Is Burning Man going communal or selling out?

|
(60)

“Man on the move,” the headline I gave to my current Guardian article and an extended personal blog post on the announcement that Burning Man will next month form a nonprofit group to eventually run the event, raises a number of interesting issues that are likely to be vigorously debated within this huge, active burner community in the coming months and years.

How should Burning Man be governed? What is the event worth – if it can even be quantified – and who created and should benefit from that value? Are Black Rock City LLC board members being selfless stewards of the culture in giving up control or are they being greedy control freaks in holding on for six more years and expecting a big payoff in the end? Or, like much about this dynamic culture, is the truth somewhere in the middle?

Event founder Larry Harvey's big announcement last week, made during a speech that was unusual for its insights into the thoughts and internal dynamics of the BRC board, stressed how to value an event whose central ethos opposes such commodification.

“I thought it was time the owners stepped out from behind the veil of secrecy,” Harvey told me during a follow-up interview this week. He repeatedly emphasizes the benevolence of a corporate board voluntarily giving up control over its assets and revenue stream. “What we're doing, as far as normal capitalism, is aberrant...What we're doing is giving up a lot of money.”

But the way that Harvey is trying to frame this issue seems antithetical to how most burners see the event and culture that they've spent decades helping to create, from using the term “owners” to describe the six board members to suggesting Burning Man has any relation to “normal capitalism,” even to the claim that there's “a lot of money” to give up, and that they might be more entitled to that money than the thousands of burners who have contributed their sweat equity to the event.

“We have people who have 10,000 volunteer hours at Burning Man,” says Chicken John Rinaldi, a longtime burner and critic of how Harvey and the board have run the event, believing that they have always overstated their importance considering Black Rock City is built each year almost entirely by its participants. “This event throw itself.”

Yet Harvey and the other board members, such as Michael Mikel and Marian Goodell, insist that the board plays an important role in shepherding the event and the culture that has grown up around it, which is why they plan on waiting three years to turn control of the event over to the new nonprofit, the Burning Man Project, and another three years after that until they liquidate their ownership of the name and associated trademarks and are paid for their value.

“We want it to get on its feet and be able to raise money on its own,” Harvey said of the nonprofit. The board is also creating a committee called the Philosophical Center “to ensure the cultural continuity as we pour Burning Man into a new vessel.” Mikel said he insisted on that because “for me, it's not about the art. It's really about the culture.”

The nonprofit board will be comprised of the six LLC board members and at least seven more members that those six members will select, and Harvey said they are doing interviews now, including talking to many longtime burners who were represented at last week's summit of Burning Man regional leaders from around the world. Chicken said it was offensive that Harvey would tell this gathering that it would take six years before they'd have full control over Burning Man.

“What they're saying is it's going to take years to pass the torch over, and they're saying this to a room full of people who have been involved in Burning Man for decades,” Chicken said. He was particularly critical of Harvey's statement that the board discussed coming up with a value for Burning Man and dividing that by six. “Once that comes out of someone's mouth, the bets are off.”

Chicken's conclusion: “They've turned Burning Man into a commodity. They're selling the event.”

Burning Man doesn't have much by way of assets now, and its roughly $12 million annual revenue stream from selling tickets goes almost entirely to staging the annual event and supporting the year-round operations of the organization.

But once the nonprofit forms up and starts taking tax-exempt donations and finding other ways of diversifying its revenue stream for the three years before the current board members cash out, Chicken predicts the board members will walk away with about $1 million each. “But I'm not going to let them get away with it,” pledged Chicken, who has already starting agitating and rabble-rousing in online forums, just as he did in 2004 when he launched the rebellion that became known as Borg2.

Harvey has confirmed the board members will walk away with well more than the $20,000 that they're currently entitled to if they resign, “but we'll have to work for a living,” he said. Mikel told me, “It's never been about the money, for me it was there was no succession plan. I really want Burning Man to continue beyond my involvement with it.”

Yet they also said that the bitter divisions on the board have evaporated since the new plan was developed. “Now that we can all see the future,” Mikel said, “we're getting along wonderfully.”

But Chicken says he's determined not to let these six board members, who have been getting the highest salaries for the last six years anyway “simply for ordering the PortaPotties,” profit from an event he helped created that has always been been about communal effort and decommidified relationships.

“Burning Man should be a labor of love,” he said. “I think Burning Man should exist outside of commerce.”

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.

