Keeping it Weird

candy van and gf

Australians. Can’t live with ’em, can’t send ’em any further away.

One enterprising young bloke from “the ass end of the world” has used his time in America and his trip to Burning Man to achieve international notoriety.

From the BBC:

In August 2015, children in a sleepy suburban neighbourhood of the Californian city of Sacramento noticed a white, windowless van parked on their street.

Across the side of the vehicle, someone had painted the words “Free Candy” in a bloody shade of red. A cluster of handprints were smeared nearby, suggesting that some candy-seekers may have come to the wrong kind of sticky ending.

A 12-year-old named Lawrence Bellow uploaded a photo that began to spread around the internet. Soon local news stations were interviewing local parents about the “suspicious van” rolling through town.

“It just felt like they were trying to attract kids, and it just gave me a creepy feeling,” Lawrence’s mum told the local KOVR TV station.

The van’s driver was Australian Ron Jacobs, 28, who had stopped overnight on his way to Burning Man, the month-long music festival in the middle of the Nevada desert.

By the time he arrived his van had already gained internet fame.

“I was just living in the van and I was just hearing it explode all around me,” Jacobs said. “I woke up one morning, some guy just screams out, ‘I saw you on the internet, I love your van!'”

Since then the “Free Candy Van”, which does actually give out free candy, hasn’t stopped getting attention.

Jacobs said the idea for the van came after his life in Perth fell apart “in a whole bunch of ways”.

“Life. Work. Family. The whole shebang,” he said. “All at the same time … I ended up picking up my savings and chasing my dreams.”

Those dreams involved a “big international adventure”, so he left to travel the American southwest and camp out while skydiving, windsurfing and attending music festivals.

Rather than live in a tent, Jacobs decided it would be better to buy a second-hand van, but knew he was trading comfort for the stigma associated with being a strange man in a white, windowless van.

Instead of shying away from the image, he decided to play up to it by going over the top.

“I was just kind of thinking, like most things in life that you can’t change … what you can do is embrace it and celebrate it,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs, an engineer who spent a year studying at Penn State University, has since given out $1500 (£1500) of free candy.

He said most of his interactions with other people involved a “rollercoaster” of reactions, starting with horror before moving to a sense of relief, and even delight.

Jacobs has been stopped by police eight times while driving the van. A friend from Perth who borrowed the van for three weeks was stopped seven times.

“I consider this van a mirror of American society,” Mr Jacobs said. “The whole experience I’ve had has just been me, a tourist, living American everyday life as their… public enemy number one, and it’s just been such an experience.

“It’s all just the epitome of absurd.”

free candy van

candy van ron jacobs

[Source: BBC]

Once again, over-protective and nervous parents found something to be over-protective and nervous about:

Here’s the Free Candy whistleblower explaining how he saved the day:

And here’s the perpetrator’s apology – in which he says that American society itself created the Free Candy Van (and its registered trademark and website):

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the idea was original:

Parents, be sure to talk to your children about “stranger danger”.

This pundit cautions us to beware of all vans:

Australia’s Edith Cowan University, in Perth – the world’s most remote city – also did a story on one of their local fellas making a name for himself overseas.

The story behind America’s suspicious free candy van

A vintage van complete with blackened windows, no number plate and branded with ‘free candy’ in blood-red writing has been cruising around the streets of America giving out free candy.

It might sound the epitome of a parent’s nightmare, yet the menacing van contains nothing more harmless than a few extra trips to the dentist.  There are more important things to focus on, like fixing that grinding you hear from yuo kid’s rooms at night. Sollution: mouth guard for teeth grinding.

Perth hippy Ron Jacobs settled on the idea behind the van en-route to Burning Man festival this year; a stop before he headed off for three months of ‘wing suiting’, a sport where you fly wearing a suit that looks like an overgrown fruit bat.

Despite the media attention he received for the van, which wasn’t always positive, Ron assured sceptical onlookers that it was nothing more than a tribute to the Burning Man’s celebration of absurdism, and a product of his own unique humour.

“At the Burning Man it’s all about the giving, so what am I going to give?” he told ECU Daily.

“Oh and I’ve got to get to Burning Man. So I’ll need transport. I’ll also need somewhere to stay there … Okay, let’s connect all of these dots: FREE CANDY starts making a lot more sense.

“It’s just going to have to be completely over-the-top and really deliver on the promise of free candy at each and every opportunity.”

