Cities of the Future Could Look Like Burning Man – if BMOrg let them [Update]

Gizmodo yesterday had a fascinating story about the Black Rock City Ministry of Urban Planning contest to design a new layout for Black Rock City.

Burning Man is an experiment, right? So why should only Larry Harvey and Stuart Mangrum be the ones conducting the experiment, by setting the themes? Why not experiment with new ways of living together, a temporary, pop-up civilization? Personally, I always thought was what Burning Man was all about. These days, I wonder if the nature of the experiment has perhaps been different all along from the sales pitch we were given over the Kool Aid water cooler.

The Black Rock City Ministry of Urban Planning competition was started last year, and was quickly covered by widely read publications like VICE and ArchDaily, the world’s #1 architecture website.

Despite BMOrg coming out to say “no change, no competition”, the response has been impressive.

From BRCUP:

The Results So Far

We have been pretty amazed by the scale of the response.

Since we announced the project last fall, 1629 people and teams from 168 countries have signed up to participate.

To date, we have received 72 submissions.

Gizmodo’s story goes through many of the submissions. I’ve selected a couple of examples:

Cities of the Future Could Look Like Burning Man
This proposal offers elements for “neighborhood improvement” like the addition of designated parks and public squares that could become locations for cafes and other meeting places, by Phil Walker of CallisonRTKL, USA

Cities of the Future Could Look Like Burning ManA proposal to redesign Burning Man’s Black Rock City as a Navajo mandala, by Sergio Bianchi, Simone Fracasso, and Chiara Pellegrin of Italy

The founder is a double digit Burner and software engineer:

The competition was spearheaded by Brian McConnell, a software engineer and ten-year Burning Man veteran. The original idea was to create a site-specific installation at the festival itself presenting visionary ideas for the urban planning of Black Rock City. But as McConnell quickly realized, thinking about designing a smarter temporary city also surfaced some bigger ideas which might extrapolate into other areas of city-building. McConnell was particularly impressed by the quality and originality of proposals, he said. “There are some designs that have gone completely out of the box.”…

The submissions, as well as all the online comments, will be published in a book that will be available for purchase and will be given to the festival organizers. “The best-case scenario would be that the planners see something that’s very interesting or extraordinary and decide to use it in some way,” said McConnell. But he also loves the idea of delivering annual feedback through the competition format. “The real goal of this would be to make it part of the annual planning process and kind of a ritual,” he said. Planners could offer up concerns and ask for improvements that could be implemented the following year.

McConnell also sees the potential value of completely reinventing the city’s plan each year, perhaps with a layout that responds to the theme, which changes annually. “It’s gotten so large they can’t do radically different things,” he said. “What if each time you went it was a significantly different city plan, and you would have to figure it out?”

Read the whole story here

As someone who’s only been to Burning Man 11 times, that sounds like a great idea. They’ve already shown they can have a “2.0” of any particular theme, so we can always go back to the past. That’s part of it too. In the future we will probably have “Fertility 21”.

Phillippe Glade’s Golden Rebar Awards highlight the incredible architectural creativity of Burners. The style even has its own name: burnitecture. The Tiny House movement is starting to follow in the revolutionary footsteps of the Maker Movement, and it too has links to Burning Man.

What is stopping us from making this experimental city in the desert an actual experiment?

Is it Tradition? Ritual? A lack of ideas, vision, leadership?

Or is it the nature of the existing experiment, that is still being done on all the rats in this alluring anarchic maze without walls – who ALL voluntarily assume the risk of serious injury or death by participating ?

1998 ticket

Rod Garrett was great, may he rest in peace; David Best is amazing, and doesn’t need Burning Man to be an artist on the world stage. Let’s give the fresh, young, new, unseen and untried ideas a chance. Why should only the Medici and their bankster friends get to decide the direction art, civilization, technology takes?

If you didn’t get it yet, I think an experiment to come up with different layouts for Black Rock City is an excellent idea. Bauhaus and the Panopticon have been tried, OK, let’s move on.

3nd attempt-almost final

 

Screenshot 2016-03-23 17.20.12

[Update 3/23/16 5:53 pm – added images and link to video clip of Burning Man Founder talking about the city design]

Here’s BMOrg’s official position on trying a new city layout, or even incorporating any ideas from Burnenrs. According to them, BRCUP have started a conversation, and we’ll see what happens next. Don’t hold your breath!

We recently caught wind of a Black Rock City Street Plan Design Competition hosted by an experienced group of participants calling themselves the Black Rock City Ministry of Urban Planning (BRCMUP). The Burning Man organization has nothing to do with it, but we thought, hey, this could be fun to watch. And then an architecture blog called ArchDaily wrote about the competition on August 16 without doing its journalism homework, so now we have to clear a couple things up.

Burning Man is not involved with this competition, and we aren’t “select[ing] a winner”. The BRCMUP organizers never said we were, either. They say they’ll present their winner to us, and then it’s up to us what we do with it. So the ArchDaily blog post was in error, and it has since been corrected.

As for the contest itself, the official description is worded pretty strongly:

“The final choice of design will rest with bmorg [sic] based on a combination of popularity, logistics and space considerations (including the option to retain the current city plan).”

We love the ingenuity of Burners and are curious to see what they come up with through this competition. We will certainly take a look at all the top designs in this competition, not just the winner, out of curiosity and admiration. The ideas generated by this competition could also be useful to Regional Events, which are in various stages of growth and planning, each with their own location’s design challenges, and we think that’s great. But there are no plans to redesign Black Rock City.

