The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

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The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby AlakaLazlo » Sat Feb 04, 2012 11:22 pm

My thoughts on the ticket SNAFU

My fiancé and I were “lucky” if you can call it that... My request for 2 tickets was granted at the $390.00 tier.

This will be my thirteenth burn in a row, and my fiancé’s seventh in a row. We got engaged on the Playa (on the Man!) in 2007. I’m a participant, as opposed to a “spectator.” I’ve been a part of large scale music camps, small scale (but cool) art projects and several theme camps. I bring a small art car and give rides to anyone who asks. I’ve gifted literally thousands of dollars worth of custom made trinkets as a way of thanking my burner brethren for their participation. And every single day, I wear (proudly) one of the two burner necklaces I received in 2004 from Liquid Diet Lounge. (Gave the other one away, as instructed, to someone who “wasn’t an asshole”). I’ve been responsible for countless virgin burners deciding to go, getting there, and getting through the event. I truly cherish the core ethos of Burning Man, the freedom to express oneself without conventional boundaries. Being among those who appreciate and participate in such an event is awe inspiring and rejuvenating. That’s why I’ve been back every year since I first rang the bell in 2000.

Its also why I’m heartbroken at what has happened this year with the ticketing situation and its probable impact on both the event and - more importantly - the community. There is a lot of confusion, anger and pain out there. Its palpable and its legitimate.

Our core group of burner friends and camp-mates played by the rules, and of the 12 of us who applied, only 4 got tickets. I doubt any of the four of us that got them will actually go unless something miraculous happens for a majority of the other eight.

What hurts isn’t that there hasn’t been some sort of profuse apology from the Org, as so many apparently demand. What hurts is that anyone who is smart enough to be in charge of such an event should have seen this coming a mile away. When the lottery was first announced, there was an almost universal antipathy from the community. Many people, presciently, pointed out that scammers and scalpers could and would easily game the system. I personally sent a letter to the LLC last November explaining numerous ways that the system could be gamed and provided several methods (legal and technical) to prevent them - including linking tickets to IDs. I never heard back. Others tried to warn them too, directly and through social media. But the Org decided they knew better and asked us all to trust them...we really had no choice....
And so here we are.

Its important to realize that this is not a virgins versus long time burners issue. Yes, its important that the large scale camps have sufficient manpower to build their projects. But I don’t think there is something that makes a long time burner more deserving of a ticket than a virgin. We were all virgins once. The event needs a constant flow of new people and fresh ideas to remain vibrant. So I hope my long time burner brethren will stop bashing the virgins simply because they were lucky enough to score a ticket.

I do not think it particularly “burneresque” for people to cast personal aspersions. I don’t - for a second - believe there was any overt intention from the Org to screw over our community. They did what they thought was the right thing to do. Hindsight is always 20-20. I appreciate and believe Maid Marian’s statement that the Org is going to take a long hard look at their options. I’ve been fortunate to have met Marian and I am certain that she is as heartbroken and concerned as I am, if not more so. So I do not approve of people attacking her for her press release.

I will say that I think it was incredibly naive of those who set up the lottery to believe that scalpers - who due to the supply/demand situation could potentially triple their money in just a few months - wouldn’t take out pre-paid debit cards which the “scrubbing software” couldn’t possibly catch. They do this for a living and know how to game far more complex systems than the one employed by the Org in running the lottery.

I also believe it naive (or at best wishful thinking) to assume that there are a significant number of actual burners who got more tickets than they need and who will now redistribute them through STEP. The sheer number of people who have discussed the ticketing problem on social networking sites, the e-Playa and here are ample evidence that simply didn’t happen. Thus far, I have not spoken to a single person who registered for more tickets than they needed, and got them. In fact, what I’ve heard is that a few registered for more than they needed, and got none at all.

One additional concern I have, which I have not seen discussed, is that it reasonable to assume that if only a third or so of the burners who applied actually received tickets, then there is a strong probability that only a third of the scalper applications were granted as well. So simply giving those who applied and were turned down a better chance at the remaining ten thousand tickets will only put more (probably 60%) into the hands of the scalpers. Talk about pouring gasolene on a fire....

