8.22.2006

HOT PANTS IN A COLD COLD WORLD



Still ain't dead. Now we've made it to Winona, our first big stop on the river. We've lost a few of our core crew members at this point (as in they had to leave, not that we forgot them on some remote shore when we shoved off in the morning). Getting here we were still riding on the high of camping on enormous sand dunes, and the generous people of Wabasha, MN. They let us camp in the park, brought us food (like venison), watched our never-been-rehearsed vaudville show (and liked it), took care of our duck, and a city council member even drove down to a lock the day we left to bring us MORE food that had been gathered for us. Ridiculous.

So another list, this one of injuries I have personally sustained:
- Mosquito bites so numerous they literally overlap, and have gone so far as to end up on my ears, toes, knuckles, and lips.
- The aforementioned broken bottle up in the foot (I'm no longer limping, finally).
- Hit very solidly in the head twice, once with a huge metal pipe, once with a solid piece of 2x4. You don't see stars as much as white dots, really.
- Lost a good chunk of finger and most of my cuticle in a nasty pinch when the engine unexpectedly came down on it.
- Banged my head on the structure of the front section of the raft so many times we started keeping a talley. I broke 30 days ago, and for a while had about half a dozen scabs on my head to prove it.
- Tweaked my back pretty bad the other day, talk about inevitable.
- All the flies that have gravitated to the boat not only bite, but nibble at your open wounds. That's not so much an injury as gross and annoying.

Of course all of this doesn't compare one lick to Iris. He has had so many burns, cuts, bites, sctratches, bruises, and anything else you can think of that we had to make him leather gauntlets just to protect his arms when he's wrangling an overheating engine that's spitting boiling water. Next are some leather spats, water that boils up eventually falls down, after all.

Oh yeah, and a whole gallery of (mostly) new photos from the trip thus far is up here.

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MP3:

Goddamn I can't get enough of this album. Damn. So good.

• Ratatat - Kennedy

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8.16.2006

THE RIVER KNOWS YOU KNOW BETTER



So I ain't dead. . . yet. Still on the Mississippi, slugging along. Piloting a 100 ft. long craft with spotty engines is an adventure, no joke. Here's a run down of what I can remember:

- The raft is a four-section main craft (front section = personal item storage/large fish shape; middle section = galley/common area/second story stage/windmill for power; engine section = twin diesel VW Rabbit engines running on biodiesel/large fish shape; throne section = pilot/navigator seats above the toilet) followed by three towed un-powered rafts (bicycle ferris wheel/sound system speaker sculpture; isolation raft = a single hammock suspended above the water, no floor at all; bicycle powered raft).
- Engines tend to overheat or break in some way an average of four times a day, almost always in the middle of the river, and once right in front of an oncoming barge.
- Two crew members have become seriously ill and needed hospitalization at different times. It's kind of funny when you're trying to hitch a ride to the hospital in a small town and the driver won't let anyone in the car till she feels the ill person's forehead, just to make sure.
- One crew person "rescued" a white duck with a broken leg, it's been traveling with us since.
- I stepped on a large piece of broken glass underwater, taking about an inch and a half of it in the bottom of my foot. I've been limping like a gimp ever since (and have to stay out of the water).
- There was some obligatory nude/costumed mud wrestling at our first stop with the knee-deep sludge.
- The Coast Guard was tipped off to us and came to inspect. We passed with flying colors, although it cost us a day of waiting around.
- We've appeared in the NY Times, the Village Voice, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and most local papers where we've stopped.
- We've made a tradition of blasting music on our sound system every time we go through a lock on the river.
- Rope swings are awesome.
- Did I mention that the engines break down, a lot?
- And yes, that second story deck does get used for dance parties.
- Spiders on the Mississippi are freakin' huge.
- People we've met on the river have been very friendly, very encouraging, and very mystified as to why people would do this. A good quote from one member of the Coast Guard, "I wouldn't be caught dead on that thing. . . that doesn't mean it wouldn't be a lot of fun."
- The bicycle I brought with me has had a perpetually flat back tire. No amount of patching, replacing tubes, or close inspection of the wheel/tire seems to be able to solve the problem. Anyone got friends in Winona, MN with some spare bike parts?
- Sleeping on the beach without a tent is a great idea. . . if mosquitoes didn't exist.
- We dumpstered a huge bag of panties. You can imagine what happened when they were dumped out in the middle of the boat.
- We also dumpstered the holy grail of dumpstering. . . unmelted ice cream.
- A lot of energy has been devoted to the sewing of custom hot-pants for the crew.
- Our skiff boat was taken for a drunken joyride before it was ready, and cost us the use of one of the three cylinders. So our rescue boat is now a limping shadow of it's former self. But we're making do.
- Our launch party got busted by the Minneapolis PD. They headlocked, shoved to the ground, and cuffed a totally sedate and sober bystander, boarded our vessel illegally more than once against our protests, struck one of our crew in the head, threatened us with many things outside their jurisdiction, or that were not actually against the law, and evetually stomped off without giving a single ticket. My favorite was the one cop that hung back on the shore making fun of how worked-up his coworkers were.
- People who meet us in boats on the river seem to like to make donations, of beer.
- There is grape-flavored beer. Yes.
- While dumpstering junk food at a gas station we got threatened with a call to the cops. Moments later a gold muscle car pulled over to ask us if we were from the junk boat, and then offered us a ride. The driver had heard about us on a local talk radio station.
- One member of the crew got bit on the eyelid by some insect and it swelled up so much he could barely open his eye, and his eyebrow was actually recessed.
- We ran out of lumber, so we've been building shelving out of tree branches and driftwood.
- Tang makes crappy hose water taste okay.
- Long hard dangerous exhausting trips in foreign lands can make you miss your mom.

