47.2172° n, 95.2048° w
to the south, always southwards!
2,340 miles to the Gulf of Mexico
Fox News announced a moment of salutary rest and intense pleasure while the fat devil flew in an invisible airplane over the U.S.–Mexico wall.
Captain America took the opportunity of a lifetime and went on acid.
Indiana Jones is a Republican.
Evil is banal and everybody is able to do it.
You can choose: Ninja Turtle, Bad Lieutenant, or Billy the Kid – law and order will be established. Hotdogs and Coca-Cola are indispensable,
like bread and water.
There is one King and Prince is his father.
Free from political correctness, Kevil / Katan / Kblis has lost nothing of their power.
Red + White + Black
Fuck Huckleberry Finn and Mark Twain. The romance will be over by the end of the trip, I promise.
(Kathe Burkhart – studio visit report)
In the bright morning sun, a fresh layer of frost was glimmering on the cornfield behind the barn that dons a gigantic American flag waving in the wind. As i was taking the photo, Max whispered to me that we were being observed. in the shadow of a tree, on the nearby avenue, was the silhouette of a man. We drove by to say hello.
“What were you guys doing here?” asked the shadow.
“Hello! we were just taking some photos.”
“Photos of what?”
“Oh... of the flag and the cornfield.”
“Aha, ok. well, yeah, there are still a few patriots here. C’mon, step out of the car.”
We got out of the car and at that very moment realized he was carrying a Magnum under his arm. A big black gun with a red handle.
He wore shorts, a long beard, a look of boldness, flip-flops, a hoody, and that huge Magnum.
“What do you think of our President?”
Max and i looked at each other. “i don’t know him personally,” said Max.
“Smart answer,” said the guy with the gun.
“What do you think of your President?” asked Max.
“I think he’s doing a very good job for us!” said the farmer proudly.
America, from a grain
of maize you grew
with spacious lands
the ocean foam.
A grain of maize was your geography.
(Excerpt from ‘Ode to Maize’ by Pablo Neruda)
La Crescent, Minesota
It was 8 in the morning and Tony was already there with the boat. He drove it all along from Three rivers and was eager to return back home. The forehead of Southwind looked like a battleground of mosquitos and all kind of flies, he was doing 70 (miles) on highway. All seemd good and ready as we left it 6 months ago when we were working on her at Kens warehouse at Three rivers. We put her into the water on a public pontoon and started to make everything ready for the trip. Wood, that we got as a present from local boat owners, water and food for couple of days, tools, technical equipement, sleeping bags and some clothes.
We had one day for organisation, the morning after was the day of departure. We still had a night at the airbnb and at 3 in the morning a strong storm surprised us. The wind was hawling around all the house corners and big splashes of rain kept on coming all over again. We stood up and ran to the boat. We left the boat covered with tarps that Mark Bidelman designed for us but as we have never tried it out before we did not know if they would hold this kind of storm. Quiet and full of fears we were aproaching the boat as the storm continued. Luckly the boat was still there, safe and sound and completely dry. Releaved we climbed in and made our first coffe on the boat, sitting under the roof and the tarps observing the storm to finish and daylight to arrive.
Running on steam does sound romantic but it’s a long and very slow procedure. First you fulfill the boiler with the water, than You burn the wood in the fireplace of the boiler. It takes an hour and a half that the pressure raises to 130. Most important elements are a pressure meter, you should not go over 160, otherwise the boiler might explode. Water level checkpoint shows you the position and amount of water in your boiler. Water pump helps to fulfil the boiler every time the water level drops. Security valve is there to release the presure by itself if it gets to high. You can also do it manualy just by oppening the valves of two whistles on the top of the boiler, going trough the roof out. This whistles make the recognizing sound, whooooo whoooooo whoooooooo. The fire in the boiler boils the water, the boiling water creates the preasure. The preasure goes trough the pipes to the engine where you kick the starter so the pistons start to run up and down. They move because of the preasure and by moving they are running the chain that runs the paddles. On the top of the engine there is an acceleration valve. Chain from the motor is connected to transmission box, 4 gears plus reverse, a remaining from a hot rod. The second chain runs from the gear box to the paddle whell and makes the paddles run.
You need to grease the machine and the pistons every half an hour and keep the chain oily all the time.
On the upper Mississippi, where the stream is around 1-2 miles per hour we would reach a speed of 3 to maximum 4 miles per hour.
NIGHT ON THE BEACH
We were running low on wood and decided to spend the night on a little island. If its not written private propertie you can do it. Otherwise better not. Beaches are mostly sandy, normaly going quickly stiff into the water so you could beach your nose without beeing afraid to breake your paddles or destroy the rudder. As the current on the upper Mississippi is still slow we had no problem to park on this ideal beach, tied the Southwind to the big tree trunk, leave the anchor behind and made a small camp fire to fullfill our romantic expectations. The night was calm, no rain and no wind, we only got a company of a cloud of mosquitoes that ate us alive. Maybe it was also buffalo gnats. Max rolled himself in a mosquito net but they were biting throuh it. I dressed a onezie, put the sox high but they even got trough this. This night there was no sleeping just an endless zooming concerto.
In the morning we cut the drift wood with a hand saw and prepared the pledge of wood for the next day steming trip.
SAVED BY DALE
We were steaming already the whole day trying to reach Marquet. The public pontoon should be just behind the bridge but I turned the rudder to late. The power of the stream was stronger here than ever before and our steam pressure also very low so we missed the pontoon for five meters. In the meantime it started to be competely dark. We turned the boat towards the stream and wanted to sail upstream, to come back to the pontoon. A strong light was coming from underneath the bridge, the place where i saw barges parked before. I thought they were helping us with the lightt. A few second later i realised that its moving, huge barge arrived under the bridge and enlighted us with their big reflector. We were moving centimeter by centimeter, but unfortunately not forward. The stream was carring us with it, we were drifting into the night. The paddles could not go against the strenght of the stream. We threw the anchor but all I could feel holding the rope was rumbling of the chain and the anchor on the muddy floor. A voice came out of the night, close to the larboard: “Hey guys, connect this rope to the front, i wil pull ya out.” Ten minutes later we were on land, Southwind safly connected to the pontoon. Dale, with his 110 horse powered fishing boat pulled us out and brought us to Mcgregor. Dale lived all his life by the river and knows every inch of it. “Every time the river gets bad, just keep to the shore!”, he said, “ and look after the white caps!”
MCGREGOR AND RAILROAD
Mcgregor is a small little town where the railroad cuts the entrance to the river bank. Train compositions here are really long, could also be a kilometer or even more. They are passing quite often, announced with a strong siren. They are all cargo trains. Somethimes they would stop for an hour and completely disconnecting the river bank from the city. People would stay with the cars on one or another side, blowing angry their horns. For climbing underneath the train there is a fee of 10.000 USD.
As we were wandering trough Mcgregor in the night, deciding to eat a burger or Mexican, we came across an antique shop. In the window there were old metal pots with emajl, low price and nice condition. The owner of the shop introduced him self as Cowboy Jim. Big white beard in a pony tale, long white hair, somewhere between 60 and 70. With a face like this he could also be an old country singer. Place was full of all kind of differen stuff, from photos, printed paintings to pots and cassette players with eagle feathers. We took four pots, to use them for cooking on the boat and Cowboy Jim invited us to come after dinner to his place. “Up the stairs and trough the coridor. Room number 2”, he said.
We finished the burgers and went to the given adress. I do not know how many scenarios i have created in my head as we were climbing up this dodgy screechy staircase surounded with yellow/brown wals to the second floor of the house where we found a little paper on the wall with handwriting, RING FOR COWBOY JIM.
We rang the bell and there he was, welcoming us in and pointing us to the next door. “Come here, come here, you have to see it. Infront of us oppened an enormous roof garden full of tomatoes and herbs. All was here, thym, sage, basilicum, lavender, you name it. He gave us a small wooden bucket and said to fullfill it with everything we want. It felt like paradise. After this followed the second room, there he was growing oyster mushrooms. We got pacages of dried ones. After this followed the meet, frozen deer and smoked pig. All looking delicious. On the right side was his bedroom, place where he stored the photos and framed them. The last room was in blue UV lights, Cowboy Jim was growing here his medicinal weed, he has a fourth stage of prostate cancer and its the only thing that helps him fight it trough.
We left his place hadfull, almost not able tocarry all the presents he gave us.
At seven in the morning next day he stopped by the boat for a coffee. He arrived with big cowboy hat and a coffee mug of his own. Soft5 morning light enlighted his face and long white hair and the beard while he was sharing with us his life stories.
There are two possibillities for the farmers to sell and to transport corn. First one is to sell it to Elevators, big silos storages infront of river banks from where the corn is loaded to barges and sailed to New Orleans from where it is delivered all around the world. Second one is the cargo trains. Cargo trains would disperse the corn inside the US. The price varies all the time. “It depends if China is buying the corn or not and the amount of corn production in South America”, said farmer Tim from the Booty palace bar next to Hamburg. Mostly the farmers that we met do not care for what the corn will be used for or where it is going. Its profit and survival what counts.
Many towns along the river suffered from the floods. They say that the one this year was for some even bigger than the one in 93, considered the biggest in history. Some places are just flushed away. Lots of places in the cities are empty and abandoned. You see a marina on a satellite map but this marina does not exist there any more. It happened to us already two times. First time it was in Muscatine, the city known for the shell button factory. On the map the marina looked like a perfect stopping place, secured from the South wind that was giving us hard time already throughout the all day.
When we approched we saw that the pontoon is broken in half, signed: KEEP AWAY! PRIVATE PROPERTY. The entrance into the marina was very narrow but we still tryed, hoping that around the corner there would be something working. I did not even heard a crack when it happened, just loud Merde!!!, came from Max side. One of two rudders broke. The entrance was two shallow and the rudder broke like butter. We could not continue like this so we decided to stop on a broken pontoon and try to fix it with a piece of wood.
I was standing there on land with a big axe, trying to cut the wood for the rudder while a kid of seven to nine years old arrived. He started to give orders immediately. He said he is an officer of the law and he will arrest us. His eyes were gloomy and he was acting really weird. Never saw a street kid with this kind of attitude before. He went to the boat, started to klimb on it and just grabbing everything what was coming infront of his hands. All the surrounding seemed dodgy, all abandoned, broken or destroyed by purpuse, only weird characters passing on a big parking lot nex to the marina. As we tried to keep the kid of the boat he kept on screaming on us that we can not tell the officer of the law where to go and that he will not move out of the boat. Situation was getting really tensed. Behind the shoulder we were all the time watching if his bigger brothers or friends are arriving from the corner. In the mintime i managed to screw the piece of wood to the rudder and fix it. We started the motor, pushed the kid away and drove away. As we forgot Maxs bed on the pontoon the kid grabbed it and looking at us with a smile, threw it into the water.
We spent this night beached on an island infront of the town.
Second time we came to a situation like this was in Hanibal, the birthplace of Mark Twain. The Marina was flushed away for 500 m. On the place where it was standing before were only construction sides. The whole pontoon section was floating next to the woods so we decided to park there. Everything remained, the little marina house, all the bolders, even the gas tank was there. All abandoned and smashed. This places have a weird agressive energy to it. As no one was there we decided to stay. We secured the boat and climbed trough the forest and railroad tracks to the city. There is only one Mark Twain.
At one at night someone banged on the boat. It was two kids, teenagers this time. They asked if we are ok and that we are safe until they are around. They sat on the pontoon, next to the crashed Marina house and started a fire with remainings from the house. They were burning until sunrise and than they left.
Beeing born in Yugoslavia the only window towards the western world was mostly trough Hollywood movies. Rambo, Indiana Jones, Robo-cop, Davy Crocket and many other heroic characters played a big role of imagination in my youth days. With my first introduction to MTV (Music Television) , Prince was definitely one of them. Since he died in 2016, they made his studio at Paisley Park, a 65,000-square-foot complex,a memorial place with open doors for touristic visits. Even though I was not such a big Prince fan I still cherish big respect towards his music and style. There are no special marks or signs for the studio. Just a big highway surrounded with industrial infrastructure in the middle of nowhere. We spent almost two hours to find it. Entrance costs 60 dollars per person, no photo allowed. I am not sure whether Prince really had such a bad taste or Graceland Holdings (company that is running also Elvis home) have recreated the place after his death. Everything looks like a model for something, a big, badly made scenography for eighties movie. I can not belive that this is the iconic places where he slept with Madona.
In the big hall, with baby blue walls and clouds painted on them, the meditation room, there is a plexiglass box on the height of 3,5 m. Plexiglass seems old, you can see stains of glue on the sides and one part of it is broken. This, as it was explained by our guide, is the place of Princes Urn, his ashes remaining are here. On April 21st, 2016, Prince was found dead in an elevator at his studio, accidental overdose with Fentanyl.
DAM AND LOCK SYSTEM
On the Mississippi river there is 27 lock and dams. All of them serve to control the river. The speed of the currant and the amount of water floating. All of them are controled by Army Corpse of Engineers.
Before the entrance you call on Marine radio station number 14. “Small recreational boat going south. Can we enter lock nr_?” The green light turns on and the big door open. The boat enters inside, the doors close and the level of water starts falling. On the biggest one even 36 feet. When the water level is down than the oposite doors open. After the loud signal the boat can leave the lock.
PART 1 UPPER-MISSISSIPPI
MINNEAPOLIS > SAINT LOUIS
1/09 > 16/09
1>15 september sunrise/sunset : 6H30>7H00 / 19H59>18H55
temp : 15°>25° 15>25°
Sunday 1rst septembre
arrival Minneapolis 15H50
go to Dunham's Sports
140 Tyler Rd N, Red Wing, MN 55066, États-Unis
drive to Brownsville (2H30)
crew + M&M sleep in :
315 N 2nd St, Brownsville, Minnesota 55919, États-Unis
sharon :+1 (507) 482-6360
Monday 2nd september labour day
grab wood at Kent's for 2 days (1 cord)
Kent’s Cell: 507-450-5521
Arrival of the boat with Tony : (269) 506-9573
launch of the boat at road ramp La cressent :
1570 US-14, La Crescent, MN 55947, États-Unis
cruise the boat (2 miles) to Pettibone Boat Club :
600 S Pettibone Dr, La Crosse, WI 54601, États-Unis
M&M sleep in the boat club or at Sharon's
crew sleep at Brownsville
Tuesday 3 september La Crosse> Lynxville pool nine
only 20 miles to get MINNESSOTAcorn
20 miles DAM#8 >>> meeting/pick up of the corn and Minnesota referent ?
35 marina on the right
36 Stirm's marine boat repear
841 S Front St, Lansing, IA 52151, États-Unis
46 miles Lynxville
M&M sleep in :
Harbour by Hoochies II river road Resort
309 Spring St, Eastman, WI 54626, États-Unis
crew come to shoot the dam#8
Great River Rd, Genoa, WI 54632, États-Unis (20miles)
crew sleeps at Mc Gregor 55 miles 1H10 min :
212 A Street
McGregor, Iowa 52157
NEED TO ORGANISE A MEETING AND A CORN PICK UP FOR MINNESSOTA
between La Crescent and NEW Albin
Crew organise the arrival of the boat at Lynxville, ask the harbour +1 608-874-4422
crew organise the shooting at Hoochies II river road Resort
309 Spring St, Eastman, WI 54626, États-Unis
Wednesday 4 september Lynxville > arrival Friday 6Cassville
3 miles dam #9 (electric engine)
16 Markette town (marina)
16 miles Prairie du Chien . Buying of the extra engine at Trak's Sport
17 miles Mc Gregor with gaz station by the river (wood?) Delayed 2 days because of technical issues in the paddle.
26 miles Clayton,
Ihdes Inc car part
301 Main St, Garnavillo, IA 52049, États-Unis
31 miles meeting with the boat at Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge of Dubuque
36 miles DAM #10
hardware material shop Kuempel True Value
430 S River Park Dr, Guttenberg, IA 52052, États-Unis
36 miles after DAM #10 > marina
46 miles Cassville pontoon
M&M sleep by Eagle roost
1034 Jack Oak Rd, Cassville, WI 53806, États-Unis
crew shoot us on the way between Lynxville and Mc Gregor
crew sleep at MC gregor :
SHOOTING of the meeting
The boat Wisconsin Referent
Crew shoot's us at Mc Greggor to pick up wood by the gaz station with the cart
crew organise the shooting at mississippi sand bar :
P25F+7R Cassville, Wisconsin, États-Unis
Tigges Firewood 1h00 from Casseville
723 US-52, Durango, IA 52039, États-Unis
Saturday 7 septembre casseville>Bellevue
22 miles DAM # 11 +1 563-582-0881
after dam #11 boat repear CR Boats Inc
2711 Rhomberg Ave, Dubuque, IA 52001, États-Unis
25 Dubuque The boatis not there
47 miles before DAM #12 near Bellevue
M&M sleep by Casey's general Store (possibility to get wood and food)
crew shoot on the road + Dubuque
crew sleeps in davenport 1 (2h30 driving) :
2108 3rd Avenue, Rock Island, Illinois 61201, États-Unis
Sunday 8 septembre bellevue > Princeton
depature DAM #12 (electric engine) near Bellevue
20 miles Savanna town grocery, pizzeria, boat repear,etc.
22 miles marina
34 miles DAM #13
36 fulton town
45 miles Camanche Marina
115 4th Ave, Camanche, IA 52730, États-Unis
60 miles Princeton public pontoon.
Volrath Hardwoods LLC 2 miles from Camanche marina
2601 S Washington Blvd, Camanche, IA 52730, États-Unis
crew sleep in davenport (1 hour front boat sleeping point)
Monday 9 september Princeton > muscatine
departure Camanche Marina
25 miles dam #14 downtown Davenport
20 miles dam #15
M&M sleep in Muscatine harbor or beached in front on a sandbar.
city of muscatine : Phone: 563-264-1550
crew shoot us in dam #14 with the davenport view + davenport
crew shoot at muscatine 38 minutes , shores full of oysters, cut the wood with axe on the shore
crew sleep at muscatine :
218 West 11th Street, Muscatine, Iowa 52761, États-Unis
Monday 9 september Muscatine > Burlington
18 miles dam #15
45 miles dam #16 or 40 miles Oquawka city/marina
50 marina Burlington
M&M sleep by Oquawka state wildlife refuge or Burlington public pontoon
crew go to sleep :
Wednesday 11 september Burlington > Alexandria
3 miles dam #16
7 miles Burlington crew can shoot us
15 miles corn ? IOWA
46 miles dam #17 Keokuk yacht club
50 miles Alexandria
2029 River Rd, Keokuk, IA 52632, États-Unis
grocery store Hy-Vee :
3111 Main St, Keokuk, IA 52632, États-Unis 39 minuts walking
11 minuts by car from the Yacht Club
1211 Broadway St, Hamilton, IL 62341, États-Unis
crew sleep :
618 Maine st private room, Quincy, Illinois 62301, États-Unis
Thursday 12 september Alexandria> Hannibal
21 miles dam #18
39 miles dam#19
56 miles hannibal
M&M sleep in Hannibal's Marina pontoon distroyed 118 Broadway, Hannibal, MO 63401, États-Unis
crew arrives in Hannibal in the morning 1H15 60 miles, shoot the city, Mark twain, etc...
crew sleep in Quincy 30 minuts :
618 Maine st private room, Quincy, Illinois 62301, États-Unis
Friday 13 september Hannibal > Hamburg
7 miles dam#22
35 miles dam #24
55 miles Clarence Cannon national wildlife island ? Or 2 miles : Boothy's taverns by a corn field
crew sleep at Foley :
56 Lynx Lane, Troy, Missouri 63379, États-Unis
33 min 25 miles in the country
Saturday 14 september Hamburg> Harbour point yacht Club
21 miles dam #25
22 miles MISSOURIcorn 23
49 miles harbour point yacht club
280 Jamie Cir, West Alton, MO 63386, États-Unis
ARRIVAL SAINT LOUIS SATURDAY 14 OF SEMPTEMBER
SUNDAY 15 SEPTEMBER day OFF in Saint-Louis 13 > 15 crew at TROY
MONDAY 16 SEPTEMBER day OFF in Saint-Louis 15 > 18 De Soto
LOWER MISSISSIPPI_PART 1
After the last Lock and Dam in St. Louis Mississippi gets stronger. The flow is free, no locks to control it any more. The speed of the strem rises. You do not even realise it, but you are doing ten miles per hour. No more leisure boats, only tug boats and barges.
AGAINST THE STREAM
In order to visit our still maker in West Kentucky, the Rocky Point stills, we had to turn left before Wickliffe on the Ohio river and sail up the stream of Ohio river for 50 miles. To be able to go against the stream we had to dismantle the pedals of the steam engine and travel with our spare engine, a 6 horse-power Yamaha. The current is the strongest in the canal so we tried to drive outside of the marked bouvies, in the shallow waters, using the little bays as a cower before the stream. This was the only way to progress up the river.
The day was sunny but a strong wind started to blow from the South and was developing higher and higher waves. For some time we took an advantage of the situation, using the back tarp as a sail.
I was reading in the front part of the boat when I heards a scream. For a blink of an eye I saw a giant fish, an asian carp, 3-5 kilo that jumped out of the water, hit Max in the shoulder, man! The fish almost knocked him down, felt on the side of the boat and back into the water. He smelt fish hours later.
‘When you would see the carp jumping out of the water beware!’ Said Bayoo Bob. ‘You are just about to hit a dyke, they live just behind them.‘ (dykes are man build stone or concrete river wings that travel from the river banks to the beginning of the canal.)
HRSK and RRRRRRRRR, HRSK - HRSK, the motor jumped up, the boat shook all over. It stopped. Behind the boat one of the rudders was floating in the water and the stream was taking it with it. We hit the dyke. The asian carp was the messenger. Together we lifted the engine out of the water. The propeller was broken, one of the proopelers wings was missing, one bended. One still on its place. We tried to restart it, it worked, but the sound and the shaking was not promising anything good. The boat was shivering and so was the engine. Somehow we collected the broken paddle and with half of the motor we still sailed 20 miles upstream until the public landing where we could live the boat. It was impossible to get a proppeler for six horse power motor, everyone here is using at least a hundred horse power. The propeller came three days later via Amazon.
SOLDIER OF FORTUNE
“Pride is a sin, ” said our host and stuck his tongue through an empty hole where his front teeth once were. “I am not putting them back, he said, i put my pride away. I am also not cutting the hair.” His blonde braid was resting on his back.
His arms full of tatoos, the right one showing a chainsaw. He said he is earning his money by cutting trees. His shoulder with two skeleton hands, to hold him closer to earth, he said. Lives together with his two viwes. Both of them at least 15 years younger than him, polish ancestors. 23 children all around the US, four of them living with him, all boys.
He was a mercenary, fought in Irak, fought in Ukraine. Rode with Hells Angels. Both of his hands were sewn back on. He is Opus Dei, a Templar knight. A bottle of whisky for 800 USD and another one for 1200 USD standing oppened on the table and offered. Smokes Marlboros. In the corner of the room a shotgun, upgraded AK47 and a rocket launcher. Glock on the table and a couple more of them in the big black safe on his right side. Our camera crew went to try out the guns on the shooting range behind the house. It was a quiet Saturday afternoon on the countryside, Black Sabbath playing in the background. Gunshots dictating the rhythm.
The right to keep and bear arm is protected by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Second Amendment was based partially on the right to keep and bear arms in English common law and was influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Sir WilliamBlackstone described this right as an auxiliary right, supporting the natural rights of self-defense and resistance to oppression, and the civic duty to act in concert in defense of the state. Fugitives, those convicted of a felony with a sentence exceeding 1 year, past or present, and those who were involuntarily admitted to a mental facility are prohibited from purchasing a firearm; unless rights restored.
(Wikipedia, second Amendment)
We knew nothing about the person we met. The stories kept coming and I was sure that all of them were true. There was no place for lies in his office. We met our host and his lady in the bar in Paducah, they offered us whisky and covered the costs of our dinner. Next day we were invited to their home.
A blue diplomatic passport came on the table in one moment. Rare edition of John Miltons epic poem Paradise lost with Gustav Dores illustrations in another moment. Next to it there was a glock and an old revolver, ashtray with smoking cigarettes, couple of bundles of cambodian bank notes, some USD, bottles of whisky and paper plates with food.
We left the place with the book called Rules of a knight. A book by Eathan Hawke, based on the letter he found from his ancestor, the knight from the 14th century.
The book was dedicated to his sons, he borrowed it to us to read it, write on the empty pages about our adventures on the river and send it back later. It was a legacy for his sons.
LADY IN RED
It was already night when i came back on the driveway in front of the Airbnb where we were staying, waiting for the spare propeller to arrive.
'Would you like a glass of ice tea, young man?', a sound came from a swing on the porch.
It was our landlady. In her seventies, a librarian. Living alone with two white horses.
She sat me on a swing and brought me a tea. We sat together on that swing, two strangers, in a night so dark that we could only hear our voices.
Somethimes you need a stranger to be able to speak about the things you do not speak with your close ones.
Her only son is dead. Killed in the robbery. By two robbers he had never met before.
'Good guys always win at the end' she always thought her son.
'I am against US gun policy.' she said.
'Many of my neighbours disagree with this.'
'When my son was killed, I was lying in my bed thinking how to hurt the people who killed him or who to hire to do it.'
'On the court I saw their empty eyes.'
'Now, I tell you, I believe that there is something good in any one of us.'
'Couple of days after the death of my son my father hugged me. He was an old, but a big man. Through my weeping I heard him saying: 'We have to do everything to forgive these people.'
We talked about many things that night on a swing, moving slowly the swing, sometimes her, sometimes me.
We talked about love, fear, rebelion, religion, race and forgiveness.
Even though the meeting point of KKK members around the corner of her house was now just a bad memory, the racial problems are far from being solved and forgotten.
If I hear a person say, “Man! Thats blue sky - for sure, I know exactly how the sky looks.
Once, when Rose-ann had asked Ole Pa, “You like my new dress Daddy -O? Huh?
Ole Pa answered her, “ Sure is a fine dress - red as sin. Just fitting for you, Rose-ann.” Ole Pa was shikkered again; drunk and wild.
“Sush! Hush up! You no-good, you - bum...”
While Rose-ann lit into Ole Pa I’d sat thinking how good it was to know how the colour of her new dress looked.
If Rose-ann’s dress had been black, I’d of known how it looked too. If the dress had been yellow, green or most any other colour, I wouldn’t have known.
Times were, I knew how everything looked. But that was before...
Before was twelve - no, thirteen years ago. I was turned five. I’m eighteen now.
When I was five, Harry - Rose-ann’s husband, my father, came to the room when not expected. He’d been away long time fighting in a war.
Rose-ann had one of her friends in the room. This made Harry so mad, he up and sliced Rose-ann’s friend to a mush.
Even if I hadn’t got the acid in my eyes - on my face (by accident: Rose-ann had meant for Harry to be hurt by the acid - not me, but Harry, who was, as I said, unexpected). Even if I hadn’t got the acid, I’d never have seen my father again.
The cops came and took Harry away. No one talks about him. It’s not fitting to talk about Harry.
I’ll always remember the red blood of Rose-ann’s friend; clear and bright on the white sheets she had made her bed up with. Made it specially, for her friend.
She is still finicky about fresh white sheets. Her friends appriciate this ‘thing’ of hers about beeing so clean. I’ve heard different friends remark time and again...
‘Sure appreciate this clean love-stack doll...’ Or words to that effect.
I know blue, because I was for ever looking out of the window when i was small. For ever looking up in the sky. I never got tired of looking at it. So high and clean, way up there. I will never forget blue. That’s for sure.
I know red, because red was the last colour (except for black) that i ever saw. Black, I know because it is all I ever see. I love blue. I like red. Black, I hate. I hate everything black.
When I was nine years old, Ole Pa took me out of the room, down the stairs into the street. He took me because one of Rose-ann’s friend said:
‘Get rid of the kid doll. I’m no circus performer - get rid of the kid.’
It was strange to be out of the room. I had been out of it so few times since I had been made blind.
ROse-ann and Ole Pa are busy people. Ole Pa, my Grandpa, Rose-ann’s old man, works days in a place called ‘Mens’. Rose-ann works in the same building, but in place called ‘Ladies’.
At night, to get the smell of ‘Mens’ out of his system, Ole Pa gets stinking.
Rose-ann has her friends up to the room ‘to help out with the high price of things’.
There’s no time to spare for taking a person who can’t take care of herself - places.
It was crazy to be out of the room. Not cool’n crazy, but scarey’n crazy. The smells were so strong-the noises so many. I couldn’t place ne of the smells, I couldn’t tell what was making the sound and noise around me - I was frightened.
I set on the step, waiting, as Ole Pa had told me to. He had gone to get a bottle with the ‘pay off’ Rose-ann had given him for taking me out, for clearing the deck.
I was glad when someone spoke.
It made the noises around me not so frightening.
It was a girl who spoke to me.
I told her I was blind and she was nice. She stayed and talked to me. I hadn’t talked to a person apart from Rose-ann, Ole Pa, or some of Rose-ann’s friends, for so long. It was fine!
The girl said maybe we could be friends.Maybe she could come up to the room, tell me things. Maybe she could even bring me down to sit on the steps sometimes. Tell me what everything looked like.
Her name was Pearl. I liked her name. I liked her voice. I seemed to have new life opening up.
I was mad with Ole Pa when he came back. When he came back he said:
Just like that.’Scat!’
I was dissapointed and mad.
‘Why did you say” scatt” just like that - why did you send my friend away?’
‘ Your friend!’ Said Ole Pa. ‘Your friend was a nigger!’
‘I don’t care. I don’t care.’ I cried. Than I asked him.’What is a nigger like? Why can’t I have nigger friends?’
Nigger is black’ Ole Pa told me. ‘You want to have a black friend? That one was black as night.’
Black! I hated Pearl. I had enough black in my life.
If only Pearl had been red - or blue...
(A patch of blue, Chapter one, Elizabeth Kata, 1961)
Our landord wanted to come see the boat leaving. It was such a strong wish that her eyes were sparkling as the eyes of a young kid. To go with us in the morning it was to early and long drive but we saw her at the point where Ohio river meets the Mississippi river. She was sitting on a bench at the end of the river bank and observing the river. When she saw us she started to run towards the river, waving with her big red hat.
NO MAN'S LAND
It took us four days to come to Memphis, Elvis town. Four days of no man's land. We started to understand the river a little bit more. How the stream flows, the position of the dykes, the death waters. The best way to beach the boat is behind the islands, hidden away from the stream and from the waves that the big tug boats create while they are pushing compositions up to 30 barges upstream. With their 60.000 horsepower they create waves in the canal that would keep bouncing for at least half an hour. You do not want this during the night. Every hour at least one barge would pass. We beach the boat with the nose towards the river bank, tie it to a tree and on the back the anchor to hold it against the stream.
The collision between the civilisation and no man's land is unspeakable. The civilization could be just couple of miles away, feared and controlled, but no man's land breathes freedom. Still, the only thing I am afraid of on this kind of places is again other humans.
LOWER MISSISSIPPI PART 1
SAINT-LOUIS > MEMPHIS
17/09 > 27/09
Tuesday 17 september Harbourg poin > Hoppies Marina
4 miles DAM# 26
15 miles DAM#27-last
23 miles crew shoot us in Saint-Louis center town in between the 2 brige ? Or
46 miles Hoppies Marina :
9J5Q+MJ Imperial, Windsor Township, Missouri, États-Unis
crew sleep in De soto
Wednesday 18 september Hoppies Marina > Grand Tower
80 miles Grand Tower on the beach
crew sleep in Kevil
Thursday 19 september Grand Tower > Cairo > Wiclif
90 miles drift to Wiclif, moor the boat under a pilar in a private property
red star acces : 8F8P+6M Cap-Girardeau, Cape Girardeau Township, Missouri, États-Unis
crew sleep in Kevil
Friday 20 september Wicliffe >Gran Chain
5 miles agains the Mississippi curent
25 miles agains Ohio curent
25 miles Public dock of Gan cHain, rudder and propeller broken.
crew sleep in Kevil
Saturday 21 OFF for LIVE at CENTRE POMPIDOU FROM corn field in Kentucky +
Meeting with Soldier of Fortune
Sunday 22 septemebr Off at Paducah
visit the Rocky Point Still company
Tuesday 24 september Gran Chain> Columbus
5 miles Mississippi meets the Ohio River
37 miles Hickman
Meman's café (800m)
HQ9W+5V Hickman, Kentucky, États-Unis
599 Main St, New Madrid, MO 63869, États-Unis
+1 573-748-621029 miles Mississippi 5h
52 miles Hickman
70 Lake N°9
crew sleep in Kevil
Wednesday 25 september Colombus> Caherstville
25 miles New Madrid, restock
80 miles no man's land.
crew sleep in Memphis
Thursday 26 Caherstville >
80 miles no man's land
crew sleep in Memphis
Friday 27 >Memphis
40 miles no man's land.
