BMorg Finally Wakes Up To Culture Disaster: Is It Too Late?

Image: Business Insider, 2015

Ticket prices have gone up to $1400.

To distract us from that, there’s a huge blog post by Burning Man’s CEO Marian Goodell Cultural Course Correcting saying that after listening to several thousand people’s responses to a survey, they’ve learned that some Burners have concerns that Principles like “Radical Self Reliance” seem to be getting left by the wayside as the event catapults to celebrity superstardom.

As CEO of the nonprofit Burning Man Project, I do a lot of listening. People enthusiastically share their Burning Man experiences, ideas, and concerns with me. Lately, participants have been talking about some alarming changes in the culture of Burning Man in Black Rock City, and their speculation as to who and what is causing them…

After Black Rock City 2018, our Communications Team compiled examples of commodification and exploitation of Black Rock City and Burning Man culture. The report is 55 pages long. We’ve been observing some troubling trends for a few years, but this report stunned me.  

We have been sounding the culture alarm here for 7 years now, and so have many other Burners. Finally that message has filtered its way through the self-absorbed BMorg holocracy to the people at the top.

The solution? Keep VIP tickets, but increase their price even further, to $1400. Reduce the number of low-income tickets. Only offer 23,000 tickets (less than 1 in 3) to the general public, while beefing up the Directed Group Sale World’s Biggest Guest List to more than half the total tickets.

Here’s the 2019 ticket distribution.

Even with the price increase and all taxes and fees, it doesn’t get up to last year’s event revenue. Seems to be millions of dollars of stuff that’s not ice or coffee being sold out there, either that or thousands more tickets.

Note that every number is “approximately” and they have now admitted they oversell the festival by perhaps 7,000 tickets a year. So how “approximate” the limitation of 4000 VIP tickets is may never be known: seriously, the government is redacting that information in response to FOIA requests. How many VIP tickets Burning Man sells is a state secret…ponder that.

The camp “Humano” was named and shamed as having too much money and too many women who were both good looking and bored looking at the same time. Tickets to their hotel rooms were going for up to $100,000, and allegedly came with entertainment.

They had the classic “fortress camp” layout, that would have stood out like a sore thumb at Burning Man 1998.

Read the full story at Mashable

A lengthy Reddit thread devoted to Humano features various camp neighbors accusing them of “ruining multiple blocks” with MOOP and leaving trailers in areas zoned for other camps. There are also allegations that Humano’s packages were priced to include the companionship of multiple female models

Mashable was also shown unmet requests for refunds from Humano attendees who paid upwards of $130,000 for a stay in a luxury RV and didn’t get what they bargained for. 

And all this may be just the tip of the iceberg of bad camps. “There are a dozen other camps that have been sent warnings,” Goodell wrote. 

[Source: Mashable]

Burning Man Board members Jim Tananbaum and Chip Conley have previously attracted scrutiny and criticism for their opulent, exclusive, multi-million dollar luxury camps.

See this inside look at a Fancy Camp from 2015.

The #HumanoTheTribe Instagram hashtag sure has some purdy ladies. Maybe banning them is not such a smart idea. If these Instagram models are using Burning Man to promote a product, it’s hard to tell what that is because they’re not wearing very much of anything. I can’t see any brand names. I say comp them all VIP tickets. These pictures explain why Burning Man tickets are worth $1400 more than Marian’s blog post did.

Sunshine Superheroes

by Whatsblem the Pro

Looks like that troublemaker Sol is in jail again

Looks like that troublemaker Sol is in jail again

Black Rock Solar, a non-profit run by superhero burners, has just completed the installation of a large photovoltaic array on the roof of another non-profit that serves the homeless and hungry in Carson City, Nevada.

The array consists of 130 solar panels delivering a whopping 28 kilowatts of unmetered, mostly green electricity to Friends in Service Helping (FISH), Northern Nevada’s largest services provider to those in crisis. FISH provides a dizzying panoply of services to the needy, and served 18,337 Nevadans in 2012 alone.

