Burning Man has jumped the shark

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.
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This Woman
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Post by This Woman » Thu Aug 07, 2008 1:16 pm

Yes 1% can be 1000 or 4000, but to be fair, it was skewed to favor a larger than previous percentage of "yahoos" in...96, I think. Before then, there was very little media, but after that, it was in Wired, Time, Newsweek and so many other magazines, etc.

A year before that (I think, fuzzy) MTV was shouted down when they were told not to show up, but did anyway. It was a beautiful thing. I think whomever called TheJudge out for his media comment missed the point. It's not telling that no one you mention BM to knows what it is. The telling thing is there was a huge media flood, and for those that DID read it, it was a big attraction to the yahoos. Media being what they are, they reported all the fun, salatious, naked party aspect and spent very little time on the art (one exception being Smithsonian) and cultural aspects.

With few exceptions in the past (in avant garde and local NV and SF news) one would never even know about BM if not for hearing of it by word of mouth. Suddenly, people could pick it out of a travelguide. Trust me, there are plenty who never go online and never crack the survival guide.

For that, I too believe the yahoos have increased, not just in number but in percentage. But being the closet optomist that I am, I like to think that each year some number of yahoos actually evolve a bit. If they don't learn from the people around them, then the playa is always happy to provide lessons.
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TheJudge
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Post by TheJudge » Thu Aug 07, 2008 2:31 pm

I think you got it right. My earliest memory about hearing from Burning Man actually came in the form of a LA Fox news segment from 95. I didnt see the segment, but the teaser had the typical "Are your teens safe?" kind of feel to it.

Wired really started the attention flood in 96. From there the media latched on and ran with it. The thing about so many different media outlets is that when an interesting story runs somewhere, everyone will run it.
"Be at one with the dust of the earth. This is primal union." - Lao Tsu

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EB
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Post by EB » Thu Aug 07, 2008 4:50 pm

This Woman wrote:But being the closet optomist that I am, I like to think that each year some number of yahoos actually evolve a bit. If they don't learn from the people around them, then the playa is always happy to provide lessons.
TW, I think you hit the crux of the argument right there. There's a reason 50k+ people are taking weeks off of work, humping half of their garages out to the desert, braving the dust, the heat and god-knows-what else to spend time with one another and I don't think it's soley to drink PBR on their rave wagons, yelling "show us your tits."

Whatever Larry's selling, people are buying. The numbers at the event and the regionals springing up bear this out and good for him.

Every year I see something at BM that blows my mind. Now if you'll excuse me I need to return to my rave wagon.
Irony. You're soaking in it.

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Post by twinwitin » Sat Aug 09, 2008 9:06 pm

I heard about Burning Man for the first time in a Jackie Collins novel, "Hollywood Kids" when I was in my early 20's, go figure! :D

forgive my choice of authors, I was a homebound breast feeding mom, ha ha. :oops:

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Post by mk-ultra » Sat Aug 09, 2008 9:51 pm

Oh noes!

It's not as iconoclastic and underground as back in, "the good old days?" Damn. If I can't get my street cred by denouncing how lame it is now... and how cool I was then by being there (you know, before it was lame)... what will I do?

BM is what you make of it... not what other people make of it.

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Post by nebulachic » Sun Aug 10, 2008 9:54 am

PATRIOTISM... isn't that a word relative only to the United States? And yet people from all over the world attend this event, right?

Hmmm.. kind of is a strange pick for a theme for an event that seeks to present more universal ideas.

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Post by Captain Goddammit » Sun Aug 10, 2008 10:07 am

The theme is an attempt to discourage Canadians.
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Post by ZaphodBurner » Mon Aug 11, 2008 7:40 am

nebulachic wrote:PATRIOTISM... isn't that a word relative only to the United States? And yet people from all over the world attend this event, right?

Hmmm.. kind of is a strange pick for a theme for an event that seeks to present more universal ideas.
The theme is Patriotism?

