Plug-n-Play Goes All the Way…to the Top of the Pyramid [Update]

“self reliance is the greatest art” – my teabag message as I’m finishing off this post.

Earlier this year, Burning Man CEO and Founder Marian Goodell gave a talk at TEDx Tokyo, while social alchemist Bear Kittay, part of the “Burning Man 2.0” team, debuted his new song celebrating transhumanism and the Singularity (you know, that great idea where we’re all going to become one with robots and Google).

Marian released a couple of factoids in the speech that raised our eyebrows. One was that group revenues are now $30 million. The other was that the Burning Man Project board has 19 directors.

To me, that seems extraordinarily high, and Bain Capital agrees:

According to the BoardSource Nonprofit Governance Index 2010, the average board size is 19 and the median is 17. BoardSource reports that nonprofits with budgets of $10 million or more have an average of 18 members and those with less than $1 million typically have 14 members.

A 2011 study by Bain Capital reported in The Nonprofit Times asserts that the optimal board size for effective decision making is seven people. According to Bain, “every person added after that decreases decision-making ability by 10 percent.” So for boards with the median of 17 people, Bain would put their decision-making ability at zero.

So it’s big, and likely to be ineffective, but that’s kind of the way it goes in the non-profit world.

How many directors are there? When Marian gave her talk, and as recently as August 6, there were still 17. Could she really have been out by 2 directors? We speculated about who the other 2 might be. In a talk at Columbia University last year, John Perry Barlow and Peter Hirshberg were presented as “Founders”. Barlow’s links to the psychedelic and tech worlds go deep, and it has since come out that Hirshberg is writing yet another book about Burning Man. However, neither have been formally announced as a director yet.

Right before the burn, they added Jim Tananbaum of $650 million fund Foresite Capital, and Matt Goldberg of QVC. Chris Weitz stepped down, but his wife Mercedes Martinez remains there. We now have 18 official BMP directors.

It seems unusual for a $30 million organization – that’s ostensibly  all about our community – to have three Director changes on their Board without making an announcement. The reason may well have something to do with who these guys are, and what at least one of them is up to at our event.

Jim Tananbaum is founder and CEO of Foresite Capital, a leading healthcare investment fund. For the last 20 years, Jim has been a change agent in healthcare.  He started Geltex (acquired by Genzyme/Sanofi) and Theravance/Theravance Bio, which produce leading drugs for renal failure, asthma and emphysema. Over the last 15 years he has also lead financing for numerous transformative healthcare companies which range from Amerigroup (HMO for the poor) to Jazz Pharmaceuticals (drugs for central nervous system) to Intarcia (drugs for type II diabetes). Jim is currently passionate about accelerating revolutionary treatment, diagnostics and delivery systems in healthcare.

Jim has been a 6 year burner, lover of music and art. Jim  graduated from Yale University with a BS/BSEE in 1985 and a Harvard MD in 1989 and MBA in 1991. During this time he also received an MA from MIT in 1989

How the BMOrg Directors Camp photo: Facebook, Jim Tananbaum

How BMOrg Directors Camp photo: Facebook, Jim Tananbaum

Yale, double Harvard, and MIT. He’s not the only graduate of fancy colleges on the Project’s Board; also represented are Stanford, Berkeley, Cornell, Virginia, Columbia, NYU, Goucher, and Humboldt.

Any connection between the world of Drugs and Burning Man is up to the reader to interpret. It’s difficult to see what relevance diabetes and renal failure have to spreading Burner culture around the world. Perhaps BMOrg really want to “go viral”.

Conspiracy theorists might wonder about the coincidence that right after a healthcare VC secretly joins the board, we get post-event hype about the possibility of a virus outbreak. There was word that the CDC showed up at Burning Man this year, on the Monday. I thought it was just another Playa rumor, until the West Nile news came out. In the world of software, it is widely believed that anti-virus companies create viruses. In biotech, official stories about viruses and vaccination are usually not the whole story. There is no conspiracy theory in saying that viruses can be artificially designed, that’s medical science.

Dr Tananbaum’s companies may have nothing to do with mosquitos in Gerlach, but monetizing the Playa does appear to be part of his plan. He has spent much of his career in medical science, with a particular penchant for financing pharmaceutical pioneers.

What about Burner culture? Can that be artificially designed like a virus? Is it something spontaneous, that flourishes in Black Rock City from 70,000 individual contributions of Burners – all adding up to a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts? Or is it something socially engineered to be spoon-fed to us, distributed worldwide on the Home Shopping Channel?

With the “Plug-n-Play” turnkey Burning Man experience, it seems that our culture is being treated as something that can be packaged and sold to the highest bidder. Pay your $25k per couple and show up in your private plane. A sherpa helps you dress in your costume and escorts you to your camp’s wristband-only art car. Gifting is taken care of with a small contribution on your camp’s behalf to Burning Man Arts. Everyone gets a scarf.

How are all of these VIPs and their workforce of sherpas getting tickets, when it is becoming increasingly hard for regular Burners to attend? Well, we already answered that for you in Burnileaks: The New Scalpers. There’s no problem getting tickets, if you can pay $650 and you’re in a VIP camp. This is the direction that BMOrg is taking Black Rock City in. More vendors, more LLCs, more PnP, more gentrification, more class war douchebags, higher ticket prices.

Why have an RV, when you can have a Mobile Fortress?

Why have an RV, when you can have a Mobile Fortress?

Caravansary was an attempt to avoid “walled off RV fortress compounds”, and instead have “oases of the desert, where weary travellers could drop by and exchange gifts”. Did that work? From the stories and comments of Burners this year, it appears that message went over the heads of these dreaded nouveau riche Burners. They just wanted to ride their Segways and party.

Many Burners feel that the influx of elitist super-richcelebrities and politicians is a real threat to our culture, one more serious even than the shark-jumping of the directors.

It seems those directors, though, may have different ideas.

Love money? Got a million dollar plug-n-play camp? Want to rip off Burners? Then it’s straight to the top of the pyramid for you!

Welcome to the world of Caravancicle on K Street. Theme:

$$$, I ♥ $

2014 caravansicle

See this pic?  Zoom in.  It says “I heart $”

Thanks to Anonymous Burner for doing some sleuthing into this.

15-time Burner, first year was 1996. So I’ve seen the ebbs and flows, and feel a bit… conflicted by the recent evolutions, that’s all.

my only real “connection” to this story is the fact that Stefano Novelli is a friend of mine and he (along with at least 3 other artists) discovered today their names and professional reputations were exploited on Caravancicle’s site for their uber expensive plug and play camp, without their prior consent, authorization or approval:
They have nothing at all to do with this camp and they’re angry for the representation that they’re associated with it.  I’m sincerely curious to know the chain of events that led to such falsehoods being advertised on this for-profit enterprise’s website.

That prompted me to dig around and when I discovered the person behind Caravansicle happens to be a rich dude who’s also on a board member on The Burning Man Project (ie: an insider) and it all started to feel like a bigger story to me.  Especially after hearing so many stories of douchey behavior from this crew.  Feels like an insider like James Tananbaum should be setting a better example instead of indulging in such smarmy commodification and radical dependency.

Anonymous Burner points out that he has not yet uncovered any direct evidence linking BMOrg itself to this camp; just the new BMOrg director, who appears to have underwritten the million dollar camp as well as the prototype hotel room cube technology they used.
.
The controversy (and conflict-of-interest) surrounding these camps isn’t necessarily a new story.  What seems provocative to me was this:
1) at least 4 established artists/burners  — Stefano Novelli, Adam Mostow, Erica Halpern, MsesyDoesit — were shamelessly exploited (without their knowledge or permission) by Caravancicle’s “sales brochure.”  It stands to reason that their professional and personal reputations could be harmed by this false association.  And a $1 million+ camp that charges at least $13k per customer has profited off their good names.
2) That this business venture is led by (at least) one member on the board of The Burning Man Project 
3) The free placement of this (and other) camps, and their location (which negatively impacts campers around them) certainly implies cooperation and acknowledgement from BMorg. 
It’s important though to note that I don’t see any concrete evidence (even in Caravancicle’s participant agreement: ) that proves BMorg is behind this enterprise.  Contained therein in the list of people to whom ire should be directed:

“…the organizers of the Caravancicle Camp and/or the Burning Man Event, including, but not limited to, Back to Earth Inc., dba ‘dovetail events’, Ari Derfel, Jim Tananbaum, Space Cubes LLC, Brad Peik/Peik Construction Inc./Peik Invstments LLC, Black Rock City, LLC and any and all owners, officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, volunteers, contractors or affiliates of these individuals and entities…”

It’s kinda gross that behind the veiled curtain, deep inside The Burning Man Project itself, on the board —  is at least one opportunist making a for-profit Plug and Play camp (and financially associated with The Lost Hotel too)  and LYING about what artists are affiliated with them, in order to ride on their good reputations and exploit them.

Now I need a shower…

cropped-1001_nights_illustrations_by_ruda_maruda-d54rsvw1The Plug and Play camps associated with Caravancicle, which gave out bicycles equipped with popsicles for its elite residents to gift, were the Lost Hotel and Sinbads Oasis.

http://sinbadsoasis.com

The Lost Hotel helped build Caravancicle with an investment of over $1 million. Anonymous Burner says:

Spots in The Lost Hotel and Sinbad’s Oasis cost $13k:
http://www.lawinsider.com/contracts/5IR8hCYzz2jadjmQlTScbU/mirador/services-agreement/2014-08-20

“Sinbad’s Oasis is partnering with The Lost Hotel  to host a unique and compelling experience.   Our experienced event production team will augment the superb infrastructure developed by the designers and builders of the 2013 Temple.”

