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John Law speaks.
January 21, 2007 3:31 PM   Subscribe

Who owns the Burning Man? John Law wrestles Larry Harvey and Michael Mikel to bring the Burning Man name into the public domain.
posted by lupus_yonderboy (64 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Burning Man has jumped the shark. Time to sell out and turn it into a brand.
posted by CCBC at 3:43 PM on January 21, 2007


I wasn't sure at first if this was metaphorical wrestling, or real wrestling. You can never be sure.
posted by anthill at 4:05 PM on January 21, 2007


Can't wait for the rioting over $15 bottles of water to be YouTube'd.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:07 PM on January 21, 2007


Cue crunchland.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:13 PM on January 21, 2007


Invite NASCAR set. Let Carzilla decide who lives and who dies.
posted by hal9k at 4:48 PM on January 21, 2007


We are not talking Pabst Blue Ribbon here- a guy trying to sell his tent on Ebay mentions “perfect for Burningman” and gets a cease and desist.

If that's true, John Law's right. Now on to the more important question: Why does anyone use that horrible Snap preview? Is there a way to disable that at my end?
posted by mediareport at 5:00 PM on January 21, 2007


I'm going to haul ass to Lollapalooza!
posted by furtive at 5:07 PM on January 21, 2007


So far, I'm with John. Regardless of his point of view, there's nothing he can gain by winning this lawsuit. He has no possible greed motive.

Frankly, I knew something like this would happen. It always does. You can't start from an artistic ideal and work your way into a serious money-generating venture without a few nasty lawsuits on the way. All we can hope, and this seems to be the way it's going to happen, is that the nasty, law-suity business won't have an effect on the morale of all the people involved donating their blood, sweat and dollars into the event.

Keep the faith burners! All is not lost.
posted by Parannoyed at 5:18 PM on January 21, 2007


Never been. Won't be going this year -- I have an alternate engagement. However, I'd love for someone to explain why I should care.
posted by jeffamaphone at 5:33 PM on January 21, 2007


Keep the faith burners™! All is not lost.
posted by odinsdream at 5:39 PM on January 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's an amazing thing, jeffamaphone, really. Or was, I dunno; I went 10 years ago. In some ways this seems like normal growing pain stuff, but the overzealous way BM apparently went after folks selling tents and costumes on eBay as "great for Burning Man" is just completely shitty. If that's how they "protected" their trademark, they don't deserve it. Whether it's better to dilute the phrase totally by moving it into public domain is open to question, but it's hard to be sympathetic to the folks who've been policing the term so ridiculously.
posted by mediareport at 5:43 PM on January 21, 2007


Burning man sounds like a great place to get drugs... other than that, I just don't think I'm hippie/artsy enough to "get it".
posted by tehloki at 5:46 PM on January 21, 2007


I did it twice in '99 and '00 and have often considered going back one more time just to see how it changed. But something always comes up that keeps me from committing (plus the members of my old camp have spread to the winds and I'd have to put together another group).
posted by obfusciatrist at 5:46 PM on January 21, 2007


mr_crash_davis writes "Cue crunchland."

fandango_matt too, probably.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:49 PM on January 21, 2007


posted by mediareport the overzealous way BM apparently went after folks selling tents and costumes on eBay as "great for Burning Man"

Can someone show me where this has actually happened? I strongly doubt the Burning Man folks have the time and resources to be sending cease-and-desist letter to everyone who uses that phrase; indeed, my friends and I have sold and exchanged plenty of gear using that phrase and I've heard nary a peep.
posted by fandango_matt at 5:50 PM on January 21, 2007


I don't think you really need to be "artsy" to appreciate the artwork. Some of the stuff is completely mind-blowing. The year I went there was a house-sized cathedral made entirely of balsawood dinosaur bones.

It's a pretty serious event, once you filter out the flood of people who just go to get high and laid.
posted by cj_ at 5:51 PM on January 21, 2007


posted by goodnewsfortheinsane fandango_matt too, probably.

Cue jonmc.
posted by fandango_matt at 5:52 PM on January 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


You can't start from an artistic ideal and work your way into a serious money-generating venture without a few nasty lawsuits on the way.

Can we please have one practical, cynical person involved in every new technology or idea, please? Imagine how much better life would be if someone had chimed in when email was being hammered out and said "wait, what happens when the online equivalent of phone solicitors find this?"

