Burning the Man - Page 3

Paul Addis, fresh from a prison stint for attacking Burning Man's icon, returns to a San Francisco stage

But those who run the event didn't buy into Addis' narrative. Instead, they ordered new materials to have the Man rebuilt and burned on schedule. And when it came time to testify at his sentencing hearing a year later, they sent LLC board member Will Roger and a tally for replacement costs that greatly exceeded the $5,000 level that bumped the charges up to a felony.

"They didn't have to do this," Addis said. "Instead, they decided to deliberately take action they knew would send me to prison."

Burning Man spokesperson Marian Goodell wouldn't discuss the charge. "It doesn't do us or him any good to open that wound again."

But an internal memo written by Executive Project Manager Ray Allen shortly after the hearing argued that they were required to respond honestly to requests for information from prosecutors and to do otherwise would have required perjury on behalf of an adversary.

"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," Allen wrote to Burning Man employees.

Many of those employees remain profoundly offended by Addis and his act, mostly for the extra work it caused and the principle of such a selfish gesture. "The basic ethos out there is build your own stuff, burn your own stuff," said Andy Moore, a.k.a. Bruiser, an employee since 2001 who helps build the city. "How would you have felt if he went to your house and burned it down because he didn't like you?"

Yet as viscerally angry as Moore can still get when speaking of Addis, he also agreed that two years is a long prison term for this. "It seems a bit over the top. After all, it was a structure made of wood that was meant to burn."

But Addis said that he has let go of the bitterness he felt toward Burning Man and is looking forward to being back on stage, something that he said was his main focus in prison. "It's a brand new life, and I've got all this potential," Addis said. "And I want to make the most out of it."