Chinese, Dutch or Brazilian people can't be patriotic?
"The Red Baron is smart.. He never spends the whole night dancing and drinking root beer.. "-The WWI Flying Ace

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Post by nebulachic » Mon Aug 11, 2008 7:46 am

[quote]Chinese, Dutch or Brazilian people can't be patriotic?[/quote]

Nope.. not saying that at all... but it does appear geared toward America only:
____________________________________________________________

2008 ART THEME: AMERICAN DREAM

And so from hour to hour we ripe and ripe,
And then from hour to hour we rot and rot;
And thereby hangs a tale.
– William Shakespeare, As You Like It

This year's art theme is about nationality, identity and the nature of patriotism. One species of the patriotic urge conflates the nation state with mass identity. Governments, as actors on a worldwide stage, become a surrogate for self, a vast projection of collective ego. And yet, there is another type of patriotic feeling that attaches us to place and people, to a home and its culture. Both these feeling states (and their attendant ironies) are relevant to this year's theme.

In 2008, leave narrow and exclusive ideologies at home; forget the blue states and the red; let parties, factions and divisive issues fall away, and carefully consider your immediate experience. What has America achieved that you admire? What has it done or failed to do that fills you with dismay? What is laudable? What is ludicrous? Put blame aside, let humor thrive, and dare to contemplate a larger question: What can America, this stumbling, roused, half-conscious giant, still contribute to the world?

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Post by ZaphodBurner » Mon Aug 11, 2008 9:31 am

nebulachic wrote:
Chinese, Dutch or Brazilian people can't be patriotic?
Nope.. not saying that at all... but it does appear geared toward America only:
It's not really geared to anything. It's just a theme. The event itself won't look radically different than last year, 2006 (I can't even remember what that theme was), 2005 or 2004.

Although, "Vault of Heaven" was the best theme so far in my opinion, although people could surely argue that it's heaven-centric and may leave Satanists, atheists and Hellco types a little alienated. The streets were named for the planets, not alphabetical but in order from the sun.

Frankly, I'd be just as happy if they stuck with that street arrangement the way they do with the radials. It's perfect. We camped on Mercury and our friends camped on Mars. The shitters were on Earth. If you went all the way out to Pluto it was much darker out there.

As to the "American Dream" theme, the event takes place on American public land and if you study the history of the region it actually makes sense.

-c
"The Red Baron is smart.. He never spends the whole night dancing and drinking root beer.. "-The WWI Flying Ace

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Post by Ugly Dougly » Mon Aug 11, 2008 9:38 am

The True Theme which must not be named: "It is what it is."

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Post by thirt33n » Mon Aug 11, 2008 9:51 am

ZaphodBurner wrote: Frankly, I'd be just as happy if they stuck with that street arrangement the way they do with the radials. It's perfect.
-c
everyone shit their pants, except the shirtcockers, at the floating world 2002. the radials were named for compass headings.
blow.

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Post by Kinetik V » Mon Aug 11, 2008 10:05 am

I'd like to see Larry skip picking a theme for one year and see how many people bitch about it.
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Post by Captain Goddammit » Mon Aug 11, 2008 5:40 pm

nebulachic wrote: it does appear geared toward America only:
____________________________________________________________

2008 ART THEME: AMERICAN DREAM

And so from hour to hour we ripe and ripe,
And then from hour to hour we rot and rot;
And thereby hangs a tale.
– William Shakespeare, As You Like It

This year's art theme is about nationality, identity and the nature of patriotism. One species of the patriotic urge conflates the nation state with mass identity. Governments, as actors on a worldwide stage, become a surrogate for self, a vast projection of collective ego. And yet, there is another type of patriotic feeling that attaches us to place and people, to a home and its culture. Both these feeling states (and their attendant ironies) are relevant to this year's theme.

In 2008, leave narrow and exclusive ideologies at home; forget the blue states and the red; let parties, factions and divisive issues fall away, and carefully consider your immediate experience. What has America achieved that you admire? What has it done or failed to do that fills you with dismay? What is laudable? What is ludicrous? Put blame aside, let humor thrive, and dare to contemplate a larger question: What can America, this stumbling, roused, half-conscious giant, still contribute to the world?
And what the fuck is wrong with that? Jesus fucking christ.
No one is even required to do anything related to the theme whatsoever anyway.

Since you hadn't noticed, Larry Harvey is an American, holding an event on American soil. He likes it here, and so do most of us. WTF, do you know some foreigner who feels left out or excluded? They ARE invited, you know. And I bet wherever they live, there are events and/or celebrations of their own nationality, that you don't bitch about.
Shut the fuck up and bring a flag.
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Post by Ugly Dougly » Tue Aug 12, 2008 10:20 am

twinwitin wrote:I heard about Burning Man for the first time in a Jackie Collins novel, "Hollywood Kids" when I was in my early 20's, go figure! :D

forgive my choice of authors, I was a homebound breast feeding mom, ha ha. :oops:
Are you serious?

How can anything claim to be an edgy counter-cultural underground movement if it's referenced in a romance novel????

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Post by twinwitin » Wed Aug 13, 2008 12:05 pm

i am! Like I said I was a homebound breastfeeding mom and was gifted a box of books, lo and behold, there it was Burning man in a Jackie Collins book!

Ugly Dougly- I will bring you your own copy!!! ha ha Come by stag camp to pick it up, we can read the "good" parts over drinks, ha ha hah

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Post by Simon of the Playa » Wed Aug 13, 2008 12:58 pm

will you all please be quiet so i can drink my kool-aid in peace.

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Post by Boijoy » Wed Aug 13, 2008 1:11 pm

Here Here Captain!!

"Shut the fuck up and bring a flag"

I'm painting that onto my Westy when I drive out !! LOVE it !!
don't forget to floss

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Re go fuck yourself

Post by Melvynman » Mon Aug 18, 2008 3:18 pm

Melvynman - You dont know me. You will never know me and you will never understand the bigger picture. In short, go fuck yourself.
Sorry about that. I thought you could handle an honest response. I believe we do know each other and sometimes hang in the same circle. I think we had a few drinks together at the burn back in 98 or 99. I have had a few different playa/internet names over the years. I get bored with them so I move on to new ones. “Understanding the bigger pictureâ€

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Re: Re go fuck yourself

Post by ZaphodBurner » Mon Aug 18, 2008 3:40 pm

Melvynman wrote:
I have heard it’s going to be the best burn ever!
Yes, but, does anybody know if they're going to be shark-jumping again this year? That sounds like a lot of fun. I wanna jump a shark.
"The Red Baron is smart.. He never spends the whole night dancing and drinking root beer.. "-The WWI Flying Ace

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Re: Re go fuck yourself

Post by TheJudge » Wed Aug 20, 2008 12:47 pm

Melvynman wrote:
Melvynman - You dont know me. You will never know me and you will never understand the bigger picture. In short, go fuck yourself.
Sorry about that. I thought you could handle an honest response. I believe we do know each other and sometimes hang in the same circle. I think we had a few drinks together at the burn back in 98 or 99. I have had a few different playa/internet names over the years. I get bored with them so I move on to new ones. “Understanding the bigger pictureâ€
"Be at one with the dust of the earth. This is primal union." - Lao Tsu

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Jumping the shark?

Post by Steel Kitty » Wed Sep 03, 2008 9:46 am

I had a fucking great time this past year. I didn't give a rats ass what the theme was, and I had a great time doing abso-fucking-nothing the whole week. We put on a show, had a great time entertaining people, and generally had a fun time doing nothing. Yeah, the playa this year was all mushy so biking around quickly made seeing the artwork kinda tough, but all in all, each burn gets easier.

So, now Burning Man is mainstream. A big article in the New York Times, my co-workers accepting that I'm taking my vacation days at the end of August every year, some family saying "Hey, you're going to Burning Man" while gassing up in Bishop, CA, and my neighbor saying, "Your going to that burning thingy in the desert, right?" tells me that Burning Man has joined the collective consciousness of things to do. Hell, even the AAA has Burning Man as a "featured" destination of things to do across America.

