Easy on the Segways

My good friend Peter Ruprecht was recently forced to defend himself on the Facebook unofficial Burning Man group, for this photo:

photo by Tomas Loewy

Burner Joshy Neurotic is obviously a hater:

segways on playa = instant douche… unless its a mobility issue…

Burner Nillabear McHuggles is the voice of reason – isn’t this all about “radical” inclusion? ie. everyone is welcome?

I know some people don’t care for segways themselves but I think some of you are missing how radical inclusion works. Accept people for who they are, even wealthy people.

Burner Doug Goldfluss is not just a hater, he is actively trying to promote haterism:

Sending good vibes to you Maria!!! But BM is not all about Love! We need to balance all the love with a little bit of hate…… this discussion has been a topic here once or twice before.  http://blog.burningman.com/2011/11/culture-art-music/too-much-positive-energy/

Burner Indy speaks out on behalf of the Segway way:
Not everyone who has a Segway on the playa is wealthy. Most are though. Almost every one is rented – for $1000 for a week. I *own* mine. I got it cheap, and it’s great for out in the deep playa. My bad knee won’t let me get that far out w/o it. But the only times I’ve been put down at BM is when on the Segway, which sucks. I’m not rich, nor do I have a handicapped sticker. I don’t like having to defend myself.
What’s so bad about Segways? Burner Eric thinks it’s just a lack of decoration
Well, it would be the same as driving your Honda accord around without making it a unique a-la a mutant vehicle. My response to non-personalized Segway commuters is generally “nice art car.”
…while Burner Gabrielle tries some reverse snobbery
Reeks of entitlement, regardless of their trappings.

Entitlement? Is that on the banned list now, like feathers? What exactly does Gabrielle think Segway drivers are entitled to?

photo by Peter Ruprecht

Here’s Pete defending himself in his own words

 Burner Indy and several others … I am one of the people in that photo that you so eloquently called a rich kid. Sad as it is to think that you are a simple minded person looking to jump at the easiest conclusion you can come to, in order to maintain your collection of negative opinions of others, or it might be a more complex case that you are somehow affected from some sort of childhood trauma that enables you to feel ok with making completely false statements as fact when they are indeed your erroneous opinions. SO in order to educate you a little bit, should you care to know anything about the people you insult semi anonymously… ill tell you…. I am a professional photographer….i have shot burning man imagery for years…if you care to see…check out www.peterruprecht.comand go to the experimental section. however this year i decided to give a little extra back to the community, so i took it upon my self to bring $25k of studio lights out to the playa and create an opportunity for ANYONE who wanted to come have their photo taken by me under cool lighting conditions to do so. It was MY gift to the playa…and TONS of people enjoyed it….you can go and see some of the photos I GAVE the community here..AGAIN if you care to know ANYTHING about the people you insult…


and I used the SEGWAY to move equipment that weighed HUNDREDS of pounds…so next time if you want…ask before you make outlandish proclamations and then hopefully i wont have to make wild presumptions that you are a simple minded jerk

Who cares what he needs a Segway for? Why do people automatically scream “douche” if they see a Segway at Burning Man? Do they scream the same thing to people in wheelchairs? Is it just because the Segway is not decorated like an art car? Or is it just jealousy – like, some people have to assume that the driver of a Ferrari is an asshole, rather than facing their own failings that they lack the talent and ingenuity to ever be the driver of a Ferrari.

Peter Ruprecht has made a huge contribution to Burning Man, and I know a number of people who were beneficiaries of his free photo shoot this year who felt that it changed their lives. Keep coming Pete, and keep shooting!

Here’s Pete’s Stop Motion Videos of Burning Man from 2012 and 2009.



In 2011 we watched in dismay as his photo shoot went up in flames – perhaps the magickal wrath of Burners directed against his Segway?

