The Grand Burners.Me Ho-tell

This is the 1000th post on this blog, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to reflect a bit.

The official Burning blog has 1,771 posts. Their first two are from September, 2001, and liken the explosion of fire and dust of Burning Man to the collapse of the World Trade Center, asking if the images we saw were just another Hollywood special effect.

Writer Jon Fox said:

Burning Man has become another symbol of home — an androgynous man who presides over his domain, welcoming weary travelers every year. The only constant being his own fiery destruction…

This city, immense in scope was built purely on the spirit of all that works about humanity. Black Rock City is about possibility; about creating from within for no other reason than because we can. It is about art and connection; about freedom, peace, adventure and destruction as a release of that which binds us. There is no time, no money, no politics, no good, and no evil. There is what there is and it is all brought in by the citizens of the city, for when there is no city, there is nothing. Each person brings a gift, whether an engraved necklace with a picture of the man, or a song, or back rub or drink of water. Why? If you ask, you don’t understand.

The very nature of the event attracts the truly greatest specimens of humanity, for only the truly gifted would be prepared enough and interest in taking on the harsh desert environment to create a gift as magical as a city that is not there.

photo credit: International Arts Megacrew

photo credit: International Arts Megacrew

…So when I see the destruction of today and what is truly possible when a small group of people so committed to something make it happen, I take pause. If this faceless group, so committed to destruction can accomplish what we, safe and sound in America never thought possible, I shudder to think what’s possible if another group did so out of freedom, peace, love and creativity.

Burning Man is indeed a miracle and is something that we shall be thankful for forever and ever. In two short weeks, I have seen all that is good about humanity, as strange and perverse as so-called “normal” people would have us (remember, we’re the weird ones) and all that is bad.

So, I watch my physical home covered in dust and smoke and think of my (meta)physical home all covered in dust and smoke. One explosions over turned by another and the eerie similarity of the two scenes. The background is different. The foreground is different. But somewhere, deep inside at the hottest part of the fire, they overlap. It’s is in here I stand and know that everything is still alright as long as we are all creating and we are doing so together

As you can see, even 13 years ago, in the face of the greatest tragedy America has ever experienced, Burning Man’s self-importance takes center stage.

Bizarrely, the very first words on their very first post are “September 1, 2001”. This was during Burning Man, describing the attacks ten days before they happened. It’s titled “Tale of Two Cities”, by FreshieDoug.

photo credit: Ray Mikota

photo credit: Ray Mikota

The tears swell in my eyes thinking of those who lie dead covered in the dust from a modern marvel that took years to build, but only minutes to destroy. The dust is reminiscent of the playa, a side effect of our own actions out there that is as much a recurring reminder that we have our weaknesses and limitations, as it is a nuisance in the daily living. The dust from the playa brought tears to my eyes, tears of joy from the awaking of my spirit within. The dust I witnessed on the tube 3000 miles away brought only tears of sorrow and pain.

Should I put a picture side by side of the two events? They both look similar, a white cloud that looms close to the earth carrying particles that test the human strength and endurance. Should such an identical image from each event be found, it is unimaginable that the spirit underlying be as opposite from each other as possible. One place, the center of the world, the other as desolate as one can get in our country. In a white out they both look the same.

Either the first words they ever wrote on their blog were a lie, or this is evidence of a vast and deep conspiracy. I’m going to go with the former, given the number of other lies, exaggerations and mis-statements we’ve heard from BMOrg over the years.  Hitler’s propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels said:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

bm-wings

photo from Funologist

I’m no Paragon of Virtue, but I’m also not a liar. I am a life-long student of organizational behavior, which mixes business theory and psychology. Propaganda is an established technique for population control, and the few dozen people employed full-time by BMOrg’s 6 (?) founders have a big population to control. Thousands of volunteers, some of whom have put in tens of thousands of hours to the event. The citizens of Black Rock City, all 68,000 69,613 of them last year. The broader community of people who “Like” Burning Man on Facebook, as I write this: 601,666.  The total population of Burners, the cumulative amount of people who have attended the party since it began almost 30 years ago on Baker Beach in 1986: 657,493. Obviously, some of these numbers overlap, but in recent years it has become clear that BMOrg have a deliberate policy of “out with the old, in with the new”. 36.5% were Virgins in 2012, 40% in 2013. 70% have been 2 or fewer times. BMOrg are able to shape these numbers, because their system of Burner profiles and STEP forces Burners to declare how many times they’ve been, before being lucky enough to get chosen by some invisible black box to get tickets.

