The Film Burning Man doesn’t want you to see

I caught Olivier Bonin’s Dust and Illusions when it premiered in Melbourne, Australia. Great movie, there were about 50 Burners in the audience and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Since then, I’ve been waiting for a broader release of the movie. It is available to rent directly from their web site:

http://dustandillusions.com/

Worth a look – I wouldn’t say it is the whole story of Burning Man, but it’s definitely an inside look at the history of the event that many Burners wouldn’t be aware of.

More social media backlash to Krug, Zoo, Fat Radish, BMOrg…and Burners.Me

Our previous updates post was getting kinda long, so we’ll continue the discussion on this one.

The story has made it to SFGate and also the Huffington Post – now part of AOL.

An Italian magazine has picked up the story (I used Google translate to get the gist of it).

At the official Blog, Burner dag Nation has a response to Zoo Camp’s playing of the forgiveness card:

Papillon Says:
May 17th, 2012 at 11:54 am
“A lot of queen dramas over here. A majority of people here reminded Oli about the spirit of BM but forgetting that forgiving is also part of the spirit.”


(checking 10 principles….) nope – nothing about forgiveness there. You must be thinking of another cult.

We all make mistakes, but an apology means nothing if there is no promise of improved behavior. We take actions and intent and other things into account, not just using the right words.

The 10 principles are not the 10 commandments, they are ideals to strive for, and at times are mutually exclusive. If one persons “Radical self expression” materially infringes on another persons experience, there is a problem. Leaving a mess to blow around all night long is flagrantly against the ethic of LNT, so protestations that the MOOPing pooper makes about radical inclusion and self expression are empty when they are ignoring community responsibility and other principles. In my world, if you can’t be responsible, you don’t deserve the freedoms that we create.

Where does that expectation of cart blanch forgiveness fit in our community? It does not, you have to go find another charismatic leader cult for that. You can’t pay Larry for absolution, however you can change your actions and attitude, and improve your relationships that have been damaged by negative, selfish, and short sighted activity.

We radically include the stranger, and invite them into our community and work to avoid any pre-conceived judgments about the people until we actually interact with them. At that point, if someone is trying to take advantage of our open and trusting community, they can hit the road. Radical inclusion does not mean that we let any abuser run a muck in our community, it means we give every one a chance.

We then turn to radical self reliance and protect our precious community from the scourge of commodification by telling these people what is wrong and demanding change. We do give people a chance to grow, but if they refuse to be responsible to this community, then in my opinion, they are no longer welcome.

Zoo camp has demonstrated disregard for our principles, and now is complaining that we are not following our principles while protecting our community. Classic judeo-christian style diverting and blaming, then expecting full forgiveness for saying “I’m sorry, I have Larry in my heart now, I am saved, and you can trust me now”

Actions speak louder than words – while not being an eye witness to any of this, I do think that Zoo camp and associated groups are treating our community like Disney land, and not respecting the community that we have built.

I love the burn, but I love the burners more!

Joshua pointed out the obvious hypocrisy, one rule for BMOrg and one for everyone else:

I agree 100% with everything that was written in this post. But I think BMorg hardly has clean hands here when it comes to Decommodification and Gifting. I mean, at least the Krug people gave their stuff away instead of selling it. You know what I’m referring to, right? Coffee in center camp? Frickin’ coffee. For Sale. In Center Camp. So, you know, remove the beam from your own eye, BMorg.

Also, did you know that for the low, low price of $500, you can have dinner with David Best and the Temple crew? And for $1000, you can have front-row seating to the Temple burn. Talk about the substitution of consumption for participatory experience, yo.

Bob the Burner says this is turning into a huge Pr WIN for Krug!:

I have several friends who work in marketing departments, and the Krug/Silkstone project is being discussed and circulated as an example of a wildly successful stealth campaign with minimal fallout/brand damage: everyone is talking about Krug and linking to their Facebook page! Choice quote in one department: “What did Burning Man do about it? Nothing. That’s why everyone’s going to try something similar, smarter, and stealthier next year–four of our clients want to discuss plans to infiltrate Burning Man 2012.”

Other than this strongly-worded letter, we’re left to wonder what will discourage other companies from doing something similar next year. The Burning Man organization needs to actively enforce the rules and principles it claims are so important rather than giving tacit approval to ignore them in the form of simply denouncing the Krug/Silkstone campaign.

Zoo Camp, its affiliates, and everyone associated with the plug-and-play camps need to be permanently banned from all future Burning Man events. To do less diminishes respect for the rules and principles upon which Burning Man was founded.

And BM founder Chicken John eloquently expounds on the hypocrisy this affair is highlighting:

The BMorg touts these 10 principles and you people buy it. Then people pay their money to come to the event but do something that you all feel is outside of these principles. So you want them to suffer. Sue them. Burn them. Call them names, cost them money. Use your social capitol to hurt them financially.

Why? Do you only want people who think and behave like you to come to this event? Isn’t this just creating another kind of convention? Isn’t being outside of convention the single factor that we all hold in high regard that makes us a family? Do you really want someone to “get it” the way you “get it” and if they don’t they “don’t get it”?

