Quiznos Commodifies Burner Culture [Updates]

homer quiznos

20th Century Fox has a new film coming out “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials”. Quiznos makes sandwiches. Put two and two together, and what do you get?

Burning Man 2.0. When the Shark ate the Subway.

Here’s the “offensive” commercial:

Taco Bell did it first. Without any known repercussions. So why wouldn’t their competitors try it too?

BMOrg are pissed. Could it be because these guys hit a little too close to home, and somehow nailed EXACTLY the problems happening with our culture now? You know, the ones BMOrg either deny exist, or tell us they’ve listened to us and completely solved (while actually doing nothing), or if there is any acknowledgement, blame on us?

Laugh at yourselves, Burners. Because some of this is really freaking ridiculous. A unicorn car that shoots fireballs? Is that somehow not ridiculous?

Some choice quotes:

“Don’t you understand?

Understand what?

How to look cool on Instagram?”

“They lied to us. They said it was an anti establishment society based on radical self expression. Now it’s become a place for rich people to tick off their bucket list.

True dat.

How does BMOrg respond? “Ha ha, yes that’s funny, everything we do is just an ironic prank, like all the Satan/Hellco stuff, or being the first org since the Nazis to officially employ a Minister of Propaganda?”

Nope. Threats of lawsuits. Quelle surprise.

From the Reno Gazette-Journal:

Burning Man isn’t laughing at a new Quizno’s advertisement.

The toasted sandwich company published a parody video, “Out of the Maze and into the Playa,” on YouTube earlier this week, a day after the weeklong utopian arts celebration in Northern Nevada’s Black Rock Desert concluded on Monday. The plot sends the characters of the “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,” a not-so-well reviewed science fiction thriller to be released later this month, to Burning Man as a test of character…

Burning Man takes issue with the clip and is considering legal action, not because of the mockery it makes of the more than 70,000-person annual event but because the video is theft of the event’s intellectual property, according to Burning Man spokesman Jim Graham.

“We are pretty proactive about protecting our 10 principles, one of which is decommodification,” Graham said. “We get a quite a number of requests each year from companies wanting to gift participants with their product or to capture imagery or video of their products at the event, and we turn them all down…We’ll be coordinating with our legal team to see what action we can take…Burning Man’s busiest time of year, when it comes to defending decommodification, is immediately after the Burn, Graham said, when companies and individuals attempt to market their products by paring [pairing] them with Burning Man content.

…Burning Man has taken it to legal action in the past…Burning Man won the lawsuit against Girls Gone Wild, Graham said…Burning Man makes an effort to support certain businesses that serve the Burner community, many of them Reno-based, by promoting them in one of Burning Man’s annual newsletters each year before the event.

It’s not Commodification when BMOrg does it. Still, I’m all for supporting local Burner-friendly businesses, including the 100+ vendors licensed to sell stuff at Burning Man. Quiznos seems pretty Burner-friendly to me; clearly, they understand where our culture is at in late 2015.

Burning Man had not taken any legal action against Quizno’s as of Thursday evening.

[Source: RGJ]

Fat-Homer-SimpsonI find some chuckles in the empty threat of the $30 million charity tax-exempt non-profit BMOrg suing the $8 billion phone hackers over at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, or the $14 billion hedge fund behind Quiznos. To make their case, Larry and Marian would have to swear on the Bible that parody is not a legitimate art form and must be censored and suppressed. Then they would have to prove how their sold out event was financially harmed by millions of dollars worth of mainstream media advertising – while the other Fox product, The Simpsons, can parody Burning Man and that’s totally fine.

Personally, I think this Quiznos ad is brilliant. Timely. Poignant. Very funny. #nailedit!

“The course of this festival will determine the course of humanity. Until next week when you return to your desk jobs”

If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

Perhaps this is karma for all the Satanic pranking of Burners by BMOrg lately, such as bugs are here and they’re everywhere and they crawl up inside you and bite” at burningman.com, or don’t share photos that we share on social media, that’s why we have teams of lawyers”; or lining up at Will Crawl for 8 hours with no shade or water to pick up your $400 tickets; or the idea that we are saving the world through a dusty rave; or that we are supporting the arts by underpaying artists and screwing them in contracts and saying they shouldn’t ever sign their work. Even the theme this year was that we’re all chumps, suckers, and rubes, while they’re hucksters and carny barkers.

It sure has seemed like they’re laughing at us in recent years. Well, now the whole world is laughing at them. Let’s see how they take it. So far, not so good.