Ethics of commodification aside, folks got pissed when they realized that Caravancicle is lying on their site, exploiting the names of established Burners/artists… who ACTUALLY HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THEIR CAMP.

I found this part most Infuriating and intriguing (to some degree) – and so I put on my investigative hat.  Out of respect for the good name of my friend Stefano, and the integrity of our community.

That said, what I have discovered so far is some freaky, interesting shit.  Strap in tight:

http://www.domaintuno.com/d/caravancicle.com

Caravancicle.com is 1 month old . The site doesn’t have big presence on the social networks. With around 0 facebook likes, it is most successful on facebook, while doing equally well on other social networking sites, for example it has 0 tweets, and 0 google plus ones The website was registered by () and has its servers in United States

Sinbads Oasis looks nice. They have a day spa:

The Crystal Experience will include key essentials plus additional luxuries to a provide an unforgettable Burning Man Experience.

The Ruby and Emerald Upgrades are available based on community will and interest. The amount of additional funding will further extend the level of luxury in the camp.

The Crystal Experience Includes:

From Caravancicle’s About page:

BM Camp Invitation - 2014 updated 6.21.14_Page_2

page 5-1

Burning Man’s theme this year was miraculously well-suited to promoting the opulent aesthetic of this luxury oasis.

The Caravancicle camp was designed by Ari Derfel, a restaurateur, and Zak Brazen. Zak is a Creative Director at George P Johnson, “the #1 ranked experience marketing agency creating live experiences globally that motivate audiences and activate brands”. Camp Architect was Scott Mahoney, and “the architecture of Burning Man” was promoted to the Caravancicleers.

BM Camp Invitation - 2014 updated 6.21.14_Page_6

caravncilce feather war bonnettribal nightTo create the Caravancicle experience, the team created Pinterest groups with fashion suggestions for their theme nights.

Tribal Thursday

White Friday

Neon Saturday

Rather than being Playa-appropriate, it’s cultural appropriation: every one features feathers and war bonnets.

Suggested Playawear for Neon Night

Suggested Playawear for Neon Night

Caravancicle’s page lists a number of established Burning Man artists who are presented as being part of the camp. The problem? No-one told the artists.

Today I contacted the artists listed, and so far have received a response from three of them. None of the artists who got back to me had been consulted about being listed in the camp’s marketing materials, and none of them camped there. Two don’t mind the association because they are friends with the organizers, but Stefano Novelli was emphatically against his good name being associated with plug-n-play camps.

Stefano Novelli:

i dont want to be affiliated with anything that has to do with a plug and play camp period.

i had no involvement and would never have any involvement with a plug and play camp. the fact that they used my name to promote their camp is very disappointing to me. i am in the process of talking to my lawyer about this matter.

Erica Halpern:

It’s ok… I think this may be Scott Mahoney‘s promotional site for the high-end Lost Hotel that they created before the burn..
But they have an led tree next to my face that is not my art. And the description isn’t anything that I heard of.. It’s says I will showcase my unique VJ Skills!! Ha ha.. I think they were just trying to throw together a site quickly for promotional uses… But in that case, I should have gotten a CUBE!!

Well I can see how lots of people think there is controversy with this website. The Lost Hotel Cubes project is run by Scott Mahoney, using Gregg Fleishman’s patented nodes. I’m very close to Scott and know Gregg as well. I started working on this project with them as the Industrial Designer to the cubes. I then was diagnosed with cancer and had to drop out of the project and focus on my health. Adam Mostow and Stefano who were also featured on the website are also close friends with Scott and others that were part of the design build team for this project including Toby Smith and Elliot Shuffle who worked on the Cubes, design, fabrication, prototyping, and build. I can’t remember specifically if they ran the website by me, but honestly i am flattered that they would post me on the website. Any publicity is good publicity… Even tho They used the incorrect photo of my art and the description about me was incorrect as well. But they were just using the website as a promotional hype to rent out the cubes. They could say almost anything about me on there and I wouldn’t care, because they are like brothers to me. And they helped me unconditionally with many things in the past. I don’t think Adam or Stefano care as well but I guess that is not my job to say. Someone did some research and found that The website is registered to a James Tananbaum which I believe is one of the investors to the Cubes project. They also found that he is part of the Burning Man Project on the Board of Directors. This has angered people it seems. Scott, Toby and Elliot’s dream was to build Stackable Collapsable Module Camping Cubes, which they succeeded well at I believe, and they rented them out for BM 2014 to help with the funding for this project. This project was horribly expensive and they needed investors to fund the design, fabrication, prototyping and production and build. I don’t think they are walking away with loads of profit. I believe that any money made, went back into the project. They used the “plug and play” camp as a way to promote the cubes, which they want to eventually sell. They haven’t had a chance to respond to any of the criticism because I believe they have barely left the playa, breaking down the hotel and cubes. I am very sorry to those that feel that they have been hurt or affected negatively by this project, but I honestly can’t see how this hurts anybody. Everything changes, including Burning Man.

We wish Erica all the best for a speedy recovery of her health. These Cubes seem like an interesting technology, and there is no rule against Plug-N-Play camps. They are part of Burning Man, and I doubt they’re going anywhere. Erica is right about change, get used to it, Burners. Change is a constant.

Tini Courtney had nothing to do with the camp this year either. At first she didn’t mind being mentioned, and was happy to answer our questions. Later in the day after giving some further details, she asked to be “excluded from further mentions – this is not correct”. Make of that what you will, I am respecting her request.

The Lost Hotel’s services agreement shows them charging $13,000 per person to camp there. A number of individuals and companies are named in their indemnity, including Jim Tananbaum and Black Rock City, LLC – aka BMOrg.
These risks include, but are not limited to, those caused by: (a) the actions, inactions or negligence of the organizers of the Caravancicle Camp and/or the Burning Man Event, including, but not limited to, Back to Earth Inc., dba “dovetail events”, Ari Derfel, Jim Tananbaum, Space Cubes LLC, Brad Peik/Peik Construction Inc./Peik Invstments LLC, Black Rock City, LLC and any and all owners, officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, volunteers, contractors or affiliates of these individuals and entities, (collectively, “Event Related Companies and Individuals”),
If you’re interested, it’s one hell of a waiver. Check out the indemnification clause. I definitely wouldn’t sign it.
The Caravancicleers were encouraged to arrive via private plane. $1400 per person, return from San Carlos.
Campers also signed a Services Agreement:
Charles Mui, Megas CEO

Charles Mui, CEO of Megas – $13,000 per head. The lady on the far left says: “I’m in this picture but had absolutely no idea who that douche was! No plug and play for me… I was at Beats Boutique where you actually work for your stay and absolutely no RVs. Completely agree with this article”

The Megas team is led by Charles Mui (CEO of Megas, Inc.), Adam Businger (VP Field Logistics) and consists of expert branders, internet marketers, project management teams, event producers and entrepreneurs. A dedicated project manager will be assigned to the Camp Sponsors and is always available to ensure that you are informed and satisfied with the work performed. It is the goal of the Megas team to expertly serve the Camp Members with the services and resources listed in this agreement.

As a full-service event production and entertainment company, Megas will support the Camp and Camp Members with the infrastructure needed to have an unforgettable experience at the Event. Leading up to the Event there is a tremendous amount of planning and organizing that must take place to insure a fun week. The expert logistic team at Megas will handle the registrations and communications with the Camp Members. Client agrees that the Megas team will engage in the tasks needed to gather and purchase the supplies needs for the adventure as the necessary funds become available, Travel arrangements to the event are the responsibility of the Camp Member. A direct line of communication will be available for all Camp Members, 7 days a week leading up to the Event. Megas will be available to answer questions and give direction to the Camp Members. Megas looks forward to providing an unparalleled experience to our camp members.

According to an SEC filing, the company, Megas Inc, has burned through $17.5 million of investor money, without yet booking any revenues. They spent almost $6 million in an all stock transaction to acquire 2 modelling agencies, “Sexy Population” and “XS Modelling”:

On February 5, 2013 the Company entered into an acquisition agreement with Sexy Population, LLC and XS Modeling, LLC. The Company acquired an 80% interest in Sexy Population, LLC and XS Modeling, LLC. The Company issued 5,600,000 shares of Series A preferred stock with a value of $1.00 per share.

They also bought afterpartylive.com for $300,000 – a domain that has not even been activated. Charles Mui, the CEO, has a Multi-Level Marketing background. It seems this crew has a strong focus on branding and creating live experiences.

It looks to me that this camp were name dropping artists they’re friends with, rather than listing the art that was actually created for the camp and shared with the rest of the city in the spirit of Burning Man. There doesn’t seem to be any real effort on the part of Caravancicle to direct fundraising towards these artists. Showing up to a basket of gifts ready for you to distribute, is pretty far down the other end of the spectrum from Radical Self Reliance.

Other Burners shared their feelings:

Deborah:

starstar was open to everyone, NOT a plug n play, caravancical, on the other hand was taking fruit away from people, closed bar, no principles displayed AT ALL
Bara:
I stopped by Caravanicle – – a friend from the East Bay was on ‘staff’ there. Aesthetically, the place was beautiful (so were the people – – they looked as if they sauntered off of a high-gloss magazine spread). Everyone was super nice to us, I spoke with one guy who invited me back to jam with him. I don’t have issues with people with funds to come to BM. Once exposed to the love and positive ethos herein, I can only expect that it will ripple out for the greater good.
Marissa:
Carvanicle on 9:00 & L was pretty ridiculous. Every camper had their own private “cube” tent with a hammock and mattress. Absolutely everything was white and pristine. Their camp dome/bar was stuffed to the gills with top shelf liquor and they had staff and a private music ensemble serving them nightly. They let us hang out there but did not share alcohol. (No bigs, I always carry my own.) They also had 20+ each of segways and fat tire bikes lined up inside. The campers looked like a mix of boorish white collar stiffs and models flown in from a catwalk. It was quite the people watching spot.
…Just because I visit Paris, order a crepe, go to the top of the Eiffel Tower and say “Bonjour” to a French guy doesn’t mean I can call myself a Parisienne.

