False Amber Alerts Imprison Thousands: 17 year old Missed Curfew, Gate Closed for 3 Hours

2016 exodus line

Image: Reddit

Burning Man was shut down twice when Burners wanted to leave, due to minors that could not be located by their parents. The first Amber alert happened after The Man burn, shutting the gate for at least 30 minutes. Then the Gate was closed on Sunday night for at least 3 hours when a 17 year old girl could not be located.

Here’s what happened:

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 9.37.23 PM

 

It’s a little hard to piece together, since the people here are discussing TWO Amber Alert incidents. Details were reported on BMIR that do not seem to match the actual event.

Reports on BMIR said the 17 year old was last seen at White Ocean. Was this a real incident, or another insider attack designed to “name and shame” those chosen for exclusion from Radical Inclusion?

It is reminiscent of a similar “false AMBER alert” incident in 2012.

Whether the girl was really missing or not, the procedure for “handling” it trapped tens of thousands of disgruntled Burners for most of the night in 18 lanes of Exodus. It foiled the plans of those who chose to skip out early before the Temple burn to beat traffic.

As one Burner said on Facebook “a 17 year old missed curfew! Lock down Los Angeles!”

The age of consent is 16 in Nevada.

Sign the petition to make the largest adult activities event in the world adults-only:

#nokidsatBMan
Burning Man exodus on 4 September 2016 was held up for more than three hours with exit to the highway completely blocked by the organization with no evident plan and in a manner that inconvenienced and endangered the lives of thousands queued to leave. Burning Man is a sometimes perilous adventure chock full of adult situations that should only be taken by those who are ready, willing, and able to care for themselves. As the organization clearly does not have well conceived plans for dealing with emergencies involving children and the event is not the place for those who cannot care for themselves, participants under the age of 18 should be banned.

[Sign here]

Why should every adult Burner suffer because of a teenage girl and an inattentive parent? Why should a ranger ignore the wishes of the parent, and punish all Burners?

There are further details on Reddit about the gate also being closed on Saturday night due to an Amber Alert:

Hmmm they had a Amber alert last night as well at 10:10pm after man burn. We got 7 cars from gate. Took about 30 mins. For that situation to resolve.

In 2013, a pedophile was found making plans on Facebook to kidnap a kid at Burning Man. Last year someone was arrested for kidnapping, and there was another arrest for a sex offender failing to register with the police. Then we have this…is it art? Ironic? Or just Creepy AF?

Perhaps it is another one of these frequently occurring coincidences that Hakim Bey, inventor of the Temporary Autonomous Zone and pen pal of Larry Harvey, writes man-boy love stories for NAMBLA. From his Wikipedia page:

Wilson’s freeform poetry, as Hakim Bey, has appeared in Exquisite Corpse, the Panthology and Acolyte Reader anthologies, Gayme, P.A.N., NAMBLA Bulletin, Ganymede,and various samizdat zines. Many of the poems were collected in an unpublished volume DogStar, praised by Burroughs and Ginsberg. Currently his works can be found regularly in publications like Fifth Estate and the NYC-based First of the Month.

self service cult slimEven if you believe that to be nothing more than a mysterious curiosity, the pedophiles have now found out about Burning Man. The annual TAZ city is an idyllic Pirate Utopia for them, as well as a fertile hunting ground for predators targeting impressionable minds of all ages.

We hear “pedophiles” and we think of monsters molesting infants and toddlers. But the real danger is “growing up too fast” teenagers, with hormones raging. It’s dark, it’s dusty, people are wearing makeup and masks and costumes…and let’s face it, 16 year olds want to fuck. Especially at Burning Man, where the 5000-person Orgy Dome is internationally renowned. Let’s not kid ourselves that Burning Man is all face painting and art galleries.

How important are children to our Sacred Principles? As important as nudity? As important as tripping?

Will Flysalen also feature this mix of children, nudity, hallucinogenic culture and self-service cult? Esalen trustee and BMP Director Chip Conley was tweeting from the Playa about bathhouses:

This year, tens of thousands of Burners had to suffer because of BMorg’s vision to mix teenagers, nudity and drugs together in the one government-supported venue.

The first report was on Reddit, approx 9:30pm Sunday night:

They announced it on BMIR. 17 year old with 31 year old boyfriend (?!?!?!) missing since early Sunday morning. Last seen at White Ocean. About 5’5″, 110 lbs, last known items of clothing a white coat and black cat ears.

It seems the boyfriend was 21 or 22, but reported on BMIR as 31. 17 is a minor, and protocol dictates that every single person in the city must be held hostage until the lost minor is found. No medical, family, or work emergency is more important than a 17 year old’s curfew.

Although from Twitter it appears that the gate was only closed for 80 minutes, BMOrg themselves said “3 hours” and Burners who were in the line said “5 hours”, leading to Exodus times between 9 and 24 hours.

 

The woman just mentioned her missing daughter to a Ranger, thinking she might be able to drive around in someone’s vehicle and look for her. The risk-averse ranger called in the Amber Alert and locked the city down, pooping the party for thousands against the wishes of the parent.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 9.32.37 PM

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 7.45.34 PM

Burners were not impressed.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 7.46.48 PM

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 7.48.29 PMScreen Shot 2016-09-05 at 7.49.02 PMScreen Shot 2016-09-05 at 7.47.47 PMScreen Shot 2016-09-05 at 7.47.32 PMScreen Shot 2016-09-05 at 7.46.28 PMScreen Shot 2016-09-05 at 7.45.55 PMScreen Shot 2016-09-05 at 7.44.57 PM

On a lighter note, on Facebook Tim Mehoves came up with

10 ways to know the wrong people are going to Burning Man.

