Paul Addis, playwright and Burning Man arsonist, dies

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Paul Addis, shown here during a 2010 interview with the Guardian, died on Saturday night.
Steven T. Jones

UPDATED Paul Addis – the San Francisco playwright and performer best known for igniting Burning Man's eponymous central symbol early in the 2007 event, a crime for which he served two years in a Nevada prison – died Saturday night after jumping in front of a BART train in Embarcadero station. He was 42.

His friend Amacker Bullwinkle told us she was shocked and saddened by the news, first reported by the SF Appeal and confirmed to us by the San Francisco Medical Examiner's Office, which contacted Addis' mother. Bullwinkle said she wasn't sure if there was a suicide note, but given his prolific writings, “I can't imagine he wouldn't want to write something.”

After Addis was released from prison in 2010, he came to the Guardian for a three-hour interview to discuss how and why he torched the Man during a Monday night lunar eclipse, another pair of bizarre arrests that followed, and the San Francisco debut of latest one-man play, Dystopian Veneer, which he wrote in prison. That interview was the basis of two Guardian articles and an extended telling of his story in my book, The Tribes of Burning Man, which also draws from an earlier interview with Addis.

“It’s a brand new life and I’ve got all this potential and I want to make the most out of it,” Addis told me in a hopeful moment. But he was also clearly a troubled soul, deeply unhappy with what Burning Man and San Francisco had become and resentful of the role that Burning Man organizers played in supporting his prosecution.

But his frustrations seemed to stem from a desire shake up the city and Burning Man, an event that was personally transformative for him, “to bring back that level of unpredictable excitement, that verve, that 'what's going to happen next?' feeling, because it had gotten orchestrated and scripted.”

Services for Addis are pending.

UPDATE 11/2: Sup. John Avalos adjourned this week's Board of Supervisors meeting in the memory of Paul Addis and made the following comments about him:

·        Addis was a San Francisco performance artist and playwright who was best known from 2007’s Burning Man when he lit the Man on fire.
·        Addis wrote and performed several one-man plays, including Dystopian Veneerand Gonzo, A Brutal Chrysalis.
·        After years of struggling with mental health issues, Addis took his own life the past weekend. He was forty-two.
·        Addis’ controversial act was viewed by some as a dangerous act of arson and by others as a subversive protest of how Burning Man had strayed from its core principles.
·        Addis served two years in a Nevada prison for burning the Man.
·        On this day when we’re commemorating Mental Health Awareness month, I think it’s appropriate to recognize the loss of Paul Addis, and recognize how our mental health and criminal justice systems failed him, and how they fail so many others who struggle with mental health issues.

 

Comments

The early burn was very dangerous and to suggest otherwise is absurd.

Aside from that, did it really not occur to Addis that it wasn't as much fun and spontaneous after his first couple times because the novelty for him was gone?

And him expecting BM org whom he didn't know or barely knew to perjure themselves by under reporting the cost of their losses to the court was delusional. The authorities probably pressed them pretty hard, which was justifiable really because if this had gone terribly wrong and 20 people or 200 people or whatever had died, the authorities would have been blamed.

And it's extremely hard to buy his selfless claim of motivation when he returned to BM that year and signed autographs, complete with posters advertising "meet the man that burned the man" and hand written "to all my fans at burning man 2007".

Posted by Guest on Aug. 31, 2013 @ 8:13 am

Im still trying to figure out how 'burning' the 'burning man' is even a crime...

Posted by Guest on Aug. 01, 2013 @ 3:05 pm

Burning the Man early is not only against BM culture, but insanely dangerous. The Man creates an unbelievably hot fire that can kill people inside the perimeter. This is why we have a perimeter; it isn't some stupid arbitrary rule. It is to keep people from dying.

As a many time fire safety and perimeter worker at smaller burns with much, much smaller effigies, I can't even imagine the danger for someone to be too close to the burning effigy at the big burn.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 30, 2013 @ 8:25 am

Being someone who goes to burning man, and the regionals, Burning the man before the allotted time is like celebrating Christmas on the wrong day. For some of us it is a spiritual and emotional experience, by burning that early it is stealing that from thousands of people.

