Rockstar Librarian 2018 – A Great Way To Help With Communal Effort, Gifting,and Radical Self-Expression

If it was up to BMorg, Burning Man would have no music and would be 100% transformational blowjob workshops. Fortunately we have about 1000 stages, 10,000+ DJs, and RockStar Librarian to help us ignore their foolish ideals.

This year, Rockstar Librarian wants to make the world a better place with music. Support her – if you like music at Burning Man, you will appreciate her guide which comes from a team of volunteers every year. Thank you so much to Rockstar Librarian and her team, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all the DJs, art cars, and sound stages that have ever played at Burning Man – it’s you who makes the party.

If you’re going to support any art project this year, support the music.

Check out our collection of mixes from previous Burning Mans at our Music page.


Here’s Our Chance to Leave A Legacy

In order for an angel investor to fund the 2018 RSL Music Guide, we need to raise $11,000 for Josie’s Well/Water Access Now, a non-profit to build a safe water well in Ghana.

We have until August 15th to raise the funds and still get the Music Guide produced and to the playa.

So let’s work together to create the music guide, create lasting change in Ghana, and leave a legacy.

I’ve also streamlined my RSL contacts database so everyone gets the chance to get the Music Guide and notices.

The Why: The Story

I didn’t realize how powerful leaving a legacy was until I attended AfrikaBurn in 2017.

It was in the wee hours of the morning sunrise, sitting under the DMV’s red beduin tent while sipping South African boxes wine, that I engaged in philosophical conversations with AfrikaBurn founders Paul Fletcher, Paul Jorgensen and Robert Weinek.

In those wee hours we discussed, “What comes next, from Leave No Trace?”

These beautiful, gritty influencers had an intention: Leave a Legacy.

For AfrikaBurn it looked like this: save plywood from dismantled camps and build outbuildings for a local school; leftover non-perishable food to stock an orphanage’s pantry. “We have so much,” they all agreed.

Then earlier this summer I met an eleven year old girl named Josie, from Seattle, Washington area, who at age nine, raised the money to build her first well in Ghana.

She created her own non-profit, Josie’s Well, in partnership with the local non-profit Water Access Now, and now at age eleven, Josie has realized her vision threefold!

I recently shared both stories with a Burner friend of mine and Music Guide supporter. And on the spot he proposed a challenge:

If we rally the Burner community to raise $11,000 to build a well in Ghana, he’d fund the entire 2018 RSL Music Guide. 

If Josie can do it, WE can do this!

The HOW:

Your simple way of participating is key to making this happen.

* Make a tax deductible donation to Burn for Water: Leave a Legacy GoFundMe page
* Forward this email to tribes of Burner friends, campmates, and community
* If you have a following, please send this email to your email list
* Share the Burn for Water: Leave a Legacy GoFundMe Page on your social media

Let’s leave a legacy together!

Big Dusty Hugs,

Kate Houston,
the Rock Star Librarian
Share this message on your social media & forward in email:

PS. I have answers to your questions. So ask them!

  • Josie’s Well and Water Access Now are volunteer run and committed to transparency, passing donations directly onto building wells in Ghana.
  • Water Access Now has a sustainability plan in place so that wells don’t just get built and left in nonfunctional disrepair, and it includes community & civic investment & involvement.Your tax deductible donation goes directly to the charity.
Burn for Water: Leave a Legacy!

Gifting For Permanent Art [Update]

disorient 1

photo by Liz Hafalia, SF Chronicle

photo by Liz Hafalia, SF Chronicle

At least we know there’s one BMP Director who gets it. Leo Villareal has been a Burner since 1994, and is the founder of Disorient. If there is a “spectrum of camps” like BMOrg says, then Disorient is clearly on the good end of the spectrum. They provide a major sound stage with many DJs, as well as several areas of their camp that are open to all Burners. They bring multiple art cars, which give rides to the public; and they gift an Art Car Wash every year which every art car can participate in. Everyone who camps with Disorient is expected to volunteer some of their time at the burn in multiple shifts, to give back to the community. While they charge dues, it is in the hundreds of dollars, not tens of thousands, and no-one in the camp is trying to make a profit. Those who stay longer to break down and pack up get a discount on their dues, but even those hard workers still pay to be a part of a camp.

Leo is also an accomplished artist. He’s the first Burning Man artist to have an exhibition of his interactive works at a major art museum (the San Jose Museum of Art).