44 comments on “Easy on the Segways

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  4. The reason hating on segways is ok, is that they suck. They are ugly, pointless, and insulting to our ancestors. You may be a great person, but the second you step on a segway you are a douche (although you will go back to being a great person when you step off the segway). If you are able bodied you have a million options at your disposal. Bikes, scooters, motorized skateboard, golf carts, you name it. If you are disabled I guess you can get a pass, although if you can stand on one of those things… Basically segways are for lazy douches, it moves and stays upright for you, hello lazy douche.
    And as a sidenote the dude defending himself in the post couldn’t sound more self-important. Haters hating haters while claiming not to be haters, classic. If you want to ride around on a segway, go for it, more power to you, but be prepared to take a good natured ribbing for being a lazy douche. And try not to act so butt-hurt about it next time. We’re all just having fun.

    • Segways seem to me much the same as Hummers, a ‘look at me’ vehicle meant only to draw attention to the shallow pompous asshole driving it that only can convey their ultimate coolness via the possession of some corporate gadget/possession.

    • Bullshit. I’ve never been interested in a Segway, but singling them out for your particular style of immaturity makes you appear for worse the douche. You’re okay with scooters and motorized skateboards but not Segways? What next, purple wigs out, pink wigs in? You know who suck are you fashion police.

    • Segways are ugly, they look incredibly stupid and they are possibly the laziest form of transportation possible. That and the fact that they are very expensive makes them an obvious source of ridicule.

      Segway can make even attractive people look stupid and unattractive. They are magic really. They are like the Google Glasses or VIbram 5 Fingers of transportation.

      Most people enjoy the physical exertion involved in PARTICIPATING in Burning Man. The building, the taking down, the walking, the biking, etc. The Segway types look like (I can’t say they are, but they look like) spectators who cannot be bothered to, gasp! Walk! or Bike! They look like sparkle ponies and most people they are useless douchebags.

      Deal with it. If you don’t want to look stupid and be an obvious target for derision, perhaps you can use your physical body to propel you forward you lazy piece of shit.

  5. EVERYONE judges, period. Get the fuck over it. This culture of “be positive” “don’t judge” or your a hater is ludicrous. Calling someone a hater for being judgmental is being fucking judgmental. Get the fuck over yourselves.

  6. the reason i mentioned how much the lights cost that i brought to the playa was to demonstrate how much effort i went through and the generosity of others donating the equipment i brought….its funny ..does anyone think that all of the stuff that gets out to the playa falls from the sky….people seem to hate to talk about the obscene amounts of money it takes to PRODUCE all of the magic that is on the playa…it is NOT TABOO to talk about the physical and monetary effort required to produce anything…especially when being attacked for reasons such as segway riding while you are using it to give a gift to the playa…participation occurs in many ways…physical, spiritual, emotional, and with monetary support…if there was no monetary support MOST of the art would NOT be on the playa…it is not created from playa dust…it is created from expensive materials and usually artists that are funded through grants and donations…yes there are a handful of artists that are 100% self funded …but that is NOT the majority…anyways…thats my two cents…

    • The downside of “gift” becoming the verb/noun du jour on playa is the fact that it leaves people like yourself, intentionally or otherwise, coming across like like you’re “giving a gift to the playa” and perhaps we should all be a little more grateful, versus just saying, “this is my art. Enjoy it, or not.” The gift giver, apparently, expects nothing in return. The gift giver who starts talking about his gift almost inevitably starts to sound like someone who expects gratitude, or at least had no expectation that not all would appreciate his…. gift. So yeah, on some level, that word does you few favors as a fall-back position.

      As a photographer, you’ll understand that documentary photography comes loaded with meaning, whether intended or in the eye of viewer. In this instance, this photo apparently acts as visual shorthand for a kind of burner culture that rubs some people the wrong way. Income inequality is a bit of a hot-button issue for some people, and for better or worse, the Segway draws flack in ways that even a giant lad-yacht of an RV doesn’t, perhaps because they’re mostly stationary.

      Also, I suspect the bolt-on-tits on 2nd from the left don’t help.

      As I noted elsewhere, the author of this blog seems to circle the crossroads between “pining for what the old days were all about” and “greater tolerance for fashion-forward, DJ-focused plug-n-players who would have been mocked mercilessly way back when.” There are plenty of good discussions to be had around wealth, BM subcultures, visual assumptions and money-to-burn. However, “this cost a lot of money and it’s my gift to you” does not necessarily read the way it might have been intended…

  7. I think the sad part is that Burning Man has become little more than a costume party. I believe it once had counter cultural connotations but sadly has, like so many other movements, been co-opted by the larger society. Those that were responsible for the event allowed this to happen.

