Rich White Trash

by Whatsblem the Pro

"Great burn. . . see you back at the sty, Larry!"

“Great burn. . . see you back at the sty, Larry!”

MOOP is “matter out of place,” the burner slang for litter. It’s very highly frowned-upon to litter at Burning Man; you will likely have a nasty confrontation with someone if you MOOP deliberately, or even if you wear things that are MOOP-prone, like feathered headdresses. The event takes place on federal land that belongs to all Americans, and not littering the place up is a condition of the permit issued by the Bureau of Land Management, originators of the slogan “leave no trace.”

Each year after the burn, the mighty Playa Restoration Team spends a month or more on the playa, gridding out the abandoned skeleton of the city and doing an astonishing job of picking up and properly disposing of even the smallest bits of MOOP, like carpet fibers and cigarette butts (and they even seem to manage to make a good time out of it). Using GPS, they mark problem areas on a map; the camps that get marked yellow or red on the annual MOOP map may have serious problems getting placement from the corporation that runs Burning Man the next year.

Check out this detail of the Restoration Team’s final MOOP map for 2013, and note the two circled camps:


See the yellow and red marking “Ego, Ergo Frum Camp” and “Camp Whatever” as main MOOP offenders? It’s not the first year these camps have left behind significant amounts of litter and detritus — their MOOP footprint was similar in 2010, for instance — but the name of the main camp has been listed differently on the MOOP map each year.

Why? Because “Ego, Ergo Frum Camp” and “Whatever Camp” are actually the public and private sides of First Camp, where the Board of Directors spend their burn. These are the people who adapted “leave no trace” from a Bureau of Land Management slogan to one of the Ten Principles that many burners consider sacred, holy writ. It’s kind of like the way the Board of Directors tells you not to commodify Burning Man. . . while they commodify Burning Man.

These aren’t people who lack the resources to have someone else pick up after them, if they just can’t do it themselves; some of them have social secretaries camping with them, for god’s sake. . . but if First Camp was your camp, you wouldn’t be allowed back after leaving behind that kind of mess multiple times in recent years.

Burner, these people aren’t like you. They don’t represent you, and they have no problem with double standards that treat you as lesser beings and hold you to a higher standard than them. They don’t deserve all the loyalty and support you give them. . . but if you have the will, they can be replaced.

We need new leadership! Out with the corporatists! Burning Man for burners!

65 comments on “Rich White Trash

    • I’m glad you asked. . . let’s talk about that!

      I’ll start with this: as has been pointed out so many times before, Burning Man is built by burners, not by the Org. How about we start by getting a petition going that is heavy with people who would be sorely missed if they didn’t show up en masse. . high-profile artists, major theme camp people, Rangers, DPW, volunteers, and others with a vested interest?


  1. I think you have to much invested in a vision of your own making, Burning Man is what you make of it, if it is such a problem with MOOP then be sure to pick up after First Camp next year, If you are worried about commodification then don’t buy anything or patronize the Burn. If you have a problem with waiting in line for 10 hours on Sunday then stop BEING the problem and show up Tuesday or not at all. If you think too many tickets are being sold then don’t buy one, this will help immensely. I don’t remember anyone telling you that you cannot start your own Burning Man with your own rules and freeway entrance with 12 lanes of drive-thru burgers and pizza delivery and flush toilets.

    • Another “love it or leave it” comment, really?

      We’ve addressed this. What do you have against trying to make things better? More to the point, what do you have against holding the people who hold the purse strings accountable?

  2. So, the LA burners FB site has some folks who insist that we are being punked with this? That this map or article is just a “prank” (not clear if they are saying you got pranked or that you are pranking us). Clarification? Is this just a us being gullible? or is this map for real?

      • Sure, the map is real, as is the INSIDE JOKE that’s there merely to tweak First Camp. You’re looking rather silly making a mountain out of a molehill here, completely missing the joke. As it were. It’s just Burning Man.

      • “It’s just Burning Man.”

        In the last 24 hours, we’ve been getting a lot of comments to the effect of “who cares?”

        I have to scoff at anyone who takes the time to read the article, takes the time to post a comment, and takes the time to reply to responses to their comments, when the whole time their main argument is that none of this is worth their time. Hidden agenda much?

