Victory! But for Whom?

by Whatsblem the Pro

Nevada State Assemblyman David Bobzien (D)

Nevada State Assemblyman David Bobzien (D)

The Nevada Assembly passed AB374 in a 26-15 party line vote today.

The bill, which prohibits county commissioners from imposing fees or regulations on festivals operating under a federal license or permit, was sponsored by Assemblyman David Bobzien (D). The version that passed this morning is the second rewrite since our last report on March 30th of this year.

Opponents of the bill sought amendments to remove county liability and responsibility of prosecuting crimes, due to the high costs of providing law enforcement at Burning Man. Republican Assemblyman Ira Hansen of Sparks said the bill would undermine the county’s authority, and make funding law enforcement difficult. In response, the bill was amended to give the counties the right to contract with and charge the Burning Man organization (and other event promoters) for law enforcement services. The new provision reads as follows:

2. A board of county commissioners may:

(a) Enter into an agreement, with a person or organization which has been issued a license or permit by a federal agency for an assembly, event or activity occurring on federal land, for the county to provide reasonable and necessary law enforcement services for the assembly, event or activity and to receive compensation for the provision of such services; and

(b) Regulate or license, or require any type of permit or fee for organizing, managing or attending, any assembly, event or activity occurring on federal land that is the subject of a:

(1) Lease between the Federal Government and the county; or

(2) License for recreational or other public purposes from the Federal Government to the county.

What this means is that while the corporation that holds the trademark on Burning Man will be more profitable thanks to the elimination of the necessity to pay county authorities for permits or other fees, the Org may still choose to contract with the counties to bring their law enforcement personnel to Black Rock City. It’s possible that this won’t even be a choice; one of the “special stipulations” of the 2012 BLM permit, after all, was this:

23. BRC shall complete formal agreements with all affected parties e.g. Pershing County Sheriff’s Department, Washoe County Sheriff’s Department, Nevada Department of Public Safety-Investigations Division, Nevada Highway Patrol, and Nevada Department of Health and Human Safety for the purpose of addressing concerns and impacts associated with social services e.g. law enforcement and emergency medical services and physical infrastructure e.g. transportation systems and human waste disposal. Written evidence of these agreements showing compliance with this stipulation must be provided to the BLM by BRC 30 days prior to the start of the event.

Since special stipulation #23 demands compliance but doesn’t spell out what compliance actually involves beyond “complete formal agreements,” we’re left to speculate. Doesn’t this put huge leverage into the hands of Washoe and Pershing counties? They can simply demand that one or both of them be contracted with to provide law enforcement services – and be paid for doing so – or threaten to take their ball and go home; no formal agreement means no BLM permit.

It remains to be seen how the Burning Man Org will actually handle this; they could demand a renegotiation of the special stipulations, given that the terrain has changed significantly in the wake of AB374. Given their track record, however, I predict that nothing in particular will get better for those who attend the event. The Org will become more profitable, as is their apparent primary goal always, and the rest of us will be graciously allowed to eat whatever cake we can find in the middle of the desert. The only question is if the Org will be willing to bend over so far backward to county law enforcement that the heavy increase in on-playa officers continues at the alarming pace of the past few years.

How happy I would be if I turned out to be wrong about that.

This is Black Rock City

Photographer and author Phillippe Glade has put together an excellent collection of photos of different types of Burning Man accomodation.


For the weeklong Burning Man festival, a temporary city is built in the Black Rock Desert in northwestern Nevada where every year more than 50 000 participants endure extremely harsh living conditions to create an artistic community unique in the world.They settle on a clearly defined layout  organically improved over two decades of  adaptation to the growth of its population and ever increasing regulations that govern a private event held on public land. The Leave No Trace, Self-reliance and Decommodification principles condition the nature of this habitat and demand a new approach to urban planning and the viability of temporary dwellings.To survive in style or not a scorching sun, destructive gusts of windand the omnipresent dust, Burners, forward-looking citizens, come up with solo and communal camps, the fruition of year-long preparations along with sheer improvisation, to create an ephemeral architecture that will vanish leaving deep memories and no trace. I recorded these images after countless hours bicycling around Black Rock City to keep traces of this profound urban experiment.These photos are the gift I received from this thriving, yet physically ephemeral community.

via This is Black Rock City.