Thanks to BRCMUP for starting an interesting conversation, and we look forward to seeing what comes of it.

[Source]

So, we started an interesting conversation. And so far 72 designs have been submitted. The designs show just how much unbelievable talent is available for BMOrg to tap into, if they truly chose crowd-sourcing, participation, civic responsibility, immediacy, and communal effort as their path.

You can view randomly chosen designs from the gallery and enter the competition at Black Rock City Ministry of Urban Planning. Seems to me that would be a much better official Ministry for BMOrg to have than their only one so far: Propaganda.

Let’s discuss these ideas. Many of them don’t even require the 0.666% of a circle pentagram design to change.

2013 double pentagram

Or, even better than just talking: put on parties based on those designs and we’ll promote them here and go check them out.

 

 

 

Art Budget Shenanigans [Update]

A Burning Man artist has responded to my request for feedback in yesterday’s post Follow the Money, with a most interesting tale.


 

From Anonymous Burner:

BMHQ Artists meeting, 2014

BMHQ Artists meeting, May 2015

 

This picture was taken at the Follow Up Artists’ Summit held last May at BMHQ.  This was the second meeting after the first one in 2014 where a group of artists tried to make changes in the artist contract for the event but were met with a meeting facilitator that broke everyone up to bitch in different sessions.
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Then last May they held the follow up meeting.  Whereas there were upwards of 50 at the first meeting, this one was poorly attended.  Besides myself there was 2 other “Playa” artists and a bunch of newbies.  No one would show up because they knew nothing was going to come out of this meeting. They had tons of food…
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Looking at the pie chart, they state that for 2015 they would spend $3M on the art.  For ease of discussion, look at 40% Grants, 40% Services, and 20% Administration.
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1.2M for Grants (now includes Man and Man Base)
$600k on Admin?  Pick a number of FTEs for BRC art at $100k each.  They don’t have 6 FTEs working on BRC art and they sure as hell aren’t paying them $100k
$1.2M on Services?  For the heavy equipment thats used to build the site and is already out there?
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They won’t feed the artists at the Commissary.  The art projects have to pay for water, fuel, light towers, wood, DG for burns, Etc, Etc.  Plus pay for Port-o-Lets, feeding their crew, and everything else.  How are these service and Admin amounts calculated?
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Here’s the problem these folks have:
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They can’t raise money for the BM Project because if you donate to it, what is your donation doing?  I see lots of folks flying around the world talking.  What specific programs can they point to to make a case for donating money to the BM project?
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That leaves them trying to run the non-profit on the back of the event.  Yes the event makes money, finally – they ran the outfit out of a cigar box for years –  but leaves them unable to increase funding for the artists.  And given the way these lemmings throng to get a spot on the cliff, why should they even consider it.
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And now that they have to raise money for the BM project, where do they go?  To the folks that have been funding these pieces and supporting the artists.  It is a very shallow donor pool.  The result is “donor fatigue”  these folks are weary of being badgered by the Org and look for more permanent art installations.
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At the same time, they have to be careful in getting the community to support the artists more – Larry’s latest efforts are lame in that he keeps referring to the moneyed class and most folks say “he can’t be talking about me, I don’t have any money”.  My wealthy friends that have supported art projects in the past have been insulted by his “let the rich folks pay for it”.  Many are taking the year off this year, as am I.
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Well, I found that somewhat cathartic.  Thanks for hearing me out.

 

burnersxxx:

Thanks very much for sharing that. The artist raises some good points.

Specifically, from a $3 million budget, the numbers work out to:

$1,290,000 Art (43%)

$570,000 Admin (19%)

$1,140,000 Services (38%)

Heavy Equipment Rental was $2.45 million in 2014.

From a $1.2 million Black Rock City art budget, in 2016 they are paying for:

60 Honoraria art projects. Partial grants, artists have to raise most of the project costs themselves

33 Guild Workshops. Regional projects. Projects required to raise almost all the funding and supply personnel themselves.

The Man

The Piazza

The “Turning Man” contraption

The Temple. Partial grant, artists who “win” the project have to raise most of the funding themselves

4 Belltowers

A blacksmith shop

Possible other sculptures

Is the $90,000 what gets spent on art across Burners Without Borders, Black Rock Arts Foundation, Burning Man Arts, and all the other non-Playa activities?


[Update 3/15/16 5:44pm]

The artist has responded to some of the questions raised in our comments. emphasis ours

