Live radio broadcasts: Every Thursday from June 7th

Live on BMIR, Burning Man Information Radio. Thursday June 7th and every Thursday afterwards until we are all home in the desert (exact Thursday night times TBA). BMIR will be live from Burning Man HQ in San Francisco bringing you music, chat and info about the 2012 burn. Then on Friday June 8th at 9PM PT until we drop BMIR will bring you the Dustfish event live from CellSpace in San Francisco. Tune in !


Face Off? Or Off his Face? “LSD 2.0” Heralds the Zombie Apocalypse (updates)

It’s 2012. The Zombie Apocalypse could be here any day. So what’s a Burner to do? Bite off another dude’s face, obviously.

You may have been sleeping under a tree this week, and not heard about this. A cannibal professed his love to his girlfriend, then ate a guys face, and when cops warned him off it, he growled at them, and went back to face-chomping.

A lot of crazy shit happens at Burning Man. The official Burning Man blog has a lot to say about embracing barbarianism, according to Them it’s not all peace and love at Burning Man. We’ve certainly seen all kinds of flaming Mad Max shit out on the Playa before. But still, this is going too far. What’s up with this guy? Is he a CIA experiment, a public alpha test, the fore-runner of the fore-told  Zombie Apocalypse? Is this yet another way you can get hurt at Burning Man?

His brother informs us, “it’s very uncharacteristic of him”. Of course. Most people’s family members would notice if their brother ate a live human face or two every day. Imagine if he were to say, “it’s very characteristic of him!”.  His victim/meal  had been living on the roof of a Zoo since last Thursday – most people don’t do that either. Most people don’t resist a “Jungle Outreach Team” sent to rein them in, and then live large with their homeboys on freeways. Europeans like a kiss on each cheek, this guy just had to go that little bit further…
Apparently, eating a tub full of “the new LSD” aka “Vanilla Sky” aka replacement for cocaine aka methadrone aka Bath Salts, might have caused this young chap’s minor aberration into cannibalism. Warning Burners: do not try this at home. Your face may get hot. If you do want to, the Bath Salts are on sale now. Luckily for everyone involved, including the faceless guy in a critical condition, Miami PD (Bad Boys!popped his cap.
Anyway, a cautionary tale lies herein for any Burners. Protect your face! And drugs and bathing don’t mix.
Like something that could only come out of a zombie movie, his girlfriend defended his honor and said he was one of the better zombies, a nice, sweet, Bible brandishing Voodoo Haitian who deserves better than to be remembered this way. Ummm, maybe, except for the cannibalism and murder bit…oh and having to be tasered when he attacked his Mom in 2004.
It took no time for YouTube to start selling ads for animalistic behavior, superhuman strength, Doomsday Preppers, Assault Rifles, and the Zombie Apocalypse. This is not good…not good!


[updates 6/2/12

– apocalypse continues with another attack in Maryland

– Colombian drug “turns crime victims into zombies

– Ugandan children get mysterious zombie disease

– other suspicious events around the time of the Miami face attack

– the spate of zombie attacks has warranted an official denial from the CDC – hmmm, just like in the movie Contagion


– the Daily Beast has created this handy map tracking the outbreak of zombie/cannibal attacks]

Precompression 2.0: The Pollination Factory

Burning Man is throwing an official Pre-Burning Man event on Saturday June 30 in the city. No word yet on who the DJs are or what the performances will be, organizing stuff like that’s a bit too hard, but you should come ready to pollinate. The event is a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls of the Tenderloin.

8pm – 4am, Saturday June 30

At The Factory
525 Harrison St, San Francisco
(between 1st and 2nd St)
Parking nearby at 2nd St between Harrison & Bryant

$20; just $15 before 9pm or w/donation of Art Supplies

3 performance areas and multiple rooms of art, info and theme camps! Come for The New-Bee Happy Hour & Cross-pollinator Mix-a-thon from 8-9pm Stay late and don’t miss a thingy!


Participate in The Pollination Factory of Abundant Life and BUZZ-arre Experience! The garden will be abloom with cultural treasures and gilded petals at our annual Precompression celebration! As our culture floats to new frontiers like pollen on the winds of change, fragrant blooms and bursts of color will brighten the night sky. Embrace the immediacy and machinations of this moment in the company of enchanted flowers, brave hummingbirds, exotic insects and fluttering bees abuzz with the honey-dewed nectar of imagination!

