Burning Man Live | Episode 27 | 12|22|2020

Holiday Special: SantaCon from Home

Guests: Reverend Billy, David Silverman

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! (And boy has it been a year!)

Following in the footsteps of show-biz luminaries like Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, and the cast of Star Wars, we hosted a (non-denominational) holiday show in front of a live online pseudo-studio audience.

Broadcasting from their snowed-in virtual holiday cabins, Stuart and Andie entertained guests:

Santa Zero – originator of the now-infamous SantaCon phenomenon
Mrs. Claus – founder of Burning Man’s first-ever theme camp, Christmas Camp
Tubatron and his Flaming Tuba performing a Hanukkah song
Reverend Billy and Savitri D of the Church of Stop Shopping
And it wouldn’t be the holiday season without Caveat Magister selling us on Decommodification.

Join us for how Krampus cramps us, how COVID is an 8-foot-tall dominatrix, how “Gifting” is so close to “Grifting,” and how the Cacophony Society is sooo Kumbaya, in our final episode of 2020… a Holiday Special that is indeed SPECIAL.

Reminisce with us, and celebrate and speculate.

Portland SantaCon 1996 / “You’d Better Watch Out”

Cacophony Society: Santasm, Santacon, Santarchy, ad nauseum

Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping

Why People Dress Funny at Burning Man (2003)

Peter Doty Obituary (San Francisco Chronicle)

Our guests

Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping is a radical performance community based in New York City. The Stop Shopping Choir is accompanied by a comic preacher, Reverend Billy, portrayed by performer William (Billy) Talen. The philosophy of the Church of Stop Shopping surrounds the imminent “Shopocalypse”, which assumes the end of humanity will come about through manic consumerism.

David Silverman is an American animator and director. He currently serves as a consulting producer and directs the specials and shorts for The Simpsons. He previously served as an animator, producer, storyboard artist, main title designer, executive consultant and supervising director.


Coming to you from the multiverse it’s the podcast that’s never the same twice.

SANTA: Ho. Ho. Ho. Ho. Ho.

and always two things at once.

SANTAS: You’d better watch out, you’d better watch out, you’d better watch out, you’d better watch out, you’d better watch out, you’d better watch out, you’d better watch out, you’d better watch out…

This is Burning Man Live.

STUART: Well, welcome. Welcome my friends, invisible and otherwise, to the last episode of the podcast for 20, and I am think about the show for a couple of reasons first, because it’s the final episode of our 20 season. And I don’t know about you, but I’m very much looking forward to putting 20 in my rear view mirror and peeling rubber and getting the hell out of Dodge.

Secondly, well, it’s holiday time, right? And we thought we do a holiday special because we love those corny old holiday TV specials, those Christmas things that we used to have to watch as children. You know, I just love the shtick where everybody is supposedly in their perfect Thomas Kincade holiday cabin, enjoying hot cocoa and, Oh, who’s that at the door?

It’s the Reverend Billy Graham would come in to give us a sermon or it’s Pat Boone to sing us a song. Uh, everything about it is just awesome and perfect for making fun of. You know, honestly, when you think about it, we are all kind of snowed in and have been for most of this year. Thank you, COVID.

This is I believe day 227 of the COVID quarantine, at least here on the left coast of the Americas. STUART: COVID is the Grinch who stole not just Christmas. And Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and the solstice, but really all of our holidays. Right? Probably your birthday too, unless you were born in January, not to mention our holiday, right?

The most specialist holiday with them all which is Burning Man. Which is when you think about it kind of like all the holidays of the year rolled into one, it’s like the 4th of July. Cause you get fireworks. It’s like Easter. Cause you have bunnies running around in bunny suits. Anyway, here we are holiday-time, putting this year to bed.

I am here in my imaginary cabin and I’m joined by my friend and co-host Andie Grace in her imaginary cabin. Hi Andie.

ANDIE: Hi Stewart. I’m more in my imaginary Christmas mansion, I think.

STUART: But. You look quite fetching too. Is that a capelet?

ANDIE: Tis a capelet. This capelet was constructed by my friend, Molly to wear at an event called Santa con back in around ’02, I think

STUART: Santa con what’s that? No way. Don’t tell me now.

ANDIE: Not yet. So what, what do you, what are you sippin’ there, buddy?

STUART: I’m just having my Christmas coffee. With a little bit of this Irish cream, blue cure that comes in a bottle that has so many levers on it. It’s sort of like a bondage bottle or some kind of alchemical vessel.

ANDIE: I’m just having tea. You know, I got this cute little tea steeper. I’m just having some tea, some tea.

STUART: So how do you feel about having a holiday special?

ANDIE: We took some guff for this didn’t we, people are like, “why are you having a holiday special?” as if we’re endorsing a religion. And we didn’t even say Christmas. These holidays that we do at this time of year.
And the things that we do with our homes and ourselves are about surviving the darkest nights and the coldest part of the year in many parts of the world. So we huddle together. We look for signs of hope. We do these things to look forward to the country coming of the new year. And I am, we’re really looking forward to auld lang syne-ing off 2020.

STUART: I don’t think there’s ever been a new year that has been more eagerly anticipated in the Western world. Okay. So great. Let’s get into our show. We have a great lineup of guests. We have Santa Claus, we have Santa Claus. We have Krampus. We have a Jewish fellow with a flaming tuba who is going to sing us a Hanukkah song and we have a fake preacher who’s going to admonish us for shopping and make us feel really, really terrible. For all of the things we do at this time of year.

ANDIE: Sounds good.

STUART: You know, it’s going to be action packed.

ANDIE: When you say Santa is going to be here, there’s probably going to be several of them. If you guys out there listening, want to get any last minute gift requests, demands, whatever…

STUART: Gift begging is, I think, what we call that at Burning Man. Right? Where’s my gift, Fat Man?

ANDIE: I used to have a button that said that.

STUART: I demand my gift, right?

ANDIE: “Where’s my gift?” I didn’t work on the playa. And it always worked, sometimes you don’t want, nah, that’s another story anyway.

STUART: All right. It’s about time to start, but first a note from our sponsor.

CAVEAT: At Burning Man Live, we are always looking for advertisers that will really offer something to you, our listeners, and this week, we’re thrilled to be able to offer you a free gift because this week we are sponsored by gifting. That’s right. You can have gifting as a free gift, no strings attached just by giving something to someone it’s that simple act. Now we love gifting. We use it all the time around here just before the show, I gave Stuart an electronic there that speaks German profanity. When you press his stomach, we laughed. It was so profane.

That’s how into Gifting we are, but don’t stop there because if you go to our website and enter the promo code, you don’t need a promo code. That’s you don’t need a promo code then for no additional cost, you can give someone not just a thing, but an experience that’s right with our amazing promo code or without it, whatever, you can go beyond the exchange of objects to give someone a meaningful experience.

And it doesn’t have to cost anything. It’s all detailed here in our gifting white paper. Think with your heart, not with your wallet, which you don’t have to sign up for because it’s a gift. It’s not really a gift. If someone demands your information. So don’t, we are literally giving gifting away. And if you act now in the next 30 minutes, we’ll give you twice the gifting, literally twice the gifting.

At no extra charge. Imagine what it would be like to give twice as much. You don’t even need to act in the next 30 minutes because it’s a gift. So it’s unconditional. You do whatever you want. We will give it to you and we have never felt more connected to you. Thank you. It means a lot. I love you.

STUART: All right. Thank you, Caveat. 

ANDIE: I love him, too. 

STUART: You couldn’t ask for a better promotions manager.

ANDIE: It’s true. We lucked out with that one.

STUART: Nobody does fake ads better than the fake back then. So, all right. So Christmas, you may be wondering what the hell does Burning Man have to do with Christmas? Well, I got to tell you, we have a long and strange and complicated relationship with Christmas in general.

And with the jolly red fat man in particular, it goes way, way back. Fun fact. What was the very first theme camp ever at Burning Man, Andie?

ANDIE: I heard it was Christmas Camp started by this guy named Peter Dodi.

STUART: Yeah. And we’re going to see if any of that is in fact true. We have an actual survivor of Christmas camp. One of the organizers, her name is well Mrs. Claus, but I think we can also call her Lisa Archer. Hi, Lisa,

ANDIE: Knock, knock.

STUART: Come on over. Oh, who’s at the door of my snowed in cabin. Why look it’s Lisa.

LISA: Hi, probably my snow again, cabin. We’ll decorate it up for Christmas.

STUART: You’ve always had a fondness for Christmas. Is that why you brought Christmas camp to Burning Man in 1993? 

LISA: So the origin story actually starts with Amanda Marshall, who never ended up going to Burning Man, who thought about this idea of having Christmas in the desert. So we got all prepared. We went and bought things the year before, because of course, then you couldn’t get on the internet and just buy your Santa outfit and all the trimmings. So right after Christmas, we got everything on sale, put it away, and then she couldn’t make it to Burning Man. And I pulled together Michael Lyons and Peter Dodi to do Christmas.

STUART: Now, let me get this straight. So after Burning Man, 1992, you looked around and said, Hey, we need more Christmas.

LISA: Well, we decided we’re going to go and we’re going to create a Christmas.

ANDIE: In the middle of the desert.

LISA: in July or August or September or whenever. Right.

STUART: Was that really out of a love of Christmas or was there a certain amount of ironic intention in that?

LISA: Ironic intention.

STUART: What was you saying? What was the statement that you made with Christmas?

LISA: I don’t know. It made a statement. We would just annoy people. We ended up bringing out the camp itself. You got to realize is this tiny little thing there’s only three of us. And this time is, there’s not that many people around and we didn’t have lights. We had little Luminarios on our way there, Michael.

And I ended up going and cutting down this pitiful little tree, decorated it with what little tinsel we had. We did have presents. However, we made sure we had enough presents for Santa to give out when Santa arrived. Now, at the time we didn’t really know who was going to be Santa. Peter obviously was the best front man for this and got him all set up with the gun.

As he used to say, “Santa swings both ways.” He was happily being this person for the cameras. There was actually some TV crew that ended up videoing us. But one of the things that we did to annoy people was put on Christmas music, 24 seven, it was playing out of a little battery-operated boombox cassette tape that I’d made from music I got at the library.

And we happened to be camped right next to Chris Radcliffe. For anyone that knows Chris Radcliffe was a little bit of a live wire, hated the fact that the Christmas music was playing and he would come over and turn it off. Fortunately, you know, we had few altercations, but nothing, no big deal because his gun had got lost. It had been left out at some hot springs.

STUART: So is that why Santa was armed? 

LISA: Santa was armed. Yeah. Santa was just a gun toting, foul mouth, doing everything that Santo wouldn’t. Normally do that was the persona.

ANDIE: The idea of the gun  toting Santa, it feels like we invented a trope that showed up in a lot of movies later. When you say bad Santa came from this idea,

LISA: We forced people to… We had a happy hour at one point to give away eggnog, but we forced people to eat fruit cake. It was homemade fruit cake. It was my actual aunt Nana’s favorite fruit cake recipe. I’d made it and soaked it in rum. And we had it there, but before anyone could have any of the spiked eggnog, they had to eat a piece of the fruitcake and compliment us. And then we would give him the egg nog.

We did actually get some real compliments because it’s really good fruitcake. It’s not like this store bought nasty stuff that has lots of fruit in it. It was the depression era fruit cake of my aunt Nana. So that was a lot of fun too.

STUART: Well, I was a couple of camps over for a couple of tents over. We didn’t even call them camps back then.

I mean, the event was camp and we had, I think you were the Christmas tent and I was the newspaper trolley or something. I don’t remember the fruit cake, but I do remember the eggnog Rose. It frightened me. 

ANDIE: It was eggnog. And I thought it was a lie, but there was really eggnog.

LISA: Peter Dodie used his recipe and had frozen it. So we had it under neath piles of blankets and things in a cooler, because of course we didn’t have any grid. We didn’t have any electricity to keep things cold, but yeah, it was real eggnog.

STUART: Now this has become a part of Burning Man lore as the first theme camp, quote unquote. Was it?

LISA: No, cause we wouldn’t have even come up with the idea of creating a theme camp. If it hadn’t been for the fact that there were theme camps before

STUART: Before, like for instance, what inspired you to want to create your own weird interactive experience?

LISA: We just decided it would be fun. I don’t know that we knew of any of the other camps. I mean, we’d heard that there were other camps we thought, well, Christmas can’t, it’s gotta be Christmas camp in the desert.

So that’s what we did. I remember we won some award that year. There was some gun club or some people in Austin who had. Created items. Some, they gave us the award for the best camp that year. And that’s probably what became known as the first camp, even though it wasn’t really anything than some other people deciding that we were the best.

ANDIE: Right. Well, it sounds like you, like you said, you weren’t even necessarily calling them all camps, but I’ve always heard Peter Doty credited.

LISA: Well, he was the front person. I didn’t want to be out there in front of the cameras. He always says it was my idea behind it. Certainly me and Michael Lyons, we got all the stuff together. He just happened to be the one that’s was good at being right out there and becoming a persona, but became Christmas camp.

STUART: As the event progressed, then back then the event was basically a three day weekend. Right. I also recall the, towards the end of my stay there that the Christmas experience was not confined to your tent.

It was basically tracking people down in their tents. How did you bring the joy of Christmas to the rest of us? 700 people or whoever, wherever there.

LISA: Of course we would go around Christmas caroling. And one of the things we saying was Peter Doty’s Christmas, Carol, about the 12 days home from Christmas, it certainly became something that was sang at Santacon later. And I happen to have the lyrics here, but I wouldn’t be able to sing it all myself. If others would come join me.

STUART: Maybe just give us a sample of the lyric, maybe just a little.

LISA: Alright. On the 12th day home from Christmas, my mother said to me: Both of us still love you. Your life is a disaster. Herbie’s getting married. Are you still on food stamps? Pastor has two children. You smoke marijuana? What’s that in your suitcase? Still no girlfriend? Visit your Aunt Rosie. You should get a job. You’ve put on some weight. And you haven’t any decent thing to wear.

STUART: Fantastic.

LISA: Yeah.

ANDIE: just like real Christmas. Yeah. I love it. I love it. Costumes were kind of a big part of this. And there were other events that happen through the cacophony society. Like we were talking about earlier. Right? You were involved with other ones of those, right. You and the same friends that did Christmas Camp.

LISA: Yeah, sure. I mean, and it actually, I made up some outfits and we were in part of the costume show that Annie did during one of the things a night in

ANDIE: In center camp, there was a fashion show, right?

STUART: Fashion shows. Yeah. Annie Colter and Dr. Hal, right.

LISA: Annie Coulter…And so we went in our outfits. The other thing we went out to do in our outfits was doing the drag by shooting range as well.

