Thursday, November 01, 2007

where's the art in it?

So Chicken John Rinaldi, a local bon vivant from Burning Man circles, is running for mayor. At one point I received an email solicitation from someone (not from Mr. Rinaldi) urging me to donate and saying that "this is the greatest art ever!"

I just don't get it. Where is the art? Where is the orginality in it? Jello Biafra ran for mayor of San Francisco already, and I think there was a lot more political discourse that time around. Everyone tends to forget that Jack Fertig, a.k.a. "Sister Boom Boom" of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence also ran for mayor before.

There seems to be a lot of credulity about. A local blogger, who writes for a weekly newspaper and really should know better, wrote all agush that Chicken John is one of the founders of Burning Man and therefore we should all vote for him. Well, actually, wasn't Chicken John in high school when Burning Man was founded? All the founders are about twenty years older than C.J. When I was a member of the Burning Man LLC, Chicken John had a very tiny role doing some materiel transportation. Chicken John for several years ran a local bar very popular with the Buring Man set, and that is an accomplishment indeed (most people don't have it together enough to be able to meet the various financial and legal requirements needed for a liquor license, as well as run an actual day-to-day business), but not much of a basis upon which to run for mayor.

Even if Chicken John had founded Burning Man, why would that be a reason to vote for him? I adore Larry Harvey, the actual founder of Burning Man, but I would never suggest that Larry would be a good mayor of a major city. (Larry's just not good enough at getting up in the morning to function well as mayor).

Chicken John's ballot statement was pretty boring and seemed to express only that voting for him is somehow threatening to the establishment and a good time. There have always been truly eccentric minority candidates on the ballot, so I don't see why it's so wacky and life-affirming to vote for Chicken.

I'm not enamoured of Mayor Newsom in the least and would really love to see him voted out. I'm disappointed that there has been no substantive opposition at all. There hasn't been any fun anarchy that I've noticed, either. I wish Chicken had done something on a larger, more vivid scale. So far, I don't see the art in any of this, and I don't see any interesting political commentary, either. What I mostly see is people forgetting history.


DaBomb said...

People do forget history, dear Drunken Housewife. Larry Harvey often is singled out as the sole founder of Burning Man when actually it was three guys: Larry Harvey, John Law, and Michael Mikel. Together they formed a partnership called the Paper Man LLC (that pre-dates the Black Rock City LLC) which owned the name and symbol. Today, the actual rights to the Burning Man brand are in legal dispute with all three parties.

the Drunken Housewife said...

Dear Dabomb (is that Abs?), John Law and M2 didn't come into it until years after it started. It was originally Larry and some other guy, whose name I forget but real oldtimers can reel off. (I'm a middle timer, not a real oldtimer). Much later, after it outgrew Baker Beach, John Law and M2 took a pivotal role.

I was actually deeply involved with the Paper Man problems at one stage. I'm very happy I'm not involved with the current round of fighting.

the Drunken Housewife said...

Also, not to get all law nerd on you, but Paper Man LLC did not predate Burning Man's LLC.

There was a partnership, not an LLC (at that time LLCs were not a legal form of business in Calif), which was not named Paper Man. It was commonly referred to as "the Temple of the Three Guys." Paper Man LLC was formed after negotiation and issues around the dissolution of the original partnership, to hold the intellectual property rights of the three former partners. It was either John L. or M2 who thought up the name Paper Man on the spot (I was there, but don't remember which one said it).

I formed the first LLC for BMan after John Law quit. It was then a novel form of business in Calif.

DaBomb said...

Wow. I didn't realize the Temple of the Three Guys was an actual business enterprise.

Sincerely not trying to get all "just the facts ma'am", but here are my sources:

Paper Man LLC (started in 1997) from John Law's blog.

Black Rock City LLC (dated in 5/19/2000) from the: Burning Man website. (Scroll down to final paragraph).

the Drunken Housewife said...

THAT LLC may have been formed then, but I formed a different one before Paper Man was formed. It was Burning Man, LLC, NOT Black Rock City, LLC. It was formed right after the 96 event, with a slightly different cast of characters than the later Black Rock City LLC. I did the papers and had it created as a Nevada LLC myself.

I have copies of the papers for the formation of that LLC in my garage, as well as copies of the Paper Man formation papers.... I have been meaning to donate my boxes of documents somewhere.

The Temple of the Three Guys really was a formal partnership, existing under the law (although that was not the legal name). They had a lawyer draw up a partnership agreement, which is why when John Law quit, it was a big deal. He had a variety of legal rights. I have a copy of that partnership agreement in my files as well.

Incidentally there are a lot of errors of facts in everyone's histories (of course mine as well). I tried to correct some errors of facts in that popular history of Burning Man which came out, suggesting to the author that he correct these mistakes for the paperback edition, but he didn't. I offered him access to my files, but he didn't take me up on it.

the Drunken Housewife said...

