$5000 for a Ride on an Art Car?

In the past, some Art Cars have turned to Kickstarter and IndieGogo campaigns to raise money for their Burn. An obvious perk is “ride on the car”; a larger one would be “use the whole car for a night with all of your friends”. Some Burners in Austin, TX have turned to Craigslist, to help raise money for their non-profit fire festival.

From Craigslist:

A night at Burning Man on an art car (Black Rock City Nevada)

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The nonprofit (501c3) Telluride Fire Festival is bringing the “Shack To-Hell-U-Ride” to Burning Man!What is the “Shack”? It is a cozy, custom-built mutant vehicle designed by renowned BRC artist Jamie Vaida (Oakland, CA) and built with Alvin Sessions (Grand Junction, CO). It resembles a historic miner’s shack in Telluride, CO, and is built with lots of salvaged pieces from 100+ year-old homes. Complete with a wrought iron bed, a functioning parlor wood stove (for chilly nights, by the way this is really the best wood stove), and a vintage 1920s ice box for your chilled beverages. It also features a sound system to suit or shift your mood.The special effects on this one-of-a-kind art car include a burning roof. Literally! The “shack” floats along The Playa and looks as if it’s on fire! It’s very safe, and we do carry fire extinguishers.We need your help! We are raising funds to finish building the art car and get it to the Playa. For your $5,000 or more tax deductible donation, we will reward you and 15 of your friends with an evening of your choice aboard the “Shack”. For this donation, we will pick you up at your camp at the time you desire, take you out on The Playa (keep you entertained) and bring you back to your camp…safely.

This Craigslist deal looks like a bargain: they are selling the same thing on eBay for $10,000. You could get 2 nights for the price of 1!
What do you think, Burners? Is this sort of thing acceptable at Burning Man these days, or does this go against the Decommodification Principle?

71 comments on “$5000 for a Ride on an Art Car?

  1. What ever happened to “Hey cool ride can I jump aboard?”
    “Ya man hop on!” Or “Sorry man no more room right now come find us later”


  2. It’s not really that hard: If you contributed to an art car, you’re in the know. You know when they kick off, you know the driver, so you can hop on at camp when they are about to kick off. After that, if you have room, you should welcome anyone aboard. If you show up to xyz location, you stay parked (or say your’re staying parked) until your people are aboard. If you don’t have room for the people you want aboard, just tell randoms that you’re going to stay put for a while and eventually they’ll get off and make room for you (no one stays forever on a parked art car). There’s really no reason to be a dick about it.

    • Yes, the Burners constructing this fire mutant vehicle are awesome Burners, I would be surprised might they do something else. They deserve our full support in their endeavours. I am most impressed in regards of their throwing of the free Telluride Fire Festival. Perchance, might you do a blog post in regards of all the independent fire and arts festivals thrown by awesome Burners, in this manner of the Telluride Fire Festival, Figment, Artown within Reno, and festivals in Redding, San Jose, Colfax, and others?

      • The Telluride Fire Festival seems like a great event. I noticed a picture of El Pulpo Mecanico from last year’s festival. Seems like some of the more notable installations and MVs tour the festival circuit. And then of course, make return engagements at the NV burn. As awesome as something like the El Pulpo Mecanico vehicle is, I don’t like seeing it make the rounds, nor do I like seeing it year after year on the playa. For me, the otherworldly and ephemeral aspects of Burning Man are paramount, even above community. I don’t like it when bits of it leak outside the playa, nor when what should be ephemeral becomes semi-permanent.

        This just occurred to me, but an apt analogy is the early SNL years vs the later SNL years. In the early years, they (almost) never repeated a character, no matter how well it went over. I’m all for that.

  3. We did not know of the awesome free Telluride Fire Festival, organized by the 501(c)3 non profit whom is constructing the mutant vehicle. This event, by appearances, is more burnier than the new Burning Man. Might the BMOrg, in actuality, care in regards of promoting Burning Man culture, in opposition of promoting solely what is within their top down control, they might be gifting 10, or 15, free tickets to this org, or, towards the awesome Burners constructing the fire mutant vehicle, and permit them to sell the tickets, at the listed price, towards their members, and towards their supporters.

    What right might the BMOrg possess to state towards the mutant vehicle owners that they must permit random ticket buyers to ride the mutant vehicles? When the burn was near to all participated in the throwing of the awesome crowd sourced party, this was most appropriate. But, at present, solely a small per cent donate the entertainment, and donate the spectacle, and most of the $30.5 million of ticket buyers are solely spectators of the entertainment, and of the spectacle. Might the BMOrg pay for the mutant vehicles, or gift numerous free tickets towards the owners of mutant vehicles, from their $30.5 million of ticket sales, this might be appropriate, but the BMOrg pays near to $0 towards the mutant vehicles, while they hide, from donors, where the ticket money goes. The BMOrg shows little Gratitude towards the owners of mutant vehicles, most mutant vehicle owners are not even within the directed tickets sale, and it is not a rationale for their camp to obtain placement within the city. As is the usual with the BMOrg, it is a most horrible, one sided, dealings.