Given the recent mass media obsession with Burning Man, this lawsuit (were it to ever eventuate) could rapidly become the biggest story in the world – a convenient distraction from the real current affairs of global economic meltdown, Hillary keeping State Department secrets on a home-brew email server shared with her tax exempt non profit, refugees who are all young men of fighting age storming Europe, and Israel/US lining up against Russia/Iran in Syria over gas pipeline routes.

BMOrg’s usual trick of going to the media to fight their battles against small town judges and sheriffs, ain’t gonna work against the world’s biggest and most powerful media group and the world’s 13th largest hedge fund.

Chocotacos just seem so quaint these days.

Dr-Nick-Food-Simpsons-Group-Pyramid


 

[Update 9/12/15 1:58am PST]

Quiznos is a privately held company with revenues of about $400 million and more than 2000 stores around the world. It is the #2 sandwich maker in the US, after Subway. Since 2012 they have been majority owned by Avenue Capital Group, an international investment firm with 200 employees and offices in 8 countries. It is the 13th largest hedge fund in the world, 15% owned by Morgan Stanley, with $14 billion assets under management. Chelsea Clinton worked there from 2006-2009.

The founders of Avenue Capital previously worked for multi-billionaire Robert Bass, who is Chairman of Reno-based supersonic aviation company Aerion Corp, a DARPA contractor.

Quiznos has a long history of legal battles, they are no stranger to court and seem to have used lawsuits for marketing before.


[Update 9/12/15 3:10am PST]

Thanks very much to Nomad for finding this. Toasty.TV is part of a broader Quiznos parody marketing campaign.

BREAKING: Bugpocalypse Declared Over

2015 bugs pinkBy now you have probably heard about the bug plague infestation brief and insignificant appearance.

The latest update from the Playa: “Bugs? What bugs?”

The bugs are gone.

Ok, not every last stinking one of them, but pretty much. The swarms have dried up and blown away. People are working unmolested. Nature has run its course.

Yes, it was true, unknown bugs of mysterious origin showed up by the thousands or millions in Black Rock City over the past week, but the heat and the dryness have taken their toll. Larger insects came along, too, and there were plenty of smaller bugs for them to eat. Yesterday morning, we saw a small flock of birds down by the Depot, no doubt drawn to the area by the plentiful insect diet.

Please, though: The birds were not massing in Hitchcock-ian numbers. They did not line the trash fence, nor did they swoop and dive on us as we entered the commissary.

I’m sure many Burners will be relieved. But should we believe John Curley? Because a couple of days ago, the Voices of Burning Man was saying he does not officially speak for them.

Screenshot 2015-08-21 11.40.56

In the three and a half years I have been writing this blog, I am used to reporting on wild exaggerations made at BurningMan.com and parroted around the world without thought by the mainstream media. Our usual response is to provide evidence of the truth, which then draws out the online borg army to character assassinate us for lies half-truths sensationalized headlines.

This story is the reverse. On Wednesday, we had a live update from the Playa, complete with photos, on burningman.com. This story was picked up by media all over the world. Burning Man’s corporate communications team had to intervene to downplay the situation. And then the original author himself has come out to say that the drama’s over.

Was this all just an epic troll? Part of the Carnival of Smoke and Mirrors, tricking the suckers and chumps and rubes?

If so I tip my hat to Mr Curley. Nice job sir.

So far the coverage has included

Fox News – Bugs Swarm the Site of Upcoming Burning Man Festival

Medium – They Stink! They Bite!

Weather.com – Burning Man Festival Site is Swarming With Bug
ABC News – Burning Man Festival Infested With Large, Biting Insects

NBC News – Burning Man Festival 2015 – Swarms of Bugs Infest Site

Re/Code – Hey Techies, Burning Man 2015 Is Buggy. Execpt It’s The Creepy, Crawly Kind

NY Daily News – Burning Man’s Makeshift City Has a Big Bug Problem – “They’re Everywhere”

Business Insider – Multiple, Smelly Bugs Have Infested Burning Man

Mashable – Everyone Chill Out About The Bugs At Burning Man

EcoWatch  – The Great Burning Man Plague of 2015

Gawker – Burning Man Is Infested With Horrible Bugs

I believe in the power of an almighty God who is both just and terrible in his wrath: America’s least favorite gathering of startup dorks on MDMA is swarming with a plague of nightmarish, biting bugs.

