2016 The Scandals: Further Details

We have a number of updates on this year’s scandals.

The biggest one appears to be the Hooligan Attacks on White Ocean during the White Party. This has been picked up by all the usual EDM rags like Market WatchBusiness Insider, New York PostThe Telegraph, the Guardian, the Independent, Russia Today.

It was front and center on the Drudge Report today – the #1 news site in the world.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 7.26.36 AM

Of course, all these highly paid professional media outlets are just re-hashing the same story by the Reno Gazette Journal’s Burning Man beat reporter Jenny Kane. You could read 200 of them, and not get any different information or context.

Fortunately Burners.Me is here for free to fill you in with further details.

A Burner returning from the Playa informed us that the camp structure that collapsed was part of The Lost Hotel. They were notorious for their involvement building the Mega-Bucks Board Director camp Caravancicle, home of sherpa whistleblower Beth Lillie.

2014 lost hotel courtyard

The Lost Hotel courtyard, 2014

Photo: Lost Hotel/Facebook

2014. Lost Hotel is in the middle; Caravancicle’s camp is to the right. Both use canvas cube hotel rooms from a company reportedly financed by JT    Photo: Lost Hotel/Facebook

This is one hell of a coincidence. Two major incidents at Burning Man in two days – and they both relate to the two most notorious plug-n-play camps? Meanwhile, class war instigator Danger Ranger’s latest thing is high-profile homelessness

Who benefits from these two attacks? They seem to promote “traditional values of Burning Man” (ie. romanticized reminiscing of the Cacophony Society), at the expense of the BMorg 2.0 Flysalen vision of “advance your career with acid and networking”. The vandals don’t respect the “newer” Burning Man values like the Ten Principles – in particular, Leave No Trace, Civic Responsibility, and Radical Inclusion.

It seems like whoever did these attacks approached the job like a military operation. To pull this off without getting caught required detailed knowledge of the camp layout and movements. Some have said “that shows it must be an inside job”, because who but someone camping there would know this? This assumes that sparkle ponies flying in on private jets and paying $10k+ for hotel rooms get involved in the nitty-gritty of camp logistics. Most people staying in Fancy Camps at Burning Man would have no idea which lines are the main generator lines, which tanks are the fresh water, which trailers are the food storage, or how to obtain and operate glue guns. Each camp must provide a great deal of this type of information to the BMorg placement team, including number of people in camp, art cars, and diagrams of the camp layout.

The sabotage (or remarkably coincidental accident?) of the Lost Hotel seems to have dangerously backfired. Six people were injured, one so badly they had to be airlifted out – the media are not saying “to Reno”, which suggests the injuries were extremely severe and a specialist was required.

Should we kill people over the Ten Principles now that Decommodification is an LLC?  Is that how Burning Man makes the world a better place? Perhaps this is why the Satanists wanted a Jonestown segment when they launched their theme camp idea in 1996.

Plug-n-play has got out of control in recent years, ever since BMorg made a movie complaining about it called Spark. They moved almost immediately from throwing Playa)'(Skool under the bus for having RVs in their camp to promoting bus tour packages and concierge culture. We’ve seen the escalation of executive luxury from Chip Conley’s catered celebration camp to Billionaire’s Row with wristband-only cocktail bars and $54,000 a “head” swinger camps. Burning Man’s own airline now offers a VIP helicopter taxi service. Even the cops are cashing in, with BLM-branded art installations, multi-million dollar air-conditioned compounds and helicopter joyrides for their families to lavish dinners. We’ve had a War on EDM which saw long-time participants given the cold shoulder and resulted in the creation of a DMZ. And all of this is happening while Reno becomes the latest tax haven for oligarchs fleeing the Panama Papers scandal.

2016 police bull

No Chocotacos? Then we demand Art!

A little bird told me the reason why the cops love ChocoTacos so much.

It seems that a few years ago they came up with quite a successful undercover sting. Someone would roll into camp with an ice cream cart full of treats. They would hand them out to everyone who wanted one. The natural response from many Burner camps would be “thanks, can I offer you something?” The phony ice creamer would then ask for drugs (the scam would also work if the narc was under 21 and wanted an alcoholic beverage). The ice creamer would then leave the camp, which (if they were generous enough to gift something to the Burner) would mysteriously be raided by rangers and dogs a few minutes later.

Given that last year there were more than 600 citations which start at $525 each, it sounds like the Chocotacos are a solid investment for the people of Pershing County, even if they have to buy their own instead of getting them comped by Burners. We heard this year that the police could not provide adequate personnel to an active shooter situation elsewhere in Pershing, because everyone was too busy ogling titties writing cannabis citations at Burning Man.


