THANK YOU, LARRY HARVEY. Thank you for following through with an idea to build a man out of driftwood and burn him out at Baker Beach during the summer solstice of 1986. And thank you for rolling with that idea as it became Burning Man and got bigger and bigger and grew and changed in the thirty-two years since. Burning Man is the Weirdo Convention. Burning Man is my Weirdo Convention. Going out to the desert once a year is fun and cool and all, but it’s the year-round culture and friends across the world that make it so transformative.
There are so many great things written about Larry Harvey and about Burning Man already, so I don’t feel the need to re-write what’s already been written. I’m gonna do that thing where I make my thank you to Larry Harvey all about me, but as I’ve never met the man, thanking him through the lens of myself is all I’ve got. I’m incredibly grateful for the culture Larry Harvey has fostered that I’m a part of. I like that he’s never tried to make Burning Man about himself; that he has deflected the notion that he’s a leader or guru. He was a facilitator of a giant group of free-spirited people who galvanized. Because of this, hundreds of thousands of people’s lives have been moved in really positive ways.
I know the best people in the world and many of them I know through Burning Man. I’ve got clusters of cultural creatives as friends and confidantes in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Austin, New Orleans and beyond. If I can imagine it, I can build it – because of me and this giant tribe of hippies that Larry Harvey has helped weave together. We support one another. If I’m having problems, I can reach out to these people and usually work through whatever is on my mind. You can bet I’ll be given solid advice, usually from a professional and oftentimes brilliant source.
Everybody needs to be able to find their like-minded people and Burning Man really brings me to some of mine. Last year, Burning Man turned me into a commissioned artist by awarding me cold, hard cash so I could bring to reality the idea for an art installation that had been rattling around in my head for over a decade. My temple was front and center of the man last year. Larry Harvey was right there out front, just a few feet from where I was standing . . . The Temple Of The Inner Bitch right there at the left hand of the man. And we both watched The Man and The Bitch burn together.
So thank you, Larry Harvey – for the shenanigans, for the art, for the no spectators approach, for the lovers and friends. I’ve made pizza in a stripped down car that’s always on fire, I’ve seen two oil tankers twisted and welded together end to end, jutting into the sky. I learned how to tell creepy men to get lost. I’ve had bodywork done that’s healed me when nothing else could. I’ve danced til my boots broke. I actually once saw a guy in an ocelot suit get a jalepeno shoved up his butt. I’ve gotten lost in dust storms. Thanks for facilitating this tribe of freaks, giving us a place and space to mingle and dream, exchange ideas, bodily fluids and more.
I’ve realized a lot of things about myself and the world, been exposed to a lot of scientists and healers and thinkers and jerks of the best kind. I’m a happier person because of Burning Man. I have much more compassion and have cultivated a better sense of humor, learned to be more relaxed. I am more self-sufficient and confident in my abilities. Thanks for all of it, Larry. I’m very grateful.
### – This picture is of me and my good friend Emily at the Golden Cafe at Burning Man in 2006.