Miss Rockaway Armada 1 Favorite 

Practitioner: 

Date: 

Jun 1 2007

Location: 

The Mississippi River

The Miss Rockaway Armada is both a collection of
individuals and an idea. At its most basic, the idea is this: we’re
going to float down the Mississippi River from Minneapolis to New
Orleans on rafts that we built ourselves. The crew can be called many
things: artists, musicians, builders, travelers, organizers, dreamers.
Ask one of the people who help build and move these crafts for the
purpose, though, and you’ll get many answers. But there are some things
that we all agree on. We want to create: to invent a
new sustainable way to travel, to demonstrate different ways of living
and moving that are friendlier to the environment and to each other, to
indulge in that essential urge to make something out of nothing. We want
to meet people: to learn from new folks along the way,
to teach what we know, to share our art, our music and our performance,
and to make new friends. Finally, for adventure: to
reclaim and reinvent the old American urge to strike out and discover
the vast, mysterious land we inhabit and see it for ourselves.

We are floating down the Mississippi River on a raft we built from trash.

The catch is that we don’t know much about boats or rivers, and we don’t
have any money. We know we are blowing crazy hot air, but if the idea
makes your eyes glow like coals then you understand what we’re doing.
For the last year we’ve been meeting, making phone calls, holding
benefits, drawing blueprints and building like crazy. We collected scrap
wood from all over the city and hammered it together piece by piece. We
had benefit parties and socked away brown rice and dented cans. We
organized mostly out of New York and New Orleans because that’s where we
live, but we have folks from the West coast as well as the Midwest.

Here’s the plan: Last year we met in Minneapolis in
late July with sections of our raft in tow. We pieced together our
pontoons and filled them with salvaged blocks of foam. We made it
beautiful and tied on anything that would float, adding it to our junk
armada, our anarchist county fair, our fools ark. Our precious cargo is
everything we hold dear: pieces and parts of the culture we are already
creating. Our zines and puppets, sewing projects and poster campaigns,
mutant bicycles and punk rock marching bands. Plus our thoughts and
dreams and irrepressible energy.
In the winter of 2007 a nice bar called Ducky’s Lagoon in Illinois
took Miss Rockaway in and dry docked our giant raft. We love them for
that. Recently, we plopped Miss Rockaway back in the water with a crane
and we’re getting back on the river soon with a bigger and better show,
more rafts & boats, more workshops and a good helping of face
painting or the kids.
Together we’re floating down the Mississippi river, as far as we can,
anchoring here and there to perform, give workshops, and create the big
huge stinking spectacle we wished would have stopped in our hometowns.
And at each place we’re inviting anyone to contribute performances or
workshops of their own.
Our flotilla is built green with precycled materials, rainwater
collection, wind and solar power, biodiesel, and dumpstered dinners. If
we make it right, everything will run on sunshine and french fry grease.
However, we are NOT hippies.
We are a small group of people with extensive experience making big
insane projects. In the past we have taken 20-person bands to Mexico,
pulled off town square-sized guerrilla theater in Berlin, and fed
hundreds of people with garbage and love. We know this idea is
ridiculous and impossible. That’s why we’re obsessed with it.

About Us

The Miss Rockaway Armada is a group of approximately 30 performers
and artists from all over the country including members of the Toyshop
Collective, Visual Resistance, The Amateurs, The Floating Neutrinos, The
Infernal Noise Brigade, The Madagascar Institute, Cyclecide, and the
Rude Mechanical Orchestra. Last July we converged in Minneapolis to
construct a flotilla of rafts that will journey down the Mississippi
River. We’re stopping in towns along the way, hosting musical
performances and vaudeville variety-theater in the evenings, along with
workshops and skill-shares centered around arts and environmental issues
during the day. In our travels we intend to share stories and to
solicit dialogue around subversive and constructive ways of living. We
are a group of intrepids who believe in a hands-on, live-by-example
approach to creating change within our culture. We are taking cues from
Johnny Appleseed, traveling medicine shows, nomadic jewel box theater,
and of course that old radical Mark Twain.

Why are we doing this?

For a bunch of reasons. For the adventure. For the impossibility. But
for more than this. We grew up in small towns. We remember the
bookmobile and the punk rock band that seeded little pieces of something
else. And now, even though we moved to big cities and found people like
us, we still live in a country that fights wars so it can consume more.
We are taking the urge to flee and heading for the center. We want to
meet people who aren’t like us. We want to meet ourselves at age 16. We
want to be a living, kicking model of an entirely different world — one
that in this case happens to float. Plus we suspect that there is
something wildish about seeing the stars night after night from the
grand old Mississipi. Yeah sure, the Colorado is prettier, and the Rio
Grande is its own divide, but the Mississippi has always been the main
artery of this country. We want to start where the blood flows straight
from the heart.

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