Safety First: The Reality of Housing, Parties, and Legality in the Scene

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Alright, listen Burners, while the facts continue to filter out about the disaster of Ghost Ship, the Oakland warehouse space that was reduced to ashes over the weekend, the swirling commentary, tidal wave of thinkpieces & classism masquerading as concern has (once again) missed the forest for the trees. The arguments about the responsibility of the owner, the problems with having parties at underground venues, and the nature of the community at the center of the tragedy are all aggressively useless. People can talk about “what parties should be” until the K-heads wake up, but there are realities that have forced event spaces to be the way they are for decades now. Those realities involve dollar signs, not lifestyle or philosophical choices. And, as someone that has actually made a “need a fire extinguisher to save an event from burning down” hand-off at 5 am at an underground warehouse, I hope you’ll trust that this isn’t going to be your standard anti-capitalist or anti-club rant.

Continue reading

BREAKING: Oakland Rave Turns Deadly, 34+ Dead or Missing After Fire [Updates]

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An horrific tragedy happened last night at 1305 31st Avenue in Fruitvale, the home of Satya Yuga Collective who seem to be into shamanism, magic, and manifestation. Just under 100 people were present at an event for Golden Donna “100% Silk/Not Not Fun” at an underground “rave cave”. At least 9 people are dead, with more than 25 missing and unaccounted for. 55 firefighters were on the scene battling the blaze. The cause of the fire is still unknown. There were no sprinklers in the building and firefighters saw no evidence that smoke detectors were activated. Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims of this disaster and their friends and families.


[Update 12/6/16 7:34am]

Today has a video interview with Derick Ion Almena. He admits that there were multiple people living on the site, including his children. He tries to paint himself as a hero of the arts, lured into this situation.

He says “I didn’t do anything ever in my life that would lead me up to this moment”…see below for some of the comments he has made in the past.

 

 


[Update 12/5/16 12:10pm]

The founder of the artists collective has made a public statement today (Monday). He has also taken down/made private his Facebook page.

“In my previous Facebook post, I had no idea there was a loss of life,” Almena’s statement to NBC Bay Area read. “This tragic event consumes me every moment. My heart is broken. My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends who have suffered the loss of loved ones.”…

According to a KGO-TV report, Almena and partner Micah Allison were seen at 10:45 p.m. Sunday in the Oakland Marriott City Center. Almena and Allison had checked into the hotel without using their names, and KGO reporter Lilian Kim and a camera person saw no sign of the pair’s three children.

[Source: San Jose Mercury News]

One of the videos I shared below which showed Derrick Ion at the property has been made private, did anyone get a copy?

Spare a thought for the horror of the firefighters and others who have to sift through this rubble identifiying bodies.

Work halted shortly after midnight Monday at the warehouse known as the Ghost Ship” because the building became unstable. According to Oakland Fire Battalion Chief Melinda Drayton, the front wall began to lean inward, creating a dangerous situation. 

“We will not put our firefighters in harm’s way, and we won’t put Alameda County Sheriff deputies in a precarious position,” Drayton said.

Work was expected to resume between noon and 2 p.m. Monday, Drayton said.

Police announced that a 12-hour power outage would affect the area of the warehouse, due to a large crane being brought in to assist the recovery effort. An estimated 50 to 500 customers would be affected, police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said. A team of city officials would contact residents in the area to check on whether they need additional resources to cope with the outage, she added.

City officials called for patience amid the slow progress and called for support from those awaiting answers.
“It’s really important to give the firefighters everything they need. This is very emotional and taxing work, not only physically but emotionally,” councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan said. “They deserve a lot of credit and support from that.”

The schoolmates of one of the juvenile victims are all in mourning:

On Monday administrators from Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, a prestigious public arts school in San Francisco, confirmed the 17-year-old victim was one of their own. The school did not release the victim’s name, but said he was in 11th grade.

The San Francisco Chronicle on Monday identified the student as Draven McGill.

“This is an incredibly unsettling and sad event – for the Asawa SOTA community, and especially for the victim’s family,” Principal Barnaby Payne wrote in a news release sent out by the school. “As sad as we are today, I know that how we react in challenging times is what defines us as a community. As parents, teachers, children, students, brothers, sisters, and friends, we share in the heartbreak of his family and will embrace them and each other as Asawa SOTA family. We must rise to this occasion and rally around each other with love, compassion and support.”

The school provided counseling for students and faculty Monday morning…

Weather conditions could pose a possible threat to the timely recovery of victims and evidence. According to the National Weather Service, dry but chilly conditions early this week are expected to yield to storm systems that could bring from one to three inches of rain to the region. Chances of rain could be highest Wednesday evening through Friday morning, followed by slight chances of rain Saturday night into Sunday morning.

[Source: San Jose Mercury News]

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms might seem an unusual addition to an event in which none of the three seem to be a major factor. Technically they are the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and they have a unique Fire Research Laboratory in Maryland for criminal arson.

 

Image: NBC Los Angeles

Image: NBC Los Angeles

 

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Image: NBC News

Geri Ungurean has done some occult analysis of the “Hell House”:shiva-hell-house-best

I knew that if I dug deep enough, I would find Satan at the heart of the tragic fire which took the lives of dozens of people in Oakland, CA.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words.  What I will show you about the “Warehouse” in Oakland will express more than I could ever write.

As you will see, Shiva – the god of destruction in Hinduism, was greatly revered by the lost souls who gathered and even lived at the warehouse.

One of the pictures of the “Oakland Ghost Ship” as it was called, clearly shows a woman in a ritualistic dance, with fire above her.  There were no smoke alarms nor was there a sprinkler system in place at this satanic gathering house. One could speculate that the inferno began during one of these dances.

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[Source]

Read the full story here.

This angle really needs to be investigated by the police, there are many signs of intense interest in the occult on these peoples’ Facebook pages. They have the same statue as CERN in Switzerland, where a couple of months ago there was a Satanic ceremony: a ritual sacrifice to Shiva , the god of destruction. In this religion, Shiva the Destroyer ends the Kali Yuga, the age of suffering, to herald in Satya Yuga, the golden age in a fiery cataclysm:

“Kali” is the reigning lord of Kali Yuga and his nemesis is Sri Kalki, the tenth and final Avatar of Lord Vishnu. According to the Vishnu Purana, Kali is a negative manifestation working towards the cause of ‘the end’ or rather towards eventual rejuvenation of the universe.[15] Kali also serves as an antagonistic force in the Kalki Purana. It is said that towards the end of this yuga, Kalki will return riding on a white horse to do battle with Kali and his dark forces. The world will suffer a fiery cataclysm that will destroy all evil, and a new age (the next Satya Yuga of the following Mahayuga), will begin.

[Source]

There was a skull painted over the entrance, and they called it Ghost Ship and their collective Satya Yuga. It’s very hard to see this as just a coincidence, especially when they keep talking about all the “Alters” around – as you can see in this video by RichieFromBoston which builds upon Geri’s work.

“Unofficial Burners” recently held their own occult fire ritual about the birth of a new golden age. On the recent once-in-a-lifetime Super Moon, the ex-military group staged a multi-day-and-night occult ritual in front of the obelisk at the National Mall in Washington DC. It was about the phoenix and the Temple of Rebirth, an egg hatching a new age under the theme “Returning Home”…presumably they were expecting this to be a grand magickal celebration of Clinton’s victory, commencing as it did 32 days after the election – at 11:11 on 11/11.

Not saying that all these geographically separate rituals are directly connected to each other, but on an occult level they definitely are. Dabble with the dark gods and sacrifice and fire magick, you can expect death and destruction and mayhem as the result.

Image: burningman.org

Image: burningman.org

 

 


[Update 12/5/16 7:55am]

The death toll is now at 36, with parts of the building still unable to be searched. Only 35-40% has been searched.

Derick Ion said “I can proverbally get away with murder” several months ago. He, his wife and kids were not present at the property when the fire occurred.

Although some Burners have been saying on Facebook that “nobody lived there”, one of the residents said she escaped with her cat. Authorities believe the fire began at the rear of the building on the lower floor.

[Source: some good coverage at the San Jose Mercury Newsalso here and here.]

There were multiple minors killed in the fire. A criminal investigation has begun with Federal involvement:

Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, said the majority of the victims were in their 20s and 30s, but that some were teenagers.

