Burning Man Lives

This continues to be a tough year of post-Playa bumps and bruises. (And I don’t mean the black and blue Xmas toenails.)  Amidst all the controversy I was asked, “Is Burning Man dead?”  

NOTE:  I am a 17 year Burning Man Participant and Theme Camp organizer.  I do not speak as an official rep of the Burning Man Organization.

Burning Man's Death has been greatly exaggerated

P.S. Yes, that is my 71 year old mom on the right of the screen, enjoying her first-ever Playa visit.  Her experience was amazing and has made our relationship even closer.  But that, too, is a topic for another post.  Long Live Burning Man.

 

About the author: John "Halcyon" Styn

John

Halcyon is a 20-year Burning Man participant and co-founder of Pink Heart camp. He is author of "Love more. Fear less." and producer of the Burning Man short film, "The Pink Path." He's won Webby awards for his over-the-top personal site & his "Love On Demand" video podcast HugNation.com. He hosted the defunct NBC.com web series "Fears. Regrets. Desires." and frequently speaks about Gratitude & Gifting. In 2010, Halcyon co-founded the San Diego based "1st Saturdays" homeless outreach program based on Burning Man Principles and the idea of "Service Without Sacrifice." You can find his digital home at www.Halcyon.pink

73 Comments on “Burning Man Lives

  • Finn says:

    Nice video, and lovely sentiments. But the spirit of the thing you cherish is under direct attack by the very organizers of the thing. Is Burning Man dead? No, not yet. But it’s rotting from the inside. Maybe use your influence to help us heal it, instead of ignoring the problem.

    Report comment

  • Brian Miller says:

    You defended selling out the Burn to the for-profit camps, then when you are called on it you make out that you are some sort of victim. Get a job….oops, you already have one, defending the sell-out of Burning Man while playing a pink victim.

    Report comment

  • Leo says:

    Halcyon,
    Stop being the victim and take some responsibility for your message. The safari (commodification) camps fly in the face of “radical self reliance” and you expect us to sit back and listen to your and/or the BMORG’s spin. You shouldn’t take the previous comments personally. If you are broadcasting an unpopular (and stupid) message, prepare to take some heat. The BMORG appears to be in denial that they are “peeing in the soup” and on the slippery slope to commodification of the event. I hope we can meet next year at Center Camp, sponsored by Starbucks.
    Best,
    Leo

    Report comment

  • simon of the playa says:

    don’t worry pink jesus, dirt jesus still loves you…

    but you better check yourself, before you wreck yourself….

    Report comment

  • JJ says:

    With all the unanswered/ignored direct questions, BMorg rolls out a professional victim? Okay. My ass bleeds for you. Poor you. It’s not easy. Please let us know who we can not victimize you further. Oh no, I fear this post has victimized you further. I guess I’m the oppressor. It’s not my fault, I’m a victim of society myself. Poor me. Who is to blame?

    Report comment

  • I edited my original post to make it clear that I am not an official rep of the org.

    Report comment

  • Peace says:

    H,

    Thank You for everything you and the spirit with which you do it. I understand you are upset that mom and dad are fighting. But I’m afraid you are being naive if you think that is all that’s happening. In truth dad is using his superior power to beat the shot out of mom and by trying to keep us calm you are enabling the abuse. I know it comes from a sincere place, but at this point we don’t need someone to calm us down, we need someone to be on our side. Someone who is willing to risk their influence to stand up for us. Someone who will make the people who can make the abuse stop, listen.

    Report comment

  • JJ says:

    @Peace

    “In truth dad is using his superior power to beat the shot out of mom”

    In actual truth, mom was asking for it.

    Report comment

  • I’m not trying to calm anyone down. I’m just taking a moment to remember what is so magical about Burning Man and – if needed – what is worth fighting for.

    Report comment

  • Finn says:

    So, another attempt to change the conversation, shot down. You’re going to have to face the fact that this is not just going to ‘go away.’ It’s not going to just magically get better, or be like it used to be. The bmorg is still pouring poison into the well. They need to stop that shit, and apologize. No amount of feel good videos is going to do the trick.

    And I ask you again. Please, get on the right side of this, and help.

    Report comment

  • simon of the playa says:

    john, in all fairness to the people who made comments, you edited a hell of a lot more than just saying you don’t work for the org…

    where is all the “victim” stuff? why did you remove what you wrote?

    My GF & I are sitting here watching history be re-written before our very eyes…

    Report comment

  • Simon – My intention was to share a new video. As an intro, I mentioned (and linked) the plug & play retraction post I made in mid sept. I was trying to be cute and give context to the video.

    That was a huge mistake. There are already a bunch of posts and tons of comments about that topic.

    I think I should remove this post and refrain from posting until I can get caught up on the current state of the controversy. I don’t know enough to take a stand or make an argument stronger than the retraction that I already have. (I’ve been pretty focussed on default world stuff.)

    I wanted to share some good memories with fellow Burners. I was unaware that the climate was too volatile for that. My apologies to anyone who was upset by my post or video.

    Report comment

  • simon of the playa says:

    john, your videos are not upsetting, they are very sweet. i mean that.

    it’s the cognitive dissonance that’s upsetting.

    and you are right, it’s a powder keg, and you walked in with a lit cigarette.