Similarly one can’t go to Burning Man, ride a pre-fab art car, get some dust on their clothes and call it burning.

It’s tourism versus being a local. Neither are really bad or wrong, per se, but they are also not the same or equal.

Similarly, Parisiennes couldn’t give two whole fucks among themselves about tourists. They know why and how Paris is awesome and aren’t going to bother sharing that with guys taking photos wearing fanny packs who try desperately to play at being “French” so they can feel like they belong somewhere. So it is in Black Rock City. The locals know what’s up.

The PnPers are white noise on the playa. Forgettable and easy to ignore. Ten minutes gawking at Caravancicle and I got a nosebleed from all the fun I was having.

Fortunately, PnPers all have the ability and the means to change, should they so desire. No one has to be a tourist forever. All one has to do is immigrate, learn the language and make new friends.

And every year someone does and they come back the next year different, more willing to engage. The rest move on to the next spot. That’s why this crazy town keeps getting bigger – immigration!

James:
The super rich own politicians, the government, corporations, our fiscal system, the Fed. Reserve, and our vote to change any of it. Sorry for being an exclusionary person on this, but they don’t get to have Burning Man. Fuck them…I think that it should be considered whether the financial contribution you bring to an art project justifies the social degradation of the burning man experience.
Eric:
We thought Caravancicle was the fucking Scientologists. Wide Awake (Insomniac’s camp) on the other hand was cool as hell and very friendly. 
Matthew:
A couple of us stopped in the one with the mirrored entry tunnel and Michael Christian’s piece, “Home”, in the courtyard. Did they lease or buy that piece? Anyway, the notable thing for us was that in the crowded bar of dustless beauties, no one would talk or make eye contact with us “outsiders”. That’s when I thought, “It’s like we’ve stepped OFF the playa.”
Kenny:
I was denied an alcoholic beverage at Caravancicle because I was not a member. I was served down the street however at the stacked cubes at the place that was on 9:00. They served raw juice with Vodka. Internally, Caravancicle was a mess and they had a lot of their paid employees quit.
Libby:
Stefano had nothing to do with this camp- he runs the space wench art car (which is pictured on their site and his bio) but he had a small camp with only 12-14 people….. And Scott Mahoney organized the lost hotel and raw bar- Adam Mostow brings the jabba barge and also was camped in his own small camp near the hotel- additionally Ericka Halpren who is listed brought her art but is not part of a large high priced camp- I don’t know what this faux site is talking about but these are my friends and are listed falsely on this site!! …These are all hard working artists who wouldn’t ever be part of a big money grubbing camp like mentioned above- so this website listing them is only the true organizers hiding behind GOOD people-…the “about us” is who I am referring to- almost all the people listed are my friends and my campmates and I do not camp at this horrible place spoken about!! The people listed on the about us: have given to the community at large for years and years…this community sticks together and I KNEW none of my amazing friends who work blood, sweat, tears, and time to bring amazing things for you all to enjoy would had anything to do with this and to be listed as such on a fake website- without permission is absolutely disgusting….. Let it be known our community is tight and this is not sitting right by any of our good people- we will not support this type of slander in the name of big plug and play camps getting rich- 
we are now discussing the legal actions and possible outcomes: I knew whole heartily that my people wouldn’t sell out like this- no way- Erica, stef, Scott, Adam- none of them believe this is what the burn is about-
Maria:
One friend worked at Caravancicle and another at one of those “fortress RV camps.” The RV camp was friends and big contributers to the BMorg art programs. Caravancicle was super douchey.
JCAIN:
The Sinbad Oasis URL is linked to Adam Krim who co-founded the Confluence Group. They are a company that specializes in commoditizing and marketing to the festival community.http://theconfluencegroup.com/
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Confluence’s clients include GE and Intel. Intel built a “Burning Man-like” figure, not The Man but SiMan, for a recent conference.
  .
Jason shared some deeper wisdom within these divides:
For me it boils down to what is said in one of my favorite TED talks of all time:

Bigger income gaps lead to deteriorations in Social Relations:
Child Conflict
Homicide
Imprisonment
Social Capital
Trust
Health:
Drug abuse
Infant mortality
Mental Illness
Obesity
Human Capital:
Child Well-being
High School dropouts
Math & Literacy scores
Social Mobility
Teenage Births

More Inequality =
More superiority or inferiority
More status competition and consumerism
More status insecurity
More worry about how we are seen and judged
More “social evaluation anxiety” (threats to self-esteem & social status, fear of negative judgements)


So, Burners…what does all this mean? Let me break it down for you in a sentence:

Burning Man’s latest director is behind a $1 million+ plug-n-play camp that promotes wearing feathers and native headdresses, and associates itself with artists who camp elsewhere and have no desire to have their reputations linked to commercialization of our culture.

Jim Tananbaum is by no means the only big money BMOrg Director associated with turnkey camping. First Camp, of course, has meals served and trash cleared. Leo Villareal is the founder of Disorient, who certainly share a great deal with Burners. They also have one of the most impressive turnkey operations I’ve seen on the Playa. They are turnkey in the sense that there are meals and regular RV services available, and members pay camp dues. It’s harder to argue that they are the ghastly “plug and play”, where sparkle ponies show up but don’t participate adequately. Everyone who camps there has to do volunteer shifts, such as being a Greeter. It ain’t cheap, but it ain’t in the stratosphere either. From what I hear, their budget is pretty reasonable for such a large camp with so many amenities.

Chris Weitz was the concierge of Ashram Galactica, which at one point had joked about building a multi-room hotel on the Playa. Anonymous Burner says:

The whole “performance art” and gift of the Grand Hotel at Ashram Galactica is that it is “the only 4.5 star hotel on the playa” — there is lots of silly pomp and overwrought decoration in the Moroccan tent that is shared with everyone to enjoy — neatly decorated rooms are awarded nightly, to the public. Weddings are officiated there, it’s a lovely and inviting spot. The campers put on a show for the whole playa. The Gilded Lily bar is an open bar and everything is gifted with a smile. 

Although the “joke” may have been amusing at first due to its irony, it is now no longer a joke: hotels at Burning Man have become a reality. There are multiple camps following in the footsteps of a “quirky luxe boutique on the Playa” – and charging five figures per head for rooms. Since August 6, Weitz has stepped down from the Board, and been replaced with Matt Goldberg – a Melbourne boy who is SVP of Global Market Development at $9 billion home shopping behemoth QVC. Once you jump the shark, it’s time for the infomercials.

Chip Conley is the founder of Joie de Vivre, an operator of boutique hotels all around the world. He is a director of AirBnB, who were selling spots at Burning Man camps this year – another example of something that gets presented initially as an ironic farce, but paves the way for less ironic imitators in the near future. Conley called his theme camp “Maslowtopia“, suggesting that all the needs of his residents are met so they can self-actualize. He also created Costanoa, the original plug-n-play “glampground” for hispter techies, located on the coast between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz…

For those who want to have a “camping experience” without actually getting their hands dirty – the folks at Costanoa will set up a fancy tent for you, start a nice campfire for you, cook your (non-camping) food for you, and presumably sing campfire songs and make s’mores for you! All for a price. Of course you can upgrade to fancier accommodations…

There is nothing illegal about any of this. However you choose to interpret the Ten Principles, Plug and Play is completely acceptable on the Playa according to the rules – as long as the BLM get their 3% cut. Headdresses are legal, sherpas are legal. Self-reliance can now be outsourced, for those who find it an inconvenient obstruction to their partying.

Plug and play, ain’t going away. Gentrification is here to stay.


Readers whose thoughts have been provoked by this article may also enjoy Emily Witt’s insightful piece:

Sexual Experimentation, Psychedelic Drugs and Futurism“.

In other news, based on their success in 2014, sherpas are being recruited from the San Fernando Valley and Lower Pacific Heights:

Hurray! Our clients want us back on the playa next year, and we have begun accepting bookings. We’re thrilled to be hosting our fine guests, and we have begun accepting applications for 2015 sherpas.

All applicants must have prior experience in waiting tables, pole dancing, or catering. Pay is generous, and Burning Man tickets will be provided. You won’t have to work the entire time, but you will be asked to work extended hours.

Serious applicants only

That’s one way to get a ticket. Maybe instead of “low income tickets”, BMOrg should issue “sherpa tickets”.

Radical sherpa reliance.


[Update 9/6/14 7:55pm]

Wanted…more sherpas. We have cash.

Nice way to bypass the cost and hassle of finding a ticket and camping space for each sherpa – recruit from the pool of talent already inside the Gate.

Burner Gina:

I met someone from Carvansicle a short while later at Playa Surfers party, and asked him about it.. he said that they were short staffed because some of the “hired help” had left, so the camp was looking to replace them with new paid workers….you know.. like it was a resort at Cabo short dishwashers

2014 caravancicle ad

2014 caravancicle ad map

146 comments on “Plug-n-Play Goes All the Way…to the Top of the Pyramid [Update]

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  5. I have a number of friends that frequently work with Sherpas–actual Himalayan people–and I’m left with the strong impression they would find your repeated use of their name denigrating. I think the word you might be looking for–for people who carry stuff–is “porter”. (Some Sherpas work as porters, so it’s an easy mistake. But also easy to correct.)

