TICKET UPDATE: Register NOW for the Extended OMG Sale!

by Whatsblem the Pro

OMG!!!!!!1!! U R TOTALLY GOING 2 BURNY MANS D00D!!!!1!!!!!!

OMG!!!!!!1!! U R TOTALLY GOING 2 BURNY MANS D00D!!!!1!!!!!!


TICKETING NEWS FLASH!


In the wake of the BLM’s approval of a rise in Black Rock City’s population cap (to 68,000 for 2013), the Org has updated ticketing information for the OMG Sale, extending the time frame of the sale and adding three thousand tickets to the sale. Here are the high points:

  • 1000+ 4000 tickets are available at $380 each, plus applicable fees.
  • Participants who have purchased from a previous sale or STEP are ineligible to purchase from the OMG sale.
  • Burner Profiles may be created throughout the pre-registration period.
  • Pre-registration is from 12pm (noon) PDT on August 2, 2013 to 12pm (noon) PDT on August 5, 2013.
  • Limited to two (2) per person
  • First-come, first-served sale starts August 7, 2013 at 12pm (noon) PDT.
  • Ticket orders are fully transferrable and eligible for name changes.
  • The name on the credit card used to purchase the ticket order is the name on the ticket order.
  • Tickets are Will Call only

If you still need to buy a ticket, YOU MUST REGISTER by Monday, August 5th, 2013, WHICH IS TOMORROW, kids, so get on it. You can register at http://profiles.burningman.com/

Your Own Art Car? Wunder’s Rockbox on the Auction Block

by Whatsblem the Pro

Photo: wwardlaw

Photo: wwardlaw

Derek Wunder has been going to Burning Man every year for the last thirteen years; he’s going to miss 2013 because he’s got a baby on the way, due the week of the burn. You may have heard of Derek; if not, you’ve almost certainly seen his art car, the Rockbox: a giant ’80s-style boom box on wheels that holds roughly fifty people as it cruises the playa in search of giant cassette tapes. The Rockbox is twenty-four feet long, built on a 1987 Dodge one-ton van with a 318 V-8 engine, and sports a custom sound system designed for use on the playa.

I noticed this morning that the Rockbox is for sale on Craigslist, so I got in touch with Derek Wunder and asked him about it.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

What’s the actual asking price for the Rockbox, Derek? That Laughing Squid article says $5,200, but the Craigslist ad says $13,500.

DEREK WUNDER

The price listed on the Craigslist ad is an error; the actual price is $5200 for the car, and $13,500 for the car and the sound system. I’ve also got a triple-axle trailer suitable for hauling the Rockbox, and I’m willing to let that go for $6500. Those prices are a lot less than what I’ve got in it; I’m not even breaking even by selling it, so I’m firm and don’t want to deal with any lowballers. I figure anyone who can’t scrape together my asking price doesn’t have the budget to maintain the car anyway. . . and I want to get it to someone who will give it a good home, and who has the means to bring it to Burning Man this year!

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

Why are you selling her?

DEREK WUNDER

A lot of reasons. . . with an art car of this scale there’s a certain level of commitment you have to put into it to make it work, and I’ve got a baby on the way. Plus, although I’m taking a break from Burning Man this year and my priorities are really focused on being a father at the moment, I do want to move forward and build something new when things settle down a bit. I’m very happy with the Rockbox, and I’d like to see someone take it over and keep bringing it to the playa – in fact, I’m hoping that whoever does buy it will want me to continue to be part of the project, although not this year – but I’m looking ahead and wanting to create something new.

Photo: chednugget

Photo: chednugget

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

Is there a lot of maintenance involved?

DEREK WUNDER

The Rockbox took five people seven months to build back in 2007. We ran it on the playa for four days that year, while it was still under construction. I didn’t do any maintenance to it at all that year and tried to bring it back to Burning Man in ’08 without fussing with it, but kept having mechanical problems. Before bringing it back in 2011, I did three weeks’ worth of preventative maintenance on it and had no breakdowns at all. . . so you do have to be diligent about doing some maintenance, but it’s really not that bad at all, and is easier if you do it sooner rather than later.

We never finished the lighting system due to budget and time constraints so we did a lot of daytime cruises in 2011. It lights up a lot better now than it ever has out on the playa!

