White Ocean, Gabby Giffords & A Stand Alone Complex

White-Ocean

Editorial by Terry Gotham

Unless you’ve been under a really big, non-dusty rock, you’ve heard about the sabotage/accident/Tusken Raider attack at the White Ocean camp during Burning Man 2016. As my editor has reported, dozens of news outlets have reported on the story, big and small, from left wing to the Drudge Report. Lots of people have offered stories and explanations for what happened, but I think a lot of them miss the mark. I’d like to offer an explanation that draws on the commodification of Burning Man, the shooting of Gabby Giffords, and one of my favorite TV shows, Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex. We may never know who really did it and why, so let’s stop with the poorly supported, largely assumed narrative that’s been constructed by journalists since the man burned last weekend.

white-ocean-vandalized

If you’re not familiar with Ghost In The Shell, I highly recommend it. The movie, but even more so the 2 season show, explored the cybernetic & internet-everywhere world we’re hurtling towards as a species. In NeoTokyo, a “stand alone complex” occurs, a series of corporate hacks expose government corruption, blamed on a single actor sparking a movement and revolution in cyberspace. In reality, there’s no actual team of people with an agenda, things are happening totally independently of each other. However, because the internet is watching and being drawn along, never truly seeing the whole picture, the populace believes “something” is happening, when things aren’t. This is the nature of a stand alone complex. When you don’t have all the evidence, your mind draws whatever line through discrete events that makes sense.

The two competing stories so far have been class warfare vs. personal vendetta. On the class warfare side, White Ocean is a plug and play hotel for the elite. Bucket listers show up, hang out, get fucked up, Burn, party until the sunrises, then head home, have earned a tremendous amount of ire over the last couple of years. White Ocean has attempted to defray the concerns that they cater to the elites by discussing the size of their speaker system and the fact that they feed Burners. Many have spent time debating who actually gets fed at White Ocean, and of course, there are a miasma of opinions surrounding the deployment of EDM/commercial DJs to the playa, so I won’t belabor their points. While the case is slowly building that they can provide benefit to the greater playa, the idea of Burning Man VIP is a sticky accusation that many elite camps have done a poor job defending against. Plenty of people have come to the defense of White Ocean because they camp in similar levels of comfort, but I wanted to point out that there are plenty of uber wealthy/influential people who don’t earn that kind of scorn. Susans Sarandon shows up, works, and then has a ceremony using the Temple honorably and in a way that invited participation. Some of David Bowie’s ashes were burned at the Temple this year as well. I assume everyone associated with that was decently well off, and somehow, they managed to be respectful to the wider playa community and be wealthy at the same time.

The other side is that White Ocean stiffed a bunch of workers, so the workers retaliated. Not because of the revolution, but because “Fuck you I want my check.” This explanation tends to hold water once the facts of the sabotage are reviewed. It’s really difficult to do the level of damage that occurred at a camp without being seen, and White Ocean had actual guards posted in their camp. The idea that some socialist Solid Snake infiltrated the camp, wasn’t seen by anyone, and made off after doing so, is a reach even for the guys I hear on playa detailing the underground cities and hyperloop transports the government has created in case of nuclear war. If you saw a cook or a campmate wandering around you camp, you wouldn’t think anything of it.  I assume White Ocean didn’t exactly broadcast that they stiffed these people, so the camp wasn’t on high alert. If a couple of peeps were really burnt about getting stiffed, it would’ve been trivially easy to do what happened to White Ocean, without being flagged as an intruder. But, here’s the thing, people don’t believe that, because they’ve built this pre-existing narrative about class warfare over the attacks, and see a Stand Alone Complex, where there is none.

I want to emphasize that doing this is not only human nature, but also how we evolved. The ability to recognize patterns with incomplete data kept us alive in the jungle, and helped teach us how to farm. Some of the highest paying jobs in Silicon Valley are for people who can spot patterns in data that no one else can. So it’s no surprise that everyone & their mom has tried to figure out why sabotage and why White Ocean. But, as Freud says, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. We increasingly live in a world where people will have access to massive amounts of data, that still provide an incomplete picture. This causes us to have faith in the model/trend line we built, but that doesn’t mean it’s anymore correct than it was when we saw “predator eyes” on a leaf instead of a moth and ran like scared apes 125,000 years ago.