A question was raised about tickets and that was a good point.  I don;t know how the value of the tickets given to artists/art projects is calculated or categorized.  Here is what I do know – 
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Registered art pieces (funded and non-funded) get access to free tickets, vehicle passes, early arrival passes and the coveted 12 mile (aka Point 1) access privilege
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In addition to the free art project tickets, there are also half price (aka staff tickets) that are made available to the project depending on project scope, schedule, and staffing.  And if that isn’t enough, the Org can also press the special button and grant full price tickets to the artists as well.
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When the Org gives an artist a free ticket (or a half price ticket) how is it categorized in the accounting?  I would bet that in the calculations for the BRC art budget that the tickets are added to Administration or the Services figure at face value ($390).
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One way artists can take advantage of the Org is to have a high profile project start to go bad.  When that happens the tickets and vehicle passes can really start to flow.  A case in point is last year’s Temple – they had like 150 people in their build camp – due to physical constraints they really couldn’t have more than about 30 people working on the Temple at a time.  Even allowing for a generous support crew there was still upwards of 50-75 burners early to the event getting the party started early.
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The other question that was raised had to do with the construction of the Man Base and The Man.  One of the reasons the contractors category has been growing is that the “traditional” Man Base and Man Build crews have been terminated.  The Man and the Man Base are now basically built by hired carpenters – the Org has outsourced the construction function under the guise that “professionals” were needed to build the infrastructure for the city.  They got rid of the Man Base crew in 2013 (Cargo Cult) and the Man Build crew in 2014 or 2015 depending on how you define the termination.
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Another change for contractors happened this year when the Org eliminated the DPW Power Crew and outsourced the electrical grids to Agreko.  They kept a small crew of former DPW Power folks in supervisory roles, and the end result is a little more Disneyfication of the event.  Eventually they’ll outsource gate and perimeter to a security firm and the event will have all the charm of a visit to Ikea.
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The shark was jumped in 2012 with the ticket lottery.  When we look back 10-15 years from now I believe we will acknowledge that the year tickets became scarce was the year the Org stopped caring.
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This is an interesting point about the accounting. If a $397 ticket is sold for half price, do they write it off in the books as $200 of “Admin Costs” (claiming full revenue for the ticket, then the lost revenue as an expense) and then claim that they are contributing this towards arts?
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Why is the only time this “$3 million on art” figure appears in a small, quiet meeting with artists – and all the press discussion is of $1.2 million or $1.5 million? Why do they feed artists generously  (and unnecessarily) at HQ, yet shut them out of the Commissary during their builds?
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Thanks very much to the artist who has been contributing here, I can confirm that I have also heard what they are saying about entire crews being sacked and replaced with contractors from other sources. People who have given a decade or more of their lives to physically constructing Burning Man have been shunted out the door, while newcomers get to cash in. One consequence of this corporatization/Disneyfication is that it is more scaleable and movable. As I said recently to VICE, let’s take this show on the road!

Follow the Money [Updates]

If you thought this year’s theme of “Da Vinci’s Workshop” and the corresponding shift of Propaganda Minister Will Chase over to the Maker Movement meant that 2016 was going to be all about 3d printing, laser cutting, computer-controlled manufacturing, nanomaterials, and all of the exciting things going on in Silicon Valley with the built environment…think again.

So far, it seems, it’s all about money.

We’re not quite 10 weeks into the year, and already we’ve had:

Art, Money and the Renaissance: Re-imagining the Relationship

What Powered the Renaissance? (Could it Have Happened Without Cash?)

The Renaissance’s $ecret Weapon for Arts Funding

How Burners are Re-Inventing the Artists Workshop (answer: “fronted by a master and funded by a relatively small group of wealthy clients”)

And now, Larry Harvey’s latest post “Following the Money: the Florentine Renaissance and Black Rock City”

Is it just me, or is there a bit of a “theme within a theme” starting to emerge here?

In the new post, Larry likens BMOrg spending $1.2 million in art grants to Lorenzo de Medici taking notice of the young man Michelangelo and moving him into his palace to get intimate, or Peggy Guggenheim sponsoring Jackson Pollack.

When Lorenzo de’ Medici adopted the young Michelangelo into his family, he did much more than hire on a hand to serve his needs. Private patronage is personal; it is immediate and intimate, and what is true of Florence and our temporary city is also true of every celebrated art scene ever known. One example is the relationship of a famous heiress, Peggy Guggenheim, and Jackson Pollack, a struggling painter. Peggy paid the painter’s daily bills, bought his work when no one else would, and organized his first art show. At a soirée held in her home, she even let him pee in her fireplace (though not on the carpet)…

…Money sluiced through the streets and piazzas of Renaissance Florence, and yet the sheer hydraulic force of capital did not determine every outcome. Money was a means, but not an end. What mattered most was social interaction in the context of a networked culture driven by ideals, and Burning Man may be regarded in a similar light. One way to fathom this phenomenon is to follow the money. In 2016, Black Rock City will distribute 1.2 million dollars to artists in the form of honoraria.

It is around 3% of revenues – almost exactly half this year’s $2,349,000 Vehicle Pass take.

Artists have been asking for a fair and equitable contract. Here at Burners.Me, we have been suggesting more should be spent on art than on lawyers. It doesn’t sound like Larry & Co are listening to either of these groups, so we wonder where the feedback he’s getting is coming from – and if his information diet is being distorted and propagandized as it moves up the food chain.

In the case of Burning Man, such quasi-governmental patronage does not exhaust resources that are devoted to art. As with competitions sponsored by the Wool Guild, Black Rock City’s honoraria are awarded by a small committee, but this curatorship, as practiced by a few, is counter-balanced by a radically populist patronage. Each year many artist groups will subsidize their projects through community fundraising events and crowd-sourced campaigns on the Internet. Some critics say that Burning Man should shoulder all of these expenses, but we have found that self-initiated efforts create constituencies, loyal networks that support these artists on and off the playa.

This has produced a flow of art that’s issued out of Black Rock City in the form of privately commissioned work, civic installations, and exhibitions subsidized by festivals. Now this surge of money in support of art is going global.

[Source: Burningman Journal]

Radically populist patronage? Sounds like Sanders and Trump voters.