There are images from that at some point of, of us out there, particularly Michael Lyons in the, uh, Hawaiian shirt made out of Christmas material in shortened shorts that with the gun and some of the things that were happening at the drive-by shooting range. So

STUART: There with the guns again. Oh my you’re obviously very talented costumer. I love the very, very fetching Mrs. Claus dress that you’re wearing in some of these old photos. You were also part of the Let Them Eat Cake episode? Tell our listeners what Let Them Eat Cake was all about.

LISA: let them eat cake. We had done, or July 14th for Bastille Day.  We went out and were part of what was the food, not bombs.

They had an event, you know, giving food to the homeless. And so we went and brought cake to feed the homeless. But what really happened was later that feeding of the homeless, well, Keith McHenry, who was part of food, not bombs was arrested for the hundredth time. And so at the day of the arraignment, there was a protest and it happened to be on Halloween.

STUART: We’re giving away food without, uh, without the proper health permits. Right. Right.

LISA: And so Peter Doty and miss P and I went down and Peter had got a French tray with some croissant crumbs on it and we had some signs and he said, I’ll carry the signs. You can carry the trays. So Ms. P and I were carrying trays across all crumbs and the way that the message crumbs for the crumb and we.

Somebody, as we get to the, where all the people are out there protesting took some of the croissant crumbs from the tray we were offering and we were arrested. So Ms. P and I spent the day in jail in our French aristocrat outfits. She happened to have on one of these hoop skirts and, you know, big thing, I was dressed up as a, a male.

So I had a different, I was much more comfortable, but we spent the day in jail for handing cake out to the homeless. And I still have a record of this. I actually it’s on my record that I was. Arrested for feeding cake to the homeless. I don’t know what the actual 

STUART: Code violation. Yeah. 17.352. 

ANDIE: If you’re going to get arrested for anything, I would think that that would be a good thing to get arrested for

LISA: Yeah. And I even was able to get, you can send away for your mugshots. Did you know that?

ANDIE: I love that! Now I need to go get a mugshot.

STUART: We have to circle around on that because I haven’t been arrested in costume too, but that’s that’s for another show. You went to Santacon too, Oh my God. I’m deeply ashamed of my own participation.

Santacon is, and I’m quoting Wikipedia here, the Oracle of all things known, “an annual pub crawl in which people dressed in Santa Claus, costumes parade in various cities around the world. I love this. According to the village voice, it has evolved over the years from quote, joyful performance art to quote, drunken, brawling, vandalism, and disorder.”

And one of my favorite TV pundits, John Oliver calls it, “Not a magical occasion, but a terrifying combination of binge drinking, public urination and trauma to small children.” After much research, we have uncovered the person responsible for the cultural disaster known as Santacon. We can call him Santa Zero of the Santacon pandemic, but we can also call him Robert Schmitt.

Hello, Robert. Come on over. 

ANDIE: Oh wow. He’s here. Yeah, you guys know each other, but Rob, I’ve been waiting to ask you a question for a long time. Participating in Santacon, since the mid nineties, even took my infant child, when she was too young to remember what she would have seen in the late two thousands. And many more in between. And I, I basically just have one question for you: How do you sleep at night?

Just curious how you sleep at night, knowing what you’ve wrought.

ROB SCHMITT: I sleep well.

ANDIE: I would hope so. Maybe just with your eyes closed. So, what was it originally? Where did the inspiration come from? Because. I’ve heard that it was started by Gary Warne, or inspired by a Mother Jones article on this Danish activist thing.

And maybe it was to make fun of Christmas and rampant consumerism influenced by discordianism. KEEPER]

ROB SCHMITT: What Gary Warren sent out with the suicide club newsletter, the newsletter, not a newsletter, a newsletter, an article from mother Jones magazine about the centers in Denmark, going to the toy stores and giving away the toys to the kids.

I don’t know the whole story. I heard about it, it was in the back of my head, but I really didn’t think of doing Santacon. And until I saw a postcard from Lisa Archer, Danny Coulter Sansa’s playing pool. Do you remember that postcard, Lisa?

LISA: Well, I don’t remember the postcard. I actually remember Andy told me it was another card.

I thought it was the card from Christmas camp with Peter and two naked women sitting on his lap with his gun. And I thought it was that one, but I had heard from Annie that it was a card that you, she had at her place that inspired you.

ROB SCHMITT: So it’s all your fault. Lisa, how do you use tape? I was making costumes for the salmon, run the beta Berker seminar.

STUART: Wait a minute. You’re going to have to explain yourself on that one too.

ROB SCHMITT: Every year, the cacophony society does a salmon run in the beta breakers. We run upstream with salmon through the crowd with now about 50 salmon and we’re making the costumes for this the first year.

STUART: These are like bad bodysuits, right?

ROB SCHMITT: They’re actually a felt a felt fabric and they there’s this pretty stiff. You’ve never ran as a salmon.

STUART: I’ve never run as a salmon. I tried to get a permit to go salmon fishing from Larry Harvey’s balcony one year, because that was the Hill. Right. Yeah, the Hill they’re right outside prospect park, just

ROB SCHMITT: to wake them up every morning when we showed up in the park and the street Hill,

STUART: and they’re responding involved too.

I know, unless I don’t want to go into that. So anyway, you were constructing these salmon suits and you saw a postcard with Santa Claus on it, and somehow your brain went from salmon to Santa.

ROB SCHMITT: Yeah. I looked to Andy and said, we have to do this. Annie will dispel any knowledge because she’s just never been in a Santacon.

Right. She’s heard it from her house. A bus went by there with a bunch of centers and then it was loud. She’ll disavow. Any knowledge because people kind of didn’t want to be involved. I didn’t want to be known for it. I kept quiet about it for years. I never wanted to have my name out there, but I’m out there now.

STUART: Well, in the beginning, wasn’t it just harmless fun? 

ROB SCHMITT: We tried. You probably remember it better than I do.

STUART: No, I was drinking. You were babysitting the bus. So I think you drew this. Yeah. I’ll cop to that. Yes. I created the business card.

ANDIE: What do you mean babysitting the bus? Tell me what that entails. That sounds like a conspirator.

ROB SCHMITT: My friend  for a bus company that drove the kids to school and he said we can get a bus. So I went to the place where we can get the bus and I asked how much would it cost to expecting about $600 or something? The guy said, what are you going to do? And I’m like, we’re going to take sentence to like old folks homes and stuff like that.

And he’s like, Oh, they’ll give it to you too, for just the guest $55. So we ended up with a bus, a school bus with a driver, my friend, Alex syndicate, and we were able to bring the sentence. We only had 38 centers the first year, all around the city.

STUART: And magic magic. It was, I think having the bus as sort of a getaway vehicle, I remember there were a few close calls. Like everybody get on the bus right now. But in year two, which was like 1995, I remember the bus word then was like, no force on earth can stop a hundred Sandoz. But that turned out to not be true. 95 was when things started to get a little haywire. We’ve got a little clip here from Chuck Serena’s. Video of Santacon to a conversation between Santa John law and officer Johnny law.

Cop #1: Somebody needs to spread the word on this conduct. Someone’s going to go to jail. 

John Law: Yes, sir. I understand. 

Cop #1: It doesn’t mean that everybody in this group is a troublemaker, or looking for trouble, but there has been trouble from the group. Humanly possible to get with one misstep. We’re going to read it a little bit out of hand. We’re calming down now more than up here. So control your fruit right on it. And we’re taking the bus out as soon as it gets here.

STUART: I love it. 

ANDIE: I love it. 

LISA: That bus was, we actually got on. It was one of the muni buses, completely filled with Santos. It was taken us out, like he’s a 38. And I remember they were, came on trying to find the person that had vandalized something in one of the stores we’d gotten basically taken something down and then left.

