From Canvas Cubes to Containers

2015 burner bungalow

Business Insider has yet another “the rich are taking over Burning Man” story, this time focusing on a company that will deliver a ready-made “Container Camp” for you on the Playa. Who needs Radical Self-Reliance, when someone else can do Leave No Trace for you?

From Business Insider:

Gene Temen, president of Quick Space, has been supplying the Burning Man event with office trailers for the event’s hospital and administrative buildings for seven years.

Three years ago, the team at Quick Space realized they could repurpose the trailers as living quarters. The units come with insulation, air conditioning, lights, and flooring, Travis Lekas, the operations manager for Quick Space, told Business Insider. This makes them perfect for campers who would rather not deal with the realities of living in the desert for seven days.

They call them “Burner Bungalows.”

Burners can paint and add onto the trailers however they wish, for an additional fee of $300 for the exterior and $200 for the interior. So instead of building a camp ground from scratch, they can either use the trailer as a shelter or build around it and use the trailer for storage.  “You can paint it if you want to paint the inside or the outside — whatever you want to do,” Lekas told Business Insider. “It also comes with three five-gallon bottles of water, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, and a garbage can along with additional garbage bags.”

This might not sound like the whimsical and artistic camps that Burning Man is known for, but the idea is to give campers the base on which to build their dream camp, Lekas explained.

And although they don’t look like the typical Burning Man structure, which can range from a yurt to a tent to an RV, the trailers are practical. The ready-made storage units come with necessities like water, insulation, and air-conditioning, and can be used for storage both during and after the event.

The company will also come and remove the trailer after the week is over, fitting with Burning Man’s “leave no trace” policy after the seven day event is over, which is included in the price. You can store your Burning Man gear in the trailer until the next year and not worry about shipping it or needing to fly back with all of your stuff for $750 per year of storage. [Source]

These containers are actually a pretty good deal.

The cost for the trailers is about $3,745 plus a $1,000 security deposit — more if you want to decorate the interior and exterior and store the unit all year. Generators also bear an additional cost of $250 [Source]

It would cost you way more to buy your own container, deck it out like this, and transport it to and from the Playa. These things weigh 6,000 lbs empty, meaning that mid-sized forklifts are usually required to move them around. It doesn’t come with a bathroom, but it does come with water, a trash can and air conditioning. Power is available for limited hours, or you can purchase 24/7 juice with a generator upgrade. You better hope that A/C works well, because these steel boxes BAKE in the desert sun. Yes, even if they’re insulated.

You can find out more at the Burner Bungalows web site.

I’m all for containers at Burning Man, if they’re painted. It should look like the world’s craziest city of art, not Iraq or Afghanistan.

ekoVillages.com upcycled art container

ekoVillages.com upcycled art container. Artists: Ian Ross & Eon 75/Ian Ross Gallery

This Business Insider article is an amazing example of BMOrg’s propaganda machine at work. Their confusing language and misinformation gets picked up and promoted as gospel by the mainstream media:

The trailers might also be a good compromise for burners who were previously planning to rely on the fully-furnished luxurious camping options, or “turnkey camps,” that have been recently banned from the playa.

That means no more built-in personal chefs, sherpas, or other luxurious features associated with concierge camping. But with the trailers, tech millionaires can still have air-conditioning in a pinch and protect their belongings from the sand and dust. [Source]

Here's what the world's last Minister of Propaganda was all about.

Here’s what the world’s last Minister of Propaganda was all about. There hasn’t been one since – until Burning Man.

Business Insider perpetuates the myth that BMOrg heroically banned Commodification Camps, concierges, and sherpas, after listening to all the community feedback last year.