I would love to see a link to somewhere on the Internet where somebody said that BMOrg should pay all the costs of all the art at Burning Man. I think the general consensus here has been that they should pay more of the costs than a third of the pieces they promote the crap out of and claim credit for – and they should probably pay for The Temple, the same way they do for The Man.  Let us spend our artist funding budget supporting pieces that wouldn’t otherwise get there, rather than mega-works you can promote with Oprah and Dr Phil and sell tickets to for $1207+ for spectators to come and behold.

Here is a recent link to Larry Harvey repeating his oft-told tall tale that “no artist has ever signed their art at Burning Man”. This previously espoused philosophy seems to be the antithesis of his latest claim, that the art at Black Rock City funded by their annual Medici donation of $1.2 million (by year BM30) has enabled outside careers and markets for its artists. Personally, I believe the latter to be closer to the truth, and his earlier claim to be false. Nice to see you coming round, Larry.

Last year, in an interview with Ignite Channel, BMOrg were claiming to have created their own art market.

So instead of trying to cater to the traditional art market, Burning Man has created its own. The Burning Man Project not only funds art projects shown at the festival itself, but supports artists creating interactive projects in cities internationally. 

Many cultural festivals have since followed Burning Man’s example in putting art front and center. With pride, Harvey shares: “Many people come [to Burning Man] for the art and stay for the community. (…) We are making it more possible for artists to sell their art in such a way that they can live off their art.” By supporting artists who would otherwise struggle to gain recognition in the traditional art market, Burning Man and other festivals are giving birth to creative dreams while shining a light on unlikely art.

“Anybody who’s going to take art as a vocation has to endure enough. Artists deserve to make a living.” — Larry Harvey

I would be interested to hear the opinions of some Burner artists about this. Has BMOrg helped them to live off their art? Last we heard, BMOrg’s artist contract specifically forbade artists from paying themselves anything from the art grant. It also said BMOrg take a 10% cut if the art piece is sold off-Playa.

Are they going to claim credit, and a cut of the money, for this? If you ask me, the credit and the money should all go to Marco.

Bliss-Dance-Marco-Cochrane-web_t1000

Artist Marco Cochrane with Bliss Dance, now in front of the MGM at Park Las Vegas. Image: MGM Resorts

[Update 3/13/16 11:55pm]

A reader has let us know that the reason the art grants have “increased” from $850k to $1.2m in the last couple of years is that the costs of The Man are now being lumped together with Art Honoraria grants.


 

[Update 3/13/16 5:42pm]

Here’s what BMOrg said last week:

Burning Man Arts is funding BRC art to the tune of $1.2 million this year, including these Honoraria recipients, as well as the sculptures, the bell towers, and the 33 Guild Workshops in the Piazza around the Man.

The sculptures? Meaning, The Man and his rotating clock frame? Or other sculptures as well as the Man and the Temple?

The $ are also funding blacksmithing collective Iron Monkeys, linked to BMOrg Board member Kay Morrison, to provide a functioning blacksmith shop in the desert:

There will even be a functioning, participatory blacksmith shop — the Piazza de Ferro — built by the Iron Monkeys. Sparks will fly!

What further indications do we have that the $1.2 million BRC art budget is funding The Man, as well as everything else listed and fractional funding of 60 art projects?

In the most recent financial information we have for the Burning Man Project (2014) the Man and platform can be found at the bottom: $407,055 for Cargo Cult and $237,581 for Fertility 2.0. It’s hard to imagine that 2014’s 120 foot-high Man cost much less than this to construct.

As you can see, in 2014 the Man and Platform are no longer being listed as a separate line item (Donations to Schools and Regionals have also disappeared). Are they office expenses? Contractors has risen $2 million from 2013 to 2014, neatly mirroring a drop in (estimated) profit after all expenses from $4 million to $2 million. Perhaps it could be hidden away in there – but, why?

2014 bmp comparison financials 2013 2013 burnersdotme 2

Walking the Talk – New “Democratic” Process for Art Grants

BMOrg are introducing a “democratic” grant process for funding art grants, something the community has long been demanding. They have some funny ideas about participatory democracy, though.
Attendees at the Global Leadership Conference will vote on how to allocate a total of $1500 to art. The conference is invite only, and not open to the public. And artists will need to go through their local RC (Regional Contact…although in Australia RC means something else, more suited to this year’s Medici theme).

“Walk the Talk” Art Grant for GLC 2016

What is this grant?

A democratic grant process aimed at funding innovative community art projects within the Burning Man Global Network.  We are interested in projects that create collaborations, break down the distinction between audience and artist, are directly interactive and/or enhance the public, civic sphere.

Participants in a session at the annual Burning Man Global Leadership Conference will award a total of $1,500 however they wish among any qualified projects. This is meant to both serve as an exercise in structuring and judging a grant opportunity as well as a way to provide a small amount of support and encouragement to worthy projects.

Timeline:

–  Deadline for grant submissions is March 25th. (Midnight U.S. Pacific Time)
–  Judges will review the grants at the 2016 Global Leadership Conference (March 31st- April 3rd)
–  Winner(s) will be announced Sunday afternoon at the GLC.  (April 3rd)

Apply Here 

Who is eligible to apply?

Individuals, Groups, and Not-for-Profits are all eligible to apply.  All projects *must* be endorsed by a local Burning Man Regional Contact.   The RC does not need to be heavily involved with the process, but rather they will serve as a point of communication between the granters and the grantees.

To find out who your Regional Contact might be, see  http://regionals.burningman.org/

How much can I request?

The total amount of grants given will be $1,500. This amount could go to one project or be split among two or more, so it might be helpful to explain what you would do with the full amount as well as how you would use a smaller amount.

