BLM Want Their Own Million Dollar Compound With Popsicles and Donuts [Updates]

Jenny Kane at the Reno Gazette-Journal breaks an exclusive story “BLM Wants VIP Compound at Burning Man” . It’s about the unprecedented, eyebrow-raising last minute demands from the Bureau of Land Management, which need to be met before a permit for this year’s event can be issued.

That’s right, Burning Man starts in about 60 days, but the permit has not been issued yet. No permit, no event. The negotiation stakes are high, and the big guns are being shown at the table.

Some have speculated that the permit may be held up this year due to complications with festival stalwart CrowdRX taking over the medical responsibilities from proven local team Humboldt General Hospital. Whether that is a real issue or not, the latest problem that needs to be settled before the permit gets issued is this: VIPs need ceramic toilets, goddam it!

Read the full story and watch the video at the Reno Gazette Journal. Emphasis is ours.

Image: Boing Boing

Image: Boing Boing

The largest event on Federal land is turning into quite the luxury camping adventure for the hundreds of government workers paid to go to Burning Man.

BLM officials contend that their staff can no longer stay in the “primitive” accommodations available in Gerlach, which is about 20 minutes from the event location.

“We’re very concerned about where we put people that are part of our staff and that are part of the support and permitting,” said BLM Winnemucca District Manager Gene Seidlitz.

Recently the BLM spent $3 million building these so-called primitive Gerlach accommodations, which feature hot and cold running water, flushing toilets, refrigerators, and other amenities. These are no longer sufficient for the $30 million+, 70,000 person billionaire’s safari experience that is Burning Man 2.0. Perhaps we should be glad that they’re not asking to spend the $1.2 million on facial recognition technologies and x-ray vision that can see through tent and RV walls…or maybe they already did that…

The BLM already gets $3.5-4 million in fees from Burning Man for the annual permit, as well as a 3% cut of the gross revenues of any of the 100+ vendors out there every year.

Screenshot 2015-06-27 20.24.36

BLM fees from Burning Man
2011: $858k
2012: $1.4 million
2013: $2.9 million
2014: $4 million
2015: About $5 million.

[Source: Burn.Life]

BMOrg convinced a BLM Director to come across to the corporate world and lobby for them. Now it seems that the BLM are demanding perks. More perks.

Details of the request were included in an email exchange obtained by the RGJ between a Burning Man official and Bob Abbey, the former BLM director who is now a consultant for Burning Man organizers.

Having been a career BLM employee, I expect agency employees to behave competently and professionally in their interactions with the public,” Abbey said in his email. “I don’t see these traits being applied in their dealings with (Black Rock City).”

The proposed layout of the camp, published by the RGJ, shows 8 double VIP rooms. So as many as 16 unnamed VIPs are coming. Could this have anything to do with BMOrg’s recent trip to Washington DC? They were there to meet with bigwigs in the BLM, Department of the Interior, and State and Federal Government representatives.

BLM Winnemucca manager Gene Seidlitz seems to think so:

As to who will be included in the VIP crew making its way to Burning Man this year, Seidlitz said that he likely will not know until the day of the event.

Right now, I don’t have the exact names. But there are those in upper leadership at the state level of BLM and the national level of BLM,” Seidlitz said. “Based on the issues and concerns of last year, it does have the interest of the Department of Interior.”

Seidlitz said that Washington, D.C., officials are concerned about upholding the standards of the “American public” and they will be coordinating visits to Burning Man while making other stops in the West.

“Burning Man is on everyone’s list. They come out to see the event, and to meet with everyone from BLM

Yep, it’s on everybody’s bucket list now. Great. Swell. Neato.

Image: Charles Doyle/Facebook

Image: Charles Doyle/Facebook

The VIPs don’t have to participate very long. They can just come, get in a couple of quick rounds of Burner Bingo, enjoy the spectacle put on for them by the freaks, then be on their merry way.

None of the VIPs will be staying the entire period that the Blue Pit compound will be set up, from Aug. 27 through Sept. 11. Many will be popping in for a day, maybe a half-day, Seidlitz said.

Special Agent Love is the bloke responsible, says the RGJ. Is this from Love, or above? Who is next up the chain of command? It definitely isn’t Harry Reid.

BLM Special Agent Dan Love of Salt Lake City was cited multiple times as the person behind many of the BLM requests, according to the emails. He did not return requests for comment. Love also led the BLM operation against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy that ended in a standoff with Bundy’s armed supporters.

Is this really just coming out of the blue from the local team, who have all been working with BMOrg for decades? Perhaps they suddenly decided that if the Founders are handing the reins of Burning Man over to a new non-profit – while they and their Directors and staff are staying in luxury camps that have all these amenities – that maybe it’s time for the BLM boys to retire and enjoy the good life too. Maybe – but that still doesn’t explain the mysterious VIP units. They also have 4 private medical units in the VIP compound. What sort of contingencies are they preparing for?

It’s worth noting that the “Blue Pit” – the name for the BLM’s Caravansicle – is not even at Burning Man.

The VIP encampment, called the Blue Pit, is a new request this year. It is in addition to the more bare-bones accommodations for the employees who will be staying at the BLM’s headquarters, which houses up to 150 working staff during the main event.

That’s 1 BLM agent for every 453 Burners. And this is in addition to the Pershing County Sheriff’s department, and other agencies such as the FBI and DEA. These 150 staff are already styling, compared to most Burners who are forced to use Radical Self Reliance, Participation, and Leave No Trace:

The headquarters also are expected to have trailers with flushable toilets and sinks, though no showers or washers and dryers are requested. The headquarters will be located at the end of the 12-mile playa entry road, 12 miles north of Gerlach. The Blue Pit compound is about two miles past the playa on County Road 34 near an old gravel pit.

The RGJ obtained a number of documents, including this brochure of the bathtroom units. No port-a-potties for these guys.

portable restroom trailers

Image: Documents Obtained by Reno Gazette-Journal

This is the layout of the “Blue Pit”. It does not say where the stripper poles are located, that is left up to your imagination.

blue pit rgj

Image: Documents Obtained by the Reno Gazette-Journal

The BLM says that they are concerned about safety after the tragic death of a Burner last year, and that extra security people need to come now to assess things.

The request, unprecedented in Burning Man’s history, has turned into a point of contention as organizers negotiate with the agency for their annual permit to stage the event in the Black Rock Desert. No permit has been issued for this year’s event, which runs Aug. 30 to Sept. 7. Typically permits are issued in early August.

