After the ’07 burn, and Afterburn ’07: news from BMHQ

Several pieces of news and info for you on this June afternoon – the 2007 Afterburn Report, the latest info on the arson, and a few notes from around BMHQ.

Yes, the 2007 Afterburn report is ready for the world! This comprehensive post-burn report is our annual soup-to-nuts rollup of everything it took to make Burning Man in the previous year, and the 2007 report is fresh from the oven and linked at

With dozens of teams reporting, plus the annual Census results, we hope this report helps to answer the question, “What do those Burning Man staff and volunteers actually do, anyway?” and gives you some insight into the inner workings of your other “hometown” in Black Rock City.

Indeed, if you’ve ever wondered why the Placement team made the blocks smaller last year, what the Earth Guardians do year-round, or what percentage of Census respondents really do say that Black Rock CIty “feels like home” to them, check it out.

In other post-2007 news, we’ve heard a report from Pershing County, where Paul Addis’s restitution hearing and sentencing were held yesterday afternoon. Addis recently pled guilty to charges related to setting fire to the Burning Man figure days early at last year’s event. At yesterday’s hearing, the judge found evidence beyond a reasonable doubt showing the damages were in excess of $5,000 and thus Addis was convicted of a felony arson charge. After hearing Addis speak on his own behalf, the judge sentenced him to 12-48 months in prison and ordered him to pay $25,000 in restitution. (EDITOR’S NOTE: the preceding paragraph has been updated to add corrected information on the exact charge to which Mr. Addis pleaded.)

We’re also told that our three staff members who are at Glastonbury in the UK are studying their infrastructure and operations and planning to send back a report from the field soon for the Blog, so stay tuned here for that. The population numbers at Glasters make BRC look downright small-town by comparison, so we just bet they’re going to learn a thing or two from their organization, and it’s always interesting to hear about how many Burners our folks run into at other events (see also the Bonnaroo stories from earlier this week). Meanwhile, around here at HQ, the Survival Guide stuffing begins tomorrow, which means yours will be on its way soon. Wow, right? We’re really getting there!

Hope you’re loving the new blog. We’re loving you loving it, and thanks for all your comments! We’re enjoying hearing from you all, truly truly. (BTW, if you haven’t commented yet, you might want to visit our Comments policy and check that out in case you’d ever like to leave a little note on any of our posts.)

About the author: Andie Grace

Andie Grace

Andie Grace returned to the staff of Burning Man in 2019 as a producer of strategic storytelling content. During her original tenure at BMHQ from 2000-2013, she was a member of the Executive Committee, managed the Communications Department, and helped oversee the early development of the Regional Network. During her seven-year hiatus, she co-founded an indie film distribution label, an indie video game label, and a creative coworking hub in Silicon Valley, but ultimately her passion for Burning Man and its cultural future pulled her back to the staff of the Project. She lives with her family in Berkeley, California.

19 Comments on “After the ’07 burn, and Afterburn ’07: news from BMHQ

  • Dodger says:

    Andie, does the org have a comment on Paul’s sentencing?

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  • jonathan says:

    I’m also interested in the org’s thoughts on Paul’s sentencing. Did the org participate in the prosecution? Did you feel conflicted about it?

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  • Smoke says:

    Well, as one of the little guys that stayed up way too late to rebuild the man, I am satisfied with the arsonist’s sentence. 1 to 4 years in the federal hole is a lot worse then working on the man for a couple of nights.
    Not to mention coughing up 25K.
    Perhaps we should nominate him for sainthood. Just imagine: St. Addis, patron of the delusional.

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  • Steven Young says:

    As a frequent festival-goer I’m surprised that someone is going to spend up to four years in prison for what was essentially a prank.
    Was there $25000 in damages?
    How much were the damages to the festival for this prank?
    Does the restitution and sentence seem fair or does it seem excessive?

    Maybe I don’t know enough about what happened but on the face of it the sentence seems harsh with respect to the harm caused.

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  • Meg says:

    I don’t understand. How is it arson when it was slated to burn anyway?

