Halcyon: What I Learned Defending Plug-n-Play

Kudos to Halcyon for coming to our site to defend any criticisms of his article Don’t Hate Plug-n-Play. He’s penned a follow up, sharing what he learned from being “destroyed” on Burners.Me. He makes some good points here, and I think articulates his viewpoint more clearly than in the previous article.


from lustmonkey: (emphasis ours)


by Halcyon

24 hours ago  Fest300.com posted my article defending Plug-And-Playcamps.   I ended up getting DESTROYED on Burners.me and the Facebook Burning Man group.  I decided to write down what I learned.

Whew! I did not expect so much response…or so much anger. But I have been reading and listening and LEARNING. Here is are the main points I’ve gathered in the 24 hours of exuberant dialogue:

  1. 17 burns ago, in 1998, I showed up at Burning Man on Thursday and stayed through the Man burn. (There was no Temple.) I tried to learn what I could about the event but I was under-prepared and took WAY more than I gave. I owe much to my campmates (who I just met) and the whole city. I am so grateful for their patience and willingness to let me have a “blow my mind” year before expecting me to “get it.”   When I see people now who clearly don’t get it, I try to remember who I was back then.
  2. We all are passionate about Burning Man and consider it sacred. It is understandable that we are moved to fight to defend it (and feel anger towards those that we feel put it at risk.)
  3. Plug-And-Play is not an agreed-upon definition. Selling a high priced “resort experience” or Safari Tour of Burning Man is a different thing than a plug-and-play camp option – where you show up to a pre set-up camp and meal plan.
  4. Many people project the actions of the much-publicized “Carivanicle” camp to the term Plug And Play. They therefore consider a defense of Plug-and-Play to be a defense of what that camp did. No wonder there is so much anger!   Being aggressively flirtatious is not the same thing as rape.   The first may make some people uncomfortable – but it is possible to do with integrity.   The latter – always wrong.   Defending a flirtatious friend is not the same as defending rape.
  5. Carivanicle clearly violated the 10 Principles, common decency, and labor laws.   The anger (and attention) being given to this situation is justified and a positive thing for the future of Burning Man. Having specific acts (and people) to focus frustration on helps us to shape a more concrete “Best Practices” for all theme camps.
  6. I am not well versed on Carivanicle’s connection to a Burning Man board member. But if this is accurate, then it is understandably unsettling and should be addressed publically by the BMORG.
  7. I still believe that exposing people with power & influence to a Burning Man experience is good for the world. It can change people. That being said (and what I tried to say in the article), is that an exclusive, VIP segregated camp experience (aka “Safari”) is NOT a Burning Man experience.
  8. I think that the person who joins a Safari camp suffers a worse consequence (by missing out a possibility fantastic life experience) than anyone who is turned away from their velvet rope.
  9. If large chunks of tickets are being made available to these high dollar camps, that is NOT okay. Tickets are scarce and we have a very specific community rules for buying & selling tickets. The directed sales for camps and groups that have a reputation of participation is good for the event. But A turnkey camp that includes a ticket is just advanced level scalping. (aka “Pay-to-play”) Furthermore, ANY favorable treatment regarding placement, etc. is clearly not okay.
  10. For every professional chef , laborer, or servant that gets a ticket, is that one artist or dreamer or previous Burner who is unable to attend? That seems like an unacceptable price for creating luxury for a small number of elite.
  11. There are a small number of professional roles required for the event to take place. Porto Potty Emptier, Delivery Truck Driver, Police Officer, and a handful of other jobs.   These people do not require tickets and are not participants.  Then there is a HUGE group of people who gift their time and talent towards projects and camps. This is the heart and soul of Burning Man. But “Safari” camps introduce a middle ground of person who wants to be a participant, but also commodifies their labor.   Meanwhile countless other Participants gift those same skills & time to the community. I’m still getting my head around this category, but I think if you are acting on-Playa from financial motivation, you are outside the Principles and are in the category of Porto Potty guy or Cop.
  12. Plug-and-play is not necessarily against the Principles. But setting up a high priced safari experience as a sort of Event Planner money making scheme is blatant commodification. I heard reports of huge profits by Carivanicle. True or not, the concept is unsettling and downright maddening if camps like this are getting preferential treatment with regards to tickets, placement, etc.

In conclusion –

I have read through and tried to respond to well over 500 comments across Burners.me, Fest300 and Facebook. Some of those words were pretty hurtful and unnecessarily personal.   I get it. I put myself out there and I guess I ask for it. But it would be good to remember that we all love this thing in the desert.

And whether you like it or not, I love you.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 5.58.04 PM

Selling Out Part II: Who Could It Be Now?

[Selling Out - Part I - Wrapping the Gifting]

There is no direct evidence that Burning Man has been sold, or is planned to be sold. Just a mounting pile of circumstantial evidence, and the crumbling credibility of the official stories we’ve all been told over the last few years. There has been a notable absence of activity from their newest non-profit, which is now well into its third year. We’re still waiting to see the transparency we were promised earlier in the year, and wondering why exactly transparency takes more than 6 months to achieve. That kind of suggests there are things that they don’t want to be seen, right? Things that they have to clean up or shuffle out of the way before they can show us.

The shocking story of a Burning Man director’s involvement in providing financial backing and promotional impetus to a multi-million dollar commodification camp, has been met with the usual stoney silence from BMOrg. The news would have been no surprise to them, since all the money-making camps have to be registered and permitted. They knew about it, and encouraged it. They even changed the rules to facilitate it, and had community discussions promoting the plug-n-play concept. Caravancicle seemed to have no problem finding 120 tickets for its coterie of have-popsicle-will-travel jetset clientele.

Plug-n-play is here to stay. It seems that it has been quite deliberately introduced to the Playa, over a number of years, with the backing of BMOrg’s Board of Directors. BMOrg know this is going on and are actively facilitating it, presumably for the most obvious and sensible reason: it makes their event more commercially valuable.

Here are some potential contenders who might buy Burning Man.

1. AirBnB

AirBnB recently received a major, $400 million+ investment from a consortium led by the Texas Pacific Group. This brought the startup which spun out of YCombinator into the 11 digit club, valuing it at $10 billion. AirBnB are interested in Alternative Forms of Housing. Their offices in San Francisco are decorated like some of the houses available in their network.

Right before Burning Man, BMOrg changed around their Board. Ashram Galactica founder Chris Weitz stepped down, though his wife Mercedes Martinez retained her place. Rae Richman remained on Board, but switched her Default World job. Previously, she worked for Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors as their West Coast VP. Now she works for AirBnB, as head of Global Citizenship. Her brief includes volunteering, Gifting and Civic Responsibility. Burning Man director Chip Conley also switched jobs. Previously, he founded Joie De Vivre hotels, and built it up to be the world’s largest boutique hotel operator. This was bought out by John Pritzer. The Pritzker family are the main wealth behind Hyatt hotels. Chip Conley now works for AirBnB also, as head of Global Hospitality and Strategy. He also owns Fest300, which aims to be the Fortune 500 of festivals. Burning Man is in the list, so we have at least one Director of BMOrg who sees Burning Man as a festival.