[Source: burningman.org]

Here are the conference details. I’m sure if you buy a Leonardo VIP ticket (on sale now for $1200) and kiss a few of the the right rings they’ll let you attend.
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SF, CA March 31 – April 03, 2016

The 10th annual Burning Man Global Leadership Conference (GLC) is an annual conference of Burning Man community leadership that happens each spring in San Francisco. From humble beginnings in 2007, where 70 Regional Contacts joined us at Burning Man HQ, the GLC has since grown to include over 400 participants from around the world.

These highly-energized folks are Burning Man’s global representatives and community leaders, ambassadors of Burning Man culture in their regions who throw any of 65 Regional events in 20 countries. They participate in the GLC to share ideas, best practices and inspiration, and to make the invaluable face-to-face connections that may just lead to the next big thing.

The conference is for organizers and community leaders in the Burning Man Regional Network, and space is limited, so attendance isn’t open to the public

[Source: burningman.org]

Those of us not on the list will be able to participate by reading Tweets from the Chosen Few in attendance to see Larry dressed up as a worm, a guy with a slinky in his beard, and other hilarity. We might get to watch a few select sessions on YouTube.

In other news…
You can buy tickets to the Burnal Equinox – Night of a Thousand Guilds on March 19 at Public Works for $20.

Congratulations to Piper from Distrikt who is thrilled to be the latest member of Burning Man’s Communications team. Is she filling in the clown shoes left by departing Minister for Propaganda Will Chase? We shall see…

Screenshot 2016-02-18 17.00.16

Big Burner Bucks in the Biggest Little Tax Haven [Update]

 

luggage carousel reno

A miniature Burning Man statue and an American flag greet travelers arriving at Reno airport; their busiest time of year is during Burning Man

reno biggest little city

Tax is the big story in the Burning Man world right now. This is in line with this year’s Medici theme of patrons. It seems that Patrón is not just a tequila favored by rappers, it’s also a key word in the Nevada Live Entertainment tax legislation amendment called “The Burning Man tax” which BMOrg is insisting “doesn’t apply to them since they don’t provide live entertainment”. Presumably, since the law doesn’t specifically mention “ritual effigy burn in front of a crowd of 80,000 people” as one of the types of live entertainment, they think they have found a loophole to finagle.

Whatever the outcome, it’s holding up ticket sales, and plans, for the Burners who have to actually create Black Rock City and provide all the Live Entertainment (as per the tax code definitions) on our dime.

The Man burns in 219 days. 7 months

Meanwhile, over at the BJ they say What Fuelled the Renaissance? Could it Have Happened Without Cash?

As Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell said last year “The culture of Burning Man can really flourish with money…[for example] to bring great musicians to your camp“. So hopefully the gentrification of Burning Man 2.0 will actually lead to a Renaissance-style flourishing of culture, where the poor are lifted from their wretched conditions to share in the fruits that our modern technocratic civilization is bearing. More art, more gifting, more solar and hydrogen powered camps and installations, more live music, more hip-hop yes please!

churchill initiation druid4Loopholes to get out of paying tax are much favored by banksters, including the Florentine Medici, the Borgias of Naples, the Venetian Del Bancos (ancestors of the German Warburgs), and the rest of the Venetian (or was it Phoenician) Black Nobility. They created the modern banking industry, the Illuminati and Skull and Bones secret societies, and the British system of hereditary feudal oligarchy, with its Dukes, Earls, Barons, and so on. This is the world of Downton Abbey (which is actually a Rothschild castle); or Liz Hurley’s epic new show The Royals, which was filmed at Winston Churchill’s family house Blenheim Palace (he was the Duke of Marlborough, and also a Druid). These wealthy and secretive families financed the arts, railroads, shipping, immigration, architecture, and war – usually, both sides.

Image: Kevin Oliver, Flickr (Creative Commons)

Downton Abbey was filmed at Highclere Castle, one of the many Rothschild family homes.  Image: Kevin Oliver, Flickr (Creative Commons)

 

Blenheim Palace, ancestral home of the Dukes of Marlborough. Image: 1967jwm, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Blenheim Palace, ancestral home of the Dukes of Marlborough including Winston Churchill. Image: 1967jwm, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

In the middle of all these centuries of international finance intrigues were the Rothschilds. They’re at Burning Man, of course:

Screenshot 2016-01-28 10.10.53

And not just David. Other members of the clan too.

From Inc magazine:

One Entrepreneur’s Productivity Secret: Burning Man

For Vitals founder Mitch Rothschild, the radical change in perspective that comes from a trip to the desert helps him get more done.
 

Whip cream holsters. Topless dancers. Airplane-size sculptures. It’s all part of the draw at the Burning Man festival in Black Rock, Nevada, which kicks off this week. But for one entrepreneur, all this reckless abandon has a very concrete pay-off: it’s a highly effective productivity booster

“You’re completely in the desert,” says Mitch Rothschild, a New York-based entrepreneur who admittedly went through 30 canisters of whip cream last year. “There’s just miles and miles of flat desert expanse and you’ve got 65,000 people there. There’s no money, no cell phones, no Internet. You get back as much as you put in.” (Rothschild’s distribution of whip cream was one way he gave back to attendees.)