He said the  joy and delight I received driving others around, while handing out free sweets, was amazing.

“I get as many of my friends and their friends’ friends to drive around in it and give out free candy too,” he said.

“It’s such a blast. The sensation of being able to take someone from immediate shock-horror all the way through to gratitude and hilarity with a drizzle of irony in less than a second is outrageous fun in my book.”

The van made American news headlines, with some of the bold statements including: ‘Free Candy van creeps out parents in Sacramento’, and ‘Free Candy van upsets Sacramento residents’.

Luckily, these weren’t the only responses.

“I only ever heard the story from other peoples’ mouths,” Jacobs said.

“One interesting example was when one morning I woke up to a man shouting out at the top of his lungs at the van: “I saw you on the internet! F*** love your van!”.

So what’s next for the wing-suited, parent-creeping-out world traveller?

Best to keep in the loop via his Facebook page: facebook.com/ron.jacobs.146.

free candy night 1024x1024 free candy horse head 920x920

Get Your Timeshare Slot In The Sultan

If this is a troll, it’s the most elaborate one I’ve ever seen. It’s either real, or an ironic “seeding of the market” like the AirBnB listings. They can put the brochures in the Souk and test the appetite and interest level, measure how many outraged reactions there are (if any)…all the while pretending it’s not really happening in the name of irony. Except this IS really happening. Playa hotels are really happening, commodification camps are really happening, so is Burning Man ephemeral real estate leasing really happening too? Or is it just a mirage? A big farce?

From occidentaloasis.com:

Experience™ Black Rock City like you never have before with a choice of accommodations and services ranging from opulent luxury for the refined individual to comfort and convenience for the seasoned adventurer.  

Occidental Oasis is the preeminent Experience™ ownership and Experience Club™ membership program in Black Rock City. Ownership of a deeded real estate interest provides Members with a lifetime of unsurpassed experiences via the most innovative and flexible club in the industry. Experience Club™ members choose when and where to travel, enjoying the comfort and convenience of residential-style resort accommodations in select, renowned festivals throughout the United States and world. Each Experience Club™ property provides a distinctive setting, while signature elements remain consistent, such as high-quality guest service, spacious residences and extensive on-property amenities. From exciting Black Rock City, Nevada and dynamic Forgotten City, Las Vegas, to the laid-back lifestyles of Saguaro Man, Arizona and Soul Fire, California, or the frozen landscape of Frost Burn, we take pride in offering our guests a superior Experience™ ownership program in the world’s most celebrated locations. For those aspiring to the good life, Occidental Oasis offers a passport to endless opportunities for radical self-expression.

Since its formation in 2010, Occidental Oasis has worked closely with the Burning Man Organization (BMORG) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to finally bring this exciting opportunity to Burning Man participants in 2014.  In a market where large, publicly held theme camps have recently begun to dominate the landscape, Occidental Oasis has carved out a niche deep in the playa. 

Our Black Rock City sales offices are located in the 6:00 Souk Tent Suite D2 at The Man.  We are open daily from 10am to 2pm.

Occidental Oasis is an inclusive resort property  located deep in the playa of Black Rock City, Nevada.  The resort caters to Burning Man participants that want a unique experience tailored to their individual desires.  Occidental Oasis provides participants with a choice of accommodations and services ranging from opulent luxury for the refined individual to comfort and convenience for the seasoned adventurer. 

The Oasis is located just beyond the temple and extends deep into the playa.  Our fleet of private art cars and bike pool allow guests to quickly get from the oasis to all the action in Black Rock City.

BLACK ROCK ESTATES

Enjoy Black Rock City from the luxury, beauty, and warmth of our private villas surrounded by miles of pristine playa and mountain views.  Indulge in all the luxuries of home and enjoy a haven of rejuvenation where friends can revitalize and enjoy unforgettable moments in paradise.  Renew your spirit and inner child with spa treatments and five-star hotel services.

BLACK ROCK ACRES

Black Rock Acres is a private oasis offering its own unique experience within the Burning Man event.  Relax in your private accommodations, take a break in our dust free clubhouse with live HD coverage of the event, or express yourself in our exclusive theme camps and works of art.

BLACK ROCK PARK

Our basic accommodations in Black Rock Park provide an accessible entry point for those adventurers seeking a solid foundation to launch their daily excursions into Black Rock City.  Enjoy access to our private fleet of art cars as well as many other services that will make your burn an experience to remember.

