1,152 Days at Sea / Reid Stowe

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Interview by Pauline Pechin and Bobby Dangerously

It’s the dead of winter and Reid Stowe invites us aboard the Anne, a 70-foot schooner he built by hand in 1978, and then broke the world record for consecutive days at sea without resupply by sailing it for 1,152 days. The boat is currently docked in New York City, where Stowe lives with his girlfriend, Soanya Ahmad, and their two-year-old son, Darshen.

Ahmad sailed with Stowe for the first 306 days (the record for the longest continuous sea voyage for a woman), until they realized that she was pregnant. She was then picked up by another boat off the coast of Australia. Stowe continued on and spent the next two years alone at sea.

In the course of his three-year voyage, Stowe covered approximately 55,670 nautical miles. His route, which he plotted according to currents and seasonal storms, generally tracked east. Stowe saw land only when he and Ahmad parted. They packed three years of food onboard before leaving, as well as first aid and supplies to repair the boat—which, by the time Stowe returned, had weathered several ripped sails and a collision with a freighter.

Stowe and Ahmad reunited after he landed in June 2010 and Stowe finally got to meet his son. Though joyful and fulfilling in many ways, the reception at home was not what he expected.

What inspired your trip?

RS: Our family built a beach cottage near the ocean. My dad and granddad built little boats, and I learned boat building from them. We got to go fishing and we grew up surfing; I just loved the ocean madly.

I went surfing in Hawaii. I was 19 and I met another teenager who had a boat. We spent a year sailing in the South Pacific. I had the idea there that I would go on my own long spiritual voyages. And that’s what I proceeded to do my whole life until I was in New Zealand on this schooner, which I had built myself ten years before, planning to go to Antarctica. I said, “What can I do next?” And the idea just came to me in 1986, to go to sea for 1,000 days without stopping.

How did you plan your route?

RS: We chose to sail around the world in the trade winds. In order to sail around the world, without stopping and to stay out of sight of land, you cannot go through the Panama Canal. So you have to go around Cape Horn. I wanted to plan the route so that when we sailed in those southern latitudes, the weather would be nicer; it would be summertime. Then I looked at the maps of the world and said here’s where all the hurricanes are. And they’re here for that month and that month. I made big circles of where they were. In that way, I avoided the worst storms of the world.

How did you prepare for three years at sea?

RS: It ended up taking me over twenty years to get what I needed, and to get this boat fixed right to go. In fact, by the time we got enough to go, last April 2007, Soanya and I had the boat loaded full of food. We got food donated for the boat fifteen years before we left. But already the sails were old and various things needed replacing.

SA: Packing food for three years is a real challenge, as you might imagine. He did shorter expeditions and learned how to pack food. We put it in plastic. We’d put the plastic in a box and then we’d wrap the box. Things are sometimes double and triple wrapped. And what we carried to eat was not canned goods, but mostly dried goods. So we had pasta, rice, pesto, dried nuts, dried fruit, and sprouted our beans. We had different kinds of beans; some we ate as sprout salads and some we boiled and ate with rice. We also caught fish. We didn’t have to catch fish, but it was something that we wanted to do. Most things kept really well for those three years at sea.

RS: We did our medical research and usually made friends with a doctor. I’ve been building my medical kit for twenty or thirty years or more. We always had needles and Lidocaine to numb a spot that needed to be stitched, if you were cut. We had needles that were in sterile packages with thread. We always had a variety of antibiotics that we could take for various reasons. So we had that medical kit and a couple of medical books that we built up over the years. After a while things got old and another doctor would say, “We’re throwing this away.”

What kind of things did you encounter throughout your journey?

RS: One of the photos that we sent back was Soanya and I with our ears pressed close to the big wooden main mast. We could hear the vibrations in the boat. This is an old-fashioned gaff, rig boat. They could have sailed [it] during the Civil War or hundreds of years ago. We purposely tried to tune into the sounds of the boat because they tell us a lot about what’s happening.

