2016 The Scandals: Further Details

We have a number of updates on this year’s scandals.

The biggest one appears to be the Hooligan Attacks on White Ocean during the White Party. This has been picked up by all the usual EDM rags like Market WatchBusiness Insider, New York PostThe Telegraph, the Guardian, the Independent, Russia Today.

It was front and center on the Drudge Report today – the #1 news site in the world.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 7.26.36 AM

Of course, all these highly paid professional media outlets are just re-hashing the same story by the Reno Gazette Journal’s Burning Man beat reporter Jenny Kane. You could read 200 of them, and not get any different information or context.

Fortunately Burners.Me is here for free to fill you in with further details.

A Burner returning from the Playa informed us that the camp structure that collapsed was part of The Lost Hotel. They were notorious for their involvement building the Mega-Bucks Board Director camp Caravancicle, home of sherpa whistleblower Beth Lillie.

2014 lost hotel courtyard

The Lost Hotel courtyard, 2014

Photo: Lost Hotel/Facebook

2014. Lost Hotel is in the middle; Caravancicle’s camp is to the right. Both use canvas cube hotel rooms from a company reportedly financed by JT    Photo: Lost Hotel/Facebook

This is one hell of a coincidence. Two major incidents at Burning Man in two days – and they both relate to the two most notorious plug-n-play camps? Meanwhile, class war instigator Danger Ranger’s latest thing is high-profile homelessness

Who benefits from these two attacks? They seem to promote “traditional values of Burning Man” (ie. romanticized reminiscing of the Cacophony Society), at the expense of the BMorg 2.0 Flysalen vision of “advance your career with acid and networking”. The vandals don’t respect the “newer” Burning Man values like the Ten Principles – in particular, Leave No Trace, Civic Responsibility, and Radical Inclusion.

It seems like whoever did these attacks approached the job like a military operation. To pull this off without getting caught required detailed knowledge of the camp layout and movements. Some have said “that shows it must be an inside job”, because who but someone camping there would know this? This assumes that sparkle ponies flying in on private jets and paying $10k+ for hotel rooms get involved in the nitty-gritty of camp logistics. Most people staying in Fancy Camps at Burning Man would have no idea which lines are the main generator lines, which tanks are the fresh water, which trailers are the food storage, or how to obtain and operate glue guns. Each camp must provide a great deal of this type of information to the BMorg placement team, including number of people in camp, art cars, and diagrams of the camp layout.

The sabotage (or remarkably coincidental accident?) of the Lost Hotel seems to have dangerously backfired. Six people were injured, one so badly they had to be airlifted out – the media are not saying “to Reno”, which suggests the injuries were extremely severe and a specialist was required.

Should we kill people over the Ten Principles now that Decommodification is an LLC?  Is that how Burning Man makes the world a better place? Perhaps this is why the Satanists wanted a Jonestown segment when they launched their theme camp idea in 1996.

Plug-n-play has got out of control in recent years, ever since BMorg made a movie complaining about it called Spark. They moved almost immediately from throwing Playa)'(Skool under the bus for having RVs in their camp to promoting bus tour packages and concierge culture. We’ve seen the escalation of executive luxury from Chip Conley’s catered celebration camp to Billionaire’s Row with wristband-only cocktail bars and $54,000 a “head” swinger camps. Burning Man’s own airline now offers a VIP helicopter taxi service. Even the cops are cashing in, with BLM-branded art installations, multi-million dollar air-conditioned compounds and helicopter joyrides for their families to lavish dinners. We’ve had a War on EDM which saw long-time participants given the cold shoulder and resulted in the creation of a DMZ. And all of this is happening while Reno becomes the latest tax haven for oligarchs fleeing the Panama Papers scandal.

2016 police bull

No Chocotacos? Then we demand Art!

A little bird told me the reason why the cops love ChocoTacos so much.

It seems that a few years ago they came up with quite a successful undercover sting. Someone would roll into camp with an ice cream cart full of treats. They would hand them out to everyone who wanted one. The natural response from many Burner camps would be “thanks, can I offer you something?” The phony ice creamer would then ask for drugs (the scam would also work if the narc was under 21 and wanted an alcoholic beverage). The ice creamer would then leave the camp, which (if they were generous enough to gift something to the Burner) would mysteriously be raided by rangers and dogs a few minutes later.

Given that last year there were more than 600 citations which start at $525 each, it sounds like the Chocotacos are a solid investment for the people of Pershing County, even if they have to buy their own instead of getting them comped by Burners. We heard this year that the police could not provide adequate personnel to an active shooter situation elsewhere in Pershing, because everyone was too busy ogling titties writing cannabis citations at Burning Man.