In fact, what happened is BMOrg just re-iterated the same policy that was already in place last year – that camps that get placement must have an interactive component. Similarly, despite BMOrg’s recent blog post Kicking Concierge Caboose at Burning Man, accompanied with a hearty “LOL! Nope!” on Facebook…Festivals Concierge Service are still happily in business helping their VIP clientele prepare to fly in to a pre-packaged Burning Man experience, complete with custom costumes and chauffeur driven art cars.

rolls royce art car source unknown

Concierge services such as FCS are not breaking any laws, Burning Man does not have jurisdiction over global commerce and their Outside Services contractors have a literal license to make money off Burning Man from the Federal government. If these services don’t accept cash on the Playa, then it’s hard to argue that they are even violating any of Burning Man’s Tin Principles – which we’re told are “just guidelines” these days.

I guarantee you that there will be even MORE sherpas at Burning Man this year, not less.

Screenshot 2015-06-11 04.09.04

Expect to see more Burner Bungalows too:

Lekas told us that the company currently has 50 orders for units this year, and if the rise in interest over the past few years is any indication, they could double their orders by 2016.

“Our first year we started off, we just built a camp,” Lekas said. “The next year and the second year, we started off with five bungalows, and then our next one went to 40 bungalows. We’re hoping next year to supply 100 bungalows.” [Source]

According to Reddit, the Org are running one of these businesses too, and there is a 3 year waiting list to get a container:

Screenshot 2015-06-11 04.12.05

How many bungalows does the city need to host, before last year’s ironic timeshare sales become a money-spinning reality?

The Occidental Oasis Econopod, marketed at the Caravansary Souk with brochures and sales assistants collecting email addresses

The Occidental Oasis Econopod, marketed at the Caravansary Souk with brochures and sales assistants collecting email addresses. A big farce? Or seeding the idea?

Burning Man’s official web site recently published an open letter to luxury vacation tour businesses, which stated quite clearly that none of the luxury services offered by Caravancicle in their $16,000 canvas cubes was considered out of line:

Screenshot 2015-06-11 03.47.43

burningman.com also promoted a Case Study of “how to do it right” for Safari Tour profiteers, which lays out how they’re taking a hard line against the practice,  by publicly endorsing it. Maybe someone can help explain that one to us! It seems to me more like a nice (free?) advertorial for a commercial tour package operator, a chosen one that BMOrg give tickets to every year for them to re-sell for profit.

Meanwhile, at the exact same time that Business Insider publishes the latest “rich Burners” article, VICE brings one of their own out promoting private aircraft travel to Burning Man. Mixmag also had a story about $15,000 plane rides to Burning Man.

Coincidence? Or PR campaign?

Tickets might be “sold out”, but the marketing to the elites is just getting started…

 bm shark jumping

2014 Afterburn Report: The Death of Transparency

spend_money_good_time_442305We’ve been duped, Burners. For 4 years now, we’ve been sold on a “pie in the sky” vision. Burning Man would no longer be about exploiting volunteer labor and the financial and artistic contributions of Burners, to create profits for a small group operating in near-secrecy without oversight. Instead, it would now be a charity, with our tax-free deductions supporting an altruistic vision to bring Burning Man’s Principles to the world. The Founders would step down, but leave the infrastructure in place to maintain the integrity of Burner values into the next century.

A noble vision, but here’s what really happened:

  • the Founders set up a private company and transferred the main assets of the business to it; this company earns royalties for the use of the Burning Man name, logo and trademarks
  • the Founders each got a $1 million+ tax break for passing their share of future profits from the LLC over to the new tax-exempt non-profit
  • transparency was removed, except for public IRS Forms which were filed late.
  • people who had given substantial amounts of their lives volunteering for Burning Man, were arbitrarily shunted out the door to make room for new, paid employees.
  • ticket prices went up, revenues doubled
  • it got harder for veteran Burners to attend, while remaining relatively easy for Virgins

bravenewworld_cover_large

Rather than the transparency we’ve been promised for so many years, and a new BMOrg focused on charitable works, we get higher ticket prices, more revenue streams, and more secrecy. I’m not so sure that Burning Man has jumped the corporate shark – it seems more like it’s been eaten by it.