…a change in perspective helped Rothschild pivot his business last year. Before he attended the festival, Vitals was strictly ad-based. There was growing demand for price and quality transparency, especially among insurers, but Vitals wasn’t making use of the data it had. After attending the festival, however, Rothschild saw the opportunity right in front of him. So what if it was a new business model? The money he could make would be worth it. Now a year later, Vitals has grown five times from where it was a year ago, thanks to this shift. 

Burning Man’s focus on self-reliance–among the festival’s principles, an emphasis on survival remains paramount–has also helped Rothschild’s approach to problem-solving at work, he says. “There is no plumbing, there is no water. There are dust storms and you have to not mind that.” 

Above all, Rothschild stresses the importance of simply unplugging. “You go on a vacation and don’t even realize the cobwebs you have in your brain until you’re thinking about things fresh,” he says. And the more different the experience, the better your perspective will be. “It’s almost like going to Mars, it’s so different from anything else,” he says of Burning Man. “But if you embrace the concept of change, not for its own sake but for adaptaing to change in your environment, well, that’s what an entrepreneur has to do.”

[Source: Inc magazine]

Great to hear that the Medici Rothschilds are making five times as much money from Burning Man.

Well, now it seems they’re setting up shop in Reno as well. And by shop I mean “international tax free corporations”.

From Bloomberg Businessweek:

The World’s Favorite New Tax Haven Is the United States

Moving money out of the usual offshore secrecy havens and into the U.S. is a brisk new business.

The U.S. “is effectively the biggest tax haven in the world” —Andrew Penney, Rothschild & Co.

 bloomberg tax havenLast September, at a law firm overlooking San Francisco Bay, Andrew Penney, managing director at Rothschild & Co., gave a talk on how the world’s wealthy elite can avoid paying taxes.

His message was clear: You can help your clients move their fortunes to the United States, free of taxes and hidden from their governments.

Some are calling it the new Switzerland.

After years of lambasting other countries for helping rich Americans hide their money offshore, the U.S. is emerging as a leading tax and secrecy haven for rich foreigners. By resisting new global disclosure standards, the U.S. is creating a hot new market, becoming the go-to place to stash foreign wealth. Everyone from London lawyers to Swiss trust companies is getting in on the act, helping the world’s rich move accounts from places like the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands to Nevada, Wyoming, and South Dakota.

“How ironic—no, how perverse—that the USA, which has been so sanctimonious in its condemnation of Swiss banks, has become the banking secrecy jurisdiction du jour,” wrote Peter A. Cotorceanu, a lawyer at Anaford AG, a Zurich law firm, in a recent legal journal. “That ‘giant sucking sound’ you hear? It is the sound of money rushing to the USA.”

Rothschild, the centuries-old European financial institution, has opened a trust company in Reno, Nev., a few blocks from the Harrah’s and Eldorado casinos, where used to go to gamble, but now a days people also play online so you can sign up to betfred and get £60 using this offer. It is now moving the fortunes of wealthy foreign clients out of offshore havens such as Bermuda, subject to the new international disclosure requirements, and into Rothschild-run trusts in Nevada, which are exempt.

The firm says its Reno operation caters to international families attracted to the stability of the U.S. and that customers must prove they comply with their home countries’ tax laws. Its trusts, moreover, have “not been set up with a view to exploiting that the U.S. has not signed up” for international reporting standards, said Rothschild spokeswoman Emma Rees.

[Source: Bloomberg Business Week]

The whole story by Jesse Drucker at Bloomberg is a great read.

The Shadow Economy

How significant are tax havens to Silicon Valley? Well, tech companies have more cash than countries – yes, even the mighty United States.

more cash than countries 2013

…and most of it is offshore

2014 offshore money

[Source: 2014 data, Citizens for Tax Justice, via Softpedia ]

The Fortune 500 companies alone have $2.1 trillion in tax havens, a pile that is growing 8% a year. 72% of them operate offshore tax haven subsidiaries. The top 5 biggest tech companies had $471 billion offshore, as of 2014. Apple’s cash pile has grown to $216 billion, as of yesterday – $200 billion of that is offshore.

Apple’s tiny little office in Reno runs the largest tax-free cash hoard the world has ever seen.

[Source: Zacks.com via qz.com]

Braeburn Capital

Image via blogs.rgj.com

Named after the Granny Smith and Lady Hamilton apple hybrid, Braeburn Capital’s sole purpose – just like Apple Operations International – is to avoid paying taxes. Apple created the Reno, Nevada-based company in 2006 as an asset management company.

Apple’s headquarters may be located in Cupertino, Calif, but by placing an office in Reno – roughly 200 miles away from headquarters – to collect and invest the company’s profits, Apple sidesteps state income taxes on some of those gains.

California’s corporate tax rate is 8.84%, compared to Nevada’s whopping 0%. Setting up an office in Reno is just one of many legal methods Apple uses to reduce its worldwide tax bill by billions of dollars each year.

[Source: Zacks.com]

It’s no wonder that the US wants a cut of all these billions and trillions.

Reno is being used to get the money out of the country, but how does it get back in? This article from a Venture Capital blog offers an interesting clue:

Offshore-Fund-Structure

[Source: The Venture Alley]

So the offshore company invests in a pooled fund which invests in a management company in another country. This company then invests in whatever VC funds and startups it wants. For example the London office can invest in the Reno office. Which cycles the money through Ireland and the Netherlands Antilles in a Double Irish With A Dutch sandwich (no, really). Lord Sandwich was a member of the Hellfire Club; the Hawaiian islands were once known as the Sandwich Islands, in his honor. But I digress; back to Black Rock.

Black Rock.

Black Stone.