Burning Man has refused to comply with the BLM’s request, which the federal agency submitted on June 1, according to Burning Man spokesman Jim Graham. “We want to work this out. We’re getting close to the event, but we feel that there are more common-sense and cost-effective solutions,

Look, I fully support officers of the law and servants of our Federal government working in nice conditions and safety. We Burners pay several million dollars a year for their “services”. It’s for a week, not life. Surely they can find cops from around the world who would volunteer to come to Burning Man for free and take care of their own accommodation? Or, spend their own budget on this stuff. Don’t make Burners pay even more – because you know that is what BMOrg is going to do. They won’t be eating this expense themselves – that’s why we have this latest “leak the email chain to the media” move. Permit be damned! We’ve got Harry Reid!

Except that Harry has retired recently. Maybe no-one got that memo. Still, Harry’s written a strongly worded letter to the Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell – is she on the list for 2015?

Harry Reid, 75, is retiring this year. He injured himself using exercise equipment on New Year's Day Image: Yahoo

Harry Reid, 75, is retiring this year. He injured himself using exercise equipment on New Year’s Day Image: Yahoo

Reid wrote a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, an avid outdoorswoman and former head of REI, saying the BLM needs to get over itself about asking for flushing toilets and other amenities. The BLM is in charge of permitting the annual event, which takes place this year from Aug. 30 to Sept. 7.

“While I agree that the BLM should take its permitting duties seriously and work with Burning Man to both guarantee the safety of its participants and the protection of the environment, providing outlandishly unnecessary facilities for the BLM and its guests should be beyond the scope of the permitting requirements. Part of Burning Man’s philosophy is self-reliance and living with the elements is part of the experience. Flush toilets and laundry facilities can be found about ten miles away in Gerlach, Nevada, if BLM’s employees need such amenities,” Reid wrote, noting that he was an author of the legislation that designated the area a federally protected space. [Source: Roll Call]

The RGJ has published the full rider here. Some readers have had problems accessing this story due to the RGJ’s login system. I have reproduced the rider below, presumably this is public information and not some sort of classified state secret. RGJ have filed FOIA requests for more information and we will bring you updates to this story if we hear anything more.

Jenny’s story has also been picked up at reason, boingboing, Roll Call, Fark, the LA Times, Yahoo News, CBS LocalUSA Today, and Reddit – where one wag likened the BLM to the IOC (or FIFA).

Dr Yes at Burn.Life thinks this is “attempted extortion”. He has created a petition against this.

Image: Burn.Life

Image: Burn.Life


[Update 6/28/15 8:38am PST]

The BLM’s Black Rock Administrative Station in Gerlach. Image: Bureau of Land Management

Thanks to our reader A Balanced Perspective for providing links to the documentation for BLM’s existing facilities, which opened in 2011 at a cost of $3.5 million – or about a year’s worth of Burning Man’s annual fee payments to them.

From the BLM press release:

Black Rock Station was constructed utilizing almost $ 3.5 million authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The contract provided jobs for about 50 construction workers over a 10-month period, which helped the local economy by making purchases at the local restaurant, gas station and motel

The facility will be open seasonally from March through November and will be staffed by BLM personnel. A BLM fire crew will operate out of the facility from July to September.

[Update 6/28/15 4:40 pm PST]

Reader Grey Coyote has alerted us to some online ill-will towards BLM Special Agent Dan Love, who ran the failed Bundy Ranch standoff operation last year.
Meanwhile, the BLM have disputed the $1 million cost for the Blue Pit Compound, saying that the event’s organizers are exaggerating.


[Update 6/29/15 8:26am]

Fox News has picked up the story, with further quotes from the BLM. They’re now saying the $1 million cost estimate is “robustly exaggerated”

Burning Man organizers have refused the request, saying amenities such as flush toilets, washers and dryers, showers, air conditioning and refrigerators at the bureau’s on-site camp in the Black Rock Desert would cost $1 million and hike its permit fees to about $5 million.

Gene Seidlitz, the bureau’s Winnemucca district manager, said Sunday that the cost of the portable units is being “robustly exaggerated” by organizers. The compound will offer basic amenities only for top agency officials who oversee the quirky art and music festival event held on public land the week leading up to Labor Day, he said.

The number of Bureau of Land Management personnel on hand at the festival has doubled to 160 over the last five years as the peak crowd size has soared to nearly 70,000, he said, and the bureau has run out of places around the nearby town of Gerlach, Nevada, to house employees. Most of the agency’s employees stay at a motel or rental properties in the tiny town.

“A lot of folks think we’re like participants in that we are out there to enjoy the event and party,” Seidlitz told The Associated Press. “But my staff and I have to be rested, well-nourished and accommodated to the bare minimum so we can ensure health, security and safety at the event.”

Organizers stand by their cost estimates for the amenities and their position that bureau fee increases have outstripped the festival’s crowd growth significantly in recent years, spokesman Jim Graham said.

For example, he said, the crowd for this year’s event is expected to grow by only 2,000 participants over last year, yet the agency’s infrastructure costs will climb by roughly $500,000 to $1 million.

“They include construction of an entirely new facility, and we maintain they have not considered more cost-effective alternatives,” Graham said in a statement. “We look forward to working with BLM on solutions that meet everyone’s needs.”

[Source: Fox News]

I’m inclined to agree. The “million dollar compound” seems to be coming from BMOrg, rather than BLM saying “give us another million”.

If you’ve ever built your own camp, you understand that it doesn’t cost $1 million to rent 10 trailers and 12 containers for a week. However, if your experience of Burning Man is limited to plug-n-play accommodations like Caravancicle and First Camp, with an army of thousands of volunteer and paid workers to do your bidding, it might be harder for you to keep in touch with real world expenses.

As for the Bureau fee increases outstripping the festival’s growth, 5 years ago Burning Man’s ticket revenues were $13.5 million and this year we estimate them at $30.5 million, an increase of $2 million+ just from 2014. 2010 attendance was 51,454; this year 68,000 tickets have been sold to paying participants (as well as another 3000 or so volunteers, and a few thousand children who get in free). This represents a population increase of at least 32%. Part of the BLM fees relate to Outside Services Vendors, and there are now more than a hundred of those.

This issue has now gone to the Bureau of Land Management’s Washington DC spokesman. The food requests are identical to last year’s rider, and apparently the Blue Pit Compound is “not really for VIPs” – those containers labelled “VIP containers” in the map should really have said “high level officials containers”. These officials will be roughing it like they’ve been deployed to a war zone.

Seidlitz acknowledged the bureau erred by billing the encampment as a place to house VIPs. Actually, it would only be for 15 to 20 top state and national Bureau of Land Management officials charged with ensuring safety and security and environmental compliance at the festival, he said.

“When you hear ‘VIP,’ it’s like they’re coming out on the government dime and bringing out friends,” he said. “But I have nowhere to put these senior leaders for a good night’s rest. They come out to interact … and ensure what I’m doing is meeting their intent.”