You definitely have to be into working on the thing rather than just wanting to drive it around on the playa. There’s more to it than just driving it, and the biggest challenge is getting it home again when Burning Man is over.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

Sure. We could have put a man on the Moon in the ’50s, but getting him back again would have been a problem.

DEREK WUNDER

Right. You need the resources to handle whatever unexpected thing might come up out there.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

Is it hard to drive? Obviously it’s not street-legal, right?

DEREK WUNDER

It’s not legal on public roadways at all.

Driving it is not that tough; you can even DJ while you drive the car if you really think you have to, although I don’t recommend it. Backing up takes a spotter or two, but I have a camera system I’ve been meaning to install to allow the driver to see what’s behind the car, and I could throw that in on the deal.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

Tell me about your next project.

DEREK WUNDER

I had the idea for the Rockbox in 2004, and came up with the idea for the new project – the Smiling Conundrum – at the same time. It’s a large-scale dicycle car with 12-foot steel wheels. One of the wheels has a big smiley face painted on it; the other has a frowny face, so it looks happy or sad depending on if it’s coming or going. It’s about halfway done right now, but I’ve got it on a back burner with everything else that isn’t a baby.

I started building the Smiling Conundrum with a gas-powered motorcycle engine, but decided to go electric with it instead. . . so it didn’t make it to the playa in 2010 because going electric meant rebuilding the drive train.

When it’s finished, it’ll be solar-powered, with an onboard gas-powered generator for emergency backup, and will also be capable of accepting a charge from grid power.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO

I hope to see it out there, and you with it. Thanks for talking with me; good luck with the new baby you’ve got coming.

DEREK WUNDER

My pleasure, thank you.

Image: Derek Wunder

Image: Derek Wunder

Image: Derek Wunder

Image: Derek Wunder

Image: Derek Wunder

Image: Derek Wunder

LOVE FOR SALE: Bruno Throws in the Towel

by Whatsblem the Pro

Photo by Consumptionblog

Photo by Consumptionblog

Big news in Gerlach this week as real estate magnate Bruno Selmi, the Ted Turner of Northern Nevada, puts Bruno’s Country Club up for sale at a whopping 1.5 million dollars. The property is well-maintained and consists of a bar, a restaurant, a 53-unit motel, and a mobile home/RV park.

Selmi came alone to America on a boat from Italy at a tender age, leaving the post-war Old World behind for a life of better prospects. He wandered the States, picking up odd jobs and cooking for a living, until he settled in Gerlach and opened a restaurant.

After his first venue in Gerlach burned down, he opened Bruno’s Country Club in 1953, and has presided over the place (and the town) with little to no competition to worry about ever since. Selmi has gone from success to success in the intervening years; he must own at least half the businesses in town, and they say as a commercial entity, he was second only to the railroad for decades. When Burning Man moved from a San Francisco beach to the Black Rock Desert, Bruno got pushed to third place, at least seasonally, but his business interests began to boom.

If you had to guess what the secret to Bruno Selmi’s success might be, luck would no doubt figure prominently in your mind, but you would be slighting the man for his hard work and thrift. He still drives the Jeep Cherokee he bought new in the ’80s – the receipt is on the wall in his restaurant – and he never misses a day of work at the Country Club. He even tends the bar from time to time. . . and Bruno Selmi is a multimillionaire.

The townsfolk of Gerlach seem to love him and his place. “Bruno’s a genuine Gerlach icon,” one tells me. “He likes to play surly, but he’s a good guy. He throws free chukar bird feeds for the locals in season, and lots of us come together to make ravioli for him by hand. It’s sort of a town tradition. He’s like our unofficial mayor.”

Bruno and friends enjoy some world-famous ravioli. Photo: RenoJohn

Bruno and friends enjoy some world-famous ravioli. Photo: RenoJohn

Thanks to Burning Man and the annual gathering and diaspora of burners from all around the globe, the ravioli at Bruno’s place – a hundred miles from anywhere, in a town with a population under five hundred – is genuinely world-famous. The service is notorious, too, but Bruno is cherished for his cantankerous demeanor. One Yelper described the place as “an oasis in the desert” with “a dash of Stockholm syndrome.”

With all the turmoil, secrecy, and misinformation swirling around the Burning Man event, it’s hard to say what the sale of Bruno’s Country Club portends. There has already been some talk online to the effect that Bruno must know something; speculation is that Burning Man will be moving soon, and Bruno is getting out while the getting is good. As an explanation it sounds legit enough, but unnecessary: Bruno Selmi is no longer a young man, and it seems perfectly reasonable for him to want to retire. Indeed, the real estate listing at BizBuySell contains an entry that says simply “Reason Selling: Retirement.”

