Video of the Week: Charlie Goes to Burning Man


“I didn’t want to not have the opportunity to come here. So I said, I’m just going to do it.”

Charlie Warner was 81 when he decided that he had to experience the Burning Man festival, a week of self-sufficient community and art (or drugs and self-indulgence, depending on how you want to see it) that’s held each summer in the Nevada desert. For many participants, most of them in their 20s and 30s, Burning Man is even more than that – it’s a year-round aesthetic, a way of being in the world.

Burning Man is challenging. The desert is inhospitable; the Personal Survival checklist includes a dust mask and goggles for dust storms, flashlights, 1.5 gallons of water person a day and ear plugs, because not everyone needs to sleep. The action is non-stop. Warner, a media professor at NYU and former AOL executive from the days when “You’ve Got Mail!” was new, considered all this in light of his health issues – diabetes, recent open heart surgery and bone marrow cancer in remission – and decided to risk it.

“Words are simply not adequate to describe the energy, the feeling, the spirituality… To see the artists using the computer, using technology to do things that Manet and Monet and Cezanne and Renoir couldn’t possibly dream of.”

This video, by filmmaker Jan Beddegenoodts, documents his marvelous experience.

(Thanks to Open Culture for pointing us to “Charlie Goes to Burning Man!)


8 responses to “Video of the Week: Charlie Goes to Burning Man

  1. Charlie, Thanks for sharing this! I am the same age as you and have wished I could attend BM. If you are taking insulin four times per day, you might enjoy having an insulin pump instead. I have had mine for several years and it is so much better than injecting!! Talk to your doc about it!

  2. What a wonderful movie! Burning Man is probably the most age- and class-integrated event in the US. It takes courage to attend, especially if you’re in your 80s and have several serious health issues. Good for Charlie Warner. I’m not surprised he got so much out of it, but I am delighted.

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