Lots of people are talking about class warfare as if there’s some directed attempt to stoke socioeconomic resentment by certain groups on the playa, and when I read this stuff, I keep thinking back to how quickly we lost the plot after Gabby Giffords (US Congresswoman from AZ) was shot in 2011. The shooter, diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia after years of drug abuse, was convicted of the mass shooting, but also totally dehumanized as a puppet of the NRA, or a martyr for states rights. First came the ham-handed attempts to blame Fox News & Sarah Palin, ensuring that a nuanced discussion about how incendiary rhetoric affects the public consciousness would never happen. Then, the rush to demonization of the shooter as a super-villain, cold and calculating, fighting as a standard bearer for all that the NRA/GOP/your arch nemesis stood for. This guaranteed the discourse devolved into team sport, talk radio, and Facebook sparring. Someone shot a sitting Congressperson and not a single policy change came out of it. That’s startling to me, even to this day.

I’m seeing this happen right now in the comment threads, think pieces and tweet storms about White Ocean. Not only are large numbers of people hailing this person as some kind of working class hero, but the real problems of turnkey camps are taking a back seat to faux outrage and slap fights. Let’s be real, unless you were camping at White Ocean, this problem does not affect you. Period. It’s not a portend of violence to come, and it’s not going to filter into open “rebellion” on playa, so we all need to dial this pearl clutching back. While we’re being real, I’m not going to spend a lot of time being terrified that a camp for people who live in the Capitol of The Hunger Games was fucked with. Even in the worst case scenario, how long would it take White Ocean to get resupplied, via air if necessary? An hour? Two? Five? While the average burner would be fucked by this event, I’m still not clear on how this could have been anything but a minor annoyance. Not because you’re turn-key, like the White Ocean FB post said they were told by BMOrg, but because you’re FABULOUSLY WEALTHY. If how much you spend at Burning Man doesn’t even appear as a line on your yearly budget, I have no doubt contingencies existed to ensure no harm came to anyone at the camp. And if they didn’t, after this attack, I assume all turn key camps will simply bake that contingency plan cost into the price of your FuturePod or whatever the package will be called next year.

White Ocean isn’t closing up shop, no other turn key camps have announced they won’t be returning to the playa because of it, so, that aspect of the burn won’t change. And, considering their blotches of red on the MOOP Map from 2015, 9 days out, I hope they did better this year, as it seems we all have progress to make. As for the likely saboteurs, I’m a fiesty fucker, but even I’m not trying to pick a fight with rich Saudis or Russians. I truly hope law enforcement finds the culprit before they do.

At the end of the day, many are using this event to push a narrative that they most likely held before the event happened. I heard a lot of people talk about how horrifying this attack was, not realizing just how much more they spend on their average Burn than many Burners out there. The same thing happens when the poor start cheering for destruction and rebellion, not realizing that they’re actively calling for terrorism against people who, you know, work there. I found it terrifying that people were advocating for harm/further attacks/sabotage against these camps, totally glossing over a lot of people at these camps are either non-rich guests, paid staff, or simply tourists. The idea that they’d be forced to suffer simply to make a point about participation or “the priniciples” is some Daesh level bullshit. Both sides have put their insecurities on display, and are using the same event to advance their own agenda. Hopefully something like this doesn’t happen next year, but if it does, let’s try and keep a clear head about it next time.

BREAKING: Anonymous Terror Group Claims Responsibility For Burning Man Attacks [Updates]

anonymous fire

Last night somebody calling themselves “anonymous burner” left this comment on our Hooligans Attack and 2016 Scandals stories. The details indicate it is legitimate. They claim there are 4 in this terror cell, located around the world. They threaten continued attacks on White Ocean if they ever return, and on other elitist Burners and camps too.