      • If it were a real, non-joke report, then it’d be a minor issue (at best.) Since it’s obviously a joke that you’ve fallen for, well, then, I’m not really sure what to say to help you out.

      • Incidentally, even if this entire thing was the product of “an inside joke,” the facts remain that the people who camp in those yellow-and-red rectangles have a long and colorful history of mismanagement, profiteering, taking credit for the work of others, and just plain hypocrisy.

        These same people told us all that they’d take a token payment of $20,000 each and step down as the LLC transitions to a non-profit. Soon the $20,000 became a larger, undisclosed sum; then the “we’ll step down” became “you need us, we’re too valuable to just step down.”

        Why give them any leeway, at this point?

      • I mean, you talk as though this is all taking place in a vacuum, and that it isn’t just a small example of why the people who hide their income from us, take credit for the work of others, and prohibit us from competing with them aren’t like us. You talk as though this is the entire problem and complaint. It isn’t.

      • By your refusal to acknowledge that this “MOOP issue” may very well be a JOKE you’ve fallen for, and by using it as a platform to lambast First Camp for other perceived offenses, you’ve ultimately exposed your own hidden agenda.

        That being said, as I mentioned, I’ve been attending Burning Man since 1996. I’ve enjoyed many elements — and I’ve been annoyed/angered by others. It’s not the be-all, end-all paragon of my existence, but it is an event (and a community) that been a part of my life for 15+ years. I certainly don’t think BMorg is beyond reproach. I’ve been highly (and publically) critical of many of their moves over the years. But with this MOOP map, I feel compelled to call a spade a spade. Instead of raising the pitchforks, I’m recognizing the likely possibility that it’s all just a JOKE. And insisting otherwise, and refusing to acknowledge that you might have simply been punk’d, you’re trivializing the very real issues that plague this event, its community and its continuity.

      • Now you’re insisting that I refuse to acknowledge the possibility that it’s just a joke? Did you even read my last reply to you? Here it is again:

        “Incidentally, even if this entire thing was the product of “an inside joke,” the facts remain that the people who camp in those yellow-and-red rectangles have a long and colorful history of mismanagement, profiteering, taking credit for the work of others, and just plain hypocrisy.

        These same people told us all that they’d take a token payment of $20,000 each and step down as the LLC transitions to a non-profit. Soon the $20,000 became a larger, undisclosed sum; then the “we’ll step down” became “you need us, we’re too valuable to just step down.”

        Why give them any leeway, at this point?”

      • Thanks. There is a fair amount of holier than thou around this issue–as in “I know shit that you don’t know, so you are a dumb fuck” attitude, although no one can actually identify how or why they would know this is a prank, they are very smug about the “knowing” of it.
        And can I just mention that people who repeatedly feel the need to tell others how long they have attended the burn appear to have tragically low self-esteem. “I am better than you because I have been going to the burn since 1400 AD, therefore I am right and you are wrong.” I’m pretty sure that how long you have been burning has jack shit to do with just about anything.

    • I don’t think anyone here has the background story on this. It’s probably more like, maybe with the DPW being so tweaked with the org this year, deservedly so, they put building, tearing down, and cleaning up First Camp “at the lowest possible priority”. It isn’t like the LLC members actually build their viewing platform, communal/kitchen areas, fortress walls, and other infrastructure, tear it down, and clean it up after the event.

      It anyone wants a background story on this, and all the stuff that happened on the playa this year instead of just hearing the usual KoolAid bullshit, sit down with a cool DPW’er who builds so much incredible shit out on the playa and a bottle of Jack, thank him or her profusely for building all this, and have a good listen.

  3. There’s also the possibility that this is simply an INSIDE JOKE and you’re all taking it way, way too seriously.

      • Ehhh, not really. I’ve been attending since ’96 and I know all too well the way this ball bounces. Do you really think the Restoration Team’s not merely tweaking First Camp here? You honestly think they’re using this map to “expose” Larry Harvey’s MOOP-y ways? C’mon. Really?

      • Not nearly as much as you’ve conjured up by this histrionic “exposé.”
        Seriously, it’s okay to admit you’ve been punk’d. We’ve all been there.

      • You sure do seem to care a lot. . . it makes me wonder where your interests lie.

        Incidentally, even if this entire thing was the product of “an inside joke,” the facts remain that the people who camp in those yellow-and-red rectangles have a long and colorful history of mismanagement, profiteering, taking credit for the work of others, and just plain hypocrisy.