Villareal has permanent installations at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, as well as in the private collections of contemporary art collectors CJ Follini. His work has also been on display at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., Madison Square Park in New York City, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the PS 1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City, New York and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Oh, and if you’ve been anywhere near San Francisco in the last couple of years, you’ve probably seen one other little piece he’s done: an $8 million commission he got to build the largest electronic sculpture in the world, The Bay Lights.

image: Illuminate The Arts

image: James Ewing/Illuminate The Arts

The Bay Lights were only ever intended to be temporary, and have already lasted longer than the original plan. They have become a beloved feature of the San Francsico skyline, and have had a measured boost on the city’s tourism and the trade of businesses along the Embarcadero waterfront.

Good news, Burners! The Bay Lights could be here to stay. Thanks to the generosity of a number of donors, if the project can raise another $293,000 before the end of the year, Caltrans has agreed to pick up the maintenance tab and keep the installation on the Bay Bridge – permanently.

Illuminate The Arts CEO Ben Davis says:

Dear Bay Lights Lovers,

There’s good news and even better news.

The Good News: If we raise four million dollars in gifts and pledges by the end of this year, we keep The Bay Lights forever.

This is a one-time raise of $4m, made possible by Illuminate The Arts’ break-through agreement with Bay Bridge officials. With that money, ITA will install a new set of LEDs – expressly engineered to withstand the harsh environment of the San Francisco Bay. 

We would then gift these new lights to the Bay Area Toll Authority and Caltrans, in exchange for their on-going stewardship. The Bay Lights would become a permanent fixture of the Bay Bridge, just as the 50th Anniversary necklace lights did in 1989.

This means, Leo Villareal’s temporary masterpiece will become a permanent work of public art, establishing a global icon that lets the Bay Area shine around the world in perpetuity.

The Even Better News: Thanks to a $2 million challenge grant from Bay Area philanthropist Tad Taube, every new dollar raised will be matched until the $4 million goal is reached. Tad’s inspiring gift has already helped spur another $1.7m in private gifts. That means we have only $293,000 left to raise.

If you love The Bay Lights, now is the time act. 


Here are some other recent media highlights: 

  • Featured in the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday, ‘”Bay Lights” get offer of permanence from bridge officials” Read Here 
  • San Jose Mercury News features “Bay Bridge light sculpture to shine on with big donation” Read Here  
  • San Francisco Chronicle Editorial, “Keep the Bay Bridge lights Shining” Read Here
Thank you for your continued brilliance,

Ben Davis
Founder and CEO, Illuminate the Arts


Tad Taube is an 83-year old former USAF officer, who escaped the Nazis and became a real estate and tech magnate and major philanthropist. He is connected to the Koret sportswear empire that was sold to Levi Strauss, and runs charitable foundations worth more than $500 million that gave away $26 million in 2012. He’s challenged the community to match his gift to the Bay Lights, many other donors have stepped up, and we’re almost there.

Every little bit helps – a mere $4 from everyone who went to Burning Man this year, would be enough to keep the Bay Lights going forever. Click here to donate.

Why doesn’t the Burning Man Project step up too, and provide a financial contribution to support the biggest and most famous piece of Burner Art being shared with the world forever? Seems like giving $10,000 to this would be more directly relevant to their mission of spreading Burner culture than $10,000 to the Exploratorium.

If Burners want to donate to help promote the art and culture of Burning Man worldwide, making this amazing installation permanent seems like incredible bang for our buck. It’s permanent, internationally renowned, and has already been enjoyed by more than 25 million people. The Bay Lights puts a permanent Burner stamp on the city’s skyline.

The documentary Impossible Light, about the dream that led to the Bay Lights’ Creation, makes a nice Christmas stocking stuffer for your Burner friends.

[Update 12/17/14 10:00pm]

The Bay Lights has met its funding goal, and will be staying permanently:

From SFGate:

There will be permanent, artistic lights at the end of the tunnel — the westbound tunnel of the Bay Bridge leading into San Francisco, that is — come 2016.

After a two-month campaign, the nonprofit Illuminate the Arts announced Wednesday that it had raised the needed $4 million to reinstall the “Bay Lights” as a permanent fixture on the western end of the bridge.

Billed as the world’s largest light sculpture, the display of 25,000 LED lights turns the 1.8-mile San Francisco portion of the span into a nightly show of constantly changing abstract images.