    And, the fire mutant vehicle owners, within their advert, never stated of they would not permit random ticket buyers to ride their mutant vehicle, their donors solely have priority to ride their mutant vehicle for one night.

    • ABP, I agree with your critique of the BOrg and their at best indifference, and at worst malevolence, to those that create the NV burn. However, I disagree on seeking part of the ticket revenues to be returned to the artists, art cars, and theme camps. Unfortunately, that expands their role as king-makers, something they have pretty well mucked up ever since the sell-out.

      I suggest that the artists, art cars and theme camps be left to their own creative devices to make their burn contribution, while closely adhering to the gift economy principle (i.e., all are welcome to partake and share equally of their contribution with absolutely no preference given to anyone, particularly on the basis of money on or off the playa).

      Instead, the BOrg should use the ticket money to do their job, which is sponsor the event for the burners. They should provide blanket insurance policies so that the burners may do their thing without individual concern for providing coverage that is far more cost-effective as package coverage. (Sorry BOrg, no more insurance premium commissions.) The BOrg should facilitate the burner creative efforts, and otherwise avoid endorsing any camp, group or genre. But as I have suggested, they should avoid facilitating any repeating “festival” events that are not unique to the NV burn. The NV burn should be the renewing experiment they claim, and not coasting on (and unfortunately downhill) from last year as their current efforts tend to do. They need to realize that they are NOT smarter or more creative than the burner community. Their job is to support, not direct.

      • Awesome comment, Nomad. Yes, the BMOrg should use the ticket money to do their job, which is sponsor the event for the burners, and they should provide blanket insurance policies for the burners whom contribute.

        It is too late for the BMOrg to support the mutant vehicle owners in a proper manner within 2015, but, it is not too late for 2016. The Project bylaws state the 6 members of the BMOrg are to change the bylaws each two years, thus the new bylaws are to be voted upon at the Project board meeting within November, or the beginnings of December. The 6 members of the BMOrg know things are not going in the manner it should be, and they must do changes, perchance, to give the board the proper oversight authorities, utilizing committees of Burners for directions, and in many other manners which might be penned within the new bylaws. The Project board must insist upon this, and force the BMOrg to do decisions for the benefit of the Burner community, and thus, for the benefit of the Project. Then, some of the ticket sales might, in actuality, go towards supporting the awesome contributors whom throw the burn. One might solely hope in these regards.

        • Aside from $ per ticket, ABP you have made the point here before several times that tickets (or the chance to buy them) should go towards the artists and art cars. BMOrg could still play kingmaker, but publish publicly the Directed Group Sale list. Then we could perhaps see how many tickets were being directed towards art and interactivity, and how many were being directed towards plug-n-plays.

          • Which is why that will never happen.

            The only solution I see is to remove the king-making entirely (grants, DS tix), and instead adhere to the goals, and limit their control to placement. And in doing that, be sure that the burn is unique and not commercial (regardless of advertising). I would propose the simple rule that if you solicit money then you don’t get placement, which would put an end to CCamps.

            It would be taking the NV burn back a step, more the purist event that JV and I seek, but it would be a healthy break with the current rampant commodification that the BOrg is not resisting but facilitating,

          • With unmanaged placement, you could have the Esplinade a wall of first-arrival RVs. The only privilege should be placement and early arrival. Of course sequestering all the RVs would be cool, as well as all the people with gensets.

            No, with major art and theme camps, you need placement for traffic flow.

          • BTW, Transformus usually releases the layout with placements before it is made final, in case there are any major problems the placed camps see. Of course they are all-volunteer – can’t expect an event with a multi-millon dollar annual staff to do that sort of thing.

            Interesting how Transformus is not so much as a “regional” copy of the NV burn so much as a prototype for what works. If the BOrg cannot find 20 times the volunteers as T’frms can, what does that say?

            Of course T’frms does not have the BOrg manipulations and agenda because 100% of those making decisions have a day job. Making money is not only off their radar but off the functional organization of their event. Hmmm… maybe that’s why they have such good volunteers. Could have to do with gifting.

          • The sole reason for directed tickets is the desire to keep the event the same, and possible appease long timers with whom the BMORG members know and/or socialize with. God forbid some beloved camp isn’t there, how ever would the event go on without, say, Death Guild or some such? For me, the shake up that would result in no directed tickets would be lovely. I’d keep placement and move ticket sales to the week after the end of the previous event, in order to give people more time to find each other and form camps and plan for art.

