My name is Leslie Michel.
I took these Burning Man at Baker Beach photos...
They're also posted in the BurningMan photo gallery.
*** 1989 ***
I was involved in this truely fun group called the Cacophony Society. It is a surrealist group, and we did all kinds of wacky stuff around San Francisco. Monthly meetings and our (pre-internet!) snail mail newsletter, Rough Draft, spread details about upcoming events.
For example, we'd have cocktail parties on the Golden Gate Bridge. All dressed up in formal evening wear- without any special permission from the bridge authority we'd just meet, bring the champagne, treats, tables, music and all- then dance, drink, and carry on 'till we got cold.
Usually someone would bring a camera and take glorious pix we'd see at the next meeting.
It was fun watching how walking tourists, locals on bicycles, or passengers of cars crossing the bridge reacted. Eyes open wide with surprise they'd be soooo curious!
We were just being surreal, the Cacophony Society is like that.
The BurningMan was an important event for the Cacophony Society. Friends who went to the 1988 burn were my motivating force. When 1989's came around I loaded up my car with fellow Society members, put fresh film in my Ricoh 35mm camera and made it to Baker Beach.
We got there when it was still daylight to wander around having surreal beach fun. CRACK! Suddenly there was commotion- and noise above the Pacific Ocean waves pounding. The unburned Man somehow FELL TO HIS KNEES!
Thank goodness those of us that came early were present. To bring the Man back up involved some work. I found a place to stash my backpack first thing. A length of really fat rope was tied to the Man. What seemed to be me and 20 or 30 other folks grabbed the rope.
We pulled and pulled and pulled. REALLY HARD. What tremendous energy! It was like playing tug of war- but there was no war. We had a tug of purpose: Getting the Man upright.
Somehow we did it. The rope was secured to a piece of driftwood or something to keep the Man standing upright. It was time to burn! I brushed the sand off my hands and clothes, then retrieved the backpack to get my camera.
One of the guys I knew from the Cacophony Society was in charge of lighting the Man. I don't remember his name, but he had a cool little business called "Camera Obscura". He was well known for playing with fire. At parties he'd do all these cool tricks with open flames...
IN THE LIVING ROOM!
Such a splendid guy.
When you look at the pictures close, you'll see him dressed up in a fireman's red slicker and hat. He is holding the torch!
The first 4 photos are a sequence of the Man's ignition to fully aflame. Once the Man was in full burning glory another event altering thing happened. COPS! Yikes! Time to get away from those flashing red lights!
My friends and I met at the car. The last photograph I took is through the car window while I was driving away. That is the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, and you can see giant shadows of people standing around the Burning Man on the smoke. Though this photo is out of focus because I was driving with the camera in my hand, it is my favorite. There are no other Burning Man at Baker Beach photos like it anywhere!
Not being the sort to want to camp where there is no shade, I've never made it to the Playa. Many of my old Cacophony Society friends go every year. But I keep up with the buzz by subscribing the newsletter "The Jack Rabbit Speaks" and watching the burn streaming in real time from the Playa to my Powerbook, projected on a screen from the digital projector in the living room- with nice cold drinks in hand, just walking distance from the bathroom.
Enjoy the Photos!