The new Afterburn report is buried deep in the new web site. If you read “Voices of Burning Man”, the section of the new site that seems to actually update, you’d have no clue about it. If you go to burningman.org, there’s nothing on the main page. If you navigate their menu system – The Culture, The Event, The Network, Stuff & Things – you will have to really dig to find anything about it (the correct sequence is Menu, The Culture, Historical Archives, Black Rock City History, Afterburn Reports, 2014 Afterburn Report). Basically, to read the Afterburn, you need to subscribe to the Jackrabbit Speaks or click this link.

This year’s report begins with the type of statement we’re used to seeing from this crew:

Our AfterBurn reports will continue as they have since 2001, except they’ll now be consolidated, and focus exclusively on the production of the event in Black Rock City.

“Continue as they have since 2001” in OrgSpeak means “be completely different from how they have been since 2001”.

The word “consolidated” in this context means “much smaller”. Significantly, BMOrg are no longer publishing Burning Man’s financial chart. This was always an incomplete document, since for some reason they didn’t share their revenues; we had to make assumptions based on ticket and ice sales. At least it highlighted things like BMOrg spending more on travel and costumes for themselves than they did on donations and art for the community. Read our analysis for 2013 and 2012, as well as the IRS returns for Burning Man Project 2013 and Black Rock Arts Foundation 2013.

BMOrg continue to insist that transparency is still “coming soon”:

Separately, Burning Man will begin producing an annual report, in addition to the yearly IRS Form 990 financial reporting. That report will focus on Burning Man’s nonprofit activities and year-round global programming, as well as updates about Burning Man’s organizational infrastructure and support departments (such as Communications, Technology, Legal, Accounting, Human Resources, etc.).

Given that we just got the 2013 information in February 2015, it seems unlikely that we will be able to have any meaningful discussion about Burning Man 2014 for a year and a half after the event. What’s the point of that? It seems like it would be fairly straightforward to ask the various department heads to write a brief report on the event by December 1, then post these to burningman.org. What do we gain by waiting a year and a half? This is all for charity, right – so why not have openness, sharing, participation, communal effort, civic responsibility, radical self expression, radical inclusion? Why run it like a typical profit-driven corporation, where any disclosure of information must be signed off by the Board and PR team? The event is sold out, so it’s not like their revenues are at risk. At this point, the global culture will grow from participation and authenticity, not exclusion, hypocrisy and secrecy.

BMOrg have just had professional auditors going through the books for 2013 and 2014: will these accounts be published? It seems very, very unlikely.

It is now well more than a year since Larry Harvey said

larry worldIt has been asked if we intend to reveal the financial records of Black Rock City LLC. The answer is yes; that too will happen at about the same time as the Burning Man Project reveals its information—these two entities will then become a clean well-lighted suite of rooms thrown open for inspection.

So will there be an event in the future when “the Burning Man Project reveals its information”? Or did he just mean the IRS Form 990 filings? I’m not holding my breath. Right now, it seems that there is no intention to EVER reveal the financial records of Black Rock City LLC.

In January, Communications Director Megan Miller told the Reno Gazette-Journal:

megan miller“It is definitely incomplete information,” said Megan Miller, communications director for Burning Man Project.

While all of the information required from the Internal Revenue Service is in the documents, Miller said, Burning Man cannot yet disclose revenue information from this past year’s festival, nor the one prior since the organization currently is undergoing an outside audit for 2013 and 2014.

All of this missing information that Burners have been seeking should be available before this year’s end, Miller said

The audit has been signed off, so what are they waiting for? Still counting the money? Or perhaps, so busy counting the $30.5 million from 2015’s ticket sales that what happened in the past doesn’t occupy much attention any more.

The increase in ticket prices and population cap over the last few years has led to a massive windfall for BMOrg, but only a slight increase in the number of art projects sponsored by Burning Man. Artists still have to raise funds themselves, half to two-thirds of project cost.

