Licensed to Sell

I just got off the phone with David Freiberg at the BLM’s Black Rock Field Office, who said he’s a fan of this site. He is going to track down the 2014 list of vendors who were granted a Special Recreation Permit to sell on the Playa this year, we will update this story when we get it. The number of vendors has increased from 45 in 2013, to more than 80 this year.

He said that BLM were looking into the Plug-n-Play camps, which are required to have a permit and pay a 3% share of their revenues to the BLM. He wasn’t aware of any such camps that did get a permit, but it seems like most of them should have.

Some of the triggers for if a permit is required:

  • advertising to the general public, or only to friends
  • camp dues as cost-sharing, versus funding a commercial enterprise
  • it doesn’t matter if you’re a bad businessman, if you lose money, that’s your problem; if you’re selling spots and paying staff, that’s probably commercial activity not casual recreation

It appears that Caravancicle had a commercial deal with The Lost Hotel to build their camp, commercially engaged sherpas and managers who were paid to work there, and produced promotional materials that were advertised to the public.

In JT’s recent “apology“, he claimed that his web site was “meant to be password protected”. It certainly wasn’t when we first wrote about (now blacked out).

caravancicle room outside

Space Cubes at Caravancicle. Image: Philippe Glade

JT says that even though he “gifted money” to the camp, it was not meant to make a profit:

I can assure you our camp generated no money and was not, in any way, a money making venture

This conflicts with Danger Ranger’s version of events, in which he claimed JT “lost money” only because the camp’s un-named producer embezzled “took the money and ran”. Allegedly. It also conflicts with Sherpagirl’s inside information, that campers paid $17,000 for a hotel room space cube. If you’re selling 68 rooms for $17k a pop , your camp is generating money. Discounting or even comping some of the rooms doesn’t alter that fact.

In their marketing materials, Caravancicle quite clearly state that this is based on the “mind-blowing” hotel they built last year at Camp Olympus. There’s no indication that this page on their web site was made by anyone but Caravancicle.

I printed their page to a PDF on September 5 – no password was required, and there was never any indication that this was “camp-only” private information.

2014 Caravancicle – About Camp

Here’s their very commercial-looking Participant Agreement:

2014 Participant Agreement, R… and Assumption of Risk

It specifically mentions the following individuals and corporations in their risk waiver:

  • Back To Earth, Inc dba “dovetail events”
  • Ari Derfel
  • Jim Tananbaum
  • Space Cubes LLC
  • Brad Peik/Peik Construction Inc/Peik Investments LLC
  • Black Rock City LLC
Image: Phillippe Glade

Image: Philippe Glade

JT said:

Our camp breakdown was also compromised because the group responsible for providing the infrastructure was also responsible for part of the breakdown. In the end, our camp manager and some other members of the camp, plus breakdown staff, cleaned up our camp by Saturday after the event

Staff, responsibilities, infrastructure providers, managers – it sounds pretty commercial to me.

We hired a team to produce the camp…but Caravancicle did not participate in any advertising. The ‘promotional materials’ and website were sent to guests who were invited to join the camp. We did not actively promote the camp. No one in Caravancicle made money off of the camp

We’ve provided a link to some of their advertising and promotional materials, the About page at Creating a website and putting your commercial-looking brochure up on it surely counts as “participating in advertising”. There is no question that people who worked in Caravancicle were paid, so JT is not telling the truth here.

we used wristbands

some of our campers were “plug and play” participants

Seems pretty clear to me.

2014 lost hotel bathroom

From Interior Design:

Inside a Space Cube

Inside a Space Cube

Scott Mahoney created the camp “The Lost Hotel,” using his modular tent system called Space Cube that can stack up to three stories high. Mahoney used Adobe Illustrator to design the entire project from the stairs to the bed frames, and constructed everything within 10 weeks. Mahoney’s inspiration was “constrained only by ease of setup and breakdown,” he says. Also collaborating on the project was Joey Rubin of Adar Partners. Rubin’s process was one of “resourcefulness and adaptability,” he says, especially when designing two theme camps at the same time, since Mahoney’s team also assembled 68 Space Cube tents for Caravancicle, a camp produced by Ari Derfel…

Caravancicle Camp offered an all-inclusive experience to affluent deciders and Powerball winners who enjoyed a level of sophistication never seen before at BRC.
It took the teams of The Lost Hotel and of LMNOP 5 people working for 7 days 18h/day to complete this pushing the envelope of refinement camp

Here is how the Federal Government defines commercial use, in relation to their requirement for a Special Recreation Permit (SRP):

Subpart 2932—Special Recreation Permits for Commercial Use, Competitive Events, Organized Groups, and Recreation Use in Special Areas

§2932.5   Definitions.