So that act of putting our ears to the mast is like putting our ears to the guitar while you strum it. Just like we use eyesight or smell. Always if something breaks, you would hope that you hear something as soon as possible. So you can fix it before it got worse. When a sail tears, you can hear it. Because it’s real loud.

The most dramatic time that it happened, we were approaching Australia. I was having so many difficulties with the boat. We were in stormy weather and the sails were worn out from being up for six months without taking them down and rubbing here and there. We had to sail close to Australia to drop Soanya off, so it was a time that wasn’t as happy. And the weather was gray and cold in the Southern Ocean. I remember coming in from the pilothouse and going down. It was dawn and I decided I’m going to get a little rest now. I laid in bed with Soanya and I heard this flapping. I got back up and I got outside. Our giant mainsail had ripped for thirty feet, the full length, and was blowing in the wind. Then it had blown up the back of the leech, right up to the top of the sail. It looked impossible to try to salvage it. There was an example of how sound called me to my duty to come outside. I wish I had tuned in closer when it first happened. Or, I wished I had looked more often and caught it. A giant tear started at one inch long, and as it got longer it started flapping and making more noise. As it got windy, I didn’t really hear it. It took me more than a month of sewing every day to fix that sail. But I fixed it and was able to keep using it.

Being at sea, you’ve heard of the Roaring 40s. And those are the latitudes, 40 degrees south of the Southern Ocean, that roars. There’s a roaring of the waves breaking and the winds. After the Roaring 40s, they named it the Screaming 50s (50 degrees latitude south). Then it’s the Screaming 60s. So it gets even worse.

We had winds in Antarctica that blew so hard you couldn’t do anything. They didn’t last that long, luckily. But when we were in the Roaring 40s, when the storm came, the wind was coming [at] 50 to 70 knots. I had some extra holes in the steelwork that I did from bolting the solar panels. When the wind starts blowing like that, I thought I was in a train station; I couldn’t stop the noise with pillows over my head. So definitely after that storm, I went out and stuffed rags in the holes that I could find anywhere. There is a lot of noise at sea but most of the time you have nice weather and soft, soothing sounds.

SA: On day fifteen of our voyage, it felt like we had just left, and [we] had had a collision with a freighter. The front part of the boat was damaged and I think that was the only time that either of us thought we wouldn’t make it. It was a makeshift job done at sea. The day that it happened and the morning after, we were looking at sails flapping in the wind, thinking, “Okay, are we going to have to go to port now? Are we going to have to fix this? With what money?” Because we spent everything before we left.

RS: When you’re at sea, nothing is more important than keeping the boat afloat. The first thing that would need to be tended to is water coming in the boat. Well, you hope that it doesn’t come in. But people, in all kinds of boats, sink before they know it. I’ve had it happen to friends, and I’m going, “But you’ve got a big, expensive boat. What happened?” And they say, “Suddenly, the water was up to our knees down in there. We couldn’t find the leak, and the boat sank.” They had to call in for help and get their life raft. That happens to people. You have to know where leaks could happen. You sail along, and you hear gurgle gurgle gurgle drip drip drip. And you have to know what’s gurgling and dripping.

I think Soanya caught a few drips on a few occasions where she called it to my attention.

I [said] “No, I think it’s okay.”

“No, I think I hear a gurgling.”

And we found things that were leaking.

It could be the stuffing box, where the propeller goes out at the back of the boat, or the stern gland, where the rudder goes out the back of the boat. It could be any seacocks to the toilets. You have to know what is in various rooms that are possibilities for leaking. And you have to trust that the boat isn’t leaking and all the gurgling and the bubbling of the water—even when it’s sounding like a faucet—all of that’s happening outside and not inside. You have to get your rest.