Screenshot 2015-04-03 09.34.23

For 2014, $800,000 was spent on art, across 61 projects – an average of $13,115 per project. There were another 200 art installations placed on the Playa without any financial support from BMOrg.

And what of the giving back to the community? It’s now more than halfway through the 2014-2015 Burn year, and more than a year since BMOrg “fully completed their transition to a non-profit”. So we should be able to point to lots of great outreach activity, right? Maybe I just can’t find that section of their website. There’ve been a few TED talks and panel discussions.

They’ve gone from “the only things we sell are ice and coffee, and all proceeds from that go to local charities” to “the Arctica volunteers donate their tips to charity” – which was about $13,000 last year.

Perhaps when we finally get to see the 2014 financial information for the Burning Man Project, it will describe some wonderful things that the self-appointed custodians of Burner culture have done to promote it, and we can all feel like we’re saving the world together. Maybe we’ll see a new, fair contract for the artists, when the art grant recipients for 2015 are publicly announced.

Remember 6 months ago, when the community was outraged about the Burning Man Project Director running an expensive Commodification camp with dozens of paid employees? The Minister of Propaganda told us:

(shhhh, just between you and us …) we’re working on a really really BIG project that will serve to tell the Burning Man story as it is today and into the future, and it’s gonna be RAD. You’ll know it when you see it.

Could we get the rad thing now, please? Pretty please?

tanabaumBuried within the latest Jackrabbit was the news that Jim Tananbaum has stepped down from the board of the Burning Man Project. This could’ve been a positive, if it had happened in response to the crisis, showing that BMOrg listened to the community.  Instead they published his statement blaming all his paid employees for his camp’s problems, and lecturing us on what a great example of the Ten Principles it all was. The resignation now comes as too little, too late to have any meaning. We’ve seen what BMOrg’s real response to the AirBnB-ing of Burning Man has been: “camps that get placement have to have an interactive element”. Or, in OrgSpeak: “all systems go, plug-n-players! Charge as much as you like, employ as many sherpas as you like, just buy the $800 VIP tickets. Get your Citibank Gold festival packages now!”

 

BMOrg Tips Hat to Caravancicle Camp Director

Voices of Burning Man has a story from Communications Director Megan Miller, the latest BMOrg employee jetting around the world to attend a festival: Envision, in Uvite, Costa Rica. Her report is very favorable – as it should be, Envision is a great event as we said in 2012:

This week, Burners.Me is lucky enough to be coming to you live (well, sort of!) from the Envision festival in Puntarenas, Costa Rica.

There are some immediately obvious differences from Burning Man. We arrived and were welcomed by Stephen Brooks, one of the world’s leading experts in permaculture, singing on stage songs about the potential within all of us to make the future better than the past our parents handed us. Later singers acknowledged the presence of different tribes, and asked us all to unite as one to protect the earth. The message was that tanks, bombs, machine guns and torpedos could not stop the love that all humans have for one another. We found it very inspiring, and great to dance to.

From the musical side, the score was Hippies 1 Ravers 1 – a lovely balance, and nice to be able to move between the two. The music was great on both counts. All the people were happy and everyone’s attitude was great. If you were thirsty, a mere $2 got you a giant refreshing coconut.

[Read the full story: Envision 2012 Costa Rica – Burners By The Beach]

Megan seems to think the same:

I was deeply impressed with the way people at Envision took responsibility for the environment around them, and for the experience had by themselves and others. I didn’t see a single piece of out of place trash on the ground (also called ‘MOOP’ by Envision-ers). I saw people jumping in, helping out, and bringing what they had to offer the collective experience.

While there were goods available for purchase in the tasteful marketplace and food stalls (no huge corporate banners, here), everywhere I turned I witnessed people genuinely enjoying acts of gifting. At times I found myself searching for price listings only to realize the activities didn’t cost any money – these included a face painting booth, a place to immerse yourself in blue clay, and a treehouse slide made of bamboo straight out of Tom Sawyer’s jungle paradise.