That is the moral reasoning behind it.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 30, 2013 @ 6:32 am

"Im still trying to figure out how 'burning' the 'burning man' is even a crime..."

Burning someone else's property without their permission is arson, regardless of what their personal intentions were. What he did is like setting off a city's fireworks display at noon.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 01, 2013 @ 10:47 am

it is sad that people like this who actually care about the world, and who are extremely defiant, if angry, of the zombie-culture (that indeed has taken over burningman, much like it has taken over sf, and the rest of the 'civilized' world), are demonized. May he rest in peace and may we learn to be more human through valuing rather than ostracizing the lessons such people have to teach us.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 01, 2013 @ 10:34 am

It's interesting how everyone trys to excuse and justify's someone's behavior and angst with the world. Paul made an irresponsible choice in Burning the Man early which endangered others. I was one of them under the Man the night it was set. Whatever his issues with his perception of commercialization does not allow him the right to put other people's lives in jeopardy. And he did. Period. I was there.

Paul's angst with the world at large and what Burning Man has become keeps being justified as well by other posters. Every generation of humans feels the world is getting worse. This has gone on for millennia. The world is a dynamic and changing place. In the last 100 years alone we have quadrupled the world population. There will be commercialization as masses of people produce more offspring and ideas flourish and disseminate. This is the nature of things. Always has been.

I would say to Paul, why did you not create more? Why didn't you help create more ideas and problem solve ways that helped your fellow man?

It doesn't take a genius to point fingers and see all the cracks and separations in the world. But to see beyond that and create possibilities and potentialities... there is a life worth living.

RIP Paul..... at least we learned something "not" to do from you.

Posted by Hmmmmmmm on Feb. 22, 2013 @ 9:15 am

After hearing of Paul's death, I felt bad he would never able to hear this behind-the-scenes recording I made in 2007. I decided to post it in his memory for bringing some excitement to the event and as a tribute to the BRC volunteers who pitched in to control his chaos and rebuild.

Funny thing is, a week after I posted this recording I was contacted by ESD Operations Chief Joseph Pred who threatened that if I did not take it down that he would turn me over to the Burning Man copyright lawyers "who are very good at what they do." So as a statement for freedom of speech, and in Paul's honor, I would really like to share it here....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_pZWvmBFsc

Posted by Radioman on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

What is wrong with this world? It's pretty obvious. In time of mourning, there are selfish opinions made by ignorant individuals that have absolutely no idea who they are commenting on. For people who want to take the time out of their day to post a negative comment about how mentally ill or how selfish Paul was, should motivate themselves to find a way to make a positive impact on a very tragic situation. Paul was a very intelligent and caring man. I did not have as much time learning from him as I would have liked. It was extremely sad to learn of his tragic end and how a lot of people are looking at his actions as selfish. Whether or not people want to believe it, his actions were carried through with the intention to help others. He had taken the time out of his life many times to inform me on the imperfections of this world, and how they could be corrected. We all wish the outcome of his life was different. Though we cannot change the past, we can certainly change the awareness of this world's imperfections and set the path to harmonious existence. Look through every comment here, look at the negative comments about a man that has died tragically. That is what is wrong with this world. When family and friends are mourning, an individual or many mono-emotive individuals selfishly add their opinion about a man that they are uneducated about.

My sympathy goes out to his family, friends, and every human being lucky enough to experience the life and mind of Paul Addis.

I love you Paul, and I will miss you.

Posted by Astrocreep (Paul's Cousin) on Nov. 28, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

In the end he found his family and he was finding peace. We like to think he was making his way back to us, when the systems failed him. RIP love forever and always. We laid you to rest in the most beautiful place ever, where you and Junior can ride the waves together.

Posted by Guest Ardra on Nov. 15, 2012 @ 12:50 am

In Memory of Paul David Addis

I have known Paul David Addis since we were small children playing together, climbing trees, playing baseball, kickball, and football, skating, and skateboarding. Paul has been a great lifelong friend; one that any person would have, and I was, blessed to be a part of my life.

