I'M ON UR PLAYA BURNING UR MAN
August 29, 2007 11:45 PM   Subscribe

The man got lit up early. Culprit out on bail. LOLCATS on the case.
posted by jcruelty (137 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Wait, wait, wait, let me get this straight. A counter-culture gathering what's main goal is to celebrate "breakin' all the rules" and "sockin' it to The Man" gets upset when one of their own does exactly this?

Then they have the guy arrested for arson?

I must just not get it...
posted by Brittanie at 12:05 AM on August 30, 2007 [10 favorites]


A counter-culture gathering what's main goal is to celebrate "breakin' all the rules" and "sockin' it to The Man" gets upset when one of their own does exactly this?

Well, personally I would call bullshit on any "counter-culture gathering" for "breaking all the rules" that organizes itself as a Limited Liability Corporation.
posted by Avenger at 12:16 AM on August 30, 2007 [9 favorites]


Burning man rules sticking it to the man
posted by hortense at 12:17 AM on August 30, 2007


The Black Rock City Emergency Services Department was able to put out the fire in time.

That's cute.
posted by dhammond at 12:19 AM on August 30, 2007


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by mazola at 12:20 AM on August 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


What a party pooper.
posted by gomichild at 12:26 AM on August 30, 2007


This is why we can't have nice things.
posted by Iron Rat at 12:34 AM on August 30, 2007 [5 favorites]


oh, also bullshit on the "free-for-all festival" that requires you to enter into a legally binding contract if you want to bring a camcorder.
posted by Avenger at 12:37 AM on August 30, 2007 [5 favorites]


Damn hippies.
posted by Joeforking at 12:41 AM on August 30, 2007


Burning Man sucks. Don't go.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:46 AM on August 30, 2007 [4 favorites]


Somehow I think our house truck friend would just shake his head at burning man.
posted by maxwelton at 1:29 AM on August 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


It wasn't arson, it was performance art! First amendment, baby!
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:34 AM on August 30, 2007


In retrospect, this was all inevitable, including the arrest and arson charges. Irony tends toward a maximum in any closed system, doesn't it?

I'm a little sorry that I never made it to Burning Man, but I'm fairly sure now that I wouldn't want to waste the time and money.
posted by pax digita at 2:31 AM on August 30, 2007


You laugh, Beste, but what about Pinoncelli and Duchamp's "Fountain"?

Hmm. Is there a weird unspoken rule for destructive performance artists that says that you have to paint your face?
posted by honest knave at 2:33 AM on August 30, 2007


"the most poignant moment of all, however, was when Crimson Rose, one of the six people on the Burning Man board that runs the event and the person in charge of the Man, said...

I want that asshole arrested...And I want the first shot."

Scratch a hippie, find a fascist.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:52 AM on August 30, 2007 [8 favorites]


Burning Man sucks. Don't go.

Using reverse psychology to discourage the norms much?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:53 AM on August 30, 2007


Were Jenny Calendar still alive, I have a feeling she would have stopped attending Burning Man about eight years back.
posted by adipocere at 5:02 AM on August 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Don't hate the playa, hate the game.
posted by enrevanche at 5:35 AM on August 30, 2007 [13 favorites]


whatever his motivations...he must have been aware of the publicity he would get if he did it. if the burningman llc kept it quiet his name would have got around the attendees anyway. getting publicity among that crowd cant be a bad thing. now with the arrest his name is internet news. what great publicity for him!. (dumb move burningman )especially since he is a performance artist.

maybe burning man sucks. maybe they have sold out.

but its hard not to be cynical about his actions. but i am glad he did it. raises interesting questions...unless he is a total douchebag and wanted to rain on everyones parade.

(been to burning man before. will probably go again. but i am under no illusions what burning man is and isnt.definietly some good things going there. )
posted by m o q s h a at 5:40 AM on August 30, 2007


I love the way people who have little experience of Burning Man assign a certain set of values to it and then mock them for supposedly breaking them.

There basically two possible ways of doing an event like this.

1. Get out there, do whatever you want and risk incarceration, fines and less chance of doing something similar; or

2. Jump thorough the seemingly endless hoops provided by the local, county, state & federal authorities, BLM, law enforcement yadda, yadda so that you can put on the event year on year.

BM have gone with route 2 and why not? Many people get many different things from BM and for me it seems like a fun experiment in creating an alternative society that tries to improve (for it's members) on regular society.

Just because there are certain laws, rules & norms in regular society, it doesn't follow that an alternative society should just chuck them all out of the window. Murder, rape & theft are generally seen as a bad thing so you won't see them condoned in many societies, 'alternative' or not.

As the whole week and city are geared toward the burning of the man, someone who tries to screw around with that is going to be going against the norms of the society so they get busted. Them's the breaks.
posted by i_cola at 6:05 AM on August 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


P.S. I live in the UK but have been 3 times in the past 10 years. I wish I could go every year but money and time don't allow...yet...
posted by i_cola at 6:08 AM on August 30, 2007


So... some people build what is essentially a giant bonfire, which they plan on lighting on fire. A guy lights it on fire a few days before the builders intended to burn it. Got it.

Except one little thing: Why is burning something that was built to be burnt considered arson? Isn't that a bit like arresting someone for stealing a free sample at 11:30, because the "free sample" sign wasn't supposed to be put out until noon?
posted by caution live frogs at 6:09 AM on August 30, 2007


The shark has been jumped.
posted by smackwich at 6:30 AM on August 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


IM IN UR BROWSER RESIZIN UR WINDOWS
posted by Rock Steady at 6:31 AM on August 30, 2007


Sing it with me now!

Punk's not dead, it just deserves to die when it becomes another stale cartoon
A close-minded, self-centered social club...


So always to those who turn into the Man. So always.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:31 AM on August 30, 2007


THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS.
posted by chlorus at 6:46 AM on August 30, 2007


Burning Man is about burning the man in the same way that the Olympics are about the closing ceremonies. All the spectators and dignitaries show up, but for the athletes, it's just gravy.

A friend of mine had his art vandalized on the playa last year. He was as pissed off and frothing as you'd expect, but he knew it was a danger of putting your work on the playa, and he got over it. So I'm not surprised that the people closest to the work would freak out, and I hope that eventually they'll get over it, too.

For that matter, if you go hiking in the woods, there's a danger that you'll get mauled by a bear. The difference is that if you do, I'd like to think there wouldn't be a metafilter thread full of LOLHIKERS and IM IN UR FORESTS MAULING UR VACASHUNIN FAMILIES.
posted by phooky at 6:59 AM on August 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


There's a slight difference between being mauled by a bear and the burning man burning early.
posted by drezdn at 7:00 AM on August 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


I find this pretty hilarious. Thanks for posting it.
posted by dobbs at 7:03 AM on August 30, 2007


I bet the first emergency calls were a little awkward.

"Help! The giant wooden statue we built to set on fire out in the desert is on fire!"

