Larry Harvey Oswald on Why We’re No Experts

Recently we asked Burners “What are the Burning Issues?” Like most things at Burning Man, opinions were divided. In the comments, someone calling themselves “Larry Harvey Oswald” chimed in to hate on all the hating. Haters gonna hate! Bitching and moaning about bitching and moaning, how very Joseph Heller.

We thought the verbose comment was worthy of a repost in its entirety.

oswald stooges

you are VERY correct – you’re no expert. why not learn more instead of creating conclusions with a little disclaimer and then running with them? you could always start here:

i’m thinking that some of that stuff may not be very practical, or even doable in BRC. i don’t know, though. i am sure that inadmissible evidence means a rapist walks.

a few things: a dear friend of mine, i brought her to her first burn, was raped in BRC this year. reno PD kicked fucking *ass* and the perp was arrested and jailed. she left BRC unconscious and when she woke and told them what happened, the hospital got PD involved, PD did the kit and the whole deal, then drove her back to BRC and with her help, found him and his camp. it’s rad that people care so much about this stuff, and really, it’s vital. the sentiment that we need to care for our own is really, really important.

i do notice the bitching and moaning about rape kits and inadequate response and whatever in the same screeds with bitching and moaning about too many cops. which is it? and is anyone participating in these discussions, this one included, directly connected to a rape victim? or a victim themself? i’m kind of curious as to just how far up in the bleachers these conversations are coming from.

let’s see, other bitching and moaning.

private planes were in BRC in 1995. no airport, but a pilot could just land wherever and taxi wherever and camp with their plane. i have a feeling planes were there before 1995, but that’s when i first showed up, and there were private planes.

plug-n-play camps were sort of there, back then, too, to some extent. were these situations as big and extravagant as they are now? no. there was also no lighting effects on art cars, no sound systems on art cars, no roads. no gifting, either, and the stated barter economy was a pretty fun game. gifting came along later. the man stood on the ground. we carried guns in camp, we drove to the hot springs. there was no practice of preventing burn scars. there was no perimeter, no trash fence. But there were RVs. and private airplanes. the point isn’t that i was more punk rock than you, the point is that *everything* has become more extravagant, bigger. it’s an art arms race and i love it for that.

i don’t know why some folks get so git danged hung up on these kinds of things. if RVs are ruining your experience, then don’t go. chances are that if you’re reading this, RVs were in BRC before you even heard of burning man. maybe it’s time to get the fuck over it, and this stupid line in the dust where the way you do your trip is OK but the way other people do theirs isn’t. i can’t think of much of anything more antithetical to the vibe that those same whiners are hiding behind, pretending to espouse. hooray, BRC is this awesome free place where everyone can be what they want, well except if you have over a certain amount of means and resources, then fuck you you’re ruining it for me! you’re ruining burning man!
furthermore, damned near every change or restriction that people bitch about, the meta-whine being that the event being too big or too whatever, these changes were a direct result of of more people showing up. that “more people” is *you*. various neat/awesome things, freedoms, and that kind of stuff all existed in BRC before you got there. and the year you got there, those things had been removed/ended because you and however many thousand new people showed up and made it impossible to do them safely, do them under the radar of various authorities, whatever. watching the sophomores complain about the frosh, wise fools indeed.

i’m not complaining about y’all showing up, though. i love virgins! i love the event growing, and more people participating! i’m complaining about your complaining. i’m complaining about this asinine, vapid “poll” which places fucking dubstep on the same playing field as rape, and how utterly disingenuous it is for anyone but larry and his son and three friends or whoever was on the goddam beach that labor day long ago to complain about “too many people”. each of us showed up a virgin in some multiple or near multiple of the previous city’s population and effected change. you’re going to burning man now because the organizers, each year for 25 years, did not take attitudes like this and instead lunged and parried to make it work. this instead of whining about how nirvana sucks now because they’re too popular. the vibe in this would have led those organizers to give up long, long ago. anyway IMO all these virgins every year are fucking awesome, and i like many of you have brought many, many friends to the event, some kicking and screaming. i do that every year. damned near all those new people, every year, are someones’ friends. that rules. and ya know what else? what i’ve seen over a couple of decades now is that even the folks with the least compatibility with whatever core values happen to be in vogue for any current year end up leaving more compatible with those values. that BMIR promo from a decade ago, people describing how they got to burning man the first time. one guy ended with “… and i’m not a redneck anymore.” we’re a virus, we’re changing people. the difference between reno now and reno in ’95 is palpable. reno’s been infected, there’s a much more vibrant art scene. many kind of dull suburban nevadans are art weirdos now. this isn’t universal, some predators and other asshats aren’t likely to change. but my experience is that they’re a tiny minority.

these “exclusive compounds” are how those types of folks travel. that’s their reality, that’s how they do things, and that’s how they’ll keep doing them no matter how invalid you think their existence is, up there on your high horses eating sour grapes. whatever stratification zone you fit in to is just that, a zone. there are plenty of people below you who think you’re an overprivileged asshole, wasting money and resources to fuck off and get loaded for a week. i reckon about at least 2/3 of the population of the planet would think just that. try to step out of the matrix now and then, and see yourself, in the grand scheme of things. take it apart. in objective terms, you’re spot is just the tiniest distance away from the people and experiences you seek to invalidate. i think it’s telling that this is only happening looking up to higher strata, too. in the big picture, it’s the “have-mosts” looking two or three rungs up to the “have-mores” and the former group is acting like it’s some outrage, some injustice against art, some unbridgeable gulf. at its core though its a group of people not doing BRC your way or other ways that you consider OK. i bet the hadj has more tolerance about this sort of thing than what’s being shown here. and like the dudebros and boring suburbanites, i’m thankful that those people (i’m not one of them) are visiting BRC. they end up changed at least a little bit too. it’s not the city, or the org, that are putting them on their pedestals. they travel on pedestals. how is that harning you?

