Starbucks, Indiana, and the Ten Principles

Recently, pick-me-up powerhouse Starbucks made the news when CEO Howard Schultz announced that the company had been inspired by Burning Man to make the world a better place. Instead of just serving you a coffee and accepting a tip, their Baristas would engage their customers in a conversation about race. There would be no more “black coffee” or “white chocolate”, just “coffee” and “chocolate”.

#burntogether - or don't burn at all

#burntogether – or don’t burn at all

Now, it seems, BMOrg have seen the possibility to do something similar to address the other big social issue of our times: Radical Inclusion in Indiana.

“The only thing we sell at Burning Man is coffee”, said Chief Philosophy Officer Larry H. “That makes Burning Man the world’s biggest Starbucks. However, as the city with the smallest percentage of African American citizens in the United States, the conversation about race doesn’t feel like the best one for us to participate in. We looked at the percentages and asked, what are we the biggest city in America in? The answer was obvious: Black Rock City is by far the gayest city in the world”.

This is supported by Burning Man’s official census numbers, which put 16% of citizens as gay, a mere 17% identifying as heterosexual, and the rest in the category of “possibly, depends what drugs I’m on”.

The issue of gay rights has been historically on-mission for the newly minted charity, which recently moved its headquarters from San Francisco’s Tenderloin to the Castro District.


“Ever since Larry Harvey erected his first man in the desert while wearing a cowboy hat, Burning Man has been a flamboyant beacon for freedom in the LGBT world”, said Burning Man’s CEO Marian G. “Our values of Radical Self-Expression and Radical Inclusion are the perfect antidote to the intolerance of the people of Indiana. We welcome all members of the Village People, we have plenty of policemen and firemen with big hoses, feather head-dresses, feather boas, drag queens, and prominent politicians.”

larry harvey younger years

Larry after the first public erection in the desert

Grover got his freak on in classic Soviet Military Uniform

Grover got his freak on, wearing a classic Soviet Military Uniform with pink tie and lipstick

This year, LGBT issues will be front and center for all 70,000 Burners arriving in Black Rock City.

“For many years, our dedicated and hardworking gate staff have had to endure discrimination and suffering, by hurtful meanies calling them Gayte, as if that was funny”, said Minister of Propaganda Willy C. “Well, in classic Burning Man style, we have come up with something incredibly brilliant and, not that we would say so ourselves, visionary and world-changing. We’re going to put the Gay back in Gayte!”

Previously, first time visitors to Black Rock City, known as “virgins”, had to exit their vehicle, ring a bell, give a dusty hug to a crusty Burner who may or may not be naked, and then make dust angels. This year’s politically rebellious twist will ensure that all Gayte encounters are same sex-only. Want a hug from that naked dude with his shrivelled dick hanging out? Well, you’d better be a guy. Are you a glamorous sparkle pony in hotpants and pasties? Then Burning Man has a heavily tattooed bull dyke with your name on her pierced lips.

In keeping with the spirit of the protest, all dust angels must now be made face down. Even if you’re Denis Kucinich.

This type of hetero-normative behavior will no longer be tolerated at Burning Man

This type of hetero-normative behavior will no longer be tolerated at Burning Man

“Camp Only” rules will now be strictly enforced at Center Camp, so if you’re not camp enough, you won’t be served.

Taking inspiration from a previous successful art installation “Trojan Horse”, this year will see a 100 foot high double-penis condom installation named “Trojan Whores”. This will provide gay inspiration to all Burners, wherever in the carnival they find themselves, as well as educating children about safe sex.

Burning Man Project Director Jimmy T said “this year in solidarity with our beloved gay brothers in Indiana, we are going to change the nature of our camp to Plug Me-n-Play. Our Misters of Merriment will be scooped up into cages at the Folsom Street Fair and trained by our slavemasters to meet all the needs of our guests. For only $17,000 $ $20,000 per room, you can felch a tranny every day for breakfast”.