The solar array is expected to cut FISH’s electric bill by an estimated $6,500 per year. With a projected lifetime of at least twenty-five years, the solar array – which cost $112,000 to build, at no cost to FISH – is worth approximately $162,500 in energy savings.

Jim Peckham, Executive Director at FISH, was quoted in Black Rock Solar’s press release, saying “the savings from this array will make it possible for us to do more for our people. For example, it could double the amount of food we can serve in our dining room, or cover the cost of the insulin we provide to diabetic patients.”

With the project completed just in time for the holidays, FISH will be able to put even more on the table at their 2013 Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless and indigent. Along with cooked meals served in their free dining hall, the non-profit organization also provides those in need with groceries, showers, clean clothes, counseling, shelter space, and a free medical clinic; FISH also operates several thrift stores in the area, but 95% of their yearly budget comes from donations. Their motto is “not just a handout, but a hand up.”

Funding for the solar array came via a large rebate from NV Energy, supplemented by crowd-funding conducted by Black Rock Solar. Thanks to the rebate, Black Rock Solar was able to provide $9.33 worth of free solar to FISH for every donated dollar. “It’s an exciting opportunity to see donation dollars doing real good in the community,” noted Patrick McCully, Black Rock Solar’s Executive Director.

“This has been a special project for us,” said Marnee Benson, Deputy Director of Black Rock Solar, citing both the technical challenges of installing the array, and the funding requirements. “We’re pleased the array is completed just in time for the holidays, so FISH can start channeling more of their donations directly into programs and services.”

This is not Black Rock Solar’s first rodeo by a long shot. On October 21st of this year, they won the Brian D. Robertson Solar Schools Memorial Fund Award after being nominated by the fund’s Board of Directors and then selected by public vote as the most deserving organization of 2013. The non-profit has installed a host of solar arrays totaling some 3.5 megawatts to date, all at zero cost or deep discount. Recipients of their energy-efficient generosity include a number of Northern Nevada’s other non-profits, along with Native American tribal councils, rural towns, and school districts. If you keep an eye peeled on your way in or out of Black Rock City, you just might see one or two of those installations along the way. The non-profit also makes a significant contribution on-playa at Burning Man each year.

Doin’ it right. Black Rock Solar, we salute you.

To find out more about Black Rock Solar, visit their website at, or drop in on their Facebook page.

Black Rock Solar in Black Rock City, Burning Man 2011

Burn Before, After, and While Reading

by Whatsblem the Pro

3 out of 4 BARmag staffers have human faces -- Photo: BARmag

3 out of 4 BARmag staffers have human faces

While some might assume that we’re rivals, here at we regard the staff of BURN AFTER READING MAGAZINE as a great bunch of people who put out some excellent writing on the subject of Burning Man. We’re pleased to have them as colleagues, and happy to see them thrive.

BARmag co-founder Jessi ‘Sprocket’ Janusee graciously agreed to do an interview with our own Whatsblem the Pro.

Whatsblem the Pro:

What do you tell people when they ask you what BARmag is?

Jessi ‘Sprocket’ Janusee:

BARmag – or Burn After Reading Magazine – is a burner art and culture mag. We cover burner stuff all around the world, from Afrikaburn to the Temple of Christchurch in New Zealand. We post articles on the web year-round. Aside from our website we have a print magazine at Burning Man.

Whatsblem the Pro:

You co-founded BARmag, right?

Jessi ‘Sprocket’ Janusee:

Yes. Doug Crissman, our art director, and myself started the magazine in the winter of 2011. I was doing volunteer work at another magazine during that time and it made me realize that we could easily be doing our own art mag. Doug was a part of another art magazine in college, called Deek. He did a lot of design for that and even helped to run it for a couple years post-grad until the magazine eventually folded. When I brought up the idea of the magazine he was immediately on board, although I’m not sure if he realized I was actually serious about it. Two months later BARmag was up and running on the web.