We have had a comment from the Onceler about last year’s near-fatal medical situation, which sounds reasonably informed:

THE MONIQUE ROSE KETAMINE INCIDENT

The actors: Monique Rose (Paramedic HGH, Winnemucca, Deputy Pershing County Sheriff, Pershing County), Pat Songer (EMS Manager, HGH Winnemucca), Jim Parrish (CEO HGH, Winnemucca), Pershing County Sheriff’s Dept., Dr. Charles Stringham (Medical Director HGH, Winnemucca)

Incident: Deputy Monique Rose is trained as a paramedic and employed by Humboldt General Hospital, Winnemucca, NV who was deputized by Pershing County Sheriff’s Dept. supposedly dual role capacity at Burning Man 2015. Deputy Rose administered a lethal dose of Ketamine to a 110 lb. intoxicated female who was resisting arrest. The woman in custody went into respiratory failure twice and had to be resuscitated twice by medical personnel on scene and at the hospital. Luckily the patient lived.

Questions: First, Ketamine is not indicated in any form to subdue a noncompliant individual. Second, what was the determined does and route of administration? Did the individual have an IV in place? Third, where was Pat Songer (Supervisor) when this event occurred? Next, where did Deputy Rose get the Ketamine from, was she carrying her own narcotics working as a Deputy? Lastly, under which physician’s license was Deputy Rose operating under?

If Deputy Rose was operating under Dr. Charles Stringham (Medical Director of HGH, Winnemucca) than Dr. Stringham’s license should be reviewed to see if he allowed Deputy Rose to administer a drug, which has no indications for the event. Pat Songer also needs to accept accountability and responsibility for a paramedic who works under him who acted reckless, is dangerous, and almost killed a Burning Man participant. Finally, Jim Parrish CEO of Humboldt General Hospital, Winnemucca needs to answer for the actions of Dr. Stringham, Pat Songer, and Deputy Monique Rose as to how what if any corrective, administrative, or loss of employment occurred.

It is clear Deputy Rose actions were reckless and criminal in nature and should never be allowed to practice medicine again. If she is still employed by Humboldt General Hospital in Winnemucca, NV than Pat Songer, Dr.Charles Stringham, and Jim Parrish are shielding her. Furthermore, she should never be allowed to function in any medical or civil capacity at a Burning Man event ever again.

In closing, Humboldt General Hospital, Winnemucca, NV used to have the contract for medical services at Burning Man and lost the contract two years ago to CrowdRx. Perhaps the powers at be were aware of the reckless, dangerous, arrogant actions of the paramedics who work under his leadership and wanted to avoid any such events…. Too bad Burning Man participants didn’t.

Wait a minute…“lost the contract two years ago to CrowdRX”. That’s my information too. So why isn’t this 2015 incident CrowdRX’s responsibility? What was anybody from Humboldt General doing there in 2015, after BMOrg publicly ditched them months before? Why does CrowdRX take over, somebody nearly dies, and immediately it’s the fault of the people no longer involved?

I don’t really get why Onceler wants to hate on all Burning Man participants for the incompetence of medical personnel. But, I do understand why many of the locals harbor resentment to Burning Man for all the trash they get dumped with – so maybe it’s related to that – “all Burners are bad because of this one Burner”. Or, perhaps this person has a hidden agenda…you’ll notice that in the list of “the actors” in their tale, nobody from CrowdRX or BMOrg is involved in any way. So where the hell were they, when their rivals are running around the festival injecting ketamine into disgruntled Burners?


Anyone needs a lawyer as a result of their Transformative Experience, call Lawyers For Burners.

It didn’t take long for video of The Man burning to be uploaded to YouTube. The big “O” ring surrounding The Man stayed intact right to the end, then fell as one piece into the flames (25:42).

Finally, we have some info on White Ocean and tantalizing nuggets of further stories from Anonymous Burner. Anybody hear about any of these?

These folks hire a different camp producer every year and stiff everyone that works for them.

Given the sabotage that happened to the camp, it has all the fingerprints of someone who knows camp infrastructure.

Putting rotten meat in the A/C units, bullion cubes in the water tanks they didn’t drain, cutting generator cables without frying, glue for door locks.

This wasn’t a spontaneous vandal attack or class warfare. IMHO, they stiffed the wrong individuals, someone who knows how to mess a camp up.

I wasn’t going this year but a generous friend gifted me a ticket and a seat on a plane for a 48 hour rock star tour that started yesterday at noon.