I say that if you pay your money, you can go to BM and leave garbage around, if it pleases you. I say you can get drunk and puke on people’s art. Be a nucisance. Sing pirate songs loudly and out of tune at the temple burn. You can. That is an option. It has to be, because if it’s not an option then the experiment in unrestricted generosity is invalid. You must choose to live in gratitude and service. You must chose to be cool and tolerant. You are all getting angry at these Krug people. You should feel sorry for them, that the expericence that you hold so dearly had eluded them.

But really what I am reading here is that many of you are doing what they did. You are not seeing the bigger picture. You guys are supposed to turn the Krugs into… well, something else. Something else besides people who wanted photos for their product at BM or whatever. This is a great opportunity, and you all are blowing it. You are trying to Control. You should be using Chaos. You want to ban them? What ever for? Breaking the rule? These people are the ones that NEED people like you to pay attention to them. To invite them to parties. To help build stupid shit.

This thread is totally un-inspiring. Shame on most of you for your gossip and your close-minedness. Do you think that our culture and our event can not survive a few mistakes? That we don’t have systems in place to clean up a little garbage or send out a letter pointing out our photography policy? Do you think that being mean and dismissive to people teaches them a lesson, and makes them nice? Is this your first rodeo?

Krug champaine is a brand just like The Do Lab. Bass Nectar. Opulent Temple. Kinetic Steamworks. Extra Action Marching Band. Booty. Whatever Art Car. People who are popular because of BM throw parties and make hundreds of thousands of dollars. Think of the Sea of Dreams New Years eve event. RV rentals. Why can’t Krug use BM to promote their product if Bass Nectar can? BM has dj’s. BM also has booze. Bass Nectar makes probably $10K to DJ in a big club. The cover of his CD is a photo of him spinning at BM. Why can’t the bottle of champagne be a photo from BM? they are both a product. What about all the clothing design stuff? My pal John Serrigardie makes shade structures. He uses photos of his shade structures at BM to sell them. And he turns a nice profit. No one complains about him. Your argument is thin. To me, anyway.

you have to give people the benifit of the doubt. Maybe you know something. Someone else doesn’t know it. Yet. Leave a little room. And remember that the 10 principles are a load of horseshit spouted to you from a man who lived his life in books, not here in the real world. Nowhere in the 10 principles does it say anything about the most important thing in life, which is what BM is about: making magic moments.

Nothing on this thread is making magic moments. So it’s gossip and crap.

Notice your opinion, then know that that opinion is judgement. Know that judgement is an option, you don’t have to do it. Let it go, and do something better with your time.

We can all do better then this. I have every confidence that we will.

We agree with Chicken John’s sentiments. Well said, sir. Not everyone does though. Burner Linus Minimax attempts an answer:

Because of the ratio between what they’ve contributed to BM vs. how much of what they’ve contributed ends up in the promotional pitch. Seems Krug threw one party, which was only experienced as a ‘gift’ by a handful of burners almost as an afterthought, and it’s fair to presume that Krug’s contribution was entirely anticipatory of its later mediated deployment — nothing occured for its own immediacy, whatever Fun was had is stained by the fact that it only existed to be evoked later as hammy hype. Whatever ‘social capital’ that Krug deposited, they withdrew more. They have no Excuses in the Burning Bank.

Conversely, the EAMB (feat. Dr. Hal) contributed what stands out in my memory as the highlight of ’03′s BRC; if DVDs were for sale, I’d buy one first and wonder whether a line had been crossed later. When I heard about the properly-published-and-pricetagged PissClear book, I didn’t smell sellout or SIN. Did anyone??

We don’t agree with this argument, because it makes someone the arbiter of what commercialization is OK and what isn’t (ie. Communism…or even worse, Crony Capitalism). Our position is laissez-faire capitalism: why even have an argument? Burning Man is a petri dish cultural experiment. It’s fuelled by money. Embrace this, don’t prohibit. Prohibition doesn’t work. If you stop denying that it goes on, you can regulate and yes even tax it. Just put the tax back into the event, eg. use it so the coffees are free, or support more than 15% of the art grant applications.

We copped some flak on Facebook! Apparently a blog that describes itself as “Burning Man commentary” shouldn’t have any opinions:

Sean Mag Aoidh:

It is not your place to tell anyone to stop hating. I read what you provided, along with at least 5 other internet postings and hundreds and hundreds of postings by other Burners and my “informed” choice is to “hate” the more I discover. I can make up my own mind as can any Burner thank you. Burners.Me is just an opinionated blog that likes to refer to Burning Man as a “Party.” I feel confident in saying that most of us steeped in Burning Man culture find it to be a lot more than just a party. I have a hard time taking anything they have to say seriously. I prefer the testimonials, eye witness accounts, and evidence brought forward by my fellow Burners as presented in the link I provided. In that sense I only speak for me, and I’d never tell the community how they are supposed to think as you are.

