Memos from Metric

Here’s a submission I wrote up for the Summer 2023 Stewards of Black Rock newsletter.

Over the past couple months, Metric has been participating in a committee hosted by the Friends of Black Rock High Rock related to their Destination Development Demonstration (3D) Project grant from the Nevada Commission on Tourism. Gerlach is one of six communities out of several dozen applicants that was chosen to participate in developing a comprehensive marketing strategy for the community. The six communities will submit requests for marketing projects to be funded from a pot of $2 million.

The committee has had two meetings so far. Metric helped lead a tour of Guru Road (AKA Doobie Lane) for the participants at the kickoff meeting on March 6th. Guru Road is a mile-long art installation created by local resident DeWayne “Doobie” Williams between 1973 and 1992 which includes several specific rock art installations and many more individual petroglyphs bearing quirky aphorisms and observations about local Gerlach residents.  Metric helped to organize a series of restoration efforts on Guru Road between 2002 and 2010, with Doobie’s son DeWayne II participating in the first four years. Dave Cooper of Friends of Black Rock is working on re-confirming the official status of the installation which has historically been governed by a “right-of-way” agreement between the BLM and DeWayne II, who is now in poor health living in Idaho. The road has been subject to vandalism, partly by a known local resident and also by random people removing rocks. It also has been subject to several rockslides that have obliterated small sections of the road. Metric’s interest is to participate in any restoration efforts in the future, to see some interpretive signs installed that explain the artwork and its significance to the area, and to make sure that some authority is maintained via a BLM agreement with either another family member or a Gerlach community group.

A related but separate project that Metric has been following is a proposal to build the “Gerlach Trail” from the southern edge of Gerlach (just before the gas station) to Guru Road via the lower section of the playa. This project is being led by Washoe County and has interest from adjacent property holders including the Gerlach General Improvement District (GGID), Burning Man Project, and Camp Davis hot springs. The local GGID authority owns the parcel just before the gas station going north on Rte. 447 that would serve as the trailhead for the project, and they are entertaining the idea of applying to the BLM to acquire additional land for the project under the Truckee Meadows Public Land Management Act. There is a possibility that Stewards of the Black Rock Desert could become a partner in this project by securing grant funds from Nevada Off-Highway Vehicle Association to establish an OHV staging area as part of the parking lot for the trail. We may contribute a vault toilet, bulletin board, or other amenities to the area, and possibly help to establish OHV access to the lower playa from the site.

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While Stewards of the Black Rock was busy participating in the Black Rock Rendezvous in Humboldt County, Nevada, over Memorial Day weekend, Metric and his wife, Erin, competed in the Kinetic Grand Championship in Humboldt County, California. “Kinetic sculptures” in this context are human-powered amphibious art cars that race about 50 miles from Arcata to Ferndale, with each team embracing a theme and team members also performing pageantry and wearing elaborate costumes. There were a total of 42 entries this year, and Metric and Erin’s group, Team Pineapple, was defending their title as Grand Champions in 2022 as the “Humpbacks of Notre Dame.” This year, the team performed and competed as “Trashlantis,” strange monster-like beings that live on the continent of plastic out in the ocean. The goal is to heighten awareness of the complex forces behind modern recycling efforts, much of which is designed to shift blame for plastic waste away from large corporate trends and onto individual consumers. At the launch of the race, the troupe performed “I Wanna Eat Your Plastic” to the tune of the Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated.” There were four pilots on the race vehicle, with the rest of the entourage following along on bicycles. Metric and Erin are very proud that Team Pineapple successfully defended their title and were again deemed the Kinetic Grand Champions for 2023!

Metric also remains active with the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus, Julia C Bulette Chapter 1864 in Virginia City, Nevada. In 2020, he installed a historical monument at the entrance to Empire, Nevada, commemorating the history of that company town. Be sure to check it out on your way through Empire on your way to the Black Rock Desert.