In just under 2 and a half years, Burners.Me’s online community has grown to 55,200 (Facebook), 1271 (Twitter), and 586 (WordPress) – a total of 57,057. We’re now the second biggest online community of Burners in the world, neck and neck with mobile Burning Man sound camp and East Coast warehouse ravers Robot Heart: 56,956 (Facebook) and 588 (Twitter), total 57,544. We’re bigger than the Burning Man party itself ever has been (56,149), with the exception of last year when the population cap was increased by the BLM to 70,000. Our posts are frequently in WordPress’s Top 100, and some weeks our reach on Facebook exceeds half a million people.

This audience has been built by sharing opinions about stories related to Burner culture found on the Internet, rather than propaganda, deception, and the pursuit of commerce.

We’ve been accused of bias, and I can accept that: we are biased towards the truth. Often this positions us against BMOrg, but that doesn’t mean we’re against Burning Man. You see, I don’t believe that BMOrg makes the party. I believed them when they said “no spectators”, and it’s clear to me – as I’ve tried repeatedly to demonstrate here – that Burners are the ones who make the party.

trollWe’ve been accused of lying, and this I vehemently dispute. Any time a member of the online shill and troll army accuses Burners.Me of disinformation or falsehood, I ask them to prove it. Or even, just to give us a specific example of it. They always vanish into the ether, or hijack the thread with ad hominem attacks. Yet the meme persists, “Burners.Me is a disinformation site, Burners.Me is just like the National Enquirer”. Ask yourself why is that, and where does it come from? I’m just a guy on the Internet, I have no inside knowledge of whatever happens at Burning Man, but what gets published on this blog is true – and we provide references to our sources. If it’s speculation, or unsubstantiated rumor, we say that; this doesn’t mean that we publish unfounded speculation or simply any rumor that hits our inbox. If a source asks to remain anonymous, we respect that; if something sounds untrue, we do our best to verify it. Believe me, there’s plenty that we haven’t published.

photo credit: Aaron Muszalski

photo credit: Aaron Muszalski

There was one post that turned out not to happen, “Busting Man: RIOT calls for general strike at Burning Man”. Was there really a group of disgruntled DPW volunteers out on the Playa, ready to strike over the excessive police presence? I think there was, but I wasn’t there at the time myself to verify it first hand. Certainly, the police presence last year was stronger than ever, with sniffer dogs being brought in from the US border. Business Insider said “Federal Agents Swarming Burning Man”, Boing Boing said “the pigs are here”, even BMOrg’s own blog spoke of “Holy War”. Although a strike was avoided, right after the event BMOrg suddenly settled their lawsuit and caved to all Pershing County’s demands for money. I’m pretty sure the heavy handed police tactics were a contributing factor to that, we’ll see if things are any better this year. The author of that piece, Whatsblem The Pro from Reno,  has not written for Burners.Me since December 2013, and despite his threats at the time that “your traffic will be nothing without me”, has not written anything at his own Burner blog either.

The haters are vocal, but the Likers are clearly in the majority.

It’s always amusing to me that Burners.Me gets accused of making things up or lying, when all we’ve done since the beginning is expose lies and hypocrisy of others. BMOrg used to be a sacred cow, magically above criticism. Anyone in the community who spoke out against them could expect to be shunned or publicly attacked. Steven Jones, aka Scribe, was openly critical of BMOrg’s stated plans to become a non-profit in his column at the SF Bay Guardian. In the face of all the online backlash, he retreated and penned a piece “how I learned to stop worrying and just trust Larry” – which was promoted in the BRC Weekly.

