Jeff Jardine

Burning Man boot gets proper footing east of Modesto

It’s been decades or even longer since anyone in the Tuolumne area can remember both the North Fork of the Tuolumne River and Basin Creek, which dumps into it, being bone dry. But that is the case in Tuolumne County after four years of drought.
It’s been decades or even longer since anyone in the Tuolumne area can remember both the North Fork of the Tuolumne River and Basin Creek, which dumps into it, being bone dry. But that is the case in Tuolumne County after four years of drought. MICHELLE PRYSCHUK

From the emails, voice mails and other sources:

BURNING QUESTION – The Burning Man festival is in the books for 2015. Among the more popular artworks on the playa was a two-story tall boot, the creation of Five Ton Crane, an artists’ collective in Oakland.

More than 50 artists and volunteers spent nine months from the conceptual stages to assembling the finished product in the windswept Nevada desert at Black Rock. They titled the exhibit “Storied Haven,” which lead artist Bree Hylkema described as being about “storytelling, especially the stories you were hearing when you were a little kid, when you were tucked into bed, and somebody reads you fairy tales. It takes you to faraway places – to magic carpets and talking animals, and you imagine all of these places and it feels like an adventure” with some darkness thrown in.

Indeed, there might be no greater outlet for the imagination than the Burning Man festival, and they got a mention and photo in Rolling Stone magazine.

That stated, what, exactly, do you do with a two-story-tall boot once the festival ends?

They took it apart, loaded all 300 pieces on to a flatbed and hauled it back to California. This past weekend, the volunteers took it to private property east of Modesto and – with apologies to Humpty Dumpty – put it back together again.

The landowner understandably doesn’t want people traipsing across his property, where they might damage the artwork or help themselves to his personal possessions. Fair enough. Hence the “east of Modesto” locator. When he wants people to see it, he’ll invite them.

In the meantime, enjoy the photos. And for the record, the book would fit a fairy tale giant’s right foot, probably a size 70,000.

MEETINGS ON HOMELESSNESS – Wednesday’s 6 p.m. event at the Senior Center on Bodem Street on homelessness will include an array of city officials, elected and appointed, along with representatives from charities including the Salvation Army, the Modesto Gospel Mission and others. That will be followed by a summit on homelessness Oct. 1 at the Modesto Centre Plaza. Also attending both meetings will be a representative from Stanislaus County Behavioral Heath & Recovery Services, which is good.

Mental health issues play a huge role in homelessness. It should be at the forefront of any discussion on homelessness.

COURTING DISASTER – I found it interesting that Presiding Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Marie Silveira couldn’t spare some time to chat with The Bee to explain the ridiculously slow pace of justice for homicide cases in this county. Delays are the norm, not the exception. Cases often take years to clear, and there are 100 homicide cases awaiting trial. At the very least, she could have started the conversation and then continued it to another date.

DRY SPELL, INDEED – For the first time in longer than many folks can remember, both the North Fork of the Tuolumne River and Basin Creek, which normally feeds it, are bone-dry. These streams are near the town of Tuolumne and accessed by Forest Service Road N104, which goes all the way to Cherry Lake. Michelle Miller Pryschuk of Tuolumne posted a couple of telling photos of the dry creek beds on Facebook’s “You Know You Grew Up In Tuolumne County When ... ” page.

Most years, both streams have enough water to maintain summer swimming holes. Today, remaining puddles downstream on the North Fork are clogged with algae, one area resident said. The Clavey River where N104 crosses still has puddles, but no longer is running at that point.

And between damage from the Rim fire two years ago, along with thousands of trees now dead and orange due to the drought and Japanese bark beetle infestation, the forest is looking pretty haggard.

AUTHOR! AUTHOR – And to get you primed for the holiday season, Valley residents Jacob Haslem and Nicholas Allen have co-written “The Gift Giver.” They will host a launch party from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at The Village Baking Company in McHenry Village. Visit their Web site thegiftgiver.net for the storyline along with information about the authors and illustrator Elissa Weaver.

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