2015 Celebrity Sightings

Some Burners will go “who cares”…but if you type “Burning Man” into Google and set time to “past 24 hours” under Search Tools, you will see that this is the main story being discussed on the Internet about Burning Man. Celeb coverage includes Business Insider, Harper’s Bazaar, New York Post, Hollywood Life, Marie Claire.

It seems that many people very much do care. Where else can regular folks party with billionaires and A-list stars, for only $400?

Maybe later in the week there will be other Burning Man news on the Internet for us to discuss. Hey, if you don’t like this story, write your own! We welcome guest posts.

Susan Sarandon got a lot of press for carrying Timothy Leary’s ashes in a procession to their final resting place under a masturbating nun, before they were merged with the rest of the ash after the Totem of Confessions burned.

Katy Perry made her Burning Man debut with video of her falling off a Segway, which has gone viral globally – 511,000 likes just on her Instagram feed.

Jared Leto handed out oranges. Diddy tended bar. Leonardo di Caprio was a rumored sighting last year, this year his girlfriend was confirmed.

Voices of Burning Man reports that “soccer star Ronaldo” was there, asking to be gifted some merch at Robot Heart [NB: the sport is called football, because you kick the ball with your foot, not hold it in your hands]. Turns out it was Ronaldo Lima, not current Real Madrid player Cristiano Ronaldo.

More from #bm15

A post shared by Ronaldo (@ronaldo) on

First Burning man festival with brothers! #bm15

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More from #bm15

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Also rumored to be in attendance this year was Paris Hilton. Her Twitter feed was silent between Aug 29 and Sep 7, before she jetted off to Ibiza for a foam and diamonds party.

Bye Ibiza! ✌🏻️🇪🇸 Taking off to Zurich with @PeterPan_Hilton. ✈️🇨🇭

A post shared by Paris Hilton (@parishilton) on

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Katy Perry, singer

🔥🚨obvious first time burner alert🚨🔥

A post shared by KATY PERRY (@katyperry) on

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Susan Sarandon, actress

These boots were made for BurninG Man. @officinecreative_official @madisonshoes madisonstyle.com

A post shared by Susan Sarandon (@susansarandon) on

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One minute this

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Karlie Kloss, model, Victoria’s Secret angel

Wigging out with @karliekloss

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Suki Waterhouse, model (note the numbered RV)

🎈

A post shared by Suki Waterhouse (@sukiwaterhouse) on

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Poppy Delevingne, model, socialite

Bye Burningman. It's been a trip. @sukiwaterhouse #needsleepforaweek #burningman #popandsuki

A post shared by Poppy Jamie (@poppyjamie) on

That forever kind of friend @poppydelevingne #burningman2015 #CarnivalofMirrors

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P.Diddy, mogul

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Cara Delevingne, model/actress/singer

September 06, 2015! @caradelevingne with a fan in Nevada! (Black Rock Festival)

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Dasha Zhukova, magazine editor, Mrs Roman Abramovich

You have to sparkle before you Burn @mamasinthebuilding

A post shared by Derek Blasberg (@derekblasberg) on

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Derek Blasberg, magazine editor, author

🔥👤

A post shared by Derek Blasberg (@derekblasberg) on

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Constance Jablonski, model

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Mohammed Hadid (Real Housewives husband)

Desert time

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Jared Leto, actor

Mind On Fire #burningman #MarsIsComing

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Kelly Rohrbach, model, actress, athlete – Leo di Caprio’s latest squeeze

burn baby burn 😷

A post shared by 👻kellyro4 (@kellyrohrbach) on

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Shanina Shaik, model, and DJ Ruckus “the most sought after DJ in the world”

❤️💛💚💜💙 @djruckusofficial

A post shared by SHANINA SHAIK (@shaninamshaik) on

🌵 #burningman #dragonfly #camp #desert #camo

A post shared by SHANINA SHAIK (@shaninamshaik) on

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Michelle Monaghan, actress

In dust we trust ✨💫 #burningman #expressyourself #befree

A post shared by Michelle Monaghan (@realmonaghan) on

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Candice Swanepoel, model, Victoria’s Secret angel

Take me down to the paradise city. #takemehome 🔥✌🏼️😈🌙⭐️🌅🎵

A post shared by Candice Swanepoel (@angelcandices) on

If anyone encountered other celebrities at Burning Man this year, please let us know in the comments.