    Report comment

  • Finn says:

    By all means, take a little time to investigate. I’m pretty confident that you won’t like what you find. And hopefully you will then be ready to urge the bmorg to come clean, remove the corruption sitting on their own BOD, apologize to the community, and change their policy allowing the commodification camps special access, privileges and tickets.

    Happy reading. Start with the Sherpagate girl.

    Report comment

  • Peace says:

    Please don’t delete this post. Even though you didn’t get the response you thought, the comments here are an important part of the discussion. Please review the actual evidence the org is distributing tickets to some based on wealth. I know your heart is in the right place. Please help.

    Report comment

  • Peace – What are the important parts of the discussion that are addressed in the comments here?
    And by actual evidence, do you mean Burners.me posts? Or is there another source?

    Report comment

  • Sandstorm says:

    Halcyon:

    Earlier today you made a similar post over in the FB BM group. Then when some people very kindly and politely addressed why you would risk your reputation by your continued involvement with Larry & Co. via your posting on this website you deleted said FB post. I’m not attacking you when I say this: you’re doing a great job of making yourself look out of touch and oversensitive. Being that you have been a Burner for 17 years you should know that Burners aren’t going to lose their focus on and attention to an issue such as the fallout from SHERPAGATE. If you really love Burning Man so much why didn’t you check in on the COMMODIFICATION CAMP CONTROVERSY before you posted this new video?

    While you were busy with default life in recent months Larry & Co. have done 2 things in regards to the COMMODIFICATION CAMP CONTROVERSY:

    1) They’ve maintained RADIO SILENCE in the fact of increased, sustained and eloquent criticism from EVERY corner of the Burner community.

    2) They’ve rolled out mouthpieces such as Will and AnswerGirl to try to obfuscate the real issue at hand, which is Larry & Co.’s well-documented corruption via their behind the scenes peddling of BM tickets and influence with and access to some members of the BM Founders and Board of Directors.

    Larry & Co. are willing to ignore some of the 10 Principles so that they can chase the almighty dusty $. Are you okay with that fact?

    Report comment

  • Sandstorm says:

    Halcyon:

    I’ve not always been a fan of burners.me. That’s changed since this year’s burn and that’s because they’ve been a VERY good source of valid evidence about SHERPAGATE and the COMMODIFICATION CAMP CONTROVERSY.

    Report comment

  • Sandstorm says:

    Peace: BTW, I have absolutely LOVED your posts in this thread and in the comments section to AnswerGirl’s blog entry.

    Report comment

  • Sandstorm – I’d love to learn more and plan to. But i have to admit, your tone is repelling. Why would I engage in a conversation with someone speaking like you are? We are probably on the same side of the issue, but you make it sound like we are opponents.
    Are you aware of this? Or maybe you think that you are “kindly and politely” addressing me?

    Report comment

  • Peace says:

    John, I think this whole comment thread is important because it shows we will not be silent and we will not go away. There are some who are so angry they point that anger at the wrong person or express there anger too vehemently. That is the passion coming through, but there is also a good deal of clear argument supporting our position. Not a big fan of Burners.me and I have been a big defender of the org in the past. That is why the clear evidence that the org has offered tickets to wealthy potential donors (the letter is available on Burners.me and Facebook, and the article on luxury ticket packages of Billboard) is heartbreaking and the Org’s silence is infuriating. Read through the last two threads on this topic and you will learn a lot. Hopefully it won’t depress you like it has me, because I’ve just about given up.

    Report comment

  • peace says:

    And I think your participation is vitally important because after 17 years you aren’t jaded or cynical.

    Report comment

  • Finn says:

    Nice. You object to the ‘tone’ of the argument. Have you even read the comments in response to the previous two or three blog posts here? Go. Read. See if you don’t start to get angry. See if your ‘tone’ changes.

    This will take all of an hour out of your day. Tops. Why haven’t you done this already?

    Report comment

  • Leo says:

    Hi Folks,
    It looks like we are down to 9 principles with decommodification being erased from the books. If paying someone $17K to take care of food, lodging, bikes, and “maids of merriment”, does it still count as radical self-reliance?

    Report comment

  • Sandstorm says:

    Halcyon:

    My sincere thanks to you for you replying to the post that I addressed to you earlier in this thread.

    I have no malice towards you. Earlier today on FB I wrote to you about the fact you and I have a mutual acquaintance in the burner community and that person recently spoke to me very highly of you. That person and I were talking about the fallout from SHERPAGATE and your name came up in our discussion.

    I truly have no desire to attack you. The post that I addressed to you earlier in this thread was nothing more than accurate and blunt. I can understand that you might interpret my words being an attack on you. They weren’t. All that I can say at this point is that if you knew me in Defaultia or BRC you’d know that I’m down to Earth, giving and loyal. I’m not one to be belligerent with others. I am however one to speak my mind when it needs to be spoken. Take it from me, someone who loves BRC no less than you do, you’re putting your GREAT and WELL KNOWN reputation at risk via your continued involvement with Larry & Co. You’re also not helping your public image with many Burners via your repeatedly making well-intentioned posts on here on FB but doing so before you’ve educated yourself about SHERPAGATE and the COOMODIFICTION CAMP CONTROVERSY.

    I sincerely with you the best with your life. As a 6 time Burner I would LOVE to see you, a VERY well known and respected burner use your reputation and resources to take on Larry & Co. THEY ARE DESTROYING SOMETHING YOU AND I AND A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE LOVE.

    Dusty hugs.

    Report comment

  • @Finn – Why haven’t I read more about SHERPAGATE? Is that a sincere question? If so: I participated with Pink Heart at SF Decom and then YOUTopia (SD Decom.) I have been working to grow my startup in Ventura while keeping the passion in my relationship going with my girlfriend who lives in San Diego.
    In January, my camp meetings will start up and I’ll begin planning for BM 2015, but this is the off season for me.
    I managed to finish a good-enough edit of my BM footage while on my train commute between SD and Ventura so I thought I would upload it and share some joy.
    I have not been paying close enough attention to the anger against the BMORG to realize that expressing Burning Man joy is inappropriate in the current climate.

    I have never been a watchguard for the BMORG’s decisions, only a passionate participant who works to educate newbies about the Principles and the event. In the years that I have been an official blogger I have had only a handful of communications with staff there. That being said, I do recognize that there is shit to figure out and I did reach out to my official contact to offer my help & perspective.

    I don’t object to the tone of the argument, I object to the tone of the communications with ME. It makes me not want to engage. It makes me feel like my only option is to be defensive. And without having taken the hour to read it all, I wonder if the attacking tone is hurting the chances of the issue being handled in the best way possible. The tone is one of the reasons WHY I would rather do almost anything else for an hour than read pages of angry comments. I imagine that anyone at the BMORG would have a similar aversion – Especially if they felt like the tone was directed at them.

    Report comment

  • Sandstorm- Thank you for the follow up and warmth. And my apologies for being overly sensitive.

    Report comment

  • Finn says:

    Well, ok. The evidence is out there, just waiting for you. Like I said, once you have actually read it for yourself, your tone might change too. Sorry it’s not all unicorns and rainbows right now.

    Report comment

  • Peace says:

    It is very disappointing to think you would rationalize not paying attention to the cogent arguments put forward of these blogs, or that you would excuse the org for not paying attention or responding to our concerns because the “tone” is a little harsh. Maybe it feels bad because it sucks when you get called on your hypocrisy (them not you). You get to do what you want. It’s not your responsibility, but it is the responsibility of the org and the BOD to protect the integrity of the event. They should not get to avoid responsibility by using the tone as an excuse. Particularly when they created the environment that created the tone.

    Report comment

  • Sandstorm says:

    Halcyon:

    You are more than welcome. I get that your heart is in the right place about BM. While I’m no grumpy goat you are perhaps a bit more exuberantly loving (and living) than I am in some ways. You do have PINK HAIR after all. :) I can understand that someone with your way of engaging with the world might take some of the comments in here on FB as being a bit harsh even if they’re well intentioned. I still give you a LOT of credit for writing your follow-up to your PnP article. It takes a lot of spine to admit in public that one has previously made a public mistake. Now all you need to do is take on Larry 7 Co. ;)

    Dusty hugs.

    Report comment

  • NotRich says:

    Halcyon,
    your beautiful sentiments feel a bit further from the truth than they have in the past. The board’s inaction has diminished my previously unshakable idealism about Burning Man.

    A clear statement from the board could have sheltered this idealism. Making money on the playa is commodification. Paid staff at camps is commodification. Flagrant disregard for the 10 principals should mean that you don’t get placed. No one should get access to a secret ticket alotment.

    By not taking a public stance against the egregious commodification that occurred in 2014, it appears that the board is giving its approval. This erodes one of the primary pillars of this community, and sadly makes Burning Man feel more like the rest of the world, where money talks much louder than passion or creativity.

    I’m going to keep burning, but the very real result of this is that I feel less inclined to give as much as I have given in years past. I don’t feel like giving so much freely, if others are there with an agenda of taking. It wouldn’t be so angering if commodification happened, but we all are standing in unison against it. But that is not what is happening. It looks more and more like board sanctioned commodification is the direction of the future.

    Report comment

  • Not Pollyanba says:

    So if we were to follow Styn’s advice then-
    We should all ignore the serious accusations being leveled towards Larry and BMorg and how they are ignoring them, not making any replies to us… and we should all view this as “down time”, pretend that nothing is wrong with the Playa being sold off to the highest bidder and all of us go to sleepy time… then… in January, camp meetings will start up and everyone begin planning for BM 2015.

    HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY… no issues, no problems. It is all wonderful and everyone needs to concentrate on volunteering for BM2015 like we always have. Act and exist as if nothing has changed. Believe that no paper work was filed to change OWNERSHIP OF BURNING MAN, THAT NEW POS BOARD MEMBERS HAVE COME ON BOARD (WHOSE MAIN GOAL IS TO GET RICHER FROM BURNING!!!) ACT AS IF THERE IS NOTHING TO SEE HERE, SO EVERYONE MOVE ALONG!!! IT WILL ALL BE FINE!!!

    YEAH RIGHT!!!!

    Styn, you seem like a nice fellow, but you are being the three monkeys all in one(blind, deaf and dumb) and for you to comment and give advice on any of this without realizing the firestorm that is happening right now shows how ignorant you are.

    If you are too busy to keep up with what is happening then you are too busy to give anyone advice or even comment about this.

    PS
    I tried to refrain from making any snide comments about how you said you are very open to being HIGHLY PAID to help the highest bidding greedy plug and play (aka Safari) camp producers who want to sell time shares on the playa. Man, that goes against everything BM is about.

    You seem to have sold your soul. How can we trust what you say anymore?

    Report comment

  • Not Pollyanna says:

    And notice how in true BMorg style and form,
    Larry and the Board are allowing others else to do the work, volunteer to come here write replies and take the brunt of our abuse, while the Board sits back and…. and… who knows what they are doing besides allowing good people like Styn, Will, Anwergirl and others to take all of our abuse. That is chickenshit of the Larry and The Board. I am losing the last of my respect for them. The last of the goodwill they had is blowing away like Playa dust. I tis sad.

    Report comment

  • Jason Silverio says:

    “I’m not trying to calm anyone down. I’m just taking a moment to remember what is so magical about Burning Man and – if needed – what is worth fighting for.”

    In 200+ comments on Will Chase and Answergirl’s posts there were nothing but examples of why everybody who helped create it thinks Burning Man is worth fighting for. Nobody thinks it’s anything short of magical. You really need a moment to remember? Do you honesty forget sometimes? I doubt it. Your post sounds a bit like an abused spouse trying to justify.

    Remembering what’s magical now should get you a little pissed off – the magic happens because you, and other hard working Theme Camps, make it happen. Watching the magic be sold to spectators in hopes they will “someday become one of our beloved theme camps” (from Answergirl’s post) is a shitty move and kind of kicks you in the dick, doesn’t it? It should!

    You, of all people, have been a positive soldier, a walking billboard, for the 10 principals and a living embodiment of why Burning Man is amazing. Everything you say in above video about the transformative power of the event, especially for a first timer, is absolutely correct. Part of why that happens has a lot to do with the built-in difficulties of getting out there, making a camp, dealing with your own garbage, all the fucking hassles, as you know. But doing the insane hard work of a theme camp (spending our own money), doing it for ART, and love, plants a seed that gives back the Magic that you now need the moment to remember. Do you think a person who comes to a already built camp, one that’s walled off from neighbors, never having to cook, bundle garbage, set anything up or break down anything, etc., is going to have those same breakthroughs? Or feel the urge to give back the next year, like we all did? You know the difference of coming to the party or being the party. Worth fighting for – if needed? Why aren’t you fighting harder to protect it the way you promote it?

    In this gifting economy your karma pension is through the fucking roof, well done, Halcyon. And seriously, thank you! I hope you at least get free tickets for life. Your hard earned spoils are being devalued, faithful volunteer, then sold. And you don’t get shit. Worse, you get to now tussle with a nagging feeling that every lecture you ever gave on “giving back” and “power of community” — presumably without getting paid to do so — helped create such a valuable world that people now have the opportunity pay thousands to crash.

    Cue carnival barker voice: “Come see the amazing Burning Man without all that pesky community building self-reliance crap that made it into the very thing you really want to see! Radical Inclusion for the right price!”

    Burning Man is not dead, it just fucked up really bad and deeply insulted anyone that loves it at much as you, and I, do. Now that you posted your beautiful magic moment reminder, its time to use your voice to protect the place your are proud to share with your mom.

    Report comment

  • simon of the playa says:

    crap or cone?

    crap….

    you can call that shit chocolate coco-bliss ice cream, but we know better, john.

    we’re burners, we’re not fucking stupid, so don’t treat us like san diegoans.

    Report comment

  • Jody Powell says:

    after the shitstorm that whipped up when you made that silly fest300 post …and the “oh wow” reaction burners.me post……

    it is funny to see you here on burning blog, ..essentially doing the exact same thing.. coming back to edit the post and say how you didnt realize what the community was feeling

    …im starting to wonder if youre just lost in your own little self promotion world.. or just plain ignorant of whats happening in the community….. perhaps it is a mix of both.

    the fact that your post can get sent out ..and then edited.. and then you comment about being unclear about the mood of the community right now shows that whomever is the master of this blog is inept.

    the BORG told us that they are “LISTENING” and a response is “COMING SOON” … we last heard from them in OCTOBER.. when we were told theres a lot of ‘moving parts’

    we’re waiting for a response.

    …is it it ready yet?

    Report comment

  • Jason says:

    Has anyone summarized the entire controversy anywhere, with a short-ish description of the main issues, and links out to proof & more detail? Also, which FB has the discussion on this? I poked through the official and unofficial BM FB, but didn’t find the relevant threads.

    Report comment

  • Dust Dancer says:

    @Jason Do you mean are there cliff notes available? “”a short-ish description of the main issues“” Sigh, really? If people do not have time, or are just too lazy, to want to understand what is going on here, it might be best to not comment on it.

    Report comment

  • @Jody – I apologize if I claimed to be anything but an enthusiastic Burner. I was (and generally am) definitely lost in my own world. I checked back in here and the FB page to post the video I finally edited from the Burn. I regret doing both.

    @Jason – thank you for breaking it down like that.

    I feel like I lit off fireworks and sang “God Bless America” in the middle of a “DOWN WITH BUSH” demonstration.

    Report comment

  • A Jason said, a clear break down of the issues at hand would be really helpful if anyone has it. (Not every argument – just the issues.)

    Here is my first attempt. Please correct me. Are these the issues fueling Burner frustration?

    ***

    1) Isolation / exclusivity of safari-style camps (wristband areas)

    2) Use of paid labor of ticket holders during the event. (Some people working as gifts to community while others are working to make money)

    3) Camp organizers running turnkey camps for profit. (Commodification of the Burning Man experience)

    4) Unfair attainment of tickets by wealthy donors. (blocks of $650 tickets offered “discreetly” – while others use STEP)

    5) Unfair placement of turnkey camps (Inadequate interactivity while others do not get placed)

    6) Board member connections to above practices.

    Report comment

  • gina says:

    BMorg has already answered this issue:

    Harley Dubois:

    “We’re placing them, because we don’t want them going out there and doing it without us knowing about it, we want to keep them close in a community-minded way, so we can educate them, so they can be successful and we can be successful. You can just say, “Oh they’re terrible,” and “Don’t come.” You have to make them part of the community. Radical inclusion.”

    http://ecocult.com/2014/it-could-be-the-thing-that-kills-us-interview-with-harley-dubois-of-burning-man-on-leave-no-trace-and-turnkey-camps/

    Report comment

  • Willard says:

    If people are well aware of those “issues” (and many more) and people are OK with these “issues” then WTF?

    It is obvious there are problems and people are asking questions and looking/hoping for some type of reply from Larry but the BMorg is hiding out, ignoring the crowd seemingly hoping it all blows over and that ticket demand is even higher in 2015.

    And ticket sales may very well be in greater demand in 2015, but like a healthy looking cancer victim, showing no outer signs of the disease, inside BM is very very sick and in denial. Many long term burners (healthy cells) have already moved out and are not coming back while new moneylusters (cancerous cells) are moving in with Dollar signs in their eyes.

    Burning Man may continue to exist (in name alone), but it will not be the beautiful gifting, everyone pitching in to build something from nothing (etc etc etc) community that it was.

    btw- l love bush, I am predicting an imminent bush come back (I love pubic art) and when it does there will probably be fireworks and I may sing God Bless America.

    Report comment

  • burnersxxx says:

    I think that’s not a bad summary. You could add:

    7) Silence from BMOrg on all of the above

    8) Lack of transparency (promised since March).

    Report comment

  • burnersxxx – Thanks. I was reading through your replies and thinking I should probably just ask you directly… so thank you for answering. :)

    When you say transparency, do you mean in reference to arrangements with turnkey camp leaders? Or about the donation/ticket program? In general?

    Report comment

  • Peace says:

    John, that seems to be a pretty good summary of our concerns. The one thing missing is a lack of transparency from the BOD and the org which is ripping the community apart. This is not something that can be addressed when they get around to it. Damage is being done right now and they need to call an emergency session of the BOD, make it public, and come to a conclusion as to how this will be handled in the future. I think everyone is willing to forgive (at least I am) if the policy is made clear and commodification of the event is stopped.

    You sir are a hero, and any hostility being directed at you is inappropriate. I am sorry you are yet another victim of the org’s callous silence.

    Report comment

  • Peace says:

    By transparency we mean both of those things. How are the wealthy getting tickets that regular burners can’t? Why does the BOD think commodification camps are in keeping with the principles? Why not simply have one system for placement, the system in place for theme camps, and let the “turnkey camps rise or fall based on merit like everyone else. What we want is for wealth to have no influence on who gets placed and who gets tickets. We want clear policies that say that.

    Report comment

  • burnersxxx says:

    Here’s what Larry Harvey said at this very location, on March 8 2014:

    “I will address two lingering perplexities. It has been asked if we intend to reveal the financial records of Black Rock City LLC. The answer is yes; that too will happen at about the same time as the Burning Man Project reveals its information—these two entities will then become a clean well-lighted suite of rooms thrown open for inspection”

    There’s no need for “selective transparency”, if this thing really is a charity. Why not have open books and total transparency?

    Why not tell us how many tickets were sold into STEP, how many were distributed back through STEP, how many were left waiting in the STEP queue when they shut it down early and re-directed everyone to OMG; how many Donation tickets were sold, how many Exception tickets were sold, how many Pre-Sale tickets were sold, how much revenue was made from all the vendors? What’s the big secret that’s stopping them from sharing this with their donors and volunteer workers?

    Report comment

  • Leo says:

    Halcyon,
    Thanks for your summary, as it shows you are listening. The frustration is not directed to you personally, but to the BMORG. These issues will not go away until we hear from Larry and/or the BMORG. If they have decided to commodify the event and have determined that Safari camps are in integral part of Burning Man, then they should have the balls (or ovaries) to tell us straight out. The spin and silence from the BMORG are only digging them into a deeper hole.
    They did have the balls/ovaries to admit to the problems with the ticket lottery fiasco of 2012. They did follow through and made dramatic improvements with the ticketing situation. I hope they can do the same with this issue of commodification (safari) camps and the “secret” ticket program for the donation tickets. Perhaps the BMORG will listen and rise to the occasion.

    Report comment

  • Brian Miller says:

    Going back to change what you said, rewriting, cutting out relevant statements…. Editing like that works when making videos, but while making history, not so much. I commented originally on what you wrote, then you changed what you wrote. Of course you wanted no controversy with what you say, but you continue to claim ignorance while being a vocal and visible spokesperson for the culture. It’s as if you, and the Bmorg want to whistle the controversy away, pretend it does not exist. Good luck with your default/everyone else’s fault world. It’s nice that you are evolving on the issue, even if it is simply being forced to react to reality. Anyway, peace and love and all that shit. See you in the dust.

    Report comment

  • Brian Miller says:

    Oh, what is the controversy? Members of the inner circle with the Bmorg have a world view that they are enlightened and saving everyone by allowing boutique hotels to be set up on the playa, with all that entitles. Participation, work, cooking, bringing it…..that is not necessary for the ultra wealthy tourists staying at the hotels. The employees of the hotels are exploited with the same sense of benevolence the hotel owners have about everything. Somehow these hotels get early entry to set up, guaranteed tickets for clients, probably coming out of the STEP program, while all of us are scrambling for a ticket. The Burning Man Project embraces this whole mess. Anyone connected wants to stay in the good graces of such devious and unscrupulous people who control ticket/early entry/placement. And the org and their propagandist constantly act like nothing is wrong, not enough is wrong, or they need to know more. That’s some of the controversy.

    Report comment

  • Jooo says:

    You’re all going to feel really stupid once this all blows over.

    Report comment

  • simon of the playa says:

    ^ challenge accepted ^

    i pity the fool.

    Report comment

  • Peace says:

    “When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it–always.” – Gandhi

    Report comment

  • Fy says:

    The video has nothing whatever to do with the question of whether Burning Man is dying. It may prove Burning Man is not dead as of 2014. I for one, believe it is not dead, but I do believe that the power of the oligarchs, the power of money, call it what you will, threatens the event.

    In 2012, I had a vision of the Future of Burning Man. Here is part of it. In years to come, Burning Man lasts all summer. You buy a pass for 3 days, or 5, or 7, or all you can eat, but no re-entry. As you drive in, others are driving out and the dust is overwhelming. No matter when you arrive, the paid acts are there to guide you, to make sure your $80/day ticket price is rewarded. Sure, some burners still head out to the playa, but it’s not even encouraged. Paid photographers shoot you in front of the Temple, or the Man, or Sweaty Betty’s, and the images are posted to your FB page, or sent to your flickr account, all according to options you’ve set and recorded on the laminated badge you’re now wearing and that is swiped by every guide, pro photog, performer, or undifferentiated staff as they talk to you. It’s time stamped of course, and geocoded, too. No charge, but tipping is encouraged. Seemingly spontaneous events take place, all iconic, and you’re guaranteed your dust angels or your well-lit pictures with the setting sun in the background. …

    Report comment

  • Raven says:

    Their silence is deafening.

    The bottom line is this- By staying silent for months now the BMorg has spoken loud and clear. Anyone who has a problem with the new way BM will operate for a profit can move along and they will not miss you.

    It is time to wake up and realize that Larry and BMorg are in this mainly for profit now and that is the way things will be from now on.

    I suppose I can understand why they are now feeling a bit bashful about this turn around after all their years of spewing BS about principles, gifting, decomodification, no money on the Playa, etc etc. But they are being be limp wristed pussies with their continued silence.

    Maybe one reason for their silence is the BMorg is probably very concerned about what their labor costs will be once they admit that this is all about making money and the DPW, gate, etc etc will probably not be overly enthusiastic about working for free to enrich the 1%ers making bank at the top of the BM food chain.

    But the facts are obvious- The old ways of BM are gone and and it is increasingly amusing to observe the BMorg be such pussies about admitting the changeover to LETS MAKE AS MUCH MONEY AS POSSIBLE!

    Will John’s camp be back next year? I would bet on it.
    Will John’s camp be on the Playa in 2020? We will see,
    but if it is, I bet he will be making a lot of money on it, after all that is the new BM way.

    Anyone still in denial about what is going on is not paying attention.

    Report comment

  • Jason says:

    Halcyon,

    I’d adjust your summary a bit.

    >4) Unfair attainment of tickets by wealthy donors. (blocks of $650 tickets offered “discreetly” – while others use STEP)

    It’s that a select few get unlimited tickets, with no waiting, even after it’s sold out. If BOrg simply wants to get more cash out of BM without raising all ticket prices, fine, be transparent and open about it…we already have Pre Sale for $1K…add a Pre Pre Sale for $5K or whatever.

    >5) Unfair placement of turnkey camps (Inadequate interactivity while others do not get placed)

    It’s that they get placement with no requirement to provide ANY interactivity. They should have the same placement rules as anyone else.

    Alternatively, I’d accept if BOrg wants to make a new rule…you can avoid the interactivity/public space requirement if your camp is spending “enough” on art, art cars, etc. What’s “enough”? Perhaps that you need receipts proving expenses/donations equal to triple whatever you spent on tickets. So if you have 20 tickets valued at $650 each, then you need to donate $39K.

    Report comment

  • Leo says:

    Raven,
    You are right on. If the BMORG is going to change the paradigm and commodify the event, then ALL VOLUNTEERS should become SHORT TERM EMPLOYEES and get paid for their time. This would include DPW, Rangers, Arctica, Center Camp, Post Office, Temple Guardians, etc. The BMORG would need to comply with Nevada labor laws (40 hour work weeks, overtime after 40 hours, workman’s compensation, etc.).
    It seems like the BMORG wants it both ways: A profitable event with free labor. By choosing not to volunteer, you can send a message to the BMORG about commodification.

