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Burning Man Pt. II

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Burning Man Pt. II

So Candy & Cigarettes had, far and away, its most successful post yesterday, chronicling the dirty hipster annual rite of self-discovery and narcotic/carnal bliss, Burning Man.  In case you missed that post (and are too fucking lazy to scroll down):  We're closing in on a 1,000 hits on that single post alone, and it's still climbing.  Very excited.  Part of the post's success comes via my friend Sean Kenniff (, who stoked (sorry) linking the post on Burning Man's Facebook page (

I was out most of the day, only able to check comments, traffic, e-mail and responses remotely, on my phone (in-between blasting my delts and rocking with the WJ's new drummer, Mr. Hart).  When I got home and saw that Sean had posted the blog on Burning Man's FB page, I went there, and immediately felt bad.  I mean, I hate humanity, sure, but primarily in the abstract.  On an individual level, I tend to like the fuckers a great deal.  Once I read some responses by real people, my disdain softened, and looking at the goofy bastards with their ill advised facial hair and tall Abe Lincoln fuzzy hats, I wondered, why did I have to be so mean about the whole thing?  What had these dirty, stinking hippies ever done to me (besides making me compost and sort my garbage into 12 different containers, perpetuating the "organic" scam that has my mother-in-law harping continuously, and exposing me to their beaded crafts)?  Really, what the hell do I care if new-age hipsters want to head into the desert to dress up like Thing One and Thing Two and do yoga and display their crappy art?  It's not like they are hurting anybody.  (Unless you are this guy I used to know, Beau Daddy, who got really fucked up at Burning Man a few years ago and ran over a tent full of people and received a life sentence.  Seriously).

A little while back, I was accused of being a bully (in my writing), and I thought of that.  Pushing around "burners," why that's like pushing around one of those weird little kids who love turtles too much.

Then I read this article: on the SF Gate.  And the author makes some very valid points, like how Burning Man is just a little bit hypocritical in preaching its Earth Mother/anti-capitalism ideology, when the event costs as much as a plane ticket to Hawaii, is corporately sponsored, and the grand finale proves a textbook exercise in colossal waste (don't get much more wasteful than building something really really big just to watch it burn).

The author, Cameron Scott, doesn't resort to name calling; he remains respectful. He's simply illustrating how ecologically unfriendly Burning Man is.  Of course, I don't give two shits about that part.  In fact, being so wasteful and environmentally irresponsible almost makes me like Burning Man more.  But look at the comments posted beneath Scott's article.  Man, these fucking burners are mean!  They call for Scott's firing, call him a moron, tell him to stay away and how the playa is better off without him.  Mean burners.

What happened to inclusiveness and the right to express different points of view?  I thought Burning Man was about "kindness" and "community"?  Scott is on your side.  He only wants for a Greener world.  He's merely encouraging you to embrace the spirit of what Burning Man should be all about instead of the frivolous, decadent, morally bankrupt excuse to party that it has become.

Of course, like I, Scott hasn't actually been to Burning Man, which invariably prompted a slew of "You have no right to criticize Burning Man if you've never been" responses.  Which is kinda weak.  I mean, I've never been to a NAMBLA meeting, have no intention of ever going to a NAMBLA meeting, does that mean I can't criticize little boy fuckers?

Which begs the next question: did I really just compare Burning Man with pedophilia?  Yes.  Yes, I did.

Sorry.  Probably shouldn't have done that, might even come to regret it (probably should've used "war" as a better example), but c'mon, it's such a stupid argument. There are plenty of things you don't need to "experience" in order to criticize them. Do I really need to list them all?

I don't need to occupy physically the same space to know I wouldn't like hanging out with some people.  I can read and hear the way burners speak, like the secret language D&Ders used to have, only here it isn't "elf needs food badly," it's "see you on the playa!" and "enjoy the burn, man!" and know I wouldn't want to experience anything with these people.  (Except maybe the zombie apocalypse, because watching them try to get zombies into a game of hacky sack would be pretty funny).  I am not sure the legality of cutting and pasting comments from Facebook.  Plus, it's not really necessary.  You can go to that goddamn Facebook page I was telling you about and read firsthand what I am talking about.  Guys named "Rene" with an accent over the "e," or who make up their own nicknames, like "Jester" or "Jazzy," and all the goddamn wishes of "brightness" and "light-filled journeys," in between the pandering for rides and/or gas money.

Still, I am not a confrontational guy.  Don't let the muscles and tattoos fool you; I'm a sensitive mutherfucker.  And I am glad that privileged, upper-middle-class white hipsters have finally found something just for them.  (God knows they've suffered long enough.)

So here's what I'd like to do for the rest of the week on C & C.  I want to hear from you, the readers.  It's open solicitation time.  Instead of stories only about Joe, we are opening it up to stories about Burning Man.  Pro, con, whatever.  They can be essays, comments, anything (except poetry, because, y'know, it'd be poetry). Seriously, if you love Burning Man so goddamn much and think I'm using trite, tired cliches, the ol' "sabermetric geek living in mom's basement" defense, I welcome the discourse.  I am not above humility.  I'll even correct your grammar for you so you look smart.  Or if you just want to add your impressions of why Burning Man sucks, I'll probably run your piece first, even if it's poorly written.

Please send all submissions to, and put "Burning Man" in the Subject Line.