"Yeaahhh?"
posted by yhbc at 7:07 AM on August 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Isn't that a bit like arresting someone for stealing a free sample at 11:30, because the "free sample" sign wasn't supposed to be put out until noon?
Isn't that a bit like arresting someone who stold the whole damn tray of free samples so no one else could have any?

You know who else initially made his name by a spectacular act of destruction?
That's right.
posted by ormondsacker at 7:11 AM on August 30, 2007


Obligatory link to Timmy Burning Man review.
And don't forget the quintessential "Burner's" "glass tit" comment.
posted by brownpau at 7:13 AM on August 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Burning Man is about burning the man in the same way that the Olympics are about the closing ceremonies. All the spectators and dignitaries show up, but for the athletes, it's just gravy.

Amen.
posted by mediareport at 7:20 AM on August 30, 2007


Not a specific comment on this post, but: Who fucking cares?

And what the hell is it with white people and burning shit. God!
posted by Debaser626 at 7:22 AM on August 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


HIPPIES!
HIPPIES!
GODDAMN HIPPIES!
posted by spish at 7:27 AM on August 30, 2007


It's like raping a really slutty girl with the defense that she would've put out to you eventually anyway. Not cool.
posted by hermitosis at 7:34 AM on August 30, 2007


Umm, pssst. Hermitosis
posted by Debaser626 at 7:39 AM on August 30, 2007


what the hell is it with white people and burning shit. God!

DEICIDE! \m/
posted by radgardener at 7:41 AM on August 30, 2007


That article illustrates, rather than disputes, my simile.
posted by hermitosis at 7:42 AM on August 30, 2007


That guy looks really familiar.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:52 AM on August 30, 2007


He kind of looks like Queequeg in his mugshot.
posted by yeti at 8:15 AM on August 30, 2007


Man...I can't believe it's been this long, but the first time I went to Burning Man was about 17 years ago. It was pretty cool. Laid back, very strange, seriously stoned people everywhere. There was much naked fire juggling, body painting and consensual naughtiness.

I went back about 9 years ago, and kinda swore off going back again. The whole vibe had changed. Granted, part of that could have been that I wasn't a stoned teenager juggling fire in a canoe carried by willing slave boys...but a lot more of it was that it just seemed like it was becoming pretty commodified. There was a lot of branding, the barter system was being replaced by a cash system, and there seemed to be a pretty heavy presence of law enforcement. I think the real end for me, was the rules about the fence...in that people were supposed to stay contained in a given area...like unto the cattle mentality the festival theoretically railed against.

I dunno, I guess anything in one's past tends to be remembered differently than it may have happened, colored with nostalgia...and in my case a healthy amount of purple microdot...but those kids today...with their calls to authority and their threats against "arsonists"...I think perhaps Burning Man does not mean what it used to mean.
posted by dejah420 at 8:37 AM on August 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Man wasn't his to burn. That's why it's arson.
posted by bshort at 9:05 AM on August 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'd never go in a million years but I can't understand why people rag on BM (other than them being just dipshits in general I guess).

There needs to be one time & place in the lower 48 where anyone can come and let it all hang out, so to speak.

Given the very, very NON-FREE society post Nancy Reagan law-enforcement society we've become since the halcyon hippie days, as i_cola said above, and the general dynamics of widening "success", it's inevitable for more Suckiness to accrue to such a counter-cultural and long-running event.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:07 AM on August 30, 2007


This was like that time I went to the Puyallup Fair, and after standing in line for the roller coaster for like an hour, some asswipe blew chunks all over and they had to shut it down for sanitation. So we left to eat Earthquake Burgers outside the stadium while the last living descendants of REO Speedwagon warbled out Can't Fight This Feeling in their sleep. The cows and sheep couldn't fight that feeling, either, judging by the smell. But the main reason that was like this is that we all got lit eary that day, too.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:11 AM on August 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


eary?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:12 AM on August 30, 2007


This is Karl Rove in action, or Jeff Gannon. Look at the guy, just how much like Jeff Gannon, does he have to look?
posted by Oyéah at 9:16 AM on August 30, 2007


Scratch a hippie, find a fascist.
Hmm. Orwell said that about anarchists. I wonder if it's true. More likely, it's "scratch anyone, and I don't want to see a surprised look on your face if they scratch back"

Question: why did Burning Man have to grow larger and larger instead of splinter off into greater quantities of medium-sized events? Does it have something to do with the difficulties of finding good spots?
posted by honest knave at 9:30 AM on August 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


The best counter culture response, in my opinion, would have been to pretty much ignore the guy, and through whatever channels Burning Man has announce "SURPRISE! The burning occurs early this year!" Would have totally fucking pwned him.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:32 AM on August 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


honest knave: There are a lot of regional burner events. I've been involved in one of them for some years. But those increase the interest in Burning Man, if anything.

Burning Man doesn't have an attendance cap. I can only imagine that the Powers That Be have discussed instituting one and rejected the idea.
posted by adamrice at 9:46 AM on August 30, 2007


So, Burning Man started out as an attempt to create a gathering where the cultural and commercial norms we're steeped in need not apply. In the process it grew from a few hundred people doing pretty much whatever they wanted ("Of course it's loaded. It's just a stick if it's not loaded.") to a slightly tamer version, dealing with keeping upwards of 40,000 people from seriously injuring themselves, a very active awareness by law enforcement, the BLM, etc., and still wanting to give people a taste of life without constant commercialization and commodification. No more Barney drive by shooting range, but the impact of that many people, generally trying to be creative, responsible for themselves, open, alive... it is amazing stuff. Burning Man's always been about blowing shit up, but obviously one of the cardinal rules (consistently broken since the beginning) is "Blow up your own shit, not someone else's."
posted by emmet at 9:59 AM on August 30, 2007


mass harshing of mellow

mass marshing of mallow
posted by djseafood at 10:08 AM on August 30, 2007


UPDATE 14: Reports are surfacing that during Burning Man 1997, Paul Addis hung a pair of giant silver testicles from Burning Man’s groin.
posted by jcruelty at 10:09 AM on August 30, 2007


I might be willing to buy that lighting the big wooden stature that is designed to burn early is arson. It isn't his property.

However, what I want to know is how it's considered 'performance art'?

I mean, if painting your face up and taking a blowtorch to things is performance art, then he's totally ripping me off. I've been doing it for years.
posted by quin at 10:35 AM on August 30, 2007


mass harshing of mellow

mass marshing of mallow


mess marshing of hallow
posted by jamjam at 10:43 AM on August 30, 2007


There needs to be one time & place in the lower 48 where anyone can come and let it all hang out, so to speak.

Sure, I think those come along every few years. Catch them early, because they change. Case in point.

I know a guy who's been going to Bonaroo for many years. He told me the last time I talked with him about it that it had gotten very commercial. Now I actually meet other people who've heard of it. Sometimes I think, "If I've heard of it, it must be past due."

