Howdy, Man

The Man got put in his place late in the afternoon Wednesday, and it was a sight.

Big Stick maneuvered the machinery into place, the Man crew performed their rituals, an admiring throng gathered, and up he went.

The Man started out the afternoon flat on his back, where a lot of us would like to be. By the end of the operation, he was standing atop the Metropolis base, looking out over Black Rock City. Also where a lot of us would like to be.

He was very shiny in the afternoon sun. The Man has a silvery sheen this year, and Will Chase was saying that maybe we should spread a rumor that he was made of metal and wouldn’t burn. But don’t worry; he’s made of wood, as usual, and oh, he’ll burn.

Hans placed ashes given to him by Coyote in the Man base, at one of the corners where a gargoyle will be. They are the remains of James Irving Stevenson, a jazz musician and a relation of Coyote's by marriage. Stevenson, who died at 71, began coming to the burn late in his life, and one of his last wishes was to be buried with the Man.
Hans, one of the Man base crew, placed the ashes in a box nestled in a corner of the structure.
With the ashes placed, Hans closed up the box.
The Man crew worked on the neon right up until the last minute.

The Man's ornament shone in the afternoon light.

About the author: John Curley

John Curley has been Burning since the relatively late date of 2004, and in 2008 he spent the better part of a month on the playa, documenting the building and burning of Black Rock City in words and pictures. John is a longtime newspaper person and spent many years at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he was a deputy managing editor in charge of Page One and the news sections of the paper. Since leaving the Chronicle in 2007, he was a contributing editor on Blue Planet Run, a book about the world's water crisis, and for the past two years has been a lecturer at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. He has also started an event and editorial photography business, and is also working on a book about the "Ten Dollar Doc" from Arco, Idaho, which will make a lovely film someday.

18 thoughts on “Howdy, Man

  • Fabulous Fotos!!! Almost like being there. The creative, dynamic process is usually so much more interesting than the final, static result. Sp, because of budget cuts he’s not having a head this year?

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  • Thanks for making My Virgin year a fully memorable one… I want to be there helping, building, pounding and sweating with all of you. Someday the whole experience will be had from beginning to end!


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  • I have been reading the blogs everyday with great antcipation of returning to my dusty home. They are what gets me through my work day. This particular one brought tears to my eyes, knowing that the man is set and ready and all the hard work it takes to get him there, just like all the hard work it takes everyone to get there. This will be my third year at the burn, and I can’t wait to join my blue oasis family once again. I met the love of my life in Black Rock City (much love to Coyote bait) and we continue to make the journey back to the desert every year… Many hugs, kisses, and chest bumps for all your hard work!

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  • Ditto on the tears.

    So glad to be following the build on the blog.
    So glad to not be looking at email, internet or phone all next week.

    Thanks bloggers for sharing the journey with us. And even bigger thanks to all those building our future home. We love you ALL.

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  • What a beautiful sight indeed. I along with everyone else just can’t wait to be out there enjoying this beautiful oasis. My first time, and it won’t be the last.

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  • To James! and all of you who make it happen… gratitude, big time, and long, lingering, playa hugs.

    Love that he shines and yes, I am so going to spread the “he’s made of metal and won’t burn” rumor.

    I’ll never forget someone waking me up early Wed morning (?) to tell me the man was gone…. ya, right…there was no way I was going to fall for that!

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  • Thank you to Coyote, Hans, (and John Curley for documenting it!) and the rest of the Burning Man crew involved with placing my father James’ ashes in the base of the man. Several members of our family (including my mother Suzanne Roach his partner for over 40 years) and friends gathered in reunion style at Burning Man this year to say our final ceremonial goodbyes. We were all overwhelmed with emotion during this time and it gave us great comfort knowing that my father’s wish to have his ashes “go up” with the man would be (and was) fulfilled.

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    -Scott A. Stevenson

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