Getting the Last Word: A Year After His Death, a Burner Speaks His Mind

by Whatsblem the Pro

Paul Addis -- PHOTO: SF Weekly

Paul Addis — PHOTO: SF Weekly

It has been a year now since Paul Addis, the man who went to prison for burning the Man early in 2007, leapt to a cruel death under the steel wheels of a BART train at Embarcadero Station in San Francisco.

So much has been said about Addis and his actions; people have expressed some very wide-ranging – and very strongly-held – opinions, calling him insane, a criminal, troubled, brilliant, a genius, a pointed performance artist, a bold rebel, and much more.

Whatever you might think of Addis, the response on the part of the corporation that runs Burning Man was very telling for a lot of people. . . many of whom stopped attending in protest after Addis was convicted and sent to prison on the strength of the testimony supplied by Burning Man’s leadership.

Love him, hate him, or wonder. . . but nobody who knows even part of the story has forgotten, or ever will forget, Paul Addis’ early burn.

There’s a lot we could say about all of it, a year after his suicide. Addis was barred from working in his rather lucrative chosen profession, thanks to his felony conviction for burning the Burning Man, and reduced to whatever minimum-wage jobs he could find as an ex-con on parole. One can only imagine the sense of helplessness and despair that led him to throw his body into the path of an oncoming subway train. Love him, hate him, or wonder, but in the end he was our fellow human being and our fellow burner, and deserving of at least some minimum of our sympathy in his darkest hour.

Spokespeople for the corporation that runs Burning Man – Marian Goodell in particular – have persistently claimed in public that Addis’ conviction was out of their hands, and expressed sadness that he was convicted of a felony serious enough to carry a prison sentence with it. . . but that claim remains one of the most glaring examples of slick, dishonest, corporate-style insincerity on the part of Burning Man’s executives in the event’s history. It doesn’t matter what you think of Paul Addis, who is gone forever. . . but it does matter what you think of the people who brought the hammer down on him. It matters a lot.

In the video below, Paul Addis speaks for himself from beyond the grave about the early burn, the response from those who hold the keys to our kingdom, and the comeuppance he received. We wish his friends and family an easy first anniversary of his death, and good closure going forward.

[Update from ed: 10/31/13] Thanks to Burner Dave for providing a link to radio traffic from the night after Paul Addis lit the Man.

246 comments on “Getting the Last Word: A Year After His Death, a Burner Speaks His Mind

  1. Pingback: BREAKING: Burning Man In Latest WikiLeaks Data Dump | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  2. Wow I had no idea about the story on this guy. I was there in 2007. My crew was laughing their asses off. We all thought it was excellent and, yes, in the true spirit of (the early days of) Burning Man. We weren’t sure if it was intentional or not but loved it all the same. I cannot believe how this all spiraled into such a horrific tale. I get that it’s not cool to burn others’ art but the actual Burning Man is more representative than having actual worth. It’s built to be burnt. BM did need shaking up and still does. I feel sorry for Paul Addiss. RIP to a tortured soul.

    • As is usually the case, artists see things in a larger and more timeless perspective. His act speaks clearly in the current post-sellout context. Having the burners create an ad-hoc Man to burn could have been an amazing and wonderful challenge, and a learning experience for all involved.

      However, the Borg’s reaction of seeing it as a monetary and contracting task shows how they are disjoint from the burners, and the spirit of Burning Man. As much as anything, the Borg may have been panicked at the prospect of losing control and having the burners questioning the Borg as being the focus of the event.

    • I arrived that night after the early burn and a woman from Reuters on a bike strolled up and asked me how I felt about the man being burnt early. What? Reuters? Why are you up in my business I was thinking. This is a national/international news story? I could’ve cared less about the man burning and still don’t.
      Years ago I had an impression that Addiss was a little loony but this video has changed that limited perspective. He may have issues but he makes sound sense and my already declining opinion of Bmorg has resulted in disdain. I will only go back to the desert to prank this outfit.

      • Just be aware that their $4million+ annual lawyer budget gets them a felony conviction when they want. They have driven away most all the real reasons to go. The best fun is to watch them flop around as they die of their own vice.

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  7. Some may refuse, which provides them opportunities to your premises, such as transformers, circuit breakers, national and
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  8. Paul, take your crazy SELFISH ideas and perspective and go do something creative yourself. What right do you have destroying what is not yours? All your justification makes no sense at all to anyone with a sense of responsibility for their actions. You DID potentially endanger others, and destroyed another’s (many others) art. The irony is that YOUR ego is leaps and bounds more tyrannical than the people you are attempting to protest. Be Well.

    • ..and do you REALLY think that burning the man qualifies you as a consultant on how to REBUILD the man? Just take scrap wood from random camps, and throw it together? It’s clear that you have no insight into how to create things, only to destroy them.

    • Shawn, I was on playa when it happened; he didn’t endanger anyone but himself. Stop making things up. Paul Addis actually DID what everyone had been joking about doing for YEARS. He acted on the symbol. Symbols of any State are always targets of political action. The theme was ‘Green Man’ that year. What was that statue built from? Repurposed wood? Nope! Home Depot lumber. When it was burned a little, did they just shore it up, work with what they had? Roll from there? Nope! They started over! My old friend was one of the unfortunates who missed the fun that year because they were ordered to rebuild the Man! What did they rebuild it with? from scratch! Home Depot lumber. The Borg were and are hypocrits.

  9. No one made Paul do anything, but he was obviously naive. Maybe his innocence was made bold by his rebirth into what he thought was a free culture. Embracing a truly open community where supposedly anything goes as long as there is consent or no one is harmed. I’m not sure which more sad… how the culture itself permitted him something the law would not, or the fact that the world he thought he lived in when he made his decision doesn’t exist.

    • Naïve is not the right word to describe Paul in this situation. “Hopeful” is a better word. He was living in the past. There was a time in the BurningMan culture, and not so many years before, when this sort of action would have been seen for what it was, a prank, and no legal action involving the outside world would have occured. Everything would have been dealt with in-house. Paul, I don’t believe, imagined that being disbarred, or even being charged with felony arson, was a real risk of performing this prank. After all, BurningMan was one world, and then there’s the ‘default world’ (as some refer to it). They used to be seen as separate. That was the year that the Borg fully reintegrated the two worlds, thusly annihilating what was left of our make-believe culture that had benefitted so many of us. (everyone needs times and places to dream). Black Rock City was no longer safe; the take over was complete. it was no longer ‘our city’; it became ‘their city’

  10. Oh, boo-hoo! “I did something wrong and got in trouble for it. I think I’ll throw myself under a train.” This guy studied law. He knew full well the consequences for his actions.

    And, heads up to any other intellectual radicals, burning down the man early is not “thinking outside the box” as this douche implies. It’s like eating lunch for breakfast. Only you’re eating EVERYBODY’S lunch. Great way to ruin a good time for a whole lot of people.

    In conclusion, regardless of whether or not the corporation which Burning Man has become is too corporate or homogenized, had this guy burned the man when I was there and ruined the climax for me and all my friend I would have thrown him under a train myself!

        • While so many parts of me jumped to react and reiterate Norm’s comment…in the next moment, this quote popped into my head…

          “Treat others well because they are you living a different life.”

          It works for what I would truly like to get across to you, Jombie, that name calling never will. And it’s good to remind myself as well when interacting with others.

          I will only go on to say one last thing, because it still stings and my Paul was my friend, though a challenging one for sure….

          For those of us who actually knew Paul and interacted with him around the time of both of the tragic events, everyone of us would tell you that in his mental state at the time, he had only a bare notion that there might be consequences for his deed, understanding of law never came into play.

          His overly manic brain had more expectation that he would be lauded, possibly even cheered for finally pulling off the “ultimate BM prank” that had been a running playa joke for more than a decade. His mug shot is a very good clue of that, even if you didn’t know him. Perhaps fueled in part by the partying friends that planted the idea in his head. I wish they had the wherewithal to realize the potential consequences of what they ignited in not very stable brain.

          In the years after, Paul struggled to reconcile those beliefs to what actually happened to him in the aftermath. He felt abandoned by a community that was home, that espouses *radical* inclusion, no matter how different, celebrates fuckoism and cacophony. For that I don’t blame him, I’d feel the same.

          This depression spiraled an already fragile brain further and further until he, himself, may have started to question his own sanity.

          I don’t generally share this last bit (and if anyone reading would rather I redact it for privacy, I will – but there are moments when it feels like the only way to imbue empathy and help others to grasp the gravity of this tragedy). But I find it pretty powerful.

          In Paul’s last days, he was struggling internally and spiraling pretty badly. Friends looking out for him were having trouble themselves in taking care of them. People were pitching in. He was supposedly obsessed and quite convinced that his bones were made of titanium and talked a lot about it. In my own personal interpretation, there were also parts of mind wondering is it crazy to think that? Am I insane?

          While I was not one of those friends interacting with him closely in those final days, some have described that jump in front of the train as an effort to see if he really had titanium bones. If he lived, he wasn’t crazy and could never be broken with those bones. If he died, well…

          Treat others well because they are you living a different life.

          • Believe it or not, I live my life by that rule. That doesn’t mean everyone should get a free pass. When you behave in a douchey manner people should react accordingly. Maybe if everyone had called him out he would have gotten the help he needed. No matter the circumstances in Paul’s life or any running jokes, etc., what he did was fucked up. And then he ended up doing something fucked up to himself. That’s not a failure on my part, or the “corporation” of Burning Man, or society in general. If anything it’s a failure of the people around him who loved him so much. So when those of us outside your inner circle call him out for what he did and you come scrambling in defense all you’re doing is trying to alleviate your own guilt. I’m sorry if that is callous and harsh but that’s what I see in these comments – people shifting blame to someone other than the guilty party and ultimately themselves. A close friend of mine committed suicide and all I could do was ask myself what I could have done to prevent it. At the same time if he had endangered others I would understand why others vilify him.

            I have empathy for people with mental issues but that doesn’t excuse their actions. The law seldom makes exceptions either. So I don’t know what you and the other apologists expect. I think perhaps you need to step outside your circle and see how this all looks from a different perspective. People go through great expense to travel from all over the world to go to Burning Man. I myself had to travel cross country. My friends and I paid for motels, food, and rental of an RV. Now if you had gone through similar trouble to go to an event and someone decided it would be cool or funny to ruin it for everyone how would you feel? Would you be empathetic or would you be pissed?

            So if making light of some stupid shit a stranger did makes me a horrible person then so be it. If you are here as an apologist for Paul you’ve got your work cut out for you. There are many more comments you need reply to. I say, instead, honor your friend and accept that others will see him in a different light that no amount of explanation will alter.

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  12. BMorg could have saved him from felony charges so that his way of life could go on, but they abandoned him. I already smelled too much corporate bullshit at my last Burn but these videos confirm it. Won’t be attending again. I’ve lost all respect for the organization. The original vision is gone, and the death of Paul Addis proves it.

    One life lost over the corporate mentality is already too many. Addis truly engaged in radical expression. I’ll attend regional burns but FUCK BM.

  13. Can someone point me to the California Bar rule that says you can’t practice law with a felony? I can’t find it and wasn’t aware it existed in California. I’d really like to know this.

    Addis graduated from law school in 1996 and became inactive in the Bar Association in 2000. Look for yourself. That’s less than four years as a lawyer and out of practice for 7 prior to his crime/art/statement. It would appear his loss of a potentially successful career was not due to BMorg but a personal choice made years prior. It seems unfair and disingenuous to pin that on the Org. I can find no accounts regarding whether he was ever “successful” as a lawyer during his brief stint but I admit I didn’t try very hard and didn’t know him at all.

    I do feel defacing/burning/etc someone else’s art without their consent is a dick move. I feel he could have made his statement by creating his own man, slapping Larry’s face on it and burning it. He could have done it openly and it would have given him a platform and captive audience to air his grievances, say his piece, or rant like a lunatic. Because it’s Burning Man and you can do that there.

    I’m all for someone making a statement, a demonstration of their beliefs, whether I agree or not. I also feel that if you have the convictions in your beliefs you should know the potential consequences, do it anyway, and then take the consequences. It is my belief that Paul knew what he was doing, knew he’d get caught, knew the consequences, but failed to think about whether he could handle the consequences. To me, it lessens the power of the original defiant act. Again, just my opinion.

    His death was a selfish act (my opinion on suicide, selfish in that you are thinking only of your self, not necessarily always negative) and my heart goes out to those close to him that feel his passing the most. He appears troubled to me and I hope he is finding the peace he couldn’t seem to find here.

    • Nobody claimed that the law forbids practicing law with a felony record. . . but just try getting a job at a legal firm (like, as a paralegal, for instance) with a felony record, while on parole.

      You’re not pointing out anything revelatory by saying he made his own choice to relinquish the Bar. . . it’s still true, though, that he no longer had the choice to seek more casual employment working for other lawyers, not because of the law, but because he became unemployable by law office standards.

      We can twist all night if you like.

  14. So the story is that BM had no choice but to prosecute Paul, otherwise risk losing their future permits? Poor victims.
    Why doesn’t BM feel the same responsibility to prosecute crimes against women at the event?
    Last year it was revealed by a persistent mother, who’s daughter was raped at the event, that the closest place to get a rape kit, for collecting evidence, is Reno. If you are raped at the event, the EMT tent won’t be able to assist you other than offer you a 1 way ride to Reno (they don’t wait for you/take you back)
    & Sexual assault is way more rampant than arson at BM.
    But the priorities are:
    1-The Man Burns on time (or we MUST report/prosecute)
    2- Rape? what rape? (please don’t report/prosecute)

  15. How come no mention of the fact that Paul Addis was also arrested after Burning Man for another arson. Paul was booked into the San Francisco County jail at the Hall of Justice and on charges of attempted arson, possession of a device of arson, possession of a destructive device and attempted arson of a church. He was arrested on the church steps for heavens sake.
    Is it fair to use this story to demonize the ORG? This guy had issues and there was more to the felony conviction than this story covers. It was not burning man that caused his suicide, it was his piss poor (and repeated) choices.

    • While he may have been arrested in possession of some fire works on the Grace Cathedral property, and arrested only because his neighbor called to report his bizarre behaviors to police, all of the charges were dropped. Dropped because there was no case or evidence for arson or any of the rest. His arrest was a coordinated and intentional effort to get him into a treatment facility at a time when it was desperately needed. If you’ve ever known anyone experiencing mania, you might understand how challenging it can be to convince them that they need help and need to stay in the hospital for a while. Thankfully SFPD had more compassion than many Burners and focused more on getting him help he needed, rather than taking things at first glance for the sake of sensationalism as the media did or people like BurningBitch. Oh the irony. Cops behaving better toward humans in need than Burners.

    • That said, BurningBitch, the blame for Paul’s suicide can’t be *solely* blamed on BMorg. He was failed by the entire community…villified by so many carrying rakes and pitchforks. We each have played our own role in failing a fellow Burner on so many levels…including myself..and we were friends. It will forever remain a sad, dark blot in the historical chronicles of BM. At least there is still a number of people who remember and will hopefully help to make sure that we never forget.

  16. Let’s stop elevating this troubled arsonist to pop hero.
    Lives were at risk at Burning Man (I was there) when he chose to set it on fire in the name of spontaneity. Humbug!
    Another art project, this? :
    ” ‘We’re dying to know what his excuse will be for this most recent bit of artistry. Well, other than, ‘I’m crazy.’ ‘ “

    • We keep getting similar comments, aleXander. . . but “let’s stop making a saint out of him” always seems to be accompanied by “let’s vilify him and ignore the point he made.”

      It’s hypocrisy, and blatant hypocrisy to boot, from people who see things their way and only their way.

  17. Camped with some long time participants this year (my 2nd) and one of the best topics brought up was how burning man is now being scheduled. Temple used to be a one time thing, now it’s the Sunday “SHHHH” & “Sitdown!!!!” Event. “Oh it was supposed to burn by 8pm, I have a DJ to see at 930pm!”

    The unpredictable nature of BM should always be apart of it. I know it’s nice to have my home in theme camp land, but if we get placed in the same exact spot again….it feels like we’re becoming a featured attraction at BM rather than just another resident.

    I wasn’t there in 2007 so I can’t express how I would have felt if I was. Watching his video, reading the many opinions here…I feel unfortunate this person chose to take their own life. Now it’s not necessarily BMs fault either, but when we get so wrapped up in the man burning on schedule, I feel we lose spontaneity. Which is one of the things BM helped me embrace.

    This guy embraced that, he’s always going to be an asshole to some for what he did, but for me it seems more like he wanted to breathe some life into BM instead of it becoming the “ultimate rave desert party, with the orgy tent”

    Hopefully the man burns on Wed next year. Teach those weekenders a lesson in immediacy.

    “Shhhh the man is being burned”

  18. Thank you Adam for having some sense on the matter _ the rest of you who think other then Adam go fuck yourselves you fucking stupid american slaves

  19. You are all good enough as you are! Don’t change your name. Save money on tattoos, and unflattering fashion. Question your true motivation.
    Overcompensating for naturally being as small as a normal person is so sad to me.
    Stay home next year and fold origami or something. Please. Don’t try to be more then you are. It is so desperate and pathetic. We are good enough! We don’t have to be more, cool, fancy, sexy, rich, smart, loud, or whatever we are trying to be. Please. You don’t have to be perfect to be loved.

  20. First off, what Paul did was awesome and one of the most beautiful acts I’ve ever witnessed on the playa. I was literally jumping for joy at our camp as I saw the man burst into flames that night. It’s a vivid memory I will never forget.

    However, in hindsight, it was also reckless and dangerous, and he’s lucky that he didn’t seriously injure anyone, or it would not have been worth it at all — glad nothing truly terrible happened.

    Beyond that there seems to be a bunch of hoo-haw about how Paul and his act were or were not in accordance to the principles of Burning Man. Of course, in typical burner fashion, there is much waxing poetically, snarky sarcasm, but no real concrete accounting in terms of the 10 principles themselves…

    I’m here to help:

    Radical Inclusion: +1
    • He was an odd and disturbed person, like the rest of you, but he was definitely radical… so we’ll include him. 🙂

    Gifting: -1
    • I’ll go ahead and say that his act was intended as a “gift” to us all. However, he was not willing to pay the price (i.e. proper planning / work / jail time / etc.) and therefore was gifting conditionally expecting something in return of equal or greater value. (freedom, fame, someone else to clean up, etc.)

    Decommodification: +1
    • Anyone recall the “unnamed corporate sponsors” on display in the pavilion under the man that year? Well they definitely didn’t come back and were very well decommodified by Paul. Truly well done on this front!

    Radical Self-Expression: +1
    • Very radical act of self-expression. in fact, maybe the most radical single act of self-expression ever on the playa. Still, it’s but one principle.

    Communal Effort: -1
    • Whether his buds decided this was a bad idea, or they only existed in his head all along, there wasn’t much communal effort, cooperation or collaboration here, except on the clean up / rebuilding, but we’ll get to that below.

    Civic Responsibility: -1
    • Umm no contest here: Read the clause about assuming full responsibility for public welfare and for conducting [stunts] in accordance with local state and federal laws.

    Leaving No Trace: -1
    • Pretty terrible on this one too. Paul was totally unconcerned with this principle and had no plan whatsoever for cleaning up.

    Participation: -1
    • While Paul did well on the “everyone is invited to play” clause, as he definitely did “play” with the man in a legendary manner. He totally blew it on the “everyone is invited to work” clause. Paul did not “work” on the man or with the team responsible for this project. So, his participation was at best uninvited by the project team. In this way his act become similar to someone running on stage when another is performing, grabbing the mic to yell obscenities at the performer… News Flash: that’s not part of the radical participatory ethic folks.

    Immediacy: 0
    • +1 for recognizing the reality within himself
    • -1 for respecting the reality of those around him — not everyone was amused and some could have accidentally / involuntarily been hurt / killed.

    When you add it up, you start to see why people have diverging feelings about this… So no need to call each other names. It all just depends on how you value each principle.

    If you weigh them all equally (is that what we’re supposed to do? 😉 and agree with the scores above, then when all was said and done, Paul’s act, as radically awesome as it seemed, added up to netting almost zero, but not quite… A net negative two, for those actually counting, on the grand scale of 10 holy principles of burning man… whatever that means.

    One final thought: Inexplicably, nobody seems to be keying on something that in my mind puts the blame for Paul’s unfortunate fate squarely on himself and no one else: At 5:20 Paul says that after all was said and done in the trial, he was given the choice to plead guilty to a charge of arson and get 5 years probation — who cares about probation? — but he chose not to, because he says “I didn’t like that.”

    To me, this is a part of a pattern of rather poor decision making by young Paul Addis. It’s choices like these, not other people’s unwillingness to save him, that ended up dealing him his terrible fate:
    1) burn the man without properly assessing / being willing to face the consequences
    2) not be willing to plead guilty, because he didn’t like it
    3) take his life, because it all didn’t go as planned

    Unfortunately, with this type of decision making, I’m not sure if anyone could have saved Paul in the long-term… maybe he was too brilliant, maybe too stupid, maybe too idealist, or maybe an idiot… but definitely not fit to live in this cruel world of hours…

    • I found this to be the most cognitive of replies. I am proud to say that Paul Addis was my friend, on & off the playa. Many do not know that BM was founded by the Cacophony society, disregard all the misinformation being put out there. Anybody remember when Paul put giant testicles on the Man? Being subversive is BM. His was a statement put into action. He was very intelligent and REAL. Yes intense, but Real. I challenge the naysayers to stop blabbing and DO SOMETHING you believe in: right or wrong. I respect Marion and everyone involved in providing a venue for freedom of expression, yet as early a s the late 90’s we began subversive tactics to preserve our take on the authenticity of BM. I miss him and the energy that created this place to be free. I wish everyone the best. XXOO

    • I love how everyone at burning man throws the word “radical” around. Going to burning man is not “radical”. It’s glorified big boy camping. The only person that was “radical” was Addis. look where that got him. Obviously the dude had issues… because he “radically” threw himself under a train. Bravo.. Bravo… now a bunch of morons think your a hero!

    • Doh! I forgot a principle!! Shame on me! 🙂

      Radical Self-reliance: 0
      • +1 for burning the man all by himself! Wow, now that’s self-reliance!
      • -1 for hoping everyone else was going to bail him out, clean up after him, etc.

  21. Typical narcissist jerk who thought to the end his “prank” was justified. It was not. People were not hurt or killed but could have been; then what: oops, sorry? Sorry he killed himself but that does not make him saintly.

  22. RIP paul. all i know is that BM needs a LOT more people like paul addis, and a lot less of the folks who show-up to catered turn-key camps with pre-decorated playa bikes. then again, maybe BM is what it is, and those who think like me should do something else. put up or shut up?

    • Cant hurt to do something else, people need to think about possibly organizing a new ‘blank canvas’ where new levels of artistic and social freedom are sought. I just don’t see much original happening out there any more… maybe its me

  23. For decades and centuries to come, art history students will be studying the Burning Man era. Maybe a few getting their masters in theology too. It will be interesting to see where it figures more prominently.

  24. All of us that knew Paul were shocked and saddened to hear of the way he left this world.
    He was a true ” Burner”, for all the newbies commenting on this thread along with the “old timers” with axes to grind on a tombstone, speaking ill of the dead is pathetic and disheartening to say the least.
    I was there for ” the Green Man” after taking a hiatus of ten years and of course it was anything but green that year.
    I came out from the East two weeks early to help build the Crude Awakenings platform and rigging for the Daisy-cutters for the installation.
    Personally it was the lack of pure ennui that struck me the most about the swelling throng of “festival attendees ” everyone was waiting for something to happen, most folks were watching the eclipse in there own little groups of peeps.
    Then something happened, something that had never happened before in the short hallowed history of )*(….
    The man was burning under a full lunar eclipse and it was Epic!
    Then the fire squad came and pissed on the man.
    The BORG thought the greenest thing to do would be rebuild the dude from wood from the depot & burn him again, that’s what their customers wanted them to do.
    It was rather anticlimactic to say the least
    Thanks Paul for the memories!
    Rest in Peace Brother Burner !
    P.S. Fuck You Larry so sad to see someone evolve into a corporate Cocksucker!

    • If ADDIS was a true burner in your eyes… You need to go get an eye exam. He was a selfish self serving ass that if he didn’t get his way he lied and changed the story. Then he throws himself under a train… hold on while i feel sorry for him! Soo stupid. If that is a true burner.. then you can have my burner title back! Trust me… I have done more for the burner community than that ass ever did…and you don’t see me burning down peoples property.

      • Exactly!!
        Those who cheer on his reckless selfish act as some great radical performance are indeed the jaded ones, who should move on but instead need to stay and chafe because it doesn’t fit their expectation (it is what I will do when/if the time comes) – whose myopia does not allow them to see or respect the depth of magic of the thousands of individuals, including those of the “organization”, whose outpouring of creativity and energy continues to abound at Burning Man.

  25. The Tuesday after the Man burned early, everyone I spoke with on the playa wanted him convicted to the full extent of the law. Either that or they wanted him strung up and to let each burner take a turn punching him in the balls. I’m pretty sure most people didn’t think it was an epic prank as Addis seemed to think.

    • Not everyone was feeling that way. I don’t remember that at all. I remember a heightened energy as the playa was all abuzz with the crazy news! It was a sorely needed shot in the arm and the ultimate prank.

      • I was there in 2007, and my reaction was just, “Huh, wonder what they are going to do now.” I felt no animosity. In fact, it was the only year that I did not gather in the circle for the burn. I suppose hearing that the Borg had contractors assemble it in three days made it an artifact of capital rather than the community.

  26. It’s tempting to cast this incident as “oh no, evil corporate repression”. But that requires projecting misplaced ideals on a revisionist video.

    In this clip, Paul assures us his ‘prank’ was safe – but then blames the rangers for not clearing people who were in the burning structure. There are other contradictions even in this whitewashed clip. And apparently everything about this, and about him being locked up, is someone else’s fault. The evil BM org. Not ignoring his other arson activity. His friends for not bailing him out.

    Let’s be clear: he could have killed people. Attendees, volunteers who swept the structure for stragglers after it was on fire. And he was unfortunately a very troubled man. The events as he relates them in a (much) later recording like this are no basis for opinions, and certainly not for declaring his actions a harmless and valid protest.

    Still angry about the prosecution of a repeat arsonist? Is Burning Man no longer your sort of party? It is actually still great, just different. If you don’t like it, your valid form of protest is to start Fiery Person 2.0 somewhere and convince others how cool it is. Not to show up and set fire to someone else’s art, at risk of the lives of others.

    • First of all, these things don’t occur in a vacuum; there is a decades-long history that goes with all of it. . . so your comment about “misplaced ideals” just means nothing at all.

      Second, nobody is calling Addis a saint, and the contradictions in his statements don’t do anything to overturn the fact that the Org did everything they could to put him in prison, and lied to all of us about that.

      Third, there was no “other arson activity” as you so casually toss off. Addis was not “a repeat arsonist” as you have labeled him. If you’re sincere and want to understand why that’s true, read the article we published about Paul Addis last year, shortly after his death:

      Fourth, your comment about the video being “no basis for opinions” is certainly true and I can’t disagree. . . but again, these things don’t occur in a vacuum, and the same is very true of there being no basis for dismissing him as “a repeat arsonist” or any of the other dishonest labels people have affixed to Paul Addis as a way of dismissing him and discounting the very real meaning behind what he did.

      Finally, “your valid form of protest is to start Fiery Person 2.0 somewhere” is just another broken record we have been hearing over and over again, despite the fact that we’ve answered it in spades. Not only is “love it or leave it” a mentality unworthy of burners participating in a do-ocracy, it’s also an option that will get you actively harassed and discouraged by the Org. See our forthcoming article re: the Digital Renaissance Faire for more details.

      • Valid point on the other arson, I apologize. The Grace Cathedral incident was at worst an attempt. But as an actively involved Burner since the late 90s, I am more familiar with the ‘history’ than you may think.

        I am also not saying protest is invalid. What I meant with my ‘2.0’ remark is that protest which creates is far better than protest which destroys. I see people ascribing grander, purer motives here than I think are merited. The fire was reckless, not clever, and I am not sorry it was prosecuted. Though I do wish more could have been done for Paul – he clearly was a smart and creative sort, who needed help.

  27. Hey cool. I made that video last year… I don’t know who this Otis Beard guy is, but here is the original place the video was posted:

    Please use that link!

    • Hi,

      I did try unsuccessfully to reach you about the video. Unfortunately, we can’t embed Vimeo videos in our articles, so it was necessary to upload it to YouTube and work with it that way. I did credit you both on YouTube and in the article.


      (Whoops! I thought I mentioned you in the article; looking back I guess I didn’t. I did credit you on YouTube, though)

  28. Without wading into the larger debate, I will take issue with the statement “Addis was barred from working in his rather lucrative chosen profession, thanks to his felony conviction for burning the Burning Man, and reduced to whatever minimum-wage jobs he could find as an ex-con on parole.” Addis was suspended from the practice of law in California in 2005 (2 years before the fire and his arrest) for non-payment of his bar dues and never appears to have sought readmission.

    • Addis didn’t pay his Bar dues because he didn’t want to practice law, as a matter of principle. That’s not the same as being disbarred; he could have taken up the Bar again anytime, and even without doing so, he was eligible for all kinds of lucrative legal work. . . until he had a felony conviction behind him.

      “Complete fallacy,” my ass. Nice spin, though.

      • But stating that practicing law was his “chosen profession” isn’t accurate.
        If he had ever practiced as an attorney (I don’t know if he had or hadn’t, and I don’t have any judgement about that) it had certainly been years since he had either been eligible or identified as an attorney. I know that years before the incident which led to the conviction, he self-identified as an “Artist.”

    • My sad opinion is that Paul chose an action that bothered many in the BM community. This same community/BM Organization did not go out of their way to support a more gentle sentence for his crime. I’m neither surprised, nor happy. Paul made his statement and in it his spirit lives. His choices. I wish him peace.

  29. For reference, here’s the BMORG letter to their staff about the case.

    What bothers me the most about it, and I had a lengthy conversation with Marian about this, is that she and the Org feel that the BMORG staff were “affected” by this event and because of that the staff had a “right to know” the BMORG’s role in the case.

    But the Org, including Marian, did not and do not feel that the community was affected by the incident nor that we have any right to know what the Org did.

    The Org is now all about being dishonest with and keeping secrets from the Community without which the event could not happen.

    >Date: Wed, 2 Jul 2008 15:30:21 -0700
    >Subject: [staff-announce] 2007 Arson Outcome
    >By now most of you have probably heard the news that the perpetrator
    >of the arson at the 2007 Burning Man event has plead guilty to the
    >crime of second degree arson and has been sentenced to 12-48 months in
    >jail, and ordered to pay restitution of $25,000 in damages to the
    >Burning Man Organization. Often times the news media doesn’t always
    >give the full backstory, so we’re sending additional information to
    >our staff because we believe that all of you who were affected by the
    >arson have a right to know the full story. Plus, every one of us is a
    >representative of the Project, and we sometimes find ourselves being
    >asked questions within the community about the organization’s position
    >on issues like this one. In fact, some members of the staff have
    >already asked a few questions about Burning Man’s role in the arson,
    >so we’re going to address them here. Please note that this email is
    >being sent to staff only, and staff policies prevent cutting and
    >pasting work emails to other online forums. But, feel free to
    >communicate the information contained in this email should others in
    >the community inquire about the Organization’s take on the outcome.
    >Q: What was the Burning Man Organization’s role in the prosecution of
    >the defendant?
    >A: The defendant was arrested by the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office
    >and faced charges in Nevada for First Degree Arson, Destruction of
    >Property and Illegal Fireworks. The prosecutor had a choice to bring a
    >full-blown trial and seek the maximum penalties for all of these
    >charges, or to accept a plea-bargain for a reduced crime with a lesser
    >sentence. The prosecutor advised the Burning Man Organization that he
    >believed a plea-bargain would be the best choice for all parties
    >involved–the state, the defendant and the victim. In the interests
    >of justice and fairness, the Burning Man Organization agreed with the
    >prosecutor that a lesser charge and a lighter sentence would be better
    >for everyone, including the defendant.
    >Q: What would have happened if the defendant had demanded a trial
    >instead of plea-bargaining?
    >A: The defendant could have been sentenced to nine years in jail for
    >first-degree arson.
    >Q: Could Burning Man have refused to press charges or refused to turn
    >over receipts to the prosecution?
    >A: Part of putting on the Burning Man event means maintaining good
    >relations with Pershing County so that we can continue to have the
    >Burning Man event on BLM land within that county. Good relations
    >means cooperating with criminal prosecutions. Refusing to press
    >charges for a felony arson that threatened human life would not bode
    >well with the government and law enforcement agencies in Nevada that
    >support our event. Nor would it bode well with the participants and
    >staff who could have been seriously injured or killed by this crime.
    >Plus, if the Organization had not submitted receipts the prosecution
    >would have subpoenaed them anyway. Finally, there was enough evidence
    >against the defendant for the County to prosecute without Burning Man
    >pressing charges.
    >Q: How did the Organization compute the restitution costs?
    >A: Once the prosecutor requested the information, the Accounting
    >Department compiled documentation of the following costs: lumber,
    >hardware, burlap, wax, fabric, neon, labor, fuel, meals, delivery
    >charges and heavy equipment use. Because some receipts were not
    >available, the Organization relied on the costs for the first build as
    >evidence of what the costs of the second build were. Of all the
    >receipts that were available the total came to a little over $30,000.
    >Based on the evidence submitted by the prosecution, as well as the
    >good points raised by the defendant’s counsel, the Court felt that
    >$25,000 was a fair and reasonable amount.
    >Q: What about the cost of the artwork under the Pavilion that was
    >never exhibited due to the crime?
    >A: The total cost of the art grants and the wages of the staff who
    >worked so hard to get the projects on playa came to an additional
    >$42,000 in documented costs. However, criminal restitution only
    >covers materials that were actually lost. To recover these additional
    >costs would require bringing a civil suit for destruction of property.
    >Q: Is the Burning Man Organization going to pursue a civil suit
    >against the defendant for the additional costs that were not recovered
    >in the criminal sentencing?
    >A: No. The Organization feels that the defendant’s plea bargain is a
    >fair and just outcome for all parties involved.
    >Q: So, how does the Organization feel about the sentence?
    >A: An organization does not have feelings, of course – only the
    >individual people within it do. Like all of you, and the rest of the
    >community, the staff and the board were diversely affected by the
    >premature burn, and each of us has our own human response to the
    >outcome. Not one of us can speak for what everyone around here feels
    >now that this chapter of our history ends, but we can say that we’re
    >uniformly glad to have this crime behind us, and we’re looking forward
    >to burning the Man together in 2008.
    >Ray Allen
    >Executive Project Manager
    >Black Rock City, LLC
    >1900 Third Street
    >San Francisco, CA 94158-2502
    >(415) 865-3800 x137

  30. Is no one going to talk about the HEROIC amounts of adderall addis was known for consuming? Amphetamine induced psychosis is a hell of a thing.

  31. When asked what the Burning Man experience means, I’ve always said you have to experience it for yourself. The love. The kindness. Free expression. Art. Over time my answer changed because of the ugly anger present on countless internet BM venues. It’s a gigantic, decadent reset party where, for a few days, people act with love and kindness until the gates close and all roads leading away become strewn with litter and the airways once again fill with the vile and vitriol of those attendees who believe that radical expression of free speech begins with, “fuck off.”

  32. Self expression aside, BM and those who attend must abide by state laws of Nevada and to criticize BMORG for not stepping in loud enough is still a misnomer. I was there too and I thought wow someone burned the man early cool?!; but when I heard that people were still under the structure? well I am sorry that’s no different then discharging a firearm in public, which will give you 25 years to life. Paul actually got off easy, he most likely had a public defender too so this is surprising.

    I am sad he had such mental anguish which were prevalent far before he committed his rebel act of radical self expression or even before he discovered Burning Man when it was called that thing in the desert , and having a camp mate two years later who build a pipe bomb without anyone knowing it and smuggling it into the event, I say he had a death wish too and was willing to take others with him. Drugs Alcohol will cloud anyones judgment especially if they are constantly running from their demons. What people are failing to see is that Paul was crying for help and no one was there they just cheered him on as that guy with the balls to burn the man. Was this attention positive for him? No not really, he took his own life because he felt even more of a ghost and that he sacrificed his career to gain notoriety and fame, but at what cost?

    You can call him a hero ( Paul) or the devil, but he was hurting far before this escalated into his incarceration . What I am not seeing here or reading here , is his admittance or acceptance to his act or that he himself feels he wasn’t responsible.
    I am reading and seeing that he felt he was a victim, again another attribute of an addict. Paul didn’t even get the magnitude of his actions but perhaps his legacy will? This is a fine example of what not to do and if you or other see you or themselves riding this train wreck, then perhaps you or others will seek help.

    Burning Man is an EVENT, not god, nor enlightenment, or a spiritual journey, it’s what you make of it and its a place of self discovery if that is what you make of it. Its Expensive and not so all inclusive that just not true never really was, that just something we tell ourselves to justify it. Its a Party out in the desert first and foremost that has grown to something globally and for that two weeks commonality brings people together and act as a tribe because we need each other to survive. It tests your wills because of the harshness of the environment and we get to act like children from the mundane world.

    BM once allowed Paul to feel normal and as soon as he didn’t ,like an addict he lashed out against it.

  33. “those who hold the keys to our kingdom”

    You mean the people who created Burning Man and put it on each year? I know… they’re such swindling overmasters for stealing everyone’s birthright to behave however they please at the event, including endangering others. Those jerks.

    I’l never understand what kind of charismatic aura this man must have had around him for people to still speak of him in beatific tones after he lit a building on fire with people inside it.

    • The fact that you think the Org are “the people who created Burning Man and put it on each year” means that you’re too uninformed to have an opinion worth listening to.

      BURNERS built and continue to build Burning Man, with their own creativity, their own effort, and on their own dime. You’re a kool-aid swilling patsy to think otherwise.

  34. I was there that year… and I hear Paul’s passion in this video. He orchestrated something different… it happened and it made us pissed, giddy, amused, sad, worried and a range of other emotions. I too am one who believes only those who build it get to burn it. However, Paul’s act forced a lot of people to get out of their comfort zones and think about and talk about the evolution of Burning Man and what part we have/had in that evolution. Everyone looked to BMorg so guess what… they had to be the grown ups and act… right or wrong, they had to do something. Nothing is black and white in this story other than the fact that Paul Addis is gone forever. I didn’t know him but I am sad that he chose this final act of self expression/desperation last year. I wish he could have gotten the treatment he needed to be able to continue to function in our world. He was a voice that I would have liked to have heard more from. His debts have been paid. To his friends and family… I wish you peace. This has probably been used before, but it’s what comes to mind and gives me comfort sometimes when the world is such a mixed bag… “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” Rumi RIP Paul Addis

  35. My buddy Christian and I were inside the man’s structure almost directly underneath his feet when he set it on fire. We had taken a walk out there to witness the lunar eclipse and check out the alternative energy kiosks. As we stood in there for a while laughing in amazement as the fire climbed, I still thought it was a prank. The best prank ever, and that it was being pulled off by the builders of the man or some people “officially” related to the event. Also I do remember someone setting off fireworks just before the fire and Rangers running towards that, like some sort of a diversion. No one told us to clear out (we would have remembered him) until some rangers finally did come in and have us leave. There was no danger to anyone at all at that point. Still, even though it was an epic event to witness it WAS WRONG. It was arson, it was vandalism, and it was burning someone else’s art without permission. I in no way condone or support his actions or motives.
    That being said…It was one the most memorable nights I’ve ever had on the playa.

  36. Everyone was looking up at the lunar eclipse. And just about the pinnacle, or whatever it’s called, all hell broke lose. I was there watching and recording the ESD fire response radio traffic from my scanner onto my tape recorder. (Airwaves that citizens unfortunately no longer have access to) I recorded it because of its historical nature and because I enjoy chaos. Burning the “bundle of sticks” was quite dangerous. ESD needed the big tenders that look like the water trucks in order to generate enough pressure and volume to get the fire knocked. The fall hazard created during that process and after the incident when it was deemed structural unsound put the most people at risk. The comments section here is the first time I’ve heard of any injuries stemming from it though.

    It was the kind of crazy stunt that you expect a crazy guy to be behind, the kind who is willing to deal with the consequences. He had to have known that he would be arrested. Perhaps he felt that he might not be charged, but he had to have at least felt it was a possibility. So he really was rolling the dice as to whether it would be a misdemeanor or felony charge. And if his career hinged on being felony-free, then he was really rolling the dice on his quality of life. I get the feeling his premeditated defense was that burning a structure built to be burned would not make it a crime. Unfortunately he gave himself some bad legal advice. There happened to be a felony amount of risk to others and goods and services destroyed in that piece of art. Protecting the permit is paramount for the BM organization. And they would be too worried about their credibility to lie and say there wasn’t a felony amount of work destroyed and that the criminal element of the incident didn’t exist. (I do seem to recall someone getting hurt during the rebuilding process) And what if there hadn’t been enough time to rebuild? What became a huge boost in community spirit would have been replaced by a feeling of emptiness, like being robbed. Sure you can say it’s only a ritual, don’t blame a guy for being radical, etc, but who’s to say how someone else should be allowed to burn and which of the 10 Principles trump the others?

    I thought it was great to watch the city spring into action. And it was great (for me anyway) watching the build team demolish and rebuild the man complete with neon just in time for Saturday. It was a magical year for sure, and perhaps my favorite year thanks to Paul. I wish he hadn’t done it, but I’m so glad he did.

    Here’s that recording…

    • Really interesting material you have here. Thanks for sharing. Good work by the ESD folks.I agree with you… I wish he hadn’t done it but I’m glad he did. RIP Paul.

  37. The problem we have here is that anyone with a very strong opinion on this subject has far too much privilege–not to mention time–and not enough hardship in their lives. Get over yourselves. This did not alter the trajectory of history. The empire did not fall as a result of one man’s actions. No one even got hurt. If this is what still consumes you–SIX YEARS LATER–please, get out and see the world a bit more.

    He BURNED THE MAN ON TUESDAY!!!! Stop the fucking world, it’s a calamity!!! And for those bitching about how he ‘ruined the experience for others’, take a moment and think about all the burns you’ve ever witnessed. I’m willing to bet dollars to bacon donuts that if you were there in ’07 you remember THAT one above all others.

    Was Paul an asshole? Possibly, but many of the most impressive amongst us are. So what? Someone, somewhere thinks YOU are the biggest asshole on earth, Judgey McJudgerson.

    Was what he did reckless? Possibly, but who amongst us hasn’t done something irretrievably stupid in their lives? (For those that haven’t, try to live a little.)

    Did he deserve some sort of reprimand? Possibly, otherwise you invite chaos, but effing PRISON? Wall St. bankers kept their fortunes and continue to fuck their mistresses on mega yachts after trashing the world’s economy but you think Paul Addis rotting in a cell was just?

    We wanted him lynched for ‘betraying’ us, but we prostrate ourselves before other community members who routinely hand over our most personal info to corporate and government interests.

    But the ultimate insult is seeing him thrown under the bus by the BORG who could have found a more constructive way to handle the situation than throwing him under a bus.

    The hypocrisy stains us all.

  38. I see many comments here arguing different points about Paul Addis. Now after watching the video I still have to disagree with Paul Addis. He claims he did it the safest way possible, but as a fire performer and having been a part of many safety perimeters for a few public burns (Las Vegas, Forgotten City, and at Burning Man), I will argue that he did not put safety first. If safety was first, he would have established a perimeter with the help of at least 20 people. He makes the claim that he evacuated the man before, sure, he probably did do that, but without the perimeter, anyone else who did not know what was going on was able to walk right on it, and thus as he said himself, “I went in myself to pull those people out.” Had safety been first, there would have been no need to pull those people out. Prank or self expression or not, arson is arson. In the state of Nevada, people usually get some jail time for arson, especially when the potential for injury is involved.

    Say what you will about tickets, the cops, a fence, and the corporazation of Burning Man as this stunt was supposed to point out, Burning Man is still one of the freest, funnest, and liberating, places that I can share my art and love in.

  39. In the video he says his was an act of free speech and that everyone is waiting for something to happen there, but it never does. First off, he would not have been arrested if he said or printed whatever he wanted. And to the second point, IMHO, there is so much happening there, the issue is more managing how to fit as much in without burning out and taking care not to over-stimulate. I still find it an epic playground. Not the freedoms of the old days, but more and bigger in other ways. I wish I had a chance to talk to him before he acted.

    Paul was a friend of mine and when I heard that he was the arson, I only felt sadness, knowing that he made a bad judgement, that the event had grown so much since he had last participated (in ’97), that there was no way he would avoid a jail sentence. Just a bad, misguided choice of expression. I believe a good prank or protest does not include destruction, like when he put balls on the man in ’97… the year he helped build it.

    RIP Paul.

  40. The Hat, was laughing out loud after report about early burn. Then they send Man in jail. Yes, the Man was in jail, not Paul. So sad, I missed the whole action that night, sleeping drunk in my tent……And really, nothing radical happen after Addis burn (I wish him peace) ,except Zucker attendance and helping grill the sandwiches last year.
    PS. Paul should start his performance from burning those freacking RVs

  41. I’m all for self expression. But anything that gets in the way of corporate profits can not and will not be tolerated.
    There are several preset modes of self expiration totally acceptable as listed in the guid books handed out at the greeters station, and there is no excuse to not have one. Greeting experience is manditory while in entrance line.
    This man intrupted the previously scheduled entertainment the masses had paid for. Like someone turning on the Disneyland magical light parade before sunset. I think were all much safer now he’s gone.

    • Wait, a felony conviction for burning something, that was constructed specifically to be burned at ‘freedom fest’ burning man?

      That seriously blows, and those people should be ashamed.

      What also sucks is the way you people are using “corporation” as an epithet to describe Black Rock City LLC. Which is yes, a corporation, albeit in the same sense that Hussein is the president’s middle name. A legal device, not an ideology.

      It is not a corporation whose primary mission is enhancing shareholder value in the same way the GE, BP, and Bank of America are. To speak of it thusly as if it shares similar strategies of tax evasion, or lobbying for wage suppression, the absence of consumer protection, and elimination of environmental laws, is a disservice to people who dedicate themselves to fighting that sort of injustice.

      • All you’re saying is that it’s not like a PUBLICLY-HELD corporation; in other words, they don’t sell stock to the general public. So? As a business entity, they exist to enrich the owners of the business. . . and in the microcosm that is Burning Man rather than the macro-global sense, they don’t need to lobby for wage suppression, because they promote volunteerism instead, based on the idea that they aren’t what they are. They don’t need to lobby for absence of consumer protection, because it’s sufficient to print things like “YOU MIGHT DIE” on the back of every ticket. Elimination of environmental laws? Again: volunteers clean up for them, and the Board can’t even tidy up their own damned camp.

        Yes, the greater, bigger, more important fight is outside Burning Man, in the real world. Those of us with a stake in the subculture, however, often feel that it’s a fight worth fighting anyway. I don’t see how it diminishes anyone else’s struggle, though.

    • Then you should be banned, because you just got in the way of corporate profits. I’m assuming you are part of the corporate model, and your response is not tolerated by me. Thank you for informing me of what type of people run this thing before I attended my first big burn at burning man. I shall not be attending, ever. Local burns exclusively for me, forbidding corporate interference.

      • The entire concept of a burn is to GET AWAY from the corporate model, to express ourselves outside of the society set stigmas and dogmas, and to grow compassion for our fellow kind… your statement went against ALL of those things.

      • You guys crack me up. “As a business entity, they exist to enrich the owners of the business.” Yeah, so that’s why First Camp is so swank. Or perhaps they are dressing in sackcloth at the event for effect and return to their palatial mansions in Marin, and the BM HQ is in its own named high-rise in the financial district. Businesses, profit, and non-profit, exist for MANY reasons, and “enriching” owners is one of many legitimate reasons. More often than not, businesses exist as a way for “owners” to earn a living while serving a useful purpose to others and maybe even do something positive in the world at times. To hear the critiques on this site and elsewhere, you’d think BM was Walmart and the event was strip-mined in clear-cut forestland in Brazil, then assembled in a sweat-shop in India, and finally dumped in a landfill in your back yard.


    • He’s the ultimate victim. Burning Man is no longer what he wants it to be…aww…how sad…poor baby. And those big meanie people at Burning Man HQ pressed charges and wouldn’t just let him walk around torching peoples art… the horror… the horror….

      • Porter,

        It’s not “people’s art”.

        Paul deliberately torched the only art installation on the Playa owned by and created by a corporation.

      • Adam, the man base and man are built by DPW volunteers, the funds for the base and man come out of everyones ticket, so he actually destroyed the the centerpiece (litterally and figuratively) artwork on the playa that every single burner actually contributed too. Plus all the art made by individuals in the Pavilion under the man.

      • I’m happy that my ticket money went towards something more interesting than electronic music and RV camping and I bet there are a lot of people who feel the same way…

      • You two are predictably despicable. Instead of staying on topic, answering legit questions posed to you, or god forbid considering someone else’s opinion as valid…you’ve insinuated I’m stupid, suggest I “get off the ride” in reference to Addis which is a clear reference to my committing suicide?, you’ve insulted everyone here (and whether you accept it or not we’re all people who share in the same incredible experience) and you use the word fuck so incessantly that it’s lost meaning here. Ridiculous and infantile.

        What most of your opponents here are trying to say is that of course all things evolve and change and not all those changes are positive. It’s HOW we respond as a society that determines our cultural health.

        People like you – angry, unwilling to see others points, cruel, impetuous – will thankfully fall victim to good ole Darwinism. If you act this way in your lives off the internet you’re surely angry, stressed and struggling which means you likely are incurring disease as we speak. You’ll have a stroke or a heart attack or contract a stress induced disease like the rest of your kind. I see it everyday.

        The thrivers of our species will have strong belief and conviction but also the ability to be flexible. They will be able to protect themselves but won’t live in constant fight mode. They’ll roll with the punches and enjoy themselves mothafuckas and you’ll be busy with your business of living a regrettable life and dying inside. Kindness is something you should consider, even on a small scale but…you won’t. You’ll fire back that I’m a bitch or I should kill myself or I’m a dumbass or I should stay home and leave burning man to you and you know what? Have at it. I camp at 730 and I-ish every year…come find me and see what it’s like to BE a nice person and to be surrounded by nice people. I’ll make you a hell of a martini. Peace out, onto other things that aren’t so circular and gross.

      • @firefizzle: So now that you don’t like my point of view.. I’m angry? lol Pot calling the kettle black don’t ya think? I’m not allowed to state my opinion? Oh you don’t like that I use words that are not to your liking. That’s not my problem… that is yours!

        I’m ridiculous and infantile? Hold up… I didn’t try to pull a stupid prank and burn art that didn’t belong to me down. Oh and again I didn’t throw myself under a train either.

        I’m by far angry stressed or unwilling to see other peoples points. But when you try to martyr a complete asshole then yes… I’m unwilling to see your point. The guy was an ass that broke the law and now your trying to turn him into some kind of hero. Fuck that! He is an idiot.

        You can sing all the kumbaya crap you want. But you’ll never make it in the real world. I do have strong beliefs and convictions. But you don’t see mine your way… So ONCE AGAIN I MUST BE WRONG. I don’t think your a bitch. I don’t know you. I haven’t called you a bitch. so don’t put those words in my mouth.

        You stated in another post that you wish some of these people were easy to identify in person as they are on the internet. I welcome you to meet me. shoot me your email or phone and we can chit chat. I have no problems with identity issues. I’m not some ass hiding behind the computer. I’m very upfront and don’t hide.

        As a matter of fact… I will come visit you at your camp. We can have a martini or two and we can discuss this in person. You think I’m not nice? You don’t know me in person! Just because we have different view points doesn’t make me a complete asshole. It makes us disagree. You don’t like or agree with the way i state my opinion…. once again your problem not mine! But since you don’t like it… I must be angry! That’s laughable. Whatever gets you through the day!

        Bottom line is that Addis’s actions were fucking stupid. He is not a hero! He could have killed people. If you can’t do the time then don’t do the crime. Maybe he should have thought about that before hand. Just because he said in a video that he made sure everyone was safe was bullshit. He didn’t. He did that to make himself sound like a saint. He was a selfish and tried to take an experience from so many people. But in the end he didn’t… and in the real end he lost out on his own life experiences. He took his life and once again took the experiences away from his family and friends the moment he jumped out onto the tracks. Do I feel sorry for him? absolutely! Do I feel sorry for the people he left behind… More than you know! My brother commit suicide too! it’s stupid and selfish. Do i agree with his actions. fuck no!

        End or rant and end of this discussion for me! If you want to talk or chat… I’m open to it! Balls in your court…. Shoot if you wish!

      • I wish people like some of those here were as easy to identify in person as they are on the internet. There are current publications on the cowardice of internet hostility which show the perpetrators to be weak of faith and spirit, having experienced significant emotional trauma or shortcomings, manifesting a deep need to express anger but only brave enough to do it “anonymously”.

        I wish for all of you to develop the tools necessary to deal with your anger and weakness so that you may be able to have conversations about controversial topics without slipping into what is I’m sure the all too familiar role of verbally beating the crap out of someone you don’t know.

        It makes me happy to have the sweet people in my life that I do, many of them “burners” who wouldn’t dream of saying such horrible things, even in print. Ew.

    • Paul Addis wasn’t perfect and had his own issues (all of us do), but he simply does not deserve all of the hatred people who never met him are hurling at him.

      If you’re not a psychopath, maybe you can at least try to have some compassion for, if not Paul, then those who knew and carried about him. I assume his ex-wife wouldn’t mind me reposting the comment she posted on a sfbg article:

      “Paul and I were married for over three years and lived together for nearly eight. I can’t begin to explain how sad I am that he is gone. He and I had so many good times together. He was kind and generous, compassionate and warm. He would help a stranger just because it was the right thing to do, I mean really go out of his way to help somesone. I’m going to miss hearing him tell stories, reciting the names of everyone involved because he never forgot anyone he came in contact with. He was a good person, intense and on stage when he was out and about, but really relaxed and quiet when he was one on one.

      I wish he could have had more time and I wish I could have done more for him. I just want to say thank you to all his friends out in San Francisco. I know that there are lots of people out there who loved Paul and looked out for him over the last few years. Thank you so much for caring about Paul, I cared about him too and I’m going to miss him.”

      • He may have had it in mind but he didn’t accomplish it. I camp with a ranger that was pulling people out from under the fire. It was a close call that should not have happened. No matter which way you look at it it’s:

        1. the criminal act of deliberately setting fire to property.

