76 Days and Counting

June 19, 2011

The continuation of my virgin Burning Man essay . . . .

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I first heard about Burning Man from Andy.  He was the first customer turned friend I made at the Cleveland International Film Festival where I worked in the box office.  He was shorter than me by about two inches and bald, a geologist who’s passion was climbing mountains around the world.  I was enamored by him and since he’d bought the type of pass that would allow him to see any film any day, I knew I’d see him often.  Whenever I had the chance, I snagged him from the crowd to ask him what he’d just seen.

We were standing in the midst of a crowd, chatting about Battle Royale, a Japanese film in which a group of students are kidnapped and sent to an island as part of a reformation program.  Each child has an electric exploding collar fixed around their necks, detonating when they are in a marked zone.  They are given basic supplies and a weapon and must fight until only one child is left.  Somehow Burning Man made his appearance in the midst of our survival-of-the-fittest discussion and from then on I could not forget about him.

The festival’s roots are attributed to two tradesmen, Larry Harvey and Jerry James, when in 1986 they built and burned a wooden man on a beach stretching south of the Golden Gate Bridge.  The real story began with artist Mary Grauberger, a friend of Harvey’s girlfriend who held ritualistic burnings of art structures on the same beach.  Her name is oddly omitted from the official burning man website.  Did she request this oversight?  Want to remain nameless for the sake of art?  Or was Harvey so emaciated with attention he claimed it for his own?  This type of outdated selfishness would not fit Burning Man’s current connotations of community and transient artistic expression.

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7 Responses to “76 Days and Counting”


  1. […] 1    Part 2     Part 3     Part 4     Part 5     Part […]


  2. […] 1    Part 2     Part 3     Part 4     Part 5     Part […]

  3. Toddage Says:

    Interesting… I did not know such a story.


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