I heard of BM early, but I never had the cash in those days to even spare the time, much less pay the fare, to get there. I'm sure it was great, back then -- if you were young, outgoing, uninhibited, and unencumbered.

If you want the same thing now, BM obviously isn't where to find it. If you hear about a place you can find it ... that's probably not the place, either. Anymore.
posted by lodurr at 10:43 AM on August 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


"A counter-culture gathering what's main goal is to celebrate "breakin' all the rules" "

Gosh, I'm glad we got that one out of the way, since some moron always coughs it up.
Would you care to point out whatever manifesto or mission statement you've seen that states that the purpose of BM is to "break all the rules"?
Even before 40,000 people started showing up, it was obvious to anybody who has a couple of brain cells that managing a crowd that size required planning and cooperation.
You don't just run around grabbing people's tits and taking a shit wherever you feel like. The point isn't to break all the rules, it's more a situation where you try to apply only the rules that make sense for the community at hand that minimize the impact on the site. And rather than have people with guns and sticks enforce the rules the event tries to self-regulate using the rangers as intermediaries, but counting more on people policing themselves.
That's the idea, and it seems to work fairly well most of the time, but the cops are around if you don't want to conform to the standards of the community or insist on openly committing felonies.
So no, you don't get it, but hey, don't let that stop you from talking out of your ass.
posted by 2sheets at 10:46 AM on August 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hunter S. Thompson died for this?!
posted by ...possums at 10:59 AM on August 30, 2007


Hunter S. Thompson died for something?
posted by lodurr at 11:01 AM on August 30, 2007


Hunter S. Thompson died so he could be fired from The Canon.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:02 AM on August 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


The "breakin' all the rules" snipes do seem like cheap shots. I thought it was more a matter of makin' all the rules. For themselves. On the fly.

Which wouldn't seem to be the case, anymore. That's not necessarily bad. As others have implied, things change with growth, and you could see it as an ongoing experiment in how to take a small, anarchic project and grow it to a large, pseudo-anarchic project.

But it sounds as though it's getting heavy on the "pseudo", and lighter on the "anarchic." I wonder if that's inevitable. Maybe (hopefully) not, but from what I can see as an outsider, it looks as though it's happening to BM.
posted by lodurr at 11:12 AM on August 30, 2007


Oh. And here I thought it was cancer or something.

So the whole Key West thing was against his wishes? Such a shame.
posted by lodurr at 11:13 AM on August 30, 2007


So the whole Key West thing was against his wishes?

I'm thick today. Me no understand.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:45 AM on August 30, 2007


I had read he wanted to be shot from a gun off Key West. Not at Burning Man. Can it, though, it's not relevant. No sense derailing into a Hunter Thompson thread (unless it would be highly amusing).
posted by lodurr at 11:48 AM on August 30, 2007


"can it" --> "forget it"
posted by lodurr at 11:48 AM on August 30, 2007


There needs to be one time & place in the lower 48 where anyone can come and let it all hang out, so to speak.

And more and more, BM ain't it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:12 PM on August 30, 2007


lodurr - Ah, now I see the point of confusion. The ceremony/cannon was at his compound, not at Key West or Burning Man.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:44 PM on August 30, 2007


I think the real end for me, was the rules about the fence.

There's a fence? I thought the whole deal was that it was in the desert?

What's the fence for? To keep people out or to keep them in?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:48 PM on August 30, 2007


Xen Jardin's Boing Boing post on the subject is hysterical in both senses of the word. They way she spells it out makes it sound like ZOMG TERRIRSTS! mashed up with OH THE HUGE MANATEE! Also, like Burners are leaving in droves. I mean, fair-weather friends for the Man or what?

I'm fairly certain that some of those leaving saw the flames, went "shit, is it Saturday already?" and headed home to beat the traffic. Also, that the exodus is overstated.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:53 PM on August 30, 2007


Anyone been to PDF? Sounds interesting, and doesn't involve a multi-day cross-country trek (at least, not for me).
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:55 PM on August 30, 2007


"What's the fence for? "
It's not enough of a fence to keep anybody in or out (waist high plastic netting), but it does mark the boundry of the event and more importantly it catches a lot of trash throughout the week.
posted by 2sheets at 1:09 PM on August 30, 2007


mass effing of fellow
posted by phoque at 1:47 PM on August 30, 2007


Oh man. Burning Man seems to be going off the rails a little bit this year. Just read this at Gawker:

A Burning Man participant was found dead this morning, hanging from the inside of a two-story high tent, according to Mark Pirtle, special agent in charge for the Bureau of Land Managment.... Pirtle said the man was hanging for two hours before anyone in the large tent thought to bring him down. 'His friends thought he was doing an art piece,' Pirtle said."
posted by jokeefe at 2:37 PM on August 30, 2007


This won't really be on topic but the comments about security made me think about a recent Senate hearing on the REAL ID Act.

Senator Leahy began by excusing himself for arriving late and went on to tell a winding why.

A motorcade had to be let through.

He then recalled an encounter he had as a student in Washington.

He was waiting for an elevator. When the doors opened there was Vice President Lyndon Johnson and an agent. A surprised Leahy hesitated and the V.P asked him if he was getting on or off.

Recovering, Leahy responded "getting on mister vice president" at which point Johnson seized him by the belt and said "well, come on then boy" and pulled him into the elevator.

They rode down to the ground floor and headed outside. The VP and his bodyguard headed for a car and waiting driver. Leahy watched the trio drive off.

He then came back to the reason for being tardy. The current V.P was headed down to lobby them. Traffic was blocked for twenty minutes waiting for Cheney's contingent of 38 vehicles to arrive and pass.

Leahy then noted he found this a bit disturbing.

/derail

mass parching of willow
posted by phoque at 3:04 PM on August 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Leahy then noted he found this a bit disturbing.

No doubt. I'd have been disturbed if Lyndon Johnson had been tugging on my belt, too.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:09 PM on August 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh goody, a thread where Playa haters can get their hate on.

I don't care if it's jumped the shark, if the Hip Kids have moved onto something hipper, or 'insert your trendy excuse here' - some of us dare to drop our cynical facades and oh my gosh, actually enjoy the event. I find the actions of the guy who burnt it down rude, pathetic attention grabbing nonsense, and yes, arson. Did he have a motive to do it? Don't see one on his 'defense' page, probably because there's no defense for it. He's lucky no one got hurt - playing with fire is a stupid idiotic thing to do but entirely fitting for a guy whose sense of humor is hanging balls on the Man. The people who use fire at the event (like the fire dancers or poi spinners) use safety as one of their principles - unlike Mr. Beavis "hehe fire" here.

I don't know about you, but could YOU afford the $26K bail? Somehow he did - and he'll hide behind the whole 'performance art' defense, and that is complete crap. This is no performance art - just a guy who thinks spoiling someone else's fun is funny. Throw the book at him - failed the whole point of the experience. Call BM a sell-out corporate event, skip it, boycott it, express yourself - but spoiling other people's fun only shows how stupid people will do stupid things so they can show off their stupidity.
posted by rmm at 4:44 PM on August 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


Gosh, I'm glad we got that one out of the way, since some moron always coughs it up.
Would you care to point out whatever manifesto or mission statement you've seen that states that the purpose of BM is to "break all the rules"?


Umm, from BurningMan.com:
Burning Man is an annual art festival and temporary community based on radical self expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada... There are no rules about how one must behave or express oneself at this event (save the rules that serve to protect the health, safety, and experience of the community at large); rather, it is up to each participant to decide how they will contribute and what they will give to this community.
And here is a good definition of "radical" for you: One who advocates fundamental or revolutionary changes in current practices, conditions, or institutions; Departing markedly from the usual or customary; extreme

Annnnd, from Wikipedia, presumably written by a Burner:
Participation is encouraged, and being a spectator is discouraged.
So, isn't that basically what this guy did?


Burning man rules sticking it to the man

Riiiiight. Because no one gets high at Burning Man.
posted by Brittanie at 5:05 PM on August 30, 2007


rmm said: I don't know about you, but could YOU afford the $26K bail?

26k bail means you only have to come up with $2,600.00. I'm pretty sure 2,600 is attainable. Especially when you consider that tickets to BM this year cost between 225 and 350 a pop.

Jokeefe said: Suicide report.

Wow, that's tragic for him and his friends/family, but statistically, BM has a pretty low incidence of death and maiming. I think only one other person has died at BM in 20 some odd years. (And one died in an SUV wreck outside BRCity.) So, I don't think one performance art suicide is really the clarion call of the end o' BM.

I think BM will sort of end up like Lollapalooza (1991-1997ish). The social order that held it together in the beginning will collapse as the death star of "hip" people who want to be cool find themselves hot and miserable in the desert. There will be more property destruction, people will start getting hurt, and the people who started the whole thing will throw their hands up at the task of trying to manage 50,000 toasted idiots. It'll get sold to William Morris or some other promoter. It'll then be repackaged, sanitized and sold to the people who want to pretend they understand what the motive was in the first place.

At $700 a couple, the price at the gate right now, Burning Man no longer caters to the artists that were there in the beginning.

Ours is a commodifying culture, and Burning Man is ripe for the sell off.
posted by dejah420 at 5:47 PM on August 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Rmm said: Call BM a sell-out corporate event, skip it, boycott it, express yourself - but spoiling other people's fun only shows how stupid people will do stupid things so they can show off their stupidity.

For the record, as anyone who has spent time on the playa knows, there has been a 20 year running joke about who can prank BM by lighting it in advance. Long standing bet. I remember hearing about it in 1990/91, whatever year I was there.

The guy may have pissed off some people, and he certainly leaked into the fresh of a lot of newcomers...but the "prank" itself is a 20 year old joke.
posted by dejah420 at 5:52 PM on August 30, 2007


The arsonist speaks.
posted by brownpau at 6:45 PM on August 30, 2007


posted by dejah420 statistically, BM has a pretty low incidence of death and maiming. I think only one other person has died at BM in 20 some odd years

Not quite:
1994: One death, circumstances unknown.
1995: One motorcyclist killed when he turns off his headlight, creates huge dust cloud and collides with van.
1996: Three campers killed, one maimed when drunk driver drives over their tent.
2003: One woman killed, crushed by art car.
2006: One death, combination of heatstroke and heart attack.
2007: One death, a suicide.
posted by fandango_matt at 7:36 PM on August 30, 2007


Look, do pranks, laugh at the people at the BM organization - fine. I get it... nobody's perfect. They aren't, none of us are. Yeah, I heard about the joke about burning the man by burning it in advance. It's one thing to have a joke in a culture - it's another thing to act on it. To break a covenant with your community (which is what he's done) like this is pathetic.

What I don't get is somehow this guy thinks he's making a statement against the jocks or yahoos by setting fire to it early. He's no HST. He's no revolutionary, no 'history teacher', no corrector of the community, no 'old school vanguard' making a statement. He's a footnote to something greater than himself - an ultimate irony being that he'll never get it.

dejah, I like your assessment. It just makes me sad because it's true.
posted by rmm at 7:43 PM on August 30, 2007


posted by Brittanie Umm, from BurningMan.com: There are no rules about how one must behave or express oneself at this event (save the rules that serve to protect the health, safety, and experience of the community at large); rather, it is up to each participant to decide how they will contribute and what they will give to this community.

Setting on fire one of the largest structures at the event without warning--and one below which many groups of people are congregating--is incredibly dangerous. That's one of the reasons why before the Man is burned, people are moved to a safe distance and the burn is supervised by the BRC and Washow Co. fire departments.
posted by fandango_matt at 7:55 PM on August 30, 2007


Washoe
posted by fandango_matt at 7:56 PM on August 30, 2007


posted by dejah420 Man...I can't believe it's been this long, but the first time I went to Burning Man was about 17 years ago. It was pretty cool. Laid back, very strange, seriously stoned people everywhere. There was much naked fire juggling, body painting and consensual naughtiness.

Really? 17 years ago (1990), Burning Man was still on Baker Beach, and the only people who went were either close friends of Larry Harvey or close friends of his friends. Every now and again someone pipes up claims he or she was there "when Burning Man began," but these claims are almost always complete bullshit.

posted by dejah420 I went back about 9 years ago . . . There was a lot of branding, the barter system was being replaced by a cash system, and there seemed to be a pretty heavy presence of law enforcement.

Another interesting claim, because I was also there 9 years ago, and Burning Man had the same monetary system it's always had. I do remember certain things about 1998, and if you were there, I'm sure you'll be able to describe something distinctive about that year that was different from all the others.
posted by fandango_matt at 8:12 PM on August 30, 2007


Thanks for the quote from the BM site, Brittanie.
Did you read it?
posted by 2sheets at 8:25 PM on August 30, 2007


I was there in 1998, too, and heard plenty of complaints that it was getting too big but also had the time of my life. It was challenging, amazing, harsh, warm-hearted and beautiful, among many other things. The art and music were astonishing on so many levels, including spiritual ones.

That said, I like the alleged arsonist's statement. It's pretty fucking punk, what he did, and probably more in line with "the spirit of Burning Man" than anything done by an awful lot of the people complaining about it.
posted by mediareport at 8:36 PM on August 30, 2007


Thanks for the quote from the BM site, Brittanie.
Did you read it?


I certainly did. Did you read the arsonist's manifesto?
the number one thing to Black Rock Intelligence was that NO ONE be hurt. If you people actually knew us, you'd know that we have an extensive background in doing things exactly like this. In fact, we were on the ground for some thirty minutes before ascent, scoping the scene and clearing people in order to minimize any possiblity of injury to others. We were aided by several people who were recruited on the playa the night of this burn (BRI has no idea who they are, so don't bother asking).