Black Water.

One of the first Silicon Valley venture capital firms was called Venrock – Rock as in Rockefeller. They are the money behind Apple, Intel, Fairchild, and many others – $2.5 billion in 442 companies over 41 years (to 2010), resulting in 125 IPOs and 128 M & A exits.

Yes, Rockefellers are Burners too. BMP Director Rae Richman used to run the Silicon Valley office of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

largest foundations

Another BMP Director, Jennifer Raiser, is also on the board of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, #18 (above). She gets paid to advise BMOrg on their annual report, and gets to make money on her book about Burning Man which they promote through their official channels.

You’ll notice that none of the various Rockefeller or Rothschild entities (now publicly combined) show up on these lists. The richer you get, the deeper in the shadows you can hide it. Controlling the propaganda channels helps.

rothschilds economist

The Rothschilds own the Economist with the Agnelli family (Fiat). The annual magazine cover contains cryptic messages and predictions

As big as the corporate Shadow Banking System is, it pales in comparison to private offshore wealth – which Forbes claim was $21 trillion in 2015.

Big Names on the Big Donor List

The 2014 Annual Report published a list of Major Donors to the Burning Man Project. These are the 1% of the 1% of the 1%. It reads like a who’s who of Big Banking families.

Screenshot 2016-01-28 10.22.48

[Source: burningman.org]

“Confirmed” means these people are definitely from the prominent families; “Unconfirmed” means that they may just share a name (and also be wealthy enough to be listed as a substantial donor to the Burning Man Project).

André Heinz is from the famous beans family, and John Kerry’s stepson.

Drew Schiff was married to Al Gore’s daughter.

Image: The Independent

Hedge-fund tycoon Pierre LaGrange (r) with new partner Roubi l’Roubi (l) Image: The Independent

Pierre LaGrange left his wife for the life. He’s now shaking up the bespoke tailoring world in London.

Burner artist Laura Kimpton’s father is from the hotel-chain family; her mother is a bird.

Karl Heinz Stockhausen is a pioneering electronic (classical) music composer. He is one of the Illuminati featured on the Sgt Peppers cover (back row, 5th from the left):

sgt peppers

Pioneer of electronic classical music Karlheinz Stockhausen. Invented the Electronic Music used in “60’s psychedelic Counter Culture.”

I’m not sure that Karlheinz and Miranda Stockhausen are both from the same “family of stick living”, but they both have castles in the same part of Germany.

Miranda von Stockhausen:

Image of Stockhausen Estate 3In 1787, Christian Ludwig von Stockhausen (1746-1820), became the honored recipient of the Ordre Pour le Merite (also known as the “Blue Max”)….the highest military decoration in the Prussian army until the end of the German Empire and monarchy in 1918…

Although our family had noble status before Christian, it was somehow lost. However, renewed admittance to the German nobility by Royal Decree occurred on July 6, 1798 by Prussian King Friederich Wilhelm III, by reasons of prior/old nobility coupled with Christian’s dedicated exemplary service as a courageous artillery captain of the Prussian army…

Image of the Stockhausen EstateAccording to an Imperial sealed declaration of October 3, in the year 997,the German Emperor Otto III gave the Stockhausen Estate, then a convent and part of the Meschede religious sovereignty, the predicate of nobility.

The Stockhausen estate is located in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany, in the Olpe district.

[Source]

 

The Federal Reserve and Burning Man?

In 1910, in a secret mission in private rail cars to the Jekyll Island Club in Georgia, the plan was hatched to create the Federal Reserve. A private company owned by the banksters that creates money out of thin air and lends it to their banks at ultra-low interest rates. They then invest this money back into markets they rig. It is above the law, according to its former director Alan Greenspan.

Cutting the long story of The Big Short short, the concept of fiat currency enshrined in this private bank and the modern perpetual war petrodollar economy has led to most of the horrors of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. The people are better off, because we have cars, planes, Internet, drugs, and Burning Man…right? Meanwhile the bankers are most certainly better off. And the hundreds of millions dead, wounded, tortured, imprisoned, or made homeless by endless, meaningless wars are definitely not better off.

first name club

Image copyright(c) Burners.Me 2016

President Woodrow Wilson was the banking cartel’s stooge, with the mysterious Colonel House his controller. We have him to thank for the Federal Reserve (the value of US$1 has dropped 98% in the century since its formation), the Income Tax and the IRS (a privately held Puerto Rico corporation), and America’s participation in World War I.

Wilson said, in his later years:

woodrow wilson“I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the civilized world — no longer a Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.”

[Source]

As he was leaving office, Wilson realized he’d been hoodwinked by this crew of bankster robber barons – but by then, it was too late. The damage was done to all of us, and we still suffer today from economic bubbles and busts. The rich get richer, the poor get the picture, as Midnight Oil once said – before The Man got to them, too.

Back in Ye Olden Dayes, in 1911 John Moody and George Turner published an article Masters of Capital in America: The Seven Men. They named Seven Men – 6 family names – that controlled Wall Street and by extension, the entire U.S. economy.

masters of capital seven men

How interesting to see that every single one of those names is on the Burning Man major donor list – along with Goldman, Sachs, Russell, and many other titanic names in the financial world.

Sharp-eyed readers, or paid trolls waiting eagerly for us to slip up on a fact or a claim, might say “but Baker is not on the list”. Drew Schiff is the great-great-grandson of BOTH George Fisher Baker and Jacob Schiff (and, a Warburg). The Schiff, Rothschild, and Oppenheimer banking families have been closely intertwined since the founding of the Illuminati in 1776, and before (back when the Rothschilds were the Bauers, they worked for the Oppenheimers and lived in the same house as the Schiffs).