Whats true and whats not…
There were no cables cut
yes super glue in key holes
yes chicken and beef cubes in rv resivoir
yes dye in rv water too
Dish soap added to shower water cubes
Yes water dumped
yes olive oil in the bathroom floors
no personal items were stolen
yes lug nuts off their art car were taken
Not connected to the hotel cube collapse

Why?
The four people that were targeted were Timur, Oliver,Eduardo, Kfir…. these rich seperatists think they are above the burning man ways.. they think they can stronge arm people with threats of violence from their connections to the russian mafia and or throw lawyers with lawsuits at you to force you to do what they want…. they hire mexican workers to do all the camp setup and breakdown for burning man and their other events(further future)… if they cant demand their way then they bribe it… why do you think they were even allowed back after the last few years…all they allow at their dinners are the rich and famous and they dont even bring food or water for the mexican workers they hired… them and their friends drug women and try to take advantage of them, and btw their drug mule is ########… they only put Paul okenfolds name on the camp so the bm community would “feel it”…. because what burner could really relate to a billionaire russian gangsters son? With all of the people tgey have fucked over and threatened over the 4 years they have been a compound at burning man they deserved some payback… This is just the beginning, every year they return people will mess with them and their camp… This should happen to all the elitest groups on and off the playa…
These rich entiteled bastards dont deserve to treat the playa like their own personal parties…. it is the communties…
This was done by 4 highly trained individuals who are spread out in the burning man community around the world listening to how the other elitest groups are treating their fellow burners… take your community back, stand up against these kinds of snobby bastards ruining burning man…

This is no conspiracy theory. The perpetrator – or someone close enough to them to be an at least an accomplice – is quite clearly telling us it is a conspiracy. What more do you need?

It seems unlikely that this is the same “Anonymous” as the hacker group, although they were very involved with the #occupy movement, as were many Burners in the Burn Wall Street project. This seems to be a new group of terrorists saboteurs, specifically targeting wealthy burners.

anonymous ferguson

The commenter calling themselves “anonymous burner” has the same IP address as an earlier commenter on this blog, who was upset with White Ocean’s red MOOP score in October 2015:

Im a part of White Ocean, we cleaned, everyday we cleaned up trash left from the partiers in our dance area… everyday of breakdown we had people doing their part cleaning, while the structure was be dismantled we made sure no bolts or washers or nuts were dropped… our core stayed a day after everyone else to moop the area(thursday)…… so understand that there are many reasons why we could red like this, and we are wondering why ourselves… also note that its been years since a corner got less than red on its dance floor(which u showed fur us, 2010, the only year that corner was clean) also look at how we took care of our area last year… we are trying….

Ps .. we actually made this huge grid n dropped all of the pooh n piss n other shit yall left fur us just to get the perfect red square….
n Fuck Off, n Fuck ur Day!!!

Pss…. burners.me, ur a kunt…
I have posted my real name and email, if there is any issues with White Ocean or myself, please feel free to contact me, I wont hide behind a blog…:-)

I would never share the name of an informant who requested anonymity. I think I’ve proved that now in almost 5 years of blogging and 1657 posts. This is just a commenter, though. They didn’t contact me requesting anonymity before sharing information – as in the case of every other tip I’ve shared here from Anonymous Burner. Instead, they just posted here (twice) proclaiming themselves to be “anonymous burner” (lower case). This is less of a tip, and more of a confession to a crime and a threat of more crimes to come. And in the above case this commenter made quite a big deal over his desire to not be seen as “hiding behind a blog”.

Before any Ray Donovan types rush to bring this guy to the interrogation chamber, if you were the perp this would be a simple way to finger someone else for the blame (although he did post this last year). 2 posts from the same IP address are not evidence it is the same person – could be room-mates, or a company account. If you lose power or turn your modem off, your cable company might assign you a new IP address – but there is no way that 2 posts a year apart from the same address, both about White Ocean is an accident. If the police want to contact me I’d be happy to provide the IP address and other details (it is located in California).

Remember when Burning Man used to be about fun? It was just a party in the desert?

Perhaps this is why BMOrg need Flysalen now: a Gated Community for First Camp and the elite Burners, while the Black Rock City Communist Party (last post before BM2016: Psychedelic military attack) and the remnants of the Cacophony Society wreak anarchy and havoc at Burning Man. Leave The Man Burn to the cops and the plebs, watch everything on HDTV and just chopper in for fancy dinners with the Sheriff and meetings with promising startups.

anonymous leader further further peter ruprecht 2016


[Update 9/7/16 2:50pm]

Perhaps predictably, “anonymous” has now come forward to confirm his identity and his desire not to hide behind blogs. He claims to just be the messenger, not the perpetrator – and he “was just talking shit”. He just happened to be the one to answer the Playa telephone when the call came in with all the details of the crime, and wanted to share it on this blog so badly that he posted it twice. Interesting that nobody else has shared anywhere near this level of detail, even though by John’s account a lot of different people had them.

screenshot-2016-09-07-13-55-10

YMMV.

telephone_burning_man_art_car


Some Burners have claimed about the grammar of calling this a “terror” attack. When Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen warned of terror attacks at Burning Man 2 weeks ago, I’m not sure MOOPing the freshwater was quite what he had in mind. The word that has been widely used in headlines for these attacks is “sabotage”. Sabotage is the same thing as terrorism, just minus the violence. It’s easy to see how taking lug nuts off a car’s wheels or making a floor super-slippery might lead to people getting hurt. What was the point of this sabotage, if not terror? Entertainment? Education? Intimidation is the purpose.

screenshot-2016-09-07-14-05-08

Terrorism vs Sabotage: What’s the Difference?

[Update 9/8/16 8:40am

with-us-or-terrorists

Click here to learn about the Logical Fallacy called “The False Dilemma”

“You’re either part of White Ocean and we’re gonna get you too, or you’re a true Burner and with the terrorists”. One Burner’s terrorist saboteur is another’s Freedom Fighter.

Sabotage is either a military action, or a terrorist action. And these are actually the same thing, it’s just the army has a different composition.

This is pretty low on the spectrum of terrorism – attacks aimed to intimidate psychologically, rather than through violence. As far as we know, there was no physical harm done – but by the sound of it there easily could have been.

It reminds me of the anti-Burning Man rancher’s expensive yacht mysteriously sinking in Tahoe when he was in a dispute with Burners. Nobody was harmed and no violence was involved in that act of sabotage. See Don’t Pick A Fight With A Burner

In my opinion this is a group, not a lone individual. They are operating covertly, with threats/plans to do more attacks. They try to “Leave No Trace”, choosing the type of attacks that are hard to photograph. This is a psychological operation. The purpose is to change White Ocean’s behavior and attitude, to conform more to a profile desired by the attackers.

“It’s a self service cult. Wash your own brain” – but if you don’t wash it the right way, expect sabotage and psychological warfare.

]


The report last night came from Sacramento. I note that the Sacramento Cacophony Society announced they were starting “the next phase of cacophony” in early December 2014. They changed their Facebook group from Closed to Secret and then kicked me out. At the same time Danger Ranger launched his anti-rich attack on me, and the Burning Man Facebook Group was overthrown in a coup which several long-term members suspect had the backing of both BMorg and Facebook Inc.

sacramento-cacophony-launching-mayhem

 

According to their web site today, “Project Mayhem” is underway with funding and personnel:

screenshot-2016-09-07-14-26-15

 

You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to suspect that “attack the rich” and “Project Mayhem” may be the same thing.

Hooligans Attack! White Ocean Sabotaged, Camp Collapses

2016 white ocean lineup

It seems the Occupy Burning Man Class War long promoted on eplaya.burningman.com (while being simultaneously dismissed as irrelevant at the BJ) has finally come to fruition.

White Ocean was sabotaged by hooligans, who trashed their camp and glued doors shut on their trailers. Rather than sympathy from the Org, they were told they deserved it.

Screenshot 2016-09-02 14.25.33

Some Burners might laugh at this, thinking it’s a throwback to the glory hole days of the Cacophony Society, but it’s not cool. This is way more than a prank. Pranks should be funny. Like this:

zos billboard

It goes against the whole point of Burning Man, which is radical inclusion. The vandals are MOOPing all over the Playa, “in the name of the Ten Principles!” What dicks. Not to mention that it might not be the smartest thing to mess with these people.

White Ocean put on a huge stage, bring some of the best musical talent in the world, give it away for free – so they deserve to be punished by Burnier-Than-Thous? For what, not gifting enough? Having people in their camp from other countries? First Camp is where people should be protesting.

The result of this attack is more likely to be “raise prices further so poor people can’t come”, rather than “all the rich people will now leave”. Camps will now be forced to have security staff, velvet ropes, members-only areas, all the things the vandals presumably hate. Generators will be closely guarded, strangers will be looked at with suspicion.

