Helping a possible first-timer with checkered past

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Rev. Harry Pants
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Helping a possible first-timer with checkered past

Post by Rev. Harry Pants » Sat Feb 25, 2006 12:12 am

Hi all...
I have been corresponding with a friend of mine. He is currently a guest of the state of Oregon in one of its many fine correctional facilities, to be released in the early summer of this year after a 7-year sentence (he allegedly threw a brick at a cop during a demonstration). He is quite keen on attending Burning Man after I talked it up to him, but I have some concerns about it throwing him for too big a loop too soon. Being forcibly isolated for that long, then coming to something like Burning Man... How likely is that to produce a negative freak-out? I know everyone's different, but surely there are some folks out there who have gone through a similar experience.

Before his imprisonment he was an Anarchist activist who loved the outdoors. He's also a writer/erstwhile zinester. He plays digeridoo, or used to. In short, I feel he'd fit right in, but for his prison experiences.

People tend to get uncomfortable around or about ex-cons -- the whole "guilty until proven innocent" mentality that even the most open-minded people can fall prey to, and all that. I mentioned him & his story to my campmates for next year and they all were just like that. It was disappointing to hear.

Any thoughts, anyone?

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Das Bus
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Post by Das Bus » Sat Feb 25, 2006 1:01 am

If you think Burning Man might be too overwhelming for your friend, why not try a regional event; smaller crowd, shorter event.

Everybody has stuff in their past they'd like to forget, so I wouldn't tell anybody he's an ex-con. (It's not like he's a rapist or a murderer) That's for him to decide if he wants to share it.

Also, it's probably going to be difficult for him to adjust back to the "real" world, so I wouldn't push him too hard on going to the Burn. That too, is something he needs to decide for himself.
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CagedKitty
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first timer

Post by CagedKitty » Sat Feb 25, 2006 10:43 am

Try to talk him out of going, then if he still wants to go, he should be there.
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phil
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Post by phil » Sat Feb 25, 2006 11:09 am

I don't have any real expertise in the psychology of recently released prisoners, but I'm certainly wary of turning the Burn loose on a guy who's been in lockup for seven years and out only a few months. If you don't get any response from people who've been in a similar situation, I'd recommend talking to prison counselors, preferably ex-cons.

Is he on parol? Any restrictions on travel, on association with other felons, on possession of alcohol? BM might be a problem in some parol issues.
People tend to get uncomfortable around or about ex-cons -- the whole "guilty until proven innocent" mentality that even the most open-minded people can fall prey to, ...
Uh, he's been convicted, right? Found guilty? As a lawyer, I've been around my share of cons, ex-cons, and soon-to-be cons, so I do have a comfort level, but he's been found guilty. Almost all cons maintain their innocence no matter what; they'll tell you what they're in for having done, but they won't tell you that they did it.

[Added later: Louise says if he was in for throwing a brick at a cop, he sounds like a burner. :->]

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Bob
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Post by Bob » Sat Feb 25, 2006 11:12 am

Given that the LLC makes the Sopranos look like the Osmonds, I don't see what the problem is.
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HughMungus
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Post by HughMungus » Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:22 pm

phil wrote:[Added later: Louise says if he was in for throwing a brick at a cop, he sounds like a burner. :->]
Bullshit.

Back to the original topic: I think it would be to much -- for him and for you. He might be a great guy but just getting out of prison -- scary. And you'd have to be constantly monitoring him. I'd wait and see if he can function properly in the real world before bringing him to fantasyland.
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Post by Kinetic IV » Sat Feb 25, 2006 4:15 pm

Perhaps bringing him to "Fantasyland" might be just what he needs. If he goes right back into Camp Reality he may go back to the things that got him in trouble in the first place....if you put him in BRC he may come away inspired enough to make a change of direction with his life.

It's all just a thought...and as for his criminal record nobody's going to know unless he says something so he's got a free pass / clean slate as far as the BRC community is concerned...unless he does something that warrants attention. So I won't necessarily say bring him...but there is almost always a positive and negative to any situation....it's worthy of consideration.
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LeChatNoir
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Post by LeChatNoir » Sat Feb 25, 2006 5:14 pm

if you put him in BRC he may come away inspired enough to make a change of direction with his life.
That's an interesting thought, indeed. Very much worth considering...
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ibdave
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Post by ibdave » Sat Feb 25, 2006 5:30 pm

LeChatNoir wrote:
if you put him in BRC he may come away inspired enough to make a change of direction with his life.
That's an interesting thought, indeed. Very much worth considering...
I second that.. How many peope get back to the default world and tell others how it changed their life..
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Badger
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Post by Badger » Sat Feb 25, 2006 7:19 pm

Maybe just bring him there with the only caveat being that if he feels overwhelemed you'll take him home.

Keep it simple. Fuel no expectations. He'll either have a good time or he won't. In either case that part of it is not your responsibility - unless you become the reason that it ain't working out.


Anything else is just fucking co-dependent babysitting.
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Dork
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Post by Dork » Sat Feb 25, 2006 8:11 pm

Don't spend too much time worrying about how other people will react to the fact that he was in jail. It's all about how HE will handle the event.

