“The Org Shows Its True Colors Once Again”: Staff Ticket Scandal

A post from Cranky_Monkey at Reddit:

The Org shows its true colors once again.

Fucking greed. Pure, unadulterated greed.

The Org has once again oversold the event, after coming within 60 attendees of the pop. cap last year. But as they say, actions have consequences:

This time the Org pulled earned tickets from departments. As in, people they bargained free labor last year in exchange for a ticket this year are being told AS THEY DRIVE IN to turn around and go home. These are people that were submitted on staff lists months ago. I’ve personally seen the confirmation emails from two list submittals to the Org.

Evidently, last Thursday the Org notified departments of their “oversight” and that they would not be honoring many staff tickets. DPW, Gate, ESD among others were all affected. Hundreds of workers for the event left holding the bag, many while enroute.

Keep it classy, Burning Man. First you hoodwinked so many to work for free, now you’re actually costing them money lost to preps, fuel, etc for an event they’re not even allowed into. To work. For you. For free.

What a fucking joke.

Feel free to give Event Director a piece of your mind: charlie.dolman@burningman.org

EDIT: No, I cannot share emails and texts. Most are coming from participants, and the emails they would share come from their department leads. Sharing them would immediately out them to their department.

You shouldn’t ONLY listen to me, but if you know anyone from any of the departments listed, feel free to reach out and ask “Hey, heard something is up with tix for staff & volunteers in Org departments” and see what they say.

This was then confirmed by tistrue1:

Completely true. The ORG oversold the event and now they are not honoring staff tickets and credentials earned last year. If your WAP/ticket was put into TicketFly in a timely manner and you have an e-mail from them; then you are good. If your department manager or the person they instructed to put the info into TicketFly didn’t for whatever reason (dropped the ball!) then you’re screwed. Even if you told them you would be attending and they confirmed.

I personally know at least 20 Gate personnel this affected. They are/were on their way to the event and were told to go home.

Here’s the e-mail from the personnel manager of Gate sent yesterday (8/21) at 3:30pm.
This is a tough message.
It is very hard to say this but very important to get the word out. Last Thursday every department at Burning Man was told that there were no more tickets of any kind available. This includes staff credentials, reduced price tickets, and gift tickets. Over the past few days we have been trying to see what kinds of resources we could muster to address the shortfalls we know we have. In most years we are able to continue issuing credentials and tickets up to the day before the event opens, and we can catch the persons that fell between the cracks.
Please check to see if you have an email confirmation from Ticketfly that has the words STAFF CREDENTIAL in it. If you can’t find one it is quite possible you do not have a ticket to Burning Man this year, and for that we are very sorry to disappoint you and break the promises we have made. This is the hardest message I have ever had to put on announce, and I fully expect to hear about it and will field all questions about this.

some other comments:

Don’t Sneak In! 2016

anonymous fire

We just received this tip-off from Anonymous Burner:

from private gate FB group where people sneaking in to burning man are being discussed:

Gate are really gunning for people trying to sneak in this year, they are using military grade FLIR and have orders to search all boxes even ones they have to unbolt, plus the LEOs will be on hand to charge any attempts with trespassing and an automatic trip to the Reno jail for a minimum 36 hour stay for EVERY occupant of the vehicle.

There is no way to verify this, so take it for what it is: a rumor. One that sounds pretty credible, given Burning Man’s recent evolution into a very sophisticated police state.

FLIR is Forward Looking Infra-Red. These systems are not just for night vision; they can look within your vehicle to identify bodies. FLIR technology can also be used to identify drugs from their thermal signature.

Last year it came out that more than 50 police departments are using radar to look inside peoples’ homes. The systems can detect the tiny movement of a person breathing, through walls.

Burning Man has for a long time used marine radar to identify people trying to sneak in over the trash fence.

How did Burning Man get access to military technology? It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

We covered people sneaking past the Gate in 2014. The threat that every person in the vehicle gets 36 hours jail if they’re harboring someone without a ticket is something I haven’t heard before. Burning Man Gate have the power to lock people up without charges or evidence of a crime? Wow.

Image: Hivemind

Image: Black Magic Hivemind


Screenshot 2016-08-04 21.34.12

An All-Seeing Eye at Center Camp is constantly scanning Burning Man, and miles of land around it.

Burning Man Now Starts at 00:01

bm line

BMOrg have announced a change to the gate opening time. It’s now  12:01am Sunday August 28. Unfortunately Burners who do manage to beat the traffic and get in before the “official” opening time of 6pm are now expected to put Civic Responsibility ahead of Immediacy, Radical Self-Expression, and Radical Self-Reliance.

Here’s what they said:

In a move designed to alleviate the crush of traffic on Gate Road at the start of the event, Burning Man and the Bureau of Land Management have agreed to begin allowing vehicles to enter Black Rock City at 12:01 am Sunday, August 28.

The official start of the event is still 6 pm Sunday. We’re asking everyone to use the extra time to focus on getting your camp set up, and to refrain from getting your freak on until the official start Sunday evening.