Actual expenses means money spent directly on the permitted activity. These may include costs of such items as food, rentals of group equipment, transportation, and permit or use fees. Actual expenses do not include the rental or purchase of personal equipment, amortization of equipment, salaries or other payments to participants, bonding costs, or profit.

Commercial use means recreational use of the public lands and related waters for business or financial gain.

(1) The activity, service, or use is commercial if—

(i) Any person, group, or organization makes or attempts to make a profit, receive money, amortize equipment, or obtain goods or services, as compensation from participants in recreational activities occurring on public lands led, sponsored, or organized by that person, group, or organization;

(ii) Anyone collects a fee or receives other compensation that is not strictly a sharing of actual expenses, or exceeds actual expenses, incurred for the purposes of the activity, service, or use;

(iii) There is paid public advertising to seek participants; or

(iv) Participants pay for a duty of care or an expectation of safety.

(2) Profit-making organizations and organizations seeking to make a profit are automatically classified as commercial, even if that part of their activity covered by the permit is not profit-making or the business as a whole is not profitable.

From Burning Man’s FAQ (old site):

Q: Does my delivery driver need a BLM Special Recreation Permit (SRP)?

A:The Burning Man Event occurs on public land administered by the BLM. Commercial activities (services rendered with the intent of making a profit or financial gain, or delivery of goods and services onto public lands for a fee) are prohibited within the Burning Man Closure area unless specifically contracted by Black Rock City, LLC, and permitted by the BLM through a Special Recreation Permit (SRP).

In 2012, Minister of Propaganda Will Chase said:

we would like to address a few key areas of confusion, so everybody’s on the same page:

  1. “Adventure” outfits (defined as purely commercial businesses offering a full service camp experience that have no connection to our culture and community) providing “a Burning Man Experience” are not considered to be Turnkey camps, and as of this year they will no longer be allowed at the event. Before we had a formalized process for making deliveries to Black Rock City (introduced in 2011 as a “vendor pass” then renamed to Outside Services in 2012 to better reflect the variety of deliveries we facilitate which help build the city) we had no way of identifying these enterprises. Now that we do, we will actively prohibit adventure businesses that are not part of our community and merely capitalizing on our event. It will not be a completely clean process the first year; there are innocent people involved who need to be considered and, as always, a spectrum of outfits that could fit into this category or may be of benefit to the community. They will need to be evaluated and treated fairly, but rest assured, we will not allow our city to become a revenue stream for these sorts of businesses any longer. We are calling on the community to help us with this effort by identifying operations and reporting them to us by emailing
  2. There has been confusion on an issue referred to as taxation for Turnkey camps. These are the facts: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently informed us that they will require any business in operation at our event to obtain a permit and pay 3% of gross revenues to the BLM, just as Black Rock City LLC is required to do. This has always been their right. They began enforcement with commercial air charters at our airport in 2011 and this year they will require RV and trailer providers to pay as well. This will not apply to small “mom and pop” style operations or one-time deliveries. The BLM is not interested in capitalizing on every opportunity, but they do have federal permit regulations they are required to uphold, and this allows them to hold larger commercial operations accountable with regard to our event stipulations and their commitment to environmental stewardship.

Although Caravancicle is the most public of the Commodification Camps, and particularly egregious because it was backed by someone on the Board of Directors, it’s by no means the only such enterprise. Answergirl said they placed 25 of these camps on October 29, this was watered down to 12 by December 3 when “Burning Man” gave us their official response. If these camps are running commercial activities on the Playa, without a Special Recreation Permit from the Bureau of Land Management, they jeopardize the permit for the whole event – and thus are an existential threat to Burning Man itself, as well as a threat to our culture.


In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.


BLM 2014 Burning Man Operating Plan

BLM 2013 list of permitted vendors



image: Philippe Glade

image: Philippe Glade

image: Philippe Glade

image: Philippe Glade

DJ Booth above the bar, Caravancicle. Image: Philippe Glade

DJ Booth above the bar, Caravancicle. Image: Philippe Glade

Skies Fill Up Fast

When the Jackedrabbit Spaketh of the Eye in the Sky, they weren’t kidding. Applications for drone permits are pretty much full, according to the Examiner. How many drones will be filming you from above this year? Oh, not many. Just 200 – about 1 for every 300 citizens, meaning there are more drones than there are cops.

blackhawk wesley clark 2013The 200 is just for the civilian drones, operated by Burners. We also have satellite and military overflights, and who knows what manner of integrated technology the infrared-equipped cops/rangers are testing out at the largest public event on Federal land, on a former military bombing range. There could be all kinds of loony stuff going on overhead.

