Bird… Creature… Something” The artist rendering of it looks, i t’s got glowing red eyes and very large medieval angel-sized, black wings, all in black. So that’s Mothman, huh? 

TERRY: Hmm. This was made into a film starring Richard Gere. 

STUART: Oh. It just gets better. And it was the inspiration for The Batman, Terry? 

TERRY: No, that was the Steel-Footed Jack, or something like that. 

STUART: Okay. Terry, I know you argued strongly when we were having our little Easter Bunny kerfuffle for the Encantado. What, pray tell, is an Encantado? 

TERRY: This is my favorite cryptid that I just discovered. An Encantado is “a pink-skinned, Brazilian were-dolphin that shape shifts into sparkly dressed humans. In the guise of men, they walk the countryside listening for the sound of beating drums to guide them to the nearest party, since they love to dance and make love to human women. 

STUART: Sounds like they would so fit into Burning Man. How could you even spot them? 

TERRY: The greatest detail about this is that the dapper men wear hats because they need to conceal the only thing that doesn’t transform, and that’s the dolphin’s blowhole. That’s what they have and they’re keeping under their hats. What a great story. This is a Brazilian thing, and there’s a lot of movies featuring these pink ware-dolphins.

STUART: And is the big reveal always when they tip their hat? “Dressed usually in bright clothes in an old fashioned style… The transformation is never fully complete, however, an Encantado will always have a bald spot on the top of its head, where its dolphin blowhole remains. For this reason, the Encantado always keeps his head covered, usually with the broad brim straw hat.” This is great. 

“Three elements that best characterize Encantados: 1. Superior musical ability. 2. Their seductiveness and love of sex often resulting in illegitimate children. And 3. Their attraction to parties.

All right, what’s a Frogbat? 

TERRY: Native to the Black Rock Desert. (Hey, a local cryptid) and possibly distant cousin to the dingbat, the frogbat is a large fire breathing playa-phibian. 

STUART: Is that a thing? 

TERRY: …with bat-like wings and explosive digestion, not even the firing squad of a well-regulated militia has managed to put this fearsome creature down for good.

STUART: All I know, Terry, is that I went out on one frogbat hunt, and it shot back! You know, we unloaded a lot of ordnance on that sucker. And, every shot seemed to kick back to us in somewhat a big bout of fire, in some form of explosion. A piece of it, a chunk of its hideous, sharp flesh, actually shot out at me and hit me in the ankle to where I nearly bled out. Only through the courage of my companions did I make it back from the field that day!

TERRY: That sounds like a dart from an Anfac or something.

STUART: Or something from a Grootslang. 

TERRY: which is the next one. Grootslang. Literally a big stink, a legendary cryptid that is reputed to dwell in a deep cave in Richtersveld, South Africa. 

STUART: I read stories about having diamonds for eyes and sitting in a pool of a stream that is covered with diamonds. And so it’s like hoarding it’s hoard, like a dragon of old. The other thing I noticed, in reading up on these briefly, was that one of the world’s largest known snakes actually lives in that area. It’s the Central African Rock Python, which is, check this out. “It can get up to six meters long.” That is a 20 foot snake. That’s a pretty big sucker. The Grootslang though, is supposed to be like 50 feet, 60 feet long, and three feet wide.

TERRY: I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that this Grootslang has been spotted in the area that the largest state of the world has found.

STUART: I’m sure. I’m sure.

What’s H Street this year? 

TERRY: Hodag. 

STUART: The Hodag is a folkloric animal of the North American state of Wisconsin with, I love this, “the head of a frog, the grinning face of a giant elephant, thick short legs set off by huge claws, the back of a dinosaur, and a long tail with spears at the end.” But back in 1823, that one was very clearly linked to a hoax.

TERRY: Wow. Someone was smoking some good stuff that day. 

STUART: Okay, we talked about the Hodag. 

