I put Buffy and blogging on the back burner for a bit when I found out about the tragic passing of a close friend of mine. Daniel Gordon-Levitt -- known to most as "Burning Dan" -- was one of those guys you could spot from 10 miles away. You'd first recognize him by his tell-tale color scheme; pink and green were his favorite colors to match his favorite food, watermelon. As you got closer, you would spot his unmistakable chestnut-brown dreadlocks, ornamented at the ends with sparkly little wax balls, also usually pink. I first met him at the birthday party of Joseph of Windows to Sky, where he did a fire-spinning routine to Madonna's "Ray of Light." Having spent many years as a camper and counselor at Camp Winnarainbow, I'd seen people spin fire on several occasions. But I'd never seen anyone spin FIRE, if you know what I mean.
The rest of the evening, he proceeded to describe every aspect of his life as "Awesome!" I later learned that was pretty much the way he felt about everything. In fact, his signature article of clothing was a pink T-shirt that said "Carpe Awesome." Sally Slade, who invented the T-shirt with him, printed out a bunch of them to give away at one of the memorial events. The thing has barely had a moment away from my body.
I won't go over every biographical factoid about Burning Dan, since you can find it all in a matter of moments online. A few basic things: he was a talented fire spinner, an avid attendee of Burning Man (enough to name himself after the event!), a skilled photographer, and a master of all things computer. He helped his brother, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, start an amazing collaborative art website called hitRECord.org, which you should ALL go visit and contribute to. He started Flow Temple, a school for flow arts (juggling, poi, devil sticks, staff, etc.). He was the leader of a gigantic community of artists from all walks of life. He was an innovator and imagineer (the last day I saw him, he was teaching some newlyweds a beautiful way he'd invented of holding hands). And he was an amazing source of light in the lives of everyone who crossed his path.
After hearing the news of his death, I wrote him a poem, which I video recorded and linked to the top of this entry. If you did know him, hopefully it will bring back fond memories. And if you didn't, you can learn a little about a very special person who has inspired so many people to be their superhero selves.