    It is no longer a refuge from a materialistic, capitalist society that in its consumptive quest is destroying itself. Remember the term ‘outside reality’? The proliferation of cell phones, RVs, and internet connectivity have rendered that term meaningless.

    I think the frustration of Paul Addis and many others there since the beginning is because they see the erosion and destruction of an event where they once could temporarily escape a society, where due their non conformity and willingness to question and challenge, they did not fit in. That event no longer sadly no longer exists.

    Once a haven for ‘misfits’-for lack of a better term-to a party for frat boys, marina girls, corporate tools, and anybody else that thinks their attendance at the event is evidence of how cool and hip they are.

    It’s a pity but that’s the reality of the situation. Perhaps another event will arise that will be a temporary refuge from a society and culture hell bent on raping and destroying the planet. This event no longer fits that criteria.

    A side note. I think the term ‘haters’ is a cheap and meaningless expression. It’s used by many in the mainstream and would seem to connote a person that hates without reason and justification. I’ve heard it used by Bush (W) supporters, Obama supporters, and anybody else that seeks a pejorative expression full of connotation but utterly lacking in meaning.

    Sadly it seems malcontents (or haters…) were once valued by the event. That’s no longer true.

  8. I Left the facebook group for that very reason….negativity galore…I hear a lot of burners say they miss the playa away from the playa…FB is a good way to get rid of the missing bit.
    It is such a harsh contrast between my experience of the playa and the reactions on. FB, but then again, I wore no feathers, nor did I have a segway. It makes me wonder if I missed the moments where my wristband revealed I was from a camp where I did not have to take care of my own water and food made people less friendly.

  9. SEGWAY! The new shirt cocking!

    Rich or poor, segways are lame. Just like old dude shirtcockers.

    Hate to break it to you, not everything or everyone is cool at BM.


    • i agree. there is NO way to look cool on a segway. an it’s not even about looking cool or not, this grossly offensive symbol of conspicuous consumption is disturbing to watch as some dude trucks down the playa thinking he’s got it all figured out and the envy of all others. it’s the smug looks people have on their faces when them riding these things through your camp at top speed.

      the blonde chick in the photo sums in all up – completely fake and phony. this is the poster for the douchebags who have come in to turn burning man into something pretty much intolerable these days. thanks assholes!

  10. “Lo I sayeth unto thee, tis easier for a Segway to pass thru the eye of a needle than for a rich burner to be accepted as cool” ~ 32:12 Jack Rabbit News

  11. I just don’t understand why all you so-called burners gotta hate when I rip apart down pillows by the temple. Some people can just be so rude!

  12. Burner Doug Goldfluss is not just a hater, he is actively trying to promote haterism:

    Sending good vibes to you Maria!!! But BM is not all about Love! We need to balance all the love with a little bit of hate…… this discussion has been a topic here once or twice before. http://blog.burningman.com/2011/11/culture-art-music/too-much-positive-energy/

    I was not actively promoting hate, just stating that there are haters out there and they should be accepted does not make me one!! Nothing I posted in that thread was hateful at all (ok I did joke about the freaky body shape of one girl). I simply just posted a link to a blog on the BURNINGMAN website. Your misrepresentation is as hateful or worse than anything i stated. I do believe that many responses on that post were assuming many things and were pretty mean, but not me! BUT I will be the first one to be a hater on the playa when you cruise your art car down A street at 8am blaring music.

  13. First of all, everyone, all of us are gonna hate at one time or another! Plain and simple. To what degree and how will affect others might be the better question/statement.

    I don’t think the arguement and/or the judgment that is being passed out, by BOTH sides is worth the time to read it… but sadly, I did! So now I’ve gotta respond.

    When one cast judgment upon another they are in affect saying that they know what’s best. How incredibly arragont to think one knows what’s best for another. How friggin arrogant is that? Now you may be a God in your own mind and your own little world but please… all of you… stop it right now! If the segways were permited on the play — so be it!