Now, in closing, I submit Prosecution Exhibit C.  Here is a picture of an actual flow chart found at Burning Man (confiscated by our staff).  Shit cracks me up every time...

                                         (Click on pic for a better view.)

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At August 31, 2011 at 9:21 AM , Blogger DSobczak said...


I really don't know where to start with this post because it is so fucking brilliant.

goofy bastards with ill advised facial hair or your repetitive use of dirty stinking hippies. Both references had me laughing loudly.

Then I got to the part where you defended your criticism of Burning Man despite never going. NAMBLA?? I still haven't stopped laughing at that comparison.

When I read your first post yesterday I felt somewhat unenlightened for not even knowing what the hell burning man was. Google worked wonders and the first thing I read was that Burning Man tickets had sold out. Which to me displayed how crazy the whole thing was. Everyone talks about getting away from the corporate world for a week, but it costs an arm and leg just to get in.

I must say having never met your friend who posted the link on Burning Man's FB page, I know I would like him, because that is something I would do and am actually angry with myself for not thinking of it first.

My favorite post on the FB page is by far, Have fun at Black Rock this week, family of the dust!

It reminded me of Richard Vernon talking to Carl in the school basement and talking about the kids running the country one day and how the thought woke him up at night.

I suppose there are a lot of things that can happen to my sons that are worse, but turning into one of these people scares the shit out of me.

At August 31, 2011 at 9:28 AM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

Glad you liked it, Duane. It's all in good fun. I think. I mean, maybe I just have to say that because the thought of a "family of dust" descending on me like a plague of locusts with hacky sacks scares ME shitless...

At August 31, 2011 at 9:31 AM , Blogger J J said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At August 31, 2011 at 9:35 AM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

Yeah, JJ, I actually applied to be a writer for the Jim Rom Is Burning show. Never heard back (sigh)...

At August 31, 2011 at 9:36 AM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

Probably shouldn't have mentioned the whole "getting his ass kicked by Jim 'Chrissie' Everett" debacle, huh?

At August 31, 2011 at 9:37 AM , Blogger J J said...

sorry, i had to edit a usage issue and re-post.

Burners, meh. At least for one weekend SF is free of hippies. You're site (which I love) reminds me of Rome Is Burning (Jim Rome, the sportscaster, of course). It would be redundant to say Clifford Is Burning. Although the image of seeing the red dog in flames appeals to me, I don't think you'd enjoy being compared to a cute red dog, even if it was burning, man.

At August 31, 2011 at 9:44 AM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

Yes, JJ, I did. (Not unlike when I sent Disney Records a demo with four songs about drugs and a picture of a morphine-racked prostitute on the cover. You can't fail, if you don't try...) So many opportunities wasted...

At August 31, 2011 at 9:45 AM , Blogger Sean said...

Man, I love that turtle kid...
Not in the NAMBLA way, that is.

At August 31, 2011 at 12:07 PM , Blogger Serena Calder said...

I am glad that it's all in good fun... because it would be pretty sad if you actually cared enough to criticize a group of "dirty stinking hippies" for doing something that makes them happy. You can criticize ANYTHING on principle (ie: your arguments about BM being ecologically unfriendly, costing a fortune, mean burners, etc), but who really cares?

Pretty much everything is fucked up in some way or another, so you just gotta do whatever fulfills you. And it's different for everyone. For 50,000 dirty stinking hippies, it's Burning Man.

At August 31, 2011 at 12:43 PM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

Yeah, Serena, it's not like my blood's boiling over it. I write this blog EVERY day. You sorta run out of topics after a while, y'know? And this seemed current, and like a topic that would get more people to read C & C (which is what the blog is all about, since I use it to promote my writing career). But, no, I am not seething and pounding my fists over Burning Man. Has nothing to do with me, really (except my in-laws and several friends are "hippies" so I get to poke, jab, and wink. (And it does make for some fun writing!) Thanks for reading (and commenting!)

At August 31, 2011 at 12:54 PM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

(From Esther Martinez, who for some reason was unable to post this comment on blog)

Dear Joe,
I love the posts about Burning Man. I just hate that you are so afraid of being disliked. Even by people (let's face it) whose opinion matters least. You said there is a hierarchy to everything, and I believe that extends to opinions. Personally, I always weigh an opinion according to who gives it. The opinion of a "burner," say, is worth less that the opinion of an esteemed writer. Listening to what "burners" have to say about life and art is akin to taking marriage advice from someone who's been divorced a bunch of times.

But I digress.

I hate that you care so much about being liked. Why can't you be satisfied with being read?

Your blog fan,
Esther Martinez

At August 31, 2011 at 12:55 PM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

Well, Esther, first thanks for writing. To answer your question, I suppose my fear of "being disliked" stems from the big, black, gaping hole of need where a soul should be. I mean, if I had to venture a guess...

PS And I've ONLY been divorced TWICE!

At August 31, 2011 at 4:32 PM , Blogger Jenny Dreadful said...

"And I am glad that privileged, upper-middle-class white hipsters have finally found something just for them. (God knows they've suffered long enough.)"

A-fuckin-men, brotha.

Wish I had written that myself. Please keep it up.

At August 31, 2011 at 4:38 PM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

You bet, Jenny!

At August 31, 2011 at 10:20 PM , Blogger MattyDread said...

That flow chart is the most brilliant expression of existential meaninglessness I've seen since...this:

At August 31, 2011 at 10:23 PM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

That computer shit is HILARIOUS!


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