Aside from the two of us, we have roughly thirty to thirty-five volunteers who do a lot of the articles and design. The coolest part is that our volunteers are literally spread all over the globe. 

Whatsblem the Pro:

What are BARmag‘s goals?

Jessi ‘Sprocket’ Janusee:

I think the ultimate goal for BARmag is that we find a way to be fully self sufficient. No kickstarters and constantly begging for donations. Just an awesome magazine each year on the Playa showcasing the amazing art all these people bring to the desert. If we grew to be a quarterly magazine and I could pay my staff and we could give a grant to Burning Man literary art each year that would be my dream world.

Whatsblem the Pro:

Can anyone write for BARmag?

Jessi ‘Sprocket’ Janusee:

Yup! We are radically inclusive. That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll just take every article though. We like to keep our magazine focused on Burning Man art and culture specifically. We also don’t take any fiction or poetry. But we are happy to work with everyone and the more volunteers the merrier!

Whatsblem the Pro:

What does BARmag do on the playa during Burning Man?

Jessi ‘Sprocket’ Janusee:

Raised by Wolves, Dressed by Ringling Bros.

Raised by Wolves, Dressed by Ringling Bros.

Our cafe is part of the frontage of Raised By Wolves which is my home camp. Some magazine members camp with us but many of them have their own camps all over playa. Luckily my friends at Raised By Wolves are totally into running our cafe and helping to gift the magazine. Their support really makes our magazine that much more special. I’m really grateful for all of them and for all of the magazine staff that continue to make this project happen.

Whatsblem the Pro:

Assuming an article isn’t something you reject automatically, like fiction or poetry, what is it that you look for in a piece of writing that might be appropriate for BARmag?

Jessi ‘Sprocket’ Janusee:

The art and culture thing is a big criteria. As long as an article encompasses that wether its a review of a burner party or a fabulous Burning Man packing list if it highlights the art and gives back to our culture then it goes in the mag.

Whatsblem the Pro:

How did you find your way to Burning Man, and how has it changed your life year-round? How has it influenced you as a writer and editor?

Jessi ‘Sprocket’ Janusee:

I stumbled onto Burning Man accidentally. In July 2010 I moved into a new house in Philly and my two roommates were going to the Burn. They invited me to a couple Burning Man parties – PEX Magic Garden and Disorient Boom Boat. I was totally blown away. These were my people! They loved crazy art and costumes as much as I did! Not only that but they created the worlds I dreamed up as a kid! I helped do set up for Magic Garden as well as set up and strike for Boom Boat. I was immediately hooked. That August my roomie, Tristen and I drove my car full of people and stuff from Philadelphia to Black Rock City. Last year Tristen and I got engaged at Kostume Kult on Playa.

It changed my life by teaching me that art is something you can create RIGHT NOW! It’s inspired me to take my big ideas and actually make them happen! As a writer and editor it taught me that I didn’t need the validation of others to make things. I could create things for myself and if others enjoyed them then that was a total bonus.

You can help keep BARmag running on and off the playa by donating to their Kickstarter campaign.

The Poor Man’s Burning Man: Part One

by Whatsblem the Pro

People have some pretty crazy ideas regarding what Burning Man is all about. Even hardcore burners have a difficult time agreeing just what it is we’re all doing out there, unless they are wise enough to define it as something very open-ended that is many different things to many people.

One of the more common misapprehensions that so many people have about Burning Man is that it’s a hippie peace ‘n’ love (and sex and drugs) festival. While it’s true that every variety of hippie – from crafty, hard-working old ’60s-vintage radicals with tons of skills, to ragged young drainbows in tie-dyed Grateful Dead Army uniforms begging “the universe” for tickets and water – can be found in Black Rock City, that’s because it is a city, with many diverse streams of culture. Among the teeming masses of Nevada’s third-largest urban center, there’s plenty of room for quite a large number of every species of hippie without it being all about them. “Burners are hippies” as a meme is just plain mistaken.