    Report comment

  • burnersxxx says:

    The Simpsons will guarantee them a fresh supply of tourists to “acculturate”. Existing Burners and their petty concerns about ethics and principles are merely an annoyance that they HOPE will go away. Those Burners mostly don’t want to pay $650 for a ticket or $50,000 for a Citibank VIP package anyway.

    Report comment

  • JV says:

    @Halcyon,

    I’ll paste this here from a comment of mine on the previous post. Whatever your initial impression of burners.me was, he has been dead on correct about this issue.

    All credit to burnersxxx for this, I thought people here should see it too:

    Search for “Private Jet? No Problem. VIP Packages for Superfans Are Big Business for Tours & Festivals” on Google, first result is a Billboard Magazine article. Key excerpt:

    “Jennifer Breithaupt, senior vp entertainment marketing at Citi, which has worked with Billy Joel, John Legend and Katy Perry to create VIP opportunities for its cardholders, agrees, saying, “2014 is truly the year of experience for fans. There are so many unique packages offered.”

    Due to the exclusive perks they provide and the premium prices they command — from $175 for a 5 Seconds of Summer VIP experience to a whopping $50,000 for a perch on the Burning Man festival’s Billionaires Row — these packages also have become an easy target for media seeking an “us vs. them” class warfare storyline. But architects of these offerings tell Billboard that critics are missing the point.

    VIP packages, they say, are about business, not class — an opportunity to generate new revenue streams for the industry by attracting more demanding breeds of concertgoers, including “superfans,” as Breithaupt puts it, who’ve already seen the artist live “and are looking for an elevated experience.””

    ———————————

    Search for “BURNILEAKS: How Commodification Camps Got Tickets [Update]” in Google, which leads to a post on burners.me. Screenshots of “donation ticket” screens with an order for 10 tickets.

    —————————

    Also, search for “Burning Man VIP Tickets reddit” in Google. Details how Larry and Marian visited Soho House in LA (basically a country club for well-heeled and -connected urbanites). From the post:

    “At the end of the speech, Marian told the audience that if anyone wanted to go, Burning Man was sold out already, but if you spoke to them they would hook you up with tickets. My friend went up and they gave her a card and was told she can purchase a ticket for $600, that $350 would cover the ticket and $250 would be donated to a Burning Man charity of her choice.”

    Report comment

  • JBSimpson says:

    John, if you dont understand what is happening, it isnt for lack of discussion on the subject. It is NOT POSSIBLE that a 17-year burner and camp organizer could have waded into this shitstorm without a solid understanding of the issues involved and a goodly shove in the back given by the hand of Larry. How many pieces of silver did they give you? Maybe back-stage passes and complimentary hookers and blow at a certain camp?

    I wonder who will be the next TOOL the BMORG marches out to tell us peasants we should all eat cake?

    Report comment

  • JBSimpson – Just out of curiously, what is your intention with a post like that? Do you hope to influence my or anyone opinions? To educate? Or do you just wish to express your frustration with the situation (and in turn, me)?
    As I have caught up on posts, I find that I am philosophically in agreement with (most of) the frustration against the BMORG and I desire more information/action.

    And yet, you leave no room in the conversation for us to agree. Clever jabs and righteous indignation sure feel good, but they aren’t very productive.

    Report comment

  • JV says:

    @Halcyon,

    Genuine question: What’s the policy on approving posts to the Burning Blog? If Will or someone else on the BMORG has to approve it, then I just can’t believe the tone-deafness on their part, allowing yet another post that seems to gloss over the issue when the two previous posts doing the same were (rightfully) eviscerated in the comments. This is not your fault, you jumped in without having caught up on the latest, and I think your naturally good-natured personality thought that a few calm words would help. It seems, from your latest comment, that you’ve done some reading and now share some of the frustration many of us have.

    If you’re allowed to approve your own posts for publishing, well then, never mind, ha.

    Report comment

  • Singood says:

    I find it unfair that good burners like John (and others) are taking heat for what the BMorg have done, are doing and not doing, like not responding to the outrage.

    If there is one person who personifies all that is awesome about BM it is John. He is a long term burner and has put a lot of time and effort into BM to make it was it was.

    I applaud and hug John and hopefully it helps offset some of the rage directed his way.

    ;
    ;
    ;

    With all that being said…. and now that it is obvious the OK had been given….. it is time “bring in the harvest” at BM, I hope people who are as invested in BM as John (and other) are the ones who reap the greatest rewards of their years of efforts. Better them than the johnnycomelatley carpetbaggers who are targeting BM for profit.

    Now the the BM org is saying it is OK to make a massive profit on BM then there is no reason why good long term burners should not be on the front of the profit movement. Make $100,000, heck make $500,000 next year, and make 5million in 2016. Use your experience and creative juices to do BM as it can be done and also make a shitload of money. Why not? It can be done. And it can be done right.

    I would rather see long term burners make the money than short term fuckfasces like the idiot who ran the Caranvcile camp leaving massive red Xs afterweards and kicking underpaid workers into the desert during, when they has concerns… fuck those souless money grubbers… but I bet good people like John and other long term burners can get creative and do burning man “right” while making a shit load of money. Why wouldn’t they?

    The OK has been given from the top, it is time to rake in the money.

