Wake Up, Neo – There Is No Counter-Culture

Just found this thought-provoking essay from 2013 by James Curcio at Modern Mythology. I have edited it down to highlight the most relevant passages for Burners, emphasis ours:

“Two weeks at Burning Man may be fun, but try doing it for a year and chances are you’ll come back telling me what hell is like.”

.

Even by definition, the idea of a counterculture expresses itself as a negation. It is arguable if a counterculture could possibly exist without the myths of the mainstream. As such it is a product of the market, and exists only insofar as it serves a function within that market.

 .
Yet there are ideals which have been part of various vibrant (if short-lived) countercultures, which rest close to the heart of the creative process as structured by the myth of the individual: unfettered self-expression, freedom from the externally imposed social boundaries, irreverent humor, an element of egalitarianism mixed liberally with pirate capitalism, maybe even a sense of pragmatic community. History shows that these ideals are quickly lost in such movements, however, oftentimes as soon as they gain a true pulpit. The largest expression of that in recent history is of course the now somewhat idealized 1960s, a clear view of which has been obscured through a haze of pot-smoke and partisan politics.
.
baby softHowever, “counterculture bubbles,” Temporary Autonomous Zones and so on are regularly coming into and out of being. Countercultures remain rather toothless in regard to having any capacity to sustain themselves outside the context of the society they stand in opposition to, instead utilizing a self-referential social currency of cool-points, sprinkled liberally with pointless elitism and a side of Who Gives A Fuck? One need merely look at the transformation of musical and sub-cultural genres founded on rebellion: punk, rock and roll, and the like, and what they have transformed into during the decades of their existence. In this domain, the territory between aesthetic, ideals, and social movement becomes blurry at best…
 .
This is not to point an accusatory finger, but rather to show the essential dependence of the counterculture upon the mainstream, because they are not self-sustaining, and every culture produces a counter-culture in its shadow, just as every Self produces an Other. Any counterculture. Punk, underground, beatnik, hippy, psychedelic, straight edge, or occult culture all stand as the cardboard cut-out Shadows of corporate America.
.
They will be co-opted the moment their shtick becomes profitable. It doesn’t matter that these ideologies have little in common. It is the fashion or mystique that gets sold. When all an ideology really boils down to is an easy to replicate aesthetic, how could they not? “Cool” is what customers pay a premium for, along with the comfort of a world with easy definitions and pre-packaged, harmless rebellions. Psychedelic and straight edge can share the same rack in a store if the store owner can co-brand the fashions, and people can brand themselves “green” through their purchasing power without ever leaving those boxes or worrying about the big picture. Buy nothing day, AdBusters, etc. ad nauseum all utilize this principle. Without laying the material, mythic, and social groundwork for a new society, counterculture cannot be a bridge; it almost invariably leads back to the mainstream, though not necessarily without first making its mark and pushing some new envelope.

.

Where do we draw the line? As Yogi Bhajan put it, “money is as money does.” The question is how individuals utilize or leverage the potential energy represented by that currency, and what ends it is applied to. Hard nosed books on business such as Drucker’s Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices say exactly the same thing, in a less epigrammatic, Yoda-like way: profit is not a motive, it is a means…

.