Gizmodo – We’ve Identified Those Bugs At Burning Man, And It’s Not Pretty [Update]

Huffington Post – Burning Man Is Infested By Tiny, Desert-Resistant Bugs

SFWeekly – Burning Man Is Infested With Bugs

SFist – Plague of Biting Green Bugs to Ruin Burning Man

WIRED – Here’s How Burners Can Prepare for the Bugpocalypse

New York Post – Mysterious Bugs Overrun Popular Techie Festival

Daily Mail – Burning Man Festival Infested With Huge Biting Bugs

Tech Times – Burning Man Bugs Stink And Bite: What Are They?

Vanity Fair – Biblical Wave of Bugs Takes Over Burning Man Site

LA Weekly – Creepy Bugs Infest Burning Man

Reno Gazette-Journal – Burning Man Bug Problem Is Dying Down, Maybe

Here’s what kicked it all off, a post on August 18 at burningman.com on the Voices of Burning Man blog:

You may have seen the bug rumors on the internet. We are here to tell you that they are all true. Well maybe not all of the rumors, but the bugs are real. They’re everywhere. They bite. They crawl all over you …

We don’t know how the little critters survive in the heat and the sun. All we know is that if you pick up some wood, you’re likely to uncover hundreds or thousands of the things. They’ve blown up inches deep against the sides of the Commissary tent. They’ve covered the carpets at the Depot. They’re all over the Man Base. So it’s not a localized occurrence, it’s everywhere.

Then on August 20 BMOrg released the official statement (emphasis ours):

If you’ve been keeping up on the latest rumors flying around the internet, people are in a bit of a frenzy about an alleged bug infestation of plague-level proportions on the Black Rock Desert this year. We understand the eagerness to swarm around this click-worthy story, as the media most certainly has. We’re here to dispel the rumors (bless you, internet), provide some facts, and hopefully calm some nerves.

So are there bugs in Black Rock City? Yes. Due to unseasonably wet weather, the grass on the hills is unusually verdant, and that’s resulted in more bugs showing up in the desert than usual. There are green beetles called stink bugs (so-called because they emit a coriander-like odor when disturbed), mosquitos, and gnat-like seed bugs called Nysius. One entomologist reports that they might be causing skin irritations not because they’re biting, but because they’ve likely been eating mustard seed, which has been proliferating in the region recently, and the mustard oil irritates the skin when the bugs are smashed.

But despite the rampant rumors, these bugs are more of a mild nuisance than a full-blown infestation that should cause any major concern with Burning Man participants.

We’re hoping that continuing hot weather and a huge swarm of Burners descending upon their Black Rock Desert home sends them packing before long, but we can’t say for sure that’ll happen.

And then the next day: “no no no, there aren’t any bugs”.

Curley took time out to criticize the media for not obeying BMOrg’s rules:

Most of the outlets used quotes just plain lifted from the blog. This was supplemented with Twitter posts and pictures. There was little, if any, additional reporting. Most of the outlets also used the photos we posted here, without asking permission (those that did ask were denied, according to Communications Director Megan Miller). By the way, the photos are copyrighted, with rights jointly held by me and the Burning Man organization.

We’d be assembling a legal team if we didn’t already know that the normal and customary fees for what would likely be called “freelance submissions” range all the way from nothing to about fifty or a hundred bucks. You don’t get the big money doing journalism.

So what the hell. It’s fine. It was a good story and lots of fun, even if it did throw a scare into people. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened.

They object to the journalists not contacting them to do additional reporting, while at the same time admit that if the journalists DID contact them, permission would have been denied. Most of the stories linked above used images from Twitter, it’s not clear how BMOrg can stake an ownership claim on those.

West Nile virus was detected in mosquito traps in Gerlach last year, and has been detected in both Washoe and Pershing County in the last couple of weeks. Whatever the story of the day is coming from Voices of Burning Man about these bugs, I think you should be prepared just in case. In Australia we use these:

camo coil mosquito hat

The Bugpocalypse drew an amusing response from the Burner community.

bug inclusion

bill breithaupt bugs

bugs not drugs

when i feel a bug on me
bugpocalypse

burner bugs

New Permit Allows For More Tickets To Be Released

WeHavePermit_Cartoon

It looks like BMOrg gains an extra $420,000 in ticket sales, instead of having to pay that much extra in to the BLM in the increase to the Infrastructure part of their budget.

A huge thanks to A Balanced Perspective for this guest post.

 


 

I penned a few notes in regards towards the Burning Man 2015 Special Recreation Permit Stipulations signed on Friday night 7 August.

Burning Man Event Gates Open

“7. Gates are permitted to open at 10:00 AM on Sunday, August 30,” and no fun is permitted prior to 6:00 PM participants are required to focus their activities on camp location setup prior to 6:00 PM on Sunday, August 30. The fun event shall end at 6:00 PM on Monday, September 7, and for the purposes of participant egress the main gate will be opened until 12:00 PM on Tuesday, September 8.

