Copyright 2009 by Cap’n Fatty Goodlander
Last night I dreamt a Sci-Fi movie in which brave teen-ager Earthlings hijacked the mammoth invasion transports sent by a demented, power-mad civilization far, far away. The final scenes during the climax were particularly heart-warming: our spunky earthlings (left so poor by the raging inter-civilization hostilities that they didn’t even have shoes) lassoing the huge craft by pure force-of-will, despite all odds, and becoming fabulously rich & famous as a result.
I like being a member of the “Star Wars” generation. I’d love to have a working light saber on my boat. But I have been having a lot of weird dreams lately. Perhaps this is because I’m preparing to go ocean sailing again. This always makes me a tad nervous—fear of the unknown, I guess.
…anyway, my dreams have been strange.
Most of my dreams, of course, are marine-related. This is only logical. I’m a sailor who is obsessed with our rich maritime tradition. But I also like cowboy movies, too, because it is so easy to tell the heroes (white hats) from the villains (black hats).
Life on the Big Screen is less ambiguous than life-as-we-know-it.
I don’t always dream in Technicolor or about movies. Sometimes I dream about books. I really enjoy reading about such brave and colorful sailors of yore as Sir Francis Drake, William Teach, Calico Jack—why, even Ann Bonny could handle a ship’s wheel as well as a blood-dripping cutlass.
One of my favorite books is “Moby Dick.” What a thrill it must have been to grapple with a giant whale—and despite your puny size—to win! And to tow it back to your fellow warriors—what a wild, lustful party that must have been.
My daughter Roma Orion always pulls me back to reality. She spent her “junior year abroad” from Brandeis in Uganda, helping set up parent-teacher associations in the rural areas surrounding Kampala. Yeah, she’s kind-of-a-goody-two-shoes in her own sweet way. This means we seldom talk about the things I want to (drugs, sex, and rock & roll) and instead often focus on her loftier, more intellectual international concerns … like, well, African empowerment, redistribution of income, how to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in the Third World, etc.
That is what happens when you teach your daughter to think for herself—she does.
…me, I guess I’m old-fashioned. The last time we spoke of these “policy wonk” kinds of things, I grew so bored I tuned out. Instead of listening to her drone on about the “exciting success of micro finance in rural India,” I watched the new Johnny Depp movie, “Public Enemy,”on DVD. It was great. I love movies like that—I’m a sucker of all those ole James Cagney flicks in which he yells bravely to the cops converging on him, “Come and get me, copper!”
And I like Johnny Depp. He’s way-cool. Liberty, the lovely Alden schooner from Coral Bay, was just co-starring with him in Puerto Rico. Yes, I think Johnny is a genius—who else would have “thunk” to pattern Jack Sparrow after the heroin-addled Keith Richards?
Another actor I’ve always enjoyed is Errol Flynn. I just love his early seafaring stuff … like in “Captain Blood” when he joins the battle on deck from the mast head … by sliding down the mainsail—and cutting it with a knife to slow his too-rapid descent. Isn’t that every man’s dream? To be so cool? To have such power?
Of course, all the movies I watch are on the local DVDs which cost less than two bucks a pop here in Malaysia.
The way I figure it, Steven Spielberg has enough money, and, hey, I love a good deal as much as the next sailor.
…come to think of it, the same goes for the software I’m using to type these words. I mean, Bill Gates says he’s always searching for ways to get his money to the poor people who deserve it the most… why not help him out and save paper work for Microsoft at the same time? (Surely, helping to reduce MS’s carbon footprint is a worthy goal, eh?)
Why do I break the law this way? I guess I’m no different than my fellow hooligans on Wall Street—because I can.
Boy, my mind is really jumping around today. What was I talking about? Oh, yeah: actors and acting.
When I purchased my sloop Corina in Chicago I was fifteen and working as a child actor in children’s theater. For two years I played Will Scarlett, the brave-but-dumb friend of Robin Hood. Most of the other actors came-and-went so I was the only one that knew all the parts by heart. Thus, later, if someone got sick, I was their understudy. (…playing Maid Marian was a drag but, hey, the show must go on.) However, I absolutely loved playing the part of Robin Hood.