1. They complain about how hard it was to get their ticket…but they got a ticket.

2. They complain about the wait in line to get onto the playa.

3. They complain about the Portos

4. They complain that all the art projects and theme camps aren’t complete by the time they arrive.

5. They complain about the lack of cell charging stations and reception.

6. They complain about the dust.

7. They complain about the inability to sleep because of the sound camp they set up right next to.

8. They complain about the lines for coffee at center camp or ice at Artica.

9. They complain about Larry Harvey not making time to talk to them because “they drove all the way out there”.

10. They complain about the wait in line for Exodus.

TL:DR version…They complain.

 

What’s Up With Low-Income Tickets This Year? 

A reader just sent me this. I have no answers, but it’s very well written, and I think they raise some puzzling questions. Hence, a guest post from Anonymous Impecunious.  Any ideas, Burners? Just more of the same? Or is there some method behind this madness?

Could this have anything to do with the Anonymous new owners of our tax-exempt Permanent Autonomous Zone?


—————–

I’m writing to you because you seem like the only person on the Internet who’s willing to acknowledge both the positive and the negative about Burning Man—or, rather, mostly about its management.
Do you have any idea what’s up with the low-income ticket program in the last few days? This seems like it could use some of your trademark investigative reporting. The BMorg recently announced that they MUST receive 8,000 applications in order to award the 4,000 tickets earmarked for LI. Why?? Why on earth would they need to reject fully 50% of applicants? And assuming there is some legit reason, why would they not have known (or chosen not to announce) this before late June?
There even seems to be some question as to whether they will award ANY low-income tickets if they don’t receive at least 8,000 applications. That could cause quite a problem for the 2,000+ people who have already been awarded a low-income ticket—or so they were told. I haven’t seen anything from BMorg assuring these people that the LI tickets already awarded will be honored, only that the Org MUST receive 8,000 applications if they are to award the 4,000 tickets. It doesn’t make any sense at all. 
As might be expected, after the announcement, hopefuls who hadn’t considered applying before are now throwing their hats (and their W-2s) into the application pool, yet many seem to be getting rejected, and getting rejected extremely quickly. Granted, I’m basing that mostly on posts to Reddit and Eplaya and replies to the BMorg’s original thread. So not only is that probably skewed towards the disgruntled, but, in the interests of full disclosure, I’m one of the rejects myself. 
I’d previously thought of the low-income program as for people who absolutely CANNOT afford a main sale ticket, in the same way that I absolutely CANNOT afford a DaVinci ticket. But once the Org started begging for applicants and noting that you could apply even while enrolled in STEP (which I am), I figured why not? I’m far from wealthy. Besides, I’ve quickly learned that, when it comes to obtaining Burning Man tickets, playing by the rules is for chumps. (To wit, dozens of people buy pre-sale or DaVinci tickets, then as soon as they obtain main sale tickets, they palm off their more expensive insurance policies. But God help you if you dare to pay $700 for a ticket on Ebay? Talk about situational ethics.)
Anyway, my LI application was rejected within a matter of days. The BMorg made their plea for more applicants on June 21; it’s only June 25 and I’ve already heard back, as have apparently many others. Meanwhile, some of those who applied back in March, April, and May are still waiting for a reply. So maybe I’m just bitter, but something about this whole situation stinks to high heaven! I just can’t put my finger on exactly what. 

Prior to the June 21 announcement, the Org had already received 6,000 applications. If fewer than 4,000 of those were eligible, then why not award fewer LI tickets and dump the rest into STEP, or into the OMG sale, or sell them for $1,200 to their special friends? Why the sudden and urgent NEED for double the number of LI applicants than there are LI tickets? 

For months, I’ve been reading your opinions of the BMorg with a skeptical eye, but this is the first time I’ve had cause to think that they’re as craven and corrupt as you’ve quite often demonstrated. Again, maybe I’m just bitter, but I’m actually bothered more by what seems like Org manipulation than about being turned down for a ticket program I had never planned to apply for in the first place.

I’ve never been to Burning Man before and this is making me wonder if I want to be any part of it. My only hope is that whatever the hell is going on with management does not trickle down to participants on the playa.

Tickets 2016: What Really Happened

 

Church fire

Image: Dan Rademacher | Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

At first, it seemed like things were going very smoothly this year. I logged on in the Pre-Sale, got straight through, got 2 tickets and a vehicle pass, no problem. Whole thing took less than 3 minutes. Of course, that cost $2271.74. I couldn’t bring myself to spend $1207 for a $997 ticket, but for anyone who wants tickets, there are still those VIP Da Vinci’s available. Log into your Burner profile and click this:

Screenshot 2016-04-18 09.28.46

Although it says the limit is 2 per person, the reality is it is at least 2 per profile. Anyone can create a profile and buy these tickets, so if Medici Camps want a hundred tickets they will get them. A little bird told us that you can just log in and keep buying 2 at a time, after buying Art Tickets the button is still visible on the profile. One camp has already purchased more than 100 Da Vinci tickets from a single profile. [Pro tip: if you still need a vehicle pass, you can get one here without getting the Leonardo’s; some readers have pointed out that BMOrg says VP-only orders will be voided, so you might want to make a small donation just in case]

After the Pre-Sale, the Directed Group Sale happened. Although most camps got a reduced allocation from last year, the sale seemed to go through hitch-free for those who did get codes.