No matter how you slice it, it’s the end of an era. . . and who will feed DPW?

Mutant Gas Alert!

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by Whatsblem the Pro

In news that will surely upset those who fondly imagine Larry Harvey as Moses handing the Ten Principles down to the Chosen, the Org is testing the waters to see if a Black Rock City gas station might be a workable idea.

Yesterday, the following e-mail was sent out to registered Mutant Vehicle owners:

Greetings BRC licensed vehicle owners.

To best support the Burning Man community in ways that make sense, we are researching the possibility of having fuel available for BRC licensed vehicles on playa this year. To fully research this, we need some information from you on your potential fuel needs. We only need you to fill out the survey if you are planning on bringing your vehicle to be licensed by the BRC DMV on playa in 2013.

In brief, we are looking at the possibility of a system where you would prepay for credit that you would then use on playa via some sort of token or card to fill your Mutant Vehicle or Disabled permitted vehicle. This would not be for other vehicles at the event. No money would be exchanged on playa. You would possibly be able to add more credit to the system if you run out on playa, and we are also researching options on how to handle unused funds. The exact process is still pending. Prices would be comparable to or possibly less than fuel in Gerlach.

Please fill out the following survey on the link below so we can assess fuel needs. We recommend you fill out the survey using a full computer and not a smart phone or tablet.

Respondents were asked to provide their names, e-mail addresses, names of vehicles, and an estimate of how many gallons of fuel they expect to use on the playa. A space for additional comments was also provided.

It’s silly to decry this as a potential violation of the principle of decommodification. . . or is it?

In one sense, it definitely is silly. The decommodification of the playa began as a utilitarian thing, not some holy-joe attempt at purifying our spirits by freeing us from the evil bonds of Mammon. I’ve written about sacred cows and the origins of on-playa decommodification before; if it lacks a profit motive, this idea of providing a gas station for Mutant Vehicle owners only conflicts with the decommodification principle if you’re some kind of trash-eating zealot who is so allergic to capitalism that touching a dollar bill would make you break out in open sores.

On the other hand, if there’s a profit motive here, then what we’re looking at is the Org testing the waters for the establishment of future revenue streams. With Burning Man going non-profit, the founders and other Org players who have been raking in millions of dollars from ticket sales each year will soon see the primary source of their great wealth turn to dust and ashes. . . and money is known to be a powerfully addictive substance.

We should all recognize that a gas station would be a useful, handy thing to provide for Mutant Vehicle owners that would reduce waste and fuel transport inefficiencies. However, we should also be aware that BRC already has a gas station, run by DPW. Traditionally, if you want to gas up your art car there, you pay in beer. Lots of beer. It’s possible that the Org is simply trying to stem that flow. We should also recognize, however, that with all the money pouring into their coffers and all the expense and labor of building and operating a Mutant Vehicle, it might be reasonable to expect the Org to provide MV drivers with gasoline for free, or at least at cost.

Now let’s look at that e-mail again:

Prices would be comparable to or possibly less than fuel in Gerlach.

Well there’s the rub right there. If fuel prices at an on-playa gas station are comparable to retail prices in Gerlach, then someone’s going to be turning a profit on this. If the prices are less than retail in Gerlach, how much less will they be? If it’s higher than at-cost, we again must wonder who’s raking it in.

Who's pumping you?

Who’s pumping you?

Given that the Org has profited so mightily on an event that has been mainly dreamed up and built by volunteer labor and paying attendees, it seems par for the course but still a bit of a slap in the face on several levels to watch them cynically size us up for further fleecing, if in fact that’s what they’re doing. . . and make no mistake: whether or not this is an example of a fleecing in the offing, we can be sure that now that the Org is going non-profit, ancillary businesses controlled by insiders will be popping up like mushrooms on a cow pat. It’s going to be George Bush’s great-grandfather selling rifle straps and stocks to the army all over again. To deny this is to deny that the people running the Org are greedy in proportion with the wealth they’ve already attained, and that would be giving them credit where none is due; they are, after all, human beings, with all the ethical frailty being human implies.

Oh, and speaking of credit:

You would possibly be able to add more credit to the system if you run out on playa, and we are also researching options on how to handle unused funds.

