The Man in The Hat
April 28, 2018 9:00 PM   Subscribe

Larry Harvey, founder of Burning Man, has died. Harvey, 70, had suffered a massive stroke a few weeks ago. He is remembered by many in the Burning Man community, including his official obituary and in this photo essay from his brother, as well as by news outlets including The New York Times.
posted by Amplify (29 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by runehog at 9:05 PM on April 28, 2018


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posted by Cash4Lead at 9:40 PM on April 28, 2018


 \O/
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If you're in DC, the Renwick recently opened an exhibit on the art of Burning Man, including a decent selection of artifacts documenting its genesis. Well worth the visit.
posted by waninggibbon at 10:08 PM on April 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


)'(
posted by Arbac at 10:18 PM on April 28, 2018


)'(
posted by Quackles at 10:24 PM on April 28, 2018


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posted by jabo at 10:42 PM on April 28, 2018


Thank you Larry.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:07 AM on April 29, 2018


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(that's a gumball laced with lsd, from a machine that was dropped in the deep desert with a single long range bright blue led light attached to it, halfway there on my bike I worried whether it would want a quarter but it turns out everything really is free at burning man, theoretically)

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(another)
posted by mannequito at 12:47 AM on April 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


things burn down
yet
go up in flames

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I'm pretty sure we never met
posted by philip-random at 12:52 AM on April 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Larry was racist in public, nasty and entitled in private, and sexist in both. It's a distillation of everything stupid and thoughtless in burner culture that he's getting this sort of hagiographic send-off, and that for a guy whose initial inspiration for burning an effigy was his anger towards an ex-girlfriend and her new partner.
posted by invitapriore at 1:09 AM on April 29, 2018 [34 favorites]


gotta burn those vanities
posted by philip-random at 1:15 AM on April 29, 2018


Larry was a brilliant and flawed guy who really was outstanding at guiding the amazing and generally profoundly life-altering culture that is Burning Man. In another life we might have been friends, and he certainly succumbed to the adoration that surrounded him (imho), but he also really did have an outstanding vision of a really amazing community, and shepherded it amazingly well through 20 something years and tremendous growth. People still clamor to go to the event, and rave about it afterwards... incredible after having been out in that desert so long. His loss is another really sad one in this tough year. Be good to your people, please.
posted by emmet at 5:21 AM on April 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


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posted by lalochezia at 7:27 AM on April 29, 2018


I didn't know that, invitaprior, and I am sad to hear it. Still, I Iove what he helped create and hope we continue to grow and do better.

)'(
posted by Space Kitty at 8:10 AM on April 29, 2018


I feel a disturbance in the Force.
posted by xtian at 9:48 AM on April 29, 2018


I didn't know that either, invitaprior. The event he created changed my life in many positive ways and brought me some of my greatest friends. Like Space Kitty I hope that we can continue to grow and do better.
posted by rednikki at 12:42 PM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


that for a guy whose initial inspiration for burning an effigy was his anger towards an ex-girlfriend and her new partner

pretty sure he maintained this wasn't true (I don't know if it was true)

I don't know very much about the guy though, and you seem to

Larry was racist in public

is that about this? that's a weird mess of sort of getting it and also really not getting it
posted by atoxyl at 1:40 PM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Larry seems to have had a knack for choosing girlfriends that contribute to the success of Burning Man—none more so than Marian Goodell.

Ick. Sticking in my craw more than a little over here. (Quote is from the photo essay link.)

I'm very conflicted about Larry and Burning Man. Do I wish it didn't exist? Do I wish Larry negative thoughts about all of these conflicted issues? No, no I don't.

Do I wish Burning Man wasn't a cult of disposable income and fashion and more radically inclusive than it is? Do I have problems with a self-labeled "sustainable" culture engaging in mass consumerism under different labels? Do I wish that Burning Man wasn't the huge, gaping black hole and tarbaby in the arts? Do I wish Larry was less of a jerk? Yes, yes I do.