 

 

People Freaking Out Over FBI Surveillance of Burning Man

Image: Beverly & Pack/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: Beverly & Pack/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Earlier in the year, VICE news published a story When the DEA Went to Burning Man, Shit Got Redacted about the DEA’s activities at Burning Man, based on a heavily redacted FOIA response.

When we discussed the story in April, we also published the results of a FOIA request made by “Inkoo Kang” in 2012 (responded to after much chasing in Feb 2013). This provided documented proof that the FBI have been active at Burning Man.

For some reason, this story has hit the mainstream media this week. Here’s some of the coverage:

FBI Infiltrates Burning Man Festival, Collects Intelligence, Documents Show – CBS News

Undercover FBI agents spy on Burning Man Festival – Daily Mail

FBI kepts tabs on Burning Man Festival – NY Post

Burning Man Testing Ground For Free Speech, Drugs and New Spy Gear – Slashdot

The FBI are far from the only agency operating there.

Agencies Spotted at Burning Man

  • 200+ police; BLM and sheriff’s combined patrols, integrated teams
  • Night vision goggles, sniffer dogs, drones
  • Run by Special Agent Dan Love – Bundy Ranch standoff
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Department of the Interior senior management
  • Pershing County Sheriff’s Office
  • Washoe County Sheriff’s Office – ATAC (All Threats All Crimes)
  • Nevada Highway Patrol
  • Paiute Indian Reservation Police
  • DEA
  • FBI
  • Centers for Disease Control
  •  Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Public Safety (Investigation Division)
  • US Forest Service
  • US Customs & Border Patrol
  • Nevada State Board of Health

Not to mention Google’s prototyping of new technologies, such as Google Earth. Another technology prototyped at Burning Man, Firechat, played a big role in the Hong Kong protests a month after its Playa debut.

The festival takes place on a former military site that is still used for space launches. It is very close to Naval Air Station Fallon, and every year there are fly-overs. There are also all kinds of elite military personnel at the festival, plugged directly into reconnaissance satellites.

Blackhawk at Burning Man. Image: Chris Olewnik

Blackhawk hovers low over Burning Man. Image: Chris Olewnik, Facebook

Military aircraft that have been spotted at Burning Man include:

  • Blackhawk
  • Chinook
  • Apache
  • F-18
  • F-22
  • F-14
  • F-16
  • C-130
  • V-22 Osprey tiltrotor

Recently Alex Jones’ show InfoWars.com did a special on Burning Man’s bugs, asking if they also could be tied to government agency activities.

In Operation Chaos and COINTELPRO the FBI and CIA infiltrated the counter-culture of the 1960’s. History is repeating itself…perhaps by accident, or perhaps by design.

 

It’s Hip To Be Square

i40910_fus_amsf_grover_partner_20in_20crime_16x9_1600

Another interview from Grover Norquist, in what looks like a summertime ski lift. The Grove is now a “Burning Man aficionado” after attending once by private plane and staying up til 2:30am on a couple of occasions. He said he did not witness a single intoxicated person at Burning Man, even though he delivered a lecture on Psychedelics and hung out mostly at the Absinthe bar. His outrageous costume was a Moroccan man-dress and a Russian military uniform he got from his spooky activities in Afghanistan.

Is this a case of the right wing trying to appropriate left wing culture, to try to be cool? These guys sure think so:

grover at bm

Fusion produced this video showing Grover in action gifting Cuban cigars, lip balm and Nutella on the Playa. He’s so cool that he’s drinking the Kool Aid, and wants to come back with his political dream team.

grover dreamteam

I’ve also just found this gem of an article with Grover, one of several media interviews that both he and political figure Denis Kucinich gave on-Playa at last year’s Burning Man.