            That would be my ideal, anyway. Also, tie tickets to an ID, and allow transfer only through STEP or some other program.

          • My prior yes was in response towards burnersxxx comment. I absolutely disagree with the comments in regards of solely random tickets and placement. Burning Man is a community, random tickets and placement would destroy community, quite the opposite of building community.

          • You’re quite right. It would be kind of interesting to mix things up with full chaos, though. Perhaps there’s a better way to do it, like mixing up the city layout. Does it always have to be the Benu Bird aligned to the sun and the pentagram?

          • “Burning Man is a community, random tickets and placement would destroy community, quite the opposite of building community.”

            I agree, but who’s community is more important? Should groups be given preference simply because they’ve been coming to the event longer? Let’s take Death Guild as an example. At this point, we know Thunderdome will be there, we know Death Guild will be on the Esplanade, we know they’ll be kind of dicks but kind of cool, we know they’ll be blasting metal from their speakers, etc. It’s all cool and all, they absolutely contribute. But we know what to expect from them. And the same thing applies to tons of other camps and installations. For veterans, it becomes a checklist: there’s Thunderdome, there’s Pink Mammoth (oh how I love PM, but still), etc. And for virgins, they’ve read up on things and seen pictures, and so they have a different kind of checklist. I don’t know, I’d sacrifice some community for some uncertainty and the creativity it would require. I’d love to see Burning Man become less of a family picnic.

    • “Make a tax deductible donation of $1,000 or more and you can have this fiery spectacle at your next house party or event in the Town of Telluride. Email erin@telluridefirefestival,org for more details.”

      I wonder if I can solicit donations so my 501(c)3 can “finish” it’s Lawn Mowing Service, to be available locally for a modest contribution. We are also looking to complete our new micro-donation project, called “The Ice Cream Truck.”

    • From the description on the Craigslist ad, the car itself seems very cool, particularly the burning roof aspect. That’s a nice touch. $5000 to “finish” it, though? That’s the thing, I could do the whole damn thing for about that. Maybe it wouldn’t look as Disney-fied perfect, but then that would be a good thing. The pro vs. amateur debate.

    • Rumor is that 5k gets you a bottle of booze complete with STD slobber. 10k gets you a happy ending and a tshirt stitched by a child slave in india. While both may be temporary the STD will be a gift that keeps on giving.

      What happened to the good ole days when we added electric motors and batteries from a junkyard to some couch covered in some bums piss salvaged from the street?

  4. Makes me think I’m not charging enough for rides on my mobile porta-potty art car, “The Happy Crappy”

    • Unless the poo rises up out of the seat like a volcano in a potty on Friday night around 10 and 2 its just not worth paying for a ride on it. Its all about the ambiance man.

  5. Just what does the Decommodification Principle prevent? Short of running a foul of the BLM 3% commission, any ideas? Sounds like the Decommodification Principle is now just a rephrasing of the BLM policy, meaning you have to join the legions of BOrg-authorized playa vendors and “gift” your 3%, and pay whatever homage or compensation the BOrg demands.

    Maybe it now just means, “No Advertising?”….ON the playa.

    • You’re right that there is technically nothing to stop someone registering their art car with the BLM as a vendor, then charging passengers money for rides. They just have to send their brochures in, fill out the form, and pay their 3%. And, of course, get a DMV license to drive at the event. For all we know that has already happened, as part of the 100+ registered vendors.

    • I agree, but Isn’t that the rule-on-rule thingy you don’t like? Seems to be a policy that is easily side-stepped or thrown in a gray area. Not nearly as clear as my suggestion of “no placing any camp that also does their thing outside the playa.”

      • A. The principle should be, it’s for everyone, first come first served. If people try to get around it, well I’m not for principle policing. B. I don’t think I ever said your idea was a bad one, I just said it is more than the org would want to manage.

        • But art cars the violate the first come first served principle should not get licenced the next year.

          • No, the people who MADE the art car should have first rights, not their patrons/customers. Otherwise the seats are LITERALLY for sale.

          • I think IRL if there was one seat left, and the artist and patron both wanted it – the artist would give it to the patron. Both artist and patron definitely should take precedence over random Burners who have done nothing for the car.

            The reality is space on art cars is limited by safety and physics. However, passenger numbers are not part of the DMV license. So “there wasn’t enough room” becomes a subjective discussion between the art car owners and the butt-hurt Burnier-Than-Thous who didn’t get a ride. As we know, BMOrg love to exploit such “grey area” situations.

          • Money does not equal participation. Sorry, that’s the default world. And that’s why I am happy not bringing my camp to the NV burn.

          • This year 6 of us got together to create an art car. We all contributed to it in different ways. Some did the welding. Others painted it. Someone supplied the generator, someone else the sound system. We split the costs between us. We consider this “our” art car. Some of the painters got paid for their services, others did it for free. They would be most welcome on it, of course…as would the mechanic that fixed the transmission, and got paid for it.