Though this “revolution” certainly didn’t start in the 1960s, there we have one of the clearest instances of what good bed-fellows mass marketing and manufacturing make when branded under the zeitgeist of the counterculture. The moment that psychedelic culture gained a certain momentum, Madison Avenue chewed it up and spit it out in 7up ads. If a movement gains momentum, it becomes a market. This was used to sell these “psychedelic clothes” to a wider market. When people bought those hip clothes to make a statement, whose pockets were they lining? It’s a revolving door of product tie-ins, and it all feeds on the needs of the individual, embodied in a sub-culture. The rise of Rolling Stone magazine could also be seen as an example of this; a counterculture upstart turned mainstream institution.
 .
Fashion embodies a state of mind, a culture. But it is not that culture. An example of this can be seen in Harley Davidson driving lawyers in their forties. As the company rose to prominence in the 1920s and beyond, Harley Davidson developed its brand off of what they sold, functionally, yet in later years that became a shtick that was re-marketed to people that needed not an alternate form of transportation, but instead what Harley Davidson had come to “mean.” The bottom line here, as discussed previously: we live in a culture where appearances count for a lot more than reality.
 .
Those who position themselves as extreme radicals within the counter culture framework merely disenfranchise themselves through an act of inept transference, finding anything with a dollar sign on it questionable. To this view, anyone that’s made a red cent off of their work is somehow morally bankrupt. This mentality can only end one way: they will wind up howling after the piece of meat on the end of someone else’s string, working by day for a major corporation, covering their self-loathing at night in tattoos, and body-modifications they can hide. That is, unless they lock themselves in a cave or try to start an agrarian commune.
.
Growth on its own is never a clear indicator that the underlying ideals of a movement will remain preserved. If history has shown anything, it is that successful movements lose substance either through shallowing their core values until they become an empty, parroted aesthetic, as with most musical scenes and their transition from content to fashion; or the movement’s core values are so emphasized that the meaning within them is lost through literalism, as we can see in the history of the world’s major religions. The early Christian Gnostic traditions of “love thy neighbor,” “all is one,” and the agape orgies were replaced by the Roman Orthodoxy and the authority provided through the ultimate union of State and Religion. The hippies traded in their sandals and beat up VWs for SUVs and overpriced Birkenstocks. It oftentimes seems that succeeding too well can be the greatest curse to befall a movement, and it is a well-documented fact of cultural trends that when the pendulum swings far in one direction, it often turns into its opposite without having the common decency to wait to swing back the other way…
 .
1-BUILLThus, the utopian dreams of most countercultures are rendered somewhat toothless by the brilliantly co-optive myths of capitalist culture. One might hope this is a temporary state of affairs, as the hippy movement hoped that primal territorial and ideological conflicts are some sort of prolonged hold-back rather than the underlying reality of the human condition. Regardless, hope alone does not bring change. The paradigms that root a culture in ideological stasis are too strong for any single “revolutionary” or grass-roots movement to effectively shift them all at once – all that results from demonstrative radicalization is further polarization, disenfranchisement and estrangement. If, on the other hand, people find alternatives that truly work for them, which allow for new cultural possibilities (and blind-spots), they will likely spread by virtue of their efficacy. If social groups can establish greater sufficiency, they become less dependent on the structures of government and business, though it’s unlikely they’ll be able to escape the establishment of their own versions of the same. It almost seems that such things can only happen blindly, naturally, as bees pollinate flowers.
.
So we come to it.  
.
As counterculture scenes grow and enter the market place – all the elements of it have been defined, commodified, and made replicable. This is precisely the same process that occurs from one generation to the next. It isn’t that any subculture – or any “scene” for that matter – needs to be revitalized once it has reached this stage. They are all dead shells, ideas which at one point in time served a purpose, and are now just fetishes. 
.
Perhaps the line between “Home” and “Defaultia” was always destined to get blurrier, as the amount of money involved increases.

New Plug-n-Plays Coming Up With Their Own Principles

Soho Gardens is the latest ultra-luxe glamping experience at Burning Man. It is very much following the lead of previous sherpa-laden hotel experiences at Burning Man that have been highly promoted to the media, from Directors Chip Conley, Jim Tananbaum, and Chris Weitz.

So, what’s the Soho Gardens twist?

Screenshot 2015-07-02 19.18.13

No maids, no sherpas. No fire. No drama. No ‘razis.

O. M. F. G.

How would one cope? This self-reliance thing is getting a little ridiculous. How are we supposed to rely on ourselves without maids or paparazzis? What’s the point of sherpas if some camps forbid them? Should we chain them to our camps and not let them ever go free range at Burning Man?

Soho Gardens promise to educate their guests in the Principles of Burning Man, but only about 3 of them…after that, there are better principles to focus on. And who’s to say that “Love” and “Green Energy” aren’t better than “Immediacy” and “Radical Self Reliance, anyway”? The principles are just guidelines.

Screenshot 2015-07-02 19.25.11

Screenshot 2015-07-02 19.25.05

Screenshot 2015-07-02 19.24.59

Wi-Fi is available at limited hours, presumably as a free gift to all Burners.

Screenshot 2015-07-02 19.10.02 Screenshot 2015-07-02 19.08.36 Screenshot 2015-07-02 19.07.00 Screenshot 2015-07-02 19.05.53

They’re pretty specific about who they do, and don’t, want to Radically Include:

Screenshot 2015-07-02 19.18.13 Screenshot 2015-07-02 19.18.05

They’re looking at a few more amenities than the BLM’s Blue Pit:

Screenshot 2015-07-02 19.19.52

They’ve figured out how to include Gifting and Radical Inclusion with the requisite VIP Exclusivity: Gift Tickets

Screenshot 2015-07-02 19.21.07

No word yet on how much per head, but we believe there are still slots available.