So far, so good. That’s about 30,000 Burners in the door. Rich people, and those with enough Borg points to be on the World’s Biggest Guest list, can come to Burning Man.

But just being on the DGS list doesn’t mean that your camp got all of the tickets it needed. A neutral sample from the Theme Camp Organizers group showed 94% got less than they needed this year.

Which bring us to everybody else. Regular Burners, who want to just log in when the sale opens and hopefully get in there early enough that they can buy a ticket.

This is where the problems began.

The 30,000 tickets sold out in about half an hour; it took a further half an hour before people in the queue were informed. From the Reno Gazette Journal:

At about 12:35 p.m., 30 minutes after tickets went on sale, Burning Man announced that all tickets were in the “baskets” of buyers at the time. By 1 p.m., tickets were officially sold out…More than 70,000 people registered to purchase 30,000 tickets

Assuming that most people are buying 2 tickets, that is potentially 140,000 tickets wanted from a pool of 30,000 tickets. Although clearly demand exceeds supply, this is just a regular day in the ticketing world. This problem has been solved, well, and long ago.

Jenny Kane at the RGJ raised some criticism of the last-minute move to add the “Waiting Room”

Since demand has far outpaced supply in recent years, Burning Man has experimented with different ticketing processes, this year trying out an online “waiting room,” which Burning Man threw into the equation via an email announcement last minute Tuesday night.

The waiting room was a response to “anticipation of high demand and a high server load,” according to the email. No information was available about the sudden change of process on Burning Man’s website.

Some Burners criticized the waiting room as a move that returned the system to a lottery-style ticket sale, others said that the waiting room was a joke since Burning Man’s email was sent out so last-minute, and some Burners did not receive the email in the first place, according to reports on social media.

Because some Burners reported acquiring tickets after skipping the waiting room, some Burners suspected that there was a glitch with this year’s process, a theory that Burning Man organizers denied.

“Everything seemed to go as planned,” said Jim Graham, Burning Man spokesman.

Whether as planned, or a glitch, reading a post from BMOrg explaining how the ticketing process went wrong this year is nothing new. I started this blog in early 2012, and ticket troubles have been an annual story every since. The usual response is “we know you are frustrated”, followed by “blame Burners (sort of)”, and then “blame anyone else we can”. In previous years, the problem has been blamed on the previous ticketing vendor, Burners buying tickets for their friends, scalpers, and hackers.

This year, the problem was Burners accidentally entering the early room too early (but it wasn’t their fault), and Ticketfly (supposedly, entirely their fault). BMOrg, of course, did nothing wrong, they are a highly competent organization that unfortunately (and inexplicably) regularly encounters undeserved bad luck.

From burningman.org:

Early in the planning process for the 2016 Main Sale, Ticketfly wanted to put a waiting room in place before the sale to accommodate the expected high server load. Under this plan, Burners who entered the sale before it opened would be placed in a “pre-queue” waiting room, and when the sale opened, everyone in that room would be randomly assigned a place in line.

We pushed back on this idea because it conflicted with our longtime policy that arriving early for a sale shouldn’t give one an advantage over someone who arrives when the sale officially begins. In this respect we’re kind of industry oddballs — it is standard practice in most high-volume ticket sales to use a waiting room like this, but it is philosophically out of line with how we feel participants should be treated in a sale.

In response, Ticketfly insisted the system was necessary to ensure a smooth sale, so we sent our standard night-before reminder email to everyone registered for the sale, including an explanation about the waiting room, to be transparent about the process.

…Needless to say, we don’t like being in the position of having to notify people late in the game of a change in how the system works.

Well, that’s the official story, anyway. You can read about it at the BJ or the RGJ. BMOrg knew about the waiting room since early in the planning process, but only chose to tell Burners about it by slipping it into a last-minute reminder email…in the name of transparency.

According to BMOrg, there was only one problem: Ticketfly opening the waiting room at 11:30 insterad of 11:45.

Ticketfly did not anticipate how the safety net would interact with the waiting room, and proceeded to open the expected waiting room at 11:30 am, 15 minutes earlier than we’d agreed and publicized. This waiting room was open for 35 minutes, still ending at 12:05 pm. Unbeknownst to us though, the roughly 3,500 people that arrived in the “safety net” period were given preferential placement ahead of everyone else to buy tickets and vehicle passes.

The full story of what went wrong includes some key details that will need to be addressed to avoid these problems in the future.

A summary of the main problems reported:

  • The sale “officially” starts at 12:00. BMOrg modified this to start at 12:05 for people in a “20 minute waiting room” that officially started at 11:45. This announcement of a new method (get in even earlier than 12 and get tickets) went out at the last minute, and not to everyone
  • The waiting room was actually open earlier than 11:45
  • Some people who waited in the waiting room for 20 minutes or more did not get tickets
  • Some people who logged in after 12:05 got tickets with no queue
  • BMOrg asked people not to open multiple browser windows. Each time you did, you increased your chances of getting tickets.
  • The code involved in the waiting room system made the process vulnerable to hackers trying to outsmart the system.
  • After the last ticket was sold, there were still many people waiting in the queue, who were forced to stay there for at least an extra half hour.
  • It appears that tickets that were “refreshed” – put back into the pool because a transaction was not completed in time, or a credit card failed – were not then offered to the people who were waiting the longest. Instead they were offered to whoever logged in the most recently. I say this because of reports that people logged in after 12:20 and got tickets, while others logged in to the waiting room before 12 and didn’t.