During those three years, I was up ten or twelve times a night. I would take some naps during the daytime, but I was living in the day and the night. I was constantly on call, working out, and I kept myself in shape through yoga, but I wore myself out just squeezing ropes so hard. Pulling, pulling so hard. When I wasn’t sailing, I was sewing ’til I had chronic pain in my hands. And I would fall asleep and the pain in my hands would wake me up.

So I called on God, [whom] I imagined as those great Italian paintings: a sixty-five-year-old, well-muscled, bald man with a long beard. I said, “God, tell Jesus to heal this arm.” And then I felt Jesus take my arm and start massaging it. I saw his soft, beautiful face. I said, “God, tell Buddha to heal this arm.” Then I saw Buddha come and take this arm, start massaging it and healing it. Then the three of them came closer to heal me together. And they bumped heads. They started laughing together, and Buddha looked at me and winked.  That’s an example of a vision I had. I didn’t make that up. But I started by calling on the forces that I knew, the forces of man, and started to lead it someplace. It was the healing vision that took care of me.

I had visions of things with my eyes wide open. I saw things while I was meditating, which was pretty incredible. And I felt illuminations also.

What kind of illuminations?

RS: A lot of times I saw energy and myself expand. Then I saw my body surrounding the pulsing energy of the environment. So I sent my energy out with love, and I tried to bring in all of the negative, the hurt and the bad energy of people, breathe it in and heal it with my being. And then breathe it back out.

How would you describe the wave conditions at sea?

RS: You’re out there in the ocean and you’re going up and down. In the Southern Ocean, the waves are the biggest in the world. It’s wide-open ocean. The wind is always blowing from the west to the east, and in a circle. The waves keep rolling, and by the time they get to Cape Horn, South America, which is the furthest south, there are big waves and it doesn’t take much wind and a storm. They look like mountains and you can see them far away. Especially when the sun is setting. They all have deep shadows. And you might think that they’re thirty, forty feet. Or you might think they’re as big as a six-story building. I don’t know how to judge that. The waves became dangerous when they start breaking. We were actually turned upside down by a wave.

The schooner had been knocked out before, in the North Atlantic in the middle of a snow blizzard. We think it was far enough that the mast went into the water. And of course the boat comes back up again. It was like a floating submarine with a ten-foot keel. We had forty-two thousand pounds of lead in the bottom of our keel, and our water tanks [and] food on top of that. Everything in the boat is secured for that eventuality. This one time I was in the galley cooking, and a wave hit the boat and slammed me against the wall. Which wasn’t very far away, thank goodness.

And I remember whiting out. The hatches in the boat have slides. They’re homemade and they’re not watertight. So if the boat’s going under water, water’s squirting in. [I] got completely drenched by the water, and the water woke me up. The boat came back up. I was cooking, so I reached outside, through a little hatch that I had, and turned off the gas bottle. [I] then turned and looked out of the forward window, and saw that the one sail that I had up in the storm was torn into shreds. Then I had to do what I had to do to survive for the rest of the day. It wasn’t until later, when I was cooking in the galley, that I looked above the stove and saw the lentils and rice stuck to the ceiling. I made a photograph of that and I said, “It looks to me like I turned one hundred eighty degrees upside down.” But I didn’t know [it] when it happened. I was just being tumbled. I didn’t know what happened.

So the wave that did that was a rogue wave. It might not have been the most gigantic wave, but the thing is, it was a wave with a sheer face, almost as if the bottom drops out of it. It caught the boat just right, and it tumbled her over. It didn’t come with a roar and a real hard bang. It just caught us and flipped us upside down. The deep keel on the boat with all the ballast turned us right back up and we just kept going. But luckily I was prepared for it.  I had the right boat with the right design. I had everything watertight and strong. So it wasn’t that bad of damage except the sail that broke.

What if you were tossed into the water? Would it have been possible to survive?

RS: There are some stories of people that have had that happen to them, and they’ve survived. When I went outside after that happened, I was very careful and I had two lifelines that attached me to the boat. Because I knew [if] that happened, I would be underwater.

How did you meet?