Arrive promptly at 8pm for a special New-Bee cross-pollination mixer! Come festooned to participate in our Fertility 2.0 Fashion Show for cultural cross-pollinators, cross-dressers, floral hybrids, and honey bees! Dress your fertile best and join a stunning variety of performers, artists, theme camps, DJs, and new friends in this special pollination edition of Precompression!

To perform, bring art, theme camp, video/imagery, now!

To volunteer:

* Bring generous art supplies for the Boys & Girls Club of SF, Tenderloin Clubhouse, and get a $5 discount on entry. They need: drawing paper, acrylic paints, brushes, scissors, markers, fun stickers, yarn, crochet hooks & knitting needles, masking/duct tape, simple digital cameras, and craft items.
Not needed: crayons, glue, glitter. (They’ve stocked up on glitter. Gotta love that!)

LIB 2012 Report: Bigger and Better than Ever

Just recovering from an epic weekend in Southern California. The DoLab once again proved that they are King of All Festivals, with an excellent, extremely well organized event – the word on the grass was, a real contrast from the chaos of the previous weekend’s Burning Man rival, Symbiosis Gathering at Pyramid Lake. Everyone was blown away by the attention to detail. Don’t just take my word for it – here’s the Huffington Post concurring and telling Burning Man to wake up and take a lesson from the Do Lab.

The crowd was much larger than last year, and the event was totally sold out by Sunday. The Lucent Temple of Consciousness was outstanding, with some very interesting speakers. Hang out there and you get your mind expanded. They also had a market, and a large number of yoga and mediation enthusiasts. And once again, Lucent Dossier Experience killed it with an enthusiastically received set on the Lightning Stage.

Jan Hilmer Designs. We spotted Skrillex chilling on one of these robots

The markets were at least double the size of last year, I would estimate more than 100+ vendors. Some of the vendors must have done well last year, because they were back with larger stalls, domes, sound systems and light shows. The range and quality of merchandise on offer was fantastic, and a lot of people got their shopping in for Burning Man outfits.

There were still plenty of hippies, even though money was allowed. I couldn’t tell how the food and art vendors lowered the vibe of the party in any way. There was even the Hug Deli from Burning Man, which looked like it was piloted by Pink-Haired Playa Preacher Halcyon. In general, most of the people I spoke to knew of Burning Man or had been to it, but weren’t going this year, and weren’t very enthusiastic about it. Maybe a difference between an LA/Orange County crowd and the San Francisco crowd. At times LIB felt very much like Burning Man, with RVs and tents and domes everywhere, bikes and EL wire, half-naked body painted people, great music and atmosphere. It’s not the same without the art cars and flame throwers, and there’s something to be said for the “controlled chaos” of the Black Rock City experience. Having said that, there’s not that many other elements that were lacking. We certainly didn’t miss any of the 10 Principles. There were kids running around, there were even darktards – people camping on the dance floor in camo onesies.

Another great element of the festival was art. There were 24 art installations specifically set up by LIB, plus all the art that was created during the event, as well as many galleries with works on display. Some paintings were offered for more than $20,000, although to my own eyes there was better value and art skills available if you looked around a little.

The music, while often excellent, in general left a lot to be desired. Last year I thought the base sound of the event was dubstep, this year it was progressive house. Now don’t get me wrong – Nick Warren is great – but there is a time and a place for this kind of sound. Like, driving your car up to Lake Tahoe. Or, 2pm on Saturday afternoon, when you want to wake trippers up from their slumber in their tent or under a tree, and slowly coax them out in the direction of the dance floor. By the time the party is cranking and the dance areas are packed, we want to hear bass, vocals, and progression. Not chilled out deep tones, where you build up to a breakdown then fizzle into yet another techy riff.

If you MUST play progressive, then maybe have one stage dedicated to it. Same with dubstep.  Progressive on every stage, late at night, does not make a rocking party. Likewise all dubstep, all the time, is too much, even for the most ardent fans – there are just not that many songs! A party where every stage is a chillout zone, is not a rocking party either. You need beats, man, hard thumping beats. As well as all the other noises. Start slow, maybe 120 bpm, build it up, then bang it out relentlessly at 150+ once everyone gets cranking. Round off some hard beats with morning trance at sunrise. That has always seemed the winning formula to me, in 15 years or so of going to these parties around the world. It worked for the best gigs I’ve seen at Burning Man, Carl Cox – Christopher Lawrence – Dutch at Opulent Temple, or Paul Oakenfold’s 8 hour set to 50 people at the Stonehenge. All the best DJ’s in the world can’t be wrong!

