Reader Perspectives on the death of BurningMan

[random reader opinion on the demise]

Once Wired mag started covering BMan, well, the party was over. That was actually one event I was hip to before anyone else I knew. Is Wired the only one? Hmm, I think it just became domesticated. As long as they stay away from my Santanarchy . . .

[attached to some text from a BM newsletter, asking us to DONATE MONEY to BM, rather than buying holiday gifts for our families]

What I've always LOVED about the Burning Man Organization is that when you
think they've talked down to you as much as possible, they then top
themselves in a bombastic orgy of propaganda. I mean, RADICAL propaganda.

[another take on the same bit of text]

Giving your family presents isn't as important as Burning Man?
You know, first they alienate you from your family... make you question
your values... then they take you to a remote desert place... no cheese
balls... no salad spinners... next thing you know, your head is shaven,
you're handed some funny-tasting kool-aid and told to wait for the space
brothers to arrive. Seen it all before.

[snippet of official BM propaganda, followed by derisive interpretation]

>However, we also know that there are
>many people who can afford a substantially higher ticket price.

Too many. Much too many. SUV drivin'-once-a-year rebels livin' on the EDGE
in the desert with a bunch of other SUV drivin' liberals. "Can I read your
Chakras? Step into my Sports Utility Vehicle of LOVE. More house music,
please. More rules to keep the event from becoming TOO radically self
expressive, please. Because WE here in our SUV's are quite happy listening
to that one Grateful song over and over again (is there more than one
Grateful Dead song?), lighting up some patchoooly oil, some hash, dressing
in a feather boa over our Banana Republic duds...wait a minute...we can do
that at home!

[a response to the anoounced tix-price DOUBLING for 2000]

I want them to publish a complete financial statement of all income and
costs--including salaries.

Wouldn't that be the bee's knees? Then you'd be able to see (see!)
the amount of money one needs to stage a horrid naked opera.
It would be something like $50,000. But that is just a rumor that
I heard. So much!
But then that shell that you walked through (97?) was $5,000.
It's like a mini-NEA debacle! So cute!

[This comes from 'Marlboro Unlimited' magazine, in an article about Burning Man 1999]

"The first thing I notice is how nice everbody is. Except for the ad hoc mail people, [that was US-ed.] who are demading beer in return for delivering letters. Burning Man rules prohibit the exchange of money, except at the official coffeehouse... but these "post office" workers are the only ones demanding barter. A mail van passes by, with postal workers wielding baseball bats, golf clubs, and water guns.

"Why is the post office all fascist and stuff?" I aska a mail woman. The van takes off, blasting instructions from its megaphone:"Sexual activity should be performed upon waking. Or after a refreshing sleep." This, I realize, is much more useful that most mail.

[more random reader input- send yours today!]

Burning man was a gathering of people with a purpose of sharing. People who had something to share were invited to contribute and camp. When something goes past word of mouth and into public domain the selectiveness of the past goes with it. When the coffe table photo journal of Burning Man hit the book stores it became what it is now.

The demise: as you've stated, over-publicity and commercialism- and no longer "secret". Even some local losers here in Jersey are familiar: and that means many non-creative gawking fools will attend what they see as a "Desert Woodstock". So.......
Go get maimed at a Seemen or SRL show (when they have em-almost never!) or organize your own fest as I've done.... The Pines are a big place and easy to "disappear" in.

[an excited reader writes in to support my criticism of BurningMan's De-Evolution]

Make them squirm doc! I don't know how you figured it out, but it is true. Hay, let's buy an extra $200.00 ticket each, and then not use them because we will work the entire summer for Bman for free just so we can gain entry without using those tickets.
Let's help dig holes in the playa and move to a different spot each year so we don't have to sit in our own shit, and then say we are part of 'leave no trace'. Let's be one of the people who flood the BLM with pleas to move Bman to a different location, to make lots of scars on the desert in the name of environmentalism. We really care about the environment, that is why we come out in the desest and leave 100 lbs of trash after we get fucked up for 3 or 4 days and pay Larry to call us participants, while we become the buffoons who are part of the show.
Let's say it is not commercial and all about free thinking, while we better watch what we say around Bman staff because any dissent is not to be tolerated. Everyone has to be completely behind the project or they are out. So, you, doctor, are out, because you thought for yourself instead of carrying the party line in the name of avant-garde art. Bull shit, dear doctor. Nothing more. Ok, maybe horse shit. Wait, I will have to find out what the official Bman dogma is, before we decide.

