Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I just heard some spell-binding news: an acquaintance of mine, Paul Addis, set the Burning Man on fire and was arrested! Ha ha, this just makes my whole day. I cannot really explain why this amuses me so, but it does.
When I first started going to Burning Man, the ceremonial burning of the Man was not choreographed. We all just sat in a big circle and watched him burn. By the time I dropped out of attending, due to being pregnant with Iris (whose due date was right around the time of the Burning Man festival; I got some pressure to be the first to give birth at Burning Man, but it was not hard for me to decline that particular glory. I wished to celebrate that painful passage in a hygienic, air-conditioned hospital), the burning was a long, ornate ceremony, with approved fire dancers here and there and much pageantry. As a member of the audience, I found it all a bit too constrained and formal.
On the one hand, it's a hilarious prank bringing the festival back to its roots to burn the Man early. On the other hand, it was the destruction of a painstakingly built thing of beauty before its time.
My acquaintance, who is under arrest, is a long-time Burning Man aficionado. His mugshot is truly a work of art: I predict there will be an upswelling of support for him (and a defense fund) amongst the Burning Man crowd, but others who'll back the festival organizers in having him arrested. I used to be one of those organizers (I was general counsel for the festival for a couple of years), and I'm ever so glad not to have to deal with these issues any more. It's enough controversy for me mandating Iris and Lola's bedtimes.
Sidenote: my friend Joyce called me to tell me this had happened, and I could not hear enough. She signed off, telling me to be sure to tell the Sober Husband. I snorted. "He's gonna say, 'Who's Paul Addis?'" We both laughed (the Sober Husband and I have both been acquainted with Mr. Addis casually for over a decade, but the S. H. doesn't remember people well who aren't either (a) uber-geeks or (b) well stacked). Joyce said that immediately upon hearing this news, she had phoned her husband, Phil, who was satisfyingly enrapt at the news. "He's so much better at gossip," I said enviously.
Eventually the Sober Husband arrived home. "Paul Addis burnt down the Man!" I told him. He stared at me blankly. "Who's Paul Addis?"
"I should ask Joyce's permission to call Phil when these things happen," I said. "You're just not satisfying to talk about things with."
"Let me try again," he said. Rearranging his face in a truly horrifying manner, he said brightly, "Oh my God! Someone burnt down the Man??"
Update: you can contribute to pay my old friend Chris Radcliffe (I miss you, Radcliffe; I haven't seen you in aeons) back the bail money and contribute to Paul Addis's defense fund at freepauladdis.com.