Oprah and Dr Phil Do Burning Man

drphil oprah

Regular readers of this blog who have observed an occasional cynical slant to my opinions might be surprised to learn that I’m a long-time fan of Oprah Winfrey. It stems from my college days, when my choice of how to spend the day was between bicycling to an Economics lecture or laying in bed with a hangover watching daytime TV on one of New Zealand’s 4 television channels. Oprah usually won.

Oprah has always had a very positive message of personal empowerment. She has created a new 7-part documentary series called Belief, which is looking at 33 different stories of spiritual journeys from around the world. And one of them is Burning Man.

Belief premiers Sunday October 18th at 5pm PST on the OWN channel, with a new episode on every night. The Burning Man episode will air on Wednesday October 21.

Did she just say “Art Project”?

From Indiewire:

Seven billion people around the world, searching for connection, redemption, meaning. This fall, Oprah Winfrey presents the landmark television event “Belief,” a week-long documentary series airing over seven consecutive nights that depicts how people with a wide range of beliefs search for deeper meaning and connection with the world around them – the rituals, stories and relationships that bind us together as human beings. 

The documentary series will explore humankind’s ongoing search to connect with something greater than ourselves, traveling all over the world, and to places “cameras have rarely been,” in search of the origins of our diverse faiths.

The series will premiere on Sunday, October 18 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

“For the past three years, my team and I have been working to find the most compelling and thoughtful stories of faith, love and devotion from around the world,” said Oprah Winfrey. “This truly has been my heart’s work, to be able to share stories like these that reflect our world and explore humankind’s ongoing search to connect with something greater than ourselves.”

[Source: Indiewire]

Here’s the official trailer:


Before I learned about this, there were some puzzling things about this year’s Burning Man. Now, I am no longer puzzled by them. YMMV.

Things like – why would Larry Harvey do an interview from the Playa about black people, saying that they don’t like camping and he can say that because he has a black ex-wife and son? Why would this story go viral around the world, getting picked up by more mainstream media than even the Bugpocalypse or Chocotacogate?

Why the sudden War on EDM, and a push for returning to the Techno Ghetto of the mid-90’s?

2015 black lives matterAnd why was there a “Black Lives Matter” political protest inside the Temple this year? Burning Man has never been about race…all of a sudden, Oprah’s doing a special on the Temple…you join the dots.

My coincidence theory antennas are also tweaking at the sudden formation of the Pink Hearted at Burning Man and Beyond Facebook group…did Halcyon get an inside tip?

I am surprised that there has been not a peep in the JackedRabbit, Voices of BMOrg, or the new Burning Man YouTube channel about something as significant as Burning Man being one of the things Oprah wants to feature in her special. The last issue of JRS had this:

Burning Man’s Black Campers


Steven W Thrasher writes:

“After three treks to Burning Man, the famously hedonistic festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, I must admit it: I am a black Burner.

My black friends and family think I’m crazy for going to Burning Man. According to its own 2014 census, Burning Man is 87% white and 1.3% black. But while Burning Man founder Larry Harvey recently told me that the reason so few of us are here is because ‘black folks don’t like to camp as much as white folks’, the 20-odd black burners (plus one Chicano and one Latina) I interviewed during this year’s Carnival of Mirrors-themed festival had a more nuanced take. Some agreed with Harvey, but many had very different ideas about what keeps black folk from Black Rock City.

We black Burners hailed from several countries and included virgins and veterans. Below are excerpts from our conversations, as we chatted about white hippies, the great outdoors, the problems of black hair and skin in the unforgiving desert and everything in between.”

Read more in The Guardian

There’s an important conversation about this article happening on Facebook, too.

(Photo of Mark Adolph, a.k.a. Leut, by Alexander Heilner)

If you follow the link to the “important conversation” on Facebook, you’ll find a whole heap of WTF coming from the Burners at this one.