Full of creativity, compassion, and a desire to be a part of making the world a better place, Paul always saw past the superficial to see the big picture behind the curtains. Paul loved his mom, Dee, and dad, David, more deeply than I believe they knew. Dee was Paul’s inspiration and model for what he ultimately wanted in his soul mate. He often spoke with deep compassion about his mother, describing her a hardest working woman he ever met. Paul believed there was nothing his mom could not do if she wanted to do it. David, the influencing force of Paul’s ability to express himself in his writings, was the reason he wanted to be successful in life.

Paul was the type of person you knew would be there for you even if you haven’t asked him for help. He has always been willing to put his neck on the chopping block to stand up for what is right and to help a friend; the furthest thing from selfish. I have such fond memories of Paul doing just this at many times throughout our lives. We were always friends first. We dated on and off through our teenage years. There were never any ugly break ups or anger between us. I introduced him to my friends whom he dated, and he did the same for me.

When Paul was dating my best friend, he went with her to have her wisdom teeth surgically removed. She was very nervous and he comforted her before and after the surgery. When my boyfriend broke up with me right before my Junior Prom, Paul stepped up to the plate, with less than a week’s notice, and we had a blast. When one of our mutual friends told him about the problems I was having with my first husband, he got in his car, drove up from Florida where he was in college, found my place of work, and tried to rescue me from my bad situation. Paul has provided advice and given input to help me in relationships to see the male perspective. Paul was the type of person who picked up his friends when they were down, hurt, or in need and helped them get back on their feet again. He believed there were healing powers in music and would provide music lists and would often make cassette tapes and later compact disks to give his friends to listen to when they were going through rough times.

This is why he was so hurt when he got out of the Nevada penal system after independently being punished for the act of protest against the commercialization of the “Burning Man” festival, which should have been protected Freedom of Speech under the United States Constitution. If burning the American Flag is protected, so should this act have been. As far as intentional destruction of personal property goes, it was going to be burnt anyway and burning of the “Burning Man” was the sole purpose of the existence of the property destroyed; it was all a matter of timing. His punishment for this protest was extreme and unreasonable. The burning was not an act of terrorism or meant as a prank gone wrong, and he was responsible to a fault, even in this extreme act, not to place anyone in jeopardy.

He was not alone in his feeling the festival had lost its purpose and meaning. He had previously been a part of the group of people who coordinated the festival. He pulled away and boycotted the festival for years because of the commercialization process turning the festival into a for profit event. Paul’s “friends” talked him into returning to the festival in 2007 when his life changing event occurred. The festival organizer who submitted the fiscal damages incurred to determine the charges against Paul, were at one time his “friends” as well. Paul was hurt and in disbelief about the betrayal of those friendships. Paul was merely making his voice and the voices of the masses who believed in the original purpose and meaning of “Burning Man” heard in such a way it could not be ignored.

After riding out his probation period following his unreasonable time served working in Las Vegas, he returned to San Francisco, what he called his home, and was profoundly devastated when those same people he had been the loudest voice on behalf of were not there as they had promised. Paul always felt that society was a bit of a letdown; a world full of lemmings. He found a home in San Francisco with like thinking people. When he was that world’s voice, they turned their back on him, failed to fulfill promises made, and left him in the cold upon his return home.

Paul was a loving man. The women he deeply loved are few, although he touched the lives of many. His wife of three years whom he loved dearly, Robin, was exactly what he needed at that point of his life. Then, his needs changed and the life they had together, which had worked for, ultimately became the reason for no longer share their lives with one another. He told me wanted more. He wanted a family, in the more traditional sense. He wanted children and as the years have passed, expressed the belief he would never be able to have this. He believed in his artistic work and truly wanted his to be successful by opening peoples eyes in a world he saw was falling apart in so many ways and no one else seemed to be noticing.

Paul and I could go years without talking to one another and even longer without seeing the other. However, we had a bond like no other. He often told me I was the one he could depend upon finding him, especially when he needed to reconnect. The last time we spoke was in May 2012. He left me a message saying he had something exciting to share with me. Then his phone no longer worked and he did not respond to emails. I only wish I had pushed hard to find him sooner. Maybe, I could have been his rock again and this horrible tragedy would not have occurred.

