Whiskey Tango Foxtrot??? XyloVan DENIED a Burning Man Mutant Vehicle invitation (updates)

factoid

I’m so flabbergasted I can’t even see straight. This just appeared in my inbox.

Below it is my response to the Black Rock CityDepartment of Mutant Vehicles. Stay hopeful, view XyloVan friends – I don’t hear a fat lady doing “La Traviata” just yet. Updates to the correspondence below that.

Dear Mack, information pills

The DMV has carefully reviewed your application for your mutant vehicle “Xylovan” (registration number # 1258) and we’re very sorry to inform you that we can not currently send you an invitation to bring your vehicle to the playa for On-Playa Inspection.
Due to the high number of applications and limited number of vehicles we can invite, cialis 40mg we simply can not invite all applicants, even when they meet the minimum requirements. We don’t want anyone to have the sad experience of bringing a vehicle out to the playa and having it denied a license after all that work! We do our best to give invitations to those most likely to get approved on playa.

The review team felt that:
* The vehicle as shown in your application does not meet the current criteria for a Mutant Vehicle (see below)
* The base vehicle (Van) is unmodified/mutated
* This would be a fine in-camp (stationary) piece …

The good news is that there is time for you to increase the mutation of your vehicle and appeal. You don’t need to finish the vehicle before you appeal; a sketch and a good description of what you intend to bring to the playa is sufficient. Please see below for information about the appeals process.
We understand that you have committed significant time and resources to creating your mutant vehicle (many of us are mutant vehicle owners ourselves, so we know what it takes) and that this is hard news to receive; but unfortunately, there is simply a limit to how many moving vehicles we can allow during the event. We have to set the bar somewhere every year (and we are finding ourselves raising the bar a bit each year) and this year your vehicle as described simply does not currently exceed the very high bar we have set.

If you have questions or wish to discuss this issue further, we can be reached at dmv@burningman.com
—-
Please review information about what is and is not a Mutant Vehicle here:
http://www.burningman.com/on_the_playa/playa_vehicles/dmv.html

To help clarify: What is NOT Considered a Mutant Vehicle? The following are not considered Mutant Vehicles, and will not be granted a license:
* Unmutated vehicles of any kind
* Vehicles only stripped to the frame and engine
* Street/stock vehicles with minimal changes or temporary decorations (NOTE: This is the primary concern with your vehicle as described in your application)
* Vehicles which too strongly resemble the original form or where too much of the base vehicle is unmutated and still visible.
* Low riders, classic cars, monster trucks, dune buggies, and hot rods (there are other venues for these vehicles to be appreciated)
* Vehicles that have not met the DMV licensing criteria (located at http://www.burningman.com/on_the_playa/playa_vehicles/criteria.html)

APPEALS PROCESS:
To supply requested information, address the concerns of the committee, or if you feel that the DMV has made an error in reviewing your vehicle, we do permit you to appeal to our decision. You have one week (until 11:59 pm on July 21st) to submit your appeal. Please have either a well thought out, detailed reason(s) why you feel the DMV made an error or include significant additional documentation to allow us to reevaluate your mutant vehicle. Email your appeal to dmv@burningman.com.

Additional photos or sketches should be placed on an easy to access photo site (like flickr.com) and links to them placed in your appeal email. Because of time pressures, we can only accept a single appeal per mutant vehicle, and please note: Appeals may be processed after all incoming new applications have been processed. Once we have reached the limit to the number of vehicles we can invite, we will process no additional appeals.
Once again, we realize that this is news you didn’t wanted to hear, but we do want to thank you for the effort you made and look forward to seeing you on the playa.

Sincerely,
– Chef Juke for the DMV Hotties and the Burning Man staff and community.

Here’s my reply:

Dear Chef Juke:

Having spent fully six months with my entire family hand-building the instruments and sound system, modifying and wiring this vehicle, (including staying up past 1 a.m. for the past week straight getting the lights and sound wiring sorted out), I am – I hope you can understand – mystified and upset to hear this reading. I feel the DMV’s judgment was made based solely on visual criteria, and that it completely ignores the extraordinary interactive aspect of XyloVan – something that a good majority of other mutant vehicles lack – and something that has always been at the heart of Burning Man culture since I became a BRC citizen in 1996.

However, this email is *not* my appeal – I do plan to appeal in the next few days, but I hope you can answer some questions for me first, as per your suggestion “If you have questions or wish to discuss this issue further …” etc. :

Your letter stated the primary reason for permit denial:

* Street/stock vehicles with minimal changes or temporary decorations (NOTE: This is the primary concern with your vehicle as described in your application)

– Is it the “minimal changes” clause, or do you consider the instruments to be temporary? (The latter is not the case. They are permanently mounted.)