Most will spend no more than a couple of days at the festival, and the compound would save time because of its location only a mile from the festival and not 15 miles away in Gerlach, he added.

The amenities are similar to what the military provides soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, and what federal agencies offer crews fighting wildfires, bureau officials said.

The bureau also is asking organizers to provide them mandatory food items for three meals a day and snacks during the festival. The food choices are identical to those provided under a contract with organizers last year, said bureau spokesman Craig Leff in Washington, D.C.

“We have every expectation that these issues will be resolved,” he said. “We have very good working relations with (organizers), and we want to continue to have good relations. We’re working hard with them to finalize the permit for this year’s event.”

[Source: Fox News]

Sounds like someone in DC has been told “fix this”…

U.S. Representative Mark Amodei, a Republican representing the part of Nevada where the festival is held, said in a phone interview the requests raised ethical questions and appeared to demand “the Black Rock Desert version of the Four Seasons hotel.” [Source: Reuters]

BMOrg are waiting for a response from the BLM today. On Sunday, they told the Reno Gazette Journal that they stand by their cost estimates, and that Burning Man is NOT Afghanistan.

Burning Man officials stood by their estimates of the BLM requests on Sunday. The organization has asked for an official response from the BLM by Monday, according to a letter from Burning Man addressed to Seidlitz.

“We stand by our estimates to accomplish what the BLM has required in the statements of work,” Jim Graham, Burning Man spokesman, said in an email Sunday to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

“They were submitted well into our production cycle for this year’s event, they include construction of an entirely new facility, and we maintain they have not considered more cost-effective alternatives. We look forward to working with BLM on solutions that meet everyone’s needs.”

Graham also questioned a comparison made by a federal BLM spokesman in the RGJ report that likened the amenities requested to those provided by the military to soldiers in Afghanistan.

“Burning Man is not Afghanistan,” Graham said.

[Source: RGJ]

 [Update 6/29/15 1:27pm PST]

The BLM have said they are reviewing the request:

Update 12 p.m.: BLM Deputy Director Steve Ellis issued the following statement Monday…”I am concerned about the reported costs associated with supporting the Burning Man festival. I have directed that BLM staff take a fresh look at the initial proposals for food and facilities at the event. Our priority is to provide for participant and employee health and safety, sanitation, and environmental compliance at this unique event that is attended by up to 80,000 people in a remote part of the Nevada Desert. I have full confidence in BLM staff and their ability to develop a plan that is cost efficient and ensures public health and safety.”

[Source: RGJ]


[Update 6/29/15 3:31pm PST]

The LA Times said Harry Reid’s fuming:

The BLM — the Department of the Interior agency that oversees permitting for Burning Man — has reportedly asked for a VIP compound to house staff at the festival’s Black Rock Desert location before it issues a permit for this year’s event.

And that has made Reid angry. Withhold-gifts angry. Leave-a-trace angry. Burn-something-in-effigy angry.

Gotta love the LA Times. Using emotional language to make a dry story more entertaining, and rile up their readers a little while they’re at it.

Screenshot 2015-06-29 15.30.15

At the Grateful Dead last night, the Burners from Playa Slumlord told me they only have a few nice trailers left. The BLM should just rent those for their VIPs senior officials. They can park them at the Blue Pit if they like, but to really experience Burning Man on our Civic Responsibility public dime, we should encourage them to Participate Immediately and get amongst it! Especially if they’re only coming for one bingo day.


Bureau of Land Management: Burning Man Rider

Mandatory Items for Breakfast

• Butter and margarine, instant hot cereal, jelly or jam, peanut butter, salt, pepper, sugar, cream (or substitute). These items shall be individually packaged. Mustard, ketchup, steak sauce, salt and pepper shall be provided in approved dispensers or original bottles in the dining trailer area.

• Salsa, hot peppers, brown sugar and raisins or other dried fruit shall also be made available, in appropriate serving containers, not individually packaged.

Mandatory Items for Hot Lunch/ Dinners

• Butter and margarine, jelly or jam, peanut butter, mustard, ketchup, steak sauce, salt, pepper, sugar, cream (or substitute), tea and hot chocolate. These items shall be individually packaged. Mustard, ketchup, steak sauce, salt, and pepper and other large scale condiments shall be provided in approved dispensers or original bottles in the dining tent area.

• Salsa and hot peppers shall also be made available, in appropriate serving containers, not individually packaged.

• A variety of dessert will need to be served with each dinner.

• Salad bar should be available for both lunch and dinner.

Hot meals between scheduled meal hours (These items are only available during non-meal hours. Please see Attachment 3 for meal times and more details)

• Grilled Cheese Sandwich

• Quesadilla

• Deli Sandwiches

• Hamburger

• Hot dogs

• Grilled chicken

• Chicken fingers

• Veggies

Mandatory items for 24 Hour Service Bar

• Hot Regular Brewed Coffee (regular and decaffeinated). Flavored coffee may be served in addition to regular coffee at the Contractor’s option.

• Hot Water

• Hot Chocolate

• Chilled 100% Fruit Juice

• Brewed Coffee

• Tea Bags (regular and decaffeinated)

• Cold Drinks (Coke Products)

• Iced Tea (regular and decaffeinated)

• Assortment of Dry Cereal (Golden Grahams, Fruit loops, Raisin Bran and 1 other flavor)

• Oatmeal

• Chobani Greek Yogurt

• Yogurt

• Bread both white and wheat

• English muffins

• Milk – Both white and chocolate milk shall be available

• Milk alternative (almond, vanilla, and soy)

• Including but not limited to the following: Personal pizzas, Hot Pockets, burritos, noodle cups, M&Ms, Snickers, Payday, Skittles, licorice, jerky, meat and cheese snacks, cookies, brownies, protein bars, nuts, chips, popcorn, fresh fruit, apples, oranges, bananas, etc.

Ice Cream: This needs to be in a standalone freezer for ice cream available all day long

• Drumstick

• Choco Taco

• Individual served ice cream assorted flavors

Popsicles

• Ice cream sandwiches

And here’s a list of meal suggestions by BLM:

Hot/Cold Breakfast

• Eggs – 2 fresh eggs (3 when scrambled) or 6 oz. of liquid eggs (no egg product).

• Meat – 4 oz. (raw uncooked weight).

• Bread or Hot cakes or French toast or Waffles – or equivalent starch (equal to 3 (1 to 1½ oz.) slices of bread.

• Potatoes – 6 oz. or equivalent starch

• Fresh Fruit

• Muffin(s) or equivalent – 3 oz.