Igopogo — not to be confused with the Ogopogo, a lake monster reported to live in Lake Okanagan in British Columbia. The Igopogo is instead a lake monster said to dwell in Lake Simcoe, Ontario. 

TERRY: Could it be that there is some jealousy and some competition involved? 

STUART: like two chambers of commerce?

TERRY: Yeah, we need an Ogopogo. But we can’t call it Ogopogo. Let’s call it an Igopogo instead. They’ll never know. 

STUART: It seems like there’s a whole cluster of them because there’s also Beaverton Bessie and Kempenfelt Kelly. All these lake monsters. I think there may be some legs to that theory that every town, they read about loch ness and they’re like, “Look, we got it. We got better than Nessie right here.”

TERRY: Good for tourism. 

STUART: I love this. EJ Delaney, one of the first citers, described it as a creature with, “two long and antenna, a four octopus like arms, three pairs of legs, and six gill-like appendages with feathers.” That sounds like I’m singing the 12 days of Christmas there. I don’t know. Six gil-like appendages!

TERRY: Yes. 

STUART: Lake monsters. We’re on a dry lake bed, so I guess we could get the ghost of an Ichthyosaurus. That was the real lake monster that lived in Lake Lahontan, wasn’t it? 

TERRY: Or maybe a radiation-affected giant shrimp. 

STUART: But it wouldn’t have a city to terrorize. You know, a giant fairy shrimp, what’s it gonna do? It’s gonna stomp on Gerlach, and then what? Then it’s like a long, long walk down to Nixon.

TERRY: Pace yourself! Drink water!  

STUART: The Ichthyosaurus, the true sea monster of the Black Rock, it’s more like the size of a shark, or was

TERRY: It’s been an art project out there, I know a few times, like a puppet. 

STUART: Yeah. The Ichthyosaurus puppet that was constructed on playa was much, much bigger. That was the size of at least as big as a killer whale. But we didn’t go with Ichthyosaurus for I street. Why? Because it was an actual animal and not a wish-it-was-true animal. That’s what I think cryptids are, right?

There’s a line, a quote that I put in the theme essay that I really love. It’s by Chris Van Allsburg: 

“A world that might have Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster is clearly superior to one that definitely does not.”

We like that sense of mystery, don’t we? 

Jackalope? I could talk about the Jackalope all day because it is my totem animal, near and dear to my spirit. I dream of Jackalopes. Actually, I first encountered the Jackalope in its taxidermy form years ago. When eBay was fresh and new, I purchased a Jackalope and it hung on my office wall for years as a constant reminder to never go on eBay drunk.

But, what’s not to like, what’s not to like? 

Actually I was very, very devoted to the Jackalope until I found out about the wolpertinger. Have you seen one of these? The wolpertinger. It’s just like a Jackalope, except it has wings and fangs and claws. It is a flying Jackalope monster. 

In some traditions Krampus’ sled is flown by wolpertingers instead of reindeer. Krampus being the much maligned counterpart to St. Nicholas in many, many European yuletide traditions. 

The thing about Jackalopes is that, you know, they only have their horns for a short period of time, in rutting season. The rest of the time they pretty much look just like a jackrabbit! You gotta be out there in just the right little window of time! And sometimes after that you can find their little velvety antlers scattered across the desert floor.

TERRY: Our next monster… Kraken. Well, we were talking about mythic creatures, but I think the Kraken is based on sightings of a real creature. “A colossal, legendary sea monster said to dwell off the coast of Norway and Greenland with the unique cryptid category of ‘massive.’” 

STUART: Massive. Let’s say that together.


TERRY: This is like the sightings of a colossal squid, right? And a giant squid? 

STUART: Well, yeah. Giant squids get up to 50 feet long. And so that’s, that is a sea monster by pretty much anybody’s definition. That’s, you know, the size of a bus. Come on. That’s substantial.

TERRY: Colossal squids are thicker than Giant squids, but not as long. But I think they’re scarier. 