Paul has experienced so much loss since 2010. We talked about death when his grandmother was ready to make her passage to the other side. He believed there was a peace waiting for us all on the other side. He was lost in a world he felt had turned his back on him. He compassionately expressed his concern and sorrow when realized his mother had developed a problem with alcohol while they were in Pennsylvania together. Paul told me he felt he had failed Dee in many ways. Paul was hurting seeing his mom in so much pain. He felt a responsibility for Dee’s pain, yet he did not know how to follow his own pathway and help her. He was torn and felt helpless. So much so, he was considering traditional employment and denying himself what he saw as his calling.

The world is not a better place without Paul. His spirit was pure with all the best intentions. He lived and loved large. I know many think taking his life was pathetic and selfish, but it was not. He was not mentally ill, the way many people think. But he was sad and felt alone in his attempts to make a difference in this world. He was a great man in a not so great world that was not ready for the depth of his thoughts. I will miss his mind, his words, and his love as a lifelong friend. Not many people have experienced a more than 30 year multifaceted friendship like I shared with Paul. I am lucky to have had the privilege of Paul being a part of my life. Thank you for always being my friend. I miss you and will remember you always. I know you will never be too far away.

To Robin: My thoughts are with you as you had a bond like no one else with Paul. I know you feel the void of him being gone.

To Amacker: Paul spoke of you many times. I thank you for being there, as a constant in Paul’s life, for so many years. He deserved more friends like you. Please take a ride on his bike for me. My thoughts are with you as well.

Posted by Guest Gina Briggs Dawson on Nov. 05, 2012 @ 9:09 am

It's interesting how everyone trys to excuse and justify's someone's behavior and angst with the world. Paul made an irresponsible choice in Burning the Man early which endangered others. I was one of them under the Man the night it was set. Whatever his issues with his perception of commercialization does not allow him the right to put other people's lives in jeopardy. And he did. Period. I was there.

Paul's angst with the world at large and what Burning Man has become keeps being justified as well by other posters. Every generation of humans feels the world is getting worse. This has gone on for millennia. The world is a dynamic and changing place. In the last 100 years alone we have quadrupled the world population. There will be commercialization as masses of people produce more offspring and ideas flourish and disseminate. This is the nature of things. Always has been.

I would say to Paul, why did you not create more? Why didn't you help create more ideas and problem solve ways that helped your fellow man?

It doesn't take a genius to point fingers and see all the cracks and separations in the world. But to see beyond that and create possibilities and potentialities... there is a life worth living.

RIP Paul..... at least we learned something "not" to do from you.

Posted by Hmmmmmmm on Feb. 22, 2013 @ 9:18 am

Thank you Gina this is lovely and the Paul I knew. He told me stories about you although he didn't mention your name. I feel heartened during this difficult time to see posts by people who really knew the beautiful Paul.

Posted by Guest Ardra on Nov. 17, 2012 @ 5:53 pm

Wow Gina, such touching words. "Truth" shines ever so brightly in your writings. Your friend sounded like a visionary, forward thinker, and warrior of truth which are far and few in between. Much Love to you, Paul and his friends and family...

Posted by Guest Onnoleigh Sweetman on Nov. 10, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

Burning man has some very evil bohemian grove tendencies. I distrusted it's influence in my life and others. There is a fine line between mental illness and intuitive and frightening realizations of the corruption of a complex world. It sounds like this man was on the edge and may have seen some things which others chose not to see. I have known many people who have worked at burning man and witnessed many deaths (as rangers). one could view it as a sacrificial event. I respect his action at BM. I also believe there is a possibility that he did not kill himself. San Francisco is a dangerous place. my heart goes out to his true friends and loved ones. I've been there. Stay strong and trust yourselves.
Be well.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 04, 2012 @ 7:26 pm