Photos of Larry Harvey from April 1 speech by

Ana Grillo Photography and Multimedia Productions

Comments

Amazing,

Chicken John Renaldi is a two bit con man who never built anything in his life taller than a pile of cow dung. He had me convinced that he built that car that runs on grease and then I found out that was a lie. When he lost in the BORG2 hustle he reneged on his agreement to man a dunking booth unless he was paid. He's an opportunistic vulture.

And, Steven T. Jones just adores him.

Giants win 8-4 ... Posey drive in 4 and Timmy strikes out 13

h.

Posted by Guest h. brown on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 7:05 pm

Wow, so the people that dedicated the last 26 years of their lives to create something that makes people happy MIGHT make a million dollars? great reporting dipshit.

Posted by guest on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 9:29 pm

Im a junior account, i make a little over $50,000 before taxes, if i worked for the next 24 years of my life with no pay raise i would make 1.2 million dollars, more then the estimates from the guy who calls himself Chicken John. Is this a joke, are you seriously asking why these people might want to make more then $20,000 for all the time they put in? They must all be greedy assholes.

Posted by Terrance on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 10:04 pm

"Burning Man doesn't have much by way of assets now, and its roughly $12 million annual revenue stream from selling tickets goes almost entirely to staging the annual event and supporting the year-round operations of the organization"

ya after 20 something years i would probabily want to get paid too.

Posted by Ryan Morris on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 10:16 pm

Perhaps I should clarify that the LLC board members have all been getting annual full-time salaries. The question is how much they should be paid in a lump sum when they turn control of Burning Man over to the nonprofit.

Posted by steven on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 10:24 pm

"Burning Man doesn't have much by way of assets now, and its roughly $12 million annual revenue stream from selling tickets goes almost entirely to staging the annual event and supporting the year-round operations of the organization."

ya, after twenty something years i would probabily want to get paid too, but of course you would turn down the money, so Steven did you donate all the money you made from your book, did it take you twenty years to write?

Posted by Ryan Morris on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 10:34 pm

It took me six years to write my book, I received no compensation for my work on it along the way (and actually spent thousands of dollars on my reporting), and I would be absolutely thrilled if my final payoff was $20,000, because the likelihood is I'll make far less than that. It's really been more of a labor of love.

Posted by steven on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 11:51 am

your poor choice of career, and your inability to get paid are no one's fault but your own. You've often said you've smoked pot to alleviate the "pain" of doing your job - and you've sold out plenty of times along the way to do so. So get off the cross, boy, we need the wood to build a real burning man, mmmkay little one?

Posted by guest from the mission on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

Greed, arrogance, and hate are compelling human qualities, and so quintessentially American "guest from the mission." If this is the kind of "conservative" person BM attracts I am glad I never went

Posted by Mr. Raven on Jul. 13, 2011 @ 11:00 am

great Steven, but you didnt say anything about a non profit or raising money for a charity. Bascilly what i heard was "my book which took me six years to write was to shitty to make any money." lol

Posted by Ryan Morris on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 9:44 pm

you wont reply to this post steven. lol Why not?

Posted by guest on Apr. 09, 2011 @ 8:09 pm

Fellow commentators, I think you are missing the point. I don't think this is a rant against the board members - they are actually well-quoted to show their intent. Jones is citing a dissenting opinion that - believe it or not - will be pretty common in the Burner community. I'm not sure if I necessarily agree with the dissension, but this is good reporting of events that will shake our Burner community. People who haven't found themselves neck-deep in dedicating an entire year's worth (or more!!) of blood and sweat, tears and money to one project just to see it fly out there in the middle of no where and be blissed out with the sheer opportunity might not fully understand the implications of Harvey's comments..

Save your negativity for something that deserves it, or post an opinion on the topic at hand, why don't ya.

Posted by Mz Mgz on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 9:25 am

I agree that some of the community will have dissenting opinions on the issue, and that is worth reporting.
However, using Chicken John as that voice is just silly and bad reporting. He is so far off with his statements that it looses credibility for the piece for anyone who has a lick of an idea of the fact. And to represent his falsities as anything worth merit to those who don't know the fact and might consider these to be even close to them, is just irresponsible.
Chicken John is well known as more of a naysayer than as someone with anything worth hearing. It makes for good entertainment, but not for good reporting of a serious issue like this one that the community cares about.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

"Community," is that what 20 year out of date "cyberpunk" pot heads are calling themselves these days?