There were a lot of acts at LIB with live instruments or performances (which is good), but in between setting the acts up they would stick the prog on. Perhaps they just cut to the Woogie stage each time, it did have its own FM station. Great that it left something to dance to, so the large crowds didn’t have to disperse from the main stage areas, but the end of the result was a lot of music everywhere that sounded the same without many highlights. We were always walking around looking for where the good music was – and in general, we did find it. They’d be better to pre-make a LIB Soundtrack album for each stage and have that playing in the breaks.

At LIB, the best music we caught was DJ Laura (one half of Lowriderz, with An-ten-nae) and DJ Minnesota on the Bamboo stage. Both played a great mix of hip-hop, electro, glitch, and dubstep. Every track had vocals. From what we hear DJ Laura’s sunrise set at the Temple on Monday morning was the piece de resistance of Lightning In A Bottle 2012.

Minnesota killed it with this dubstep remix of my favorite Biggie track, Juicy.

Bass Nectar rocked it as usual on the Lightning Stage, the amount of bass coming up through the dirt was quite phenomenal. Shpongle was good, but without the Shpongletron stage set up they had at last year’s Coachella, some of the impact of the show was lost.

Gooch Apparel Launch Party, Newport Beach

We may have been spoiled a bit for music after sneaking out of LIB on Saturday to go to the Gooch Apparel launch party in Newport Beach, followed by a tsunami of a VIP after party at Avalon nightclub in Hollywood: Wippenberg opening for a 4-hour live set from Cosmic Gate, featuring Emma Hewitt, Jes, and Cary Brothers . Cosmic Gate are on a world tour right now, and only did 3 gigs in the US with rising singing sensation Emma Hewitt from Melbourne, Australia. Cosmic Gate never disappoint, they are probably the best trance act in the world (sorry Tiesto and Armin!) There were no giant “Cosmic Gate” signs flying around everywhere behind them…the crowd knew exactly who they were there to see. Seeing them with 3 different live vocal acts, and a dance floor packed wall to wall with foam glowsticks was amazing. Wippenberg is certainly of a high enough standard to open for them, and they have done a number of awesome remixes together. One of the best concerts of my life. If there’s any chance you can get to Ayia Napa, Cyprus on July 7 you can see this show again, I can’t recommend it highly enough. You can also catch Cosmic Gate at EDC Vegas. Thanks to Butch and Jesse at Gooch Apparel and RJ and McKenzie from Anderson Mobile Estates for sponsoring another Burners.Me LA adventure!

Burning Man Off-Playa: Commonwealth Club interviews Larry Harvey

Burning Man’s founder Larry Harvey speaks to the Commonwealth Club in 2011. This is a fascinating and thought-provoking interview. The interviewer knows how to offer the tiniest possible amount of prompting, to elicit great responses from Larry. The audience seem spellbound, and Larry’s on fire compared to his form in Washington.

Sure, at times this blog has been critical of the BMOrg. Hell, we have a whole category dedicated to snarky posts: our Complaints Department. This is not just complaints for their own sake, or to stir up Web traffic – we feel that improvement is unlikely to happen without continually re-testing the underlying assumptions. AKA “a squeaky wheel gets a greasing”.

Let it be said on record that we consider the founders of this event to be amazing people, who have contributed an enormous amount to the world, and deserve the  gratitude of all Burners. We extend that to all the founders, including all the Burners who made the art and made the experiences and created the party. Especially those who are not professional artists, but somehow this forum has encouraged them to express themselves artistically anyway. In a multi-disciplinary fashion, as Larry discusses here.

Watch this interview and you’ll realize that this is someone pretty special in the world.

Of course, giving BMOrg some props doesn’t mean that we have changed our position that Burning Man should embrace change, remix as times go on, and broaden the community, rather than “we innovated once, now let’s maintain the status quo forever and keep it small and exclusive for a hundred years”.

To me, the one thing that stood out the most from the whole interview was this (in discussion of BMOrg’s new Market St headquarters):

“We know something about making urban environments vital. We plan to do some radical things, and given the present political mood, people are open to new ideas. That’s true across the country. Burners are being invited to come into the centers of various cities right now. Of course, the usual pattern, the artists are invited in, then as soon as things get better, they are escorted out.”