Second, the operation was planned in conjunction with the lunar eclipse because Black Rock Intelligence knew that another event at the trash fence would draw the bulk of lunatics to it, rather than to the Man. In fact, one of our peripheral operatives aided in getting as many people to the fence event as possible to help BRI achieve its goal of zero injuries.
posted by Brittanie at 8:49 PM on August 30, 2007


Look, clearly there are people who feel strongly about this. I'm one of those people who don't. In fact, I think it's pretty funny, and perfectly in line with the spirit of what I had always understood Burning Man to be all about.

When you create a giant party in the middle of nowhere where the idea is for people to "let it all hang out" (and *do not* kid yourself, this is exactly what Burning Man was intended to be) but that party gets so large that you have to call in outside law enforcement and create a huge list of rules and guidelines, then it no longer fulfills it's original purpose. It's time to pull the plug.

Much like Woodstock '94 and Woodstock '99, recent Burning Man events are nothing like the BMs of the past.
posted by Brittanie at 8:58 PM on August 30, 2007


posted by Brittanie recent Burning Man events are nothing like the BMs of the past.

Spoken exactly like someone who has never gone. Thanks for the insight, though!
posted by fandango_matt at 9:01 PM on August 30, 2007


Sorry, "cybersatan's" manifesto doesn't really impress me a lot. Nor do his actions. He got some attention by being an asshole. Again. So he somehow managed to do it without maiming or killing someone? I agree that that's better than the alternative, but that's about as far as it goes.

My fave from 98 was the tower structure thingy with the crimson banners... there were variants a couple years later, but never that original structure. Beautiful piece... Just to inject something a little different... people do create some amazing works out on the playa... did anyone see the "Rubber Horses" by Dorothy Trojanowski (great name) a couple years ago? Just loved that as well.
posted by emmet at 9:09 PM on August 30, 2007


Reading this Wired News interview with Paul Addis, it's obvious he wishes he could be Hunter S. Thompson, but he doesn't realize Hunter S. Thompson wouldn't have bothered going to Burning Man. Hunter S. Thompson would have bought a sheet of acid and a gallon of vodka and then passed out in a Reno motel after writing about how Burning Man used to be gonzo before it wasn't.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:10 PM on August 30, 2007


1994: One death, circumstances unknown.

I swear to god, I read this as "circumcision unknown".
posted by dirigibleman at 10:24 PM on August 30, 2007


Reading this Wired News interview with Paul Addis, it's obvious he wishes he could be Hunter S. Thompson

I don't think that's obvious at all. He comes across as fairly intelligent and thoughtful about both the event and his stunt. I especially liked the part where he claims to have talked someone out of bringing gasoline *to pour on the Burning Man* last year, because it was a stupid and dangerous idea. And this quote on the third page has always been part of Burning Man's philosophy:

So to them, the entire experience of Burning Man is a passive spectacle. To people who would say they are pissed off because the Man got torched, I say, "Why are you really out there?" If the burning of the Man means something, if it brings them some sort of cathartic connection, then build your own thing and burn it down. Don't be a passive audience member. Cross the line.

The more I think about what he did, and compare it to what I've heard and read about the explosion of Burning Man in recent years, the more I like the idea of a premature burn. Didn't it fuck with people in exactly the kind of sharply provocative way Burning Man is supposed to fuck with people? (IMHO, from just my one experience, of course, during the year Addis says was the beginning of the end, so make of it whatever you like.)
posted by mediareport at 11:05 PM on August 30, 2007


Fandango, I said "about 17"... I thought it was 90...coulda been 91. Hell, boy...it could have been 1992. Time is fluid. Sue me for not breaking out my daytimer of the 90's to give you an absolute date. Good night son, I feel happy when I get the decade right. Sheesh.

There were probably a couple hundred people there. I was wrapping up at the San Diego Comic Con, when an old friend with the T.O. street theater crew asked if I wanted to avoid Austin for a while and come back to San Francisco with them.

While there, we got invited to go to this massive party in the desert where we would get to shoot things, blow things up, and set things on fire. Whooo! Who doesn't want to do that? Burn things to the ground? Dude...I was all over it.

I camped with the Rainbow Family contingent because my friends and I were woefully unprepared, and The Family shared their water and their survival acumen.

I was a short woman, big tits, bigger hair, even bigger mouth, juggling fire and belly dancing with swords on my head. Wandered around with a pear in my cleavage making "lovely pear" puns. ("Who'd like to nibble on my lovely pear, then?") Bartered comics for stuff. Tripped balls the entire time. I'm pretty sure the sky has never been the color I remember it being. Firearms, explosives, and acid...it was almost a religious experience, I tell you what. Dust or no damn dust.


As to your 1998(ish) probative: "Oh yeah, well...what was there then? interrogation..." (Note that you picked a year, I didn't. I gave an approximate, *you* decided on 1998. I'm just going with it, because '98 sounds about right.)

If I went to two of them, spaced 7-8 years apart, and haven't been back since, how would I know what was "something distinctive about that year that was different from all the others" as you so snidely put it?

I have no frame of reference upon which to build a differentiation. It's not like I spent all my time wondering what was happening in the deserts of Nevada. I'd forgotten all about Burning Man until I was invited because I worked for a major media company.

So, I don't know what you consider "different". Do you mean the unreal dust storms, the rain and the subsequent mud burials of anything left on the surface', or do you mean the street numbers or do you mean the dosed driver plowing into the temple? Or the first massive Tesla coil? Or crossing the county line to a different location? Or perhaps you mean that the BM group finally became a legal permanent LLC? Or that they finally realized that BM was doing insane amounts of damage to the desert and decided to do something about it. Or maybe you mean that the board members finally realized how monetized they could make this bad boy? (See: Sacred Cash Cow: Burning Man Expected to generate $10 million in revenue from 45,000 ticket-buying customers)

I have no idea what you're fishing for. Again...almost a decade ago. Burning Man 1998(ish), while interesting, doesn't even rank in the top 15 most interesting things that I've done, so forgive me if I've missed some "happening" that apparently rocked your universe.

Why the hostility? Just because you were there, doesn't mean nobody else was. And just because someone has a different opinion about the direction it's taken is no reason to impugn their veracity. And that you were at whichever of the early ones I attended, and you don't remember me...well, sorry you missed the show.

But I'm fairly sure that if you were behaving as much like a snide, smug, fussbudgety, hobbledehoy back then as you are making yourself out to be in this thread, I'm fairly sure Me and My Lovely Pear would have steered big circles around your camp of self righteousness.
posted by dejah420 at 11:54 PM on August 30, 2007 [4 favorites]


Since you're the one who claimed you were there about seventeen years ago and then went back about seven or eight years later only to find "there was a lot of branding, [and] the barter system was being replaced by a cash system"--well, you're in no position to be touting yourself as an expert historian or someone who can speak with authority about the event. And as far as your "recollections" of 1998 are concerned, I found that same list of recollections with Google.

