The Burning Festival is once again upon us so it wouldn’t be right for us not to re-post BJW Nashe’s classic post, “Burning Man 2013 Theme Has Been Changed to CRIME”

by BJW Nashe

Sources tell us that the Burning Man Organization will soon announce that it has decided to scrap the “Cargo Cult” theme for this year’s event, in favor of the more provocative theme of “CRIME.” Previous themes have included open-ended, amorphous concepts such as “Fertility,” “Metropolis,” “Evolution,” “American Dream,” and “Psyche.” Changing the theme just three months before the event is unprecedented, but the decision is evidently deemed necessary at this point in time.

crimA spokesperson for the organization — choosing to remain anonymous save for her playa name, “Firefly” — states that the new theme, though controversial to some, is largely being greeted as a very positive step within the Burning Man community:

“Many Burners found the ‘Cargo Cult’ theme to be simply incoherent,” says Firefly. “So we wanted to go with something more visceral and direct. CRIME is a perfect theme for us this year, which opens up a whole realm of possibilities in terms of art, performance, music, and community.”

Burning Man12Burning Man, which takes its name from the ritual burning of a large, constructed, neon-lit effigy, draws as many as 50,000 participants to its annual week-long celebration in the Nevada desert. The event has gained worldwide fame as an experiment in radical self-expression, extreme self-reliance, and creative chaos. The “temporary autonomous zone” known as Black Rock City, which springs up each year on the same dry desert lake bed, is often derided by the press and law enforcement as an orgy of drugs, sex, fire, loud music, and all-around strange behavior. Perhaps CRIME, therefore, is a logical thematic progression for the event.

“There’s no doubt,” says Firefly, “that any city with a population of 50,000 is going to have some crime. Why should Black Rock City be any different? Besides, each year we have more and more cops — both in uniform and undercover — hassling people at the event. This year, we figured screw it, we might as well give them some actual work to do, other than routine pot busts.”

Doesn’t the CRIME theme run the risk of pushing an already outrageous party even further over the edge into psychotic, dangerous behavior? Firefly doesn’t think so:

Burning Man8“Listen, we’re not encouraging people to start raping and murdering each other. Burners are more sophisticated than that. On the other hand, we don’t want to dictate to people what’s ‘acceptable.’ We think CRIME is an appropriate theme for Black Rock City to explore at this point. We’re willing to go with the flow, and needless to say we have a lot of faith in the creativity of Burners. We expect them to really take this idea and run with it.”

So what kind of CRIME can someone expect to see out on the playa later this summer?

 Burning Man3“Plenty of arson, obviously. People who leave their camps unattended at night might return to find them torched. And we’ll surely see some robberies and thefts — plenty of stolen mutant vehicles, plus a fair share of rioting and looting. Destruction of property should be pretty huge. I know fraud is an area people are putting a lot of thought into. Same with kidnapping. And those traditional mainstays of crime, gambling and prostitution, will be well represented at Black Rock City this year. From what I’m hearing, Center Camp is going to be a big, unlicensed casino. And brothels will be operating everywhere, all day and night.”

Burning Girl3Firefly also spoke highly of numerous theme camps that have readily taken up the CRIME theme. One camp, Spahn Ranch, will be a nearly exact replica of the Manson Family’s old Death Valley hangout. Another camp called Jonestown will be serving up “mystery Kool-aid” spiked with God knows what — perhaps a combination of Everclear and ketamine. At the Stock Exchange, Burners can invest in complicated Ponzi schemes or trade in fraudulent securities. At Ghetto Camp, they can frolic with costumed “gangsters,” “thugs,” and “crack whores.” Bars with names such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre Tavern and Dahmer’s Deep Freeze Lounge will be serving up free drinks to any topless women who happen to stagger by. And several elaborate “murderabilia” exhibits and crime scene re-enactments will be staged out on the playa. Firefly is especially excited about the new Black Rock City Jail, which will feature prominently at this year’s event:

jails“We’ve never had an actual prison on-site before. This time, our Danger Rangers will be empowered to actually arrest some of the worst offenders and drag their asses off to jail. The prison will be a fully interactive experience. DJs will bombard inmates with dubstep around the clock. Participants can stop by to flog prisoners or administer mild electric shocks or just engage in good old-fashioned jailhouse sex. It should be a blast.”

Will Burning Man need to implement any rule changes to accommodate the new theme?

“Not at all,” says Firefly. “We want to remain the most tolerant, open-minded community on earth. One thing we are definitely going to stress, though, is our ‘No Firearms’ rule. Just because we’re doing CRIME, that doesn’t mean we want to have anything to do with America’s sick and twisted gun culture.”

Burning Man4It all makes perfect sense to us here at All Things Crime Blog. We tried to obtain a statement from the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department on Black Rock City’s unfolding plans, but so far they have refused to comment.

Check the Burning Man web site for further information. This year Burning Man will be held the week of August 26 – September 2. The theme is CRIME. Don’t forget: the “No Spectators” motto remains in full effect.


One Response to Burning Man 2013 Theme Has Been Changed to CRIME (Revisited)

  1. liselasalle says:

    I am in awe of the Burning Man Event. Pretty rad and talk about artistic self-expression.
    Check how amazing it is in 2014

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