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  16. Caravansicle was the plug and play camp. Lost hotel is what a bunch of burners with passion do for themselves when they get their hands On some of the most genius building technology on the playa. Yes the modular pod technology was similar across the camps but lost hotel took it to a whole other level by building up vertically. I stayed in a pod and we helped put it all up. No plug and play here and radical self reliance leading to the sweet living arrangements. Every member of lost hotel contributed and worked and there were no Sherpas. At lost hotel the porcelain toilet bowls were part of the art work cause I’ve lived on the playa numerous times before but I’ve never lived like that. Camp dues across the board were super reasonable and The camp gave out raw juice and raw juice with vodka to All. 1500 is what I paid and it was worth every penny. Some of our Caravansicle neighbors however seemed to have paid 10x that for a room without a view. No wristbands, bikes or anything else given out at lost hotel. Raw juice, some of the best tunes and tons of fun.

    Ps when I read the above discussion about the biotech Pharma investor getting on the board or the rich person coming to a plug and play experience I felt instantly that it is way more likely that the playa will change them just like it has changed us.
    We are after all made from the same dust! Isn’t that what radical inclusion is about?

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    • Our information is that Lost Hotel was paid to build Caravancicle – perhaps that was lost on you as a $1500 hotel guest. Both camps appear to have been forgiven from the requirement to pack up and leave by Tuesday. This satellite photo is from Wednesday:

      What say you about the massive amount of red on the MOOP map? Lost Hotel was even worse than Caravancicle.

      Maybe you should have paid $1600 and got some sherpas to take out the trash.

      Liked by 1 person

    • “I felt instantly that it is way more likely that the playa will change them just like it has changed us. We are after all made from the same dust! Isn’t that what radical inclusion is about?”

      No, plopping someone in the middle of BRC does not a burner make. Actually their camping arrangements and exemption from the Tin Principles(tm), means that they are far LESS likely to be changed at all. Look at each of the Principles and ask how important it was to your personal renaissance experience – these are all things they have intentionally and carefully avoided.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Does this look like Plug and Play to you? http://vimeo.com/110567282

      And which of the principles can you with any amount of confidence and truth say that lost hotel violated?

      Yes the camps were adjacent and the funding from one may have funded the other. When it comes to moop from what I’ve heard the moop was mostly perpetuated by Caravansicle. Infact NUMEROUS burners from the area found free bikes and other things from what Caravansicle left behind….

      Also when you look at moop maps past wednesday neither seem to have faired so bad. It is possible that the additional structures took longer to break down and remove but is that really so so BAD?

      What I’m pointing out is the obvious difference between caravansicle and lost hotel which you are missing by just looking at a map…

      When we got to lost hotel there was barely a structure ready. Every person living in every room contributed by working their ass off until wednesday. so Get your facts straight before judging other burners some of whom have been on the playa 16 or more times. #PlugandPlayMyASs

      Ive have pleasant and unpleasant experiences on the playa. This however was one of the best. Serious effort was put into making it so for every contributing member of Lost hotel and honestly there was a lot more work involved than parking a plug and play RV somewhere on an assigned spot

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      • Err…how about Decommodification (selling hotel rooms, getting paid to build another’s camp) and Leave No Trace (second worst camp on *FINAL* MOOP map). What was the public interaction component your camp offered? Were there wristbands? What were the Gifts?

        Blaming the neighbors – who substantially financed your own camp – doesn’t make you look any better.

        Like

        • No wristbands. We were giving away raw juice daily. Seems like people aren’t even reading what I wrote above…

          Everyone had equal access to our camp. I read on this very page the experience of someone being turned away by Caravansicle and then coming over for some raw juice with Vodka.

          Hotel rooms were sold by Entheon back in 2008. No one seemed to have an issue then. Every camp has dues and meal plans. To get a tent was an extension of that. The MOST important points to me here and the reason i’m trying to make a distinction is simply this. NO SHERPAs, Equal Access, Seasoned Burners, Gifting and everything else we are used to as burners. If you came to Caravansicle you got a room with a made bed, bike and everything else. MOST importantly there were Sherpas and guests. If you came to lost hotel you had to build your own shelter, bed etc etc and there was no distinction between members who rented a tent and the ones who didn’t.

          Also we fly in internationally every single year for the burn. Its not the same as driving in from the states simply because each person in our group can carry about 22 kg max on a plane. So the only living option really is to either rent a RV or rent a Pod of some sort. Most PODs are sold for profit at $6k or more. Here they were given away for a price that merely covered expenses and regardless of what you have to say from the misinformed distance from K street…WE ARE ALL GLAD WE CHOSE LOST HOTEL 🙂

          Isn’t Radical Inclusion limitless or does it have an end for some based on money? It obviously ended for Caravansicle if you weren’t a member…Is this anti-money barrage on this page just the pendulum swinging back?

          I know that we visited this Burn and followed the 10 principles personally….and I know that packed in everything we bought there. And I radically included every single person we met at the burn. Question is, Is the anti-K street crowd being Radically inclusive here when they are distrusting people for their money on this forum.

          Lets start with the bit about the Burner called Jim Tannanbaum above. Never met or heard of this guy before. I read this and thought “great” Big Pharma dude came to burn 6 times plus. I imagine he too touched by OUR community and moulded by our DUST will go back into the world and make a positive change. He’s obviously intelligent and successful and therefore able to perpetuate a fair amount of change owing to what he has achieved. Medicine is a business that needs the largest amount of reform as natural medicines are being actively eliminated from the realm of medicine with chemicals being are only option. SO my radically inclusive SENSE was POSITIVE about HIm. However this forum and its members obviously took the route of instantly distrusting his intentions within the burner community… just because he was successful and has money…Sounds more like reverse racism than radical inclusion to me yo! So really what are the conditions your mind is setting up when it comes to Radical inclusion….Is it Radical inclusion only for those adhering to the ten principles? My heart is bugger than that and I radically include YOU without caring for social status burner stripes or anything else…. Amen

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          • I think the confusion stems from Lost Hotel’s role in building Caravancicle – it seems there was an exchange of money . Personally, I have no problem with hotels on the Playa or workers getting paid; other Burners do. We ran a poll recently on Commodification Camps, only 1% think they’re fine, a third think they should be allowed if they have a public participation element (my position) , two thirds said ban them altogether.
            Lost Hotel left a lot of MOOP, which you are blaming on Caravancicle. They probably thought that because they paid $17,000, and you guys “only” paid $1500, that your camp which was being paid to build theirs would be packing their mess up too. IMO Leave No Trace is more than just a Principle, it is a legal requirement in the BLM permit. Ignoring it creates more work for unpaid volunteers. Radical Inclusion doesn’t override it.
            The issue with Tananbaum is he is on the Board of Directors of the Burning Man Project. Therefore his actions seem representative of what BMORg are “transitioning” to. He should be held to a higher standard of integrity to the Principles and setting an example to others. He was appointed to the board in secrecy, when we were told at the start of the year BMOrg was going to give us a new level of transparency now that it’s “non-profit”. Instead, we seem to have got a new level of commercialization. From his career, he appears to be on the wrong side of the “sickness system vs natural medicines” war that you mention. “Maybe he will learn the error of his ways” doesn’t cut it when he’s a director.
            I’m glad your camp gave out smoothies and had DJs. To me, that makes it acceptable. But, the MOOP is still a huge problem, especially given the budgets involved.
            I really don’t think most Burners have an issue with how much money someone has. There are Burners with way more wealth than JT, who respect the principles and act on the Playa as if they’re the same as every other Burner: which to me is one of the special things about this event, as compared to all the VIP section festivals and clubs in the world.

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          • No wristbands? Everyone has wristbands on in this Lost Hotel video…

            After reading all of the posts regarding PnPs and TCs in the end I feel sad for the people who buy into this culture believing that this is what the Burn is about. It’s even more sad if BMorg is involved, there is no excuse of ignorance for that.

            The people who rely on stuff to be cool or included on the playa and default world are the ones who need our support the most. The unfortunate thing with these camps is that they are coming in at such high concentration the rest of us aren’t able to counter this kind of ethos with any kind of effectiveness at showing them a different way of being.

            For those of us bummed about this situation at the very least we should be grateful that we have the perspective to understand why this situation is no bueno. When you think about your dusty days of building your camp and being exhausted with new friends, or wearing your own handmade clothes and being complimented on your creativity, or being of service for the happiness of being part of a community that exists to support one another, just remember that people that buy their hotel rooms or have costumes provided or have pre decorated bikes are missing out on all of that JOY.

            Maybe we should ban PnPs and TCs and force a virgin adoption program at established theme camps to show them the way. 😉

            Liked by 2 people

      • Watched the video. I guess everyone knows now that there’s no point lining up with cash at Center Camp or running naked after the water truck…free coffee and showers for everyone at Lost Hotel!

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        • The Lost Hotel is not your typical hotel but a “participatory hotel theatre”. Each room is a stage where our “inhabitants” transport the public on an unforgettable journey from cube to cube. Examples of past cube themes are: the sound healing cube, the tooth bling cube, the silk screening cube, the message cube, the crystal healing cube, and even a jewelry making cube… just to name a few. Everything about the hotel stage is designed to surround the people with new discoveries and immersive experiences.

          And, just like a conventional hotel we too have a front desk, a lobby bar, and even roof top dinning. However, we consider these areas as the front door to the “interior experience” of the hotel. Our goal is to gently pull people into the hotel so they get “lost” exploring each cube environment and interacting with all the “hotel” inhabitants. Hence, The Lost Hotel.

          Liked by 1 person

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  23. I had several fine encounters with a couple wealthy folk camps who were excellent BRC citizens, and there have been rich people at Burning Man for a long time, so I don’t think wealth per se is the problem. I also didn’t venture into the K street suburbs, so I have no direct experience with these large turn key camps.

    I did notice in the recently released moop map that places like Lost Hotel and Wide Awake are blaring red, flat out the moopiest places on the playa, and Caravancicle is a horror show as well. That is a pretty objective metric and indictment of the character of these encampments. Don’t problem camps get relocated to less desirable locations as punishment? Perhaps these folks should get put somewhere really busy next year so the can be held accountable by more burners, rather than just hiding in the outer ring.