I actually thought, Dabomb, that you were a friend of mine squabbling with me (I have a friend with similar hair who is called variants of "DaBaum"). You probably don't know who you're squabbling with. I was the General Counsel for Burning Man for a couple of years and a member of the Burning Man, LLC for a while. I resigned my position after the 1998 burn.

So when I talk about this period of time, when John Law quit and Paper Man was formed, I was actually there. I filled out the forms to create the first couple of LLCs affiliated with the event (at that point in time, an LLC was a new form of business just recognized by the states of Nevada and California). If you look around on the DMV website, where there is a section devoted to Former Players in the Burning Man world, you'll see me remembered there.

So as far as what goes on in Burning Man circles today, I lack firsthand information, but as far as those years of 95-98, I will yield to no one in my indepth, firsthand knowledge and grasp of arcana.

If you doubt me about the LLC stuff, pick up that popular history of Burning Man and read the interview given by Andy Pector, an old friend of mine from that time. Andy has a lively take on that era.

DaBomb said...

Drunken Housewife, my apologies if you feel I am squabbling. This is not my intent.

I agree with you on your commment that "there are a lot of errors of facts in everyone's histories", so I was just citing where I got my information. I really appreciate your information and find it very intriguing, putting new twists in the tale.

Even in these modern days, where everything can be time-stamped, it just goes to show you how history goes to the beat of it's own drum. It's kinda like those stories in the bible, where one book swears it went this way, and another book claims it went another way. You know? It's all so biblical.

Thanks for clarifying.

hughman said...

"Even if Chicken John had founded Burning Man, why would that be a reason to vote for him?"

So many things in that sentence made me giggle.

Unknown said...

Nobody for President (Wavy Gravy)

Stephen Colbert 2008

people have been running for offices for a lark for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Jerry James. It was Jerry James that built the first man.

He's the one everyone forgets about.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and you shouldn't vote for Chicken because he has anything to do with BM.

You should vote for him because he's smarter than Gavin Newsom. I'm sure he would have done something grander if the election dept hadn't screwed him out of the matching funds. They dithered and said that he didn't have all his ducks in a row when he actually did, and made him run around proving his donation sources.

But he is smarter than Gavin (he's smarter than just about every one I know). How this could be proven, I don't actually know. But even if it could, he would still lose the race, if on no other basis, then because of Gavin's "good looks".

It's ridiculous, but I think lots of people vote for Gavin because he's handsome.

the Drunken Housewife said...

Thank you, Danger Angel. Jerry James is indeed the name I was fishing for. I usually refer to him ignorantly as "Jerry Somebody." I also promise not to vote for Gavin Newsom (I voted for the other candidate last time).

The real founders of Burning Man were Larry Harvey and Jerry James. Years later Cacophonists M2 and John Law (and various others) transformed the event by helping Larry move it out to the desert, where it became the famous event still going on today. Along the way there were a lot of different personalities involved, most of whom were grandiose. I like Andy Pector's history of the time he & I were both involved because Andy is less self-aggrandizing than anyone else.

And Ben, thanks for reminding us of other candidates. Let us not forget Pigasus, the Yippie candidate (and forerunner of "Spiderpig" as a famous pop culture pig).

2amsomewhere said...

Piggybacking on Hughman's comment...

"Even if Chicken John had founded Burning Man, why would that be a reason to vote for him?"

So many things in that sentence made me giggle.

When I read his comment, I imagined Drunken's rhetorical question being read by one of the "indignant older guy" voice overs they use for negative political ads, and I about burst a blood vessel laughing so hard.

I need to go give the girls a bath. Later.


hokgardner said...

Consider yourselves lucky to get people somewhat respectable to run for mayor. Here in Austin we get this guy -

He hangs out on street corners in Austin and now has his own set of refrigerator magnets and paper dolls.

Amy said...

Actually, the guy who organized the first "burn a wicker man at Ocean beach" event that later became Burning Man was local artist Tim O'Neil. Larry Harvey took over once it started getting large.

Caroline said...

A question asked in all seriousness: What is it about Burning Man that people get so damn wound up about it? A bunch of artsy people get together in a desert to stay up for days on end making art/playing music/altering their consciousness/going around naked, and then they burn a human effigy. I'm not a fan of the desert, but hey, whatever floats your boat! But then in various places (not just this blog) I see various anguished discussions about how the spirit of Burning Man has been violated, how this year's Burning Man wasn't a REAL Burning Man the way Burning Man USED to be, and so forth and so on. What gives?

Vodalus said...

My Burning question is, why does it matter who was first? (Aside from all the legal and financial considerations...)

I'd also like to point out that many smart people should never, ever be put in positions of power due to being (a) ditherers, (b) slightly OCD, (c) completely disorganized, or (d) incapable of delegation. I suppose that (e) some combination of the aforementioned is possible, but the concept is extra frightening.