Story Archive

Burning Mad

The Burning Man festival, established in 1986, preaches (among other things) radical self-reliance, communal effort, civic responsibility, and “leaving no trace” on the Nevada desert floor where it’s held. To set up Black Rock City, organizers must get a permit from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the cost of which has been rising steadily: $858,000 in 2011, $1.4 million in 2012, $2.9 million in 2013, and more than $4 million in 2014. The 2015 permit is expected to cost nearly $5 million, and this year, in addition to the BLM “headquarters” that must be built to house its 150 officials (and please pony up $253,000 for their new two-way radios), BLM wants some special accommodations for “VIPs” — high-level government officials. For them, BLM wants organizers to set up a special air-conditioned camp with flush toilets and laundry facilities. There, Burning Man must supply an extensive and detailed menu of food offerings, which in addition to regular meat and vegetable items, includes M&Ms, Chobani Greek Yogurt, butter and margarine, salsa, hot peppers, brown sugar, raisins, a salad bar, and a variety of desserts. And not just during meal times: the BLM specified 24-hour access to hot coffee (regular and decaf), hot chocolate, fruit juice, hot water and tea bags (regular and decaf), Coke-branded products, dry cereal (minimum of four flavors, including Froot Loops), milk (both white and chocolate), milk alternatives (almond, vanilla, and soy), personal pizzas, Hot Pockets, burritos, noodle cups, candy bars, meat and cheese snacks, cookies, brownies, Popsicles, protein bars, nuts, chips, popcorn, fresh fruit, and (of course!) a stand-alone freezer filled with a variety of ice cream treats, especially including Choco Tacos and Drumsticks. The “unprecedented” VIP accommodations would cost at least $1 million to provide, Burning Man officials estimate, and meanwhile BLM hasn’t issued the permit. So far, Burning Man has refused the demands. (RC/Reno Gazette-Journal) ...After all that, it then becomes “necessary and reasonable” to supply man-carried sedan chairs to haul the Very Immense People around the festival.
Original Publication Date: 05 July 2015
This story is in True’s book collections, in Volume 22.

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