Larry Harvey killed Paul Addis . It was the BMorg that presented the bill for damages done to the police. They could have presented a bill for 1 dollar and Paul would have been charged with a misdemeanor but they chose not to do that. Instead they nailed Paul to the cross ( of his own making). When Paul burnt the man early the BMorg could have used this as a community building opportunity. Each year there are tons of building materials brought to BM by participants, much of it goes unused and is burnt in large fire pits the BMorg provides. Instead of heading off to Home Depot to buy all new materials to build the same exact man they build every year the BMorg could have issued a call for volunteers to bring whatever materials they had on hand then used those free materials to build a new man reflective of BM community and not just reflective of Larry Harvey's ego

Posted by Guest on Nov. 04, 2012 @ 11:18 am

could not agree with you more, from experience. great insight. and it could be darker than even that. Sometimes the "mentally ill" are merely panicked by realizations which others can not see. be well

Posted by Guest on Nov. 04, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

Control freakdom is a mental illness.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 04, 2012 @ 7:38 pm

really, we're celebrating a guy who tried to kill 100s of people for the sake of stroking his own ego?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 03, 2012 @ 2:14 am

Paul would NEVER TRY TO KILL ANYONE! Shame on you for even writing that!!! He had a lot to say but no one listened! He cared and tried to make a change for all of us. I have learned the hard way, even though someone is right, if they stand up for themselves and others, they are perceived as trouble makers. Living RIGHT in a WRONG world can make anyone insane because life is NOT FAIR!!!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 28, 2012 @ 11:16 am

Really? You're trolling a post where people are mourning? GFY.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 03, 2012 @ 10:29 am

Paul and I were married for over three years and lived together for nearly eight. I can't begin to explain how sad I am that he is gone. He and I had so many good times together. He was kind and generous, compassionate and warm. He would help a stranger just because it was the right thing to do, I mean really go out of his way to help somesone. I'm going to miss hearing him tell stories, reciting the names of everyone involved because he never forgot anyone he came in contact with. He was a good person, intense and on stage when he was out and about, but really relaxed and quiet when he was one on one.
I wish he could have had more time and I wish I could have done more for him. I just want to say thank you to all his friends out in San Francisco. I know that there are lots of people out there who loved Paul and looked out for him over the last few years. Thank you so much for caring about Paul, I cared about him too and I'm going to miss him.

Posted by Robin on Nov. 01, 2012 @ 8:55 pm

Robin - I just read today the shocking news that Paul is dead. I periodically would google his name just to see what I would find out. I could always see that Paul had love in his heart. You and Paul were a wonderful couple while you we're together. I am so saddened by the downward spiral his life took and how it ended.

I hope you have found peace and happiness.

Mark Seka

Posted by Guest on Nov. 06, 2013 @ 5:21 pm

I never met Paul. I only know him from the writings and communications we shared. I wrote Paul when he was incarcerated after Burning Man. I was in a production of Richard III when I read an article on Fark.com. After several back and forths he allowed me to perform his show GONZO: A Brutal Chrysalis. He even sent me a script he was working on. After his release, he contacted me about how it all went and asked for a copy of the show since he had lost his. I sent him a copy of everything I had and in return he sent another show he had written... I have only today found out about his death as I was attempting to email him to see how he was. My condolences to you and his friends there.

Paul greatly affected my life without ever once meeting him and I just wanted to let you know that. If you wish to have a copy of anything he sent me, let me know. You can find me online under the Xavier Neuro name or look my company at www.citizensoftheuniverse.org

-x

Posted by Xavier Neuro on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 11:59 am

I just found out when Deanna called Dale last night. Don't know if you remember we lost Derek in 2001. That was after Stacey and Scott visited with Paul and we saw you. Paul was very strong in his beliefs of how our world was going in a not so good direction. I am so thankful for the time we spent with Paul and seeing him in Pirates of Pen. He was amazing. Never far from my thoughts. I check online from time to time to see what is up with Paul. Deanna and Dale talk but it has been a year or so until last night.
Paul gave some unforgettable experiences to Stacey and Scott (probably not so much to my liking) but he was a wonderful cousin to them. I am saddened because people think of suicide as a selfish act but it is loss of hope and ending of the pain when hope is lost. Paul will still be special and remembered by all of us who did have the chance to see the amazing person he was. I just wish he could have really worked toward changing the world and all without "making a statement" that others also agreed with but in the end, he was the one who paid.
I do hope Paul finally has peace and has found a better place than he had here. <3

Posted by Aunt Shirley on Nov. 28, 2012 @ 12:32 pm

We tried to find you. Dee wanted to call you Sunday when she found out. Ugh
If you contact this reporter, Steven he can get you in touch with me.