Kelly said the district attorney’s office has sent a team of criminal investigators to work alongside the sheriff’s arson task force and the Oakland Police Department. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has also sent representatives to help in the investigation, providing resources, forensics and laboratory work.

The investigators are working to uncover any potential criminal activity that may have led to the blaze.

[Source: LA Times]

The East Bay Express says Burning Man artists are worried that a crackdown on underground collectives that don’t live up to building code will hurt the arts community.  Sorry, but no art is worth 36 lives. You can’t host commercial events in places without fire exits and sprinklers, no matter how broke you are.

Some Burners are butt-hurt that the mainstream media described this all-night underground event with a lineup of DJs playing electronic dance music as a “rave”. Apparently glowsticks are offensive to them, and if there’s no glowsticks it can’t be a rave:

Let me explain something, and i’ll make it as simple as possible. This was not a rave, or an empty headed dance party, not a place people came to consume. This was a show, part of a vital and important underground world. The stakes are different and the connection level is intense. You want to talk families? These are chosen families. People with very little in common with the family they are born to, or choose to make their lives based on shared interest and values.

[Source]

Hmmm, wonder if those “shared interests and values” include LSD, meth, and ketamine?

People love to think of the bay area as a hotbed of creativity, but with a few very rare and notable exceptions our aboveboard venues are very conservative and trend risk averse to keep the doors open. Staying open is a daily battle. So when you talk of true innovation, it’s far more likely to happen at a place like Ghost Ship than a place like the Fox Theater

…these are our spaces, these are havens. These are the places where we make our culture happen and they matter. It’s a welcoming place to the marginalized, the oppressed, the freaks, the dorks, the last ones picked, those that don’t fit in anywhere and don’t have a whole lot of interest in complying.

[Source]

Silicon Valley is internationally renowned as a world center for innovation, but which specific inventions came out of the Oakland warehouse arts scene is a mystery to me. It seems that the creative talent of the Bay Area can work just fine when building codes are enforced. Even the freaks, the dorks, and the last ones picked deserve safety. Nobody deserves to die at a rave intellectual dance party, and “leave the junk-filled death traps the way they are and throw more dance parties” is not a solution.


[Update 12/4/16 9:05pm]

33 bodies have been found. 70% of the venue is yet to be searched. [Source: ABC]

Mayor Libby Schaaf suggested that there were juveniles found among the dead. Victims have been found in every section of the building.


 

[Update 12/4/16 1:54pm]

Beware of fundraisers relating to this event. This person Jonathan Lee Riches was caught trolling people on Derick Ion’s Facebook page and soliciting donations. Thanks Matt for the tip.


[Update 12/4/16 12:37pm]

Eyewitness account from Bob Mulé

 

Official death toll now at 30 [Source: CBS]

Source: Facebook

Source: Facebook


[Update 12/3/16 5:23pm]

They are now saying as many as 40 people were killed. 24 bodies have been recovered from the hellish scene [Source: LA Times].

The building was inspected just over 2 weeks ago, and ruled illegally unsafe. There had been multiple complaints. [Source: East Bay Express]

The owner of the warehouse was Chor Ng. [Source: East Bay Express]

The building was assessed at $86,000 – can you believe there is any building like that in the entire Bay Area? [Source: SF Chronicle]

NOTE: this fire has nothing to do with the Ghost Ship Halloween parties. It seems the Satya Yuga were calling themselves “the Oakland Ghost Ship”.

Notice he said “ceremony”. Different from “underground rave” or “Halloween party”. There is certainly a lot of occult imagery on the proprietors’ Facebook pages.

The owner of the business hosting the event has made a stunning comment on Facebook.

screenshot-2016-12-03-17-18-09

Understandably, the community is not impressed with this response. Selected comments at the end of this article. I’m disappointed that I have some amazing mutual friends with this guy.


[Update 12/3/16 7:46pm]

 

This list is from CBS:

Here is a list of names from the Oakland police of those who are believe to be missing from calls by family and friends.

  • Alana Kane
  • Alex Ghassen
  • Alex Vega
  • Amanda Kershaw
  • Ara Jo
  • Ben Runnels A/K/A Charlie Prowler
  • Cash Askew
  • Chelsea Faith (Dolan)
  • David Cline
  • Donna Kellogg
  • Edmind Lapine
  • Eliott Rattle
  • Griffin Sean Madden
  • hanna Hennikka Ruax
  • Ivania L. Chavarria Gonzalez
  • Jason Adrian McCarty
  • Jennifer Kiyomi Tanouye
  • Joey Matlock a/k/a Casio
  • Justin/Feral Fritz/Pines
  • Madison Machado
  • Michela Gregory
  • Naomi Riches
  • Nex/Chase Iuguolo/Wittenauer
  • Nicholas Walrath
  • Nick Gomez-Hall
  • Nicole “Denalda” R Siegrist
  • Peter Wadsworth
  • Travis Hough
  • Viktor Kastro

There were two reported to be treated at a local hospitals.

  • Samuel Maxwell
  • Tobi/Geyl Chase

[Source]

Derick Ion’s Facebook page and his wife Micah Allison’s are deeply disturbing, full of occult symbols and lengthy rants. It appears that the party-loving couple had their kids taken away by Child Protective Services several years ago. They were in a hotel room when this disaster happened. Now they are supposedly on the run:

screenshot-2016-12-03-19-49-33

They are Burners. A couple of the rants were targeted at Burning Man. See below.

 

 


Original story:

The first responders from @OaklandFireLive were there at 11:27. Half an hour later, the fire was out of control and all units were ordered to be evacuated

An eyewitness report:

It was too hot, too much smoke, I had to get out of there,’ Bob Mule, a photographer and artist who lives at the building and suffered minor burns, told the Times. 

‘I literally felt my skin peeling and my lungs being suffocated by smoke. I couldn’t get the fire extinguisher to work.’ 

Mule was able to make it out of the building that was engulfed in a matter of minutes.  

It’s unclear how the fire started, as it’s believed an artists’ collective that is adjacent to the warehouse was also engulfed in flames. Arson investigators will be called to the scene, officials said.  

[Source: Daily Mail]

The fire inspector has asked that people post the names of those known to be safe or missing at this Facebook thread. The police have asked for missing people’s photos and identifying features. Piercings, tattoos, clothing they were wearing, weight, birthday, hair color etc. There are more than 20 people listed here as missing, if you know any of them please try to get in touch and share their information on Facebook.

oakland-coroners-bureau

Only about half a dozen are confirmed to be OK. Someone posted the list from the hospital:

oakland-rave-list-accounted-for-dec-2-2106

These people are in the hospital

These people are still missing

These people are still missing

The list on the Facebook thread of missing people has more names. Many of the people seem to have pseudonyms, which complicates the search.

The “live/work collective space” seems like one of these Burner warehouse packed full of “stuff”. Their Facebook page describes the space as “An unprecedented fusion of earth home bomb bunker helter skelter spelunker shelters and indonesian straw huts rolling into valleys and down alleys”

satya-yuga-inside-2014

satya-yuga-guitars

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satya-yuga-internal

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Image: Google Streetview

Satya Yuga’s profile pic and other Facebook posts on Derrick Ion and his wife and children’s pages (yes, there were children living in this raver collective) suggest occult interests in dark magick and death:

satya-yuga-profile-pic

satya-yuga-facebook

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Further coverage:

Daily Mail

San Jose Mercury News

East Bay Times

Russia Today

TMZ

Vice

4Chan


Event Details:

Golden Donna (100% SILK/ CGI Records/ Not Not Fun)
Golden Donna is the electronic outlet of Madison, Wisconsin’s Joel Shanahan. The project draws on genres ranging from psych to house music to create layered tracks built on powerful, danceable rhythms and bass lines and intricate, headphone-worthy synth composition.
“As Golden Donna, Madison, Wisc.’s Joel Shanahan makes synth-based instrumentals that slide from psychedelic workouts into the kind of soaring pop that evokes 1980s movie soundtracks.” —Marc Masters, Pitchfork
http://pitchfork.com/reviews/tracks/14875-machete-bathtub/
“In truth, it all comes off more as a composition than a track, the song’s six-minute run landing on a number of different musical sections, each with their own distinctive moods and melodic hooks.” —Glenn Jackson, XLR8R, on “Empty Charm Vessel”
http://www.xlr8r.com/mp3/2014/02/empty-charm-vessel
http://www.soundcloud.com/goldendonna

