Welcome to the homepage that Tribe and Tabulas made.

Here's the deal: Tribe does not allow its users to enter their own code, not even HTML, much less Javascript, which one needs to install Webring.com ssnb code. Tabulas, where my blog is located, will allow HTML code, but strips away SSNB, hence the need for this entry page. A fair number of ring managers are under the mistaken impression that Webring doesn't allow the use of HTML, so with all of the churning at Webring, eventually I would have had to move the Webring entry page to somewhere allowing the use of SSNB, even if no ring this site was on ever got merged with another, which is hardly a safe bet.

Not a problem, though - when you're done visiting my site and wish to return to your ring, you'll find links back to the ring at not one, but two locations on the main page on my Tribe profile, placed so prominently as to be easily seen, at opposite ends of the page for easy access.

What are my blog at Tabulas and its companion pages over on Tribe.net and here on 20m.com about? Many things, really, as the blog posts will often tend to be expansions on topics I raised over at Tribe, but primarily I suppose one could say that they're about interactive and participatory art, Burning Man, and the creative potluck aspects of burning that seem to be getting pushed to one side by the raving and the politics. What it's really not going to be about is the New Age (I'm Jewish), illegal drugs (I don't partake), liberal politics and conspiracy theorising (I'm a Centrist), fringe science (I'm trained in the real thing, in Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering) or Burning Man politics, because I hold no ambitions in that area.

My now defunct, and eventually to be replaced Burning Man list was an informal grouping of eight people who started cc-ing letters to each other, after meeting at the Burkhert Underground a few years ago (I'm updating this in late September of 2010), with the idea of maybe getting a few friends together and holding a small, amateur art event in one of the county forest preserves or city parks, at which, obviously, everybody would be staying clothed, no drugs would be found, and nothing was going to be set on fire. No amplified music, no dance floor, no giant "mutant vehicles", not even any temples or mazes - the city of Chicago would not let us put one of those up, even had we the will and finances to do so - whoever "we" may end up being - and who that would a real question, no matter who in Chicago might be asking it.

Regardless of what you might have heard to the contrary, expressed with the usual fervor in all likelihood, the local Burning Man community has done anything but thrived. When one "official local coordinator" can be seen writing things like

"as far as where am i camping... well its still very fragile as to whether i will be on the playa this year. i have many a finger in different pies and at least one really [expletitive deleted] fantastic benefactor of sorts who may be loning me the money to be on the playa. may all the stringy porcupines drip cocktail blessings on his shiny bald head."

- profanity removed by me, not by him - and the next coordinator associates herself and Burning Man with the kind of activity mentioned in the second to last passage of this post, perhaps that should not be a cause for amazement, especially when, as we've said before, these coordinators were assigned to the community from afar, 2000 miles afar, out in San Francisco, with nobody out there seeing any need to consult anybody in Chicago about the selection. That sort of thing is not ever likely to make a positive impression on a group of skeptical locals, and as I observed in my post of August 25, 2008, the turn out would suggest that it didn't. While a number of people in California seem to be under the impression that every place east of the Mississippi is in close proximity to every other such place, such is not the case, and a good number of our "local" burners turn out to live in such "nearby" locations as Detroit, Milwaukee and St.Louis, a fact often glossed over in the reports of great success.


While the Burning Man LLC certainly could have began its dealings with the Chicago area with a good deal more grace and a good deal less arrogance, and done far less damage than it did, to state that their conduct was and is the sole source of difficulty in the establishment of anything reminscent of the Burning Man of earlier times in our region would be grossly unfair to both the organization and its representatives. The reality is that the United States is changing in some fairly basic ways that would have been likely to transform Burning Man, even in its own home territory, with great speed had it still existed in anything akin to the Burning Man of the turn of the century, and that the event probably couldn't have ever been grafted onto the local culture here in Chicago and remained intact. The most obvious difficulty is that the grand old days that so many seem to long for took place during the tech bubble economy period, when unreasonable exhuberance among speculators left the Bay Area with a truly astounding cash flow. Those days are not likely to come back.