It was first announced as a temporary two-year installation to be taken down in March 2015. Now, after some cable maintenance and repainting, it’s to be replaced with a sturdier set of lights that will begin glowing in time for Super Bowl 50, scheduled for February 2016 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

“This is a great moment for public art and a great gift of the holiday season for the people of the Bay Area,” said Ben Davis, founder of Illuminate the Arts.

Donation Tickets: Here To Stay

caravansary ticket 2

A number of readers have brought to our attention BMOrg’s latest job posting. They are looking for someone to “manage” their tickets, despite paying about half a million dollars a year to an external firm for ticketing.

Significantly, in the wording of the ad is this:

Manages Locals, Lifetime, Alumni, & Charitable donation ticket programs. 

Lifetime tickets?

Alumni tickets?

We have heard that discounted tickets are available for Gerlach locals.

“Charitable donation tickets” would be the “VIP Tickets” that were sold to select camps for $650 all year-long, without regard to the event being sold out. The $250 above face value is a donation to the Burning Man Project. If Burners sell tickets above face value, it’s “against Burning Man’s Principles”, if BMOrg does it, it’s “saving the world”.  Now that the chumps and suckers and hucksters are magically the same, and Decommodification has become an ironic prank on the community, maybe it’s OK for Burners to re-sell their tickets at market price.

Perhaps if you donate enough money to their charity, you become one of BMOrg’s Alumni.

Missing from the list of duties? Putting stamps on envelopes and mailing tickets to the 20% of Burners who come from other countries. There is no incentive to shorten the Will Crawl line, which is reminiscent of the way nightclubs like to have long lines at their entrances.

image: Donovan Beeson/Flickr (Creative Commons)

image: Donovan Beeson/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Proficiency in maths is required, which will be helpful given their predecessor accidentally forgot to count $1.3 million of ticket sales a couple of years back.



Ticketing Associate

Location: San Francisco, CA

Department: Ticketing

Type: Full Time

Min. Experience: Mid Level


Burning Man’s Ticketing Associate manages specific ticketing programs throughout the year and is the point person for all outward-facing ticketing communications, including architechting participant support. This role also participates in year-round planning for Box Office operations, and on playa acts as one of two Box Office Co-Operations Managers.

This is a full-time, regular position eligible for benefits in our San Francisco office.

Year-round Ticketing Operations:
* Oversees day-to-day participant support including creation of support macros, coordinating with the ticket vendor’s support team, ensuring consistency of messages across all support platforms.

* Maintains accuracy of content in all public-facing channels.

* Monitors and pursues ticket resale activity on the secondary market, including managing a volunteer resale tracking team.

Special Programs:
* Manages Locals, Lifetime, Alumni, & Charitable donation ticket programs.

* Reviews and processes Low Income applications.

* Reviews and processes post-event refund requests.

* Manages interdepartmental BMID process and production and oversees on-playa BMID office operations.

* Assists in creation of all training materials & conducting trainings.

* Acts as Box Office lead for Community Events as needed.

* Manages internal ticket QA process and is responsible for all inventory tracking.

* Responsible for coordinating all internal TRS training and supporting materials.

* Manages internal ticket fulfillment.

* Produces post-event departmental ticket use summaries.

* Manages early on-site staff credentialing & coordinates with the Gerlach Office

* On playa acts as one of two Box Office Co-Operations Managers.

* Attend meetings as needed.

* Support current ticket policies.

* Assist with research as requested by the Legal team.

* Bachelor’s degree or higher

* Must be extremely detail-oriented

* Excellent project management skills

* Exceptional customer service skills

* Strong analytical skills

* Ability to work with sensitive information discreetly

* Ability to follow directions accurately and efficiently

* Working knowledge of Salesforce, FileMaker Pro, MS office suite, internet browers, and email clients.

* Comfortable learning new technologies and their applications.

* Experience managing databases

* Confortable with and proficient in math

* Must be adept at prioritizing competing tasks

* Must possess outstanding verbal and written communication skills

* Participant of Burning Man

* Confident & effective working independently


* Box Office experience

* experience managing volunteers

* experience creating data-driven infographics

* working knowledge of graphics programs

Burning Man is an equal-opportunity employer.

Being A Man – Burning Man Project Style

larry worldVideo has been released of Larry Harvey’s speech last month at the Being A Man 2014 conference in Southbank, London. The warm up to his talk suggested it might be rather controversial, with Larry’s revelations about child abuse and necromancy. The talk itself is not so juicy, and consists mainly of Larry reading a long email about his hat that he wrote to his dog-burning son Tristan (“if he’d only perservered!”) during a time of great tribulation.