Yay! Still, Black Rock isn't easy to get to. It's still freakin' cold, hot, rainy, windy, dusty, and extreme in all senses. It's not an easy walk in the park for most. So, even though it's a featured destination, only a few will make it out and come back. So there might just be a tipping point and only grow incrementally. I know from camping out on Impala and 5 this year, that there was a LOT of empty space. (Anyone know the # of participants this year?)

The quest for cool is never-ending. Wanna be bikers rev up their Harleys to the dismay of hard-core bikers. Soccer moms trade in minivans for hipper Land Rovers - and now, hybrid crossovers. Yellow rubber wristbands (remember those?) -- signaling support for cancer research-- appear instantly, then just as quickly disappear from the mainstream. So, too might go Burning Man. It's a fine line.

What I've seen is that our Burning Man TV, and new information delivery systems, including the Internet, make this signaling process faster, and in a way, the Burning Man product (and it IS a product, people) is exploding across mass markets more rapidly than ever before.

At the same time, the growth of these new mediums can also turn off the original veterans and even newcomers to Burning Man pretty quickly. I mean, it's like anything else. As the original Burners turn away from a product, the followers are likely to do so, too, with major implications for Burning Man as a whole. For example, hip, young artists start using a new product or wearing a type of clothing, then urbanites may discover this product or clothing and use/eat/wear that product, but when people beyond this social group adopt the product in order to be "cool," that degrades the original power of the product's brand and it fades out. This kind of thing happens all the time. Does anyone give a shit about Woodstock 2008? Coachella? Beanie Babies? New Coke? early Ipods?

So whatever. We're now mainstream. Embrace it. There's a tipping point. Where Burning Man will fade from the collective consciousness and we'll have our little fun party on the playa when all the yahoo's have moved on to something else. I'm taking a year off to let the dust settle and give my office something else to talk about.
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Post by TheJudge » Wed Sep 03, 2008 1:25 pm

Well said and you clearly and without emotional connection made my point. However as some would argue here in this thread, it might not be as mainstream as some would think. I still have conversations with people that don't know what Burning Man is all about.

However with some of that technology you mentioned - especially wifi on the playa - the event slowly and methodically evolves into something no one who crossed that line drawn in the dirt so many years ago ever dreamed of. And for a lot of people who have seen the evolution first-hand, the event changes further and further from what they were expecting.

How fitting that next year's ubiquitous theme is "evolution."
"Be at one with the dust of the earth. This is primal union." - Lao Tsu

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Post by EB » Wed Sep 03, 2008 2:26 pm

TheJudge wrote:I still have conversations with people that don't know what Burning Man is all about.
Why would you know what the event is "about" more than them? Maybe it's not "about" anything but rather just "is." Ever consider that?
TheJudge wrote:However with some of that technology you mentioned - especially wifi on the playa - the event slowly and methodically evolves into something no one who crossed that line drawn in the dirt so many years ago ever dreamed of.
Your point? That wi-fi wasn't envisioned by the Baker Beach crew way back when so now the event sucks? BFD. They probably didn't envision The Waffle, the LED balloons or Zsu-Zsu, either. Wi-fi, has not impacted my enjoyment of the event one iota. If people want to check their fucking email during the event or Twitter their friends, then god bless 'em. This is a non-issue. [/quote]
TheJudge wrote: And for a lot of people who have seen the evolution first-hand, the event changes further and further from what they were expecting.
Everything changes. If it didn't you'd be whining about how static and dull the event has become. You sound like one of those "Math is Hard" Barbies.
TheJudge wrote: How fitting that next year's ubiquitous theme is "evolution."
"Ubiquitous Theme" is redundant... and fitting how? Evolution is change for the better. Isn't that what we all strive for? For a Burning Man "hater", Judge, your arguments are soft and, frankly, boring. If you're here - on this BM discussion board - to effect change, then I suggest coming up with specific pinch points where the event has failed and not some weak sauce mooning about the good old days before wi-fi.

If your purpose is to NOT effect change, but rather to poke those of us in the ribs who love the event and root for its survival, then you should at the very least build up some street cred by vandalizng a few SF cathedrals first.[/quote]
Irony. You're soaking in it.