Image from SK8 Camp AirBnB ironic ad

Image from SK8 Camp AirBnB ironic ad

The connection with AirBnB is even deeper than 2 of Burning Man’s 18 Directors being directly employed by them in senior, full-time positions. This year AirBnB was selling space on the Playa also. If you wanted to launch a new ironic revenue stream at Burning Man, how would you do it? You’d find the most “anti” version of what you want to do, and launch it that way. An idea so ludicrous, it must be a farce. In this case, what’s the noisiest place on the Playa? Other than being directly in front of some of the sound systems, it would have to be underneath the ramp at SK8 camp. They were selling rooms there for $15/each, which we covered in AIRBNB4BRC – SK8RGR8. Although this was doubted at the time, we have since seen comments on Facebook from people who claimed to have rented the rooms. Someone else was inspired to list space in their dome on AirBnB.

As with hotels, something that started at Burning Man as irony can rapidly, even Immediately, evolve into real commercialization.

2. LiveNation

matt goldberg kntv

Burning Man Project Director Matt Goldberg

Burning Man appointed 2 new Directors before Burning Man, without any fanfare. One of them, Matt Goldberg, used to be the CEO of Lonely Planet – backpacker travel guides. Now his day job is the Senior Vice President of Global Market Development for QVC. QVC is the Home Shopping Network. Why would Burning Man think that someone from the Home Shopping Network could help them throw their annual party, or spread Burner art around the world? Maybe because the boss of QVC is the boss of Live Nation, too.

Internet mogul Barry Diller, married to Diane von Furstenberg, bought QVC for $25 million in 1992. Diller is a regular guest at Herb Allen’s Burning Mogul in Sun Valley. He sold QVC to Comcast, who then sold it to Liberty Media. This is owned by mega-billionaire John Malone, a telecommunications guru who is a major shareholder in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, DirectTV, and Sirius XM. These links might seem unconnected to Burning Man, but Liberty is also the biggest shareholder in Live Nation, owning a whopping 26% stake worth more than a billion dollars. Liberty’s Chairman John Malone is also the Chairman of Live Nation. Live Nation merged with Ticketmaster in 2010, and is the largest event promoter in the world. Live Nation owns a number of venues including the Fillmore, the Punch Line and 12 House of Blues.

Live Nation is getting into EDM in a big way. They bought a 50% stake in Burner Pasquale Rotella’s Insomniac, producers of the Electric Daisy Carnival. Insomniac were at Burning Man this year, their camp Wide Awake was widely described as being excellent.

Insomniac and Live Nation are facing a class action lawsuit from festival volunteers who were paid with free tickets. From magneticmag:

It alleges that “wages were illegally withheld from ‘volunteers’ of the companies’ music festivals, concerts and other events”.  The suit, which can be viewed on classaction.org, states that both Insomniac and Live Nation recruited volunteers to do the work of paid employees at on-site stores, merchandise tents, water stations, and information booths in exchange for admission to festivals, with promised time off to enjoy the show.

The suit claims that the compensation was “highly overstated and essentially worthless” as volunteers were not given any time off to view the show, and were also not given federally mandated breaks for lunch, etc.   Also, it claims that volunteers were also promised the “opportunity to learn the inner workings of a festival environment”, but were often assigned to more menial customer service positions.

3. SFX/Robert Sillerman

Robert Sillerman started the business that was bought by Clear Channel and then spun out as Live Nation, by acquiring events, packaging them up for re-sale to a bigger corporation.

In 2012 the New York Times ran a story on Sillerman, with the headline Mogul To Increase Bets On Electronic Dance Music

Sillerman2Robert F. X. Sillerman, the media executive who transformed the live music business in the 1990s by combining regional concert promoters into the nationwide powerhouse that became Live Nation, has returned to the business with the first of what he expects will be a string of investments in electronic dance music, the industry’s latest trend.

Echoing his strategy in the concert business, Mr. Sillerman is pursuing independent companies that put on dance festivals, D.J. parties and other events where the crowds might range from a few hundred people to tens of thousands. He said in an interview on Monday that his first acquisition was Disco Productions, a Louisiana company that was founded by a rave promoter, Donnie Estopinal, and puts on events throughout the country.

Mr. Sillerman, 64, said that in addition to that deal he was in negotiations with up to 50 other companies, and had tentative agreements with about 15 of them. He declined to disclose terms of the Disco Productions deal, but said that he expected his new company — which is called SFX Entertainment, reviving the name of his earlier concert business — to spend $1 billion on acquisitions within a year, and that he wanted to take it public this summer.

The plan for SFX, Mr. Sillerman said, is still being formulated but will involve using the Internet to connect fans of dance music. If his strategies from the 1990s are a guide, he might also want to deliver this aggregated audience to major advertisers and marketers.

“There’s a wave of interest in attending concerts that have less to do with the specific music and more to do with the experience attached to the music,” he said, referring to the immersive appeal of many large-scale dance events. “Our thought is that the experience of attending an individual event can be perpetuated and made better by connecting the people, not just when they’re consuming the entertainment but when they’re away from it.”

Perpetuating the experience when they’re away from the festival…sound familiar?

Sillerman’s SFX acquired popular DJ site Beatport.com, and shut down their San Francisco office in a “bloodbath“. Last year they were in a bidding war against LiveNation for Insomniac Productions, who put on Electric Daisy Carnival. Despite SFX offering $100 million, Live Nation ended up with 50% of Insomniac for $50 million. Sillerman would be looking for a similar scale event that he could buy for his $100 million, an asset of equivalent quality to Insomniac.

SFX also bought a 75% stake in ID & T. ID & T are internationally known for their massive EDM events, including Tomorrowland, Sensation, and Mysteryland. Post acquisition, SFX announced the first TomorrowWorld in Georgia and the U.S. debut of Mysteryland in Bethel Woods, the site of Woodstock ’69.

[Update 9/15/14 10:28am] See comments – reader CW has further details:

Sillerman offered $100MM for BM three and a half years ago and was shut down with a stout NO THANKS.

Another interesting note… One of the guys behind Robot Heart just sold/merged his mercenary company into XO (Formerly Black Water). He is now the CEO of XO, the largest mercenary company in the world.

Hmm…there is also this XO Blackwater, a party lighting business. Xe is the mercenary company now called Academi, their CEO is Brigadier General Craig Nixon. He sounds like a total bad-ass, but not so much a Burner.

Another reader has speculated that an acquisition could explain why Harley Dubois is still working there after resigning in 2008.

4. Clear Channel, Bob Pittman

pittman dhome

Pittman, L, in front of a Spider Dhome at Burning Man 2014

Pittman’s Clear Channel was giving media interviews from the Playa this year, launching a technology he is pioneering and selling in a high end Plug-n-Play camp. His inflatable Dhomes will be rented for $5-10k per week. Before being Chairman and CEO of Clear Channel, Pittman ran AOL Time Warner, Century 21 Real Estate, and MTV.

Clear Channel and Live Nation used to be the same company before splitting. Their interest in Burning Man could be similar. Like me, Pittman believes that magic has a place in business:

“Someone told me early on when you are trying to solve a problem it’s the mix of math and magic. Understanding the problem, the analytical and then you need to have the creativity, you got to have the first of a magical ideal to solve the problem and I think that is what creativity is.”

The CEO of Clear Channel, which owns 850 radio stations, told The Hollywood Reporter last year that he enjoys the event because, “One of the problems of aging if you’re a creative person is that you tend to narrow your world. It opens my eyes to possibilities.”

From the Hollywood Reporter (2013):

It’s not every day that the CEO of a leading entertainment company turns off his smartphone, puts away the iPad and flies himself to get lost in the Nevada desert for a weekend. But that’s precisely what Clear Channel’s Bob Pittman did on a recent Friday as he left his office at New York’s 75 Rockefeller Plaza and piloted his own Falcon 900 jet to Burning Man — for the 10th straight year.