I’ll bet. At this point, it’s hard to say what this gas station idea truly portends. . . but we do know from long experience that basic accounting is extremely difficult for the Org, even though they find advanced game theory so easy.

All levity aside, let’s hope Mutant Vehicle owners benefit from this without funneling more undeserved wealth into the hands of people who are already undeservedly wealthy.

Further Revelations on the Burning Man Ticketing Scheme for 2013

by Whatsblem the Pro

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Burning Man Public Relations Manager Megan Miller wants to give all you volunteers some inside scoop for obtaining tickets.

The upshot is that the Direct Distributed Tickets program will not be repeated this year, so if you’re a volunteer but the Org has chosen not to gift you a ticket as reward for past labors, you’ll need to participate in the Individual Sale. . . which means you need to pre-register. Pre-registration for the Individual Sale begins on Wednesday, February 6th, 2013 at 12:00 noon PST, and ends on Sunday, February 10th, 2013 at 12:00 noon PST. The Individual Sale itself, which will be first-come, first-served, begins on Wednesday, February 13th at 12:00 noon PST.

Last year’s lottery wasn’t the only ticketing debacle to afflict our community. Thanks to repercussions of the lottery, a large number of 2012 volunteers were left ticketless, necessitating the hasty creation of the Direct Distributed Tickets program to address the problem.

The Direct Distributed Ticket program will not be repeated this year, according to Miller.

It’s important to remember that the people running and working for the Org are basically our friends; we’re all in it together and we’re all light-years beyond anything going on in mainstream society. . . but at the same time, we have to recognize that (A) the Org has quite a lot of power over TTITD itself even if burner culture is largely beyond their ability to control and direct; (B) power corrupts; (C) the people who make up the Org itself have shown us time and time again that they are not particularly well-suited for their jobs and not so vastly talented that they easily overcome the limitations of, say, being a humble retired landscaper and not any kind of actual expert on anything relevant (cocaine is, though, a hell of a drug, and sometimes just barely good enough is perfect). With all these facts in mind, it’s critically vital to the future of both the event and the culture that we avoid putting the Org people on pedestals, and remain scrupulous in holding their feet to the fire when appropriate.

So: When will these convoluted ticketing schemes from on high end, and yield to the voice of the people? For several years now, we have petitioned the Org to take the much simpler approach used by many, many other festivals instead of creating these Rube Goldberg ticketing schemes that either do nothing to thwart scalpers, or actually facilitate them at the expense of veteran burners. Maybe if someone could figure out a way to cut cocaine with humility, they’d start listening to us for a change.

This is the complete text of Megan Miller’s e-mail to Burning Man volunteers:

hello Special Events Volunteers!

some inside scoop for you on playa tickets! read on & activate!

VOLUNTEERS: PLEASE PLAN TO PARTICIPATE IN THE INDIVIDUAL SALE

If you are a volunteer who typically purchases your own ticket to Burning Man, please plan on participating in this year’s first-come, first-served Individual Sale on Wednesday, February 13th beginning at 12pm (noon) PST. In order to do so, you must pre-register between this Wednesday, February 6th 12pm (noon) PST and Sunday, February 10th 12pm (noon) PST by visiting http://profiles.burningman.com (and following the directions) during this pre-registration period.

After last year’s main sale left a lot of folks who build the core infrastructure of Black Rock City without tickets, we created the Direct Distributed Tickets (DDT) program.

This year, however, we’ve have a new and improved ticket process in place, including the Directed Group Sale. To be clear, there is NOT a plan to repeat last year’s DDT process. We don’t anticipate repeating the DDT process, and we’ve designed this year’s ticketing sales plan accordingly. So, if you received access to a DDT last year but did not purchase a ticket in this year’s Directed Group Sale, you should plan to participate in the Individual Sale.

(The 2013 Directed Group Sale focused on theme camps because they were the largest users of DDTs last year. By holding the Directed Group Sale before the other sales, we expect there to be less competition for the remaining tickets. The goal is to take care of groups early on, thereby increasing the chances for people to get a ticket in the Individual Sale.)

You can find more details about ticketing on the ticket page:

http://tickets.burningman.com

and the ticket FAQ:

http://tickets2.burningman.com/faq.php.

Thanks for all you do to make BRC the magical place that it is, and I hope to see you there in 2013!

Megan

___________

Megan Miller

Burning Man Public Relations Manager