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Paul Addis

December 4, 2007

I've been corresponding with Paul Addis, the artist/lunatic currently doing time for, among other things, the premature burning of the Burning Man effigy last Summer, attempting to take out Grace Cathedral with firecrackers and threatening schoolchildren and hotel clerks in San Francisco and Seattle with toy guns.

So far, the correspondence has not been going very well. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote Addis (who's currently being held in SF County Jail) a fairly formulaic letter introducing myself and saying I'd like to meet him and hear his story. I got a vitriolic response. Addis blames SF Weekly for exposing him to arrest in its review of his one-man show about Hunter S. Thompson, Gonzo, in which nitrous oxide-filled balloons and whiskey were sold at the concessions stand. Our reviewer, Nate, didn't expose the show to anything of the sort. Illegal and semi-legal stuff is sold at black-box theatre concession stands every now and then. It's no big deal. Anyway, the letter spat out invective after invective. He called me "scum." Said my letter made him "vomit." So I wrote him back. My latest missive, which he'll probably receive today, is a lot less polite.

Addis is a passionate person. His work as a playwright and the stunt he pulled at Burning Man qualify as artistic statements, I think. But lately his mind seems to be betraying him. He's off his meds and on some kind of egomaniacal streak. There's a fine line between art and madness and Addis seems to have crossed over to the dark side. Hope he crosses back.

Hopefully our correspondence will hit a groove and we'll be able to have a conversation that extends beyond tit for tat. Right now, the prison psychiatrists won't let him sign the necessary media waiver enabling me to visit and interview him at SF County Jail. Probably just as well. Even if he did agree to speak to me, I'd probably get an earful. Some day though, we'll meet.


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