“I find Burning Man to be so innovative,” he says. “One of the problems of aging if you’re a creative person is that you tend to narrow your world. It opens my eyes to possibilities.”

…Pittman’s eclectic experiences make him the right fit for Clear Channel’s diverse range of offerings, including its top priority, iHeartRadio. Since 2008, the audio service and app, which allows its more than 30 million users to listen to any Clear Channel station in the country, has seen a successful push into nonterrestrial areas at a time when traditional radio is being threatened by the likes of Pandora, Spotify and iTunes.

Burning Man has had radio stations for more than 20 years, set up by former USAF intelligence officer and BMOrg director of propaganda Stuart Mangrum. This year, BMOrg announced that they had partnered with Clear Channel’s “top priority”, iHeartRadio.

5. Elon Musk

Elon MuskElon has made no secret of his love for Burning Man. Rather, he’s shouting it from the rooftops. In response to Beavis and Butthead founder Mike Judge’s new show Silicon Valley, Elon said Judge should go to Burning Man before he judged: Burning Man IS Silicon Valley.

Recently Elon announced that he will be building Tesla’s Gigafactory at the World’s Largest Industrial Park in Reno/Sparks. This may create jobs in the area for Burners with fabrication and design skills, or lower-level factory workers. Nevada allows Lithium mining, which will be useful for the battery factory.

From the Reno Gazette-Journal:

The tax incentive package assembled by Gov. Brian Sandoval to woo Tesla’s gigafactory is unprecedented in size and scope for the state of Nevada and is one of the largest in the country.

The overall value to Tesla is estimated to be $1.25 billion over 20 years — a figure that is more than double the $500 million package CEO Elon Musk said would be required to draw the company.

If the deal is approved by the Nevada Legislature, Tesla will operate in the state essentially tax free for 10 years.

tesla-reno-gigafactory-site-1-KTNV-Channel-13In exchange, the company must invest a minimum of $3.5 billion in manufacturing equipment and real property in the state—a threshold that is much lower than the $10 billion state officials expect the company to invest in Nevada over the next two decades.

The economic development officials who assembled the tax incentive package argue the massive size of the abatement is justified by the scope of the gigafactory project, which is one of the largest economic development deals in the country.

“What this can do for the region… It will allow every under employed person to reach full employment,” said Sandoval’s economic development director Steve Hill. “It will lift up everyone in the region. Property values will go up. The prosperity of the region will be materially changed.”

rendering-of-tesla-battery-gigafactory-outside-reno-nevada-sep-2014_100479365_mEconomic development officials anticipate the gigafactory—a three-story behemoth with more than 5 million square feet of manufacturing space—will generate a $100 billion economic impact over 20 years.

“To put that into perspective, that is more than 3 percent of the state’s GDP. It is more than 20 percent of the region’s economic output,” Hill said.

The factory would employ 6,500 people with an average wage about $25 an hour. Indirect jobs created could reach 22,000—a number equivalent to 2 percent of the state’s entire work force and 11 percent of the region’s workforce.

But the tax breaks the company would receive with the Legislature’s blessing are also staggering. The total package is 13 times larger than the state’s previous record-breaking $89 million for Apple.

According to USA Today, Elon’s partner in the deal also owns the famous Mustang Ranch brothel.

there are two ways to look at Lance Gilman of Storey County, Nev., the businessman whose industrial center is set to house Tesla’s massive Gigafactory.

To some, he is a major player when it comes to economic development in Nevada, a state that is still clawing its way out of a recession. To others, Gilman is also seen as a flesh peddler — he’s owner of the famous Mustang Ranch brothel, legally operated in Storey County just east of Reno.

Gilman is the principal and director of the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, billed as the largest industrial park in the world. As Storey County Manager Pat Whitten put it, Gilman is “the lead economic engine for Northern Nevada.”

Besides Tesla, he’s lured major companies to his park, which has become a cash cow of tiny Storey County. The park is located just outside the county limits of the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area and includes companies such as Kal-Kan, Wal-Mart, Dell Computers and Toys R Us. The industrial park is next to coast-to-coast interstate highway and rail systems, so it sells itself. Yet Gilman closes the deals.

He is also an integral part of the negotiations to bring Tesla Motors’ $5 billion Gigifactory project to the industrial park he represents.

Meanwhile, Gilman got into the brothel business about a decade ago with his Wild Horse Canyon Ranch brothel. He later bought the Mustang Ranch, which was previously owned by the notorious Joe Conforte — who escaped to Brazil to avoid federal prosecution for tax evasion.

When the Mustang re-opened under Gilman’s ownership in 2007, Conforte appeared via live video feed at a grand opening celebration to give a few words and pass the mantle off to Gilman.

When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told the Nevada Legislature in 2011 it was time to ban legal prostitution in Nevada, he did not mention Gilman by name, but it was apparent who he was speaking about.

Owning Burning Man seems like a distraction for a guy who creates Hyperloops in his spare time. Elon already has the world’s attention. Maybe he wants to Burn in space.

6. Black Rock’s Childs

A contender from the name alone. BlackRock was founded in 1988 as a division of BlackStone, before Burning Man went out to the BlackRock Desert, but just after the event had started.  In 1992, after Burning Man had relocated to the Black Rock Desert, it changed its name from Blackstone Financial Management to BlackRock. It is now the world’s largest asset manager, and has been called “the most influential financial institution in the world”. From The Economist, the Monolith and the Markets:

BlackRock…is the world’s biggest investor. Founded in 1988, it has $4.1 trillion in assets under management, making it bigger than any bank, insurance company, government fund or rival asset-management firm. It single-handedly manages almost as much money as all the world’s private-equity and hedge funds. Though its holdings are mostly equities—it is the biggest shareholder in half of the world’s 30 largest companies—it also holds bonds, commodities, hedge funds, property and just about anything anyone would ever want to invest in 


Billionaire Burner David de Rothschild

With $4.59 trillion under management, $100 million or so for Burning Man would be nothing to them. Black Rock and Black Stone are gigantic investment companies that have been connected to the trillionaire Rockefellers and Rothschilds. Both families have members who attend Burning Man and hang out with the Founders at First Camp. Burning Man Project Director Rae Richman was working for them, before moving to AirBnB. The Rockefellers have recently been co-investing alongside TPG, who just put about half a billion into AirBnB. Burning Man Founder Michael Mikel got his Silicon Valley start working for a Rockefeller company, Fairchild Semiconductor.

I met one of the Rockefellers last year at a charity event, where we shared a table with BMOrg workers who were all very chummy with him. I also previously met Justin Rockefeller, also a Burner. David de Rothschild “Plastic Jesus” is proud to tell the press about his Burning Man visits.

If you owned half of the world’s biggest companies, many of which employ Burners in key roles, why wouldn’t you want to own the coolest thing in the world too?

The two mighty families recently joined forces:

“Rothschild  “is to buy a 37 per cent stake in the Rockefeller’s wealth advisory and asset management group for an undisclosed sum, giving Lord Rothschild’s London-listed trust a much sought-after foothold in the US.”

The Financial Times states that the transnational, transatlantic union “brings together David Rockefeller, 96, and Lord Rothschild, 76 – two family patriarchs whose personal relationship spans five decades.”

“The Rockefeller group traces its roots back to 1882 when John D. Rockefeller established one of the world’s first family offices dedicated to investing his wealth. It has since developed into a provider of wealth and asset management services to other families, foundations and institutions. It is majority-owned by the 19th century oil magnate’s family and has $34bn of assets under administration.”