    Personally, as I have experienced Burning Man, I think it has jumped the shark… in many ways. Ok pioneers, for example, please tell me is it really cool that you have to bring every last damm thing you thing you own to the Playa and need five (5) semi trucks to do it… just for your camp. Really!? Is this what “Radically Self-reliance” is about? Ha ha ha — I don’t think so!

    On the other hand, I have met Peter the photographer, one of the Segway riders in question. He is a very nice person who has been very approachable and free with photography advice to a newbie. I appreciate that he brought his toys and his talent to the Playa to share with others. He didn’t have to do that! You don’t have to belong to a specific club or be a special pedigree to have Peter take your picture.

    All I have to say is “Judgement” sucks and “Feathers on the Playa” suck! Lifes short so pay attention to your own and enjoy it. If you see a Segway “Douche bag” rider go by (who isn’t raising a mile long plum of Playa dust) well then smile and wave — they might smile and wave back. It will make both of your days a little better.

    To say that “Haters” should be banned is being a “Hater” in itself. That position is not promoting harmony in the Burning Man community… but then maybe you’re just trying to stir the proverbial pot.

    It was Thanksgiving yesterday but I’m still giving thanks today!

  14. I don’t know why people feel free to yell hateful insults to people at BMan. I have been yelled at by self righteous jerks for burning the proper burning materials at the right time. They just thought I MIGHT have had some plastic or something so they are suddenly entitled to scream at a complete stranger. Perhaps with all the love going around they aren’t afraid they won’t be punched out for attacking strangers. I don’t care if you don’t like Segways, you have no right to attack be vicious. Go somewhere else with your hate and see where it gets you.

  15. What makes this blog an increasingly “adorable” read is the fact that the two predominant narrative threads across posts are

    a) the Borg are incompetent elitists, please let’s have the wild and unregulated freedom of burns-gone-by. It’s what Saint Addis would have wanted.

    b) feather-clad Robot Heartists who parachuted in from private jets are unfair victims of persecution! Have you any idea how much money DJ DJ could make if he were not donating his enormous talents? It’s all about the party, baby. And feathers.

    How is life in Camp Cognitive Dissonance?

    I’m generalizing, but people who lead off with “so-and-so is obviously a hater” are usually playing the narcissist equivalent of the race card (“I do what I do, any anyone who doesn’t like it is a hater” is the usual cry of the unexamined shit-for-brains).

    I’m sure the photographer in question is a nice guy and all, and his Segway is entirely all about his *gift* to the community, and the Burner imagery on the landing page of his commercial web site
    in no way aids him in securing further commissioned assignments (ahem)

    I have to say though, the “I brought $25K of lights and therefore my intentions are pure” quotes do kind of reek of douchebaggery….. it’s a shame he has to define his participation in monetary terms, but I am sure Saint Addis will forgive him, as he forgives us all…….

    • We are all so impressed with how much more burner-than-thou you are. Hopefully one day we can all be as non-commercial as you obviously are. Maybe you could give a seminar on it.at the next burn.

    • I’m glad someone is reading the blog enough to interpret predominant narrative threads ! And yes, those are pretty much my opinions – burning man is a party, it’s not very well managed compared to other events, it’s funded by rich people so they should be welcomed, and it was better when there were less rules. Expect these themes to come up again, and again, ad infinitum/nauseum

  16. What equals “instant douche” on the playa? Judging anything anybody else is doing. I’ve seen people mocked on Segways and it pissed me off. How do you they don’t have a bum knee? What if they are just a nerd pretending to live in a future spaceport city, tooling around on his personal transport taking care of intergalactic business. That’s what BRC is for, to do what the fuck you want, how you want with out having to measure up to some other fuckhead’s idea of what’s cool or acceptable.

  17. I’ve got a great idea!!! A feather encrusted Segway! I can hardly wait to use it! I wish people was just chill the fuck out and let everyone burn their way. The one place I go to get away from all the bickering, and it’s there too. Fuck!

  18. I have worked for BM for the last four years. I spend six weeks on Playa Pre,during and post event. I have to drive my personal truck to do my work and have the BM driving pass on my rig. People will come up to me while I am working durning the event and criticize me for “nice art car”. I chock it up to judgmental attitudes towards everyone and everything.

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