 Whether you choose the luxury of Black Rock Estates, the comfort of Black Rock Acres, or the conveniences of Black Rock Park just remember that our home is your home in Black Rock City.

Packages:

Occidental Oasis creates unique and unforgettable experiences for the discerning Burning Man participant.  Each participant works with one of our highly trained Experience Associates™ to develop an Experience Profile™ that determines their desires for self-expression and appraises their self-reliance needs.  After completing an Experience Profile™ a participant will work with an Experience Agent™ to tailor a package of services and amenities that will deliver an unforgettable Burning Man experience.  The Experience Agent™ will work with the participant to finalize the necessary documents and secure a reservation at Occidental Oasis

 


Sparkle Pony

  • 6 day standard accommodation in BRC
  • Non-refundable, non-transferable
  • 1 emergency extraction to Reno
  • IV hydration package
  • Discount medical and legal services
  • All inclusive meal and beverage plan
  • Bicycle plan

Shirt Cocker

  • 3 day basic accommodation in BRC
  • 120qt cooler
  • Bud Light, Coors Light, or Miller Lite
  • PBR / Tecate (additional charge)
  • Ice service

Veteran

  • 10 days Black Rock Acres or Black Rock Park
  • Early entry and vehicle passes
  • Theme camp setup/teardown
  • Theme camp staffed by Occidental Oasis

 


Executive

  • 7 days Black Rock Estates
  • All inclusive (wardrobe, dining, entertainment)
  • VIP access
  • Personal art car with driver
  • Satellite Internet
  • Express entry/exodus
  • Chartered Flight RNO/SFO (additional charge)

Wanderlust

  • Regional events package (US only)
  • Tent/RV services
  • Travel arrangements
  • VIP Access

Ambassador

  • International events package
  • Travel and luggage services
  • Medical and legal services

 

They were recruiting paid employees for their venture:

Join the Occidental Oasis Experience Team™


An in-house Occidental Oasis Experience Team™ member is responsible for presenting the Occidental Oasis Experience™ ownership products and services to our guests and owners to generate maximum net sales volume while maintaining a professional and ethical representation of the company.

WHAT WILL I BE DOING?

As an Occidental Oasis representative, you would be responsible for presenting the Occidental Oasis Experience™ ownership products and programs to Owners, Exchangers, Owner Referrals, Courtesy Tours and our guests in order to generate maximum net sales volume while maintaining a professional and ethical representation of the company. You will take guests and owners on resort tours, present our products, and follow finance guidelines. You will also commit to the company’s operating policies, principles, sales and customer service philosophies.

WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR?

Every Burning Man participant is a very important person at Occidental Oasis, and it’s our promise to potential owners that they will enjoy the best of everything with us. That’s why the Experience Team™ is responsible for converting each participant into club members by providing them with information about our club point packages. Team members also provide additional knowledge and details regarding our ownership programs in order to help generate optimal sales volume from every participant.

WHAT BENEFITS WILL I RECEIVE?

Your benefits will include a competitive starting salary and, depending upon eligibility, a vacation or Paid Time Off (PTO) benefit. You will instantly have access to our unique benefits such as the Team Member and Family Travel Program, which provides reduced rates at many of our properties for you and your family, plus discounts on products and services offered by Occidental Oasis and its partners. After 90 days you may enroll in the Occidental Oasis Health & Welfare benefit plans, depending on eligibility. Occidental Oasis also offers eligible team members a 401K Savings Plan, as well as Employee Assistance and Educational Assistance Programs. We look forward to reviewing with you the specific benefits you would receive as an Occidental Oasis Experience Team™. The above information is provided as a highlight of the major benefits offered to most full-time team members in the United States. All benefits listed may not be offered at all locations. This is not a summary plan description or official plan document.

Their Facebook page only has 43 likes.

It has reviews, which suggest the (ironic) experience being sold now will be available next year. If enough Burners were fooled and signed up, then perhaps it will:

  • Turner Rentz

    Survival camping in harsh environments really requires the best from me, and I’m proud to let Occidental Oasis become a member of my team. My friends who roll in, in nice, expensive RV’s and even those that use their own chef and only come out at night to avoid the harshness of the environment … should all seriously look into this experience(tm). I especially love the idea of having someone do all the bothersome design work of my own, unique art car that really helps express who I am! When it comes to self reliance, I rely on Occidental! What an AMAZING service!! FIVE STARS!!!
  • My Experience™ Agent Frank set me up with the perfect little EconoPod™ in Black Rock Park. As a bonus for signing the deal before the event he threw in a free Shirt Cocker and Sparkle Pony package. I went for the 30 year agreement which also gives me preferred scheduling for my vacation reservations. I can’t wait to take my first trip to the Oasis in 2015!
     
