R.I.P. XyloVan – 2010-2019

XyloVan began its life nearly 10 years ago as an idea: Let’s build a mutant vehicle so our young kids can ride around even after bedtime and we can all enjoy Burning Man safely together after dark.

The van’s full, rich and musical life ended last month – after so many adventures, mishaps and miracles that I never could have dreamed of – with me stripping off the xylophones and gongs and putting the vehicle up for sale.

It was like building it all over again – but in reverse. (see photos below after the jump)

Deeply bittersweet.

I peeled off the magic, wrenching the hand-made instruments from the 3/8-inch mounting bolts where they had ridden ever since 2010, when my wife and kids and I began transforming a 1985 Ford 350 ClubWagon XLT into the only musically-playable art car I’ve ever met.

I unwired the control pod carrying the digital-delay mixer and Arduino control box, and stowed the electronics and cables for future projects. I put the instruments into long-term storage against the day when I might bee foolish enough to build another musical mutant vehicle. And I turned the van over to …

Truan and Sydney – proud owners of a weird old 1985 Ford ClubWagon XLT.
… my Gate colleague Truan and his friend, Sydney – die-hard Burners from Sacramento who got the electrical problems repaired and plan to re-mutate XyloVan into a new interactive vehicle they plan to bring to the playa in 2020.

Anyway, I don’t want to get too maudlin here, or I’ll start to cry.

I just want to say thank you for all your love and music and joy over the years – and (hoping it might be an inspiration or a warning to anyone else who wants to try such folly) to point you back to where XyloVan began and what happened next.

I’ll continue blogging here about my new musical-instrument projects.

And if I can offer any advice to makers and mutant vehicle lovers out there, it’s just to quote the early-arrival wristband for Burning Man 2014:

Much love,

Brooklyn, NY

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