Burners are people who tend to have certain things in common, but the commonalities are striped across a staggeringly broad spectrum of other cultures. . . so broad, that I would go so far as to say that burner culture is probably the most eclectic human culture yet devised, taking the worthiest bits and pieces from many sources and melding them into a tasty gumbo of mutual understanding and acceptance. Sometimes respect goes hand-in-hand with that acceptance, and sometimes it doesn’t, and that’s fine; we’re not a fundamentally hippie-based culture, and it’s fairly well-understood that we don’t have to love or even like each other to make room for each other and do what we do. The oft-heard playa sentiment “fuck yer day” does not generally mean “GTFO.”

Good. Very, very good. -- Image:

Good. Very, very good. — Image:

Bad. Very, very, very, very, bad. -- Photo: Shutterstock

Bad. Very, very, very, very, bad. — Photo: Shutterstock

Another very popular myth is that you have to be rich to go to Burning Man; there’s a persistent tall tale among non-burners to the effect that Black Rock City is populated entirely by elitist multimillionaires, which seems rather at odds with the notion that we’re all hippie beggars who eat out of dumpsters and hit up working people for spare change so we can buy weed.

I know a lot of financially challenged people who go to Burning Man. Not a few of them live well below the poverty line all year ’round, often because they are artists and because they donate a lot of their time and effort. I know a lot of non-artists who go to Burning Man and are financially challenged, too. . . and I don’t mean that their stock portfolio took a bruising when the housing bubble burst; I mean they have trouble paying the rent on time and feeding themselves decently, and sometimes have to spend weeks or months living in their vehicles.

There is, of course, an eternal and vital intersection that brings the rich into contact with the creative poor, transforms entire swathes of decayed cityscape in flurries of urban renewal, and foments patronage of the arts. . . and if Burning Man is representative of that intersection, it is the crossroads of an Art superhighway with Big Money Boulevard. The usual result of that kind of interaction is that some crumbling, dangerous neighborhood with cheap real estate fills up with artists looking to live cheaply, and the money follows them and eventually injects some hoidy-toidy into the area, driving the average rent up and driving the struggling artists out, to seek shoestring budget living elsewhere and start the process over again.

Burning Man is different. There’s no real estate market to sway, just ticket prices. . . so there’s no way for the money to gentrify us and drive out the funky low-budget players in favor of “white cube” art gallery snobs.

It does take a significant investment to render yourself playa-ready, obtain a ticket, and transport your ass and your gear to the Black Rock desert. . . and the cost can get much steeper if you happen to live someplace on the other side of an ocean. Your investment, however – and it is an investment, not just money blown on an expensive vacation – doesn’t necessarily have to involve much in the way of actual cash.

How, though, do the burning poor manage it, exactly? How can you do it too?

In a nutshell, the answer is simple: Find some burners who have more going on than you do, and make yourself useful. If you can manage to identify and fill a necessary function for an art project or theme camp or other conclave of burners, then you’re GOING, and that’s all there is to it. Take up the slack for your crew, make yourself invaluable, and your crew will take up the slack for you. This could mean a month or two of unpaid labor on some massive art gewgaw; it could mean signing up for some crucial role in an established theme camp, like cook, or art car driver; it could mean joining DPW and earning your patches (although you won’t typically get a free ticket your first year). For some, it might mean being pretty and sucking cock on demand in some venture capitalist’s swanky RV; if that’s an acceptable billet in your view of the world, more power to you; nobody can tell you you’re wrong but you, and I would like to respectfully request your phone number, please.


