Hollywood’s Vacation for the Soul

fire maypole

Image: Hollywood Reporter

Hollywood Reporter has a big article Burning Man Turns 30: The Joys Pitfalls and Drugs of Hollywood’s Vacation for the Soul

I think it’s great to be celebrating Burning Man’s 30th birthday this year. I was born in 1973, so in 2003 I celebrated my 30th birthday. Some Burnier-Than-Thou types have been claiming that this is actually 31, because technically the first Man can’t be Zero. Like, if they go to a 1-year old’s birthday party, they go round to everyone saying “actually, this is the second birth ‘day’ of this child, don’t call it a first birthday because their birth was the first day”. If you want to get technical, then by the official story it is 33 because there were 2 Burning Mans built in 1990 and 2007. As we’ve shown in Shadow History Part 4, Larry Harvey’s 1986 Baker Beach burn was not the first one anyway. So let’s just go with “Burning Man Turns 30” and party up!

There are some interesting tidbits included in the Hollywood Reporter story. One is that the movie “Spark: A Burning Man Story” was funded produced by a venture capitalist:

Says venture capitalist Bob Zangrillo, founder and CEO of Dragon Global and producer of the 2013 documentary Spark: A Burning Man Story: “The perception of Burning Man versus the reality of Burning Man is so dramatically different. You go for a day and your entire view of Burning Man changes in 24 hours.”

That explains a lot, and is another sign that our 2014 analysis of Burning Man’s “transition” was on the right track:

Selling Out Part I – Wrapping the Gifting

Selling Out Part II – Who Could It Be Now?

Social Alchemist Seeks Sherpa For Startup Shenanigans

Here are some other highlights from Hollywood Reporter:

Industry “Burners” from Brad Falchuk to Dana Brunetti discuss the boundary-pushing wild festival in the desert, where inhibitions give way to abandon (drugs: yes; pants: optional), artists do extraordinary installations and the rich (of course) threaten tradition with private chefs, $10,000 tents and air conditioning.

Burners are an industry now?

…Cirque du Soleil, Coachella, Art Basel and Woodstock all rolled into one, under a layer of notoriously hard-to-scrub-off mineral dust. The entire week is capped by the ritual burning of the towering wooden Man effigy (2014’s was 105 feet tall) on Saturday night each year. “It’s really hard to explain why it’s so amazing to be in the desert with no shower, no physical comforts. It’s really harsh,” says Levi Vieira, a makeup artist who married his partner, Zack Bunker, a digital asset manager, there in 2014. “It’s really a vacation for the soul, not for the body.”

Is it really that hard to explain why?

Image result for molly

Just remember, Burners: as important as this may seem to your “industry” and “networking opportunities”, you’re taking your soul on vacation to a place where cult brainwashing is the raison d’etre and people walk around with contracts encouraging you to sell your soul. In a pentagram.

In 1996, Burning Man was the New American Holiday (according to WIRED).

wired 1996

In 2015 Chevy Chase’s National Lampoon’s Vacation went there – although BMOrg complained and got the scene deleted.

vacation-01 deleted scene

Now Burning Man is the must-see bucket list vacation destination for anyone in a creative industry:

“If you work in a creative industry, this is a must-see,” says Amazon Studios head of drama and 13-time attendee Morgan Wandell, who, over the years, has brought along ITV’s Adam Sher, Armie Hammer and John Stamos to experience the fun. Says artist Trek Thunder Kelly, who has been going for more than two decades: “Imagine that you’ve taken the red pill in The Matrix and walked into Alice in Wonderland on the planet Tatooine. You can have free waffles with a crew dressed like Elvis, make jewelry in a Bedouin tent, learn how to pole dance [and] take a seminar on making absinthe.”

“People can cut loose without people knowing who you are,” says Fifty Shades of Grey and House of Cards producer Dana Brunetti, who “Burned” for the first time in 2014. Notes Hand of God actor Julian Morris, who stars in the upcoming Watergate film Felt: “You want something that’s as loud and ridiculous as you can possibly imagine; someone lent me a sequined circus master jacket.” Jokes Gersh agent Jeff Greenberg, who has been going for four years: “Bring a tutu. Otherwise, you will look silly.”