No one ever thinks about the grubby side of these things.
posted by maxwelton at 5:58 PM on January 21, 2007


This lawsuit actually has nothing to do with "bringing burning man to the public domain." It's about John Law getting screwed out of 'his share' of burning man, and him wanting a piece of it. Read the actual lawsuit. Skip down to the end and read what it is he wants.
posted by penguinofdoom at 6:18 PM on January 21, 2007


It's just a rip-off of Zozobra anyway ;-)
posted by hyperizer at 6:20 PM on January 21, 2007


the cycle continues
posted by jdfalk at 6:24 PM on January 21, 2007


I'd love for someone to explain why I should care.

If what you've seen/heard/read about it doesn't interest you enough to go and find out for yourself, then maybe you shouldn't care. There are as many unique reasons for going as there are people who go.
posted by treepour at 6:28 PM on January 21, 2007


the cycle begins
posted by hal9k at 6:34 PM on January 21, 2007


If burning man had been around 20 years ago when I was a skinny long haired deadhead I might have gone; but now that I'm a big fat middle-aged engineer, I don't think that I'd fit in very well. I don't have any real hate for it though, it seems like a pretty cool thing and I hope that they don't cripple themselves with legal BS.
posted by octothorpe at 6:52 PM on January 21, 2007


"All we can hope, and this seems to be the way it's going to happen, is that the nasty, law-suity business won't have an effect on the morale of all the people involved donating their blood, sweat and dollars into the event."

Yeah, seems to me they are the real heroes here. They could be milking it for all its worth, but instead they donate of themselves due to purely altruistic motivations. Kind of like volunteering to work for Monsanto - unsung heroes.
posted by Sukiari at 6:56 PM on January 21, 2007


Oh, and can we please introduce a 'burningfilter' for people who don't give a rat's ass about some webmasters from the bay area tearing up the delicate desert environment?
posted by Sukiari at 6:57 PM on January 21, 2007


posted by Sukiari Oh, and can we please introduce a 'burningfilter' for people who don't give a rat's ass about some webmasters from the bay area tearing up the delicate desert environment?

We heard you the first time.
posted by fandango_matt at 7:15 PM on January 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sukiari, did you read the first five words of the post? Because if you had, you wouldn't need a "burningfilter" to keep you from stumbling into this thread unawares. Try it- it's like a private filter for your own eyes!
posted by oneirodynia at 7:27 PM on January 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


On the subject of the name and logo being brought into the public domain, I think it's a pretty interesting idea. If people are lame enough to buy a BurningMan Hummer, so be it. If the Burning Man culture is viable, posers spending money on silly branded crap is not going to affect the event.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:34 PM on January 21, 2007


Won't be going this year -- I have an alternate engagement

Pun intended?
posted by Afroblanco at 7:43 PM on January 21, 2007


Sukiari, whether or not there will be any lasting effect on the "delicate desert environment" may not be known for awhile, but in their defense, they painstakingly (months of teams of cleanup crews) make every effort to make sure the desert is as spotless as can be when all is said and done, which is much better than any organizer of any event I've ever been a participant of.
posted by Sir BoBoMonkey Pooflinger Esquire III at 8:08 PM on January 21, 2007


So, at Burning Man, the Narcs just take the day off? No one with jurisdiction cares? What's the deal?
posted by Richard Daly at 8:19 PM on January 21, 2007


Email the feds and ask them why they do not care. =P
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 8:28 PM on January 21, 2007


Y'know if you say Burning Man three times in a mirror really fast you get a ceast and desist letter.

Burning Man
Burning Man
Burning Man


There, I'm gonna burn in hell now. In a recent episode of Puzzling Evidence (think it mighta been January 12th) this guy called in talking about the good old days of what, five years ago? When you could go to Burning Man and leave your tent unattended and just park your motorcycle wherever you cared and nobody would steal anything, and if someone needed something, other people provided it, and a community would form out of nothing and everybody was happy and there were birds and rainbows and nothing bad ever happened and everything was perfect. Now there are some people who go out there because they're predators and they smell prey.

Philo Drummond pointed out that you can't have a community with over a thousand people. After a thousand people show up in the same place it stops being just a cute little community and it turns into a city. Completely different social rules apply. I think he was on to something but then they changed the subject from Burning Man to some guy named "Bob" and it all just went down hill after that.

Why is it whenever I see John Law I'm thinking you guys are talking about Jude Law? Did you know Bryan Singer tried to cast Jude Law as General Zod in Superman Returns but Jude turned him down? Probably cuz he wanted to be Burning Man.