        These same people told us all that they’d take a token payment of $20,000 each and step down as the LLC transitions to a non-profit. Soon the $20,000 became a larger, undisclosed sum; then the “we’ll step down” became “you need us, we’re too valuable to just step down.”

        Why give them any leeway, at this point?

    • It’s a culture all year, sqrl. . . and if you want to tell someone to settle down because they’re selling it as “The Revolution,” then you should be talking to the Org about that. . . they’re selling it as “The Revolution” for actual dollars!

  4. We go to the burn, we destroy that little piece of dessert land.. MANY MANY MANY of us come back to our communities.. and we get to work.. We make the change…. I’m Tired of people who think of the festival as “BURNING MAN” its not about the festival its about the activation, the TRANSFORMATION of the individual and the social change they can create…. So the board leaves red marks… The millions of people they have activated I think can make up for a little waste in the dessert….. Try running any gathering…. its a very delicate social balance that has to be confronted once an event grows beyond a certain size… Its a heavy responsibility with no certain blueprint

    • Yes, it’s a heavy responsibility, and the people tasked with it have sold out. Do you have any idea what percentage of people were first-timers this year, thanks to your heroes expanding the event with an eye toward making a profit, rather than an eye toward transmitting the culture? If you think they’re being responsible, you’re just a fool.

  5. You know what funnier than the borg’s blatant hypocrisy, is the cluelessness of the current batch of long-time burners who still feel the need to produce evidence of the borg’s hypocrisy. Look look the sky is falling! Newflash: the sky collapsed in 1996. It still (arguably) was okay to be ‘WTF is going on?’ until about 2003. It’s just plain sad in 2013 to be pointing out what a bunch of fucking assholes run this event.

    • Right, because holding people accountable in your community, trying to make it a better place, and recognizing that a cusp is approaching (the transition to a non-profit) that will provide an opportunity to really make a difference? That’s all exactly equivalent to hipster fashions we should all just be SO over by now.

      I think, Joesy, that you might benefit from a nice long visit to the Third World.

      • It’s a difficult transition what the kool-aid starts to wear off, like a hangover and you’re trying to cure it with more kool-aid (We can change things. Rally the community together, etc).

        You’re in the bargaining stage of grief. That all your time effort and money, blood sweat and tears that you put into BM somehow gives you a vote. That if you can just make reasonable arguments and gather enough like-minded burners together in activism, things can change; that your participation on all levels just hasn’t been de-facto cooperation with a corporation that doesn’t care and is incapable of caring.

        That you have been used.

  6. Look, it’s just a party in the desert. Stop pretending like the people who give you everything owe you something like respect or reciprocity. If you don’t like BM the way it is, you know where the door is.

    • “The people who give you everything” is where your error lies. They don’t give us everything; they just take credit for everything. Burners build the city, not the Board of Directors. . . and if you’ve been reading what we write here, you should already know that we’ve already addressed your braindead imperative to love it or leave it.

  7. Welcome to the real world. Any concentration of wealth and power attracts people who want more wealth and power. It takes a lot more to stand up to them than standing around a burn barrel with a beer in one hand and a joint in the other and complaining about the “one percent”.

  8. Y’all know what a bunch of whiny douchebags you sound like? Burning Man is an experience of humanity on earth. And what do humans do on Earth? Fucking destroy it. Every last one of you wastes tons of resources and creates a ton of waste just getting to a place where you burn fuel and tons of other shit. It cost vast amounts of money which goes directly into the maw of the oligarchy.

    At least understand your impact and quit acting like a bunch of hypocritical douchebags.

    As to profits, if you put a pile of money in a hole expect a bunch of people to fight over it.

    And non-profits just mean the profits are paid out in massive stupid salaries.

    But I love Burning Man and I’ll be going knowing my full impact.