Larry says in his speech that the first burn “gave me the idea finally that it was OK just to do things, without worrying about the venue and without worrying about permission, without unduly worrying about the purpose, and to do these things in a spirit of pure self expression that was shared with other folks”.

In later burns, watching others “pulling together” to haul the ship’s rope to lift the Man statue he designed up right “it was as if people had merged with it, and it mirrored us all back to one another. It was so conspicuously self conscious that we thought that we were the man – we were being a man, together”.

Here’s Larry on another panel from the conference, hosted by the winner of the George Orwell prize for journalism who wrote a compendium on conspiracy theories. Note he’s swapped out his trademark cowboy hat for the Burning Man Project Not Merchandise scarf, the hit new fashion accessory of the winter.

One significant aspect of these talks is, did Larry Harvey get paid for the engagement, or is this our donation dollars at work? The Burning Man Project, a non-profit, is now the owner of the Burning Man event. All the profits from the event, as well as our additional donations, go to the Burning Man Project. In the new structure they’ve devised, our tickets and vehicle passes are not tax deductible for us, only BMOrg gets the tax advantages. We buy them from their for-profit subsidiary, which then can reduce its tax bill to $0 by making an annual donation to its non-profit parent. This way, BMOrg and its owners get the benefit of the deal – ie, the tax break – and Burners foot the bill.

larry harvey mike mikel speakingWhat does the Project do with all the money, both profits and donations? It pays salaries, travel, and costume expenses. And it supports a UFO art project going to Vegas, an event in their office on crowdfunding, and a sympoisum with the founders in New York that we were told would be released on video, but is still being kept a secret. One wonders, what was said there? We heard that Larry said Burning Man would accept Bitcoins (not true). Anyone else got any tips on what might have been said that was so controversial it had to be hushed up?

Sadly, we’re not just providing a few selected examples of all the good that the Project does. That’s it – this is the extent of it. It’s been several years now since what the Bay Guardian called the Old Bait and Switch. How is the Burning Man Project being a Catalyst for Creative Culture in the world? BMOrg  don’t seem to be interested so much in gifting and sharing Burner culture, as they are in monetizing Burner culture for their own benefit and leveraging it to promote themselves and spread their own principles and ideas and rules.

Ice Ice Baby [Updates]

Maybe BMOrg thought that selling gifting scarves for $150 wouldn’t raise any eyebrows in the Burner community. Comments to our recent post Burning Man Project Now Selling Merchandise suggest otherwise. Predictably, the BMOrg cyber-army came out of the woodwork to try to deflect the heat from their beloved masters, by attacking our credibility. An ad hominem attack is a logical fallacy, where the attacker personally insults or tries to discredit their opponent, rather than making arguments with verifiable facts, references, or logic.

logical fallacies

Rather than continuing this debate in the comments to that post, let’s give it some more prominence for those who give a shit and wish to participate in the discussion. If you don’t care, you don’t have to read – the majority of content on this site is not critical of Burning Man, there’s 759 other posts here that you can check out. If you want to attack our credibility though, you better read this, and come back with some data (or point out some errors in ours) to add to the conversation. Warning: a lot of maths coming up!

To recap: I said I think it’s fine if they want to sell merchandise, the whole thing has become a massive money-making machine. A giant crowdsourced party, where they get all the music for free, 99% of the art for free, all of the art cars for free. They get to promote the hell out of it in every mainstream media outlet you can think of, and tell stories that “it’s not about money”, “it’s all for charity”, “it’s helping the world” and so on to make themselves look good. All on the back of the time, effort, and expenditure of Burners who trek across the world and across the desert to make this party what it is. We Burners are not even allowed to use the words Burning Man or photos of the event to raise funds to bring art, camps, and art cars there. Once there, Burning Man can and will profit endlessly from them.

What I have a problem with, is expressed well by Burner Jim in this comment:

Maybe Burning Man can get past the quasi hippie socialism mirage that it’s mired in and promote the freedom of true free market capitalism. The smoke and mirrors of Burning Man LLC is the true problem, not the free exchange of goods and services using money. Just like the capitalism of Wall Street isn’t the problem, it’s the fascism.