We have had a comment from the Onceler about last year’s near-fatal medical situation, which sounds reasonably informed:

THE MONIQUE ROSE KETAMINE INCIDENT

The actors: Monique Rose (Paramedic HGH, Winnemucca, Deputy Pershing County Sheriff, Pershing County), Pat Songer (EMS Manager, HGH Winnemucca), Jim Parrish (CEO HGH, Winnemucca), Pershing County Sheriff’s Dept., Dr. Charles Stringham (Medical Director HGH, Winnemucca)

Incident: Deputy Monique Rose is trained as a paramedic and employed by Humboldt General Hospital, Winnemucca, NV who was deputized by Pershing County Sheriff’s Dept. supposedly dual role capacity at Burning Man 2015. Deputy Rose administered a lethal dose of Ketamine to a 110 lb. intoxicated female who was resisting arrest. The woman in custody went into respiratory failure twice and had to be resuscitated twice by medical personnel on scene and at the hospital. Luckily the patient lived.

Questions: First, Ketamine is not indicated in any form to subdue a noncompliant individual. Second, what was the determined does and route of administration? Did the individual have an IV in place? Third, where was Pat Songer (Supervisor) when this event occurred? Next, where did Deputy Rose get the Ketamine from, was she carrying her own narcotics working as a Deputy? Lastly, under which physician’s license was Deputy Rose operating under?

If Deputy Rose was operating under Dr. Charles Stringham (Medical Director of HGH, Winnemucca) than Dr. Stringham’s license should be reviewed to see if he allowed Deputy Rose to administer a drug, which has no indications for the event. Pat Songer also needs to accept accountability and responsibility for a paramedic who works under him who acted reckless, is dangerous, and almost killed a Burning Man participant. Finally, Jim Parrish CEO of Humboldt General Hospital, Winnemucca needs to answer for the actions of Dr. Stringham, Pat Songer, and Deputy Monique Rose as to how what if any corrective, administrative, or loss of employment occurred.

It is clear Deputy Rose actions were reckless and criminal in nature and should never be allowed to practice medicine again. If she is still employed by Humboldt General Hospital in Winnemucca, NV than Pat Songer, Dr.Charles Stringham, and Jim Parrish are shielding her. Furthermore, she should never be allowed to function in any medical or civil capacity at a Burning Man event ever again.

In closing, Humboldt General Hospital, Winnemucca, NV used to have the contract for medical services at Burning Man and lost the contract two years ago to CrowdRx. Perhaps the powers at be were aware of the reckless, dangerous, arrogant actions of the paramedics who work under his leadership and wanted to avoid any such events…. Too bad Burning Man participants didn’t.

Wait a minute…“lost the contract two years ago to CrowdRX”. That’s my information too. So why isn’t this 2015 incident CrowdRX’s responsibility? What was anybody from Humboldt General doing there in 2015, after BMOrg publicly ditched them months before? Why does CrowdRX take over, somebody nearly dies, and immediately it’s the fault of the people no longer involved?

I don’t really get why Onceler wants to hate on all Burning Man participants for the incompetence of medical personnel. But, I do understand why many of the locals harbor resentment to Burning Man for all the trash they get dumped with – so maybe it’s related to that – “all Burners are bad because of this one Burner”. Or, perhaps this person has a hidden agenda…you’ll notice that in the list of “the actors” in their tale, nobody from CrowdRX or BMOrg is involved in any way. So where the hell were they, when their rivals are running around the festival injecting ketamine into disgruntled Burners?


Anyone needs a lawyer as a result of their Transformative Experience, call Lawyers For Burners.

It didn’t take long for video of The Man burning to be uploaded to YouTube. The big “O” ring surrounding The Man stayed intact right to the end, then fell as one piece into the flames (25:42).

Finally, we have some info on White Ocean and tantalizing nuggets of further stories from Anonymous Burner. Anybody hear about any of these?

These folks hire a different camp producer every year and stiff everyone that works for them.

Given the sabotage that happened to the camp, it has all the fingerprints of someone who knows camp infrastructure.

Putting rotten meat in the A/C units, bullion cubes in the water tanks they didn’t drain, cutting generator cables without frying, glue for door locks.

This wasn’t a spontaneous vandal attack or class warfare. IMHO, they stiffed the wrong individuals, someone who knows how to mess a camp up.

I wasn’t going this year but a generous friend gifted me a ticket and a seat on a plane for a 48 hour rock star tour that started yesterday at noon.

Still gathering the unpublished stories on this year’s event. Why did the chef for first camp leave early? She bailed, and she has done this for years

DMV shenanigans, why the Man didn’t spin, what was up with that small head and skinny arms? He looked like he was born with the Zika virus

Sheriff Takes Family on Raven Trip to Burning Man

raven washoe 5155

Who said Burning Man is not a rave? The Sheriff of Washoe County took his wife and kid on a joyride official police business trip to Burning Man in the company chopper. The name of the military grade, electronically souped up aerial enforcer? RAVEN.