And whatever you do, you don’t want to be seen looking silly at Burning man. Thank goodness for circus master jackets and sequins.

bear kucinich

Who wore it better? Burning Man Social Alchemist Bear Kittay, L; Burner Dennis Kucinich, R

larry bunnies

The 50 Shades of Grey Producer sounds exactly like the new kind of Burner being courted for VIP break-out sessions at Flysalen:

Brunetti, who went to Burning Man two years ago, did not have the festival on his bucket list. He ended up going because he met two women who are regulars on the Ibiza-to-Tulum party circuit at an event at the Chateau Marmont — “really hot girls. They were Russian,” he says — and they invited him to go, free of charge, on their private plane the next day to a luxury camp that cost upward of $10,000 a person. He said yes. “I was in an alcohol-induced state,” recalls Brunetti, who it turned out had a DJ friend, Zen Freeman, playing at the same camp. “I asked Zen what’s the deal with these girls. He said, ‘They go around the world and party. They are like female ballers.’ Another woman joined us too who’s a Victoria’s Secret model.” They flew at night, arriving at sunrise. “It started off phenomenally,” says Brunetti. “And then the three boyfriends [of the women] arrived. I was, ‘OK fine whatever, there’s plenty of other people here. Have fun.’ Then I got to the camp, and it looked like it had been raided. There was supposed to be a private chef and bar, and it looked like it had just been turned upside down. The camp had EDM music playing 24 hours a day. I was staying in a yurt. You couldn’t sleep. It just ended up being a total disaster. I tried to make the best of it. I just started taking whatever drug I could find. That was a last-ditch attempt just to save my trip. It didn’t help.” He was supposed to stay for a week, but three days in, he walked — after being waylaid by a sandstorm — to the small airport and got out via a Burner Air flight.

Went to Burning Man once for 3 days. Couldn’t take it. Feels qualified to tell everybody else about it in the media, thinking that having failed Burning Man gives them some kind of social cachet.

The festival seems to be having its transformative effect, turning Ari Gold into Mother Theresa:

Explains Greenberg: “The first year I went, we talked about what we were bringing. I was bringing coconut water, and someone said they were bringing empathy, and I remember thinking, ‘If I hand you a coconut water and you hand back some empathy, I’m going to be pissed.’ Now I get it, the idea of listening to people and how it makes me a better agent and human. So getting that recharged every year is really important.”

BMOrg are still tilting at windmills fighting their war on ravers:

The festival recently has become more of an EDM scene — Skrillex, Diplo and Major Lazer all have done sets there — prompting the Burning Man Project (the nonprofit that runs the festival, which brought in $32 million in funds in 2014, according to its most recent annual report) to crack down on camps that publicize their DJ rosters ahead of time. The organizers — explaining in a statement that “Burning Man doesn’t have ‘headliners'” — don’t want it to be seen as a music festival. Says Jennifer Raiser, author of the new book Burning Man: Art on Fire: “Unlike, say, Coachella, it’s not about buying your ticket and waiting to be entertained. It’s about figuring out how you can entertain everyone else.”

In her case, she figured out that selling a book and using her Board position to promote it would be a great way to monetize entertain. Not to mention billing the charity tax-exempt non-profit $34,900 to help them write their annual report (they still spent almost $1 million on accountants and lawyers). She’s not exactly short of a quid herself, as we covered in: The 1%? All A-Board

Forget the War on Dance Music. Turn it up! Get your 2016 Burning Man Music Lineup Here, courtesy of Rockstar Librarian.

Read the full story at the Hollywood Reporter.

Also check out Broke Ass Stuart’s 2016 Edition: Which Famous Assholes Are Going to Burning Man This Year?

