Daily Archives: March 25, 2009

Burning Man Turns Up Las Vegas Heat

Tired of the politico-speak, technobabble, and continuous water-drip torture of our choking economy?  Want to try your hand at building art- or a mutant vehicle?  Perhaps your cup of tea is spinning fire with  some poi and java?   If you don’t mind bringing in all your own sustaining necessities and using foot-power to travel, then you may enjoy escaping it all and heading to the Burning Man events in Nevada this year. burningman

Trying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind. It means different things to different people.  But suffice it to say that every summer 48,000 plus artistic Burning Man participants (aka Burners) meet in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada to create Black Rock City and re-engage with community, and celebrate shared values of radical self-expression and self-reliance.   Expressing and relying on themselves to a degree that is not normally encountered in one’s day-to-day life, they celebrate the power of community, honor the importance of art, and enjoy the immediacy of experience. Then they leave a week later – without a trace of having been there. 

This year the eclectic artsy clan will gather from August 31 through September 7.  Having an “evolution” themed event which promotes the very core of individual survival and philosophies of Charles Darwin and Natural Variation, the event urges participants to question themselves, where they’ve come from, and how they can adapt to our ever-changing world. 

Prior to that, though, Southern Nevada burners have just announced that they are gathering for the Dark Skies Arts Festival 2009, their own annual branded regional Southern Nevada Regional Burn event.  It will be at Mojave Drums in Meadview, AZ (about 100 miles north of Las Vegas) for four days from April 23rd through April 26th.   A limited number of 250 tickets have gone on sale yesterday afternoon, ranging in price from $45 to $75 each.  There will be no gate sales. 

The Las Vegas artist and performer community is small, but mighty and growing – they’ve increased the number of locals attending events every time they do them.  Their community is based on participation and communication, creating a growth outlet for creative people.  The Dark Skies community is planning this year to build an art installation, a mutant vehicle for roaming the playa (you can’t drive your own vehicle within camp), and put on various performances. 

Dark Skies promotes a radically inclusive, participatory, self-reliant, leave-no-trace event existing amid a gifting society environment (no buying and selling of goods and services) where people don’t direct others, but rather do what is necessary (they call it a “DO-Ocracy”).  It’s not a rave or camping trip – it’s a community. 

Dark Skies is accepting applications for either participating in or conducting workshops and special events. Last year they had a hula hoopin’ workshop, past life regression, fire spinning, solar power, creative rope bondage and more.  They also have crazy, zany events like a tightie-whities contest.  Deadline to submit workshop requests is April 17. 

Are we really just a very small piece of a gigantic cosmic puzzle?

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Las Vegas’ CityCenter Project Facing Collapse?

The very survival hangs in the balance for Las Vegas’ largest employer and the city’s largest construction project- and arguably one of the world’s largest and most expensive buildings.   MGM Mirage, operating nine Las Vegas Strip resorts and employing more than 61,000 workers, is now embroiled in a contentious lawsuit over the $9.1 billion, 76-acre CityCenter development with its half-shared partner, Dubai World through its Infinity World financial subsidiary.  dubaiworld

Analysts said the lawsuit filed Sunday casts a damaging dark cloud over the project and sends more negative signals on the overall financial health of MGM Mirage.   According to the lawsuit, Dubai World, a 50-50 joint venture partner in the CityCenter project, is seeking unspecified damages and wants to be relieved of its obligation under the companies’ agreement, which was struck in August 2007. 

Dubai World, a world-leading business conglomerate suffering from a two-thirds drop in their oil prices – leading some to question if the lawsuit is merely trying to sever their joint venture agreement or simply gain more project control – said MGM Mirage, which is CityCenter’s managing partner, is responsible for mismanagement and cost overruns with the project.  Dubai World further contends that statements by the MGM Mirage in the company’s financial filings last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission constitute a breach of the joint-venture pact and has put the project at risk. 

The lawsuit took the MGM Mirage reportedly by surprise, but theirspokespeople responded vehemently yesterday that they are doing everything they can do and are ready, willing, and more than able to meet all financial obligations and debt holder payments. 

Despite the lawsuit, CityCenter still plans to open in stages, starting in October with Vdara, a nongaming condominium and hotel tower, and Aria, CityCenter’s centerpiece 4,004-room hotel-casino, scheduled to open on December 16.  

MGM Mirage continues to accept job applications, having over 90,000 job applications for the CityCenter project and planning to hire 10,000 employees to boost the staganant Las Vegas economy. 

However, MGM Mirage and Dubai World are still seeking the remaining $1.2 billion in financing to finish the project. 

MGM Mirage received from its lenders last week a two-month waiver to avoid violating its loan covenants.   Some financial analysts believe that MGM Mirage might have to file a Chapter 11 bankruptcy to restructure their $13.5 billion in debt.

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