– If the primary concern is minimal changes, which of the following would contribute most to a successful appeal:
– More instruments, gongs and chimes? With eight-foot-long keyboards on either side of the van, disc gongs on all the doors, a six-foot keyboard bolted onto the hood, a four-foot rack of tubular bells in the open sliding door, and all Ford insignia replaced with handmade, playable aluminum chimes decorated with XyloVan’s logo, what percentage of satisfactorily mutated would you consider us? (I’m trying to figure out whether adding a certain percentage more instruments is the key, or something else)

– Full sketches of the finished product? My application did not include sketches of the large, flowing fabric sun shades that will be mounted around the vehicle, giving it the aspect of wings or sails by day and night. We haven’t built those yet, since we’ve been focusing on getting the mechanics, electronics and interactivity of XyloVan nailed. Would this be significant enough to overcome the reason?

– If none of these is sufficient, do I really have to transform it into an enormous dildo via the welding, fiberglassing and bodyworking skills that I lack because I was instead given skills in engineering, instrument-craft and interactive design?

Don’t answer that last one. I’m just venting. Everyone who has met XyloVan has said “Oh mah god, that’s soooo awesome and beautiful, people on the playa will be all over it” and I’m just all butthurt that you don’t immediately agree.

Anyway, please throw me a bone here – can you be more specific on what would put XyloVan on the invite list?

Yrs in respect and art,

Mack
(factoid)

Now, Chef Juke writes back:

Dear Mack,

I appreciate that you are frustrated, however the DMV volunteers on the review team focus on whether a vehicle meets the current criteria for an MV license…and that does not take into consideration things such as amount of time, money, effort put into creating a particular vehicle. You are correct in that my ‘note’ was misplaced and really should have been on the next line down regarding the amount of base vehicle showing.

As noted on the Burning Man DMV website the primary aspect that the DMV review team considers in evaluating applications for mutant vehicle licenses is the level of mutation:

Level of Mutation
Mutate your vehicle to the point that it is not recognizable as a street vehicle. A radically mutated vehicle will not resemble or represent a car, truck, golf cart or any other readily identifiable street vehicle. Is the vehicle radically mutated or is the exterior a temporary decoration that required little or no actual mutation of the base vehicle?

While interactivity is the second consideration listed it does not, in and of itself override the basic requirement of a radically mutated vehicle.

From what the team saw in your application, the Xylovan is a great art car, but does not meet the current criteria for a mutant vehicle. For it to do so, the predominant image when looking at the vehicle would have to be other than that of the base vehicle (van).

To be clear, the review team appreciated the Xylovan (a number of comments regarding it being a cool concept during the review meeting) and realizes you must have put a lot of work into it, however as noted in my original email, as we are limited in the number of vehicles we can allow to move during the event (by the BLM, which seems to want fewer moving vehicles each year) and that has resulted in an ongoing raising of the bar in terms of the criteria for mutant vehicle licensing each year. The suggestion is at this point that the Xylovan would work as a part of your camp where it can still be interactive.

As for an appeal, anything you can provide, either in text or images that would convince the review team that the vehicle would meet the criteria would work in your favor. Once you submit to us via email, we would add the information/images to your application and move it into the Appeals queue for review.

I hope that answers your questions, and again, I know this isn’t likely the message you wanted to hear from us.

Sincerely,

-Chef Juke for the DMV Hotties

And my reply (I’m not letting this go, not by a long shot):

Dear Chef Juke:

Thanks for the swift and detailed reply.

Again – I’ll make a full and proper appeal before next week, and hope to sway the committee’s interpretation of the “not recognizable as a street vehicle” requirement as being so overpowering as to trump XyloVan’s interactivity to the degree where it’s doomed to be seen and played only by people who walk through Kidsville – rather than the entirety of BRC – a great many of whom would massively enjoy interacting with it.

I have hopes that experiencing XyloVan could inspire others to build Drum Car, Bass Bus and other performing vehicles that could be a rolling band. As it is, people will fully be able to plug in their own instruments and play along with the vehicle as it’s driving – but again, I’m letting passion get in the way of the purpose of our correspondence here.

So, question: I’m not a car-body genius, and need to try envisioning what other modifications I need to make – For instance:

– If we designed a nose assembly that accentuates the main mutation design and hides the Ford-iness of the front end, would that (coupled with all the van’s other goodies) suffice?

– If we found some creative way to cover the wheels? The design was meant to be sort of Area-51experimental vehicle – should we go more radically in that direction with design cues? If you can give any clue as to which direction we should take, it would be a great help. I’m kind of at sea here.

It just slays me that – as a friend put it this morning – this extraordinary vehicle could be stuck in camp (and us with it while manning the controls) while barely-converted party barges cruise all over the playa doing nothing but getting people drunker.

Again with the passion.