        Arson is a crime. Regardless of how nice a man he was he committed a crime and put others in danger. There had to be a punishment for that. I always said after watching interviews with him that he seemed somewhat manic. The fact that he sadly took his own life convinced me further that he needed psychological help. Sad story.

      • April,

        “arson – the criminal act of deliberately setting fire to property.”

        If burning something is a crime, then the Org would be guilty of arson 100x over. Here’s the actual Nevada law:

        “A person who willfully and maliciously sets fire to or burns or causes to be burned, or who aids, counsels or procures the burning of any abandoned building or structure, whether the property of the person or of another, is guilty of arson in the second degree which is a category B felony…”

        Nevada law requires that the burning be “malicious”. Had the Org told the prosecutor that they believed the act was a prank which was well-intentioned, but very misguided and badly thought out , it seems unlikely the prosecutor would move forward trying to convince a jury that his act was malicious in direct contradiction to what it’s owners were saying.

        The prosecutor probably would have pushed for a reckless endangerment, but that’s only a misdemeanor.

        A number of people have called for Addis to have taken responsibility for his actions. That should also apply to the Org. They should take public responsibility for making a _choice_ to send a burner to jail for a felony for a prank.

      • Keep going with legal definitions Adam, ‘for purposes of common law arson “malicious” means action creating a great risk of a burning. It is not required that the defendant acted intentionally or willfully’ If it was prank or insurance fraud carries no weight in determining if it was arson or not. You all act as if it was the orgs decision to legally determine if it was arson or not. It was the judges application of the law. The one area the org could have affected this was providing receipts totaling less than $5,000

  42. Since we all still talk about this event the significance can’t be denied. For or against, it had an impact on all of us. Once Paul lit The Man, once the deed was done, only the response to that action was left to all of us.

    How much different might it have been had we embraced That New Big Beautiful Black Man? How much more could we have learned had we spent the energy to make him stand, as he now was, safely?

    What if we had “gone with it” instead of rebuilding? It was a Green Man year. The elephant in the room didn’t leave, we still burn and waste way too much shit out there, consider how it might have been different had we just let it be and enjoyed his charred remains for the rest of the week.

    The impact on all of us, and Paul, could have been so different.

  43. Rest in love and peace Paul Addis. Never got to meet you but I feel your burner heart that is making us see the importance of life. You can’t take it with you, people! Stuff is stuff. How you treat another is how you can expect to get treated. Love all, it’s all we have. Now, go to the playa and play nice.

  44. After the early burn, Shooter (RIP) conducted a survey on Tribe: Art or Arson?
    It was 80/20 in favor of arson. Combined with the vile comments against Addis (much like you see here) shocked me. I had been attending 10 years in a row prior to 07, and I had absolutely NO IDEA that I was surrounded by you arson-types – that I was feeding you, caring for you, giving you free booze. It actually made me cry. I’ve never been back since.

    This is not your father’s Burning Man – it’s all for you now, fascists.

  45. Discernment is something we lack considerably in our society, we’re all too quick to jump on a bandwagon, any bandwagon, for fear of missing something magical. The BM bandwagon has provided me some truly magical moments – it opened my mind and more importantly my heart, it helped me love better (both myself and others), think more for myself and face my fears of creating. I also felt compelled to understand where it came from, what it’s impetus was. As magical as it is, don’t be fooled into thinking that showing up to it once a year is enough to be a radical free-thinker/expressor. It is an institution, organized and orchestrated to the hilt, as it must be to accommodate for its size. And like anything this organized and institutionalized, it has developed its own ills and disease. And the organizers, who I believe have a love for the event which is why it persists, couldn’t possibly have meant it to be the pinnacle of our community. I believe it is meant as a jumping off point for those of us interested in living our lives in a way that challenges the strong “norms” we are indoctrinated with from birth. It’s been that for me. And that week in the desert has become just a glorious vacation. It isn’t the end game.

    I didn’t know Paul Addis but any illness in our community belongs to us all. I’m not sure we would have been buddies or comrades but he was my people, too.

    I refrain from using the word “burner” because it’s meaning has been commercialized. I don’t criticize people for how they do (or do not) participate. I try not to take any of it so seriously, including the early burn, because I’ve become a fan of absurdity. And I try not to judge art or someone’s interpretation of it – destruction and creation are equally necessary in the universe and many would argue that his destruction of this iconic absurdity was exactly the principle upon which our community was created.

    Stop the name calling and ugly behavior, not just here, not just in the desert – everywhere and all the time. That is what it means to live by the principles of this thing. Think for yourself…

    • A long reply, I am going to re-do this in a post.

      While I agree with pretty much all of your very eloquently put points Firefizzle, I have to take issue with your suggestion that BM should not aspire to evolve into the pinnacle of organizational excellence.

      I think very highly of Burning Man, and wish for it to prosper and flourish long into the future. For millennia – if Jesus can do it, why not Larry and Marian and the BMorg? Or better still, why not all of us Burners, everywhere? One giant global mainstream counter-culture collective. I think this long term future for our culture requires us to place burning man in the category of “Bay Area companies that are impacting the world”, not “rave promoters”. For rave promoters, BMOrg pretty average. But by the standards of excellence that are required just to survive in the tech industry, they fall somewhat short.

      People sometimes think we’re always bashing BMorg, but we’re just expressing our opinions – and encouraging other burners to express theirs too. I really can’t see how things will improve over the next century or so of life in Black Rock City if all these newbie Burners just leave it up to the BMorg to decide everything for them.
      They think they know everything after 2 Burns, and they think because the party’s amazing, then the company that puts it on must be equally as amazing (news flash: it ain’t). These newly imprinted cult members can be found all over the Interwebz, vociferously acting to silence dissent by relating party lines on social media. Usually their arguments are “you’re a moron”, “you have a mental illness”, “why don’t you just die” etc. (ad hominem attacks, and lame ones at that!)…rather than any form of reason or logic. A better future requires at least some of us to be pointing out where there’s room for improvement. Because, I hate to break it to you kiddies, but you ain’t gonna get that from the Jacked Rabbit Phreaks or

      Bureaucracy is the bane of creativity. The only thing it innovates is ways to pass more rules and give itself more power. Rather than maintaining the status quo, or expanding bureaucracy, we should strive for continuous improvement. We can always do better! Always. No matter who we are or what it is we’re doing, Burning Man and beyond. Instead of thinking of the citizens of Black Rock City as the “Petri dish” for all their surveys and experiments, BMOrg should think about *themselves* as the Petri dish – a temporary organization that exists to represent the citizens, that we can continually do experiments on in order to empower their constituents. Being a citizen of Black Rock City would be worthwhile, because it just keeps getting better and better. Why not be Apple or Google or Virgin, instead of the (CA) DMV?

      The company that owns Burning Man – be it LLC or 501(c)3 or the mysterious, shadowy and amorphous “governance by consensus, sometimes” hybrid structure that it seems to be today – owes it to its peers in Silicon Valley to Represent for the. Bay! By this I mean the name-brand tech companies that make up about half of the entire party. There’s no room for hippy weed growing NorCal “the dude” culture on the global stage. Mark my words, the short to medium term consequence of this type of culture is to get eaten alive by the first predator that comes along. You think it’s really that hard to burn a statue in a desert? Google could be doing that in every desert on earth within a week, if they wanted to.

      To go global, you gotta hustle, like the East Coast. BMorg should be run to the highest standards of ethics and operational excellence. If it’s not, then let’s find whoever’s responsible for the B or C grade performance and get them out of the way. It sucks to be the founders, because you take all the risk and do all the work, then when the startup becomes a real company, you get tossed aside. Usually even the original owners get tossed aside. That’s just the way it goes, the cycle of the pyramid. Sooner or later it grows beyond your capabilities, ask anyone with experience in tech. Go watch The Social Network if you don’t get it, or read the book Start-Up.

      It’s time to bring in the A-Team. You’re on the world stage now Burning Man, you’ve done more than most tech companies do to put yourself there, through PR and government lobbying and academic studies… so don’t let the rest of the side down. Live up to the expectation to be a shining example of Silicon Valley culture. That means, creativity. Innovation. Experimentation. Leave no trace is good, temporary autonomous zones are good. It’s not just about making yourselves look good when you read your own press BMorg, you need to not make the rest of us look bad. Like, when the Founder and CEO says they’re going to do something, that thing then happens. With near-zero latency. That’s how the Valley works, and I don’t care if you’re in Market Street or SOMA, it’s still Silicon Valley to me.

      Let’s replace the Civic Reponsibility principle, which I bet 90% of Burners couldn’t name anyway, with Radical innovation! Look, we all understand that this started out as a small party and your organization grew with it. That’s how these things get started. But there’s no logical reason to feel loyalty to your organization, more than you do to the Burners who make the party for you. Ask Richard Branson, he is loyal to his staff, sure, but all his energies and strategies and public statements are focused on his customers.

      Why not rule the city like other cities do, democracy…but stay true to the original mission of experimenting with cacophony in temporary autonomous zones. Mix up the governance every year, or every 3 years. Experiment with the structure of the Org itself, in how you delegate tasks, how you measure if they get done, how you evaluate success, and how you allow for continued process improvement in how future. Forget all the confusing non profit “complexities”, forget “safety third”, forget “growth by lawsuits” as a strategy…and focus on continuous improvement towards worlds best practices, in all areas of the city (and, I suggest, the business). Who says the pyramid is the best governance structure for 70,000 people living in the desert for a week ? Why not experiment with a charter city that is continually re-incorporated, kind of like the America’s Cup charter, or a government . When we pack the city up, we pack it’s governing body up too. You can have a Constitution that doesn’t change, *and* rules that change with the times and needs of the changing demographics (75%: 2 burns or less in 2013). It is possible to have a monarchy a democracy at once, just look at the UK as one of many examples of this that have stood the test of time. Of course it’s all ruled by the banksters behind the scenes anyway, but that shouldn’t affect our “radical” self-expression, self-reliance, inclusion, or innovation.

      I hope this wavelength is where Paul Addis was coming from. Proletariat protest against the powers that be, a good-humored thumbing of the nose at the authority of the rule-makers, seems in the spirit of Cacophony Society , Chicken John, John Law and the other brave souls who dared to put their heads up above the crowd and face the ire of the overlords. Shunning, online defamation attacks, mental illness diagnoses/accusations, lawsuits, rewriting of history, camp placement in Siberia or absence from the world’s biggest guest list are just a few of the arrows in the quiver of our present governing body. I hope some sort of amusing protest was what Addis intended by Burning the Man on the Eclipse/full moon, trying to call attention to the centralization of energy of the festival around The Man and away from its chaotic roots (…if you yearn for this anarchy, you can still get a taste of at Juplaya).

      I hope it wasn’t just vandalism, mayhem, or “he took too much!” – which, let’s face it, can happen to the best of us at BM. I hope he cased the joint first to make sure no-one was around, it was 2-3 in the morning when he did it. Back then Tuesdays were WAY more quiet than they are today. I was asleep when it happened, the next day when the Man was not on top of the pyramid I just thought it was some pyrotechnic issue. Which, ironically, it was. Also somewhat ironically, that was the only Burning Man out of 11 that I had to leave early. I went to Savanna, GA for a wedding on the Burn Saturday, straight from the Playa and clueless. There were a lot of SF people at the wedding, Burners who didn’t go to that years Burn. Everyone was like “what happened?” like it was this huge scandal, and I would have the scoop just from being there. I guess that’s how it was painted in the Chronicle etc. I was like “huh? WTF? They burned the Man on the eclipse, that’s so cool but I’m bummed I missed it”. I definitely wasn’t all “oh, what an outrage to Burning Man, send this person to prison and end his career, and record him in history as the Hitler of Burning Man”. It’s clear from the comments that some burners do have this mindset though. I guess the bottom line is, there are cunts in every city. For every arsonist, there are 10,000 haters.

      From what I’ve learned about this case, it doesn’t sound like the guy had any malicious intent, it was just a stupid idiot cowboy prank in the worlds biggest stupid idiot crazy people-doing-anything-they-frikkin-want festival. In the olden days kiddies, raves had to be underground, illegal, held in secret with complex systems of passwords and directions. The minute one cop showed up, the party was over. In those days *everything* used to burn at Burning Man. This story needs to be viewed in the context of the time it took place in, and the history it came from – it is not something that can be applied to the BM behemoth of today, and hopefully not an issue we will ever face again in the future.

      This never would’ve happened if guns hadn’t been banned! Lol

      • I wasn’t suggesting that the org not aspire to organizational excellence BurnersXXX…I was suggesting that everyone should make up their own minds about how to participate. Someone posted above that no one is an expert on how to do Burning Man and I so agree. There ARE so many people new to the experience and I think bashing them flies in the face of the thing. Also, going out to party and express for a week is grand and decadent and delightful but isn’t it more interesting to take whatever it is that appealed to you about it in the first place and DO something else with it? Food for thought…

      • ‘mainstream counter-culture collective’ ? Is that kinda like a round square?

        BM becomes increasingly mainstream each year. It’s counter culture claims are little more than window dressing.

        I know it suits many peoples egos to think they are part of something ‘cutting edge’ or whatever euphemism in contemporary vogue to show that they are HIP while they’re running around posting pictures on FB or whatever corporate social media they, in their pseudo-rebelliousness, are fixated upon.