Cosmo Says You’re in a Cult for Losers

by Whatsblem the Pro

Cosmo: Too irrelevant to make fun of since the '70s (Image: Harvard Lampoon)

Cosmo: Too irrelevant to make fun of since the ’70s (Image: Harvard Lampoon)

Anna Breslaw, writing about sorority life for Cosmopolitan:

“Greek life lost me when, as a freshman, I heard a rumor about sorority pledges having to sort Froot Loops for their pledgemasters all night long. In the dark. (I’ve also heard wayyy worse, but I don’t want to scar anyone.) It’s always seemed to me, like Scientology or Burning Man, a cult for the lost, the lonely or the drunk.

Uh oh, Anna. . . a cult for losers, really?

The members of the Burning Man group on Facebook, always notorious for their wonderfully snarky vitriol, seem to have taken notice:

Sam Davidow: A writer for Cosmo bagging on sororities. And drinking. And cultish behavior. And comparing burning man to all three. Let’s see if she wants to go! Maybe she can camp with Krug.

Steve Foxfur Fox: Lost, lonely and drunk? Sounds like a country music cult, lulz.

John William Fairclough: I tried to get lost there, but every time I looked up, I was at Burning Man. Have you ever tried to get lost while you were home?

Sam Davidow: Here’s another gem by her, in which she writes “Since I was 12 I’ve had an unappealing, didactic distrust of people with the extreme will to live. My father’s parents were Holocaust survivors, and in grade school I received the de rigueur exposure to the horror— visiting geriatric men and women with numbers tattooed on their arms. . .

Jake Gin: “How the cancer victim at the center of the AMC series justifies my skepticism of Holocaust survivors” It must be nice to go through life with no hope of ever finding a clue. Ya know, just blissfully babbling away.

Sam Davidow It’s just. . . fuck, it’s mind boggling.

The backlash has just begun to hit the comments on the article at Cosmo’s own website, and promises to swell into a veritable tsunami of amply-warranted Breslaw-bashing, with people weighing in both from the Facebook group and independently. So far, the comments range from civil-but-chilly to absolutely caustic:

Michael Watkiss: Burning man isn’t a cult. And the lost and lonely often have the most interesting stories. But thank you for your casual generalization.

Sam Davidow: “It’s always seemed to me, like Scientology or Burning Man, a cult for the lost, the lonely or the drunk.” I was raised in a cult, and was an alcoholic. I’ve also been to burning man, and you couldn’t be farther off in your analogy. Are you drunk, or just ignorant?

Angi McFarland: So Sam, how often do you read Cosmo? 😉

Sam Davidow: Well, it’s entertaining. Whenever I want broad generalizations of what “all men want”, I give it a look over, ‘cuz if there’s something that I want and don’t know that I want, i wanna know.

Peter EarthBiscuit: I’m so glad you clumped cults, the lost and lonely, drunks and sororities in there with Burning Man. Because that’s all it is! A bunch of lost, lonely, drunk people desperately trying to fuck anything that will increase their social standing and get them a better seat to the burning of the cult god at the end of the week. Bravo, Cosmo has a real gem on their staff and I’m sure they know it. Can’t wait to read your next piece, “How I know you’re a slut because you use your phone in the toilet.”

Hal V J Muskat: Why would author Anna Breslaw want to camp with Delta Gamma at Burning Man anyway? Why does she troll for Scientology? Did she NOT ever get laid at Burning Man? Why not? Could she not get laid AFTER? Why not? Did she in fact, GET LAID at Burning Man? Why?

Anastasia Marie: wtf did I just read. . .

You can join in the fun and comment too, if you’d like to tell Anna Breslaw and Cosmopolitan Magazine just exactly what you think of being told that you’re in a cult for lost, lonely, drunk people. Hurry, though. . . there’s no telling how long Cosmo is going to leave commenting open on this one. Let’s get in there and show some them that if they want burners to read their publication, they need to avoid filling it with the kind of ignorant, insensitive drivel that Ms. Breslaw seems so prone to writing: