Monday, October 24, 2016

Go Poppa, Go

Not Poppa Neutrino. Photo: State Library of New South Wales
All right, so you've all heard the tale of how Poppa Neutrino crossed the Atlantic in 1998 in a homemade raft ... What's that? You haven't? Man, is this what's meant by "a liberal arts education" these days? Well, I'm certainly not going to tell you the whole tale. But picture this: Poppa Neutrino himself -- that 65-year-old perpetual wanderer, his wife, some family, a friend or two, and at least one dog -- on a raft jerry-rigged out of scrap wood, Styrofoam, sailing and putt-putting across the north Atlantic. Along the way, they run into a Russian freighter amazed enough to stop and share food and gasoline. As the freighter pulls away, the Russians take photographs, and the captain, who's not a native English speaker, says, "'Thank you for your show to the world ... We'll show the world this floating radish.'"

The radish made it to Ireland.

Fast forward to 2004. Neutrino had built another plywood'n'Styrofoam raft that looked like a tree house, maybe, but not a seagoing craft. Neutrino told Alec Wilkinson of The New Yorker, "I know you see this raft trip as my wandering off to the horizon and maybe into oblivion." But he saw it differently.

I see it has having a club in each hand and spikes on my feet and saying, "Now, you bastards, now I'm coming after you."

--The Crossing, by Alec Wilkinson, The New Yorker, June 27, 2005, pp. 69 -72.

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