  46. I was there at BM that year. I heard a lot of people say something to the effect of “they should have given him a medal” and stuff like that. I totally disagree. I had 2 very close friends who where hanging out at the base of the man when that incident happened. They were almost napalmed by molten plastic hellraining down from above, landing just a few feet from them. The burning man had a giant black plastic mesh “pyramid” that went from the ground up to his feet that caught fire in this guys stunt. My friends could have been killed or disfigured and they would have been the collateral damage that this guy apparently didnt give a fuck about, he had his agenda set up and wasnt going to let severe public endangerment stand in his way. My friends who were caught in this incident said that about 2 or 3 dozen other people had to run for their lives to escape…. no one knew what was going on until it turned from chill late night hangin out at the man to hellfire death escape… im sorry but whatever was gained or lost in this stunt is purely symbolic, he had a point to make or whatever. Sorry dead dood, fuck your symbolic point, you almost took my friends life for your petty attention gathering stunt. Its not like he could have been like “hey guys, could u party somewhere else? im about to pull a renegade early burn of the man. It wont be super safe around here for a little bit, shhhh dont tell on me, ive got a statement to make here…” … If he would have actually killed someone NO ONE would be saying he is cool or a hero, or had a “good point” to make, and if they were they would be viewed as a total dipshit by anyone with common sense. He came within 2 feet of that happening at his hands, he lucked out really… Its Ironic that the only premature death this persons act created was his own in the end… but life is a series of decisions i guess. He just made a very bad one is the way i see it.

      • @Josey maybe you shouldn’t be such a douche and have a little more respect for the lives of others. Not some douche bag that wants to take an amazing experience away from others.

      • @David “Big Papa”

        Who you call douche bags are the people who invented the thing you now take advantage of. The irony is the only impressive thing about you.

    • wow – your poor friends would have died! i know that when flames arise above me i just don’t know what to do….i just stand there watching catastrophe develop…i just wonder, hmmm, what should i do? should i run? and then i just freeze, cause, you-know, its hard to know what to do when you are being “napalmed” by stuff above you. are you as smart as your friends? if so good thing you weren’t there!

    • j-rock, would it bother you to know that a number of paul’s friends and acquaintances, people who are intelligent and trusted burning man volunteers, told members of the burning man org that paul might try to set the man on fire during the eclipse, well in advance of that night? paul told several people quite plainly what he was going to do and exactly when he was going to do it, during the eclipse that monday night. paul, as a former volunteer for burning man, was not an unknown quantity to the folks in the LLC. they were aware of his intelligence, resourcefulness, and unpredictability, and should have taken the warning seriously and taken extra precautions that night. they should have rallied more rangers to watch the man and told the rangers and law enforcement officials to keep an eye out for someone trying to climb up to the man. perhaps it would have been a good idea to have a firetruck at the man during the eclipse. in reality, i don’t think they even bothered to tell the rangers on duty that night that someone might try to set it on fire. maybe a ranger would have noticed him climbing up the man sooner if they were more on alert.

      i’m not making any statement on whether paul’s act was good, bad, arson, art, or any of that. i’m simply pointing out that the org knew that a very intelligent, clever, resourceful, and unstable person was talking about setting the man on fire in no uncertain terms and mixing up incendiary devices in full view of anyone who walked by. one individual i told this to said “people threaten to set the man on fire all the time – the org can’t respond to every one of these threats.” but like i said, they knew paul personally, and one of the people who told the org was a very trustworthy, well-known, highly respected volunteer who would not have issued the warning if he didn’t think it was a serious threat. so maybe the burning man org should be called out for ignoring this warning.

      i am NOT saying that the org is in any way to blame for the fire. but they may have been able to prevent it, or put it out faster so less damage was done. i do fully believe they should have heeded this particular warning.

  47. Amazing story… I started doing some reading on Addis a while back and thought I knew the story but was take back by how much support he had out there. I dropped all my plans to write something because I realized how wrong I was about everything I thought I knew.

    Such a great video. I was genuinely sad when Addis committed suicide because it was after I had done some reading about him. I feel his anger and anxiety through the vid.

    After reading some of the comments I also realize there is so much more to the story, too. We never know… spin from one side or the other… but Paul had a lot of supporters out there

    The foundation of Burning Man came out of the Cacophony Society – pranksters themselves – but I am conflicted because the story calls his action an act of self expression and a prank but it was an act that impacted the scope of the event.

    Those acts of wild self expression seem to be in the past. Paul may have written the epilogue on that issue.

    • It was a prank that went too far. And it sounds like the guy regretted his actions so much that he paid the ultimate price for it. We’re all crazy, it’s just the degree that differs.

  48. Who here needs a waaambulance?? For once the unexpected happened. The Man will always burn. In 2007 it burned early. So the fuck what! I think the fucked part is that Bmorg went to Home Cheapo so they could build another Man out of green wood that would never burn. BTW inviting corporations to exhibit green energy techniques in the Man pavillion was wrong on so many levels.
    The 2007 Burn was lame as hell and weak at best compared to Crude Awakening which proceeded to blow everyone away after the lame ass attempt at a Second Man burn

  49. 2007 (when Addis burned the man, for you newbs) was the definitive end of BM as a community. His actions divided the so-called ‘community’ into two groups – 1) Those who get it. 2) Those who don’t… Unfortunately, ‘those who don’t’ outnumbered those ‘who did’ by 8 to 1.

    At the time, there were calls for his sexual mutilation and even death. The ‘those who don’t get it’ were so angry that their precious Man was burnt early (the thing they paid to see), that they basically lost all sense of humanity. Addis was sent to real-world jail, put there by the Borg’s inflated damage estimates.

    Now, BM is almost fully comprised of those who still wish harm on this dead man.

    You people make me fucking sick.

    • Addis would’ve been in jail for even longer on charges of reckless endangerment. He got off easy. He nearly messed that up if what I hear is true – he nearly derailed the plea bargain by shooting off his mouth in front of the judge. Of course in HIS version of the events you don’t hear about that – it wasn’t part of his reality.

      It isn’t cool to destroy someone else’s art but that should never have been the legal issue. Setting something on fire without any concern for OTHER people’s safety? If that is your idea of fun I’ll be plenty happy if you never attend again and I won’t be bothered in the slightest if you do time.

  50. I for one would have been pissed off if some ASSHOLE decided to take it into his own hands and burn the man on his own. I came to see and experience Burning Man….. Not Addis’s version of it. He would have taken that experience away from me. So do I think he sucks….. TOTALLY! Don’t fuck with others art and belongings. If this was the real world…. he’d have gone to jail too. Oh wait.. it is the real world…. ALL LAWS APPLY at Burning man too… otherwise the community wouldn’t have all the different police forces at the event….. duh!

    Do I think he should have gotten in trouble. ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY!!! Did his punishment fit the crime… NO… They really nailed his ass. I don’t think he should have received such a harsh punishment. Bottom line…. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time!

    As far as his suicide… He was obviously going through some serious issues in life and I feel sorry for him and whomever he left behind. But this is a completely separate topic than him burning the man.

    • Anger is not a tenant of the Burning Man community. Neither is judgement. That you say this one person and this one anarchist event could “take something away” from you is more extreme than the event itself…

      • Anger and judgement is not a tenant of the BM community? So destroying art is? I think you have your ideals fucked up. And YES this ASSHOLE that broke the law and set something that wasn’t his on fire (yes i’m judging) is a “BURNER”. if so, you can have my burner title. I don’t want it. Yes he would have taken away an experience if it had burned. so if he burnt your stuff or took your belongings away from you… that would be okay?

      • Every year that I attend BM, I’m prepared for and expect the completely unexpected. I’ve had items stolen, defaced and lost of my own accord and while I took a moment to process them all (and some tears)….none of that truly affected my way of life or my ideology or the way I participate in my community. If you need something completely predictable and safe, you might consider finding another event to attend because as organized as Burning Man is, weird (and wonderful) shit still happens all week long, every year. I don’t subscribe to ANY one else’s doctrine about the event or the community or the lifestyle and I’m constantly challenging myself to think differently about it, but I’ve believed from the beginning that the week exists to remind us who we want to be for the rest of the year. For me, that means being kind, generous, fierce, wacky and tolerant of the millions of other people in the world. You’ve displayed here today not everything that’s crappy about Burning Man but everything that’s crappy about people and our current way of life.

      • @Fireflizzlemynizzle: You can go on and on about your ideology and how you want to live in the world everyday as a burner. But 98% of the people say they are going to and don’t. If you are the actual 2% then good fucking for you. Really nobody cares! If you don’t like our current way of life… Do something about it!! just stop your bitching on every burning man post. Burning man has evolved into something you dont like… stop going! Burning man has evolved just like the world… if you don’t like the ride… get off…Addis did!

    • I am sad that you miss the meaning of his actions. Burningman was built on peace, love and fuck off, just as much as being built on peace love and swinging naked. What bothers me more is how you speak to other members of your community in various replies you put on here. Do you go out there and tell your campmates you love them with the same tongue you use here? I don’t want YOUR version of Burningman. You fall into the idea that your version is more important than others. I always make sure to shake up the experiences of anyone that sounds like you. Why, because that is what it was founded on, rookie, and you can’t change that. No matter how vile you speak of others.
      PS, I watched it happen! Did you?

      • The meanings of his actions were selfish and stupid. Do I stand up for what I believe in…. absolutely! Would I tell someone to fuck off if i thought they were wrong… absolutely!

        To make it clear…. I don’t want your delusional idea of burning man either! So fuck your day!

        oh and you calling me a rookie when you have no idea how many years I have gone or what I am about. ummmm do you call your camp mates names too?

    • Actually the suicide is pretty directly correlated to the complete fucking over by the BMorg to send him to jail with a felony instead of a misdemeanor. That and the vitriol spewed out in forums like this by fellow burners like you completely broke his soul and his spirit. He never recovered and now never will.

      And it is for these reasons that I haven’t returned since 2007. I no longer feel safe in that community. What I once called home.

      • @Evilwoodnymph Your talking about a guy who is a LAWYER.. He was obviously intelligent enough to pass the state bar. So he knew the law. NO EXCUSES! you break the law you do the time. He knew as do ALL lawyers that if you commit a felony crime you will lose your license to practice. I even knew this and I’m not a lawyer. So don’t put the blame anywhere else then where it belongs…. PAUL ADDIS. If you feel sorry for him that’s fine! But the bottom fucking line is…. It’s his fault. He got caught at his idiotic prank.

        • What are you, a cop? Judge Dredd?

          Your lack of compassion and slavish devotion to THE LAW over human life, artistic meaning, and social activism make me sick.

        • I’m also getting really sick of your use of the phrase “the bottom line is. . .”

          In your mouth, all that seems to mean is “I’m right, you’re wrong, that settles it.” Meanwhile, you ignore all the nuance, all the humanity, all the controversy. Does it just go over your head, or are you really that much of a jerk?

          Another thing you consistently ignore: the fact that the Org not only went out of their way to send Addis to prison, they lied to all of us about it. Your shitty, compassionless diatribes about how “he got what was coming to him” do nothing to erase those facts.

      • @Whatsblem the Pro: You can be sick of whatever you want. “BOTTOM LINE” I still have the right to my opinion. So I’m ignorant because I care for people. I didn’t burn the man down and potentially subject innocent people to getting hurt. Your Hero Addis did! I don’t recklessly burn things and call it ART. The controversy is that you have some ignorant ass people that think ADDIS is an underdog. Fuck no he is not! He is a selfish not caring individual that could have put others lives at stake. Even when he decided to throw himself under a train.. He took the lives of others into his own hands. What would have happened if the train derailed or caused major issues and hurt someone? What about the psychological aspect of the people that had to witness this asshole throw himself under a train. Oh No… they aren’t scarred by his artistic actions even in his own demise! Fuck him! I have no pity on his selfish acts.

        Am I a cop or judge dredd? are you 8 years old? My lack of compassion for an asshole isn’t ever going to happen. My compassion is for the people that would have gotten hurt by his “artistic” form of asshole expression. My compassion is for his mother, father and siblings that he left behind. My compassion is for any of his friends that he left behind. He is gone and his problems are over. But everyone he left behind has to deal with him not being here. Even you and I are dealing with him not being here. How fucking stupid is that? So no.. I’m not a cop.. I’m not a lawyer or judge dredd. I’m a person that isn’t trying to paint this asshole a pretty picture and lay it down like it should be. Sad thing is… you call his actions social activism… Did you live through Vietnam? That was social activism. Going to burning man and burning a wood figure is not activism. It’s a childish moronic prank in bad taste that could have killed people. Artistic my ass! STUPID IS WHAT IT IS

  51. I walked right by when a group with tanks on their backs and space suites (average scene at BM) started climbing up the man. From having read the signs on the way in (burn the man on Monday), the fact that it was a lunar eclipse that night and all other pranks around BM I just thought this was another stunt put on by Borg. It was really his man to burn, but do we really need to send someone to prison for it.

  52. This is an interesting story.

    Off the bat sincere condolences to friends and family of Paul. Suicide is a tragedy irrespective of the circumstances.

    Based on the video and what I’ve read I strongly agree with Adam, I think Porter doesn’t have the appropriate level of insight to deliver an accurate comment. But freedom of speech rules I guess.

    I went to BM for the first time this year and was blown away by the amazing experience I had. I realised if my mind set was ‘freer’ then that experience could have been enhanced exponentially, no drugs, or alcohol necessary.

    I applaud anyone involved in this event in the early days, and now, and I don’t think there should be segregation and any form of ‘snob-ism’ as a result. All burners are equal. However, respect to those who came before.

    The organisation definitely should have intervened in the prosecution, upholding what the festival is all about, and ensured that Paul was held responsible, however jail time is a stretch, purely based of the principals and creed of the festival. Had Paul purely received a ‘slap on the wrist’ which was what should have happened, then probably his suicide may never have happened. But that’s life I guess. Sad story.

  53. He was a self-deluded liar – he made NO effort to clear the Man area before lighting it on fire. He had NO “team”. Pitiful that some of you believe his lies and make him out to be a hero. He wasn’t even a participant – he hadn’t been to the event in years or contributed anything; all he was capable of was destruction of other people’s work. Ultimately he had to destroy his own life. Truly a living piece of nihilism. If that is heroic to you, please keep your distance from me.