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Post by eigenstates » Wed Sep 03, 2008 5:58 pm

[quote]

Everything changes. If it didn't you'd be whining about how static and dull the event has become. You sound like one of those "Math is Hard" Barbies.[/quote]

Hard to resist... don't mention entropy... failing... ABORT POST!

Damn.

Fail.

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Post by TheJudge » Thu Sep 04, 2008 5:14 am

EB wrote:
TheJudge wrote:I still have conversations with people that don't know what Burning Man is all about.
Why would you know what the event is "about" more than them? Maybe it's not "about" anything but rather just "is." Ever consider that?
Right, and there is no spoon. Spare me the existential bullshit. The event is what it is. My point was that what it is now, has changed radically and seems contrary to its original intentions.
EB wrote:
TheJudge wrote:However with some of that technology you mentioned - especially wifi on the playa - the event slowly and methodically evolves into something no one who crossed that line drawn in the dirt so many years ago ever dreamed of.
Your point? That wi-fi wasn't envisioned by the Baker Beach crew way back when so now the event sucks? BFD. They probably didn't envision The Waffle, the LED balloons or Zsu-Zsu, either. Wi-fi, has not impacted my enjoyment of the event one iota. If people want to check their fucking email during the event or Twitter their friends, then god bless 'em. This is a non-issue.


OK, then why not just turn center camp into a fucking Starbucks and get it over with? Lets make the whole playa one big internet cafe where we can twitter with our friends and have the borg text message the latest weather reports, social events and friendly survival tips right to our PDAs?

In fact, while we are at it, since dust and electronics dont go together very well, lets move the event to some place where its a little less hostile. Maybe a place with grass and trees and running water. Oh and we might as well get some corporate sponsorship to help put the event on too. I'm sure we all wouldnt mind seeing a commercial or three while we buy our $6 bottle of water and wait in line to get into the rave camp.

EB wrote:
TheJudge wrote: And for a lot of people who have seen the evolution first-hand, the event changes further and further from what they were expecting.
Everything changes. If it didn't you'd be whining about how static and dull the event has become. You sound like one of those "Math is Hard" Barbies.
I would be fine with the event not being in a constant state of having to be bigger and better than last year. I would be fine with low technology, camps that dont drop half a million on their fascades, and less hand-holding by the organization. Static is not necessarily a bad thing.
EB wrote:
TheJudge wrote: How fitting that next year's ubiquitous theme is "evolution."
"Ubiquitous Theme" is redundant... and fitting how? Evolution is change for the better. Isn't that what we all strive for? For a Burning Man "hater", Judge, your arguments are soft and, frankly, boring. If you're here - on this BM discussion board - to effect change, then I suggest coming up with specific pinch points where the event has failed and not some weak sauce mooning about the good old days before wi-fi.
Ubiquitous means omnipresent. Theme means a general idea or an underlying message. The two words are not the same.

And evolution most certainly does not mean change for the better. There is no right or wrong to the act of evolution.

And I am not a Burning Man hater. I am pointing out what I personally think is wrong with the direction the event is going. You want specific pinch points? OK:

1. Generalized event-wide themes that appear to pander to governmental bureaucracy and political correctness rather than the free flow of creativity from the participants to create and radically self-express their own damn ideas.

2. Overpopulation that attracts additional attention from law enforcement agencies that now see the event as a means to fund their yearly operational budgets.

3. A "one-up" mentality that stipulates that it has to be bigger and better and more with each incarnation.

4. With increased population comes an increased percentage of people that the community now have to take care of, because they are too ignorant of their own limits or deviance from socially accepted norms. I.E. more idiot spectators, less participants.

There are more, but this post is already way too long.
EB wrote:If your purpose is to NOT effect change, but rather to poke those of us in the ribs who love the event and root for its survival, then you should at the very least build up some street cred by vandalizng a few SF cathedrals first.
[/quote]

I don't condone vandalizing a cathedral any more than I condone someone stealing another person's art that they spent months creating. Or someone stealing another's bike or art car for a joy ride. Or someone beating up a random stranger because they are too outside of their mind to think rationally. To suggest that (even with your obvious sarcasm) suggests that you are missing the point.