The founder of Blackstone, which spawned BlackRock, is also the Chairman of David Rockefeller’s Trilateral Commission, and a former member of the same Skull and Bones secret society that Presidents George Bush Sr and Jr, and Secretary of State and Presidential Candidate John Kerry were part of. From publicintelligence.net

Peter G. Peterson, the cofounder of the Blackstone Group, is the Chairman Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York prior to Timothy Geithner. 6  He is also the founder and chairman of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a globalist think tank that is financially supported by David Rockefeller and Maurice Greenberg’s Starr Foundation. 7  C. Fred Bergsten, the Director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, is a North American Steering Committee member of the Trilateral Commission; David Walker, President and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation in New York is also a Trilateral commission member.8  Both Peter G. Peterson9and Timothy Geithner10 are former Trilateral Commission members.  James Dimon, Timothy Geithner, and Stephen A. Schwarzman are all members of the Council on Foreign Relations.  James Dimon is also a Class A director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Mr. Schwarzman was a also member of the Skull and Bones society at Yale University.111213

From Wikipedia:

Members of the Rockefeller family into the fourth generation (especially the prominent banker and philanthropist David Rockefeller, who is the present family patriarch) have been heavily involved in international politics, and have donated money to, established or been involved in the following major international institutions:

The Rockefeller and Rothschild families represent the top of the pyramid of the Illuminati. If the Illuminati were just a conspiracy theory, then someone should’ve told George Washington. In 1798 he said:

“It was not my intention to doubt that, the Doctrines of the Illuminati, and principles of Jacobinism had not spread in the United States. On the contrary, no one is more truly satisfied of this fact than I am.”

They were founded in 1776, as a response from old European banking families to the American Declaration of Independence. Their goal is a New World Order. The United Nations, which spun out of Bohemian Grove and the Presidio military base, is one of their instruments for achieving that goal.

Illuminati have had a strong interest in the occult Ancient Mysteries that Burning Man is based on, for centuries. The black magick side of the event – the world’s largest Pagan ritual – could be very attractive to these people.

the Rothschild Opus One winery in Napa looks a little like the BRC layout. Mrs Rothschild recently passed away there, on the night of the big earthquake

the Rothschild-owned Opus One winery in Napa is shaped like the Freemasons Square and Compass symbol. It also looks a little like the BRC layout. Mrs Rothschild recently passed away there, just before the big earthquake hit

The financial potential of Burning Man would be of no interest to them, but the network of thought leaders “washing their own brains” in the Cult of Burning Man could be very useful indeed. Burning Man would be a toy for someone in these families, like purchasing a painting or a classic car. The database of increasingly detailed profiles on Burners could be demographic gold, many of the world’s movers and shakers and creators in one place at once time. Ready to be influenced, by whatever messaging the New World Order requires them to receive.

the man pentagram curt


7. Google

Google have made no secret of their deep ties to Burning Man. They were the first company to commercially exploit the event, when they used the Burning Man logo to advertise their search engine shortly after they launched, in 1998. They commercially exploited it again, prototyping their Google Maps and Glass technologies on the Playa. Their YouTube division sells advertising on videos filmed at Burning Man, so Google are actively monetizing Burning Man every second.

google doodleSome of the technology behind Google came via Interval Research, a thinktank in Palo Alto funded by Paul Allen, the guy who started Microsoft with Bill Gates. In 1994, Burning Man Project Director Leo Villareal was an intern there, when he first went to Burning Man – at the time, being promoted as the physical manifestation of cyberspace.

Google spun out of Stanford, and was initially financed by the CTO of Sun Microsystems – a hardware and software company  which also spun out of Stanford (and is now part of Oracle). Stanford Professor Fred Turner has written about the way Silicon Valley’s culture has been shaped by the military, as well as how Google’s culture has been shaped by Burning Man. He has hailed Burning Man as a new frontier for Cultural Creatives, and a model that corporations should follow for cross-disciplinary collaboration in content farms. So there is an academic justification for Google and Burning Man being linked. Recently, Google founder Larry Page said he wished he had more “free experimentation zones” like Burning Man, where they could trial new technologies without having to release it everywhere at once. Some of the art cars are now apparently self-driving.

Larry Harvey has compared Burning Man’s culture of Gifting and Civic Responsibility, with Google’s policy of giving employees 20% of their time to work on pet projects – something that seems custom made for Burning Man art projects.

The Google founders recently threw their own camping event, an elite conference in Sicily called The Camp. They could have bought Burning Man at any time in the last 10 years. Maybe they did…

8. Facebook.

We know that Facebook founders Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz, and the Winklevoss twins are all Burners, as are many other Facebook employees. Zuckerberg helicoptered in for 24 hours and handed out grilled cheese sandwiches. Billionaire Burner Moskovitz penned a blog post in defense of the 1%-ers at Burning Man. From Medium:

I’m sure many of you have come across the ongoing debate that is heating up right now around the idea of wealthy individuals paying to have a provided experience at Burning Man. There have been some great write-ups on the topic on both sides, but I wanted to offer my personal experience since I haven’t seen much representation yet by “the 1%” themselves. Last week was my 5th year on the playa, and my feelings on the subject have radically changed as my relationship with the festival and the community has deepened. I’ve gone from feeling like an outsider to becoming a judgmental veteran and back again, more than a few times (sometimes in the same week). Nearly every day, I am reminded of the feeling that I’m on the wrong side of a never-ending class war that sadly divides us, but I’ve gained a lot of perspective and acceptance thanks to specific experiences related to being a burner. And I’m still learning, no matter how many times I think I’ve reached the end

Billionaire Burner Moskovitz at Burning Man 2013. He is to the left, clinging on to the structure with his shirt off

Billionaire Burner Moskovitz at Burning Man 2013. I think that’s him to the left, clinging on to the structure with his shirt off

He thinks the influx of VCs to the event is going to help save the world:

It includes a reference to Mark Zuckerberg “helicoptering in to serve grilled cheeses.” I’ll go ahead and confirm the rumor, since it’s clearly out there now anyway. The implication in the article is that he paid into a turnkey experience, but I know he was a guest in the camp I built and no money changed hands. Along with its other inhabitants, he helped pitch his own tent. I wanted him to experience the city and to experience gifting because I thought it would make him grow as a person and the world better off as a result; I believe that’s exactly what happened, however marginally (he was already a pretty great person). I’ve seen this occur countless times. Burning Man is a direct contributor to Cari’s and my decision to start Good Ventures, and to my Asana co-founder Justin’s realization that all the companies in the world are really part of One Project. I know many of the entrepreneur invaders and, without exception, they come back from their first year with a decreased interest in zero-sum competition and a deep appreciation of the fully connected and mutually supportive community. When I hear about anyone going for the first time, my immediate thought is “that is so great for them” and when they are a person who has pooled power or capital around them, it is usually followed by “that is so great for the world.”

Moskovitz and the Winklevi settled their beefs on the Playa, with hugs.

Tyler Winklevoss at Burning Man

Tyler Winklevoss at Burning Man

In spite of our tangled history I had never actually met them,” he wrote on a blog. “We only communicated through lawyers. These guys are among the only people on earth I might describe as real antagonists in my life or even enemies, but on playa my first instinct was that I quite obviously needed to introduce myself and start with hugs.

“They had just arrived so I wasn’t sure how they’d react, but they were very gracious at the time and I knew they’d understand more deeply by the time they left.

