The 1%? All A Board

The Burning Man Project is now the 100% shareholder of Black Rock City, LLC, which puts on the Burning Man event. A Board of Directors of 18 people is responsible for the Burning Man Project. Founder Will Roger is the Chairman.

sherpa kegSherpaGate and all the attention from the New York Times and Bloomberg has highlighted Burning Man’s place on the world stage as a playground for rich people. In the past, how much money you had was never an issue at Burning Man. Nobody cared, because money did not exist in this environment. Tickets were based on Burners splitting the costs of the permit and the infrastructure for putting on the party – like a mega-version of camp dues. The art was more about amusement and light-hearted entertainment, than impressing and out-doing.

Now, ticket prices increase almost every year, new taxes get invented like the vehicle pass, directors run Commodification Camps, there are 85 registered vendors, there’s a gas station for art cars, camps get daily fresh food deliveries from beeping trucks, and a whole eco-system of businesses has popped up renting yurts, containers and RVs to Burners.

Why is Burning Man morphing from an anarchists wet dream to shark-jumping Defaultification?

Why does the Board seem to think there’s nothing wrong with directors trying to make a few bucks on the side?

doctor-yes: I have a friend who was in that camp, and I didn’t realize it until after we got back from the Burn this year He had a great time, but he also stayed with Jim’s camp in 2013 – his first time on the playa, and he was only there for 3 days. He’s comfortable but not wealthy enough to afford the cost, and I believe it was gifted enough to him both years. So the only experience he’s ever had at Burning Man is in these highly-catered camps. He spoke highly of the Mistresses of Merriment his first year, for instance, which made me cringe internally, but I didn’t draw a line between the two until post-Burn this year.

The problem to me is that the camp appeared to do nothing to acculturate newcomers, instead allowing them to be pampered and experience BM from behind the velvet rope. I don’t think it’s even about what some of the guests themselves expect. My friend, for instance, had no idea what to expect. This was just how Burning Man was from his experience.

After I gently talked to him about it, I discovered he’d had no idea it was potentially controversial. He only discovered it after the fact. He’s an older guy (65+) but is constantly going to concerts of all kinds, music festivals, etc, and is very cool to hang out with. Not the kind of douchebag you might think exclusively inhabits these camps.

That’s just one person of course, and I haven’t tried to press him too much for details to avoid embarrassing him further, but I just wonder how much blame we can put on the participants in the camp (and whatever expectations they had) vs. the organizers of it, who framed the entire event for birgins in the camp through the lens they chose.

  • HotterRod: “The problem to me is that the camp appeared to do nothing to acculturate newcomers”

Larry Harvey admits that he didn’t do anything to acculturate external members of the Project Board, so I guess Tananbaum just paid the cluelessness forward.

Burners may also be interested in this site:

28 comments on “The 1%? All A Board

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  5. Thought from another thread about the BOrg, their NPD behavior, and the BoD they chose….

    “After all, how else can you explain the BOrg BoD? Of course Larry & Co provided their own NPD supplies by being impressed by whom they chose, but the directors must have known what was going on. In fact, I am surprised that none of them complained that the BoD was not representative for the event. On the contrary, that they did not complain about who were members of their little club speaks volumes to whom they are.”

    No, what you see, is what you get.

  6. Sherpa’s are an ethnic group. A segment of the population engages as guides in the mountaineering sport and as porters, it’s often misused as a derogatory synonym for just a porter.

    Thanks for an otherwise thought provoking commentary.

  7. I’m priced out and classed out. My one burn, one of the best experiences of my life, will be my last.

  8. For me, most of this BOrg/BMP/BoD analysis is a colonoscopy of a dead horse, but in broader application to life (the default world that the NV burn has become), it is interesting how people want to be in a privileged class even in these volunteer/”non-profit” (sic) organizations. When most people are giving their own money and time to volunteer, some people still seek to be special – greater among equals. It is ironic how this attitude is against the very premise of the organization.

    I wonder if they are just immature, or if this is some fundamental personality disorder. What is missing in their lives that makes them feel the need to be “over” others who are not paid to be under them. Is it just a carryover from the paid corporate world, or is there some old childhood battle they are fighting?

    All I know is that you get so much more from these volunteer experiences when you respect the other volunteers and realize that they are only there because of the same desire to give and share. So sad.

    • It’s absolutely a personality thing. Some people can’t function without scoping for an angle, a way to get over on other people. Chip Conley’ “peak experience” bullshit is just a pseudo-spiritual euphemism for “VIP experience.” I mean, how else can you explain going to fucking Burning Man and think, this isn’t a peak enough experience?

  9. LOL!!! You got me 🙂
    with theBurners may also be interested in this site:
    I went and looked at and at first… and then…. and then… lmao. Good one! There are too many great quotes to post only one here.

    • We really do need to get the password working on the site. Can’t have the peasants signing up for our exclusive experience package when they find there aren’t enough tickets to go around.

  10. BM is not even a shell of what it was10 years ago. BM is nothing more than a profit machine, Mardi Gras style Party in the desert. Cut the crap. Drop the no money bullshit. Enough with the gifting community bullshit. Enough with the transformation enlightening bullshit. Everyone just stop saying and using the word decommodification. Enough with the no money on the playa lie.

    Can everyone on the planet just quit lying? Is that possible?
    Stop telling lies to yourselves stop telling lies to other people.

    Burning Man is now a profit zone. BM sold out. BM sold its soul. And it is time to just admit it. Do you hear that Larry? STFU Larry with your continued drivel and spin doctor crap. Just call a pig a pig and lets all move on. As long as the BLM gets its cut no one cares.

