back to article Cops cuff man for burning Burning Man man

A San Francisco performance artist has been arrested on suspicion of torching the Burning Man earlier this week - four days before the scheduled incendiary climax of the Nevada desert love-in, AP reports. Paul Addis, 35, allegedly set fire to the 40-foot-tall figure at around 3am on Tuesday as festival-goers sat up to enjoy …


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  1. James Summerson

    Oh, the humanity!

    Is it just me, or is the idea of a bunch of *hippies* calling in "The Man" to arrest someone for burning something that was set up to be burnt high up on the irony scale?

    Maybe a 3.8 on the Morissette scale...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "There haven't been hippies in centuries. Are you freeze-dried or doing hard time?" - Heartbreak Ridge

  3. yeah, right.

    What would you rather they do?

    So instead of calling the cops in order to deal with this idiot in a relatively civilized way, what would you suggest they have done? Built a wicker man and put this guy inside it for the final night perhaps? Stake him out in the desert maybe? Some things are sacred, and those who don't have any self control don't belong at an anarchist gathering.

  4. lansalot

    fitting punishment !

    Instead of the usual slap on the wrist, give the guy the only fitting punishment.

    String him up for a Woodward, give him the full Wicker. That'll learn him !

  5. Sweep

    @What would you rather they do?

    "those who don't have any self control don't belong at an anarchist gathering."


  6. James Summerson

    @ yeah, right.

    "Some things are sacred, and those who don't have any self control don't belong at an anarchist gathering."

    Isn't the whole idea of being an anarchist mean that you hold no truck with such "sacred" ideals, given that this is a form of government? I'm sure the nice anarchists could have sat the guy down and 'loved him through' his problems and sorted out his issues without dragging him off to jail, don't you think?

    It appears that the guy set light to the Burning Man as a protest about the commercialisation of the 'Festival' and the movement away from the original ideals, rather like Woodstock 1999 being a commercial rehash of Woodstock 1969. And look how that love-fest ended!

  7. Andrew

    5.7 Morissettes

    The last time anything interesting happened at Burning Man was when the insane super-intelligent gerbil's Doomsday Device exploded (instead of destroying the world).

  8. Chris Collins


    Actually James, Woodstock 1 was supposed to make money as well. It was only free because of people pushing over the fence.

  9. James Summerson

    @Chris Collins

    Yeah, I'm aware of Woodstock starting off a a music Festival in the accepted sense which ended up free, my analogy was the W99 version being set up and run for the sole purpose of major marketing concerns with cold cash the only input required from 'fans'.

    Oh, and setting W99 atop a hazardous waste facility, making it a disaster zone _before_ the actual rioting was just corner cutting, IMHO. :o)

  10. laird cummings



    "..."those who don't have any self control don't belong at an anarchist gathering."..."


    The whole point of anarchism is that responsible, self-controlled people don't need government. It's not about random, willful behavior - *that* is the province of Aleister Crowley and company. Conversely, if one is NOT a responsible, self-controled individual, one has *need* of governance, and should presumably be at home with a babysitter, not out wandering around with the adults.

  11. Eduard Coli

    Burningman is toast, has been

    Burningman now is nothing like it was when it first moved to the desert.

    Part of it is the 200 plus dollar charge now to camp on the playa and part of it is the people.

  12. Mr MRB

    @ Everyone

    I was always under the impression that 'anarchy' was an ideal which was against any type of authority, government mostly of course.

    My first instinct was to think the same as Sweep in that the comment made that those who have no self control don't belong at an anarchist gathering was contradicting itself. However upon reflection I realise that you don't have to be an out-of-control stereotypical 1970s punk rocker in order to be in support of anarchistic views.

    Mr MRB

    P.S. I don't actually know what the Burning Man event is but I was merely commenting on anarchism.

  13. Rachel

    Look at it this way

    If your planning a barbeque for Saturday and some univited guest decides to cook and eat everything 2 days before the party, you'd be pretty pissed. You'd also have to run out and buy new meat, charcoal etc.

    It doesn't really matter that you were planning to cook it anyways, you have to replace the food on short notice and may not be able to get the same quantity and quality of meat on such short notice.

    So yeah, if someone comes and trashes someone elses property, he should be locked up. Destroying someone else's property, even if it is public or community property, is just f'd up.

  14. Mr MRB

    I agree with Rachel - It's the same as...

    ...paying to go and see a band in concert, turning up for the show, and then finding out they'd actually played a day earlier.

    And before someone says it, I'm not trying to make a point about losing money either. I am merely trying to say that I would be pretty pissed off if that happened.

  15. James Summerson

    @ Rachel

    I think you're missing the point, slightly. The problem isn't with the act, it's with the response. The so-called alternative / anarchist ethos of "Burning Man" was subverted by the act of calling upon the very forces they despise at all other times, which was perhaps the point of the 'crime' in the first place.

    OK, ban him from the site and all future events, blog about why he's a bad man, post his picture on your MySpace page and have him ostracised from decent society, maybe. Call the cops? Yeah, that's the totally non-ironic anarchist / alternative / hippy thing to do, eh?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The real irony escapes you all

    This is an environmentally-themed event scheduled to culminate with a huge fire.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Better'n Burning Man and closer too...

    You can get most of the flames and all the weirdness at The Crucible's Fire Arts Festival in Oakland every July. Not to knock Burning Man (many of the "burners" do a test run at the FAF), but it is cool to see flames leaping up past BART. Something from "Escape from New York".