1998 ticketI have been to Burning Man 11 times now, and always enjoyed it. The first time I went was 1998. Officially, there were 10,000 people there; it seemed more like 7 or 8 thousand. There were some art cars, some naked people, some big art, and some theme camps. There was a lot of fire. Mostly, though, there was a sense of camaraderie – that we had all made this journey to the middle of nowhere, into about the harshest conditions you can find in the United States, just to be together. Just for the purpose of a party. You could walk up to anyone and talk to them, you could walk into any camp site and be welcomed. People would offer you things purely from a spirit of hospitality; there was no Principle that said Gifting was required. The ticket said “no spectators”, but the event itself was less of a spectacle, and more just a bunch of people camping in tents and RV’s. After the Man burned, people used to throw their own things into the bonfire – sometimes even their entire camp, wooden structures built to live in for a week and then destroyed. The idea of “letting go of the past” that is now associated with the Temple, was associated with throwing objects with symbolic meaning onto the blazing pile that was the remains of The Man. There was a real anti-establishment celebration of freedom to the event. We were burning The Man, we had come all this way to get away from The Man and do whatever we want without adult supervision. It felt like a crowd, maybe even a big village, but not a city.

Today, it is a counter-culture phenomenon. It’s most definitely bigger and more city-like. There is an airport and a census, there are hundreds of art cars and thousands of theme camps. There are billionaires and celebrities and Presidential candidates. The Esplanade has become so crowded it’s hard to cycle through it – last year, even the Playa itself between Esplanade and Man was getting crowded. The event has its own language, customs, and rules. There are Ten Principles for Burners to memorize, and castigate others with. There are adults who have been going since they were small children, they have literally grown up living in Black Rock City. It has been wonderful to watch this explosion of culture and innovation.

However, I am under no illusions that anyone is changing the world here. It’s a party, if you go for reasons other than the music, you still can’t deny that the music is a major component of the event. Just like the drugs are a major component: anyone who thinks the majority of the people there don’t consume any illegal drugs is clearly on drugs themselves. It’s a rave, and in terms of area, the world’s biggest. It’s an art festival, but not of contemporary art like Art Basel or the Venice Biennale. A third of Burners consider themselves artists. Burning Man has been called “the Special Olympics of Art”. Larry Harvey likes to boast “no artist has ever put their name on a piece at Burning Man”. Although this is not true, it is indicative of Burning Man’s place in the art world. The after-market for Burning Man art is small, and large sculptures with electro-mechanical components that have been exposed to the harsh alkaline environment of the Playa are more likely to deteriorate in value than appreciate.

Republican-Burning-ManI have no particular ax to grind with BMOrg, somebody needs to organize this event and pay the cops. Are the 17  members of the Board of Directors the ideal stewards to bring our culture to the rest of the planet? I don’t think so. The whole thing is shrouded in secrecy, and it seems like the potential for conflicts of interest is high. Their previous charity, the Black Rock Arts Foundation, has a terrible track record of money raised versus money given away. The Founders are cashing out, and their succession planning is unclear. Many changes have been “coming soon” for years. As they “transition to a non-profit”, it seems like the structure and operations of the organization are becoming more similar to conventional profit-making corporate groups. Like Google and Apple, they use multiple companies governed under one umbrella to reduce their tax bill, maybe even avoid it entirely. Many of the core long-term members of the BMOrg team (eg. Andie Grace, Joseph Pred) have left over the last couple of years. The new generation, like Burning Man’s globe trotting Social Alchemist Bear Kittay, are unproven as leaders. Do the self-indulgent, entitled Millenials even get Burner culture? Can they? Or does all Burner culture worldwide have to change into what Burning Man’s 70% n00bz think Burning Man is today, just because the population of this one annual party is ageing?

I firmly believe that what we’ve collectively created at Burning Man over almost three decades is something amazing. A celebration of human ingenuity, at once funny and inspiring and maddening. Elon Musk complained about the hilarious new Mike Judge TV show “Silicon Valley”, saying “to really understand Silicon Valley, go to Burning Man”. In a way that’s true, but wouldn’t it be great if Silicon Valley WAS like Burning Man? A couple of public sculptures here and there aren’t enough. The Bay Lights cost $8 million, including $1.6 million from WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg. Now the lights have to come down, and they are trying to raise $20 million to put them back up. Think about how much “Burner Art” could be displayed in towns around America and the world, permanently, for that kind of money – benefitting the towns, the artists, and the culture.

google-bus-640-craig-frost-twitter_large_verge_medium_landscapeRight now, Silicon Valley is in the midst of a class warfare battle with the people of San Francisco. Larry Harvey has claimed Burning Man was the impetus for the shift of the tech industry’s capital from Palo Alto in the South, the heart of the Valley, to the city itself. Many people in the city don’t like this latest “tech boom”, and their protests have included slashing tires on Google trucks, bashing glassholes, and puking all over Yahoo buses.