The kids loved it too, especially when I’d outsmart the dumb “phony king of England” and share all my loot with the local tribal leaders.
…maybe my love of such romantic characters stems from the fact that I was born in Chicago, home of Al Capone. Now Al would just as soon shoot you as look at you—but if he didn’t happen to shoot you, he’d give you a big turkey on Thanksgiving Day.
…or, to put it another way, Al Capone was just like the other politicians in Chicago—but a tad more generous.
Which of the many movies celebrating his life did you like best? The traditional one with Edward G. Robinson or the more recent Scarface update with Al Pacino?
Many cultures share these stereotypes: we have Jesse James, the Aussies have Ned Kelly. It is a matter of personal perspective: one man’s criminal terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Let’s not forget that King George viewed our founding fathers as tax cheats, criminals, anarchists, rebels, and terrorists. And that the American Revolution could not have taken place without the “utter lawlessness and chaos” of many of our east coast ports.
There’s that “perspective” thing again. I used to live in New Orleans and sail Barataria Bay. So when I was yacht-racing in France, to ingratiate myself with the local frogs, I grandly announced I was a great admirer of Jean Lafayette—one of the heroes of the American Revolution—but, alas, a major traitor (similar to Benedict Arnold) to the French. Oophs.
The following night at a different party I announced I’d just sailed ‘across the English’ channel—and the room fell as silent as if I’d bitch-slapped our host. (It is called the ‘sleeve of the ocean’ by the French.) … oophs again.
Perspective can be a drag.
Both the Palestinians and the Israelis agree the Spielberg movie “Munich” is about some despicable, lawless murderers and the noble quest for justice—they merely disagree on who is who & which is which.
I find stuff like this distressing. I’d rather not think about it. Often, my world viewpoint is similar to an ostrich’s. Thinking about serious stuff gives me a headache. I prefer to think about stuff which is fun… about our collective cultural heroes, our media myths, and/or our street-creed icons…
…like B. D. Cooper, for example. History has dealt rather kindly with him, wouldn’t you say? He didn’t hurt anyone—just made a fortune by being brave and daring. Okay, okay… I know things could have gone very wrong and many innocent people might have died—but, hey, that wasn’t his intention, was it? Wasn’t he just trying to grab a large piece of the pie?
I mean, not all people have law degrees and can rob with a fountain pen. Or, ditto, be an international banker. And, yeah, I realize that some of the B. D. Cooper money was found fluttering forlornly from some bushes—but I think that was just the chump change he tossed in the wind to throw off the Feebies. I hear he’s living the life of Riley down in Rio right now—getting ready for the Olympics. (Yeah, Rio is mess… but at least it has been voted—first-ballot!—safer than my home town of Chicago!)
But all this day-dreaming isn’t getting me anywhere. The fact is I’m getting ready to sail off the coast of Somali—and piracy isn’t a “ha-ha” issue anymore. It is all-too-real. The reality of these modern-day, shoulder-rocket-launching pirates scare the feces out of me. They make me weak in the knees. They make me want to vomit.
Sure, it is easy to laugh at them—hell, they recently attacked a French warship! But laughing at them is far more fun while channel-surfing in America—then from the cockpit of a defenseless vessel ten feet away from the barrels of their AK-47s.
I’m on my second circumnavigation. We’ve already rounded the Cape of Storms. I don’t want to repeat myself. I want to go somewhere new. Plus, I want to visit the Med to be closer to our daughter. But a bunch of barefoot, desperately poor, teen-age punks stand in my way.
To some, they are heroes. To others, violent thugs. But they are there, blocking me. And I can not decide whether—with my wonderful wife aboard—to boldly poke my bowsprit into their ‘hood or not. I really can’t. Am I a coward or a wise man? I dunno. All I know is—once I get a thousand miles west of the Maldives—I won’t beat back to windward around the southeastern tip of Somali. I’ll be forced right down the funnel into their ugly arms. What would you do? Which would you pick: cowardice or foolishness?
Cap’n Fatty Goodlander lives aboard Wild Card with his wife Carolyn and cruises throughout the world. He is the author of “Chasing the Horizon” by American Paradise Publishing, “Seadogs, Clowns and Gypsies” and “The Collected Fat.” For more Fat-flashes, see fattygoodlander.com.