Burning questions - Page 5

Spark debuts at DocFest with a sympathetic look at Black Rock City LLC's intention to gift Burning Man back to the people. But is it true?

Burning Man board member Michael Mikel cruises past Burn Wall Street during the 2012 event in this image from 'Spark'.

Should the gratitude we feel toward them really be so much greater than the gratitude they feel toward us, the people who hold fundraisers and make sacrifices and toil for months on end for no compensation to give Burning Man its artistic, cultural, and financial value?

In that sense, it's the community that has gifted Burning Man to the people who run it. So, as Spark claims, is the LLC really planning to gift it back? We'll see. As Weitz told me when we discussed that idea and whether it's really true, "I think everyone wants to live up to that phrase."

Brown also told us that final phrase might have been a little wishful thinking, or perhaps a prompt for burners: "I wrote that card for the end of the film expressing the intention we heard from the Burning Man founders, but I also wrote it to show that it is a process that is just beginning, and we do not yet know the outcome. My bet is that the community will hold them to it."

Guardian City Editor Steven T. Jones is the author of The Tribes of Burning Man: How an Experimental City in the Desert is Shaping the New American Counterculture (2011, CCC Publishing).


Steve, thanks for the interesting round-up of current info. There are definitely more than two ways of looking at the relationship between the "founders" and the community. But right down the middle of the two extremes is the truth. Each requires the other to function. The organizers have nothing to organize without the community and the community has nothing to attend without the organizers. Various hot-headed critics have indignantly proclaimed that they could do it better and do it right... and I'm still waiting to go to their "better" events. Truth is, yeah, the organizers' jobs are "cool" but boy are they frustrating. I've been over to their offices to volunteer and seen people crying over relentless fiscal attacks from the govt. and the crushing cruelty of community critics. It stinks. I wouldn't want their jobs! It's not as bad as being President of the US, but it's close! I don't know how they can stand doing it, because just watching it is enough for me. Yes, we need them as much as they need us.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 05, 2013 @ 8:57 am

Never interviewed for the film. Wasn't interested in being a balance point for a BM commercial. They'd edit me to look like an idiot to make Larry look good. So I didn't return any of their phone calls after the first converstaion with the female director lady who I thought was kinda doing it for the money. I'll never see the movie and frankly I only skim the article. It's just a small sampling of what is really happening.

I'll give you a clue to the twist ending... it all resolves in a real estate scam...

kisses chicken

Posted by chicken john on Jun. 05, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

Would they really have to edit you?

Posted by anon on Aug. 11, 2013 @ 8:12 pm

Larry Harvey and his corporate cabal have been telling us for years that the grip they hold on trademark is to protect the burner community from commercial exploitation; the truth is that they have been jealously guarding their trademarks in order to capitalize on them themselves. John Law sued Harvey over this years ago, and ended up settling out of court for an undisclosed sum.

The idea of Ford, Coca-Cola, etc. capitalizing on Burning Man by potentially showing burners on the playa in their commercials, displaying the Burning Man logo, or otherwise attempting to market their products to people who think Burning Man is cool has been presented to us as some terrible threat to burner culture for years. In presenting that threat to us, Larry Harvey and his minions have terrified thousands of burners with the very same Bogey Man employed by supporters of legislation like the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The simple fact is that gay marriage does not pose any kind of threat to anyone's hetero marriage, and putting the Burning Man logo and other trademarks does not pose any kind of threat to burners or burner culture.

All you have to do is ask around to find out how many giant corporations have been thwarted from commercially exploiting Burning Man, versus how many burners have been slapped down for things like posting photos and videos of their own artwork to the Internet, simply because the photos were taken at Burning Man. Harvey jealously guards his trademark ownership, pushes the idea of 'decommodification' on people like it's sacred holy writ, and then turns around and ruthlessly, cynically capitalizes on those very trademarks, thus proving that all his talk about "protecting the community" is just hot air in justification of greed and exploitation. Decommodification isn't for Larry, it's for Larry's cattle, and for anyone who might subvert his ability to turn yet another buck on something we all create together.

Meanwhile, Larry and his crew continue to promote volunteerism at Burning Man, suckering a huge number of young people into working like slaves in a ferociously hostile environment, doing the Org's dirty work for no pay. Sure, it's character-building, but it would still be character-building if it came with a well-earned paycheck.

How much money is enough, Larry?

Posted by Whatsblem the Pro on Aug. 11, 2013 @ 10:02 am

Oh, and let's not forget that the transition from a for-profit corporation to a non-profit has been imminent for years now. . . and that even when they do become non-profit, the Org's Board of Directors will still be able to skim off fat salaries and a boatload of other perks and income opportunities. We'll get slightly more transparency out of the deal, and they'll get less work and a greater ability to foist off the labor onto starry-eyed volunteers with kool-aid stains all over their mouths.

Huzzah, Burning Man is going non-profit. *hurl*

Posted by Whatsblem the Pro on Aug. 11, 2013 @ 10:06 am

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