Population and Tickets

“1. The maximum authorized population (also referred to as the “population cap”) at any point in time during the 2015 event is 70,000 paid participants. The population cap does not include volunteers, government personnel, emergency service providers, vendors, and contractors.” This is of the meaning of the BMOrg is permitted to sell over 1,000 tickets more than the priorly stated 69,000 tickets, of which, the tickets sold for $30.5 million.

The BMorg social media crew, in a most unofficial manner, states a manner to obtain tickets is to construct an art project, or labour upon an art project. Thusly, might a Burner be doing so, converse with your art project lead, and with the Artery, purposed to buy a ticket. In the same manner, might a contributing theme camp, or a mutant vehicle crew, or a donor of cash towards the Burning Man Project, be of the need of a small number of tickets, converse with the BMOrg, purposed to buy the needed tickets.

Missing from the 2015 Permit

Missing from the 2015 permit is requirements upon the medical of that BRC LLC, dba Burning Man, must pay for ambulances to transport Burners to hospitals in Reno. My belief is this is a most important item purposed for the safety of Burners.

In addendum, missing from the 2015 permit, is any mention in regards of what the BRC LLC is required to provide towards the BLM, and towards the BLM police, in regards of constructing their huge police compound, of providing their cafeteria, their housing, and of their other luxuries. In addendum, missing from the 2015 permit is any mention in regards of the BLM is required to provide towards the BRC LLC of a statement of costs for the Cost Recovery Fee, or of the amount of cash to be paid in due of the cost recovery fee. Their is no rationale of the BLM, and of their police, desire a cafeteria separate from the BMOrg staff cafeteria, other of the BLM, and their police, do not desire to associate with the enemy unwashed Burners.

The Police State

In regards of the police state, my belief is the BLM, and their police, desire control of BRC, and of ‘compliant participants’, and desire of the ability of cancellation or of temporary suspension of the event. Their rubbish rationales of this might be a forecast of rain, wind, or the most important concern of the prior Pershing County Sheriff, whom desired to bring 12 riot control horses to the playa, social unrest.

“27. BRC and BLM, and other agencies as shall be mutually deemed appropriate, shall cooperate in the development of a Unified Command (UC) structure … for the management of available safety, security and infrastructure resources in the event of an emergency incident … as well as in the event of an emergency threshold event as defined in the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). … All UC operations will be managed from the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) located at the BLM Headquarters…”

“31. BRC shall develop and cooperate in the implementation of contingency plans for operations of critical health and safety services under adverse conditions, including those that could cause cancellation or temporary suspension of the event. Such causes may include adverse weather, natural or human caused disaster, or social unrest.” In addendum of “ii. BRC and the BLM will monitor forecast weather conditions. If weather forecasts suggest a high probability of adverse weather conditions that may result in disruptions to the event, … In the event of natural disaster or civil unrest appropriate strategies and actions will be initiated immediately after any disaster or unrest occurs”

In addendum in regards of the police state, the Closure Order for the playa, states Disorderly Conduct is illegal, and it is a crime with levies and, perchance, jail time. I was of the belief the purpose of Burning Man being in the most horrible desert was Disorderly Conduct.

Other Stipulations

In regards of other stipulations, “44. No more than 1,000 vehicles per hour shall be released from Black Rock City during the exodus “. A new item, it was desired, by the BLM, within their rubbish 20 points, “23. … Participants who are stopped by BRC Rangers for violating established burn perimeters shall be promptly turned over to BLM Law Enforcement“. “54. Event speed limits shall be posted on both Gate Road and the 12-Mile/Point 1 Road. … Will-call area shall have an organized layout including signage.” “56. Environmental Compliance Team”, the BLM desires to send wankers valued employees, and VIPs, to the playa to have a paid vacation and stare at tits monitor environmental compliance.

In addendum, the BLM is requiring of rubbish new costs, upon the BRC LLC, of “35. BRC shall station a specialized emergency firefighting vehicle at the airport during all times that the airport is open. BRC shall provide modern industry-standard technical rescue, extrication and high-angle rescue capabilities and equipment throughout pre-during-and post-event”

Burners, what might be your opinions in regards of the 2015 Burning Man Permit Stipulations?