“Almost immediately when I got back, I had a Facebook friend request from Tyler and we started a thread mutually extolling the virtues of the festival. In no uncertain terms, he described a spiritual experience.”

He added: “I had created all kinds of dark fantasies about how meeting them would go (Tyler assures me it would have been cordial regardless,) but on playa it was laughably clear. There, we were all part of the same community. We were always part of the same community.”

Burning Man could be an amusing plaything for these Billionaire Burners, but they already own the coolest thing in the world. They know where all the parties are, and who’s on the guest list.  When you have a billion Likes, what do you need a bunch of trippers in the desert for?

9. Jim Tananbaum/Foresight Capital

jim-tananbaumforesite-capital-304xx283-424-23-0 (1)Burning Man’s latest director and Commodity Camping Caravancicler. Jim’s investment company is flush with cash, having recently raised $400 million for his latest healthcare fund. He’s looking for deals to do. Maybe he’s doing this one. He’s definitely got blood on his hands in terms of looking at the Playa as a thing that can be monetized. Defenders of his behavior online are few, but one comment made was that he is so rich, that any profit he could make from Burning Man is insignificant. Personally, even if that were true, I don’t think that’s much of a justification for what happened at his commodification camp.

A deal-maker like “JT” might see the potential in scrubbing BMOrg up into a real company, and then selling it back to the Burners who created it via an IPO.

He also could have been brought in as part of a broader deal team. He seems like the kind of guy you send into a company to get a big deal done…if you’re a pro. Or someone you want on your side advising you, if you’re not.

Another Burning Man Project Director, Jennifer Raiser, also has a healthcare background:

Previously, Jennifer was CEO of Raiser Senior Services, a full-service provider of luxury retirement in the Bay Area, combining health care, dining, and long-term care. She is the co-author of Designing Retirement Communities for the Future, John Wiley and Sons. Her previous experience includes marketing with Procter and Gamble and BBDO/Omnicom Advertising, and management consulting with Fortune 500 corporations.

I still can see no real connection between health care, senior care, and Burning Man.

10. Intelligence

For a really interesting look at the role Intelligence has played in the Arts, I highly recommend Miles Mathis’ short essay “From Theosophy to the Beat Generation – or How Even the Occult Was Disguised”.

The UK’s Independent newspaper in 1995 said Modern Art Was A CIA Weapon:

Because of the Cultural Cold War and The Mighty Wurlitzer, Intelligence is always a possibility. They have plenty of money. Billionaire Burner Jeff Bezos just did a $600 million deal with the CIA. The Burners at the helm of Facebook and Google have made millions of dollars from deals with the NSA. Oracle founder Larry Ellison’s kids are Burners, that was a CIA project before it was even a company. There are all manner of Alphabet Agencies out there on the Playa already. They already have all the data, all manner of satellite and thermal imagery and technology that can see through walls. Burning Man right now fuels big budgets for the BLM and local cops, who can have shiny new trucks and all the latest hardware. Why mess with something that’s working? The Man is all over Burning Man.


something for everyone, honey…

Intelligence don’t need to buy Burning Man, unless there is some strategic value for them in being able to influence its operations more directly. Like, disseminating propaganda to Burners who have washed their own brains, and taken hallucinogenic drugs to improve their suggestibility. Another possibility would be the “honey trap”, a classic intelligence technique that would be ridiculously easy to pull off at Burning Man. Basically, you meet a hot girl and think she’s interested in you. Really, she’s a spy, who may try to rob you, set you up, blackmail you, or introduce you to others who will then do that. This “oldest trick in the book” is most likely why Julian Assange is holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London right now. Intelligence could use Burning Man to inject people into social groups for the purposes of espionage, influence, addiction, or extortion. Another use could be detecting and then eliminating rival cartels. They know who the Burners are from social networks and phone metadata, it would be an easy next step to work out who is supplying the drugs to them. Yet we never hear about any big busts…

Perhaps Burning Man is not for sale, and this is all just Idol speculation. Perhaps I’m reading too much into the massive investment in lawyers and accountants, the complex corporate structure, the promotion of gentrification, and Burning Man’s board changes not being announced. Maybe it’s just pure coincidence that they put a guy from QVC on, and the same company that owns QVC owns Live Nation. Maybe it’s just coincidence that the Rockefeller employee who was on the Board shifted to AirBnB, and so did one of the other Burning Man Directors, and then AirBnB had Burning Man listings this year. Maybe it’s all One Big Farce. An ironic prank, with Burners as the victims.

It does not change the FACT that the Founders are selling up – if not to someone else, then at the very least to themselves, via the non-profit which will buy Burning Man’s intangible assets back from Decommodification LLC in a couple years. They’re bringing in new people and changing the way the event is run, taking it in a new strategic direction of some sort. The Festival is evolving, and the event in the desert is looking less significant to the organization’s future aspirations. This is the big retirement package they’ve made for themselves, the nest egg they’ve been able to create from 30 years of building Black Rock City. What of the workers, though? DPW and the Sherpas and the tens of thousands of volunteers? Where is the pension plan for them? Are they planned to be part of the “century of legacy?”

We will look at this in Part III.

It’s the Art, Stupid

It seems that, behind every weary merchant visiting the oasis with a caravan of treasures to gift, is a team of Sherpas to wipe their ass. According to the New York Times, the rich people of Burning Man try to “one up” each other with the lavishness of their camps. Whether it’s prototype inflatable dhomes or stackable cubes or 5-star teepees, just having an RV is no longer enough.

neighboorsTeepeeMany Burners have expressed outrage at this behavior, believing that “Radical Self-Reliance” is at odds with “getting others to do your shit for you”. Personally, I think a designated driver is a major safety issue. It sucks to be that person at Burning Man, so if a few people can chip in and pay a driver, Burning Man will survive. I can’t cook, so I don’t mind if someone else cooks for me. If I have to buy that person a ticket, and give them a place in my RV, that’s fine. “Oh you can’t come to Burning Man, you can’t cook”.

I think the deeper shame in this is that the Super-Sherpa-Burners have lost the point. If you want to one-up other rich people at Burning Man, don’t do it on the level of creature comforts and luxury goods that you airlift in with private planes.


Perhaps one way to facilitate this would be promoting a closer link between Big Art and Art Cars, and the Theme Camps behind them. As in, “we’re Thunderdome Camp, and our Art Contribution is Thunderdome”. Or, “we’re Star Star and our Art Contribution is Daily Circus performances”. Right now, shit is going on everywhere, there’s cool shit everywhere to look at, but it’s all pretty anonymous.

burning_man_girls_robert_scalesBurning Man has been called the Special Olympics of Art – just getting there is good enough. The all-inclusive nature of the art means that there is no requirement for talent, nor indeed any form of reward. There is no real after-market for art of this type, and whatever there is has been cobbled together by Burners. Logistics are left up to the creative types, who each have to figure it out for themselves. BMOrg seem more interested in the artists working at their event(s), than getting their art into the broader community independently of their tentacles. And their answer to “people tagging the art” is not “promote the art as sacred”, it’s “more rules”.

Burners pay inflated ticket prices, and only a tiny amount of that goes to the artists – and gets split over just 63 projects. It’s about $12 per ticket – less than the ticket processing fee, or the government cut for all the LEOs.

Many of the artists who are awarded Art Honorarium grants are wealthy in their own right. Why award the project to them, and not to the starving artists who can’t produce a piece without money to buy the materials? The answer lies in politics as much as merit or reason or justice. There are no guidelines for art grants, it’s at the whim of BMOrg, and if they prefer to favor their friends when they come to dispensing our money, who’s stopping them?