Screenshot 2015-10-18 01.03.58

The Burning Man segment on Oprah was apparently filmed in 2013, when it was the Temple of Whollyness. The episode will air this Wednesday, October 21.

oprah-cartoonWednesday, October 21, “Belief: A Change Is Gonna Come” – Explore how our beliefs help us change. First, Anju, a young woman in central India, has committed to forgo all of life’s conveniences and permanently sever ties with her family in order to be initiated as a Jain nun. Anju must first pass three tests designed to challenge her commitment. Next, Howard Fallon and his daughter Shane arrive in the Nevada desert for Burning Man, an annual festival that provides an experiment in community art, self-expression and culminates in the ritual burning of a large wooden effigy. Howard and Shane are seeking to reconnect and heal after unimaginable personal loss. In another part of the American desert, Ashly Hines, a member of the Yavapai-Apache Nation, prepares to participate in the Sunrise Ceremony, a spiritual ritual into womanhood. Finally, scientist Marcelo Gleiser stands at the foot of one of the most powerful telescopes in the world. He has journeyed to the heart of the Atacama Desert in Chile to look deep into space for clues as to how the universe was born and how it is changing over time. He finds the more he searches the universe, the more he must embrace the mystery of the unknown.

[Source: Indiewire]

So Burning Man has a Temple, and is being presented to the world in quasi-religious terms by the Queen of All Media herself. Meanwhile Burningman.com is posting sermons about the event from Trinity Cathedral (the priest is pretty cool, especially with his glowy costume).

Could we get any more mainstream than Oprah Winfrey and Dr Phil? Where do we go from here, Martha Stewart and Duck Dynasty? Caitlyn and the Kardashian clan on a catwalk made of glow sticks? Mickey Mouse?

lego burning man

“It turns out that in this vast desert space…there are peculiar properties, peculiar magic that takes hold” – Larry Harvey


17 comments on “Oprah and Dr Phil Do Burning Man

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  6. The feeling of the Temple is awesome, as priorly was the feeling of the burn of the Temple. It is most appropriate Oprah include the Temple within the Belief documentary of spirituality.

    My belief is the awesome artists and crews whom construct the Temples must be given credit for the Temples, not Burning Man, or the BMOrg. Burning Man does not construct the Temples, and Burning Man pays solely a small amount of the costs of the Temples. Within 2015, as is the usual, Burning Man paid solely $70,000, $1 of each $390 ticket, towards the $300,000 cost of the Temple, in despite of $30.5 million gained in due of ticket sales, of which, the Burning Man Project hides where the ticket money goes from donors of art, labour, cash, stock, and entertainment towards their ticket buyers.

    • ‘Before I learned about this, there were some puzzling things about this year’s Burning Man’ is a most true statement, burnersxxx.

      It is most puzzling in due of the lack of information from the secretive BMOrg in despite of Burners make the Burning Man event in a bottoms up, crowd sourced manner, and in due of the awesome Burner community has no representation within the Project. This is solely speculation, based upon prior reports, but, my belief is much is occurring, behind the scenes, hidden from Burners, at present.

      The Burning Man Project bylaws are permitted to be updated, by the six members of the BMOrg, each two years, of which, the prior bylaws were updated within 2013 December. My belief is the Burning Man Project board members meet near to the Artuminal, near to the U.S. Thanksgiving, and are to vote upon the new bylaws within this meeting. Larry promised, within 2011, the Project was purposed to return Burning Man to the Burner community, but, Larry, and Marian, did a Bait and Switch, purposed to remain in near to total control, and not have proper representation of the awesome Burner community within the Project, view the rubbish bylaws of the Project in these regards. Might the Project bylaws be updated to permit proper representation of the awesome Burner community within the Project, or, might the Project bylaws remain utter rubbish, purposed for near to total control by solely three, or four, people?

      My belief is there is much arguements, and politics, behind the scenes, in regards of the future of Burning Man. The priority of Larry, and of Will, is to buy the Fly Ranch, and place a combination of Bohemian Grove, the prior Harbin Hot Springs, Esalen Institute Conference Center, and Renaissance Pleasure Faires upon the lands, and Larry desires to remain in near to total control of this, in despite of the Project is a 501(c)3 public benefit corporation, with a board of directors purposed to set the direction of the Project, and act towards the best interests of the Project, not towards the best interests of solely a few people. Larry is most pissed in regards of the Project board meddling within what he is of the belief to be his business. Each member of the Project board of directors, other of the first six, are of a term of solely two years, might Larry, and Marian, desire to replace any Project board member whom does not desire to do his, or their, biddings?

