JT Finally Speaks

Caravancicle and the Lost Hotel

Caravancicle and the Lost Hotel

It only took 3 1/2 months – and, quite probably, me spending an hour yesterday talking to a reporter from Bloomberg Business Week, then passing his details on to Caravancicle’s manager – but finally the community gets to hear things straight from the horse’s mouth. Burning Man Director Jim Tanabaum has issued this statement at caravancicle.com (re-posted at burningman.org):


 

A Statement from Jim Tananbaum

Burning Man Project board member and Caravancicle founder Jim Tananbaum has addressed questions raised about his 2014 camp in Black Rock City.

The following was posted today on Caravancicle.com … we’re reposting it here for your convenience:

The Man himself

The Man himself. Image: Google+

I am writing to respond to a number of posts regarding Caravancicle, a camp of which I was a member in 2014 – I also helped envision and fund the camp.

I first want to apologize broadly to anyone who felt disrespected by our camp or concerned about the implications of our camp’s operation to the long-term health of Burning Man.

I have been attending Burning Man every year since 2009. Burning Man is a singularly impactful event for me and, since first attending, I have become deeply moved by the 10 Principles, the potential for these principles to change the world, and the environment of the playa as an embodiment of the principles. This is the reason I joined the Burning Man Board of Directors. It is also the reason why I wanted to create a camp environment that would help enable my friends to share the transformative experience of Burning Man. In addition, we wanted to introduce a more sustainable, communal and aesthetically pleasing alternative to RVs to the playa. It was always our intention to provide an open environment, which welcomed everyone and was consistent with the spirit of Burning Man. It is clear based on blog posts and comments made online that not everyone experienced what we intended.

For that, I would like to apologize. Despite our best intentions and efforts, some things did not turn out as planned. 

Caravancicle is the third camp I have been involved with at Burning Man. My experience has been with larger camps requiring some workers to provide the infrastructure. Our camp was constructed by a long-term Burner with deep respect and care for the community, who was hired to manage the camp. He also led the build for the camp we did the year before. We have worked with people in the past to build out our camp who were hired by the camp organizers and then would enjoy the Burning Man experience when they were not working. Our campmates would staff the bar, greet people, give out gifts, etc.  This year, our plan was to gift a neighboring camp infrastructure in exchange for their assistance in building ours. We were trying to build community through sharing resources.

To make a long and painful story short, our partners were not able to complete our build and our remaining staff was left having to build out toilets, showers and other infrastructure (without having planned to and therefore not having the proper resources to do so). During this crisis, many people in our camp rose to the occasion, but a few, like “SherpaGirl,” decided to leave and then wrote a disappointing account of her few hours in our camp. Another person in camp posted a sign asking for help without asking anyone else. We had some first time Burners in the camp, including the person who posted the sign. We also had many return Burners in the camp.  I think most people attending Burning Man have had some unexpected situations; we did, and we tried to adjust to these in the moment.

The hero of this unfortunate situation was our camp’s manager who worked tirelessly for 2 days along with other camp members to help provide basic infrastructure for all of us. While the crisis was going on, all of us were greatly distracted and weren’t able to properly respond to the many people coming through our camp. Our supplies were also dwindling. Since the camp was so large, we used wristbands to help manage the food, water, and booze supply during non-public hours. It was really sad for me to read the accounts of people who visited our camp and were turned down for drinks during the day (including a number of my friends). Ughh….  If we had simply posted a sign providing details on camp gift times, it would have made a big difference.

Our camp breakdown was also compromised because the group responsible for providing the infrastructure was also responsible for part of the breakdown. In the end, our camp manager and some other members of the camp, plus breakdown staff, cleaned up our camp by Saturday after the event. We took a photo of our campsite before we left the playa and it was free of MOOP. We then learned that a camp next door was having significant issues with clean up and we sent trucks back to help them. It is unclear to me as to why we remain with some red marks on the MOOP map.

To specifically answer questions:  I did not profit from Caravancicle (in fact I gifted money, as I do every year). Our bar was open to the public at night but not during the day. We should have posted a sign to make this clear. On Friday night, used up all of our booze to gift a huge party for anyone who visited our camp. We regularly gifted very yummy homemade popsicles and herbal tea but were not able to set up the gift stand in front of the camp as originally envisioned because of the build crisis we had. We regularly gifted drinks, water, and electrolytes at night.

