This year’s Burning Man festival just recently ended, by all accounts after quite a successful run of whatever it is that they’re doing out there in the desert. (And if you don’t know what Burning Man is I’m not going to express a lot of sympathy here. Even I know what it is and I keep a supply of Geritol in both bathroom cabinets in my house.) The event meant to celebrate …. I’m going to say “art” here… has been going on since 1986 when it involved setting fire to some sort of large set of wooden pallets lashed together in the form of a human figure in a parking lot in California. After a few years of organized arson, authorities chased the hippies out into the desert of Nevada. Since then it has grown in size, attracting all manner of … unconventional (?) artsy personalities. (This whole thing is far afield of my experience, sorry.)
In any event, in more recent years it has apparently attracted plenty of liberal millionaires and billionaires along with corporate interests who want to impress the well heeled free spirits who congregate there. That sort of massive navel gazing combined with corporate shilling was clearly in irresistible invitation to parody and sandwich shop Quiznos answered the call this year. Before we get to anything else, check out this video if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s worth your time.
It was a hilarious video and really pokes fun at the pretentiousness on display. Unfortunately, the masters of Burning Man didn’t care for the parody and struck back in the free spirited way you would expect… they called in the lawyers.
Yes, Burning Man Inc. is bummed at the mockery, and they’re doing what any multi million dollar corporation does when they feel their brand is being besmirched – calling in the lawyers.
“We’ll be coordinating with our legal team to see what action we can take,” festival spokesman Jim Graham told sfgate.com, noting that Quiznos never requested official permission to parody the festival.
Graham explained that it’s their policy not to ever allow any brand parings.
“We get a quite a number of requests each year from companies wanting to gift participants with their product or to capture imagery or video of their products at the event, and we turn them all down,” he said.
For an event which promotes itself as a destination for “free thought and judgment-free creative expression” that sounds like an awfully corporate response, doesn’t it? But right on their web site they warn people not to try to use their “most recognizable words, symbols and designs,” without permission. And they don’t give permission.
Why would anyone want to bother them out at their desert retreat, though? The police apparently have a few ideas since arrests this year were up to near record highs.
Arrests at this year’s event are estimated to be at least 600% greater than the previous year, and nearly more than the previous five years combined. Compared to 2014’s 7 arrests, 41 people were arrested this year, the majority for “trafficking of a controlled substance.” Such a charge is rarely a surprise to outsiders or those at the Burn, but rarely are so many people arrested for it – compare it to last year’s numbers when only 4 people were arrested on drug-related charges. At an where drug use is very common year to year, law enforcement’s duty and focus should be on those disturbing the peace, rather than those looking to expand their minds.
The second highest charge this year was for “possession of a controlled substance for sales” and then a litany of other less grievous charges, all between 1-3 arrests each. One arrest was even for kidnapping. One significant figure pointed out is the absence of any sexual assault charges this year, “a huge improvement on 2013, when there were 12 people taken to jail for that crime.”
Man… I can’t believe that I’ve missed out on going for all of these years.
Aside from the obvious hypocrisy and the chance to read up on some artsy types setting fire to a huge statue in the desert there isn’t much more to add here. Mostly I just wanted you to get the chance to see the video. Do a web search on Burning Man for more interesting photos and stories… there’s something really strange going on out there in the desert.