The connections between Envision and Burning Man run deep. One of Envision’s 6 Co-founders, Stephen Brooks, has been attending Burning Man for the past 14 years (his father has been ten times!), and you could see and feel the connection between the two communities everywhere.

Village Stage schedule (Photo by Zac Cirivello)
Village Stage schedule (Photo by Zac Cirivello)

There’s a strong theme camp presence – leadership from Fractal Nation, Sacred Spaces, Abraxas, and others are interwoven into the fabric of Envision. Members of various on-playa departments work as Envision staff and volunteers – DPW, Gate, Rangers, Café, Media Mecca, ESD – they’re all there, putting to use the skills they’ve mastered on the playa. In the Costa Rican jungle.

It’s not a tough sell, really. “Sort of like Burning Man? But on the beach?” Say no more.

It is interesting that Megan chose to highlight Stephen, who is one of Envision’s founders, as the example of how tight Burning Man is with Envision.

Stephen was the manager of Burning Man Project Director Jim Tananbaum’s now infamous Caravancicle camp. He insists that the camp was a great example of giving, and he worked hard to teach the Ten Principles to all their guests:

Screenshot 2015-03-18 18.52.32

Image: Facebook (Public)

Remember when Danger Ranger blamed all the camp’s woes on a rave promoter, who was now banned for life?

I have also conducted my own personal investigation into this matter and have come up with answers that may be more specific than some of those presented thus far.

My conclusion is that Burning Man broke Caravansicle. I might add that the individual who profited from Caravansicle will not be allowed back into Burning Man.

When I was finally able to confront Mr Tananbaum face-to-face, my first words to him were; “You really stepped in some shit.” I believe that he truly regrets the wreckage in the wake of his camp. Mr Tananbaum started out with the best of intentions. Caravansicle was not intended to be commercial in nature. His goal was to fund and produce a large camp for friends and associates, much like the camps that he had done in the two previous years. But this year it was going to be grander and larger. His first mistake was to hire a professional camp producer from the commercial EDM world with no Burning Man experience. This is what brought in the sherpas and wristbands. His second mistake was having a bar so big and so public that it ran out of liquor. Nothing is worse than a half-drunk lynch mob. And I’m sure that the professional camp producer was surprised to discover no trash dumpsters at Burning Man. None-the-less, the camp producer took the money and ran.

Tananbaum’s account was almost the complete opposite of Danger Ranger’s, singing the praises of his camp manager. In his own statement on the Burning Man web site he said:

I am writing to respond to a number of posts regarding Caravancicle, a camp of which I was a member in 2014 – I also helped envision and fund the camp.

The hero of this unfortunate situation was our camp’s manager who worked tirelessly for 2 days along with other camp members to help provide basic infrastructure for all of us. While the crisis was going on, all of us were greatly distracted and weren’t able to properly respond to the many people coming through our camp. Our supplies were also dwindling. Since the camp was so large, we used wristbands to help manage the food, water, and booze supply during non-public hours. It was really sad for me to read the accounts of people who visited our camp and were turned down for drinks during the day (including a number of my friends). Ughh….  If we had simply posted a sign providing details on camp gift times, it would have made a big difference.

Our camp breakdown was also compromised because the group responsible for providing the infrastructure was also responsible for part of the breakdown. In the end, our camp manager and some other members of the camp, plus breakdown staff, cleaned up our camp by Saturday after the event.

Let’s hope this story means the lifetime ban’s been lifted – if it ever existed in the first place. Stephen is a good guy and a good Burner – don’t believe everything you read on the Internet, if the source is not credible.

Definitely go check out Envision, and the beautiful country of Costa Rica which has 300,000 different kinds of bugs.

envision 2015

Things Were So Quaint, Back In The Day

Just stumbled upon this story from 2003.  It’s the perfect example of how social engineering of Burners can start with a prank, and be passed off as ironic, and then quickly become the new normal. Timeshare slots in the Oasis, anyone?