Cherushii (100% SILK / Run The Length Of Your Wildness)
Cherushii is Chelsea Faith, an electronic musician based in San Francisco, California. Her passion for dance music history is evident in her work, which takes cues from Detroit techno, Chicago house, and classic rave sounds. A multi-instrumentalist since childhood, Chelsea began experimenting with electronics as a teenager, which lead to playing live techno and house at underground raves in the 2000s. She has been working as a live performer, producer, DJ, and remixer for over a decade, using her gear savvy and innate musicianship to create lush, retro-futurist productions. Cherushii signed with LA-based dance music tastemakers 100% Silk in 2013, and released her second 12″ for the label “Far Away So Close” in November 2015.
http://www.soundcloud.com/cherushii

Nackt (100% SILK /Outpost/ Rare Form/ AYLI)
Nackt is a DJ, Producer, Lover, and Gentleman. As a co-founder of the Outpost, Rare Form and Deep East parties, he is committed to bringing excellent talent to Oakland and San Francisco.
Excited by the techno-influenced house and garage revival happening in the UK bass scene, Nackt plays techno, funky deep house, and forward-thinking bass music from across the globe… Nackt’s original productions and remixes have appeared on labels like 100% Silk, Chillin Music, Popgang, Don’t Say Techno, and 3AM Devices.
http://nacktmusic.com/

Russell E. L. Butler//Black Jeans (Opal Tapes/ Jacktone Records/ Intersection)
Russell Butler is an experimental artist and DJ based in Oakland, California. Originally from Bermuda, Russell has developed a process of improvisation that draws from a rich cultural of history rooted in their island and the black, queer diaspora.
“Oakland synth artist Russell E.L. Butler used to record heavy acid jams with a punk aesthetic under the name Black Jeans…He’s since delved further inside his machines, exploring a variety of techno expressions.” – The Fader
http://soundcloud.com/russellelbutler
http://www.thefader.com/2016/05/31/russell-butler-without-fear

OBSIDIAN BLADE (Oakland no-rave)
pomo post club from the oakland underground crafted for the purpose of facilitating ecstatic camaraderie and cyberdelic transcendence
https://soundcloud.com/obsidian-blade

PIANO RAIN (AJA VISION)
Rooted in Denver and flowered in Oakland, Aja Archuleta spins webs of sound and rhythm in a study of memory and the processing of trauma through our right to dance.
https://soundcloud.com/ajavision

R △ D △ Я
“RADAR is wired for innerspace sonics and mind to mind transmissions. RADAR is bent like light through water as it reaches us through time and space. RADAR hears us, sends us back to ourselves. RADAR has conjured who we’re becoming within ourselves together: RADAR programs synths and percussion sounds to the echoes of what we’ve become by the time RADAR’s heard us. RADAR is playing the warehouse rave on the space station. RADAR could be Jon Hrabko of Oakland, CA. RADAR could be electronics, corrosion, flavor crystals in permanent shadow.”
https://soundcloud.com/j0n-1/sets/r-d-ya_ya-3-m-1-x-3

Live Visuals provided by
VISUAL AIDS
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzZHJJge4PU

featuring Brook Munchhausen‘s “VIDEO CUBE”

**RAVE CAVE HAIR AND NAIL SALON PROVIDING CUSTOM LOOKS**

SECRET EAST OAKLAND LOCATION
ANNOUNCED DAY OF SHOW.
$10 before 11PM
$15 after

 


Comments from Derick Ion’s public Facebook page:

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A couple of his rants were Burning Man related:

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FIRST… let me say ive said this all before… and now i will say it again…
And again and again…. because it cracks me the fuck up to see every year an endless line of hungry ghosts desperately getting in line for the ultimate ritualistic right of passage …. that they have been seeking thier entire lives….. So good to see that they have found it…… and remember…… we are not there with you.
WE ARE SATYA YUGA.
maybe you do not know what we do… it’s not … looking cool or participating in the very construct that has robbed BURNING MAN… run off the truly talented community that spent a generation plus… building a village free from the bullshit corporate wasteful ridiculously enormous ego driven mockery of participation.
I AM…. that barnacle of old stone and ancient wood and bones woven together with the family songs and cultural offerings tenderly stitched intimate upon the backside of never forever and no where now.
Not the present nightmare gaining momentum as I slip into honest dreams… it attempts to murder me with the horrific shouting of vomiting madness.
The pre recorded fabricated endless loop of a constant loving arrival … self importance systematically designed like video games for pathetic lonely 30 year olds… the childish tantrum for attention … as big money industry chains a monkey and drunk bum to the ableton serato virtual scratch live pro auto tune native mouth LIP SYNCED AS AGREED ARRANGEMENT … INVITATION TO ENDLESS IMPOSSIBLE SLOT MACHINES DRIPPING TREASURES GOLD HONEY ENDLESSLY COMING DONKEY KONG ALL NITE LONG MAINLINED DIRECT FED 25,000 WATTS ORGASMIC WADS OF POWER SUPREME…. FULL VISIONARY ASSAULT. LIKE GIANT MATRIX BRAND STEROIDAL TROPICAL FRUIT FLAVOR SHERBERT ICE CREAM EDIBLE UNDERWEAR BEING ATTACKED AND LICKED AND SUCKED ON ALL SIDES TO GET TO THE THE DELICIOUS CHEWY NECTAR OF IMMORALITIES CENTER STAGE… RED CARPET RUNWAY.. TO BE HERALDED AS DIVINE BEAUTY . THEN… LIGHT AS A SACRED NATIVE AMERICAN EAGLES FEATHER WITH DIGNITY… EAR-WING WORN COSMIC TANTRIC ALL WHITE PRAYER-FORMERS WITH PLATINUM GOLD TRIM SHIPIBO G STRINGS… LIFTED ME TOGETHER IN COMMUNAL ORGASM … SAMPLED AND LOOPED ME WITH JUST THE RIGHT FLANGIE DELAY THEN AUTO TUNED A REALTIME REMIX …. ALL OF US … THE ENTIRE 70,000 BROTHERS AND SISTERS INTERTWINED IN SACRED COMMUNAL HARMONY.. LIKE A VILLAGE… A small little village… that the devil had just visited and made us… forced to drink wine… he put his finger pointy and red … into the table… and when he pulled it out… wine as crimson as the lords sons tortured blood… sprang fourth like a fountain… of life… of forget… of passion and recklessness… we did it for jesus and spoke not of it ever again. BUT THE FUCKING BLOOM SERIES WAS THERE AND THEY ONLY FILMED THE REALLY NASTY PARTS AND BROADCASTED IT LIKE PIRATE WHALE KILLERS SEDUCING THE NEXT VICTIM WITH THE SAD YET JOYFUL SONGS OF BABY WHALES…(engineered at expressions audio arts school in emmeryville ca.) CRYSTAL CLEAR INTO EVERY DERANGED CROTCHLESS DRY HUMPER PLAYA PERVERTS EAR… IN SONIC FORCE SO LOW IN MISERABLE ATTEMPT TO REPLACE NATURAL RHYTHM… TIPPER $$Xryllix NASTY DUB STEP SY TRANCE NECROMANCE DRIVEN AS TURNCOAT ASSASSINS SELF PROMOTING MANAGER PAID TO ARRANGE THE PATHETIC FACADE OF RECKLESS AND WILD MIDDLE AGED DANGEROUS MASTER BACKER FAT ASS BUSTED BALI CROTCH BLOWN OUT FROM FUCKIN THREE BITCHES IN DESSERT POSITION … AS AGREED IN THE SIGNED CONTRACTS UNDER ALTERNATIVE GIFTING BUY IN PERCENTAGE VARIABLE OPTIONS OF SUBMISSIONS AND PERMISSIONS TO SELF AMEND THE TRADE FOR SERVICES AGAINST A SUBSTANTIAL MONETARY DEBT… DEPENDING OF COURSE ON EXISTING BENEFICIAL TO CIRCLE CONDITIONS…. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MAINSTAGE OR THAT DIRTY LITTLE CLUB IN THE MISSION. IT AINT LOVE OR LUCK ANYMORE… ITS BUSINESS … BOTH SIDES FUCKING TO THE MIDDLE FOR THAT LOVING MUTUALLY EARNED GIFT OF POSITION. CUP CAKE CHEESE AND CRACKER TONY BENNETT FRANK SINATRA DEAN MARTIN… CROONER.. OUT DATED VINTAGE OBSOLETE MOB BITCHES. DIFFERENT DAY… UPGRADED EXTERNAL MONKEY FINGER SPLICED ASS SIDE OF MULE FUELED INSTANT PARTY TOOL… JUST ADD APATHY… BURNING MAN AND CLEVER STERILITY… PRE PACKAGED WITH SHELF LIFE ADVERTISED…. DEEJAY… CULTURE KILLER. FACEBOOK BILLIONAIRE RENTAL ART CAR CRUISING THE STRIP NAME BRAND HOUSEHOLD FAMOUS DOOLAB HEADLINER SOUNDTRACK AS LURE CLAIMS THIS FLY BY NITE ILLUSION OF PRETTY LIGHTS DECREPIT ROLLING COVEN OF VAMPIRES… TO BE COOL… … HUNTING WITH A SOUNDTRACK… SACRIFICIAL PIT… AIR CON DOME.. SECRET SOCIAL VIP MIXERS … GUARDED… BY BLACK-WATER ARMED MERCENARY SECURITY INSTIGATE AS CHAIN OF COMMAND MATTER OF FACT K-HOLE ROLLED BIG TITTY RAVER GIRL SEDATED STERILITY PENETRATED AND GAPED THEN WET WIPED BY PERSONAL ASSISTANTS AND PAID CATERED EXECUTIVE ELITE . SOOOOO SENSITIVE SEXY FUNNY AWKWARDLY ATTRACTIVE HONEST AND QUIRKY THE LITTLE ANIMALS IT KILLS WITH “HERTZ” AND DATE RAPED SLIPPED INTO SIPPED DRINK BURNING MAN AS EPIDEMIC PROPORTIONS ghb 2cb ketamine lsd bath salt aderol legal speed doctor roberts studio 54 vitamin b eedie sedgewickes 1960 and velvet undergrounds nyc it will never be… only this… like a rerun of gomer pile. Wurlitzer crank organ… preloaded with spools of paper thin commands as holes… empty space ,,, organ music… if you can even call it that… that shit packed prosaic D.J. CRAP… THAT MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR “WINNING” ALL OF THE TIME. im sorry… and i apologize ahead of time for fucking being horrified by your pack mentality mindless regurgitation of nothing. great party.. real loud. real big. wow. what a waste of the fruits of desolation and struggle… that place commands reverence… not arrogance … not sing falsely as zombies thru a function one and little man with a laptop… void of truth and ability… broadcasting as a tonal weapon that kills real breathed nervous poetry and turkish banjos puppet shows prayers lovers confessions and gentle lessons that i as your GUEST … was treated as a man and father … like a dog. fed heaping potent sonic and pathetic portions of disrespect. throwing yourselves into perpetual celebrations of self glorification. where was your families blue grass salsa samba klezmer congo polka rumba punk ska buto blues dub funk jazz junk card trick pottery kungfu carnival gospel devotional tantric day of silence for all souls past…. PEPE… THE OPERA… WITH TOTALLY LIVE ORCHESTRAS AND THROAT SINGERS…. LOST LOVES THAT LISTEN FOR THAT GENUINE SONG… WITH FUCKING WORDS… LIKE SPELLS… DONNY HATHAWAY LAHSA celia eartha billy cave jim murphy iggy smiths bauhaus war curtis fela eekamouse agustus tubby miles dexter roshan coltrane souixse smith frankie elliot ben bob perry sade nina paul pena chet flea anthony sonic portis clash floyd moody zepplin janis oconnor reed marvin niel petty dylan cash extra action idiot flesh crash worship beyond race hamza lila yard dogs breakfast alix sun eenor tommy pagan sunru moondoggie xeno cooper austin ali akbar ravi shankar manu chow mandril palmerie cachao santamaria marlena shaw X vega hagen Howie bonno mike d beastie biggie curt saul williams harper fishbone Prince elliot also green screaming j barretto earl fatha hines carlos……
awe fuck. you got the point.
PEACE. Derick Ion