BLM to Review Chocotacos, if BM Lifts Their Safety Game [Updates]

marty-two-bulls-pow-wow-eagle

Yesterday Burning Man bigwigs and BLM bigwigs got together to discuss Chocotacogate. According to the information leaked (by BMOrg?) to Jenny Kane at the RGJ: the BLM wanted $1 million+ in extra funding to build them the Blue Pit, an off-site VIP compound with 8 double rooms for visiting dignitaries; and this is all coming from one person, BLM special agent Dan Love.

Image: Burn.Life

Image: Burn.Life

This information – blasted widely around the world – was later quietly corrected by Burning Man spokesman Jim Graham in a radio interview on NPR, who said that actually, the BLM were just asking to increase the Infrastructure part of the budget from $600,000 to $1 million. This includes walkie talkies and other safety equipment. Part of this increase was to pay for expanded medical facilities, and only some was to provide VIP accommodation. The VIP component was coming from the highest levels of the Department of Interior, who naturally wanted to visit the event after all the media and lobbying campaigns by BMOrg. The request for food was the same as last year’s, which was met without complaint by BMOrg.

Still, the global media ran with the RGJ story, putting egg on the faces of the BLM. Some politicians were stirred to pile onto the story, including Harry Reid and Mark Amodei.

Yesterday, on the day of the meeting BLM’s Nevada Director Neil Kornze wrote a column for the RGJ, saying:

Many have read stories in recent days about a proposed lavish encampment for Bureau of Land Management employees working at the Burning Man festival that is held annually on public lands in the Nevada desert. These reports painted a troubling portrait of government employees seeking VIP accommodations and outlandish provisions. Like you, I was surprised and upset by much of what I read.

I have directed my team to take a top-to-bottom look at exactly what is needed to properly support BLM employees that have oversight responsibility for this enormous public event in a remote corner of Nevada. Our revised proposal will include only what is essential for our core operational needs for providing appropriate health, safety, and environmental safeguards on the playa. That is our commitment.

And while we undertake that review, we are also working to address critical safety and health issues at Burning Man. Over the past five years, the Burning Man event has nearly doubled in size. What was once a loosely organized gathering of a few thousand like-minded individuals is now an instant metropolis hosting 75,000 attendees, volunteers, and staff in one of the most remote corners of the American west. At its peak, Burning Man is the sixth largest city in Nevada, complete with a busy airport. Attendees come to the playa from around the world with their own ideas of what Burning Man is and ought to be.

This rapid evolution has dramatically increased the complexity of the BLM’s and Black Rock City LLC’s management responsibilities, and in recent years a series of incidents have made it clear that improvements need to be made. Last year, a total of 2,880 patients were treated for medical issues, including 71 drug overdoses, 67 trauma incidents, and 30 cases of alcohol poisoning. Tragically, a woman was killed last year when she was run over by an art car. Incidents of burglary, battery, and sexual assault have risen as the event has grown, and the BLM has also responded to flooding, aviation accidents, and out-of-control fires in recent years.

In March, the BLM raised twenty critical health, safety, and environmental issues with event organizers, including ensuring that on-site medical services are adequate to serve the vast population of Black Rock City. To date, Black Rock City LLC has only acknowledged seven of these important issues and has provided adequate plans and updates for just two.

In the coming days, the BLM will make an important course correction regarding what is needed to support our teams that are on the ground during the Burning Man event. It will also be necessary for the organizers of Burning Man to come to the table as serious partners in addressing the concerns that were identified for them months ago. We look forward to further dialogue on these issues. Our priority is to make sure that all burners come home safe and healthy.

[Source: RGJ]

Yesterday’s meeting was the first time BMOrg had met with BLM’s acting State Director John Ruhs.

From the Reno Gazette Journal:

Present at the meeting Wednesday from Burning Man were founder Larry Harvey; Marnee Benson, political affairs manager; Rosalie Barnes, agency relations and regulatory affairs manager; Ray Allen, attorney; and Goodell…For BLM, Ruhs was present along with Winnemucca district manager Gene Seidlitz, Nevada-Utah special agent in charge Dan Love and acting assistant state director Ann DeBlasi from Washington, D.C.

…the meeting centered on safety and security concerns, which have been repeatedly brought up in BLM statements to media. 

Rather than review the points of contention in documents obtained by the Reno Gazette-Journal in June, Burning Man and BLM officials discussed some of the failures and successes of working together in years past.

It sounds like the meeting ended on a positive note, but didn’t go quite the way BMorg were expecting.

“There’s a lot of heat on everyone at the moment,” Goodell said after the 90-minute meeting. “The intention of the meeting probably changed in the past 24 hours.”

