Look, I’m not a lawyer. But neither are most of the people posting legal arguments regarding a new commercial featuring Burning Man’s name and art in it. Burning Man has already posted about it, but I have some pretty strong feelings about the commercial, why it matters, and why I’m as excited as I’ve ever been about Black Rock City.

About the author: John "Halcyon" Styn


Halcyon is a 21-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. Halcyon co-founded the San Diego based "1st Saturdays" homeless outreach program based on Burning Man Principles and coaches people how to be radically self expressed in the default world. You can find his full Playa Tips & Tricks series at www.PlayaPrinciples.com

16 Comments on ““Quiznogate”

  • Sasha says:

    I totally agree with the point that if someone would go to Burning Man without knowing much, it would be a totally different experience. The very first time I went I only heard some stories from friends that went and my fb feed wasn’t filled with all these articles about BM. When I got to the playa, my mind was blown, I could not stop thinking how much time and effort went into building it, how much love was there. This year I asked few virgins how they felt, anticipating to hear and see those very first emotions I had, but heard back that it was alright, parties are good, it’s dusty, it’s cold… I smile and turn around.

    Report comment

  • teddy says:

    Very entertaining. We had a “decommodified” zone at Woodstock in “the free area” that was violated with a inventory tent full of paper sleeping bags and orange plastic one man blow up tents that the proprietor was going to sell. One night before the concerts started a militant group of hippies from the lower east side appropriately called THE MOTHERFUCKERS formed a bucket brigade and silently handed out the entire inventory of goods while the proprietor sat in full lotus with his back to the stores in his tent. My guess is that Quiznos will garner far more notoriety from this episode than anyone from that far distant memory… but again, it is all very entertaining. None of it changes the world.

    Report comment

  • G says:

    Heh . .
    the “Earth is so over”.

    Nay saying is such an easy narrative to adopt, and it runs destructively rampant in our culture here in the USA.

    Nice angle on BMF current events, thanks John. Hoping my care taking duties for mid 90’s parents’ affairs don’t keep me away again next year.

    Report comment

  • Victoria Rose says:

    Right on! They crossed the line, you nailed it. Excellent, amazing burn. Thank you for all you do.

    Report comment

  • Allen says:

    I’ve seen the population more than double in the 11 burns I’ve been to.
    Each and every one soul renewing.
    People used to ask me why I was going to “Burningham”? when I told them my plans. :) I miss that feeling of knowing a secret world.
    The secret is out. That can be a good thing. I’m glad Quiznos is being called on this.
    Thank you Halcyon for your clarity and love.

    Report comment

  • Alex says:

    Thanks for the emotional it’s not eloquent analysis. When burning man was a little secret, it was easier to keep up with the decommodified Utopia.The real question now is, now that the cats out of the bag and can it be popular and resist commodification. That would actually make a truly special, an oasis in a world that constantly screams “shut up and buy. ” The sandwich ad wants to turn Burning Man into just another make money festival and this is why it is wrong even if it is funny.

    Report comment

  • Johno Tornado says:

    Thank You Thank You! So perfectly articulated! The words my mind was looking for! Thank You for reaffirming!

    Report comment

  • Ralton says:

    Every time the name Quiznos gets mentioned, by Burners themselves (especially the Org), the company sells more sandwiches to Burners who appreciate the irony, and the parody upon a parody, and to people who are sick of Burners.

    It’s a win for Quiznos, and they deserve it for intricately weaving cynicism into plain old boring irony, combined with slick high production value.

    Quiznos’ parent company has more, better, and higher paid lawyers than the Org. There’s absolutely no hope of winning a suit against them, but I’d really like to see it happen just to put to bed once and for all, after so many years of legal threats on every tiny perceived infraction. It’s time to see if the Org has the balls to play against the big boys. Or has it all just been smoke this entire time? Does the Org really have any balls?

    Report comment

    • The Red Baron says:

      “It’s a win for Quiznos, and they deserve it for intricately weaving cynicism into plain old boring irony, combined with slick high production value.”

      The problem is quite simply that they stole somebody’s art.

      It’s like using an amateur artist’s song in a commercial or a movie, without crediting the artist, compensating her, or even asking her permission to use the music in their attempt to expand their corporate profits.

      They don’t “deserve” to sell products based on stealing people’s art, regardless of how slick and subversive their campaign is. They’ll sue you faster than the BMorg will, if you steal their stuff.

      Report comment

  • Kenn Kushner says:

    Thanks John, for perfectly articulating your (and my) thoughts.

    I enjoyed running into you again on the Playa.

    Everyone in our neighborhood totally brought it! No one was thinking about the “issues” of the event because we were all too busy creating it.

    Report comment

  • mr nix says:

    Stop whining and start your own secret new party and invite your friends. Even better than participating? What a concept

    Report comment

  • mr nix says:

    And appears to be fair use by copyright law.

    Report comment

  • Corvus says:

    Makes me yearn for the good ol’ days of the Krug debacle.

    Taco Bell actually started it a couple years ago, but it was only a few seconds in a series of people debating what the next Doritos Locos Taco flavor would be (“Fiery’), and didn’t mention BM by name — just someone in a Burner-eqsue setting saying “I think we should know this” and let you draw your own conclusion.

    Report comment

  • Rio says:

    Bottom line: It’s stealing.

    Report comment

  • anon says:

    A predictable and boring response. BM needs a new clown representative.

    Report comment

  • Spock the Cow says:

    I really like your video, and as a veteran burner I agree with your sentiment that we have a decommodification principle and we want to extend that principle in the real world to cover Burning Man culture/references/art. However, Quiznos doesn’t care about that. Further, I think they are on solid legal ground and would win a copyright or trademark action brought against them. I detailed my reasoning in a post on the original blog.burningman.com post.

    Essentially, I’m saying that we’re not going to be able to apply our special rules out in the real world when they contradict established legal precedent. The best we can do is boycott Quiznos and communicate, as you have, how their action is distasteful to us. But we have to be realistic and understand that most non-burners won’t understand our point of view, and won’t care about it. This is, as you say, the price we pay for our little secret becoming very well-known.

    Report comment

  • Comments are closed.