Posted by Mr. Raven on Jul. 13, 2011 @ 11:02 am

Chicken DOES deserve the negativity; all he ever does is complain.

He doesn't know what he is talking about, and he is exaggerating for effect.

Burning Man does not "run itself" and it takes more than "ordering the Porta-Potties" to make it happen. You want to see Burning Man "running itself" - check out a copy of Mad Max. Fun times!

There may well be some folks with legit concerns about this plan, but the reporter didn't bother to interview any of them. Much easier to give Ranting Man a(nother) platform to spew his BS. ("Hmm, I need some negative spin on this, chop chop. What's Rinaldi got to say? He hates everything!")

As others have pointed out, that is sloppy "journalism" that serves no one well. What is this, the Fox Weekly?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 5:48 pm

I disagree with those of you who criticize my reporting and my decision to include Chicken in this article, someone whose history with the event is almost as long as Larry's. I've covered this organization for almost seven years, interviewed hundreds of people about it, researched the organization's finances and operations, and generally applied more journalistic scrutiny to it than any other single journalist in recent years, for both the Guardian and my new book, The Tribes of Burning Man. And I can tell you that Chicken is raising a valid issue and perspective that is widely held in this community, as I've documented well in my book.

Now, it's all a matter of speculation and conjecture how much money the board members will get. All we know is that Larry says it will be significantly more than the $20,000 each that he considers "laughable." And while the board members are happy about the deal they've worked out, the larger community -- in other words, the people who really give Burning Man its value -- have not had the opportunity to weigh in on this arrangement. Yet. And if I know this community, it will be heard and won't simply accept whatever the Borg tells them to accept.

As Larry said in his speech, the Man this year has "never been so precariously posed," and I think that goes for Burning Man as well. This transition could be the best thing that ever happened to Burning Man, or it could end up hurting its cultural credibility. The board has concluded its process of deciding what comes next, but the community is just starting to learn about that decision, so its process is just beginning. And even if it accepts Larry's formulation, both the board and the community still have a perilous road ahead, fraught with pitfalls and the potential for things to go wrong in this grand experiment.

I'll be watching closely as it unfolds, and if anyone wants to talk about this more in person, I welcome you to join me at a reading and discussion that I'll be hosting tonight starting at 7 pm at Books Inc. in Alameda.

Posted by steven on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 11:54 am

There are many many other voices you could have gotten to besides Chicken's. He is one of literally thousands of people involved with the event over the last 20 years. Why on earth do you and everyone else at the Guardian always go to him for your "dissention" quote???? Is he a personal friend of yours? Is he promoting your book on his mailing list?

And FYI, Steven, this book was already written. It's called "This is Burning Man." And its quite good. Personally I'm not interested in reading version 2.0.

Posted by handro on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

Brian Doherty's "This is Burning Man is indeed a very good book, but it's narrative ends about 10 years ago. Do you really believe nothing noteworthy has happened in this culture since then? Brian doesn't share your view, which is why he's written a great recommendation for my book, which he has read and considers an important work that picks up the narrative where he left off.

As for why I'm quoting Chicken, he's the only longtime burner paying attention to this transition who is willing to publicly raise these issues and subject himself to the criticism of all of you. Personally, I think we should thank him instead of denigrating him with such vigor.

And as for the petty comments of earlier commenters, my book has only been out a couple months and is selling just fine, but $20,000 would be more than Brian made on his and more than most books of this kind, nonfiction works by first-time authors put out by small publishing houses, are making these days. I'm not complaining, and I've been a full-time journalist for 20 years, but it was a silly point asking why I'm not giving it away. Larry has made an even better living than I have, but the question is how much he should get as a final payout. And the only point I've made and Chicken has made is the community should also be able to weigh in on the decision. Those six people aren't the only ones with equity in this event.

Posted by steven on Apr. 09, 2011 @ 7:18 pm

$20000 is a laughable amout, im 20 years old and i almost make twice that in a year

Posted by guest on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 11:29 pm

yes but isn't there anyone other than Rinaldi that they can itnerview on this? I mean come-on, he is not a representative viewpoint. He stands for him and him alone. Always has and always will.

How about the Guardian diversifying the voices here huh? Believe it or not there is more than one artist that is involved with burning man.Maybe ask someone else for a change? Its just ridiculous that Chicken John is the go-to viewpoint whenever Guardian does an article on Burning Man. Its lazy reporting or worse its nepotism.