It did not steal anything. I remember them getting on the bus and checking. Okay. Which one of these Santos was the Lottie Santa on the bus? I believe it was Chris Radcliffe that had done something and he was like, okay, well you gotta sh. I got to change out the outfits. I don’t want to be somehow he was trying to hide himself amongst all the other Santas. I think he got away, but somebody else was arrested. If I remember correctly

STUART: Someone who looked vaguely like him named Hernando, Cortez. Yeah. I remember that very, very tense bus ride. That was like one of those double flex buses full of sweating Santas. I think when Santa got offered a Santa lineup, there were a few things left behind, maybe a few, a contraband substances.

ANDIE: other than handing out cake to the homeless. Did any santas do any time?

ROB SCHMITT: Yes. Yes. Santa did time.

ANDIE: Expound on that, if you will.

ROB SCHMITT: A couple of Santas got arrested, taken to jail that night, they were looking for centers that had gold rim classes would costume that we had had gold room glasses from Oriental trading company.

These cheap gold room classes, no lenses. That’s the description they got. The Santa was the gold room classes. The sentence got arrested. Cool room classes

STUART: along with the 99 other Santas on the bus. Yeah, I remember that they actually had an employee of the capital department store who had made the complaint to eyeball them.

And they did actually a stand a lineup. They had this poor guy trying to pick the Mitel one Santa from another Sandoz. We all got off the bus, but I heard, I got to bring this up. I heard that there were actually two complaints that one of them was a Santa. You had taken a velvet rope and was using that elude fashion stuffed in his pants, which is actually in the video.

And that was Chris Ratcliffe. One of the female stances. They, Mrs. Claus had exposed her breasts to children. And I heard from one of the other Sanders, Lisa, that maybe you had some colorful, crazy Christmas socks that you were hung over your shoulders and were wearing as if they were.

LISA: Oh, yes, I did have some striped pajamas things that I’d made, sand sandbag, drooping breastfeed, and I did have something I could open up and. No way

STUART: Children were allegedly frightened. I don’t know. Did you ever see children get frightened? I only saw the children being…

ANDIE: I’ve never seen children frightened of breasts. maybe have drunk Santas, but that’s different question.

STUART: We tried to look out for the sensibilities of the little ones. Didn’t we? At least in the early days. 

ROB SCHMITT: Yeah, we did. We tried.

ANDIE: But that’s there are these rules right there. The four apps. Ever since I’ve attended Santacon from the late nineties, there are these four apps and you’re going to have to forgive my French and tell the kids to leave the room.

But Santa has some rules. You don’t fuck with kids. You don’t fuck with security. You don’t fuck with cops and you don’t fuck with Santa

STUART: and that’ll keep you out of so much trouble.

ANDIE: I don’t know who wrote them, but I think that they make a good foundation, a statement. Don’t mess with kids on the Santa front. I think that’s important.

STUART: Love it. Now I’ve got to go back to something that’s been kind of keeping me up at night. The cacophony society connection. I mean, cacophony was sort of the parent of Burning Man in many ways. It was for those of us who started going in the nineties, it was a coffin event. It also spawned Santacon, our Burning Man at Santacon like step brother, sister, children, or what, is there anything through line philosophically or conceptually between those two events that people in Burning Man culture should be afraid of.

ANDIE: Aware of…

STUART: Aware, aware of! Rob, you’ve been to Burning Man like 6 million times. CannaCon is that connection just you? Is it just your, your fingerprints on both of them or do you think there’s anything deeper in that? I think

ROB SCHMITT: something deeper about this is communal activity or communal effort. We, we wouldn’t have been able to do this without everybody.

We wouldn’t have been able to do Burning Man on the desert, without everybody being involved to get it out there, to do it back then everybody helped with Santacon, everybody was helping or the cacophony back in the day, we were a team. Everybody did everything together. We chipped in. We helped them move along.

We paid attention to everybody else and I think Burning Man, and it took off with communal activity. Everybody was chipping in. Everyone was pushing it forward. Everybody’s making sure the truck got there. Everybody was making sure it got built. Everybody helped again. I don’t think we could have done it without everybody.

And I think keeping it going and keeping Burning Man going is going to be because of we everybody doing it. Everybody chipping in everybody giving 10 bucks, everybody’s showing up. Santa, same thing. It’s going to be what it is with everybody going there and everybody helping and everybody doing it.

And it gets better by everybody growing with it. I see a lot of people coming to Burning Man in the early years, they got into it. They got into sharing and gifting and, and doing it.

Santacon, same thing. People went out there and it got kind of messy the second year and then it kind of grew into something else and grew into something else that keeps on growing. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. I don’t know what’s going to go on, but just keep on doing, keep on making things

STUART: Participation, I mean, it’s definitely… Santacon is an easy bar for not being a spectator, right? You just pay your 25 bucks for your cheap suit and you’re in the show, right? You’re in the parade and not watching the parade from the sidelines. Yeah. I can see that. Hey, we got an interesting question from the audience.

How soon did the New York Santacon start? Cause that’s either the most famous or the most reviled one right now,

ROB SCHMITT: 1999, John law came called me up one day and said, you’re going to New York and Mike why? And he told me what they’re doing in New York called the center key back then in New York, I got a phone call from John law.

I said, you’re going, you’re going. And I said, no, I’m not. And he’s like, yo, you’re going. And he talked me into going, we showed up out, there was like 150 centers. It was a wonderfully small, beautiful event. Now there’s like 40,000 Santas.

STUART: Well, in 2019, there were, yeah, this year it’s Santacon from home. So that may still be 40,000, but yeah, to be fair don’t they raise a bunch of money for charitable causes or do some kind of a food drive or something don’t they have some social benefit.

ROB SCHMITT: I have no idea who does it or how I stopped doing it in 1995. Believe it or not. I stopped doing it. New York. I was a participant in SantaCon, but I stopped producing the event. I stopped helping make it happen.

STUART: That’s when it went underground and we have other now unknown Santos with numbers instead of names, we went up to Portland

ROB SCHMITT: in 1996, and then we went out down to LA and identity seven.

STUART: Oh, that was epic.

ROB SCHMITT: We came back in 1998 to do it in this city in 1999, it was New York city. And then it just. Internet picked it up. And it went everywhere.

ANDIE: I heard legendary stories about Portland, specifically being an inflection point in the Santa’s phenom, the police got advanced warning.

There was some kind of printed material that went around to various police departments because they are Santa was on the way. I know friends who were pre-gaming on the plight up there and Santa suits. That was a year of legend. As I hear it. I

ROB SCHMITT: I barely remember Portland.

ANDIE: I barely remember most of my Santacons except the one I took my baby to.

LISA: I do remember at Portland the following year after that year that everyone flew up there. And I remember us going to all of these strip clubs actually. Yeah. In Portland. Let me see. I’ve got one of the naughty stickers. So we have this naughty sticker. 

ANDIE: Oh my goodness.

STUART: Other parts of that trip to Portland can be viewed. If you go to sentara.com. Uh, I would look for our friend Scott deal of laughing. Squid has put together an amazing archive of Santa Femara, including a video that he produced about the Portland Santacon called you’d better watch out. I recommend that it’s a great Christmas viewing for everybody.

And what about Krampus is Krampus con? We had a con

ANDIE: you know, there’s a KrampusCon, right?

STUART: Yeah, but you’re not familiar with the Krampus phenomenon. Lisa, I’m surprised because this is a much more elaborate costumer than even putting together a Santa outfit. Right. Imagine.