Micah Allison was safely in a hotel room with her kids the night 33 people died in the fire in their “home”

 

 

“Dear White People, Standing Rock Is Not Burning Man”

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It seems that the idea of “using The Ten Principles of Burning Man to make the world a better place” is not yet embraced by everyone else in the world.

screenshot-2016-12-01-01-35-18There has been a barrage of press this week about complaints that Burners are trying to turn the Dakota Pipeline protest at Standing Rock into Burning Man.

Some of the headlines:

The Independent (UK): Standing Rock: North Dakota access pipeline demonstrators say white people are ‘treating protest like Burning Man’

SF Chronicle: Standing Rock Activists Asking White People Not To Treat The Protest Like Burning Man

Daily Caller: White Hippes Descend on Standing Rock Protest, Treat It Like Burning Man

Papermag: White People Are Reportedly Treating the #NODAPL Protests Like Burning Man

Washington Times: Complaints Grow Over Whites Turning Dakota Access protest into hippie festival

Yes, the demonstrators have a new thing to protest about: Burners. The colonial subjects do not want to have a transformational experience from the colonists, they are quite happy with the culture that they already have – an ancient one sacred to them, principles that their people have risked their lives for centuries to defend.

GQ says:

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Opponents of the nearly-completed Dakota Access Pipeline have been confronted with some harrowing stuff during their ongoing occupation of Standing Rock Indian Reservation: pepper spraystrip searchesrubber bulletswater cannons, and now, as the calendar rolls over into December, plunging temperatures and the prospect of snow. It’s a volatile, dangerous situation, and the continued integrity of the demonstration will depend heavily on the exercise of restraint, sound judgment, and common sense. Unfortunately, your college roommate who was way too into Dave Matthews Band is apparently out there doing his best to fuck everything up. From the Independent:

People demonstrating at North Dakota’s Access Pipeline protest have expressed frustration at white demonstrators who are reportedly turning up to “colonise” the camp.

Concerns have been raised by protestors on social media, who claim that people are arriving at the Standing Rock demonstration for the “cultural experience” and treating it like Burning Man festival.

Yes, apparently some Johnny-come-lately Caucasian protesters have been comparing the protests to Burning Man, using donations to buy fluoride-free water, and—the cardinal sin of white people everywhere—playing their guitars around campfires. My fellow white people: do not do this shit! Standing Rock is not the place for you to embark on a meaningful spiritual journey to find yourself. 

If they are so inclined, it’s great for people to show their support for the tribe’s efforts to protect its water supply and preserve their traditional tribal burial grounds. But while it sounds there are plenty of non-tribal protestors in attendance who are doing things correctly, others need to learn some dang manners. 

Nobody wants to hear your songs with your guitar or drum around the fire” is an evergreen reminder, to be honest, but it especially applies to anyone who treats Standing Rock like it’s a friend of a friend’s housewarming party that they can crash.

[Source]

This is particularly amusing because BMorg have been boasting about how they have teams on the scene, including [former] Social Alchemist/House Bard Bear Kittay. If “playing guitars around campfires” was a middle name, it would be his…

 

As a rule we don’t share personal Facebook posts here, but in this case Bear was happy for his take on Standing Rock to be published on Medium, who bring us Bear Kittay From The Bismarck Airport Leaving Standing Rock (on a private plane, perhaps?):

Photo by Bear Kittay. Note their Principle “No Children in Potentially Dangerous Situations”, something the Org really needs to consider

.

“Real, immediate dialogue. That is what we need. How can we create an environment where an indigenous person, gypsetter, and rust belter will be imbued with a sense of peership?

My experience of the microcosm of a cauldron that Standing Rock, in my brief visit there, has left me with much to ponder and digest. So many layers simultaneously coexisting.

Deep ancestral distrust, how can we begin to address the underlying fears and victimization?

On my journey to North Dakota I read “Quiet Thunder: The Wisdom of Crazy Horse” (thanks Michael Costuros) and was astounded to revisit, in chilling detail, the magnitude of the atrocities committed by the United States upon the Lakota Nation.

For all the focus we put on the inequities of the wider world, it struck me so deeply to look here into the history of our own land, and demystify the historical injustices, that were not from some far off historic time. For indeed, there is a through line that, very immediately connects the vile, systemic campaign against the Native Americans to the current moment of Standing Rock today.

I have tried to balance and remain agnostic from the many conspiracy theories that are in sprinkled around the Internet and spoken as if they are high truth. I believe this world is complex and that oversimplification can lead to the worst in human behavior.

