Worshiping the Cargo Cult: The (de?)Commodification of Burning Man Marches On

fertility ended in black rock cityBlack Rock City – Watched thousands of pagans, actual & momentary, roiling wildly counterclockwise around the collapsed symbol.  Alone amidst thousands beneath the smoggy sky the decision was made to be there again before any real time for consideration.

worked for a company that had children laughing about evictionsCrashed through the fall, afterglow destroyed by civil authority within a few weeks.  A horrifying office listening to children laugh about evictions while a bull stomped about screaming.  Blamed for a hurricane, fired for standing up before an infested call center.  Seven weeks of urban reality before escape.

following the oregon trail through blinding snowFollowed the Oregon Trail through highways shut down by snow, fog and ice.  Avoided death.  Portland for a lot of reasons other than a television show.

the williamette valley in pixelated beauty ending the oregon trailfelony flats, southeast of the tracks in portland, oregonA recently run down house in a less than desirable neighborhood is what a pack of twenty somethings fighting through their nation’s collapse deem success.

So many out of state plates neighbors rang the landlord.  Actual operation was caddy corner.  Real life battered, but thoughts turned home through winter’s sogg.  Sought work while the organization enacted plans more acceptable to the community at large.  Applied.

low income tickets allow burning man to continue in the way it once was sortadead wood is still useful even after its useResponsibilities to be certain; despite judgment by those without struggle everyone needs some time.  One out of fifty two & change can’t be too much to ask.

you may find the strangest objects at burning man hanging from treesApplications & interviews.  Bumming found a project in motion up the street.  Hopped the broken bike to haul lumber from Russia with love.

Introductions and gratitude for coming out of left field.  Smiled and  neatly stacked lumber at $40 a dump truck.  Avoiding splinters with offered gloves.

facebook messages are how communeicationTickets’d come & gone.  A few weeks after application good news arrived.

twin city painting of portland and seattle is an extremely dishonest companyTicket secure, the hard part begins.  Decided to take some painters at their word.  A screwy system that donated many hours to men sitting in an office for free.  Their lies to homeowners and young men trying to work rather disgusting.  Ended up here —————–>

Dangling from a 40 foot ladder, bouncing because it can’t reach surface, wielding a 12 foot pole leaves time to think.  Increasingly dangerous situations because no one else could get them done.

Quit to paint a doctor’s house.  Spent a day fighting for the pay that’d allow black rock.  Liars with smiles make up much of the West.

yes the borg would like to track you and your activities so they can monetize themAllowed the borg to track movement in their world.  Contrary to its original ideals & another sign of growth.

Now necessary to apply for hack journalist credentials.  Slipped through the cracks before managing to contact old contacts.

portland CORE crew circa 2013 in preparation for black rock cityThe project’d gone on, been funded, partied upon and mostly completed.  Then it came apart in a day, carefully marked and loaded for the journey southeast.  Helped as could.

rvs at burning man are fucking stupidPainted a two story home alone for two weeks.  Broke me in half.  Decertification continued as well.  Decided to burn rather than defend reputation & professional possibilities.  Made more money than the previous ten weeks.  Found a ride.

Avoid recreational vehicles like the plague they represent, but a free ride is a free ride.  Offered knowledge in exchange.

Packed, bills paid for September & ready to go.  Hugged farewells to the tiny one.  Met strangers nearby.

Costume completion on the trip.  Dropped east and south around inactive volcanoes until nowhere filled in.

Nine hours or something.  Talked to the couple for a while.  Making their first trip, they’d been around the project.  Tales would be told of the historic back up before Gerlach, but snuck in the back door.  Rolled into the dust and halfway to the gate before

entrodus to black rock city is where the party used to startDevised gridlock filled the night.  Bellowed “welcome home” to silence.  Everywhere rental vehicles went uncorrected, corporate logos primed & ready for the cargo cult.  Change may be sad…

Scam science ahoy.  Twain said “There are lies, damn lies & statistics.”  Have always tended to agree.  More change as random sampling through the window replaced meticulous human involvement once again.

Same as it ever was.