LISA: I am. I am familiar with Krampus. I’ve seen the Krampus, some Krampus videos. It looks like a lot of fun. Unfortunately, have never participated much as fun as it would have been.

STUART: Describe Krampus’ style for our listeners who may be unfamiliar with it.

LISA: Krampus style?

STUART: How does Krampus present?

LISA: Krampus presents as this creepy old guy who carries children in the back, carries a whip to, to hit naughty children. The one that scares the children to be good, otherwise will take them away and eat them or something to that effect.

ANDIE: You know, it just occurred to me that, we talked about this being a way to get through the winter months. I wonder if the parents that live in these really cold cultures invented these creatures in the times of the darkness, just so that they could just make their kids stop being such jerks for us. And maybe it sounds cruel by these standards, but if you lived together and you couldn’t go outside for three months at a time, I’m starting to understand Krampus now.

STUART: Yeah. It goes back to that whole Brothers Grimm, Hansel and Gretel kind of dark forest. It’s interesting though, how, you know, Santa – the American Santa that we all know and love – is basically, you know, it was basically a creature of the advertising industry, right? It was Norman Rockwell drew that standard and for Coca-Cola Santas and, and all that stuff.

ANDIE: Into a polar bear.

STUART: Why? Because they went from Christmas to what’s the word holiday, polar bear, much more appropriate for a holiday in the old world. Tradition. Santa is not a jolly fat man.

And he’s certainly not Mel Gibson as the fat. Yeah. And by the way,

ANDIE: well, that’s full circle. 

STUART: If you asked me blood slaughter Fest at the North pole with, with automatic weapons, that goes back to our Santa with guns trope. Santa had a sidekick, right through most of European, Western European folklore. He had either the Krampus or some variation of that, or in the low countries, it was starts to peat the terrifying black face version of Santa’s elf.

I tried so hard to get Krampus here on the show, but I guess his people and our people couldn’t work something out. Yeah, no

ANDIE: He got an agent, man. And now you can’t even get the guy to return a text. Much less answer the phone.

STUART: But I do understand that he… Didn’t he send us some kind of recorded message?

ANDIE: Yeah, uh, he did.

Krampus: I am Krampus, hear my name. 

Far and wide extends my fame.

I arrive when I am bidden,

and sniff out children where they’re hidden.

Who is naughty? Where’s my prey?

I’ll tear them up without delay.

Oh, Master Nicholas. I bring sad truths, 

of deeds committed by these youths.

For virtue they will seldom strive

but sin and vice in them do thrive.

And of their idling in the streets 

so boils my rage I cannot speak.

And daily though I do my spying 

I’ve scarcely seen a child trying.

Good children though are not my task, 

only for the bad I’m asked.

For those my sack is neatly suited,

their vexing screams and whining muted.

Off I pack them to their fates

the spoiled little reprobates.

With brats as these one choice is fit,

to toss them in the fiery pit.

ANDIE: Wow. 

STUART: Maybe it’s good that we didn’t have him violate our cozy little holiday cabins.

ANDIE: I was definitely not going to be the one who showed up to let him into the building to film and the media room. Oh my gosh. Well, I’m so grateful to those scientists that came by to talk to us because I had a lot of questions and I didn’t even have to ask them cause they were answered.

STUART: Right.

ANDIE: “Answered for,” perhaps is the better phrase.

STUART: But doesn’t it seem like we’ve had an awful lot of Santa at this point?

ANDIE: Yeah. I mean, this wasn’t supposed to be a Christmas show. It’s just those cultural roots that we’re going into. But I don’t know. I feel like there might be a lot of other people within our community and… (knock knock) 

What’s that sound? Why, I think it might be Tubatron. Tubatron’s at the door. Let’s let him in.

Tubatron: I’m spending Hanukkah in Santa Monica,

wearing sandals, lighting candles by the sea.

I spent Shavuos in East St. Louis,

a charming spot, but clearly not the spot for me.

Those eastern winters, I can’t endure ’em

So every year I pack my gear, and come out here to Purim.

Rosh Hashana, I spend in Arizona,

and Yom Kippur, way down in Mississippa

But in December

There’s just one place for me

Amid the California flora,

I’ll be lighting my menorah.

Like a baby in his cradle,

I’ll be playing with a dreidl,

Spending Hanukkah,

in Santa Monica by the sea!

ANDIE: It’s my friend Tubatron. My friend, David.

STUART: I feel a little bit warmer after seeing all that fire. I wasn’t really sure what a flaming tuba meant. It sounded like it was too dangerous to play.

DAVID: Here I am. I had to put all the stuff away.

ANDIE: You can’t touch it when it’s too hot.

DAVID: No, no, I’ve done that. It’s not a good idea. That was in fact, the flaming tuba – first done in a 2005 with my first year with a flaming tuba at Burning Man. My first year at Burning Man was Oh, one, I’m a late comer to the party. Sorry.

ANDIE: No, but I think of you as one of my old Burning Man friends, and I met you pretty early in my Burning Man time.

DAVID: So we actually met, uh, I think in ‘01

ANDIE: That sounds right. Well, so how does it feel to be the token Jew on our Christmas, I mean, holiday special?

DAVID: Fantastic. I’m so happy. I have a little sadness cap in the background. I’m with

ANDIE: fabulous hats,

DAVID: almost going to worry about you. See what I play the flaming too, but I can’t wear anything too flammable as a hat.

I have to wear a leather hat otherwise, you know, we could be problems,

ANDIE: I hear you. Stuart, have you ever seen Tubatron on the Playa?

STUART: I believe I did once down at the base of the man, maybe more than once. There’s something about a large wooden stick figure and the sound of tuba music that just kind of goes together really well.

DAVID: The first year I went to Burning Man, I was actually 2001. I was working with my friend, Paul Barnett, who dragged me out there. He was doing a confessions of a Burning Man. That’s how I, but I’d been wanting to go to Burning, man. I first heard about it working on the Simpsons from George Meyer, one of our great writer and co-exist producers.

He had gone there, I think in 97. He told me all about it. And I was like, what? Wow, that sounds amazing. So I happened to be working at that time at Pixar. I was in the Bay area. So this all worked out and I met Paul and I’m out. I came to the Playa, bringing a tuba, looking for the Burning ban, which I did not find until 2003.

It came across and I had a great time. And then I thought about flaming tuba idea around 2003. I had a friend who was a very, very good fire dancer named animal teas. And she sort of inspired me, just, you know, how, what can I do to not just be a, well, how can I be a participant? I don’t want to spend fire.

It looks dangerous, but I can play the tuba. Maybe I can put flames around the top of the bell with some fireworks, but I thought a propane, is actually the flaming tube. 2.0, after a slight mishaps. In 2015, we decided maybe we should upgrade it and make it a little safer.

ANDIE: I hope no one was injured

DAVID: slightly,

STUART: not to get too geeky, but is the propane flame actually modulated by air coming out of one of the valves somewhere? Or is there a separate key for the fires?

DAVID: It’s a separate valve altogether. It’s about on the left side


DAVID: And that’s what, so I’m playing in sync as I’m trying to hit the notes as close as I can. 

STUART: Am I right, Sousaphone is the wrap-around tuba

DAVID: And those are marching to his sousaphone

ANDIE: marching band presentation. Yes.

DAVID: I thought flaming tuba had a better, it rolled off the tongue better, you know, and as my friends in new Orleans tell me they all call their sousaphones, uh, tubas and they called her tubas peashooters. So I said, okay.

STUART: Now speaking of marching bands, I mean, did you play tuba in high school or did you just pick up brass because it made you irresistible to them?