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  24. Reblogged this on Terry Gotham and commented:
    “Although the “joke” may have been amusing at first due to its irony, it is now no longer a joke: hotels at Burning Man have become a reality. There are multiple camps following in the footsteps of a “quirky luxe boutique on the Playa” – and charging five figures per head for rooms. Since August 6, Weitz has stepped down from the Board, and been replaced with Matt Goldberg – a Melbourne boy who is SVP of Global Market Development at $9 billion home shopping behemoth QVC. Once you jump the shark, it’s time for the infomercials.”

    Not only are the money changers in the temple, but they’re selling rooms at the Inn. Amazing & well researched story about the gentrification & 1%-ization of BM. Kudos to Kanizzle for posting the story.

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  27. A friend of mine took me to Caravansicle to show me the opulent bar, and a setup with real porsalin toilets. We spent a few hours there hanging out with Ari and another camper there who were welcoming, and said they enjoyed that we were appreciating the space…they said that’s why they built it. A couple of days later, I went back with some friends, and it was a completely different story. The hired staff ignored me at the bar, and eventually asked, “Are you even a member here?” before denying me a drink. Based on the attitude of her, and others around me, all of a sudden I felt like I had been transplanted out of Black Rock City, and into a douchy hotel bar along South Beach in Miami. Any appreciation I had for the space and the camp left in that moment, and I took my cup and one bag of curried nuts and hit the road.

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  28. Pingback: Selling Out Part II: Who Could It Be Now? | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  29. How these Commodification Camps score on the Tin Principles™:

    1. Participation. Sure, the campers can participate if they choose and make the extra effort, but it is harder when you are sequestered and differentiated, pure and simple. These commodified campers are set up in a tourist role they would have to break out of.

    2. Decommodification. Well, they are doing just the opposite, treating the NV burn like pork bellies to be bought, normalized, standardized, and sold.

    3. Inclusion. Again, the opposite: their camps *Exclude* outsiders.

    4. Self-Expression. Can’t do that if you fly in and have everything prepared for you as a standard commodity. If you were really motivated, you could do it, but it would be a challenge given the tourist role set up.

    5. Self-Reliance. Again, the opposite: they completely rely only on their money to buy others to reply on.

    6. Giving. Nothing of themselves. Maybe manufactured commodity trinkets included in their commodified playa package.

    7. Communal Effort. Again, the opposite. These people could be in a coma and still come if they had the cash. The only communal effort is what others have bought together with their money.

    8. Civic Responsibility. Given their trampling on the Tin Principles™, they are only responsible through buying what they get. Excluding or treating ousiders as second-class people is wrong; in our theme camp they are always treated as valued guests.

    9. Leave No Trace. Only by paying others to clean up after them.

    10. Immediacy. Again, zero. They have everything pre-planned.

    This is why both the BOrg and their Tin Principles™are a farce – a facade to let the loyal have their rationalizations to support their denial of the facts.

    Like

    • brilliant, I’ve re-posted, thanks.

      It’s the ultimate prank. “Look what we can get away with!”

      Sets (lowers) the bar, depending on your perspective.

      The way is cleared now for many more of these for-profit camps charging per head and employing staff. They will have to comply with Nevada state Labor Laws and make full declarations to the IRS, as well as paying a 3% fee to the BLM.
      One. Big. Farce.

      Like

  30. This is just the time I am glad that burners.me exists. As a 15 yr burner, my vet friends spent 20% of their time talking about and trying to interact with these camps. For anyone who cares about culture-killing Plug-n-Plays that are exploiting burners and protecting rich tourists- we need to agree that the leadership of these camps should be outed in the most public ways possible.

    We need to express our anger and dismay by publicly shaming these folks using social networks, which is a modern day version of tarring and feathering. They should NOT want to return to Burning Man lest bad things happen by participants who care, and I know of 4 anarchist groups organizing for 2015 to “held educate” these camps so that these walled gardens don’t continue unchecked. If anyone can help reveal the Twitter or Facebook pages for Jim Tananbaum and Foresite Capital and another known leaders of this camp, please do. Let’s express our feelings in a forum that they cannot avoid. Getting a reporter to unlocked the story, like Re/Code attempted to do, is another fast way to get attention, and that is where I can help. THIS IS BULLSHIT.
    For starters, here is Jim’s LinkedIn profile. Let’s all tried to add him to our network and share how we feel, shall we? https://www.linkedin.com/pub/jim-tananbaum/7/62a/a75

    Sincerely–
    Evil Pippi

    Like

    • Oh, and Jim Tananbaum has not tweeted since 2011, but I still dropped him a note here: @JTananbaum– maybe he will start using it if 100 of us send him a message 🙂
      -ePip

      Like

    • He didn’t break any rules. BMOrg’s policies allow this, and there were 44 licensed vendors there last year.
      I don’t agree that anarchists should be protesting against these camps. #occupyfirstcamp is what I’m hearing.

      Like

      • He didn’t break any rules, just almost every one of Larry’s Tin Principles(TM). But that’s why they are tin, malleable to be molded into whatever the BOrg wants, including the exact opposite.

        Like

      • I talked to Jim today. He mostly said that the “infrastructure” was not in place nor were the “resources” sufficient to make this camp work. Lack of leadership, distractions with other dramas, and relying on another camp- something he called “Co-dependency” on another camp- caused the problems and the break down and the need for more hands on deck to keep things together. He did not seem to think his camp was breaking other principles, but admits big mistakes were made. I encouraged him to come out and share his own experience, what went wrong, and lessons learned so other such camps can avoid these pitfalls. He says he is trying to get consensus inside his camp of who will come forward, and what to say. We will have to see what happens here. As a board member of the Burning Man Project, I would expect a lot more leadership AND OWNERSHIP from Jim.

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  31. Pingback: Trash the ‘Stache | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  32. Ya know that stock market term “market top” and the signs that indicate market tops? Market tops come in all shapes and sizes (tulips, real estate, wine, BMs ) and it looks like Burning Man has all the indicators of being at a market top.

    I believe we will see some of the people who understand what BM is really all about set up a new location to celebrate what BM is all about (hint- it is not about “vacation homes” on the playa being rented by the rich and famous $13,000 a week)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent idea, and it should be held at the same time, like Burnt Soup in Texas. People should have a choice, and should make a choice. Concurrent burns also prevent the Commodification Camps from traveling. If we don’t watch it, they will co-op multiple burns for those 1%ers who have a schedule conflict.

      We should surrender the NV Burn to the BOrg and their hand-picked BMP BoD. After all, it is a corporate model, not a non-profit model. No mechanism for change. They will continue to serve those in denial – and I am OK with them being somewhere else. Like I have siad before, let the NV Burn be flypaper for those who don’t appreciate a stone soup event and the Figment 11 Principles.

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  33. Pingback: A Sherpa’s Tale | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  34. Pingback: Turnkey vs Plug-n-Play | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  35. “Turnkey” just isn’t a compliment in terms of what Dis0rient is all about, and it isn’t accurate. Burnersxxx was (uncharacteristically) sloppy in his word choice, whether intending to be compliment or a slight…. A handful of people in a camp of a couple hundred plus, go that route, and usually aren’t allowed to do that for more than one time. We bring our own “drive trains”, we are our own “owners”, we are not just handed keys to a functioning business, or sold a pre-packaged experience. It is wrong, and conflates different problems with a lot of hard fought, well thought out solutions to various challenges. Here’s Wikipedia on turnkey. Burnersxxx, we await your retraction, and rethinking of the epitaph …

    “A turnkey project or contract as described by Duncan Wallace (1984) is:[citation needed]

    “…. a contract where the essential design emanates from, or is supplied by, the Contractor and not the owner, so that the legal responsibility for the design, suitability and performance of the work after completion will be made to rest … with the contractor …. ‘Turnkey’ is treated as merely signifying the design responsibility as the contractor’s.”

    Common usage

    Turnkey refers to something that is ready for immediate use, generally used in the sale or supply of goods or services. Turnkey is often used to describe a home built on the developer’s land with the developer’s financing ready for the customer to move in. If a contractor builds a “turnkey home” they frame the structure and finish the interior. Everything is completed down to the cabinets and carpet. “Turnkey” is commonly used in the construction industry, for instance, in which it refers to the bundling of materials and labour by sub-contractors. ‘Turnkey’ is also commonly used in motorsports to describe a car being sold with drivetrain (engine, transmission, etc.) to contrast with a vehicle sold without one so that other components may be re-used.

    Similarly, this term may be used to advertise the sale of an established business, including all the equipment necessary to run it, or by a business-to-business supplier providing complete packages for business start-up. An example would be the creation of a “turnkey hospital” which would be building a complete medical centre with installed medical equipment.”

    Burnersxxx and anyone who has really looked at Disorient or spent time their knows (or should know) better.

    Like

  36. Who wants to join my 2015 performance art camp? We’ll be doing a highly interactive piece I like to call, THE FRENCH FUCKING REVOLUTION

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  37. I’m a long-term Burner and former staff member of the Org, and I’m troubled by a lot of things here. I have no issue with rich people going to Burning Man (when I was doing better financially, my husband and I spent over $10k on an art project for Burning Man. If we’d been truly rich, we’d probably have spent over $100k, but we’ve never made it to the 1%). But in my heart, I wish everyone would be radically self-reliant and have a survival camping experience. I wish it would be more like it was in 95 and 96, my first two years.

    I’m particularly disgusted by the sherpa ad, which specifies that applicants must have experience in waiting tables and pole dancing. So, they will be expected to be subservient and also sexually titillating for their employers, and they will be working long, irregular hours as well. As an attorney, I have to say there are so many red flags raised there of probably legal violations that it almost makes me want to come out of retirement.