If Burning Man, and Burner culture, could play a part in solving these social problems then maybe there is something good for the world in this. Maybe it is “more than just a party”. Shooting the messenger is not the answer, neither is selling more merchandise. I really appreciate everyone who has read this page and shared their own thoughts and comments, whether they agree with me or not, they are contributing to a conversation about Burner culture that is on the digital record. I’d particularly like to thank repeat commenters Nomad Traveler, A Balanced Perspective, T_Groan, Burner Jim, Senor Spamdump, Blues Bob, Piko, Toburn. And a special giant thanks to our cartoonist Christopher, who has shared his work for free.

Will I keep spending my time and money to give you another 1000 posts about Burning Man for free? I don’t know if I can write another 1000 posts about Burning Man, we’ll see. “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans”, said Woody Allen. For the time being, I will continue to share my opinions about Burner culture. You don’t have to agree, you don’t even have to read. As they say at That Thing In The Desert: “if you don’t like it, start your own!”

 

30 comments on “The Grand Burners.Me Ho-tell

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  4. Saying BM is a counter cultural phenomena is equivalent to the democrats appropriating the term ‘liberal’ and then governing like republicans. The event has been pierced to the heart by the dominant society (‘outside reality’ if you will) and has become, in many ways, a corporate retreat. I’m not going to rehash old ground, it’s been done many times already. It’s by no means ‘counter culture’ but in order to maintain a veneer of cool it pretends to be. It’s all theater at this point.

    Appreciate your blog. It’s a rare bit of honesty amongst so much pablum, nonsense, and propaganda from those whose egos are wrapped up in the event and believe their attendance shows how ‘cool’ they are.

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  5. Pingback: Victory for Ravers! White Ocean Lineup Announced | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  6. Kudos on 1000 posts, it is an incredible amount of labour, thank you for the numerous posts on awesome Burners, Burner projects, art, Burner culture, crowd sourced Burner parties, posts of interest to Burners, and upon the awesome Burner community. And, much obliged, Christopher, for the awesome cartoons. Raising a glass towards both of you, and towards many more posts, of this nature, in the future.

    And, thank you for the necessary reporting upon the BMOrg rubbish. The papers do not desire to even present simple queries, of this rubbish, to Larry and his mates, thank you for presenting these facts and queries. Scribe, at present, is labouring mightily towards saving the Bay Guardian, all his labours are towards the goal of his paper to remain in business, he does not have the time to report upon this rubbish.

    Most contributors, and long time participants, within the awesome Burner community are now of the knowledge that something is very wrong with the actions of the BMOrg, a large difference from prior. Many have clicked upon the links within the posts, with the supporting numbers, statements, and corporate records. Woody stated his spreadsheet, showing the prior salaries of the BMOrg of over $4 million each burn, was viewed a very large number, and Scribe’s articles in the SFBG paper, linked within your posts, are upon the top of the searches of the reporting upon Burning Man by the SFBG. It is solely a small number, from the BMOrg social media crew, utilizing multiple names, and a small number of others, some of whom labour for Larry, whom still provide commentary with their Kool Aid of disinformation, ad hominem attacks, and this site is not to be trusted. But, readers may click upon the numerous links within the posts, towards gaining knowledge of what is true.

    Kudos!

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    • I still remain waiting, for any other person, to prove any number or statement within the Great BMOrg Cash Out post to be incorrect, of which, none have done so. A brace of small statements were incorrect, 1719 members are upon the Project board for one two years. In addendum, I was incorrect in the belief of them being required to state, to donors of cash, labour, and art, the cash to be paid to licence their Burning Man(TM) trademarks each year, owned by their for profit Decommodification LLC, and the cash to purchase their Burning Man(TM) trademarks within three years, these numerals will not be released prior to 2016 and 2018, should the BMOrg not be forced to do so.