You can’t build an empire of altruism on falsehoods, tricks, and propaganda. Or, maybe you can – because it seems like they have – but you shouldn’t.

cooler-train-kuehlboxen-zug-arctica-buying-ice-burning-man-2007-friday-freitag-black-rock-desert-nevada-usa-dscn4397“There are only two things sold at Burning Man: ice and coffee” is a myth. They sell gasoline to the art cars, they sell propane. You can buy honey wagon “pump-n-dump” services for your RV. One year, they bussed me and a bunch of other suckers potential investors out from First Camp to pitch a real estate deal. Only one company has the monopoly on propane sales on the Playa, you’re not allowed to arrange your own supply. There is no information publicly available about how big the gasoline and propane sales are. They don’t tell us anything about the dollar value of ice sales either, we’ve had to infer it from their information that they sold 2, 140, 000 lbs of ice last year.

Here’s some of the case against us:

Boring said:

this site sells drama. Nothing against you doing that but when you post things like BM had a million in ice sales to make it appear they profit from this, and that is not true, one can see your slant is not for truth but drama.

Frosty the Snowman said:

Perhaps the fact that ice sales benefit local charities is not as widely known as Boring assumes. Presumably you’ll revise your story accordingly

Boring said:

That profits from ice and coffee sales go to local charities has always been the case and for BurnersXXX to not know this shows the lack of facts in the financials he totes. Same as Vogue paying to take photos on the plays, a statement never corrected by Scribe.

Why should Scribe correct Maid Marian’s statement? Was it false? Or did he just misquote her? I know he still has recordings of those interviews, though I haven’t personally heard them. To me, the fact that he hasn’t published a retraction, and we have no evidence that BMOrg ever asked for one, is indication that her statement is true.

According to the official Burning Man FAQ, profits from coffee sales go to the coffee staff, not local charities:

Profits from the café go directly to the commissary to sustain the onsite nutritional needs of our kick-ass staff

This is just one example of the apparent double counting in their financial reports, which claim a $1.3 million food spend AND account for the costs of the commissary separately (lumping them in with the ice and merchandise costs).

Anyway, I see no need to revise our stories – only to provide further details supporting them. These guys are missing the point. The WHOLE THING IS SUPPOSED TO GO TO CHARITIES NOW. They sell ice, they sell coffees, they sell scarves. So that they can donate to charity.

The “financials I tote” (tout?) are THEIR financials, FFS. Any “lack of facts” is because they’re not providing the facts: these are murky financials, not open, transparent accounts.

Is the Burning Man Project in charge of ice sales now, or is that a different set of books again? They say “all proceeds from ice sales go to local charities”, where is the accounting for that then? Why do they shy away from telling us about these good deeds, in specific terms instead of vague statements? What does “proceeds” mean: revenues? Profits? How is the ratio of ice sales:ice donations calculated? Is the only cost the ice, or does Arctica have to contribute to DPW, BLM, or anyone else? I don’t know, and they’re not telling.

The Afterburn reports have a whole section on ice sales. The only firm data is that in  2012  $13,000 in tips were donated to Burners Without Borders to help polar bears (WTF?!?) I can find no information about Burners Without Borders helping polar bears at all, let alone an accounting of how much of 2012’s $13,000 the charity actually passed through to the polar bears.

In a 2010 blog report, the now ousted old-timer Andie Grace shed some light on Burning Man’s sharing with charities:

Every year since 2003, Burning Man has used proceeds from ice sales at the event to make year-end donations to various charitable, art and service organizations in Northern Nevada and the San Francisco Bay Area. For 2010, we worked to increase the total dollar amount of our donations, committing a total of $159,850 for the year

…Below is a list of charitable donation recipients for 2010: 

Black Rock Arts Foundation
Black Rock Solar
Best Friend’s Animal Society (in memoriam Bill Carter)
The Crucible
Yick Wo School
Lawyers for Burners c/o Trip Knight
Leave No Trace
Surprise Valley Chamber of Commerce (Cedarville)
Circuit Network
Dogpatch Neighborhood Association
Nevada Organizations
Gerlach Volunteer Fire Department
Gerlach High School
Gerlach Gen. Improve. Dist.
Gerlach-Empire Senior Citizens Palace
Crisis Call Center
Friends of the Black Rock
Nevada Museum of Art
Nevada State Museum
Historical Society of Dayton Valley
Sierra Arts Foundation
Bruka Theatre
Nevada Discovery Museum
Kiwanis Bike Project
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nevada
Lovelock/Pershing Organizations
Pershing County Government General Fund
Pershing County Senior Center
Eagle Scholarship
Pershing County Community Center
Pershing County High School (Athletic Department)
Pershing County Domestic Violence Intervention
Pershing General Hospital & Nursing Care
Pershing County Humane Society
Lovelock Frontier Days
Lovelock Lion’s Club
Friends of the Library
Marzen House Museum
Kid’s, Horses & Rodeos
Lovelock Food Bank
Lovelock Boy Scouts Association
Lovelock Little League Association
Lovelock Chamber of Commerce
Pershing County Arts Council
Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary
Project Graduation