...what were we talking about?
posted by ZachsMind at 9:12 PM on January 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


IANAC (cop, whatever), but from what I've read narcs just don't care about the drug use enough to bust anyone for it. The only real authorities the Burning Man organization deal with officially is the Bureau of Land Management for the space the event is held at.

Talk about this law suit has even hit CNN - someone at the ePlaya site posted a link to it.

Parannoyed, I don't know if they're trying to turn it into a serious money enerating venture (or merely break even) - but you're right, something like this is inevitable, and yes, the true heros are all the ones who put the event on. Sadly I hope this doesn't affect the event. I know it's fashionable to slag it and the people who attend... I think that speaks more about the people who don't understand Burning Man than its participants. I went this year, and enjoyed myself immensely - I wouldn't want their negativity to come to the desert anyway.
posted by rmm at 9:38 PM on January 21, 2007


Octothorpe: There are plenty of fat middle aged engineers there, they probably outnumber the dead heads.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:40 PM on January 21, 2007


"Burning Man has jumped the shark."

Yeah, that's exactly what I thought when I dancing in the Belgian Waffle (aka the Uchronian), and a steam-powered victorian house snuck up behind me.

http://www.uchronians.org/site/html/index19.html

You know what else has jumped the shark? Going to Europe. Nice beaches, and vaginas.
posted by Rusty Iron at 9:47 PM on January 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Email the feds and ask them why they do not care. =P
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 8:28 PM PST on January 21


It's an odd thing to be sure. Maybe they're just happy that all the freaks and geeks are confined in a certain space, waaaaaaay out in the middle of nowhere, NV.


Oh, and can we please introduce a 'burningfilter' for people who don't give a rat's ass about some webmasters from the bay area tearing up the delicate desert environment?
posted by Sukiari at 6:57 PM PST on January 21



You mean the alkaline, dried-out lake bed that nothing has, could or ever will grow on? Yeah, I'll be real sure not to upset that balance.
posted by Parannoyed at 9:49 PM on January 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


some webmasters from the bay area tearing up the delicate desert environment?

Always funny to see people who don't know what they're talking about jump in to say how little they care about what they don't know they're talking about.

Or something.
posted by mediareport at 10:02 PM on January 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Somebody somewhere is having fun and I don't like it one bit.
Now you kids get off my lawn!
posted by 2sheets at 10:14 PM on January 21, 2007


Always funny to see people actually care about something.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:17 PM on January 21, 2007



IANAC (cop, whatever), but from what I've read narcs just don't care about the drug use enough to bust anyone for it.


I've known a few people who have been busted for drugs at BM.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:53 PM on January 21, 2007


you know a few very, very unlucky people.
posted by tehloki at 11:31 PM on January 21, 2007


I, too, know people that have been busted for drugs at BM, but I know even more people that have been busted for drugs at Mardi Gras, and Snoop Dog concerts, in Las Vegas at Circus Circus, at football games, and Hank Williams Jr. concerts, and the bar down the street. My point, is not that I know a lot of people busted for drugs, which, in reality I don't; it is that although drugs may be present at Burning Man in perhaps greater quantity than in another city its size over any given week, if it were during a week of festivities, I'd say it is probably right on par. For instance, there are probably more than a few people in New Orleans during Mardi Gras that have taken some sort of substance. So, yes, there are drugs at Burning Man, but I think when there are relative terms applied, not much more than "mainstream" society has during any given week, its just a little more concentrated because it is a party atmosphere...but there is so much more to it than that.

Drugs seems to get 90% of the discussion, but they are such a minor element of what makes up Burning Man. And, yes I've gone many times, and no I don't think Burning Man is some utopian city void of problems, and no I don't think that those in charge always know exactly what they're doing, and no I don't think the people of that temporary city are any more perfect than the people in any other city, but during that week of the year I don't think I'd want to be anywhere else. I do, however, think most people could gain something from experiencing a week out in that desert...just don't waste my time or yours if you go there without an open mind and a genuine desire to add something to the "community" rather than just take from it. And those two elements are the keys to what makes it my preferred city over any other, because more than the drugs which get all the press, they are what's in abundance in greater quantity than any other city I've been to.
posted by Sir BoBoMonkey Pooflinger Esquire III at 11:52 PM on January 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


can't speak for Burning Man, but at Bonnaroo [replace desert with a mid-Tennessee cowfeild] it seemed the local authorities were much more concerned about heat stroke, keeping the festivities inside the festival, and traffic and such than the open-air drug market. I think the ~$15 [x80k - 90k] per ticket surcharge that goes to the county helps too. As does hiring out your own security to ride around on friendly Clydesdales so you don't have to rely on outsiders for help if you need it.