Still gathering the unpublished stories on this year’s event. Why did the chef for first camp leave early? She bailed, and she has done this for years

DMV shenanigans, why the Man didn’t spin, what was up with that small head and skinny arms? He looked like he was born with the Zika virus

Hooligans Attack! White Ocean Sabotaged, Camp Collapses

2016 white ocean lineup

It seems the Occupy Burning Man Class War long promoted on eplaya.burningman.com (while being simultaneously dismissed as irrelevant at the BJ) has finally come to fruition.

White Ocean was sabotaged by hooligans, who trashed their camp and glued doors shut on their trailers. Rather than sympathy from the Org, they were told they deserved it.

Screenshot 2016-09-02 14.25.33

Some Burners might laugh at this, thinking it’s a throwback to the glory hole days of the Cacophony Society, but it’s not cool. This is way more than a prank. Pranks should be funny. Like this:

zos billboard

It goes against the whole point of Burning Man, which is radical inclusion. The vandals are MOOPing all over the Playa, “in the name of the Ten Principles!” What dicks. Not to mention that it might not be the smartest thing to mess with these people.

White Ocean put on a huge stage, bring some of the best musical talent in the world, give it away for free – so they deserve to be punished by Burnier-Than-Thous? For what, not gifting enough? Having people in their camp from other countries? First Camp is where people should be protesting.

The result of this attack is more likely to be “raise prices further so poor people can’t come”, rather than “all the rich people will now leave”. Camps will now be forced to have security staff, velvet ropes, members-only areas, all the things the vandals presumably hate. Generators will be closely guarded, strangers will be looked at with suspicion.

Sadly, this is symptomatic of the huge rift in the community caused by the BMorg 2.0 attitude, as exemplified by the “Man upside down” theme of this year. The message from Larry Harvey on the official Burning Man blog is that art comes from rich people sponsoring poor artists, instead of a communal effort by all of us where anyone can be an artist so everybody’s got to try.

These days, some people have $190 tickets and others have $1300 tickets. Burners don’t think “that’s so awesome that they paid more for tickets, they’re funding art” – because the extra money quite clearly is not funding more art. Instead many think “most of my friends couldn’t get tickets and these sparkle ponies don’t even care about our values or appreciate how  lucky they are to be here”.

Instead of Da Vinci tickets funding more art, the annual Art Grants budget was adjusted to include the Man, Man base, and Temple, as well as grants to Burner artists. Of course, all the same old names who’ve been getting grants for decades get rewarded each year, whether they need the money or not.

What about Vehicle Passes? Did this money go to art? Vehicles? To making Burning Man or the world a  better place? Or did it go to flying the 100+ full time, year-round Org staff around the world to a bunch of festivals on recon for Fest300 while courting wealthy patrons to finance off-Playa real estate deals?

Screenshot 2016-09-02 15.19.30

When vehicle passes came out, we were told it was for the environment and improving local roads. Were the roads any better this year? All we have heard about is Police stings at the Gerlach crosswalk.

Perhaps related to this attack, or perhaps a total coincidence, but a structure in an unnamed camp collapsed, injuring 6 people. 1 had to be airlifted out, BMOrg aren’t saying where. From SFist:

A Burning Man theme camp collapsed earlier this week, injuring six and requiring that one festival attendee be airlifted out of the desert for medical treatment. The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that this all went down Monday, and that festival organizers are keeping a tight lid on the details.

According to the paper, the structure was part of a theme camp — not one of the giant art projects that cover the Playa — but officials are not saying at this time which camp. Five of the injured six, whose names have not been released, were treated by medical personnel onsite and one needed x-rays from medical contractor CrowdRx. The sixth was sent elsewhere for treatment, although Burning Man spokesman Jim Graham did not confirm to the paper to where or for what injuries.

We can safely assume, however, that Paris Hilton was not one of the injured as she was still Instagraming away as of yesterday.

The 70,000-person festival is no stranger to accidents, and has serious medical care facilities on site as a safety measure. And while most years are free of accidental deaths, it was just two years ago that a woman died after she was tragically run over by a bus.

The collapsed structure was officially closed off Tuesday morning, and we assume the five injured and released attendees are, at present, dancing to some deep house.

[Source]

Meanwhile, back in SF, the Chronicle reports that the 3% drop in city population due to Burning Man has been quickly filled up with tourists. Probably taking advantage of the glut of week-long AirBnB rentals.

 

How Not To Die At Burning Man

Fest300 is a web site that aims to become the Fortune 500 of festivals. It was founded by Burning Man Project Director Chip Conley, a prominent gay entrepreneur who is also on the Board of hippy favorites the Esalen Institute and Glide Memorial Church.

Fest300 today published an article “How Not To Die At Burning Man”, by Joseph Pred. Pred used to be Burning Man’s chief of emergency operations, until he stepped down in 2013 after new operations director Charlie Dolman was brought in to run the Nevada event.

From Fest300:

fest300 safety tips burningman-shorter

image from Fest300

There are some good tips here, like capping rebar – tennis balls work great and are easier to see in low-light conditions.

Almost 60% of patients are there for basic first aid – bring a first aid kit and be radically self-reliant, Burners. Your camp should have at least one fire extinguisher too.

Although it says do not leave fires unattended, there are more rules than that if you want to have a fire at Burning Man.

Sexual assaults probably occur without being reported. Here are the ones that were reported:

2009    5

2010    4

2011    9

2012    10

2013    7

As far as I know, this information has never been made public before. We covered this issue in The Dark Side of Burning Man – Rape on the Playa.

We’ve also looked at injuries on the playa before, in our post How To Get Hurt At Burning Man.

One Medical physician and Veteran Burner Dr Michelle Rhee has 10 Tips for Staying Healthy at Burning Man:

 nurse1. Plan for at least one gallon of water per day.

You’ll be walking, biking, and dancing in desert conditions during the day and night, so Rhee suggests you “double or even triple the amount of water you’d normally drink at home—at least one gallon per day.”

To make sure you’ve got water on you at all times, Rhee recommends a CamelBak. “I love my CamelBak.  It is always on my back and much more difficult to lose than a water bottle,” says Rhee. “My CamelBak Mule holds 3 liters, and I go back to camp at least one to two times to replenish.”

You should also watch carefully for signs of dehydration, including feeling dizzy, weak, or hyperthermic, decreased urination, and increased heart rate. “You are in the danger zone if you stop urinating and have really weak pulses,” cautions Rhee. “If this happens, go immediately to the medical units to get IV fluids. This is the quickest way to hydrate.” On the way over, she recommends that you start drinking coconut water or something that has sugar and salt in it to help keep the fluids in your blood vessels.

2. Bring a spray bottle to mist yourself.

When it comes to sun and heat protection, Rhee also suggests that you bring a spray bottle with a fan or a mister. “Spraying yourself with cool water with a fan will actually cool you down quicker than dousing yourself with a bucket of water,” says Rhee.

Also watch carefully for heat-related distress—if people start acting delirious, they stop sweating or are unconscious, seek immediate help.

3. Pack a basic first aid kit.

While the medical clinics at Burning Man are well stocked with things you might need (Rhee even had a friend get an EKG onsite!), she recommends you that you bring:

  • Band aids of all sizes (and antibiotic ointment like Neosporin)
  • Sports or paper tape with non-adherent pads for larger cuts and wounds
  • Moleskin for blisters
  • An ace bandage for sprains
  • Tylenol/ibuprofen or pain killer of your choice
  • Sudafed/Benadryl for congestion
  • Emergen-C packets for hangovers
  • Tryptophan 500 to 2000 mg or Melatonin 5 mg to help you sleep
  • Inhalers if you are asthmatic or prone to asthma-like reactions
  • Saline drops for your eyes
  • Saline nasal spray for your nose

4. Anticipate UTIs and yeast infections.

Given the very dry and often less-than-hygienic conditions, women may be more prone to urinary tract infections (UTIs) and yeast infections on the playa (in fact, One Medical often sees a spike in UTIs immediately following the event). To prevent lady troubles, Rhee recommends that you take a daily probiotic and cranberry tablets and drink plenty of water, as well as urinating after having sex, always wiping from front to back, and wearing loose, breathable materials like cotton.

“Just in case, I would bring some boric acid (for bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections), Monistat or oral Diflucan (for yeast infections), Azo (for dysuria), and possibly a UTI treatment such as Cipro or Macrobid, if your provider OKs it,” says Rhee.

If you do get a UTI on the playa and you don’t have medication on hand, visit one of the medical clinics—they should be able to help you, says Rhee.

And don’t forget that when you get home, you can use the One Medical mobile app to treat UTIs without an appointment. Like www.fhatscasino.co.za tend to create the need for a larger way to accomodate a marketplace cellular apps.

5. Prepare for dust storms.

Dust storms are a fact of life in the desert, so most people wear goggles and some sort of scarf or bandana to protect their face and nose. If the dust gets to be too much, Rhee recommends flushing your nose/sinuses with a Neti pot and irrigating your eyes with cool water followed by saline drops.

Dust storms can also be disorienting. Rhee suggests bringing a compass to help you know which direction you’re facing… and also keeping a close eye out for vehicles that might not be able to see you. “Accidents are the thing I am most concerned about when it comes to dust storms,” says Rhee. “People still operate their bikes and art cars in the dust storms and can come at you when you least expect it, so be extra vigilant when you’re walking around in a storm.”

6. Avoid “Playa Foot” by keeping feet clean and moisturized.

“Playa foot” is a condition caused by the alkali dust that makes up the desert—essentially, it’s a chemical burn on your feet.

To prevent it, Rhee recommends keeping your feet covered out on the playa, washing your feet well every day, and applying moisturizer before getting in bed and before heading out. If you do notice irritation, soak your feet in water and wash your feet extra well, being careful to remove any dust embedded in the cracks of your skin.

According to the Burning Man prep guide, soaking your feet in water with a small amount of vinegar can also help to neutralize the alkali (1/4 vinegar and 3/4 water is a good mix). When you’re done, make sure to dry your feet very well and check for any errant playa dust. Continue to wash your feet a couple times a day to allow them to heal.

If you see any signs of infection (redness, swelling, increasing pain, red streaks running up your legs), if you develop a fever, or if your feet become so sore that you are no longer able to walk on them, seek immediate medical attention.

7. Don’t wait for blisters to happen.

Walking, biking, and dancing can also take a toll on your feet. To prevent blisters, Rhee urges people to “wear shoes that you can wear all day. And just don’t buy a pair of shoes that you have never walked around in before you get there.  You need to know they are comfortable.”

If you do get a blister on a weight-bearing location, Rhee suggests moleskin cut out in a donut to fit around the blister.

8. Eat hydrating, nutrient-rich foods.

To keep your energy up and your immune system strong, eat meals that include a protein, a complex carb, and healthy fat.

“A common dish I like to make is quinoa, chick peas, green onions, spinach, walnuts, dried cranberries, and feta with a honey, grainy mustard and red wine vinegar dressing,” says Rhee.

Rhee also recommends bringing lots of “simple things you can just pull out and eat,” such as Odwallas, cut-up fruit, raw energy bars such as Kind bars, or a smoothie that has proteins, greens, and immune boosters. “I also like to bring something warm for the evening when it gets cold, such as soup with some spice,” adds Rhee.

9. Party smart.

While overindulging in alcohol and taking drugs isn’t something Rhee condones, she does acknowledge that “lots of people party on the playa.”

To avoid trouble, Rhee recommends the following:

  • Eat something that is nourishing and lines your belly before you go out.
  • For every unit of alcohol, drink 8 ounces of water. In fact, Rhee suggest you “double fist” your drinks—water in one hand and the drink in the other.
  • Before you go to sleep, drink a good amount of water with electrolytes and take some ibuprofen.
  • Always have a buddy—someone who knows you and can help if you’ve had one too many.
  • Never mix alcohol with drugs (or mix drugs).

10. Know how to get emergency help.

“If you’re suffering from serious dehydration, if you think you might have an infection, or if someone is bleeding or unconscious (or in danger of harming themselves or others), it’s time to stop the party and get professional help,” says Rhee.

Black Rock City’s Emergency Services Department (ESD) operates two medical stations on the 3:00 and 9:00 plazas, and behind the Center Cafe at 6:00. Look for the neon blue cross on top of the buildings. These stations are staffed by emergency health care providers (doctors, nurses, medics, etc.) who donate their time and medical expertise; they’re also set up to provide rapid first-response medical care anywhere within Black Rock City.

If you’re not close to one of these stations, look for a paramedic wearing a yellow T-shirt with the ESD logo—they can be found walking around some of the more popular sites. You can also get help from the khaki-clad Black Rock Rangers, who are trained to respond to emergencies and will know how to get the appropriate resources to the scene.

Be well, be safe, and see you on the playa!

Take care, Burners! Your ticket entitles you to medical insurance that covers on-Playa treatment, the situation is less certain for those who have to be medivacked to Reno.

 

9 Ways to Die at Burning Man

by Whatsblem the Pro

The Craig Nielson Memorial Intersection at Burning Man - Photo: Danger Ranger
The Craig Nielson Memorial Intersection at Burning Man – Photo: Danger Ranger

The motto “keep Burning Man potentially fatal” is more than just humor; it’s a reflection of the fact that Black Rock City, for all its rules and regulations, began as an Autonomous Zone. Likewise, the warning on the back of each and every ticket: YOU MIGHT DIE, and that’s your responsibility.

It’s kind of an odd responsibility to have, given that the corporation that runs Burning Man ostensibly began as a response to a string of grisly deaths on and near the playa. You’d think that if co-opting an Autonomous Zone was a proper and necessary response to those deaths, the Org would want to explicitly take responsibility for people dying at Burning Man. . . but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, so the Org gets to put a fence around everything and sell tickets and make rules, but the potentially lethal nature of the event is still your problem and yours alone.

Keeping Burning Man fatal means hanging on to as much personal autonomy as we can in the face of the continuing Disneyfication of the event; paradoxically, it is also what prompts control freaks and opportunists to come up with new and unwelcome rules for us to burn by. The heart of the paradox is that in order to keep Burning Man potentially fatal, we need to look after ourselves well enough that our deaths remain unusual or even rare occurrences. Failure means being swaddled in overprotective regulations that smother our culture.

The trick is to keep people who are likely to die away from the event. We don’t publish stories about how dangerous and uncomfortable Burning Man is because we hate Burning Man; on the contrary, we love the party and are committed to the culture, but we recognize that it’s not for everyone, and that encouraging just anyone to come is a Very Bad Idea. Radical inclusion shouldn’t ever be a matter of luring or dragging someone woefully unprepared into a howling wilderness where they will be unable to cope with the prevailing conditions.

Technically, you can be almost certain that you won’t die at Burning Man. . . because even if your heart stops or your head comes off or you otherwise cease to function metabolically at Burning Man, you probably won’t be declared dead until you get to Reno. The Org’s propaganda machine takes full advantage of this technicality, and conveniently does not include deaths declared off-playa in their tally of deaths at the event, no matter how or where the mayhem happened.

This is not meant – by a long shot – to be a complete list of the many, many deaths that have occurred in and around Burning Man. This is an overview, intended to give you an idea of what might be in store for the unwary, the feckless, and the star-crossed among us.

1. GETTING THERE/LEAVING

If ghosts really do haunt the places where they died, then the highway to and from the playa must be an ectoplasmic fiesta of epic proportions. Insane, horrible traffic accidents; battered, overturned, burnt vehicles; blood and body parts strewn across the asphalt.

The examples of typical, ordinary – but horrific – highway accidents are too numerous to pick a single example, but here’s an extraordinary one: Craig Nielson, a young man who joined DPW for his very first burn in 2001, never quite made it to Burning Man. Nielson died on the road, reportedly crushed in a vehicular accident that led to him bleeding to death on the way to do his very first load-out. Details are sketchy, but he may have been riding on top of an RV.

One of two Bonanzas wrecked at the '03 burn - Photo by Rigged

One of two Bonanzas wrecked at the ’03 burn – Photo by Rigged

Let’s not forget that Black Rock City has an airport, too, and that it handles something like a hundred takeoffs and landings a day during the event. In 2003 there were two incidents involving aircraft; in one, a Beechcraft BE-35 reportedly lost engine power on takeoff, severely injuring the four people onboard. One of the passengers had to undergo several surgeries to remove pieces of the plane’s control panel from his sinus cavity, and the pilot, Barry Jacobs, later died of his injuries.

Please drive (or fly your small plane) carefully, avoid engaging in highway hijinks no matter how boisterous your spirits get in anticipation of the burn, and keep emergency supplies – like water and a first-aid kit – in the vehicle. The road to the burn takes you into a remote area; if you have an accident there, help is liable to be quite far away. One of the reasons that Barry Jacobs died is that it took well over an hour for first responders to get to the plane and get him out of it.

2. ART CARNAGE

The ban on driving anything but art cars and the five-mile-per-hour speed limit are not preventative measures; they are direct products of vehicular manslaughter on and near the playa. As Danial Glass reported in the Boston Phoenix, the 1996 burn brought some serious change:

Michael Fury, a friend of Larry Harvey and a creative influence at Burning Man, was killed in a collision while riding his motorcycle at night, playing chicken with a blacked-out van. Others died near a rave camp when a truck ran over their tent while they were sleeping inside.

In 1997, driving was banned on the playa, and fire art was prohibited in areas where people were camped. The admission ticket, which used to admonish participants to “Please keep weapons unloaded in camp,” now warned that firearms were banned within its borders. The county imposed its own restrictions as well. As Burning Man staff toned down the potentially destructive elements of the event, the rough-edged freedom waned considerably.

Those weren’t art car deaths, but the backlash made it a lot less likely for anyone to be killed by any vehicle at Burning Man that isn’t an art car.

In 2003, a burner named Katherine Lampman jumped off a moving art car because she wanted to get a closer look at the Temple of Honor. Somehow, she lost her balance and fell backward after landing, which placed her directly in the path of the car’s wheels. “I will never forget the feeling that surged into my hands through the steering wheel,” remarked Randy Emata, who was driving the art car that ended Lampman’s life. “My worst fears were followed by a myriad of terrified voices, screaming for me to stop the car. I ran back and discovered that the trailer ran her over. Her life was slowly coming to an end as she breathed less and less. Revival was attempted, but failure was inevitable. Someone grabbed a spectator’s bicycle and sped off to a nearby Ranger. Soon after, the Sheriffs showed up with an ambulance, taking her to the medical center. A helicopter was on its way. As I was writing out my statement, a deputy told me that the helicopter left without her and that she didn’t make it.”

3. DIY

There have been a number of suicides at Burning Man over the years, most notably that of Jermaine “Jerm” Barley, who hung himself in a Moroccan-style tent full of gym equipment at Comfort & Joy camp. The suicide went undetected for some time; as witness Don Davis remarked, “It looked like someone was playing a joke with a dummy.”

Rumor has it that a number of people saw Barley’s corpse hanging on a rope, and thought it was art.

Barley wasn’t the first, and won’t be the last. . . and there are also post-burn suicides to tally up. Some people can’t handle the coming-down phase of Burning Man; they return to the world outside Black Rock and everything seems so muted and washed-out by comparison. It can be a real downer. . . and it can and has led to suicides. If you count that as “dying at Burning Man,” then post-burn suicide accounts for more deaths than any other cause on this list. In at least one case, the suicide came several years after the actual event, but was very clearly related. Rest in peace, Paul Addis.

4. MOLECULAR MISADVENTURE

Drugs are like guns, kids. They’re just tools, and the important thing isn’t so much what they do to you; it’s what you do with them that makes the entire difference between use and abuse. Responsible adults use drugs responsibly, or not at all. Sometimes using responsibly means refraining from mixing your pharmaceutical experience with an overly-perilous environment. You don’t want to be wandering around in the middle of the desert alone with your head full of a drug like ‘cup,’ with its well-known side effect of dehydrating and disorienting the user. Even the effects of a drug as ordinary and seemingly harmless as Tibetan poon oil can lead to a serious health crisis on the playa, with your body in a constant state of overstimulated exhaustion and your environment sucking the moisture out of you like you’re inside a giant dessicant sachet.

Do we even need to talk about garden-variety overdoses? Your body is going to be taxed quite a bit out there, and you need to be sensitive to that fact if you’re going to chemically alter yourself in any way that might present a risk.

On the sunny side (along with sunstroke) there’s something positive to mention: although there have been drug-related deaths at Burning Man, burners seem to be quite a bit more responsible about their recreational substances than the average festival-goer. The 2011 AfterBurn report’s Medical section includes this comment from the emergency medical personnel that attended: “The numbers for alcohol- and drug-related patients continue to be remarkably low for an event of this size.”

5. REDRUM

There are two words you don’t say around Org people, or around your supervisors if you’re DPW: one is ‘rape,’ and the other is ‘murder.’ The Org doesn’t like these things – or any of the things in this article, for that matter – bandied about too freely. They actively instruct workers, both paid and volunteer, to stay mum regarding anything that might make them or the event look bad.

Johnson arrived at the DPW ranch wounded... and talkative

Johnson arrived at the DPW ranch wounded… and talkative

Happily, we don’t get a lot of murders at Burning Man (rape is another matter; they are depressingly frequent out there). That doesn’t, however, mean that nobody gets murdered. In 2003, Christopher Scott Johnson (aka “One-Armed Bandit”) showed up at the DPW ranch looking for work. His erratic behavior and his bragging about having killed a man prompted Will Roger and Ranch manager Matthew ‘Metric’ Ebert to call the police, who discovered that Johnson had indeed stabbed a man to death in a van on the road to the playa.

6. AUTO-DA-FÉ

It hasn’t happened so far, but give it time; someone without a posse is going to crank up FREE BIRD at the perfect moment, and an angry mob of zealous whatever-worshippers – enraged at this insult to the highly-evolved and enlightened wisdom that allows them to live superior lives of peaceful Buddha-like tranquility – is going to nail the offender to a cross and toss it into the flames of the Temple. . . and then we’ll have two religions to contend with on the playa.

7. WHOOPSIE-DAISY

Plenty of garden-variety accidents happen every year at Burning Man; people climb things and fall off; people ingest spoiled consumables; people trip over tent stakes; people have bicycle mishaps. Once in a while, especially in a city of 60,000 souls, these things are bound to be fatal.

In 1999, Jim Keith fell from a stage at Burning Man and broke his knee. The week after the burn, he entered the Washoe Medical hospital for knee surgery and died in the Intensive Care Unit shortly after surgery was completed, when a blood clot released from his broken knee entered his lung. The coroner’s report listed cause of death as “blunt force trauma.”