*Also apparently the local St. Paul conservative talk radio show has been following our progress, you can listen to one show (when we were boarded by the Coast Guard) here.

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MP3:

We've blasted this at night on the river. It's pretty surreal to hear A Silver Mt. Zion (members of Godspeed You! Black Emporer) coming out of four mini-towers of speakers and drifting across the inky water. A sort of Apocalypse Now in middle America.

• A Silver Mt. Zion - 13 Angels Standing Guard Round The Side Of Your Bed

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8.08.2006

DOWN AND OUT NEVER LOOKED SO GOOD



Holy crap. We have built it, and it floats. It not only floats, it hauls ass for a 70 ft. four-section pontoon boat (thanks to twin VW car engines). Some photos from the process here. And more updated photos of the boat here.

We start down the Mississippi tonight. . .

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MP3:

It's the Goddamn Rattlesnake covering the Pogues. Bon Voyage.

• The Goddamn Rattlesnake - Sayonara

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8.01.2006

WE DO THINGS A BIT DIFFERENT ROUND HERE


(MRA = Miss Rockaway Armada)

it's two in the morning, pissing rain, and I'm sitting on a stranger's front porch to pick up their wireless signal just to bring you this little update from Minnesota. We've landed at an amazing build location on the Mississippi, north of downtown Minneapolis. It has a spacious backyard, great water access, a dock, houseboats, a jet ski, a trampoline, a fairy castle, and most importantly an indoor bathroom (even if it is in a spider-infested basement). Building has been going well, if not arduously and a bit slowly. One of the crew rigged up an electrified wire to cut/melt styrofoam into custom shapes/sizes and that has made packing the pontoons much easier. The heat has been unbelievable and I have already succumbed to sun/heat related illness at least once. Dumpstering for food has been going really well, especially now that a friendly local, Dan, has shown some of our crew around a bit. The Barnstormers showed up today with a huge custom-painted sound system for the raft that they drove all the way from South Carolina. And apparently one of our female crew members swam across the river last night, snuck into a scrap yard, and then proceeded to climb to the top of one of the four story tall metal scrap heaps. . . naked. And we haven't even started the trip yet.

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MP3:

Have you heard of Girl Talk? You probably have, it's the new hot-sh*t on the block. I don't need to say much more than "mash-ups on crack" to get you up to speed. But apparently the rapid-fire sample-everything approach is leaving music nerds with neck injuries from spinning their heads so hard.

• Girl Talk - Once Again

• Girl Talk - Bounce That

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