Lunch and Hot Dinners

• Steak -10 oz. (boneless) or 14 oz. (bone-in), or Beef – 10 oz. (boneless) or 14 oz. (bone-in), or

• Beef and Pork Ribs – 10 oz. (boneless) or 18 oz. (bone-in), or Pork – 10 oz. (boneless) or 14 oz. (bone-in),, or Poultry – 8 oz. (boneless) or 14 oz. (bone-in), or Ham – 8 oz. (boneless) or 12 oz. (bone-in), or Fish – 8 oz.

Non Meat Protein – 4 oz.

• Vegetables – 4 oz.

• Potatoes – 6 oz. or equivalent starch.

• Bread – Two 1 to 1½ oz. slices or equivalent starch.

• Dessert – 4 oz.

Self-Service Salad Bar shall contain:

• Five salad toppings

• One tossed green salad with equal amounts of three types of leafy vegetables

• Three types of salad dressings (regular and/or low/non-fat)

• Three salad condiments.

Sack Lunch

• Regular and vegetarian sack lunches shall be provided as ordered by AJ Ramos. Vegetarian sack lunches shall be prepared for the Ovo-Lacto vegetarian classification level and shall consist of the same quantities and items as regular sack lunches.

• Definition: Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian – This is the most common form of vegetarianism. Ovo-Lacto vegetarians do not eat meat, chicken, fish or flesh of any kind, but do eat eggs and dairy products. Sub categories are Ovo vegetarians that eat eggs but not dairy products, while Lacto vegetarians eat dairy products but not eggs.

• NOTE: Pre-prepared sandwiches shall not be frozen. Sack lunches shall consist of the following items:

Entree 1 – One Meat Sandwich (or Sandwich with Non-meatSubstitute for Vegetarian)

• The sandwich shall be wrapped in plastic wrap or plastic bags.

• The sandwich shall contain two 1 to 1½ oz. slices of bread.

• The meat sandwich shall contain 3½ oz. sliced whole muscle meat or a combination of sliced whole muscle meat and cheese or equivalent vegetarian substitute.

• Appropriate individually packaged condiments shall be provided and not be put directly on the sandwich.

Entree 2 – Variety Item

• Fruit – The fruit shall be one apple or one orange or other fresh fruit of comparable size.

• Factory-Wrapped or Resealable Individually Wrapped Snack – Two (2) or more snacks with a combined minimum nutritional value of at least 600 calories. It is preferred that these snacks be high in complex carbohydrate content. All ingredients shall be identified and attached to the product for easy identification.

• Condiments – Four individual factory-wrapped packets of condiments appropriate for the entrees being served.

• Paper Napkin and Pre-Moistened Towelette

Menu Variety

Menu items shall provide variety on a daily basis as to the types of meat and bread used in sandwiches, other sack lunch entrees, snacks, juices and other meal items served. Menus may include a wide variety of recipes. The following are examples of variety options.

• Meat

• Beef

• Steaks – rib, loin, T-bone, New York, sirloin, cubed, filet and pepper steak.

• Roast – Prime rib and sliced roast.

• Short Ribs – baked, broiled and barbecued.

• Ground Beef – lasagna, tasty meatloaf, meatballs in spaghetti sauce and ground beef patties.

• Pork

• Chops – loin cut, spare-ribs, country style ribs and barbecued.

• Roast – sliced and tenderloin.

• Ham – sliced.

• Sausage

• Chops – grilled and barbecued.

• Roast – sliced.

• Poultry

• Sliced, or whole pieces or parts (such as breast, thigh or leg).

• Fish – grilled, baked fillets or steaks.

• Processed Meat Items – pastrami, Polish/Italian sausage and corned beef.

• Breakfast Meat – ham, bacon, sausage, steak and pork chops.

• Eggs – Fried, hard-boiled, poached, omelets or scrambled.

• Bread and Equivalent Starches – wheat, white, 7-grain, rye, pumpernickel, French, garlic, biscuits, muffins, rolls, croissants, bagels, cornbread, donuts, sourdough, tortilla and pita pocket.

• Dry Cereal – Varieties of flaked, toasted, or baked cold cereals and granola.

• Hot Cereal – Oatmeal or grits, Cream of Wheat®, etc.

• Fruit – oranges, tangerines, apples, bananas, grapes, pears, peaches, plums, nectarines, grapefruit, or melons.

• Dried Fruit – apricots, cherries, dates, mango, pineapple, pears, banana chips, peaches, prunes, raisins or other dried fruit.

• Vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, corn, peas, green beans, mixed vegetables, etc.

• Non Meat Protein – BBQ beans, vegetarian patty, vegetarian hot dog, Tofu, beans, soybean product, bean burritos, peanut butter, cheese, tempeh, quinoa, hummus.

• Potatoes and Equivalent Starches – baked, mashed, fried, boiled, scalloped, rice, stuffing, pasta, sweet potatoes, or yams.

• Juice – orange, tomato, grape, V8type, apple, cranberry, or pineapple.

• Sandwich Meat and/or Cheese – ham, corned beef, roast beef, turkey, pork, beef pastrami, chicken, cheddar, Swiss, or other natural cheese, excluding American processed cheese.

Salad Bar

• Salad Toppings – kidney, garbanzo or pinto beans; carrots, mushrooms, celery, cauliflower, green/red bell peppers, broccoli, cheese, cottage cheese, beets, peas, tomatoes, eggs, cucumbers.

• Prepared Salads – macaroni, carrot and raisin, potato, pea, gelatin, coleslaw, fruit, rice or pasta salads.

• Tossed Salad Greens – romaine, endive, iceberg, green leaf, red leaf, butter, spinach, or cabbage.

• Fruit – melons, peaches, grapes, bananas, strawberries, pears, applesauce or seasonal fruit.

• Salad Dressings – regular and low/non-fat French, Ranch, Italian, vinaigrette, Thousand Island, Blue Cheese, etc.

• Salad Condiments – croutons, wheat nuts, sunflower seeds, crackers and taco chips, bread sticks, olives, pickles, or other fresh pickled or marinated vegetables.

• Dessert – cakes, cookies, pies, cobblers, puddings, pastries or ice cream.

• Tea – black, herbal, green, and spiced. Flavored tea may be served in addition to regular tea at the Contractor’s option

• Milk – white, (Whole, 2%, Skim), and Chocolate.

• Milk alternative

• Snack Varieties – Candy bars, bagged candy, trail mix, cookies, and brownies. Granola bars, energy bars, fresh vegetables, pretzels, shelled nuts. Factory packaged meats such as dried meats, sausage, pepperoni, jerky, etc., are acceptable. Processed cheese and cheese food products are allowed for this item only. The Government retains its full right to reject any product offered under this paragraph if the quality of the product is rejected by users. For variety two different products shall be used each day.