I'm curious as to what steps BM takes in the same directions. How much of the ticket price goes to paying off the local gov't? Is there private security?
posted by trinarian at 1:21 AM on January 22, 2007


How much of the ticket price goes to paying off the local gov't? Is there private security?

Financial Report for 2005 is here.

They do pay for some of the costs of local law enforcement (and it's not just BLM, it's also County law enforcement). Also, there is an all-volunteer organization called Black Rock Rangers who are trained in mediation and attempt to solve community problems "in house" first. Opinions vary as to their success and effectiveness.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:55 AM on January 22, 2007


The biggest conundrum about burning man, and possibly the most deadly component in the public appraisal of this legal scrap is BM's niggling tendency to seem incomprehensible and exclusive to those who never go. The thing about that is, it's difficult to go. Not least because of the travel and prep, but also the strangeness, and fear of expectations, and worry that you won't fit in, fit it into this total unknown. That was certainly my experience.

So those of us who've gone hear the carping and the guessing and the sour-grapesing and just think "grow a pair and buy a roof rack." It's still one of the best ways to spend a week in this country. It's still a bargain. Could be cheaper somehow, but it's worth every penny.

Too bad somebody has to own it. It's too good to own.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:28 AM on January 22, 2007


"You mean the alkaline, dried-out lake bed that nothing has, could or ever will grow on? Yeah, I'll be real sure not to upset that balance."

You do realize that you're complete wrong, don't you? Just in case you think I'm off my rocker, here is the Environmental Assessment for Burning Man done by the BLM. It's actually an interesting little read.

It's very sad that people consider that area to be such a wasteland, because it really is a beautiful place. I go camping up there with friends several times a year (no, we're not burners) and we see an abundance of wildlife. Burros, cows, birds, Least chipmunks, rabbits, snakes, kangaroo rats, and even a few badgers.

We've participated in some of the BLM "Public Land Cleanup Days" as well. I get pissed off when people bring crap in but don't pack it out.
posted by drstein at 10:32 AM on January 22, 2007


Pun intended?

Yes, but you're the only person in the entire world who would both be reading this thread and get it.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:34 AM on January 22, 2007


drstein: of course there is plenty of wildlife in the Nevada sagebrush desert, but Burning Man takes place out in the middle of a dead, flat, waterless, shadeless, completely sterile alkaline lake bed, miles from the nearest sagebrush plant. From the report you linked to, "the playa of the Black Rock does not support resident terrestrial wildlife species".

It is a beautiful place, for sure, but I have never seen anywhere better suited for the name "wasteland".

I get pissed off when people bring crap in but don't pack it out.

So do burners. "Leave no trace" is a big deal at Burning Man, and people put a lot of work into living up to it.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:12 AM on January 22, 2007


"You mean the alkaline, dried-out lake bed that nothing has, could or ever will grow on? Yeah, I'll be real sure not to upset that balance."

You do realize that you're complete wrong, don't you? Just in case you think I'm off my rocker, here is the Environmental Assessment for Burning Man done by the BLM. It's actually an interesting little read.


But did YOU read it? "The Burning Man event is on the playa...composed of silt and clay...highly alkaline...conditions are too harsh for vegetation....There is no vegetation on the playa within Black Rock City or the access roads to the City....Salt desert shrub and salt grass communities are...on the lake plain terraces. Vegetative cover on these sites is stable...and healthy. The playa...does not support residential terrestrial wildlife species. The Nevada Division of Wildlife does not consider the playa an important stop for migrating shorebirds or waterfowl." It goes on. There is some minimal erosion, there is some concern because Burners vehicles leak more oil than the average car does. But badgers? Please. Miles away maybe, but the event and it's participants are limited to the alkaline flat. You're the one who's wrong on this.
posted by tula at 4:26 PM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


drstein is just some bitter and ignorant guy with an anti-BM agenda. Let him be. There are thousands of him to keep him company.
posted by tehloki at 11:06 PM on January 22, 2007


tehloki: You're also full of shit. Which part of your ass did you pull that phrase out of? I don't have any "anti-BM agenda."

tula: "But badgers? Please. Miles away maybe" You are completely wrong. The badger was sited less than 2 miles from where the event took place in 2006. And yes, I did read the report.

"Burning Man takes place out in the middle of a dead, flat, waterless, shadeless, completely sterile alkaline lake bed, miles from the nearest sagebrush plant"

Such an ignorant statement. And a very selfish one too. Have you ever wandered outside of the fence or are you just taking in whatever Larry Harvey spoon feeds you?

