One of the biggest news stories of the year has been the Nevada stand-off between rancher Cliven Bundy and the BLM. The Bundy family have been grazing cattle on the land for almost 140 years (although that claim has been disputed). The BLM claims that the Bundys owe $1 million in back taxes for grazing fees, and that they have to clear off the land because of an endangered desert tortoise. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the state, the BLM are killing thousands of these tortoises. The BLM ran over a tortoise den on the Bundy ranch, and PETA has called them out on their inhumane treatment of the cows. Ecologists claim that the cows are actually good for the tortoises: “more cows, more tortoises”. Further complicating the story is the revelation that the powerful Democrat Senator Harry Reid of Nevada wants to build a solar power plant with the Chinese on the land. The head of the BLM is a former senior advisor of Reid. According to a BLM whistleblower, there is also be a rare earth mineral with military applications involved, and long-term real estate shenanigans involving the Reid family.
The Feds have taken a heavy-handed approach, with death threats, cries of “domestic terrorism”, scuffles and tasering. In the latest skirmish, hundreds of Bundy supporters on foot and on horses advanced on dozens of heavily armed and armored BLM agents who were pointing assault rifles at them and threatening to shoot. They managed to free 389 cows without any shots being fired. The Feds retreated and the battle was won, but Harry Reid vowed “it’s not over yet”.
Enter, Burning Man.
“Burning Man Organizer Plans ‘BundyFest’ – 30 Days of Anarchy next to Stand-off Site”, reads the headline in the Washington Times. The Daily Kos said “this year, Burning Man will be held at Bundyfest — free land adjacent to the Cliven Bundy Ranch. And it’s all free, free, free – no permits, no rules, nothing!”
Here’s the official blurb for the clothing optional, gay-friendly, 24/7 event:
Come celebrate TOTAL FREEDOM at BUNDYFEST, just across the street from the Cliven Bundy Ranch, in Bunkerville, Nevada! 240 bands, 24 hours a day, for a SOLID ROCKIN’ MONTH!!!!
BACKGROUND: For years, we paid permitting fees to hold Burning Man on the beautiful Playa in Northern Nevada. But now, Cliven Bundy has shown us a NEW WAY! ABSOLUTE FREEDOM! Bundy has declared the entire area surrounding Bundy Ranch as a TOTALLY RULES-FREE ZONE! ANYTHING GOES! WOO-HOO!!!
Why should Burning Man end on September 1st? Swing down to Vegas for a few days for some R&R, a few good buffets, and then HEAD ON UP TO BUNDYFEST! All 50,000+ Burning Man participants are invited to attend — and as many more as can make the trip from anywhere in the world! 100,000? 250,000? THE SKY IS THE LIMIT AT BUNDYFEST! The desert surrounding Bundy’s ranch is LIMITLESS!
As well as Burners, they’re expecting the Hells Angels and the LA Gay Men’s choir. Should be quite a mix.
Security has already been arranged:
“That’s the point! This is anarchy. This is exactly what the founding fathers envisioned for America…go down to the river, pop a squat and let it all hang out, that’s your right as an American”
So, what’s the deal? Is Burning Man getting all political now, sending hordes of Burners out to stand before the gun barrels of the BLM?
Well, not quite. “Burning Man organizer Sean Shealy” actually has nothing to do with Burning Man – in fact, he has never even been. This fact is not important enough to make it in the papers, so the story has gone global that “Burning Man is now at Bundy Fest”.
BMOrg came out to make an official statement:
“The person is not a Burning Man organizer and we actually have no information on him,” Jim Graham, a Burning Man communications representative, said in an email today.
Additionally, Burning Man posted this on Facebook last night:
“For the record, the Burning Man organization has absolutely no involvement whatsoever with the so-called #BundyFest or its supposed organizer Sean Shealy.”
We hope Bundyfest happens, another month of desert partying, why not? It’s only 500 miles from Burning Man. The Facebook page for Bundyfest launched on Monday, and already has almost 4000 likes - so there definitely is some demand there. Quite how they are going to get 240 bands playing 24/7 at a free event remains to be seen, but anything’s possible. If you promote it, they will come…
Seems like September might be a busy month for the BLM.