  54. I want to add, reading the many heartless comments here, make me really wonder about the BM ‘community’- the tone of cruel indifference is even more sober then Paul’s death – I want to be clear – I do not blame anyone for Paul’s death, that was in his hands, and yes I do think the felony charges where too much, clearly BM would have know that would cost Paul his ability to practice law – and the strong thread of unkindness on this page sadly seems to speak more about the BM community then Paul’s acts –

    • I have to agree, Jessica. “Tone of cruel indifference” is hitting the nail on the head. People who are outraged by what Addis supposedly took away from them by torching the Man early? That’s insane; it’s not even a First-World problem. What was taken away from them, exactly? And if that’s a valid gripe (it sure the hell isn’t), then what about all the OTHER people for whom seeing the Man burn early was value added? I guess they don’t count either. . . maybe they should all be rounded up and sent to prison too?

      Our community is seriously ill, and these comments to the effect that what Addis did had no meaning beyond mere property damage, and that he got what he deserved, are a glaring symptom. Some of these people have been coming to Burning Man for years without once gaining any insight into why it was so good to go there in the first place. It’s depressing to say the least, and when I ponder the fact that they value a BUNDLE OF FUCKING STICKS above a man’s liberty, livelihood, and very life, it makes me ashamed to be among them.

      • “Our community is seriously ill”

        Yet some idiot who burns art isn’t? your priorities are out of whack.

        “It’s depressing to say the least, and when I ponder the fact that they value a BUNDLE OF FUCKING STICKS above a man’s liberty”

        Question, have you ever volunteered for DPW? Have you ever got off your butt, and worked in the dust and the heat to build the man base or the man? That “Bundle of Sticks” is art. It also has drops of blood and sweat from the volunteers who worked so hard to build it.

        Yet… to you its just a “Bundle of sticks” Are you even a Burner?

      • You do know he lit the man while people were still on it right? Two people ended up burned & had to jump off just to survive. The guy got what he deserved.

      • What two people? In all the delving into this incident that I’ve done, I have never until today heard ANYTHING about anyone being hurt. I think it’s bullshit. Back it up or back off.

      • In the video attached to this article, you can see Addis on the Man, lighting it up. . . and you can’t see anyone else up there.

        I think this story about two people jumping is a lie meant to distract and to excuse the Org from their massive over-reaction. Back it up or back off of it.

      • It’s about the city, not the man. I’m a burner because of Black Rock City, not the man. The citizens create the thriving unexpected delights, not the man. Addis did this for the city.

        I don’t agree with *lots* of things that people do for the city, and (to be perfectly honest) at the time I didn’t agree with this one. But over time, I have come to love the city more, and the man less. Sure, it’s a nice show, but it’s not why I go. Not by a long shot.

        This was some real bullshit right here.

    • This community has largely become the thing it’s creation protested against. Closed-minded, judgey, blame throwers with a clearly marked agenda of sameness. Blech.

  55. just so so sad 🙁 on so many levels – blessings on this Paul’s family – I am so sorry sad that the outcome of his ‘art protest’ led to his suicide – and of course he had anger in his tone regarding the actual court procedure and what followed – to loss his capacity to practice law – to have loved BM as a place to support his love of free speech – the whole thing is very very sober and sadly I am not sure anyone in the BM organization have gained any human insight on the totality of the whole BM meme –

  56. This reminds me of the arrogance of some of the folks that lit up buildings in the 60’s. They were sure that no one could be hurt…that their planning would be perfect and so great…that no injury could ever possibly happen. That said, sometimes people died. Even Paul speaks about after he started the fire how the RANGERS were screwed up because they had not cleared some of the stoner/trippers. Not a prank…..

  57. I thought it was so ironic that they went after him so hard even though the whole thing started out as a renegade party…. he might have not been the sharpest tool in the shed, clouded by his viewpoints, but he has a point for all of the sheeple that suck on the BM corporate teat.

  58. Cant really respect his final decision, but I certainly respect his burning of the man. It is the ballsiest, most anarchistic, most provocative thing I’ve ever seen out there… fuck safety, fuck order, fuck property, fuck structure, fuck ritual, fuck idolatry, fuck you, and fuck your burn… a slap in the face of everything stale and predictable… genius

    • absolutely. Could it have been done safer? Maybe – i don’t know I wasn’t there, but I do differ from most participants in that safety is never third for me, it’s always first. No reports of injury, other than heresy on this thread, could lead one to think that safety was also important to Paul.
      Bloody ballsy genius with regards to “screw the man” anarchy though! I find it sad that more people can’t see it for that. For all the people feeling “robbed” because they missed the man burn – would they have felt better if they happened to stumble upon the early burn? Did you feel all warm and fuzzy watching the “Home Depot” version burn at the regularly programmed time slot? And really – is watching the man burn the only reason why you go? Seems like a lot of money to spend on watching some fireworks and pyrotechnics! But then a lot of people bitched about the temple burning early this year .. to hell with the fact it was burned early because of thoughts of safety surrounding exodus and the storms a brewing! (tsk screw safety if it messes up your plans right?!)
      One of the 10 principles is radical self-expression, in it’s truest form what Paul did would definitely meet that principle, but I guess radical self-expression only works if it meets the guidelines set out by another? err.. ? My friend was actually “reprimanded” at the man this year for writing on it. uh what? Ok guess her expression was out of the fine print rule book too.
      There were a LOT of grimaces this year by participants about increased law enforcement. Participants saying we should be “law free” so we can express. Are these also the participants ready to lead the witch hunt on the “wrongness” of Paul’s actions? First in line to say he got what he deserved?! Jail time – he broke the law! Ridiculous. People will always see a situation to suit their purpose. I don’t think Paul’s intention was malicious, I believe it was about art – radical expression. But who am I? Just a participant. Irony in deed in how the radical free thinking pranksters who started the wonderful concept of BM have become one of the corporations they initially despised. Burn the man?!

    • The man isn’t a piece of art created and owned by some other artist.The man is created by and owned by the Burning Man corporation.

      Paul Addis took a page right out of Fight Club, and destroyed a piece of Corporate Art.

      I can respect people on either side of the issue here, but at minimum we all should agree that his act was full of symbolism.

  59. I was there that year and my heart leapt with delight as news swept the playa that someone had set fire to the man. ‘Now we’re talking….’
    Of course rational thought and arguments from all sides can be presented, but my default feeling is still glee.
    Whatsblem the Pro, I’m hearing you.

  60. It’s really interesting to hear his perspective, however, I do not condone and cannot ever agree that what he did was in any way acceptable. I’m all for pranks, surprises and radical self-expression but as we all know these should not come at the expense of others. By burning the man early Paul had a huge knock on effect on literally dozens of other participants. This is because the man had to be rebuilt ready for Saturday, and to do that the crew who had worked so hard to design and build the man ready for the event had to give up their time and work their socks off to do it all over again. Power was pulled from areas of the city and used for building, journeys to Reno were made to collect supplies and countless others contributed by joining man watch etc.

    I’m very saddened to hear he took his own life, he clearly had demons and his interpretation of Burning Man was that it was all about bucking the status quo and pushing boundaries which goes hand in hand with that view. Burning Man changes radically every year, boundaries are pushed and there are still far too many surprises to list. But when you negatively impact as many people as Paul did you have to expect a response which I believe was maybe a bit harsh, but totally understandable as you cannot have somebody trying to torch the man(or something else!) early every year if only a rap on the knuckles was due afterwards!

    RIP Paul, you have gone down in the annals of Burning Man history, and I for one will never forget my first ever evening at that thing in the desert – it was the night of the lunar eclipse…oh, and the night the man burned early.

    • Your use of the phrases “negatively impact” and “at the expense of others” is absurd. What exactly did he take away from anyone? Oh, some people with an overly-exaggerated sense of the sacred had to witness their sacred wazoo burning early? Boo hoo. Oh, the Org had to rebuild the Man on short notice? No they didn’t. What terrible fate would have befallen us all if they hadn’t rebuilt the thing? Compare that with the terrible fate that did befall Paul Addis — imprisonment, castigation, loss of livelihood, and ultimate despair — for no other reason than that the Org had a hard-on for him, refusing offers of free materials and going out of their way to present (padded) receipts to the DA.

      What it adds up to is that you’re a heartless fool who values things over people.

      • Whatsblem the Pro-blem? Your axe to grind with this whole bm thing seems a bit colored in way that isn’t clear, like the whole world is going to pot or something, lol. Well, that’s a whole nother can of worms.

        I went out to the man on Monday eve, before Pauls “prank” and had a wonderful experience with a very cool art piece that was subsequently destroyed by his act, not many people got the chance to experience… the man had a beating heart in him and there was a little podium that you could stand on off to the side that when you put your hands on it, the mans heart beat to your pulse. A very cool interactive experiential art piece that was taken away… (there were others as well). All in all, the rebuilding created a cool art experience too, watching the rebuilding right under the pavilion.

        The org didn’t rebuild the man, the builders made that call. I heard the rush, custom neon bill from Reno was over $7000 alone. Your allegations that the bm org “padded” costs is based on what? Paul made a fucked up choice, seems his ego got the best of him, that’s what got him a jail sentence. It would seem as a lawyer he might have been aware of the likely consequences.

        Also, I’m pretty sure Paul had already stopped practicing law and was moving toward an acting career, that his bar licence had already expired. This act sure brought him a lot more fame. When I saw him afterwards, I asked him if it was worth it, he evaded the question, it was my impression that it wasn’t. I find it sad, all the people that supported his act, but were not interested in sharing his fall. So easy to blame the ‘ogre’ instead.

        Maybe my art piece next year will be a giant burning “Whatthefuckever” word sculpture. I’ll put out a lottery to pick people to burn each letter early. In memorial for PA.

  61. I love the comments. Lots of people telling other people how to interpret self inclusion and art through long winded examples of how ‘burner they are.

    I feel for this dude but we wil never know how a troubled mind works.

  62. Whatsblem the Pro, Kylala THANK YOU for posting your words. I began going to the playa the same year, 97′ I only knew of Paul Addis from hearing other people speak of how “against the grain” he was. I was a virgin, I didn’t know it was also his first year and so assumed he was part of the “scary” drive by shooter people I had heard of, everyone told me “read the back of your ticket” you could DIE out there. YES! it nearly stopped me from going, I didn’t wanna die in some gawd forsaken hellhole desert in the middle of nowhere Nevada, BUT the desire to experience THIS THING was greater…. and so for MANY MANY years we have gone… and YES!! we waited, and we waited, for SOMETHING radical to happen, the shooting range was gone, people began talking about Juplaya being the way the OLD DAYS were, I met some of the “cool and scary” people and decided it had become watered down, but I thought only because the amount of people had grown so large, crowd control with 4 thou is not so bad, crowd control with 9 thou isn’t so bad, but when you reach 30,000 its gets a little more difficult… BUT STILL,, read the back of your ticket, do we want someone to die out there NO!, has it happened, YES…. but where did the “Radical self expression go” now we have so many people if ANYONE tried anything “RADICAL” they would be hauled off to jail. ya cant crowd control 70,000 people… its not possible… but yet we ALL still wait for something to happen like the night Addis did what we ALL someday would hope would happen, HE did something radical…. I don’t know who is telling the TRUE story, I only know that for me I CHEERED HIS ACTIONS…. for once someone did something we all heard talked about but never happened… I am grateful no one was injured. that year in 97, My First, the entire playa was on fire, what a sight to see, we walked from fire to fire, it was amazing. now everything is so controlled, BUT, NOW we have 70,000 people and cant safely unleash radical expression someone could die, Lots of someones….. I don’t know what Addis had going on inside his head, his video seemed pretty to the point, and like he had put some trust in people to have his back and they sold him out or weren’t there when the time came for the early burn to happen…. that’s sad to me, where were his people that were suppose to be there, BUT he went ahead and did it anyway…. Gotta say, took balls to do what he did…. and maybe he was a little crazy and maybe he wanted to get in the orgs face, but FINALLY something RADICAL did happen, The man crew worked their asses off to rebuild the man, I know some of the people that were on the crew, Happy or not the word was WOW! someone actually did it after all the talk. and some of us Cheered the radical self expression, I was one of them… Hope ya found peace Addis.. you must have been a restless spirit in a confined soul….. but no one will ever forget the night the man burned early with the beautiful big bright full moon as the backdrop………

  63. In my opinion, you don’t burn art that belongs to other people, that’s a very important tenet of Burning Man. He had no right to take away the experience of thousands of other people. I honestly believe it was more about his own ego than any need to “reclaim Burning Man”. If you want to reclaim Burning Man, you create, you don’t destroy. Make your own subversive art and burn it, don’t destroy someone else’s. The Man belongs to all of us, not just him. I arrived on Wednesday morning that year, and it was sad to not be greeted by the Man as we approached the city.

    And more importantly, people could have been seriously hurt or killed and it’s a miracle they were not. I understand the ethos of Cacophony. I understand pranks, I understand surprise. But no prank is worth putting lives at risk. We don’t burn things with fire teams and Rangers present for a reason. No burn ever more important than the human lights that surround it. Risking lives the way that he did absolutely should be a felony. He has no one to blame but himself.

    And inferring blame on the BMorg for his suicide is beyond sickening. I have my problems with the BMorg, to be sure, but this isn’t one of them, regardless of whether the charges against him were initiated by them or not. I’m sorry for him, for his friends and family that he’s gone. But the only person that is responsible for Paul Addis’s suicide is Paul Addis.

  64. What sort of twisted, self-absorbed piece of shit thinks it might be a good idea to impose his infantile fantasy on tens of thousands of revelers there all behaving themselves in a civilized manner?

    • The kind who actually understood what was going on out there, unlike yourself. . . that’s what kind.

      • No one person has a lock on “what’s going on out there” – what Burning Man is. Burning Man may be one thing to you, but it’s something completely different to every other person. There’s nothing to “get” about putting people’s lives at risk.