Who’s Being a Dick in Scandinavia?

Whatever it takes to promote safe sex these days, in the Transhumanist Age of Artilects.

Man In Giant Penis Costume Shoots Glitter Around Norway To Raise STI Awareness

On Thursday, Public Health England released statistics showing a five per cent increase in STIs in London’s 16 to 24 year olds.

Norway… has an astonishingly high STI rate and the twenty-somethings won’t respond to traditional public service announcements, what else is there to do but dress a man up as a giant penis and get him to shower unsuspecting people with glitter?

RFSU, a Norwegian sex education charity, have done exactly that. They hired student Philip van Eck to wear a huge phallus costume in a bid to raise awareness of STIs and get the young people of Norway to wear condoms.

19-year-old van Eck told told Tønsberg Blad: “I thought it was hilarious. If I can help others, just by being a dick, there is nothing better.”

rfsu penis

According to RFSU, 23,000 Norwegians contract chlamydia every year, and are a lot less likely to wear condoms than their Nordic neighbours.

Although the ‘Penis Can Surprise You’ campaign is proving a hit with youngsters, it hasn’t been well-received by the over 30s, who have labelled it “banal and idiotic”.

[Source: Huffington Post UK]

Banal? Idiotic? This is a Carnival of Mirrors, of Chumps and Rubes, we don’t recognize such terms.

DanceSafe, Bunk Police Shut Down in Attack on Raver Safety [Updates]

A raver surveys the MOOP left over after Electric Forest 2015. Image: MILive

A raver surveys the MOOP left over after Electric Forest 2015. Image: MILive

Strange things have been happening in the EDM Festival world over the last couple of weeks, with two different volunteer crews providing drug safety information – DanceSafe and Bunk Police – both getting shut down at two different festivals – Electric Forest and Bonnaroo.

DanceSafe are a non-profit organization who provide a booth at festivals, staffed by volunteers, offering education and information to promote safer raving. Depending on the festival, they provide drug-testing services and sell kits. You can get them from their web site. This year they also offered “snorting straws”. Ever heard the story that 99% of banknotes have cocaine on them? That means the note has been up at least one person’s nose. Maybe thousands of peoples’. Money is dirty, and can spread Hepatitis C and other things that you and your friends don’t want. Snorting straws only seems like a good thing for society, in my opinion. If you don’t like the snorting, fight the noses, not the straws.

DanceSafe have done this at Electric Forest in Rothbury, Michigan for the last 4 years. This time, the promoters turned on them, without explanation.

First, the Crime Scorecard for Electric Forest 2015:

ROTHBURY, MI – The Michigan State Police has released its report on police activity at the 2015 Electric Forest Festival.

Festival promoters contracted with the state police to provide on-site law enforcement services, as they have in previous years.

This is the roundup of the five-day event:

  • Troopers investigated 50 original complaints.
  • Eight people were lodged in the Oceana County Jail.
  • Twenty people are pending arrest after a review by the Oceana County Prosecutor’s Office.

These are the charges that were investigated:

  • 23 felony drug charges
  • Three misdemeanor assault charges
  • Five misdemeanor drug chargesTroopers also responded to or assisted emergency medical service or festival security personnel on numerous medical calls.According to promoters, approximately 40,000 tickets were sold for this year’s Electric Forest Festival.

[Source: MILive]

28 drug charges out of 40,000 tickets. That seems pretty good, right? A nice, clean, safe event. So why the sudden turn against DanceSafe, for doing the same thing they’ve been doing for years?

Read the full account at DanceSafe. Here are some excerpts:

Electric Forest Shuts Down DanceSafe– But We Have A Bigger Problem To Tackle

June 30, 2015
By- Mitchell Gomez, DanceSafe National Outreach Director


…Electric Forest has ended, and as those of us who were onsite know, this year the event producers ordered DanceSafe to shut down the booth early on Friday. Although we are still unclear on why this occurred, we feel it’s important for the community to hear about our experiences…

The DanceSafe booth at TomorrowWorld, where we provide information but no on site testing or kits for sale.

The DanceSafe booth at TomorrowWorld, where we provide information but no on site testing or kits for sale.