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  • daMomgolian says:

    Hey Meg,

    This morning you woke up and made yourself a really delicious sandwich for lunch and are really looking forward to enjoying it on your lunch break.

    I’m a co-worker of yours and I just found your tasty lunch in the fridge here at work and I’m eating it now. Thanks!! it WAS tasty!

    Did I just steal your sandwich? It was scheduled to be eaten anyway….

    Yes the early burn was a prank or if you prefer, an artistic statment but it was also arson and against the law. Laws which do have effect in BRC.

    btw these opinions are my own and do not represent the Black Rock City LLC, the Black Rock Rangers or anyone else.

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  • jdj says:

    @daMomgolian: your analogy is all wrong. A better one would be: you are planning on throwing away a piece of trash in garbage bin, but somebody picks it up before you do and proceeds to… throw it into a garbage bin. Would you charge that person with theft?

    Plus, I fail to see how it’s arson to burn the burning man one day, but *not* arson to burn it a few days later. A couple-days’ discrepancy doesn’t seem to add up to up to four years in prison.

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  • daMongolian says:

    @jdj I still respectfully disagree….it is a perfect analogy.

    As long as I’ve been going to the event (2001) I recall that one of the tenets was to respect the art of others….it is certainly one as of last year…as documented by last years survival guide (look quick before it’s updated with this years)

    take a look at #5 Fire Guidelines “Respect artwork. If artwork is to be burned, ONLY the artist who created it may ignite it. ”

    Now, I recognize and respect that it probably was not always like this, or at the very least not something that was verbally said and put into print. But…that’s the way it is NOW.

    Sure, I’ll buy that Mr. Addis actions may have been his art, in protest of how the event has evolved and the state that it is now in. But, the fact remains that both by definition of Nevada Law, and also by the survival guide that man was not his to set aflame. I applaud that he executed his act (art) most successfully and picked the perfect night, the perfect time and the year the configuration of the structure to do so. But, it still remains, arson, it wasn’t his Man to burn, just as Meg’s mythical sandwich is not mine to eat. Just because something is art, it doesn’t mean it won’t have consequences.

    Same thing with civil disobedience….making a statement by getting arrested. If you’re not willing to get arrested, don’t make the statement.

    Since it was arson, and he was found to be the person responsible for it, there are consequences. Do they fit the crime? Maybe not, though in light of some of his other actions since the act with which we are primarily discussing, (Seattle desk clerks, SF Schoolkids/teachers and Grace Cathedral) I feel comfortable saying that I think he does need to spend some time away from the rest of us. Though, I don’t think the particular place he’s going to be spending his time, is going to get him the type of help he appears to need either; however that is still yet another debate and not this one.

    Again, these are all my views alone. (except of course the excerpt I copied from the SG)

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  • Canvas says:

    He got what he deserved. Enough of this hippie political correct shit. He set the man on fire, endangering nearby folks and he pissed all over a lot of peoples hard work.
    There seems to be a distinct lack of respect for the art lately. I was deeply saddened to see art being vandalized and tagged at BRC last year. For some of us, its ALL about the art.

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  • Martin says:

    Addis obviously needs help. Interpreting his actions as if they were merely disagreeable decisions made by a sane, stable person does not address the problem. It’s unfortunate that neither the legal system nor Addis himself seems able to negotiate this territory effectively.

    It’s very disappointing that Burning Man LLC, with all its creative brainpower and community spirit, is also unwilling to step in and recognize this as a mental health issue rather than a simple criminal act.

    The damage to the festival was real, though. Burning Man spends millions to orchestrate a grand and complex ritual, and the arson was a physical, financial and personal blow that affected many, many people. Some burners applied their cavalier attitude to the strange turn of events – but what else could they do? But they didn’t pay hundreds of dollars so the man could be burned before they got there, though.

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  • Al Billings says:

    Then there is the fact that people who were *underneath* the Man when he torched had to be rescued at the risk of others because they were not awake or aware. He could easily have killed someone with his “art” and he put people at risk *and* cost the org thousands of dollars (and quite a few manhours from volunteers) to rebuild the Man after his art.