Regarding questions on the 10 Principles of Burning Man:

1. Radical Inclusion: Burning Man welcomes people from all walks of life. Referring to Caravancicle campers or members of any other camp as “the rich people” is creating a class system within Burning Man, which I don’t believe is beneficial to the community. Our camp welcomed people from all walks of life. Sometimes we had art cars that were filled up with our camp members and would not have been safe to include others. During other parts of the days, these art cars welcomed anyone to come on board until they were filled to safe capacity.

2. Gifting: Burning Man is devoted to acts of giving. Caravancicle gifted popsicles, tea, booze, water and electrolytes, but at the beginning of the week we did not serve non-camp members drinks during the day and failed to make it clear to non-camp members that we would be offering drinks during nighttime hours to everyone. We did gift a blow out Friday party with full bar and snacks. We could have greatly improved our communications on this matter.

3. Decommodification: Our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorship, transactions, or advertising. Caravancicle was in no way affiliated with any third party sponsorships. We hired a team to produce the camp (as many camps do), but Caravancicle did not participate in any advertising. The ‘promotional materials’ and website were sent to guests who were invited to join the camp. We did not actively promote the camp. No one in Caravancicle made money off of the camp.

4. Radical Self-reliance: Although many of the more physical aspects of self-reliance were lost on the Caravanciclers, camp members were encouraged to exercise and rely on their inner resources. Just as in other camps, many members spent extensive amounts of time reflecting and self-exploring out on the playa. They faced many of the same challenges every other Burner faces at the event.

5. Radical Self-expression: Caravancicle was an act of creative expression in and of itself. The camp had months and months of planning and effort put into it, including help from many of its members. While not all members of the camp participated in the creative aspect of building the camp, each brought their own unique personality, costumes and contributions to Burning Man.

6. Communal Effort: While I can’t argue that Caravancicle members had significantly less work to do as far as cooking and maintenance, all members were still responsible for chores around camp including, but not limited to, picking up trash and being responsible for washing their own dishes. We also created a beautiful space open to the public that fostered cooperation and collaboration.

7. Civic Responsibility: Caravancicle assumed responsibility for the conduct of our events. We refused alcohol to minors and to people who didn’t have cups in order to limit MOOP. On one specific instance there were so many bikes parked outside one of our parties that the Rangers had to come inside and let us know. We killed the music and shut down the party immediately, making sure the mess was cleared up right away.

8. Leaving No Trace: Our clean up was delayed because of our co-dependency on a partner camp. We were able to clean our site, with pictures taken that document a clean site on Saturday after the event. It is unclear to me why we received red marks on the MOOP map, but I think we were generally docked points because we were late in leaving. We also sent back help for a neighbor camp that was having difficulties cleaning up.

9. Participation: Members of Caravancicle participated and achieved through “doing”. I urge everyone to remember that for some of our campers, this was their first burn. Personally, I contributed substantially less my first year than I have in years since. This year, however, I allocated vast amounts of time, effort and money to create something beautiful to share with the community.

10. Immediacy: Most Burners agree that Immediacy is the touchstone of value in our culture. Just like every other participant in this community, I wish to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves. I did not get it perfectly right, but I did make my best effort to create something beautiful and creative, unique and innovative.

Regarding other questions that have been raised about me and my camp:

Plug and Play: While a lot of personal responsibility was deflected onto camp employees, I have worked tirelessly since the beginning of the year planning, organizing and executing a camp that brought beauty and value to the playa. Although some of our campers were “plug and play” participants per se, the act of judging them or excluding them goes against everything that Burning Man stands for regarding radical inclusion.

Profit: There have been suggestions that our camp was for profit. I can assure you our camp generated no money and was not, in any way, a money making venture. Additionally, the Burning Man organization was in no way involved with the planning or production of the camp – it was an entirely personal project.  Our website was meant to be viewed by 60 or so people who were planning to participate in our camp and was password protected. The material which referred to artists was produced by our partner camp and not us as a way of describing what they envisioned. Our partner camp described this as fully endorsed by the artists they included. I am sorry that people outside of Caravancicle camp were able to gain access to our website and share our draft material without our authorization. I am also sorry about artists whose names they included without their authorization. Caravancicle was trying to create an environment which shared the beauty of our architecture and design with other creative forces on the playa.