My purpose is only to take a step back from looking at the shiny, pretty details of the present and look at the big picture, then compare that picture with one from the past and postulate that there is obvious differences between the two. There are clearly positive things that have come from the changes in the event, but there are also a lot of negatives. My personal opinion is that at this point, the negatives outweigh the positives and I have attempted to outline what I think those key factors are. Factors that someone who has entered into this cultural phenomena more recently might not have been aware of.

If I were a hater as you suggest, I would have just ignored the event and let it evolve into whatever it becomes. However this is not the case.

I still love the event, but my opinion is that it has changed so much from what it once was that it is completely unrecognizable from the things that a lot of us had thought were supposed to be the very foundation for which the event is built upon.
"Be at one with the dust of the earth. This is primal union." - Lao Tsu

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mars
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Post by mars » Thu Sep 04, 2008 10:54 am

I had another fabulous, magical and unique time at bm this year. yes, i was surprised to discover wi-fi there, but had and have no intentions of using it--yuck, why would i want to do at bm what i do at home? but if someone else wants to do that, why should i care?

I only went to the center camp cafe' one time...and that was to perform a song on the stage. it was hot and crowded in there and i have no desire to hang out in there, but why should i care if other people like it?

There have always been people at bm doing things that i wouldn't want to do, that is nothing new. i wouldn't want to camp in the walk-in camping...does that make it wrong for bm?

I just don't get why people think if others do it differently that it means it has jumped the shark. I had no trouble finding the art, the magic, the 10 principles, the special connections, the smiles, the playadipity, the creativity...it's all still there. Has burning man jumped the shark? No, I think the shark is swimming in and through and around burning man. The shark is there, but the magic is too.
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Post by lurker » Fri Sep 05, 2008 9:36 am

My kids wear a lot of the clothes I used to like when I was their age.

I got mine from weird little shops on the lower east side or repurposed bondage gear.

They get theirs from hot topic or big websites. Sometimes even from major chain stores.

My clothes were hellishly expensive(we did a lot of making our own from thrift store raids)--but some things just don't come from thrift stores

Their versions are pretty cheap--and often far more durable--and there's a lot more types...god I hate them.

My son got a hair up his ass for a while and decided that he wasn't shopping at hot topic anymore--he wanted to go to 'independant stores' and get 'authentic stuff'. And I told him fine, then he could buy it himself.

Well that went over like a ton of bricks--until I pointed out that paying twice as much didn't add any 'authenticity'--it just sucked up your money

Why? Because it went 'mainstream'. The stores did anyway. The culture and the actual participants--still the same band of freaks it always was.

Looks like going mainstream isn't a death knell
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Location: Denver

Post by curiousgnate » Fri Sep 05, 2008 1:57 pm

This was my third burn, my first was in 2000, second 2003, and third this year. I have also noticed a difference. i have dealt with the large number of people towards the end of the week by finding those places where i met the fun fantastic people during my excursions on monday tuesday and wednesday. I don't go to the clubs with 3500 people listening to the same music all night. I go to the little bar with a dj spinning funk records, and 30 people shaking their ass all night. I have found that the best time to go out and explore and find the people that are there for the same reasons i am, is early in the week. Those are the people i then spend the end of the week with. I have had a great time each year. Sure there are some things i don't like about the evolution of burning man, but there are some i do, because as the event gets bigger there are more, and more people like me who get a chance to share thier energy and spirit through self expression. I understand not wanting to go back because of the changes that have occured over the past few years. I however will continue to go back, maybe not every year, but every so often to that place i can call home, to meet more people that i will bring with me to the default world that i am forced to live in. One can never have enough friends that understand what the playa can do to you

willyloafofphora
Posts: 121
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2007 10:33 pm
Location: San Diego AKA the gritty waffle

Post by willyloafofphora » Mon Sep 08, 2008 2:58 pm

Your Mama has jumped the shark. Ooooooooooooooo
Excrement, incestuous person. I require my copulating currency, incestuous person.

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