“We agreed to collaborate on what we can accomplish this year, and we looked back. We looked at the present and the past,” Goodell said. “We pointed out that there’s been a 40 percent increase in the event population and a 244 percent increase in cost for the permit,”

“This was a good meeting and an opportunity to discuss our mutual interests in coming up with a plan to support Burning Man, which is a truly unique cultural event on Public Lands. We are working to come up with a plan that is cost efficient and ensures public health and safety,” Ruhs said. “We are going to do all we can to make this year’s event a success. I am confident that BLM and BRC will be able to work together to address safety and environmental concerns.”

[Source: RGJ]

The meeting discussed 20 medical and safety issues. Only 2 have been resolved, and only 7 have even been acknowledged by BMOrg. The gates open in 50 days.

From the Las Vegas Review Journal‘s Washington DC bureau:

WASHINGTON – A month and a half before the scheduled start of this year’s desert festival, organizers of the annual Burning Man in Northern Nevada have yet to resolve more than 15 health and safety issues stemming from last year’s event, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

Officials from the BLM and the Burning Man organization were meeting Wednesday in Reno to discuss outstanding issues in advance of the Aug. 30-Sept. 7 festival in the Black Rock Desert.

The federal agency has yet to issue a permit for the event. John Ruhs, the BLM acting Nevada state director, said all conditions raised in a post-event review last year must be addressed for the BLM to allow this year’s event to proceed.

Ruhs stopped short of saying the BLM might shut down Burning Man, expressing confidence an agreement could be worked out.

“We have a long ways to go yet but I’m pretty confident we will as always be able to address issues together and get to a good place with them,” Ruhs said in an interview.

But the agency took the unusual step of making public a letter listing the outstanding health and safety issues. Of 20 compiled following the 2014 festival, the BLM said 18 remain to be resolved including improvements to its medical program, transportation management and security surrounding the festival’s signature burn events.

“Last year, a total of 2,880 patients were treated for medical issues, including 71 drug overdoses, 67 trauma incidents and 30 cases of alcohol poisoning,” Ruhs said in the letter to the government affairs director of Black Rock City, LLC, the nonprofit that runs the festival. In addition, a woman from Wyoming was killed when she fell beneath a moving bus…

BLM officials on Wednesday denied they were in a tit-for-tat with Burning Man. The agency’s letter though makes a connection…

“We are now taking a top to bottom look at exactly what is needed,” Ruhs said, adding “While the BLM revises its statement of work, dialogue must also continue on a wide array of health, safety and environmental concerns raised by the BLM earlier this year.”

[Source: Las Vegas Review Journal]

Read the original letter from the BLM to BMOrg, outlining the concerns after last year’s event.

The 20 Safety, Health and Security Issues and Concerns are:

  1. BRC Medical Program
  2. BRC Fire, Rescue, Hazmat Programs
  3. Fatality Medical Response and On-Scene Management
  4. Transportation Management
  5. Art Project Management
  6. Security and Safety Plan for Scheduled Burn Events
  7. Sanitation Management
  8. Early Arrival Program
  9. D-Lot Design and Management
  10. Fuel Storage Management
  11. Deployment of Medical Resources
  12. Placement of Emergency Vehicles at the Airport
  13. Highway 34 Road Conditions
  14. Population Tracking and Reporting Program
  15. BRC Event Table of Organization
  16. BRC Event Management Program Description
  17. Participant Evacuation Contingency Plan
  18. Significant Incident Reporting
  19. Art Car operations
  20. Illicit narcotics

Time precludes me from going into much detail on this letter now, it warrants a post in itself as it reveals interesting details on a number of events last year, such as the art car fatality and Embrace burn. One thing in particular really jumped out:

Screenshot 2015-07-09 11.58.38

The letter makes frequent references to the 2014 HGH After Action Report (AAR). If anyone has a copy of that report, please send it in. It seems that HGH raised some concerns, these concerns went to the BLM who then raised them with BMOrg – who then fired HGH.

Did BMOrg try to scapegoat HGH here? Did they think that just ditching HGH would resolve the issues, since HGH are mentioned in many of them? Perhaps they didn’t like HGH giving the Feds a list of headaches problems to fix.

The number of patients being thrown around, 2,880, is very different from what has been reported in previous years. BMOrg’s own 2014 Afterburn report said there were 6,100 medical patients last year – more than double the number the government are using. The difference may be in this magic word “treated” – this year, there will be much less treatment provided on-site by CrowdRX.

This morning I have received an Anonymous tip-off, from someone with inside information about the medical discussions. Treat this as an unconfirmed rumor, but I trust the source.

It seems that, as usual, there is much more to the story than what we’re being told.

