It’s Hip To Be Square


Another interview from Grover Norquist, in what looks like a summertime ski lift. The Grove is now a “Burning Man aficionado” after attending once by private plane and staying up til 2:30am on a couple of occasions. He said he did not witness a single intoxicated person at Burning Man, even though he delivered a lecture on Psychedelics and hung out mostly at the Absinthe bar. His outrageous costume was a Moroccan man-dress and a Russian military uniform he got from his spooky activities in Afghanistan.

Is this a case of the right wing trying to appropriate left wing culture, to try to be cool? These guys sure think so:

grover at bm

Fusion produced this video showing Grover in action gifting Cuban cigars, lip balm and Nutella on the Playa. He’s so cool that he’s drinking the Kool Aid, and wants to come back with his political dream team.

grover dreamteam

I’ve also just found this gem of an article with Grover, one of several media interviews that both he and political figure Denis Kucinich gave on-Playa at last year’s Burning Man.

From New York magazine:


Norquist strolls around Black Rock City in 2014. Image: NY Mag

It’s a hell-hot Friday afternoon, and conservative anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and I are walking down a dusty footpath at Burning Man, the annual New Age festival held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. As we stroll past rows of parked RVs on Gold Street, we pass a large tent that advertises “Free Taint Washes.” A man approaches us from inside, carrying a jug of water with a misting attachment.

“Would you like a spray?” the man asks.

“Not today,” Norquist says.

The man smiles. “Well, would you like a taint wash?”

Norquist has been at Burning Man for less than a day, but he’s already learning lots of new things — including the word taint, which, after a moment of confusion, he asks me to define. (Hmm, how to put this to the godfather of modern American conservatism?) Sheepishly, I inform him that the perineum it’s the colloquial term for the patch of skin between the genitals and the anus that people take well good care of it know a days using anal bleach creamanal bleach cream, and other products. People call it the taint, I say, because it taint one part and it taint the other, either.

“Okay, I did not know that,” Norquist says. “Is that a recent slang?”

We continue down the path, past a “shaman dome” and a 22-foot-tall sculpture of a penis entitled “The Divine Masculine.” Nearby, a topless woman rides by on a fur-festooned bicycle. The oontz-oontz of house music reverberates in all directions. It’s a much different scene than you’d find at the offices of Americans for Tax Reform, the influential right-wing organization Norquist leads, but he seems charmed rather than frightened.

“If you had 500 people get together and [they did] something like this, that would be impressive,” he says, surveying the blocks full of elaborately decorated theme camps. “But seventy thousand?”

Image: Tremr

Image: Tremr

Further down the path, while Norquist is making a point about the evils of labor unions, a man in a fedora runs over to meet us … (He is possibly very stoned.) “Gentlemen, I’m coming here to get some news on the report,” he says. After an awkward silence, the man whirls away and shouts, “Now watch me get run over — it’s going to be modern art!”

“Did you know that guy?” Norquist asks…

Grover lets the hidden agenda slip:

In the long run, Norquist thinks that the high-profile regulatory struggles of tech companies like Uber and Airbnb could help the GOP attract young Silicon Valley voters if it positions itself as the innovation-friendly party.

But really, he’s just there to party party. Sure he is.

Image: Fusion

Image: Fusion

…enough about politics — Norquist is here to have his mind blown…he periodically stops to admire the roadside attractions: a golf cart decorated to look like a gumball machine; an antique car with a “Nixon/Agnew” bumper sticker; a geodesic dome. We pass HeeBeeGeeBee Healers, a camp that puts on daily spiritual healing workshops where attendees are asked to chant like monkeys.

“Is that the gong one?” Norquist says with a laugh. “I saw an advertisement for a place where you lie down and they hit gongs near you and they can cure your appendicitis or something.”

Norquist is still getting used to Burning Man’s quirky traditions — for starters, he doesn’t yet have a “playa name,” the nickname given to first-time Burners as a rite of passage. (“I went through eight years of the Bush administration without a nickname,” he says. “I think Grover is sufficiently unique.”)