Burning Man Project Board of Directors: I joined the board of directors because I’m passionate about the impact Burning Man culture can have on the world, and because I believe my professional experience and perspective is valuable to the new nonprofit at this early stage of its development. I believe Burning Man and what it has to offer the world is still very nascent and am thrilled to be working with other board members to steward its growth and development.

I believe there is a silver lining in the discussion our camp has engendered because it has caused a healthy dialog about the implications for Burning Man’s evolution. I am proud to be a Burner. I am proud that my fellow Burners felt passionate enough about the sanctity of Burning Man to push this discussion, and I look forward to taking new ideas and lessons learned into the future.

 


Burners.Me:

It wasn’t his fault, see. He blames all his staff. The paid workers didn’t do a good enough job, the camp next door who he paid to build his camp for him didn’t do a good enough job, and he lost money on the whole deal. They never used any artists names in their marketing materials without permission, that was the camp next door’s fault. The MOOP? Camp next door. Although they were allowed to stay until Saturday cleaning up (not Tuesday), they got no special treatment from BMOrg. Anyone can bend the rules if they like…hey, like Larry says, they’re not rules, just an ethos.

If “Sherpagirl” hadn’t left when she did, it all would’ve worked out great.

Their camp brought “beauty and value” to the Playa.

I allocated vast amounts of time, effort and money to create something beautiful to share with the community.”

- what, Jim? What? Please tell us what were the beautiful things that your camp shared with the community. Popsicles? The bingo?

We refused alcohol to minors and to people who didn’t have cups in order to limit MOOP”

- right. Not because of the laws of the land, or physics.

In one breath he says:

Our camp welcomed people from all walks of life…We also created a beautiful space open to the public that fostered cooperation and collaboration.

and then straight away he says:

Sometimes we had art cars that were filled up with our camp members and would not have been safe to include others….at the beginning of the week we did not serve non-camp members drinks during the day and failed to make it clear to non-camp members that we would be offering drinks during nighttime hours to everyone. We did gift a blow out Friday party with full bar and snacks

Of course, we also see the familiar “straw man” misdirection:

Referring to Caravancicle campers or members of any other camp as “the rich people” is creating a class system within Burning Man, which I don’t believe is beneficial to the community

I haven’t seen this issue being raised from any Burners in the community, actually. Just 3 of the Board of Directors now, and a couple of the shit-stirrers on the state-sanctioned forum ePlaya.

It was always our intention to provide an open environment, which welcomed everyone and was consistent with the spirit of Burning Man

Yep, they brought 70,000 wristbands. And money. They gifted us money.

MOOP #fail

MOOP #fail

It is unclear to me as to why we remain with some red marks on the MOOP map.

Actually Jim, your entire camp got yellow. That’s bad. Red is really bad.

So not even a Director of Burning Man can explain how they got their score on the MOOP map. In that case, who can? It seems that the MOOP result is rather arbitrary, and possibly politically motivated. There seems to be little in the way of recourse, oversight, or explanation.

I’m not impressed. What do you think, Burners?

 

Video

Burning Man Through The Eyes of Kids

Fusion media/AM Tonight takes a look at Kidsville, the village-within-a-city. It seems you’re never too young to enter the Mad Max-style Thunderdome. “Two kids enter, one kid leaves“…get ‘em into the Fight Club young, so they can grow up to join the dark army of dirtbags.

Kids at Burning Man, 2004. Image: Waltarrrr/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Kids at Burning Man, 2004. Image: Waltarrrr/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Parents who wish to save money on babysitters and take their kids out of school so they can party with all the freaks, should be aware that there are a number of registered sex offenders attending every year. In 2013 a child kidnapper in Colorado was arrested after breaking into a house and taking an 8-year old girl from her bedroom; police discovered that he had announced his plans to go to Burning Man to kidnap a kid on Facebook. A couple of years back, an Amber Alert was issued when a 15-year old girl ran away and was missing for 24 hours. The entire gate and airport were locked down, no-one could leave until the kid was located. A fun night without the parents for the girl; a hostage situation for everybody else.

Many adult Burners wonder if it really brings that many benefits to the rest of us, to radically include kids and expose them to all the dust, drugs, and debauchery.