  65. I’m a firm believer in breaking the rules, I’m also a firm believer in knowing ALL the consequences of said action. I have this odd habit of asking permission to break the rules, usually in a manner which benefits the party I’m asking or at a minimum the object of my prank is returned to 110% condition.

    His stunt could have possibly, not likely, but possibly been done with the permission of the org, provided that he paid for and had 100% ready an exact replica of the man and base to have up as soon as the embers were cool.

    As he did it, he left others to clean up his mischief moop. I learned long ago ’tis far better to ask permission than forgiveness. Self Expression and Immediacy don’t mean spontaneity, careful planning, the right channels, the correct hands greased, and maximum secrecy around his plot the results would have been vastly different.

    Potentially put lives at risk, cost others money, leave others to repair your damage; you’re not going to be met with kindness on the other end of your stunt.

    As far as his stunt goes, I see his point. The flaw was not asking permission with a bonified plan for full safety and replacement,

    As to the man, his character, his state of mind, that is 2 years before my time in the Burner community so I cannot speak to that. His demeanor in the video has tones of anger and bitterness prior to the early-burn stunt. Are those because of the results or was he honestly bitter against the org at the time of the stunt? Again I did not know the man and cannot say, but they are legitimate questions to ask.

    It is not cool to destroy the work of others, now to ask those very people to allow you to destroy their work in an epic display of bravado and showmanship; they might just say, “Cool idea, lets go with it.”

    • The poor reporting was in the article you linked us to, Spike. . . the article I wrote contains a link to an older article here at that does cover, in depth, what you’re asking about. . . you just didn’t look.

      Addis was carrying a small amount of leftover fireworks at Grace Cathedral, a massive stone edifice that even the police said couldn’t possibly be harmed by anything he had on him. The whole “ZOMG he tried to blow up a church” meme was the result of a self-fulfilling prophecy: Addis wouldn’t have had any trouble with the police at all at Grace Cathedral if he hadn’t been out on bail for torching the Man early. . . yet people like you point to the Grace Cathedral incident as though it’s some kind of proof that he was all about the arson.

  66. It is unfortunate that an event, an act of rebellion, resulted in such fines for this person. That was the only year I went and I actually loved it. I am sorry that those peoples hard work was ruined, yet If compared to the self inflicted damage of this person, I would wish that he had been reprimanded much less. Would you take a couple hour stage show over your fellow humans life? (his actual mode of living, not his death) The severe reaction showed to me what a joke Burning man is,
    beautiful, magical, dirty, ugly, yet stunning for sure, but a joke none the less. How important is a bundle of sticks? Or a stage show?

    My condolences to his loved ones.

  67. The thing that bothers me is that he displays zero culpability and basically goes on to claim that he was the victim in all of this because they didn’t let him off.

    I don’t really see the art in burning the man early. I’m not a square, I just don’t see it. I don’t go to MOMA and paint on the walls even though it’s a museum full of paintings and then balk at the authorities for being over zealous when I’m detained.

    It’s too juvenile of a stunt to be considered even remotely clever.

    • If you think Burning Man == MOMA (especially Burning Man in the wilder, woolier past), then yes, you are a square.

    • Good point. If he wanted to make a statement he should’ve just done it with a spray can or thirty . Less dangerous to others. i think we should burn a man at eclipses, in memory of Saint Paul

  68. Can we please not blame anyone for his death? You can argue about whether his sentence was appropriate, or whether the BM crew should have stepped in to reduce it, but HE and only HE decided to end his life. HE decided to do something at BM that he knew could have bad consequences for himself. If that was in any way related to his suicide, which we can’t really know (because it could have been related to something else going on in his life) it still doesn’t allow anybody to blame anyone else for his death. Nobody made him jump. Lots of people go through rough times and don’t kill themselves.

  69. If it was my Man, that I built, I’d be pissed. However, as a born believer in “rules are meant to be broken,” and a regular user of radial self expression, I can only give Paul a high five. Furthermore, if the guy was battling inner demons enough to push him to his own death, then bless is soul… for I also know how that is.

    • Fact? No. Bald assertion? Yes. It seems from the statement by his ex that “megalomaniacal narcissist” most certainly didn’t describe him. No “megalomaniacal narcissist” does huge favors for other people…strangers…

  70. While I admit there’s a lot of valid controversy to be hashed out over Paul Addis, his actions at Burning Man ’07, and his death, I can’t help but think that people who couch this in terms of destruction of property and nothing more have zero grasp on where Burning Man came from, what it all means (or meant, before it was commodified by the LLC), and why it became so popular in the first place.

    • For a lot of people Burning Man is a blank canvas where you can come up with an amazing concept, work on it all year, and build it on the playa. There are thousands of artists, them camp managers, and art car owners who spend 11 months of the year and their own money and sweat (and that of their friends) to build something awesome to share with others for a week on the playa.

      Someone who contributes nothing other than destruction of others people hard work is known as … A DICK. Paul Addis was a DICK.

      • Gee, Porter, you talk about it like it’s just a museum or something, with no meaning to it at all other than as a place to display art.

        I’m not saying Addis was right, but why are you so willfully blind to the arguments he made? A lot of people thought that what he did was not just OK, but NECESSARY. Many feel that he made an excellent point about the nature of the event and where it was headed as opposed to where it came from, but you completely ignore that in favor of dismissively name-calling the dead. Seriously? Stay classy, Porter.

      • You sound like the dick, Porter, much more than Addis. Your infantile attachment to PROPERTY PROPERTY PROPERTY and your blind eye to the very real meaning behind what Addis did make you a fucker who thinks a bundle of goddamn sticks is more important than not just a man’s life, but than an entire culture.

  71. Come on Jay. It was classic performance art completely in the spirit of Burning Man, only the Kingdom didn’t like it because it spoiled their show. And so it was off with his head. I get the despair he must have felt in going to prison and losing his career. But I do agree he had demons and no one is to blame for his death. What he really should have done is come back and do it again! The Saturday night spectacle is a predictable Super Bowl halftime show now.

      • Why does Porter Venn get to decide what the event is, or isn’t? Why does Porter Venn get to decide that a man’s entire life — and the concept of ‘radical inclusion’ — can be thrown in the trash and utterly discounted as valueless simply because he considers that man’s actions unacceptable?

        By the way, Porter. . . “the work of total strangers” is just bullshit, as far as the “total strangers” part goes. Seriously, what the hell do you know? Seriously, why is PROPERTY more important to you than life? Seriously, what makes you think you’re such a mega-uber-burner when you clearly don’t understand the first thing about what happened in 2007 or before?

      • Destroying art is not itself art.

        It can be considered a prank.

        A shitty prank.

        Similar to the “prank” of putting ex-lax in someone’s food, or throwing nails on the bike path.

        If Paul Addis could have done anything more egotistic then suicide by subway, he would have.

        There are better ways to express your feelings.

  72. It is amazing how people will re-write history to soothe their egos or reinforce their misguided point. I will not or cannot speak to all of his fallacies. I did witness that the Black Rock Rangers pulled the people out from under the structure while Addis ran away from the fire, immediately after zipping down the guy-line. He did not go back to pull anyone out from under the structure. Makes me suspect that most of the other accusations are also BS. Screwing with other people’s art is not condoned as part of Burning Man, nor should it be. Want to destroy a piece of art? Build it yourself.

    • Did he actually claim he helped people get out? I know for a fact that he didn’t, I was there, I saw the idiot run towards me (towards 9 oclock) and get tackled to the ground by law enforcement and/or rangers soon after the coward lit the man on fire.

  73. Paul Addis was a selfish douchebag who had no qualms about destroying the hard work of others. A lot of work goes into building both the man, and the man base, and in 2007, the artwork that that got ruined in the pavilion under the man. But did Paul care? nahhh… that was someone else’s problem, all under the guise of “anyone should be able to burn the man!”

    While his suicide is tragic, his actions were no different than a child bully stomping on the sand castles of other children’s creations at the beach. Fellow Human? yes. Fellow Burner? no way.

    • Porter,

      Paul Addis and I spent years at the event before you ever heard of it. The 10 principles were born based on the actions of people who were at the event those first years in the desert. And almost all of us old timers at least one time joked about burning the man. Paul Addis was just the one guy with the balls to do so.

      Despite “radical self-expression” being listed as one of the 10 principles, Paul’s self-expression was simply too radical for you and many other of today’s attendees. I think many of the newer attendees have forgotten, or never knew, what “radical” means. Paul understood the word.

      If something’s “radical”, it’s a significant departure from norms — not everyone is going to like it, understand it, or be able to accept it.

      Oh… and you didn’t show up until sometime in the 2000s. I don’t think you’re in a real place to judge who a “burner” is and isn’t: e.g. Joining the event after Cosmo Magazine listed it as a “hip” event, and wearing the same faux-fur boots as everyone else isn’t a radical act of anything. Are those people “burners”?

      Paul’s actions should have been dealt with somehow — but it’s shameful that the Org help put a burner in jail with a felony for an art act which many of us old-timers including at least some Org members supported.

      • Finally, some proper perspective on this bizarre incident. That is not to say I support what happened, simply that there is clearly more to this story than getting angry at the wilful destruction of “public” property. Thank you for shedding more light on this.

      • Bravo Adam. well said…. wish I could articulate it as well…. we may never see another act of radical self expression…. it’s become an event of “this is MINE” and look but dont touch. enjoy the art from a distance. I am not saying destroy someone elses art. But seriously, I thought the Man was for EVERYONE in the community, now we are being told DONT write on it Dont Climb it unless we direct you in how to climb it, WOW, times have changed…. I recall when art was brought out there and the artists wanted people to interact with it and mark it and at the end it was burned or hauled back home. either way things are different and if you were there before 2000 you experienced a different attitude towards the art and the activities and even the man, It changed when they removed the man from the people, when he was still on haybales and we pulled him up with big ropes we felt a closer connection, now we are and the man is removed from the people. we go to visit but are told NOT to mark it or interact with him…. the best I can say is at one time a radically self expressed action caught the attention of a playa full of people, some agreed, some didnt, but we will ALL remember it……

      • Adam, so what qualifies as a Burner in your mind? Someone who was there before the 2000’s? I’ve gone 14 years in a row, I guess I still haven’t earned my stripes?

        Were you at the first burn on Baker beach in 1986? no… wow.. .guess you’re not a “REAL” burner then and just can’t relate.

        Give me a fucking break. Burning Man is in the moment, 1986, 1992, 20057 2013, are all separate events that happen for the people who are at those events in those particular years. PERIOD. There is no static culture, on the playa or anywhere else. So Burning Man 2007 wasn’t what Paul Addis thought it should have been.. BOOO..FUCKING…HOOO.

        Willfully destroying other peoples art makes you a DICK, doesn’t matter if you’re doing it on the playa or anywhere else, it makes you a selfish DICK, and that’s what Paul Addis was, a DICK. Everything that happened afterwards was of his own doing. His whining diatribe in that video is just another douchebag who doesn’t want to take any personal responsibility for their own actions.

      • Porter,

        Calling a dead man a DICK once it’s a bit distasteful. If you keep repeating it, you look like the dick.

        As for who I think is a burner. Remember that “radical inclusion” thing? That word “radical” again.

        If someone thinks they’re a burner, they’re a burner to me.

      • Did you really compare Paul Addis to Hitler? Attending for the last 14 years only means that you’re capable of packing up your shit for a week and living in the desert. It does not make you a good person.

      • Reading comprehension problems?

        I said “Just because you die, it doesn’t take away your DICK credentials, Ask Hitler”

        Never said Addiss = Hitler. I said Dicks are Dicks, whether alive or dead. Did that just… fly over your head?

  74. This whole speech of his is just him trying to justify his actions. Burning Man is artistic and advocates free speech and self-awareness, but it absolutely does not advocate destroying other people’s property. He can call the burners names all he wants, which he does repeatedly throughout the video, but the fact still remains that he destroyed the property and was guilty of arson and destruction of property.

    He could preach about principles all he wanted, it still doesn’t justify what he did. He claimed “safety first” and that he put his own life on the line to pull off this stunt, but if he was truly concerned about safety, he would have never done such a thing in the first place. He places blame back onto the policing forces for not doing anything or moving people, when in reality they probably had little clue as to what was about to happen seeing has the fire had hardly begun.

    We don’t know what his demons were. We don’t know what led him to commit suicide either, but victimizing him while he looked down his nose at the Burning Man committee/organization does not do any justification whatsoever to either party in this matter. All we know is that it happened. Playing the blame game isn’t beneficial to anyone and it seemingly screams complete denial on his part. I am sad to hear that he is gone, but not one single person can lay blame onto the BM organization for his suicide or the consequences of his previous actions.

  75. “those who hold the keys to our kingdom” ??? really, after all you have learned about Burning Man, you still think someone else has any control over your kingdom?

    The entire experience is about self-awareness. The kingdom is inside yourself. It is unfortunate that this man is no longer with us, but from my vantage point, the article is written with a victimized tone, as if someone, anyone else might be to blame for how a person feels inside. No one pushed him. It was his own demons which he was ill-equipped to remove which killed him. We cannot blame anyone, including him. It simply IS, and it’s best to learn from it.

    • Jay, when you set all that nonsense you wrote about “self-awareness” aside, there’s still a gate, a fence, and tickets. Blow your New Age bong smoke up someone else’s ass, please.

      • Thank you for this much sought side Whatsblem. I am ashamed now, to be so callous and ignorant in 2007. Myself, I missed the whole thing, and only heard the gleeful excited “it was so beautiful, I was looking at the eclipse and then the man- burning, and back again, it was poetic and beautiful.” A camp mate was air lifted out that night and I getting a very special 1mile over the limit speeding ticket going to the Hospital to collect him at the time of the burn. I heard the stories and saw the picture of “the Arsonist” later, I judged him privately, and I was wrong. It is a bitter pill to swallow. & No, nothing has happened since 2007 No cacophonist society stunts such as that. RIP Addis, be Free

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