SA: I met Reid when I was a student at City College. I was studying photography and I decided that I wanted to take pictures of the waterfront. So I started visiting all the piers along the waterfronts of New York City and photographing them. At the time, Reid was docked on what was Pier 63 on the West Side of Manhattan. I walked onto that pier and I asked him, “Is this your boat?” He said, “Yeah.” I said, “Can I take pictures of your boat?” He said, “Sure.” So I took some pictures, along with a whole bunch of other things. And the next week I brought some prints back for him. He was just about to go sailing. He said, “Do you want to go sailing with us?” So I said, “Sure.” It was the first time that I had sailed a boat, and it was the first time I had been sailing on the Hudson River.

At that time I didn’t really talk much with him. But I met a lot of his friends, and I learned a lot about the project. I kept returning to the boat to see how it was going every month or two months. He kept saying that he would leave in two months, so I thought, “Okay, I’ll get there before he leaves to see him off.” But, you know, two months turned into three years. By that time I had gotten my photo degree [and was] still interested in the waterfront. I started another degree called Maritime Technology. It was basically a program designed to give you some familiarity with boats and to put you in the working New York City waterfront. I did that for a year and I said, “Okay, what along the waterfront can I do?” Because I wanted to be there.

And Reid was looking for people to go with him and I said, “This looks like a good thing.” So I told him I wanted to go with him for one thousand days. He didn’t really expect that, but he had said before, in various conversations, that he didn’t necessarily need someone with sailing experience. Since I fit that bill, I said, “Can I go?” And he said, “Well, okay, let’s talk about it.” He said yes, basically.

RS: When she made me believe that she could go with me, she said, “I trust you and I know you can do it.” When she told me that when [we] were only friends, I realized I had someone who was ready to go out and die with me. And I wanted to keep that trust. But what allowed her to abandon everything of the world, the safety of being on land, and turn her life over to an adventure so grand that no one ever conceived of it before? And have the courage to put herself in the right state of mind to be able to do it? Shortly after we were together, I got to know her better and I started to train her.

But what was able to make her do the voyage was what she had deep inside of her. Her strength and who she was. At one time she said, “I didn’t prepare to go to sea for a thousand days. I set off in preparation to go to eternity.” So she was living in an eternal, timeless space. So it’s not like, “Would we still be able to stay out at sea as we planned?” It was more like, “Can we still live on the sea? And it looks like we can.” Everything’s not leaking and we still have all of our food. And we’re still together. We still believe that we can do it. After we were hit by the ship, we drifted in the North Atlantic for almost a month while we worked together to fix the boat, to be able to go on with a disabled boat and chains wrapped around the bow of the boat, holding the mast and sails forward.

Can I ask you what it felt like when you found out you had to leave the boat?

SA: We were entering into the Southern Ocean and it was the Roaring 40s. And the boat started to be hit with a lot of wind and waves. I got seasick and the seasickness continued. After awhile, I began to notice that I was chronically seasick, even when we were becalmed. So being that I was so nauseous all the time and practically bedridden, I told Reid, “I have to get off.”

We were in the middle of nowhere. It took us two months to get to land. By that time, I had already suspected that I might be pregnant. And when I got to shore, it was confirmed that I was. It was hard to know for two months that I’d be leaving the boat, the project [and] Reid. Because by that time we had bonded. I spent 10 months at sea, which was 306 days, nonstop without seeing another person or seeing land. He was the only one around. I had made that commitment to do almost three years at sea, [and] it got cut short.

When we got to land, the nausea went away almost immediately. So I was quite happy in that respect. But then I had another set of issues to deal with. I had a new baby on the way and Reid was out at sea. Our communication was sparse, so I didn’t really know what was happening. I knew it’d be two years before I saw him again.

