What Is Up With Neal Katyal's Stupid Shirt?
And other questions I have about Burning Man.
Another Burning Man has come and gone. In its wake, the nation’s largest concentration of people with seven-figure bank accounts who are just dying to tell you about ayahuasca has been left to unceremoniously disperse from the Nevada desert and slink back to their 3,000-square-foot San Francisco lofts.
Over the course of its nearly four-decade existence, the annual festival has transformed from a countercultural bacchanalia for Bay Area artists and weirdos into a massive circle jerk for tech bros and TikTok stars whose vainglorious presence at Black Rock City has long since overwhelmed any authentic sense of community or meaning. Being forced to square the festival’s stated principles of “decommodification” and “civic responsibility” with attendees like Mark Zuckerberg and Josh Kushner and Elon fucking Musk should be proof enough that no matter how fun and shiny the whole endeavor may seem, it is, above all else, totally fucked.
As it happens, this latest Burning Man was particularly fucked, thanks to a massive downpour that left attendees hopelessly mired in foot-deep mud and the natural overflow of thousands of clogged porta-potties. For an event that fundamentally relies on communal, chemical, and celestial inspiration, the vibes at this year’s Burning Man were irrevocably off. And to that point, I can think of no better embodiment of just how fucked the vibes were than this post from former acting Solicitor General of the United States and slavery defender Neal Katyal.
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