From New York magazine:

01-norquist-burning-man.w529.h352.2x

Norquist strolls around Black Rock City in 2014. Image: NY Mag

It’s a hell-hot Friday afternoon, and conservative anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and I are walking down a dusty footpath at Burning Man, the annual New Age festival held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. As we stroll past rows of parked RVs on Gold Street, we pass a large tent that advertises “Free Taint Washes.” A man approaches us from inside, carrying a jug of water with a misting attachment.

“Would you like a spray?” the man asks.

“Not today,” Norquist says.

The man smiles. “Well, would you like a taint wash?”

Norquist has been at Burning Man for less than a day, but he’s already learning lots of new things — including the word taint, which, after a moment of confusion, he asks me to define. (Hmm, how to put this to the godfather of modern American conservatism?) Sheepishly, I inform him that it’s the colloquial term for the patch of skin between the genitals and the anus, properly known as the perineum. People call it the taint, I say, because it taint one part and it taint the other, either.

“Okay, I did not know that,” Norquist says. “Is that a recent slang?”

We continue down the path, past a “shaman dome” and a 22-foot-tall sculpture of a penis entitled “The Divine Masculine.” Nearby, a topless woman rides by on a fur-festooned bicycle. The oontz-oontz of house music reverberates in all directions. It’s a much different scene than you’d find at the offices of Americans for Tax Reform, the influential right-wing organization Norquist leads, but he seems charmed rather than frightened.

“If you had 500 people get together and [they did] something like this, that would be impressive,” he says, surveying the blocks full of elaborately decorated theme camps. “But seventy thousand?”

Image: Tremr

Image: Tremr

Further down the path, while Norquist is making a point about the evils of labor unions, a man in a fedora runs over to meet us … (He is possibly very stoned.) “Gentlemen, I’m coming here to get some news on the report,” he says. After an awkward silence, the man whirls away and shouts, “Now watch me get run over — it’s going to be modern art!”

“Did you know that guy?” Norquist asks…

Grover lets the hidden agenda slip:

In the long run, Norquist thinks that the high-profile regulatory struggles of tech companies like Uber and Airbnb could help the GOP attract young Silicon Valley voters if it positions itself as the innovation-friendly party.

But really, he’s just there to party party. Sure he is.

Image: Fusion

Image: Fusion

…enough about politics — Norquist is here to have his mind blown…he periodically stops to admire the roadside attractions: a golf cart decorated to look like a gumball machine; an antique car with a “Nixon/Agnew” bumper sticker; a geodesic dome. We pass HeeBeeGeeBee Healers, a camp that puts on daily spiritual healing workshops where attendees are asked to chant like monkeys.

“Is that the gong one?” Norquist says with a laugh. “I saw an advertisement for a place where you lie down and they hit gongs near you and they can cure your appendicitis or something.”

Norquist is still getting used to Burning Man’s quirky traditions — for starters, he doesn’t yet have a “playa name,” the nickname given to first-time Burners as a rite of passage. (“I went through eight years of the Bush administration without a nickname,” he says. “I think Grover is sufficiently unique.”)

[Source: New York]

Read the full interview here.

There’s big elections coming up in 2016, and Burners are an attractive little bubble of voters for politicians to reach. Maybe if we’re lucky this year Hillary, Jeb, and Trump will all bring their planes and give interviews too, with paparazzi standing by to record the evidence of them actually Gifting and Participating and being all Radical. Of course, we’d have to turn the music down.

From Canvas Cubes to Containers

2015 burner bungalow

Business Insider has yet another “the rich are taking over Burning Man” story, this time focusing on a company that will deliver a ready-made “Container Camp” for you on the Playa. Who needs Radical Self-Reliance, when someone else can do Leave No Trace for you?

From Business Insider:

Gene Temen, president of Quick Space, has been supplying the Burning Man event with office trailers for the event’s hospital and administrative buildings for seven years.