So, can someone please give me an explanation as to why all of the major media companies are refusing to cover standing rock in earnest? It has all the telltale signs of conspiratorial activity, with huge corporate interests conspiring to suppress public outrage through misinformation and, even, fake news. If any of you that are reading this are deeply connected in the mainstream media, please use your influence to send field reporters.

Thank you to Seth BuntingElana Meta Jaroff and the many others who are on the front lines of this conflict vigilantly documenting and broadcasting the scene. Your work is making real impact, your courage is real.

This isn’t going to be one of those Facebook posts where I prescribe eloquent solutions or pruned emotional reflections — I’m sleep deprived, exasperated and very much in process.

If you’re reading this, I implore you to create conversation with those who may challenge you, trigger you, who you may easily judge, and subconsciously look down upon… get off of the Internet and receive the incredible gift of human connection outside of our affinity bubbles.

This is what the world needs. This is what our hearts need. This is but one facet in the many layers of Standing Rock as a metaphor for the front lines of our nation and indeed our world, in transition.

In love, and to the ongoing ceremony and prayer in our Greater Circle. Aho

And PS — it’s COLD AS HELL out there. Please consider the comfort of your warm home when making a donation to support the Water Protectors: http://www.ocetisakowincamp.org/

[Source]

I wondered if this “camp ocetisakowin” had anything to do with the Dakota Pipeline, or if it was some plug-n-play that BMorg had set up so they could fly execs in via their new airline. At first glance it looked like an anagram of “white ocean“…Turns out it’s the traditional name of the Sioux People and one of the largest camps up there. Among other things they’re seeking:

The sacred fire must be kept burning until it is guaranteed the water is protected for future generations.  One of our greatest needs for the winter will be wood.  It warms our lodges, cooks our food, heats the stones for our sweats. 

Tipis, winter liners, and poles

Yurts or other winter worthy structures

[Source]

Ask for yurts and help to keep the sacred fire burning and don’t be surprised if Burners show up! Perhaps they should’ve asked for ShiftPods…they could blast the pipeline away with that stadium-grade Funktion1 system.

Actually, the Daily Mail features “Burning Man-style” aerial photos…I see multiple Shift Pods. Where’s the DJ booth?

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[Source]

To be fair to Bear, the Standing Rock protestors were complaining about people treating it like Burning Man before he showed up:

Burbank Airport is a popular hub for General Aviation

Burbank Airport in Los Angeles is a popular hub for General Aviation, but an unusual departure location for an SF resident on a commercial flight

Tracing this story to its roots, it seems like the complaints about Burners started two weeks earlier, on November 14.

GQ quotes The Independent who plagiarize quote without attribution Counter Current News who quote Alicia Smith on Facebook.

Standing Rock has reportedly been overrun with white demonstrators trying to soak up the ‘cultural experience’

Demonstrators at North Dakota’s Pipeline protest have spoken out about the amount of white people who have turned up to “colonise” the camp.

The concerns have been raised by protestors in a series of tweets and Facebook posts. According to them, people have turned up to the Standing Rock demonstration to soak up the “cultural experience”, and are treating the camp like it is “Burning Man” festival or “The Rainbow Gathering”.

“They are coming in, taking food, clothing… and occupying space without any desire to participate in camp maintenance and without respect of tribal protocols,” said protestor Alicia Smith on Facebook. “I even witnessed several wandering in and out of camps comparing it to festivals. Waiting with big smiles expectantly for us to give them a necklace or an ‘indian’ name while our camp leader was speaking.”

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If you read our post Making Sense of the Non-Census (or did the Creepy Census) you will have encountered the term “2 Spirit”. I wondered what that was, now I know: someone who travels to sacred Indian land to scream at the Elders.

Burners Without Borders has been involved since at least October 28.

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There seems to be a battle going on of “which nerds should be the ones to collect donations to [*cough*] pass on to the protestors”. BWB director Chris Breedlove asked “where does this money go?” on Bear’s Facebook post asking for donations to ThriveAction.org , which redirects to thrivemarket.com, which says that the distribution really gets done by UpToUs.Net – which is a “coming soon” 1-page web site four months after raising $41,104 of their $75,000 goal for a “caravan to the DNC” . They have partnered with All It Takes, created by Divergent actress Shailene Woodley and her mom to send poor kids to training camps. It’s about 100% of their annual budget. Where does the money go? It’s complicated…

While I share Breedlove’s concerns and his intentions sound noble, it turns out Burners Without Borders are promoting their own preferred charity, in partnership with Patricia Arquette.
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Isn’t this exactly the kind of thing Burners Without Borders is supposed to be doing? The Burning Man Project has $7.5 million cash (at least, it did at the end of 2015). Why can’t they spare $80k for this project, if it’s so worthy? Why can’t they redistribute $1 from each of our tickets for this? Why are they promoting Patricia Arquette, who a couple of months ago was hating on Burning Man?

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Why does Burning Man with many millions have to wait for Patricia Arquette to raise tens of thousands before they can help the Sioux tribe in North Dakota? The tribe’s potty requirements presumably tick the Ten Principle boxes of “Immediacy”, “Civic Responsibility”, and (dare I say it) “Radical Self Expression”…meanwhile the existing portapotties are freezing up.

Perhaps They want to ameliorate the concerns Hollywood quasi-celebrities have about Burning Man’s environmental values by partnering with them on a composting toilets project. Whether such projects get funded enough and completed in time is not as important as the “optics”. Someone semi-famous who went to Burning Man once is making something happen, somewhere, somehow, coming soon. Woo-hoo! We’re saving the world with Larry’s Ten Principles, and OPM!

So far this “fund by Becca Dakini” has raised $30k of their $85k goal. I guess if there’s one thing Burning Man is good at, it’s managing dumps in remote locations…

porta-potty-blowdown

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In this case it’s not just Burners Without Borders and Burning Man raising money for toilets. It’s also people (and networks) from Do Lab, Symbiosis, Lucidity, their brand consultants, and “others” from the “global festival community”. Colonize turns out to be an apt word, since their “focus is on village building”:

.
Protector’s Alliance is a unified platform and partnership effort of aligned organizations, skilled workers, producers and individuals from the global festival community. We are working to support front line environmental crisis and social justice conflicts. We gather accurate information about the needs of an action, manage a database and resource bank of our community’s assets, deploy and distribute resources effectively with a focus on “village building”. We support on the front lines with effective aid, skills, labor, infrastructure and tools, through an agile approach to fulfilling the emergent needs of actions. We are committed to working as allies, building pathways for inter-cultural cooperation, with cultural sensitivity training and education for our partners and affiliates to ensure appropriateness of our conduct towards nurturing respectful relationships and empowering peoples of place. Individuals and Organizations that are part of this alliance include the communities and networks of Burners Without Borders, Burning Man, Do LaB Inc, UPLIFT, Lucidity Festivals, Keyframe-Entertainment, ReInhabiting the Village, Take Root Productions and others
.
Deploy and distribute resources effectively? Who’s counting that? Are they planning to build their villages on tribal land? And who are these unnamed “others” collecting all the databases? What happens to the data? Is it shared with the “Burning Nerds” or “Burning Man Earth” teams?
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Composting toilets might not be “fulfilling the emergent needs of actions” if the protest gets shut down next week like the Governor has ordered:

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On Tuesday, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department indicated that it would block delivery of food, medicine and other supplies to protesters who defy orders to leave the Oceti Sakowin camp. Gov. Jack Dalrymple on Monday ordered mandatory evacuation of the camp because of a predicted strong winter storm. 

 

The first blow to the camp’s security was an announcement last week that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would shut an area to the public that includes the main camp. The corps said its decision was based on growing violence between police and protesters and the onset of cold weather.  

 [Source]
 .
Burner General Wesley Clark‘s son is leading 2000 unarmed Veterans up there to make a human shield. Frozen or not, shit’s about to get real. The Veterans group have raised nearly a million bucks on their GoFundMe. Like the Haiti earthquake, Standing Rock seems like a goldmine for all the helpers. How much of the money leaves the hands of the white folks non-indigenous groups and flows into the hands of the tribes is an open question. I didn’t notice any Indians amongst all these various fundraising entities.
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A search for “Standing Rock” on GoFundMe turns up thousands of fundraisers.
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All of these are still open, which begs the question “which will close first, the protests or the fundraisers?” Back in the day, people used to pay their own costs to protest for things they believe in.
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Another BWB-backed group called Red Lightning are setting up a real Burner-style camp there. You can send donations directly to them:
red-lightning-camp-layout
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Reality Sandwich, a site founded by Daniel Pinchbeck, today published a lengthy feature by Tamra Lucid “From Burning Man to Standing Rock”

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But now, 300 indigenous nations are there in Cannonball, North Dakota, protecting the water. Among them the Yaqui, Bianca’s tribe.