Keep in mind traffic on Highway 447 is heaviest in the early afternoon and evening. (Think about it: You wake up, grab a leisurely breakfast, do some last minute shopping and then hit the road — just like 49,999 other people who show up on Sunday and Monday!)

Help us help you by timing your arrival “off peak”. We promise a good time will be had by all (starting at 6 pm Sunday).

I say, let your freak flag fly! It’s Burning Man, FFS. “Official start”…who writes this stuff? What, is a horn going to sound or something…”now, Burning Man can begin! You may leave your camps, go forth and be freaky!”

Image: Eric Cheng

Image: Eric Cheng

What’s Up With DPW and Gate?

Kim Jung Ilo from DPW, the crew that spend months constructing and removing Black Rock City for us every year, reaches out to bridge the cultural divide.


(source: Facebook)

This was my response to a thread asking, if I dare paraphrase, “why are DPW such assholes and are they ever been nice or any real use to you?”, which seems to have been deleted. Various ignorant and sage comments followed, mostly thoughtless; none quite hit the mark, in my opinion, and as a member of DPW, I felt the need to put some sense into the conversation. I still feel it…

DPW sets the table and cleans up afterwards for the biggest cultural potluck there is. It’s a lot of very hard work. (The DPW work season is where ADHD workaholics go to hang out with each other, I’ve heard it said. From the inside, it’s remarkably apt.) That some of us resent the eventual guests for interrupting what some feel is our real occupation – the DPW season – with the actual party, at which some of us don’t feel comfortable or wanted, is both silly and understandable. So they/we hang/hide out in the servants’ quarters with friends.

dpw assesSome of us ARE assholes, to be sure, and I’m sure there are some who would say that about me, and even though you, original poster, were talking only of your own experiences, it’s best not to generalize too much. DPW members are all too often people who already have difficult, fringe-y lives and it is an amazing comfort to come out and be and do with like-minded souls. Our often apparently brutal affection for one another isn’t universally translatable to the psychological vocabulary of outsiders and the respect it both implies and demands isn’t automatically conferred on just anyone who shows up in our midst. The type of people who can do what we do are frequently habituated to being wary of strangers due to default world dynamics and the subsequent need to be self-reliant – not an automatic recipe for openness nor a casually sunny demeanor.

In contrast, the raver culture that many burners come from is characterized by a genuine, but necessarily superficial openness to new faces. This is likewise a cultural language that is understandable to those who are acculturated, but seems weirdly phony to those who are not or don’t recognize it for what it is. “Why is this beautiful girl hugging me? Is it because she wants to have sex with me?” Probably not, sadly. “Why is that ragged DPW member shouting insults at me. Does she hate me?” It might be an inappropriately placed attempt at familiarity offering you the chance to play. Similarly, say “how’s it going?” to a stranger and you expect them to say “good” (or “well” if they’re avid grammar mavens). However, should you start answering that question with an account of your day, said stranger will likely be put out or at least confused. The cultures simply don’t line up, though both are lovely in their own context.

DPW Parade, 2013. photo: Carnivillain, Flickr

DPW Parade, 2013. photo: Carnivillain, Flickr

Everyone wants to be cool and feel part of the group, but if you haven’t been out there in the DPW manner, you’re just not, in all likelihood, going to have the markers of someone who merits automatic respect and acceptance. We’re wary and standoffish with each other at first, as well.

What makes for a negative interpersonal experience, anyway? Is it that the person you’re interacting with is possessed of some negative trait? That’s generally how we react. Is it that we ourselves have some negative trait? That’s seldom how we react, though, in truth equally likely, right? “I didn’t have a good time interacting with him” is generally voiced as “what a jerk” not as “he’s probably really nice, but we didn’t get along”. It’s pretty simple self-protective ego tactics, right?

We’re not evolved to deal well with strangers, though many of us have learned to do it fairly well, but none of us deal well with anyone outside of wherever that boundary of “stranger” is set. Your behavior is no doubt the same even if your threshold is broader and your tolerance for perturbation greater.

Still feel like judging? If the answer is yes, then you’re either very dull-witted or a complete dick. You decide.


I come at DPW from something of a weird perspective – over-edumacated, pretty square dude, living a pretty square life – I found myself hired by the bmorg to build a major project, thrust in amongst the heathens at the beginning of May. I was green as a ’70’s avocado fridge, had my share of freakout, meltdown, etc., but found something I didn’t know I was missing, or wanted. I felt “I’m not one of these people, but I have an unreasonable affection for them”, and found that I couldn’t not come back. It’s been ten years and counting, now, and I still feel like an outsider sometimes, but I recognize that as my own neurotic bullshit. I find that I am in an environment that suits me very well with people whom I can respect and admire and feel honored to be part of. The rough love was a godsend; being with dozens of other alphas and getting along more or less was a huge relief. It broke something loose inside my soul and that has made me a better, much better person.
I, for one, love “the participants”, whose simple enjoyment of the event can elude me, being a jaded, behind-the-scenes-motherfucker, and envy their, your, uncomplicated joy at it all. The last three years have each been my best yet, so I’m learning. I tease my fellows for hating on the participants when they do, pointing out that it’s unworthy to revile the very guests we’re throwing a party for; after all, we wouldn’t have anything to do if they weren’t coming.