Larry sees a bright future in exporting Burner values to socially engineer troubled communities:

“The success we expect to have soon when we release this new development, which we have thought of ourselves after inviting the community to share ideas, will enable us to bring about world peace in anti-gay hotspots like Russia and the Middle East” 

Burners in San Francisco practicing for the Free Pussy Riot mission to Moscow

Brave Burners in San Francisco practicing for the Free Pussy Riot mission to Moscow

Mic Checks the Headdress

Music.Mic has a great post on the cultural appropriation of wearing tribal headdresses in the lands you’re not a tribe of. Bass Coast festival in Canada have banned headdresses.

According to a Facebook announcement posted Wednesday, the organizers have banned Native headdresses, a decision that’s drawn praise from indigenous advocates across North America.

Why? “For various reasons,” the announcement reads, “Bass Coast Festival is banning feathered war bonnets, or anything resembling them, on-site. Our security team will be enforcing this policy.”

Plus: “We understand why people are attracted to war bonnets. They have a magnificent aesthetic. But their spiritual, cultural and aesthetic significance cannot be separated.”

Victoria’s Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio. Image Credit: Instagram

The announcement concludes: “Bass Coast Festival takes place on indigenous land and we respect the dignity of aboriginal people. We have consulted with aboriginal people in British Columbia on this issue, and we feel our policy aligns with their views and wishes regarding the subject. Their opinion is what matters to us.”

Simple as that: It’s troubling that “respecting the dignity” of indigenous people remains such a rare occurrence, but in truth, few other festivals have taken this step. California’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival still receives special heat for documented instances of Native appropriation, to the point of being widely associated with the practice. 

Image Credit: Twitter

Ian Campeau, aka “DJ NDN” of the Ottawa-based aboriginal EDM collective A Tribe Called Red, has spoken at length about tribal headwear at his own concerts.

“We, as First Nation people, have never had control of our image in colonial media since its birth,” he said. Such practices therefore create “a false idea of what it means to be Indigenous today … robbing the First Nations of their nationhoods and nationality … [and] making us all ‘Indian’ instead of recognizing me as an Anishnabe or Ojibway.”

The Lightning in a Bottle Music Festival in Bradley, Calif., came close to barring the practice this year. But it stopped short of an outright ban, instead devoting a section of its website to discussing the issue and its implications.

Part of it reads, “Taking off the headdress is about respecting the realities faced by Native Peoples today,” and goes on to describe how “sporting that headdress means being a walking representative of 500-plus years of colonialism and racism, perpetuating stereotypes that Native people have been fighting against for just as long. 

Image Credit: Twitter

Lightning in a Bottle takes place on Chumash land, lending extra weight to its attempts to discourage the habit. But its ethos should be universal: No matter who you are, the traditional attire of indigenous groups — or any group, really — is not your personal invitation to play “dress-up.”

The example set by Bass Coast and its organizers should be emulated across the cultural spectrum, from high-profile celebrities to professional sports organizations and anyone in between. Native appropriation practices have persisted far too long. It’s time to wake up.

The Guardian said:

As feather headdresses have become popular fashion accessories at concerts and EDM festivals, they have become an increasingly important site for conversations about First Nations relations and cultural appropriation. Pharrell Williams and the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne both recently apologised for treating war bonnets as innocuous, whimsical headgear.

Canada’s award-winning Tribe Called Red have been particularly vocal on the headdress issue: “It’s ‘redface’. Just like blackface,'” Ian Campeau told the Huffington Post last year. “We’re in the middle of our civil-rights movement right now, today. So hopefully, in a couple decades, redface and terms like ‘Redskin’ and ‘Indian’ will go the way of blackface and terms like ‘nigger’ and become tabooed.”

Big props to Canada’s Bass Coast and America’s LIB for stepping up to address the issue, Burning Man should do the same, especially since the event takes place on sacred Paiute lands.

Feathers were banned and then unbanned. Playa chickens persist.

Next on the ban list may be the cultural appropriation from Hollywood, particularly Star Wars, Mad Max, and the Wicker Man.