We know the guy who did it. We know the guy who, on Tuesday night of Burning Man 2007, burned the Man early. Not well, but we know him.
In fact, this writer once had a painful and hilarious BB gun shootout with him in a very crowded room during intermission, with him dressed as Hunter S. Thompson for his astonishingly excellent play and us bartending, serving the “Good Doctor Special” (PBR, whiskey, and a whip-it $4).
We menaced people with a semi-automatic BB gun all night at the bar, and onstage, he made us laugh and cry and scared the pillfarts out of us, as two of his main props were a pistol and shotgun loaded with blanks. Sometimes he would fire the guns; sometimes he wouldn’t. Sometimes he’d pick them up and point them at the audience. He was sort of an ‘irritainment'(tm) hero to us even then.
Of COURSE he did it. It makes so much sense. We won’t side with anyone, and remain ambivalent about the Man’s early burning (Arwen‘s masks are OK by the way), but we will say AMEN to this excerpt from his official post-arson statement:
We could give a fuck less what you all think of us for doing this. Most of you are newbies who have been drawn in by the semi-religious nature of the event, or maybe just the easy drugs and easier sex. You have nothing to offer the event other than your fucking money and obedience.
You spend the rest of your lives in mortal fear of everything that insurance companies tell you to fear, and pretend that you’re free and clear because you spend four days at a desert bacchanal where spinelessness is not only encouraged but genetically replicated for implementation in successive generations. In short, you are the swine of which Thompson spoke. Get over yourselves.
Some of us live quite well without fear. Doing so requires the ultimate in what Burning Man used to represent: personal responsibility and individual liberty. That’s all been lost in the last decade of Burning Man’s history. Consider this operation a history lesson that was desperately needed.
Hallelujah. Testify. The Good Doctor would be so proud. PS, Paul: NICE MUGSHOT.
All over the City, which is the whole world right now to the 37,000 of us here, people are getting their (real or imagined) freak on, but all we want to do is sit at the Black Hole with an ice-cold Pabst on the back of our necks. Little Matty came back last night so we had to give over the car, but at least we got to ride around with him and particiHATE.
Took another trip to the forbidden hot springs too, this time with ScareCrowe and one of the founding members of the Ethyl Merman Memorial Choir.
We’re drawn to the perimeter, to the mountains and the full moon and the watching-us clouds and the spirits we squint to see out there in the dust devils. What Burning Man? It’s way more awesome on the border, out in the sticks.
We are shit magnets. The old guard, the Bad Kids, the Black Riders on our junked-and-chopped fleet of stay-the-fuck-away-from-us vehicles. Fitz got pulled over for a cup full of iced tea; several others are constantly tailed by BLM rangers.
Black Rock City is now too big for us to be us; too big and too full of wasteoids who can’t hold their drugs and liquor and can’t understand the concepts of good-natured aggression and controlled chaos. Everything else is all blinky and flashy and thumpy and multicolored, and we are all dusty in black, with clowngineered vehicles, also dusty in black, lit simply with siren flashers and stark white bulbs when something really needs to be illuminated. Otherwise, we prefer stealth.[You do know Chuck Pahlaniuk was a Cacophonist and Santarchist, don’t you? … So when we tell you that the early days of the Cacophony Society (including Santarchy and the creation of Burning Man) have had influential ramifications all over the planet, you will believe us, won’t you? … and p.s., flash mobs all started with Santarchy.
The Church of SubGenius, John Law, the Suicide Club, the Billboard Liberation Front, Chicken John’s Cirkus Redickuless, Cyclecide Bike Rodeo, and the First Church of the Last Laugh are also your (*and Tyler Durden’s) fathers and mothers, so get to know them.
Burning Man has way more (interesting) backstory than Larry Harvey and Jerry James building a bonfire on a beach — so read Brian Doherty’s This Is Burning Man as well, to bypass official propaganda and get a clear picture of the event’s early days, straight from as close to the source as you will ever get.]
As with any other subcultural movement, fashion has started to overtake the substance behind it. Glow sticks blinky lights furry legwarmers body paint glitter pimp hat E-tard A-holes. We don’t want to talk to any of the people here we don’t know, and half the ones we do. We feel the movement is in danger of becoming as much of a self-parody as the hippies, even though the original hippies were actually quite awesome. All we know is: we never need to see a 60-year-old shirtcocker in a spandex too-short cheerleading uniform EVER AGAIN.
In fact, we’re calling it: Our generational movement will NOT BE called “Burners,” as in “hippies” or “beats” or whatever else. IT WILL NOT. This is only a vacation. The rest of the year, most of us are doing stuff. We like to DO STUFF.
DO STUFF. It’s catchy, it has nothing to do with Burning Man, and it’s a command as well as a blanket term for all of us all over the world who don’t know the difference between work and life. As long as it’s all play, we’re cool.
All of us who are anti-television, anti-pray-for-death. Those who have taken the Red Pill, who have pulled the feeding tube out and are powered exclusively by absurdist joy, kinetic energy, and the physical detritus of capitalism.
We are always in motion, no matter what. We build and make rather than shop and watch. We enjoy manifesting art and useful things out of other people’s castaways. We burn down anything that doesn’t work and build a new one in its place. WE DO STUFF.
So we sit on the porch at Camp Carp, scribbling in the notebook, so completely irritated with the bongo players next door we accidentally holler WHERE THE HELL IS MY SLINGSHOT while a BLM ranger threatens to arrest one of our friends right to the side of us.
The case doesn’t look good: the driver ran into the fire barrel and knocked it over. In past days, we would’ve laughed at this. He did it on purpose, goddammit. That’s how we park. We’re going to clean it up anyway. We’re the ones who clean it up, officer.
We all know what we’re in for when we do dangerous stuff. Now we just get told what to do. It sucks. But then the Rangers let our boy off easy, let him go with a ticket for driving with no light, and THEN someone cracked him open a beer and they cheersed each other even as the Rangers hadn’t driven away yet and were still shining their klieg lights into our dark-on-purpose socializing spot on the Esplanade.
Cheers, dude! … this is where Little Matty ditches the car and goes home and says f*ck it, who wants to go driving around when we have this turdness to deal with.
Maybe we don’t have any sense either. Maybe we’re jaded and angry and not so fun to be around for all the blinky-furry people here. But we see the whole picture, and we’re sorry we’re being rude but we’re trying to warn you: FUCK THE FASHION AND LEARN THE LESSON. We are smart, and we are necessary. All of us, here on the playa and way far beyond, in garages and warehouses all across the world. ParticiHATErs and wet-eared furbies alike.
This is but one gathering of the most open-hearted, open-minded, creative people on Earth. We freaks are the ones who have to save it. Who else will? The rich?
Otto once told us that good always wins because evil also fights other evil, and so evil’s resources are split. But nowadays, we’re not sure if evil wasn’t meant to win.
So whether you think PAUL ADDIS UBER ALLES or that he should be shot by the LLC’s firing squad, take his words with you when you leave Black Rock City … and DO STUFF.
p.s. we hate you guys
p.s.s. we love you guys
Follow Summer Burkes on Twitter.