Avoid the Riff Raff and Fly In

Pilatus PC-12 at Burning Man. Image: Peter Ruprecht

Epic Experimental at Burning Man. Image: Peter Ruprecht

Playa Air Express have been serving Burning Man for more than a decade. A couple of years ago they flew my sister in, we were very happy with the experience and value for money. Now they have expanded their fleet and their routes. They are open for reservations now, book early as things will get crazy closer to Aug 30. Flights start at $475.

Here’s their latest newsletter.


 

from flypacificcoast.com:

PLAYA AIR EXPRESS 2015: Annual Burning Man Newsletter

Hello everyone and Happy 2015! We would like to take a special moment to thank all of our existing clients for flying with us after all these years to the annual homecoming on the Playa for Burning Man 2015, as well as welcome new clients who will fly with us.

During the past several months we have been developing more routes from desirable cities to fly directly into the Burning Man event, and we wanted to share the good news with you as you begin to make your travel plans. Along with the great news that JetBlue is expanding their services, and will now be offering daily, non-stop service from JFK to Reno, Playa Air Express has also expanded our services, aircraft fleet, and routes as well into Burning Man/Black Rock City (88NV).

Beechcraft King Air 200

Beechcraft King Air 200

We now offer a King Air 200 for non-stop service from the Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas areas!

  • Flights originating from the Los Angeles area direct to Burning Man, we will fly out of Hawthorne airport (Jack Northrop Field-KHHR) which is approximately 10 minutes from the LAX airport.
  • Flights originating from Las Vegas area direct to Burning Man we will fly out of the North Las Vegas airport (VGT) approximately 20 minutes from Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport.
  • Flights originating from the Phoenix area direct to Burning Man we will fly out of Chandler, AZ, (Chandler Municipal Airport-KCHD) approximately 25 minutes from Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International.
  • We will also have an additional aircraft positioned for our Bay Area routes direct to Burning Man which will be flying out of Hayward, CA. (Hayward Executive Airport-KHWD) approximately 30 minutes from the SFO and Oakland airports.

 

If you desire to travel to Burning Man originating from another regional city such as Seattle,Portland, Salt Lake City, San Jose, San Diego, or Denver please inquire with us when you submit your email to us. In addition, we can arrange jet charter services from many US locations and either connect you to a shuttle from Reno direct into Burning Man, or connect you to our other designated gateway cities to get you there as well. Helicopters are available as well.

We still offer our great air shuttle services from Reno direct to Burning Man with (2) five seat aircraft (depending on baggage) out of Atlantic Aviation which is a short 10 minutes from the Reno/Tahoe International airport.

Please email us for rates and scheduling information at burnershuttle@gmail.com.

We will begin taking reservations and answering questions for travel arrangements to the 2015 Burning Man event on Monday, April 13th, 2015. We look forward to continuing to serve all of your Burning Man flight needs, and we appreciate your business. Thank you.

Dionne Chinn

Playa Air Express | Pacific Coast Flight Solutions LLC.

Reno, NV. 89519

burnershuttle@gmail.com

www.flypacificcoast.com

https://www.facebook.com/sierranevada.burners

https://twitter.com/playaairexpress

(775) 848-2030

If Radical Inclusion is more your thing, this guy will be waiting for you at the Gayte - naked and looking for hugs...

If Radical Inclusion is more your thing, this guy will be waiting for you at the Gate – naked and looking for hugs…

Things Were So Quaint, Back In The Day

Just stumbled upon this story from 2003.  It’s the perfect example of how social engineering of Burners can start with a prank, and be passed off as ironic, and then quickly become the new normal. Timeshare slots in the Oasis, anyone?


Vacations > Western U.S. > Western U.S. Tours
Burning Man 2003
Travelocity and Burning Tours invites you to Burning Man 2003! Come experience the colorful sights, the amazing sounds, and interesting people that come to this grand festival in the Nevada desert every year!
Tour Highlights | Inclusions | Options | Lodging & Dining | Itinerary | Prices
 7 Days from $1400
Prices are per person and reflect land cost only. Price is based on tourist-class hotels and similar services.
TRIP CODE: BRCNV
LODGING: Air Conditioned Travelocity Oasis Camp

 TOUR HIGHLIGHTS
Experience the spectacles of the Burning Man festival! Join Travelocity for this week-long tour package that lets you experience the wonder and awe of Burning Man 2003 without the hassle. Take in the beauty of the Nevada sky and mountains while seeing the many eclectic art projects, interesting sounds, and incredibly dressed people that make up this fantastic “city in the desert.” Don’t worry about being in the desert, as Travelocity has it’s own air conditioned “theme camp” where you may sleep in the comfort of your own private living space. Breakfast and dinner are served daily.

 PACKAGE INCLUSIONS
The Burning Man 2003 package includes the following:
Fourteen meals (breakfast and dinner) and six nights accommodations at the Travelocity Theme Camp, located near the Burning Man festival’s Center Camp
Burning Man 2003 ticket included with the package
Travelocity Playa Safari shuttle for transportation from Reno to Burning Man and back after the event
Complementary daily supply of water and ice
Modern, air-conditioned tent with private sleeping areas and separate toilet facilities
Professional Burning Man host and guide
Front-row reserved seating for many popular events, including the burning of the Man
Free Travelocity/Burning Man “Trading Trinkets”
All service charges and tips, baggage-handling fees, and local taxes
Travel bag and wallet containing package documents and helpful information

 OPTIONAL INCLUSIONS
The following add-ons may be available at an additional cost:

Travel insurance
Accomodations at the Reno Atlantis Hotel and Casino
Sightseeing tour of Lake Tahoe

 LODGING & DINING
The following is a summary of the accommodations for this tour:

Accommodations are based on twin-shares.

The following is a summary of the dining plan for this tour:

Breakfast: Seven are included.
Lunch: On your own.
Dinner: Seven are included.

 ITINERARY
Day(s) Activities
1 Arrive Reno
2 Arrive Burning Man
3 – 6 Burning Man 2003 festival
7 Arrive Reno

PACKAGE PRICES
Please note: Prices below are listed per person based on double occupancy. Prices are for land cost only. Rates may vary and space is limited. Deposit and refund information.
Departure Dates          Land Only
August 26, 2003 
August 27, 2003 
   $1400

ADDITIONAL PRICING INFORMATION

Triple share reduction: $35
Single room supplement: $325
Child share reduction (5-11 years): $295

[Source: archive.org]


 

At the time, the publication of this site and the supporting email promoting it, caused quite a stir. Big enough to become a story in WIRED magazine, just like Popsicle Camp is now in Bloomberg.

