Sorry BMOrg, the Money Changers Are Already in the Temple.

By Terry Gotham

In 2006, out in the Deep Playa, about as far away from the Man as the man was from 10 & 2, there was this piece of art called Uchronia that we affectionately dubbed the “Belgian Waffle.” A massive installation by Belgian artists that we were quite sad never served breakfast. At night, it turned into de facto megaclub on playa cranking out some of the stompiest techno, trance and glitter house I’d ever heard. I found it to be a very interesting alternative to some of the American, non-fully electronicized camps that still played a mix of jazz, house, disco, alternative & live sounds. It was at times a dirty, intoxicated mess of fur coats and tekno music.

I had no idea that installation would be relevant as a metaphor 11 years later, after a Global Leadership Conference & insightful Burn.Life article on how the powers that be see the problems that plague Black Rock City.  People are finally realizing that the utopia they took such pride in building has become an unaffordable, elitist, mainstreamed event. The ticketing system, while a noble attempt at solving the “Burning Man is Full” problem that simply didn’t exist a decade ago, continues to frustrate long-time Burners & small/mid-size camps, the true bread and butter of Burning Man.

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Caffeine: Shut Up & Pour

Can you imagine if you had a caffeine vaporizer in high school or while driving that shitty delivery job so many of us had. The delivery system step is an overlooked point of interest for most people interested in drug culture, or when it’s not, the extent is largely as simplistic as “injection users usually live less long.” The widening of the market into non-coffee based products, like we’ve seen with energy drinks, gel for distance runners & now this vape and vape juice speaks to the way that the user base is directly going after it, and not products that have it.

Caffeine is the third rail of modern capitalism. In the digital era, there are rational, data-driven discussions about how to maximize your caffeine per dollar ratio. I read this article about doing exactly that and I was awe-struck by the tone of “get this drug as cheaply as possible,” which is so totally out of place discussing any other drug. This point is most enjoyable when people tell you they drink beer for the taste or consume hipster coffee brand 82343 for the taste. Yes, some definitely find an authentic offering of their favorite controlled substance & stick with it, while others are going to efficiency. Of course, few of us drink Everclear or shotgun 5-10 cigarettes in a row past the age of 22, particularly turbulent times excluded.

However, what interests me most is swagger, often seen, especially in heavy coffee drinkers. There are hundreds of people on my Facebook & Twitter feed that talk openly about the quantity of coffee they consume & how reliant they are on it. Why is this a legit thing again? I know people who post the craft brews they drink, but I don’t think I know anyone who boasts about the volume of alcohol they consume & how you shouldn’t talk to them until they’ve had their first martini. Obviously, the culture allowed for a less dangerous drug to run wild & free. Obviously it’s uniquely suited to the Western hyper-capitalist era we find ourselves in. If you could buy cocaine with your caffeine, many would, and we all know the guy at camp who starts his day off with a bump and a walk over to center camp for a cuppa. Interestingly, it’s so embedded in our culture that it’s one of the only items sold at Burning Man. A literal cup of psychoactive drug.

I’m not saying this to berate anyone. While I don’t consume coffee, my caffeine addiction fluctuates from mild to wildly out of control. Some months I get by on green tea, while others involve shotgunning multiple Red Bulls a day. I just think we need to be mindful of our own caffeine consumption habits, especially how they relate to both polydrug usage & hydration on playa. When I was told by friends of mine that they were giving away free Red Bull at retail EDM parties, I almost fell down. The proliferation, cost reduction & social stigma affecting caffeine use recreationally, or with other recreational drugs, such as alcohol, mdma & cocaine, I don’t believe is being given enough study. When most of us consume a cup or three a day, that’s at max, 450-600mg, spread out over a 6-8hr period. If you’re matching that by slamming a Red Bull every hour (~86mg, but only for the 8oz can. You can buy 20oz Red Bulls now, which pack 180+mg), while you’re rolling or you’ve been hard drinking, you’re going to see way more fucked up people and have way more hospital visits. The pearl clutchers have recently banned caffeine powder in Illinois, and a Senator from Ohio is calling for a nationwide ban. I know we are living in trying times, but for fuck’s sake, can the assholes in suits acknowledge that we’re adults and can have our morning stimulant of choice in whichever form we like please? While I’ve acknolwedged the substance isn’t totally harmless, the idea that we would ban the pure form of the drug but still have 30,000 Starbucks locations staggers the mind.


Machine Men With Machine Hearts


Scotland is facing a vote tomorrow to leave the United Kingdom, and regain its own national sovereignty for the first time in 317 years.

This is one of the most inspiring and passionate speeches you’ll ever watch, a nation hoping to get blessed with the Gift of Liberty, the right to write its own destiny.  Contained within is a timely message of Radical Inclusion, Radical Self Expression, and Civic Responsibility, that could easily be applied to those trying to create a “Class War” divide within Burning Man, as a response to Safari Camps.