But Bianca has another tribe, too — she’s a Burner. Burners have been getting a bad reputation at Standing Rock because of some who treat it like just another festival. Burners who freeload, you know, tourists, or colonists. People who play guitar at campfire when they shouldn’t. People who explain when they should be listening. But they aren’t the only Burners at Standing Rock.

…I witnessed festival families showing up at Standing Rock.  Fortunately, many burners came in service to the indigenous, while unfortunately others came to “have an experience” to showcase on social media.  The later is what became most evident and publicized and provides our community with an opportunity to grow and become culturally aware of how we show up in the world.  It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for those of us who have not grown up with tribal people to interact, and to garner a more real understanding of what it means to interact with tribal people. Go and sit quietly in the different councils (preferably giving the primary seats to the Natives), go and engage with the gathered nations by asking one simple question, “How can I be in service to you today?”  

 

If you’re unsure of how to do this or nervous you will step on toes, connect with https://www.protectorsalliance.org

[Source]

In fact there are more than 500 tribes there from around the world. My people are there too, although our way of protest is a little different from kumbaya, kombucha, and fluoride-free water…here’s Kereama Te Ua from my hometown of Wellington at Standing Rock doing a haka, the Maori war dance..

You may have seen this sort of thing before in sporting events with the New Zealand national team, or in the movie Invictus with Morgan Freeman. I can guarantee that you haven’t seen a haka like this, though. This is the real deal, he’s not messing around. It’s significant that he doesn’t rise from his knee. If he does, it’s to fight. These people are not to be trifled with, they ate the brains of their enemies on the battlefield to take their power.
 .
It remains to be seen whether these more traditional forms of protest will be more effective than thousands of GoFundMes for unemployed/trust-fund Burners looking for a transformational experience and promising that “100% of the money” goes to the Indians. We wish everyone involved a peaceful and successful protest. It’s a global village now. Mess with the tribes and you mess with all the tribes.
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[Update 5/12/16 7:27am]

Chris Breedlove from Burners Without Borders has commented on this story on our Facebook page. Predictably, instead of addressing any of the issues we raised, he tried to spin it and place the blame here.
BMorg can do no wrong! It is only Burners.Me that does wrong. BMorg good! Burners.Me bad!
screenshot-2016-12-05-07-26-50

Louisa May Alcott: Breadwinner, Frustrated Creative and Opiate Addict

littlewomen

 

by Terry Gotham

While I was never that big of a Louisa May Alcott fan, her impact on American literature cannot be denied. Alcott is an adored and fiercely protected author, in no small part because of just how impeccably written and potentially life-changing Little Women can be.  Her eight YA novels have remained in print continuously for the 140 years since they were written. There are two anime adaptations of Little Women, plus half a dozen other adaptations. Her creative output is a fundamental piece of American literature. Today is her 185th birthday, so I wanted to tell you a story about her. You probably didn’t know she smoked hashish and used opium for most of her life to deal with the side effects of mercurous chloride to treat typhoid pneumonia, which is believed to have eventually killed her (though an alternative diagnosis of Lupus was suggested in 2007).

Previously, I was delighted to dismantle the myth that the Civil War created a flood of heroin addict veterans. However, that doesn’t mean everyone managed to escape the clutches of substance abuse. Nurses, doctors and surgeons were far more exposed to the dangers of these substances than the Union soldier who only saw the inside of a field hospital once during his service. Repeated use of alcohol in the form of whiskey and opium in the form of laudanum, morphine, and heroin to treat hundreds of soldiers a week, in addition to essentially zero oversight when it came to use was a one-two punch that created a tempting proposition for those who tended to the wounded on both sides. There are a number of isolated reports, documenting the odd doctor or surgeon who got a little too sauced at work, or needed to be relieved of his duties because he was incapacitated. This implies that there could have been more of these medical practitioners who didn’t get caught, but still ended up using to cope.

Louisa May Alcott, one of the most influential and beloved American writers of the 19th Century, was one of these medical practitioners. She worked under Dorothea Dix who administrated military hospitals as a nurse.   Before leaving for the Civil War, she’d already assumed her station at the head of the household. Her father, one of the pre-eminent thinkers of their day, couldn’t keep it together for long enough to keep them out of poverty. When she left for the Civil War, her father was reported to have said he was “sending his only son to war.”

It was during the Battle of Fredricksburg that she contracted typhoid pneumonia, an ailment that would alter her life forever. The prescription for typhoid was calomel, and to ease the side effects of literally consuming mercury every day, she started using opium, in the form of morphine & laudanum. She didn’t enter into this habit by accident. She was a very smart lady and knew the potential dangers in consuming it daily. Alcott assisted Catherine Beecher in writing The American Woman’s Home in 1869, a year after Little Women was published, in which she stated:

“The use of opium, especially by women, is usually caused by at first by medical prescriptions containing it. All that has been stated as to the effect of alcohol in the brain is true of opium; while to break a habit thus is almost hopeless. Every woman who takes or who administers this drug, is dealing as with poisoned arrows, whose wounds are without cure.”
~Alcott & Beecher, The American Women’s Home (1849), revision of A Treatise on Domestic Economy (1841)

But a little thing like typhoid pneumonia & a daily opiate habit didn’t stop her. She built herself into the powerhouse of an author by sheer force of will. Realizing that her success and financial stability was depending on her career as a writer, Alcott built herself and her writing into a brand that we remember to this day. While she had made money previously from writing pulp fiction, this was light years away in propriety from Little Women and the branding and recognition that followed. The pulp was published anonymously or under a man’s name (A.M. Bernard) for similar reasons to why women writers today publish using a man’s name.

By 1870, she had grown so dependent on opium that she no longer expected to be able to sleep without it, as she described at the end of this letter to her father:

Our hotel is on the boulevard, and the trees, foundations, and fine carriages make our windows very tempting. We popped into bed early; and my bones are so much better that I slept without any opium or anything, a feat I have not performed for some time.
~Louisa May Alcott to her father, Hotel D’Universe, Tours, June 17,1870

As discussed in the Seattle Pi article that I’ve cited a few times, it’s important for stories like this to be told. Not because I think famous people should be knocked down off their pedestal, but just the opposite. We treat substance use/abuse as almost integral to the creative process, especially when it comes to strong drink and writing. This seems to be heavily amplified in men while minimized in women. The idea that alcoholism is this noble part of the developing male writing process has been so deeply embedded in the work that I have friends who honestly didn’t pursue significant study in writing because they were Irish and didn’t want to fall in love with Jameson. This is going on while we eulogize female writers in the exact opposite way, discussing them as pure or without stain, objectifying them in hugely problematic ways. Then, when someone like Amy Winehouse, Billie Holiday or Janis Joplin struggle and die from drugs, we pretend there was nothing we could do and that it just “happened again.” That needs to stop. As a dear friend reminds me, we celebrate drug use in men and totally ignore it in women.

Creative women are no different than creative men and their processes should be laid bare for all to see, scars and stumbles included. Louisa May Alcott probably pursued her habit away from her family or those who could help her. Given her status as the household’s main income generator, I think it’s easy to see her habit in line with the alcoholism of Don Draper, or the cocaine usage of a street dealer. They use because they have to, in order to provide for the people they love. Louisa May Alcott was able to produce Little Women & Perilous Play, a story about hash, in the same year. That’s nothing if not professional. She inspired generations of women to be better than the brand she created. Which is the point of art in the first place. She may not personally be this amazing protagonist hero that she write about, but in striving to be so, even if it’s only to feed her family and take care of your idealist, lazy ass family, she created the possibility for those who looked up to her to become exactly that. As a biographer of hers said on NPR: “You don’t grow up to walk two steps behind your husband when you’ve met Jo March.”

Analysis: Burning Man Project 2015 Financials

BMorg have released their annual report for 2015. Their opening line:

“Do you ever wonder just what exactly the Burning Man Project is up to or what we have accomplished since our transition to a nonprofit?”