From WIRED (emphasis ours):

Burners Sweat Over Package Prank

Daniel Terdiman Email 07.24.03

Everything’s included at Travelocity’s Burning Tours!

Burning Man participants are often borderline fundamentalist about the mores of their desert bacchanalia. Over the years, they have steadfastly insisted that organizers never consider opening the doors to anything corporate.

So last week, when a message advertising an all-inclusive package tour of Burning Man spread like some out-of-control virus among the desert fest’s regulars and their e-mail lists, a lot of people went ballistic.

Supposedly sponsored by Travelocity and an unknown outfit called Burning Tours, the package promised prepared meals, an air-conditioned tent, free “Travelocity/Burning Man ‘trading trinkets'” and front-row seating for the annual alternative art festival’s signature spectacle, the torching of the 50-foot wooden Man.

But for anyone calm enough to look at the promotion’s Web page for a moment, there was a clue that something was not quite right. Instead of a Travelocity.com address, it was Travelocity.burningtours.com. It was not an attack on Burning Man’s principles at all. It was a hoax.

Precisely because vast numbers of “Burners” are tightly connected through e-mail lists, bulletin boards, websites and real-world gatherings, the Burning Man community is a juicy target for hoaxes. For example, a fake CNN.com story raised serious hackles on April Fools’ Day 2002. That one announced that the event’s organizers had sold its marketing and promoting rights to MTV.

Who were the instigators of the pranks? Burners themselves. Who else could better exploit the wired nature of their community, preying on its passionate adherence to anti-commercialism and radical self-reliance?

Specifically, the guilty party in the Travelocity gag was Dale Ghent, a 26-year-old Internet engineer from suburban Washington, D.C., who had seen the MTV ruse. He downloaded a Travelocity package tour page, did a quick mock-up of the Burning Tours package and, posing as a first-time Burner named Alan Douglas, posted a message to the New York Burners regional e-mail list asking if he should buy the tour.

“You sit there and you watch the e-mail, and the time elapsing and the people starting to read it and replying, ‘No, no, you can’t do this. It’s not the Burning Man spirit,'” Ghent laughs. “The general level of outrage was pretty satisfying, I have to say.”

Indeed, even veteran Burners were taken by the realistic representation of the Web page. A Seattle Burner known as Abdullah posted a message to one list with a link to the Burning Tours page, asking, “What the everlasting almighty FUCK?”

“My initial reaction was asinine knee-jerk reflex. I know how to read a URL and should have realized that this wasn’t in the Travelocity domain,” said Abdullah. “But I didn’t pay attention, and had one of those berserker moments. It was pure rage.”

At Burning Man headquarters, however, even as e-mails and instant messages started flowing in, the mood was relaxed. They’d been through this before and they love good art.

“The first thing to do when one of these hoaxes come around is usually to smile because they’re funny,” says Burning Man senior staffer Andie Grace. “The whole purpose of it is to prank people. So I don’t want to run around being the one who killed the joke.”

cartoon-going-fungalBut Grace says she was fascinated watching the viral spread of the hoax across the countless Burning Man regional and department e-mail lists, many of which share members.

“There is overlap,” she explains. “A friend sends it to a friend in Seattle, who puts it on their regional list, and then someone e-mails it to their friend in St. Louis.”

As one e-mail list discovered it was a hoax, other lists were just beginning to see the original message. The word that everything was okay, that Burning Man’s purity was safe, was always one step behind. In fact, even though most Burners now know the Burning Tours offer was a gag, some are still hearing about it for the first time, Grace said.

Meanwhile, Ghent started hearing from people about his work. “I think overall, people had good humor about it,” he said. “I got private e-mails saying, great hoax, good job,” he says. “I think once people realized it was a hoax, they got a grin on their face.

And as for Abdullah?

“It obviously took a lot of time and skill to do this,” he says. “It reminded me that I’m not quite as clever as I think I am sometimes…. To the author of the Travelocity spoof: Nice one, mate.”

[Original: http://archive.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2003/07/59740]

We’ve moved along the spectrum of turnkey camping from irony to stark reality. Today, $1400 looks cheap for a Commodification Camp. And “look at how much fun the tech billionaires are having out West!” is the new marketing slogan for Wall Street and the City of London.

It’s amazing to look back and see how things have changed. Progress? Evolution? Or devolution?

evolution of a djI guess I am still with the 2003 Burners, who see this as an attack on Burning Man’s principles. The Ten Principles were not even encoded as such, that happened the year after this ironic scandal. Clearly, Radical Self Reliance, Leave No Trace, and an environment away from the Default world capitalist model of labor organization were part of the core values of Burning Man much earlier than the Tin Principles.

Were the Principles actually specifically crafted in response to this meme? It was supposedly created by a New York Regional contact. BMOrg admitted they were promoting it via their regionals email lists and carefully watching “for amusement”? Perhaps the Founders actually liked the idea of selling tour packages, so they wanted to create some fine print that would allow this to really happen in the future.  As I’ve noted before, there’s nothing in the Principles about ethics, and they are carefully worded to only discourage transactions taking place on the Playa, rather than completely ban commerce itself. There have been quite a few posts from the official Burning Man blog over the last couple of years trying to clarify this point for us.

Now, not only do BMP’s Directors run multi-million dollar camps like this, massive ones with more than 50 sherpas; but they actually go to burningman.org to blame their staff for wrongdoing while they lecture us about how their VIP wristband camps are shining examples of the Ten Principles in action.

A big farce. It provides laughs for more than a decade, while they slowly introduce it into our society and sell $17,000 hotel rooms to the A-List – then laugh at us when we protest. “Oh, those Burners! They’re always the same. Blah blah blah, people have been saying that for 20 years and we keep raising prices and they keep buying tickets. Go make an amusing street theater protest to entertain us with, rubes!”

The Occidental Oasis "ironic" timeshare sale was going on at the same time as very real hotel sales on Billionaire's Row

The Occidental Oasis “ironic” timeshare sale was going on at the same time as very real hotel sales on Billionaire’s Row

Black Rock Acres p3

Comfortably Commodified

Trends-hunter has hunted out the latest trend for the ultra-rich: Commodification Camps at Burning Man. They have interviewed a personal “festival concierge” who gives us the low-down on the 10 or so “Super Luxury” Sherpa Safari camps that charged up to $25,000 per person.

