Every August, I get this weird feeling in my stomach.
My doctor recently diagnosed me with a severe case of regret. The pangs have reoccurred annually since 2009, which not so coincidently coincides with my first and last trip to Black Rock Desert, Nevada, for Burning Man. There’s no cure for regret this heavy, but over the last eight years I’ve found one thing that seems to alleviate symptoms, albeit only momentarily. It involves finding stories on the Internet that report negatively on the faux non-conforming convention of conformists. In life, it’s actually quite rare to find instances of bad things happening to bad people. Usually, bad things happen to good people, or vice versa. So, when I find a match of bad with bad, I feel like Kim Kardashian just got robbed all over again. Merry Christmas.
Last year, the sublime news spread that Burning Man had been overcome by a plague of stinkbugs. I delighted in bringing the news to the attention of everyone and anyone who would listen. But what about my friends there? I don’t have friends there. I’ve dedicated a good amount of my time weeding out the types of people who annually attend the faux free spirited event that has become a license to print money and wear tutu’s on a Tuesday (real weekday theme actually printed in Burning Man’s event guide). I’ve also spent a good deal of my remaining time warning every person I care about to stay far away from the faux anti-capitalist parade of capitalists waiting in the pancake breakfast line (real morning meet-up printed in the Burning Man event guide).
Sorry it’s taken me this long to get to the punch line, but here it is, this year’s bad thing happening to a bad thing. Burning Man has accepted a donation of 100 logs of dead wood to build their ‘Temple’, gifted by none other than Pacific Gas & Electric Company, also known colloquially as ‘The Man’. Granted, ‘The Temple’ is lit up in flames alongside the literal statue of a man, which explains the namesake of the faux spiritual festival attended by economists and recent finance graduates. Still, PG&E are, for all intents and purposes, a corporation, something Burning Man still tries to peg as its mortal enemy, despite, for all intents and purposes, being one itself (Burning Man makes $32.4 million a year in revenue, CEO Marian Goodell’s 2014 salary was $242,500). The irony of setting alight wood donated by PG&E burns most bright when you consider that in September 2010, the company was found criminally responsible for a blast in San Bruno, California, that killed eight people and destroyed over 38 homes. In the eternal words of Tom Jones, fighting fire with fire.
PG&E of course released a statement regarding the donation, which may or may not have been written by the stoned uncle of Terese in accounts. Among other outlandish statements, it purports that “Like a phoenix, once majestic Ponderosa pine trees, destroyed by drought and bark beetles, will obtain new life in The Temple at Burning Man.” PG&E’s vegetation management supervisor also says it’s “definitely a one-of-a-kind opportunity for us. They’re building this really cool temple out of trees that have died in the forests that would have had to come down and be removed, anyway. In essence, we’re helping recycle the forest in a unique way. ”