Parked in the lingering night to walk toward a safer & more time consuming will call.  Learned about a young woman from Chicago’s typewriter.  Always smile as people tell tales of how hard it is to get there.  The continuing role of sticker passer outer began anew.

Handed over the milled cotton paper that passes for worth.  Took a moment after waiting to settle so the carefully crafted admission slip wasn’t misplaced amidst the hustle & bustle of others awaiting their penultimate step.  Smiled & thanked.

Exited at the same time as the driver.  Fought for space to maneuver as everyone’s rush caused rather rude behavior.  Foreigners checking belongings.

Sun dangled blood red over the horizon.  Human actions pushing consequences far afield.

Angled toward the greeters to find BLM cops handing out tickets where before they’d been lenient.  A lawsuit the borg continued successfully waging caused officials to devise other methods to receive their pay day.  Police harassment proved an all time high.

An exhausted greeter and officialness.  Knowledge equipped and dusty greetings for the pair of virgins manning the controls.  Always happy for stickers.

Curbside service all the way to city’s end.  10 o’clock again for extra insanity.  A slow crawl past the outskirts of a sembling metropolis.

Found home, checked in by strangers.  Dropped necessary gear with thanks & promises to remove the rest at the alternate location.  Next door new neighbors set up shop.

Pitched the tent before helping a few first timers as is the tradition.  Tried to help with chores for about thirty before their confusion and the danger caused became too much.  They paused to plan new tactics.

Got out into it.

Went to find the treehouse first things first.  Priorities.Nine months work standing strong.  Climbed abroad to see what could be seen.  Even insects are busting up the decks these days.  Only vinyl in sight all week anyhow.  Wind kicked up on cue.

Clambered down to pedal through the lack of emptiness.  Found the mecca where it’d been left.  Traded paperwork for a backstage pass guaranteeing nothing while allowing access to nowhere.

Convinced the man currently in charge that the unopened disposable cameras needed to remain that way to prevent dust destroying their precious film.  Laughed as he vented about previous customers to the room at large.  Funny how many journalists are so rude and entitled.

Tucked the medianess safely away to remain undercover while traveling amongst the denizens.  Off and away once more before Monday frittered past.

Stopped to admire the line of vehicles registering at the DMV.  More & more & more.

Wandered for a while, dropped off stickers & unloaded foodstuffs from the deliverer.  Lack of a beard found confused faces at second home.  Located the doctor to store supplies before finding jesus drifting.

Meant to rest before talking to the media about our treehouse.  Hours later stumbling from the tent into darkness, woken by something else.  Half alive aboard the bike and out to find a lead & a hug.  Apologies about missing the carnivores before someone walked off our ramp to call out in surprise.

Hugs & friends & hugs.  An absent friend dragging us together without realizing.  Followed fire spinners through the night & three locations.  Stood below the synchronized surprise of fireworks bursting from all corners of the city Monday night.  Sunrise again before sleep.

Tuesday wasn’t gone quite yet, but it was getting windy.  Tent baking, heat driving locomotion once more.  Spent the day cameraless, meeting, greeting & gifting galore.  Already filling in sans most weekenders just yet.  A day to appreciate the work and effort of many.

And drink…

Bouncing on the bike, belting The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived humility reached up and buried the front tire in a sand drift.  Skidded across the playa laughing.  Lost the pack.

Found some Brits handing out billions to others out of the kindness in their hearts.  Unfortunately the Bank of Zimbabwe isn’t doing so hot in the current economic climate.  Tagged along, played tour guide & was taken pity upon & fed before deciding the cups were getting a bit deep.

Convinced a beautiful Scandinavian to feather the locks before bidding adieu to eight virgins, one burner & the manager of one of the larger acts currently on tour in the world.  It’s funny who you can meet out there.

Woke up in the middle of the night, muscles locked from dehydration.  Gulped some down before crawling into the pulse to stretch.  Spent a night wandering with water.

Sunrise found Wednesday where it’d been left.  Poor soul getting carted away from an art installation on the way to champagne.  Fear of robbery driven away by the sunlight, loaded up the bike with gifts for a merry morning.

