Author Archive for miss rockaway

The Quad Cities Envelope Us

Our dwindling crew has been moored in the Quad Cities area for a solid week now.

From Sunset Park in Rock Island, Illinois we are staging the search for our drydocking options. This is, and will continue to be, an overly ambitious endeavor and the end is not yet in sight. But in the meantime we’ve been having great adventures and getting to know different aspects of the community here which keeps our hearts and hopes big.


At the River Roots Live Music Festival in Davenport we pulled up behind the River Clean Up Barge and were given free access. Though the event made us question what it means to celebrate in 2006 when tickets to see the Black Crowes are 50$ for the weekend, we were able to meet lots of interesting people and play music.

[insert this image: a shadowed wall of cobble, 20′ feet in height. backlit by the neon from a floating casino in the distance. the shape of your friend, costumed & painted walking backward down the stones, the knotted rope slipping through their hands. A secret invasion. this was our pathway between the land and the raft]

Late in the night Brandy was seen to be racing back and forth on the tall bike with a human running in hot pursuit.

River Roots Music Festival

editor’s note: the Black Crowes have seen better days.


On Monday last we presented the fantastically historical tale of Miss Rockaway for the first time without Finley, which felt strange and went well. Zoe estimated there were 100 people in attendance. Out generous visitors brought us an insane amount of fresh vegetables, meat, peanut butter and rice milk and a darling wrote a thank you note that melted all of our hearts. Afterward we had a bonfire previously unmatched in size and it was observed that you can’t just throw down with a bonfire in a public park in Minneapolis or Brooklyn. Thank you Rock Island for rocking.


[picture this, please: an ex-military Ford F-150 in meticulous handpainted camo. burning on homebrewed biodiesel. 21 river rats puzzled together into every possible space. limbs poking out. chocolate being passed between smooshed hands. the state troopers who wrote no tickets and allowed us to drive off said we were setting a record for most bodies in one vehicle. We’re still waiting for them to visit the boat like they said they would.]

We slept on 150 acres of breathtaking farmland 12 miles off the river the night before we lost Wendell, Santiago, Tod, Callie and the Barnstormers’ Speakers. Ian, the Angel and caretaker treated us to a fire at night and homegrown eggs in the morning. Some of us slept in 100 year old barn with talkative animals and a gorgeously cobwebbed electric organ. Some of us slept on haybails and some of us slept in rabbit poop.

For many it was the first time being that far away from the river itself in months. 12 miles. Surely we’ll carry these waters in our blood from now on.


Several of our newer members, Mora & Lawrence, as well as our friend Kristina have laid claim to the remains of our tows and are soon to have converted them into a much smaller barrel raft that will carry them further down river this season.

They’re building the cabin out of recycled doors and it’s going to be very beautiful.


The Argus, Rock Island’s periodical, called us hippies and we strongly deny that claim and any that resemble it.


Thursday a group of 20 thirteen year olds came to visit and do workshops with us for a few hours. We painted, silkscreened and built a four barrel raft that they all piled on in lifejackets, climbing on top of each other against the shore of the river. Messages in bottles were also drafted and chucked into the weak autumn current.

Many came back to shore but some were never heard from again.


This morning three of us got up early like normal people and volunteered at the Quad Cities Botanical Center which was having a volunteer crisis. We taught 57 3rd graders how to make translucent butterflies our of mylar, clothespins and pipecleaners. Marshall accompanied on the lobby casinova.

Did you know that a monarch butterfly, in it’s caterpillar phase, hatches from it’s egg the size of an eyelash. It grows to become 2700 times this size before is weaves it’s chrysalis.

The Botanical Center is giving us space to table at their harvest festival this Sunday. Amidst the kettle corn, hay rides and farmer’s market hopefully we’ll be able to find the kind land donor who will let us rest so that we may resume in the Spring.


We are putting up one more performance:

7p Saturday, October 30th at Sunset Park in Rock Island

Free of Charge. Please bring a blanket or dress warmly as the show is outside.



When the Rough Gets Rougher


Um, so we’ve hit some rough waters, quite literally. We lost the tow rafts and had the middle section of the raft land on the back end of the front portion. Those large lakes are not to be trifled with. Hopefully we’ll be able to locate and retrieve the tow rafts and make the necessary repairs to proceed on to the Quad Cities. Wish us luck.

guess what… it’s wet on the river



our galley leaks

hot... dog...


guess what... it's wet on the river

three days of rain has illuminated the shortcomings of our junk raft.

our toes are wrinkly in our soggy socks.

to my right, a knot of us are redesigning the living quarters to be both beautiful and sleep us dryly.

we launch tomorrow and won’t stop until we drop… in on Rock Island, 75 miles downriver.

think dry thoughts and also of warm beverages and bedding.

Breakin’ Backs on the Dance Floor

Ruling the dance floor at a gay club till they kicked us out.

Harrison the Great performing his feats of fire-breathing daring-do.

Telling the tale of Miss Rockaway.

Dressing up as a high-rolling Ukranian couple before (almost) taking the Casino by storm.

So we ain’t dead yet. Even with the departure of some valued crew members, we carry on. And we carried on to Dubuque, Iowa to be specific, but not after a great stay in Prarie Du Chen. We made a very valuable friend there, Jim the mythical generous Texan. He even came down to Dubuque to see our ever-changing performance. We also picked up a new crew member in Prarie Du Chen, Amber. We gave her a weird new haircut and welcomed her into the fold. In Dubuque we also had visits from several crew member’s parents, which led to the inevitable scramble to utilize hotel room showers. Immediately following our performance on the grounds under the hulking Diamond Jo Casino boat, we ran off to a swanky art party in a huge warehouse. After perfomances by many of the musicians in our group, we absconded with all the leftover food from the nicely catered affair (with their blessing of course). The previous night had started with a nice low-key musical perfomance in a moody basement bar called Isabella’s. It transformed into a dance party when someone popped on frantic Indian music. After being booted from there, we wandered across town on rumors of a gay club and a drag king show. We eventually spotted flashing slices of light sprouting from the windows of a small nondescript office building and made a beeline for it. The drag show was over, but we took the dance floor en masse. The sweat started running and the clothes came off. Eventually we were told they were closing, but noticed on our way out that we seemed to be the only patrons there who were under that impression. Afterward we followed a new friend back to her apartment for communal showers (gotta conserver water, after all). Pretty much a great stay in Dubuque, until this morning when most of us awoke in a couple inches of water. Even with our rain tarps in position, they weren’t quite up to the job. Most of the day was spent drying clothes and sleeping bags at a laundromat, visiting our new best friend at the Mississippi Mug coffee shop, picking up scrap lumber and a new HUGE tarp from a friendly local, Kyle, and then re-tarping the boat. Tonight the crew scattered off to drier accomodations, with most of us squatting in an abandonded building. Tomorrow we hope to get on the river, rain or shine (but almost definitely rain) and mosey on down to the next unsuspecting town.

Oh, and new photos by Tod Seelie are up at

P.S. Anyone out there between Dubuque and the Quad Cities have some boots they don’t need? Size 9 – 9.5 mens. Or long underwear? Seriously, drop us a line.