Who’s The Best Burning Man Talker?

In 2011, BMOrg announced their change to a non-profit on a mission to save the world. Since then, we sure have seen a lot of panel discussions and jetsetting from Larry & Co. I guess what they’re doing must be working, since they claim 160,000 people wanted to go to Burning Man this year. The well-crafted pop culture campaign mixing print media, references in The Simpsons and other mainstream shows, celebrity endorsements from P.Diddy and politicians and Generals, has all combined to make it harder than it’s ever been before for Burners to go to Black Rock City. We’re hearing reports that many camps have been absolutely decimated this year by the Hellish ticket situation, even if they were on the list. And it can only get worse, not better.

Not to worry, we’re told: “just be After-Burners now“. A bit too old, a bit too jaded, don’t really care if you can’t afford a ticket any more, just look back fondly on your time there – and make way for the starry-eyed virgins and cashed-up yuppies to arrive. The borg wants new minds to mold.

Clearly, there’s no need for any more promotion. So, junkets. Panel discussions. Is it promoting regionals? Is it asking for donations?

The mission of The Burning Man Project (from Guidestar):

Burning Man Project provides the infrastructural tools, educational programs, art programs and other frameworks that allow people around the world to apply the 10 principles of Burning Man in many communities and fields of human endeavor.

And, buried within their new web site (to find it I clicked Menu, The Culture, Philosophical Center, About Us – a faster way would be Menu, The Network, About Us):


The mission of the Burning Man organization is to facilitate and extend the culture that has issued from the Burning Man event into the larger world. This culture forms an integrated pattern of values, experience, and behavior: a coherent and widely applicable way of life.


The Burning Man organization will bring experiences to people in grand, awe-inspiring and joyful ways that lift the human spirit, address social problems and inspire a sense of culture, community and personal engagement.

So, is that working? Are We The Burners, through this our community vehicle, bringing experiences to people, and inspiring awe? Are the ambassadors representing us and our values, or speaking for themselves?

See for yourself and please let us know in the comments.

Who gave the best talk? Who best represents Burner values to the world? We report, you decide…

Harley Dubois at The Feast, 2014

Crimson Rose, 2009

Crimson Rose, Panel Discussion, 2014

Will Roger, 2014


Bear Kittay TEDxTokyo (and Robot), 2014

Bear Kittay TEDxBlack Rock City – 2014?

Bear Kittay TEDxOaxacaca, 2013

Bear Kittay TEDxStockholm, 2015

Larry Harvey, TEDxBlack Rock City, 2011

Larry Harvey, Charlie Rose 2014

Larry Harvey, Le Web London 2013

Larry Harvey, John Perry Barlow, Le Web London 2013

Marian Goodell, TEDxBay Area 2014

Marian Goodell, TEDxTokyo, 2014

Chip Conley and Marian Goodell at the Commonwealth Club, 2014:

Larry Harvey, Marian Goodell, Jenn Sander, Kelly Anders in Paris, 2013:

Danger Ranger, San Mateo 2014

Burner Julia Wolfe, age 9

What do you think, Burners? Should we donate so there can be even more promotion of Burning Man, so it gets even harder to get tickets?

Who is representing Burner values to the world the best?

24 comments on “Who’s The Best Burning Man Talker?

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  6. As illustrated by the Starbuck’s cup message fiasco, and complaints by SF icon Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the new tech giant founders lack a fundamental misunderstanding of the role they play in the lives of others, replaced by the misperception that they have “the answer,” simply because they thought of it. What they have is money, and the typical tendency to choose to surround themselves with sycophants.

    The BOrg is a case study in this, pulling out all the NPD stops to squelch any comment that does not tightly follow their party line, while proselytizing “their answer” to the world.

    • As discussed at the last BM Happy Hour…

      Essentially, the BOrg IS Starbucks, in that they have a narcissisticly subjective and flawed vision of how important they are to the existence of a cafe and what happens there. Of course if Starbucks was really like the BOrg they would charge $400 admission, claim rights to everything discussed there, and set up a non-profit to proselytize the magic of a cafe – something that they are largely irrelevant to and don’t understand. But they both do sell coffee.

  7. A lot of the younger cultural ambassadors have something in common; like Bear Kittay, they have very rich parents at schools that have hosted Larry or Marian. The fact that the org hires perpetually stoned, relatively useless folks like BK is proof that Marian has gone over the transom when it comes to money.

    Seriously, trustafarians like this should have zero to do with Burning Man as salaried employees.

    • Yes, but the NPD BOrg dearly loves and seeks out the narcissistic supplies of such people. Once you understand NPD, the bizarre BOrg actions and choices become obvious. This also lets those who would personally profit, and understand NPD, take that understanding to the bank. It would just be amusing if not for the burners being exploited, and the squandered opportunity to nurture and spread the real Burning Man spirit.

  8. It’s very interesting to watch these videos and observe how – especially in the interviews – stories, ideas, beliefs and yes, experiences seem to morph into some sort of pretentious, revisionist bullshit. I mean, it’s almost like watching Jim Jones drink his own Kool-Aid. In my opinion, the only speaker that’s managed to maintain any true personal and social integrity is Harley Dubois. Seeing what the event has become as it spirals down the drain of mediocrity I find it amazing that she’s been able to sustain the degree of equanimity it takes to still believe in the event while not blowing smoke.

    • She was good, but it was Burner 101. When you overlay the almost exclusive choice to populate the BMP BoD with the 1%/Davos-Wannabe crowd, while at the same time radically excluding Burners and and disenfranchising them from all the decisions, and the standing gag order on all regional reps, any “founders” have achieved an Epic Fail by definition.

    • Would like to see how she thinks her founder cadre is embracing the “Gratitude” 11th principle. She does not seem to have NPD like Larry, but it is apparent she is just keeping her head down.

    • It was most curious to view the looks of disgust, by Harley, within the video of 2012 upon the matters of introducing, and promoting, plug and play camps. There must be members upon the Burning Man Project board of directors whom view the rubbish actions of the BMOrg within the same manners of disgust.

  9. I have never met any of these people on or off the playa, nor have I worked with them to create anything. Talking and doing are entirely different things.

  10. I’d say the best is John Law’s recent interview where he says people should go once if they haven’t been. That’s about all BM deserves these days.

    That should be enough. Then if you liked it, get your friends together and do your own TAZ anywhere. Let it grow for a few years and then shit-can it; wash rinse repeat. No ticket sales, no central organization, no cool kids or inner circle bullshit.

    • That sounds good to me.

      TED talks are about as annoying as Kickstarter projects. Both were a great idea until everyone and his homophobic uncle jumped on board. Hey, that sounds familiar…

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