DAVID: A little bit of, a little from column a, a little from column B.

ANDIE: I see what you did there.

DAVID: I started playing tuba my last year of high school cause I really. Really enjoyed music. I was a big student of music, but I wasn’t playing anything. I wanted to, again, I want to be a participant. So I picked up the tuba my last year of high school and was in the concert band, the jazz band, the marching band, all through college.

And when I got to UCLA, Actually all it was, it wasn’t until I was in grad school and animation, which is like, why would I be playing the marching band when I’m doing animation and grad school, where I’m going to spend mine, you know, 40 hours a day doing animation. But I said, Nope, I’m going to join the marching band, probably because they were going to Japan.

And they said, if you joined the band, you’re going. I said, well, I’ll let me yes. Think about it. So that’s how I joined the UCLA marching band and it was fun. And. I became the bank cartoonists, so it was useful for my artistic career. And so, uh, it, wasn’t a complete waste of time

STUART: and you still play professionally or semi-pro right in a new Orleans band.

DAVID: I have, by the way, I have to attribute it, that to Burning Man, because really the same time I was learning how to play by not always follow the ants on the page, but just getting a chord chart or just even. Learning by ear is when I started like playing with the Burning band, which is also in the Bay area that those Trancas woods community marching band is the core of the Burning band.

And I started marching with them and playing with other groups. And then I joined the band in 2009 called vault and the villains and, you know, playing gigs in LA and started on around. The Bay towards the Bay area and started touring. And then even, uh, well, I joined the musicians union and I started playing a few professional recording gigs.

So. Thank you Burning Man.

STUART: And of course in your day job, I’ve seen tubas work their way into some Simpsons episode. I think, particularly in what was your complacent guy episode that

DAVID: I was very happy about that. It was written by Carolyn Amani who has not been to Burning Man, but she wanted me to, you know, when I gave her all sorts of references about it and she wrote me into the part and which was great. Cause I. Not only played the tuba in it. And I also recorded,

ANDIE: Oh, I knew it was you.

DAVID: That was very good for her. Yeah. Not only that, James L. Brooks saw VOD in the villains and when the Simpsons took over the Hollywood bowl in 2014, he invited a lot of the villains to play a Simpson song and told me I had to bring the flaming too.

And I said, this was, this is, this is greatest. So my worlds collided in 2014 at the Hollywood bowl.

ANDIE: Wow. Well, so final thoughts here before we have to go because someone else might not get the door soon. Meaning of the season, wishes for this particular new year from you. My good friend.

DAVID: Meaning of the season stay really healthy.

ANDIE: What a great idea. What about the new year? You got any good wishes for next year? 2021?

DAVID: Yeah. So my good wishes for next year is that let’s hope everything clears up so we can have Burning Man. Again,

ANDIE: I like that.

DAVID: That’s my wish. And hopefully if you come by, you’ll see the famous or not so famous. Burning Man timeline or a camp

STUART: at the mansonian Institute.

DAVID: Correct. We will correct the current entry.

ANDIE: That’s right. Peter Doni and friends. 

DAVID: I learned so much about the real story behind, uh, the camp. So. Awesome. You don’t mind if I have a lil’ eggnog, do you? 

ANDIE: I do like eggnog as long as it’s not 110 degrees outside while I’m drinking it.

STUART: Mazel Tov 

DAVID: mazal Tov and Merry Christmas. Woo.

ANDIE: All of that. I just want to tell people that Reverend Billy in the church of stop shopping choir are coming up, but first, but first.

Caveat: We spend a time, third of our lives sleeping. And so it’s very important that we be able to sleep comfortably and well, without putting extra pressure on our backs. That’s why I’m excited to be able to tell you about the best sleep system we at Burning Man Live have ever seen ever. Decommodification decommodification.

I want to buy a team of scientists who wanted to be able to sleep at night. And boy, does it work no matter what your sleep position is? Decommodification works. I sleep on my stomach and by taking my relationships outside of a transactional framework, decommodification helps me avoid lower back pain every night.

Andy sleeps on her side and by using decommodification to view people as people, rather than as a collection of superficial traits, she is comfortably free. Of chronic aches and pains. Stuart sleeps on his back because he uses decommodification to pursue his authentic passions in life, rather than a bigger shopping list.

He couldn’t grieve clearly each night and wakes up refreshed every morning. Plus decommodification is toxin-free it doesn’t out gas and it won’t catch fire higher in the middle of the night, the way some of the leading sleep systems do, or my cousin. And we’ve got a risk-free way that you can try.

Unification and experience how well it will work for you. If you don’t go to our website and don’t put in the code, we made that word up that code again is we made that word up. Then you can try. Decommodification free for 100 days. If you don’t like it, when the hundred days are up paid nothing. And if you do like it, Hey, nothing.

See how well you sleep when you’re free of marketing and branding and social stratification with no money down, no interest. Grates and no transactions. That’s the decommodification guaranteed.


STUART: Well, all right. We’re back.

ANDIE: We are back.

STUART: And is that what it’s like or something outside your dog?

ANDIE: I do.

STUART: What does that funky sit on and I see this.

ANDIE: Oh, it’s Reverend Billy.

BILLY: sister, Andy. See dandy. So to be here today. How’s your burn. All right.

ANDIE: Well, you know, we’re fair and all right. I believe we’re going to make it through to 2021. Wow.

BILLY: It’s controversial. I mean, it’s, the theme is, is hard. I mean, well, Larry has themes that are some years they’re easy and we can, you know, dress up and we can have theme camps that match his idea.

And then other times. Other times it’s not, I wouldn’t know. There’s a pushback here. I mean, let’s just admit it this year. I, you know, the Corona virus. So w what, what kind of theme is that? And I, you know, we have to argue with Larry A. Little bit about this one, but I’m here as your pastor. I just want to, I just want to help people. Okay.

What’s your street. I’m out here on Fowchee street and ninth Avenue. And there’s. I know I can see you out there. I can see all you burgers out there across the playacting to you, herd immunity. And third, I can see you out there. I mean, the ICU is full of the Trumpers without masks and all the streets across the Playa.

It’s stiff upper lip. Let’s get into this. Let’s be artistic. Let’s go for it. Larry wants it. But some of us do resent that Corona is a dominatrix eight feet tall with a big whip. Going up and down the avenues and the streets, keeping us in our theme camps. She’s saying go to the room and you’re locked down.

You are locked down. You can’t just cut out here. Take mushrooms and dance in your fluorescent bikini with your Timberland boots. You can’t do that this year. You have to stay home. Listen to me. Corona is a messenger, a messenger from Larry Luhya. She’s here too. Talk to us about our lives. She wants us to live better lives.

She’s got something in mind. I think I’m not saying I’ve talked to her very much, but we all yearn for that. Perfect dominatrix. Let’s admit that. Shall we let’s just say yes.

ANDIE: yes, yes. Praise me.

BILLY: She wants us to think about the 10th principle, the forgotten principle. I don’t think it will. Larry heard that principle coming back at him very often. It’s radically immediacy. Anybody. Remember this one? Anybody

ANDIE: Andy’s immediacy. Stuart,

BILLY: the idea is that you go to your room, you stay in your theme camp, you’re locked down, there’s all LAR dominate your child’s side. The Larry has sat eight feet tall with a big whip. You have to stay home. And we think of the immediacy of something that we accomplished by going out on the Playa.

And wibbling our butter around and finding a unexpected or something special out there. This surprises us, we think that’s immediacy. There’s another kind of immediacy here gets more like a, it’s a kind of obscure meditation or something. I don’t know. We have to discover here in my room days and days and days, there’s another kind of immediacy that comes up.

