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Au Revoir, Addis 

Wednesday, Jan 2 2008

Is Paul Addis — the man accused of prematurely igniting the Burning Man — a genius, a crazy man, or both? That's what we at the Weekly wanted to know, so we wanted to talk to him. Unfortunately, he has been in custody the last couple of months (not for the Burning Man thing, but for allegedly planning to set Grace Cathedral ablaze) and the gatekeepers in the sheriff's office said Addis was mentally unfit to speak to the media. So we sent him a cordial letter asking him for an interview. Surely, we figured, he wasn't too crazy to read his mail.

To our surprise, we got a prompt response. Whether the letter proved his genius or madness is open to debate. What it did prove was that Addis is angry. Very angry — at the Weekly (he didn't like our review last year of his solo show, Gonzo, which mentioned that the theater's concession stand sold balloons filled with nitrous oxide), at the letter itself (which he said had "more hackneyed clichés than a Danielle Steel sex pamphlet"), and at Burning Man ("a self-indulgent, postindustrial disco of marginal consequence").

"Understand something now," Addis advised. "I could give a fuck about cultural celebrity standing. Such ego-stroking bullshit is of absolutely no interest to me, as I rarely, if ever, read my own press."

Addis didn't totally shut the door. He suggested we read On the Trail of a Lion to get a "better foundation for sending any follow-up." According to the synopsis in Publishers' Weekly (via, the book is about Ahmed Shah Massoud, "the legendary leader of Afghanistan's Northern Alliance [who] met his death with two suicide bombers disguised as reporters."

Okay, so we weren't exactly sure what that meant. In a follow-up letter, Addis sent a long, eclectic list of music that had "highly influenced" him, and he told us we should listen to the tracks if we wanted to hear from him again. The list is too long to print here, but it included Bruce Springsteen ("I'm on Fire"), Metallica ("One," "Sanitarium"), Big Country ("A Thousand Stars"), Green Day ("Jesus of Suburbia") and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. So, well, we decided that maybe Addis wasn't worth the hassle. No one — not even the dude reputed to have torched Burning Man — would force us to listen to Midnight Oil and Dire Straits against our will.

Addis also said in his second letter that after his current legal troubles get straightened out, he's going to leave San Francisco. Yep, he's sick of this place and sick of people like us. Well, Paul, the feeling is mutual. Au revoir.

About The Author

Will Harper


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