  • I’m so excited that time shares are finally coming to Black Rock City! This will be my 11th year, and frankly I’m ready for a little luxury. My 2015 Experience™ will be the best yet!
     

On August 15 2014 – before the Gentrification and Sherpagate scandals broke out – they posted:

Have you ever wanted to make a little piece of the Burning Man Experience™ your own? Now is your chance to own 1/70,000 of your home away from home. The Occidental Oasis is the preeminent vacation ownership and timeshare program in Black Rock City.

Stop by The Man and visit us in the 6:00 Souk tent. One of our Experience™ Agents will work with you to find the perfect property and activities package.

The Occidental Oasis sales office will be open Monday through Friday 11am – 3pm. If you are interested in becoming an Experience™ Agent we are holding a job fair on Monday August 25th from 12:30pm – 3pm.

Do not miss this opportunity to secure you own Burning Man Experience™ for years to come!

Visit Occidental Oasis online at http://www.occidentaloasis.com/

occidental oasis

 

 

 

Own your own piece of the Burning Man Experience™ at the Occidental Oasis. Whether you choose the luxury of Black Rock Estates, the comfort of Black Rock Acres, or the convenience of Black Rock Park, the Occidental Oasis Resort will provide when the playa does not. Units are selling fast. Stop our sales office at The Souk M-F 11-3 to speak with an Experience™ agent. Visit us online at http://www.occidentaloasis.com/

 occidental estates occidental oasis square tents

Our units provide an accessible entry point for those adventurers seeking a solid foundation to launch their daily excursions into Black Rock City. Enjoy access to our private fleet of art cars as well as many other services that will make your burn an experience to remember.

Black Rock Acres is a private oasis offering its own unique experience within the Burning Man event. Relax in your private accommodations, take a break in our dust free clubhouse with live HD coverage of the event, or express yourself in our exclusive theme camps and works of art. — at Black Rock City

Black Rock Acres p3 Black Rock Acres p5 Black Rock Acres p2 Black Rock Acres p1 Black Rock Park p2 Black Rock Park p3 Black Rock Estates p2 Black Rock Estates 1 2014 black rock park burning man the siesta occidental oasis 2014 the herdsman black rock park occidental oasis occidental oasis econopod black rock park

 

Black Rock Estates

Black Rock Acres

Black Rock Park

Adherence to the Principles is done for you, as well as Principle # 11, Sherpa Reliance:

Communal Effort

Occidental Oasis employs many  creative and generous people that provide services and artwork to the greater community.   You can rest easy knowing that your membership in Occidental  Oasis is a valuable contribution to the greater experience of those in Black Rock City.

Public Art Installations

Unique Theme Camps

Volunteer Sponsorship

Civic Responsibility

Occidental Oasis provides trained  Experience Guides™ knowledgeable of
all local, state, and federal laws. 
Our guides will monitor your behavior in a non-intrusive manner providing
timely feedback and intervention with the community that will allow you fully
express yourself without consequence. 
Occidental Oasis also provides professional legal services on-site and
after the event.

Knowledgeable Experience Guides™

On-site Legal Support

Leave No Trace

Occidental Oasis provides full trash service as well as single stream
recycling allow you to consume what you need
when you need it without worrying about the bits you leave behind. 

Trash Service

Single Stream Recycling

Post Event Cleanup


 

Radical Inclusion

 

Everyone is welcome at the Occidental Oasis.  Stop by our sales office at The Souk to speak with one of our Experience™ Agents.

 

 

Gifting

Occidental Oasis Gift Scouts™ will scour the playa in search of only the very best gifts for our guests.  When possible scouts will collect and return to the resort with the gifts that best match our guests’ requests.  Scouts will arrange transportation in our fleet of private art cars to experience those gifts which the scouts cannot hand deliver.  

Our resorts ofter gifting packages and professional gift coordinators that will help provide our clients with gifts for giving.  Gifting packages can also include gift distributions which can be schedule to provide maximum impact to the greater burning man community and relieve our clients of the burden of gifting.

