The Wayback Machine -

Dooby Avenue Restoration Project, April 19, 2003

an account by Matthew "Metric" Ebert

You are driving through Gerlach, Nevada, a small town 100 miles north of Reno on the edge of the Black Rock Desert. You take the fork and bear right onto Route 34 heading north towards the playa entrances when you notice a road sign off to the left about a mile out of town. You slow down as a rock pillar erected without mortar or cement comes into view. White letters attract your eyes and you stop to read, scratched in the ruddy stone: "Dooby Avenue West," and "Whatever You Think About This Road Remember The Price Is Right." Your curiosity piqued, you decide you are in no hurry, and you might as well see what there is to see, and so you drive up the slight crest to find a target-shaped pattern with beckoning rocks covered with words. "Ground Zero," one rock in the middle states. As you travel further, you find rock after rock etched with names and commentary: various truths and observations of life, arranged to elicit thought and provoke contemplation. When you come out the other side, you are glad you took the time. You have just experienced Dooby Avenue, an incredible monument of art, which I undertook to help restore the day before Easter, 2003.

Peter Goin

My involvement with Dooby Avenue began in 2000, when I first moved to Northern Nevada. The artists, DeWayne "Dooby" Williams and his son, DeWayne II, are related to Tom Williams, who set me up as caretaker at the Fly Ranch my first winter here. The Williams have lived in the Black Rock area for several generations, and Dooby himself was born less than a mile from Black Rock Station, where I live. I became friends with the Williams family, and became aware of Dooby's art installation. It was built on BLM land just before the 3-mile playa entrance outside of Gerlach between 1973 and 1993. It started when Dooby chiseled his name onto a rock, much like the pioneers who passed through this area 100 years earlier. Then he added rocks with names of other local inhabitants (perhaps all of them). Then it blossomed into a series of expressive installations. "Ground Zero," the first, depicts an atomic bomb blast in different colored rocks. Dooby was in Japan as a US Marine 2 weeks after atomic bombs were dropped, and wanted his piece to serve as a reminder that it should never happen again. There is the "Elvis" pillar, perches for birds to "decorate" the pillars of rocks with the white streaks of their excrement, "The Sagebrush Network" TV station, and "Aphrodite's Grove." A tipi made of willow branches bears the rock-carved instruction "Leave Your Hang-Ups Here," and many different things have collected, suspended and dangling from it. Sit on the chair inside, and discover you are looking down into a grave at a rock inscribed, "Are You Ready For Eternity?" Over the years that Dooby worked on it, the Avenue developed and matured.

o O o O o O o O o O o O o

The first time I went down the Avenue, also known as Guru Road, was just last year. I guess I wanted to save it for a while. When I did go along the road, I noticed that it was in considerable disarray. Some rocks were tagged with spray paint, some rocks were smashed, structures had blown down, and trash had accumulated. A small gate inviting you to enter was broken into pieces. This more than anything else made me want to fix up the Avenue. I suppose I treasure rare and grass-spun art installations, especially ones so cleverly crafted and with so much wit. Although he died in 1995, DeWayne Williams' piece seemed to be timeless, and I wish I could have met him. Having been welcomed into the community by his nephew, it seemed a fitting gift to do what I could to prevent Dooby's work from going to ruin.

I learned from my friend Wes Williams, who is Tom's son, that Dooby's son, DeWayne II, lived in Boise, Idaho, and was an extraordinary, scholarly sort. I got in touch with DeWayne and told him what I wanted to do, and found out that he was already planning a trip to Nevada for that very purpose. We decided to collaborate, and I was excited that someone who had assisted in the Avenue's construction would be available to show us how it had been and give the necessary sensitivity and direction. I invited friends from the BRC-DPW organization to make this part of a regular ranch-related clean-up effort. I also invited the Friends of Black Rock volunteer group and the BLM. The event was eventually set for the Saturday before Easter, and I expected 27 people or so. I decided to make my own event-specific art piece, and so made 27 "Easter eggs" with little toys and aphorisms in them to put along the Avenue where volunteers would find them while working.

DeWayne showed up Wednesday before the event and we got to know one another. I found out that he is a professional photographer of considerable talent, had a book of Montana photography published, and in fact was more involved than I had known in the construction of Dooby Lane. He had constructed a new cape for Elvis of over 2000 soda can bottoms, linked through carefully drilled holes by split key rings. We toured the Avenue to discuss specifics and approaches, then gathered materials over the next few days as people showed up. Then on Saturday morning we went to work. Many people with the Burning Man project were involved, alongside Friends of Black Rock, Joey Carmosino of the BLM, and interested local volunteers. Joey's crew set to work pulling all the weeds from the blast radius of "Ground Zero" while another set to work putting the wood, sage and hogwire-constructed "TV Station" back upright. The chair in the tipi and the comfy chair at "Aphrodite" were replaced, as was the broken toilet at "The Equalizer." Wes rebuilt the "comments" mailbox, one of only two things to the east of the Avenue. Caleb made a kiln-baked sculpture of a skull-like head that he put amongst the rocks of the Ground Zero blast radius. It blends precisely with the color of the existing rocks. DeWayne impressed me by walking up to a rock and turning it over to reveal writing on it. I did this myself later at the TV Station! DeWayne besmocked Elvis with his cape, and when viewed from a distance it seems to writhe and wriggle through the rising heat. He and others moved dozens of rocks, creating a large guitar around Elvis. A metal worker from Lisa Nigro's Draka art project cut a star brooch for the cape. We were all assaulted by swarms of small biting gnats, which raised red welts on some of our necks and faces, yet we bravely struggled through. By 4 pm, we had hauled off over 60 gallons of debris and a truck bed full of rabbit brush, and had made such progress that I was giddy with pride and satisfaction.


There remains a fair amount of work to do before the restoration is finished. The project is ongoing, and one of Black Rock community pride. Not Burning Man particularly, except as we consider ourselves fellow Black Rock citizens. Dooby Avenue is its own unique, bold, and provocative form of expression. I think our effort will engender a more respectful appreciation of the site, and I hope it will stand as a model of volunteer activity on public lands.

unaccredited photos and narrative by:
Matthew Ebert aka Metric
Black Rock Station


Dooby Avenue Links: