Burning Man Unofficial Founder Dies

John Perry Barlow first went to Burning Man in 1994, and has been a key shaker and mover of the event ever since.

He has shared a stage with his friend Larry Harvey many times, notably in a session called The Founders Speak at Columbia University in 2013.

barlow larry

John Perry Barlow, left, on stage with Larry Harvey at Black Rock City

He passed away peacefully in his sleep after a long battle with illness. He died on the 22nd anniversary of his famous Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace.

He wrote 57 songs for the Grateful Dead, and founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Obituaries at Rolling Stone, EFFVariety, Ars Technica, Jambase

barlow and friend

Barlow was definitely one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever met. He touched the lives of many Burners and technologists. He managed Dick Cheney’s first electoral campaign, and John F Kennedy Jr was sent to Barlow’s Bar Cross Ranch to “straighten him out”. He went from trying to blow up Harvard and hanging out at Timothy Leary’s Millbrook Acid Castle to consulting to the intelligence community.

Screenshot 2018-02-08 14.52.53

His interview with Larry Harvey and Tech Crunch’s Mike Butcher in London kicked off my whole Shadow History research project.


A couple of his best interviews:

John Perry Barlow, Cognitive Dissident (Wesleyan Alumni magazine)

The Legend of John Perry Barlow, Jambase (via Internet Archive)

RIP Barlow, true pioneer of the electronic frontier. You will be missed.

natacha weir bob barlow

John Perry Barlow at Bob and Natascha Weir’s wedding, Mill Valley 1999

The Greatest Cultural Movement Of Our Time (Clean Version)

Facebook is censoring this post, and some email subscribers had problems opening it, so this is a re-post with some images removed. Here’s the NSFW original.

A year ago psychedelic luminary Daniel Pinchbeck published a widely discussed article “Why I Am Not Going To Burning Man This Year”. He bashed the event’s destructive waste and hypocrisy about environmental values, and made it OK for some of the cool kids to take a year off:

Burning Man has accomplished amazing things, opening up whole new realms of individual freedom and culture expression. At the same time the festival has become a bit of a victim of its own success. It has become a massive entertainment complex, a bit like Disney World for a contingent made up mostly of the wealthy elite. It always had this vibe, to some extent, but it seems more pronounced in recent years. It feels like there is more and more of less and less. The potential for some kind of authentic liberation or awakening seems increasingly obscure and remote.

Well, Mad Max must have pulled a handbrake turn, because now he’s charging off in the opposite direction: “Why I Consider Burning Man the Greatest Cultural Movement of Our Time”.

The festival expanded my sense of what art was and could be. It rewired my sense of what human beings are capable of. The shock has been permanent—my desire for more of it remains addictive.

Did somebody get to Daniel?

His previous article caused some problems at BMHQ. It triggered Ryan Kushner to petition Burning Man to live up to its “Leave No Trace” ethic. Only 1138 people cared. BMorg responded with a December 2015 post entitled Sustainability: The Next Chapter , which followed their classic propaganda template: 1. blame others, 2. say you’re taking the concerns very seriously, 3. promise something “coming soon”:

The Change.org petition incorrectly claimed that Cooling Man (2007) was the last time an emissions analysis was done for Burning Man…The 2012-2016 Burning Man EA, which considers a BRC population of 58,000-70,000 participants, conducted a thorough analysis of air quality emissions. You can read it here. It’s a public document...an extensive quantitative analysis was deemed unnecessary and not conducted…

There are choices to make about how we burn, and how we get to and from Black Rock City that will determine our future carbon footprint. So what happens now? Black Rock Solar and Burning Man staff are exploring ways we can help our organization and our participants learn about and invest in both decarbonized or carbon-neutral power solutions and meaningful offsets for carbon emissions we cannot reduce.

We look forward to working together with participants on this important issue. Stay tuned for more to come.


We’ve stayed tuned the whole year, but BMorg don’t seem to have done much about it. They seem more concerned about determining which gender and race Burners identify with and if they swing, than they are about reducing our environmental footprint. I haven’t heard any plans for a trash incinerator or recycling depot at Flysalen. Black Rock Solar was a noble effort, but seems to have gone very quiet since being re-assimilated into the Borg. They reduced the number of vehicle passes, but doubled their price. Exodus times didn’t get any shorter, the roads didn’t get any better, and there are still piles of trash on highways. BMOrg made a definitive choice about our carbon footprint: to start their own airline, with a goal of larger aircraft landing every 7 minutes full of new tourists passengers.

What happened to cause Daniel Pinchbeck’s about-face? Did self-transforming machine elves put in a good word for the Playa?

Perhaps a couple of Exclusive Da Vinci Tickets [Face Value $1200 each] and a naked dip in the VIP pond at Flysalen were all it took.

[Note: to all the Plug-N-Players enticed to the offsite hotsprings for special treatment – beware paparazzi! Black Rock City has strict camera and intellectual property policies, but Flysalen has nothing of the sort:

They get you naked, take photos, then threaten you if you say something They don’t like. We’re making the world a better place!]

Daniel Pinchbeck tried to launch Burning Man into the commercial art world in 2003.

For a long time, the critical establishment and tastemakers of the mainstream art world in New York and Europe refused to take Burning Man seriously as an art movement. They still tend to scoff at it, dismissing the works created for the event as a kind of folk art. Seeking to bridge this gap in understanding, I wrote a feature for Artforum on Burning Man back in 2003……At the time it was published, my Artforum piece seemingly ruffled some feathers in the art world. I was friends with the magazine’s editor at the time, Tim Griffin. We used to play basketball together on weekends. He was enthusiastic about my article when I wrote it. After it came out, silence. I can only assume that critics, dealers, and collectors had filed complaints; perhaps it wasn’t okay to give Burning Man the credence of a place in the art world’s own monthly bible.


As it turns out, he still loves Burning Man…he just needed to find a way to tie it into his latest book:

Last year when I skipped Burning Man, I wrote a controversial piece considering how the event has changed as it keeps growing, becoming ever-more successful and attractive to wealthy influencers and the global jet set. The focus of that piece is also the focus of my forthcoming book, How Soon Is Now?


Now, perhaps with another book on the way, Artsy sent him back to re-investigate:

In last year’s piece (or petulant outburst), I wrote: “Burning Man has become another spectacle—another cultural phenomenon, in a sense, a cult—and one that sucks a huge amount of energy and time from people who could re-focus their talents and genius on what we must do to escape ecological collapse (building a resilient or regenerative society)”…

This year…I intend to deepen my exploration of the impact of the event as a global art movement and a transformative cultural force. My deeper curiosity continues to focus on the question of whether Burning Man is part of a shift toward a more compassionate, equitable, generous, and ecologically sane planetary culture—or if it is a last gasp of hedonistic abandon before we wipe ourselves out.


His new focus seems remarkably aligned to the Templeton Foundation-funded Transformation study, not to mention Esalen and the Human Potential Movement.

Radicals Self-Expressing?

These days the Burning Man 2.0 narrative is tightly controlled with confidentiality agreements. We really don’t know much about what’s been going on with the year-round organization. Less talk, no action. Why haven’t we heard about the wonderful accomplishments of The Burning Man Project? It’s 3 years and $100 million+ since the transition to a non-profit became official. How are we changing the world after all the tax savings and profit re-distribution? The Project employs 100+ people year round, to produce a crowd-sourced event one week every year with no entertainment, catering, or marketing. The Minister of Propaganda has not been publicly replaced – has anybody heard anything about Maker Faire, BTW? We know that Burners Without Borders gifted $4000 to help 8 projects in the Philippines – a  generous 6 vehicle passes per project.

Check their site and you’ll see that they’re still going on with the White Ocean bollocks, all based on a Facebook claim debunked by the police who said a report was not even filed. Apparently a board member’s camp got trashed too. Shouldn’t they be talking about the guy from Utah with the attempted murder, or the report of a man trying to kidnap a 10 year old boy? We need to keep violent criminals and pedophiles out of our community. Not ravers with international DJs, supermodels and fleets of private jets – they are not the enemy.

The full spectrum media putsch petered out once $6.5 million in donations were raised and a bunch of rich tech dudes bought Flysalen for Them us. We have to rely on flowery talks and speculation from outsiders to glean clues about what They’re we’re doing there. It seems like the plan of no plan.

The style of no style...it worked for this guy. Until he mysteriously dropped dead.

The style of no style…it worked for this guy. Until he mysteriously dropped dead.

It’s gone from A Big Farce to A Big Mystery. Lucky we get the occasional quasi-celebrity counter-cultural guru to tell the media about how Transformational™ Burning Man is.

The spokesperson selected to deliver this pro-Burning Man message 10 days after our Census post is quite interesting. Daniel interviewed Bear Kittay on the streets of New York in 2012 (see Sesame Street Cred). He spoke out against Jan Irvin’s research into the Magic Mushrooms Project and the Grateful Dead in 2013; on Facebook, and on his Reality Sandwich site via Simon Powell. Their argument that “Gordon Wasson did not know he was being duped by the CIA” is hilarious. Good try guys, but we have the documents.

Buckle up, ’cause we’re gonna take a long, strange, shadowy trip.

Let’s talk about this Artsy article first.

Artwork That Celebrates Our High-EST Potential

Mr Pinchbeck was quick to brush off his prior disdain for the event:

Despite some concerns about the future direction of the gathering, I still consider Burning Man the greatest cultural movement of our time. This may seem like a strange thing to say about an event that routinely gets dismissed as a hedonistic, drug-saturated, glorified rave. Wagner talked about the “great United Art-work” as “the instinctive and associate product of the Manhood of the Future.” There was—and still is—something peculiarly futuristic, as well as operatic, about Burning Man. It reveals how permeable human nature is and how quickly people will transform when given the opportunity to be part of something new and better. The total context of an environment where people are liberated from commercial transactions, and given license to share their gifts, express their full individuality, and be inclusive toward others has a transformative impact. It also creates a unique context for artwork that celebrates our highest potential—at the cost, perhaps, of some critical distance and discernment.

 I could see “The Manhood of the Future” being a popular art car in Black Rock City. Artwork that celebrates our highest potential? He’s talking about the same Burning Man, right?




The Mysteries of Burning Man

The Burning Man party line being pushed by Mr Pinchbeck was also the theme of the Beats and the Merry Pranksters, the Happenings and Situations and Be-Ins from be-fore.

The focus of Burning Man art is collective enjoyment, rather than removed aesthetic judgment. But the pedigree of Burning Man art does, however, encompass ’60s Happenings—performed by artists like Allan KaprowJohn Cage, and Carolee SchneemanDadaSurrealism, and Pop Art. It is also informed by the human-potential movement, which is centered in Northern California. Many of the early founders of Burning Man belonged to the San Francisco-based Cacophony Society, which mingled post-punk aesthetics and prankster humor, with a tinge of hipster nihilism. The Bay Area is a haven for experiments with personal identity and sexuality, including transgender identities, queerness, BDSM, and kink. These areas remain a focus for many in the Burner community.

The success of Burning Man reveals a familiar pattern of cultural assimilation. As with Beat poetry in the 1950s or punk rock in the 1970s, what was once the expression of a small group of outsider artists and provocateurs gets integrated into the cultural mainstream. In the end, countercultures tend to prop up and support the commercial society, creating new styles and trends that can be sold to the masses even as they influence the mass consciousness.

In its own way, Burning Man threatens to become something of a countercultural Walt Disney World, albeit one with anti-authoritarian values that inspires people to step into the frame as artists and participants.

Disney again; not exactly an original insight:

As we noted in Shadow History Part 2, Disneyland was a project of the Stanford Research Institute.

It is not clear how “influencing the mass consciousness” occurs at an event limited to 70,000 people for one week in a remote location. It’s not like the 70,000 people all meet each other – Burning Man is cosy microcosms and random convergences, rather than one big stage with a few break-out sessions. The bazaar, not the cathedral.

Like Larry Harvey Darryl van Rhey before him, Daniel Pinchbeck connects Burning Man to the Eleusian mysteries.

Burning Man also represents a cultural edge-space where art, entertainment, and spectacle cross back over toward their original roots in ritual, ceremony, and religion. This is something that is difficult to talk about without inviting ridicule. As a unified artwork or social sculpture defined by a set of 10 principles (“Leave no trace,” “radical inclusion,” “gifting,” “decommodification,” and so on), Burning Man functions in the lives of its regular visitors as a ritual, an annual pilgrimage—a ceremony that celebrates the turning of the year, the recreation and transformation of the self, and the mystery of existence itself. Such events were known throughout the ancient world. Most famously, the Eleusinian Mysteries in Ancient Greece was an annual gathering for all of the luminaries of the Classical World that lasted for 1,500 or more years, only coming to an end in the 4th century A.D. at the behest of Christian Roman emperor Theodosius. Burning Man seems an organic return to these archaic mystery traditions, but in an American grain.

Since when were fossil fuels, LSD and designer chemicals considered organic? By which calendar is the end of August the Turning of the Year?

As for entertainment’s original roots in religion and ritual ceremony: has he not heard of the world’s oldest profession? We had entertainers before we had wizards.

If we are placing Burning Man in an historical ritual and cultural context, then the Wicker Man part of the ceremony needs mentioning. Such events were definitely known throughout the ancient world, Julius Caesar wrote about the Druids in 54 BC. Nicholas Cage starred in a recent movie The Wicker Man, so this is known in modern times too. Is Mr Pinchbeck ignorant of this, despite 15 burns? What are we there for: the lamplighters and Crimson Rose’s fire magick, or burning a giant effigy of The Man? It’s not called “Crimson Dance”.

In considering Burning Man as a cultural movement, we should talk about St Bartholomew’s fair, a festival of a jester that took place in London at the same time of year as Burning Man for more than 700 years. Its mixture of art, activities, debauchery, and a freak show “rhymes with Burning Man” much more than the highly controlled Eleusinian rites, which most people only got to experience once in a lifetime.

For some reason it is always this Ancient Mystery cult that They want to link Burning Man to. Population control with drugs and mysticism by an un-elected ruling group. That’s the important heritage that makes this the greatest cultural movement of our time. Not the ritual burning of a wooden effigy inside a pentagram, or an annual experiment in new forms of civilization.

The recreation of the Rites of Eleusis was a specific goal of the bankster promoter of suggestogens Gordon Wasson, and Warburg banking empire chemist Albert Hofmann. It was also the title of a controversial play put on by arch-Satanist intelligence agent Aleister Crowley in London before World War I.



The thinking behind this is covered in more depth in our Shadow History series; basically, the idea of Eleusis was to dose the whole population to make them docile. It worked for more than 2000 years in Ancient Greece.

the Mysteries were intended “to elevate man above the human sphere into the divine and to assure his redemption by making him a god and so conferring immortality upon him

Such cults include the mysteries of Isis

[Source: Wikipedia]

This idea of creating our own gods is preached at the Church of Satan, as well as Burning Man’s leadership conferences:

God made Man in His image. Then Man Google made Pokemons, in the image of Demons. And invited us to merge our brains with Them, while Burning Man offered us contracts to sell Them our souls…ah, transhumanism. Gotta love it. Just see the Terminator! The Singularity’s gonna be swell. All those military robots are out there hunting for the last remnants of humans, who did not connect their brains into the Google Matrix to live forever chasing Pokemons. But I digress…

A Pleasure Based Society

Like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, Daniel Pinchbeck became famous for his hedonistic sexual exploits. At least, that’s how I heard of the guy…

For the last few years, I have been exploring the nature of sexuality, love, and relationships, both personally and philosophically. When I separated from my last partner, I realized that I did not feel that monogamy was working for me as a model. Yet I also knew that I craved long-lasting, deep, and sustainable relationships. Since then, I have sought to reconcile my conflicting yearnings, and wondered if other models of relationships are possible or desirable.

Just as we are undergoing a second stage of the process of shamanic initiation that was curtailed at the end of the 1960s, we have entered a wiser and more integrated phase of the Sexual Revolution that crested thirty-five years ago. A more conscious approach to erotic relationships requires a sympathetic awareness of the differences between men and women, and an acceptance of individual distinctions as well. In the 1950s, the scandalous Kinsey Report on human sexuality revealed the vast variety of human sexual experience, and showed that a huge number of people sought intimate contact outside of the confines of their marital relationships. The opening of sexuality in the 1960s led to deflationary decadence in the disco culture of the 1970s, and a pop cultural ambience of constant stimulation and insatiation that the philosopher Herbert Marcuse called “repressive desublimation.”

[Source: Facebook]

Kinsey was a pedophile disciple of Aleister Crowley…but let’s not get sidetracked.

Before Quetzlcoatl’s 2012 return, Daniel Pinchbeck went on a long Facebook rant about how we are descended from apes (despite no missing link to validate Darwin’s theories) and that means that the women should fuck everyone in the tribe and may the best sperm win:

6_bonobos_whcalvin_img_1341I don’t believe that the system of conscripted monogamy as it exists now will be part of our future condition – some people will naturally choose it or gravitate toward it, but it will not be imposed on us or accepted as the norm. There won’t be any stigma to it, of course, and some people will be so constructed that it is deeply satisfying and good for them – or for many of us to explore during long periods of our lives. In general, when you look at the origin of human sexuality, it seems in all likelihood it was communal, much like we find with the bonobos.

[Source: Facebook]

Everyone screws everyone. Good luck with that, from a social, evolutionary, and public health perspective. Did he come up with this on an acid trip at the Orgy Dome?


This is the Officially Sanctioned Voice of Burning Man, perhaps doing damage control after our Census post. Promoting sexual degeneracy, shamanism, psychedelics, and the 2012 return of an Aztec god does seem to fit right into the Templeton Project’s Transformation Study…YMMV.

Tom Swiss at unreasonable.org warned in 2006: “Daniel Pinchbeck’s Psychedelic Shamanist Apocalyptic Vision”. He sounded the alarm again in 2010, Why Daniel Pinchbeck Needs a Smack Upside His Head,

Daniel Pinchbeck is the guy probably most responsible for kicking off the idea that some great transformation is going to occur in 2012. In his book 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, he claims to have received “transmissions” from the Mayan deity Quetzalcoatl telling him about this momentous event. An excerpt from these transmissions:

The writer of this work [i.e., Pinchbeck] is the vehicle of my arrival — my return — to this realm. He certainly did not expect this to be the case. What began as a quest to understand prophecy has become the fulfillment of prophecy. The vehicle of my arrival has been brought to an awareness of his situation in sometimes painful increments and stages of resistance — and this books follows the evolution of his learning process, as an aid to the reader’s understanding.

The vehicle of my arrival had to learn to follow synchonicities, embrace paradoxes, and solve puzzles. He had to enter into a new way of thinking about time and space and consciousness.

Almost apologetically, the vehicle notes that his birthday fell in June 1966 — 6/66 — “count the number of the Beast: for it is the number of the man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.”

The Beast prophesied is the “feathered serpent,” Quetzalcoatl. [Pinchbeck, 2012 p. 370]

Because these “revelations” came after many years of heavy experimentation with substances like psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, ayahuasca, iboga, and DPT, [Grigoriadis] Pinchbeck is sometimes described as a modern-day Timothy Leary or Terence McKenna. But from the evidence above, a modern-day Aleister Crowley seems a better comparison — complete with voices “channeled” from “higher powers” which name him as their special agent on Earth, identification with “the Beast”, and a wonderful degree of apophenia.[*]


Swiss was a member of Pinchbeck’s Baltimore, MD meetup “spore” for Evolver, the social network built around the Reality Sandwich blog and tied into Burning Man. Social networks aren’t cheap – Rupert Murdoch paid $600 million for Myspace, then sold it for $35 million a few years later. Myspace is now part of TIME Inc monitoring 1 billion users sharing data about their households and devices.

Your average Psychonaut doesn’t have the resources or self-discipline to create social network technology as well as writing books, blogging, giving TED talks and partying all over the world. Perhaps Mr Pinchbeck is a super-blogger with beaucoup bucks behind his hobby; or perhaps he has some sub rosa help with these projects. If there was ever a place for secret agencies funding secret projects, it’s Virginia-Maryland, with the special Permanent Autonomous Zone the District of Columbia in between.

owl-dc-aerial bohemian owl


weird_scenes1_465_687_intDaniel Pinchbeck’s Mom is another active public critic of “family values”, likening them to the dreaded “Fifties”. This oppressive time of nuclear families and white picket fences was all shook up by Chuck Berry and “Elvis the Pelvis”. This was reconstructed in the UK as  Mods and Rockers, which morphed into the Beat-les and the Rolling Stones, two weapons of mass cultural debasement launched upon the world in what was openly called The British Invasion. Britain has a long history of ruling its far flung empire through Drug Wars and social engineering, as it showed in both India and China through the privately held British East India Company and its state-sanctioned piracy, slavery, and drug trafficking. If you think this operation shut down with the Sixties, scan the radio and see how long it is before you hear a song from any of these bands. Go to Burning Man and see if you can find anyone on LSD or magic mushrooms. Sex drugs and rock-n-roll – the Crowleyan counter-culture, designed by Satanists to turn others into Satanists – is in full swing.

History repeats. We had the orgiastic decadence of Caligula, leading to Nero fiddling while Rome burned. We had the Weimar Republic, leather and bondage and burlesque and bisexuality and promiscuity. Berlin had opium, amphetamines, cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, marijuana, mescaline, peyote…even LSD. The elite members of secret societies and the wealthy set were doing it all. And then we got the Night of the Long Knives, Hitler and the National Socialists, the ghettos and the concentration camps.

This is the model throughout history. They build a civilization up, lurking behind the scenes, pushing the window of tolerance as far as They can. Then the Satanists come out, showing their hand in all their disgusting glory. The world revolts, and it all burns up in flames. Civilization is destroyed; feudalism prevails. Liberty takes centuries to restore. Eat, sleep, rave, repeat.

New Dark Age is the goal of the eugenicists and social engineers. Merge with computers and you no longer need your organic body. We don’t need to take up space on the earth, since it is all just an illusion anyway. The real world is a computer simulation, so you might as well just join virtual reality. You might have noticed this meme being promoted lately, from Billionaire Burner Elon Musk to Stephen Hawking. Last year, both those guys were saying “we should be afraid of artificial intelligence”. Musk likened it to summoning a demon in a pentagram.

Nothing to worry about, it’s all just software. Nothing is real, everything is illusion, even truth. You will hear this message a lot from the Satanists and Social Engineers that are using Burning Man as a tool to transform society in their desired image.

This book is out of print, but luckily the PDF is readily available. An earlier version with 100 extra pages is much rarer.

Burning With The Beats

The Artsy editorial links Burning Man to the occultist Beat Generation and the Great Work of Man, a major concept in Freemasonry.

This is not a casual connection, and nor is Mr Pinchbeck a casual connector. As a young boy in New York, he grew up with Allen Ginsberg and CIA Assassin William S Burroughs dropping by the house. His mother, Joyce Glassman Johnson, was a member of the New York Beat Scene. She had a love affair with Jack Kerouac right when he was becoming famous for On The Road, after being set up on a blind date with him by Ginsberg. She wrote a bestseller about the 2-year relationship:

Pinchbeck has deep personal roots in the New York counterculture of the 1950s and 1960s. His father, Peter Pinchbeck, was an abstract painter, and his mother, the writer Joyce Johnson, was a member of the Beat Generation and dated Jack Kerouac as On the Road hit the bestseller lists in 1957 (chronicled in Johnson’s bestselling book, Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir).[2]

[Source: Wikipedia]

Like Mr Pinchbeck, the Beats were bi-coastal. The West Coast scene was based in the Bay Area, particularly around Bohemian book stores City Lights in North Beach and Kepler’s in Palo Alto. City Lights owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg were frequent guests at Esalen. Ginsberg and Trans-Continental Kool Aid bus driver Neal Cassady became part of the Merry Prankster scene that emerged at Camp Fremont, the military sub-section of Stanford – Perry Avenue, or as it is more commonly known “Perry Lane”. The Beats gave some “street cred” to the mixture of decorated soldiers and defense contractors getting drugs and equipment from the Stanford Research Institute that spawned the Pranksters, The Grateful Dead, and more recently, Burning Man and Google.

Burning Man itself is directly connected to the Beats. City planner the late Rod Garrett was a member, friends with poet Gary Snyder and comedian Lenny Bruce.

In 2010 Daniel Pinchbeck promoted Aldous Huxley at Colorado’s Naropa University, beloved of Ginsberg and the Beats.


Joyce Glassman Pinchbeck Johnson taught at the New School for Social Research – also known as the Frankfurt School. This is ground zero for social engineering, so it’s no wonder that the Social Engineers of BMOrg want Daniel speaking for them, not against them.

Progressive economist Thorsten Verblen was part of the New School. He was also one of the original Bohemians at Perry Lane, known at Stanford as The Naughty Professor. Veblen is one of several characters who  pop up in both the New York scene (centered around Columbia University and Greenwich Village), and the Perry Lane scene (Stanford).

Image: Pinterest

Neal Cassady. Image: Pinterest

A key cross-generational bridge between the Beats and the Pranksters was bus driver Neal Cassady. He was one of Brierly’s boys, as was Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine. Denver educator Justin Brierly helped Judge Benjamin Barr Lindsey burn the personal letters and records of thousands of troubled young children in the 1920’s, officially to keep them out of the hands of the Ku Klux Klan. Lindsey was a “sexual reformer” and promoter of promiscuity, who created the Juvenile Court System then got chased out of Colorado for California. The never-married Brierly took promising (and, coincidentally, handsome) young men under his wing, and recommended them for Ivy League futures. He met Cassady at 15, and later introduced him at Columbia to Allen Ginsberg and William S Burroughs, of the Burroughs Computers family.


Cassady just showed up in the Perry Lane courtyard one day in a Jeep with a blown transmission. This was enough to make him one of the key members of the Merry Pranksters, driving them all around the country while completely out of his mind on high doses of hallucinogens. He was Dean Moriarty in On The Road (Brierly was Denver D Doll).


Another guy popping up in both West and East Coast Beat scenes is the Pentagon’s Stewart Burrows Brand, the Army’s most senior photographer, who we find running around the Acid Tests with a military strobe light. He left Stanford’s ROTC program with a degree in biology and anthropology, and headed to Fort Dix New Jersey to train recruits. He used to hang out in the New York scene on the weekend, visiting Timothy Leary at the Millbrook Castle where CIA director Richard Helms reported every week to international financier Billy Mellon Hitchcock. 19-year old student in comparative religion John Perry Barlow was a regular at Millbrook too, when not seducing co-eds with poetry and a motorbike.

Stewart Brand learned his pioneering innovation of projection and trippy lights from the New York USCO team, who were in cahoots with both the Bauhaus and Frankfurt School Germans relocated before World War 2 broke out. They were connected to the scene around Black Mountain College in North Carolina. The infamous composer John Cage shows up there, and also in the Bay Area as music teacher at Mills College, Stanford’s women-only sister school in the East Bay . He was succeeded there by Phil Lesh, before the latter’s recruitment into the Grateful Dead as a bass player – an instrument he had never played before, but taught himself in an hour.

Brand sees a clear connection between the Beats, the Pranksters, and the Burners:

“Probably the most visible and influential continuation of counterculture is Burning Man. It has all sorts of remarkable qualities, one of which continues the premise of Ken Kesey’s acid tests: put together a bunch of creative people and a minimum of rules, and everybody generates as nifty a party as they possibly can.”


Image: Inhabitat

Err, you forgot the LSD, Stewart. The Kool Aid was spiked. The thousands of hippies at the Trips Festival were not taking actual trips. It’s a metaphor. Surely a guy who can build a clock that runs for tens of thousands of years and is bringing back the Woolly Mammoth is aware that these people were on drugs!!! Brand himself claims to have invented the signature “earth from space” image on the cover of the Whole Earth Catalog while on an acid trip in SF.

Stewart Brand also said:

Burning Manthey have surpassed in every way the various things we were attempting with the Acid Tests and the Trips Festival, Burning Man has realized with such depth and thoroughness and ongoing originality and ability to scale and minimalist rules, but enough rules that you can function, and all the things we were farting around with, Larry Harvey has really pulled off. I don’t think that would have come to pass without going through whatever that spectrum of the ’60s was, the prism of the ’60s, the spectrum of bright colors that we espoused for a while. It all got exacerbated by the Internet and sequence of computer-related booms, but I think it flavored a whole lot of the basic nature of Burning Man. Its Hellenism was replaced by Hellenistic Period, driven out by Alexandria and that was basically better. I think that’s to some extent true in this case.” 

[Source: SFGate]

At the Macy Conferences in New York pioneers of computers and mind control, hypnotists, psychiatrists, and anthropologists got together to design the modern electronic control grid and “painless concentration camp for the mind” that was described in Brave New World (1932) and 1984 (1948)…and the books they plagiarized We (1924) and The Scientific Outlook (1931).

The Frankfurt School and the American Jewish Committee were heavily represented in the Macy Conferences. Members of the core team like OSS black propaganda specialist Gregory Bateson (former husband of Samoan sex hoaxer Margaret Mead) showed up at Stanford as the preparations for the Summer of Love psy-op began.

Eric Trist was a leader of the Tavistock Institute who developed psychiatric profiling tests for the military. In 1961 he spent a year as a Fellow at Stanford’s Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences (an offshoot of Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study).

"Think, Drink , and Be Merry" was Stanford CASBS's theme the year Eric Trist was there

“Think, Drink , and Be Merry” was Stanford CASBS’s theme the year Eric Trist was there

Dr Eric Trist’s son Alan, who grew up on J P Morgan’s country estate, came straight from the Beat Hotel in Paris to Kepler’s in Palo Alto. He arrived at exactly the right time to drive Jerry Garcia (Army) and Robert Hunter (National Guard, Scientology) to see Animal Farm. Hunter had advised his stepfather on publishing the children’s edition.

They never made it to the movie. Instead Trist helped them put the Grateful Dead together, then gave Daddy anthropological reports on their progress.


In the official version of Grateful Dead history, Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter, and Phil Lesh were all hanging out in Palo Alto one day smoking DMT and trying to come up with a name for their band. They had played at the Acid tests as “the Warlocks”, with another band at the opposite side of the room “The Witches”. But the Warlocks was taken.

“It was a grey stormy blowy day in old Palo Alto, and we were hanging out at Phil’s house, smoking DMT, and we had just found out there was another band called the Warlocks so we couldn’t use that name, and we were trying to figure out names and we came out with about a million of ’em and none of them quite got it. We decided to thumb through the Oxford dictionary, so Jerry got up and walked over and spun the dictionary and put his finger in, and it came out Grateful Dead. It’s an ethnological term; it has to do with a guy named Childs who went around and catalogued a lot of folk ballads from northern Ireland and Scotland back before the turn of the century. There was a whole section that he did on what were the Grateful Dead ballads; the Grateful Dead ballads being visitations and stuff like that, generally having to do with people that had died and come back and been kind of glad.” – Bob Weir

The dictionary was Funk & Wagnalls by other accounts. Jerry Garcia told a different tale entirely:

     “Let’s see, the classic story is the one where somebody dies, but there’s some dishonor connected with the death, so they can’t really rest until this matter is settled, and then when it’s settled that puts them in the category of being Grateful Dead. It’s just what it sounds like . . . Grateful Dead.” – Garcia

In May this year, former Special Forces Lieutenant Chalmers Wood, Jr revealed yet another story. His dad Chalmers Wood, Sr ran the Vietnam war for the State Department from 1959-1963. Merry Prankster founder Ken Babbs was over there during this time, he won 5 medals for his service as a chopper pilot before returning to join Uncle Sam’s Acid Tests project.

Wood claims that he designed all the artwork and the spiritual philosophy related to the Grateful Dead, and entrusted it to John Perry Barlow and Bob Weir in 1963. The purpose of this project was to start a “cultural movement” based on sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll – a social engineering operation.


Thanks to Matt Carney for providing this lead

In 1963, Barlow, Weir and Wood were at the 1100-acre Fountain Valley prep school in Colorado Springs. Aldous Huxley’s son also went there. The symbology and cosmology of the Grateful Dead seems taken from Theosophy, co-ed Freemasonry. So far in dozens of books telling the official history of the Beats, the Pranksters, and the Grateful Dead, the connections to the military-industrial-intelligence complex are ignored or dismissed as irrelevant. Maybe American Messiah will be different.

Cyberspace – a Greater Cultural Movement than Burning Man?

John Perry Barlow, left, on stage with Larry Harvey at Black Rock City

John Perry Barlow, left, on stage with Larry Harvey at Black Rock City

John Perry Barlow is another connection between the New York and Bay Area counter-cultural scenes. According to Grateful Dead biographer Dennis McNally, Barlow was “living in New York, dealing cocaine, and carrying a gun” when he was recruited to write songs for his childhood buddy, Bohemian Grover Bob Weir.


Source: The Long Strange Trip, by Dennis McNally

Barlow founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation with Burning Man super-lawyer Terry Gross. He is a promoter of LSD, and disclosed some CIA work in “Why Spy?” in Forbes in 2002. In a 2013 interview with cult member Julian Assange from inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, he said “I personally know almost all the top people at the NSA”. Barlow wrote more than 50 songs for the Grateful Dead, which you can find out about at the Grateful Dead lyric and song finder – created by the head of British Intelligence.



Burning the Man at Bohemian Grove – the Cremation of Care

Alex Allan, Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, is one of the world's top experts on the Grateful Dead

Sir Alex Allan, Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, is one of the world’s top experts on the Grateful Dead

Barlow is a devotee of Jesuit thinker Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who described the merging of culture and minds of humans in the electronic domain as the Noosphere.

Daniel Pinchbeck is into the Noosphere too. In fact he’s got a book he can sell you about it:

I believe we are on the cusp of transitioning into a psychic level of species existence, what some have called a “noospheric” (from the Greek word nous, meaning mind) or “supramental” condition. I recently published a book by the late Jose Arguelles, Manifesto for the Noosphere, which explores this idea in depth

[Source: Facebook, March 2012]

wired 1996John Perry Barlow was the first to use the word “cyberspace” (credited to William Gibson in Neuromancer) in its modern sense. In 1997, when Burning Man was being marketed on the front cover of WIRED magazine as “the New American Holiday”, it was bombarded by TV crews. A clip from ABC Nightline in 1997 called it “the physical manifestation of the Internet”.

Larry Harvey picked up on this theme in a 1997 speech at the MacWorld Digital Be-In about “Burning Man and cyberspace”, in which he says the Internet doesn’t have any value.

The Controlled Media

Daniel Pinchbeck is by no means the first to crow about the cultural significance of Burning Man. TIME magazine recently put Burning Man on the front cover – at least, the hardcover special edition “Civilization’s 100 Most Important Sites”. Burning Man is #100.


Mr Pinchbeck’s story references Robert Hughes and “The Shock of the New”. Hughes was TIME’s resident art critic for more than three decades.

Events in the recent election have woken millions of people up from the Trance, and exposed the fraudulent nature of the mainstream media as a one-to-many propaganda tool for population control. This has been known for a long time in Shadow History. Operation MOCKINGBIRD was exposed by Carl Bernstein (of the dynamic duo Woodward & Bernstein, All the President’s Men) in 1977, and previously in Ramparts magazine in 1967. Intelligence infiltrated media, academia and modern art.

By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA officials, have been with the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc.
– Carl Bernstein The CIA and the Media
Rolling Stone cover story 1977


The founders and senior managers of TIME and Life magazine were mostly members of the Skull and Bones and Century Club secret societies. Miles Mathis has exposed Ramparts as a likely front. Why would Intelligence agencies rat themselves out? It is a psyop technique known as “Limited Hangout”, where a large amount of truth is mixed in with a few details that they want to remain fuzzy, in order to control the narrative.




This information has been out in the public since 1967. It has never been debunked, there is no need since it is all true. The CIA’s involvement in culture creation is so well known that there is now an entire podcast series about it – check out Tom Secker’s Spy Culture. He uses FOIA requests to document things like why George Clooney makes so many CIA-related movies. He has proved CIA involvement in vital National Security-related shows like Cupcake Wars, Master Chef, the Golf Channel, and American Idol.


The Man and the Counter Culture

The Macy Conferences led to MKULTRA in all of its various forms, such as Subproject 58 in which JP Morgan’s VP of Propaganda “discovered” magic mushrooms one day on a CIA-funded expedition to Mexico.

The Merry Pranksters got in their Day-Glo bus and drove around the country, LSD mysteriously following them wherever they went. Luckily hotshot writer Tom Wolfe was there to document everything in The Electric Kool Aid acid test. Kesey’s book became a bestseller, Wolfe’s book became a bestseller…Actually, almost every person on the bus wrote a book – quite remarkable for a drugged out entertainment group, less so when you look at their education and military backgrounds. The publishing world saw to it that this message got out.

After LSD was made illegal, the Merry Pranksters threw the “acid test graduation party”

The MKULTRA program was officially shut down in 1973, but in reality just continued under other names. Never trust a Prankster! LSD was made illegal in 1966, which led to manufacturing being set up in the Bay Area under Bear Owsley, Nick Sand and Tim Scully – all under the tutelage of Bohemian Grove saxophonist-chemist, Burner Sasha Shulgin. The distribution of acid was controlled via various cultural “scenes”. Three of the biggest distribution networks were Timothy Leary’s Brotherhood of Eternal Love, the aptly named Hell’s Angels and the Grateful Dead.

From the FBI Vault

Source: FBI Vault

Banning acid – something CIA agent Timothy Leary advocated in the 1966 Senate Narcotics Hearings – certainly did nothing to stop its production. It just made it easier for the guys at the top to control the distribution of their technology.

After becoming illegal in 6/66, LSD was then studied by the CIA, DARPA, the Navy, the Army Chemical Warfare division, the Stanford Research Institute, the Church of Scientology, big pharma, and 44 Universities – just to name a few. Nobody thought to inform the government that illegal activity was going on in the many research projects they were funding.

Operation Midnight Climax was active in Greenwich Village as well as San Francisco. Beautiful prostitutes would meet men in bars, bring them back to their specially equipped fancy pads nearby, and dose them with LSD before having their way with them. Video cameras behind 2-way mirrors would record the action. Maybe this was for acid tests deemed too juicy for the “Free Love” students of the Sixties; more likely, CIA agent George Hunter White was gathering HUMINT for blackmail purposes. Whatever the (still classified) purpose of these XXX Acid Tests, follow the money: the Federal Government was paying for drugs and hookers.

CIA Director Richard Helms destroyed most of the MKULTRA documents when the project was exposed. Some survived and are in the public domain thanks to FOIA requests.


Daniel Pinchbeck is right that there are a lot of connections between New York, San Francisco, Burning Man, the Beats, the Merry Pranksters, the Great Work, and the Ancient Mysteries.

It seems now the Burning Man machine is to be aimed at the art world. It’s not fine art, it’s not street art, it’s not modern art.

Is this art?

Image: SFist, Big Imagination (Facebook)

Image: SFist, Big Imagination (Facebook)

It’s certainly a form of movement!

Are the Regionals still Burning Man if they don’t have this sort of thing? If the art makes Burning Man the Greatest Cultural Movement Of Our Time, then what sort of cultural movement is there without the art?

Burning Man art cars roam the streets of Art Basel Miami, and many jet-setting Burners attend both events. But it’s not easy to buy the art you see at Burning Man, and I have yet to hear of any profits being made from re-sale. BMorg wants their cut. The artists behind the La Contessa pirate ship art car valued it at more than $1 million. They lost their lawsuit against the landowner who burned it down on his ranch; the judge agreed with him that it was abandoned junk.

So: is Burning Man “the greatest cultural movement of our time”?

I’m not sold. The global rave scene is a much larger and more powerful movement than Burners. The parties are bigger, there are more of them, the music is everywhere. Electronic Dance Music has changed the world much more since 1986 than Burning Man. So has the Internet. Molly and LSD have changed the world – including the art world – much more than Burning Man has. Where did they come from? Where does it all come from now? Why is all this going on at the largest event on Federal Land?

Rethink Waste, and Help Save a Promising Green Technology

John Perry Barlow, left, on stage with Larry Harvey at Black Rock City

John Perry Barlow, left, in a panel discussion with Larry Harvey at Black Rock City

JohnPerryBarlowJohn Perry Barlow has been a fixture at Burning Man since 1994. That makes him a founder in my book. Recently he starred on stage with Larry Harvey in a session called The Founders Speak at Columbia University. He’s also a founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (with Burning Man lawyer Terry Gross), the Grateful Dead (he brought them to Timothy Leary’s castle in 1967 and wrote 57 of their songs) and WIRED (he was on their masthead when it launched).

Burner Barlow has given a lot over many years to our communities: Burners, Techies, Deadheads, and particularly the large Venn Diagram intersection of them all. Now he could use our help in return. For the past 6 years, he has been working with a company called Algae Systems, which has developed some amazing technology. The low oil price has made their investors jittery, and so they are now in a last-ditch effort to save the company and keep their breakthrough inventions alive.

Cutting a long story short, they can turn raw sewage into clean water and fuel, without wasting energy.

If ever there was a time for Burners to come together to support a positive environmental impact, where what we give will actually make a difference, it’s here and now. Their Indiegogo fundraising campaign is open for 8 days.

Barlow says:

Become a Better Ancestor: Save Our Technologies So They Can Save Your Descendants…

For the last 6 years, my colleagues and I have pursued a dream to address the most dangerous environmental problems we believe our descendants will face: poisonous drinking water, insanely variable weather, the end of the green revolution as we run out of mineable phosphates, offshore “Dead Zones” as more and more nitrogen and phosphorous is lost to the sea. 20 million dollars later we have proved it can be done. And done in a way that is consistent with our vision of closing the loop to turn wastes into resources.

Furthermore, we developed a method of photosynthetic energy capture much more efficient than solar cells and able to stand on its own without federal subsidies and using no land currently used to grow food.
But we have reached a surprising impasse with our strategic investor, the oldest company in Japan. They believed, with good reason, that they were investing in a company that would produce a green fuel that extracted more CO2 from the atmosphere than it returned when burned. But crude oil is now so cheap that they lost faith in their investment.

Moreover, we discovered that we had developed technologies along the way that could revolutionize wastewater treatment. As I’ve said, we recognized that we had created a sewage purification process that produces more energy than it uses. In addition, our unique HTL (Hydrothermal Liquefaction) process could transform noxious sewage sludge, currently being hauled to landfills at 30 million tons a month, into fossil equivalent crute oil and a nutrient rich biochar that can restore the millions of acres of depleted topsoil our grandchildren will confront.

But our strategic investor got out of wastewater treatment a decade ago and was unwilling to get back in, no matter how game-changing the technology. Our interests no longer aligned and they decided to withdraw support.

They offered us an opportunity to buy our company, including our plant and IP, for pennies on the dollar.

We saw this coming and had three investors lined up to cover the buyout, as well as the amount necessary to jump-start our operations in Alabama and commence building HTL skids we believe we can sell to enough wastewater treatment operators to make us profitable by 2017.

But one of our prospective investors developed cold feet and withdrew. Upon which the other two did as well. So we suddenly found ourselves looking at a January 17 buyout deadline to come up with the money. We decided to go long. Yeah, it’s nuts to think that we can raise this kind of money in a week, but we’re fresh out of alternatives. It’s a real Hail Mary, but we’ve been successfully hurling Hail Mary passes into the foggy future through the history of our company.

I pray you will look at our tech and see, as we do, the genuine prospect of a planet with life-support systems sufficient to provide for 7 billion passengers as they hurtle through space. We’ve developed an integrated system that can handle that. I personally endured this Sisyphean quest because I wanted, as ever, to be a good ancestor. My devout hope is that many of you will as well.

Please support them, this is aligned to Leave No Trace, Civic Responsibility, Communal Effort, Gifting, Radical Self Expression and Immediacy. This could be an amazing example of how Burners do care, are capable, and can make a difference. I urge BMOrg to get on board and promote this campaign too, perhaps they can find it in their hearts to give something back to this Burner who has contributed so much to us all – and this beautiful, beat-up planet.

More on Algae Systems:

Official web site and Twitter

Seeing Purpose and Profit in Algae – New York Times, 2014

Pilot plant in Alabama produced exemplary results – Al.com 2015

algae systems


From Indiegogo (emphasis ours):

Planet Earth has no externalities. As Bucky Fuller told us 40 years ago, it truly is a spaceship. We need solutions that recognize that waste is either a verb or a squandered resource, since all flows are in a closed loop.

Our team spent nearly every waking moment of the last 6 years of our lives, approximately 394,200 hours, dedicated to developing our waste treatment technology.  We’ve had numerous successes and exceeded our expectations.

We figured out how to transform raw sewage into energy-positive clean water and carbon-negative, water-positive green fuels. In the process of growing biomass and turning it into fuel, we discovered something much more valuable. We can purify wastewater without wasting energy.

We are excited about the viability of our technology and the benefits it can bring to a world where millions of children are killed every year by dirty water.

However, our primary investor, a large Japanese corporation who initially funded our small startup, isn’t interested in wastewater.  They are no longer willing to provide funding to us as our interests no longer align.

The truth is, we are in a tight spot. 


We have until Jan 17th to raise enough money to buy back our company and continue operating.  If we do not raise enough capital, our technology and IP will be shelved indefinitely, its benefits never brought to light.

To our knowledge, there is no other process that can provide the benefits we can and do so at a profit.

We are in a position to invite people like you to help us continue developing our waste treatment system and deploy it at a commercial scale to bring its benefits to communities.

Let’s harness the power of the crowd to support existing technology and is so critically needed on this planet. We hope that you are inspired by our work and that you see the benefits it can provide.


In Alabama’s Mobile Bay we successfully built and tested a demonstration facility that takes a community’s raw sewage into one end, and outputs carbon-negative fuel, clean water, and fertilizers from the other end.  Unlike most water treatment strategies our system generates energy while producing clean water. A community using this method could get energy back while treating their water.

Learn more about the science behind the system here.

When Alabama Governor Robert Bentley visited our facility, he had this to say:

“This took a lot of knowledge in biochemistry and the ability to take wastewater and use natural ingredients like algae and be able to produce clean water and oil…it’s a great system.” ~ Robert Bentley

AlgaeSystems CEO Matt Atwood (left) speaks with Governor Robert Bentley (right) on a tour of our Mobile Bay facility.

It is our hope that you will decide to support our campaign and empower us to continue on this path.  Every little bit helps. Please donate and share. Together we can change the world. One city water treatment plant at a time.HOW YOU CAN HELP
With your contribution, we will be able to:

  • Obtain full control of our science and patents by buying back our company from our current investor
  • Jumpstart our Mobile Bay facility to get it running again
  • Reinstate our dedicated employees who want to contribute to the success of our waste treatment system
  • Develop existing relationships for already selected sites to deploy HTL skids + photobioreactor bag technology
  • Scale up to an economy of scale that makes our waste treatment system competitive in the marketplace


Technologies like ours that generate new solutions to climate change, ocean warming, topsoil depletion, and greenhouse gas pollution are needed immediately. The world needs more resilient and resource-efficient infrastructure. That’s what we provide.

Our cities are in need of help.  Some municipalities use up to 30-40% of total energy for water systems ( EPA). We need more energy-friendly water production.
In the United States, we use about 40% of all water for fossil fuel energy production (DOE).  Negative implications of this practice include competition for water supplies among agricultural uses and human consumption. Additionally, warmed water coming out of thermoelectric plants has adverse impacts on local aquatic habitats.
This wasteful system is ripe for innovation. We need more water-friendly energy production.

Algae Systems disrupts traditional wastewater treatment with a more resourceful, systems approach. Our technology pushes wastewater treatment and energy production into new territory that is far more beneficial for humans and other living systems than current practice.

Solar and wind have grown leaps and bounds, but they aren’t going to get us all the way there, experts say.  Bill Gates recently announced the creation of a private equity fund to invest money in 20-30 companies with existing technology that can be scaled up to become commercially viable.  Algae Systems is the type of tech Bill Gates is talking about.  It is viable technology that needs financial support to scale up. As the deadline of Jan 17th looms ahead, we are working as hard as we can to capture the attention of the crowd to meet our crowdfunding deadline.

Algae Systems is a valid solution for a more resourceful water-energy nexus. You have the power to help us create a more sustainable world for future generations.

People are excited about the potential of Algae Systems.
Visit our press room here.

We are a group of professionals united in our efforts to apply an entirely new approach to solving some of the most basic problems impacting our communities, our environment and our public utilities. We are entrepreneurs, chemists, engineers (civil, marine, and aeronautic), utility operations managers, vanguards of more sensible futures. Click here to learn more about our team.

[Source: IndieGogo campaign]


Brainwashing: The New Billionaire Obsession

Vox has just published a piece on Burning Man by Gregory Ferenstein: “Why Silicon Valley Billionaires are obsessed by Burning Man“.

Perhaps a more appropriate title might be “why the media are obsessed with rich people at Burning Man”. They’ve always been there people. Why don’t you see them? Because they’re riding around on the same bikes as you, going to the same free parties as you, watching the same sunrise as you, reflecting and remembering at the same Temple as you, and waiting in line next to you for ice, a coffee, or a dump.  Vox’s story is a good read:

Burning Man is an experiment in what a city would look like if it were architected for wild creativity and innovation. The goal is to be expressive and experimental — scientifically, artistically, sexually, or spiritually. For techies, it’s a chance to try out untested gadgets and go nuts with the oddest social experiences imaginable.

…For example, Harvey pointed to Google’s famous “20 percent time” management strategy, where employees are allowed 20 percent of their time to do anything they want: build a new product, learn a new skill, or try out a new experience.

“They’ve tried to institutionalize the kind of behavior that brought their business into being — a certain amount of risk-taking, a frontier mentality, a willingness to try things to see if they work, regardless of whether they fit institutional norms. Well, that’s the kind of can-do attitude that Burning Man is famous for.”

…Perhaps the goal was best summed by Harvey when he told me, “Burning Man is a place where you wash your own brain.”

…Google Co-founder Larry Page once floated the idea of Burning Man-like zones where entrepreneurs could be free to try out new products in a regulation-free area. During Google’s annual developers meeting in 2013, he noted:

“We don’t want our world to change too fast. But maybe we could set apart a piece of the world .… I like going to Burning Man, for example. An environment where people can try new things. I think as technologists, we should have some safe places where we can try out new things and figure out the effect on society. What’s the effect on people, without having to deploy it to the whole world.”

…Burning Man was reportedly the testbed for both an early version of Google Maps and the first Tesla cars.

burning man tesla

rumored to be a mockup of the first Tesla car. (Tesla Motors Club user TEG)

According to Stanford Professor Fred Turner [PDF], Google sent a plane to take aerial photos of the campground in an early pilot of what eventually became Maps.

Engineer Michael Favor, who worked with Google on the project in 2006, explained that “the power of Google is that they don’t do all the work. People posting content do. The same is true here at Burning Man. Citizens create the vast majority of things.”

More recently, Harvey points out, experiments with drones have become increasingly popular.

So is Burning Man an elaborate libertarian utopia (or dystopia)?

One of the biggest myths about Burning Man, and, perhaps, Silicon Valley, is that it’s founded on libertarian ideals. While Burning Man embraces the free-wheeling spirit of libertarianism, it is also fiercely collectivist. Indeed, a fight between libertarians and the more community-oriented founder was the organization’s first big culture war.

In the early days of Burning Man, Black Rock City was a liberty haven.

“Those early years in the desert were free-wheeling. Anything went. Guns were common. Shooting at stuff from moving cars was a big thing,” wrote technologist Peter Hirsberg, in his upcoming history of Burning Man.

Full story here.

jbieber-karmaThat Tesla looks like a working car to me, not a mockup. It’s more likely their first showroom. Minimal viable product, put the thing in a tent on a corner at Burning Man. 50,000 people will stop and look. Fisker should’ve done that, instead of chroming out Bieber’s Karma in Hollywood.

The word experiment is used a lot in this story. Is Burning Man really that much of an experiment these days for the participants? Or is the experiment being done on us, by corporations?

It is possible to jump the shark and also become a huge commercial success, a hit with the VCs and billionaires and tourists and the 360 official journalists attending this year. Disneyland is a great hit too, but I don’t recall it ever beginning as an underground dance party in the desert. Or having 200 drones hovering overhead while you cavort naked through it.

We haven’t heard anything about Peter Hirshberg’s upcoming history of Burning Man before, but he was featured in The Founders Speak lecture with Larry Harvey and John Perry Barlow at Columbia University this year. It seemed pretty random at the time, making us wonder “these guys are founders now?” Perhaps the video footage of that lecture that’s been “coming soon” all year is being held up waiting for the release of this book.

This Vox story seems to continue the theme first espoused in Larry and Barlow’s interview with TechCrunch at Bildeberg Le Web last year. There is a deep link between Burning Man, the tech industry, and the psychedelic counter-culture which emerged from the Bay Area in the Sixties and has been pouring out of here to catch the whole world in its Net ever since.

Home Is Where The Man Burns


Last year, Burning Man Founder Larry Harvey and “founder” John Perry Barlow teamed up in London for an interview with Tech Crunch. We covered it here: Sauce for Goose and Gander. At the time, they made plans to get together again at Cargo Cult Center Camp for further public discussion. Luckily Burner Nicole from Brooklyn was there to record it and later transcribe it. Perhaps Barlow’s Virgin guest SACEUR General Wesley Clark was also in the audience.

Their subsequent get together, The Founders Speak at Columbia University, hosted by professor David Kittay, was supposed to be published on the Internet “after the first of the year” but is still strangely missing from the public record. Add it to the “Coming soon” list.

It’s an interesting and enlightening discussion, thanks for your efforts transcribing, Nicole – I’ve fixed a couple of typos. Anyone know who the moderator was?

From https://brooklyntheborough.com/2014/02/even-if-temporarily-home-is-where-the-man-burns/

unicorn space orgy‘Tis the season to start planning for Burning Man as registration opens to prance on the desert playa this August. It’s the only beach I’ve ever been to where you have to bring your own water and don’t really need a towel.

Making the trip out west from Brooklyn is definitely a big hassle, but there are plenty of local theme camps to team up with should you decide to go. Or avoid the pilgrimage as many people do and simply enjoy art parties closer to home in the industrial desert of Bushwick.

There are a lot of politics and discussion about whether or not Burning Man is what it once was, or is what it should be. There’s even a current New York Burner email list discussion on the authenticity of “going home” as a term to universally describe one’s trip to Black Rock City, Nevada where it kicks off every year. Everything else is just the default world.

For those reasons and many more, presented below is the transcript of a fascinating hour from Burning Man 2013: a recorded Center Camp conversation between Electronic Frontier Foundation founder John Perry Barlow and Burning Man founder Larry Harvey on the past, present and future of making Black Rock City their home.


John Perry Barlow: I thought I’d ask [Larry] some questions and see how he thought it was going. We did this for a few years and then fell out of practice. Then he and I ran across ourselves in London earlier this year; and found wandering around Westminster that it was a great place to have a peripatetic discourse, and we thought we might want to come back here and re-engage this process and re-engage you and have some thoughts about how we deal with what Burning Man is in its rather mature manifestation. And, uh, how do you think Burning Man is going Larry?


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALarry Harvey: I think it’s going wonderfully. This year in particular – the mood here, the spirit here is better than I’ve ever seen it.


JPB: Maybe we should start talking about this seemingly paradoxical notion of organized anarchy.

Crowd: Yeah organized anarchy

JPB: Exactly. You know anarchy is a political philosophy – it gets kind of a bad rap by the WTO, but anarchy as a political philosophy was created by social philosophers like [Mikhail] Bakunin and more recently Hakim Bey, and certainly very much by Larry Harvey; and it’s the principle that human beings are basically good and that they want order in their lives and they’re actually quite good at interactively self evolving order around circumstances that may arise collectively, and that they don’t necessarily need some kind of imposed government for them to behave well. We don’t – it’s sort of based on the principle you don’t run over people with your car because it’s against the law, you don’t run over people with your car because it’s the wrong thing to do. And Burning Man from the very beginning was based on the idea that even though there were damn few rules – I mean very few rules – that people would come out here and exercise the golden rule to some extent and not shoot one and other, despite the fact that there was plenty of gun play. And that was actually working pretty well. And I think Larry has done a fantastic job in not imposing all the laws, regulations, codicils, subchapters and everything else that goes along with government. On the other hand, he’s had to have this continuing dance with a very big G form of government. I had an experience the other night upon arrival I arrived at 12:30 at night – on Friday morning, 12:30 Friday morning and I had my ticket and I was told I had to go over to a zone over here some place and wait, wait for what?

LH: You’re referring to D Lot, rhymes with Doom.

barlow larryJPB: Purgatory! I said, ‘wait for what?’ They said, ‘wait for the others to come out.’ Which sounded almost biblical. What others? It turned out that BLM – that the permit was for 68,000 and it was not for 68,005 it was not for 68,010. And so not many people leave Burning Man at one on a Friday morning – that’s not when you get one of those major rushes for the gate. So you can sit there for eight hours as I did, waiting for enough people to come out so I could go in, and that was, there we were, we were trying to have a conversation about it, and there we were at the very naked interface of anarchy and government. I think there’s probably a back-story on that; I don’t know how much Larry wanted to tell.

LH: There’s always a backstory, and a backstory behind the backstory. But I won’t talk about that except to say, of course we did have a permit for 68,000 and a public agency that BLM is governed by regulations. However I will point out when we first came out here – there’s a lot of talk about the good old days when it was free and now there’s all these rules. In fact Hakim Bey, who wrote TAZ –

JPB: Temporary Autonomous Zone

LH: A little booklet about radical anarchy – I corresponded with him in the early 90s, no before that, early on, and he had one recommendation, which was in line with his doctrine of Poetic Terrorism and real acts of creativity, which we kind of came out of in the bohemian milieu of San Francisco. We very much bear the stamp of that, but ironically he recommended to me well just avoid any TAZs… Little chinks in the armor of the system, you get in and you get out like theViet Cong. After two years – the authorities overlooked us for 2 years because we were so small, and this is so big, we were a mote in the middle of this in some sense, you were lucky if you came out here if you even found us, which was actually part of the point, lot of people didn’t find us and ended up stranded on the verge of the playa, mired in one of the artisanal water sources here and then that risked your life. They might easily have died. We invited them. We were responsible for their welfare. Holy smokes we were the government! And um, and when he wrote me with his advice, we had already filed a permit with the government, and we had a history of cooperating with the government at Baker Beach when we had to abort a burn and the people from the Golden Gate National Recreation area, another federal agency, intervened, and we actually made an agreement to raise the man and not burn it. Chiefly because the official came out and looked at this assembled man on the beach, (unclear) it just ached with craft and everybody gathered around, who were very invested in it, they were yelling, ‘Shame! Shame! We worked so hard!’

He saw it was manifest with, it was saturated with intention and did something that on a level required bravery on behalf of a field officer in such an agency, he said, ‘Well you can raise it but you can’t burn it’ and we shook his hand and he ran away. Then my colleagues, some of them said, ‘No, we, this is our chance, let’s burn it.’ And that was in line with the guerilla sensibility of the day, but I was brought up to believe that my word was very important, it was a moral issue at that point, and also in the back of my mind it was a political issue because if we burn it here, then where do we burn it next, and will our rap sheet follow us? Probably.

JPB: Were you raised in Nebraska by the way?

LH: Well, my mother came from Nebraska and my father from North Dakota, they were people of the plains, for anybody who comes from the Great Plains you know what that culture is like.

JPB: I am from Wyoming.

LH: Exactly, we have that in common. So we took it down and it caused a riot because by that time so many people who had no attachment to it had heard of it in San Francisco over 5, 4 years of burning it at Baker Beach, that half the drunks in town rolled down, following the path of least resistance to the beach, and they were all roaring, ‘Burn the fucker!’ And I thought, ‘I’m – we’re not going to burn it for you – you have nothing invested in it, it doesn’t mean enough to you.’ And that was our first instance of cooperating with the authorities, and that gave license to our eventual intention out here to form a civil society.

JPB: When you moved out here, what was the process, the decision to come to this particular place? And did you, whose permission, if any, did you ask?

LH: No we didn’t ask anybody’s permission.

JPB: It didn’t seem like the sort of thing that was asking anybody’s permission.

LH: We went looking for beaches in California at first and couldn’t find one that would work and some artists had come out and done things in the Black Rock Desert, because it was then and it is now a blank canvas that just summons up visions and we thought well, ok, it’s naked plain, there’s nothing that can catch fire, then let’s take it there! Only in San Francisco – can you imagine saying that to anybody in LA? They’d say, who’s the producer? In New York they’d say, you want us to go out of town? Laughs So we came back here, didn’t ask anybody’s permission, we were innocent, we didn’t really know.

JPB: When did we lose our virginity in that department? When did we – where did we first find ourselves standing with somebody from the Bureau of Land Management and a clipboard?

LH: It was the second or third year, and that was the time when I corresponded with Peter Lamborn Wilson

JPB: Also Hakim Bey

LH: And they let us know that we’d be expected to fill out a permit, and we did. It became drawings, I did a wonderful inspired fantasy of a site plan, it looked good, architectural drawing looked great. Appearances count a lot. Of course, over time, as more and more people came, it’s one thing to say, and it’s true, the golden rule can work, but it only works if people can identify with one and other.

JPB: Right.

LH: What we had seen on the beach, is that this group of people who had nothing invested in it, and for which it reflected nothing back, turned into a mob, and also love, a guy tried to light it three times. Someone had thrown gas on this thing we had decided not to burn, and uh, GAS! He tried to light it three times with a BIC lighter and the third time I lost a little patience was just slightly less diplomatic and took his arm to talk to him and he planted his thumbs in my windpipe and my friends had to peel him off of me. It was a riot! I went home that night and dreamt of the Hindenburg, dreamt of the Dukakis campaign, it was a disaster! I was shaken.

LH: So the question is what to do? What we did was we came out here, that required effort from all of you to get here- a commitment to even get to the dam gig.

JPB: Right find that place!

LH: So it was no longer a place of casual resort, that helped create intention and the conditions here required everybody here had to think existentially about survival and work out their relation to something with something larger and more powerful than them, that’s nature. So that conditioned things right there. In tribal peoples can exist without elaborate government – don’t kid yourself, they are governed by custom, in every detail of what they do has evolved somehow.

JPB: When I was first starting EFF and looking at the internet, I said to my partner one day, this is wonderful, this is a working practical anarchy this internet, and he said, well that may be but it’s been my observation inside every working anarchy there’s an old boy network somewhere and they are the keepers of the actual rule base even if they claim not to be.

LH: The original anarchist philosophers held that you don’t need a lot of government but useful conventions help.

JPB: Yeah, ethics.

LH: Yeah, they were not looking at it as an adolescent.

JPB: Customs.

JPB: Anarchy in a completely heterogeneous society won’t work at all.

LH: No, not really, no it won’t.

Rules develop because common sense isn’t a) as common as you like and b) it’s very hard to understand other people’s circumstances and well it may not be apparent why you can’t speed on the playa, but of course, we all know now, we brought it down to 5 mph, because we thought, well, we can cover, the playa will be covered with art, moving art, but it will only work if people don’t.. well learned the hard way. I had to be awakened early one morning in 1996 to learn a car had plowed through a tent and run over someone’s head. That will get your attention. Then, you know, it reminds me you know, the anarchists scattered, the pseudo anarchists scattered because nobody wants responsibility. It was like when I was a kid growing up on a farm in the country and the big recreation was dirt clot fights, in the early days we weren’t far more evolved than dirt clot fights, tow it around on a tarp behind a pick up truck and those good old days, where –

JPB: Very pure form of anarchy.

LH: The implicit rule of that game was that you just heave, go to two sides of a field and heave dirt clots at one and other as kids, and it would break up when a kid would get a dirt clot in the eye and started crying and everybody would go home.


JPB: We developed the catapult out of car springs that shut it down pretty early, we had to have arms control talks.


LH: We’re not particularly rule bound, everybody knows that you’re free to express yourself, and indeed the idea of a gift, if you read that, I believe in close readings, read the, it does mention in the principles, only you can determine the content, or a collaborating group, can determine the content of a gift. That’s true of any art effort or collaboration too, and but then it suggests that you should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient, but you know if you give a gift, a good gift well given, you meditate a great degree on whether the person will find it acceptable, therefore a gift is not standing outside of someone’s tent with a megaphone. Laughs So self-expression is bound by custom in that way. It’s just a form of organized kindness and consideration and sometimes it’s not apparent to people as we’re so you know, disparately situated, many social worlds, what the consequences of their reaction might be.

JPB: You have to be mindful of the fact that the golden rule is do unto others has you would have them do unto yourself; treat ourselves badly, and expect others to do so as well. So it’s not an infallible principle. You don’t want to treat others as you treat yourself, you often don’t treat yourself as you deserve to be treated.

LH: Just because you slap yourself around doesn’t make it okay to slap somebody else around.

JPB: Who needs enemies when you’ve got yourself?

LH: So, you know, it is true there’s more spontaneous expression and more exercised freedom and freedom of worthlessness is exercised – going on here than in any other community in this country. But it happens because there is an environing social context that bring certain kinds of order into being that allow that spontaneous phenomenon we know as culture to generate itself.

JPB: In the beginning the idea that there would be a daunting webpage with you know, page view after page view of very elaborate pieces of advice that are strongly stated – that was just, that would have been laughable. The reality is that in the beginning everybody was on the same trip.

LH: Well yeah, they were, I’ll tell you something what I learned about anarchism on the hook in the early days. Anarchism works in very small – the anarchist, the rule, do what thou wilt – works in very, very small groups. I was the little groups of anarchy people, and who would camp in their little campfires and then gossip about all of the people around all of the other campfires that weren’t as cool as they were.

JPB: Or important, or as pure in their anarchy –


And that didn’t work out – I had an interesting experience early on a very dear friend of mine Ken Miller, who is the man’s man, in charge of raising the man, initially constructing it – he’s a hero in our community, and a very modest man, a gentleman. He was standing by as some friends who were you know, who had guns, were popping off shots, and personally, I heard stories of how some of those bullets tumbled by tents. Then we actually, that led us to get rid of firearms and I’m proud of the fact that you know, that America can’t deal with gun control and we achieved it.


JPB: If you want to have a sense of the culture, right? When I first drove onto the playa I had a Smith and Wesson 327 magnum sitting on the passenger seat and the greeter said nice gun!

LH: The greeters had guns!

JPB: Yeah that wouldn’t happen now!

LH: Somebody asked one of the greeters, Joe Benton, ‘Is that gun loaded?’ He said, ‘Of course it’s loaded, if it wasn’t loaded it would just be a stick!’Laughs And that was fine, except one day they were standing next to they were shooting it was Benton himself who pulled out a gun and fired it on impulse downrange so it looked like..

JPB: All the way to Winnemucca!

LH: Except it was that part from (unclear) and he was deaf for two days. Oh, and then I watched, because I like to watch, I like to watch social interactions, I like to see how they play out, what the actions are, what they really are about. Had it been someone outside of the tribe, they would have strung him up. It would have been ugly, in fact the tribal wrath would have descended on him. But since Dan, the mild mannered gentleman, was not part of the gun group, no one said a goddamn thing about it, in fact nobody apologized, I thought, ‘Ohhh ok, that’s how it works, it’s kind of like, oh, gang rule.’ Laughs And the actually was a significant event for me, it started me on the path of dealing with guns, because what was needed was a higher view of social welfare, that had some sense, that it was super ordinant in some sense that it represented our ideals and concern for the welfare of others in a complicated society, that’s how the west gets won in that regard.

JPB: That’s probably a nice segue into the ten principles. Personally, I confess that anytime that anyone starts stating principles with a capital P, and even has a number for them I usually look for the nearest exits.

LH: Yeah!

JPB: It’s like the twelve warning signs of monotheism. But I think it’s worth having these things written down as general guidelines, as long as we’re very careful in our willingness to say this is not dogma you will not be excommunicated, the church has no authority to remove your insignia.

LH: They’re descriptive not prescriptive. When I wrote them in 2004 I was called and told to write them because people were going out into the world and they were trying to do things and they had been enormously moved by the persuading example of our city even in the scale it had grown to. But back in our daily lives, without that context, whether it’s ceremonial, emotional, moral, or to some degree institutional, it was hard for them to even talk about what they experienced and, so, the call went out so I wrote them. If you notice, if you happen to read them, the imperative voice is notably lacking. It doesn’t say, ‘leave no trace,’ it says, ‘leaving no trace.’ It may seem subtle but it’s different

JPB: There is a refreshing lack of the use of the dictatorial ‘we.’

LH: They described what but that time in 2004 had spontaneously evolved within our culture, our society and in the culture that had fomented, when I wrote them, in an afterthought, I asked were all these present at the beach? Because that’s a good test, where they there at the radical origin? And, by god they were! I was delighted, and including civic responsibility because we cleaned up. We also, because we did the deal with the authorities –

JPB: And kept your word –

LH: We kept our word.