Just about everyone claims they were at the "original" Burning Man "when it began", but I have my doubts. The fact you were part of "a major media company" and you thought the barter system was being replaced by cash and the event was becoming commodified--well, that pretty much sums it up right there, because I hear that line of crap from damn near everyone (including people in this thread), almost all of whom have never set foot in the state of Nevada. But hey, you go ahead and rock on with your recollections about the way it used to be, despite the fact your credentials as some sort of veteran historian of Burning Man aren't quite up to snuff.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:45 AM on August 31, 2007


dejah420: I love you. As a gay man who none-the-less loves boobies and pears, I'd have been laughing about that memory ever since. Thanks for sharing both that, and this lovely job of ripping someone a new orifice.
posted by Goofyy at 12:53 AM on August 31, 2007


dejah420: It's not like I spent all my time wondering what was happening in the deserts of Nevada. I'd forgotten all about Burning Man until I was invited because I worked for a major media company.

That's probably the crux of this whole thread: "burning the Man" means something to some people; to others, it's a curiosity, a good time (maybe), a challenge (maybe), stimulating, but it's not a life-changing experience. People in the former category will find the pre-emptive "burning of the Man" much, much more fraught with significance; they'll get much, much more moved when people talk about Burning Man jumping the shark.

Myself, I think Burning Man was a neat idea, and there's still stuff to be learned from it. Personally, I think Addis is probably a bit of a narcissist, but some of the things he has to say are pretty thought-provoking (especially his challenge to people to "make your own thing and burn it" -- i.e., stop being passive, become creative of the social order, which is what the festival is ostensibly about).

Here's the thing, for me: If Burning Man is an experiment in social order, then you should bloody well expect these kinds of things, and especially so if you're encouraging people to question rules. Addis sounds like he was pretty careful about honoring the spirit of the health and safety provisions -- in his mind, I expect he simply challenged the implementation of the rules, not the "real" rules. (It is possible to be both a narcissist and an idealist -- most great artists are both. Which is in no way meant to imply that Paul Addis is a great artist.)

Here's the next thing: If Burning Man is an experiment in social order, you should also bloody well expect people to have strong feelings about it. Hence the strong condemnations of Addis's actions. He basically short-circuited the ritual, dissipated the energy early. No matter that the Man was rebuilt post haste and will be burned On Schedule, he has changed the "energy" of the festival.

This ought to provoke an examination of the ritual mechanics of the festival on the part of participants and observers. People ought to be looking at it closely after this highly disruptive act. What I would expect to see is that some people will say that the buzz was entirely harshed, the whole thing was a total washup and Addis ought to be burned at the stake.

I also expect that some people will find the experience of the festival this year greatly intensified by Addis's prank. Some folks out there will be jazzed by the "punkness" of it. Other folks will get really high off the fact that yes, they did rebuild the Man and they did finish and burn (on schedule). Pulling something off (and especially when you feel yourself to have been a real part of pulling-off) when you thought it was completely trashed is a really powerful high.

I hope to see all these people write at length and with fierce self-examination about all this stuff. I hope to see a lot of people chronicle and examine what this disruption in the orderliness of their disorderliness has meant to them.
posted by lodurr at 5:00 AM on August 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


fandango_matt writes "almost all of whom have never set foot in the state of Nevada"

...because it's so goddamn hard to get in to Nevada, what with the velvet rope and the bouncers and all. Don't fuck with fandango_matt, he knows the guy who owns Nevada.

Christ, dude. You act as if you're the only person who knows the One True History of Burning Man, and anyone who disagrees with you in the slightest is clearly just making shit up for street cred. Did it ever occur to you that (a) a lot of people don't feel the need to constantly prove how cool they are, and (b) there might, among the thousands of people who attend the event, be a person or two who had a different experience than you did on any given year?

I've never been to the thing. I have been to the Nevada desert, to experience the desert itself instead of an overpriced festival. I'm sure there are plenty of other people in the thread who have actually been to Nevada. I'm certain that you are not the only person in the thread who has at one time or another attended Burning Man. I am also quite positive that at no point in time have you ever been appointed the sacred rank of Official Historian and Record-Keeper of Burning Man, LLC. Pretending that you're the only person who actually "gets" the event (and implying that everyone else is a liar to boot) makes you look like a complete ass.

If the event organizers get as indignant and pissy as you seem to when confronted by any ideas or memories that are not completely shared, well, then I can honestly understand why someone would want to prematurely burn The Man, just to watch you scream and sputter some more.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:34 AM on August 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


If the event organizers get as indignant and pissy...

I highlight this because it's a point I forgot to get to before.

Some people are implying that it's no longer valid to regard Burning Man as counter-cultural because it's an LLC. I don't really agree with that, but I do think the event organizaers aren't credible anymore because they have such a strong financial stake.

I'm really interested to see people's reactions to this, but I'm kind of really un-interested in The Board's reaction -- except with regard to how it influences the reactions of "lesser" participants.

Put another way: If participants want to get indignant and pissy, I might personally think they're getting too excited but I think their reaction is very understandable and in a weird way in keeping with what I've always understood the point of the thing to be. (I.e., as I put it before, "makin' all the rules" in real time.) But the Board, the event organisers, by virtue of their institutional existence, are not in the spirit of the thing. What would be really interesting -- would make the experiment of Burning Man a lot more interesting -- would be if they would voluntarily silence themselves, and let the rank and file participants hash out "meaning" on their own.
posted by lodurr at 6:43 AM on August 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


On the subject of consensus memory of organizational history...

People get eliminated from histories all the time. Events get edited. They say the winners get to write history -- that's not precisely true. The people who get to write the history are the people who care enough and have the power to get themselves listened to. That's usually people who work for the leaders. Which is usually people who love order, primarily: The people who get the leaders' stuff done for them.

Burning Man could be something different; online phenomena in general I think tend to be a little different, in that a lot of people have the opportunity to recount their version of the story. But then you get various active and passive means of vetting and endorsing the versions -- some people have access to post to official websites, others don't, some people's utterances are echoed and praised, others are excoriated -- and I think you end up getting just a speeded-up version of the normal process where some histories get expunged, and others get inflated to a significance far more than is deserved.
posted by lodurr at 6:55 AM on August 31, 2007


I found that same list of recollections with Google.
Ah, yes, I see it now--dejah420, watching, waiting, biding her time, hanging out on MetaFilter for nearly 6 years, just so she could google up some stuff about Burning Man to impress us. Well played, dejah420, well played.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:06 AM on August 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


Actually, I think it's decent evidence to support the widely-circulated theory* that dejah420 is actually a Google-enabled bot.

*that I just made up for the occasion
posted by lodurr at 7:13 AM on August 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Burning is a ritual. All of the festivities are part of and lead up to that moment. People who come are electing to participate in this ritual, even if passively, smbolically. As delicious as the irony might be for some, what it comes down to is that someone attempted to fundamentally unravel the very fabric of the event, to dismantle its symbol. And it doesn't matter whether they were a stoned idiot or a government agent or Carrie goddam White-- it was a shitty thing to do.