The entire ticketing system is a big black box. Is there even one person that knows how BMOrg’s code AND Ticketfly’s code AND Queue-It’s code works? If so, then maybe they should be taking responsibility for these annual clusterfucks.

One of the great ironies of Burning Man is how fiercely BMOrg fight against transparency, now that profit has been removed from their activities. They will say they don’t because they got a friendly to write a puff piece in Philanthropy magazine. YMMV. Apparently, one of the outcomes of this year’s Global Leadership Conference was “Radical Transparency”:

Our leaders are advocating transparency because it reduces Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt, a.k.a. FUD. Keeping things secret allows for FUD to spread and we all know how our community loves a little drama.

Something tells me “leaders advocating transparency” really means “Regionals are being forced to implement Burner Profiles”. But I’ll keep my mind open – maybe BMOrg 3.0, of the people, for the people, by the people, really is “coming soon”. Personally, if we’re going to have an 11th Principle I vote CONSENT. Gratitude is a good one. Transparency is not a Principle of Burners, it is simply a fundamental requirement for a non-profit that wants to raise tens of millions of dollars from wealthy donors. Unless you’re the Clinton Global Initiative, of course!

A disconnect between BMOrg’s words and actions is par for the course, and the ticketing system gets more opaque every year. To figure out what really happened in the Ticketing black box, we have to do some investigation. Fortunately, we have some very competent technical engineering talent within the Burner community, and by taking in the comments from Burners about their experiences, we can attempt to deconstruct what really happened. It may not be perfect, but it’s the only option we have in the circumstances.

The night before the ticket sales started, BMOrg sent out a last minute email, announcing a change of plans. I guess up until then, they had no idea that there may have been high demand and a high server load. Not to mention that many of the Burners were probably high too.

In anticipation of high demand and a high server load, a 20-minute waiting room will open Wednesday, March 23 at 11:45am PDT. Actual sales begin at 12:05pm PDT.

Opening multiple browser tabs won’t improve your chances; when the sale opens, everyone in the 20-minute waiting room will be assigned a place in line that is not related to when they entered the sale. Anyone who joins after 20 minutes will be placed in line after those already in the queue.

A Balanced Perspective described this well:

In actuality, what occurred is the opposite of what the Borg stated. Black is White. Any people whom opened their browser window prior to near to 11:35am, and waited for the sale at 12:05pm, gained near to 7,000 tickets. In addendum, any people whom opened their browser window after near to 12:04pm gained tickets. In addendum, any people whom opened a new browser after 12:05pm gained tickets. Few Burners whom obeyed the Borg gained tickets. How might it be possible for an organization to screw the people whom desire to obey them in such a horrible manner?

He makes another good point, which is that if this was a one-off, we could dismiss it as coincidence. But it’s been every year since they announced their “transition”. These ticketing problems should be seen in the context of everything else that has been changing at Burning Man this decade:

  • the shift to a “mall of participation” featuring vending machines at the Man base,
  • tourist packages being promoted on the official site,
  • “ironic” timeshare sales with brochures handed out in a market at the Man base,
  • Directors running multi-million dollar hotel camps with sherpas,
  • the art budget shenanigans where the money spent on the Man and related infrastructure is now accounted for as “grants to artists”, and we’re told that has increased compared to past years
  • the massive increases in ticket costs over the past few years,
  • and of course the frequent tweaks of the system which every year have been pushing secondary market prices higher.

Without getting too bogged down in the technicalities, let’s try to break down the 2016 Main Sale problems.

Shaggy Skier offers some detailed analysis at Reddit:

TicketFly allowed people into the ticketing system before the queue opened sometime around 11:30. These people were given an authenticated session on the ticketing system and thus bypassed the queue once tickets went on sale. { I’d bet my left nut on this }

The waiting room / queue (aka a company called “Queue-It”) handled queue placement based on unique cookies assigned to the browser upon hitting their website, and not your secret access code (aka “promo code”). This meant opening multiple independent browser instances increased one’s odds. { I’d bet my right nut on this one }

Professional scalpers absolutely know about the later, and probably the former flaws. Profit motive … motivates people.

Here we have Problem 1: people were allowed to enter the system before it officially opened.

This raises the question: did someone deliberately put these “back doors” (or loopholes) in the system, so that insiders – either at Ticketfly, BMOrg, or Queue-It – could get in before anyone else? Or once again, did BMOrg change their system and it “accidentally” made it way better for scalpers those who knew the loopholes?

According to reports online, not everyone was sent the email about the Waiting Room. Was this selective, sent only to “preferred” Profiles? Why else did some people not receive the email?

Shaggyskier on Reddit:

 

The devil is in the details. From the URL that redirects us back to TicketFly we can see they’re using a Queue-it feature called Safetynet. We can read about Safetynet on Queue-it’s website:

The SafetyNet feature constantly monitors your website, auto-queueing excess users when website capacity threshold is exceeded. End-users within website capacity limits do not see queue numbers. The SafetyNet feature can be implemented as a small JavaScript on your site (like e.g. Google Analytics).