Buck Down shared Gate’s perspective:

so i was nudged to add a little perspective on behalf of the Gate Crew which suffers from similar PR vis a vis our perceived (and occasional very real) antipathy towards participants. in our case – we actually have to interact WITH EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU as we get you into (and to a lesser extent – out of) the event. sadly – the ones of you who are super cool, and completely have your shit together (which is by far really the majority) – we barely get to interact with – as the transaction takes next to no time at all (and thank you! for making our, and your lives easier on that!) however – its all the “special snowflakes” who have wandered off and lost their cars, can’t follow simple instructions are trying to sneak themselves or others in, and/or put their own and our lives at risk out there are the ones that can fill up a lot of our day – or at least the more memorable parts. after 6-8 hours a day, day after day, of dealing with the least prepared, most annoying people black rock city has to offer -it gets progressively easier to start building up a resentment that unfortunately can spill over to a lot of less deserving people – add to that a dynamic that Kim Jong Ilo mentioned of having spent a long time working out in an empty desert that suddenly became full of noise and people which is more than jarring and it becomes easy to see how we start retracting in to an “us” and “them” dynamic. it’s not something we are especially proud of – but it’s real. you all have seen how just how much even a week in that desert can completely run you through an emotional roller coaster – now imagine that for a month – or two months – how about 4???? this shit aint easy kids. and when all is said and done – a lot of us aren’t doing it for you, or burning man – we’re doing it for each other, and our bonds are not dissimilar to the ones felt by soldiers at war. at a certain point, many of us stop caring about the event, or what it means, or art – we just know that our best friends are out there doing a tough job in the heat and dust and will be damned if we are going to let them do it alone. so when you do stumble on one of us when our manners aren’t what they probably should be – just know that what may come across as disdain for participants is actually rooted in a jealous and protective love for one another in our crews. we promise we’ll try to be better about it – but just know it comes from someplace real.


29 Hours in Line; Only Half Made it in Before Closure

John Curley has provided an update from Media Mecca HQ. Last year, there were 55,000 people in Black Rock City by midday Tuesday. This year was a lot less:

giant feathers

photo: John Curley

The sun had come out by midafternoon, and the puddles started drying up, and there were rumors that Gate Road would soon open up. That apparently happened around 6 pm for the people who had been stuck between the gravel of Route 34 and the entry gates. After those people made it into the city, traffic control people started telling the folks who were stuck out on the highway that it was safe to travel. Then the ok was given to the people in Gerlach, then presumably the green light extended all the way to the 447 exit off of Route 80.

We heard stories of the spontaneous parties of people trying to make the most of being stuck, of being participants at Waiting Man, and we also heard of horror tales of the hours it took to get through the lines. Louder Charlie said he heard the longest it took for one person  to make it from Gerlach to Black Rock City was 29 hours. Oof.

The population at midnight the night before last [Sunday] was 27,900; by midnight last night [Monday], there were 38,400 people in Black Rock City. So a little better than 11,000 folks made it through the gates by midnight Monday, the day of the big rain. But last night the city still felt small and intimate. That might have been because the recent arrivals were still setting up their camps, not going out and about.

photo: John Curley

photo: John Curley

…We finally made our way out to the Man and wandered around the tent-like souks for a bit. The souks really were a philosophical and aesthetic risk this year; there was a lot of affection and community-building around the Regional Projects, which the souks effectively replaced. But for us the move worked on two levels; the playa area around the Man felt more open and spacious, giving the Man the space he needed to have the most impact. Plus, the souks created a gathering place at the base of the Man. It very much felt like we were in a marketplace, at least of ideas, as we were making our voyage. Canvassary, indeed.

Read the full article here.

This means that there were at least 30,000 Burners who couldn’t get in because of the rain.

People on social interwebz watching the live video feed have been wondering what happened to all the art this year. In past years, Burners from official regional events have created art for CORE – the Circle Of Regional Effigies. These statues were placed on the Playa around The Man, and were burned on Thursday night. Last year there were 24, in 2012 there were 34. This year they have been replaced with one giant fuck-off effigy, the 120-foot tall Burning Man. There can be only one, as they say in Highlander. Back in the day, we used to burn everything – big art, small art, camp structures, items symbolizing things we wanted to let go of. Now, it seems the energy of the 70,000 strong event (which happens in the middle of a pentagram) is being directed to 2 major burns, both controlled by BMOrg: The Man and the Temple. From a spiritual/magickal perspective, this is very significant.

The scale of The Man and Embrace also contributes to the perception that the Playa is empty. There are actually a ton of art pieces visible in the UStream feed, but most seem pretty minor. It’s only when someone is standing next to one or cycling past that you realize that even these small art pieces are really rather large. Most of the camera shots feature the Man or Embrace, which dwarf everything around them. Last year’s Control Tower was one of the biggest things on the Playa and it seems to be back, turned into a climbable observation platform. If that is the same basic structure as last year (and why wouldn’t it be), it definitely looks small in the shadow of the Giants.

tomas embrace

photo: Tomas Loewy

The “live traffic updates” from @bmantraffic ended at midnight Tuesday: