Archive for October, 2006

Please Help Another Courageous Raft-Adventurer

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rip ss circle of death

This is a letter from Mattyopolis, a.k.a. Matt Bullard, Cap’n Bully of the S.S. Circle of Death.
He’s been piloting his beautiful homemade boat down the Mississippi since early July.

Both Jeff Stark and Kristina traveled with him before or after their own stints with the Miss Rockaway Armada.

His boat was sunk on Wednesday, October 18 leaving him high and dry and sending a sharp reminder to the rest of us that the Mississippi is a fierce waterway.

Please read on and send him support, even if it’s to let him know your glad he’s alive.

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(p.s. a “circle of death” is an official nautical term for this scenario:

when operating a speedboat if one were to stand up and catch the throttle, gunning the engine and knocking the operator overboard while yanking the steering wheel hard to one side… the boat then races around full circle and runs over the operator, killing them)

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From: Cap’n Bully veganhobo@yahoo.com>

Date: October 20, 2006 12:43:56 PM EDT

To: veganhobo@yahoo.com

Subject: In need of help – Reaching out to friends and loved ones

Hi All,

This past Wednesday while floating through St Louis on my boat, we got stuck between an anchored barge and several tugboats. 3 of the tugs approached to tell us we were on private property and had to move, but blocked our only exit with their tugs and when a fourth approached from upriver, their wash/waves sent a huge rush of water over the side of my boat and sent it under water immediately. Luckily for us we were all able to climb atop the parked barge and escape a sure death from drowning. It was one of the hardest things in my life for me to watch my boat and life for the past year sucked down right in front of me. I escaped barefooted with tshirt and shorts, the rest of nearly everything I own was sucked down with the boat. I literally lost everything, all clothes, travelling gear, music, passport, pictures from my entire life, everything except my life, which I am grateful to still have. I am now in St Louis trying to heal and rebuild my life. I’m surrounded by an extremely loving and caring community, which is amazing for morale.

I’m writing to reach out to y’all, and this is difficult, because I try to be independent, but I am in dire need for financial help of any sort, money, REI gift cards, healing words on how to stay positive and get through the loss, anything positive that would help me in rebuilding my life. Also if anyone knows of a positive lawyer in the St Louis area that would help, I am seeking litigation to hold the barge company responsible for their tug operators negligence.

I am staying at the Bolo Zone in St Louis for a while, and the address here is:

3309 Illinois Ave

St Louis MO

63118

And until my mom sends me another cellphone, the # here is 314.772.9178. I have a Paypal account that is this same email address. I would love to hear from all of you. I’m also turning 32 on Nov.1. I hope you’re all safe, warm, and well.

Matt

RIP SS Circle of Death

making up for lost photos…

These photos are from the last few chapters of 500 Fingers in the Soup
(aka the Miss Rockaway Armada’s 2006 Invasion…)

Kristina & Stephen.
Our friends and co-conspirators.
Stephen is an amazing barker and crowd riler.
Kristina is the backbone of the Door Raft, the auxiliary craft that lives on.

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the Bow & Front Fish Skeleton after a deep cleaning…

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Harrison
“…and now the man who lives inside the explosion & the biggest little rascal we know…”

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Marshall LaCount.
Nick Bindbeutel.
Mississippi Queens.
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We became known on the river as the… ahem… Naked People.
When it got too chilled to roll nude we made it a point to wear costumes.
This is outside of the Quad Cities on one of our last moments underway.
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there are more… we’ll be setting up a flickr page or something and we’re sure individual crew members will do the same, some already have

xo

Our Raft Rests in Andalusia…

… as we disperse across the country…

Our 68′ sculptural junk raft is standing atop cinder blocks in Andalusia, Illinois.

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We could write six pages of thanks yous to the people of the Quad Cities & Andalusia.
Thank you all so much for your help, generosity & friendliness in what could have been a scary, daunting & even impossible endeavor.

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In the days before we successfully dry docked our beast of a boat there were a few stories that call for report…

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After several days of truck runs to the dump, the Salvation Army & Ian’s barn, we were ready to make the final push to Ducky’s.
20 minutes before our launch, winds kicked up on the river making our escape impossible.

