This is pretty whack - while there have been grumblings for years that the Man should be burned on Wednesday, as a way aof discouraging all the "lookie lous" who show up for the weekend hoe-down, and I've even read vague threats of carrying through with this in that perpetual moan rag, Piss Clear, this is the first time someone has actually ever carried through with it.
Of course, the Board members and those involved with the man's construction seem pretty pissed. Here's a quote from the article:
. . . Crimson Rose, one of the six people on the Burning Man board that runs the event and the person in charge of the Man, said, on Com [the communications network used as part of the Black Rock infrastructure], "I want that asshole arrested....And I want the first shot."
I guess all the "old timer" resentment, coupled with the ongoing battle over the meaning of Burning Man (anarchist hoo-ha in the desert, or organized gathering of a tribal community), finally came to a head in all of this. I'm sure there will be significant repercussions, stay tuned and I'll post further developments as they come across the wire.
UPDATE 1: From Burners using Twitter at Burning Man:
ronjon:now reports it was electrical issue when they turned the Man off to watch the eclipse.
UPDATE 2: Photos and report on Laughing Squid.com
Conflicting information here, with reports of it being an electrical fire, and also that one person has been arrested and someone was seen at the leg of the man with a propane torch.
UPDATE 3: According to the San Francisco Chronicle it was officialy arson, with someone named Paul Addis being held and charged. Will he be deemed a hero or pariah? This should be real interesting to watch develop.
A little Google and we discover this 2002 Letter to the SFWeekly from one Paul David Addis, who apparently has quite a bone to pick with Burning Man. Here's an interesting quote:
Then there's Burning Man's control over both its participants and the expression they're allowed to realize. One by one the rules have risen since 1997, and not just to protect the participants from themselves. Those rules and judgments, such as what art is permitted in BRC and radical free expression's outer limits, are determined in line with what will make the most money for BM and generate the fewest potential controversies in the media. As such, Burning Man's overall relevance is kept safely within the realm of harmless diversion, quietly under the feet of the same elements that tame all other aspects of society.Well, I guess we can count Mr. Addis as part of the "old-school" crowd. I hope Adrian and the rest of them over at Piss Clear are happy now, they certainly got what they wanted.
Ah, I love Google - here's a story written by Mr. Addis, published in the SoMa Literary Review, about fucking with cops. Hmmmmmm. Like most anti-authority stories it's mostly an ego trip exercise about how he gets power over The Man. I can hardly wait for the statements to the press. In his bio he describes himself as a "writer, poet, and performer," so I can fathom some guesses about what they will be like.
It just gets better - he also co-produced a one-man play entitled Gonzo: Brutal Chrysalis about Hunter S. Thompson this past Spring. Check it out, the photo credits are for Scott Beale of Laughing Squid, showing just how incestuous all this really is.
And now, the perp photo. Self-satisfied looking prick, isn't he? I guess the rule about not having firearms was finally just too much for him and impinged too much on his radical self-expression. Based on this photo I'm pretty sure he portrayed Hunter S. Thompson in the one-man play he produced. Maybe the acid just really kicked in and he decided he WAS Hunter S. Thompson:
Here's my final take, kids (well, not completely final, but my last word for this post):
You Can Burn the Man, But You Can't Burn Burning Man!
Perhaps we owe Paul "I REALLY wish I was Hunter S. Thompson" Addis a thanks for demonstrating this to us. Great job, Paul!