    PS
    If anyone is insulted by this post, I am sorry.
    I know it goes against past principles, but those days appear to be over and I am only saying if anyone should profit from BM it should be long term good burners. There is actually nothing wrong with making money and doing BM the right way.

    Report comment

  • Greycoyote says:

    @John: You SAY you are agreement with (most of) the posts and feelings of John Q. Burner so lets see you make a separate, standalone post here on the burning blog where you actually take a firm position and call them out on it. Not some wishy-washy feel-good kumbayah post that encourages “dialogue” or “expression” or other hippy BMORG platitude-crap. Something with teeth and heart both.

    You of all people may be able to get their attention and get some real answers. Thus far, we have had nothing but distractions and indirection. If you could do this, you’d be a legend.

    My guess however is the only response you would get from Harvey & company would be to get a door slammed in your virtual face. They do NOT want a discussion of this, and once you have become less-useful to their agenda, you may find a not-so-happy truth about them.

    The bottom line is this: you stepped into a minefield. Sorry about that. But Burners want answers. In contrast the BMORG wants this to die quietly and go back to making money off the commodification of the event, and that IS NOT going to happen.

    Report comment

  • @JV –
    Burning Man bloggers write and post independently. There is not a review or editing process.

    Report comment

  • JV says:

    It’s pretty clear that the burners who comment on the Burning Blog are not going to let this issue go away, no matter what topic is posted. The community does not want to hear about how Larry waxed rhapsodic at the goddamn Long Now Foundation, or anything else, frankly, until this issue is addressed formally, officially and FULLY by a BMORG member. There’s no reason for the long silence other than it gives the BMORG time to figure out how to spin this, so the longer you wait, the less happy we’ll be.

    Report comment

  • Roundabout says:

    @Halycon

    3) Camp organizers running turnkey camps for profit. (Commodification of the Burning Man experience)

    Your list is good, but number 3 needs elaboration. It’s not just that it is a commodification of Burning Man, but it is also unfair and insulting to the artists who spend their own precious $ to build and bring art to the playa. In the name of anti-commodification, the artists are prohibited by BM from making profits by the display of their art on the playa. Yet some turnkey camps are BM supported in profiteering off of this same art by selling high margin packages to “bucket list” tourists. This is a stench in the nostrils of all.

    Report comment

  • yolo says:

    @JV
    >burners who comment on the Burning Blog are not going to let this issue go away

    These burners who comment on Burning Blog represent far less that 1% of the people who attended 2014, and who will attend 2015. Their numbers are insignificant. They are the vocal mass-minority. All Borg needs to do is ignore them long enough and they will either let this issue go away, or not return to the event. No big deal, either way.

    Far better people than you and I tried to motivate Borg to give a fuck. They’re gone now, and not a single fuck was given. You’ll all realize how powerless you are to effect change eventually. But for now, it makes good popcorn eating.

    Report comment

  • simon of the playa says:

    wealth inequality is at it’s highest in human history.

    BM is a merely a Mirror, reflecting the Coming Revolution.

    it’s almost time to eat the rich.

    we are outliers, we do things first…

    seriously…

    it’s coming…

    Report comment

  • JV says:

    @yolo,

    Oh I know, but it’s not just the commenters here that are upset. It’s also a lot of crucial theme camps and artists who object to having their hard work and creativity sold. Without those folks, there is no Burning Man to sell.

    Report comment

  • Sandstorm says:

    Halcyon: You wrote:

    “@JV –
    Burning Man bloggers write and post independently. There is not a review or editing process.”

    Well, my dusty friend, it’s clear that you have the power to write on this site a new blog entry about the COMMODIFICATION CAMP controversy. That blog entry could call out Larry & Co. for their lesser behavior in regards to their back room peddling of BM tickets and access to and influence with some members of THE BORG and the BM Board of Directors. The question you now face is this: are you willing to risk facing the inevitable blowback you will get from Larry & Co. You have a real chance to be a HERO to so many in this community. Are you willing to become that HERO? Dusty hugs, my friend.

    Yolo: You are clearly not paying enough attention to this debate if you think that the vocal and irate burners posting in this and other similar threads are a mass minority of burners. Many of the people who are speaking up about this issue here and on FB and other places end to be veteran burners who play an outsized role in building BRC and the creative content that fills it. This issue is not an isolated one; it’s connected to many uncomfortable emotions and perceptions that many burners have had for years about the lesser behavior of Larry & Co. THE BORG will be screwed when the free laborers and talent stop coming to BRC. If you think that is a pipe dream then you’re not paying close enough attention to this debate.

    Report comment

  • XaOs says:

    1st my credentials: 1st burn was 1996, latest was 2014 but only my 7th burn, have run theme camps, volunteered, pulled pranks, micro-theater, performance art, on the radio, etc., seen plenty of changes. Done some regionals too.

    Re. commodification camps: I’ve said my piece, posted in a number of places, will say nothing further on the subject for now. But while I love the event, have a strong sense of justice, and have some concerns about it’s future, I have no emotional attachment to any particular outcome (a trick I’ve picked up along the way that’s reduced my fear / anxiety / anger levels to nearly zero – pretty cool).

    All I have to say is that I find this subject deeply fascinating and I’m very interested in seeing how it develops.

    I wish you all the very best, and if that doesn’t happen, well I wish you all a wonderful holiday (whichever that might be) and a happy new year (every one of them).

    Report comment

  • Comments are closed.