DanceSafe is a 501(c)(3) non-profit public health organization with a mission to promote health and safety within in the nightlife and electronic music communities. Using harm reduction and peer-based education as our guiding principles, we provide a range of free information and services including safe spaces to take breaks and engage in conversations about health, drug use, and personal safety; water and electrolytes [to prevent dehydration and heatstroke]; earplugs [to prevent hearing loss], safe sex tools [to avoid unwanted pregnancies and spread of STI’s]; honest, fact-based, unbiased information on drug effects and potential harms [to empower people to make informed decisions]; and provide drug checking [to avoid overdose or death].

We were founded in 1998 in the Bay Area, and since have grown to over a dozen chapters, with hundreds of volunteers worldwide. We are primarily known for being the first entity to bring free reagent testing to nightlife settings in the United States, 17 years ago. Reagent testing is a method of drug checking used to identify drug contents. It’s limited in that the chemical analysis is only able to identify what chemical is mostly present, not purity, potency or all cutting agents present. Although this is the service that we’re most widely known for, in recent years we’ve worked with many event producers who are uncomfortable with providing this service onsite, and in cases where we’ve been asked not to, we never test onsite, sell kits, or provide any other service that is not wanted.

For instance, at festivals such as TomorrowWorld, Imagine Festival, Mysteryland, and Lightning in a Bottle, we’ve had an official presence onsite to provide our other services listed above, but do not sell kits or provide free drug checking services. Even in cases where producers re-evaluate what services they want provided after DanceSafe is already set up onsite, if asked to stop or change anything, we always immediately comply. We also generally have items in the booth for sale. The only products we sell in our booth are either those directly related to harm reduction (such as high-quality earplugs or re-usable water-bottles), or items for patrons to wear in order to show their support for our cause (such as T-Shirts, our Grassroots Hat, Pins, etc…). All sales and donations during events go back into the organization and are used to support further outreach.

Since 2011, Electric Forest has provided DanceSafe with booth space, but classed as vendors, placed in one of the vendor areas, provided us with vendor wristbands, and generally treated as vendors in every way.

The DanceSafe Team, 2015

Thus, this was DanceSafe’s fourth year onsite, and it was our third year in the ‘Craft Vending’ village…Each year we’ve been in the Forest, we’ve provided our full range of services, and we’ve always had a fantastic working relationship with the event producers and staff…Excitingly, while testing onsite last year, some individual law enforcement officers were (quietly) supportive of our presence onsite, coming by to thank us for being there and picking up some of our literature. The support we received from the festival was simply amazing! Sadly, the story was very, very different this year…

The DanceSafe booth pre-shut down at Electric Forest 2015

On Thursday morning, after operating as normal for a few hours, we began to receive a series of complaints from the Craft Vending Coordinator, asking us to change certain services. Even though she wasn’t able to tell me who was ordering these changes or why, we complied immediately. At first we were just asked to stop doing free onsite testing and selling kits, which we did.

Less than an hour later we were visited again, this time in regards to a different service we provide. Although it isn’t well known, sharing a snorting apparatus like a bill or straw is a vector for spreading Hepatitis C. In order to mitigate this risk for people who are already using substances this way, we provide clean, safer snorting straws. At least we do if we are allowed to, and after mid-Friday, we weren’t allowed to anymore. At this point, I was finally able to speak to the person who was making these decisions, a very high level representative from Madison House Presents: the production company who makes Electric Forest possible.

During this meeting, the representative bizarrely insisted that DanceSafe had never been allowed to test onsite or sell kits, despite the fact that we have been doing so for several years and drug checking has been included in every proposal we have sent them to date. She also told me that I had to stop giving out the informational card we have on Heroin, as it was ‘too promotional’. Although I deeply disagree with ever censoring information, once again we immediately complied.

At every stage, no matter what the request was from the festival, DanceSafe staff and volunteers complied immediately…By Friday, it had become abundantly clear that something larger was going on, and that the festival was determined to shut us down.

Because of this, I was entirely unsurprised by a visit from a group of three individuals late on Friday: the Madison House representative I had been speaking with, another top-level producer of the festival, and a gentleman who I believe they stated was their head of security.  They asked me to ‘step away from the booth to talk’…we were being ordered to immediately shut down the booth…I was told by the security guard that I had “till the end of String Cheese” to close my booth, and that if I had not done so by that time, it would be done “his way.” I was deeply upset by this unnecessary threat, as we had been 100% compliant during every one of their requests. At no time during this interaction or any other interaction was the merchandise we sell in the booth (to fund outreach) mentioned to us, although that is now what the festival claims was the cause of us being shut down.