Anjeanette Damon at the Reno Gazette-Journal has the scoop:

Washoe County Sheriff Chuck Allen hitched a ride on a preplanned RAVEN helicopter flight to Burning Man last year, and brought along his wife and adult son.

Allen said he had to attend a multi-agency meeting at the annual arts celebration in the Black Rock Desert 110 miles north of Reno on Sept. 5 and didn’t want to make the two-hour drive that often ends in a traffic jam. So, Allen said he asked the department’s chief pilot if he could jump on the flight planned for that day.

“Yes, I did include my wife and son,” Allen told the Reno Gazette-Journal on Thursday. “I can do that as sheriff.”

“I checked to make sure I wasn’t breaking any of my own policies,” he added.

The policy that governs the sheriff’s office helicopter program does not specifically address civilian ride-alongs. It has a section, however, that limits “non-RAVEN affiliated personnel” who are authorized to ride in the helicopter.

“Police, fire, REMSA, (Search and Rescue), county, city, state, military and federal employees actively involved in public safety missions may be carried on RAVEN aircraft in accordance with public law,” the policy reads.

The sheriff’s office Regional Aviation Enforcement Unit was formed in 1996, when the department obtained four helicopters through the U.S. Department of Defense’s surplus program. The unit’s primary mission is to respond to crimes in progress, search and rescue operations and drug enforcement surveillance missions…

Allen said he saw the trip to Burning Man no differently than if his wife went along with him to a department function in “my vehicle assigned to me.”..

Allen said his undersheriff and a chief deputy also brought their wives along on a previous flight to Burning Man…

Allen needed to make the trip to Burning Man to meet with Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen, as well as Bureau of Land Management personnel. Burning Man staff also gave him a tour of the 70,000-person Black Rock City. Allen said he also greeted all of the Washoe County deputies working the event and attended a dinner, which included other law enforcement personnel and their spouses…

The day Allen and his family traveled to Burning Man included the celebration’s pinnacle event of the burning of the man.

Read the full story at the Reno-Gazette Journal

What is RAVEN? It’s the Regional Aviation Enforcement Unit.

In 1996, The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office was able to obtain four helicopters through the Department of Defense’s excess property program. The four aircraft that were delivered to the county were hulks that need quite a bit of restoration and overhaul before being transformed into useable assets. Building two flyable aircraft from the original four, the Regional Aviation Enforcement Unit, or RAVEN, was born. In addition to the two Kiowas that the unit operates, RAVEN is the proud operator of the very first of only 30 manufactured HH-1H Huey helicopters, originally built by Bell for the United States Air Force for Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) purposes. The two Kiowas and one Huey are all in outstanding mechanical condition thanks to the dedication of the full time and part time maintenance personnel assigned to the unit, and were acquired and refurbished using drug forfeiture money rather than taxpayer dollars.

Originally staffed with part-time pilots from the local Army Guard helicopter unit, RAVEN has become a self sufficient aviation unit that has dedicated deputies assigned both full and part time to flying duties.

[Source]

The RAVEN unit operates both rotary and fixed-wing aircraft. They use the OH-58 Kiowa, which is a 2 seater surveillance chopper; and the HH-1H Huey, which is a USAF Search And Rescue variant of one of the largest passenger capacity helicopters ever made. The standard model can take 14 troops as well as the 2 pilots. I’m guessing the Sheriff and his family rode in on the Huey; were there other civilians with them on this flight?

The story has this to say about the logistics:

The Reno Gazette-Journal obtained a flight log from the sheriff’s office that listed three RAVEN flights to Burning Man last year on Sept. 3, Sept. 4 and Sept. 5. However, no public records apparently exist to document the family members’ flight or whether any other civilian ride-alongs have occurred in the past.

According to the log, the helicopter departed Reno at 10:50 a.m. and returned at 11:20 p.m., reporting a total of three hours of actual flight time.

Allen said the flights were not “joy rides.” Rather, they were pre-planned missions that were able to accommodate the extra passengers.

“I would have to stress, yes, it was a scheduled mission,” he said. “I would never encourage or even allow someone to go on a joy ride.”

He said his wife and son stayed with him the entire day and did not travel to participate in the Burning Man event itself.

“My wife and son shadowed me the entire time,” he said.

[Source]

Even though they watched the Man burn (presumably from a VIP position), and attended a fully catered dinner, the Sheriff takes pains to stress that they didn’t participate in the Burning Man event. This is similar logic to BMOrg’s claim that 80,000 people sitting down to watch a 30-minute uninterruptible performance with hundreds of fire dancers, followed by an hour+ pyrotechnics show when they burn the Man, does not in any way constitute live entertainment.