STUART: I have to look that up. But yes, when the sea creatures fight back, I can see how that would lead to many traditions of sea monsters, which we have all through the world, as long as people have been out on the open seas.

The Kraken legend actually goes back to 1700, and it may actually be older than that. There’s a creature called the Halgufa in Nordic lore that the Vikings talked about in terms it sounds very much like the Scylla and Charybdis of The Odyssey, of a beast whose jaws were so big that they passed through them thinking that its teeth were rocks on either side.

And then, that mutated through French mythology. Victor Hugo, talked about it. And then Jules Verne picked that up. And then, of course, the Ultimate Extension being Disney’s version of 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, which has a spectacular attack on the Nautilus by a giant squid-opus, or whatever it is.

There’s no L Street this year. Why is there no L Street?

TERRY: We opened up more space and we got rid of a street that went through half of the double blocks in Black Rock City, and so we lost a letter.

STUART: What would l have been if we had done it? L Street? Did we have one? 

TERRY: I’m sure there are a lot of options in the Cryptid Encyclopedia for L.

STUART: Lycanthrope. 

TERRY: Yeah. Right. 

STUART: That’s a werewolf, right? 

TERRY: Lycanthropy. 

STUART: But they’re real. They’re real. Can’t put anything in there if you know that it’s real.

TERRY: We got a request for kookaburra, right? That’s real. You can’t have a real one.

STUART: Sorry, too real. Pull up the Journal post so we can read this together. 

TERRY: So have you checked out the comments under this list? 

STUART: No. Let’s read some. 

TERRY: Oh my goodness. We have a celebrity amongst them. A cryptid expert from the International CryptoZoology Museum in Bangor, Maine, Loren Coleman asked “We’d like some post Burning Man used signs for the nonprofit.” I’ve read this man’s books when I was a young lad. He’s the real deal. He wants to get the street signs from us after the event for his museum. 

STUART: Well, it’s free-for-all, buddy. I’d like to get a street sign someday too, but they’re all gone by the time I leave. 

TERRY: Have you heard about the camp that makes replicas of them?


TERRY: Our friends from around the Oregon Country Fair, there’s a camp that’s been out to Burning Man, and I think a way to discourage people from stealing them, they’ll make you a sign based on the street signs, so you don’t have to steal them. 

STUART: That is an amazing service. I will have to meet them. I remember, a longtime Burner, OG Burner friend of mine, by the name of Kimric, brought a project one year to replace them as they were stolen, but with names that he’d made up, so they mutated, but he made some extra signs. At least, that’s what I heard. 

So Any other good comments? Oh yeah. I was schooled on the difference between axial and circumferential streets. Thank you very much, Dobo. And thank you very much to Seth who replies to Dobo, “There are dozens of us who would not have been able to sleep tonight, had this comment not been made.” 

All right.

TERRY: I have a story about signs that’s not about the cryptids. 

STUART: Tell me. 

TERRY: The year was 2013, the Cargo Cult theme, and we’re out there doing the surveying for theme camps and placements. Flagger Blackjack noticed that the street sign Intergalactic was being installed, but all of her maps said Interstellar. So she brought it to my attention and I panicked because I thought I had screwed up and transposed the words. So I went back to the email from Larry, where he gave me the names and Larry had given us were Interstellar. 

So I went to talk to the sign shop manager, Abby, and she was rather dispensive; she said words to the effect that “Interstellar” really wasn’t a word. She didn’t make that mistake, but I had the email. So I went to Playground, and the next time I saw Abby, she was quite contrite, and she admitted to getting it wrong, and I told her that Playground and I had agreed that her penance would be telling Larry. Well, that alarmed her because she was mortified. She said she had never spoken two words to the man, but I think they made the Interstellar signs and I’m thinking those Intergalactic signs must be very, very valuable, you know. 

STUART: For people who collect these. 