Or in other words Queue-it will keep passing people through to TicketFly, and authenticating their session cookie until the website gets busy enough to be ruled ‘at capacity’. See the problem now? The website doesn’t start getting busy (and/or the queue wasn’t manually enabled) until it gets close to sale time! Anyone who clicks in before then gets an authenticated session on TicketFly’s server – and will no longer be sent to the queue.

I can personally state that Queue-it passed me through to TicketFly (thus authenticating my session) as late as 11:25am, and a friend recognized the same thing happened to her. My friend clicked early on her own accord to “make sure the IT department wasn’t blocking the site”. How many people did that?

“But I did click the link before the queue got going and I got an ‘Invalid Promo Code’ message?”. That’s right. You did. Your promo code was still set to only be valid from 12:05 onwards. If you re-clicked your link, or re-entered your code after 12:05 then you have tickets right now since you still had an authenticated session.

So if you got there early – like, before it was supposed to be open – you got a code to get tickets, because you bypassed the Safety Net in the queueing system. As the waiting room filled up, those codes were allocated via the queueing sytem; by the time the system processed its way through to the end of the queue, all tickets had been sold.

Meanwhile, people logged on at 12:20 and got tickets. Maybe by that time, server load had died down and the queue was not so crowded; meaning the “very early” and “very late” people got processed differently. That’s Problem 2.

Problem 3, is that the cookies used by the Queue-It system were not linked to UserID. Opening more browser windows got you more cookies, which got you more chances to get in to buy tickets. This calls into question yet again the role that the Burner Profile actually plays in this process. In the past we have speculated that it could be used to favor Virgins over Veterans, something that is supported by the strangely consistent “40% Virgins” ratio we have had ever since this new ticket lottery process began.

Problem 3 is particularly bad because it is the complete opposite of BMOrg’s instructions that opening more browser tabs would not give you more chances. While technically this statement could be true depending on the browser and OS, in general opening new browser instances, and running different browsers at the same time definitely made a difference.

Problem 4 is a consequence of Problem 3. The system had no way to differentiate humans from Browser sessions. If one person with one code opened up 10 browsers, it thought that was ten people in the queue. Each one had to be processed individually, before moving on to the next. The system would have wasted a lot of time rejecting sessions that timed out before completion. How else to explain a 30 minute delay between all tickets being in baskets, and the sold out message? Most people should have been able to check out in minutes once they had tickets in their shopping cart.

Problem 5, the “little green man” is not really showing you accurate information. When the time gets down to zero, there is no guarantee you will be able to buy a ticket. It is just looking at all the sessions, and making an estimate of how long it will take to get to processing you. This appears to be based on the size of the queue and your place within it, and not the number of tickets remaining. If this is true, the queue would seem to be getting shorter but then suddenly get longer again as a bunch more people got in the queue; you would seem like you were close to the front, when really you had no chance – which definitely happened last year.

If the Little Green Man’s position is tied to the queue, not the number of tickets remaining, then the LGM is bullshit.

Even when all the tickets have been sold, the system is still processing these queued sessions. People see the man moving, and think there’s hope. The reality is, for regular people logging in to buy tickets after noon (the original instructions), there was almost no hope. The best way to get tickets was to figure out a way around the rules.

They did at least reduce the time wasted by Problem 5 from last year. Instead of waiting up to 2 hours in the queue before being notified that no tickets were remaining (but you could still make a donation), this year it seems to have been more like 30-45 minutes.

We are told we need this convoluted system to prevent scalpers – that is, selling $397 tickets above farce value. Meanwhile, BMOrg are selling a seemingly unlimited number of tickets for $1207. Wake up people: THEY ARE THE SCALPERS! If you really want to stop scalping (0.6% of ticket sales), link IDs to tickets. To stop insiders with large blocks of tickets selling them on the secondary market for profit, link IDs to tickets. It’s pretty basic. But nothing like this has ever been tried. Instead, we have the opposite – a system that started off as brilliantly suited to boosting secondary market profits, and over the last few years has been refined and improved even more to make it a wet dream for anyone wanting to sell tickets for more than $397 farce value.

Low income tickets are still available, but processing them has been delayed 3 weeks:

Heads up: there’s a delay in processing Low Income applications. Normally we strive to respond to applicants within eight weeks, which means the first wave of applicants would have been notified by the end of April. Unfortunately some behind-the-scenes hitches will cause a delay of 2-3 weeks.

What “behind-the-scenes hitches” could there be? Surely the method of processing Low Income Ticket applications does not change from one year to the next? Maybe they need to see how many more VIP tickets can be sold in that time?

A few selected comments from Burners on this year’s ticketing SNAFU:

Alex:

I was in the queue five minutes before the start, then sat in the queue, then sat until there were no more tickets available…

Two of my friends clicked on the email link after 12pm, got straight in and purchased tickets. I’m happy for them

BCool11 says:

Our friend jumped into our 8 person group chat at probably 12:10 and asked us “hey sorry i’m late i’m on the screen that asks for a code”

we pretty much tell him he’s SOL because he didn’t register for an access code. My girlfriend give him her access code since were all waiting in line. I tell her that she may lose her place in line if he uses it on his end.

Literally 2 minutes later he responds back that he has checked out and tickets and vehicle passes were purchased. No one else of our 8 person group got through. He literally put in the code and was pushed through to the checkout page. It really goes to show that there are flaws in this system

23 replied:

If you’d given him your other codes he could have repeatedly purchased your group’s tickets.