This article is the first in what will be a regular series that will show you one avenue to getting to Black Rock City in a very practical and detailed way: I am embedding myself with the International Arts Megacrew to work on their 2013 project, known as “The Control Tower.” Initially, I’ll be making swag and soliciting donations of essential equipment and materials for the project, and my role will change and expand as the project progresses and evolves.

I’ve already written about the Control Tower project, but I’ll begin by giving you some background.

The International Arts Megacrew is the group that built architect Ken Rose’s Temple of Transition in 2011. Their 2013 project, the Control Tower, will be built at the Generator, a brand-new community industrial arts space in Sparks, just outside Reno, Nevada. The Generator is managed by the Pier Crew’s Matt Schultz, and generously funded by an anonymous donor who has underwritten quite a bit of playa art over the years.

I wasn’t a member of the IAM’s Temple crew in 2011, but I did show up for the last few weeks of their build, and assisted the welders, mostly by grinding metal for hours on end in oven-like heat at the Hobson’s Corner site in Reno. I first became acquainted with the Pier Crew people while working on Burn Wall Street (sorry about that), as the two projects shared space at the Salvagery. When I saw how incredibly cool the Pier’s project was, I donated some old fencing swords I had for the skeletal crew of the ship they built, and served as humble shop bitch providing elbow grease and other assistance to the gentleman who designed and built the ship’s anchor.

The Pier Crew amazed us all in 2012 -- Photo: Jason Silverio

The Pier Crew amazed us all in 2012 — Photo: Jason Silverio

When I first visited the Generator, it was to interview Jerry Snyder about his Ichthyosaur Puppet project. Matt Schultz was there as well, and we got reacquainted with each other and spent some time touring the space as Matt gave me the lowdown on his vision.

“The Generator,” he told me, “is not just a place for Burning Man projects. This will be a space for the entire community, where anyone who is willing to pitch in and contribute a bit is welcome – without paying any fees whatsoever – to come and make art, learn new skills, and teach new skills to others. We’re going to have some serious tools here for people to use. They’ll have to bring their own materials, unless someone here who doesn’t mind sharing happens to have what they need.

“It’s an arts incubator,” he sums up. “A hive of creative people who share their talents, resources and ideas to make amazing new art.”

Schultz points to the freshly-painted walls of the gigantic open space, which is still brand-new and mostly devoid of any hint of tools or activity. “We put out the word, and a whole crew of volunteers came in here and did all that painting. That’s what I’m talking about when I say we need people to be willing to contribute. It’s a tribal thing; if you behave like a member of the tribe and don’t mind spending a little bit of your time doing things that help everyone, then there should be no problem with you being here and getting all kinds of benefits from the space and the resources in it.”

As we talk, I reflect on the welcoming nature of our community. It’s true that I’ve got a little bit of an inside track, but there’s no favoritism in play here; had I shown up cold, knowing nobody at the Generator and having no history with them, we would be having the same conversation, and I’d be given the same opportunity to participate.

“Is there anything I can do to help out today?” I ask.

Schultz shows me to a room where painting supplies are stored, and gives me instructions for painting the spacious bathroom, a job which someone has begun but not yet finished. He leaves the building as I get to work with the roller. . . to an extent, the trust here is given freely, to be rescinded if necessary, rather than earned. I spend the rest of the afternoon painting happily.

It's a lot less empty this week -- Photo: Whatsblem the Pro

It’s a lot less empty this week — Photo: Whatsblem the Pro

The next day I show up early for a meeting with the IAM’s leader, James Diarmaid Horken, aka ‘Irish.’ The space reserved for the Control Tower build, empty the day before, has erupted into a fully-equipped meeting and planning zone overnight, with pallets screwed together to support a large L-shaped expanse of whiteboard, a big desk at which Irish sits working, a model of the Control Tower in bamboo and wire, and a complete living room set, with artificial houseplants and decorative sculpture making the semicircle of couches and coffee tables seem warm and homey in the cold sterility of the giant warehouse.