It doesn’t sound like these civilians needed tickets. Glad to hear that the LEOs can entertain their families by spectating on all the participants. Hey, if they can’t have bottomless Chocotacos, at least they can perv on some titties and shirt-cockers, and laugh at all the freaks they’re looking down on.

washoe sheriff huey1

Read more about the Washoe RAVEN unit at Vertical Magazine.

 

Easter Bunny Brings Plenty More Tickets [Update]

this Bunny Slippers?

Bunny Slippers, anyone?

Thanks to Anonymous Burner for this tip-off. Tickets and Vehicle Passes are still for sale. Just go to your Burner Profile.

Screenshot 2016-03-27 17.37.33

Screenshot 2016-03-27 17.22.01Anonymous Burner questions how would we know if only 500 of these tickets get sold? If 5,000 were sold at this price, how would we know?

November, 2013. I made the call. Burning Man tickets $500, and above $1000 by 2020.

My prediction is we will see ticket prices go above $500 in the next 3 years, and I would not be surprised if they were more than $1000 by 2020

Little did I know that we would hit both milestones in 2016.

Think I’m kidding? The cost to buy 2 tickets and a vehicle pass in 2016 is $973.74. You pay a $7 service fee on each item you purchase, even though it’s a single transaction and mailing.

 

bm2016 tickets

It might not sound like much to BMOrg, managing their almost $40 million annual budget; but 9% Live Entertainment tax on 2 $390 tickets should be $70.20, and Burners are being charged $70.74. I mean hey, it’s only 54 cents, what’s that on a $500 ticket? $37,800 $18,900 if you’re the one selling 70,000 tickets! That is more than any individual art grant (unless you’re David Best)

What sort of mindset do these people have, that they would do this to us? Rip us off even further, for less than an extra 0.01% take. When we are the ones providing their party in the first place.

One wonders if this random number for the Live Entertainment Tax of $70.74 is because they really mean $77.40 – what the 9% would be if we were paying the tax on the Vehicle Pass as well.

The vehicle passes look cheap, the tickets look kinda pricey.

Stubhub:

Screenshot 2016-03-27 17.51.01

Tickets are around $750 on eBay and Vehicle Passes start at $250.

 


 

[Update 3/28/16 7:26am]

In the comments, Trey said:

The extra $.54 is explained on the website ticket cost page. No conspiracy.

Who said anything about a conspiracy? We’re clearly being ripped off by BMOrg, it gets worse every year, and no conspiracy theory is required to see that because it is obvious to anyone who pays for their own ticket.

But what of this comment?

I went to the “website ticket cost page” – presumably this http://tickets.burningman.org/

I searched for “54”. Nada.”27″ just took me to the 27,000 vehicle passes.

On the ticket support page that Nomad (not Trey) helpfully posted, there is a clue – but you have to be very, very dedicated to get to it.

At the very bottom of the FAQ is an item: Live Entertainment Tax. This item requires you to log in before you can even read it. And it’s not logging in to your Burner profile: it’s yet ANOTHER account with BMOrg to create. It requires 2-factor authentication, you have to verify your email with them – before they can answer any “Frequently Asked Questions” about the tax. The password security on this account is much higher than on the Burner profile, so you might need to pick a new password also. I guess BMOrg is terribly concerned about hackers trying to get answers to frequently asked questions. Fortunately, no hacker could ever figure out how to create a fake email account – phew! Nice saving us from scalpers and hackers, BMOrg!

In three decades of using the World Wide Web, this is the first time I have ever encountered an FAQ where some of the answers were password-protected. Helpful? Transparent? Or more PITA jumping through senseless hoops, to avoid giving Burners a straight answer?

When you get there, it says:

Screenshot 2016-03-28 07.30.47

 

Then I found this on the Tickets Page:

  • A 9% Nevada Live Entertainment Tax will be added to the price of all tickets and $3 of the $7 per ticket service fee. Will Call delivery is the only delivery method subject to this tax. The $12 Will Call delivery charge will be inclusive, meaning additional tax will not be added for choosing this delivery method ($1.08 of the $12 fee is built-in tax).

Let me try to parse these two statements, so we can figure out what’s going on. They’re sure not making it easy for us.

You pay $7 on top of each item. Ticket, vehicle pass, doesn’t matter.

You pay $0.27 per ticket extra for the Live Entertainment Tax being applied to just $3 of the total $7″handling” fees; all handling is done by computers outside Nevada.

Although you pay the same handling fee for buying a vehicle pass in this transaction, you don’t have to pay any tax on vehicle passes.

You pay $1.08 tax out of your $12 Will Call fee, but Burners don’t have to pay this particular sub-tax because BMOrg will.