Gift Scouts

Gifting Coordinators

Gift Distribution Services

Custom Gift Packages

 


Decommodification

Occidental Oasis is a cashless facility.  Your initial investment along with your annual maintenance fee provides you unlimited access to all the resort has to offer.  All inclusive packages for meals, drinks, and entertainment are available and can be arranged when you reserve your stay.  Just contact your Experience Agent™ or the on duty Experience Concierge™ to make your selections.  

Al a carte and premium services chosen while at the event will be billed directly to your account.  Just sit back and relax knowing that it is all being taken care of for you.

Cashless Facility

Direct Billing

24 hour Experience Concierge™

 


Self-Reliance

Occidental Oasis makes your journey to the playa as easy as a first class flight to the Riviera. 

We provide around the clock access to beverages, meals, consumables, transportation, entertainment, and support services.  Our facilities include onsite medical care and emergency transportation on/off playa should you encounter pressing needs to come and go from the event.

 

24 Hour Dining

Private Showers

Art Car Fleet

Wardrobe Services

Onsite Medical Care

Emergency Transportation

 


Self-Expression

Occidental Oasis provides professional self-expression consultants that will help you choose from a variety of packages that express your unique self.  Choose from an assortment of costume, makeup, and bike options.  OurSelf-Expression Packages™ have been rated as some of the best on the playa. 

Our professional photographers will be sure to catch your most expressive moments.  We have a range of photo packages to choose from that will allow you to impress your friends. 

Our consultants can also help you manage your online presence after the show to ensure your experience will be remembered by others for years to come.

 

Wardrobe Consultants

Makeup Artists

Professional Photographers

Self-Expression Packages

Memories Packages

Post-event Support

 


Participation

Occidental Oasis pampers our guests with VIP access to the big burns and events on playa.

Party with similar minded people in our exclusive theme camps, art cars, and outings. 

VIP Access to The Burn

Exclusive Theme Camps

Private Art Car Fleet

Special Events


Immediacy

Occidental Oasis has its fingers on the pulse of Burning Man.  We know exactly what is going on when and where and how well it matches your Experience Profile™. 

We provide a daily briefing and a schedule of suggested experiences that may be of interest. 

Simply contact the on-duty Experience Concierge™ to select the activities that interest you most and our fleet of private art cars will be dispatched to pick you up and shuttle you to the event. 

Each guest is provided with a high precision GPS transponder and communicator that will allow us to locate you, confirm your desires, and get you to the next event. 

Personalized Event Schedules

24 Hour pick-up/drop-off

Radio Dispatched Art Cars

GPS Tracking Services


Civic Responsibility

Occidental Oasis provides trained Experience Guides™knowledgeable of all local, state, and federal laws.  Our guides will monitor your behavior in a non-intrusive manner providing timely feedback and intervention with the community that will allow you fully express yourself without consequence.  Occidental Oasis also provides professional legal services on-site and after the event.

Knowledgable Experience Guides™

On-site Legal Support


 

Their web site hosts some glowing testimonials from satisfied Occidentists:

“We had an outstanding trip. Our Experience™ could not have been better. Frank was technically an exceptional Experience™ guide and we always felt safe. Prior to our visit he was very accessible which made us feel more comfortable. As the burn continued I think we got to know him personally and had some very meaningful evening discussions.”

— Dirk Hainey
 

“Frank was a very accommodating guide. I felt like everything happened very smoothly and with precision. I would highly recommend this Experience Team™ and a stay at the Roca Negro Villas. The private art cars were always very clean, overall a great experience. Would go again. ”

— Sandy LaPlage
 

“Jess, our self-expression consultant, was creative and delicious. She had obviously reviewed our Experience Profile™ and her costuming was great.

The villa itself met our expectations and was very clean and comfortable. We are already thinking about next year.”

— Seymour Glass
 

“Wow!”

— A & P
 

“To have enjoyed this extraordinary experience any other way is unthinkable. My stay in The Sultan was truly opulent. The private access road make entrance and exodus a breeze. Occidental Oasis transformed my trip into the experience of a lifetime. ”

— Buckminster C.
 

“It is what I would call a solid 4.5 star experience. In other words, I give it a 9 out of 10.”

— Quentin

 

They started the week with an officially promoted on burningman.com Playa event, a job fair recruiting PAID workers to sell the real estate.

Occidental Oasis Job Fair!