(note: just because an image appears in Trends Hunter’s story, doesn’t mean Burners.Me is accusing that person/camp of being about Commodification. Readers, please understand blogging, it is a technology to discuss what people are saying at other sites on the Internet. When we quote someone, it’s them saying it, not us).


from trends-hunter.com:

Burning Man 2014 the playground for young billionaires

For the past 5 years the most influential men of the Silicon Valley have elected Burning Man to be there new playground, investing millions of $ in extremely conformable camps, Art Cars and grandiose musical stages. Burning Man has become the must-attend event for the the young billionaires of the Fortune 500 companies…The pioneer of these luxury camps was the Robot heart camp which was setup by a hip New York based radio station, it has now become the place to be for sunrise after parties in the Burning Man desert, inviting great names such as Diplo, Skrillex, …

Once again this year Burning Man has shown it is a true representation of modern day society, with novelties in terms of outrageousness well illustrated by the White Ocean camp launched by the young russian billionaire Timur Sardarov and his friend Paul Oakenfold the well known New York DJ. The budget of the camp was far above $1 million with entry fees at $25,000 a head. About ten or so of these camps were grouped together at 10 o’clock at the extreme end of Black Rock City, and challenged each other with amazing DJ sets to the great pleasure of the rest of the Burners community. These self-financed camps by the participants have invested over the past years tens of millions of $ in the event. Burning Man has become a certain piece of the show-up for these young billionaires, [whose] means are unlimited.

When the sun sets on the playa we find the Art Cars of the biggest camps, some of them can even take aboard over a hundred passengers on three levels, cruising along, throwing flames, laser and light shows in an ongoing hubbub of raging decibels. With one objective in mind surpass your neighbour in size and creativity. These vehicles are straight out of Mad Max, Star Wars or even Disney…The arrival of these billionaires has created some unrest amongst the events traditionalists. As they setup their camps on very high comfort levels to satisfy their needs for services in a somewhat awkward setting. This is why we [find] ultra luxurious camping cars, countless sherpas, cooks, make up artists, masseuses, costume makers, mechanics, sound engineers, body painters and even luxury concierges to satisfy their needs and coordinate and guide these very wealthy burners. And obviously guarantee they enjoy the experience with maximum comfort.

[Trends-Hunter] were lucky to hook up with THE luxury concierge who is a specialist in this event and it’s Project Manager “AS”

What is a luxury concierge for an event such as Burning Man?

Our objective is to guarantee a high level of confort for our clients, that will allow them to enjoy the festival in ideal conditions.

One should not forget that the festival is set in a desert at an altitude of 2’000m that day temperature easily rise to 40°C and drop to 10°C at night. There is no running water, no electricity no cell-phone network, add to that the occasional mini sand storm, they are truly rough conditions, and it takes precise preparation to accommodate the confort required by our clients. This is precisely where our expertise in this event comes in to cater our services to our clients.

After a one to one briefing with each one of our clients we define their needs depending on the way they want to experience the Burn. It is truly a unique experience that every person likes to live in his or her personal way, we don’t want to interfere or influence the way they want to experience the Burning Man festival. We simply come in to set up the infrastructure they require. Once on-site our clients are like all other burners and are on their own. We happily assist them if needed but in no ways do we babysit them.

Whatever the level of confort you are in Burning Man remains a tough experience on an emotional and a physical level for every person that lives it.

How do you arrive at the BM?

Originally everyone arrived by the road that comes from Reno, but because of the sheer size of the festival the traffic can become a serious issue and the last 100km can take from 8 up to 16 hours to reach the festival.

For the past few years the festival has set up an airport and therefore we recommend our clients to arrive by the air, private plane or helicopter. By the way the sky view of Black Rock City when arriving is truly stunning.

What are the living conditions in the camps?

The ten or so comfort type camps you find at Burning Man offer many different services to make the lives of their members easier, but they all carefully select their members to avoid having “tourists” amongst them and to make sure they keep a good atmosphere.

Most of the camps are equipped with RV, more or less luxurious and some of them are very large with many people aboard…The camps also provide running water, electricity, and waste water treatment facilities to guarantee the renters a high level of comfort in their new “home”. The vast majority of the RVs on the festival site don’t having these services and thus are only used for lodging purposes…

These camps also provide cooks, with for some true gastronomical chefs. Having a warm meal at Bruning Man is a real plus to keep a high level of energy. The majority of the big camps have a bar which is obviously free for the camps members and their visitors. Again all this depends on the each camp, in most extreme cases we will find sushi chefs and sometimes…. Caviar!

In some very geeky camps often setup by members from Silicon Valley they setup very expensive Satellite internet networks which they generously share with there new neighbours.

There are also more personalised services. Some rich burners require Sherpas, masseuses, make up artists and hairdressers and even personal coaches. The services are truly endless some get their RVs regularly cleaned and the same for their clothes.

What is luxury in the desert?

Judging by the fact that there is no water or electricity, that temperatures range from 40-45°C at day and 10°C at night with sand storms, and that there are no stores closer than a 3 hour drive… an RV can already be considered a luxury…

Therefore the above mentioned services are to be classified in the category of “super” luxury.

And the costumes? Who was the most beautiful?

A good wardrobe for burning man has to be made up of at least three costumes for the day and the same for the night. For daytime something light is great but a pair of goggles and respiratory filter can come in handy due to the frequent sand storms that kick up the Dust (really thin sand haze).

At night time indian costumes and fur coats are very trendy. Many female burners wear very edgy lace, latex and leather costumes which is very fetish style. All means are permitted to highlight the often siliconed physique of the female clubbers with amazing bodies.

It is key though to have something that doesn’t look like a dress up costume, and very often the ensembles are made to measure and one should set aside between 1000-2000 $ for a nice costume.

If I would like to come, how should I proceed? what is the minimum budget?

First and foremost get your hands on a one of the very rare 70,000 tickets. this year they were sold out in less than 30 min. You really need to be lucky to be amongst the happy few. Otherwise you will have to rely on the secondary market and prices can easily quadruple.

The minimum budget to go to Burning Man from Europe is 3’000EUR but that is going it roots style. You will need to spend 5’000 EUR to share a small RV with 4 people and in a camp with basic confort level. This for me is the minimum level to enjoy the festival.

On the upside there are no limits, budgets can easily surpass 50’000 EUR per week.

If you want more info, you can check www.festivalsconcierge.com.

– Read the full story at: trends-hunter.com

Einstein Goes to Burning Man

by Whatsblem the Pro
[With apologies to James ‘Kibo’ Parry]

WELCOME TO BURNING MAN!

WELCOME TO BURNING MAN!

We’ve written before about the increasingly cultish aspects of Burning Man. Recently, a good deal of controversy has begun flying in the Burning Man group on Facebook over “plug ‘n’ play” camping, a scheme in which a Burning Man attendee pays to have a nice RV with all the amenities waiting for him or her when they arrive on the playa, parked in a fully-equipped theme camp that may even have paid hirelings to attend to their needs.