Complaining isn’t going to fix the problem. It may be cathartic, but its not really productive.
As I see it, the real question now is what can be done to try to fix the problem.

Selling more tickets isn’t an option. The BLM permit has restrictions and - believe me - the government doesn’t care about the ticketing problem.

Some are talking about “occupying” or rushing the gate or trying to sneak in. Please... It’s a federal crime to trespass on federal land. There are many in the government who frown upon our gathering, and would look at a huge number of arrests, be they for drugs or trespassing, as a golden opportunity to deny future permits. So unless you want to throw out the baby with the bath water, that isn’t the answer either. Perhaps the long term solution to the supply/demand problem may involve moving from our beloved Playa to another location that can accommodate more people, but that is a discussion for another time. But the man burns in 210 days...

So what can the Org do to make this better now. Many have suggested linking IDs to tickets. I agree. (I suggested it in the letter I sent in November.) The Org should immediately undertake and implement a legal and secure system to do so. (I hereby volunteer to help.)

I believe it can legally be done, even for the tickets they have already sold. I wanted to know for certain, so I went to the source... I have my ticket stubs going back to 2003. Each one bears the same warning; “This ticket is a revocable license and it may be revoked by Burning Man for any reason.” Any reason can now simply include that the ticket hasn’t been linked to an appropriate identification document as required.

Burning Man has the e-mail and mailing addresses for every ticket sold. An e-mail (and a snail mail letter) should go out to each “winner” with a coded link to a database that allows them to identify the name(s) linked to each ticket reservation. If you won a single ticket, its your name. If you won two (like I did) you can identify the other person you are bringing. If you show up at the gate without an ID that matches your ticket, your license is revoked. (Yes, there will be a line for those to plead their case that they lost their ID on the way, or whatever, but it won’t be allowed to hold up the main entryway.)

Each ticket must be linked to an ID within a short period of time, otherwise the license will be revoked, the ticket refunded, and the available ticket placed back into the pool. The time to link the names must be reasonable (perhaps 15-20 days) but must end long before the March 28th drawing. The Org should immediately publicize the new system to keep people from being duped into purchasing in the secondary market. Scalpers will not be able to collect hugely inflated prices - especially for tickets they don’t even have in hand - when people know they have to be quickly linked to a specific ID or be revoked.

While it could be done, there is no need to actually print one’s name on a ticket. Each ticket is already bar coded, and they have been for years. It doesn’t take all that long to check a ticket’s bar code against the database to ascertain the correct holder. Yes it will take a bit more time. Yes, the Org will probably need more lanes to get people in without clogging up 447. But we have 8 months to work through the logistics.

The programming for this system can not be all that hard. In fact, they may already have the system in place. The early arrival system already uses bar-coded PDFs which are checked upon arrival. If they need to improve that system to correlate to IDs and to handle the larger numbers, or even build a new one from scratch, I’m sure a good programmer could code the entire system in well under a week. The Org just took in a significant amount of money. I’ll bet they can afford to hire someone good.

Anyone who needs to sell a ticket can do so, but only through STEP. A reasonable service charge may be appropriate, and may increase as the event gets closer, but it would be relatively easy - and fair - to restrict sales to the STEP program.

People seeking tickets through STEP will be placed in line, first come first served. It would be easy to include a tracking feature for each reservation so that you could go on-line and see how many people there are in line in front of you. Tickets purchased through STEP tickets must be immediately linked to both an ID and the purchasing credit card, and the names on both must match. The printed tickets should now include a notice that it must be accompanied by the linked ID, and is non-transferable other than through STEP. Any tickets left over (if any) would be available - at a premium - at the gate.