Found the Bubbles & Bass, walked in to get a drink, spotted a friend.  Returning to where the bike was parked less than ten minutes, left unlocked, to find it stolen.  Disbelief, anger, frustration, betrayal and sadness all at once.  The bag that went to jail during Occupy Wall Street.  The scarf knitted by sister.  The gifts worked on since April…

Wandered the streets sobbing.  The borrowed water bottle gone.  The t-shirt that had been toted across country dozens of times.  All gone because someone decided their needs were more important that the person who made and brought those things.

The bike wasn’t even mine.

A young girl stopped to help.  Gave a one time use bottle half full.  A Saudi Arabian sitting, trying to get service to get scolded by his girlfriend via wireless came and talked.  Gave something special.

<——– If you received one of these with a negative in the middle it was stolen from me.  They were my pictures, my gifts & I got to hand out two.  If you took my stuff or know who I’d love my bike, scarf, bag vvvvv   & notebook back.

Bike theft appeared on the increase.  It’s time to put a stop.

Wandered back to the good times after babbling at another sad citizen for a while about why it’s all gonna be ok. Found the friend made a year ago & bubbles to make it ok.

Drank a belly full before heading after breakfast.  Gifted a found water bottle by some San Diegoites… San Diegouns… San Diegans… after some bullhorn shenanigans.  Answered “Thank gawd” when an amplified “Burning Man is cancelled!” appeared in the ears.

“Oh good,” came the one.  “People are getting pissed,” with a laugh.  Things change & tourists don’t understand.  They built the San Diego CORE & after an introduction about shared COREosity gifts were showered.

Built breakfast.  Shared the sad bike story, some cared, others not so much.  It’s all part of it.  Doctor virgin offered her bike to go look for mine.  Agreed.  Didn’t bother to tell her that it was basically an impossible task.  Mostly stressed about having a borrowed bike lifted.

Nothing but bikes, but so many still don’t even bother to read enough to know they need one.  Started flipping it upside down.  Figured someone messed up prolly couldn’t manage to turn it back over.  First Distrikt.

Spent a day talking.  The cool weather (lower 90s) that’d been enjoyed Monday and Tuesday started creeping back upward.  Luckily Wednesday is full of blended, chilled or carefully constructed beverages throughout the cityscape.  Partook.

Wandered toward home to restock liquid survival.  Stopped to clamber aboard a massive piece of home  furnishing aptly dubbed Basscouch.

Lounged in the waves before visiting camp.  Old friends and new hiding from the heat.

Rode into nothing full of something for a while upon the borrowed bike.  A less than unbearably dusty day left visibility to be enjoined.

Biked past what became the favorite, stopping to enjoy the pastor exhorting his masses toward the greater glory of…. something…

To the treehouse, standing strong as left.  Spent some time amongst the patrons answering queries whilst gifting to the masses.  The loss of a project lead to real life pushing responsibility for handing out official condoms onward.
Stickers outside the official community approved guidelines were also exchanged for absolutely nothing.

Chatted while some participants unloaded their pic-a-nic basket, or crappy plastic cooler…

Wandered out across the city.  Found things suddenly on the far side, walking drink in hand.  Passive searching for a scarf to replace the stolen garment spotted a clothing exchange.  The young lady in charge asked if we knew each other.

Immediately “No!” laughing… but we did.  Hugs and hellos.  A friend from the fiery lake.
Borrowed the bike a bit longer than intended.  Out & about toward the nicest moments of the week before touristing hordes appear.  Found a parade.

Lamplighters prepared the avenues for darkness amidst impromptu gatherings & processions toward the full scale icon hovering.

Stopped for a moment to watch marriage, real kind probably… Caught up into the sunset.

Returned the bike before borrowing it immediately.  Both camps for a moment between ignoring expressed entitlement.  Darkness brought floodlights & dodgeball.  Spectated.
Felt good about non participation as the final match wrapped up.

Night brings fire.  Flitted as fireflies between them.  Ripping through the darkness on mostly solid playa toward whirling metalwork & an amassed crowd staring into the light.

Chased down their sticker passer outer to pass out a sticker in exchange for their sticker for use as stated previously.  Helix was rad.