Date/Time(s): Monday, August 25th, 2014 12:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Hosted by Camp: SizzleVille
Location: Occidental Oasis – Souk @ The Man Base
URL: http://www.southbayburners.org/

Description

Get in on the ground floor as a first-round employee of Occidental Oasis Holdings, an exclusive timeshare resort offering 1/70,000 ownership in BRC! Opportunities at BRC, with future expansions across the US and at international burns too! Highest commissions in the industry! Short hours, you can even learn to work from home! Learn about the BRC Properties: Hex Village, Yurt Villas, and Black Rock Estates. These gated communities provide free Wi-Fi and HDTV broadcast of the burns, two-bike garages, and plumbing in the BRC-Municipal Utility District (MUD). Package levels available: Sparkle Pony, Shirt Cocker, Veteran, Wanderlust (at regional events), and Ambassador (at international events). Optional package add-ons include sky diving arrivals, helicopter exodus, personal art car, plus more! If sales isn’t your thing, become an Occidental Oasis concierge! OO Resorts’ concierge service has its fingers on the pulse of Burning Man. We know exactly what is going on when and where and how well it matches our guests’ personal profile. We will provide a daily briefing and a schedule of suggested experiences that may be of interest to our honored sales prospects.

The South Bay Burners give us a hint that it might be a prank. 

From burningman.com

South Bay CORE/Occidental Oasis Job Fair

In classic cacophony style, we’d like to invite you to join us as the “staff” of the Occidental Oasis! Come for a job interview, and stay to help be a part of the most interactive Man Base in history! The South Bay’s Souk will be located in the south-east quadrant of the Man pavilion. For more information, visit http://www.occidentaloasis.com/events/2014/8/25/job-fair

The South Bay’s Occidental Oasis will offer a 1/70,000th share in the playa, offering ownership of a part of the future of an expanded Black Rock City. Come in, relax, and sit through our time share presentation to hear about the opportunity to own a permanent location in 2015′s 360-degree BRC township. Get brochures for special activities and freebies, plus a CERTIFICATE OF OWNERSHIP!

Selling out the Playa. Could it get more commodified? I guess the answer is yes, unfortunately.

In light of Sherpagate, Signgate, and general gentrification, the irony now seems a lot less funny. What they’re promoting as a joke in the middle of the city, they’re pretty much doing at its fringes. Or maybe this is real, and yet another Safari Camp earning millions monetizing our spectacle.

BMOrg have now publicly established, via the New York Times and others, that people will pay $13,000-$25,000 per head for luxury Commodification Camps. What would they pay for ownership of Real Estate, and access to luxury villas with pools and private access roads? The number of units is not even close to 1% of the population, so plenty could afford it. This semi-professional looking sales effort is placed in the most prime real estate of all for marketing, in their marketplace, the bizarre bazaar in the middle of their event at the base of The Man, the main attraction of the whole shebang. Is Burning Man really putting these sales brochures there because this is a hilarious joke? Because some of their Directors are selling exactly this on K Street, is that the joke?

Or are they, with the help of their AirBnB luxury boutique hotel Commodification Camping Millionaire and Billionaire Directors, testing the market to see if this idea could really fly for next year? Preparing the pitch for the Home Shopping Network?

What are Burners supposed to respond with, when receiving a real estate pitch at Burning Man, being handed these brochures? Some would be fooled into going along with the prank and responding positively to the sales pitch, just like in classic Cacophony style they were fooled into selling their souls to Satan via Helco, in BMOrg’s 1996 affairs. Others might think it’s now fine to hand out brochures for whatever cause or company you want to promote at Burning Man, in the big mall they have at the middle of it.

A prank can be ironic if you’re not actually doing it, you’re just joking; but if you’re actually doing it then which bit of it is the irony again?

First, sow confusion. It plants a seed, mixing possibility with plausible deniability. Next, sprinkle chaos. Finally, when the seedling grows, start harvesting. Sell that annual crop for cash.

Burning Man timeshares...not coming soon, already here. 

 

 

Snakes on a Playa

by Whatsblem the Pro

Burning Man 2013 has come and gone. . . and no, Daft Punk didn’t play a surprise gig at the trash fence, nor do they have one planned for 2014 (that we know of).

Playa rumors abound every year, some of them less completely unfounded than others. Some of them are just plain silly; some seem tantalizingly possible; maybe one day Daft Punk will decide to make the rumor come true, and all the jaded wiseguy eye-rollers will miss out on the show. Once in a while, one of them turns out to be perfectly true, even if it’s exaggerated, blown out of proportion, or comes true as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Without commentary, Burners.me presents a partial list of the scuttlebutt, hoopla, fact, and foofaraw that confounded and amused thousands at Burning Man 2013.

