I find it reaffirming that so many commenters feel similar about the toxic effect of Plug N Plays. Vulcherchow’s “two burns” entry was very similar to my “two distinct communities” entry in the BM Journal early last week, and I’m sure many others have noted the same thing.
“The result is almost two distinct communities; one with a genuine respect and appreciation for their neighbors and all who have come before to make Burning Man so fulfilling and special, and one who doesn’t give the slightest fuck about anyone but themselves, their own comfort and their perceived elevated status at all times.”
I submit the second community could be considered the Moral Ghetto of Black Rock City. In fact, you could tell your camp-mates “I’m venturing to the Moral Ghetto” and they’d know right where you’re headed.
Like everything else at Burning Man the ghetto is a crazy inverted neighborhood; Instead of extreme poverty, it suffers from extreme entitlement. Its heroin fix is total comfort and narcissism. The neighborhood’s social erosion along the fringes of the city has taken years, and struggles with a high crime rate that robs genuine burners of an atmosphere of camaraderie, inclusiveness and non-judgment (try hugging a feathered private-compound resident, or asking your girlfriend to shed her clothes or inhibitions for even five minutes in the ghetto). About 80% of the ghetto’s residents have no desire or capacity to even see laws/principles, much less abide by them. Communal Effort? Radical Self-reliance? Civic Responsibility? Are you kidding me?
And how about Leave No Trace. FOR TEN YEARS RUNNING, the ocher expanse of the area’s MOOP Map has made the Man Burn look like a scout bonfire (http://burningman.org/culture/history/b ... moop-maps/
). Why? Because no one gives a fuck in the Moral Ghetto, and no one is held accountable.
And then there’s the granddaddy of social irresponsibility, Decommodification. Let’s be clear; These camps are using hundreds of Burning Man tickets as PAY for SLAVES to set up and operate EVERYTHING in their compound (no, it’s not a “camp”) – while building or doing absolutely nothing for themselves – so that a few thousand ADDITIONAL 8-day Burning Man tickets can be exploited by rude, selfish “guests” who parachute in Friday night with their cosmetics purse for a 36-hour bender. Oh, and they don’t just sit in their compound, they “participate” for a few hours by segway-ing along the Esplanade (or maybe A or B street at most) to judge/gawk like the tourists they truly are at what the genuine community has spent a week creating.
Folks, I’ve only been attending this wonderful event for two years now, so literally everyone reading this has more experience than me. So I need to ask you honestly, who the hell thinks the Moral Ghetto accurately represents, or in any way is good for, this community? Who first started allowing this to be “the norm” along the fringes of such an otherwise unspeakably wonderful place? And are they still in charge? And if so, why?
This issue has nothing to do with EDM, or who is spinning music at what hour. Whatever kind of music you enjoy, you can find it in BRC….knock yourself out. If every EDM camp vanished tomorrow there would still be 20+ Mutant Vehicles carrying the genre forward, as it should be if there's a desire and demand. The point is these secluded compounds could play a goddamn didgeridoo for twelve hours a day, and their current CULTURE of “100% Taker” would still run 100% counter to everything Burning Man is about according to BMORG’s own principles.
So enough bitching. How to fix things.
Well like a typical ghetto, it’s highly unlikely this neighborhood can magically extract itself from its condition. I’m sure there’s a pervasive, iron-clad expectation of “food stamp” ticket allotments and status quo. Some compounds are likely buying newer, bigger shit for next year as we speak (that they can’t possibly transport or build or manage themselves), and 2017 party invites are already being extended with a laser focus on commercial and social-status connections made this year. Like heroin addicts, camp leaders are asking “What can make ME richer? How much capital should I invest (disguised as ‘music gifting’) to ensure I can continue exploiting the Burning Man culture for MY benefit?”
Well there’s only two ways that can be addressed. “We” as a community – and especially the BMORG leadership – can either try to re-program the mindset of these hucksters and attendees one person at a time over years; or we can acknowledge how unlikely that is to succeed, acknowledge how this affects EVERYONE’s burn (hiding in your neighborhood does nothing but limit your worldview and allow the problem to expand), and begin making adjustments to realign the event with the type of residents who value the community and have a genuine desire to participate.
Since opinions are like assholes, here's my asshole:
1. CLOSE THE AIRPORT AT 6P SHARP ON THURSDAY
The airport was supposedly invented to “alleviate congestion on the roads” – and it’s a wonderful alternative to driving from Saturday to about Wednesday. But we all know the airport has also created this entire problem. There is no road congestion Thurs-Sat, so no reason for the airport to operate inbound flights during that timeframe....flights that currently ferry 100% Takers who can’t deal with the slightest delay or discomfort. This step alone would likely solve 90% of the Moral Ghetto problem.
2. NO PAID SLAVES
If your campmates can’t build it, it doesn’t get built. That simple. Sure compound leaders will start calling their slaves “campmates”, but word will get out, especially in this long-term secluded environment. If you facilitate slaves, you might as well buy a fucking adobe hut for next year because your compound isn’t getting placed.
3. REQUIRE MINIMUM 3 TO 5 FOOT GAP BETWEEN ALL RV’S AND/OR PERMANENT STRUCTURES
Radical Inclusion does not allow for walled compounds. You’re a millionaire? Great, welcome to the fucking club, tons of other residents who can expend this kind of time and expense are as well. It’s Black Rock City, not the Coachella parking lot. Get inclusive. It’s the easiest fix on this list.
4. IF CLOSING THE AIRPORT THURS DOESN’T RADICALLY IMPROVE THE COMMUNITY, CLOSE ALL ENTRY TO THE EVENT AT 6P THURSDAY
None of these ideas guarantee “the right type of neighbor”, because there is no such thing. If you end up living next to a total dickhead or some fragile spoiled rave-chickie for the week, well that’s just the way it is, so deal with it. Because guess what….at least they’re part of the community. At least they took four shits over four days in a hot desert. At least they’ve invested SOMETHING of themselves to be here. At a minimum we should require that a part of the Burning Man experience. Without it, there is no question that The Takers will continue to erode the event, Burning Man will trade on its name for a few extra years, and eventually Detroit in the Desert will offer OMG! Fast Passes to the trendiest dance floors in the Moral Ghetto.
Yea I know, this is TL;DR. I don’t care, I didn’t edit for space. Fuck you and your burn. But also keep earning the right to say the same to me as your dust-caked ass stands by my side at 4:30 and High Renaissance.