Sadly, this is symptomatic of the huge rift in the community caused by the BMorg 2.0 attitude, as exemplified by the “Man upside down” theme of this year. The message from Larry Harvey on the official Burning Man blog is that art comes from rich people sponsoring poor artists, instead of a communal effort by all of us where anyone can be an artist so everybody’s got to try.

These days, some people have $190 tickets and others have $1300 tickets. Burners don’t think “that’s so awesome that they paid more for tickets, they’re funding art” – because the extra money quite clearly is not funding more art. Instead many think “most of my friends couldn’t get tickets and these sparkle ponies don’t even care about our values or appreciate how  lucky they are to be here”.

Instead of Da Vinci tickets funding more art, the annual Art Grants budget was adjusted to include the Man, Man base, and Temple, as well as grants to Burner artists. Of course, all the same old names who’ve been getting grants for decades get rewarded each year, whether they need the money or not.

What about Vehicle Passes? Did this money go to art? Vehicles? To making Burning Man or the world a  better place? Or did it go to flying the 100+ full time, year-round Org staff around the world to a bunch of festivals on recon for Fest300 while courting wealthy patrons to finance off-Playa real estate deals?

Screenshot 2016-09-02 15.19.30

When vehicle passes came out, we were told it was for the environment and improving local roads. Were the roads any better this year? All we have heard about is Police stings at the Gerlach crosswalk.

Perhaps related to this attack, or perhaps a total coincidence, but a structure in an unnamed camp collapsed, injuring 6 people. 1 had to be airlifted out, BMOrg aren’t saying where. From SFist:

A Burning Man theme camp collapsed earlier this week, injuring six and requiring that one festival attendee be airlifted out of the desert for medical treatment. The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that this all went down Monday, and that festival organizers are keeping a tight lid on the details.

According to the paper, the structure was part of a theme camp — not one of the giant art projects that cover the Playa — but officials are not saying at this time which camp. Five of the injured six, whose names have not been released, were treated by medical personnel onsite and one needed x-rays from medical contractor CrowdRx. The sixth was sent elsewhere for treatment, although Burning Man spokesman Jim Graham did not confirm to the paper to where or for what injuries.

We can safely assume, however, that Paris Hilton was not one of the injured as she was still Instagraming away as of yesterday.

The 70,000-person festival is no stranger to accidents, and has serious medical care facilities on site as a safety measure. And while most years are free of accidental deaths, it was just two years ago that a woman died after she was tragically run over by a bus.

The collapsed structure was officially closed off Tuesday morning, and we assume the five injured and released attendees are, at present, dancing to some deep house.

[Source]

Meanwhile, back in SF, the Chronicle reports that the 3% drop in city population due to Burning Man has been quickly filled up with tourists. Probably taking advantage of the glut of week-long AirBnB rentals.

 

Why We Burn: Diva PsychicStar & The Geniuz

(This week, I’m truly honored to have spoken to two East Coast Burners that are truly larger than life. If you’ve partied in NYC in any significant fashion you’ve probably seen them out, dressed to the nines. They’re four time Burners with a unique perspective that we’d all do well to learn from. Diva PsychicStar (Patricia) repurposes furs & The Geniuz (Jeremiah) commands broadcasts. This is a deep dive folks, so turn on one of their favorite sets from playa, from White Ocean, Robot Heart, Pink Mammoth & Distrikt, while you read!)PandG 20071. How was Burning Man 2015?! How did this all start for you two? Burning Man 2015 was challenging! It was our fourth Burn with each one being different and each one offering a new experience and takeaway. It takes a lot of money/effort to trek across the continent from New York to join the tens of thousands of Burners for an event culminating months of regional festivals and camp fundraisers. Our style is to mitigate as much of the dry, dusty Playa harshness as possible by bringing as many creature comforts and tried and true costumes as we can. We have always been RV campers, which gives us a leg up when it comes to daytime sleeping and shelter from the dust storms. Continue reading