What you say so succinctly here is what so many people are trying to get across when they try to explain the differences between Paul's theatrical persona from who he was as your friend. His kindness, his thoughtful sensitivity to what you needed, knowing before you knew, whether it was a foot rub, dinner or a hug.

Posted by amacker on Nov. 04, 2012 @ 11:05 am

Paul was much more than the guy who burnt the man. Paul was my friend and a beautiful soul. We will miss him. He will always have a place in my heart.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 01, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

Good for him! He made the biggest anti-BM statement of all - and what it has become - "orchestrated and scripted."

Posted by Guest on Nov. 01, 2012 @ 8:37 am

In a better world, we would have caught you when you fell. RIP Paul.

Posted by Guest leslie landberg on Oct. 30, 2012 @ 11:17 pm

I wish that I had had the gift of meeting this man and I wish this community could have been here for him.

Posted by Guest Puma on Oct. 31, 2012 @ 9:05 am

tis sad that mr paul didnot feel of the joy of the sfgiants worldseries win. perhaps he
was too despondent and numb to feel anything.

Posted by Gues HenryGeorge on Oct. 30, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

dare wuz so much joy in the city wen he took his own life. maybe he didnt feel the joy.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 30, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

He threw himself in front of the BART train because it was a certain way that he would die, and not fail at even suicide. Yes, I am sure he was aware there was someone driving the BART train. Just as I am sure he never meant to hurt anyone. He was ill and troubled and needed help.
Shame on those who are gaining attention from this with their ironic, "I knew Paul Addis" stories or conjecture. The Bay Guardian, however, has done a respectful job at attempting to write an obituary for a man who was a bright but severely tortured soul, rather than turn it into sensationalized news.

Posted by Kissimine Horace on Oct. 30, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

people drive those Bart trains. seemed like a self-centered jerk.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 30, 2012 @ 9:29 am

"I'll show the world by killing myself"

pathetic

Posted by matlock on Oct. 29, 2012 @ 9:19 pm

How do you know why he did it!? It sounds like he was mentally ill and when in the throes of it, people are not thinking clearly. Have some heart!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 01, 2012 @ 8:43 am

Screw you! How do you know why he did it! It sounds like he was mentally ill and when in the throes of it, people are not thinking clearly, you piece of crap!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 01, 2012 @ 8:41 am

I'm glad for whatever reason it has been posted at the top of the page here. Stunning example.

Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 29, 2012 @ 10:14 pm

It was my first Burn -- when I saw it burn the first time I didn't understand what was happening, only to find out that this guy- Paul Addis- had been arrested for burning something down - that we were going to burn down anyways.

It has turned out to be my last and the most memorable one ever. Thanks to this man... a double burn/double rainbow-

Im really sad and even though I've never met this man- he's definitely touched mine without even a hello. Some people are like that.

I'm sorry he took his life- and I'm sorry San Francisco let him down in that way...

It sucks he was sent to prison for arson over the first burn- its not like he burned people houses down or cause undue stress and put anyone but himself in danger.. if anything he made the event much more interesting. that wont ever happen again..

Posted by Guest HeartWorm on Oct. 29, 2012 @ 6:28 pm

I agree with troll II. He visited my house about a week before torching "The Man." Very not "himself. " He would have had a very different life if residing in a country with a better mental health care system. What a shame. Lovely to have been privy to his intensive creative mind, even a bit.

Posted by Guest Elise Fried on Oct. 29, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

I agree with troll II. He visited my house about a week before torching "The Man." Very not "himself. " He would have had a very different life if residing in a country with a better mental health care system. What a shame. Lovely to have been privy to his intensive creative mind, even a bit.