  • The cast of Jersey Shore was spotted dancing at Disorient.
  • Larry Harvey is in negotiations to sell Burning Man to Disney.
  • There will be three feet of standing water on the playa when Gate opens.
  • The “This One Goes to Eleven” referendum will be voted on at a meeting in the Center Camp Cafe on Wednesday of the event. The Ten Principles are slated for revision. Please submit your proposed Eleventh Principle to larry@burningman.com before midnight tonight.
  • Westboro Baptist will be on hand to protest Burning Man.
  • Bicycles are banned from the event.
  • Paris Hilton and P-Diddy are coming! Paris will be staying at the Orgy Dome, and P-Diddy has taken the playa name ‘P-Funnel’ for the duration.
  • Black Rock City will feature a fully-operational subway system this year.
  • DPW is planning a general strike to protest the presence of police officers on the playa.
  • The event was oversold by 20,000 tickets; latecomers should expect delays as a one-car-out, one-car-in policy is enforced.
  • Larry Harvey has new teeth.
  • Ben Affleck will prepare for his role as Batman by rappelling from the Man just before the burn.
  • DPW workers are teaming up with the Pershing County Sheriff to collect random greywater samples from evap ponds around Black Rock City in order to obtain DNA and data on illegal drug use.
  • Taco Bell shot a commercial on the playa this year.
  • All the odd-numbered streets in Black Rock City are one-way.
  • A DPW truck that arrived on the playa a month ago turned out to be carrying a pregnant female rattlesnake, which escaped. The babies have since reproduced in turn, leaving the playa infested with rattlesnakes. The snakes enjoy cool dark confined spaces, like the insides of boots, tents, and art pieces.
  • In an attempt to keep Burning Man from turning into a cult (and to get rid of some of the rattlesnakes), the Temple will be burned early. There will be no official announcement.
  • Burning Man is canceled!

Heard any good ones lately?

Why We Prank

by Whatsblem the Pro

In the wee hours of the morning on April 1st, while it was still dark out, my housemate and I were taping garbage bags to the frame of someone else’s bedroom door and filling the space between the bags and the door with balloons. When we’d stuffed enough balloons into the gap to bury a person opening the door from inside the room in inflated rubber, we high-fived and went to bed wreathed in smiles. Many of the balloons were long sausage-like cylinders; some had been twisted into more explicitly suggestive shapes and decorated or written on with a Sharpie; they bore slogans like “Your Magic Friend While He’s Away,” and “ASS-2-ASS! ASS-2-ASS!

Around dawn, a tiny hullabaloo of confusion, cursing, laughter, and savage balloon-popping took place in the hall outside my door. I woke up long enough to have a good haw-haw, and went back to bed to finish sleeping.

By the time the morning had progressed to a fit hour for decent people, my co-conspirator and I were the only ones home, and retribution was in full effect. I got out of bed first; there were notes taped to the walls over the kitchen and bathroom sinks: “LANDLORD CALLED, WATER OFF UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.” I turned the taps; nothing. I knew the landlord would call my landline in the event of a real outage, so of course I simply turned them on at the wall and did my business. . . and since my accomplice – still new in our house – had no idea, I turned the toilet and sink off again after using them, and played dumb when she got up. Fifteen minutes later she was fleeing to a friend’s place to use the bathroom.

The next day, like a Third World child stepping on an unexploded land mine long after the war has ended, she dipped a spoon into a container marked ‘SUGAR,’ and stirred a heaping helping of salt into her coffee.

Some people decry pranks as unnecessary, disrespectful cruelties, but pranks among friends – especially friends who live together harmoniously – are often sources of bonding and group history-building. They serve as test of and testimony to our confidence in each other as intimates, and give us something to laugh about together weeks, months, and years later.

There’s a similar phenomenon to be found in the way Australians are prone to casually referring to their nearest and dearest as ‘cunts,’ a practice which never fails to horrify uninitiated Septics (aka Americans), who typically wither or bristle at the drop of the dreaded ‘C’ word. The first time I got the C-bomb dropped on me by an Aussie, he was smiling warmly and handing me a free beer with a “welcome home” twinkle in his eye, and I still stopped jaw-slung in my tracks, thinking did he really just call me a cunt? Once I got over the initial shock, though, I realized that I was being welcomed into the fold and hailed as a brother. It was only up to me to pass the test by not being offended. Not a prank per se, but a cultural marker that acts a lot like one.