The booth after being shut down

The booth after being shut down

It was at this point that the incident occurred which precipitated my writing of this blog. I asked the representative from Madison House why we were being shut down, as we had been complying with all of their requests. In one of the strangest encounters of my life, the representative refused to answer me. I was told that we could “discuss it later.” I pleaded for some small explanation to give to my boss for this turn of events, and was told that it was not going to be discussed, and that I was being ordered to close my booth immediately.

So I did.

…The flat refusal on the part of the event producers to discuss it was strange, and the fact that I still have not received any explanation is problematic, but not nearly as problematic as other things I saw onsite this year. I think it is important that we, as a community, discuss these problems, and I think it is pertinent we do it NOW.

This year at The Electric Forest, I saw up to four hour lines to get from GA camping into the venue, with no free water, shade or medics in the area. This year at The Electric Forest, I saw a population grow by nearly 10,000, with no noticeable increase in the amount of water refill stations, resulting in nearly two hour lines just to refill a bottle of water. This year at The Electric Forest, I saw a festival shut down a group of volunteers dedicated to providing health and safety information and resources to the community without a single valid explanation. And I, for one, would like to know why I saw these things…

Under our present laws, a venue or company faces some very real risks if the government decides that their event is “maintaining a drug-involved premise.” But– to the best of my knowledge, the presence of harm reduction services has never been used as a part of any RAVE Act prosecution (although the law should still be changed). The fear that these services would be grounds for a RAVE Act prosecution are theoretical, and the result of a prosecution on such a shaky basis is far from clear, but the injuries and deaths caused by these fears are not theoretical. These injuries and deaths are real, and they are happening far too often.

The bold truth, that we must all speak loudly, is that in a world where correctional officers cannot keep drugs out of prisons, there is simply no way for a promoter to stop incidental, but inevitable use at their events. No matter how sincere the promoters effort, no matter how zealous and abundant the security and police, no matter how hard we try, those who wish to consume mind altering substances will always find a way to do so. However you may feel about this truth, it is reckless to deny. Once we accept that some use is unstoppable, it is our moral obligation to do everything within our power to reduce the risk of harm to those who do choose to use.

Frankly, the solutions to many of these problems are not difficult. Make it easy for people to find out what they are actually consuming by allowing onsite testing and allowing people to have drug checking kits of their own. Make sure that people have access to accurate, unbiased information about all drugs. Make it easy for people to stay cool when they are dancing by having chill-out areas that are physically separated from the dance floor so they don’t become overrun. Make sure that people both in the venue and in line to get in have access to shade, adequate and easily identifiable water, and medical services if they are needed…

It is far past time for us, as a community, to demand that all the health and safety of all participants are taken seriously and is prioritized. It is not an option for us to ignore these problems anymore.

[Source: DanceSafe]

I agree. Harm reduction, like safety, can often be a simple matter of education. If people are prepared to volunteer the time to provide this information for free, promoters and LEOs should encourage that. Kids are dying out there, and a lot of it is because they are not consuming what they think they’re buying. Reagent testing can save lives, and DanceSafe have an excellent track record of operations in this scene over 3 decades.

This situation is bizarre – and very disappointing. It comes on the back of Bonnaroo kicking out Bunk Police for selling drug testing kits.

From YourEDM:

We typically hear about how music festivals should be proactive in dealing with the drug overdoses and drug-related deaths at their events. Although not every attendee can be monitored at these events, there are plenty of options to prevent unnecessary casualties. From publicizing strict regulations against bringing controlled substances into the venues to enforcing those rules with security staff or the police, it would appear that in this day and age their best efforts can still be helped with alternative options.

However, one such option was shut down at Bonnaroo this past weekend. According to a post on the Bonnaroo sub Reddit, Adam Auctor issued a long statement about his business that sells Substance Test Kits and how the prominent music festival stopped his organization and treated him and his team like criminals.