We arranged for a transfer with the Royal Perth Yacht Club from Australia, since Australia was the next bit of land that we were going to pass. We didn’t really know people in Australia. But we knew that the person who currently held the record for the longest time at sea (658 days), John Sanders, he was a member of the Royal Perth Yacht Club. He had made his record in 1987. He was triple circumnavigating and was still sailing. So we contacted the yacht club and we said, “Can you come out to sea, have me transferred onto another boat and I would go onto land?” And they said, “Yes.” So [John Sanders] came out in a boat, along with the general manager of the yacht club. I transferred onto that boat in Australia, and then from Australia, flew back to New York City.

RS: We knew we had to let Soanya off and we were both sad about that. We knew I had to go on. I remember wondering, “Well, what’s going to happen now? Will I be able to handle everything alone?”

How did you communicate?

SA: We had email and we had a satellite telephone. We did not have internet. And we would send small emails through our satellite telephone. And we communicated by email almost every day until his computers broke down three quarters of the way through the voyage. So for the last six months we spoke through the phone maybe once a week. Because satellite phone expenses were too high.

That must have been hard to have the baby while he was out at sea.

SA: By the time the baby came along, by the time I was ready to give birth, I was okay. I was in a better state of mind. I was ready to be a new mother. And I was more settled. I was more prepared for the baby. And after that, it was just a whirlwind, just having a newborn. All the days and months, I don’t know where they went. It was a whole new thing and it all worked out for the best.

Were you worried about Reid?

SA: To a certain extent, yeah, if you don’t hear from him for a couple days, you wonder, “Well, did he knock his head and nobody knew?” There were some of those thoughts, but at the same time, you kind of have to trust and hope for the best.

In reuniting, how has it been adjusting to life on land?

SA: Having Reid back has been great. He’s really bonded with his son. I don’t think Darshen even remembers that his father wasn’t there for the first two years of his life. For Darshen, Reid has always been there. As for how Reid has adjusted to life on land, I don’t think he’s any different than before he left. He didn’t have any major issues upon returning. He was talking about the one thousand days before he left, and after he got back, he’s still talking about the one thousand days. He’s still the same person.

How did the experience compare to your expectations?

RS: I was hoping that it would be a more meaningful thing to the world. The voyage into the void, away from all worldly things, is a voyage that we all have to take.  Eventually, we all have to leave everyone and everything behind. So I saw it as a metaphor as a voyage into death. In the Sixties, a man sailed from England to Australia. When he sailed from Australia to England, he was a national hero and was met by the Queen; he posed with the Queen from her balcony while the crowds filled the streets. And it was an inspirational thing for his country. He was never at sea for more than one hundred days.

Though when we got back we got media all over the world, most of the stories were really shallow. Or, they weren’t really looking at the depth of it. It was more of a story of our reuniting and [meeting] my son for the first time.

The French reporters that were there said, “You’re being ignored.” Because if you were French and you had come back to France, you would be a national hero. In fact, I was kicked out of New York City after one day.  It was almost like they didn’t want to have a hero. It was like they didn’t recognize me. We tried to get the New York Sports Commissioner to come because this was an athletic event. Athletes couldn’t comprehend what I did. Sailors haven’t really wanted to know how I did what I did. I can talk about it in an evolved way of how I accomplished it, but no one wanted to know these things.

And it is disappointing for me because I feel like we have a great story that gives people hope on many levels, but it’s not being promoted. If I were a tennis player, there would be all of these organizations that would gain from it. I would be promoted in the corporate world. But I’m so outside of all of that.

First of all, when I tried to get funding, no one knew what I was talking about. They didn’t think it was possible. People are more interested in their media and electronic gadgets than realizing another possible pathway to happiness, and getting to know themselves at a higher evolution of mankind.

How has your perspective of life and death evolved from your experience at sea?

RS: I always took chances and went further, so by the time we were ready to go on this voyage I had been very versed in that sort of thing.

I felt, by being totally isolated, that I was nourishing the subconscious. And there’s an awareness of that within our culture. If you’re going to plan to go to sea for three years, one of the more important things was how are you going to control your psychology? You have to realize that you’re in a dangerous environment; you can’t be rescued. So you have to have your psychology prepared for anything, and a very positive attitude.

