Welcome to FYRE Island

Last weekend, bourgeois festivalgoers were treated to an up-close-and-personal experience of how the other half lives.

Promised exclusive accommodations, gourmet fare, and bang-able beauties a-plenty, attendees of the ill-fated Fyre Festival in the Bahamas instead spent their vacation scavenging for life’s little luxuries, like food, water and a place to sleep. At night, wild dogs looked on as people were driven from their tents, looting and fire broke out and, in the chaos, a mostly benevolent war party took over the bar and began distributing their bounty to grateful refugees. It was “the cultural experience of a decade,” just as the festival-planners had marketed it, though probably not in the way they intended.

Fyre Festival was also an unintentionally apropos metaphor for current affairs.

The event was masterminded by an inflammatory, aging New Yorker with scads of enemies, a history of tax issues, penchant for models, and an unquenchable thirst for the blinding spotlight of fame. To lure people to Fyre Festival, Ja Rule promised them the moon; scavenger hunts with booty valued at $1 million, luxury villas, two levels of access (regular and extra-smarmy), famous people, beautiful women, all in an unspoiled tropical paradise.

Fyre was to be the best festival of all time, Coachella times 1,000, an ultimate, immersive, luxury getaway.

And people bought it, hook, line and stinker. Major media followed (swim)suit, penning articles with titles like “Inside the Private Island Escape All the Supermodels are Flocking to this Summer” and “11 Things to Know About Fyre Festival, Because It’s Unlike Any Music Event You’ve Attended Before.” Hauntingly accurate foreshadowing.

A warning was issued to organizers and their staff in March, according to The Cut. Then, in April, grumblings emerged in the Wall Street Journal and Page Six, the latter reporting that some of the event’s pseudo-spokespersons were “super pissed-off” to learn that they would now have to pay for their own passage to Miami and, tellingly, that some of the luxurious accommodations promised on the festival website had been quietly changed to “modern, eco-friendly, geodesic domes,” hands-down the best all-time description of a tent.

Unmoved, the fearless Fyre chief pressed onward. He’d consolidated his forces to those who nodded on command; soliciting a ‘yes’ was as simple as asking a question, any question, no matter how insane or bizarre. (Though perhaps he didn’t bother to solicit opinions. And why should have he? After all, his word was all that mattered.) They were going to be legends. This was going to change everything.

And indeed it did. Incredibly, those involved didn’t seem to realize how far they’d wandered into the realm of fantasy forged with promises of fiction until they were already being overwhelmed by a mob outraged at being betrayed by a man who guaranteed paradise and delivered horror.

As mayhem descended upon the gravel and sand lot that comprised the lush festival grounds, the man himself was nowhere near. His second-in-command, a social climber with a history of cajoling dollars out of the wealthy naïve, was left to explain the bedlam; failing that, he too fled to safety.

In the aftermath of the fiasco, the Fyre chief and his minions had the audacity to blame those who wanted to attend their event for its utter failure. Never mind that when guests arrived, the hosts hadn’t built half of what they’d promised; or that ticket sales are a pretty solid way to project attendance; or that there are scores of professionals with decades of experience orchestrating large events such as this that they could have, but did not, hire; or that partnerships forged in “a mutual interest in technology, the ocean and rap music,” as the newly apologetic festival website details, generally peak with a kick-ass music video, not a festival on a private Bahamian island the likes of which the world has never seen.

Now the wronged have gathered forces and filed a $100 million class action lawsuit to pursue compensation for the indignities suffered for the grave sin of seeing bluster and balls as substance and certainty.

In this way, each wheel in the cog shares blame for the epic fail that was Fyre Festival. The media outlets that were too dazzled by skin and sex and supermodel sweat to question the feasibility of building, from scratch, a lavish festival on an uninhabited lot in four short months; the overconfident organizers and staff who surveyed the stage-less, villa-less tent city and did not sound an alarm; the hopeless, hapless denizens so desperate to press flesh with elites that they did not consult common sense before booking passage to a luxury event masterminded by a has-been rapper in his 40s who did time for tax evasion.

They were promised the moon but no one seems to have told them that the moon is too large to hold in the palm of a hand, that if you dance too close to the fire, you’re going to get burned.

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