Herald Article Klamath to Welcome BurnersFew mental images are as nonsensical, depraved and immoral as the idiocy of a group of guys excitedly masterbating in a circle. What began as a frat game now applies to any episode where a group of people, including women, participate in a debate, but end up agreeing with each other’s viewpoints to the point of redundancy, stroking each other’s egos as if they were extensions of their genitals (ergo, the mastubatory insinuation). Such activities move with spastic jolts from conceptual meme through broader circles of dysfunction, resulting in a taint junket.

Our April post, “Hippie Town has it Better Than Klamath” went viral. The content (usually without credit to the source) was picked up by major news media and addressed even by locals, such as Klamath Tourism and the City Manager. The Klamath leadership that for all these years failed to notice Burning Man and comprehend its relevance to the region couldn’t come up with their own ideas. Then our article hit and some of them seized the opportunity not only to claim the knowledge therein as their own, but to use the momentum to warp the outcomes toward dark purposes.

What occurred was exactly the warning and point of the writing. Don’t steal creative thought or creative practices. Understand the maker and work to develop a climate that is mutually beneficial. Through the evidence of what occurred after our post it is easy to see that the meaning and message was completely lost on most of the Klamath figureheads.

It begs the question whether something stupid should be granted power. To spell it out for those Klamathites who corrupted the vision, the challenge was not to harass the migrants with propaganda designed to suck money from them. The message was to look at Burning Man as a model of the ultimate creative community and begin to emulate the structures that embrace and facilitate such fervor. The idea was that Klamath Falls could generate an enduring base of residents an patrons to anchor amazing investments that would sustain the economy in enduring ways, not pirate the short term sales benefits without doing the groundwork. In other words, build a ship of Klamath’s own rather than raiding and pillaging the vessels of passing traders.

Evidence Tourism Director Jim Chadderdon’s ham-handed convulsion that netted a write-up in Klamath’s local newspaper. He stands grinning in the press photo with a banner that welcomes Burners. Nevermind that his artwork lacks creativity or understanding of his audience. Like Batman, a simple symbol is what attracts Burners. it is in bad form to even use the word Burners in propaganda. Tsk. tsk. His action of “doing something” was to assemble a bag of paperwork designed to redirect Burners to places in Klamath Falls to spend money…and the gift of a branded frisbee. People don’t play frisbee on the playa, dumbass. Tourism workers were to hand these bags out to Burners motoring through town. Great, a bag full of nothing useful to a Burner. And no, Burners don’t burn this garbage, they watch the spectacle of controlled artistic burns. This is just more garbage to haul to a place that has no garbage cans. Items largely useless to Burners taking up valuable space. Typical tourism propaganda, most of which will be quickly thrown into overflowing dumpsters on the way out of town.

The article we posted in April did included some ideas that would actually be extremely useful to Burners, such as opening up any of our vast fields for overnight camping. This is needed because KOA is way to small and the other outlying grounds are too remote. If you do indeed want them to shop, give them a better reason to…like being able to camp near the shopping.

Chadderdon had contacted us after the April article expressing (feigned) shock over the perception that Klamath Tourism might not be appealing to the Burning Man participant ethos. He wanted a lot of free advice we had no reason to provide without evidence that he or those he represented were genuinely committed to improving the creative side of Klamath Falls. As a free information site, we are open to act as consultants to assist those struggling to develop strategies for improvements we agree with. Paying for a service is one way to demonstrate value and sincerity to creative people. Rather than respect the knowledge of a writer who spent the past 14 years studying the anthropology of Burning Man by ponying up a hundred bucks for a few hours of consulting from an annual budget of over $400K, cheapo Chadderdon stomped off in haste to prove he could do it himself, even though he had never been to Burning Man.

It’s the thought that counts…NOT

With many Burning Man attendees feeling desperate for acceptance from the world outside the event, many will happily accept any token–even vastly off target and inappropriate–with gratitude, but the rest will see right through the rouse for what it is: blatant exploitation.

