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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ready to Burn!

"That's not what happened", Wood Cutter interrupted Thorny as we speculated about the beginning of Burning Man. Then Cutter proceeded to set us straight...

"I've been coming to Burning Man since before they started charging to get in. In those early days, people talked about how it got started.  The way I heard it, there was this guy in San Francisco who's life was just about perfect - he was in love with his wife, and his work was going well. Then he came home one afternoon and found her in bed with another guy.

That did it. Everything change. He walked out and went down to the beach. And he stayed there. He didn't go home. He didn't go back to work. He was trying to decide who to kill - his wife, her lover or himself. But that would just cause a ruckus.

After the second day of just sitting in the sand, he gathered some wood and created an image of his nemesis - the guy he had found in his bed, and the focus of his troubles.

About this time some of his friends who had been out looking, found him on the beach just staring at his wooden man. They tried to get him to go home but he said no. For another couple of days he sat on the beach and worked on the man now and then. Later one evening after his friends came back, he surprised them all by setting fire to his wooden man. The Man lit up the sky in a blazed. It helped. He felt better looking at the ashes.

The next morning, he went back to work. He didn't bother with his wife. He made a new home. He went on with his life. The following year he went down to the beach on that same day. He built another wooden man. His friends helped him this time. They all watched it burn. The next year others joined in. Soon there was an annual gathering to "Burn the Man" on the beach.

About that time, the party got too big for the beach. The cops said, "Leave". When this party looked around for an alternative, they realized they had gotten too big for San Francisco. Hell, they were even too big for California. So they moved to Nevada. In the Black Rock desert they found a space big enough to Burn the Man in peace. They've been doing it ever since." - according to Wood Cutter at my breakfast table on July 7th, 2007.

And since Larry Harvey can't remember (or won't admit) exactly how it got started, I figure Cutter's story is as good as any other.

And better than most.

Thorny enjoyed it, and asked that I write it down for Cutter. So here it is for the world to read.

And for all of you I haven't seen seen in a while, I'll be on the playa after Friday at Club Verboten (or People's Bar #5 - I'm not sure which sign is going on the outside of the tent). The club tent will be in the same place as last year (or very near), at the 3:00 Keyhole, very close to the Esplandnade.

The Zen Tyvekian Radiation Shield should be easy to spot at 25% longer. Instead of checkered, this year is will have blue sides with a silver top. You may see our new art car (SMOU 17) parked out front.

Stop by the motor-home under the Shield and tell me what it all means. I'll be well prepared, rested and open to understanding the myriad expression I may encounter. Or not. Stop by anyway.

SMOU 17 (State Mobile Observation Unit 17) is done.

Mylar Surprise is ready to engage.

"YUM!" is the word.

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