Everything else, Burners pay.

Why is it 9% of $3 of the $7? That will require some further password-protected answers, probably. I certainly couldn’t find an explanation in the FAQ.

As Nomad says, have you ever seen a more convoluted and confusing ticketing system?

So each ticket is $390 Face Value

Actual cost is $397

And the tax on each ticket is (390 * .09) + (3 * .09) = $35.10 + $0.27 = $35.37

Making each ticket (without vehicle pass): $432.37

plus $22 domestic mailing charge = $454.37

plus $87 vehicle pass = $541.37

Look at what we have to go through, just to figure out how much tickets cost. It’s certainly not “$390 – unchanged from last year”. Tickets actually cost 40% more than face value – yet Burners are supposed to snitch on other Burners selling tickets for anything more? Because we’re trying to prevent scalpers? It’s quite clear who is selling tickets above face value, from the very beginning.

In the example I gave originally, each ticket was subject to an additional 27c “Live Handling Tax”, creating a further 54c cost to buy two tickets. So I was incorrect in saying that BMOrg benefits by $37,800. It was a mere $18,900.

BMOrg are collecting the tax from us now, when they sell the ticket. But the tax isn’t due until the event, almost half a year away.

Now, interest rates are low, and it’s not a great time to be sitting on cash. But you can still get more than 1% on a 6-month CD. The best offer here is 1.6% and here 1.74%, but that is retail. People with powerful friends on the inside of the banking system (not to mention $40 million or so in up front cash) could probably get better deals.

How much interest does BMOrg earn on our tax money, before handing it over to the Nevada government?

Screenshot 2016-03-28 09.37.18

The new information that the Live Entertainment Tax is not being charged on vehicle passes, but is being charged on $3 of each handling fee (for tickets, not vehicle passes), is now incorporated in this chart. However, we may still be missing 4,000 tickets worth of revenues from the count.

There has been a lot of talk about 72,000 tickets this year, including tickets to staff and Fire Conclave performers (not that a live performance is live entertainment, or anything…). The change on total revenue from this has a significant impact:

If those extra 4000 tickets are sold at $397, $38,861,090

If they are sold at the VIP “Da Vinci” price, $42,392,690

They are being sold right now at the VIP price – the point of this post. But we are told only 500 of these are available and the total tickets for paid participants is 68,000, so anything else is pure speculation.

Sticking to what we know – $2,682,900 LET; and a retail 1.74% interest rate for 6 months, how much could BMOrg make in interest? $23,341.23

For BMOrg to eat the Live Entertainment Tax on handling fees for all of us, not just Will Call users, would have cost them less than the interest they’re going to earn from collecting the tax money from us now and paying the government after the event.


 

[Update 3/28/16 11:47am]

Vivid tickets have cheaper prices than either eBay or Stubhub – $748.

http://www.vividseats.com/concerts/burning-man-tickets.html

Anonymous Burner confirmed that even after buying two VIP tickets, the link is still available on their profile to buy more.

2016 vip ticket

 

 

Vegas Halloween Parade Cancelled by Burning Man Attache

For the last 5 years, tens of thousands of residents of Las Vegas have enjoyed the annual Halloween Parade. This has featured Burner art cars like Dancetronauts Strip Ship, and has been linked to a Burner-fuelled gentrification revival of Downtown Las Vegas. It is organized by Cory Mervis, who three years ago was hired by the Burning Man Project as their cultural attache for Las Vegas.

Cory Mervis and Toni Wallace driven their school bus painted like an American Bald Eagle to Black Rock Desert as part of a 10,000-mile venture to spell the word "Vote" on a continent-wide scale.

Cory Mervis and Toni Wallace drove their school bus painted like an American Bald Eagle to Black Rock City as part of a 10,000-mile journey to spell the word “Vote” on a continent-wide scale.

From Fox5 Las Vegas:

Organizers of the Las Vegas Halloween Parade, which has marched for the past five years, decided to cancel the 2015 event, citing increased costs.

“We’d been negotiating for months with a potential partner who could help offset our expected increase in infrastructure and security costs,” said event founder Cory Mervis. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t agree on a plan that met everyone’s needs and time ran out.”

In 2014, the parade took place along East Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. Organizers said about 70,000 people attended the event, which took place on a Saturday. A turnout of 100,000 was expected.

The parade’s focus will be placed on the 2016 event, with organizers hoping to bring in additional sponsors and support.

Cory was appointed by BMOrg with great fanfare ago 3 years ago. The Burning Man Project had ambitions to transform an entire city by working with the real estate developer, Billionaire Burner Tony Hsieh (he sold Zappos to fellow Billionaire Burner Jeff Bezos, who names Amazon’s products “fire”, “kindle”, “burn”, etc). The Downtown Project bought Burning Man art like the Praying Mantis to be the front piece of their shipping container shopping mall, and transported the BMOrg-funded YES Spaceship art car to their office lobby.  Across his business empire, Hsieh embraced the same Hippy Operating System self management system called “holocracy” that empowers BMOrg’s force of 70 full-time staff to make themselves look busy year-round while achieving little in the way of measurable output.

Y.E.S. Spaceship in Zappos Lobby. Image: Glass Door

BMOrg CEO Marian Goodell came out to Las Vegas to give a speech (at Electric Dasiy Carnival’s attached business networking conference). She said:


“Las Vegas provides a rich landscape ripe with opportunities for civic participation and public gathering, and we look forward to engaging in this collaborative effort.”

She then described the partnership with Cory Mervis, the Downtown Project and the Burner-inspired company behind First Friday, noting that Art Cars were a key part of the vision:

The partnership will enhance First Friday in Las Vegas by providing more opportunities for participation and interaction, strengthening the event’s civic-minded emphasis, and developing ways to keep attendees connected. The partnership would also like to provide storage, or a museum space, for art cars in Las Vegas so that they can participate in the First Friday and other public art events. In order to facilitate this process, the Burning Man Project is hiring a liaison, or “cultural attaché” that will be based in Las Vegas to work closely with Downtown Project.

“Hiring” means BMOrg is paying for this – which means we, the community, are paying for this. To my knowledge, this is the first time Burning Man has hired a full-time cultural attache to represent them in another city.

The Las Vegas Sun published a lengthy article in 2012 about all the links between Las Vegas and Burning Man, promoting it as an example of how the official Regional events can be used to accommodate the culture’s growth beyond available tickets to the Gerlach burn:

The main spark…came when Vanas, an event planner, was invited by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh to invest in First Friday and handed a ticket to Burning Man. It was there that Vanas had his epiphany and chose to commit to First Friday LLC, a decision he says was based on the creativity and community experience he saw at Burning Man. Vanas and other locals in the Burning Man community want to see some of the event’s large-scale, interactive sculptures planted downtown.

This month’s First Friday festival, held on the “Burnal Equinox” (halfway between annual Burning Man events), might be the gateway to more Burning Man-inspired activities, motivated by the community-building principals of Black Rock City, which pops up in Northern Nevada for a week each year with theme camps, the burning of The Man and 50,000 attendees.

“It’s just the beginning,” says Bocskor, who, along with Mervis, runs the Society for Experimental Arts and Learning, a creative group inspired by Burning Man. “That’s why the name Flames of Change is so wonderful. What’s happening here in Vegas is setting new examples of what we can do. … With the first build of Lucky Lady Lucy, we had stagehands, accountants, bartenders, chefs, kids — all working together.

“It’s important for regional activities to go on that have the sense of Burning Man culture because the attendance is capped. There are more people who want to go than there are tickets.”

[Source: Las Vegas Sun]

The Washington Post (also bought by Bezos) wrote breathlessly about Larry Harvey’s genius for urban renewal:

These days, Harvey — now in his mid-60s, dressed in a gray cowboy hat, silver western shirt, and aviator sunglasses — is just as likely to reference Richard Florida as the beatniks he once met on Haight Street. Most recently, he’s been talking with Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, who shares his vision of revitalizing Las Vegas, one of the cities hardest hit by the recent housing bust. “Urban renewal? We’re qualified. We’ve built up and torn down cities for 20 years,” says Harvey. “Cities everywhere are calling for artists, and it’s a blank slate there, blocks and blocks. … We want to extend the civil experiment — to see if business and art can coincide and not maim one another.”

Harvey points out that there’s been long-standing ties between Burning Man artists and to some of the private sector’s most successful executives. Its arts foundation, which distributes grants for festival projects, has received backing from everyone from real-estate magnate Christopher Bently to Mark Pincus, head of online gaming giant Zynga, as the Wall Street Journal points out. “There are a fair number of billionaires” who come to the festival every year, says Harvey, adding that some of the art is privately funded as well. In this way, Burning Man is a microcosm of San Francisco itself, stripping the bohemian artists and the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs of their usual tribal markers on the blank slate of the Nevada desert. At Burning Man, “when someone asks, ‘what do you do?’ — they meant, what did you just do” that day, he explains.

So what did BMOrg just do?

It’s been three and a half years now since this BMOrg-sponsored PR campaign kicked off. The Art Car parade grew, from 1,000 in 2010,  12,000 at the time BMOrg announced the partnership, to 70,000 last year, and an expected 100,000 this year.

BMOrg made an announcement that they’d picked a city to support, and it was Las Vegas. They got some press to write about it, and sent Marian for a panel discussion. They hired a cultural attache.

And this is what it has all come to. Parade cancelled, Burners pissed, 100,000 people disappointed.

With all the skills and talent and resources in this community, with all the Medici style HNWI patrons, with hundreds of art cars on tap and easily summoned to action…we couldn’t even get a parade together?

It’s bad enough that the parade couldn’t be organized by its self-appointed organizers and their financial behemoth partners. What makes it worse is that the cancellation came just 3 weeks before the event. People had already been spending months working on costumes and art cars in preparation.

Screenshot 2015-10-31 11.30.29

So, what went wrong?

The estimated budget was $150,000. There are people in Vegas dropping that nightly. Ex-Kardashian Lamar Odom just spent $75,000 for a weekend drug binge with two hookers he didn’t even touch.

Lebron James Bar Tab. Image: Brobible

Lebron James Bar Tab. Image: Brobible

Surely the cultural attache of Burning Man can organize a street party, when they’ve been doing it for years, and it has the mayor’s blessing, the people’s support, sponsors, cops ready to go, and all the permits required. Right?

From the Las Vegas Review Journal:

“It really sucks,” she says. “This was heartbreaking to have to call it off. We did everything in our power to make this happen. In the end, it was the smart thing to do.”

Mervis says it came down to not having the financial backing to do the things they wanted to do.

For the past few months, they have been able to acquire some sponsorships. But wanting to make the event bigger than before – Halloween is on a Saturday and Mervis thought there would be a larger crowd – she knew it would take more money.

“We wanted more police officers, more barricades, more marketing and needed more insurance,” she says. “We were looking at about $150,000. I could have finagled the budget, but I really didn’t want to do things on the cheap.

Mervis says they do plan to return next year. She hopes to spend the next year acquiring more sponsors and up the ante on the parade.

“Ask me where I’m going for Halloween?” she says. “Disneyland. I want to get a few ideas. I want this to be like the Macy’s parade one day.”

It sounds like the money could have been raised, and perhaps even some fat in the budget could be trimmed (for example, save money on marketing, contact Burners.Me) but the standards of the organizers were too high. Couldn’t Burning Man’s full-time cultural attache go to the $34 million parent company and say “hey, we’re in danger of having no parade at all, please contribute”? What about starting a Kickstarter, and marketing that to BMOrg’s nearly 1 million strong Facebook audience? This sounds like exactly the kind of art in community situation that Burning Man Arts should be reaching out and supporting.

Here’s Cory Mervis giving a speech. Note the Beatles-style jacket, just like that usually worn by Burning Man’s Social Alchemist and Global Ambassador, Bear Kittay. Is this a uniform now?

She seems to have no problem riding the coat-tails of the Burning Man brand, network, and social movement. And BMOrg seem to have no problem endorsing her, employing her, and funding her. Indeed Zappos, the Downtown Project, and the City of Las Vegas seem to all have been enthusiastic partners of Burning Man. So a failure like this hurts the global spread of our culture.

Who takes responsibility? Who takes the blame? Who fixes the mess? Who looks at it to say “we fucked up, what can we do better next time?”. Nobody. For the sake of a few minutes launching a Kickstarter, or a couple of phone calls to Larry and Marian, everybody missed out.

Burners were not impressed with the surprise last-minute cancellation. Some had planned international travel to attend the Parade.

Screenshot 2015-10-31 11.33.35 Screenshot 2015-10-31 11.34.01 Screenshot 2015-10-31 11.34.38 Screenshot 2015-10-31 11.34.53 Screenshot 2015-10-31 11.35.03 Screenshot 2015-10-31 11.35.16 Screenshot 2015-10-31 11.35.27

Is there, as one of the commenters suggested, more to this story that they’re not telling us? There usually is. Earlier this year the BLM moved against Further Future at the last minute, forcing them to change venue. Those guys are total professionals, and had a Plan B lined up. The Burning Man Project team seems less experienced with event planning.

Nevada politics is a murky scene, but still, a parade doesn’t seem that hard to put together. $150,000? Really?

 

 

Easy Way To Get Tickets

Panicking because you missed out on STEP and OMG? Keen to go and check out the debut of the new, ultra-loud Dance Music Zone? Looking to hear the crackling of the flames at the Man base without pesky DJs trying to gift you tracks? All those and more could be yours…if only you had a ticket.

Well, Burners, it’s not hard. In fact it’s pretty easy.

Go to http://stubhub.com and type “Burning Man” in the search.

As I write this there are 434 tickets for sale (from $999), and 157 vehicle passes (from $333).

The Burnier-Than-Thous, of course, will tell you that you can’t do this. It’s against the unwritten rules! It’s Un-Burnery. Real Burners would rather not go to Burning Man, than pay $900 for an $800 ticket.