TERRY: There was something that was added on playa and this was brought up. The year was 2010 METROPOLIS: LIFE OF CITIES. We had surveyed some additional streets because we weren’t sure if our design would hold the population, and we did have to add two more streets to the back of the city. The thing is, Harley K Dubois said I had to do an all common announcement on the radio because this was unprecedented. We were adding London and Mumbai to the city designed on site. 

STUART: Is that the only M Street we’ve ever had? 

TERRY: Probably. 

STUART: Rod’s Road. It’s the only named street named after a human. Somebody in the comments to this blog post say we should change that to Unicorn Circle.

TERRY: Oh, boy. Other locations that have names: the Fallopian Tubes, which are the roads that split left and right from greeters, so referred to the Fallopian Tubes, that was only because of the theme in 2000, THE BODY, and it just kind of stuck. People still call them that.

STUART: And then there’s Gate Road.

TERRY: That’s not very inspiring, is it? 

STUART: No, I want to think about that. 

TERRY: They should change it to Grootslang!

STUART: Yeah. Maybe one of these will stick this year. 

TERRY: It’s a big snake. It does kind of…

STUART: Snakes through the desert.

TERRY: Gate Road has kind of that snakey…

STUART: Sidewinder. Or, what’s the slowest animal on earth?

TERRY: Sloth.

STUART: Sloth Boulevard. Snail Road. 

So people have mentioned from time to time the notion that maybe at some point we might want to name a street after Larry Harvey. What do you think of that? 

TERRY: Well, he honored Rod in that way. So with that precedent, maybe we should consider that.

STUART: There is an inner circle inside Rod’s Circle. We used to call it Dumper Road, but I think they call it Route 66 now. 

TERRY: Yeah, the late Susan Bernofsky, Sweetthang, came up with that because she was a Route 66 aficionado. She used to go on motorcycle rides. 

STUART: Hmm. Well. It’s a potential. 

TERRY: I have a Route 66 sign that has faux rust on it that I’ve been meaning to tack up on one of those signs that says, you know, “Service Road. Do not enter.” I’ll put “Route 66.”

STUART: Because without street signs, how do you know where you are? I mean, it’s hard enough being out in the desert, all sandblasted and dehydrated and maybe high. 

TERRY: Yeah. So don’t steal the signs. We need them. We need the signs. Don’t steal ’em. 

STUART: It’s a public service. Burning Man has been studied in many ways by urban planners and experts, but that one, I know the notion of naming and signing your streets, has been applied. I think that there was U.N. testimony of how that helped make refugee camps less forbidding, and seem more like home, more like a place than just a sprawling camp, and an interesting tug-of-war over that because people who are responsible for refugee camps like to imagine that they are temporary, when in fact, most of them end up being permanent long-term settlements, right? So what’s in a name? 

What street are you on?

TERRY: Encantado!!! 

Route 66. 

STUART: Route 66 and Encantado? No. They don’t intersect. 

TERRY: I’d like to be on Encantado. 

STUART: Well, I’ll see you on the road in Black Rock City, Terry. I think we’ll maybe do a tour while the street signs are still up, which would be, I guess, the first day!

Now last year I did a slow tour of Gate Road, or Snail Road, capturing the Burma Shave signs, which is another old tradition inherited for Mr. Harvey. Maybe we’ll do a podcast about the Burma Shave signs next.

TERRY: That would be fun.

STUART: Thank you, Terry Schoop. It’s been lovely speaking with you. Tell you what, let’s go do this again next year. What do you say? 

TERRY: And maybe bring Playground into the conversation.


TERRY: Thank you, Stuart. It was a pleasure. 

STUART: All right. Then that’s a show. Thanks to all the people who helped make Burning Man Live possible. It is as always a production of the Philosophical Center of Burning Man Project, produced by hardworking volunteers, including Vav, Michael Vav, Action Girl, kbot, Rocky, and especially all of you who pop a few dollars in the collection box at donate.burningman.org. You keep the lights on for us. We’ll keep recording as long as we can. I’m Stuart Mangrum. 

Thanks Larry.