As I’m waiting for the rest of the group to assemble and come to order, I stroll around surveying the other changes that have taken place while I was sleeping. There are more tools, more tables, more spaces marked off on the floors in chalk. Someone is setting up welding equipment and a really expensive professional-grade drill press in a large side room. The Generator is still mostly just a big empty industrial space, but signs of life are unmistakable, and it is booming and blooming with a palpable vitality.

Old friends and new ones drift in, gathering to find out what the Control Tower project is all about. I chat with Ken Rose, the IAM’s architect, about the computational architecture behind the construction techniques that will give the structure great strength using a minimum of materials. “Russian mathematicians came up with this stuff about a hundred years ago,” he tells me. “Open-lattice hyperboloids like the one we’re going to build offer very good structural strength using only about 25% of the materials we’d need to build a rectangular frame structure.”

Soon the meeting is underway, and Irish is giving us a run-down of the road ahead. He has made lists of equipment, supplies, and materials we’re going to need, and written it all on the whiteboards behind him, with other lists and notes that give us an idea of what skill sets are going to be required. The prospective crew members listen intently, their eyes focused on the whiteboards, or the scale model, or on Irish and Ken as they explain their vision and the rough timetable they’ve devised. They tell us about the vast array of programmable LEDs, and the flamethrowers, and the lasers. They talk about everything from the meaning behind the ideas, to hard logistical challenges that we’ll be facing.

When the meeting is over, we unwind a bit, eating watermelon and bouncing ideas and Nerf darts off each other’s heads. Other people on other projects are knocking off for the day as well. A small but spirited war erupts in one of the still-open areas; Nerf guns are more abundant here than is probably typical of industrial work spaces. As I’m minding my own business and looking over a coffee table book of art by Leonardo da Vinci, a Nerf dart strikes me directly in the forehead and sticks there.

The next few days are a flurry of activity. My mornings are spent doing research and making phone calls, trying to drum up support in the form of donations from local business people. In the afternoons I get my personal working space at the Generator set up, so I can work on carving and tooling leather to make swag for people who donate to our project. More artists and more tools are showing up, almost hourly. The first ribs of the ichthyosaur skeleton that Jerry Snyder is building hang on a huge rack. Someone seems to be constructing a dance floor in one corner; judging by the work, whoever it is must be a master carpenter.

Irish calls me on the phone one morning soon after the Control Tower meeting. “Will you be here this evening around ten o’clock?” he asks me. “We’re having a laser test.”

“Lasers?” I say, ears perking up. “Of course I’ll be there.”

When I arrive, two people are unloading some serious laser gear from the back of a truck inside the Generator. The fellow in charge of the lasers is Skippy, an Opulent Temple member who provides OT and other organizations and events with laser light shows, using an array of equipment mostly salvaged, rebuilt, and repurposed from discarded medical equipment. When he’s ready and his smoke generator is puffing away, we turn the lights out, and he activates his multicolored little wonders of science in a dazzling automated sequence that lasts over an hour.

We’re all friends, or at least not enemies. We’re working hard, and we’re having a blast doing it. We’re not just building art, we’re building a new world. One day, if humanity doesn’t destroy itself somehow and civilization manages to endure, the day will come when automation makes us all redundant as workers; when that day comes, everyone will be like us: doing only the types of work that they find worth doing. Soon come, soon come.

You can read Part Two of The Poor Man’s Burning Man at:

Your Own Art Car? Wunder’s Rockbox on the Auction Block

by Whatsblem the Pro

Photo: wwardlaw

Photo: wwardlaw

Derek Wunder has been going to Burning Man every year for the last thirteen years; he’s going to miss 2013 because he’s got a baby on the way, due the week of the burn. You may have heard of Derek; if not, you’ve almost certainly seen his art car, the Rockbox: a giant ’80s-style boom box on wheels that holds roughly fifty people as it cruises the playa in search of giant cassette tapes. The Rockbox is twenty-four feet long, built on a 1987 Dodge one-ton van with a 318 V-8 engine, and sports a custom sound system designed for use on the playa.