We’ll let Brad Falchuk – creator of the TV Demon “Larry Harvey” – have the last word:

larry harvey horror AHS-1x03_02American Horror Story co-creator Brad Falchuk, who has been a regular since the late ’90s but went two years ago for what he says was his final time. “Seeing Instagram posts from the playa is not what I signed up for. It’s become less participatory and more of a spectator sport.” He admits, though: “I am older and I’ve done it a lot. Things evolve and they change. I still have many friends who totally love it.” Adds Brunetti: “There are more people who are going more for the scene, which I know Burning Man isn’t too keen about. They don’t want what happened to Sundance to happen there.”






Last Minute Medical Drama


Jenny Kane in the Reno Gazette Journal brings us news of some last minute tensions between Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen, who wants to use Humboldt General Hospital staff; and BMOrg, who are up in arms about a near-death last year that is just coming to light now.

A near-fatal medical incident last year has sparked renewed tension between Burning Man organizers and local authorities, none of whom can seem to agree on medical protocols for this year’s event, which begins Sunday.

Burning Man organizers last week asked Pershing County Sheriff’s Office and Humboldt General Hospital officials to meet and sign an agreement that organizers believe will help to prevent any further medical accidents. The agreement intends to clarify medical personnel’s responsibilities and procedures, Burning Man spokesman Jim Graham said.

Humboldt General Hospital officials refused to attend the meeting, which was cancelled, and Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen refused to sign the agreement.

Allen told the Reno Gazette-Journal that the agreement was a roundabout attempt to prevent him from hiring Humboldt General Hospital paramedics, whom he wishes to hire as special reserve, or temporary, deputies for this year’s event.

“We remain unclear as to what protocols those (hospital) medics follow when administering care to patients. We do not have a commitment to standardized … hand-off of patient care should those (hospital) medics treat a patient,” wrote Burning Man executive Harley Dubois in an Aug. 17 email to the Humboldt General Hospital Board of Trustees.

So what is the incident that Harley is so upset about?

Organizers were outraged when CrowdRx employees informed them of an incident on Sept. 6, when a Humboldt General Hospital staff member injected a Burning Man patient with ketamine because she was resisting officers, Dubois wrote in the email to the hospital board. Ketamine is a general anesthetic sometimes used for sedation and pain management.

The participant subsequently went into respiratory failure twice and nearly died. Burning Man’s medical staff saved her life. Ketamine is a dangerous drug, especially when mixed with alcohol, and the participant – a 110-pound female – had been drinking,” Dubois wrote in an email to the Humboldt General Hospital Board of Trustees.

The hospital employee, emergency medical services Capt. Monique Rose, injected the woman with the drug while serving as a special reserve deputy under Pershing County Sheriff’s Office, according to contracts with the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office. Rose, who remains employed at the hospital, declined comment on Tuesday. Chicago medical malpractice attorney believes that no wrong was done here.

Read the whole article at the Reno Gazette Journal – but it may not be the whole story.

Cutting their contract with Humboldt is one thing, but forcing the local sheriff to never deal with medical personnel he wants to work with sounds like Burning Man promoting disruption in the community, not harmony. These people have to live and work with each other all through the year, not just when Burners are there for a week partying participating in social engineering experiments.

It Started in SF as a Jazz Group and Now it’s a Religion

An epic performance from Sammy Davis, Jr from the 1969 movie Sweet Charity looks very much like a precursor to Burning Man. He is a preacher, singing about his new church which is sweeping the nation. It contains so many elements that make it look familiar to Burners – art cars, furry sleeveless vests, indulgent principles, a satire on Judeo/Christian religion, acid culture, weed, Pied Piper…is that the Merry Prankster’s FURTHR bus lurking in the shadows? Hit the floor and crawl to Daddy!

At the time he made this, Sammy Davis Jr was in his prime. He was a member of the “Rat Pack” with Shirley Maclaine, Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. They were also known as the “Clan” (presumably with a C not a K) or “The Summit”.

In addition, Sammy Davis, Jr just happened to be a celebrity superstar promoter of the Church of Satan – doing for Anton LaVey what Tom Cruise and John Travolta do today for the Church of Scientology. Blonde bombshell actress Jayne Mansfield, the Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian of her day, was another star Satanist.