Posted by handro on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

Having endured Chicken John's harangues for years and years it's my observation that he is a kind of attention whore and desires nothing more than followers. A one string guitar for whom the Burning Man LLC has never and in fact can never do anything right. So....

Posted by Eric on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 10:22 am
+1!

+1!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

It's so much fun to watch when liberals get greedy. It's never about "the money."

Posted by Chromefields on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 10:22 am

Twitter>Zynga>THC>Burning Man> ???, maybe the giveaway, oops 'tax exclusion zone' should be extended to include the Embarcadero so Larry Ellison can make more profit.

Posted by Pat Monk.RN. on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 11:57 am

He didn't just run his bar the Odeon (now Knockout) into the ground, which he did. I should know I am a former employee of the place. Chicken John went OUT OF HIS WAY to run it into the ground.

He refused any customer who didn't meet his personal liking, treated his employees like shit until they left and then prevented the employees who stayed from programming events that would bring people in. He is an absolutely terrible businessman and a world class asshole to boot.

The fact that he is calling into question the business practices of others is more than I can bare. I normally don't comment on this things like marcos, arthur evans, lucreatia snapples and the others who I will nickname the "fellowship of the miserable" but given how poorly Chicken John ran his own business I had to respond.

The guy has no credibility on the subject

Posted by Jeff on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

He was so busy being a character that it was impossible to get a beer.

Watching that guy in action was amazing. Didn't that studied act ever get old with the crowd? I guess it did since it's long gone.

Posted by maltlock on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

I wouldn't let Chicken John run a lap in my presence, let alone be part of organizing a huge communal event like burning man. Nobody should have to work under the guy, trust me.

This is the leader of the opposition?

Surprised Steve didn't work in an anti-jane kim angle since that seems to be the only person steve reports on.

Posted by Jeff on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 1:40 pm

Really? The best you guys could do for a dissenting opinion is professional complainer Chicken John? That's pathetic.

No wonder no one wants to jump on the "Bash the Burning Man organization" bandwagon with you. Most of us know better than to buy anything that comes out of his mouth.

Maybe it's really not a good idea, maybe there is money secretly changing hands... but you'll never find out by talking to him! What makes you think he has any special knowledge? All I see is a near-pathological desire for attention.

Reading this article was a total waste of time - because that guy hasn't got a smidge of credibility with anyone who isn't completely naive.

Hmmph!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

I never employed anyone named Jeff. All the employees of the Odeon are still my dear friends. I see them/talk to them almost every day. I'm godfather to the doormans first child. What are you talking about? You coultn't get a beer? I rarely tended bar, sometimes during a rush or when someone was sick. Maybe once a month. I'm not terribly good at bartending because I'm mostly deaf. So it's complex.

As for me complaining or whatever, sure. I complain a lot. But so do you guys! Listen to you! It's a pile on. And that's fine. I have 6 people in the room with me right now. Who when they found out that Larry wants a million dollar payout they all got angry. 2 of them have never been to Burning Man. They both asked: isn't BM a non-profit or something?

Indeed. It should have been a non-profit in 1995. A board should have run it. We wouldn't be having this conversation, or many of the other conversations that we've had complaining about hypocrisy and mis-managment of a community resource.

You don't have to agree with me. You don't have to like me. But you can't insult me for saying I'm a bad business man. It's not something that I aspire to. The Odeon was a fluke. It wasn't meant to make money, to profit. It was just for fun. I still worked the entire time. So I have no idea what you wanted me to do or whatever. Some people hold the odeon in high regard. Some people, beleive it or not, hold me in high regard. Shocking, I know...

You can't tell me that after 15 years of telling people BM isnt' a commodity that Larry can ask for a buyout and not get some flack. You can't. You can't tell me that I'm not a good person to interview for this. Because there are many people who share my view that aren't as articulate or who aren't interested in the conflict. Sure, I'll bite... I'm a New Yorker. We like to fight.

But me and Larry are still friends. Even though some things he does make me fucking crazy.

In the end, who cares? Couple million here or there... it's the point that we are talking about. I don't actually care about the money. I care about the intention and I care about the precident. Because I care about this community. I just think that, as per usual, they go about things in these sneaky smarmy ways that exclude everyone from any process. It's all top down. And top down is bullshit. That's the way I see it.