More wandering before throbbing bass suctioned.  Where a nation once stood a planet had formed.  Opening ceremonies, blessings & gorgeous soundscapes between words from the founder & others involved.
Pedaled off again to escort an exhausted friend home for the evening.  Talked about life for a spell before goodbyes.

Stopped to watch a drunken friend watching a drunken friend doing some ridiculous things for strangers.

Home for diplo’s black rock debut.  Major Lazer hit the decks?  computers?  …

Stopped to take it all in & talked with a producer about his film for a while.  Promised to include so here it is.  Check it out or something

Mob scene.  Told some kids off who didn’t understand decorum.  Fought the wave before sliding back stage to watch the man work.  dip dip dip diplo.  Bailed to elsewhere.

Made a friend seated in the back.  Couldn’t follow without the bike.  Damn thieves…
Danced until it was enough.  Had a tea party in the tree house with a pair of couples.  Art cars before making a friend for sunrise.  Huddled to drive away the near freezing temperatures toward dawn before wandering off in the quiet hours.
Apparently was only a half dozen arrests.  This was one of them.

Climbed atop a flatbed to watch the blood red ball creep back into our lives.  A camp member appeared to yoga.  She explained it was Large Marge.

Sunrise Score: 4 for 4          Things get hazy in the dust.  Said goodbye to a new friend with promises to meet in our current metropolis.  Encountered the growing diversity of black rock before crashing.

Woke up in time for more champagne.

Photographer gifted some art from the subways of the world’s greatest city.  Bubbles & bass, the best way to awake.

Didn’t photog Thursday.  Slept before waking to interact once more.  Found the treehouse gang to force down  some food. Dead camera left behind, the next unopened.

Possibilities endless.

Sunset found camp, warmies & the end of the Cat in the Hat in preparation for all the unknown to come.

Sat alone in the dark on the edge as usual.  Awaiting.  No simultaneous explosion this time, rings went off uncoordinated.  Started the trek to watch it die.

Found a ring of strangers surrounding months of worldwide outpouring.  Effort & energy expended to burn.  Cried for a while before circling.  Found friendly faces, big smiles to see.  Hugs & goodbyes to what we’d accomplished.  Change is hard.
Chatted before wandering off again.  Not much for packs.  An amplified heart beat f’d painfully with the unique rhythm inside.  Endless reminders of difference.

Found our private club thumping.  Two tons of speakers, months of work, an enormous booth & the people who’re part of it sitting in a carport out back in bass without the horde.

Conversation before an old friend found.  Diplo at White Ocean with white jellyfish in concert before Ashram Galactica & the playa at large.  Tour guide to a pair of children laughing the stars away.  Thursdays may be amazing.

Laughed about the strange wind blowing through camp before daylight drove magic away.

Solicited at sunrise.  Politely declined, but offered to walk along.  Out into the brightening glare.  Kim Jong-il singing Ronery to utter disbelief & awful vodka.  Blew the photo op, handing back the polaroid unsnapped.  Shed layers toward the tent as it hotted up. Collapsed an hour or two before things baked.  Wandered off into the daze.

Before & after everywhere.  Thursday and Friday are the finished product.
Spent Friday with locals, old & newly defrocked.  Cooking proved a bother, fasting mostly employed.  Found food when necessary, smiling faces happy to help.

Helped a young couple find a woman pleasing workshop.  Equipped two more bracelets, one fit a candy raver, the other a treasure from a temple in Korea.  The commercial assignment remained to prove authenticity.  Hugs.

Spent Friday dazed.  Feet started to hurt pretty good without a bike to help cover the miles, but onward anyhow.  Something cold to help somewhere…

Lost time in the dust.

Took a turn

& found some noise
Wandered past some art on the far side & the gawd booth standing oppositely at various times.  Distrikt brings many blenders.  Declined the opportunity to speak with the lord & savior’s father.  Damn catholicism…

Finally found the time, exhaustion & disconnection brought on by the desert to brave center camp in search of the census.  A long form affair that allowed expression.