Say hello to our Ancestors, Larry. Good luck.
posted by loquacious at 1:52 PM on April 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


The first burn? It was a gazebo.

And yes, Marian has helped a lot to create the event, as have so many. But really, don't be mistaken. The guiding vision for the event was Larry's and he was brilliantly successful.
posted by emmet at 1:59 PM on April 29, 2018


If you're curious about the man and what he thought, what he did, how he presented himself, the "Beyond Black Rock" interview is good (but it looks like it's only free on Steam), and this interview seems decent... I love how he presents it all as "we", the community, the org, us.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7R6iQdqgm-o
posted by emmet at 2:39 PM on April 29, 2018


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posted by supermedusa at 3:48 PM on April 29, 2018


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posted by /\/\/\/ at 5:24 PM on April 29, 2018


And just because, "Gypsy Dogs" from the Burning Opera (and that's Erik Davis, in the bunny suit, who wrote most of the opera).
posted by emmet at 5:25 PM on April 29, 2018


Emmet, my comment is a lot less about credit and more about "choosing girlfriends" like he's going shopping for a lifestyle accessory.

Again, ick. That's some MPDG shit.
posted by loquacious at 5:41 PM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Larry changed my life for the better. I'll always be grateful for that.
I will miss you, Larry. You'll be in my heart at the temple. Thank you for the amazing, unexpected, ineffable, unparalleled good times.
posted by Greenie at 8:22 PM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


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posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 9:31 PM on April 29, 2018


No worries loquacious - but the quote is nonsense. Marian was getting involved before they were together, and then for a long time after - my recollection is that they were only an item for a year or two (out of something like 25): one of the many powerful women of the LLC and the org. As Larry said, it's a collaborative event. My point was that although many contributions were important, Larry was the one who had the vision of how the original Cacaphony Society TAZ could become a transformative event that impacted culture on a much wider scale, and then went about successfully manifesting that. I've been thinking that in some sense Larry was an artist in culture: having done a bunch of work in shaping communities myself, and having learned a lot from how Larry went about doing what he did, it's clear that although there's no way he could have done it without Marian, or Harley or Crimson or Danger or LadyBee, or BizBabe, also lost this year, or many many others, the guiding vision of what the event could be and the artistry of manifesting that were his.

I found Stuart Mangrum's obituary to be much better, fwiw. All good. Except that another one's gone too young.
posted by emmet at 10:05 PM on April 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Seconding the recommendation to visit the show currently on display at the Renwick if you'll be in DC between now and December-- I went somewhat reluctantly with a friend, but the show is INCREDIBLE (especially the second floor).

I don't really identify with the Burner ethos, and Larry Harvey seems to have been capital-p Problematic, but walking through the displays was fascinating and fun. (Also, they made it a lot more accessible for kids to interact with the displays, who I'm guessing are not usually a major part of the Burning Man crowd.)
posted by a fiendish thingy at 7:29 AM on April 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


Do I wish Burning Man wasn't a cult of disposable income and fashion and more radically inclusive than it is? Do I have problems with a self-labeled "sustainable" culture engaging in mass consumerism under different labels? Do I wish that Burning Man wasn't the huge, gaping black hole and tarbaby in the arts? Do I wish Larry was less of a jerk? Yes, yes I do

The event truly is what participants make it. No more and no less, unless you count major artworks, porta-potties, and a few other items of infrastructure. Everyone (who can afford a ticket and means to get there) is invited to build their own alternative to whatever they don't like about it or stay at home.

“We see culture as a self-organising thing. And we’re unwilling to impose and mandate behavior from the outside, we want to generate change from the inside.” -- Larry Harvey, 2015

FWIW I've never heard anyone associated with Burning Man say the event was sustainable. Everyone brings a bunch of stuff into the desert, consumes some of it, burns some of it, and packs the rest out. It's pretty explicitly unsustainable.
posted by Greenie at 9:26 AM on April 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


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