I noticed this morning that the Rockbox is for sale on Craigslist, so I got in touch with Derek Wunder and asked him about it.


What’s the actual asking price for the Rockbox, Derek? That Laughing Squid article says $5,200, but the Craigslist ad says $13,500.


The price listed on the Craigslist ad is an error; the actual price is $5200 for the car, and $13,500 for the car and the sound system. I’ve also got a triple-axle trailer suitable for hauling the Rockbox, and I’m willing to let that go for $6500. Those prices are a lot less than what I’ve got in it; I’m not even breaking even by selling it, so I’m firm and don’t want to deal with any lowballers. I figure anyone who can’t scrape together my asking price doesn’t have the budget to maintain the car anyway. . . and I want to get it to someone who will give it a good home, and who has the means to bring it to Burning Man this year!


Why are you selling her?


A lot of reasons. . . with an art car of this scale there’s a certain level of commitment you have to put into it to make it work, and I’ve got a baby on the way. Plus, although I’m taking a break from Burning Man this year and my priorities are really focused on being a father at the moment, I do want to move forward and build something new when things settle down a bit. I’m very happy with the Rockbox, and I’d like to see someone take it over and keep bringing it to the playa – in fact, I’m hoping that whoever does buy it will want me to continue to be part of the project, although not this year – but I’m looking ahead and wanting to create something new.

Photo: chednugget

Photo: chednugget


Is there a lot of maintenance involved?


The Rockbox took five people seven months to build back in 2007. We ran it on the playa for four days that year, while it was still under construction. I didn’t do any maintenance to it at all that year and tried to bring it back to Burning Man in ’08 without fussing with it, but kept having mechanical problems. Before bringing it back in 2011, I did three weeks’ worth of preventative maintenance on it and had no breakdowns at all. . . so you do have to be diligent about doing some maintenance, but it’s really not that bad at all, and is easier if you do it sooner rather than later.

We never finished the lighting system due to budget and time constraints so we did a lot of daytime cruises in 2011. It lights up a lot better now than it ever has out on the playa!

You definitely have to be into working on the thing rather than just wanting to drive it around on the playa. There’s more to it than just driving it, and the biggest challenge is getting it home again when Burning Man is over.


Sure. We could have put a man on the Moon in the ’50s, but getting him back again would have been a problem.


Right. You need the resources to handle whatever unexpected thing might come up out there.


Is it hard to drive? Obviously it’s not street-legal, right?


It’s not legal on public roadways at all.

Driving it is not that tough; you can even DJ while you drive the car if you really think you have to, although I don’t recommend it. Backing up takes a spotter or two, but I have a camera system I’ve been meaning to install to allow the driver to see what’s behind the car, and I could throw that in on the deal.


Tell me about your next project.


I had the idea for the Rockbox in 2004, and came up with the idea for the new project – the Smiling Conundrum – at the same time. It’s a large-scale dicycle car with 12-foot steel wheels. One of the wheels has a big smiley face painted on it; the other has a frowny face, so it looks happy or sad depending on if it’s coming or going. It’s about halfway done right now, but I’ve got it on a back burner with everything else that isn’t a baby.

I started building the Smiling Conundrum with a gas-powered motorcycle engine, but decided to go electric with it instead. . . so it didn’t make it to the playa in 2010 because going electric meant rebuilding the drive train.

When it’s finished, it’ll be solar-powered, with an onboard gas-powered generator for emergency backup, and will also be capable of accepting a charge from grid power.


I hope to see it out there, and you with it. Thanks for talking with me; good luck with the new baby you’ve got coming.


My pleasure, thank you.

Image: Derek Wunder

Image: Derek Wunder

Image: Derek Wunder

Image: Derek Wunder

Image: Derek Wunder

Image: Derek Wunder