WEEK IN REVIEW: insights from the southern ocean, miami, and golden gate park

(Evan Karp)

Because of a free, two-hour introductory sail, a woman quit her job, sold everything she owned, and put all her savings down to secure a berth on the 2004 Global Challenge. She and 17 others found themselves in a 72-foot racing yacht in a storm, covered in translucent locusts, before veering into the middle of the Southern Ocean where “the scenery does not change: it’s just sky and sea and the people.”

When you’re in the Southern Ocean, she told us, “your skin—because you have boots and gloves on all the time and with the moisture your feet and hands are cold and wet the whole time—after about day two there’s nothing left that’s dry. And there’s no warmth so you’re going to shiver for 6 weeks. Your skin starts peeling off. So you start to lose all your calloused skin. And there’s no taking showers, because the water-maker doesn’t work in the Southern Ocean because the seas are too rough… Everyone smells. No one’s doing laundry. There’s baby wipes, but that does not cut though!… Then there’s the freeze-dried food… One day I realized I was irritating myself and I must have been irritating everyone around me; I don’t think I ever would have had that insight on land…”

A man who grew up in Florida above the first United States (Miami) Seaquarium spent his childhood with siblings watching Hugo and Lolita—”America’s killer whale celebrities.” People came from all over the world to see them, and when they died tens of thousands of people gathered in a parade led by the Mayor to honor the charismatic couple. “It was Hugo and Lolita day. Proclamations were issued. People were happy.” A few years later, the artists Jean Claude and Christo wrapped 11 islands in Miami’s Biscane Bay with pink polypropylene. People took helicopter rides to capture photos of the exhibit. When “Surrounded Islands” was dismantled the public wanted to buy pieces of the pink material, but the artists stated that their art was “only to be seen once;” when they dug a large hole in the landfill to dispose of the 6.5 million square feet of art, the bones of Hugo and Lolita were discovered…

And a Captain told us of the time he was paid $2,000 in 1975 to take a group of strangers hunting for Great White Sharks. Excerpts:

I get down there at 1 o’clock in the morning and there’s all these people laying on my boat… There’s two 55-gallon drums of blood and entrails. …

We get out there and these people are putting blood on their faces, they pulled out a goat’s head, and I go: “What are you guys doing?” “We came out to worship The Great White Shark. It’s the perfect killing machine.” …We locked ourselves in the pilot’s cabin…

They start chanting, they’re drinking blood, and John doesn’t care. He’s fishing. … He grabs his fish and before he gets it on the deck they gut the fish, they rip it open and want to eat the heart while it’s pumping. So John says ‘I’ll catch another one.’

All of this happened in the second set of Porchlight Storytelling Monday night at the Maritime Museum to celebrate the kickoff of year 10 for the series.

More after the commercial break:

It’s no wonder storytelling has become a popular public platform. Also this week Fireside did a related “Pets: Man’s Best Friend, or Worst Enemy?” Started in 2007, they join the ranks of Bawdy, which now recurs in Oakland and SF monthly, went down to LA last month, and just added an open mic. Mortified, a different kind of series focused on true, personal tales, made it back to SF and Berkeley this week and occurs regularly around the country. And you know about LitUp Writers.

This past year, Previously Secret Information started up too. I went to this and then to Solo Sundays [videos here] and was a bit disappointed. I enjoyed the show but am not used to the format, so met up with co-producer of both shows, Bruce Pachtman, to talk about the difference between storytelling and solo performance. For me, it comes down to this question: Is it a real experience that affected your life, or is it art? To me there’s a real divide there. But we’re not done talking.

—There’s so much going on here. How do you decide what to check out?

—I look at the people. If they don’t look weird, fuck ‘em.

That was said about SF Zinefest. Can you guess by whom?

Quiet Lightning did the litnic thing with two twists of music and a beer garden, RADAR had two events: the RADAR Reading Series + a Lab Showcase [more soon], City Lights author Paul Madonna read at the Mechanics Institute Library and the SF Zen Center, and the bookstore’s press released More Notes from a Dirty Old Man – events that, in tandem, say quite a lot about the art we respect and how it’s changed from Buk’s years, especially in regards to what we want in a newspaper.

As predicted, the new shit show – though featuring a stellar set by James Cagney – is so steeped in a slam mentality already that you shouldn’t go if that’s not your thing. Unless you want to redirect the currents (steer hard). [more soon]

The Poetry Store‘s Silvi Alcivar wrote poems over some of Julie Michelle‘s photos — printed directly on glass — for a stunning installation at La Boutique, l’Art et la Mode. Down the street, Kim Addonizio combined poetry and blues at The Beat Museum [videos here, more soon].

Saturday night was full, too, but more on that next week. Click here for a more complete list of what happened this week., and stay tuned for a preview of this coming week (up later today).