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“Burn it! Burn the fucking thing!”. Feeling of the crowd is quite clear. If possible, if it is not too much of a bother, would sir kindly consider lighting this symbol of all things gloom? Please? Now? BURN THE FUCKING THING!

Personally I would pay a gazillion dollars for a bow and flaming arrow. Burn it! Emotions of Zozobra runs high. We are rather eager to set our gloom on fire. But let us begin with the beginning.

Zozobra, the burning man of Santa Fe, is held every year and the idea is to write down all your gloom on a piece of paper. These pieces of paper are then placed at the foot of a huge 15 meter tall Zozobra effigy and the whole thing is torched. Gloom up in flames, let us move on to next year. That is the idea anyway. Emotions run rather high as we want to burn our gloom and everything has been stalled for 90 minutes due to wind. BURN, please.

I am at Zozobra with Daniel Milnor. We are filming UNA PURA VERDAD. Basically I am stalking Daniel with a camera. It is an interesting way to experience things. This being New Mexico, it is not surprising we have met people dressed in renaissance clothing (medieval people I like to call them), a beauty queen, a massive police presence, and a small Jedi-girl with pink bunny ears wielding a light saber. Also there are snipers on the roof. And I look down and discover I am standing on the pitching mound on a baseball field. Burning Man on a Field of Dreams with Snipers on the Roof.

Via a friend of Dan’s we have access to the VIP area, a good spot in front of the crowd for filming. Afternoon has proceeded nicely, it is now close to 8pm, the sun has set over the field of dreams, and we should like to burn some gloom now please. One problem. Wind. Too much of it that is. For an agonizing hour and a half the proceedings are delayed due to wind. Patience is not really on anyone’s plate right now. “Burn the fucking thing” the crowd chants beautifully every time Man with Tall Hat asks us to wait some more. My kingdom for a bow and flaming arrow I tell Dan. I am sure the snipers are checking to see if they have some tracer-rounds lying around. Burn!

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Just before the crowd is ready to start testing just how far they can throw a Zippo, the procedures finally roll forward. Dancers dance, twirling fire batons are, well, twirled, the same “roarrrrrrr” sound effect is looped on the PA, not really helping our sanity at this point.

In one minute it’s over. Zozobra and all the gloom, well the paper, is gone. After all that waiting, perhaps a bit of a quick release. Not sure all my gloom can disappear in a minute, but hey, geronimo, maybe it can, let us see if all the gloom is gone, for a while at least, quite sure we need to BURN THE FUCKING THING again next year. Crowd goes home, Snipers goes home, Jedi-girl goes home, we all go home, presumably gloom free for a little while. Onwards and forwards.


So endeth the tale of Burning Man on a Field of Dreams with Snipers on the Roof. As I was video filming for 99% of the time I only have a few quick nothing snapshots. It is my one gripe with doing video. I cannot shoot stills also, and miss it terribly. Itch I cannot scratch. To see my Zozobra video footage, well look no further, you must watch UNA PURA VERDAD (see what I did there, clever bit of promotion).


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10 thoughts on “Burning Man on a Field of Dreams with Snipers on the Roof

  1. Charlene 5 years ago

    Did either of you contribute your grievances to the flames?

    The chinese in southeast asia burn lots of paper effigies during funerals. Paper houses, cars, potted plants, mahjong sets, servants, money (of course!) and just about everything you can think of, for the reverse purpose: so these luxuries will follow them to hell (heaven is for the gods, not regular souls).

    Here’s hoping everyone’s beliefs re burning holds true for them. Otherwise we’d get a fair few confused souls in the afterlife!

    (hehehe, you swore on the internet. Hehehehe)

    1. Flemming Bo Jensen 5 years ago

      No I was busy videoing and hiding from the staff in the VIP area as we lost most of your VIP stickers and could not risk getting thrown out! The act of burning seems to have many purposes and beliefs.

  2. JerseyStyle Photography 5 years ago

    Flemming Bo’s piece of gloom on a paper: “I have an itch I cannot scratch. My kingdom for an extra hand or to.”

    Great story. Never heard of Zozoba before.

  3. Daniel Milnor 5 years ago

    I had too much grief. They would have had to make a larger structure. And, I had to deal with Flemming which causes another kind of grief. On a serious note, I do love this entire event, concept and belief. I think it is especially poignant in the world of the 24-hour news cycle where we don’t seem to learn a lot of “new” but we sure get the bad news over and over and over making it seem as if the world is near end. This morning in LA……”Death Storm 2013″ as someone got a few inches of snow in the mountains. Girl found in water tank on top of hotel in downtown LA. Shooting spree in Ladera Ranch. Man kills wife’s mother in drug fueled rage. Lakers owner dies. And these little tidbits brought to you by well coiffed anchors reading but not understanding what it is they are doing. Okay, I just wrote another blog post.

    1. Flemming Bo Jensen 5 years ago

      So your piece of paper would just say “Flemming” and mine would say “Daniel” !

      It is truly crazy that the only news is bad news, and usually way overexagerated bad news. Usually tiny bits of upbeat stories are saved for the end of the news shows in Denmark, so you are not left too depressed by the 30 minutes of horror we just reported for you.

  4. Radek Kozak 5 years ago

    Great post. Almost heard the crowd roaring in my head. Must’ve been cool to witness all this burning. Totally hear you on the bow and flaming arrow thing! On a tottaly different matter i like your writing skills man, you’re getting better and better each time – just wanted to drop that in case i didn’t mention it earlier hehe.

    1. Flemming Bo Jensen 5 years ago

      Thanks so much Radek. My writing skills are really basic and blunt, but I have decided I am just going to write – every day – regardless. If I had like a 10th of say Charlene’s writing skills, I would possibly write more than shoot. Anyway, glad you liked it amigo.

      1. Radek 5 years ago

        This bluntness you’re talking about – this is precisely one of the things that i like about it but i totally agree with you on Charlene’s writing. I very much like her type of narrative, and coincidentally or not it just harmonizes and enhances her photos.

        and funny you should said that – i’d take a 10th of either of you ! it’s just damn frustrating when i can’t voice myself properly in english – definitely one of the things i would need to work on this year but it’s labourious stuff – thinking in mother lang and trying to translate it somehow to foreign hehe

        Anyway, keep up the good stuff man, looking forward to yours another piece of Una Pura Verdad doc

  5. Jeanne 5 years ago

    I love the idea – we all need to get rid of our bad feelings big and small – what a great way to do it