Pinthead:

I truly believe people in the waiting room had a huge disadvantage and if you followed the rules they suggested entering the waiting room at 11:45 and never refreshed, closed your browser or opened up another link you where just screwed.

Snakelee:

So two years ago, the OMG sale allowed for queuing 30 minutes before the sale started. My wife and I both tried to get tickets and I noticed that we could queue up really early, so we both queued and we both were given the option to buy. Lots of people from our camp tried to buy in that sale and none of them got in.

Then, that method hit the main sale this year. I know multiple people in our camp queued really early and got them, but I didn’t queue until 15 minutes before and wasn’t able to get tickets. So basically, I think this happened 2 years ago for OMG and then it was routed out to the main sale. I didn’t try the OMG sale last year, I bet they did it this way and have some experience with this method of sale.

I bet that they won’t have this patched for the OMG sale this year and it will be scalper central at 11:29:59.

GHKMasterRace:

After reading all this shit im gonna start being an asshole and getting tickets how ever I can. 

zz_z:

That’s pretty much what you have to do, our camp had 50 people in it last year and only two people got through the main sale this year. The system is broken.

Conclusion

This “waiting room” was a trap. The bottom line is, if you followed the official last minute instructions, and joined it between 11:50-12:00, you reduced your chances of getting a ticket by an order of magnitude.

The idea that “ticket sales start at 12 but people who get there before 12 can buy them first” is silly. It either starts at noon or it doesn’t.

Why not follow the Principle of Immediacy? Start the sales at 12:00:00, and process them on a first-come, first-serve basis. When the last ticket is sold, whoever is at HQ watching $14 million cash hit the bank in 30 minutes or less could immediately send out a Tweet (100k followers) and a message on the Burning Man Facebook page (1 million). It’s pretty fucking simple.

If the Ruling Group were Satanists, they would delight in laughing at the suffering of all these Burners trying to follow the rules, jumping through senseless hoops, and wasting an hour or more of their life just to experience disappointment, disillusionment, and bitterness. But, hey, maybe there’s some other motivation for this sort of thing now happening every year. Maybe, like they say, they did a great job and it’s all just Burners and Ticketfly’s fault.

How was your ticket experience this year? Did your camp get enough tickets? Please share in the comments.

Art Budget Shenanigans [Update]

A Burning Man artist has responded to my request for feedback in yesterday’s post Follow the Money, with a most interesting tale.


 

From Anonymous Burner:

BMHQ Artists meeting, 2014

BMHQ Artists meeting, May 2015

 

This picture was taken at the Follow Up Artists’ Summit held last May at BMHQ.  This was the second meeting after the first one in 2014 where a group of artists tried to make changes in the artist contract for the event but were met with a meeting facilitator that broke everyone up to bitch in different sessions.
 .
Then last May they held the follow up meeting.  Whereas there were upwards of 50 at the first meeting, this one was poorly attended.  Besides myself there was 2 other “Playa” artists and a bunch of newbies.  No one would show up because they knew nothing was going to come out of this meeting. They had tons of food…
.
Looking at the pie chart, they state that for 2015 they would spend $3M on the art.  For ease of discussion, look at 40% Grants, 40% Services, and 20% Administration.
,
1.2M for Grants (now includes Man and Man Base)
$600k on Admin?  Pick a number of FTEs for BRC art at $100k each.  They don’t have 6 FTEs working on BRC art and they sure as hell aren’t paying them $100k
$1.2M on Services?  For the heavy equipment thats used to build the site and is already out there?
.
They won’t feed the artists at the Commissary.  The art projects have to pay for water, fuel, light towers, wood, DG for burns, Etc, Etc.  Plus pay for Port-o-Lets, feeding their crew, and everything else.  How are these service and Admin amounts calculated?
.
Here’s the problem these folks have:
.
They can’t raise money for the BM Project because if you donate to it, what is your donation doing?  I see lots of folks flying around the world talking.  What specific programs can they point to to make a case for donating money to the BM project?
.
That leaves them trying to run the non-profit on the back of the event.  Yes the event makes money, finally – they ran the outfit out of a cigar box for years –  but leaves them unable to increase funding for the artists.  And given the way these lemmings throng to get a spot on the cliff, why should they even consider it.
.
And now that they have to raise money for the BM project, where do they go?  To the folks that have been funding these pieces and supporting the artists.  It is a very shallow donor pool.  The result is “donor fatigue”  these folks are weary of being badgered by the Org and look for more permanent art installations.
.
At the same time, they have to be careful in getting the community to support the artists more – Larry’s latest efforts are lame in that he keeps referring to the moneyed class and most folks say “he can’t be talking about me, I don’t have any money”.  My wealthy friends that have supported art projects in the past have been insulted by his “let the rich folks pay for it”.  Many are taking the year off this year, as am I.
.
Well, I found that somewhat cathartic.  Thanks for hearing me out.

 

burnersxxx:

Thanks very much for sharing that. The artist raises some good points.

Specifically, from a $3 million budget, the numbers work out to:

$1,290,000 Art (43%)

$570,000 Admin (19%)

$1,140,000 Services (38%)

Heavy Equipment Rental was $2.45 million in 2014.

From a $1.2 million Black Rock City art budget, in 2016 they are paying for:

60 Honoraria art projects. Partial grants, artists have to raise most of the project costs themselves

33 Guild Workshops. Regional projects. Projects required to raise almost all the funding and supply personnel themselves.