It’s clear that this will not be a simple task and that it may cost some money to implement. It may require some more on-Playa manpower, but I’ll bet that the Org wouldn’t have much trouble getting volunteers if it helps alleviate the problem we are all facing now. But it’s certainly doable in the time between now and the Burn. The Org have access to people with significant legal and technical expertise. If they don’t, then I can help them find some. This could all be solved next week if there is a will to do so. I hope there is, because I’m looking forward to my thirteenth burn and hope I don’t have to wait until next year to experience it.
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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby CornMan » Sun Feb 05, 2012 12:29 am

While this may be yet another thread about assigning codes to tickets, it is the best written one yet. Don't be surprised if some people look at this thread knowing full well what it's about before opening it and get all grumpy about this being yet another thread about the ticket fiasco.
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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby The CO » Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:31 am

This thread is a so redundant that we need a new word for redundant.

I will listen to any argument about how the system has failed/what the answer is AFTER we see how this all works out. Shit ain't gonna change this year. This thread is where you should put your idea. Please look over existing topics within the forum before starting a new (and covered in dead horse) thread.
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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby lemur » Sun Feb 05, 2012 2:40 am

that post is 500 words longer than the Declaration of Independence.
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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby stephmopho » Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:12 am

If you log on to craigslist scalpers have more than 37 tickets for sale right now. These people are pathetic. Ive just spent the last twenty min.. flagging their ads. I know it is useless....but felt good in teh moment. fyi I have two tickets, so it is not sour grapes. I hope BM figures out a plan.
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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby AntiM » Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:15 am

Don't flag the Craigslist ads, that just hides the listing, which will crop up again. Instead, report them to the ticket office, they have the ability to pull the ticket order if warranted.

The email address is on the main ticket site, on the bottom under "contact".
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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby theCryptofishist » Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:53 am

tltr
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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby BlackRockCityPimp » Sun Feb 05, 2012 11:36 am

A good proposed fix would be to cancel the sale of any remaining tickets forcing the community to work shit out RIGHT MEOW so we can have all our burn plans sorted by March 1st.
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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby rchapin » Sun Feb 05, 2012 2:17 pm

You can't really call back tickets now. You have to run damage control, and fast.

Sure, Burning Man will still happen one way or another, but the situation has completely fucked the Karma for those who call Burning Man their home.

The biggest problem right now is theme camps. Folks are pissed off and unable to start fundraising or building unless key people in their camp have a ticket.

My solution is this:

BMORG has the contact info of all theme camps. I'd take 5,000 of the 10,000 tickets that are left and get on the phone to each and every one of those camps, asking them how many tickets they need.

Remember "It's a Wonderful Life" where they're trying to keep the bank open asking people what's the least they need: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qu2uJWSZkck

If you really want to make people happy, you'd also offer the tickets at a lower tier - $320

For future ticket sales, I'd set aside a certain number of tickets for theme camps and those who make a significant contribution to Burning Man. I know this can be subjective, but they're already doing this with the art grants - selecting projects worthy of Burning Man.

I would also have the community be a part of this, voting on their favorite art, music, camps, etc. I know it's not supposed to be a popularity contest, but folks do come to Burning Man hoping to see their favorite DJ, artist, theme camp, etc. These folks work incredibly hard to bring magic to the playa and it's the least we could do to acknowledge that.

As a bonus, scalpers would be cut out of the loop completely (at least for the initial sales) since tickets would be set aside for real people.
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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby lemur » Sun Feb 05, 2012 2:38 pm

omg did you just post that in 4 threads

quick!!! someone give rchapin a slap, he is skipping!
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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby FIGJAM » Sun Feb 05, 2012 2:56 pm

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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby rchapin » Sun Feb 05, 2012 3:00 pm

Yup, my bad. The topic is all over the place and I just wanted to make sure someone saw it. Didn't know there was a term for this.

Instead of focusing on "skipping", how about the idea?
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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby theCryptofishist » Sun Feb 05, 2012 6:15 pm

I resist the idea of putting the theme camps in some special position in order to get tickets. Then you'll have people doing theme camps in order to get tickets. Yes, they'd have to be successful enough to get the nod, but I still think it's a big invitation to get fucked. And giving them a discount means that there might not be enough cash to do everything that needs doing for this year.

