The man burn in 1989 was the first publicized by the Cacophony Society, and was covered by local television. The burn didn’t go as hoped: His support beams were not thick enough for his weight, and he cracked, contorted, crumbed to his knees, head sagging. They had to burn him in a sitting-kneeling posture.
Despite the mishap, the TV coverage continued on cheerily as if nothing was wrong.
Jerry James recalls:
There were 500 people on hand. We assembled the Man as we had the year before, but when we started to raise him one of the leg joints I had constructed failed. He landed on his butt with his head slumped, resting on his chest. There was no practical way to fix him so we tied off the guy wires and left the Man in a sitting position. I felt like he looked—dejected. We got word that the cops were on the way, so we started the fire. A lot of police arrived quickly, as did the local news. The cops milled through the crowd, not really approaching anyone. Larry and I started an interview with the reporters—Larry spoke eloquently and I turned into a deer-in-the-headlights.
The television coverage in 1989 encouraged Larry to dream large about the future of the man (to the point of obsession). During this period cracks began to deepen in the relationship between Larry and Jerry James. By 1990, James would distance himself from the building of the Man.