The Man

The Piazza

The “Turning Man” contraption

The Temple. Partial grant, artists who “win” the project have to raise most of the funding themselves

4 Belltowers

A blacksmith shop

Possible other sculptures

Is the $90,000 what gets spent on art across Burners Without Borders, Black Rock Arts Foundation, Burning Man Arts, and all the other non-Playa activities?


[Update 3/15/16 5:44pm]

The artist has responded to some of the questions raised in our comments. emphasis ours

A question was raised about tickets and that was a good point.  I don;t know how the value of the tickets given to artists/art projects is calculated or categorized.  Here is what I do know – 
.
Registered art pieces (funded and non-funded) get access to free tickets, vehicle passes, early arrival passes and the coveted 12 mile (aka Point 1) access privilege
 .
In addition to the free art project tickets, there are also half price (aka staff tickets) that are made available to the project depending on project scope, schedule, and staffing.  And if that isn’t enough, the Org can also press the special button and grant full price tickets to the artists as well.
.
When the Org gives an artist a free ticket (or a half price ticket) how is it categorized in the accounting?  I would bet that in the calculations for the BRC art budget that the tickets are added to Administration or the Services figure at face value ($390).
.
One way artists can take advantage of the Org is to have a high profile project start to go bad.  When that happens the tickets and vehicle passes can really start to flow.  A case in point is last year’s Temple – they had like 150 people in their build camp – due to physical constraints they really couldn’t have more than about 30 people working on the Temple at a time.  Even allowing for a generous support crew there was still upwards of 50-75 burners early to the event getting the party started early.
.
The other question that was raised had to do with the construction of the Man Base and The Man.  One of the reasons the contractors category has been growing is that the “traditional” Man Base and Man Build crews have been terminated.  The Man and the Man Base are now basically built by hired carpenters – the Org has outsourced the construction function under the guise that “professionals” were needed to build the infrastructure for the city.  They got rid of the Man Base crew in 2013 (Cargo Cult) and the Man Build crew in 2014 or 2015 depending on how you define the termination.
.
Another change for contractors happened this year when the Org eliminated the DPW Power Crew and outsourced the electrical grids to Agreko.  They kept a small crew of former DPW Power folks in supervisory roles, and the end result is a little more Disneyfication of the event.  Eventually they’ll outsource gate and perimeter to a security firm and the event will have all the charm of a visit to Ikea.
.
The shark was jumped in 2012 with the ticket lottery.  When we look back 10-15 years from now I believe we will acknowledge that the year tickets became scarce was the year the Org stopped caring.
.
This is an interesting point about the accounting. If a $397 ticket is sold for half price, do they write it off in the books as $200 of “Admin Costs” (claiming full revenue for the ticket, then the lost revenue as an expense) and then claim that they are contributing this towards arts?
 .
Why is the only time this “$3 million on art” figure appears in a small, quiet meeting with artists – and all the press discussion is of $1.2 million or $1.5 million? Why do they feed artists generously  (and unnecessarily) at HQ, yet shut them out of the Commissary during their builds?
.
Thanks very much to the artist who has been contributing here, I can confirm that I have also heard what they are saying about entire crews being sacked and replaced with contractors from other sources. People who have given a decade or more of their lives to physically constructing Burning Man have been shunted out the door, while newcomers get to cash in. One consequence of this corporatization/Disneyfication is that it is more scaleable and movable. As I said recently to VICE, let’s take this show on the road!

Art Cars: Now Chosen by Curators

M&R Photography

Image: M & R Photography, Flickr (Creative Commons)

Over at eplaya, Trilobyte has posted the new rules for Mutant Vehicles.

Have a cool art car? That’s no longer enough. In order to bring it, the Art Czar will have to decide that it fits the aesthetic they desire for the year’s theme – and if you are in good enough standing in your sucking up to BMOrg.

Burning Man 2.0 is about pedestrians and bicycles, not Art Cars and DJs.

2016 MUTANT VEHICLE PROCESS CHANGES

The Department of Mutant Vehicles is moving to a new system for processing Mutant Vehicle applications in 2016.

THE SHORT VERSION
The increased volume of Mutant Vehicle applications (nearly 1000 in 2015) is requiring the DMV to be more selective than ever. Having a vehicle on the playa in the past is no guarantee of
being invited in the future! Put your best foot forward in your application and give us a reason to invite your vehicle to Black Rock City. The Mutant Vehicle application form will be closing earlier than ever this year: Noon (PST) on April 13.

THE WHOLE STORY
In past years, the DMV has invited every vehicle to the playa that met the published Mutant Vehicle requirements. We strove to have an objective process to evaluate each application, focusing on level of mutation – not on quality of the art.

Each Mutant Vehicle application is reviewed by a committee of DMV Hotties, and we strive to reach a consensus agreement on whether the vehicle has met the criteria. Historically the DMV team has reviewed each application shortly after it was received, and responded to the vehicle creator as quickly as possible. Over the years, the Mutant Vehicle Community has steadily “ratcheted up” the bar a vehicle must pass, and we’re now at a point where we require vehicles to be completely mutated – showing little or none of the original base vehicle.