Adam Auctor is the CEO of Bunk Police which has developed Substance Test Kits designed to test for different drugs and different chemicals and compounds within the tested samples. From spotting what’s in MDMA, LSD, Cocaine, DMT, Ketamine, and more, the test kits can be used to keep people who willingly want to take drugs to pursue that option in a cautious matter even if what they’re consuming is contraband. In other words, even if the drugs that some festival attendee has is illegal, at least they can test his or her drugs before ingesting it and harming themselves or worse.

After having his tent shut down from participating as a vendor at Bonnaroo and having 500 of his 2,000 substance test kits confiscated, Adam Auctor has made it loud and clear that although 2016 will not see the Bunk Police at Bonnaroo, they will return with a new plan in order to spread their message, ensuring that the people are informed and safe when it comes to controlled substances.

[Source: YourEDM]

An excerpt from Bunk Police CEO Adam Auctor’s statement on Reddit:

Before I get to the official reaction, let me tell you a little bit about a few local police officers and their reaction to us at the event. We were stopped by the police twice (while on foot) and were given the opportunity to explain ourselves. After elaborating on the harm reduction initiative, the issues with adulterated substances, etc. They kindly let us continue. Thanks for getting it, rogue officers.

Now on to the official reaction: We set up our tent, as usual, and within an hour our two – four individuals from the Mounted Patrol came by and treated us very differently. They detaining us like criminals and forced most of us to sit encircled by their horses. Shortly thereafter, an ATV with two representatives from the Bonnaroo security force showed up to assess the situation. We were made to bring everything out of our tent and our possessions were thoroughly searched. One of our “agents” walked up during this event and was also involved in the search. Unfortunately, so were two patrons that were completely unrelated to our operation – they were not even in the tent – they just happened to be walking by at the time. After nearly half an hour of extremely polite interaction, an explanation of our intentions, and pleading on our part – we were given two options 1) All of our wristbands would be cut and we would all be thrown out of the event (including the un-involved patrons.) They stated that if we chose this option, our supplies would be returned to us outside of the event as soon as we were removed. 2) Our supplies would be confiscated, but returned to us at the end of the event. We would be allowed to stay at Bonnaroo under the agreement that we would no longer operate or advertise in any way. We chose the second option.

They gave two main reasons for shutting us down: That we were “stealing from vendors who had paid to be there” and that “if someone uses our kit (to make sure their substances are safe?) and overdoses, Bonnaroo would be liable.”

It should be noted that Bonnaroo has never answered a single one of our dozens of emails requesting a vending permit or permission to operate.

At the conclusion of the event (where we still continued to operate tent-to-tent as they had only confiscated 500 of our 2,000 kits) I personally went to collect our supplies. As it turns out, Bonnaroo had not kept their word. In fact, they had given everything to the Sheriff’s Department. I was told that, in order to pick them up, I would have to personally go to the police station and show identification. This was not an option as it sounded like a great way to get arrested for illegal vending – among other unknowns – as the new Coffee County D.A. has made it a point to use the law in its full extent to charge Bonnaroo patrons[5] . I decided not to chance it, fearing that I could possibly be made into an “example” somehow and forfeited nearly 500 kits ( or5,000 individual tests) that could have been distributed and used at another event, along with radios, flyers, stickers, and a few (legal) personal items – a huge loss.

At around the same time, another one of our “agents” was stopped by a “safety team” from Bonnaroo. They were very interested in what he was doing, but not in anything beyond the cash he had on him at the time. They confiscated the remainder of his kits along with all of the cash he had on his person – including everything from his wallet. The kits were actually returned to him on Sunday by the Wormtown Trading Company booth (for some reason) but the cash came up missing. It seems that these “safety officers” had failed to log it and had kept the cash for themselves.

[Source: Reddit]

Interestingly, he ends his statement with this:

See you at Electric Forest – where the grass is greener and we have been allowed to freely reduce harm for five years.

Bunk Police tent at Electric Forest 2015. Image: Bunk Police/Facebook

Bunk Police tent at Electric Forest 2015. Image: Bunk Police/Facebook

Did Bunk Police complain to Electric Forest about DanceSafe for selling testing kits, and get them shut down? Or were both organizations victims of The Man, cracking down on We The Ravers?

Check out the What’s In My Baggie documentary, much of which was filmed at Bonnaroo.


[Update 7/1/15 6:46pm PST]

Brian has updated us with further details about what happened between DanceSafe and Madison House, the promoters of Electric Forest.