Note that #1 and #2 on the list are their own charities. No information is given on how much of the pie was sliced up for each recipient. There are 45 charities listed, making an average donation to each one of  $3552.

photo by Claudia Gold

photo by Claudia Gold

There is almost no information available about how much ice was sold in 2010, or any other year. In fact, bizarrely, the Afterburn ice reports for 2009 and 2010 are almost word-for-word identical – including the exact size of tips given to the cent, and warnings about specific safety incidents that gave them concern for “that year”. The 2011 report claims that 32 trucks of ice were emptied in 2010. 2011 was 43 trucks. From digging back all the way to the 2006 Afterburn Artica report, we learn that each truck is 21.15 tons of ice.

For 2013, we get our ice information from a posting on Facebook by Jennifer Spitfyre:

“Factoid for the day.. We at Arctica sold 2.14 million pounds of ice at Burning Man this year! Every single pound of that was hand carried by BRC volunteers from ice truck to BRC citizen’s hands! Big increase from last year where we sold 1.68 million pounds of ice!”…that’s 1070 tons of ice.”

Information about the price and dimensions of ice sales is not readily available either. Why all the secrets, BMOrg? Ice can be bought in single 5 lb bags, or a “6 for the price of 5” discount. In 2009 the prices were $3 and $15 respectively, if anyone has updated figures from 2013 (or can confirm that prices and bag sizes stayed fixed) please let us know. 

But, working on the assumption (for the sake of simplicity in argument) that all the ice sales were $15, for 6 x 5 lb bags of ice…yields $1,070,000 in ice sales. That’s (2,140,000 / 30) * 15, for those who care to follow my workings.

Let’s work this out a little further. 2010’s 32 trucks brought in 676.8 tons of ice, or 1,353,600 lbs. This netted donations of $159,850 (reported as $168,000 in the 2010 Afterburn report – the extra $8,150 of donations must have been in addition to the ice donations). Applying the same ratio, ie (2,140,000/1,353,600) * 159,850, 2013’s 2.14 million lbs should have led to a year-end donation to the community of $252,717. If the same 45 charities get the money, their share should now be up to $5,615 each.

How does $1 million of ice sales, end up as a quarter of a million in ice-related donations? I mean, I know it costs a lot to send each 80,000 lb semi-trailer of ice to the desert, but 75% overhead? It’s not like you’re paying the same for ice at Burning Man as you do at your local grocery store, ice is (understandably) expensive out there!

line arctica

all these people are waiting in line to conduct commerce

From the 2012 financials, the cost of ALL the coffees, ice, and merchandise was $369,132 (yes, it’s not just us saying “the Burning Man Project sells merchandise”, it’s right there in their own financial report). However, this doesn’t add up, because the amount of ice sold should be way more than this. Using the same calculation above with Arctica’s 2012 numbers, (1,680,000 / 30) * 15 gives us $840,000 in ice sales – netting $470,868 (after Arctica covers all their own costs, plus all the merchandising costs, and the costs of center camp). In 2012 the line item “Donations to local Nevada schools and organizations” is $238,976 – presumably, this is the donations from ice sales, and doesn’t include Black Rock Solar or BRAF’s activities. There’s a missing $231,892 for 2012! Maybe a lot of the ice brought in melted before it could be sold. A lot, being 27.6% of all the ice. Or maybe certain camps get their ice comped.

$238,976 in donations, compared with our estimate of 2012 revenues of $24, 045, 986, is slightly less than 1%. Meaning that 99% of all the money they take in is eaten up in salaries, travel costs, food, costumes…and profits.

I’m not making these numbers up. I’m going to a lot of effort to piece together a picture from their own published information. I shouldn’t have to do that, if it’s a non-profit they should be transparent. No-one is paying me for all  my time to do this: that’s why it really pisses me off when people say “BurnersXXX doesn’t know what he’s talking about”, “BurnersXXX should read the Afterburn reports” etc. You haters should read the fucking reports!

