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Monday 29 August 2016

Mary's Burning Man

I was curious as to whether there actually is a festival called Burning Man, something Mary mentioned recently. It turns out, there is. It started in 1986 when two men decided to build a "man" out of scrap wood, soak it in gasoline and burn it on a beach near San Francisco for the solstice. Since they used gasoline (petrol), it went up like the sun flare but nobody got hurt.

The Burning Man leaped from 8 to 15 to it's current 60 feet tall and the popularity of the event now sees nearly 70,000 people attending. It's now held in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada where a temporary city, Black Rock City, rises up every year and it's a full blown themed festival with a midway and art installations and all sorts. After the event, the temporary city vanishes from the desert without a trace. Read more about it here.

The thing is, when I read the story of that first outing of the eight foot tall effigy, this little detail struck me:

"The next thing we knew, a woman, impetuously, ran at the figure, and we had the urge to stop her, but it was too late. The wind was shunting all the flames to one side, and so she ran up to him and she took him by the hand, and stood there. And I think Jerry still has a souvenir photo, and you see the little hand down in the corner of it, holding his hand."

And do you know, I like to think that maybe that was our Mary! It could have been, you know, in an alternative world where Weatherfield exists and free spirits like Mary Taylor abide. It seems like a Mary sort of thing to do, doesn't it? It's more probable, however, that Mary ended up at the current location in Black Rock Desert where it relocated in the early 1990s because she explained "My dream to drive through to the Grand Canyon, the majesty of Mother Earth at her most inspiring, took a wrong turn coming out of Nevada". That wrong turn probably didn't lead her to the beach in San Francisco but maybe that's only because the writer didn't know about the hand holding of the burning effigy.

Tvor (@tvordlj on Twitter)

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abbyk said...

Ha ha! For years, I've had to Google British references that never quite made it across the Atlantic. Postman Pat, pants (not the kind with zippers), GCSEs, not knowing exactly what these things were took away from what was going on onscreen. When Mary mentioned being at Burning Man, I nearly spit into my coffee at the thought. It's interesting that, for all the crass commercialization we are accused of, some American things don't even make it across the Bay of Fundy.

Tvor said...

I'd never heard of that particular festival before though I'm sure plenty of Canadians have. From the bit I read it seemed to be a bit New Age and therefore outside of my realm of reality so that's likely why I haven't heard of it :)))

Anonymous said...

There are a few documentaries out there about this festival, if you'd like to see it in action (I'm a Canadian, so they are out there on our continent). Although it may have started out as a way to celebrate the solstice, Burning Man is now more like Woodstock meets Mad Max. Well seen... from behind your TV screen. :)

Cobblestone said...

I'd say there are a reasonable number of Beits who know about it (largely from references in US dramas) but what was clear is that Leanne knew what Burning Man was. Her facial reaction to Mary's revelation was priceless!

Tvor said...

Or Leanne may have been reacting to Mary's comment about clothing being optional. I know I would have :))))) anyway, I think it's a wonderful little touch picking up that festival as something Mary would have stumbled on and enjoyed.

Anonymous said...

Since Mary seems to be the only character on the street that hasn't changed and because she is a great character, I wonder if the writers don't actually write scripts for her - just give her the general idea and let her do her own "mary thing". I got the same feeling whenever Steve & Lloyd would do their hilarious scenes together.

Suburban Princess said...

Oprah did a wonderful show on it...about how people release their grief and heal a bit from the loss of a loved one. I cried the entire time.


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