Psychologists have been studying pranks for some time, usually in the very negative light of malice, bigotry, and exclusion, but anthropologists have found that practical jokes are far more commonly an effort to bring a person into a group rather than drive or keep them out. The kind of frat-boy hazing that sociologist Erving Goffman characterized as ceremonial degradation turns out to be an integral part of rituals in human cultures throughout the globe, serving to temper the initiate’s sense of success at gaining entrée in a splash of cold humility. Being duped and brought low even for a moment can prompt a powerful self-reflection and a new alertness to the world; this may in fact be the looked-for metamorphosis that the hazing is meant to induce in the neophyte.

In other words, the difference between what goes on during Rush Week on Fraternity Row, and what goes on in the course of ten thousand other prankish social gluing rites all over the globe, is mainly a matter of form and not function. The dangerously drunk college boy getting paddled and peed on is being ushered into a society and acknowledged as having a place there in a more aggressive, juvenile, irresponsible, and homoerotic manner than a newlywed couple getting a shivaree, but the idea is the same. . . and in both cases the victims are being put through a positive metamorphic process that draws them closer to the culture administering it, rather than simply being embarrassed, inconvenienced, victimized, and/or degraded for its own sake.Image

Dr. Jonathan Wynn, a cultural sociologist and lecturer at Smith College, says these kinds of induction-into-the-culture pranks help elevate the victim even as they seemingly demean and degrade. “You gain status by being picked on in some ways. It can be a kind of flattery, if you’re being brought in.” According to Wynn, the vast majority of ritualistic pranks played on newcomers are sending a message – that the pranksters like you and want to recognize you as one of them – and are demanding a response in the form of good-natured acceptance.

Hazing rituals have another effect that they share with one-on-one pranks – and outright scams – that have nothing to do with being welcomed into a new circle of people; they can trigger a feedback and correction mechanism for the victim’s own defense instincts. The shock and embarrassment of being the patsy leads to a self-evaluation and adjustment of our vigilance against the depredations of others; it may heighten our paranoia, but paradoxically, being duped can also prompt us to be less vigilant than before.

“As humans, we develop this notion of fairness as a part of our self-concept, and of course it’s extremely important in exchange relationships,” says consumer psychologist Kathleen D. Vohs, co-author of Feeling Duped: Emotional, Motivational, and Cognitive Aspects of Being Exploited by Others.

Take off my pants too, get a free cup of coffee

Take off my pants too, get a free cup of coffee

“Being duped holds up this mirror to people,” says Dr. Vohs, “and may in fact show them where they are on the scale” between total obliviousness and hyper-vigilance, thus helping them to form a more realistic view of themselves and adjust their defense mechanisms to be more effective in exchange relationships.

The mirror Dr. Vohs refers to is something psychologists call “counterfactual thinking,” in which the duped victim goes over and over the events that led to them being duped, playing the scenario out in their heads in different ways in an attempt to figure out where they went wrong. The intense self-examination often leads to better perspective and even full-blown epiphanies that improve the victim’s skill at dealing with others and successfully distinguishing good information from bad information, and good deals from not-so-good deals.

“There appears to be stable individual differences in the motivation (called sugrophobia) to avoid being a sucker,” says Dr. Vohs. “High sugrophobes will be vigilant and skeptical of potential deals. Low sugrophobes may not even realize in some instances that they were duped. The aversive reaction to feeling duped stimulates counterfactual ruminations that may intensify sugrophobia but also aids in extracting useful lessons.”

Other researchers have offered evidence that the insights gleaned from counterfactual thinking can have a major positive impact on behavior that enhances our social interactions.

Now consider Burning Man. In the absence of commerce, in an environment of abundance in which everything (or nearly everything) is given freely, the motivations for duping others become less obvious. With no money or trade goods in play, decommodification allows us the luxury – or possibly creates the dire hazard – of pranking and being pranked with only our bodies, our preconceptions, our ingrained habits, and our personal pride at stake.

Transformative experience, anyone? Just let go. Black Rock City is a place where you can willingly suspend your disbelief and judiciously allow yourself to be delightfully misdirected, bamboozled, flim-flammed, monkey-talked, and played in a thousand different ways. Be alert for the lessons you might learn thereby. . . and pass them on to others.

Hey, what’s that on your shirt?