In spite of the stricter requirements, the number of applications has steadily grown, and the number of thoroughly mutated vehicles now exceeds what we can accommodate on the playa. Burning Man is primarily a pedestrian and bicycle city, and only a fraction of burners can bring a vehicle before the playa becomes too crowded with them. Our goal is to enable our creative community of artists making mutated vehicles to show off their creations, while balancing the needs of playa preservation, visual stimulation, and safety.

In response, the DMV is revising how we evaluate applications to bring a Mutant Vehicle to the playa. Rather than considering each vehicle on its own merits, we’re moving to a “curation” model, wherein we will consider each vehicle within the context of all the qualified applications we receive. A vehicle will still be required to meet the published Mutant Vehicle criteria, but that alone won’t guarantee an invitation to bring it to the playa. We will also be looking to invite a balance of different types of vehicles on the playa: large scale sound vehicles, flame effects focused vehicles, small artistic vehicles, large transport vehicles, highly participatory vehicles, etc. We are dedicated to licensing vehicles from projects of all budget levels, not just the most expensively built ones.

We will be looking for vehicles that have good execution of their design concept. We will also be evaluating the originality of a vehicle. There are already quite a number of bar-cars, furniture cars and boats, for example – and that might not be the best design choice for a new vehicle you’re considering. When it comes to larger vehicles, we will be favoring vehicles that have a sterling record for inclusivity when it comes to offering rides to the public.

So…what can you do to maximize the chance of being able to bring your vehicle to the playa this year?

  • Fill out your application thoroughly. Including more detail is better than less.
  • Make sure your application gives us a very clear vision of your vehicle.
  • The application should clearly describe the concept for your vehicle and what you have done or will do to realize that concept.
  • Good photos of both the day and nighttime appearance are necessary – If you’re building a new vehicle that isn’t complete yet, then detailed design sketches are a good alternative to photos.
  • Vehicles desiring a night license need to be detailed about the lighting plan for the vehicle.
  • Mutant Vehicles which align with or comment on Burning Man’s annual theme will be given greater consideration.

Please recognize not every vehicle will be invited. Having brought your vehicle to the playa in a prior year is no guarantee that you’ll get invited again. Your application will be considered in comparison to the other applications we receive. Make sure your application conveys what excited you about building the vehicle in the first place!

In past years, we’ve allowed vehicle creators who were not selected to appeal our decision, and offer up additional details about their vehicle, or change some part of their design. Our new process eliminates appeals, so it’s more important than ever your application be filled out clearly and completely!

Lastly, the deadline for submitting an application will be noon PST on April 13. In past years, we’ve been able to accommodate vehicles that missed the deadline. Because of our new evaluation system, we can no longer do that. So get your vehicle application in early!

Thanks for your time, and we look forward to seeing all of your amazing creative vehicle designs this year. If you have questions, please get in touch with the Burning Man Department of Mutant Vehicles at dmv@burningman.org.

RESOURCES

  • The main DMV webpage is available here
  • The DMV Mutant Vehicle criteria are available here
  • DMV Information on Vehicles for People with Disabilities is here

[Source: ePlaya]

In 2014, the last year we have an AfterBurn report for, there were 600 Mutant Vehicles in Burning Man. So 1000 applications means if you made an Art Car, you have a 60/40 chance of getting it to Burning Man. Basically, flip a coin.

Another Org decision that is just going to make it harder for Burners to plan and get excited about the Burn. They don’t know if their whole camp can go, and now they don’t know if their art car can go either.

It calls into question the entire idea of raising money to invest in an art car, if there is no guarantee it is even going to be permitted at Burning Man – or if it can be turned away on the whim of some faceless groupthink influencer at BMHQ. No appeal, no oversight. That’s it, done – and if you ever want anything approved by them again, placement or an art car or an art project or early access passes or even (gulp!) tickets – you better just shut up and take it.

The series of ticket crises and systems has ended the idea of a camp of friends who would all get together every year at Burning Man; or people arranging to meet each other at a future Burn. Now, it’s pot luck. A lottery. Planning goes out the window, when it all becomes so arbitrary. Unless you have some juice inside the Org, of course. You know people who know people – and they’re the right people.

BMOrg are still trying to figure it out. Hate to break it to ’em, but 10 tickets are really not enough to organize a camp. 5 couples is a pretty small camp – 2 RVs or ShiftPods. I have people contacting me chasing 300 tickets:

Screenshot 2016-01-29 17.48.38

Prepare to get your participation forms in, folks. In about a month, you’ll be able to fill out online questionnaires and applications, so that your process of bring art to Burning Man may finally (possibly) begin…

Heads-up, folks! The various participation forms for the 2016 event will go live on February 24th at noon PST. At that point, you’ll be able to start filling out the questionnaires and applications for your projects. The deadlines vary by project, and are listed below. You don’t have to scramble to get them in the minute the forms open, but you DO need to make sure you fill it out and hit the final submit button BEFORE that deadline.

  • Camp Placement Questionnaire – February 24, 2016 – April 28, 2016 at 12:00 noon Pacific Time
  • Mutant Vehicle Application – February 24, 2015 – April 13, 2016 at 12:00 noon Pacific Time
  • Disabled Persons Vehicle Application – February 24, 2016 – August 2, 2016 at 12:00 noon Pacific Time
  • Art Installation Questionnaire – February 24, 2016 – June 14, 2016 at 12:00 noon Pacific Time
  • BRC Media Application – February 24, 2015 – July 21, 2016 at 12:00 noon Pacific Time

[Source: ePlaya]