A great question, because that is exactly what I wonder about the Burning Man Project.

As readers of this blog would expect, the BMorg report is heavy on spin and light on detail. We aim to bring you the opposite, as we have done for four years now since Burning Man’s “transition to a non profit” was announced with great fanfare.

2012

2013

2014

The Afterburn Report for 2015 was released in February, we covered it here.

Here is the 2015 Burning Man Annual Report and the 2015 IRS Form 990 for the Burning Man Project.


The Spin

BMOrg find their accounts staggeringly boring, so they’ve created a handy pie chart because they’re happy to help us see Where Does The Money Go.

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Image: Burning Man Journal

Does that help you much? Me neither. It seems 100% of the expenses go to, well, expenses. The purple “5.9%” is Payroll Expenses and Employee Benefits, the blue 26.5% is Payroll; why these two things should be separate items and on opposite sides of this pie chart is anybody’s guess, but clear understanding is not the reason.

See that number there “Burning Man Expenses”? Revenue minus Expense equals profit. So you would think that “2015 Burning Man Expenses” means the cost of putting on Burning Man in 2015 was $30,1858,646. But not according to the FAQ:

Q. How Much Money did Burning Man make in 2015?

A. In 2015, the Burning Man Project brought in $36,901,409 and spent $35,844,236.

Where does the money go? Programming. If 83.73% went to “programming” and 15.37% went to administration, that means programming was $30,897,550 and administration cost only $5,671,447. Right? We will verify these claims with the actual IRS filing.

The specific things BMorg chose to highlight:

  • Donations to the Burning Man Project from the public continue to increase: $1,329,325 [2014: $1,093,008]

  • Grants provided by Burning Man Project to artists and community leaders increased by over 50%, $1,419,865 [2014: $911,955]

  • Expanding our reach. We granted over $1.1 million domestically and $250,000 internationally.

  • Burning Man Arts now has an operating budget of almost $2.5 million, and Civic Engagement of over $750,000 — both are significant increases from 2014.

They neglected to mention that the costs of The Man, Man Base, piazza, and other accoutrements that the Burning Man Organization provides (but not as live entertainment) are now being included in the Art Honoraria Grants. As we reported in March 2016, quoting BMorg:

Burning Man Arts is funding BRC art to the tune of $1.2 million this year, including these Honoraria recipients, as well as the sculptures, the bell towers, and the 33 Guild Workshops in the Piazza around the Man. [Source]

“Fearless ringleader” [this is a ring?] Marian Goodell said:

2015 was about investing in infrastructure and establishing a foundation for the future. We actively engaged in conversations with artists, Theme Camp leaders, event producers and others to determine how Burning Man Project can best assist and support them in creating and cultivating Burning Man culture in the world. We worked to develop systems and processes to help people have a broader and deeper positive impact with their effort.

And we officially welcomed Burners Without Borders under our roof. It now sits nestled within our new Art and Civic Engagement team, and will continue to support initiatives around the globe that foster innovative approaches to community resiliency, grant giving, and grassroots initiatives.

While building and integrating systems at home, we also engaged in exciting initiatives and collaborations abroad, including Artichoke Trust’s Temple Project with David Best in Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland. This ambitious venture brought people together across religious and political barriers, serving as a source of healing for a community living with a legacy of conflict and division. The Temple was visited by over 60,000 people, burned in front of 20,000 onlookers, and was hailed by local residents as the largest, most peaceful gathering in recent memory.


Statistical highlights:

Black Rock City Paying Participants: 67,564

Volunteers: 7500

Paid Staff: 951

Total Revenue: $36,901,409

Financial surplus (profit): $1,057,173 (2014: $2,350,498)

Cash in bank: $7,054,089

Net assets: $10,680,108

Burning Man event revenue: $34,707,734

Donations received: $1,329,325 (2014: $1,093)

Fundraising expenses: $369,760

Artumnal Revenue: $377,273

Decompression Revenue: $191,840

Six Largest Donations: $400k, $250k (non-cash), $100k, $25k, $25k, $24k

Grants paid: $1,419,865 (2014: $911,955)

Honoraria Art Grants: $1,142,112 , 105 projects, 14 from overseas

Honoraria as % of Ticket Revenue: 3.3% (2014: 2.8%)

Art Grants outside Burning Man (annual report): $277,753 

Civic Engagement (IRS): $27,550

Foreign grants (IRS): $63,254 of which $15,232 was for the European Leadership Conference and $40,822 was for other European projects (Best?)

Burners Without Borders Grants (IRS): $1,000


Comparative Financials in P & L Format

Version 1.1. I typed some figures in the 2014 column accidentally, now fixed.

Version 1.1. I typed some figures in the 2014 column accidentally, now fixed. This doesn’t change any of the analysis except that salaries and contractors “only” increased 20%, not 31% as I had previously calculated


The big question is: how much of every dollar Burning Man takes in goes to art (and other grants)?

The answer is 3.8 cents. For each $397 ticket, $15.27 gets spent on art. 80% goes to art that is at Burning Man including the Man and Base and the Temple, $12.28. Just shy of three bucks goes to art not at Burning Man. To put this in perspective,  $34.94 per ticket –  almost triple the Art Honoraria  spend – goes to the salaries of Burning Man’s year-round Arts and Civic Engagement teams. Just those teams alone cost $3.25 million a year, never mind all the other employees and contractors.

Contrast this with the Spinfographic:

bm_ar15_financial_1024-1

I can’t see how they came up with these percentages. I’ve tried a dozen different combinations of numbers, none of them work. They don’t seem to match any of the numbers in the IRS Form 990, so they’re basically meaningless. Just a pretty graph to make you think that your ticket money is being well spent.

Likewise, the CEO’s comment that “2015 was about investing in infrastructure” is not matched by any visible infrastructure investments in the accounts.

It seems to me* that the “overhead ratio of the Burning Man project” is much, much higher than 16%.

The reality of this operation is that Where Most of the Money Goes is salaries. Salaries (including Payroll, Payroll Tax and Employee Benefits) and Contractors adds up to $15,646,483, 42% of revenues. The overall dollar amount on this is up +20% from 2014. Will it increase another 20% when we see the 2016 numbers?

The Board, Legal, and Accounting of this organization takes 5.3% of revenues ($1,954,976). The board got smaller with the resignations of Jim Tananbaum and Chris Bently.

Here is the publicly available salary information:

screenshot-2016-11-25-13-03-26

The difference in (brackets) means that – unless they are contracting to the Black Rock City LLC operation, which they would need to disclose as a conflict of interest – the Founders took a pay cut. Not only did the Directors get two separate valuations on Burning Man, and give it away for the lowest one (reducing their potential tax deduction benefit); but they then proceeded to reduce their own salaries even further. Quite unusual behavior. Noble? The rest of the numbers don’t speak to such altruism. Part of the retirement plans, perhaps…or an indicator of a guilty conscience?

The biggest independent contractors were:

Spectrum (Catering): $1,634,009

United Site Services (Sanitation): $1,137,839

Crystal (Ice): $756,741

CrowdRX (Medical): $736,050

Aggreko (Equipment Rental): $517,258

Remember when the money from the ice used to go to local charities? There’s no sign of anything like that any more. Ice sales will break $1 million soon.

They did not break out the revenue from Vehicle Passes or from their cut of on-Playa vendor sales (more than 100 registered vendors paying a percentage of revenues) and off-Playa artist sales. The Tickets page for 2016 says “approximately 27,000” official vehicle passes at $80, which is $2,160,000 – about double the art spend. This year each ticket and vehicle pass had a $7 handling fee, not to mention $12 mailing fees and $40 passenger arrival fees at the airport. In 2015 Vehicle Pass revenue was at least $1,350,000, more than enough to fund BMorg’s share of every Honoraria art project.

screenshot-2016-11-25-22-49-25

Even if you say “the purpose of the Burning Man Project is to put on Burning Man annually, therefore any Burning Man related expense is Program Revenue”…the Burning Man expenses are $25 million from revenues of $35 million, this is 71%. Actually pretty efficient. Then, $9 million of the $10 million surplus generated after the Burning Man event finishes is not given away in grants; it is spent to run their year-round, off-Playa activities. This means the overhead of the operation outside the event is 90% of the surplus. These activities amounted to: a grant of $1000 for a Burners Without Borders project in Africa, and another $250k to off-Playa projects – one of which was the European Leadership Conference.


