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Burning Man Arsonist Paul Addis' Backstory -- Murder Threats, Arrests 

Wednesday, Nov 14 2007

With his jovial face smeared in red, black, and silver paint befitting a Power Ranger, Paul Addis posed for one of the all-time great mug shots. After he was charged with prematurely incinerating the eponymous Burning Man mascot in August, it was easy to portray the San Franciscan as some free-spirited renegade unafraid to extend a necessary middle finger to The Man — or burn him down.

But then Addis was nabbed toting explosives at Grace Cathedral last month, which was more creepy than rebellious. And now SF Weekly has discovered more disturbing exploits attributed to him after his early return from Black Rock City.

Last month, San Francisco's Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory sought a restraining order against Addis after the 37-year-old allegedly threatened to murder students at the school. Nick Barsetti, the security coordinator for the school, claimed Addis told students on Sept. 8 he would "shoot them in the head with a Mac-10" submachine gun, and "pick them off one by one," according to court documents. An emergency protection order was promptly granted on Sept. 10. But, one day later, Addis was back and making "threatening gestures" to school staff.

Principal Kenneth Hogarty declined to comment, but did note that Addis is not an SHC alum. SF Weekly was unsuccessful in attempts to interview Addis, who has been determined by county jailkeepers as mentally unfit to sign the necessary waivers to talk to the media. He's being held on charges stemming from the Grace Cathedral incident.

September, it turns out, was a busy month for Addis. In its waning days he took his one-man Hunter S. Thompson show, Gonzo: A Brutal Chrysalis, to Seattle — and, on Sept. 27, that city's police department received a frantic call about a "man with a gun." After Addis' American Express card was refused at a Seattle hotel, witnesses told police he began "taking deep breaths" and clenching his teeth "like an animal" before muttering, "Heads are going to roll, and it's going to start here."

At this point, witnesses said Addis unzipped his duffel bag, slung a rifle over his shoulder, and stared at the terrified desk clerk for half a minute before packing away the gun and leaving the premises while bellowing into a cell phone. While onlookers and police believed the gun to be real, it turned out to be an air rifle. Addis spent the night in King County Jail and left the next day after posting $1,520 bail for misdemeanor charges of harassment and unlawful use of weapons. The air rifle remains in a Seattle evidence room.

Ticketholders for Addis' Seattle shows, incidentally, received full refunds and apologies that the play had been canceled due to "the actor's illness." Sadly, this excuse may be all too true.

About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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