Jayne Mansfield takes the "sacrament" from Anton LaVey

Jayne Mansfield takes the “sacrament” from Anton LaVey

Michael Aquino, Sammy Davis Jr, Anton Lavey. Image: VICE

Michael Aquino, Sammy Davis Jr, Anton Lavey. Image: VICE

Sammy starred in this 1973 TV series. Image: VICE

Sammy made a pilot in SF for this 1973 TV series. It was the plot of “It’s a Wonderful Life” in reverse. Image: VICE


As we explored in Shadow History Part 3 – Satan’s Birthday Party, there is almost no philosophical separation between scientism, satanism,  and the values of Burning Man. In Part 4 – Occult Rituals of the Cult we show how Burning Man’s own origins are from San Francisco’s occult scene, a nude beach about a block from the Church of Satan HQ, next to the Presidio Psyop Base (Part 2). Right after Burning Man moved to the desert, the Psyop HQ moved down to Moffett Field, home of Google, Yahoo, Lockheed Martin, NASA Ames, the Singularity University, and many other spooky proponents of transhumanism. The World Wide Web then sprang up around it and became the core of Silicon Valley, as we explored in Part 1 – The Shadow History of Silicon Valley.

Larry Harvey called Burning Man “a compelling physical analog for cyberspace”, in a 1997 Macworld “Digital Be-in” talk.


Dancing and Metamorphosis

Another video surfaced this week, which I posted on our Facebook Page. Apparently Walt Disney and Salvador Dali teamed up in 1945 to create a trippy surrealist desert adventure called “Destino”, based on a Mexican folk song.

Once again, we see similarities to Burning Man. Desert, mountains in the distance, cracked playa, bicycles, art cars…we have a lot of themes converging here. Humans merging with gods to create hybrid species; dancing through the wheel of time; dancing and metamorphosis, leading to love. It is dripping with occult symbolism, pyramids, all seeing eyes and so on.

Although Disney and Dalí did collaborate, most of this video was created much later. Still, it looks like Disney and Dalí imagined Burning Man in World War 2…yet another link into the vast occult empire which is Disney Corporation.

Once upon a time the Micky Mouse creator, Walt Disney, worked with the world’s most famous surrealist, Salvador Dali.
Dali was approached by Disney himself in 1945 to propose a collaborative film. Entitled “Destino”, the picture would be based upon a Mexican folk song of the same name, with the music played to accompany a sequence of Dali-designed animation. Destino is a fabled romance between Chronos, the personification of time, and a young mortal woman. The scenes blend a series of surreal paintings of Dali with dancing and metamorphosis
Walt Disney’s Destino was produced by Dali and John Hench (the Disney artist who did the storyboards) for 8 months between 1945 and 1946. Hench was described as a “ghostly figure” who knew better than Dali the secrets of the Disney film. For some time, the project remained a secret. 
But the film was eventually shelved due to WWII-era financial problems at Disney’s company. Dalí described the film as “a magical display of the problem of life in the labyrinth of time” and Disney said it was “a simple story about a young girl in search of true love.”
However, some 54 years later, the development of Fantasia’s long-awaited sequel, Fantasia 2000, inspired Disney’s nephew, Roy, to finally revive the project. A team of French animators were brought on board to produce the six-minute film on the basis of Dali’s notes and storyboards. In 2003, his musical vision was released at long last


World War 2 ended when Germany surrendered in May 1945 and the Japanese surrendered in August 1945. They were making the “notes and storyboards” for 8 months into 1946, which shows that the war had ended before this project even began.

What were the “secrets of the film” which Hench knew, but Dalí didn’t? Surely Dalí was the big name in this collaboration?

The work of painter Salvador Dali was to prepare a six-minute sequence combining animation with live dancers and special effects for a movie in the same format of “Fantasia.” The characters are fighting against time, the giant sundial that emerges from the great stone face of Jupiter and that determines the fate of all human novels. Dalí and Hench were creating a new animation technique, the cinematic equivalent of Dali’s “paranoid critique”…inspired by the work of Freud on the subconscious and the inclusion of hidden and double images.
The plot of the film was described by Dalí as “A magical display of the problem of life in the labyrinth of time.”
Walt Disney said it was “A simple story about a young girl in search of true love.”