Saturday 28 september OFF for LIVE at CENTRE POMPIDOU FROM MEMPHIS
Saturday afternoon + evening Clarksdale
concert at Red's
398 Sunflower Ave, Clarksdale, MS 38614, États-Unis
Ground Zero :
387 Delta Ave, Clarksdale, MS 38614, États-Unis
Sunday 29 september OFF Clarcksdale / MEMPHIS
LOWER MISSISSIPPI PART 2
I HAD A DREAM
6.01 pm, April 4, 1968,Memphis
Right eye closed, left one wide open, focused.
Tiny drops of sweat on the forehead even though is evening of early April.
A silhouette appeared on the second-floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel. Men was dressed in a black suit, white shirt. He tightened his tie, grabbed with the hand the balcony fence, looked down, two white Lincolns standing ready to take him to the next meeting. The neon sign of the Lorain Motel was sofftly trembling in the air. He just shawed and the fresh aftershave cologne got mixed with the light up cigarette smoke.
Silent sound from across the street, he still heard it. Next moment pain.
A sniper bullet struck him in the neck.
Martin Luther King was pronounced dead about an hour later, at the age of 39.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Martin Luther King
8.17 pm, 31.9.2019, Memphis
‘Hey guys, what are you doing tonight?’
It was the sound of the kid working at the marina. Normally he has been very quiet, did not say almost anything, not even a nod or hello.
‘With Anna Alabama we are going fishing in a bit and if you want to join you are more than welcome!’
Kid brought a boat, a nice pontoon boat, 115 horsepower in the back.We asked him if its his and he just responded : ‘ I work here, I can drive whatever I want. I can drive your boat if I want.’
A cooller full of beer and a portable speaker that played country music all the time.
‘Lets go!’, he said.
He was already a bit drunk when we were boarding but when he started to drive he became compleettely evforic. He was oppening the beers with his teeth, one after another and the beer foam was driping from the corners of his mouth. He knew the river as his pocket. Every three, every rock, all the shallow waters. He did the Mississippi trip already one time, single trip, day and night, 12 days. Beers and amphetamines.They fish here by driving fast in the shallow waters. Asian carps would be jumping out of the water by themselfs, into the net or directly onboard. This are big fish, could be up to five kilo. As he started the drive, they were flying around us. On the reer, larboard, starboard, shinning like pearls in the moonshine.
‘Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiajt! Hahahahahahahahaha! Welcome toamerica motherfuckers!!!’, he screamed while he was dancing to the country around the boat with his truck hat turned backwards and his shirt off.‘You do it like surfing’, he was showing us how not to fall while speeding.’ take your position and jump. Jump again! Come on Anna Alabama, give us some speed!!! That’s wright, jump!’
‘You see?’, he showed us his fist with scrathes and bruises.
‘What did you do?’
‘He had a fight yesterday.’, said Anna Alabama.
‘You see this white boat there?'
He was waging to the boat whit his fist.‘This black guy came to take gas yesterday. He took the gas and drove away without paying. I bit the shit out of him!'
'I hate them!’
‘You hate who?’
‘All this blacks, I hate them!’
‘Because of the history. They are bad! The mayor here is black and she said that all the white kids should be dead.’
‘Yes, she said it! I know, this fuckers want us all dead.’
‘Don’t mind him, he hates them.’, Said Anna Alabama, ‘He grew up here.’
‘I do not care, they can be all right.’
‘Come on Anna, let’s dance! He put on a very slow song left the wheel and took Anna infront to dance. The boat was driving trough the night while he was turning her by the sound of this Soft melodie.
I’ve had choices
Since the day that i was born
There were voices
That told me right from wrong
If i had listened
No I wouldn’t be here today
Living and dying
With the choices I made
George Jones, Choices
He drove under the bridge, out of the bay towards the Mississippi.
‘You see the bridge? Yesterday someone jumped from up there. We took him out of the water, all blue, suffocating and spitting blood. His ribs crashed, legs and arms broken.’
‘What made him do it? Was he drunk or on drugs?’
‘No, he was Muslim.’
I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
Martin Luther King