Then you’re in an environment that’s nurturing you in a very special way, especially if you’re open. That sort of thing heals you. It was something that was important to me. It gave me solace during the voyage, and it made me not afraid to die.

When you live in a state of expanded meditation, you’re connected with the stars and you feel like that’s your whole body. I felt like I’m one with the ocean rippling around me. The fish swim and the birds flew through me.

What kind of interactions did you have with wildlife at sea?

SA: When I was on watch at night, I kept hearing this sound like a wave crashing against the boat. But it wasn’t quite a wave. It was kind of like, whish! You know?  And I thought, “Is that a whale? Or is that just a wave?” It happened on more than one night. That has to be a whale. That can’t be just a wave. So finally I went out. It was really dark. I actually saw a big, black shape right near the boat, going by. And I think the whale was just sleeping.

One time we saw a gray-colored whale. I’m not sure what kind of whale it was. It must have been a young one. It just seemed that way, and it splashed near the boat. The more we yelled—especially Reid, who was making all of this fuss about it, cheering it on—the more that it would do water acrobatics. And with so very little effort, it would flip on its belly and back, and swim around. Eventually, we started doing our usual things on deck. It kind of drifted off a bit. And when it was time to go, it came up to the boat and sprayed. Reid was very surprised by it. He looked up and it was right next to him, and it just swam away.

We also saw a giant squid that we accidentally caught on our fishing line, and it got away.

I don’t remember the sound that the squid made. I can’t reproduce it. It bit the line that we had trailing behind the back of the boat, and it made a very strange, inhuman sound. Like a deep moaning sound. It was a little freaky, especially in the middle of the night and ocean. We just got a glimpse of the squid with a flashlight before it jumped right off and into the ocean, which I’m glad for. We didn’t really need to catch anything like that.

What about sharks?

SA: Well, we did see sharks in the water. There was never any cause to worry about sharks if you’re not in the water with them. But sometimes Reid would go into the water to clean the bottom of the boat, and then we’d worry about sharks.

RS: I loved snorkeling and scuba diving all my life. One time I was swimming off the boat in a school of porpoises. Then I looked around and I didn’t see any porpoises. I looked directly below me and I saw a giant shark. It was an old shark because it had ragged, broken fins and scars on its body. So I swam like a porpoise back to [the] boat. And after that I was never comfortable swimming off of the boat at sea. Because how did that shark arrive under me in a few minutes? I figured [it] could feel my vibrations swimming in the water, know that I was something else, and could find me real fast.

But sometimes I have to go underwater to clean the bottom of the boat. I only do it in calm weather when I can see very well. I look in the water and [if] I don’t see any sharks as far as the eye can see, I go in the water without making a splash. I swim down to the bottom of the keel, and I get to work scrubbing the barnacles and gooseneck mussels that have grown on the boat. One time I had a shark come up right behind me. It kind of scared me. And after that I was even more afraid to go in, but I felt I had to go in to clean the bottom on these occasions. It was an amazing experience rounding Cape Horn. The water was crystal clear and I could fish in the ocean.

Later, up in the Atlantic, I got a lot more growth on the bottom of the boat. But then I got becalmed and triggerfish came. They’re these real funny fish. They have this thick, leathery side. They don’t swim like regular fish. They have a spike at the top of their trigger so that they’re safe from other fish. And they have buckteeth. A giant school of them swam up to the boat and they cleaned all the barnacles off the bottom of the boat. I have an underwater window and I could watch them while they were swimming. So for the last half of the voyage, I didn’t have to go in. The triggerfish kept the boat clean and I arrived with a very clean bottom. But now that I’ve been on the river for a few months, I’ve got the growth back on the bottom of the boat.

Tell me about your experience with the blue heron.