10 comments on “Larry Harvey Oswald on Why We’re No Experts

  1. oh and even the vaguest comparison with joseph heller would be the finest compliment i’ve ever received!

  2. well well well! i’m honored by the extrusion of my pontifications! those who know me well enough may surely see this as a dangerous precedent, enabling That Which Should Never Be Enabled. ahem.

    also i really appreciate all the comments. points of disagreement, for me, are particularly valuable and always welcome!

    big love to y’all.

    and a PS: i think the ‘fuck yer day’ thing is largely understood. someone DPW-ish explained it to me once and it was definitely a light going on. no idea if the person’s description was accurate at all, but it sure gave my head a whirl to have my impression about the meaning of such a simple trio of words totally changed. as i recall (recollection admittedly not being one of my stronger suits!) it’s not “fuck you via your day which we’re gonna fuck up because fuck you” but more like “fuck what your vision of the day may have been, there’s plenty more than you imagined heading your way, woo hoo!”. so it’s a hot sticky embrace in a way only DPW could muster, not an attack. the kick is to your day’s crotch (“fuck you, day, no more of your pesky limits and asinine consensus reality limitations!”) and not to your own crotch (“ow, my crotch!! WTF dude?!”)

    some lore from those more in the know about FYD would be most welcome! that might be another topic that fits as its own thread.

  3. I congratulate Larry Harvey Oswald on a very well written response to the previous poll on ‘What are the Burning Issues?’

    But, I totally disagree with him on the theme running through his comment. The BLM police may believe that the 4th and 5th Amendments as envisioned by our Founding Fathers don’t apply at TTITD, but the 1st Amendment does apply. Most Burners are seriously brilliant, they have a right to speak. Especially anyone who has contributed to the event and to the community through building theme camps, art pieces, art cars, temples, organizing events and fire conclaves, or doing serious volunteer work like DPW or GP&E or so on. Thank all of you for creating a great event and a beautiful community!

    The idea that people do not have a right to speak, to provide a description of the issues/problems as they see them, and to provide constructive solutions is wrong. The 1st Amendment does apply, this isn’t the org’s bullshit ePlaya, where one isn’t allowed to question the org’s decisions or talk about significant issues/problems surrounding the event or the community. The standard put-downs trying to stop people from expressing their opinions are very offensive to anyone who is trying to help make a great event and community even better, such as:

    – ‘I have been burning longer than you, so your voice doesn’t count’
    – ‘if you disagree with all the changes over the past few years, you’re just a crusty old Burner’
    – ‘don’t worry your pretty little head about it, you can’t do anything about it anyways’
    – ‘you’re not expressing an opinion, you’re just ranting’
    – ‘if you disagree with the org’s decisions, you’re just a Hater with your bitching and moaning and whining’ and the worst one
    – ‘if you don’t like it, don’t come to the playa’

    No, when confronted with these put-downs, they need to be turned around on the person making them:

    – ‘Stop the ad-hominem attacks. We have every right to express our opinions and solutions. If you don’t like people exercising their 1st Amendment rights and disagreeing with you, stay off the internet.’

  4. The year I was a virgin, back in 1997, first thing I remember after getting out of the car was someone with a megaphone bellowing, “If you’ve never been to Burning Man, we’d like to ask you to *leave now*!”. The whining has always been there, loud and clear.

    This year was my 13th year on the playa after a two year break. I noticed more of many things, RVs included, which, for the record, are not my thing. I remember thinking there was not as much “edge” as there used to be, but had to reflect that this might be because I myself may not be as “sharp” as I used to be.

    I also noticed less of the “Fuck Your Day” attitude that used to be common. And I didn’t miss it, though in telling a virgin of the prevalence of that attitude 5 to 10 years ago the story was met with disbelief.

    Some of the changes in Black Rock City are positive. Some are negative. Let it never be said Burning Man is stuck in a rut, but remains incomparable to any other festival on this continent.

  5. I’ve never understood the whole bitching about plug-n-play camps. I spend my entire burn (and pre and post) working out there. Many people don’t get that either.

    I look at plug-n-play camps just like any other; if it looks fun and inviting, I’ll wander in and say hello. If not, I don’t. I don’t have any heartburn about skipping Camp Piss-in-your-face, either. Not my thing so I just cruise on by….

  6. Thumbs up! Yes, yes, yes. Please let the snark and complaining diminish. Let’s try to build insted of tear down.

  7. um… yay!

    I usually applaud a good diatribe simple because it requires much effort and time out of the individual’s life.

    This time? I also applaud the intent behind the content. Bravo anonymous person, bravo!

    As always… bitching about last year will be better next year. Now let us all go bigger, bolder, and even more absurd!!!

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