Dance safe obtained their booth for free by signing up as a non profit booth. Part of the contract with Madison house for non profit booths is that they do not sell anything. Also in the state of Michigan, anything that is for the use of testing illegal substances or use of illegal substances, is classified as paraphernalia. Since they were selling the test kits labeled as drug test kits and came with the color guide, at that point they not only broke their contract with Madison house as non profit booth but they broke Michigan state law. It’s a shame that a booth like dance safe was shut down as they have a great message, and they do great work, but if they were allow the booth to stay they could be held accountable of drug related offences due to the rave act. The focus of this should not be to point a finger at Madison house but rather at the skewed laws that create situations like this.


[Update 7/1/15 8:03pm PST]

DanceSafe’s Mitchell Gomez has made a statement, of sorts, on our Facebook page:

mitchell electric forest

walgreens drug kit

Screenshot 2015-07-01 20.04.27

Radio Interview With BMOrg’s Jim Graham on ChocoTacoGate [Update]

choco_taco

KPNR has an interview with Burning Man spokesman Jim Graham about the latest controversy in the Burnerverse.

.

The Twitter-verse was abuzz over the weekend in Nevada over Burning Man.

You all know Burning Man as the Labor Day week no-holds-barred celebration in the Black Rock Desert in the far reaches of northern Nevada.

The buzz was over the perks that the Bureau of Land Management is seeking from Burning Man organizers. The federal agency oversees the week-long event.

The agency’s list of desires reads like something a celebrity might request backstage, including soft-serve ice cream 24 hours a day, seven days a week; steaks, hamburgers, the ice cream treat choco-tacos, and a list of condiments and items that number well more than 100.

Not only that, but the Bureau wants VIP quarters, flush toilets and more.

We requested an interview with Bureau of Land Management officials but received no answer.

[Source: KPNR]

Jim revealed some hard numbers for 2014 costs.

BLM Fees were:

$2.75m cost recovery

$700,000 commercial use fees – BMOrg see this as a tax on top of the ticket price. If this is 3% of the gate then ticket sales were $23.3 million.

$600,000 infrastructure

Total $4.05 million

2011 BLM fees $1.4 million, population 54,000

2015 BLM fees $4.9 million , population 70,000

Jim said that this is a substantial increase in fees, for only 16,000 more population

Of course, the 16,000 extra population is worth $6,544,000 in bonus ticket revenue to BMOrg (at $409 a ticket).

Expected population this year is now officially 70,000 – so there could be an extra 2,000 tickets floating around, to be added to STEP or OMG. This weekend I heard a rumor of 25 tickets being available for $1500 each, but you had to buy the whole 25. Not quite sure how something like that comes about…

Jim said that the $1 million cost figure being bandied around is not just for the Blue Pit Compound. The million dollars is the sum total of all of the requests for infrastructure this year: radios, catering, flush toilets. He said their catering requests were not that unusual…“We feed more than 50,000 meals during the week – our staff and volunteers.” So it looks like the BLM are asking for an increase in the infrastructure budget from $600k to $1 million.

Burning Man are not sure who the VIPs are for the 8 designated containers in the Blue Pit.

Jim said “We house all the BLM agents in the town of Gerlach, we rent out the hotels. Vast majority of them stay there, 14 mile drive from the town out to the site – we feel that’s pretty reasonable…We don’t begrudge anybody how they’re going to live when they’re out there. ”


[Update 6/30/15 1:45pm PST]

Did I say 2,000 extra tickets? How about 12,000?

At The Hill, the Deputy Director of the BLM seems to be giving a green light to 80,000 people this year. An extra 10,000 tickets to sell will certainly pay for a lot of chocotacos.

On Monday, BLM Deputy Director Steve Ellis said the agency should “take a fresh look” at the requests. 

“I am concerned about the reported costs associated with supporting the Burning Man festival. I have directed that BLM staff take a fresh look at the initial proposals for food and facilities at the event,” Ellis said in a statement.

“Our priority is to provide for participant and employee health and safety, sanitation, and environmental compliance at this unique event that is attended by up to 80,000 people in a remote part of the Nevada Desert. I have full confidence in BLM staff and their ability to develop a plan that is cost efficient and ensures public health and safety.”

That sure would be a win/win/win compromise for everybody. Burners would win 12,000 more tickets. BMOrg would win another $5 million revenues. BLM could get a nice VIP compound and increase the infrastructure budget $400k. Looks like a pretty good deal all around, let’s hope it works out that way.