    Debating whether my days of attending are over. If I want to experience radical income disparities, I can stay home in San Francisco and hang out in the Mission.

    Like

    • I never found pole dancing to be sexually titillating, I much prefer a good lap dance. A better qualification for these sherpas would be to demonstrate skill at twerking, and also blow jobs. Nothing is worse than having your dick sucked by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. It can go on for hours and if they can’t keep their teeth in-check it can actually be quite dangerous.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I am a little perplexed to the radical self reliance references? A person could pack a years worth of supplies? I take a car and a tent which is about as rough as I see anybody at BRC and that is as self reliant as taking my kids car camping. To me self reliance would be if we were all rationed exactly 102 ounces of water, 40 pounds of fruit that we all drove up in our Chevy volts with nothing but a sleeping bag. Even Burnerxxx uses an RV. What made it so self reliant in 95/96?

      Like

      • I was using an RV at Burning Man before there even *was* “radical self-reliance”. I didn’t stop being a Burner just because Larry wrote a page of words one day, 20 years into the event.

        Like

    • Hey there drunkenhousewife. Have you seen this first person account of the working conditions and experience of one of the ‘sherpas’?

      https://www.facebook.com/notes/beth-lillie/what-you-mean-to-say-that-im-a-sherpa/10205301569801653

      I read this and it looked to me to me that if this is an at all accurate account, there were some potentially very serious labor violations going on at this camp (especially if its true that there were some actual default-world employees of the main camp organizer who weren’t actually able to quit on-playa for fear of losing their real jobs). I am not a lawyer, however, so I wasn’t sure if that impressions was correct. I’d really like to direct this lady to some resources that might give her (and me) a better idea of what rights she and others had in this situation. I’d also like to have this knowledge to share with others for future burns, especially if this sort of thing is going to keep happening.If you know any places to start on that line of research, I’d appreciate it.

      Just a little on me for context – I’ve been doing regional burns in Austin and Seattle for 9 years and this past year was my third big burn. I’m also doing a PhD in Sociology, so seeing this stuff make its way out onto the Playa is VERY disconcerting and concerning for me. I am fine with rich folks showing up to be non-participating “white noise” as someone described it (maybe they’ll learn something! maybe I will!). This sort of exploitation of people at my burn, however, is completely not ok . For me, BM is society and culture in which we have the unique privilege of getting to clearly see how our actions and inactions create our collective experiences. As such, I feel a responsibility for saying something and pushing back as I am able against this sort of thing.

      Like

  38. Here’s my thoughts as an 18 year Burner first time 1996.
    The Plug and Play camps are a mild irritation on the playa. And like anything else that you do NOT like- you avoid it. Like the guy on the megaphone making douche-bag comments you simply ride around them and ignore them. They are the only ones that think they are funny on the megaphone.
    Plug and play camps and their participants are the only ones that think they are “Cool” and “getting Burningman”. Everyone else simply shakes their collective heads and ride on to find the magic.
    Friends of mine are some of the people that set these up and I would and will look them in the face and tell them how much of a douche-bag I think they are for going against the Principles of what has made Burningman so great for so many years.
    For profit on the playa is simply wrong. So I avoid that and pound some rebar, build a camp, play live music, and feel good about it.
    Yes, the playa is changing. Its super-glitz now, looks like Vegas on a bad day, less great art, too many loud sound camps playing really shitty music and lots of people simply there for the party and not the creation of the party.
    But being on the playa for so many years I have learned how to navigate the streets and the open playa and still find the magic. Its still there. You just have to dig deeper.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So we should continue to ignore it as the PnP phenomenon slowly erodes the paradigm that makes the event so great in the first place? As you readily admit, it’s getting harder to find the good stuff. I’m in favor of change (it’s inevitable anyway and to me, it’s the primary point of Burning Man), but there are steps to guide change that could be taken by the BMORG. Just as they have done with law enforcement and the BLM, it’s possible to mitigate.

      Like

    • Jefe nails it. And for the record, there, burnersxxx, I think you owe DisOrient a retraction/-apology. We are NOT “turn-key”–never. We work shifts, build our shit, break it down, and everyone pretty much pays our modest dues, except for a few who work extra hard or contribute a lot more in effort than the cost of dues… There may be an rv or three delivered to the playa, but turn-key implies fully stocked, unlocked and loaded when you arrive with your key you simply turn. Ain’t Got No Sherpas.

      Like

      • No Jefe didn’t nail it. It’s like continuing to be part of a country club that discriminates against others and then looking the other way. At some point the principles which you hold so dear have to take precedence over your selfish desire to keep partying in the desert. What is more important?

        Like

    • >Larry should have never allowed such douchebaggery

      Sorry to be the one to tell you, Larry is actually a douchebag, so are the rest of the inner-circle – especially Crimson Rose.

      Liked by 1 person

  39. So all the idealists came and built a socialist city. Then the Bolsheviks took over the Party and started building their dachas on the best real estate, purchased not just with lots of rubles, but with inner circle connections. Meanwhile the leadership continues to push the concept of unpaid volunteer labor in the name of the cultural revolution. Haven’t we seen this movie before?

    Liked by 2 people

  40. A HISTORY LESSON

    Is anyone familiar with the Bohemian Club based near SF (in Russian River area)? The beginnings of this event was started by artists, actors, musicians back in the 1870s. The party was awesome from all accounts and people slept in Muir woods, roughing it together for several nights.

    The party evolved and grew to the point where they moved from Muir Woods to Russian river area where the organizers bought some property, and other attendees bought adjacent property to the tune of 160 beautiful acres in total.

    The event was then “bought” by a rich SF businessman who proceeded to invite all his rich friends, keeping some of the artists around as entertainment for the guests. It grew in popularity with that circle as well. This event still happens today, although now it is an ALL-EXCLUSIVE event where ONLY the richest most influential MEN in the world get invited (including artists, athletes, politicians, biz etc). Its a two-week frat-bot like frolic in the redwoods, complete with VIP treatment like limitless booze, food, prostitutes being freely available. They even have a ritual Burn of a giant owl effigy, vowing to do away with “care” while they are there. This darker side includes secret bizness and political deals, masonic handshakes, whatever, that goes down during these weeks, which then influences what happens in the “real” world. These good ole boys decisions are made without caring about the outside world or people.

    See any creeping parallels?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohemian_Grove

    Like

    • The BOrg has set things up for this type of mutation of the event by adopting a corporate rather than non-profit/member-based stone soup organization. As I have said before, I have been a member of several of the latter – they are based on the consistent participation of the members (entirely for free) who also elect the management and hire the paid staff.

      By taking the top-down corporate approach, the Bohemian Grove is a clear exit strategy for the BOrg. They can continue with the sock-puppet non-profit BMP as they do now, making the board of directors (BoD) represent the money rather than the amorphous members (the burners) who make the event. As long as enough artists and burners sell out, they can proceed. As the independent burners fall away, so will the broad-based innovation and creativity. It will be whatever the BoD want to make it because they will pay for, or simply what they permit. It is already a private party.

      While they are clearly fooling the mainstream media and the loyal cult members, the question is still really if they are fooling themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

      • well put, and good question.

        “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
        – Abraham Lincoln

        Like

        • If I were one of the Larry LLC members, bragging about “what the BOrg has done for the world” would stick in my throat, knowing what they are doing, and the opportunity missed to enfranchise the burner creativity that they are riding on. The more they assert themselves onto the event (tickets, permits, permissions, payouts, etc.) they presume their dictatorial decision process rightfully eclipses what the burners can do on their own… something clearly dis-proven by most other burns where all-volunteer organizers do a better, more efficient, and more responsive job with their events.

          The effect of all this on the burners on the playa will always lag, but word will spread about what the NV Burn has become, and the implication ravens of what they have already done to the event will come home to roost.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I just saw this on ePlaya: “do not destroy what we have created; only what we have created to destroy”

            Burners will continue creating this culture with or without BMOrg. Increasingly, I think, without.

            Like

  41. You have really lost your way. Your writing on this topic reminds me of Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck, an ounce of fact and a zephyr load of hot air.
    I did not go Caravansicle, but last year I was camped near Tanenbaums mini version, about half the size all paid for buy him, a gift to what looked like 100 guests. I walked over and Jim was there in a tutu, so it must have been Tuesday. He introduced himself and walked me over to a sick bloody merry bar, even included olives and horse radish! we discussed our burn experiences and within ten minutes he invited me to go on a bike ride with a group of about 20 others. I had my own agenda, so I politely declined the ride and we left it at see you around which we did the remainder of the burn. Dude was super chill and just seems to me he loves the burn so much he wants to share. Maybe the super brain of his can only channel how to make something bigger? I would be shocked if he is making money on this. Think about it, why would a guy with that much dough do all this to make what is very small change to him?
    Get off your desk and share some love, you are killing my post burn buzz!

    Like

    • you don’t think a $13,000/head camp is an example of monetization of the Playa? What way would you prefer me to pursue?
      Do you have any information about Caravncicle sharing anything other than popsicles from their paid guests’ miniature coolers? All I have to go on is what Burners are saying.

