in Performance Critiques

Switchback Sea Launch


I wish you were here with me in Troy. The traffic was awful and it took us hours to get out of New York. We finally crossed the great Tappan Zee, and then were crawling along in more traffic. Your darling driver was getting very agitated, and so we pulled off on a side road. Highway 303. Up a big hill we went, and lo! the drizzling rain became a bliblical deluge. Blinding. It was if we were at sea, underwater. I couldn’t see a thing. Suddenly the left wheels of the car were not touching the ground. We were sailing. Downhill. In traffic. Very scary. We found a gas station and waiting in silence, four unlawful darlings in the car, listing to the pummel.

We were on our way to Troy, to see darling TK and the crazy people she has been spending her summer with, building magnificent boats based on a drawings by Swoon. The boats are sailing down the Hudson, to New York City. (They will arrive on September 7th. I will be in Raleigh NC and can’t go, so you must go! Marina, too! Promise!) The flotilla of boats and their journey is called “Swimming Cities of the Switchback Sea” but coincident with it, Dark Dark Dark et al are making a film called “Flood.” So, our near death in the deluge was fitting.

We all sat in silence for like the next half hour, passing a shopping mall that was, in fact, flooded. We named the parking lot “Lake Mall.” We rose a hill after Lake Mall and got a glimpse of blue skies. It was like waking up from a dream. We turned back onto the New York State Thruway, turned on Fanfare Ciocarlia and launched into warp speed.

Then what?

I’ll skip all the stories about traffic, car accidents, learning all sorts of things from the other people in the car. I will just sum it up and say that it took nearly 5 hours to get from Brooklyn to Troy yesterday and it was certainly a journey.

We arrived at the river just after dark. A crowd was assembled before the boats. What boats! We’re they real? Really real? Really there?
“Is all this legal?”
came from someone’s lips, and the cops in our minds were afoot for ten or fifteen minutes or so, until the performance started.

The sailors took their places on their various ships, or sisters, or cities. Call them what you will. “Ghosts”, said Ayen (or whatever her name is supposed to be.) Spectres, yes. Too good to be true.

Between musical interluded by Dark Dark Dark the various crew members came up and gave a testimony of sorts. Who they were. Where they came from and where they are going… or how drifting means without whence and thence…

(One of the crewmembers, Richard Bruckner, was a sociologist. He reminded me of the sociologist in that MOVE documentary, who peppered his comments about the teachings of John Africa with strange remarks like “They are strict vegetarians. They eat a large quantity of fruit, eating fruit freely throughout the day.” I spoke with him just before the boats set sail and asked if I could interview him about hierarchy in the culture of Crew. He is excited but there was much work to do on the boats so the interview will have to wait… Stay tuned!)

Between, they worked. Sweeping and swobbing. Tying lines and untying lines. Cooking and eating. Drinking and dancing.

They will testify again. And again and again. Each night a few miles downstream. But, if you are impatient, or afraid to leave your desk, then you can get a glimpse here.


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