That afternoon we hit the town of Rock Island en masse for some decompression & coffee at the Cafe.
We also discovered a treasure trove of costumery outside of a thrift store. In a whirlwind of blouses, bloomers & polyester we crafted an unparralleled fashion show for ourselves and then the police. We were polite and good looking, though, and since we cleaned up when we were done, there was no harm or tickets.

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Arriving at Ducky’s Lagoon was indescribable.
Some of us were buckling down for days of fruitless pulling and grunting to even attempt at retrieving our raft from the clutches of the Ol’ Missip’.

Though the accelerator cable on Ian’s truck broke after the first raft, there were no other hitches.
We worked into the night with the help of Roger, the owner of Ducky’s, & his truck.
All the rafts came up with relative ease and now are butted against each other the same as they sat in the water.
Looking beautiful and dry.
Awaiting our return in the Spring.

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Vicky & Roger treated us to a free fried meal from the Ducky’s Lagoon grill and we all gorged (almost embarrassingly) on onion rings, chicken wings and fried mac ‘n cheese. Then danced the excitement off late into the night with the locals, zipping between their legs & limbo-ing on a battey powered cart built into beer cooler…

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After sleeping in the enormous, insulated & darker-than-dark boat hangar, we woke at dawn (some of us) and worked non-stop until the boat had been stripped and Spark had lifted it up on cinder blocks using car jacks from people eating lunch at Ducky’s.
It felt really good to work toward the goal of putting the raft to bed.

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Our crew has split like seeds off a dandelion stem…
Some by thumb, freight train, bus, plane and others remain in Rock Island taking their time to decide what will happen next in their own adventure.
Some of us look toward California, others the Northeast.

And then there is Kristina’s Door Raft, built from the scrap of the Good Ship Impossible’s tow rafts, which is going to continue on the Mississippi with several of our crew aboard.

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This story isn’t over…

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Red Wind in Our Sails

We’ve found a home for the winter!

Ducky’s Lagoon of Andalusia, Illinois is donating us a treelined corner of their five acre waterfront. Vicky & Roger, the kind proprietors, barely batted an eye and didn’t seem to realize how enormous a gift it is to allow us free dry docking. www.duckyslagoon.com

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(photo: amber and alex via ducky’s)

We make the move tomorrow.

For the past two days we’ve been evacuating all the junk & treasure that’s accumulated over the past two months on the river.

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Ian, the farm angel, is letting us store a small mountain in one of his barns.

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Another kind-heart Dennis, appeared on our boat one morning at 7am wishing to photograph us each individually and talking all of our ears off for hours with stories trimmed in names you’ll surely recognize. He kidnapped our laundry & fed us wine on his spacious front porch as we each were treated to bubble baths and pizza. We’ve also been given the use of his old Dodge Ram which has allowed us all the dump, recycling & Salvation Army runs we need.

Paco of the Rock Island Boat Club has let us camp behind their bar while we are working on the raft. We have a comfortable tent compound tucked out of view, allowing us much more room to work on the boat without of heaps of personal belongings and bedding.

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Marshall’s birthday broke up the intensity of clearing the boat.

We all ate chocolate. We all went swimming.

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The Harvest Festival was hot and interesting. We petted goats. Brandy painted dozens of faces. Ellery & Spark used the Amish washing machine system to really wash their clothes. Zoe taught slackrope in a gazebo. We ate kettle corn & conversed with all sorts of people from the area.

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Our final performance was unlike any previous. Lots of interaction with the crowd. Harrison got them slow-dancing with his 50’s love songs mash-up. Brandy and Annabelle crafted a skit in which cake was smooshed & booties were shook. Afterward, we were accosted en masse in costume and swept off to a mansion in the hills where we were fed cream cheese dips and let loose to explore the meticulous four floors as we pleased.

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We have been treated so well here.

We are lucky to get to return to this community in the Spring.

(thanks to scott h. for photos from our time in quad cities)