Hey, if you want to be one of those, then by all means go for it. Have fun being a Burner who never goes to Burning Man any more, it’s a fast growing group.

For any other Burner who wants to go to Burning Man, my advice is just go. Buy one of the hundreds of tickets still left on sale. You’re not paying that much more above face value, now that BMOrg have conveniently set face value at $819 plus a vehicle pass, bus ticket, or airport entry tax.

What of the argument that paying more for tickets fuels scalpers?

We have covered this time and time again. First of all, scalpers aren’t even a significant problem. That’s not just Burners.Me telling you that, it’s Larry Harvey:

Source: Larry Harvey, Voices of Burning Man, December 2012

Source: Larry Harvey, Voices of Burning Man, December 2012

I have kept an eye on the ticket prices on Stubhub during the year. After the OMG sale, the number of passes and tickets available went up, and so did the prices. Vehicle passes briefly hit a peak of $520, but have now started to plummet.

Screenshot 2015-08-10 11.31.39

If scalpers DID get some of those OMG tickets, then if you buy them, you are ensuring that a real Burner goes, instead of some safari tourist bucket-lister Broner schmuck.

Otherwise, the increase in tickets available for sale must only be from Burners finding out at the last minute they can’t go. STEP is closed, so how else are they supposed to sell their tickets? Especially if they live a long way from Black Rock City. These Burners need our support, and it’s our duty to help ensure those tickets go to other good Burners. Buy their ticket, help yourself, help a Burner.

And what about the rules? Well, statements from BMOrg over the last 12 months seem to show that they’ve significantly softened their tone about the secondary market. Even they realize that it’s basically the only way that most Burners can ensure they get tickets.

Screenshot 2015-08-10 11.51.09

Source: Voices of Burning Man, Feb 2015

They’ve gone from “it’s against our community’s ethos so don’t do it”, to “it’s the reality of supply and demand and technically legal and many do it and we’re certain it’s not scalpers“. How can they be so certain? Perhaps they have some inkling of who is actually selling these tickets. To the rest of us, the whole ticketing and queueing system is a mysterious black box.

From the Jackrabbit Speaks:

  • For 2014, the total allotment was 35,000 vehicle passes. We never sold out. Just over 34,000 were purchased in all of our sales combined. Just before the event there were lots of passes on the secondary market, and in the end, only about 27,000 vehicle passes were actually used.
  • Since Black Rock City will be roughly the same size in 2015 as it was in 2014, this year we’re limiting the total allotment to 27,000

Following the “reality of supply and demand”, releasing fewer Vehicle Passes for 2015 has naturally led to vehicle passes being much higher on the secondary market all year.

I predict the Early Bird sale sells out quickly next year, and I’m sure cracking the 1 G mark has crossed the minds of the non-profit ticket pricers.

As the above graph shows, thanks to StubHub there have been hundreds of tickets available all year long. There are other sites too.

eBay has plenty of tickets and vehicle passes. Tickets seem to be around $600-$800 and vehicle passes are in the $250-$450 range.

Vivid Seats have tickets from $892 and vehicle passes from $338. Tickpick have tickets from $899 and vehicle passes from $344.

Please note: there are plenty of Burnier-Than-Thou narcs out there trying to tell on ticket sellers to BMOrg. Why they do this is beyond me, but Burners.Me is not responsible for anybody scamming anybody else in ticket sales. Caveat emptor, and caveat venditor too.

Someone is making a lot of money from these sales on the secondary market. But is it professional scalping crews, gaming the system? Burning Man are certain that it isn’t. How can they be so sure? Is there some way that insiders can get their hands on more than 1 ticket? Volunteers, staffers, Directed Group Sale beneificiaries? They get to keep a ticket for themselves, and sell one to pay for their trip…if someone had 4 tickets and vehicle passes, they could clear more than $5000.

The two tier price structure of $800 and $400 for the same ticket seems tailor made to boost prices on the secondary market. The staggered timing of the ticket releases also seems geared to fuel it. And watching what BMOrg have done over the years since they introduced the ticket lottery, every single move seems to have had the effect of bumping secondary market prices higher for longer. This is one area where BMOrg seems to really have excelled in the effectiveness of their decision making.

At any time, to really stop scalping, they could just link tickets to IDs. Of course, that would completely destroy the model I just outlined. It would be great for Burners, but much harder for anyone who got tickets via one of the various internal handouts to make money on the side. So we’re told we can’t have it, and some weak excuse is made up for why. Actions speak louder than words, in this case the actions seem to be about secondary market prices. We haven’t seen any evidence of money from the Vehicle Pass sales going to improve road safety, but they certainly have been a re-seller’s wet dream, fetching up to 1000% returns.