Downtowns were destroyed. Ghettoized. Crack was sent in, thugs and hookers started appearing on street corners. Windows were smashed, then barred, then smashed again. Graffiti was tagged over graffiti, trash piled up in the streets. Then, slowly, over decades, the derelict ghettos were rebuilt. Artists came in, and with them, the gays. The warehouses became lofts, the crackhouses became bath houses. The gays brought the hot girls. Models, stylists, waitresses, clubbers. The advertising and magazine industry. Art begets fashion, which begets “edgy” wealthy patrons. The gays have more money (and better drugs), the art patrons have more money, all this attracted the hot young talent wanting to be in the “scene”. The presence of these ingredients brought the cool straights, the pioneers not afraid to venture out into alien territory on the hunt for strange prey. The more popular the scene became, the more cool these straights thought they were. They boasted to their friends, of a fairy land of art and models. “In the ghetto?” their friends retorted, only to learn the ghetto was changing. It was now the Place To Be. The straights brought other straights, pioneers and early adopters for the mainstream. The newspapers started writing about it. It started to get mentioned in newspapers in other towns, in travel guides. Slowly, the area crossed the chasm and then sports stars and Reality TV “celebrities” were sighted there. Most of the artists and queens moved on, just as the crackheads and bums had before them. Real estate values changed from the lowest per square foot, to encroaching on the highest. Gentrification was complete.

This has been occuring over the last few decades in the Downtown LA Theater District, New York’s meat packing district, Detroit; in San Francisco, it has happened in SOMA, you can see it going on in the Mission, and Burning Man and the Mayor are trying to do it in the Tenderloin. Their new offices are at 8th and Market – historically, not a great part of town, but transforming rapidly under Chinese Mayor Ed Lee.

We’re not knocking gentrification – at Burners.Me we are all for evolution and continuous improvement. We’ll take the arty gay scene full of models over the ghetto full of crackheads, any day. If Burning Man is the thing to transform a ghetto into hipster utopia, we’re all for it.

Interviewer: “Are you getting the Twitter deal?”

Larry: “Yes we are. We’ve founded a new non-profit, the Burning Man project”

The 10-story skyscraper he mentioned was Vertical Camp. B*A*D* A*S*S.

I want to camp with these guys! Dust storms and Category 3 winds be damned. If you’ve never experienced the view of Burning Man from altitude, I highly recommend it. To me the coolest Art Car ever was this one:

photo by SeraphimC

Although I have to say Dancetronauts gives them a red hot run for their money with their scissor-lift spaceship with thumping sound system/sexy dancers trailer pod…
Back to highlights from the hour with Larry:
“At a certain point in a community when everyone is giving, people begin to have experiences that are simply revelatory, they begin to feel that their life is filled with meaning. They begin to feel that they’re in touch with that unconditional reality which perhaps in their youth they identified as life’s goal, when they thought the world might be like their family, and then later discovered it wasn’t.
It creates this world which is saturated with meaningful encounter. And it seems to have been contagious because people now for years have left our event and they’ve gone back to the world and they weren’t willing to stop being that way, they continued to do those activities; they didn’t go to a festival and sate their appetite, they went to a festival and came back trying to change the world. And that’s why we started this Burning Man Project, we think there’s a lot we can do together.
…Try living for 8 days without buying or selling or listening to an ad. And then tell yourself ‘I’m going to give things to people’. See what that’s like, it’s quite remarkable the effect it has. “

The guy is a sage, that’s for sure. And he speaks pretty humbly, all things considered.

[if] we’re gonna to moderate the appetite of the consumer society, which is going to destroy us, then we have to find satisfactions in life that don’t require high levels of consumption…and then there’s what Coco Chanel said: the best things in life are priceless, but the next best things cost a lot of money”

The interviewer hits him straight away with “yes, but…coffee and ice”. I would also say “yes but, RV service, tow trucks, charter flights, Temple Burn seating“. Not to mention camp dues. Larry’s response:

“The ice is obvious, it’s a public health issue, there’s no refrigeration, you need to preserve foodstuffs. [umm, potable water in the desert isn’t a public health issue?]

“the coffee, we needed a civic plaza, we looked for an attractant”. [umm, free coffee, water and ice would be a great attractant.]

“We’re not doing it to make money, we lose money. We did it for the sake of public interaction and to create a civic environment that led to communal feelings”. [I call bullshit. Check out the lines at Center Camp, coffees are $5.25 and staff are volunteers. The official BMOrg position is that they feed their crew with the coffee profits and donate the ice profits to local villages]

…We sell it, radical self reliance is one of the values.”

(yes but, we’ve used this image a few times!)