You can paste this in the other three threads...
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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby Eric » Sun Feb 05, 2012 6:40 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:You can paste this in the other three threads...


Oh god, please don't.
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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby rchapin » Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:32 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:I resist the idea of putting the theme camps in some special position in order to get tickets. Then you'll have people doing theme camps in order to get tickets. Yes, they'd have to be successful enough to get the nod, but I still think it's a big invitation to get fucked. And giving them a discount means that there might not be enough cash to do everything that needs doing for this year.

You can paste this in the other three threads...


Yea, I can't really post this into three other threads since those were summarily deleted. People are obviously more worried about cross-posting etiquette than solving the problem.

The idea is to offer a certain amount of tickets to camps, artists, etc, that they would require for their "core". Our camp had about 2 dozen, but there were about 6 who were really responsible for the setup. Only 1 of those got tickets this year, so it looks like our camp might not happen.

So it doesn't mean a camp of 40 gets 40 tickets. And like I said, it's no different form what they're doing with the art project grants.

It's a simple fix, but I know that there will always be someone somewhere who has a problem with virtually any idea, whether it's cross-posted or not.

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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby The CO » Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:53 pm

Tickets set aside for theme camps=exclusion. (This from a 14 year theme camp founder)

Piss off.

Radical inclusion doesn't say anything about theme camps.
If any given theme camp "can't do the burn because they don't have enought people" then too fuckin bad. Maybe #yourcamp needs to #prioritize.
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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby The CO » Sun Feb 05, 2012 11:02 pm

Phuket. Phurthermore, if anyone thinks that BRC will "fail" without well established theme camps, you're doing it wrong. Where the fuck do you think theme camps came from? They did not spring from the forehead of Zues, some virgin had an idea. And that idea grew. And in some cases, that idea ran its course and the camp folded.

Call it evolution, community growth, whathefuckever. New blood keeps this event alive.
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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby International Incident » Sun Feb 05, 2012 11:50 pm

Zeke Chaparral wrote:While this may be yet another thread about assigning codes to tickets, it is the best written one yet. Don't be surprised if some people look at this thread knowing full well what it's about before opening it and get all grumpy about this being yet another thread about the ticket fiasco.


It is well written.

I am playing nicely.

So I am not going to get all snappy at the poster.

I will go and find some ignorant doushebag and yell at them instead
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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby Campmaster » Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:32 am

thank you for a well thought out post.

For those who think the postings from theme camps are demands for special treatment, you're missing the point: Since the BMORG hasn't been releasing info, theme camps are the only group that can say "we only got 25% of our request" - individuals can only say "I got 100% or 0% of my tickets". Theme camps are the canary in the coal mine pointing out the problem.

That said, groups of burners building things (Theme Camps, Art Installations, Mutant vehicles) are ALL non-BMORG efforts. We started it as a way to provide a service to our fellow burners. The ice you buy, the music you listen to, even the Temple, are all gifts from burners that start planning before they even leave the Playa. If you truely want an event that's non-theme camp you will have The Man, Center Camp, and lots of porta-potties --- and all these great parties that you're not invited to because, well, we don't know you.
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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby Eric » Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:27 am

rchapin wrote:Yea, I can't really post this into three other threads since those were summarily deleted. People are obviously more worried about cross-posting etiquette than solving the problem.


I normally would respond to this part in a PM, but we have a lot of newer members so I want to make sure it's visible: crossposting doesn't "solve" anything, it merely makes other posters mad (see above posts), and in the culture of this board is considered on par with a shirtcocking weekender with a megaphone; as well as being something we don't allow because it makes it harder to find information when threads get buried with repeated posts. Crossposts will be deleted- choose the thread you think your post is most applicable to, and post it there. If no such thread exists, create one.


As for the OP's proposal (which is actually well thought out, mostly):

I'm sure someone from the LLC is reading some of these, but, unless there is something shocking and revolutionary in the "names on ticket" proposal, it's something they've been aware of before they even announced the lottery and they didn't think it was feasible (their reasons against it were in the original FAQ way back in November). Will they rethink that? Who knows- I certainly don't, but it's not an idea that they're unaware of and it's not an idea they haven't thought about.

