Hot Topic

September 26th, 2005

On the show that will air tonight at 7:30 (and be repeated Friday night at 10:30), I interview Burning Man founder Larry Harvey. I knew next to nothing about this annual festival before I started preparing for our conversation -- nothing except a vague sense that participation would require the denial of comfortable bathroom facilities. But the more I read about Harvey and Burning Man -- starting with their informative website, and continuing with the very helpful comments that some of you left on this blog -- the more questions I wanted to ask him. Because it turns out that the easy, simplistic notions about Burning Man -- naked people! running around! in the desert! -- can easily distract you from the profound community-building ethos at the core of this project. I hope that viewers get a glimpse of the passion and intellect beneath the wry and laid-back surface of this visionary guy. ...

Also, there's a "Wandering Josh" segment in which I got to hang out with some amazing artists in San Francisco as they prepared their gigantic pieces for Burning Man. Continuing a trend in which WJ producer Paul Sullivan has clearly been trying to kill me, I attempted to climb up some razor-sharp wire inside an enormous blue head, and then used a very scary tool called (I think) a plasma gun (though, sadly for my son, not a plasma lightsaber) in order to impress members of the Flaming Lotus Girls art collective. ...

And now, apropos of nothing (except that it shares the title of this little blog item and it's been happily running a lot in my head lately), let me parenthetically mention that the song "Hot Topic," from the first album of the group Le Tigre, is incredibly catchy. That is all.

Entry Filed under: citizenship,let's digress,tv episodes


  • 1. Steve Rhodes  |  September 29th, 2005 at 12:24 pm

    The lyrics
    for hot topic are online though peple will have to go and buy the
    album if they want to listen to it (it is worth getting).

  • 2. Josh Kornbluth  |  September 29th, 2005 at 1:19 pm

    Thanks, Steve!!

  • 3. Clement  |  October 31st, 2005 at 3:40 pm

    This was a great show, having never been to Burning Man and always wondering what the mystique was.

  • 4. Josh Kornbluth  |  November 1st, 2005 at 4:16 pm

    I appreciate your comment, Clement! Before I started preparing for the interview, I had absolutely no idea what was behind that mystique, either. The more I learned about Burning Man, the more fascinating and inspiring I found it.

  • 5. kevin mathieu  |  August 21st, 2006 at 8:26 pm

    Josh, FWIW, the correct term is plasma cutter or plasma torch. Cuts steel like butter.

  • 6. Josh Kornbluth  |  August 23rd, 2006 at 11:09 am

    … And fingers as well, I imagine! … Thanks for the correction, Kevin!

  • 7. Fracas  |  August 25th, 2006 at 10:38 pm

    Burning Man definitely makes the average person, who doesn’t think of themselves as an artist, want to do art. And once they experience creative self-expression, they are hooked.

    The art you showed being prepared was for Burning Man 2005. Was this episode filmed a year ago? And will it be aired again after Aug 25th?

  • 8. benevolent webmistress  |  August 28th, 2006 at 12:25 pm


    This episode was filmed in 2005. Good eye! It might be repeated but that hasn’t been determined yet. If you want to watch it again, you can always watch it right here on Josh’s site.


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