…WTF – Larry you’re losing me with this argument. If you care about the safety and well-being of the community, then meet the lowest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. You should sell water, food, lights, condoms, blankets, sunblock, and yurts. Oh, and toilet paper and hand sanitizer – anyone ever been in a Portapotty on Sunday, when everything has gone?

Meet the most basic needs of the community. Provide somewhere that people can go to in the case of emergency, or that the darktards can visit without feeling foolish. Maybe in the Burner Strike dungeon. The problem with line drawing is it’s a slippery slope – who draws the lines, and if you’re excluded, what can you do to be included? If you draw the line, then turn a blind eye when your colleagues and friends cross it,  it will breed resentment in the people towards the hypocrisy of their leaders.

Does “radical self reliance” mean it’s fine to be a darktard, as long as you survive? Methinks, not. “Lift your game, dickhead!” would be the Burners.Me suggestion. We prefer radical inclusion, find a way to embrace what the diverse factions within the community want, instead of playing whack-a-mole chasing sinners against the cult. But if they’re acting in a less than optimal way, there should be some social conventions, perhaps even a camp or two, where we can give them a chance to learn and choose to remake themselves as a true Burner, cognizant of the consequences of their actions. They can be reformed as a Former Darktard, and spread the light to Virgins.

“What did Emerson say? A specious consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.


…”To the extent that Art has spiritual work, it contemplates the unknown. TV shows, sitcoms, ads, look for the unknown you won’t find it. Art is about what is unknown, what must emerge from us, and what must be found by us, and discovered. So art is a wonderful breeder of that, because often times people are doing things that in fact are on a frontier of some kind, no-one ever did this, they go well beyond any industry standard you can think of. There’s something about the culture we’ve originated that’s radically cross-disciplinary”.

Boom! Larry on fine form. He also has insightful things to say about the “one-upmanship” of the neighbors that Burning Man encourages, something acutely rife amongst wealthy egotistical tech nerds. In a healthy, positive way – as I wrote that last sentence, I was visualizing this amazing art car (I think from 2007’s The Green Man):

Towards the end of the interview, it all starts to go a bit fuzzy. Larry brings in a Citizen Kane self-reference. Is he saying there’s a Freudian reason for Burning Man – he did it all to get laid? That motivation for innovation seems to have worked pretty well for Mark Zuckerberg (anyone know if is he a Burner?)

…”My partners and I are thinking beyond our lifetimes, it is a bit of a legacy project…if you do that it makes you think differently about the present. What will make something that durable? What will keep it alive that long?… It doesn’t sound like hubris to imagine an entire century at all. And now we’re in a position of founding an institution that will house and generate culture and function as a community, and wondering how we can ensure that it won’t be perverted and it won’t be subject to internal divisions…it won’t perish”

Simpsons creators play tuba on the Playa

Great challenge. I mean it – a truly cutting edge, intellectual and sociological challenge. An historical challenge, even. So why not use the technology of the 21st Century that San Francisco  leads the world in – such as Social Media, crowdsourcing, big data, advanced mathematics, Creative Commons – to tap into the intellect of the 350,000 strong Burner community, which includes pretty much all the people who created those technologies? The Burner community includes people like Matt Groening and George Meyer, Elon Musk, Google, and David Chiu. You want to really leave a legacy? Make the phenomenal idea you had (or should I say, “inherited” from the Cacophony Society) your legacy: “the people make the party”. For sure, you created the context, you took the risks and managed the logistics and you got the authorities on side. You fought the legal battles and the Law Enforcement Officers, you lobbied the politicans and created innovative ticketing systems and doled out some Art Grants along the way. But don’t discount the contributions of tens, even hundreds of thousands of Burners over 25+ years. They had to do many of those things too. OK, we get that you made the party by picking the themes, creating the context, banking the money. Finding the insurance company to underwrite this – I’m sure no easy task.

So after all that, you’re going to make the legacy too. Fair enough – it’s your right, as founder and owner of “That Thing In The Desert” – but we encourage you to consider the bigger picture, the highest realization of your Self, a selfless legacy that truly Gives. The gift (to Burners, to Art, to humanity) that keeps on giving.

Maybe at this point I’m losing some of you who’ve managed to read this far. Well, from about 50:00 into this interview, Larry’s lost me. WTF, again. Is this the voice of a prophet, and my own ignorance prevents me from following along with his train of thought? Maybe I’ve just had one too many noisy art cars parked next to me while sleeping on the Playa. The raver’s curse…