Seems like all the usual stuff, mass media mind control, as above/so below, hidden images, black magick, the subconscious and the soul…

Dalí’s technique is more formally known as the Paranoid Critical Transformation Method, and is one of his biggest claims to fame.

Of all the Surrealists and their achievements, there is one that stands out above all the others. The Paranoiac Critical method was a sensibility, or way of perceiving reality that was developed by Salvador Dalí. It was defined by Dalí himself as “irrational knowledge” based on a “delirium of interpretation”. More simply put, it was a process by which the artist found new and unique ways to view the world around him. It is the ability of the artist or the viewer to perceive multiple images within the same configuration. The concept can be compared to Max Ernst’s frottage or Leonardo da Vinci’s scribbling and drawings. As a matter of fact, all of us have practiced the Paranoid Critical Method when gazing at stucco on a wall, or clouds in the sky, and seeing different shapes and visages therein. Dalí elevated this uniquely human characteristic into his own art form. 

Dalí, though not a true paranoid, was able to simulate a paranoid state, without the use of drugs, and upon his return to ‘normal perspective’ he would paint what he saw and envisioned therein.

Dalí was able to create what he called “hand painted dream photographs” which were physical, painted representations of the hallucinations and images he would see while in his paranoid state. Although he certainly had his own load of mental problems to bear, it can be said that Dalí’s delusions and paranoid hallucinations did not totally dominate his mind, as he was able to convey them to canvas. 
Image: Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia

Being a painter of miraculous skill, he was capable of reproducing his myriad fantasies and hallucinations as visual illusions on canvas.

It is in this context that one of Dalí’s most famous statements takes on a whole new meaning and understanding.
“The only difference between myself and a madman, is that I am not mad!”
In Dalí’s own words, taken from his Conquest of the Irrational:
“My whole ambition in the pictorial domain is to materialize the images of my concrete irrationality with the most imperialist fury of precision…”
He then goes on to say:
“Paranoiac-critical activity organizes and objectivizes in an exclusivist manner the limitless and unknown possibilities of the systematic association of subjective and objective ‘significance’ in the irrational…”
“..it makes the world of delirium pass onto the plane of reality” 


Dalí was hallucinating, but without drugs. This is certainly possible – the psychiatric justification for the development of LSD and other suggestogens was to “mimic psychosis”. The name “psycheto-mimetics” was discarded as not marketable by Humprhey Osmond and Marshall McLuhan – the Madison Avenue PR guru who also came up with Timothy Leary’s famous “Tune In. Turn On. Drop Out” tagline (though Leary also claimed he came up with it in the shower after meeting McLuhan)

It’s also quite possible that Dalí was tripping on something and just didn’t promote it in media interviews.

Here’s the video set to Pink Floyd’s classic “Time” from Dark Side of the Moon:


Transformation and the Projects

The word “Transformation” sure seems to come up a lot in looking at this Presidio/Esalen/Disney/Stanford/Burning Man cluster. This week I discovered that Dr Michael Aquino’s MindWar concept was heavily influenced by Esalen’s Transformation Project think tank.

Burning Man director Chip Conley, whose ambition is to leverage massive amounts of exclusive Burning Man content to make Fest300 the Expedia of festivals, is a trustee of the Esalen Institute. Burning Man holds their corporate retreats there, and it appears to be the model for their Fly Ranch philosophy center plans. Esalen is the occult research base of DARPA. Aquino says they had better stuff than even the CIA or DIA:


Whose project was this in 1996, before Helco?

Whose project was this in 1996, before Helco?


Of course, there are other occult pop-culture influences on Burning Man, which we have covered over the years.

The Wicker Man (1973)

The Twilight Zone – The Burning Man

The Legend of Billy Jean starring Peter Coyote (Pat Benatar’s Invincible was the theme song)

Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here

“The Burning Man”, by Storm Thorgeson (1976)

"Burning Man", by Storm Thorgeson