    There is nothing mystical or magical about BM anymore. It is past time to just admit BM is basically a place in the desert to do rave drugs and party for a week. I mean, if for old times sake some people wanna gift shit, go ahead, but enough with the “gifting society” crap. It is long over.

    • It’s at a point (and it’s been this way for years) that you cannot trust the sincerity of the participants. People out there ‘act’ like they think burners should act. It’s like a party in the Marina where everyone is nice to your face (because ‘we’re hippies now’) just long enough to get enough information on you to slag you off when you’re out of ear-shot. The demographic has been almost completely replaced with these poseurs.

      And I’m supposed to build an art car and theme camp and serve drinks to these people? These people who get peeved when I don’t have mixers on Patron night?

      I have one of those walki-talkies that used to work before everyone used the same channels. You can have endless fun listening to groups trying to meet up on any given night and the shit they say about the ‘randoms’ they encounter. It’s great insight into the minds of the new burner demographic. You have to be drunk to see the humor, though. Otherwise you’ll want to find these people and shove the walki-talkie down their throats.

      • Exactly Jackson. There was a time when BM really had a beautiful thing going on out on the playa, but those days are long gone.

        People still saying “Indoctrinate the noobs on how it should work”? Stop it already.
        It is a money grab these days on the playa and if everyone would just admit it it would be more healthy.

        The rich boy camps are excluding? Of course they are….. Can you use my camps private crapper? No you can not….. You work on gate or DPW and you think you are better than most everyone out there? Of course you do…. Larry and his creepy pals think they are better then most people on the playa and want to be away from most of them? Of course they do……. There are different classes of people on the playa? Yes, there are…. Should money be legal to be used on the playa? Yes, it should… Has real life society and its rules come to the playa? Yes and the sooner everyone just admits and moves forward the better it will all be.

        There are new groups and outings sprouting up around the country that seem to want to carry on the early values of gifting and togetherness and keeping out the default world rules for a week long gathering…. but that no long is how it works at burning man, but I am sure Larry and his creepy, greedy, lying, money grubbing board will keep selling the lie that BM is like it was in 1998 as long as they can, because that is how the 1% thinks and operates…. and it seems the 99% (actually the 90-99%) are lining up with baited breath groveling to pay for their fuking over priced BM tickets.

  11. Kudos on an awesome post. The prior fall, on their website, the BMOrg changed the profiles of the members of the Project board to state their Burner credentials and hiding their corporate credentials. It is good of Larry to admit of they are on the Project board in due of “It’s not a thoughtless amassing of rich folks,”, “But if you want to change the world, you’d better get some people who have real muscular power.”

    The next step is to admit some are on the Project board in due of they are a reliable vote in the support of whatever Larry and Marian might desire, in the manner of being CEO and President of the Project, and their desire in regards of no independent directors are to be on the BRC LLC Burning Man board providing parental supervision over them, which, perchance, might have halted their fuck up with the playa art for 2015, and force decisions to be made in regards of the needs of the Burning Man communities.

    The next step is to admit they laboured to change the Burner population towards people whom desire plug and play and concierge camps, camps of venture capitalists and their mates, and 40 per cent newbies each year, in replacement of the prior Burner communities, with near to solely one of four people venturing to the playa more than three times prior.

  12. Approx $350k annual income puts you in the 1%.
    $1.7 million puts you in the .1%
    $9.2 million puts you in the .01%

    It’s “aboard.”

  13. John law is not a 1%

    then again he was I assume kicked out during the paperman issue. Michael Michael aka Danger ranger he is not on the board? Interesting


    • he is on the board. In this post I am just looking at the 12 independent directors. The 6 Founders may or may not be in the 1% – they haven’t disclosed all the details of their transactions, so we can’t tell. Being able to afford to give away more than $1 million each is one indicator.

      John Law left in 1996, after Helco. He was dragged into court last decade due to his ownership of Paperman LLC, an earlier trademark holder, because of a lawsuit between Larry Harvey and Michael Mikel.

  14. I firmly believe that the only way to fix this is to fire the board and to get Matron Marion out of the CEO slot. What’s that saying? Fish rot from the head!

    • “I firmly believe that the only way to fix this is to fire the board and to get Matron Marion out of the CEO slot. What’s that saying? Fish rot from the head!”

      Yep, I like that idea. At the next public election for Bman leaders, we should vote her out. Oh, wait….

      • It’s a shame a boycott would backfire on us. If the long-time burners boycotted, the event would just fill with virgins that don’t know any better. That would only speed the journey towards becoming yet another outdoor festival.

        • Nice rationalization, Jimmy. Got your ticket yet?

          BTW, the 747 bus already left. Talk to those who have gone over the past 4-5 years. It is already just another “outdoor festival.”

          • Had myself a special code in the directed sale, and picked up 140 tickets for me and my closest plutocrats. That $15 surcharge people complained about is nothing divided by 140 and then bundled into a $20k package deal. 🙂

            I hear the soul of Burning Man can still be found out in the fringes. Somewhere around 4:00 and something called walk-in. Sounds like a nice place to build some condos or maybe a little gated community.

  15. Love da’ Hats adjective……muscular. A better person than me could read those quotes from the Oracle…..wouldn’t take much. Nothing profound except to “reform the 1%”……inhaled too much Playa dust….the latter did a number on my doggies (ok, I went barefoot alot despite the admonishments). Emerged smarter and wiley-er to the ways of Kumbaya…..

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