Karuna wants us to evolve, to imagine a new kind of hallucination, a vast applier than we’ve ever seen. Moonwalking all the way into the sky. Larry Lulea I miss you, Larry.


BILLY: man. I hope it feel you’re with us. We’re doing something you would not have cooperated with. You would not have been on zoom. I know that you would have hated something.


BILLY: We would have found a way to connect new supplier. That’s opening up with this kind of immediacy. We will evolve and we will burn. We’ll have a great burn. It’s unusual. It’s unprecedented. It’s controversial. Larry. This theme, you got us. Switching in this year,

SAVITRI: please,

BILLY: we will burn over here.

ANDIE: Everybody

BILLY: calling out to you way out here in the felt chiefing champ out here in Brooklyn, New York, Burnell Luda.

ANDIE: Yeah. I mean, I don’t know.

STUART: I’ve never heard COVID personified in quite that way.

ANDIE: Oh, Savitri and Billy they’re in the same room. Hi, Savi.

SAVITRI: What’s going on?

ANDIE: I love it. My goodness. Hi, fan one.

SAVITRI: Welcome to our, our, our apartment behind us. You can see our Christmas ladder.

ANDIE: I like your Christmas ladder.


BILLY: When you’re trapped in your theme camp, you know, you’ve got to,

SAVITRI: you just make,

BILLY: do find a way

SAVITRI: from of those lights. I obviously still have playa dust on them.

ANDIE: I love it. You guys know David, who’s still with us here. Right?

SAVITRI: Great. Great to see your friends. Yeah.

SAVITRI: Long for that fire. I tell you terrible being in New York in the winter and always thinking if only I could just have a fire, everything would be better.

ANDIE: Well, so I love you. And I feel like I can, I am close to you and I understand you. So I have to ask from a perfectly beautiful place. What’s wrong with you? Why do you hate Christmas? Why do you ain’t the holidays

BILLY: we’re trying to de commodify. I liked that advertisement.

ANDIE: Yeah, that’s pretty good. Right?

SAVITRI: I would, I would phrase it differently

ANDIE: clearly.

Cause you have a holiday letter. I mean, you don’t hate Christmas. I’m being provocative. Talk to us about the holidays.

SAVITRI: You know, I think the first thing is just to say, you don’t have to buy a gift to give a gift. The problem is not Christmas. The problem is not the holiday. The problem is. How we get used by larger interests.

And it turns into something stressful and terrible wasteful and hard on other communities, hard on the people who have to work through Christmas, Amazon workers who have to pick all day for would describe it as there’s no safe way to be there. I mean, in the distribution centers of Amazon, there’s

SAVITRI: just no safe.

I mean, there’s so many people who are working so hard so that we can have this magical experience where we like open this neat little gift, but we just want people to look at that gift and imagine all the things that went into it. This is a gift that a wonderful puppeteer and Athens. Gave to Lena. And every piece of this was made by her hands.

You know, this to me is like an ideal gift. Right? We’ve had it for years. It never gets old. She made it, it’s made out of flour and paper and a little scrap of cloth. So when you buy a gift, you just have to imagine it’s story, you know, and in this way, I think we all change our approach to Christmas. It’s fun to give presence.

It really is fun. It’s a rewarding, an ancient practice

STUART: without necessarily expecting a gift in return. That’s something that’s always bugged me about Christmas. Is that reciprocity that’s baked into it. Let’s see. Did aunt Betsy get me something? I have to get her something. And last year she just gave me a t-shirt.

So I’m knocking her down. It was like great line from Scrooge. It’s like, yeah, they get a BCR or a towel owl list now. Right? Well,

ANDIE: it wasn’t always that way. And a lot of the holidays of the season have been overtaken by that. Like, you don’t make something, you go get them. The thing that they’re expecting, then there are these lists.

SAVITRI: I think that’s like also the, what the systems do to us, right? Like that’s the nature of capitalism, you know, it creates transactional relationships instead of transformational relationships. So I’m trying to get as much as I can for as little as I can give. Get forgiving instead of just giving to give, which is transformational and really changes both parties in a profound way so that the giving is the gift.

It’s pretty clear. And I think, you know, Burning Man has a long history with gifts, and I think the verb gifting, which I’m not really clear about how is gifting actually different from giving? Like when people say, is it okay if I gift you a magazine subscription? And I’m like, yes. And how come we don’t use the word give anymore?

Can someone here explain the difference between those two words?

ANDIE: Sure. But I’ve had experiences where I went out trying to give a gift at a public event and I was trying to give away something and it was something of enough value that the person receiving was suspect. And they asked me, why are you giving this to me?

Cause it was not at Burning Man. It was at an event, some downhill, big wheel race. And I was trying to give away food and they were like, why are you doing this? I’m like, cause I thought you might be hungry. Are you hungry? And so if you say it’s a gift and then not just, I want to give it to you. There’s no recipe.

SAVITRI: Oh, I see.


STUART: Andy has been, so co-opted byy the philanthropy industry, you know, season of giving by free giveaways and all that, you know, I think it was another case of where Larry kind of felt he needed a new word, like in the case of Decommodification like express a different concept. And it’s definitely something in my observation.

People don’t immediately get it because their notion of giving is so colored by their experience on birthdays and Christmases and blah, blah, blah, all these, all these difficult sorts of occasions that they are suspicious at first, it’s like, well, what do you mean you would want to give that to me? Right?

They have that sort of. Walking through times square mentality of like, you know, all right. What do you really want out of really giving me anything here?

BILLY: The word grift is a lot like the word

ANDIE: that’s right.

SAVITRI: Reverend Billy starts with an R

STUART: alternate 10 principles.

SAVITRI: Oh, we need that. The criminal 10 principles. I want that list too.

ANDIE: Yeah. Well, I want to jump in though and pull back to a thing that I want to encourage anybody who’s listening to watch. And that is what would Jesus buy, which is a movie that we worked on together about this very thing.

And you can want it for free if you search for it, you’ll find where you can watch it. I’m not naming brand names right now, but it’s out there. And it’s about how the church of stop shopping choir traveled across the country. And just try to inject. And awareness that you don’t have to buy and you can just be giving.

And those aren’t the same things and what happened along the way. And that’s how I think we went from friends to family. And if you haven’t seen it, I want to tell everybody to watch it well

BILLY:  in a department store, IRMI starts running towards you. We bonded at that point, we

ANDIE: were

BILLY:  ducking in the back. I’ll try and stay away from

SAVITRI: these.

You know, it’s funny because Billy was talking in his, when he was preaching about the opportunity of Corona. And I was thinking that in terms of giving, it’s really been remarkable in New York city, the last eight or nine months, you know, the amount of giving that’s gone on. And it’s just been something to watch people caring for each other people, buying groceries for their neighbor and all those neighborhood cares.

But then also in our. Uprising here that the amount of kind of gifting and mutual aid that was going on was just, you couldn’t walk down the street without someone handing you water or mask or a first aid kit or food. I’ve never seen anything like it. The outpouring of generosity that I have seen across communities in New York city in the last seven months is truly inspiring and something I’ll never forget.

It’s very moving that we learned these things under hardship. Of course we know this from Burning Man. We know like when the weather’s really bad people, well, some people freak out, but other people helping each other, you know, right. 

BILLY: A sudden whiteout, You can make a new friend, you know,  campus right there.