    Sure sounds like arson to me. Maybe people would be happier if he’d managed to kill someone in the fire.

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  • Scott the Fabulous says:

    We have all heard the for and against for this clown. It all comes down to this. If people like this think that acts of vandalism are acts of art we are in bigger trouble than we know

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  • Iain says:

    It comes down to this.
    Burning Man is no longer counter culture.
    Burning man is no longer about radical self expression.
    Burning Man is part of the establishment.
    Expression shall be kept within non-radical limits – using law enforcement as necessary.
    Burning Man is now “The Man”

    We all new it was headed that way – now it’s gone all the way.
    The BORG proved Paul Addis’ point (even if he was somewhat crazy in making it)).
    Time to move on.


    Quote from Pershing County insider:
    > “BM had two opportunities to close this case with less flesh off Addis’
    > bones. They declined. In fact, they pushed hard for maximum
    > prosecution and maximum sentence. That’s what they got. Even some
    > people on the legal side were surprised at the level of BM’s
    > vengeance. They didn’t expect “the hippies” to behave that way.
    > The judge, as you might expect from a small town in conservative,
    > rural Nevada, was not interested in all the self-important “cultural”
    > arguments from either side, especially from Addis. In his statement at
    > the sentencing hearing he followed BM’s argument that they are running
    > a big business and that Addis caused severe damage to that business.
    > What it boiled down to was money, and BM’s testimony leaned heavily in
    > that direction. If they had gone a little easier in that regard Addis
    > probably would have gotten some jail time, but not four years and a felony rap.”

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  • wrybread says:

    Are these comments being moderated? If anyone here cares, there’s a much more balanced discussion here:

    Amidst the chatter at that link, a very interesting fact arose from someone who works in law enforcement in Nevada: was twice given the opportunity to go easy on Paul and have the charges minimized to something less than a felony. All they had to do was say the damage was less than $5k. Instead they showed up in court with possibly inflated receipts showing $30k.

    This person (he posted he posted his credentials at that link) says that the people at the court were surprised by how blood-thirsty the people at were for Paul’s prosecution.

    I’m not saying here whether I think Paul should or shouldn’t have gotten the sentence, only that I think it’s important for people to know that when says “we didn’t have anything to do with the sentence”, they’re not quite telling the truth.

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  • sunset says:

    the only news i’m looking for is that there will be an EXPRESS LANE for non-newbs at the greeter station….pleeeese?

    it just about kills me to make it all the way there, and then sit and crawl forward while the occupants of cars empty out and proceed to have their pics taken in all positions w/ the bell…then trade cameras and do it all over again and again and again. then next car and the next. i’m so close and yet so far. believe me, i’ve tried the cool down method…crack a beer, sit back and enjoy their glee. well, i’m all gleed out…what about it…EXPRESS LANE anyone???

    hey, i said pleeeese!

    just another gorgeous sunset

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  • Ghostrider says:

    I’m all about an “Express lane..seems that we had our day once but, with all the new directions at the burningman event one could be maybe, an express lane?”

    I support the idea of a “faster entrance for we folk coming home again.” Please….kiss kiss hug hug


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  • Tang says:

    Sunset and Ghostrider: I’ve been greeting on Monday afternoons for the last four years. Every year, we watch the newbie population grow, and grow in a manor that seems to be non-exponential. In other words, first timers used to show up mid or late week, but are now showing up early. Why? Maybe they feel as though they want to get there money’s worth. Who knows? Point is, that population segment is on the rise.

    The greeters perform a necessary function. Many first timers come only with other first timers, and really haven’t got a clue. A little orientation is absolutely necessary. Most everyone that shows up is slightly agro, newbie or not, weather there is a line or not. If an express lane is opened, the people that will use it are probably the people that most need it. There has been discussion about brining bell ringers inside, out of line, but for some reason it has been discouraged.

    Lines happen entering and exiting the event. They are annoying. If you want to avoid them, you might want to time your arrival in the early morning hours. For the time being, that seems to work. When waiting in greeters starts to piss you off, try to remember your fist arrival.

    See you at home.

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