The accidents can usually be avoided, if you’ll just keep your eyes open, keep your stress level manageable, and use common sense. You know how it works: one minute you’re stressing yourself out arguing with your campmates while building some large structure as the Sun beats down on you, and the next minute you’re taking it out on the work, pounding nails a little too hard, until you end up applying your claw hammer directly to your forehead on the bounce-back. Or maybe you’re just walking around, not paying much attention, when a truck full of ice swerves to avoid a pothole and tips over and falls on you. Maybe you’re tired and want to get home as soon as possible, so you stay at the wheel for Exodus and end up falling asleep on it.

Most fatal accidents happen in the home; most in the bathroom. Leave the bathroom at home and you’ll be safer. The dust is your friend.

Nobody knows for sure what killed 37-year-old Adam Goldstone. The East Village DJ hit his head on some rebar, suffering at least a mild concussion, and later slipped or fainted in the shower in his RV, injuring himself further and eventually dying. Emergency medical personnel were summoned, but were unable to save him. Goldstone’s father was of the opinion that his son may have been felled by a heart condition.

Even in the absence of an accident, you might just happen to be on the playa when your time comes. Sometimes there’s just no dodging that bullet with your name written on it.

Erika the Red died tragically young with no warning

Erika the Red died tragically young with no warning

Erika “the Red” Kupfersberger died of an aneurysm on the playa in 2011, for no particular reason that had anything to do with being at Burning Man. People have heart attacks and strokes at Burning Man, not infrequently, and not always because of any particular environmental factor.

8. IN THE SOUP

The hot springs in the vicinity of the playa can be really wonderful, but they’re also perilous as hell to the incautious. . . especially Double Hot, with its twin maw of boiling danger. In 1849, a traveler by the name of Bruff wrote this about Double Hot:

Sept.22. In the first part we reached a pretty clear sparkling rill, about six feet broad, and a few inches deep; when to my astonishment the mules halted short at the edge, and refused in spite of the whip and shouting, to put a foot in it! I guessed there might be a vapor from it, but on putting my hand in, found it quite hot – not sufficiently to scald, however. So we had much trouble here, pulling and urging the teams over; and when they did go, it was accomplished by each pair of mules, in succession leaping over like deer, and thus jerking the wagons after them.

Next, on left, observed a cluster of hot Spring mounds, with their circlets of marsh and tall green grass.- In one lay a dead ox, apparently fell there yesterday; one hind leg in the basin of hot water, which had so well cooked it, that nought but white bones and tendons were left, of that limb, as high as the water had influence.

Some 150 years later, a burner gave the following report to Erowid.org regarding the local springs:

Probably the most dangerous hot springs is Double Hot, which is north of Black Rock about 10 miles. Great camping spot and really nice tubs, even a real bathtub at one location. The *usable* tubs are a hundred feet or so away from where the hot water comes up out of the ground and begins flowing downhill in a boiling hot stream. The tubs are holes dug to the side of the stream, and water is redirected according to the users’ comfort requirements.

The place where the hot water comes out of the ground is called the maw. There are actually two of them and they are incredibly beautiful, deep blue water and you can see down into the sweltering bowels of the earth several fathoms. The water is about 200 degrees. IF YOU FALL INTO THE MAW YOU WILL DIE. In 1994 I witnessed a family from Reno out on a little tour fail to exercise care around the maw. Their beautiful golden retriever–the family dog obviously for many years–thought she would go for a swim. I became aware of the disaster when the screaming began. The whole family was crying horribly as the father stuck his hands in the boiling water to pull out their pet. The little boy and the little girl were absolutely devastated and that is where my friend Louis directed his marvelous efforts to calm them down by telling them distracting stories, away from the scene. I helped the father who was cursing himself and crying uncontrollably. The dog went almost immediately into shock, as her skin began to slough off in patches about as big as my hand. Eventually most of the fur was gone. The family bundled their pet into a blanket and slowly made their way back to Reno. I am sure the father had second and perhaps even third-degree burns on his arms.

Note that the maw is not marked or protected by any sort of barrier.

9. DEATH BY EXTREME OBVIOUSNESS

Being burned to death at Burning Man, really? Sadly, yes. According to the 2001 AfterBurn report, “a participant who chose to run into a fire” later died of his burns in a Reno hospital. The incident apparently took place the night of the burn, somewhere on the deep playa.

You’re never going to know just exactly how much mayhem and death takes place at Burning Man, because the Org actively discourages anyone from talking about it, and discounts deaths that happen on the highway to or from the playa, or in places like Reno hospitals as a result of injuries sustained on the playa. . . but the number is probably much higher than you think it is. Please, don’t make a secret statistic of yourself. It’s your job to keep yourself safe and healthy out there, and the fewer who succeed at that, the harder it will become to keep Burning Man potentially fatal. Do a good job!