No solution is simple, and I'm glad I'm not the one who's going to have to decide what it is & then let the community know. No matter what it is, there will be a vocal group that hates it.
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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby International Incident » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:40 am

Eric wrote:
rchapin wrote:Yea, I can't really post this into three other threads since those were summarily deleted. People are obviously more worried about cross-posting etiquette than solving the problem.


I normally would respond to this part in a PM, but we have a lot of newer members so I want to make sure it's visible: crossposting doesn't "solve" anything, it merely makes other posters mad (see above posts), and in the culture of this board is considered on par with a shirtcocking weekender with a megaphone; as well as being something we don't allow because it makes it harder to find information when threads get buried with repeated posts. Crossposts will be deleted- choose the thread you think your post is most applicable to, and post it there. If no such thread exists, create one.


As for the OP's proposal (which is actually well thought out, mostly):

I'm sure someone from the LLC is reading some of these, but, unless there is something shocking and revolutionary in the "names on ticket" proposal, it's something they've been aware of before they even announced the lottery and they didn't think it was feasible (their reasons against it were in the original FAQ way back in November). Will they rethink that? Who knows- I certainly don't, but it's not an idea that they're unaware of and it's not an idea they haven't thought about.

No solution is simple, and I'm glad I'm not the one who's going to have to decide what it is & then let the community know. No matter what it is, there will be a vocal group that hates it.


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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby freeatlast » Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:13 am

Multiple gift-economy events is the only solution.
Burning Man will sell out every year, and scalpers will sell overpriced tickets every year, until there are more burning man type events.
the essence is a festival with a gift economy, and no spectators: nothing for sale, and no big-name acts.
the solution could be for burning man to hold three events next year, or six;
or for multiple groups to set up different types of events with a gift economy.
i propose: two burns next year, one in arizona on a reservation in july, plus the regular labor day festival.
having them close to each other in time and space would reduce ticket demand.
the following year, more gift economy festivals, with different themes:
Moist Woman is my favorite idea.
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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby The CO » Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:50 am

Freeatlast-

They call those 'regionals'.
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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby theCryptofishist » Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:55 am

They are just able to throw the one party a year, now you want them to throw six? And of course, there are the regionals, the closest thing to that vision we have. Or are likely to have in the near future.
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Re: The ticket SNAFU and a proposed fix

Postby vargaso » Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:21 am

Regionals are great, but face it, nothing can or ever will compare to Burning Man proper, if only because of the organic lineage of it, as in anything that tries to take up the slack is merely an offshoot. And the fucking playa, the blank slate of all blank slates. Our party is just about over, it happened and it's fucking amazing and totally improbable that it ever did and I'm so grateful to have been there for a few of them. Like everything else that's special, as soon as it's mainstreamed, it's over. And sure, people have been saying that since almost the beginning, but I think THIS time, it's happened. Before, even if you thought the event went to pot, you could still go if you really wanted to. The more I think about it, the less I want to go now. I'll still try to grab a ticket on STEP and the March sale, but I'm not gonna bend over backwards.

And yeah, it's nice that more people are discovering it and of course it'd be great if EVERYONE had a Burning Man experience because it does change you for the better. Probably it's time for those of us steeped in it to move on and make room for those who need it. They'll get out there, stumble around in awe like we all did, and then spend the next year planning for something great. And it might be totally different than a steampunk fire-breathing metal mythical creature on wheels. Which would be fucking nice (as awesome as those things are). And they could probably get a ticket if all of us veterans would move on. I don't know, I'm beginning to think the best playa gift I can give to a newbie is to be one less person they have to compete for a ticket with.

And speaking of newbies, the Black Rock Bijou of last year, that awesome movie theater way out in deep playa? The group that made that were burgins in 2010. And I think I remember one of them telling me they made something really cool that year too. So, yeah.
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