Re-blogged from The Examiner:

Only three days after organizers of Burning Man opened registration for pilots of radio-controlled aircraft at this year’s event, the cap has been nearly reached.

BurningManDroneImageAs of late Thursday, more than 150 registrants submitted requests to use drones at the annual week-long counterculture gathering in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. When organizers announced the registration Tuesday, it set limit the number of people allowed to use devices to 200.

On Wednesday, event spokesperson Jim Graham said last year’s event saw only a few radio-controlled aircraft and drones, most of which were used by participants to take aerial videos and photographs of Black Rock City. Though registration was required at 2013’s event, organizers believed limiting the number of flyers to this year to 200 would more than accommodate the number of people intending to fly.

Google's "Project Loon" brings Wi-Fi everywhere“We don’t think we had anything close to that last year. We’ll see what we get,” Graham said Wednesday.

But by 11 p.m. Thursday night, 156 attendees had registered for this August’s event.

Despite the numbers, Graham said Friday morning that the organization doesn’t believe it will need to increase the cap.

googleprojectloon2“We had a rush of applications when we announced registration,” he explained. “It has slowed to a trickle. We think the 200 cap is good and was based on our ability to staff and properly support the effort.”

Called by some as an “experiment in radical self-reliance,” Burning Man attracts nearly 70,000 attendees from across the globe to Nevada’s inhospitable Black Rock Desert for extreme art, music and social freedom. The event strongly encourages a participatory atmosphere, and many attendees choose to enjoy the event nude or partially nude.

Google Project Loon balloon on display at Airforce Museum in ChristchurchOrganizers have been traditionally very protective of attendees’ privacy, especially concerning professional photographers and videographers, who are required to register cameras. The event’s strict non-commercial policies also control how photographs and videos may be used, with drones adding another layer of quickly evolving complexity to the mix.

Registration applications, while they last, are available at the Black Rock City Municipal Airport’s website.

So if “most” of them were used to take videos and photos…what were the “other” ones doing?

Some Burners have suggested shooting these things down with water guns, or other means. Last year a young man was killed when his remote controlled helicopter drone crashed in a park in Brooklyn, NY. It’s going to be hard for BMOrg keep 70,000 Burners spread out over 1000 acres safe from 200+ drones that could fall out of the sky at any time. There’s also the risk of drones colliding with birds, skydivers, helicopters, ultralites, lasers, flame effects, UFOs, or anything else in the skies over Black Rock City. Will there be DUIs for drone pilots?

The following footage, from just one drone, has 600,000 views on YouTube. Multiply that by 200, and you have a lot of ad-worthy eyeballs being drawn to Burning Man. So rock out with your cock out! For those bringing your kids, keep in mind that by the time they grow up and pursue a career, it should be pretty easy to locate them at Burning Man from all this drone footage (clue: search technology in twenty years will be much more advanced than today).

What Kunz Permits

dustcitydiner-ana-grillo560 (1)Today’s edition of the Jackedrabbit Tweaks brings us some more rules for the party. Remember in the past, how you might be handed a grilled cheese sandwich by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, or enjoy some French toast airlifted in on a vulture capitalist’s private plane? Have you ever been in a camp, and been offered some water from a jug, a cup of coffee, or some ice from an RV’s ice maker?

Well, those things are still possible – as long as the money is paid in advance, and the paperwork is in order. Jawohl, mein kommandant!
burning cookieIf you plan on handing out non-alcoholic drinks or ice to anyone, you’ll need a permit. If you plan on cooking for more than 125 people in your camp, or even one person who is not in your camp, you’ll need a permit. If any of your food is prepared off the Playa, it needs to be done in a permitted establishment – you absolutely cannot do any food preparation at home. You will also need to explain how you will be controlling the temperature of the food on its long journey to the remote Playa.

To get a permit, you’ll have to pay $50 (check or money order only, no credit cards), and provide the gubmint with the entire menu you will be offering (including beverages), and what times you will be serving it. Yes, even for ice. You will also need a plan for managing waste water (hint: you can’t dump it on the Playa, or down the port-a-potties), and all other forms of waste. Any water you use for washing or rinsing has to be changed out every 2 hours.