In Defense Of The Thirsty: A Plea For Water At Parties (Not The Burn)

funny-sometimes-drink-glass-water-surprise-liver-picsThis is a thought experiment, a call to action, or maybe even a plea. Perhaps it’s the ravings of a lunatic, if you don’t agree with me. The community of people who read this blog are the only ones on the planet with both the openness to listen and the determination to find solutions to complex problems. If we can figure out how to throw the best party in the world in the worst place to throw it, surely we can figure out this whole water thing.
8lHATcISpecifically, I want to talk about the cost & availability of water at events throughout the country, off-playa. We have Burning Man camps throwing stupendous parties as fundraisers for BM & regional burns. These events showcase the idea that parties can be principled, community-building affairs. These events are superior to “retail” or “EDM” styled dance music events, and we generally are pretty smug about how much better they are. Not for nothing, as they totally are. However, they aren’t perfect.

One thing that’s somewhat baffling is price of water at all of these events. The fact that I’m paying $5-6 for a bottle of water at Pacha, Avalon or Hakkasan is one thing. But when I’m being charged the same amount at a camp fundraiser, I think there’s a problem. I totally understand that it’s a fundraiser and we’re there to support, but we also rely on a gigantic population of people who go to these parties but never make it to Burning Man. I’m not sure why gouging these people is justified. I don’t believe water should ever be a profit generating item on party budgets but I also know I’m not the King of All Parties.

Malevolent GOdI think there’s a real opportunity for Burners to lead on this one, and make parties across the country better. There are plenty of influential DJs, producers, promoters, 1% & 0.1% members who enjoy the Burn and know that it’s important for us to ask serious questions about where we get our water, how, and who we buy it from/how it’s produced. Why am I paying 6 bucks for a bottle of water, that was ordered in bulk from some Big Water ZombieCorp? Why is it that we’re not making the hard, possibly slightly less profitable choices about providing tap water (it goes through the best water filter jugs at least once), advocating for water conservation & reforming the laws around large companies bottling our municipal water supply and selling it back to us.

Before anyone says it: No, this is not a call to have water given out at Burning Man. I’ve got a map from the 2006 Burn on my wall above the computer I’m writing this on, and would never want to make BM anything less than the rugged, non-plug & play carnival of stupendousness I remember it as and know it can be. The idea of having water provided at the Burn is antithetical to the goals of the event and those who attend. At burn fundraisers in real bars, warehouses & places that aren’t the deep playa however? I don’t understand why water is more expensive there than it is at the dubstep show up the street. Aren’t we better than that?

Photograph by Scott R. Kline. Click for source.

If we can spend thousands of dollars on desert dancefloors, epic structures, rainbow lights and art cars with dancefloors inside of them (yo dawg, I herd you like dancefloors…), we can drop a couple of dollars making sure the water that we’re selling at these fundraisers, or gigs we’re associated with isn’t exploitative. What would happen if DiSORIENT, False Profit, Opulent Temple, Kostume Kult, White Ocean, Bubbles & Bass,  Robot Heart just decided to negotiate with venues to ensure water was free or a dollar? If they opened with “what do we need to do to ensure water is free/sold at cost at our fundraisers?” I’d imagine they’d get a lot more traction than if I threw up another useless petition on change.org that you wouldn’t read or sign. What would happen if Burners who owned companies took a look at how they used water? What would happen if superstar DJs who play at Burning Man every year started putting “free water” in their riders off playa? If the green room can come stocked with a dozen bottles of champagne, what would happen if it started being part of what ticket holders expected when we went to a Burning Man camp fundraiser?
10157237_1554159521463579_1240439062530930905_nYes, this would mean we’d need to make some hard choices, work to ensure that California doesn’t entirely dry out, and that we’re more conservationist than hedonistic when it comes to water usage. But maybe it catches fire (like Western parts of the USA this time of year). Maybe headliners like Bassnectar & deadmau5 start demanding it. Maybe California BM groups help make this a signature issue to solve, not to spar or win political points on. Maybe we remember that it is about Gifting & Decommodification as much as it is about Radical Self Reliance.  Who knows, maybe we remind the dance music universe that water isn’t for making money on either, and things get better for everyone. Even people who will never make it to the playa.

It’s fun to dream. Thanks for dreaming with me, for a moment anyways. Hope you’ve got your reusable water bottle within arms reach while you’re reading this. I know I do.