JPB: But now we have the deal with the authorities having become extremely complex with real world politics – what I encountered out there at the gate really was, allegorically was one of the most clearly defined battlegrounds where lines had been drawn between the forces of monotheism and the forces of pantheism, pantheism is, pantheism is operation by the letter – I mean, monotheism is operation by the letter, and pantheism is operation by the spirit, you know, I had been thinking about this quite a lot before I got there because I had been at the White House a few days before and they were struggling with spirit versus letter to a degree that was terrifying as an American. But we are engaged in a very important social experiment here about how to create a relationship with the people of the letter –

LH: Well it is and they have to turn everything into the imperative.

JPB: Yeah, they got the book.

LH: It’s an ongoing dialogue, I came out here, it’s been a crash course out here creating this city all these years. We came out for our otherworldly melody to this other world, and it almost as soon as we got here it’s been a crash course in worldly things: politics, endless politics, If you don’t like politics, cultivate your garden behind a wall! And economics, this actually is a business that takes an income, people say that’s wrong it should be free.

JPB: I can assure you he is not getting rich off of this. But um, but that’s just a continuous thing, in some ways we the government are at opposite ends in terms of moral sensibility and political outlook but we do have one thing in common and that is a genuine concern for public welfare.

LH: Like a lot of relationships, we rub along.

JPB: The problem for Burning Man is it becomes a test case for that early large number of Americans who are still engaged in fighting a war between the 50s and the 60s, I would have thought that 50 years in we would have reached at least as much peace as there was in North Korea, but no, we’re still fighting that war and it’s worse than even and you know, it makes it feel incumbent upon them to come out here and take advantage of the fact they have the absolutely greatest possible case of probable cause ever manifested, I mean, what is probable cause that you are breaking a drug law at Burning Man? You bought a ticket! Laughs Its like shooting fish in a barrel.

LH: But they don’t assert that, of course, they have attorneys.

JPB: I think we should start the Q&A.

LH: Yeah we came here to hear your –

JPB: We feel a vague sense of this being some kind of turning point in how Burning Man needs to go forward and we’re eager to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Moderator: If anyone has any questions please come up and give them to me and I will ask the speakers. I have a couple that I’ve written down listening to your amazing talk – one, what happened to the man that did not burn? What did you do with that?

LH: Oh ok, that’s an interesting story. We took the man who did not burn, stored him in a lot in district in San Francisco that was owned by one of the carpenters, it started with carpenters, carpenters, (unclear) carpenters who did art in their spare time and were in the building trades. And so he was a developer on a small scale and he had this lot, so we just took it in there and we attached it to a cyclone fence at the back and left it there thinking it would go unmolested and then went on with our plans and we were prepared to come to the desert and everything was organized and two weeks before somebody drove by the lot and the guys unbeknownst to him, our friend’s partner had rented it out for parking for the clubs, so they came in with chainsaws and turned the man into curbing. It was gone! No! So we had two weeks to reinvent the construction process that had previously taken a month and a half or two months. And necessity was a good teacher, and we did, we cranked it out and had it down, the famous story of crossing the line, the Cacophonists came out and crossed the line – well I wasn’t there for that, I was back organizing the building, and we had it ready one hour before the truck was due to arrive so we could put it in a truck and take it out here and burn it. I borrowed the money from the guy who owned the lot and paid him back by passing a hat out here, that’s the story of that, so there’s been more than one man, so there’s two extra men, the one from the event out here where it was burned

JPB: A real burner.

LH: I wish after that happened I took it well but inside it was my baby and it got burned so I felt bad and they said the burned man will burn on schedule, but it was too late, they should have said the man will burn at the appointed time, it’s not about you know –

JPB: Radical freedom –

LH: But there have been two men added on to the 27 that have been created, so it’s actually 29 of which, but every family has couple people who have lost their way –

JPB: Certainly in the country they do.

Moderator: You mentioned Hakim Bey quite a bit, I’ve been coming out here since you know mid to late 90s and Temporary Autonomous Zone was damn near a bible for most people out here you couldn’t walk around without someone having it in their pocket. Have you been in any further correspondence recently about the event and what do you think he would think about it?

JPB: Peter Lamborn Wilson.

LH: I have no idea.

JPB: I have a faint idea – I meant to mention this to you, he’s actually interested in us getting together.

LH: Oh really? Oh I’d love that.

JPB: Yeah, I think that’d be a good idea. He lives in upstate New York now. Peter Lamborn Wilson for those who don’t know, was a very serious scholar in comparative religion and wrote a truly remarkable book on all the angels of all the different cultures how various different religions manifested their notion of angels before he got into this idea of practical economy, anarchy, and he wrote his anarchic literature as Hakim Bey and I was spending a lot of time with him in the (unclear, microphone fail) flat on Avenue C and 4th Street –

LH: (unclear, microphone fail)

JPB: Many, many stories up from the street, filled with books, and he actually I think laid these things out very, very well and it bears reading today and I think it actually would be interesting to get him to come out here, he’s kind of old and set in his ways, but it’d be great to get him out.

Moderator: Larry is it true that you were given a ticket for pissing on the playa?

LH: It is not true.

Crowd: Did you piss on the playa?

Moderator: This is an interesting one that I think a lot of people are asking: why do you think the feds, police are here in such force? A) because of the lawsuit or B) because we haven’t been able to deal with other city issues fighting or theft?

LH: No none of that, listen they’ve been out here in force for quite a while in case no one has noticed

JPB: Yeah

LH: And they have more officers out here but it’s not a giant leap.

Crowd: They love Burning Man!

JPB: It’s their Burning Man too!

LH: Practically, I believe in actions and practical analysis. What happens when they’re here early and they’ve got nothing better to do than go out and patrol the roads coming in and stop people for license plates, lights and so on, and then once people are here they lose all interest in that and it’s over –

JPB: What you have to understand about any aspect of the federal government or probably any government is the way in which you establish yourself as being a big kahuna is how much budget you got underneath you. And believe me the district field officer at the Winnemucca district field had far less mojo before Burning Man than he has today; and it’s all a matter of hiring on all these additional budgetary items in the form of law enforcement, which we have to have because of course there are drug laws being broken out here, we have to have enforcement commiserate with the degree of the criminality.

LH: It had nothing to do with the lawsuit that had to do with us and Pershing county and that’s on the way to being, uh, it’s already mostly resolved and we’ll think we’ll come up with a ten year agreement and I doubt very much if anybody is going to go to court.

JPB: Larry can probably put a more nuanced view on this, but it’s pretty safe to say that public safety or the welfare of the Burning Man community has had a very modest role in the presence of law enforcement in Black Rock City.

LH: I’ll say this, I wouldn’t go without the police – when you want a cop, you want a cop. (Unclear) Suddenly someone burgles your house, you want a cop –

JPB: They’re saying it would be good to have the cop –

LH: And you feel –

JPB: It’s good to have the cop off, in the cop, ready to go, staged, rather than having them –

LH: Well, sometimes I wish the cops here were like the bobbies in London, now, I was at Trafalgar Square and some anarchists demonstrated they had the Guy Fawkes mask on and they had gone over the barricades to get to the base of the pedestal that would give them a platform and then the bobbies of course were there. We were just talking, they would stand around them, and use their batons to sort of –

JPB: Define the conversational zones –

LH: Cordon them in and start talking to them, it was very British, it was very civil, I looked at them it was this tableau – there was a girl who was just ranting, and someone else who was just tragically crestfallen, and another guy in this Guy Fawkes mask who had a little sporty cane who was standing there. And then I noticed, and the talks just went on and on – it wasn’t like what would play out in America, there wasn’t a gun in sight. I noticed the dapper anarchist, he was talking to a cop who was down there and he’d talk but when he really wanted to communicate he’d lean out further and he’d tip his mask up and then he’d put his mask back on.


Moderator: That’s great, ok, I have one more question and we’re gonna wrap this up guys: You said you like to watch social interactions how’s that working out for you?

LH: I grew up in a world that was interesting, heterogeneous, truck farming region, but the Harveys were from the plains and my father was incredibly self reliant – you can thank my father for the self reliance – and eventually fell, and he couldn’t accept help from others and we didn’t neighbor with people, really, so one of my earliest wishes was, couldn’t we just get everybody out in the field and do something you know, really interesting? Laughs And we got everybody out in the field, and we’re interesting.

JPB: Interesting. I grew up in conditions even more austere than Larry’s – I was the only kid in miles on a great big cattle ranch. At one point my mother – I complained to my mother that I was bored and she said anybody who is bored isn’t paying close enough attention. You know, since the thing that was obviously available to pay attention to was the human comedy, that’s what I’ve been interested in every since. I mean I think Larry and I derive – one of the things we have in common is a great appreciation of the human comedy that is now rich and detailed and immensely pleasurable and there’s plenty of that, you can just sit and be still and have a ringside seat.

LH: In a sense, there’s nothing wrong with necessarily be a spectator, you can be a creative spectator.

Crowd: Yeah exactly

JPB: Absolutely.

LH: Think of all the photographers, you know – oh they’re just photographing us – it doesn’t mean you have to be an extrovert you can be an introvert. You can be someone sitting over there scribbling in a journal shyly who is going to represent – who is going to write the book that goes around the world that represents what we really are to people; and of course that’s what we want to do, we’re working now to spread Burning Man around the world and our community is already doing it. I hate that phrase ‘lead from behind,’ but in a sense we do, we see what the culture does and we act innately.

Moderator: Great! That was an amazingly fantastic and excellent talk, let’s give it up for John Perry Barlow everybody! And Larry fucking Harvey everybody! Come on, let’s give it up big for these guys, we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them, none of this would be here if it wasn’t for them! Everybody go and give them blow jobs after this and make them happy all right? I also need to say that I’ve been moderating this speaker series for a couple years now and that was one of the best talks that I’ve ever had on my stage, I am nothing but honored and proud to be a part of this and I just want to thank these two men right here myself thank you so much! You guys enjoy the rest of your time out here. You guys are all fucking beautiful thank you so much for showing up today and you guys enjoy the rest of your day and don’t die!

[Editor’s note: sorry for the unclear bits, it was the playa, I did my best!]