Unfortunately it will probably result in copycat attempts next year.
posted by hermitosis at 7:24 AM on August 31, 2007


As delicious as the irony might be for some, what it comes down to is that someone attempted to fundamentally unravel the very fabric of the event, to dismantle its symbol.

Surely that's the arsonist's point though? He seems to be labouring under the belief that at one time, the whole point of Burning Man was to dismantle and deconstruct the symbols that the wider society uses to constrain and control is.

Today, that's been replaced by a different set of symbols, but requiring just the same amounts of deference, exerting similar amounts of control and conditioning. If nothing else, the act of burning the man early makes that process explicit -- by the very reactions to it.

So while I think he's obviously a bit of a dick, I'm guessing that that particular piece of 'performance art' will be the single most 'successful' event (judged in artistic terms) at Burning Man this year.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:46 AM on August 31, 2007


I'd have a bit more respect for the statement if it didn't involve burning down someone else's work - or creativity or symbol or focus or whatever. If he had the strength of purpose to create something, to make something, to spark an interactive event on his merits, not someone else's. The core values are Burning Man, are what the LLC works for, are what the thousands of volunteers work for, are what the participants create for... Paul didn't create anything. He got his fifteen minutes of fame by destroying something that other people were having fun with. My Burning Man is a place where there's a much higher resistance to that kind of crap... he's just perpetuating what he's ostensibly against: telling someone what they're experience should be.
posted by emmet at 8:44 AM on August 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


ahem... should be "their" of course. Note to self: next time wait until the coffee kicks in before posting.
posted by emmet at 8:47 AM on August 31, 2007


The core values are Burning Man, are what the LLC works for, are what the thousands of volunteers work for, are what the participants create for...

Well, strictly speaking: maybe, yes, no, and no. Maybe, in that "what Burning Man is", is not necessarily something that is written down anywhere. It depends on what the meaning of 'is', is. Yes, in that LLCs are by definition about what they say they're about (at least at a superficial level). No, in that not all the volunteers are down with the same interpretation of the core values. You can just about guarantee that, you don't even have to know anything about it. And no, because wherever lots of people create, they create for lots of different reasons.

My Burning Man is a place where there's a much higher resistance to that kind of crap...

So, what's bothering you, specifically? Has he gotten positive notoreity in the playa?

Anyway, again: Isn't Burning Man something that's defined situationally, by its participants -- except with regard to matters of health and safety? So 'your Burning Man' would be relevant only to the extent that you could get a critical mass of other people to make that 'their Burning Man'.

For what it's worth, I agree that it's massively rude to burn down someone else's work, and that the act wasn't 'creative' in what I regard as a useful sense. Destruction is easy; seeding chaos is easy, really easy; rationalizing the chaos-seeding as 'art' can be seen as lazy ethical thinking, to say the least. But I do think that when you look at the presented ethos of Burning Man, Addis's rationale makes sense.

To be sure, the presented ethos -- by that I mean what's immediately visible -- isn't the ethos as it's experienced by participants. But then, that ethos is not going to be consistent for all participants. (Indeed, the very idea of a shared ethos is one of those convenient shared fictions that we need to get on with social life.)

emmet: Are you there, now, by any chance, or talking with anyone who's there now? If so, what do they actually say about all this?
posted by lodurr at 9:28 AM on August 31, 2007


while I was watching the lunar eclipse and the sudden and intense cheering started to break out on the open playa, I assumed it was for the moon. Then I heard over the radio that the man was on fire. My first thought was "awesome!" followed by concern for safety of those standing underneath the man and the biggest ever platform/pavilion on which he stood, and then by concern for those whose work was just ruined.

By my impression, what people thought was similar to my reaction - people loved the unpredictability, the chaos, the unplanned happening, the controversy. They also thought it was pretty weak to endanger people in that way ( and no, they did not ensure people's safety as described in the manifesto, once he was ablaze people flocked towards him. it was a gamble that they won. ) And yes people thought that commandeering/destroying other people's work is completely lame.

Some felt one of those sentiments more strongly than others but pretty much everyone I talked to agreed with all three. Although I am sure crimson rose feels the the latter of the three so strongly that the other two are drowned out. Out of a couple dozen or so people who can authorize gift tickets to the event, she is the one who will wake up at 4 in the morning to make sure her people (usually fire performers) are taken care of properly. She works extremely hard, and the burn night is her show.

If my band opened up for Peter Bjorn & John and played "Young Folks" before they ever took the stage, they would be rightfully pissed. And it is not like they would have to reconstruct the song, as is the case with the man.
posted by thetruthisjustalie at 11:09 AM on August 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


"If he had the strength of purpose to create something, to make something, to spark an interactive event on his merits, not someone else's."
That's it in a nutshell. And I'm through trying to explain "what it's all about" to people who have never been and think they know anyway. It's hard enough when people are actually listening.
posted by 2sheets at 11:10 AM on August 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


and no, they did not ensure people's safety as described in the manifesto, once he was ablaze people flocked towards him. it was a gamble that they won.

Interesting, and kind of obvious once you think of it, I guess. I wonder how he rationalizes his statement to the contrary.
posted by lodurr at 11:26 AM on August 31, 2007


To be clear, I do not know if they did or did not do what was described in the manifesto as far as safety and trying to get people out of the area. But to think that you can clear that area and control who enters it on the sly and for the full duration of the burn (maybe 30 minutes?) -- which did feature falling chunks of flaming wood -- is misled and arrogant. That no one got hurt is due mostly to the emergency services teams that cleared the area and established a perimeter around the site.
posted by thetruthisjustalie at 11:49 AM on August 31, 2007


I've talked with people before who were proud of their pranking, and what they might say in a situation like that is something like 'we knew the first responders would come and everyone would be kept safe.' The rationale, in other words, is that they're counting on the infrastructure to support their prank -- they're able to stay light and move fast because they rely on other people to clean up and catch falling debris.

It will be interesting to see if Addis's crew have a similar rationale.

Again, from my clinical, outsider's perspective, this is the kind of thing that Burning Man is well suited to explore / expose: That pranksters depend on the infrastructure they affront. They rely on the good will of the people they fool.
posted by lodurr at 12:41 PM on August 31, 2007


Not on the playa this year, no... and yes, diversity of opinion absolutely. The word from BRC doesn't surprize me... indeed it's stuff like that that I really like about the event and the community it creates.

This year the baby took precedence (and, in fact, I met my wife and now the mother of our child on one of the Burning Man volunteer teams).

Nice to not be so dusty for a change...
posted by emmet at 2:27 PM on August 31, 2007


Pagans in earlier times (I'm tempted to say real pagans) would have rebuilt the Man with this guy tied to the head by fire-resistant bonds, and he would have made it the best Burning Man in living memory.
posted by jamjam at 4:11 PM on August 31, 2007


Wired interview with Paul Addis.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:57 PM on August 31, 2007


Pagans in earlier times (I'm tempted to say real pagans) would have rebuilt the Man with this guy tied to the head by fire-resistant bonds.