"but I have never seen anywhere better suited for the name "wasteland""

Then clearly you need to get out more.

Look, don't get your panties in a bunch because I said something you don't agree with. I'm not against Burning Man at all, and you're making an asinine assumption if you think that I am. My point, since you've obviously missed it, is that the area is NOT a "wasteland" and if you think that it is, you're not looking beyond the pretty orange trash fence.
posted by drstein at 8:39 PM on January 24, 2007


drstein, when Mars Saxman stays within that spoon-fed fence he's helping to protect the desert environment that you claim to care about, so you might want to try thanking him rather than giving him shit. Burningman encourages him and his 30,000 campmates to stay on the road or on alkaline playa, not to wander for miles looking for your friend the badger. We aren't ignorant, nobody's denying that the desert of the surround area is delicate and rich with life, we're just saying we don't go there--we mostly stick to the barren part, keeping the environmental impact lower. As it stands, BLM considers Burningman the model for a leave-no-trace event.
posted by tula at 12:32 AM on January 25, 2007


I may be full of shit, but you seem to think that people walking on the salted earth is some environmental travesty.
posted by tehloki at 10:33 AM on January 25, 2007


tula: Practice what you preach, dude.

"nobody's denying that the desert of the surround area is delicate and rich with life"

Actually, uh, people have. But whatever.

"but you seem to think that people walking on the salted earth is some environmental travesty."

*sigh* I'm not going to waste any more time with you people. Take your condescending attitude and shove it.

My basic point was that the area isn't just a "lifeless wasteland." If you want to keep thinking that it is, then go right ahead. It's all an ecosystem.

Peace out. Enjoy the event. Maybe I'll even see you there.
posted by drstein at 10:14 PM on January 25, 2007


Your basic point is that the area surrounding burning man isn't just a lifeless wasteland.

Our basic point is that the area that burning man is physically situated on and takes place entirely within is definitely a lifeless wasteland.

look at this picture. Where is all this life you are so enthusiastic to call Burning Man out for destroying? All I see is a shitton of salt, soil, and nothing. I can post a few more pictures if you like, or relate one of several secondhand experience of people visiting the Nevada Salt Flats. There is nothing there. I am talking about physically on the flats themselves. You might see an insect or two. If you're lucky.

The only possible hypothesis I can make is that you somehow think that the trees and animals surrounding the dry, salty lakebed are negatively affected by having to stare at a bunch of crazy hippies.
posted by tehloki at 11:23 PM on January 25, 2007


tehloki, you're welcome at my hippy-free camp anytime. I haven't caught any wildlife staring us down, but I did taunt a roadside shrub once and it sulked and gave me the silent treatment for days.
posted by tula at 3:14 AM on January 26, 2007


Why do burners (myself included, sometimes) tend to react so over-the-top defensively to critics and nay-sayers? So long as we have a civil working relationship with the BLM, who cares what the rest of the world thinks?
posted by treepour at 6:25 PM on January 27, 2007


I've been told drugs make you paranoid. Maybe it's not the drugs..?
posted by ZachsMind at 6:37 PM on January 27, 2007


"You mean the alkaline, dried-out lake bed that nothing has, could or ever will grow on?"

Believe it or not, the desert is full of life. Even the alkaline lake beds. And all that trash blows right into other parts of the nearby environment.
posted by Sukiari at 4:54 PM on January 28, 2007


salty barren earth =/= the desert

I'm not being obstinately retarded here; I've done my share of high school projects on the biodiversity in the desert. However, certain regions of the earth are completely unable to support plant life. To deny this is crazy; can you grow things inside of a volcano? At the top of mount everest? In a lakebed so alkaline and salty that the soil is cracked and broken?
posted by tehloki at 7:12 AM on January 29, 2007


Oh, and once again, they don't hold burning man here... they hold it here.

To be so concerned about the health of a barely existent ecosystem on a dry, salty lakebed, in the face of all the wanton destruction going on in much more diverse areas by much bigger festivals, shows not a genuine concern for the environment, but an agenda against a particular festival. You are just looking for excuses to dislike burning man if you say you are concerned simply because it "damages the ecosystem"; there's no way around it.
posted by tehloki at 7:19 AM on January 29, 2007


. . . shows not a genuine concern for the environment, but an agenda against a particular festival. You are just looking for excuses to dislike burning man . . .

If this is the case, then the anti-burners are essentially trolling and shouldn't be fed.
posted by treepour at 3:53 PM on January 29, 2007


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