      Like

      • I met the guy for only 15 minutes over as I said a wicked Bloody Mary that he made for me and that is all I really know. A friend went to Caravansicle and said they had cool bikes and a nice bar by Pac heights standards, open 24/7 to anyone who walks in. I am pretty sure they found a way to spend the $13k and I am pretty sure the founder is worth at least 9 figures which begs the question: Why would he want to fuck with BRC to net $100K profit?
        Radical Inclusion, one mans sledge hammer and rebar is another mans grey matter and PowerPoint. next year make a list of these camps and go visit the creators in person, I bet you will find like minded burners who happen to be really successful. Just a guess, but they may think “give me just $13k and I will give you the gift of your life.” When the conceive these camps. I paid $250 to be part of my camp but spent another $4k and did not have a Sherpa, art car or 24/7 bar:)
        BRC has 40% more attendees than the first time I went and the space is there to grow another 50% easily. Maybe this can eliminate the ticket problem?
        Regardless, every time I leave the burn I miss it immediately but know it was my best burn ever and next year I will say the same. I would prefer you to make your burn better and in turn you will do the same for everyone else!

        Like

        • this must be what your 3rd year? Most of us who have been around for 10-15-20 years find this whole situation disgusting completely it odds with the origins of the event.

          Let’s talk in another 10 years if you’re still going and see what you think then. It has always been a DIY event. Its only in the last few years that the primary means of thousands of people to “burn” is via contractors and outsourcing of every possible form of inconvenience.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Commodification does NOT equal profit. Commodification means the event is turned into a normalized, fungible commodity, like pork bellies, where one is the same as another. That is exactly what these camps do. They make a promise of what your experience will be, safe and predictable, and deliver, for a fee. The BOrg have seriously lost their way in accommodating and embracing this ultimate violation of this Tin Principle(TM). They have wrung out most of the creativity of going to the burn, and turned it into a visit to a 5-star hotel in just another “exotic location.”

          …For the record, I have stayed a 5-star hotels and don’t like them for that very reason. I want to experience the destination not the accommodations. I don’t like being insulated from the locale by the concierge. I want to discover it, not get their normalized take on it.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Maybe I read it incorrectly, it is too long and depressing to read again, but I thought the post and bxxx last reply was focused on monetization, not commodification? I get your point that the last thing anybody would want to see is a few dozen or few hundred camps like this.
            For the record it is my 6th year and when did 9 an K become the best real estate?

            Like

        • Another way to interpret your argument is “monetizing the Playa is fine, provided you’re so rich that the potential profit doesn’t make a big difference to you”.

          My personal belief is that monetizing the playa is unstoppable. Rather than trying to fight against it, we should instead fight for it to be something that can benefit the whole community, not a small group acting secretively via a web of private and tax-free entities.

          We should use the successful Silicon Valley model of laissez-faire capitalism (startups, stock options, venture capital, lucrative exits funding innovative re-investment) rather than the Socialist/Collectivist/Communist model (God is dead, so the State is God; the State owns everything, and all money goes to the State; BMOrg is the State). The first option has something for everyone, the second option is highway robbery wrapped in a leftist ideology.

          Like

          • No, that is not my view, at least in the case of Tanenbaum whom you demonize, I would bet he does not make a dime and most likely loses/ donates well more than I spend for my visit yo BRC.
            But, I see you want a piece of the pie, and personally I don’t have a problem with that. You have a passion for BRC and you should be able to find a way to make it your full time occupation.
            Maybe start bitching less and open your mind to the possibilities!
            Bon chance!

            Liked by 1 person

          • “monetizing the Playa does appear to be part of his plan. He has spent much of his career in medical science, with a particular penchant for financing pharmaceutical pioneers.”
            …Demonize? Really?

            Dr Tananbaum is welcome to come here and comment if he would like to deny or dispute anything said by me or other Burners in this article.

            Like

  42. The problem I see with getting the moneyed set (VCs, CEOs and what not) on the board is that their vast experience is in making money and so they see everything as something to be packaged, monetized and exploited. I see one of two things happening: either the commodification and trivialization of BM will continue or the current fad like interest in BM will pass and the bucket list nature of the burn will fade. At the end of the day you still need to get out to your PnP hotel to see the sights and endure the conditions. Playa dust is the great equalizer and one year of really nasty dust storms would work wonders.

    Maybe they we can spread the rumor that BM is dead and that Kazantip is the new thing and they can now all jet off to Russia….

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Here’s a point to ponder. Any for profit business or activity or in this case camp/hotel requires a permit from the BLM. Burning Man operates under such a permit. Now how are any of theses ventures providing paid for services? These camps would require a permit to do so and it would need to be a permit on top of the existing one Burning Man has which is very unusual if not impossible to obtain. No one can run any payed for service on public lands without a permit from the authority of jurisdiction

    Like

  44. I went to caravancicle and they poured me a drink just like every other camp at BRC. Totally welcoming. The camp was elaborate. My guess is they donated/lost money on this camp so they could expose people who normally would be too intimidated to tackle Bman.
    I don’t see how exposing a few hundred smart wealthy people can ruin bman for the other 68,000

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Pingback: (Kiss) (ASS) It’s A Big Farce | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  46. The biggest effect the turnkey camps have had on Burning Man, as it seems to me, is to make a bunch of burners into whiners. Cry to your mommy, she’s the only one who cares.

    Like

  47. It’s funny that you mention Board-member Chris Conley and his Joie de Vivre company — they’re the brains behind Costanoa, the original plug-n-play sherpa “campground” located on the coast between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz…. For those who want to have a “camping experience” without actually getting their hands dirty – the folks at Costanoa will set up a fancy tent for you, start a nice campfire for you, cook your (non-camping) food for you, and presumably sing campfire songs and make s’mores for you! All for a price. Of course you can upgrade to fancier accommodations…
    http://business.highbeam.com/136996/article-1G1-71684149/pampered-camping-costanoa-coastal-lodge-and-camp-pescadero

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Great sleuthing. It is always interesting to see how the people that represent the establishment can figure out a way to monetize the efforts of others; afterall, it is the American way.

    As I have posted before, this just feels more and more like a Vegas experience than a unique community based on human expression. High rollers, private parties, fancy accommodations, overpriced EDM DJs, all night parties, performance artists; all of this is being done a few hundred miles south every weekend for anyone that wants to participate in it. As long as they throw the masses a few Popsicles along the way, then everyone is happy.

    Even without the Segweys, it was easy to pick out these folks on the playa last week. In addition to constantly seeing the typical old white guy with young Asian girl couple, it was easy to spot these people based on their completely over-the-top matching outfits that looked like there were put together by a professional costumer or stylist. I remember lounging around the outskirts of the temple on Friday afternoon watching the crowds flow by and these people reminded me of something off of the Titanic where the first-class passengers strolled the deck in their finest outfits to see and be-seen. However in this day and age, they were seemingly unaware of those around that were laughing at them for trying too hard while not really trying to fit in with the rest of us; radical inclusion for sure.

    Later in the night while dancing at one of the sound camps, it was also quite noticeable the number of older couples ( always couples ) that would roll up on their Segways ensconced in glow fur to the edge of the dance camp, would never dismount, would watch for a short period, then turn and roll off to the next camp to do the same thing with minimal interaction with anyone or even the music. As someone also pointed out, it certainly did feel like that of zoo visitors or observers trying to fit in with the indigenous. As I have heard at other hippie events, observation is still a form of participation. At least they will have some stories to share over dinner of their explorations of the wild side.

    Keep up the good work and spreading the truth of what is going down.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As was suggested by others, the term “tourist” is quite apropos.

      BTW, that’s why I have always visited Paris with a Quebecois lady – discourages the surly waiters. For those wannabe burn couples, was the Asian partner a veteran burner? Likely not. …Something to improve their business model next year!

      Liked by 1 person

  49. Good, thought-provoking post. Thanks. I want to address a couple of things, though. 1) I would say that the stats on what is an effective board size are pretty fuzzy. Every board is different, and volunteer boards that run chaos festivals are very different. The board that runs Utah’s burn has 14-15 people. This has been effective because it splits the workload (when the board actually runs the event) and it is a better attempt to represent and involve a greater diversity of Utah’s burner community. Also, over the course of the 3-year commitment to the board, shit happens. People move, peoples’ job responsibilities change, people melt down and have to quit the board to focus on their real lives. Finally, the best thing is that as people serve their terms and move back into roles in their respective camps & communities, they take the skills and insights they have gained working on the board with them, which is just awesome all around. Point is, there’s a lot more involved with the numbers of people on a board than just the “optimum” number. Especially a number touted by Bain Capital, of all folks. Really? 🙂
    2) the conspiracy stuff about drug capitalists engineering disease on the playa? Flat out, fucking ridiculous. I don’t know if you’ve been reading the newspapers (well, OK, the internets), but when you bring 70,000 people from all over the world to cook and with uncertain hygeine with each other, and there are several scary disease outbreaks out there, you would hope that the nation’s experts in disease transmission and prevention show up. And as for West Nile, it seems to be ramping up and expressing itself in new ways (which I know because I worked on an unusal outbreak in Utah last spring that killed about 3-400 bald eagles who were exposed by eating sick (WNV-infected) birds, but the trouble is we really don’t know how those birds got it). Also, the rain conditions leading up to the burn were optimal for a spike in the mosquito population, AND, “sentinel chickens” (chickens kept in coops near wetland for the express purpose of getting bitten by mosquitos to see what the mosquitos are carrying– though it would also be a great band name:) in nearby areas were testing positive for WNV. So, though the chances of being bitten by a mosquito diminish the further you get into the center of the playa, a legitimate concern for surveillance. Or would you rather that “we” (the country and the people who work to try to keep the wheels on the wagons) just ignore these things. The conspiracy is that there are a lot of people doing a lot of work to try to keep the event safe, and no one cares and/or would rather make up nonsense stories about it.

    There are plenty of conspiracies going on in the inner bowels of the Burning Man org, stick to those 🙂

    Like

    • 1) I would say 5-7 but my experience is mostly with business boards. Many non-profits make donors directors, if they give above a certain threshhold annually. The boards become more of a figurehead, and less involved in day to day operations. The most effective boards I’ve seen got operational reports from senior management as well as the CEO.
      2) make of it what you will. I’m clearly identifying that as conspiracy theory, rather than claiming it to be fact or stating it as my own belief. Perhaps it is just a coincidence, how could anyone ever know either way?