Let’s not confuse what is going on for anything other than ploys to trap unsuspecting attendees into patronizing area shops while the local police salivate over the fresh meat passing through Klamath. The law enforcement folks of Klamath Falls love to enhance their quotas with traffic citations and arrests for various offenses ranging from trespassing (trying to sleep in their RV when there is no space they can rent) to vagrancy (standing around looking like themselves).

Speaking of vagrancy, In mid-July, a program was implemented that targeted the likes of Burning Man attendees for police harassment. See: Police Force Boosts Presence Downtown. This effort was apparently spearheaded by Susan Beach of Main Street Jewelers who sits on the Downtown Advisory Committee with her husband Dan (why would the mayor appoint two people in the same family and same business to such a critical policy group? Can anyone say cronyism? How about nepotism?) and she got the whole Downtown Association worked up over the issue. The City responded with increased activity in the an area already saturated by police patrols…this is Main Street after all.

The action was prompted by the shocking sights of a skateboarder and a cyclist using an empty sidewalk instead of the busy road. The sting request swelled to include anyone who didn’t look right for downtown, apparently meaning anyone not actively shopping. Using the outcry as an excuse to over-reach, “patrols have written many tickets for public drinking and disorderly conduct.” Police Lt. Rob Dentinger said in a Herald and News Interview.

A police state isn’t the type of society that attracts Burning Man people, or any creatives for that matter. So on one hand you have Tourism promoting the virtues of Klamath Falls to solicit visitation from people wary of harassment in a redneck town, and on the other hand you have groups who would otherwise benefit from that marketing taking steps to ensure Burning Man visitors will have experiences that lead to Klamath loathing.

There’s Something About Klamath

There’s a bizarre formula at work in Klamath where every time people get together on a group project, the net intelligence is reduced by the square of each person involved.

There are so many things Klamath could do to develop it’s own creative base, but after seeing the information in the first article so bastardized, detailed explanations will not be forthcoming. Let’s just say that Klamath has failed to rally in any way that would develop an enduring relationship with Burners. Klamath could have, but it didn’t. The solution was never to exploit those passing through. The solution was and is to become the kind of community that creative people are automatically drawn to. Do that and the economy will follow.

As for Tourism, what the hell are they promoting anyway? It has only been the last decade or so where this experiment of levying a 10% hospitality tax on visitors to fund a private tourism entity has been in place. Prior to that, there were special project allocations as needed from the County and a salaried tourism coordinator. A coordinator is what is needed now, someone to coordinate a better visitor experience by holding the exploiters at bay. You can wallpaper the streets with signs about how friendly Klamath is, but such lies won’t overcome the power of social networking as Burners convey their real-life nightmarish paybacks for diverting their travel through Kalamity Falls. In retrospect, Klamath may have had something worth promoting back in 2007: a growing community with the hope of diversity. What it needs now is capital investment to create something worth promoting again.

For example…go to the Amtrak station. Now that Klamath has lost commercial flight service and the airport terminal looks like Chernoble, Amtrak is the only mass transit system from California. Then go look at Eugene’s Amtrak vicinity. it is a night-and-day difference. Klamath’s train terminal area looks like ass. Eugene’s is a beautiful brick and cobble inlaid roundabout surrounded by landscaping and eateries with benches and skateboarders and cyclists. Eugene calls you to actually hang out near their train station. Klamath’s suggest you shouldn’t exit the train or you will be mugged. The Tourism’s $400K per year would be far better spent on capital investments like restructuring the train station area instead of a tourism function limited to marketing. What kind of publicly-funded organization manages to host a website and promote itself, but fails to openly disclose the members of its board of directors? Hint: those with boards who profit from spending tax money’ money, such as the local newspaper, which helps explain why Chadderdon so easily nabbed a cover story and took full credit for noticing Burning Man migrants. Also on the board is a marketing professor at OIT. Hmmm…marketing experts that spend money before they understand their audience. That violates the most basic premise of marketing practices. Must be that Klamath Equation again…remember? When Klamath people get together on a group project, the net intelligence is reduced by the square of each person involved.