If the rich people were to direct the focus of Burner attention away from their own personal comforts and vanities, and towards the contributions they make to this awesome party, I’m sure that would ease the ire of many in the community who feel passionately upset by gentrification.

Will Smith chose not to take one of his fleet of these to Burning Man this year

Will Smith chose not to take one of his fleet of these to Burning Man this year

I’m on your side, rich people! I need A/C too. It’s the desert, FFS. I was using an RV at Burning Man before there even was “radical self-reliance”. I didn’t stop being a Burner just because Larry wrote a page of words one day, 20 years into the event. “Oh, Larry wrote words! Better disable the generator!” Lecture me with the Tin Principles all you want, it doesn’t make you a Burner or take my 11 burns away from me.

To me, going to Burning Man automatically makes you rich – but I accept that many Burners are seriously rich. I know that rich people give SO much to Burning Man, that there wouldn’t be a Burning Man without them. The whole event is based on the premise of ridiculous destruction of wealth for the purposes of temporary entertainment. It’s like people lighting cigars with flaming hundred dollar bills – times a billion.

The Burnier-Than-Thous have it wrong, saying that rich people don’t get it. It seems to me that they are being radically self-reliant if they are smart enough to want privacy in their camps, and playful social interactions with randoms on the Playa. Part of self-reliance is being able to defend yourself and your tribe from dicks. The number of dicks is skyrocketing, and now they are publicly advocating their dickish actions. It’s not the fault of people who can afford to rent RVs that privacy is required; and just because they sleep comfortably doesn’t mean it’s impossible for them to “get Burning Man”.

cops gunsMore than anything else, I think it is the government infiltration of Burning Man – both overt and covert – that is driving the walled off RV compounds. You used to welcome any random into your camp, and the first thing you’d offer them would be a beer. If you were passing a joint round – which people did, since it was hundreds of miles away from anywhere, in the middle of the remote desert, at a festival – then you would take a hit and pass it on to someone next to you, even if they were a stranger. Puff puff pass, just likes kids have been doing at festivals since the Sixties.

Then, the cops started doing “stings”. Dressing officers up as Burners – “off duty clothing” – and trying to entrap them into breaking the law in front of them. They’re looking for drugs, for people serving alcohol to anyone underage, for people sharing food, public displays of lewdness, and anything else that could be banned and ticketed. Give them an excuse, and they’ll come to your camp with sniffer dogs. Meaning that one random wandering into your camp and lighting a joint, could spoil it for everyone.

This year, it sounds like the cops were much better – chilled, enjoying the party, taking pictures with Burners. But it’s too late – the trust has been destroyed. This is no longer a city of friends. The trust hasn’t been destroyed by rich people; it’s by all these spies trying to bust innocent Burners, while letting the thieves and vandals run rampant. What Burners want to do is illegal, despite being harmless – from smoking a joint to driving at 6mph in a 5mph zone to shirt-cocking. Rich people didn’t make those rules – alright, technically, at the top pulling the puppet strings of government are the Uber-rich who do make the rules, and yes many Bohemian Grovers go to Burning Man – but most of the rules that have led to these RV compounds and private entrances were made by BMOrg in co-operation with Federal and State authorities.

No-one is affecting your enjoyment Burning Man if they got a free ticket, or didn’t have to pay for their flight. How is getting $400 cash different from getting a free ticket? For many who aren’t rich, getting casual employment for a few shifts at Burning Man is the only way they can attend. Crack down on Sherpas, the rich will still be rich and do whatever they want, but now these poor Sherpas – willing to work for their ticket, instead of being Sparkle Ponies – won’t be able to go.

The answer to this is not “ban Sherpas”. How could you possibly police that, if you can’t stop bike or sign theft? It has been going on for years, and fighting against it now is pointless, in my opinion. The horse bolted a long time ago. You might as well ban planes, RVs, delivery trucks, dance music, cars newer than 2010, and so on. Stealing signs will change nothing, and may lead to violence as people try to defend their property against drug-fuelled vandals with political grudges.

The answer is to change the focus.

earth harp temple of transition

Let people do whatever they want in their camps. That’s their private area, where they and their tribe of friends and family and fellow travellers make their “home within a home” for a week. If they want randoms in their camp, let them make clearly marked “random zones”, where you can come and hang out and get to meet them. Don’t just assume “I’m at Burning Man, and Radical Inclusion says I’m entitled to fall asleep in the middle of your camp”. Usually these “party roadkill” people pass out on the most comfortable spaces, preventing other, awake people from using those.

Burning Man is not about invading your neighbor’s space, in the name of some misguided class war protest.

It’s about the art.

cargo cult painting

BMOrg make the rules, but Burners make the city.  There is something we can do, if enough readers want to help.

Together, we can try to re-direct the focus to the art. Camps should be proud of which art pieces they are bringing to share with the rest of us. If rich people want to sponsor art anonymously, Burning Man lets them hide anonymously within a Theme Camp, and even more anonymously behind a Playa name. Larry Harvey likes to say “no artist at Burning Man ever signed their art”, but let’s change that. Let’s promote the amazing artists behind the event a bit more.

How Will We Do This?

Starting today, we are going to have a competition. “Best of Burning Man”. And it’s going to be as crowd-sourced as we can practically make it, at short notice and with the limited resources of a Gifted blog.

You guys submit here, in the comments on the Web or Facebook, your nominations for best art piece. We will collect the nominations, then present the most popular finalists for a vote. Everyone votes, and we declare a winner.

What does this mean for the artists? Even if they don’t win, they can get a sense of how their piece was perceived by the community. If they would like to participate with the rest of the community, they might want to share something about themselves and their art, and the meaning of the piece.

This is the direct opposite of the way Burning Man does it – receive thousands of applications, and pick a few winners arbitrarily. Every artist can be included in this, and to win, you have to be the best in the eyes of the people. Even to be in the final 20, you will have to have pleased a lot of people.


Categories are:

Best Art

Best Art Car

Best Camp

Best Music (camp or Art Car)

Best Music (artist)

Best Photo

Worst of Burning Man – could be Will Crawl, Exodus, rain, bike theft, David Kiss’s performance art piece, anything.

Over to you, Burners. Nominate away! I’m interested to see how this turns out.

5 Ways to Improve Burning Man Next Year

Thanks to Burner Chris Downar at LessThan3 for sharing this story (despite the mention, Bassnectar was not at Burning Man this year)


Burning Man
Burning Man offers participants a unique and transformative experience unlike any other on the planet. It’s home to many of us at LessThan3, and the burning of the man night has become much like a second New Year’s Eve celebration.

Burning Man temple 2014

What makes the community-based art and music festival at Black Rock City, Nevada so special is that the event runs almost entirely off social capital. The participants are what make the event great, not just the organizers. The art projects are mostly crowd-sourced, the art cars and music stages are self-funded, and all the performers, DJs, and attendees choose to volunteer their time and give free gifts rather than get paid with money. Moreover, the Burning Man Organization (BMOrg) does do a great job of setting up the 68,000 person city, acting as the glue that brings everything together every year.

burning man couple hugging in dust storm

Now that the dust has settled, here are some aspects of the Burning Man 2014 setup that I appreciated, and some areas to improve upon next year. Remember, change is good!