The 1% of the 1% of the 1% of the 1%

Recently, the world was shocked to learn that the number of people who have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50% of people on the planet had dropped from 388 in 2010 to 62 today

numberswealth

Image: Newsweek

Oxfam said, in their report to the World Economic Forum at Davos about a week ago:

The Oxfam report An Economy for the 1%, shows that the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population has fallen by a trillion dollars since 2010, a drop of 38 percent. This has occurred despite the global population increasing by around 400 million people during that period. Meanwhile, the wealth of the richest 62 has increased by more than half a trillion dollars to $1.76tr. The report also shows how women are disproportionately affected by inequality – of the current ‘62’, 53 are men and just nine are women.

Although world leaders have increasingly talked about the need to tackle inequality, and in September agreed a global goal to reduce it, the gap between the richest and the rest has widened dramatically in the past 12 months. Oxfam’s prediction, made ahead of last year’s Davos, that the 1% would soon own more than the rest of us, actually came true in 2015 – a year earlier than expected.

[Source: Oxfam.org]

But this isn’t the 1%. More than half (53.4%) of Black Rock City earns US$50,000/yr or more, which puts them in the top 0.3% of the world’s wealth. We can probably say every Burner is in the 1%, globally.

This is not even the 1% of the 1% – or the 1% of the 1% of the 1%.

As I write this, the world population clock reads 7, 398,025,067. So 1% of 1% of 1% of 1% of the world’s population is 74. Less people even than that, own half the world’s wealth.

oxfam rich people

Here’s the data that is based on, from the Forbes 2015 Billionaires List:

The big questions: how many Burners are on the list?

I have it on trusted authority that Bill Gates hasn’t been, but is thinking about it. He hasn’t tripped since the 70s, according to Playboy.

Larry Ellison and Stefan Persson were both named (outed?) as Billionaire Burners at Burning Man’s official web site, but that may just have been irony, or propaganda…or both.

My information, again from trusted sources, is that both of Larry Ellison’s kids,  Megan and David (aka Hollywood’s Richest Producers) have been to Burning Man.

Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Sergei Brin, and Larry Page are all confirmed Burners.

Three other names come up in the Big Donors list that are also in the 62: Misty Roberts Thomson, Charles Ergen, Maggie Li. This could be coincidence; all three family fortunes are in the tech/media space. If anyone knows any other Burners from families in this list of 62, please let us know in the comments or a private message.

A simple solution to the world’s problems (for those who still believe that “Gifting” is “an economy”) might seem to be “those 62 people should give their wealth to the other 3.5 billion”. Unfortunately, that works out to a mere $507.89 per person – roughly the same as a Burning Man ticket after handling fees, vehicle pass, and taxes.

Giving the fish to people doesn’t solve the problem; teaching them to fish can solve it – provided corporations stop over-fishing and dumping toxic chemicals in our oceans, of course.

Who Was the Chicken, and Who the Egg?

According to Danger Ranger, it is because of Burning Man that Billionaire Burner Elon Musk located his Gigafactory in Reno.

Screenshot 2016-01-28 11.38.13

[Source: Twitter]

The Tesla factory happens to be in the 6th largest industrial park in the world (the biggest in the US), a designated Foreign Trade Zone. Reno is a natural logistics hub, the intersection of multiple cross-country railroads and highways. It is close to world renowned ski fields, and has its own luxury resorts and casinos. For 2 weeks a year it hosts Hot August Nights, the largest nostalgic car show in the world: also a thirty-year old event this year, one that brings more than 500,000 people and $250 million to the city. And, it is also the hottest new tax haven for the Shadow Economy.

How much of Reno’s success in luring billionaires and now trillionaires is due to all of that…and how much to Burning Man? Are they completely independent, totally inter-related, or somewhere in between?

tesla-reno-gigafactory-site-1-KTNV-Channel-13

rendering-of-tesla-battery-gigafactory-outside-reno-nevada-sep-2014_100479365_m

Image: Paul Horn, Flickr

Image: Paul Horn, Flickr

The Gigafactory under construction kind of looks like a giant Burning Man structure:

Tesla Gigafactory, Feb 2015. Image: Movilidaelectrica, Flickr

Tesla Gigafactory, Feb 2015. Image: Movilidaelectrica, Flickr

Burning Man definitely inspired the Morris Burner hotel and The Generator. Worthy and noble spaces, and we hope that more like these get inspired.

Image: Aaron Muszalski, Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: Aaron Muszalski, Flickr (Creative Commons)

The Generator, Reno. Image: portaplaya, via the Burning Man Journal

Can BMOrg really claim credit for all the rest, though? $100 billion – just from one company locating one building near Reno? Let alone these Rothschild and Rockefeller ventures? What about the 1000 people working for Billionaire Burner Bezos’ Amazon in Fernley?

Did the Borg create the Medici…or did the Medici create them?

And what does all this influx of billionaire money mean for We The Burners? More art? More gifting? More culture spreading around the world and helping others? Or just, higher ticket prices, more wristband-only camps, and more Default world rules and politics?


[Update 1/30/16 1:54am]

I just watched this movie tonight. It came up during the research and it is really the perfect fire-roasted marshmallow with hot chocolate apértif to my story. Highly recommended.