The government inspectors will come to test how sanitary your conditions are, and you will need to provide the testing strips for them.

You will have to apply in writing by August 15, or in person at Carson City by August 22. Then you will need to go to Playa Info at Center Camp to collect your permit, before setting up any of your food serving area. From JRS:

they need to be received at Ellen Kunz’s office in Winnemucca no later than one week before the event – August 15, 2014.

Don’t wait until the last minute. It would be a shame to have to cancel your plans, or even risk being closed at the event. The mailing address is  NSHD – PHCS 475 West Haskell Street Suite 38, Winnemucca, NV 89445.

In Person: No later than THURSDAY AUGUST 22. 4150 Technology Way Suite 100, Carson City, NV. Phone: (775) 687-7550 or 475 West Haskell Street Suite 38 Winnemucca, NV.  Phone (775) 623-6588.

On the application, the event coordinator is ‘Burning Man‘. Leave the location blank, unless you know what street and intersection you be at during the event. After mailing the application and $50 USD payment, you must come and pick up your permit at Playa Info in Center Camp from Sunday August 24 through Saturday August 30 (specific hours to be determined and announced)

car cookingNo sushi, no cold cuts. No home made ice creams, cookies, or soups. No water or juice dispensers. You wanna give someone a coffee? It better be black.

If the food is hot, it has to be above 135º, and if it’s cold, below 41°. Utensils, cups, coolers and any other storage containers must be at least 6″ off the ground. Any buckets need to be changed every 2 hours. Food handlers need to be adequately clothed.

Here’s what you CAN serve without a permit:

  • Alcoholic beverages (to people 21 and over)
  • Foods that are commercially prepackaged and served unopened in single serve size packaging not requiring refrigeration. Examples of these foods include unopened packages of candy, single serve sized bags of chips, pretzels, snack bars, cookies, nuts, cans of soda, bottled water
  • Whole uncut fruit 
  • Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate prepared and served without any milk or dairy; using only powdered non-dairy creamer or ultra-pasteurized dairy creamer in individual servings
  • Commercially prepared acidic beverages such as orange juice or lemonade that are served from the original container without the addition of ice or other foods
  • Commercially prepared, prepackaged and unopened individual ice cream bars or containers
  • Cotton candy
  • Popcorn

If you’re looking for uncut fruit, try Comfort and Joy!

Here are some items that MUST have a permit:

  • watermelonFoods that require time/temperature control for safety, such as all meats and animal products 
  • Dairy products
  • Any food not individually wrapped or portioned that is handled by others.
  • Any cut fruits or vegetables served in pieces or juiced.
  • Coffee and teas if you are offering milk, dairy or soy as part of your service


And here are some absolute no-no’s:

  • b11food7676Do not scoop ice with bare hands or glasses or cups and do not allow your camp mates to, either.
  • Foods from unapproved sources. Hunted meat or game animals, non-commercially caught fish, and gathered foods such as wild mushrooms may not be served. (You may only serve food obtained from permitted food establishments such as grocery stores and restaurants.)
  • Previously prepared homemade foods including home canned foods. No foods for public consumption may be prepared in a private home. Foods must be prepared on-site or be prepared in a permitted commercial establishment.
  • Unpasteurized milk or milk products or unpasteurized juices.
  • raw or undercooked animal products unless prior approval from NDPBH is received and a consumer advisory is in place. Live or frozen shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels and scallops) may not be served raw or under cooked under any circumstances.
  • If you wish to use shellfish as an ingredient it must be pre-cooked by the manufacturer.
  • pancakesNo undercooked foods containing eggs
  • Any food that has undergone reduced oxygen packaging, such as vacuum sealing or sous-vide preparations.
  • food service volunteers may not eat, smoke or care for small children while they are working in the camp kitchen.
  • Beverage consumption by food handlers is only allowed from a closed container.
  • No cloth towels may be used to dry hands. They harbor and spread germs.
  • Minimize the amount of food preparation in your camp. Examples include using pre-formed hamburger patties and pre-cut and pre-washed vegetables. [of course, you can’t form the patties or cut and wash the vegetables at home. You will have to get access to a licensed establishment for prep]
  • Store and keep raw animal foods separate from ready-to-eat foods.
  • Store different species of raw animal products separately. If stored in the same cooler, use separate, sealed containers and store properly by placing raw chicken which has the highest required cooking temperature on the bottom