Anyway – you’ve been very gracious to reply at length, and I’ll make this my last note before our proper appeal, as I know you guys are swamped – but any hints or suggestions would be hugely welcome. For us, stationary is just not an option, so I’m going to do whatever it takes to win the committee over.

Best,

m

Now I get an email from Johnnie, also a member of the DMV council:

On Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 12:00 PM, Mack Reed wrote:

Dear Chef Juke:

Thanks for the swift and detailed reply.

Again – I’ll make a full and proper appeal before next week, and hope to sway the committee’s interpretation of the “not recognizable as a street vehicle” requirement as being so overpowering as to trump XyloVan’s interactivity to the degree where it’s doomed to be seen and played only by people who walk through Kidsville – rather than the entirety of BRC – a great many of whom would massively enjoy interacting with it.

The problem is the “interactive” part of your van can really only be appreciated when the vehicle is stationary, so I think you need to answer the question of why this piece of art needs a license. The DMV doesn’t grant a licenses for what are essentially a pieces of static art (no matter how wonderful they are) so they can be moved from place to place around the playa. What we want to see is a something that can be appreciated when it is in motion.

Also, Chef Juke didn’t mention this, but I think the Artery would give you spot out on the playa for you to show case what you’ve created. But that would limit you to moving your van between that spot and your camp.

It just slays me that – as a friend put it this morning – this extraordinary vehicle could be stuck in camp (and us with it while manning the controls)

That happens to a lot of extraordinary art on the playa.

Anyway – you’ve been very gracious to reply at length, and I’ll make this my last note before our proper appeal, as I know you guys are swamped – but any hints or suggestions would be hugely welcome. For us, stationary is just not an option, so I’m going to do whatever it takes to win the committee over.

The DMV has a policy of not designing other people’s “art”. That just gets us into trouble.

So I’ll just reiterate what Juke told you

Mutate your vehicle to the point that it is not recognizable as a street vehicle.

Basically, make your van look like sometime besides a van. You will likely get some “extra credit” for the interactiveness of the vehicle from both the review team and the on-playa inspection team, so you might slide by with a less than full mutation. But then again, given that for you, “stationary is just not an option” you probably shouldn’t count on that.

Good luck

JR
DMV Council

I answer him:

Thanks, Johnnie:

Just to clarify, the vehicle *can* be interacted with equally well at walking speed – people can walk alongside and play, as dozens of ’em did at a parade we took it to over Memorial Day weekend.

Good to know about the Artery as an option if it should come to that, but we aim to succeed for a proper permit.

Understood that you can’t offer design consultation, I was just looking for clues as to the trouble areas. I think you’ve helped me answer those questions. My appeal will be along in a few days.

Best,

m

And Chef Juke replies at the same time:

Mack,

Well Johnnie replied just as I was about to send the following:

Anything you can do to obfuscate the outline or perception of the base vehicle would work. Some MV owners use PVC, conduit or other framework around their vehicle to change the shape and then cover with some flexible material. There are any number of options, however I don’t have much more direct advice I can give as the DMV really doesn’t offer Mutant Vehicle consultation.

Additionally, I wouldn’t be able to give you a concrete answer based on a few individual changes as to what would pass muster. The whole process of the DMV review team is designed to make sure it’s not just one person making a decision, but a consensus of at least 3 DMV Volunteers and one DMV council member. Many of the Review meetings can have 10 or more volunteers in attendance. The decisions are made by consensus of the team as a whole at each given meeting so the team who reviews your appeal may not be the same team that reviewed your initial application. The same guidance drives all the review teams, however, to determine if the vehicle being reviewed meets the criteria for a Mutant Vehicle license. We endeavor to not judge things like ‘artistic merit’, amount of work/$$/effort, etc. And above all, we strive to be fair to each and every applicant (even those who put forth vehicles with minimal work involved, such as the far-too-ubiquitous ‘decorated golf cart’ submissions.

As for the ‘barely converted party barges’, I think you will find far less if any of them this year for the same reason of not meeting the criteria. There are any number of vehicles which passed muster 2-3 years ago which do not today by the current criteria. This is the nature of the ever rising bar (and the fact that more and more folks are jumping on the Mutant Vehicle bandwagon). When I first started attending in ’94, there were no restrictions on driving. In ’97 when the DMV was born, the criteria was FAR less than it is now (and far fewer people brought mutant vehicles). Today we get around 2,000 applications, over a 3rd of them submitted in the last week before the deadline. Narrowing that down to what the BLM will allow us is not easy and is the prime reason the bar gets higher and higher each year.

While none of the above may be of that much assistance, I hope it helps you understand better the reasons behind the decision making process.

Sincerely,

-Chef Juke for the DMV Hotties

To which I reply:

Chef Juke:

Roger on all of this, and thank you. I understand the challenge you guys face. I’ll send along my appeal in a few days.

Best,

m


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