Sunday, September 05, 2004

Burning The Man, or Not-So-Great White

Amilynne and I were on the phone last night.
She called just as I finished watching Lonely Planet. It was a tour of the Southwest with Justine Shapiro. Justine is a picky, whiny traveler. I would hate to meet her. I would probably punch her in her turned-up nose. In general, I don't like Lonely Planet anyway, because the travelers try too much to be cool and cutting edge. Really, their destinations can do that for them. But they blow it. For example, we had to watch a little montage of Justine trying on motorcycle clothes for the new bike she just bought (and which she would ditch for a junker car in the next town. Are we shocked when the car goes into the shop? No.)
At any rate, Justine's last stop was the Burning Man Festival in Nevada. She passed through Reno on the way. I had to wonder whether Amilynne had ever gone to Burning Man. Just then, the phone rang. Amilynne.
I asked her if she had been to Burning Man. She says she has been invited to go next year. She also said that it is going on right now. I had been unaware. Apparently, happy hippies have been coming in and out of the store where she works all week, buying gallons and gallons of water before going north to the desert. I observed that the whole thing seems to be quite hedonistic. "Yes," she said, "but you should see how happy these hippies are." They get to burn The Man. They get to be happy and free for a week. Yippee.
Then she dropped the bomb. She told me that tickets cost $200. Yikes! That seemed very wrong to me. $200? Yes. For the cost of the fire insurance.
"No way!" I said. "No way! $200? To be naked in the desert for a week? No way!"
"Yes," said Amilynne, "for the fire insurance. Look on burningman.com."
"No way!" I still said, "Fire insurance doesn't cost that much! Bands do pyrotechnics all the time and tickets only cost $50!"
"Well, Great White obviously didn't buy enough insurance." Amilynne can always tie in Great White. She then proceeded to speculate that the whole Great White disaster may have simply been a publicity stunt. One never knows...
After a moment, a light came on. I had found the Truth. "There's some old hippie getting really rich off of Burning Man!" I proclaimed.
"No! Hippies are happy! They are poor!" Amilynne protested.
"Not necessarily old hippies. Old hippies might be happy, but maybe it's because they're rich! Maybe it's because they're THE MAN!"
"No! No!"
"Yes. Tickets at $200 a pop? It's not like you start getting in free once they've paid for the fire insurance." No, some old hippie is definitely out there getting dreadfully rich off of this festival, and loving every minute of it. In fact, in writing this post, I checked burningman.com, and Lo and Behold, they are warning that tickets at the gate of the festival start at $350.
Amilynne argued that tickets don't start at $200 in the beginning. Advanced ticket sales are much lower, but she couldn't tell me how much. I just find it disturbing and a bit odd that this festival of "community" would take such a bite. Yikes! Burning man is a sham!