Posted by Guest Elise Fried on Oct. 29, 2012 @ 6:12 pm

Still shocked and sad. Last time I saw him a few months ago we played on the swings at Huntington Park and talked about art, walked into the Fairmont Hotel and watched a hooker stroll the place. Then we had a milkshake and a soda.

Yes he obviously had some issues, who doesn't in San Francisco? Met him during my years of artist-in-residency at Anon Salon when he was doing his Gonzo play down the hall at Climate Theatre back when it was at 285 9th street and we became close friends. I'd say more but maybe at his memorial?

I am happy to have known him.

Posted by Dee Dee Russell on Oct. 29, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

and suffered from extreme bouts of mania. In addition he'd stopped taking his meds.

This isn't a terrible mystery at all. Happens all the time. RIP Paul.

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 29, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

I was friends with Paul during our law school days and had some good times back in the day. So sad to see how his story ended. I hope he's found the peace he was looking for

Posted by danimalssf on Oct. 29, 2012 @ 1:01 pm

I also knew Paul in law school. The Paul I knew was not how he was portrayed in the media. We had good times, watching the 49ers or playing pool somewhere. Never an easy guy but always a stand-up guy. I hope he finds peace.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 30, 2012 @ 8:23 am

“to bring back that level of unpredictable excitement, that verve, that 'what's going to happen next?' feeling, because it had gotten orchestrated and scripted.”

I'm not denying Addis was an intelligent guy, but I think the problem he was experiencing was inside himself, not with an external event. The desire to change people and places to recapture some spark of catharsis you once experienced is the wrong path. Burning Man (like San Francisco) isn't responsible for your happiness. You are.

In the end, with his suicide, maybe he realized this.

Posted by Parvo on Oct. 29, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

Paul's powerful statement about Burning Man was absolutely not "a response to a problem he was experiencing inside himself". It was a response shared by many (perhaps nearly all) of the early participants (~ 1990-1997), to the tangible loss of essential elements of the experience.
Many, many people over many years had even specifically threatened or joked about burning the man early, as an object lesson or just a return to the spontaneous nature of what had been. (I'm sorry I really can't put the whole experience into words here. whole books have been written..)

It wasn't about Paul's happiness (except in the sense of the satisfaction of a job well done).
It was about others' happiness - about giving the same precious gift, the opportunity to have that ineffable, unique experience, that we had been given years before.
And he succeeded - they received it - as mentioned elsewhere in this comment section by a total stranger.
It was about taking full responsibility to give that gift, no matter what the cost to him.

It turned out to be a great sacrifice. It cost him 2 years of hell. It ultimately cost him his life.
It was a price he was not unprepared to pay.

To Paul's other friends, know this: he lived the way he wanted to live. His death was a price he paid in the service of his fellow man.

Hats off to you, Paul Addis. we will miss you, we need more like you.

Posted by John Voldal on Oct. 31, 2012 @ 6:48 am

There wasn't room in a brief article (or in a brief post) to go into depth about the reasons for his powerful statement about Burning Man, but rest assured it was certainly not problem he was experiencing inside himself, it was one shared by many if not nearly all of the early participants (`1990-1997).

Many, many people had in fact threatened or joked specifically about burning the man early. for years -decades. Paul was just the one with the balls to do it, not just talk about it.

It wasn't about Paul's happiness. It was about giving others the same opportunity to experience something rare and precious that Paul had. It was spiritual community service. Others -total strangers- in this comment section have mentioned that they received it, and were glad of it.

And he made a great sacrifice in order to accomplish it. One that ended up claiming his life. A price he was willing to pay.

Hats off to you Paul Addis. We'll miss you, we need more like you.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 31, 2012 @ 5:45 am

hats off to the guy that would murder dozens of people to stroke his own pathetic little ego,

Posted by Guest on Nov. 03, 2012 @ 2:17 am

I was invited to the second one at China Beach and missed out on it. Water under the bridge.

Now it does seem like it has become nothing but a commodity; one I want no part of and would rather not even hear about.

Rest in peace Paul.

Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 29, 2012 @ 6:31 pm