Unfortunately it’d entered extinction, murdered by the cargo cult…

Asked the man writing on the table where the census was.  Said it’d been done away with, here’s a pile of cards.  Do it on the interwebs.  Babbled agitatedly for a moment before gesturing toward the pile of …. waiting in line to pay for drinks in a city of gifts.  Progress isn’t always progressive.  The line stretched across the room, dozens deep…

Escaped to eat.

Resting your feet is important.

Absorbed chit chat, fed & handed drinks.  Didn’t fuck the pope, but he did bless the forehead with a scar.  A tree talked about how she headed up a cleaning gang, descending upon unsuspecting camps in order to bring greater orderliness.

Wandered  off into the noir with a doctor’s child in tow.

A question mark shining brilliantly on the edge of town before alone into the dawn.  Wrote before Lazy Rich.  Unconscious sitting up & a few hours rest.  Up again for champagne.

Found a foreign friend made amidst Friday’s endless ramblings.  Funny what’s forgotten until it’s reminded.  Shotskis and the end of the champagne at the lounge for another calendar.

Made a friend & helped finish off the bubbly stock.  Saw another & hugged goodbyes again.  Rode out to meet another.  Folks from New York at least.

Watched the incendiary preparation at the space ship base while waiting.  Luckily the whiny one decided not to show.  Convinced it wasn’t worth waiting for a d. downer.

Said goodbye to the Panda Bar as well, glad it’d returned in safer condition.  Lack of booze gifts led many bars to begin winding down sooner than later.

Led the way to Distrikt one more time as they emptied out stock.

Wandered home again to share what was left as the week ground toward home.  Stopped before going.

Ended up spending the only extended time in camp.  French coffee & a 9/11 birthday early.

Photographed home.  Sat & laughed, enjoying the collection of individuals spanning three continents a giant pyramid packed with speakers brought together.

I’ll always wish you were here

Shared champagne as darkness approached.  Strolled toward the masses, losing others en route.

Growth is painful.  Some things are worse.  Fought the stand up / sit down battle, forcefully scolding entitlement as it wrenched shoulders downward.  Until this

Struggled out from underneath to snap, explosions igniting.
Mostly ignored the extracurriculars.  Thought about a year gone by before finally walking off silently.  The hottest fire experienced thus far, structure funneling air to fan the flames.  Found some speakers to blast it away.

Wandered the night, saying goodbye to favorite spots while burning. Drank.

You stole my record bag & I want it back

Fought the night, but dawn crept.  Packed half early, hauling it across town to the ride out.

Spent another hourish hoping the thief owned a conscience.  Really just wanted the bag & notebook back.

Sat, waiting & waiting & waiting. Moved upon request.  Gifted & babbled to pass time.

Handed out rawks while still waiting, the last hours in town ticking away.  The line behind moved and dispersed.
Broke bread, or a clift bar, with a record spinner from the NYC.  Talked of lives until it was time to be disappointed.  No bag in sight. Took the card.

Timely food from a fellow builder to make the last session on the best dance floor in town.

Beautiful.  Shoes off & it all crashed home.  Hard.  Caught by another, rearranged to make it okay.  Lucky enough to dance until the end.  Short time & goodbyes are wonderfully.
Left to let them start tearing down.  Across the city denizens packed in all manners of haste.  A woeful weather report predicting hard rain sent many home early.  The playa is a quagmire in the rain.  No telling how long…

More goodbyes at camp.  Helped neighbors pack up.  Sad to see them go.  Burning is people you don’t know when you’ll see again.  Sunglasses broke.  Rode out into the dust.

Followed the vibrations back to Fractal.  Grew angry at public defacement of something beautiful.  Too much time, effort & love put into building & realizing something on playa for a jerk with no style.

Collapsed for a while, overwhelmed.  Oak & elming me.

Love from a stranger.  Hugs & what was

needed.  Upset babble before a smoke, passing out in her lap before bumping speakers.

Woke up a little later than before.  Thank gawd some folks keep Sunday going despite most loading up.

Moved again.  Found the art dome wonderfully empty as the hordes went home.  Finally took a look.

Beauty is interpretation.

Spent some time before circling to the entrance.

Wind launched playa, bass thumping from one planet’s speakers.