  18. Marco


    Usually alternatives are as conservative as the conservatives they despise, just differently.

    Equalling the incident with a barbecue, as above, is therefore quite appropiate - as that is how unconventional the anarchists really are.

  19. noodle heimer

    highly amused

    Just amazing. For the people on about anarchy being all about self control, yadda yadda blather blather blather:

    Burning Man was started by artists. It bills itself as still drawing from that tradition, and good artists have always done shit like this. To call in the cops and press criminal charges against someone for a very interesting alternative take on the smeg^B^B^B^B festivities?

    And particularly to torch the man during the total eclipse?

    Come on, all you gaia-hugging, moon-worshipping yos: your sacred event has got to be more interesting when it happens

    a) before all the poseurs from the Bay Area drive in for the holiday weekend, when it's still just the pure Artistes and such


    b) when Luna herself is being transformed, drenched in crimson and then reborn, echoing in the heaven what happens on the playa - a rebirth from ashes


    The idea that someon would be charged criminally - enough so that they have to post a 25k bail - for making a spontaneous freewheeling weeklong performance art fest more spontaneous and free of scheduling? When at least one of the events key organizers' responses was (according to wired) laughter (once he knew his cash cow had been extinguished enough to save the spectacle, natch?)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    tsk tsk, so much opinion, so little basis

    having gone to burning man a few years ago (once only, but 10 days there gives one quite a bit of insight into the attendees and the activities), i wish to lay to rest some misinformation in the above posts:

    1) MOST of the people at Burning Man are NOT hippies. if anything, they are primarily ravers, artists, and/or partiers. and honestly, there's upwards of 40,000 people that attend each year, to call them all "hippies" because they prefer to think, act, and dress outside of what's "acceptable" or "the norm" (or because YOU don't like it) childish. and most of them don't go around trumpeting how "anarchist," "hippie," or "alternative" they are, even if their dress and behavior gets them labeled as such.

    2) Aleister Crowley was not an anarchist nor did he espouse a philosophy of "random, willful acts" i.e., what most people think of as "anarchy." among many other things, he was a mountaineer, an extremely intelligent and educated person, a fiercely independent and revolutionary thinker, and someone who despised belief systems which encourage sheep-like behavior in their adherents (Christianity being the most obvious example). he was also egotistical, overbearing, and probably difficult to be around (like many Westerners, oddly enough), but he was not an advocate of "anarchy" in the popular sense or of "random" acts of violence, as the above poster implies. perhaps if people would make the effort to read up a bit on who "The Beast 666" really was as a person, they might discover that he wasn't really that scary of a bogeyman at all, just another person with many points of view that they might or might not agree with.

    3) people can despise the police and still see the value (in principle) of having them around. true anarchy is as much of a pipe-dream as "true communism" or "true capitalism". people who are raised their whole lives in the structure of a society that has order and authority (most people in industrialized nations) have that way of thinking deeply ingrained into them, and to expect them to be truly free of it just because they go to a gathering in the desert for a week is foolish. OF COURSE there's order and structure to it, there HAS to be for it to work. for example, the Black Rock Rangers: a populist police force that works with the "official" Nevada and U.S. authorities to keep things from getting dangerous. it is necessary to have such structures, the difference is in how they are implemented. people hate the police because so many of them abuse their power as much as because they hate the "idea" of police. plenty of those who profess to "hate the pigs" are glad they are around when they find themselves in a situation where the only thing that stands between them and injury or death is the power of an authority figure. (myself included, as experience has shown me.)

  21. E

    What is a Morissette a measure of?

    Like the subject says!

  22. sue

    @What is a Morissette a measure of?

    How big the twig up your arse is, perhaps? Or how long you can talk in a slow drawl before people start snoring?

  23. Colin Millar

    "True anarchy"

    No such thing

    Anarchy is not random behaviour whether violent or not. The association with violence comes about because of the way the early c20 proponents (Bukanin and the Spanish anarchists) believed that it would come about - i.e. through a period of total destruction of the current establishment. Anarchy would not arise from the ashes of the destruction like a fascist phoenix a la Hollywood (The Postman, Mars Attacks) but rather like individual seedlings sprouting as self-governing communities grew within local traditions and cultural values - so all anarchies would be different.

    Pure BS of course - but that's the theory.

    And middle class 'artists' should learn not to take the p**s out of other middle class 'artists' - if they have any self-knowledge at all they know that humour is not appreciated.

  24. laird cummings

    @tsk tsk

    Ah! So Crowley was NOT the author of "do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law," then? How silly of me.

    He was many things, but you neglect or gloss over the less savory aspects.

  25. Alan Donaly

    How did this happen

    How did some jerks burning of burning man early and ruining the fun at the festival turn into an Crowley discussion he wasn't known as a political theorist do what thou wilt was his personal motto and he lived by it he thought it clever, so what what does that have to do anarchy. Doing without government ie ruling yourself is anarchy, I realize some people can't get thinking for yourself or controlling your own actions those people should be sterilized.

  26. Nick Pettefar

    Burning Man

    Is all about Burning the Man! Nothing really to do with the environment except that a lot of people nowadays are thinking more about it. If some GW Bush portrait part ruins the event for everybody else then surely he should be dealt with. These are not unlawful people, just people who appreciate living a bit differently - at least for the week of the festival. I've been there three times and really enjoyed it, especially the Pubic Hair Salon and the Art Cars. Go and try it!

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