      Will Chase, the Minister of Propaganda, stated, within his Reddit AMA, of a plan to expand Burning Man to multiple weeks, the difficulties are in regards of the logistics in regards of this plan. The present permit for Burning Man, with the BLM, ends after the 2016 Burning Man event on the playa, and a new permit is to be negotiated with the BLM for 2017, and for the future. My belief is it might be awesome might the first week be purposed towards Community, with much constructed within the beginnings of the first week, with tickets, with wrist bands, distributed through the awesome Burner community, not in a top down manner by the BMOrg, and the second week be a tad of more of a party week, with numerous random tickets.

      Within the article upon the Fly Ranch plan within the NYMag, Nellie Bowles reports of Will Roger assisted towards placing the Huluapai playa, near to Fly Ranch, upon the BLM disposable lands list, permitting the playa to be sold. The playa might permit a 5,000 person, or 10,000 person, Renaissance Pleasure Faire manner of event of multiple weeks. This plan might require of numerous years to occur, in due of financing, and in due of permits, in addendum of the BLM does not sell land of an inexpensive manner, in the manner of within the beginnings of 2015, 26 areas of land near to Las Vegas were permitted to be bid upon, but, solely four areas of land obtained the minimum bid price of which the BLM placed upon the lands, thusly, 22 areas of land were not sold towards the bidders.

      Which brings us towards the manner of financing of the plans. The most secretive BMOrg has not disclosed any financial details of the combined Project, and of the Black Rock City LLC subsidiary corporation whom owns the Burning Man event upon the playa, with the $30.5 million of tickets sales. The BMOrg is required to send the 2014 990 form of the Project to the U.S. IRS within November, and this form will be published prior of February 2016. The Burner community will not learn of the details of the 2014 Consolidated Financial Statement, or of the 2014, or 2015, statement of revenues and costs, of the Burning Man event, in despite of other 501(c)3 public benefit corporations publish this information, including of regionals whom are 501(c)3 public benefit corporations. The Burner community, perchance, might learn of some of the conflicts of interests of the six members of the BMOrg from the 2014 990 form, perchance, including of the details of the payments for purchase of the Burning Man(tm) trademarks, and other IP, within 2018. The BMOrg has the difficulties in regards of 35 per cent of the cash purposed towards their plans be from donors, not in due of the profits of the Black Rock City LLC. Might this be a rationale of why they desire big donations of cash from the regionals to utilize the term decom, in despite of many Burners within the awesome Burner communities desire the cash to be purposed towards local art spaces, and towards local art communities? Might a two week plan of Black Rock City, upon the playa, perchance, of near to 60,000 people of each week, generate too much cash for 35 per cent of the cash be in due of donors? In addendum, the BMOrg desires to state, towards Nevada, of that they do not owe the nine per cent entertainment tax, of near to $3 million dollars, of each year, in due of they do not pay for entertainment of their ticket buyers. At the least, this is a most effective arguement they are of the ability to utilize against compensating Burners, whom donate so much towards the event, for their costs, from the $30.5 million of tickets sales of the Black Rock City LLC.

      At the least, the BMOrg is, at present, not stating towards the awesome Burner community of ‘Might you not agree with our decisions, start your own event’ in due of numerous Burner groups are doing so, and will remain to do so in the future.

      • Thanks ABP, great comment. I have been checking Guidestar, but it seems like their plan is file late so that they can release the 990 around the time of the Artumnal.

        • The BMOrg is sending their 990 form to the U.S. IRS within November, and Guidestar publishes the forms two, or three, months after this occurs. The BMOrg has been of the ability to send, and publish, their 2014 990 form since May.

      • Great post. As per the essence of Burning Man: best to recreate it next year somewhere else, as you finally suggest. No point in trying to untie Larry’s Gordian Knot. Burners are already leaving or being forced to go elsewhere for a lack of tickets and patience with the Borg. So theme camps, art cars and artists find new homes where they are appreciated instead of exploited.

        What will be left to the NV burn are the unimaginative dregs.

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