Found the Hookah Dome three years later.  Fine service remained. Enjoyed smoke while a young woman calmly played us out.

Obligatory terrible dj picture.

Always thought gawd was taking up the souls as a child.  Hopefully…

Chased a t-rex down the street while saying goodbye to a young lioness.

Suddenly it was over.  The city cleared out like rarely before, the rest packing to beat presumed rain.

The long stroll home found a friend from year’s past, much to boths surprise.  Met a different person who brushed aside queries about the life that was.  Wandered out to enjoy the scenery one last time.

The sun dipped before a mass of fires across the horizon, extra bits burning.

Last twirler of the week.

Stopped out from the barrier, temple crew hugging as darkness continued.  Annoyed into seating once more… Waited for it

Tiered combustion

Watched it burn

Tried to let go

Another year gone, so much change, but seemingly for what?

Battered career

A life in shambles

For what?

Sat in silence with the masses, others pondering their meaning.

.

.

.

.
.

Three hours later the rv managed halfway out.  Driver’d proven wasted beyond operating capacity.  Volunteered to exodus.  Things pulsed these days, movement & an hour halted.

More change.  Drivers slumped & annoyed.  Got out every stop, cranking the radio until it broke.  Danced with some other crazies.

Every stop got someone else awake until by the end, it was a party as it should’ve been.  Made pancakes for everyone, finally finding Waldo… or a half dozen really.  More introductions before escape.

Gave up control for the floor ten miles out.  Woke up to dawn & rain in Alturas, a husk.

Returned the bike escorted home.  Finished the job & eeked out a few more days.

Tried to take everything home, but struggled.  Fitting the radical into the every day

Shitty census…

Decompressed, work for entry.

& in the end it all continued the same… mostly.  Things change by degrees & progress is ever slowly frustrating.  Despite the continued dawning of an age of technology & idiocy spawned through reliance hope glimmers. As ever.

A city built upon change, trust & the less than ordinary continued its shift as well.  More tourists, fewer people who built it.  Time is

Life is in the palm of you hand.  Reach out & take it.  )(

a career in the haw haw haw haw

About a career in the haw haw haw haw

pissin' off readers since Camp Clusterfuck X
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4 Responses to Worshiping the Cargo Cult: The (de?)Commodification of Burning Man Marches On

  1. Bert says:

    Sounds like a bunch of people with generally good intentions and some spare time and resources, looking to improve the world, have a good time, and so forth. Nothing to fear, basically….but…what…if….you threw in a billion dollars in Federal funding, and made it a crowdsourcing project, to solar-power the entire state of California, east to west, north to south, and no excuses, and devil-take-the-hindmost, as it were? Imagine, being able to shut down all the nuclear plants for lack of need, have plenty of power to process seawater and finally and permanently solve CA’s chronic drought problem, and do other forms of good by having clean, cheap, reliable electricity, all with a little help from James Watt, and ol-boy Paracelsus, from ‘back in the day’? Field teach-in’s, where you were puttin’ out the Good Word about energy conservation, recycling, and the simple miracle of concentrated, reflected solar energy, put to a good purpose? I think there’s HUGE potential, in up-scaling our use of science and communications technology, to solve chronic problems of bygone times. Someday, maybe even make petroleum dependency part of that list, as in, ‘bye, gone’. Depends on how motivated and inspired people are feeling, generally.

  2. Sarah says:

    As a virgin burner in a year which is sure to bring even more change… thank you

  3. John Gadway says:

    What’s the difference between Burning Man and Disney World? I am sure there are some differences, but what are they?
    I can think of some similarities.
    For example, if I were in the desert at midnight, I would like to turn out the lights, so I could see the stars. Disney World doesn’t have time for or interest in the stars. The day there ends at night with fireworks.
    John G
    Non-burner life-long friend of long-time Burner

    • Q says:

      John Gadway, There once was a thing called burningman that happened in the same desert at the same appointed time. And at that event you could see the stars. But that event ended 15 years ago and was replaced by another event called (confusingly) Burningman. That new burningman ( Burningman 2.0) was harder to distinguish from disney world. So you are right, “What is the difference?” but once, long ago, ahhh there was a difference.

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