Really, how could they, now that circumstances have forced past investors to take the unwelcome trip back down to earth? How could the reality of what a company could relate ever have measured up to somebody else's fantasies of what it might have created?

I mentioned a pair of links back to the entry page for my blog. One is at the bottom of the page, exactly where the navbar would be, if Tribe offered that functionality, and the other is closer to the top, right under the box in the upper left hand corner with my name and profile image. Call it a small courtesy for a weary surfer. If you're on any page on my "profile" - the space Tribe gives me, a collection of pages including a blog, places for some of my photos and reviews, etc. - at the top of the page on the left, right below the Tribe logo, you'll see something like

people > En Transit / Joseph Dunphy > ...

If you click on "Joseph Dunphy" there, you'll get back to the main page of my Tribe profile; quick and easy from those small photo and review pages. Not so easy from my much longer blog pages, but again, not a problem - the links labeled "return to Joseph Dunphy" found at both the top and the bottom of my blog pages will get you back to the main page for my profile. Either way, you end up at the top of my main page, so I stuck a second link back to the ring on top, so you wouldn't have to page down through the whole stack of blog posts, which you probably would have already read at that point, just to get back.

Giant potlatches are a sign of wealth, and the wealth that goes into building structures that cost thousands of dollars and will only stand for a week before being set on fire has to be insane, a kind of wealth that has never existed in Chicago in living memory if, indeed, ever. One might ask where one would set it on fire, anyway, the local city council being as touchy as it is on the subject of fire, for certain historical reasons, and the climate being as unfavorable for such activities as it is, too cold during most of the year, and the vegetation being far too dry during the summer.

We do lose something through such a responsible level of caution, but it is something that was never really captured in the local burns, anyway - the sculpting of a fire, itself, through the careful construction of its fuel. Unless the distance the flames will leap is dwarfed by the scale of the construct, itself, this won't happen, which is why the temple burns are often of such interest. But we gain something, as well - the tranquility of a forest, where local gathering would probably happen, so perfect for literary events, something that we can do on a shoestring.


If you've wandered off into the discussions on the groups at Tribe - not unlikely, since Tribe is, in large part, a discussion site, our pages being sites within a site - and you see my icon (look to your left), just click on that and you'll be back on the main page of my multipage Tribe profile, from which the aforementioned link back to the ring will get you to where you need to be, and like I said, can be found in two different convenient locations on that page.

My blog and site, more than anything else, will be about building on and critiquing some of the ideas found at Burning Man, seeing what can be learned from that event, and what can be adapted for use, here in Northern Illinois. I'll be examining project and camp ideas from over the years, some of Larry Harvey's writings, taking special interest in Electronic Art (I am an engineer by training), Photography, Literary and Theatrical Work, along with a little cooking, some of it adapted to desert conditions, because I am determined to return to the Playa, someday, even if I won't be doing so any time around Labor Day. Expect a self-consciously de-Westernized cooking style, a blending of African, Near Eastern, Indian and Central American influences, probably Vegetarian, definitely kosher.

So, reassuring the ringmaster without, I hope, boring the visitor too much, I think I've established the return to the ring should be fairly easy once one arrives at Tribe. This is not an ideal set up, but like most blogging hosts, Tribe doesn't give us all of the options we would like, so one simply has to work with what one has available, and ask others to be a little understanding of the limitations with which one has to deal.

At the moment, the primary focus of my activities is on my blog, which has recently been relocated from Tabulas, to, ummm, Tabulas (don't ask), the blog serving as a journal of work in progress, while the En Transit pages on 20m.com (where you are, now) will serve as more of an archive. The blog and the pages serve as two components of a single site. That might seem a little ugly, but it is necessary. An HTML site, by itself, is hard to follow, and blogging hosts vanish and flake out so often that they don't serve as a good anchor for one's online presence. You can see what I have on either, following the updates on Twitter, or, if you would rather just move on, return to your ring using the links below.

Those entering my pages here should see the navbar for their ring at the foot of this page. Those who came in off one of the webring systems elsewhere should go to this general webring return page for my sites.