Three years ago, the team at Quick Space realized they could repurpose the trailers as living quarters. The units come with insulation, air conditioning, lights, and flooring, Travis Lekas, the operations manager for Quick Space, told Business Insider. This makes them perfect for campers who would rather not deal with the realities of living in the desert for seven days.

They call them “Burner Bungalows.”

Burners can paint and add onto the trailers however they wish, for an additional fee of $300 for the exterior and $200 for the interior. So instead of building a camp ground from scratch, they can either use the trailer as a shelter or build around it and use the trailer for storage.  “You can paint it if you want to paint the inside or the outside — whatever you want to do,” Lekas told Business Insider. “It also comes with three five-gallon bottles of water, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, and a garbage can along with additional garbage bags.”

This might not sound like the whimsical and artistic camps that Burning Man is known for, but the idea is to give campers the base on which to build their dream camp, Lekas explained.

And although they don’t look like the typical Burning Man structure, which can range from a yurt to a tent to an RV, the trailers are practical. The ready-made storage units come with necessities like water, insulation, and air-conditioning, and can be used for storage both during and after the event.

The company will also come and remove the trailer after the week is over, fitting with Burning Man’s “leave no trace” policy after the seven day event is over, which is included in the price. You can store your Burning Man gear in the trailer until the next year and not worry about shipping it or needing to fly back with all of your stuff for $750 per year of storage. [Source]

These containers are actually a pretty good deal.

The cost for the trailers is about $3,745 plus a $1,000 security deposit — more if you want to decorate the interior and exterior and store the unit all year. Generators also bear an additional cost of $250 [Source]

It would cost you way more to buy your own container, deck it out like this, and transport it to and from the Playa. These things weigh 6,000 lbs empty, meaning that mid-sized forklifts are usually required to move them around. It doesn’t come with a bathroom, but it does come with water, a trash can and air conditioning. Power is available for limited hours, or you can purchase 24/7 juice with a generator upgrade. You better hope that A/C works well, because these steel boxes BAKE in the desert sun. Yes, even if they’re insulated.

You can find out more at the Burner Bungalows web site.

I’m all for containers at Burning Man, if they’re painted. It should look like the world’s craziest city of art, not Iraq or Afghanistan.

ekoVillages.com upcycled art container

ekoVillages.com upcycled art container. Artists: Ian Ross & Eon 75/Ian Ross Gallery

This Business Insider article is an amazing example of BMOrg’s propaganda machine at work. Their confusing language and misinformation gets picked up and promoted as gospel by the mainstream media:

The trailers might also be a good compromise for burners who were previously planning to rely on the fully-furnished luxurious camping options, or “turnkey camps,” that have been recently banned from the playa.

That means no more built-in personal chefs, sherpas, or other luxurious features associated with concierge camping. But with the trailers, tech millionaires can still have air-conditioning in a pinch and protect their belongings from the sand and dust. [Source]

Here's what the world's last Minister of Propaganda was all about.

Here’s what the world’s last Minister of Propaganda was all about. There hasn’t been one since – until Burning Man.

Business Insider perpetuates the myth that BMOrg heroically banned Commodification Camps, concierges, and sherpas, after listening to all the community feedback last year.

In fact, what happened is BMOrg just re-iterated the same policy that was already in place last year – that camps that get placement must have an interactive component. Similarly, despite BMOrg’s recent blog post Kicking Concierge Caboose at Burning Man, accompanied with a hearty “LOL! Nope!” on Facebook…Festivals Concierge Service are still happily in business helping their VIP clientele prepare to fly in to a pre-packaged Burning Man experience, complete with custom costumes and chauffeur driven art cars.

rolls royce art car source unknown

Concierge services such as FCS are not breaking any laws, Burning Man does not have jurisdiction over global commerce and their Outside Services contractors have a literal license to make money off Burning Man from the Federal government. If these services don’t accept cash on the Playa, then it’s hard to argue that they are even violating any of Burning Man’s Tin Principles – which we’re told are “just guidelines” these days.