            The idea that I should not be able to go on my own art car, so that a random Burner can get a seat, is ridiculous. If there’s room, sure. If there’s any question, the randoms are off, and the owners are on.

          • What you describe is common participation. But if you only “participated” by throwing money at it, you should NOT have first seating rights. And you certainly should not have seating rights if they solicited you on CL or eBay looking only for your money.

          • One way to draw the line is perhaps liability. The actual owners of the vehicle have the actual legal liability if something goes wrong (thanks, BMorg!)

            People who pay $5k on Craigslist/$10k on eBay for an exclusive night on an art car, are gonna be pissed when some crusty DPW type staggers aboard with half a bottle of jack daniels! On our art car we expect that to happen 🙂

          • Your “liability” argument is obfuscation. Money does not equal participation. What are you bringing? Money? Then you are fungible and ultimately replaceable. You are nothing unique to the event that cannot be replaced by a kickstarter or a good stock tip.

          • JV is a perfect example. He is not replaceable. The money is. Get a grip. Just buy a Burning Man franchise like everyone else on the BOrg BoD if you think money is “participating.”

          • BTW this article refers to a DMV FAQ that was “coming this year” last July. If anyone has seen this please share. I suspect it never materialized and is still “coming soon”

          • Well of course the folks who made the car get first crack. They were there first. When I first went to Burning Man art cars were a sort of random bus system. Great way to get around and meet new people, as long as you didn’t much care where you ended up. That’s the ideal I support. Nowadays too many art cars are “just for us”.

          • You should try to be more good-looking and younger. And female. Come on, man, this is a do-ocracy.

        • So “it is more than the org would want to manage” to deny placement of camps that also did their thing elsewhere (easily checked), yet easy for them to deny art cars who did not meet *unspecified* criteria in letting random burners on their car?

          Then, what is the purpose of suggesting “If your art car isn’t for everyone, first come, first served, it should not be licensed.”

          • What happens on playa is there for everyone to see. To decide a camp doesn’t get placed because it can be seen elsewhere requires someone to monitor thousands of events and shows. Then they will miss something and people will say it’s a conspiracy. Too big a headache.

          • You are making it absurdly complicated. If the sound camp has a web site and a list of the places they are performing, then they are not unique to the NV burn experience. If they don’t brag about it, you can just google their name.

            Ad as I said, if they bother to re-brand themselves, then they might do something different, then its fine.

          • Well suggest it through the official site. See where it goes. It’s not like the org folks are particularly fond of sound camps.

          • I never disagreed with your idea, I simply said the org wouldn’t do it because it was too much work. not my idea. You want them to do it, you propose it.

          • Always remember: some time ago Will Chase contacted me directly on FB saying I had some “good ideas,” but they were flatly not interested in a written dialog, only willing to dialog if I came in person to their offices. So, they have to get what they can from my posts and comments on social media. “Asked and answered,” as the lawyers say,

  6. As long as they spend more time gifting rides than renting rides I see no problem with this. One time thing being the key, if they make this a business model then no.

    • What threshold or test would you propose that makes this a “business model?” JV noted that the total cost of his camp’s art car was less than $5K. What would you propose to keep JV’s camp from selling – sorry, gifting a night for $5K?

      Interestingly enough, time at my camp could not be “bought.” It is entertaining, but only as a function of the burners that participate. I would be glad to sell a time or evening at my camp, but that does not work. You cannot just show up and get entertained.

      As Figment says, “What are you bringing?” And if the answer is money, you missed the point, entirely.

  7. The problem is the quid-pro-quo of payment for car rental. Burning Man is based on gifting. I would have no problem in soliciting financial support, particularly if it was tied to soliciting hands-on volunteer effort, if it was a gift with no explicit return. Using the car could then be an ad-hoc gift back, as a member of the car team, but not a contract.

    Of course the problem is when they have already gotten donations of money and time from their team and are then “selling” car time, which this appears to be. (Hell, do come speculation, buy the art car evening and then re-sell those 15 seats!)
    Either way, this creates a fungible entertainment commodity that can be exchanged for BurnCoins(tm), to buy other playa entertainment, with no “on playa” exchange of money. Regardless, it lets you execute the oxymoron of buying your way into the gift economy.

  8. A good mutant vehicle requires a multitude of skills, money and time. Not everyone who would like a ride across the playa can bring it all together. There’s nothing wrong with artist and patrons banning together for a night on the town.

    • “…artist and patrons banning together…” can be used to define CCamps, or pole dances by Working Burners for that matter. If the pilot flying or the on-plane experience is creative, it also defines flying into BRC. The magic word is “patron” when the patron gets a predefined benefit. That’s not a patron, that’s a customer.

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