people lining up to spend money

Opinionated? A Burner? Surely not…if it’s not a party, then we’d like to hear everyone’s opinions about what it is. A Temporary Autonomous Zone? We’ve certainly shared the spiritual side and Larry’s ideas that it’s not just a party in the desert in recent posts. In our opinion, it is one helluva party, the best party in the world by miles. An outdoor camping costume party in an inhospitable part of a beautiful desert. Where nothing is provided for you, there are no trash cans… you have to bring it all with you and take it all out with you. It’s the world’s biggest art festival, with giant interactive pieces that they set fire to, and some of the best DJs, and everywhere you go people just give you stuff. Whatever you need, it manifests. Often instantly, usually unexpectedly. The people you meet there and the experiences you have there can change your life. It’s a party as big as a small city, with wi-fi, kids, grandparents, cops, firefighters and ambulances, a hospital. And sure, there are lots of other elements too. But “absolutely no money ever” is not one of them. That’s just a joke. Clearly money exists at Burning Man, always has, always will. If you can’t see that you’re blind. Open your eyes, it IS a party, people are in high spirits and celebrating, it all costs a lot of money, and it’s awesome! Celebrate those amazing patrons who create Giant Robots and 100-foot high oil platforms and then Burn them for our entertainment, not just for themselves. These people are great, and the huge teams who get paid to work for them are great too. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Embrace commerce, make them get a permit and agree to abide by the rules or be fined. Just like a 5-star hotel would. If you don’t want to see it, then send it over to the other side of the Playa. It’s Fertility 2.0, let’s create 2 worlds. A world of love and a world of hate, perhaps? Both co-existing at the same party? Oh wait, it’s not just a party, it’s a…[please comment]

I guess some Burners are hippies. To them it’s about peace and love and kindless, learning and growing together. These  Zoo people should all volunteer for MOOP patrol next year, and all will be forgiven. Laugh, smile, fuck, play, dance, move on. To other Burners, this is a flagrant violation of the rules. It’s about a community, rules are there to be obeyed, and if you don’t obey them, we’re going to be vicious, and spiteful, and call for your banishment and/or harm or death. And we are people with a mob mentality in an unregulated desert environment, we are there by the tens of thousands, and we have flamethrowers. Another group of Burners are ravers, they are there for the bass and the glowing stuff. I suspect the ravers are more on the “do nothing” side, who gives a shit, there’s dancing to be had!

Whatever Sean might think about this: STOP HATING. Even if that is hippy-like behavior. There’s too much hate in the world already, we need more kindness and forgiveness. Move on to a better future, where any dinner parties on the Playa are going to be way cooler than this cheesy headdress one. If you need them to make amends, then move on from the hate and state your demands. According to our poll about 1/4 say move on, just under 1/2 say banishment, and the rest want some form of donation to The Burning Man Project or BRAF.

A floating Burning Man on the Sacramento Delta

Ephemerisle is a Burning Man inspired event on the Sacramento River, this year from June 6-10. A number of floating platforms are constructed, with art attached. Need to cool off, or take a leak? Just jump in the river.

We construct a floating city on the Sacramento River Delta and live on it for four days. You could think of it as Burning Man on water, but there’s a lot more to it. Burning Man is now a large, polished, centrally organized, and carefully controlled event. Ephemerisle has elements of Burning Man in the early 1990s: a new adventure into an alien environment, with discoveries, adventures, and mishaps along the way. There are no tickets, no central organizers, no rules, and no Rangers to keep you safe. It’s radical self-reliance. New to life on the water? So are we! We’re figuring it out as we go.

Since there’s no central organizer, the event only happens if people contribute. Here are some things you can do: bring art, give talks, build your own boats and platforms, make music, help build this wiki, go wakeboarding and enjoy being a pioneer.

This event is related to the anarcho-capitalist offshore island Ephemerisle, a plan being pursued by the Peter Thiel-backed Seasteading Institute. It began in 2009, with about 100 people. The Seasteading Institute later backed out when they learned that they would have to pay $300/head for insurance; the Ephemerisle community decided to press on and have the event anyway. Seasteading have now given the Ephemerisle name back to the community.

Ephemerisle 2009, photo by Dav


Originally the event was organized by the Seasteading Institute (http://seasteading.org/) to promote the cultural concept of seasteading – the construction of autonomous floating nation-states – in a hands-on and accessible way. TSI bravely did this event with no insurance the first year (2009).

In the second year, TSI abandoned the event about a month before it was to begin because the insurance costs turned out to be around $300/person. As a community we decided to show up anyway and create an unofficial self-organized event. Despite the lack of central organization, it still worked quite well, and around 120 people showed up and had a great time.

For 2011, there were no central organizer, but things came together great for another Not-Ephemerisle Event.

After the 2011 event, TSI officially abandoned the Ephemerisle name and handed it over to the community.

Wired Magazine covered the event in 2010:

When participants weren’t trading visions of their utopian futures, they floated around and enjoyed art and music. Pirate accordionist Jason Webley and trapeze artist Miriam Telles regaled spectators. Interactive art bobbed beside the boats. And a heady gathering called “Memocracy Conference” gave festival-goers a chance to share radical ideas (or memes) about the future of biotech, telepresence, life extension, secessionism and robots.