Premature Immolation: Burning Man Torched Early
The giant figure dominating the Black Rock Desert during the annual art/music/maker/bacchanal that is Burning Man festival is supposed to burn... just not so soon. I'm a little surprised that this hasn't happened earlier, actually. Does this mean that matches will be banned from the playa?
The early morning fire scorched about 85 percent of the structure, Burning Man spokeswoman Andie Grace said. Event engineers decided it would be best to dismantle it and rebuild a less elaborate version, accomplishing in two days what normally takes weeks so the figure would be finished in time for Saturday night's scheduled burning, she said.
The approximately 40-foot-tall wood and neon structure was supposed to go up in flames in the ceremonial climax of the weeklong annual event. Burning Man, an art, music and performance festival that draws thousands of people, began in San Francisco in 1986 and moved to Nevada's Black Rock Desert in 1990.
Many festival-goers who were awake watching Tuesday's lunar eclipse said they saw a man deliberately ignite the figure at about 3 a.m., Grace said.
"It was in plain sight of many people," she said. "Everyone is looking at it this morning, this big black figure in the sky and that wasn't supposed to burn, saying, 'Now what do we do?'"
Since the whole point of the festival is the buildup to the official burn, last night's arson attempt is more than a disappointment to most. A few are cursing for a different reason, mostly because they have fostered intricate plans to burn The Man early for years now, but just never got around to pulling it off. Reportedly, the dastardly villain who torched the man was one Paul Addis, a well-known denizen of the San Francisco art scene, longtime Burner, and one heck of a loose cannon.
How come they didn't make the Paul Addis, the suspect in the burning, take off his luchador-esque makeup before the mugshot was snapped?
"The Man is still standing, and an assessment is under way to determine the structural integrity of the Man and the Green Man Pavilion," according to a statement posted today at www.burningman.com. "The event will continue as scheduled."
Kyle Marx of Eugene, Ore., said the fire started from the Man's left leg and spread to engulf nearly his entire body.
"Some people were chanting, 'Let him burn, let him burn!' and some were chanting, 'Save the man, save the man!' " Marx said.
"Someone went to a great extent to interfere with everyone else's burn. I think, frankly, an attention whore has made a plea for attention," said a Burning Man volunteer named Ranger Sasquatch. "In three days, we will have this rebuilt."