*      *      *      *      *

Albert Einstein showed up for his very first visit to Black Rock City, all ready for his hard-earned week’s vacation from the mathematics factory where he rolled fat numbers for corporate fatcats all day. “Home,” Einstein intoned nostalgically to the empty air as the grinning Gate people snap-tightened their filthy latex gloves and pulled him out of his car by his famous hair.

MOUSTACHE RIDES, FIVE CENTS

MOUSTACHE RIDES, FIVE CENTS

Later, having found his camp, Einstein settled into his plug-n-play RV to do some real math, for fun, like he always did on vacation. Last year he had flown down to Puerto Vallarta to relax by the seaside, and ended up inventing nuclear math candy. The year before, he’d gone to Banff to ski, and came home with plans for a new kind of television that would allow viewers to sense what was on the screen as a powerful burning sensation on the skin, so they could watch TV with their eyes closed (for a few seconds). He poured himself a big ice-cold glass of Krug, slathered a bagel with caviar and whipped cream, and settled in to think about times tables and other math things.

Just as he was about to come up with a Unified Field Theory of Bacon, Einstein heard a pounding on his RV door. “COME OUT OF THERE AND BE SELF-RELIANT,” boomed a voice through the layers of laminated plasticized chipboard that made up the wall of the behemoth luxury vehicle. The shock drove the lovely, elegant equations right out of Einstein’s head. Just as the final wisp of his Unified Field Theory of Bacon leaked out his ears, the door of the RV burst inward and disappeared in a hazy cloud of plasticized splinters, and a phalanx of bullhorn-carrying, angry-looking young people with terrible sunburns and cups attached to their belt loops on carabiners came barging in like they owned the place.

“WE ARE THE SELF-RELIANCE POLICE,” said the one who was obviously in charge to Einstein. Through his bullhorn. From a quarter of an inch away. Eleven times. “DEATH TO PLUG ‘N’ PLAY HERETICS!” screamed another, filth-caked fist held high. She was wearing a sandwich board sign with the Ten Principles written on it, and nothing else. “WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR FUDGY THE WHALE BLEACHED?” inquired a third, proffering a large mixing bowl full of what was apparently ass bleach. A fourth, grinning nastily, brandished what looked like a branding iron in the shape of a Burning Man logo.

Einstein was tongue-tied as they seized him, bound his wrists to his ankles (not with his tongue, thank god), and carried him outside to watch the group rummage through his stuff and set his RV on fire. As the flames rose and roared into the sky, they danced around the burning recreational vehicle, chanting “HO-LY, HO-LY, HO-LY FIRE! UNBELIEVER’S FUNERAL PYRE! HO-LY, HO-LY, HO-LY FIRE!”

“YOU SEE,” explained their leader to Einstein through his bullhorn as he wolfed down the great scientist’s entire week’s supply of bacon, “YOU HAVE TO BE SELF-RELIANT OUT HERE, OR YOU’RE NOT BEING A BURNER. WE CAN’T HAVE THAT; BURNING MAN IS A PLACE TO DO WHATEVER YOU WANT, SO IF YOU COME OUT HERE THINKING YOU CAN JUST DO SOMETHING ELSE INSTEAD, WE HAVE TO CORRECT YOU.” At that point, his bullhorn became too clogged with bacon to continue functioning, so he put it down and began putting the delicious strips of cured pork directly into his mouth instead.

When the fire had burned down to embers and they had consumed all his food and water and booze, the invaders stripped Einstein naked, shaved off all his hair, pointed him toward the open desert, and slapped him smartly on his ass (which now sported a cute, pink, clean-looking Fudgy the Whale, and a painfully fresh brand on one cheek). Einstein yelped and trotted out onto the vast, flat, talcum-covered expanse. “I guess I’d better get busy digging a well, or growing some food, or something,” thought the freshly-shaven genius glumly.

Just then, a massive, solid-gold, diamond-encrusted recreational vehicle to end all recreational vehicles pulled up right in front of him. The door swung open with a BANG! and a tall, spectrally-pale man in a really nice Stetson hat stepped down onto the playa, crushing an entire family of fairy shrimp with one stylish Tony Lama cowboy boot. He looked like the product of an unspeakable menage-a-deux between Marshall Applewhite and Boo Berry, the General Mills cereal ghost.

“Hi, Einstein!” said the man around his enormous Havana cigar. “I’m Larry Harvey! Welcome to Burning Man! Glad to see you’re being so self-reliant.”

An unspeakable menage-a-deux

An unspeakable menage-a-deux

Harvey snapped his fingers, and a large spider-like creature wearing a double-breasted suit and power tie on its ungainly arachnoid body scuttled out of the RV behind him, a folded piece of paper clenched in its terrifying mandibles. A smile seemed to cross the thing’s. . . face? as it thrust the paper rudely at Einstein, who grasped it gingerly between two fingers as though it might also bite. As the malevolent-looking horror retreated once more into the air-conditioned shade of the RV, Einstein clumsily unfolded the document in his hands while trying not to actually touch it.

A subpoena?

“Sorry about the lawsuit, Einstein, but we just can’t have people going around infringing on our intellectual property like that,” frowned the soft-spoken cult leader as he disapprovingly eyed the fresh brand on Einstein’s ass. “Oh, by the way,” added Harvey, his eyebrows raised in sudden afterthought, “have you done any good math lately? If you’ll read the back of your ticket, you’ll see that we actually own that, too. Don’t forget to register any Unified Field Theories of Bacon you happen to run across with the Math Mecca people!” And with that, Harvey gave a jaunty wave and vanished into thin air. The diamond-encrusted solid-gold RV chuffed disdainfully as its air brakes were released, and rolled off into the shimmering superheated distance.

Einstein stared dumbly at the subpoena, then at the brand of the Man on his ass, then at the subpoena again. He couldn’t do any relaxing vacation math without Larry Harvey and his friends taking ownership of it away from him, and his ass already belonged to them! Burning Man was ruined!

Or was it?

On the verge of tears over his sad plight, Einstein almost failed to notice the discarded bullhorn at his feet. Wonderingly, he picked it up, held it to his lips, and pushed the TALK button. His words came booming out of the bell, amplified into a stentorian command voice that sounded like it would brook no insolence from anyone: “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.” Einstein lowered the bullhorn from his mouth and gazed at it, deep in thought, then looked up toward the horizon, where he could see a group of people erecting a giant wooden statue of Josef Stalin sporting an enormous hard-on. He looked again at the bullhorn in his hands, and again at the statue-erectors, and a grim, purposeful grimace stretched his ancient face across his skull. He knew what he must do. Burning Man was saved!