I guarantee you that there will be even MORE sherpas at Burning Man this year, not less.

Screenshot 2015-06-11 04.09.04

Expect to see more Burner Bungalows too:

Lekas told us that the company currently has 50 orders for units this year, and if the rise in interest over the past few years is any indication, they could double their orders by 2016.

“Our first year we started off, we just built a camp,” Lekas said. “The next year and the second year, we started off with five bungalows, and then our next one went to 40 bungalows. We’re hoping next year to supply 100 bungalows.” [Source]

According to Reddit, the Org are running one of these businesses too, and there is a 3 year waiting list to get a container:

Screenshot 2015-06-11 04.12.05

How many bungalows does the city need to host, before last year’s ironic timeshare sales become a money-spinning reality?

The Occidental Oasis Econopod, marketed at the Caravansary Souk with brochures and sales assistants collecting email addresses

The Occidental Oasis Econopod, marketed at the Caravansary Souk with brochures and sales assistants collecting email addresses. A big farce? Or seeding the idea?

Burning Man’s official web site recently published an open letter to luxury vacation tour businesses, which stated quite clearly that none of the luxury services offered by Caravancicle in their $16,000 canvas cubes was considered out of line:

Screenshot 2015-06-11 03.47.43

burningman.com also promoted a Case Study of “how to do it right” for Safari Tour profiteers, which lays out how they’re taking a hard line against the practice,  by publicly endorsing it. Maybe someone can help explain that one to us! It seems to me more like a nice (free?) advertorial for a commercial tour package operator, a chosen one that BMOrg give tickets to every year for them to re-sell for profit.

Meanwhile, at the exact same time that Business Insider publishes the latest “rich Burners” article, VICE brings one of their own out promoting private aircraft travel to Burning Man. Mixmag also had a story about $15,000 plane rides to Burning Man.

Coincidence? Or PR campaign?

Tickets might be “sold out”, but the marketing to the elites is just getting started…

 bm shark jumping

What Comes Next?

Image: Livin-Lively/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: Livin-Lively/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Burning Man is dead, proclaims the San Francisco Chronicle. Grover Norquist and some hackers killed it. So, what comes next? Apparently, low tech partying with carrier pigeons in Bakersfield…

Burning Man got killed by hackers and Grover Norquist. What’s next?

Burning Man is so over.

This isn’t exactly news in some quarters. It’s been 10 years since I last went to Burning Man, and I remember meeting burners who were complaining about the “new people” and their “new ways” back then…the last couple of years have brought such an avalanche of sad developments — from Grover Norquist’s caravan to the luxury camps of tech millionaires — that I think we can all agree it’s time to close the book on Burning Man’s “10 Principles” of radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, blah blah blah.

It was always a stretch of the imagination for the Burning Man organization to espouse those things when tickets cost hundreds of dollars and attending the event requires a time and material investment of several hundred dollars more…

So what comes next? It’s an interesting question, because the need for something like Burning Man has grown, not diminished.

The Bay Area may have a secular culture, but we’re still deeply attached to religious ritual — hence all the desperate talk of meaningful work and businesses that are going to change the world. Burning Man’s annual cycle, detailed behaviorial restrictions and ethos of purification all served the ritual purposes that so many people seem to need. Whatever comes next will likely have some of those elements as well…

My hunch is that the next “event” will start in an unexpected place and focus on being as low tech as possible.

I’m thinking about a place like Bakersfield or Fontana — a place with a lot of foreclosed houses and a distracted population.

It won’t sound as attractive as partying in the desert, but in time that will become a bonus. An unsexy locale will weed out the riffraff and be more environmentally friendly, to boot — reusing and recycling are always better than having to restore an environment that should have been left alone in the first place.

As for the low-tech element, that too will become part of the event’s founding mythology: “Imagine a brief moment in time and space where people gather together to celebrate, via information they receive from handwritten tickets, word of mouth, and carrier pigeons.”

If it sounds good now, it’s going to sound amazing by 2020.

Read the full article at the SF Chronicle.