Larry and the Green Fairy

I first remember Larry when I was still at Burning Man, two days after the Man burned in 1995. I celebrated my 25th birthday on playa, fell madly in love with Burning Man, and I stayed to clean up. I just couldn’t leave! A year earlier, I had moved to San Francisco, a dream I had since I first visited as a young girl. I never dreamed I would find something like Burning Man in an incredible location like Black Rock Desert, but there I was. Home. Two years later, I remember Larry pulling my then boyfriend, Paul Addis, and me into a meeting late one night on Hualapai Playa. We were there with maybe two dozen others as he explained that the sheriff had relieved the gate of its cash, and he needed us to walk around and collect cash donations from participants. Of course, we did. He offered me a lifetime ticket to Burning Man for $500. I was a starving artist and couldn’t afford it, but more importantly, I thought it was a terrible idea and a huge waste of money. There was no way this thing would continue! Turns out Larry was as much of a pitbull with Burning Man as I have been with my absinthe. That was right around the time I started bootlegging absinthe, and Larry was a huge fan, perhaps my biggest. Since his passing, a friend told me that there was a night when Larry, Flash, and Peter were craving absinthe and set out into Black Rock City to find some. To find me. As they wandered through camps asking if Absinthia was camped there, they left a trail of participants asking, “Was that….Larry Harvey?” I have memories of him at the Anon Salons, holding court with a neon green glass in his hand. One memory in particular stands out, where he had five glasses and was quite belligerent. Marian was there and while she was annoyed by his behavior, we also found it hilarious and endearing. A performer named Magenta was there that night and met him on that fifth glass of absinthe, and then wowed us all by spinning in circles with a knife on her scarved head. I once witnessed Larry managing his fame. I was in first camp and saw him on the poop deck. I walked up to say hello, and he said a very formal “Yes, hello” without looking up. A moment later, he did and caught my eye, “OH! Hello dear, how are you?” It was clear that he heard “Hello Larry” often from people he didn’t know. It was interesting to be treated like a stranger and then recognized by a man whom everyone knew. Ah, playa celebrity. But of course, he was more than that. So much more. The moment made me stop and think what it must be like to walk through Black Rock City as Larry Harvey. Have you ever thought about that? The last time I saw Larry was burn night 2017. I was walking back from the burn to Marian’s absinthe bar to serve my absinthe, my burn night tradition. I had just witnessed a man dive into the fire, and I was completely shell shocked. I remember telling Larry this, and he, too, seemed shell shocked. We didn’t have that nice warm welcome that we usually have. It was too intense of an evening for us all. My favorite story of Larry occured burn night in 2015. I arrived at Marian’s pop up absinthe bar, and no one was around. I found a black baseball cap that said, MEOW, in the bar, and put that on without a second thought. I wandered over to first camp to drum up some interest. I walked in, and Larry caught my eye and gave me a huge smile. Now, Larry had never ever flirted with me before, he was always like an uncle to me, my crazy Uncle Larry, but on this night, I was dressed as Marian, with an all black outfit, a long blonde wig, and the last minute addition of the MEOW hat. Perhaps the only night I have ever not worn green on playa, I was Absinthia dressed as Marian serving Absinthia’s absinthe in Marian’s pop up bar. Larry didn’t leave my side all night. He escorted me back to the bar and I served him and many others absinthe that evening. A lot of absinthe. I said, “MEOW” a lot; what else does one say when they are mimicing Maid Marian? Larry told the story of how he had almost been arrested earlier that night during the burn. The Man was taking forever to burn, and Larry was getting worried. He also wasn’t wearing his Hat – I had witnessed him toss it into the crowd at the GLC a few years prior. He just wasn’t as recognizable without it, and beneath the slowly burning Man, a young LEO, as Larry described him, stopped him and asked him what he was doing so close to the Man, with people lying on the ground nearby watching it burn. “I am worried about it falling,” Larry said. “Well, that is not your concern. Get out of this area.” “Listen, son…” Larry started to say. “Son? Don’t you condescend to me! Now leave this area before I have you arrested and taken away!” Larry loved this story and told it several times that evening. We continued drinking absinthe, talking about such things as what to do about the Plug and Play camps, Larry sharing his ideas about building small Temples in the keyholes, and more. When the evening wore down and we all had more than enough absinthe, Larry offered to drive me, still dressed as Marian, home. I was all the way out in Illumination Village at 3 o’clock and A that year, and welcomed the ride. Larry spent about ten minutes debating with himself whether or not to drive his golf cart or his Jeep, and in the end, the Jeep won. He tried to unlock the door with his key, and I had to hold his arm to help him get the key in the lock. I went around and got in the passenger side to see him put a half full glass of absinthe in the cup holder! “Larry! You are driving me home with a glass of absinthe in the cup holder?” “Of course I am, dear, now let’s get going.” He drove out onto the playa and headed to my camp. “OMG LARRY that is a piece of art!” I hollered when a big something jumped out in front of the car. He slowed down and narrowly missed it. When found my camp, he seemed determined to drive me all the way to my door. Now, IllVille is home to a lot of fire art, which means there are propane tanks, gas lines, and art everywhere. A bad place for anyone to drive, but like I said, he really wanted to drive me to my door. We got to a spot where he had to stop, and I jumped out before he could drive any further into dangerous fire art, grabbed my case of absinthe, and gave him a big hug. I told him I loved him. He seemed embarrassed, and turned his Jeep around and drove home. Thank you, Larry. You created a world I never dreamt I would find. Thanks to you, I found my Island of Misfit Toys and a place where I belong. I came to the playa a shy photographer, hiding behind my camera, and there I found my dreams, my crazy absinthe induced green fairy dreams, and I made them a reality. I am a different person now. We all are. Like all of us, you are flawed, you are human, you are loved. You and your friends gave us the landscape to make magic happen. You left one hell of a trace, my friend. Cheers, Absinthia pic 1998 Media Mecca Press Party; I think the photographer was $teven Raspa but I am not certain.

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