      What was very incorrect, my estimate was too small, the numbers of their cash out should be of $38 million to $50 million, not of $28 million to $45 million. I was not of the knowledge of their, by simple maths upon their 2013 afterburn report, Usage Fee of their Burning Man(TM) trademarks of $2 million to $2.5 million each burn prior to 2017, and I did not add their near $0.8 million of salary, for 2014, and following, within the maths of the $28 million numeral. In addendum, I do not include any cash, towards their Decommodification LLC pockets, for the licence of images of art, mutant vehicles, theme camps, and of people at Burning Man, in due of we do not have knowledge of this numeral.

      For support, of the $2 million to $2.5 million numerals, click upon the 2013 Afterburn Analysis post in June, the licence of images at Burning Man to their Decommodification LLC is upon the ticket terms of 2014, and the $0.8 million numeral is in due of they receive reasonable salaries from their positions upon the Project. A mate stated to me, we may gain the knowledge of the salaries of the ministers of a 501(c)3, since they must be upon the minutes of the meetings of the 501(c)3 board, which must be viewable, by any person, at the offices of the 501(c)3 corporation.

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      • Thanks ABP. Let me know if you’d like to update your original post, or do a new one. It’s a helluva lot of money for a party, although much less when split 6 or more ways. After 30 years, they’re probably entitled to it; but the awesome Burner community are entitled to some deeper ownership of their contributions also.

        Your mate is right about the 501(c)3, it should mean we see more inside data on the workings of the charity. Right now it looks like they haven’t filed in the past, despite the charity supposedly having operated for 3 years. I will be checking Guidestar for reports.

        It seems like no-one has been pulling big bucks out of BRAF to date, at least not in the form of salaries or grants. Which makes it even stranger that the BRAF overheads are so high.

        Details of the payments to Decommodification LLC are unlikely to be disclosed in the BMP filings, since they seem to be lumping them all together with BLM fees in the Afterburn reports. I suspect we will get one number, “contribution from Black Rock City, LLC” which will represent some variant of the Afterburn numbers.
        However, they did promise us “radical transparency” at the start of the year. You never know, maybe they will deliver one of these days…I always hold out hope. Apparently there’s a new web site coming too, with educational materials to spread the culture. Coming soon, coming soon, for years and years and years…

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      • The licensing of the photos taken by others to themselves is an angle I missed. Beyond just using any Burner photo they may find, they pay licensing fees to themselves for the right to use such photos. The old Enron executives must be watching with envy.

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      • Much obliged, again, burnersxxx. Awesome post on the White Ocean lineup. I’ll pen an update to the cash out post, later, perchance, to be added upon the end of the cash out post?

        Nomad, I heart your descriptions of crowd sourced Stone Soup events, and the difference to the crowd sourced event on the playa.

        No off-shore corporations in Belize, or Panama, the low tax levies upon the former BRC LLC owners are in due of their donation of the BRC LLC to the 501(c)3 Project at 2013 end. They are taking as much cash of 2010 – 2016 towards their pockets, as they are of the ability to do, so they gained brilliant advice upon most of the cash towards their pockets being free of taxation levies, in due of their donation.

        In addendum, Nomad, I do not comprehend the legalese ‘I understand that these two organizations control all rights regarding the licensing and reproduction of any imagery recorded at the Event’, and the conditions, which remain hidden, upon their donation of the BRC LLC to the Project, of the subject of licences. Perchance, they impose a levy upon any publication of images, and of movies, with the cash directed towards their Decommodification LLC. If they were solely of the thought, as they stated priorly, of protecting the community from exploitation, a condition upon their donation of the BRC LLC to the Project, might be to require a decommodification committee upon the Project board, and appoint themself on the committee. The difference between this brace of actions is whom might gain the cash from a levy upon the licences.