To recap, BMOrg ditched local providers Humboldt General, who have supported the event for the last 5 years; they replaced them with festival specialist CrowdRX, who have never done a remote location event except for one Phish concert in the 90’s. The official unofficial message seems to be “nothing will change, CrowdRX will just hire all the same people as last year”.

One thing the source revealed is that BMOrg have recently filed a public information request for Pat Songer’s records of HGH’s care at the previous years Burns. It doesn’t look like there’s going to be much continuity between medical services at Burning Man between 2014 and 2015, it’s a brave new world now.

The bombshell revelation from this source is to do with off-Playa medical treatment.

In previous years, your Burning Man ticket purchased you Medical Insurance at the event. If anything happened to you at Burning Man, even if you didn’t have insurance yourself, theirs would take care of your treatment.

In the past with HGH, all care was covered, on-Playa and transport off. If anything happened to you at Burning Man and you needed to be taken to a hospital, an HGH ambulance would take you to the nearest hospital (Reno). Humboldt’s plan was to treat everything they possibly could on-site at Black Rock City.

Image: American Med Flight

Image: American Med Flight

Now, if anything happens, you’ll have to be taken outside the event to a Default world hospital – most likely, still Reno/Sparks. By air. There will be no medical ground transportation for medical emergencies, the plan is air transport only. Fixed wing, no helicopters.

The price for an airlift with American Med Flight is $30,000.

The rumor is that certain members of the Org are getting a better rate if they become injured and need transport. This seems to approach the idea of “kickbacks”. There may also be issues of local county permitting, in relation to this business.

Screenshot 2015-07-09 12.24.26

This comment is from Anonymous Burner. We have no specific information on this arrangement.

Of course none of this should be a problem, since Obamacare means every person in the United States now has medical insurance. Someone else will pay! Oh, but what about the 20% of Burners from other countries? Hopefully they got travel insurance.

American Med Flight are offering a Burning Man insurance package. For only $25, if you do need their services, you won’t pay more than $7,500.

Towards the end of 2013, a former DPW manager blew the whistle on safety issues, then BMOrg lost their respected Emergency Services Director, Joseph Pred. Chaos seems to have ensued, with 18 major issues unresolved less than 2 months before the gates open. Let’s hope BMOrg can sort this out – in the circumstances, perhaps sticking with their existing partner HGH should be re-considered.


 

[Update 7/9/15 1:25pm]

Thanks to A Balanced Perspective for alerting us to the latest RGJ story, in which BMOrg say they have already responded to many of the BLMs concerns and there are a lot of falsehoods in the report. Keep reading for my comments.

[Update 7/9/15 4:47pm]

Someone Who Knows has given us this update:

HGH transported to Reno, just like REMSA did, not to Winnemucca. Careflight has been offering low cost membership that helps cover the whirly bird ride for years. That being said, fixed wing is actually a safer, more reliable option than helicopter in the black rock playa conditions and I highly doubt CrowdRX will not have ambulances

They sound like they do know. And I agree – surely there will be ambulances. Surely there will be helicopters. Coming soon.

[Update 7/9/15 5:30pm]

Francisco Ceballos from Humboldt General Hospital created a pro-active presentation last year, on what could be done to prevent injuries at Burning Man. One of their suggestions was to communicate with Burners via Burners.Me! Perhaps that may have led to their downfall…

Screenshot 2015-07-09 17.29.35

Francisco was right: we would be happy to share any information that could improve the safety and wellbeing of Burners.

[Update 7/9/15 6:30pm]

BMOrg have claimed that they sent a response to BLM addressing all 20 concerns in April. We call on them to share their documentation with all Burners, not just chosen journalists at the RGJ. Why are the “After Action Reports” not part of the “After Burn Reports”?

In April, Burning Man submitted a 40-page working document that addressed “every single point” that the BLM made, according to Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell…

Burning Man’s own assessment, which is put together in collaboration with various county, state and federal agencies, including the BLM, contradicts many of the BLM’s findings. According to the Burning Man’s series of “after action reports,” the BLM’s assessment has a number of inaccuracies, including:

All appropriate HAZMAT procedures were followed during the handling of bodily fluids following the fatal accident.

Emergency medical services vehicles were available at all times during the event, though Humboldt General Hospital did report a sustained 11 minutes during which time five of eight vehicles were dispatched and three were “idle.” Burning Man organizers are uncertain as to why the idle vehicles were not available for use during those 11 minutes.

Vehicles were not stranded during the delay, but instead were parked on the side of the road. Burning Man organizers at the time told participants that they had the option of going home, though most decided to wait until the weather and conditions improved.