You will need to provide the following:

  • menu of all items including beverages
  • serving times
  • where did you purchase the food
  • where was the food prepared
  • how was the temperature of the food controlled
  • list all equipment used to hold, prepare, or serve food, including serving utensils, cups, coolers, grills, “etc.”
  • oreo cookiehandwashing station
  • stem thermometer
  • sanitizer (bleach)
  • 3 waste water buckets
  • serving utensils
  • tables (food prep)
  • soap (dishwashing, hand)
  • cooling unit(s)
  • gloves
  • paper towels (hand drying)
  • 3 dishwashing basins
  • wiping bucket (for sanitizing surfaces)
  • spray bottle and paper towels

If all those rules don’t put you off, you can find the 4-page permit application here, and the self-inspection checklist here.


Associated Press Misreports Pershing County Fees

by Whatsblem the Pro


The Associated Press has released a correction to their November 11th story regarding Burning Man’s agreement with Pershing County, and it’s only fair that we acknowledge the correction as well, since we repeated it here in good faith.

Burners everywhere have been wondering what the real story might be regarding the agreed-upon payments to be made to Pershing County by the Burning Man organization, since the press release at gave different figures than were being reported in virtually every major news outlet around the globe.

The Associated Press’ correction reads as follows:

RENO, Nev. (AP) — RENO, Nev. (AP) — In a story Nov. 11 about security and insurance costs at the Burning Man counterculture festival, The Associated Press erroneously reported the terms of the agreement. The agreement estimates Burning Man will pay $240,000 a year over 10 years to Pershing County, with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s share covered in a separate agreement, not more than $600,000 a year to the county and BLM. Burning Man would be required to maintain up to $1 million in insurance coverage in the separate BLM agreement, not the agreement with the county.

While we wouldn’t have been surprised had the Org’s numbers turned out to be inaccurate and the Associated Press’ the reality, this is not the case. . . and since there are plenty of genuine issues to address regarding the Org and the way they run the event, we feel that it’s only right to go out of our way to point out the correction and do what we can to discourage people from citing the discrepancy as evidence of some kind of chicanery.

Rich White Trash

by Whatsblem the Pro

"Great burn. . . see you back at the sty, Larry!"

“Great burn. . . see you back at the sty, Larry!”

MOOP is “matter out of place,” the burner slang for litter. It’s very highly frowned-upon to litter at Burning Man; you will likely have a nasty confrontation with someone if you MOOP deliberately, or even if you wear things that are MOOP-prone, like feathered headdresses. The event takes place on federal land that belongs to all Americans, and not littering the place up is a condition of the permit issued by the Bureau of Land Management, originators of the slogan “leave no trace.”

Each year after the burn, the mighty Playa Restoration Team spends a month or more on the playa, gridding out the abandoned skeleton of the city and doing an astonishing job of picking up and properly disposing of even the smallest bits of MOOP, like carpet fibers and cigarette butts (and they even seem to manage to make a good time out of it). Using GPS, they mark problem areas on a map; the camps that get marked yellow or red on the annual MOOP map may have serious problems getting placement from the corporation that runs Burning Man the next year.

Check out this detail of the Restoration Team’s final MOOP map for 2013, and note the two circled camps:


See the yellow and red marking “Ego, Ergo Frum Camp” and “Camp Whatever” as main MOOP offenders? It’s not the first year these camps have left behind significant amounts of litter and detritus — their MOOP footprint was similar in 2010, for instance — but the name of the main camp has been listed differently on the MOOP map each year.

Why? Because “Ego, Ergo Frum Camp” and “Whatever Camp” are actually the public and private sides of First Camp, where the Board of Directors spend their burn. These are the people who adapted “leave no trace” from a Bureau of Land Management slogan to one of the Ten Principles that many burners consider sacred, holy writ. It’s kind of like the way the Board of Directors tells you not to commodify Burning Man. . . while they commodify Burning Man.

These aren’t people who lack the resources to have someone else pick up after them, if they just can’t do it themselves; some of them have social secretaries camping with them, for god’s sake. . . but if First Camp was your camp, you wouldn’t be allowed back after leaving behind that kind of mess multiple times in recent years.

Burner, these people aren’t like you. They don’t represent you, and they have no problem with double standards that treat you as lesser beings and hold you to a higher standard than them. They don’t deserve all the loyalty and support you give them. . . but if you have the will, they can be replaced.

We need new leadership! Out with the corporatists! Burning Man for burners!