Vacations > Western U.S. > Western U.S. Tours
Burning Man 2003
Travelocity and Burning Tours invites you to Burning Man 2003! Come experience the colorful sights, the amazing sounds, and interesting people that come to this grand festival in the Nevada desert every year!
Tour Highlights | Inclusions | Options | Lodging & Dining | Itinerary | Prices
 7 Days from $1400
Prices are per person and reflect land cost only. Price is based on tourist-class hotels and similar services.
TRIP CODE: BRCNV
LODGING: Air Conditioned Travelocity Oasis Camp

 TOUR HIGHLIGHTS
Experience the spectacles of the Burning Man festival! Join Travelocity for this week-long tour package that lets you experience the wonder and awe of Burning Man 2003 without the hassle. Take in the beauty of the Nevada sky and mountains while seeing the many eclectic art projects, interesting sounds, and incredibly dressed people that make up this fantastic “city in the desert.” Don’t worry about being in the desert, as Travelocity has it’s own air conditioned “theme camp” where you may sleep in the comfort of your own private living space. Breakfast and dinner are served daily.

 PACKAGE INCLUSIONS
The Burning Man 2003 package includes the following:
Fourteen meals (breakfast and dinner) and six nights accommodations at the Travelocity Theme Camp, located near the Burning Man festival’s Center Camp
Burning Man 2003 ticket included with the package
Travelocity Playa Safari shuttle for transportation from Reno to Burning Man and back after the event
Complementary daily supply of water and ice
Modern, air-conditioned tent with private sleeping areas and separate toilet facilities
Professional Burning Man host and guide
Front-row reserved seating for many popular events, including the burning of the Man
Free Travelocity/Burning Man “Trading Trinkets”
All service charges and tips, baggage-handling fees, and local taxes
Travel bag and wallet containing package documents and helpful information

 OPTIONAL INCLUSIONS
The following add-ons may be available at an additional cost:

Travel insurance
Accomodations at the Reno Atlantis Hotel and Casino
Sightseeing tour of Lake Tahoe

 LODGING & DINING
The following is a summary of the accommodations for this tour:

Accommodations are based on twin-shares.

The following is a summary of the dining plan for this tour:

Breakfast: Seven are included.
Lunch: On your own.
Dinner: Seven are included.

 ITINERARY
Day(s) Activities
1 Arrive Reno
2 Arrive Burning Man
3 – 6 Burning Man 2003 festival
7 Arrive Reno

PACKAGE PRICES
Please note: Prices below are listed per person based on double occupancy. Prices are for land cost only. Rates may vary and space is limited. Deposit and refund information.
Departure Dates          Land Only
August 26, 2003 
August 27, 2003 
   $1400

ADDITIONAL PRICING INFORMATION

Triple share reduction: $35
Single room supplement: $325
Child share reduction (5-11 years): $295

[Source: archive.org]


 

At the time, the publication of this site and the supporting email promoting it, caused quite a stir. Big enough to become a story in WIRED magazine, just like Popsicle Camp is now in Bloomberg.

From WIRED (emphasis ours):

Burners Sweat Over Package Prank

Daniel Terdiman Email 07.24.03

Everything’s included at Travelocity’s Burning Tours!

Burning Man participants are often borderline fundamentalist about the mores of their desert bacchanalia. Over the years, they have steadfastly insisted that organizers never consider opening the doors to anything corporate.

So last week, when a message advertising an all-inclusive package tour of Burning Man spread like some out-of-control virus among the desert fest’s regulars and their e-mail lists, a lot of people went ballistic.

Supposedly sponsored by Travelocity and an unknown outfit called Burning Tours, the package promised prepared meals, an air-conditioned tent, free “Travelocity/Burning Man ‘trading trinkets'” and front-row seating for the annual alternative art festival’s signature spectacle, the torching of the 50-foot wooden Man.

But for anyone calm enough to look at the promotion’s Web page for a moment, there was a clue that something was not quite right. Instead of a Travelocity.com address, it was Travelocity.burningtours.com. It was not an attack on Burning Man’s principles at all. It was a hoax.