Dude, The Wicker Man was a movie. Despite the wishful thinking of neo-pagan hippies, it didn't actually happen.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:41 AM on September 1, 2007


Pagans in earlier times (I'm tempted to say real pagans) would have rebuilt the Man with this guy tied to the head by fire-resistant bonds.

Dude, The Wicker Man was a movie. Despite the wishful thinking of neo-pagan hippies, it didn't actually happen.
posted by PeterMcDermott


Nero himself blamed the fire on an obscure new Jewish religious sect called the Christians, whom he indiscriminately and mercilessly crucified. During gladiator matches he would feed Christians to lions, and he often lit his garden parties with the burning carcasses of Christian human torches.


You are rather touchingly naive, PeterMcDermott.
posted by jamjam at 12:33 PM on September 1, 2007


You know who else often lit his garden parties with the burning carcasses of Christian human torches? That's right: Reed Richards.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:38 PM on September 1, 2007


Brad Hicks gives some arguments why Addis should be charged (as he has been) with felony arson. I disagree. I think Addis' own statements to Wired are perfectly reasonable. People are trying to create laws for Burning Man -- talking about values and ethos and "somebody else's property" (Larry Harvey's?) -- even though law and governance were not first principles for the BM crew until they incorporated. But this particular party got old and tired a long time ago.
And, yeah, I think burning the Burning Man is a great prank that exposes a whole lot of difficulties in that particular event -- which is one of the things great pranks do.

Dejah: the top 15 most interesting things that I've done Oh, Dejah, I would love to read that list!
posted by CCBC at 6:45 PM on September 1, 2007


pirate cat radio interview with paul addis (about 1/3 into the mp3)

eloquent guy. pretty interesting to hear his thoughts.
posted by jcruelty at 11:08 PM on September 1, 2007


oops messed up the link. take two
posted by jcruelty at 12:02 AM on September 2, 2007


Thanks for the posts to Addis' subsequent interviews. I still don't agree with what he did, but the Wired interview was illuminating (if you pardon the pun) and he doesn't come off as such an asshat as in that statement. Don't suppose that Pirate cat interview has a transcript though...
posted by rmm at 5:07 PM on September 2, 2007


No transcript that I'm aware of-- well worth the listen though.

Paul Addis on Yelp.... scoring rather high so far

free paul addis group on tribe-- been interesting to see the discussion progress as dusty burners return to their computers and weigh in on the man & his actions...
big discussion here

paul addis for mayor?
posted by jcruelty at 12:55 AM on September 3, 2007


sorry, big discussion here
posted by jcruelty at 12:56 AM on September 3, 2007


Hah.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:03 PM on September 3, 2007


People are still writing reviews of other people on Yelp? Man, I thought the one on Lance Armstrong was bad. I guess the whole 'Yelp is for businesses' thing is a bit too hard to grasp, eh?
posted by rmm at 6:23 PM on September 3, 2007


The street has it's own uses for technology, rmm.
posted by lodurr at 5:49 AM on September 4, 2007



"the burn is supervised by the BRC and Washow Co. fire departments."

The fire is actually supervised by the ESD fire department folks, all at the Firefighter-1 level. Quite a bit of fire suppression equipment is available on scene.

It's in Pershing County too. :-)
posted by drstein at 2:25 PM on September 4, 2007


And for the record, I was there and watched it happen on Monday night. I heard someone run by yelling "The man! The Man! The man is on fire! Let the motherfucker burn!" and thought "Well, this is either a parody of a Bloodhound Gang song, or it really is on fire."

I got up to take a look and said "Well shit, it really IS on fire!' and got ready for the action.

Fortunately, there were no serious injuries.

I'd like to add that the eclipse was beautiful.
posted by drstein at 2:31 PM on September 4, 2007


I was there when the ever-present anonymous wisecracking man with a megaphone announced that the man was on fire. The general concensus on the playa was that this development was fucking hilarious.

Safety third, people.
posted by mullingitover at 5:58 PM on September 4, 2007


posted by dejah420 statistically, BM has a pretty low incidence of death and maiming. I think only one other person has died at BM in 20 some odd years

Not quite:
1994: One death, circumstances unknown.
1995: One motorcyclist killed when he turns off his headlight, creates huge dust cloud and collides with van.
1996: Three campers killed, one maimed when drunk driver drives over their tent.
2003: One woman killed, crushed by art car.
2006: One death, combination of heatstroke and heart attack.
2007: One death, a suicide.
posted by fandango_matt


Actually, strictly speaking, several people you noted didn't die at the event itself, but were either seriously injured there or became ill there, then were taken away by ambulance or helicopter and died elsewhere. The first death during the event on site was in 2003, when Katherine Lampman fell from an art car. There has also been at least one death on the nearby BM ranch before the event, a couple of plane crashes, and every year there are accidents on the highway getting there and back home. Considering the range of ages of the participants, the brutal heat and how much alcohol and other drugs are ingested, people are exceptionally careful to be safe and take care of themselves and others.
posted by tula at 12:20 AM on September 5, 2007


posted by tula Actually, strictly speaking, several people you noted didn't die at the event itself, but were either seriously injured there or became ill there, then were taken away by ambulance or helicopter and died elsewhere.

I don't dispute that the low death tolls at Burning Man is probably due to the factors you mentioned, and I agree you can't attribute the car accidents to the event, but I think you're being somewhat disingenuous. It's the same logic the Pentagon and the Bush Administration are using--soldiers who are mortally wounded in Iraq but who die in hospitals elsewhere are not considered "killed in action in Iraq." I'm fairly certain the motorcyclist and the heart attack victims died at the event--In fact, I remember the motorcycle accident had just happened as we arrived our second year and the rangers told us he was dead.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:37 AM on September 5, 2007


f_m, I'm explaining what's meant by the often heard (and dejah420 repeated) statement 'nobody died at BM till 2003', I'm not defending that the logic behind it.
posted by tula at 4:10 PM on September 5, 2007


About 30 of us were cozied in lawn chairs watching the gorgeous lunar eclipse when one of the Ranger radios in our camp crackled "The Man is on fire." We chuckled, thinking it a typical practical joke, but our Ranger was already of trotting to the street. All 30 of us followed and holy hell if the Man wasn't on fire.

We rushed out to watch it burn. While I'm sorry about the extra work it caused people and happy nobody was injured, it was wonderful to watch the script for the week go out the door. Hilarious. Ridiculous. Chaotic. Lovely.

Early burn of the Man at the peak of the lunar eclipse . . . EPIC.
posted by donovan at 1:30 PM on September 6, 2007


Burning Man is for people who had a glancing blow with LSD but never really got it.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:34 PM on September 6, 2007


An update, with clairifications and corrections, from one of the people in the camp in which the suicide happened.
posted by fandango_matt at 8:58 PM on September 10, 2007


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