What Burning Man Did Well

Burning Man climbable tower

More Climbable Art Structures
The lovely primates of Black Rock City can’t resist climbing on art structures, and this year there were plenty to go around. While some delicate art pieces had signs that restricted climbing, there were more than enough for the apes to play on, including a giant Xenomorph alien queen fortress, a big metal spinning globe, and a huge tower with a globe on top that you could only get to with the use of some basic rock-climbing skills. Kudos to all the builders!

burning man spinning globe art

Extended Number Of Days
BMOrg increased the number of days of Burning Man to improve the flow of burners in and out of Black Rock City. While transport still took awhile (more on that later), it was significantly better than previous years because you could arrive on Sunday, Aug. 24 without an early arrival pass, and you could leave Tuesday, Sept. 2. This was a step in the right direction, and if they can extend the first day of arrival to Saturday next year, it may help traffic even more.

burning man embrace man and woman structure

Embrace Art Structure
This was arguably the most impressive and talked-about art structure at Burning Man 2014. Both human body structures had passageways with windows all the way to the top of the heads, where you could see out through the eyes. The male structure had a heart with gears and a machine inside of it, suggesting logic. The female structure had lightbulbs in her heart, suggesting creativity. It left quite an impression when it burned Friday morning at sunrise.

burning man insanity pose

Nuclear Dream Burn
The pyrotechnics and firework shows of Burning Man are among the best in the world. On Thursday night, they detonated an art piece titled Nuclear Dream that resembled a bloated atomic bomb halfway dug into the ground with its rear sticking up towards the sky. The massive mushroom cloud explosion sent burners recoiling from the blast, and could be heard all across the playa (watch video below).

burning man house with legs

Big Name Talent
The raging sound camps at Burning Man had massive stages, giant flamethrowers, and impressive sound systems that rival and surpass that of many festivals and nightclubs. There has always been great electronic music talent at the burn like Carl Cox, Paul Oakenfold, and Bassnectar, but this year I was thrilled to witness sets by a few big name newcomers, including Skrillex, Major Lazer, Above & Beyond, and many more. Additionally, Robot Heart blessed the mornings with sunrise sets in deep playa featuring some of the best in techno and deep house, like Tale Of Us, Lee Burridge, and Jamie Jones. We hope this encourages more artists we love to discover the magic of Burning Man next year.

burning man pink parade march

How Burning Man Can Improve Next Year

better urinal

Install Better Porta Potties
If you looked across the playa at night, there were thousands of pee puddles everywhere. The community cares about environmental damage to the playa, so perhaps it’s time to consider using better porta potties. To solve this issue, we can look at how some European cities deal with folks peeing in the streets. They have these three to four man standing urinal-type porta potties. These can be scattered discreetly around the playa, and each can serve many men quickly. This will improve the situation for ladies too since there will be fewer drunken men that can’t aim using the traditional closed-door porta potties.

2014 burning man effigy

The Man Burned For Too Long
The burning of the man on Saturday night is always an epic and powerful event. The flames this year engulfing the man were enormous and impressive; however, it took way too long for the man to collapse. It took over an hour for the man to fall, and this made it rather anti-climactic when he finally fell over. People started leaving long before then, as it was pretty difficult to maintain excitement and sit on the playa for that long. Many burners enjoyed last year’s UFO burn more because it lasted a more appropriate length of time.

burning man hammock

Speed Up Will Call
It should not take several hours to get through will call. This problem isn’t new, but there are ways to address this issue. One suggestion I heard is to give all the hard-working Will Call staff members an iPad, or even just a list on a piece of paper, to walk up to burners’ vehicles, look up their names, and issue their tickets.

burning man row of arches

More Unique Theme
To put it bluntly, the Burning Man 2014 Caravansary theme was pretty weak compared to the Cargo Cult and Fertility 2.0 themes of years past. It’s not fun to pronounce, and it didn’t inspire many unique art cars or fashion. Let’s hope the 2015 theme is more fresh.

bicycle burning man macaroni

Address Bicycle Theft
This issue is getting worse every year, and it’s not just an issue of stolen property, it’s an issue of MOOP too. Thousands of bicycles are left at Black Rock City every year, and this has an obvious environmental cost. While some of these bicycles were left behind by irresponsible individuals, a great portion of them were stolen by selfish bicycle thieves and then abandoned. Nearly everyone has heard of someone getting their bicycle stolen this year, and it’s going to take more than telling people to lock up their bicycles to solve the issue of bike thieves. Perhaps the BLM with its eagerness to issue fines should set up some decoy bicycle sting operations to catch bike thieves in the act red-handed. The word will quickly spread of the hefty fines and penalties, and it will discourage some bike thieves from riding off with bicycles that don’t belong to them.

Burning Man 2014 photos by Chris Downar and Conrad Wentzel.

burning man pentagon art

Read more: Burning Man 2014 Photos, Highlights, & Suggestions

The Secret of Getting A Burning Man Ticket

2014 happiness by the Universe alvin gaela

Happiness by the Universe

Alvin Gaela was one of about 3000 people who showed up on the Facebook Group asking if anyone had a spare ticket, despite their express rule forbidding that. This was no problem for Alvin:

I’m just wondering if I can get some advice. I tried at every sale and had no luck so now I’ve flown in from Australia because I’m determined to finally make it this year. I’ve been treating this ticket hunt thing like a full-time job for the past week and I was wondering what my options would be, going forward.

I don’t have some sad story to shill. I’m just some dude who met a group of traveling burners 2 years ago and they changed how I looked at life. I owe part of my current state of happiness to them and I promised them that I’d see them there some day. They’ve planned their camp for me to be there and have frantically been searching for a ticket for me but now they’ve left to set up.

So I’ve decided that it isn’t a question of if I’m going, but when. Assuming I don’t find a ticket in time, how likely is it that some will pop up after it starts? I want to go, but can’t afford a $1000 ticket to show up late. Or should I just head to reno, and just actively search for tickets there?

I’m so close and it would be a shame if this just wasn’t the year, so I’m not ready to accept that until it’s actually too late.

Either way, have a wicked burn and thanks for any input.

On August 23rd, when he posted this, Burning Man had been sold out all year, and was just about to open. There were thousands of disappointed Burners, who had been waiting patiently in the STEP queue. Thousands more were disappointed when the OMG lottery was over in a few minutes, despite thousands more tickets mysteriously being added. Stubhub had stopped selling tickets, perhaps because their system wouldn’t accept sales so close to the event’s start time. The last ones I saw go were $1700 each. They went, being replaced with $1900 pair. And then even they weren’t available.

Alvin’s post raised some skeptical eyebrows.

Me: “There’s a sold out event and I want to go. What can I do?”

a) don’t go.
b) buy a ticket (you might have to pay more because it is sold out).
c) sneak in.

“but I don’t like those options! Isn’t there a way someone can just gift me a ticket because I am a total random from an alien country? Maybe I will go and beg on the street with a cardboard sign, and someone who paid for a ticket will think it’s better to give it to me than sell it for $1000″

If you were dumb enough to get a flight from Australia to Burning Man without a ticket, just pay the $600 stupid tax and buy one.

AG: Yeah, that’s a terrible read of the situation. I’m willing to pay if I have to and I’m not out there begging for someone to gift me a ticket.  I came here to see my friends but I also know how happy it would make them to see them in their element.

Me: There are major sound camp DJs and people who have been working on art cars for months looking for tickets right now. They are willing to pay too. This group has seen underage girls ready and willing to do naked photo shoots. So what makes you so special? Do you have any tricks that you can perform? What gifts do you have ready for the Playa?