I never had a Jeff working at the Odeon. Unless you are Jeff Mann. In which case, it wasn't work. You were living at my house for free and I made you work sound on Monday nights because it was a DJ night and I kept getting in fights with the hip hop DJ's because they suck. You were more diplomatic. If this is you, Jeff, you left my house with a $400 telephone bill. It's OK. I paid that bill, and all the other bills. With money that I got from doing work. The Odeon might not have made money, but I'm a hard worker. I can make money when I need to. I pay my bills.

This issue is an interesting one. It's going to raise a lot of questions and it's going to make some people eat their words, me included. But we can't be afraid of debate. Debate is good.

chicken

Posted by Guest on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 5:28 pm

It's comments like "Larry wants a million dollar payout" that I take exception to. What proof do you have of that? None? Yet you state it as fact.
Aside from that, nice post here. Seriously.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 8:54 pm

Well the point most of us are talking about is your attitude. You didn't create burning man. Sorry to break it to you. You're not a good person to interview because you already take up to much space around here. There are thousands of other players MUCH more involved than you that have a voice and a less narcissistic worldview. Lets here from someone else for a change.

Personally, I'm tired of hearing the Chicken John Burner Representative At Large bullshit. You don't represent anybody except yourself.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

"I don't actually care about the money."

(Chicken John)

Yeah, and Charlie Sheen doesn't care about pussy.

Go Giants!

Daly's Dive and Bulldog Salon tomorrow for home opener.

h.

Posted by Guest h. brown on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 9:16 pm

I'm trying to debate. We never know. Anything. We have to speculate. But yes, you are right. I shouldn't state things as facts that aren't.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 9:36 pm

H, your so cute when your angry.

I fundraised $1,200 for a Black Rock City art installation in civic center plaza in that dunk tank. OK, I didn't really make $1,200. I made like $450. But the check that I wrote was for $1,200. Because I had money from another project left over. And I diverted it. With permission from the other people in that other project. But you'll just say some whiny ass snarky thing because your pissy that I wouldn't do the mayor forum thing with you and the other candidates. Ya wanna know why? Because no one cared. No one cared about what you had to say as a candidate, nor me. Which is why I made exactly zero campaign speeches. I had big ideas, but they didn't really pan out. My run for mayor was kinda funny, slightly expensive and probably a disappointment. But your run for mayor was perfectly executed. Really. You put nothing in, got nothing out and thereby out of the 2 of us... well you won on that there mayor race. Gotta hand it to you.

Why is everyone commenting on my credibility? I have a good track record. If you think that I ran for mayor for the money, or think I owned a bar for money or do any of the things I do for a payout your sorely mistaken. But I won't convince you other wise here. I'm weird when it comes to money. I just don't like it. I have to handle money, sure. To get things done. I do a lot of fundrasing. There are a few benifactors that swoop in and pay for things that I do that fail. Most things I do are for free or spilt costs, like shows or bus trips. But you all will think that I make bank off what I do. If you were closer to me, you'd see another story. But you dislike me for God knows what reasons, so you'll just dismiss anything I do. And that's fine. But I'm sick of people like the BM llc getting in the flow of TREMENDOUS AMOUNTS of money and then claiming there isn't a financial impetius then trying to justify taking more and more.

BM was built on voulenteer labor because there wasn't enough money to pay people. If you would have told all the voulenteers that someday Larry and company would be getting $XXX dollars I'm totally telling you right now people wouldn't have worked so hard. There are many many people who have 10,000 voulenteer hours. It just changes the game. Puts a chill in the air. You can say it's their company, you can say it's none of my business, you can say that people voulenteered because they wanted to... but people who voulenteer take offence at wasting money, because if someone is going to waste money then why not pay them for their work? This is the same kind of issue.

And maybe I'm wrong. Maybe after intelligently hashing it out, I'll back down. Way down. After being presented with an intelligent debate.

Wish one was happening here.

Larry didn't ask his community how to do this. Like everything else he has ever done, it's been top down. It seems like, again and again, he doen't care what anyone else thinks. It's gotta be his idea, his way.

Can you imagine how powerful this idea would be in the hands of a charasmatic leader who liked people? Maybe someone like that will end up at the helm. Great things could then happen. But that person can not be me. Will not be me. I'm not that guy. But I'd follow that guy. And great shit would happen.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 10:34 pm

“Larry didn't ask his community how to do this. Like everything else he has ever done, it's been top down. It seems like, again and again, he doen't care what anyone else thinks. It's gotta be his idea, his way.
Can you imagine how powerful this idea would be in the hands of a charasmatic leader who liked people?”

Jesus, John. You sound like a God-damn hippy.

Go listen to your Grateful Dead records and leave us alone already.

Everyone seems to forget one basic fact; Burning Man is/was Larry’s party.

Larry and the rest of us weren’t showing up and volunteering to Chicken John’s party.

Larry and the rest of us weren’t showing up and volunteering to John Law’s party.

We were all showing up and volunteering to Crazy Larry’s party out on the beach and then later in the dessert.

I love the fact that Larry openly admits that he was a failure at every other job before he accidently created one of the most spectacular arts festivals+ drug parties + art car events + dangerous survival experiences + community building exercises of our generation.

Yeah, the guy who kept getting fired as a taxi cab driver and other dead-end jobs may not be that charismatic and have his own way of doing things. Brilliant insight there, John.

I think people are going to miss Larry when he leaves us. He’s got a tough job and has received a lot of hatred over the years, lots of it really personal, and I’ve never seen him lash out in kind in public. I know it pisses off a lot of people, but Burning Man IS NOT The Grateful Dead.

I think that last part needs to be repeated; BURNING MAN IS NOT THE GRATEFUL DEAD.

It’s not all happiness and light that Burning Man brings out in people, it really attracts psychos all over the world like moths to the flame and Burning Man isn’t run by Jerry Garcia. You don’t have this charismatic, cuddly, drugged out leader. You got a very real, flawed, human who cares passionately about this amazing thing he accidently created and each and every year gets roasted by people that show up to this thing we all love.

Could you imaging going to a Grateful Dead show where some Deadheads made an art piece comparing Jerry Garcia to Hitler and getting away with it? Yet stuff like that happens all the time at Burning Man.

Sorry John, Burning Man isn’t the Grateful Dead and something tells me that years from now if it is run by a “a charasmatic leader who liked people” you’d be one of the loudest voices bitching about it for whatever reasons that you normally bitch about things.

Mike

Posted by Your art sucks and so did your bar. on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 8:33 pm

>>It’s not all happiness and light that Burning Man brings out in people, it really attracts psychos all over the world like moths to the flame<<

yeah it's predominately a bunch of yuppies and upper middle class privileged white folk that run out to be 7 day hippies and pat themselves on the back for doing so the other 51 weeks of the year

the ONLY saving grace about Burning Man is the art.
Specifically, the grants for the artist's that make the fabulous creations we get to see on the playa for everyone to experience
and maybe the white-outs ;-p

as for the rest of it...
about as cliquish as high school and as hypocritical as the catholic church!

not to mention the fact that everyone felt so self-righteous about sending a human being to a federal penitentiary for 4 years for burning the 'man' early (but am not trying to digress to that topic-although seeing as how this forum is running, i am sure it will cause another wave of entitlement to be spewed forth)
really 4 years of incarceration?!?

BRC should have been a 501c3 from the beginning with a steering committee...however that didn't happen and let's hope that this will mark an interesting development in the festival's future.

To be fair, it is a bit unnerving that the current board will be the sole decision maker in finalizing the procurement of new members.

Ideally, a steering committee of independents ought to be established prior to recruitment to aid in a thoroughly transparent transition within the organization.
Perhaps that is what they are planning, I do not know. I can only hope.

Good luck kids...at least you have something to bitch about and are happily entitled to your opinions-as am I.

Posted by littlemsv on Apr. 13, 2011 @ 5:53 pm

I love how high school grade level a lot of the discussions are here. It would be entirely laughable if the people responding to each other weren't the actual people in real life - but this is the kicker - it ACTUALLY is chicken john, and chris daly, and h brown, and steven jones, and tim redmond, etc
You willingly put your statements out there - warts and all. What. a. motley. crue.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 8:16 am

Chicken,

Sign your name when you post anything to me and I'll read it. I'm gonna make an exception and assume you're 'Guest' here.

My last decade or so have been spent trying to affect public policy. I do this by writing columns. To date I've written over 1,500 of them. The best way to get information is from the inside and that's why I've entered 7 contests. Never as you say, have I spent a dime. I always tell the public not to vote for me and use my public forum to endorse the candidates in the races I prefer and attack those I feel are bad for the public interests.

You do disgust and anger me. You're such a tin horn phony and always on the look out to put your hands on someone else's money. I worked for 47 years and live poor but proud on social security money that I paid into the fund. You're a flim flam man looking for a free ride.