      We have now received one report from a Burner who is being treated for West Nile virus. Visitors have to wear masks and gloves.

      Like

  50. I am 6 years burner and the only thing i can say is that this was the last burn for me and my friends… Burning man is one more festival now…. Money, money,
    The spirit of comunity is gone 🙂

    Like

  51. These ‘sherpas’, for the most part, are ex-DPW (and other volunteers) who realized they were being exploited for their (mostly) free labor to serve a lot of entitled brats. As a sherpa for plug n play they could actually make good money and not be treated like gutter-rat grunts by the Org.

    These sherpas are also people who were once camp leaders and paid a lot of money in time and effort and materials to produce a camp that was also filled with entitled brats. Why pay thousands of dollars to do the same work that you could otherwise get paid thousands of dollars to do? Cool points and a pat on the head from Larry or a kiss on the cheek from your resident sparkle pony doesn’t make it all worth it.

    When the good-will of the volunteer infrastructure teams run out, as I think it is, the Org is actually going to need to start paying people to do these jobs. The promise of spiritual enlightenment and personal development rather than wages, isn’t going to last much longer.

    Liked by 1 person

  52. I’ve spent well over $13k some years to bring our camp out to BM. Looking back on it, I do actually have some regrets. It’s impossible to produce a large-scale camp without a lot of drama happening on the playa, and off. ‘Drama’ is what many people bring a gift to the camp when they have nothing else to offer.

    Now that there’s no question that BM has Jumped the Shark, and has completely sold out, and is nowhere near counter-cultural – I’m thinking I wouldn’t mind a year of total pampering at a PnP camp. Less money and no drama, why not? If you can’t beat ’em join ’em.

    The Tin Principles are just something Larry dreamed one night in 2004. They’re meaningless, aside from 1) clean up after yourself, and 2) you can’t buy hotdogs out there.

    Imagine a year where you didn’t have that feeling of bile rise up in your stomach while you’re still swinging a hammer and half you camp is fucked-off to somewhere. Imagine not having the BFs/GFs in camp who are screaming at each other all week. Imagine not having to break the camp down on Monday with only a few people because everyone else had to leave on Sunday.

    £13k doesn’t sound too bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with much of your sentiment, although I think much camp drama can be eliminated via being more careful with who camps with you. Quite frankly, I think the “let’s take 30 random virgins because we need the labor and or money” is fucking nuts. I would shrink the operation if it comes to that.

      Maybe I’m still too young, but after 11 years at BM I would never even dream of coming without putting in some serious blood, sweat, tears, and vomit. Half of the fun is building it. Of course half the nightmare is tearing it down. Anyone not building out there, be it art, infrastructure, a camp, or whatever, is missing out on one of the most meaningful aspects of the event IMHO. Its why the can’t-tolerate-inconvience crowd, PNP or otherwise, basically don’t get burning man.

      Liked by 1 person

  53. These statements are false. We did not charge people $13k per person to camp with us. That is 100% not true. Please present to me one person who paid me a fee to camp with me. You can’t because it did not happen. This is false reporting. I would like to talk with the person who wrote this article. Please call me at 303-506-7132 Thanks. Charles Mui

    Like

    • it’s a blog, charles, clam down… this aint the New York Times.

      perhaps you could tell us how much you DID charge people… judging by your comment, it seems like you charged people.

      for many folks in this community.. the fact that youre charging people is the problem, not particularly how much you charged them.

      if youre making profit (and not merely collecting “dues”) a lot of folks will think youre a douche (whether or not larry blesses these fuckin bullshit camps or not).

      so…. maybe you only asked $1300. ….or $500 a head. maybe only $10 ..

      wherever on the scale, $10 to $13,000 you fit, if youre profiting off of burning man via selling spots in your camp, in the eyes of some, youd be a douche…the more charged (see: profit made) the bigger the doucheness

      so, the only thing that you really have to fear over this alleged “false reporting” ..is diminsihing how much of a douche youd appear to be to some in the community.

      me personally? i think youre GREAT.

      Like

    • We encounter this tactic all the time: “let’s take this conversation offline”. Sorry but I don’t have time for that. Whatever you want to say, or dispute, please do it here where we can all consider it together.

      This is from your service agreement:

      Engagement
      Client hereby engages Megas to produce event as outlined above. All members may suggest any changes or revisions for community vote.

      Terms of payment:

      One payment of $13,000

      Send Payment to:

      Megas, Inc.
      1291 Galleria Dr Suite 220
      Henderson, NV 89014
      http://www.megasglobal.com/
      Charles Mui – CEO phone: 303-506-7132
      Office Number – 702-900-5550

      Like

      • Yes, yes. Those are the published facts. But an offline discussion offers a subsequent spin on those to whatever we like, and having endless disputed arguments over what was or was not said. The important thing is the ability to say, “you are wrong, and you refuse to discuss it,” so they can dismiss you and your blog. They are happy. You are happy. Larry LLC makes another million. No problemo.

        Liked by 1 person

  54. I camp at disorient for years, where did you gain your informatio?n,.. You should have checked your sources, disorient is NOT a plug n play by any means. What a fucking slap to all of us here who contribute to the building, alpha team, disengage, LNT, love ministry, .. We ALL wash dishes, we all take shifts at disorient, who the hell do you think builds our camp? We do, all of us, AND we do a greeters shift, AND we have teams of art cars AND DJs, we do it all ourselves. Retract that now please , because that’s a fucking lie!

    Like

    • I never said Disorient was a plug and play camp. Turnkey was the word I used. Surely you admit that you pay camp dues, have meals provided, private as well as public camp areas, RV services, private bathrooms? Disorient contributes plenty, and if you read the post you will see I pointed out that everyone who stays there has to do volunteer shifts.

      Like

      • So, any camp where your camp dues pays for your food, portable potties and shower and biodiesel for campers and rvs is considered “turnkey “? That’s pretty fucking hilarious , I invite you over to our lovely ” turnkey” camp , hahaha, yeah, all I had to do was show up, hahahahaha, hahahaha, sorry, having a hard time breaThing here, hahahaha,..

        Like

        • “where do you draw the line” is a good question. Is it Sherpas that make it turnkey (vs plug-n-play)? Chefs? Private bathrooms? Showers? Pre-arranged RV services? Or is it all about having the Segways and bicycles ready?
          Disorient is a big camp with a six figure budget, and people who arrive early and stay late setting up and tearing down. Are any of those people paid for their time? Regardless, it’s hardly a small group of friends putting their tents up next to each other. I can’t see where you think this article is being critical of Disorient. The point of this article is not “plug and play camps are ruining Burning Man”. It’s “Burning Man’s new director is promoting a million dollar camp with the names of artists he didn’t get permission from”.

          Like

          • I think the issue here was simply the terminology of “turnkey” vs. “plug-n-play”. DISORIENT is certainly not a plug-n-play camp, but if some come away with the impression that our operations are turnkey, I’ll happily take that as a compliment! It’s due to the incredible hard work, creativity, and dedication of hundreds of active burners, honing the camp over 14 years to continually improve how we set up, maintain, and break down our infrastructure, how we conceive of and produce our art projects, how we welcome new burners into our camp and the community as a whole, and how we interact and give back – on playa and year-round. Everyone at DISORIENT participates in the working aspects of the camp, and anyone who doesn’t is politely encouraged to camp elsewhere the next year… In 2014, we were as large as we’ve ever been, yet the camp felt tighter and brighter than ever.

            On the topic of Plug-n-Plays, I’m not a fan. In a nutshell, I think they contribute more to the “mainstream-ization” of the playa than the “burnification” of the default world. And _that_ is a bad thing.

            Liked by 1 person

      • Disorient came across in the story in a positive light – the sort of thing in contrast to the 1% camps – reasonable collective effort, though hardly RADICAL self-reliance. Unless you edited it after her post, seems Deb did not read what was written.

        I will return when I can buy a ticket online, rent a minivan for $250/week (without driving it up from Vegas to avoid the Reno gouging), stop by Walmart for my bike and supplies, and head to the playa. Oh, and not be associated with the effete elite. We need zoning in BRC. Maybe put in some temporary train tracks, so the 1% crowd can know when they have left their protected space. Maybe have special LE for them, and LE that abuses our rights on the other side of the tracks.

        Oh wait! I don’t have to go to Nevada once a year. I already have all that here. I guess I was at Burning Man last week and did not realize it.

        I will do the middle-class burn this week: take the $1 ferry to Governors Island, see the Figment art installations (for FREE), pay for a meal like everyone else, and head back to town.

        Liked by 1 person

        • not to split hairs, but because some of these people are my friends and will probably read this, technically I think it would be more accurate (and fair) to say “Disorient was one of the first camps you know of, getting preferential placement while donating money to the org”. Unless you have some evidence of a direct quid-pro-quo that it was just the money that led to the placement. It’s more like politics, contributions are a factor, part of that’s money, but goodwill and favors and your network count too. I think Disorient have always cultivated a positive, symbiotic relationship with Black Rock City – the LLC and the people – and good on them for it. There’s plenty of money in that camp, why wouldn’t they donate – which sounds like it was intended to support the arts, whatever the Org ended up doing with it.
          Disorient’s location does make sense given their Art Car Wash contribution, which would be impractical anywhere but a corner of the Esplanade.

          Like

  55. My first reaction after passing through the mirrored entrance was to stuff my purse with stolen goods. If my city is being re gentrified I am dressing as Robin Hood and “gifting” Moroccan rugs to virgin burners with hot, dusty tents ( traditionally found on K). Now accepting applications for Minstrels in Sherpa clothing.

    Liked by 2 people

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