        2014 ticket conditions –
        “I acknowledge that the name “Burning Man” is a trademark owned by Decommodification LLC and licensed to BRC, and that BRC LLC has been given the sole right to license and enforce that trademark, and that all of Burning Man’s logos, trademarks or other intellectual property are owned by Decommodification LLC and licensed to BRC, and I understand that these two organizations control all rights regarding the licensing and reproduction of any imagery recorded at the Event. I agree that I will not use the mark “Burning Man,” the logos of Decommodification LLC or BRC LLC, or the likeness, drawings or representations of the Man or of the Black Rock City map, or any other trademark of Decommodification LLR or BRC”

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        • What i am curious about is the following contradictory statements on the website about use of the logo for fundraising. Below are two opposite views on the use of logos for fundraising schwag. The trademarks page says you can use it on “fundraising gifts” where the fundraising page says it is not permitted for use on a fundraising gift. (They do like to use parenthesis). I shake my head at this. A camp tries to raise money to bring out their gift to the playa. Since they get no help from BMorg to defray the costs to basically b-man the party that it is, they need to ask for help from friends and burners. Unless they are jack asses, this money is spent for making the burn what it is They already make stickers, patches, t-shirts for the burn. As a thank you to generous folks, they gift out these items. This is a thank you. Not selling anything. No one is donating $50 to a camp to get a $2 patch for just the patch, but because they like the project.

          Amyway, see the below two pages on the b-man site and maybe I am missing their point, but to me it is two opposite viewpoints.

          http://www.burningman.com/press/trademarks.html#gift

          GIFTING: So what about gifts? Gifting is one of the principles of the Burning Man event. For more information on what gifting is about, see Ten Principles. Making a gift to give away with the Man symbol, or the words “Burning Man” is absolutely fine, as long as your are gifting the item in question. Good example: going in on a batch of t-shirts or shwag (at cost for yourselves or as gifts, even fundraiser gifts).

          http://www.burningman.com/participate/supportaproject/raisefunds.html

          Trademark Violations
          If you’re offering shwag as a pledge gift, be aware that you’re not permitted to use the Burning Man logo on these items without special written permission, which is not generally granted in instances when money is changing hands (so that the logo is reserved exclusively for the sharing of gifts, not for fundraising).

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        • To answer your question: Am not a lawyer, but my understanding is that Decommodification (sic) has copyright to all photos anyone takes. So, if the BMP or BRC LLC want to use a picture anyone has taken, they have to license it from Decommodification, presumably for a fee.

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  7. How insane it was to see my words up on your blog! I was confused as to the context of the critique until I clicked through and saw the September 1st 2001. To clarify, I definitely did not write that until months after 9/11. Hmm.. Anyway that travesty happened just days after my first burn. I can dig up the pic with my ex after the dust storm temple night burn. We had dust covered faces could easily have been mistaken for elsewhere if not for her pink wig and my santa hat..

    Btw, good job…

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    • thanks Freshied. To be clear, I wasn’t critiquing your post, just the date. Any idea how the date got to be that way? Did you write the post for BM’s blog, or was it published somewhere else? Would love to add the pic to the story if you can find it.

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      • Got it xxx. Was shocked to see that date too. Pretty sure that I originally submitted it as a “tales from the playa” on the b man site in late 2001 or 2002. The other story I wrote about the same time is dated august 31st 2002. Both those dates were burn nights. Long before the thought of black rock wifi, these dates were artisitc editing by some content manager. Curious on how you came across it!

        I will find that pic!

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  8. I just wanted to thank you for writing this blog. I attended my first main burn last year, yes one of those burgins that the BMORG is seeming to favor. I have been going to regionals for many years. The regionals seem to be the ones filled with accountability and willingness to hear other voices, which to me seems more in line with the espoused spirit of BM. Anyway, I had a great time last year and will be returning again this year. I have read this blog since before I even went which has allowed me to remain skeptical of the adulation foisted upon the organizers. I appreciate what they do, putting on the event, but they deserve scrutiny for their actions given the virtues they publicly espouse. I never really comment because I always fail to follow up if anyone responds so I don’t bother, but I did want to thank everyone who contributes to this blog, past and present for the content. Also, Nomad, agreed, Larry’s presence on Rose was cringe worthy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you are finding the good in the NV Burn without drinking the Flavor-Aide.

      BTW, the award-winning forensic psychiatrist who assessed Larry works at a state mental hospital, and regularly testifies in court on the disposition of patients and crazy people the police bring in off the street. She assessed that he was carefully calculating the answer to each answer. Seems he is not used to speaking to people who are outside the cult.

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  9. Nice compendium. Well written.