Adachi for Mayor!

Gonzalez for Mayor!

Campos for Mayor!

Avalos for Mayor!

Go Giants!

h.

Posted by Guest h. brown on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 8:47 am

Yes, your are right again H. I forgot to sign my name. But you knew it was me.

H., do you not know that I work? Full time? Sometimes 60 hours a week? Do you not know that I'm a mechanic, that I work all day, every day? You are forever saying I'm looking for handouts, where are they? The full paperwork accounting of my mayor run is public information that you can go look at anytime. it doesn't balance out. I spent more then I collected. To start with, $16,000 in accounting fees. That's just the way it is. You don't know that, of course, because you have never collected any money. But that's OK, I appreciate the position in the world you hold. The world needs more bulldogs.

Maybe you think that I'm all alone, that these projects I do that the newspapers write about I'm doing by myself. What you don't see is that there are many of us. It wasn't just me that ran for mayor. It wasn't just me that worked on BM. It wasn't just me that does the events, the dinners, the shows, the boat projects. I'm not even really the leader guy, there are others more leaderly then me. But the papers always paint things as 2 people argueing. They don't show that each of those 2 people have constituencys' that they hash it out with sometimes for years before a public battle.

In the end, me and you are always asking for the same thing: transparency. We want government to be upfront. Without all these shady deals, and favors and nepotism and cronism and graft.

I wish you could see things from in here, you would change your mind about me. But it's also kinda fun having you love to hate me.

chicken

Posted by chicken john on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

Chicken John and Steven,

I agree they had great paychecks all these years. And they should also have a retirement plan, a buyout, for their hard work as they hand over the company to the non-profit. Don't you think thats fair? If you were able to get your bar successful, and attracting people from all over the world, wouldn't you deserve a severance for all your hard work?

Just because an event is built valuing Decommodification during the week of the Burning Man Festival doesn't mean that the founders should imply it has no financial value year round. Thats silly. Just because we cherish a certain value (like "Art") doesn't mean we only focus on Art year round. At the end of the day, this is still a company they built from the ground up, regardless of your misplaced notion of where those "decommodification" values should apply.

It would be different if the founders all had additional full-time jobs all 25 years with pensions or 401ks while they worked at the Burning Man Org. But they didn't. This event *was* their job. And if the coffers have enough money to give them a golden parachute, then I say that is *more* than fair.

And if the new non-profit forming says "Well we certainly have the funds to give you this amount here $XYZ", then good for everyone. The truth is that the new organization will have very real expenses to manage. And they will only be able to give away so much of their profits to the founders. The ideal solution is not a big one-time buyout, but a lifetime royalty on the gross revenues. That way, the founders always have a small percent of revenue coming from the event that they created.

Good for you for expressing your point. But I personally believe your opinion is both short-sighted, immature, mean and untrusting. We all have enemies. But for people who are mostly good people, their enemies rarely post such negative comments. To have an audience of people just waiting and ready to hate on you, who pipe up at the first chance they get, that takes talent. Not everyone can acquire enemies quite as effectively. And it might mean that you should focus more on your own values before you tear down the people who built this event to where it is today.

Posted by Mark B on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

It is an absolute absurdity for "Mr. John" to claim that he helped create the event. Please! He didn't help create it any more than the other thousands of people involved with Burning Man from the early years.

I'm tired of this guy trying to speak for "us." Chicken is simply an opportunistic self-promoting jackass. He doesn't seem to have any problem getting involved with community efforts when his little commodity situation (i.e. Ritual Roasters) is threatened. What a total hypocrite. Give me a break.

Oh and his "art" sucks...

Posted by Guest on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

Ah, that's how Chickenshit Toilet runs his bus on coffee grounds, he swindles vulnerable hipsters into paying primo prices for designer coffee and uses that cash to buy diesel.

I could just imagine what a hoot he must be on the playa.

-marc

Posted by marcos on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

Chicken John is a bully for hire, and he has offered his bullying tactics to others (after the American Apparel debacle he offered to "sell his services" aka bullying and mob rule) and is all about using his bullying to help Ritual Roasters.

That's why I'd rather drink Sanka than that Ritual Roasters shit, and if I had the chance, I'd pee in their coffee and shit on their goddamned vegan donuts. Fuck Chicken John and fuck Ritual Roasters. He's a liar and a crook!

