OK. Sorry to disappear, but I just kinda needed to submerge into this project for a minute and just unplug. I’m in Italy. We are traveling in little canals, but the bridges are low and we keep getting kicked out of the canals and sent back to the Adriatic. Sea. The Adriatic Sea. It’s the ocean. It’s huge. It’s not like a big lake. This ‘aint Camp Tipsy. We are piloting ocean-going vessels in serious swell on boats made of bullshit. It’s pretty amazing. Everyday I simultainiously fall in love and a few hours later I feel like I’m wasting my time. I’m totally confused. It happens when you spend too much time with vegans. The crew are 30 art-types who are all totally great on their own but as a collective they are impossible and the logistics are maddning. The boats aren’t even done, really. We are building as we go. We were underway and Steve was welding a muffler pipe. It’s stupid. I watched someone cut a piece of wood in half with a leatherman yesterday. We are cutting steel with a hacksaw. We’ve got a welder, but it’s 110. We’ve got a grinder, but it’s 220. Half the tools are 220. Everyones cell phone is deep 6ed. My tools are gone, eaten by the sea. We had a few problems with drive shafts and sheer pins, but we stopped in a little fishing town and a adorable old Italian man fabricated us a sleeve to protect the vibration and we havn’t had a problem since. He worked for 12 hours and charged us $160. People give us fish. The curiosity is very reserved here. Italy is kinda fancy. I’m in the North. It reminds me of Palm Beach.


The motors I designed and built with Anton are amazingly powerful. You could take these boats anywhere. No problems at all. It’s kinda boring, actually. I think the water pump has a small crack in one. But besides that and my inability to wire an alternator I’ve been pretty mechanicly perfect. The new design has a long tail that is 13 feet long. It’s really mean looking. The 5th wheel hitch design is flawless. One of the boats can turn so tight it could “jump it’s own wake”. That’s impressive. The on-board design is cool.


We arrive at the Beinealle on Sunday night, in the late afternoon. We have a place to do our show. We perform Thurs-Sunday, at 9:00. 40 person cast. The show is hard to describe. I’ll just shoot it and post it for you. I have a bit part as a screaming mechanic fighting with a giant foam rubber propeller that won’t stay on the shaft. It’s funny.

We have been camping, mostly. People are super buzy building props for the show and doing last minute stuff on the boats. I had to stop working the last few days. I’m just exausted. But I have a lot to do. Camp Tipsy is like 60 days away. I’ve gotta get crackin’.


We are also looking into an exit stragey for the boats. Swoon wants to walk away. Put the boats in a dumpster and be done. She is exausted and spent and it’s only gonna get worse. The Beinalle is going to be a massive energy expenditure for her. I wanna store the boats and do it again next year. We are in the wrong part of Italy to find cheap storage. So we are digging in and I’m gonna go rent a car and comb the coast next week to find something appropriate.
Docked in Terra de Fine

The canal system here is increadable. You gotta do it sometime. Grab a boat and go from here to there. Pretend you’re a Roman Battleship. I don’t even know if they had battle ships. The Adriatic. Odysis. I’m looking at buildings that are older than some sins . And the Italians remind me of the Italians in my natural family. The hand gestures instantly propel me back to my youth. Maybe that’s why I’m a little dour. I watched a guy the other day do something with his hands that my biological father did 30 times an hour. It makes me feel terribly lost, and totally powerless to rally against certain traits I have that I can not control.

Old Hickory near Lignone

But this is hard. I’ve found myself in a leaderless collective again. We have a directive, sure. We are gonna crash the Beinalle with junk boats. We are going to be the most awesome thing there, likely. We are going to arrive in Venice heros. I think. But there is nothing planned for us on the way there. Which is kind of a shame, as there is so much potential energy here to be harnessed. And as a Showman, I wanna have something to promote. But that’s not how this contract was written. So we just hang out on docks and stuff. I don’t hang out well. But that’s not like, a problem. It’s beautiful. And so what if I’m 15-20 years older then most of the people here. Someone has to be the oldest. But it’s an odd postion, because there was a time when I was ALWAYS the youngest. Now, it’s different. But it’s hard.
May 22, 2009. Lignone, Italy

The boats rock impossibly. The deck a-wash with sea water and the crest of the waves force the propellers out of the water. You have to hold them in. And you better hold on! The spray explodes on the bow and you wonder how strong those 2 year old drywall screws are. You consider the designs of the boats. The napkins at the Denny’s you were drawing on. The boats are very buoyant. So they bouce back and forth. The lighter jumps out of the front pocket of your shirt. Gone. The sun is brutal. The salt is rusting the shit out of everything. 3 ½ knots is what we got.

Chicken on Maria

Check it off the list: build ocean going vessel out of garbage and take 30 people across the Adriac Sea and crash the fancy pants art show that wouldn’t send you an invitation…



2 Responses

  1. […] a fancy contemporary art show that is just perfect for crashing. Here is an update on the trip from Chicken John: I’m in Italy. We are traveling in little canals, but the bridges are low and we keep getting […]

  2. Hey John, where are ya? Hope you crashed the party in style. LOve that CHECK!!

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