[Source: New York]

Read the full interview here.

There’s big elections coming up in 2016, and Burners are an attractive little bubble of voters for politicians to reach. Maybe if we’re lucky this year Hillary, Jeb, and Trump will all bring their planes and give interviews too, with paparazzi standing by to record the evidence of them actually Gifting and Participating and being all Radical. Of course, we’d have to turn the music down.

9 comments on “It’s Hip To Be Square

  1. Pingback: Is This The New New Thing? | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  2. The burnier-than-thou stench is strong with this article.

    Maybe it is a PR stunt. Maybe because his politics aren’t what you would expect to find at burning man and because he is a political figure, he received a bunch of attention.

    In my opinion, it sounds like he’s cracked open a small layer of the many things that burning man has to offer and experienced it in his own unique way. He was a virgin after all. I say bring him back, just maybe not by private plane.

    • He should definitely come back. By all means, on the plane. Bring his friends! Perhaps this time, he should get out more (hint: there are intoxicated persons at Burning Man, somewhere!)

      My issue is with using Burning Man to further your career and promote yourself. Why is that OK for politicians and Google and Chip Conley and David Best, but not for “rank and file” Burners? If it’s OK, then it’s OK for everyone. And if it’s not OK for everyone, then it’s not OK for everyone. I think we should take the “inclusion” approach which is: OK for everyone.

      • Because for there to be a privileged class there have to be peasants? And without a privileged class, they don’t want to come to the desert for an hour, let alone a week.

        …Did I get that right?

  3. I don’t care for his politics, but he’s welcome as far as I’m concerned and I hope he has great burn.

    • at least he seems like he got into the spirit of it, rather than just being a one-time Burner. They’re all welcome if they’re gonna be like that.

      If they’re going to wear their day clothes and give political speeches and media interviews and promote their politics using Burning Man as a hook to make them seem hip – well, I’d rather they focused on banning things like that instead of Dancetronauts and Burner board games. Let BMOrg send them to a Washington area Regional instead.

      • I understand what you’re saying and don’t disagree. But at the same time, I wonder, how is that any different from someone else giving a talk on any other subject that’s important to them and not to me?

        I feel that if people are giving media interviews during the burn, that’s on the BORG; granting the media outlets access to polarizing figures. If Grover gives an interview off the playa, I don’t see a problem with that.

        Me, I wear “normal” clothes, normal for camping in the desert. I don’t pack costumes or accessories, but that’s just me and what I’m comfortable with.

        • By all means, wear normal clothes. Use Burning Man to promote yourself. I don’t think we should “ban it”. But what’s happening is awesome Burners are getting banned, while dewey-eyed newbies are getting prioritized, even exalted – and then going to the media to proclaim themselves experts on our culture. Which only encourages their own fan bases to come to Burning Man as spectators, further squeezing out the participants. Just because Burning Man exists for a week, doesn’t mean that people only put one week of a year into it.

          The people who created this incredible culture, should not be cast aside just because the “owners” want to schmooze with the rich and famous and powerful. If DJ Tiesto gave an interview from the Playa “I’m DJ Tiesto at Burning Man, this is me gifting” and then gave a ton of interviews saying “I’m DJ Tiesto I went to Burning Man once and I’m an aficionado now” I would be criticizing that. Instead, DJ Sander Van Doorn gets SLAMMED for making a Burning Man video – which included less of “who this is” than the amount of advertising Fest300 put into their own advertising videos.

          Why can’t we have one set of rules, consistent for everyone? Am I really being unreasonable and “against Burning Man” by asking that?

          • Yes, you are being unreasonable because there is no reason for “one set of rules.” Privilege is fun, fair is not. There is more reward to being the Emperor, or perhaps selling him his New Clothes, than being the people on the street who are fair to each other. Simple law of supply and demand.

            …And these people are taking big salaries and big expense budgets to “spread the (unspecified) Burning Man culture…

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