Burning Man

A Cacophonous World


Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society (Last Gasp) is a copiously-almost obsessively-documented history of a gang of arty pranksters you've likely never heard of. They celebrated man at his most ludic, least workaday, using the detritus of urban life and popular culture as their playthings. The Cacophony Society inspired or created phenomenon ranging from the novel/movie Fight Club to urban exploration, billboard alteration, the Yes Men, flash mobs, and "Santa Rampages."

I was a member of the society's Los Angeles branch in the 1990s, and Cacophony's most popular cultural outgrowth, Burning Man, was the subject of my first book, This is Burning Man. At its best Cacophony was neither political nor intellectual but just about making unusual fun. This thick tome provides future cultural historians the raw materials needed to make sense of how a gang of misfits out to make their lives more vivid shaped the entertainment patterns and self-image of many tens of thousands of people, decades down the line.