Posted by guest from the mission on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 5:56 pm

Chickenshit Toilet and I had a run in last year when something went wrong when we were both helping out mutual friends. When I suggested that we act like adults and work together to resolve the issue, he threatened me with violence and ignored it as if it would go away.

I was so very tempted, but didn't want an idling bus blocking my street all night while he was at SFGH getting his jaw fixed, so I just laughed at him and he slinked off. Things ended up working out okay but it made for unneeded stress for me and our mutual friends, the ones we were supposed to be helping.

-marc

Posted by marcos on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

God who fucking cares if these people make some money. They spent their lives working on it. Not only did they spend there life creating this, but it makes 50,000 people happy to be alive for each year. What have you done to make 50,000 people happy, absoulety fucking nothing. Image your life without Burning Man, at that point you should have thanked Harvey and everyone else that helped create this wonderful event. People like you wont be happy unless you have something the bitch about, Havey and all the LLC could have made a few dollars off the event and people like you would still complain.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 9:28 pm

The author claims to have interviewed "hundreds" of people, but chose only one to use for all the quotes and estimates (besides havey). then a bunch of people comment on how much of a lunatic this one person is. So my question is why only this chicken john guy, is it because he is the only person that would agree with you. You rant and badmouth Larvey Harvey and i have to ask why? He has created something that makes both of us happy and gives us something to look forward too. Most sensible people would think thats enough to gain his respect, but not you. Your mad at him because he needs to make a living and pay rent, you hate him because like all of us he needs to work for a living? Your mad at him for not vollenteering 25 years in a row with no other job? WTF, this is crazy, the article is crazy, it wasnt even well written. Theres no real stats or numbers just a few peoples opinions of what they think is happening.

Posted by Carl on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 10:42 pm

I have to say this article deserves all the critism it got. The entire article was based on opinion and no facts or statistics. Its as if the author picked one random bum out of a crowd and based the article entirely on his opinion. “This event throws itself.” and “simply for ordering the PortaPotties.” Com'on, absolute garbabe, absolute garbabe reporting. I have a hard time believing that the author and even chicken john actually believe this is how hard the LLC crew works. All they do all year around to prepare for this impossible event in an unforgiving enviroment in a land far far away is make a few phone calls. Com'on Im upset that there are burners out there this ungrateful for the amazing event other people set up for them.

To the Guardian, i suggest you hire a new writer, this one has gone lazy on you.

Posted by Tommy on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 11:23 pm

Have you ever been to Burning Man? Do you really believe that these six people simply throw it for us and we just show up and enjoy it?

Posted by steven on Apr. 09, 2011 @ 7:23 pm

“Have you ever been to Burning Man? Do you really believe that these six people simply throw it for us and we just show up and enjoy it?”

Um... for some people, F@CK YEAH!

I know because I was one of those people. For my first couple of years I was just a tourist in a strange land. You know why? Because it was a fun place to vacation and I’m not an artist. So there.

But I get the point that you are trying so desperately to articulate.

Yes, Burning Man is an artifact that has been carried along, overhead, and beyond, all these decades by many, many, hands. The majority of these hands belonging to volunteers or others that get little to no recognition or accolades.

But you know what?

Those 6 people carried a Hell of a lot more of the weight. You know why?

Common sense tells us that those 6 people put their ass out there more than anyone else because they were LIABLE if anything went wrong. It’s miraculous that there haven’t been more lawsuits over Burning Man.

Larry spoke about this during the BMOG2 debate years ago, about how there are several decisions that should not ever be put up to everyone’s group vote because someone needs to be held accountable for those decisions and take them f@cking seriously.

“Hello all my 5,000 friends! Lets take a Facebook poll! Should we allow guns back on the playa like we did in the early 90’s?”

Look at me! I’m being all charismatic, I like people, and people really, really, like me. This is gonna be the Best. Burn. Ever!

But seriously, Steve. I can’t speak for anyone else, all I can say is that I was kind of annoyed to get spammed with a BS SFBG sensationalized Perez Hilton / Entertainment Tonight kind of email that read “Burning man -- communal or sellout?” which lead me to your article.

It was just tacky and I normally don’t pull rank, but to see it coming from some Johnny-Come-Lately kind of grown man that just discovered Burning Man during the Britney Spears years is... well... lame.

So there.

Peace and hugs –

Mike

Posted by BMOG2 FTW!!!!? WTF? on Apr. 09, 2011 @ 10:08 pm