Precisely because vast numbers of “Burners” are tightly connected through e-mail lists, bulletin boards, websites and real-world gatherings, the Burning Man community is a juicy target for hoaxes. For example, a fake CNN.com story raised serious hackles on April Fools’ Day 2002. That one announced that the event’s organizers had sold its marketing and promoting rights to MTV.

Who were the instigators of the pranks? Burners themselves. Who else could better exploit the wired nature of their community, preying on its passionate adherence to anti-commercialism and radical self-reliance?

Specifically, the guilty party in the Travelocity gag was Dale Ghent, a 26-year-old Internet engineer from suburban Washington, D.C., who had seen the MTV ruse. He downloaded a Travelocity package tour page, did a quick mock-up of the Burning Tours package and, posing as a first-time Burner named Alan Douglas, posted a message to the New York Burners regional e-mail list asking if he should buy the tour.

“You sit there and you watch the e-mail, and the time elapsing and the people starting to read it and replying, ‘No, no, you can’t do this. It’s not the Burning Man spirit,'” Ghent laughs. “The general level of outrage was pretty satisfying, I have to say.”

Indeed, even veteran Burners were taken by the realistic representation of the Web page. A Seattle Burner known as Abdullah posted a message to one list with a link to the Burning Tours page, asking, “What the everlasting almighty FUCK?”

“My initial reaction was asinine knee-jerk reflex. I know how to read a URL and should have realized that this wasn’t in the Travelocity domain,” said Abdullah. “But I didn’t pay attention, and had one of those berserker moments. It was pure rage.”

At Burning Man headquarters, however, even as e-mails and instant messages started flowing in, the mood was relaxed. They’d been through this before and they love good art.

“The first thing to do when one of these hoaxes come around is usually to smile because they’re funny,” says Burning Man senior staffer Andie Grace. “The whole purpose of it is to prank people. So I don’t want to run around being the one who killed the joke.”

cartoon-going-fungalBut Grace says she was fascinated watching the viral spread of the hoax across the countless Burning Man regional and department e-mail lists, many of which share members.

“There is overlap,” she explains. “A friend sends it to a friend in Seattle, who puts it on their regional list, and then someone e-mails it to their friend in St. Louis.”

As one e-mail list discovered it was a hoax, other lists were just beginning to see the original message. The word that everything was okay, that Burning Man’s purity was safe, was always one step behind. In fact, even though most Burners now know the Burning Tours offer was a gag, some are still hearing about it for the first time, Grace said.

Meanwhile, Ghent started hearing from people about his work. “I think overall, people had good humor about it,” he said. “I got private e-mails saying, great hoax, good job,” he says. “I think once people realized it was a hoax, they got a grin on their face.

And as for Abdullah?

“It obviously took a lot of time and skill to do this,” he says. “It reminded me that I’m not quite as clever as I think I am sometimes…. To the author of the Travelocity spoof: Nice one, mate.”

[Original: http://archive.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2003/07/59740]

We’ve moved along the spectrum of turnkey camping from irony to stark reality. Today, $1400 looks cheap for a Commodification Camp. And “look at how much fun the tech billionaires are having out West!” is the new marketing slogan for Wall Street and the City of London.

It’s amazing to look back and see how things have changed. Progress? Evolution? Or devolution?

evolution of a djI guess I am still with the 2003 Burners, who see this as an attack on Burning Man’s principles. The Ten Principles were not even encoded as such, that happened the year after this ironic scandal. Clearly, Radical Self Reliance, Leave No Trace, and an environment away from the Default world capitalist model of labor organization were part of the core values of Burning Man much earlier than the Tin Principles.