    The message about what the Burn experience has meant to each of us, as we live in the default world, is perhaps the most important. As we say, going to the first Burn, for me, was coming home. There was something inside that resonated with the people there. And back then, when we had to walk uphill to school each way, and could park our bikes without locks, you went to the Burn because you found out about it an took the initiative; no one took you, or invited you. You had to find people to camp with, share resources, and share the experience. Told my best friend about it, and he said he would only come if he could do it in an RV – never suggested he come again. It is an experience created by those who come, who outnumber the BOrg (last time I was there) about 50,000:6. Though the BOrg has invited me to pay homage to them in their exclusive lair (possibly to serve me with a restraining order), have never met any of them. Moreover, as my experiences have gotten closer to them, the organizers, and their decisions, they have proved unequal to the spirit and effort provided by the Burner community.

    Our unofficial theme camps worked fine, but when we did an official one, the BOrg placement person, HepKitten was nowhere to be found when the team showed up because… there was a dust storm. (Imagine that! At Burning Man!!) She did, however, officially enter the camp as a no-show. If she had bothered to visit the 7:30 circle area, her placement responsibility, after the dust storm, she would have found us. That year, other than the Abstininthe Camp, the 7:30 circle was a lifeless RV suburb, literally a dark hole at night.

    And what’s with the car pass thing, and the goal of rejecting unruly veteran Burners in favor of the more devout and impressionable virgins.

    And the new ticketing “profile” system is an INCREDIBLE invasion of privacy, and arbitrary exclusivity, with no effective protections. In my Burner world, if they did something like this, they would contact the EFF and make their database an example of how this should be done. Would be cool to see an EFF FB post about how the BM profile system “does it right.” Isn’t that following the spirit of the Burners?, instead of the BOrg we have.

    Just as Robespierre might have started some good ideas, success certainly spoiled him; I see the BOrg in the same way. They might have had some good ideas, but the revolution, the Burn, belongs to the people, the Burners.

    But beyond the party in the desert that is no more, the Burn experience, and the exploitation by the BOrg, has given me insights in the default world. Turns out, I have been doing Stone Soup activities for decades, which is why the Burn was coming home to me: selfless expression for the good of all involved, and far beyond. It has let me appreciate and encourage the efforts of others making the same contribution, as well as understanding the difference between those who gift their time, and those who get paid from the cash dues paid by the gifters (dues which are the smallest of what they give). Not only do I better understand and appreciate my time and commitment, and those of others, but I am also far more illuminated to see those who would take advantage of the soup that others make. Sad, true, but ultimately all for the good. As Keyser Söze said, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

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    • Thanks Nomad. Love the EFF idea – that is EXACTLY what they should be doing, and BM is in an amazing position to help them. Something tells me we ain’t gonna see it though…

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      • Right now, the battle lines have been drawn, and anything we suggest, however good, will be seen as a surrender to “them.” The us/them effect is a powerful psychological fact, and a major force for the evil in the world:
        http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/when-good-people-do-bad-things-0612

        Presuming they were not just trying to serve me with a restraining order (or some other legal or privacy mischief), I suspect that the BOrg would only discuss my “good ideas” in person because they needed to bring me into “their” camp. While they may have thought they could convert me with the power of their presence (a presence that Larry gave on Charlie Rose that made my forensic psychiatrist friend cringe), they may have unknowingly been trying to put themselves in a position to listen to me.

        Mature, functional adults can understand and discuss ideas by the written word. It has been so for millennia. Anyone who cannot do this has dysfunctional issues filtering their perceptions in their life. Such might be the case if you were constantly working to rationalize ripping off thousands of artists and volunteers for personal gain and profit. And this refusal to accept and discus ideas except in person will chronically cripple any efforts they make to “reach the world with the Burning Man message.” Sadly, they are taking credit for what the Burners have created and promoted, now in spite of BOrg quite explicit efforts to suppress them – while making profit off them.

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        • I am VERY curious to know if any other commenters on this blog or our facebook group DID take them up on their offer to “come in for a chat” – assuming that you weren’t the only one…
          I also wonder how much change could really be effected in the Burning Man world by having a one on one, face to face chat with Will Chase. Face2chase…

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  10. Thanks for writing… thanks for this space… I enjoyed to read many perspectives over the last 3 years ago that I joined..!! I hope it will continue..!! Big hug!

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