johnt writes in-

fascinating, simply fascinating. glad you've posted this for people to read as opposing viewpoints of the whole burning man experience often get lost in all the nudity and giddy excess. i don't agree with all your views, of course, but you do make some interesting points... and the deconstruction of both your own & marian's commentary makes for some great voyeuristic fun. free speech, right? isn't that what it's all about? free to agree or disagree, free to comment on the emperor's latest fashion statement, free for all-- except when it comes to ticket prices. what's the fun of radical self-expression if everyone simply agrees that it's all one big e-soaked love-fest? disagree! disagree! ah, the beauty of communication.

Keith drops his two cents into the slot- AND confesses the unthinkable- SNEAKING INTO BURNINGMAN! No money from Keith, Mr. Harvey. 'KILL HIM!'

Although I might not agree with what all you've to say, I think you have some good points that are worthy of expressing. In light of the 2x-3x ticket price increase this year, I can see how one might not want to pay, but I honestly don't believe that you or anyone else doesn't pay just for the sake of objecting to the "institution." They, no matter how much you despise them, enable you to participate in whatever "form" you take once inside. Nothing in life is free, including radical self-expression. Camping in your local campground with similar ameneties and with far less amusement costs you +/- $15 a day, that's how I look at it.

I totally agree with your opinion on the post burn clean up call for volunteers. They should assume any and all post-burn clean up efforts. After preaching to the masses about leaving no trace, if it didn't work...well, tough luck. Perhaps camp check out criterion is in order?

I do think they are growing too big for their britches (sp?). I think making the event semi-annual with fewer people and hence rules and regulations would be a better solution than the route taken. I am impressed with the gate closure on Thursday night change for this year, and that change is what enticed me to pay twice what I did last year. I will add that a person in my camp last year also snuck in for free. the other three of us in the truck with him were each given $20 instead (so each of us effectively made $20). We will probably do the same this year -maybe with two of us because well, frankly, we're cheap. Maybe you could admit that was a partial motivation for you as well? I would like to hear you opinion regarding the early gate closure planned for this year?

Susan offers up her opinion-

I've never been a-partyin' at BM, but I knew it probably sucked when hippie girl in hometown said she was plannin a trip to the desert. I found your page today through the article in on BM and have blown over 2 hours with it at work. Cheers! My fave is the exchange with maid marian.

Robert shares his impression of Black Rock Rangers-

The Rangers are nuts! My girlfirend tried to volunteer at the medical tent. She is an RN in EXCELLENT standing. She was willing to work for free, bring her own supplies. Some WEMT (in other words
"Joe-I-Took-A-Class-At-The-Learning-Annex") said she wasn't "needed" because "all nurses are foul-mouthed chain-smoking bitches". This is the same guy who, in describing a Ranger "rescue" of a fall victim, said "We didn't put a C-Spine collar on him because it was too hot!"

Angry, angry Kurt spits up some bile-

Man that BM deconstruction is perfect. Looking in from the outside, it SEEMED like fun. But, as usual money ruins everything. What a bunch of microcephalic hippie-style self-righteous burnouts. That fucking Marian should be STAKED OUT in the desert. Fuck 'em. Gee, I'm surprised to see it took them this long to see how easy it is to get money out of burners. They probably went to a Dead show, saw dumbfucks paying $2 a hit for N2O, and thought "we'll go them one better - we'll SELL them nothing!" Somebody should spike their water with brucellosis.



More from Tom, the only person so far to score mention here AND on the hate-mail page:

I also have a problem with the way things are going, thus is the penalty of fame, and I may get to the point of choosing not to attend. Thank God we can choose. I'm 53 and remember the Haight Ashbury days in San Francisco. That changed too. For the better or maybe worse, nothing stays the same and BM is no different. After all good or bad, it is run by people.

Or possibly it is run by MARTIAN ROBOTS! Don't be naive, Tom.