Were the Principles actually specifically crafted in response to this meme? It was supposedly created by a New York Regional contact. BMOrg admitted they were promoting it via their regionals email lists and carefully watching “for amusement”? Perhaps the Founders actually liked the idea of selling tour packages, so they wanted to create some fine print that would allow this to really happen in the future.  As I’ve noted before, there’s nothing in the Principles about ethics, and they are carefully worded to only discourage transactions taking place on the Playa, rather than completely ban commerce itself. There have been quite a few posts from the official Burning Man blog over the last couple of years trying to clarify this point for us.

Now, not only do BMP’s Directors run multi-million dollar camps like this, massive ones with more than 50 sherpas; but they actually go to burningman.org to blame their staff for wrongdoing while they lecture us about how their VIP wristband camps are shining examples of the Ten Principles in action.

A big farce. It provides laughs for more than a decade, while they slowly introduce it into our society and sell $17,000 hotel rooms to the A-List – then laugh at us when we protest. “Oh, those Burners! They’re always the same. Blah blah blah, people have been saying that for 20 years and we keep raising prices and they keep buying tickets. Go make an amusing street theater protest to entertain us with, rubes!”

The Occidental Oasis "ironic" timeshare sale was going on at the same time as very real hotel sales on Billionaire's Row

The Occidental Oasis “ironic” timeshare sale was going on at the same time as very real hotel sales on Billionaire’s Row

Black Rock Acres p3

The 1%? All A Board

The Burning Man Project is now the 100% shareholder of Black Rock City, LLC, which puts on the Burning Man event. A Board of Directors of 18 people is responsible for the Burning Man Project. Founder Will Roger is the Chairman.

sherpa kegSherpaGate and all the attention from the New York Times and Bloomberg has highlighted Burning Man’s place on the world stage as a playground for rich people. In the past, how much money you had was never an issue at Burning Man. Nobody cared, because money did not exist in this environment. Tickets were based on Burners splitting the costs of the permit and the infrastructure for putting on the party – like a mega-version of camp dues. The art was more about amusement and light-hearted entertainment, than impressing and out-doing.

Now, ticket prices increase almost every year, new taxes get invented like the vehicle pass, directors run Commodification Camps, there are 85 registered vendors, there’s a gas station for art cars, camps get daily fresh food deliveries from beeping trucks, and a whole eco-system of businesses has popped up renting yurts, containers and RVs to Burners.

Why is Burning Man morphing from an anarchists wet dream to shark-jumping Defaultification?

Why does the Board seem to think there’s nothing wrong with directors trying to make a few bucks on the side?

doctor-yes: I have a friend who was in that camp, and I didn’t realize it until after we got back from the Burn this year He had a great time, but he also stayed with Jim’s camp in 2013 – his first time on the playa, and he was only there for 3 days. He’s comfortable but not wealthy enough to afford the cost, and I believe it was gifted enough to him both years. So the only experience he’s ever had at Burning Man is in these highly-catered camps. He spoke highly of the Mistresses of Merriment his first year, for instance, which made me cringe internally, but I didn’t draw a line between the two until post-Burn this year.

The problem to me is that the camp appeared to do nothing to acculturate newcomers, instead allowing them to be pampered and experience BM from behind the velvet rope. I don’t think it’s even about what some of the guests themselves expect. My friend, for instance, had no idea what to expect. This was just how Burning Man was from his experience.

After I gently talked to him about it, I discovered he’d had no idea it was potentially controversial. He only discovered it after the fact. He’s an older guy (65+) but is constantly going to concerts of all kinds, music festivals, etc, and is very cool to hang out with. Not the kind of douchebag you might think exclusively inhabits these camps.

That’s just one person of course, and I haven’t tried to press him too much for details to avoid embarrassing him further, but I just wonder how much blame we can put on the participants in the camp (and whatever expectations they had) vs. the organizers of it, who framed the entire event for birgins in the camp through the lens they chose.

  • HotterRod: “The problem to me is that the camp appeared to do nothing to acculturate newcomers”

Larry Harvey admits that he didn’t do anything to acculturate external members of the Project Board, so I guess Tananbaum just paid the cluelessness forward.

Burners may also be interested in this site: tananburn.me