“Like Burning Man Gone Wrong”

That’s what Vulture has to say about the trailer for the new movie Mad Max: Fury Road, the fourth film in the Mad Max franchise by Australian director George Miller. The series has been a big inspiration behind the costumes, art cars, and overall post-apocalyptic steampunk anarchist vibe of Burning Man.

Vulture:

The New Trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road Is Like Burning Man Gone Wrong

WIRED was effusive in its praise and excitement:

mad-mad-fury-road-comic-con-posterAfter watching this clip we wanted to file this under “Greatest Movie Ever Made” even though it’s probably a little too soon to make that call. That said, we’ve got a feeling, deep in our bones, that this movie will be spectacular. George Miller looks like he’s out for bloody vengeance, seeking to rain down hate on anyone who’s dared make an “action” movie since he left the post-apocalypse behind. The Godfather of the original Mad Max trilogy has had a weirdly touchy feely resume since going beyond the Thunderdome 30 years ago. His last four projects have been:Lorenzo’s Oil, Babe: Pig in the City, and two Happy Feet movies. Apparently, handling such sentimental fare has built a swirling tempest of rage inside Miller, because Fury Road looks like it’s not just here to build on the steampunk hellfire deathrace legacy of the first three Max movies. The new Tom Hardy edition of Earth-gone-wrong wants to double down, take eight shots of Absinthe, and inhale a dozen rails of meth before plunging an adrenaline needle into its own heart. Considering we have computers now and they do everything, Fury Road and its very real explosions don’t even feel possible. Who let this happen? Did Miller film on Mars? How many undisclosed on-set deaths will we hear about 10 years from now? This is horrible to say, but if the feature film is even half as good as these first two trailers, it might be worth whatever price was paid—in blood or treasure—to get it made. The only thing left to do between now and May 15th is build a screen big enough with definition high enough to do it justice. We’ll be waiting.

The future belongs to the mad:

Mad Max Mastermind Miller

Mad Max Mastermind Miller

George Miller went on from Mad Max to make such Hollywood classics as Happy Feet and Babe: Pig In The City.

Burners of a certain age will remember Tina Turner’s epic role in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, part 3 of the series, which was released in 1985 – the year before Burning Man was born. That’s right, when the last Mad Max movie was made, there was no such thing as Burning Man. Will there be any references to the event in this new installment? It seems like the special effects might have improved, and Tina has been upgraded to Charlize Theron, but otherwise, it’s more of the same good stuff that has made the franchise a cult classic, and inspired generations of Burners to go mad in the desert.

Check out a still youthful Mel Gibson:

If you don’t remember the movie, you probably know the song:

Personally, for my post-apocalyptic, cavemen in rags driving dune buggies soundtrack, I prefer 2-Pac and alleged Burning Man mastermind Dr Dre:

Although there’s something to be said for the Zion rave scene in Matrix 2: Reloaded

 

mad max fury road cars

Is that the Mad Max version of Robot Heart?

Art cars galore!

mad_max_4_fury_road_speaker_truck_wtf___2_by_maltian-d5okx0d

Is this the Mad Max version of Robot Heart?

MadMax4set1small

 

FishTank: Behind The Art

fishtank logo

Dr Andy Levy talks about the “miles of smiles” inspiration behind his Fish Tank art cars, which are notable for being designed to be totally open. Hop-on, rock-on.

Like Fish Tank on Facebook, and support the car by buying some of their gear.

The Fish Tanks don’t just go to Burning Man. They have also been to the Houston Art Car Parade, Art Basel Miami, Electric Daisy Carnival, and the Art Car Fest at the Reno Museum of Art.

You might want to hit mute before you watch this next one. There are no speed limits at Juplaya

photo by Gilles Bonugli

photo by Gilles Bonugli

photo by Peter Ruprecht

photo by Peter Ruprecht

Fish Tank at Electric Daisy Carnival

Fish Tank at Electric Daisy Carnival

Fish Tank at Fertility 2.0

Fish Tank at Fertility 2.0

Fighting Fight Tank in the Houston Art Car Parade

Fighting Fight Tank in the Houston Art Car Parade

fishtank2

Fighting Fish Tank

 

photo by Peter Ruprecht

Fish Tank at Distrikt

Fish Tank at Distrikt

Fish Tank at JuPlaya