Pyrotechnic effects, which usually include fireworks or explosive displays, are not allowed on art cars, though Burning Man does allow flame effects, which are automated fire features.

Burning Man also took issue with Kornze’s statement Wednesday that the San Francisco-based nonprofit had not addressed enough of the agency’s concerns, saying Burning Man staff have been working with a number of agencies to improve its operations.

Burning Man created a new emergency operations chief position, according to Graham, and hired a new medical services management provider, replacing Humboldt General Hospital.

[Source: RGJ]

Here’s what Acting Nevada State Director John Ruhs told them:

Screenshot 2015-07-09 18.28.12
13 items are still open. Item #20 is quite probably irresolvable, the BLM might as well drop it. BMOrg should cave to everything else, if they can sell 10,000 more tickets.
The BLM note in their letter that 13,545 people entered the event before it started with Early Access passes. Before the event opened, there were many people bicycling around sight-seeing and partying. Tut-tut!

 

Radio Interview With BMOrg’s Jim Graham on ChocoTacoGate [Update]

choco_taco

KPNR has an interview with Burning Man spokesman Jim Graham about the latest controversy in the Burnerverse.

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The Twitter-verse was abuzz over the weekend in Nevada over Burning Man.

You all know Burning Man as the Labor Day week no-holds-barred celebration in the Black Rock Desert in the far reaches of northern Nevada.

The buzz was over the perks that the Bureau of Land Management is seeking from Burning Man organizers. The federal agency oversees the week-long event.

The agency’s list of desires reads like something a celebrity might request backstage, including soft-serve ice cream 24 hours a day, seven days a week; steaks, hamburgers, the ice cream treat choco-tacos, and a list of condiments and items that number well more than 100.

Not only that, but the Bureau wants VIP quarters, flush toilets and more.

We requested an interview with Bureau of Land Management officials but received no answer.

[Source: KPNR]

Jim revealed some hard numbers for 2014 costs.

BLM Fees were:

$2.75m cost recovery

$700,000 commercial use fees – BMOrg see this as a tax on top of the ticket price. If this is 3% of the gate then ticket sales were $23.3 million.

$600,000 infrastructure

Total $4.05 million

2011 BLM fees $1.4 million, population 54,000

2015 BLM fees $4.9 million , population 70,000

Jim said that this is a substantial increase in fees, for only 16,000 more population

Of course, the 16,000 extra population is worth $6,544,000 in bonus ticket revenue to BMOrg (at $409 a ticket).

Expected population this year is now officially 70,000 – so there could be an extra 2,000 tickets floating around, to be added to STEP or OMG. This weekend I heard a rumor of 25 tickets being available for $1500 each, but you had to buy the whole 25. Not quite sure how something like that comes about…

Jim said that the $1 million cost figure being bandied around is not just for the Blue Pit Compound. The million dollars is the sum total of all of the requests for infrastructure this year: radios, catering, flush toilets. He said their catering requests were not that unusual…“We feed more than 50,000 meals during the week – our staff and volunteers.” So it looks like the BLM are asking for an increase in the infrastructure budget from $600k to $1 million.

Burning Man are not sure who the VIPs are for the 8 designated containers in the Blue Pit.

Jim said “We house all the BLM agents in the town of Gerlach, we rent out the hotels. Vast majority of them stay there, 14 mile drive from the town out to the site – we feel that’s pretty reasonable…We don’t begrudge anybody how they’re going to live when they’re out there. ”


[Update 6/30/15 1:45pm PST]

Did I say 2,000 extra tickets? How about 12,000?

At The Hill, the Deputy Director of the BLM seems to be giving a green light to 80,000 people this year. An extra 10,000 tickets to sell will certainly pay for a lot of chocotacos.

On Monday, BLM Deputy Director Steve Ellis said the agency should “take a fresh look” at the requests. 

“I am concerned about the reported costs associated with supporting the Burning Man festival. I have directed that BLM staff take a fresh look at the initial proposals for food and facilities at the event,” Ellis said in a statement.

“Our priority is to provide for participant and employee health and safety, sanitation, and environmental compliance at this unique event that is attended by up to 80,000 people in a remote part of the Nevada Desert. I have full confidence in BLM staff and their ability to develop a plan that is cost efficient and ensures public health and safety.”

That sure would be a win/win/win compromise for everybody. Burners would win 12,000 more tickets. BMOrg would win another $5 million revenues. BLM could get a nice VIP compound and increase the infrastructure budget $400k. Looks like a pretty good deal all around, let’s hope it works out that way.