ANDIE: We’re told that if, and especially right now, if we don’t spend. Economies are going to collapse, but we also have, we have an opportunity to figure out how to do it in a smarter way than we were doing before. So how can I be responsible and kill the planet a little less when I do need to buy stuff and I do want to give, and I don’t have a lot of time.

SAVITRI: What do I do? Ethical

BILLY: Ethical shopping.

ANDIE: We’re all sinners. Right? I learned that from you,

BILLY: something awful about that phrase. It’s a, it’s an oxymoron.

SAVITRI: That’s cool shopping. Yeah. I think live with your compromise before you believe that your ethical shopping matters that much, it’s better to live with the honesty of your compromise live with the honesty of what you’re doing.

Like I am buying this present. I don’t need to, I want to, I’m feeding some emotional need in myself and my loved ones. It’s not ethical. Okay. In most cases, there’s not a great way to be an ethical shot. You can’t be revisionist.

SAVITRI: It’s a little late.

BILLY: At this point, we have a flat-out emergency.

SAVITRI: However, if you have a distinction who makes jewelry or get a gift certificate for your friend, who’s a massage therapist.

BILLY: We need to change how we live, change the whole thing.


BILLY: And that’s going to be hard for some of us to do. I speaking for myself as well,

SAVITRI: and it’s going to be hard tomorrow.

BILLY: We have to help each other be radical, you know, at the beginning of every one of those. Injunctions in the 10 principles. Larry keeps using the word radical and back in the day, that was a strong word to use, to take out into the mainstream. But now what now? What do we say radical, radical?

BILLY: We have, we have to find, am I right? Stuart? We have to find a way to really wake up on of our torpor right now we have. And the virus and the superstorms and the wildfires in California, we’re getting all these signals from the earth right now. And woo it’s time to,

SAVITRI: with your community too.

What a great glimpse of what we need to do in terms of organizing and understanding who’s around us and understanding who we actually trust and who we actually know and who, when things are tough, we actually call it postal. And we actually call it’s not always who you think it is. And growing those networks in such a way that we’re ready for real hardship, because I think this is a new, the event.

Horizon is still over there a little bit. Right. So, you know, that all sounds right. Really grim and terrible, but actually what you discover in that is how good it is to be close to people, how good it is to be connected, how good it is to really work with people and collaborate with people. Of course, I know it’s hard right now because of COVID.

We don’t get that touch and we don’t get to be together as much, but we know it’s there. We know those networks can be strengthened even in this distance.

BILLY: Touching is going to be great when we get to touch again,

ANDIE: we work together on this and it’s been a source of hope for me to get to today. It’s been pretty

BILLY: special, feels really wonderful. What you’ve done here. Thank you so much. Thank you

STUART: to get back to your question though, about the word radical though, Billy, because Larry meant that, you know, Larry being the 19th century kind of mind, that he was, he meant it in a much older sense of the word as incoming from the root or from your inner self, which really takes me back to your opening comments.

This has been a year for contemplation and for those of us who are lucky enough to survive, This is the virus and to, to not catch it and to keep our jobs and to have some time and have shelter and all that, which is a series of blessings that are not to be discounted. I think it has been a time for people to get more in touch with that inner self.

You know, immediacy actually does begin with a knowledge of one’s innermost self. If there’s an upside to this, maybe it is that period of contemplation.

ANDIE: but

STUART: going into next year, assuming that we’re going to have an event, what kind of an event do you want to have? What are your wishes for, for our Burning Man? 2021? Which doesn’t have a theme yet, by the

BILLY: way, touching.

STUART: Okay. We have one vote for touching.


SAVITRI: like what’s the scale back, you know, like scale back the over provisioning scale back the spectacle a bit.

50Get back to what is the basic thing about it? The real thing about it, the simplest thing, like what is the simplest burn you could have? What is the simplest possible experience you could have there? And what is the simplest camp you could have and how little stuff could you take and maybe it’s time to really strip it down.

DAVID: And can we discover a new kind of fire so that the man doesn’t put CO2 into the air? There, there you go. There’s there’s an old, there’s an old idea.

ANDIE: I would like to know what to thinks of that. What do you think as wishes for 2021 Bernie man, if we get to do it, that’s a

DAVID: very good question. I would say more brass bands.

BILLY: Yeah,

DAVID: spontaneous live music, but just sort of grows out. That was actually my favorite thing. When I started going to Burning Man was just that, Oh, I have a horn. Somebody else has, you know, banjos somebody else’s a slide whistle. Let’s just start jamming. See what happens. And you know, let’s March through some camps.

ANDIE: you brought your choir today, too, right?

BILLY: Oh, yeah. The stop

SAVITRI: shopping choir, wonderful group of folks all over the city, you know, really we’ve been trying all year to, we get, we haven’t missed a Sunday, really.

You know, we had to go on zoom for a couple of months, but since June we’ve been rehearsing on a rooftop or a park,

ANDIE: and you’ve seen with your masks on.

BILLY: Yeah. Yeah.

ANDIE: Seeing, it seems to be the biggest bread of joy and breath.

SAVITRI: It’s hard. I mean, it’s hard. We definitely work hard at the safety and, and you know, it limits what you can do.

ANDIE: Yeah. But when you’re those people, you, can’t not rehearse. You can’t not play together. You got to keep it going. And sometimes singing outside brings other people into it too. And that’s wonderful. So, yeah.

BILLY: Well, we learned from black lives matter that you can be together outside shouting. Walking marching.

And you don’t get sick.

SAVITRI: You got to wear a mask

BILLY: June. It started becoming clear two or three weeks into June after George Floyd’s murder. Yeah. So that was one of the gifts that freed us up to do certain things the rest of the year.

ANDIE: Yeah. It was

BILLY: a gift, a gift.

STUART: All right. Shall we go out with the gift of music?


ANDIE: Are you going to go outside and sing for us?

BILLY: Yeah. Yes. We’re going to go up on our roof.

SAVITRI: All right.

ANDIE: Thanks for being here.

BILLY: So great to say,

ANDIE: okay, let’s hear some music.

SAVITRI: Okay, here we go. Let’s go.


ANDIE: that made me feel some things.

STUART: I was feeling feelings too. Oh my God. What a great

ANDIE: show. Wow.

STUART: Well, I think we’re coming to the end of our time together.

ANDIE: Well, I did hear that we have some requests for Santos.

STUART: Oh, of course. And his wishlist, we put it on my Santa suit. Alright, go. That

ANDIE: looks like your same suit.

STUART: Well, okay.

ANDIE: Nice ass.. cot…

STUART: Thanks for not saying “hat.”

ANDIE: So we have a request to play a rave for Christmas. I cannot advise that. Another listener wants a 20 foot tall swing for my backyard. That’s what I wanted when I was a kid. So yes, I will. Yes, a pandemic free black rock city for 2021.

STUART: I think that’s one. We can all support. Can’t we, it’s not a super spreader event.

It’s just touching with love and affection and friendship. 

ANDIE: It would be lovely to hope that by now we have some hope of seeing that, but I feel like the people that we’re talking to, we’re going to figure out how to be together right now. And then wherever we are, whatever’s going to happen. Don’t you?

STUART: I do. I do.

It will always figure out a way. There’s too much pulling us together for anything – even a giant dominatrix with a COVID whip – to keep us apart.

ANDIE: Well, if there was anything to be done, I feel like we would divide it up and figure it out. I learned that from Larry Harvey.

STUART: Right. Well, what an excellent podcast year it’s been, and let’s put a bow on this final episode of 2020.

Thank you, Andy. Thank

ANDIE: you, Stuart. This has been a lot of fun.