RS: When I was off the coast of Africa, that was a place where I found that I had calmer water and less wind and I needed to rest. I was tired. I had been at sea for over two years and I counted the waves and multiplied and realized I was riding thirty-one thousand waves a day, constantly being rocked, constantly having to hold off, either with my shoulder or with my hand.

And I wasn’t being swept toward the coast by the trade winds or the counter currents along the equator. I was in this spot where I was able to just forget about sailing and going anywhere. I had the greatest time. And every night I would fall asleep lying under the stars.

I was lying in the cockpit going to sleep and waking up during the night, and a big storm came. Lightning was flashing everywhere and way up at the top of the mast, I saw this specter of a thing. I didn’t know what it was because it was way bigger than any bird out on the sea. It was flashing in the lightning. It started to rain and I went inside. And the next morning at dawn, real early, I saw a great blue heron on the deck of the boat. And I thought this is very odd because they’re not ocean birds. And he flew off.

At the end of the day, he came flying back. And he landed on the cockpit table next to me. He looked many pounds lighter. He lost weight. His whole body was drooping. His mouth was open. His tongue was out and he was panting. You could just see his heart beating, and that he had just barely made it back to the boat. I knew that he was not going to leave the boat again.

Great blue herons have a long, sharp beak, and I didn’t really want to get too near to him. I didn’t want to get pecked by him. And I tried to give him water to drink, but he didn’t want to drink water. At this place where I was, I wasn’t catching any fish. There weren’t flying fish jumping on board, so I didn’t know what to feed him. I offered him some sprouts, thinking he might like to pick grass. I knew he was going to die, but it took almost a week. And he ended up making friends and coming into the pilothouse with me. He would always be getting in my way. He would hang out in the hatch and I couldn’t get by him. So I acted like a cow. And I thought, “Well, he’s probably seen cows before.” I moo like [a] cow and sort of push him out of my way like a big-old cow.

He went down and down until he died in a very noble way. He just kept his head up the whole time. And that was the end of the blue heron that became friends with me.

But a few days later, I saw a flock of about six white herons. And I said, “Oh no.” They flew around the boat and I thought, “Well, are six of them going to come here to die?” They flew around the boat and were wondering [if] they should land. Then they flew off. But they flew to the west, away from land. They were completely lost.

Would you attribute the disregard of your voyage to American culture?

RS: People are caught up in the media. That’s what they’re being fed. It also has a lot to do with being fearful to do as much as they can to make as much money as they can, to be secure in their lives. They’re busy chasing money instead of an eternal dream. America is the culture most caught up in that.

We were ridiculed and ignored throughout. What is the example of that? How does that help other people to follow their dreams if they know they’re not going to be received, and they’re going to be cast out? That is an example of what the culture is interested in and inspired by.

It’s a little bit sad for me, in a way. But at the same time, we’re determined to not give up. We want to share our story.


PAULINE PECHIN is a writer in New York. She has contributed to New York Magazine, the Village Voice, and NY Press. She also edits the blog “All That We’ve Met,” which features interviews with artists, underground influencers, and people with interesting stories. “All That We’ve Met” is also a column on the Nonsense list, Jeff Stark’s weekly newsletter of weird happenings in NYC. Pauline grew up in the suburbs of Wichita, Kansas. And the first thing that she remembers ever writing was in second grade: a Valentine’s Day poem in the style of Dr. Seuss.
When BOBBY “DANGEROUSLY” McGILLICUTTY is not hawking his “Heal-All Salves and Snake Oil Emporium,” he is hard at work creating soundscapes, producing venerable stories for radio and conjuring other intoxicating environments of sonorous delight. When his audial reserves have been spent, he can be found haphazardly wasting his days bringing to life kinetic sculptures, writing elaborate stories of other worlds, rescuing and rejuvenating dying plants from the trash and strategizing a green roof takeover of the super metropolis he resides in, complete with solar, bees, chickens and farmland covering NYC’s upper canopy of concrete and steel.

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