The Bottom Line

To grant $1000 to projects through Burners Without Borders and $250,000 outside the Playa (mostly to a single David Best project that spanned two years and went well into six figures) took more than 100 full time employees and $15 million of year round salaries – a 20% increase on the previous year. Of the $15 million, $2 million was Board and lawyers and $3.25 million was the Burning Man Arts and Civic Engagement teams.

You would need to be consuming vast quantities of Kool Aid to believe that this is an efficient use of Burner funds to make the world a better place, or that the Burning Man Project is a shining example of an efficient charity with low overheads.

International Grants 

Europe: $40,822

European Leadership Conference $15,232

East Asia/Pacific (BM Arts): $6,000

Burners Without Borders: $1,000

Domestic Art Grants

The main art grants were all local:

David Best $51,970

Dreamers Guild (Oakland) $72,755

Flux Foundation (SF) $40,000

Flaming Lotus Girls (SF) $50,000

Long Shot Studios (Oakland) $45,000

Marco Cochrane (Marin) $60,000

Xian Productions (Berkeley) $45,000

Compare this to what BMorg spent on their political buddies:

Lobbying: $1,000,000

Grassroots Lobbying: $250,000

Permit: $3.8 million


What Else Was Done?

YouTube channel: nearly 100 titles with 1 million views.

Leadership conference: 350 people, 4 days, 35 sessions

European conference: 110 people, 25 countries (Amsterdam)

Asian conference: Taiwan

Southeast Leadership Roundtable: Atlanta, GA

Regional contacts (annual report): 250 contacts, 60 events

Regional contacts (IRS filing): 270 contacts, 130 cities, 65 events

Events in Berlin: 40

Requests for speeches: 106

Burners Without Borders grants: 10

Walk The Talk grants: 3

Quoting BMorg:

Highlights included:

  • Larry Harvey’s speech at the British Library’s permanent outdoor installation, and the unveiling of David Normal’s Burning Man 2014 light box artwork titled “Crossroads of Curiosity.”
  • Crimson Rose’s appearance at the renowned ArtPrize international art competition in Michigan.
  • Harley K. Dubois’ talk at the “Growing Cities” themed RISING Architecture week in Copenhagen.
  • Larry was a guest of honor and speaker at Design Idaba’s 20th anniversary in Cape Town, South Africa.

Students from the University of Westminster, the California Institute for Integral Studies, and Finland’s Aalto University pursued learning projects in Black Rock City. The participant-produced TEDx BRC program enjoyed its fifth year of on-playa presentations with a full day’s program, including talks by Burning Man founders Harley Dubois and Crimson Rose.

Why no mention of the other ginormous multi-year academic study?

Larry Harvey’s speech at the British Library was on the Summer Solstice. Why is there no video of this on the official YouTube channel? For $15 million in salaries, no-one could press record on an iPhone?

As you can see from this video that was shared, this “highlight” of the Burning Man Project’s annual activities was a fairly intimate crowd:

If you leave aside the “Oh The Places You’ll Go” video, it’s hard to see 1 million views on the Burning Man channel today, at the end of 2016. It has 27,558 subscribers. So Burning Man’s Founder travels across the world to spread the word of the Burning Man Project, and this is one of the highlights of a year in which a former Presidential candidate addressed the Global Leadership Conference…surely that is worth putting up on this channel?

Why is it that BMorg get to go do all this exciting stuff that they tell us is making the world a better place, but we never get to see or hear anything about it? We just have to take their word that they did it, and they were great, and it was fabulous, and we’re saving the world. We should donate, so they can do it; but they can’t be bothered filming it, so we can participate. Sounds legit.

Here, take some of this, it will all be alright...

Here, take some of this, it will all be alright…


Other interesting items

The Burner and Playa Air Express seem to be working, but the amount of passengers “saved” from the roads on the bus and in the air does not seem to match the 8,000 reduction in vehicle passes from last year.

Reno Airport: 17,000 people from 30 countries

Playa Airport: 2,330 passengers, 30% up on 2014

Burner Express (Bus): 3884 in, 3334 out [550 people hooked up with someone in an RV]

Theme camps: 1150

Greeters: 850

Lamplighters: 210 , 319 lamp spires with 792 lanterns, 917 lit lanterns

Visitors to V-Spot (Volunteer Center ) 2,299

794 joined departments, 155 helped Theme Camps, 158 got engaged on art projects.

Out of many thousands of abandoned bikes, not many could be salvaged.

Yellow bikes: 631

Recycling: 2 x 30-yard dumpsters of aluminum cans. 170,000 cans, 5000 lbs ; $1500 donated.

[My immediate reaction to the Recycling number was “wow, that’s it?”. Both the recycling, and the cans. In Australian maths, 170,000 cans is about the beer requirement for a small camp for a week. Out of all Burning Man, the only recycling we could do is two thirty yard dumpsters? Of aluminum cans? That is a disaster, people.]

Sergey Brin is listed as a donor for the first time, although his name has not been officially disclosed in relation to the Fly Ranch purchase. Google have exploited Burning Man for their own commercial advantage in any way they can think of since before they even became a company, so it is fitting that at last one of the founders is now publicly giving something back.

Other donors include “Happy Feet”, “Allen Ginsburg”, and Microsoft Senior Exec Owen Roberts and Michelle Steele (this one?)

Although a number of donors use pseudonyms (shoutout to Bacchus Mayor of D15Orient), a total of 9 went by the hacker-associated sobriquet Anonymous.

anonymous leader further further peter ruprecht 2016

Anonymous have had a highly visible presence at both Burning Man and Further Future this season

Who these kind donors are gets mentioned in the Annual Report. What good things BMorg did with their money isn’t worth a mention, more than a few words in passing like “invesment in infrastructure” and “foundations for the future”.

In a couple of years, if I am still writing this blog, we will get to hear about the 2016 Fly Ranch purchase, and see what that means for this organization. By the time we read about 2017 in 2019, they may have started to do something out there. It seems like not much at all has happened in 2016, probably more III/FFF. Until then, we can only speculate as to what the Burning Man Project is really up to.

screenshot-2016-10-02-14-14-55


[* Please show your workings, BMorg. Here’s mine, using the IRS form as source data:

Fundraising expense was $369,760, that’s 1.0% of $36,901, 409 – not 1.25%. But that should really be applied to the $1,329,325 of donations. Fundraising alone costs 27.8% of donations.

15.37% Administration, that’s $5,671,746. 83.73% of revenues going to Program Expense is $30,897,549. 16.6% overhead would be $6,623,633. These number do not appear anywhere in the IRS form.  I have tried a dozen different “what ifs” to come up with this “16.6% overhead ratio” number and I just can’t see it.

screenshot-2016-11-25-20-22-43

screenshot-2016-11-25-20-21-26

This gives Program Service Expense/Revenue of 85.7% , or 80.9% of overall Revenue.

Line 4a of the IRS report says that “Black Rock City” produced revenue of $35,065,014 at a cost of $25,186,036. Therefore if all they did was Burning Man, they would generate $9,878,978 in cash. This is a 28.2% margin on gross revenues.

In this accounting, it seems that the cost of the Art Honoraria is not considered “expenses”. Instead, it is given from this $10 million Programming surplus. Total grants of $1,419,865 would be 14.3% of that surplus.

BMorg’s FAQ with the numbers says:

Q. Why are there some differences between the numbers in the Form 990 and those in the Annual Report?

A. The differences in numbers are due in part to the fact that when the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) became an official part of Burning Man Project in July of 2014, the majority of its programming was undertaken by Burning Man Project, but BRAF still existed as a subsidiary organization with some administrative financial activity. This activity is reflected in our Annual Report’s audited financial statements (to give a more complete picture of finances) but are not included in the Form 990 because BRAF files their own 990 and that financial information is included there. Other slight differences are due to the fact that the IRS asks us to report certain numbers in a way that differs from “generally accepted accounting principles” or GAAP, which are used for our audited financial statements.

A typical BMorg response, “if there are discrepancies between our numbers and the IRS it’s the IRS’s fault for not following generally accepted accounting principles” . Sounds to me like they are running one set of books for the IRS, and providing Burners with a different set of information. If the IRS differs from GAAP, go with the IRS, no need to improvise. This is a charity, being run for the benefit of all and setting a new standard in transparency…right?