On one hand, BM can be a great place to build a sense of community which is something that could be very helpful to him. On the other hand, the lack of boundaries could be shocking.

I like the idea of helping him go but being sure to provide an easy way to leave if necessary. Providing a calm camp with a place for him to be along might also be a good idea.

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Post by searock420 » Sat Feb 25, 2006 8:18 pm

Just remember,you've got to depend upon yourself to survive.
Will your friend be able to do that?If not,are you going to take care of him?

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Rev. Harry Pants
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Post by Rev. Harry Pants » Sun Feb 26, 2006 9:26 pm

Hey all...
Thank you for your advice so far -- it all seems pretty sound to me. My latest letter to him is still a work-in-progress.

I did mention to him that the scene may be overwhelming to him in my last missive. I am still going to caution him, even dissuade him. He will be getting to BRC on his own -- I'm in Chicago, he'll be in Oregon. I'll ask him about any possible parole restrictions beyond dwelling restrictions. If he still wants the ticket after all the rigamarole, it's his.

As for the "guilty until proven innocent" thing... Yes, clearly he was convicted in court. (Maybe he got a bum rap, maybe he did it. Either way, I'm reluctant to discuss the fact with him until he's on the outside.) I guess I speak more of the stigma applied to ex-cons. I had one friend (not a cop) ask, "Is he going to throw a brick at me?" I suppose I learned my lesson: "Full Disclosure", which I usually practice, isn't such a good idea on his behalf. Let him do all the divulging, and have people take him at face value.

I will hold off writing to him yet until someone with a similar experience weighs in, but I won't wait too long. Again, I sincerely thank you all for your opinions and guidance on this matter.

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Post by hunter S » Mon Feb 27, 2006 10:32 am

Brought my son to burn in 04, he was straight out of Iraq & it had a dramatic effect on him & the other people in our camp. At first I thought I had made a VERY large error, but in the long term effect it was probably one of the best things he could of experienced! He's headed back for his third burn in 06. Everyone is different, you might want to consider your campmates, they might be thrown into a difficult life experience that they arent ready for! and IMOP their going to have more impact on him than the burn it's self.
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vic
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intense experience

Post by vic » Sun Mar 05, 2006 9:16 pm

Burning Man tends to be an intense experience. That might be just what your buddy wants, or maybe not. I expect that part of this depends on how old he was he was put in the joint. In any case, I would take Badger's advice about having an easily actived exit plan in case it's not right for either of you.
As far as other Burners are concerned, I doubt most of us will care whether he just got out or has never been in.

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Post by MrMullen » Mon Mar 06, 2006 12:58 pm

Well, if the guy is out for a few months, then I would think it is okay to bring him.

I personally, don't care much for these anarchist types but if he can have fun and not throw a brick at anyone then I say take'em. It actually might be good for him and help him get use to the outside world.

One thing you have to take into consideration is that the guy is coming from a very controlling enviroment to one where just about everything but stealing and physical harming other people is permited. He'll have to realize that stabbing and throwing bricks is not how we solve problems on this side of the prison wall.
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Isotopia
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Post by Isotopia » Mon Mar 06, 2006 5:48 pm

One thing you have to take into consideration is that the guy is coming from a very controlling enviroment to one where just about everything but stealing and physical harming other people is permited. He'll have to realize that stabbing and throwing bricks is not how we solve problems on this side of the prison wall.
Talk about painting someone with a wide brush. Dang!

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Gearrob
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Post by Gearrob » Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:33 pm

Rev. Harry Pants wrote: I suppose I learned my lesson: "Full Disclosure", which I usually practice, isn't such a good idea on his behalf. Let him do all the divulging, and have people take him at face value.
I think this is a good idea.
I have a good friend who had a similar problem that I had to coach on the difference between "I'm a convicted felon" on the first meeting and "when I was 21 I had a problem with an underage girl..." after someone had gotten to know him. I'm not all that anxious to meet a guy with an assault conviction but I wouldn't mind meeting an interesting cool guy who happens to have that in his past.
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Post by MrMullen » Tue Mar 07, 2006 5:56 am

Isotopia wrote:
One thing you have to take into consideration is that the guy is coming from a very controlling enviroment to one where just about everything but stealing and physical harming other people is permited. He'll have to realize that stabbing and throwing bricks is not how we solve problems on this side of the prison wall.
Talk about painting someone with a wide brush. Dang!
Well, he did throw a brick at a cop. I don't see how someone can throw a brick at anyone and realize that it might kill them. We're not talking about bumping into someone and spilling thier coffee. A chunk of brick to someones head could easily kill them.
And, if TV has taught me anything, everyone in prison knows how to make a shank. :)
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frenchblue1
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Post by frenchblue1 » Tue Mar 07, 2006 10:32 am

I would think that he would have a lot of other focuses and priorities than attending BM '06. It can truly be a wonderful event but perhaps waiting until next year would be the more responsible thing to do. As a friend, I'm sure you want to see him come out and succeed. Burning Man is not an easy event to explain and the outside world has a difficult time breaking their thought process away from it being a big orgy and drug fest (not my perspective). I would put my efforts into helping him find his way again and look forward to attending in '07.

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