AG: You’re making it sound like I’m saying I’m entitled to one… Which isn’t the case at all. My friend’s ticket got lost in the mail and I was going to gift her mine if I found one.

If you really want to know, though: I was planning to teach attraction psychology. A lot of people have such wonderful things to offer the world, but it often gets overlooked by unconsciously doing the wrong things before they get the chance to share it.

Anyway, I’d much rather not let this turn into a back-and-forth because that wasn’t the point of this thread. I get what you’re saying, I disagree with how you’re reading the situation (in your defence, I haven’t typed out my life story for you) but if you don’t have any better suggestions, I’m gonna continue looking for a ticket.

DG: don’t engage this dude, you’re just going to encourage him. He didn’t even bother to read the group header that says

AG: I asked for advice in the first post for a worst case scenario. The leads were just a bonus.

Me: the Law of Attraction should manifest a ticket for you any minute now

BK: I’m not supposed to tell you this cos it’s a Secret™, but have you tried visualizing what it is that you desire?

AG: The law of attraction that you’re referring to actually has nothing to do with the attraction psychology that I mentioned earlier. You might wanna try and add some more snark in your snark next time. Thanks again for everyone that had something useful to say. See you when I get there.

Me: We’re all watching with bated breath to see how your mastery of attraction psychology works out for you in this ticket quest. Personally, I think you’d have better luck using The Secret.

I can see why Alvin might have thought I was just being snarky. In fact, I’m all for magick. It happens, and it especially happens at Burning Man. It’s like they create a giant magickal field. I have noticed, though, that many Burners are against this idea. “Science doesn’t allow for magick”, they cry…obviously unaware that the word “scientist” has only been around since 1834, while the concept of powers and realms beyond the five senses exists in every single culture of humanity across time. What is time, anyway? Are space and time the same? Can Burning Man alter one’s perception of spacetime? But I digress…back to the story at hand.

By August 26, things were looking bleak. Alvin’s determination didn’t waver, even in the face of snark and discouraging facts.

So my friend leaves tomorrow and I have to decide if I’m going/where she’s dropping me off. Am I best off camping out at Reno or Gerlach? I won’t have a car so I’ll be hitching everywhere once I get off. My other option is that my other friend will loan me her van IF (and only if) I can lock down a ticket.So it’s either I stay here and try to wait for someone to release a ticket and wait for me to drive there. Or risk it at one of the towns/cities close by. I can’t forgive myself if I didn’t try until at least Friday. What would you recommend that I do?

CptSmashy: If you try to loiter in Gerlach without any kind of transportation, you run a good chance of getting arrested when the sheriff’s department tells you to hit the road.

You could feel his determination starting to falter a little bit, as information trickled in from the naysayers.

I’ve been reading up and it was only last year that it started selling out completely. And this year, I know that there’s more of a demand…so it makes me wonder if tickets will really be dropping last-minute from people realizing they can’t make it/things pop up.

I know that my chances are worse this year…but I still want to try. I just want to make sure I’m being realistic that there’s even a decent chance that I’ll find one.

By this time, I was starting to root for the guy. He sure was determined.

Well, I’m pleased to say the magick worked. On September 5, Alvin reported back:

Well, guys…I waited at will call and eventually found a ticket. Here’s my album in case anyone’s interested:https://www.facebook.com/media/set/…

Thanks for all the encouragement & have a great life.

At least two of us were happy for him:

BK: Well done. Glad to hear you got in, even if flying all the way from oz without a ticket was a fucking stupid idea. Sometimes we gotta do the stupid-looking thing.

Me: It’s not stupid…if you’re a Master. Well done, proof the model works.


Hat’s off to Alvin, for demonstrating the power of The Secret. Or Attraction Psychology, whatever you want to call it. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Cultivate good karma and fierce determination, and never, never, never give up. Dreams can come true, and your actions and attitude and intentions can help them to.

As Calvin Coolidge said in my all-time favorite quote:

persistenace 2


I contacted Alvin and asked him if he’d share his story. I offered to publicly apologize for suggesting he pay the stupid tax, but he wouldn’t hear of it. Looking back on our dialog, I’m not so sure that I ever completely doubted him. I gave him some options, tried to give him some of the background on the current situation so he could make an informed decision, and told him we were all interested in the outcome. He chose to follow his heart over his head, and it worked out for him. Usually, such things do, and it helps to be clear about them. Set your heart on something, and the Universe will immediately present you with obstacles. With persistence and determination, you can get past any obstacle. Once the obstacle is passed, you get confronted with another obstacle. Sooner or later, the Universe runs out of obstacles to put in your way, and hey presto! Your dream comes true.


This book should be required reading in grade school

Thanks Alvin, great story, good effort, and I hope Burners can learn a lesson from your persistence,  attitude, gratitude, and most of all…humility. These are the type of once-were-Virgins we want to add to the population of our Veterans club.


By Alvin Gaela:

2014 alvin gaelaI’m a Canadian who met a group of about 6 American women (and their friends) while traveling through Thailand. I was an impressionable 21 year old who was on my first extended trip (with no plan). They didn’t know it, but through the conversations that I had with them, they changed the way that I looked at life. They talked about Burning Man quite a lot and it seemed like such a positive place…so I promised them that I’d make it some day.
Australians will get this

Australians will get this

2 years passed and after countless countries, I ended up living in Australia for a little bit. A bunch of things happened and after 7 months of living there, I decided it was time to move on again. It was about that time, so I messaged one of the girls that I became closest with. I told her that I finally want to try and make it this year, but it wouldn’t make sense to head to the other side of the world if I couldn’t work there. She lined it up and I bought a plane ticket there. Before even getting here, I tried for every single sale, but with no luck.

I finally touched down and treated ticket-hunting like a full-time job, but still with no luck. When the first group of people left to set up camp, one of them told me, “I wouldn’t hold my breath, but I know that if a ticket can be found, you’ll find it. Here’s the key to my van; take it if that’s what it takes to get you over there”. A couple of days passed and I still couldn’t find a ticket. I even came so close that this chick hit a deer and was selling her ticket down the street – unfortunately, I called a minute too late and she sold it to some guy that was willing to drive 8 hours to come pick it up.
 Finally, my last friend left for Burning man on the Wednesday and I decided to risk it. I had to get in and I wasn’t giving up until the man actually burned. Ironically, it was one of these women that taught me to stop worrying about things; the old me would never have gone into the desert with no ticket and willing to wait for the small chance that I’d find one. 
2014 alvin gaela maskWe got there and I asked around for a couple of hours. Eventually, I told my friend to go in without meI gave her all of my stuff and told her that I wouldn’t need it because I wasn’t staying outside of this gate. Eventually, I sat down beside the line at will call because I’d been on my feet all day and I needed a break. A guy got out of his car and offered to sell a ticket at face value! I was even luckier because another person that I met earlier on that day stepped down to let me have the ticket.
I hitched a ride into the city with these 2 women and the rest was history.
I could never ask the universe for a ticket as I feel like that would be asking for too much. But I did ask it to help me be patient until I found one.
Anyway, I’m happy that I got in. It was everything that I expected it to be, and more. I met some great people and got to see the old friends who changed my life while they were in their own element…so I’m grateful. They were catalysts for me becoming the traveling hippie that I am today (not in the freeloading sense, but just in how I see things)…so a big shout out goes to PermaGrin camp at 5:15 and Cinnamon
2014 canadian acculturation alivn gaela2014 barbie death camp alvin gaela2014 hippie hunger games alvin gaela
2014 camel alvin gaela