Burner Timothynh pointed us to, a site that measures the performance of non-profits. Here’s what it has to say about the Burning Man Project:

  • This organization is registered with the IRS.
  • This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

Forms 990 filed with the IRS are not available for this organization.

I’ve ordered Guidestar’s detailed report on BRAF, which shares many directors with the Burning Man Project; look for us to dig deeper into this in a future post.

We questioned the Vogue photo shoot story originally published in the San Francisco Bay Guardian in this post here, after a high-level insider raised some doubts with me at a private function. After that, I personally asked Maid Marian to correct the details, and as yet she hasn’t – which indicates to me that the story is true, or perhaps the true story is BMOrg asked for the $150k and Vogue balked.

Yet again, BMOrg-allied online shills and trolls have come onto this site to attack our credibility, with weak ad hominem attacks instead of actual facts, numbers, or logical arguments. Maybe our detractors never got paid any money from BMOrg in their lives, but they sure do seem to be taking their side here. This is just a smoke screen to deflect our readers away from the real issue: the lack of transparency or activity from this 2-year old “new” charity, and the increasing commodification, commercialization, and mainstream media mass marketing of crowd-sourced Burner culture by BMOrg.

Is it OK to violate the principle of Decommodification, if it’s in the name of charity? Is that what these guys are trying to say? If so, then why can’t others also do that? Is this a case of “the ends justify the means”…with the “ends” here being the nebulous Burning Man Project motto of “Creative catalyst for culture in the world”? Or is it more a case of “one rule for the rulers, and one for the masses”?

I’m trying to say the Ten Principles are as whack as crack, and hamstrung by hypocrisy. The world’s “Largest Leave No Trace Event” burns a mind-blowing amount of fossil fuels, and leaves hundreds of miles of highway littered with trash afterwards. “Radical Inclusion” doesn’t extend to “Upper Class” people who want to enable those who can’t afford it, to attend the event by working for it in a role that suits their talents. “Gifting” is supposed to be unconditional, without expectation of anything in return: and yet, donate $150, they gift you a scarf. “Civic responsibility” doesn’t include providing open accounts to all the donors to the charity – supposedly, everyone who buys a ticket is now a supporter of the Burning Man Project, although so far, ticket purchases are not tax-deductible donations to an IRS-registered charity.

The Ten Principles were originally published to be a suggestion for Regional events, now they are becoming a cult-like doctrine to be used to brainwash people around the world who’ve never even been to the party. Larry Harvey repeatedly says “this event has never been anti-commercial”, and we’ve never claimed that it should be either. It’s clearly commercial, massively so. The problem is two-fold: one, the “smoke and mirrors” trying to pretend they’re not something which they so obviously are; and two, they want to be the ONLY ones who can ever make any money from it. It’s all taking and very little giving.

The non-profit Burning Man Project wants to help the world by spreading culture, and how do they do that? Shutting down others with nasty legal letters falsely claiming ownership of things that aren’t theirs, doing what they can to assimilate the “global” ecosystem into their borg only; and at the same time expanding their revenue streams in seemingly every direction at once. This is more the behavior of a for-profit business than a non-profit. As Burner David pointed out in the comments on this post in our Facebook group, over the last few years Burning Man has tried to clean out the “dead wood” accumulated over nearly 30 years of volunteer labor, and replace them with professional management. That’s fine, but the professional management needs to get the spirit of Burning Man, particularly now that the non-profit Burning Man Project owns the party and everything else. The party is created by the Burners: all the art, all the gifting, all the music. That’s how it has grown over decades to be the “counter-culture phenomenon” that it is today. The efficiency of the Burning Man charities to date has been less than stellar (if you don’t believe me, check out the Wall Street Journal). I, for one, don’t want to donate my charity dollars to an organization that is going to spend the money on lawsuits against Burners trying to raise money to bring art to share with everyone, at events exclusively monetized by them.

Here’s an idea for the Burning Man founders: forget this “transition” crap, just take this thing public. Donate 10% of revenues to charities. Provide audited quarterly accounts, let us know where the money has been spent. License the brand to regionals, to clothing designers, to artists. Make as much money as you possibly can, so that you can donate as much as you possibly can. Reap the rewards for your labors, and let the community share in that too.

I can predict the responses now…“if you don’t like it, start your own”!

radical inclusion cult[thanks Nomad Traveler for this pic!]