  9. In April 2011, Larry Harvey announced that the LLC was beginning a three-year process to transfer ownership and control of the event over to a new non-profit organization called the “Burning Man Project”. The move towards becoming a non-profit organization was the result of “bitter infighting” between members of the board. At one point it looked like all of the board members were going to hire lawyers. Corporate appraisers were brought in to determine how much the company was worth, which Larry Harvey found “abhorrent” and against all of the values that Burning Man stood for.
    An earlier agreement stated that each member of the LLC would only receive “sole compensation for many years of service, a golden parachute of $20,000”. But the members now agreed to an arrangement whereby each member of the LLC would receive an undisclosed sum prior to the transfer of their ownership rights to the Burning Man Project. Marian Goodell, board member and head of communication, addressed concerns about the lack of transparency with this statement: “When you’re in the middle of a storm, if you’re going to explain all of how you got there, and how you’re going to get out, it often sets more panic among the survivors than if you just sail the boat out of the darkness.”

  10. Not a problem. As a citizen and a member of a camp that takes LNT serious, I’ll be sure to cruise their camp next year towards the end and pick up their trash since they can’t do it… all they had to do was ask.

  11. highly doubt that the representation of that map is actually what the playa REALLY looks like. you’ve got wind, people kicking up dust during exodus – fences are taken down before cleanup crew does their thing… there are a lot of factors that we get exposed to on the surface level that actually don’t represent the true picture – as with anything in this life. don’t believe everything you read on the internet. without the organization and everyone who takes part in making Burning Man what it is and we know it to be today…. we commend you, and wouldn’t be able to rage if it weren’t for you.

    so take this article with a grain a salt, coming from someone with first hand experience. thanks, and love to all. )'(

      • could be they are last to break camp and thus serve as a wind break, tend to collect moop. can’t say for sure, but as the earlier comment said we don’t know everything. From being on late crew for our camp the last couple of years I’ve seen that the wind moves moop around a lot, so it’s hard to tell if the moop map is really representative. I’d love to know what the moop consists of, is it ciggy butts or feathers or bikes or what?

      • thanks Granite Burner, good to get a real perspective. I agree that some sort of “MOOP” classification could be useful, and that hating on people because of MOOP map scores is totally unfair due to camps moving out at different times and changing wind effects.

      • The Org sure doesn’t take that view when theme camps are multiple-year MOOP offenders. . . those camps don’t get placement. Why should we respect any of their double standards, ever?

  12. Someone has the gall to complain about MOOP from the Burning Man Board!? My goodness, it seems like there are a bunch of proles who just don’t know their place. What’s coming next from the uppity lumpenproletariat? Soon they’ll be expecting Larry and their betters to disclose their proceeds from the sale of Black Rock City LLC.

    • Yes, Burning Man org can suck it…big time. They sell tens of thousands more tickets this year, and then sell more tickets than they were allowed to, they didn’t change their infrastructure one bit, and made burners sit in line for upwards of 10 hours, and then have the audacity to complain about moop?! Burning Man, I love you, the people behind it, the experience, but the organization is about as capitalist as walmart. So Burning Man org can pay some people to walk around and pick up moop for a month but they can’t add some more traffic lanes and make getting into the city a little easier? Fuck it, Im throwing my babywipes in the portapotties, and I’m not going to feel bad about ashing on the playa…and if I see a cigarette butt or some trash? Well guess what, I’m not stopping my bike to pick it up anymore either. However, when I go to symbioisis festival, I pick up trash wherever I go, cause they aren’t the fucking walmart of festivals.

      • cosmic dragon I am with you. For $400, times 70,000, they can pick up some other dick’s cigarette butt so I don’t have to. I just won’t drop anything myself. It’s called radical self-reliance, take note other Burners, especially darktards. Then, every time you do pick up someone else’s MOOP, karma points bonus!

      • so because you think someone else is a dick means you can be a dick too?

        please kill yourself now. you make the world worse for being in it.

      • Whether or not I’m a dick is beside the point. If it makes you feel better, OK, I am. Good one! You really told me. So what? My point is, for $400 why is it that I have to pick up someone else’s trash? Isn’t it good enough that I pick up my own trash, and *choose* to gift my time and energy to picking up other peoples trash also, whenever I feel like it? Why is that I should *have* to do it?

      • Actually Symbiosis is WAY MORE the Walmart of festivals than Burningman. Hello? Is Symbiosis put on by participants? Hell no. Symbiosis is just sucking the leftover vibe off of the burner crowd on their way to Insomniac events.

  13. I have not gone to a burn…. I wont go until the principles are part of the elite and when the elite make BM a non profit… Just my take looking inside.

  14. Hypocrites , do what I say and not as I do is the lowest form of living,just when I thought there was finally a place for like minded existence…….

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