Bottle Found in France!

nypelagicFR

Yes indeed, one of the bottles I tossed in Staten Island made it all the way across the Atlantic.

I honestly don’t know what’s more surprising – that it made it to Europe, or being that it was tossed from Staten Island that it wasn’t pulled by the currents right to Italy. (For French readers, that was a cheap joke about the number of Italians in Staten Island. But I am from New Jersey and allowed to make such cheap jokes.)

Here is where it was found, north of Bordeaux, south of La Rochelle, near Royan. Where, according to Google maps, there is a restaurant called “Face a New York”. Right back atcha, Royan! –

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Royan2

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And here are the people who found it, Alain and Brigitte. Look how attractive!

Alain+Brigitte

The first email I received was from Brigitte. It is one of the most charming emails I have ever received and I will not try to describe how perfectly French and vibrant it is. Instead, here is the email unchanged –

 “Hello mister BOORUJY !

Marvellous! I found a bottle yesterday on my beach in France, new ROYAN.

I’m painter too, extraordinary adventure.

My English is not “formidable”, but I’ve understand all you say on the N.Y.P site.

The bottle arrive in a perfect aspect… covered with shells, we was taking a walk on our beach, we was sad cause of the disaster of the “tempest” the beach looked like a “poubelle“

Ecological disaster, two fishes, from far country dead on the sound… And, just three year after our sending, in January 2013, we found your messages.(the 17of January 2016)

Thanks for the drawing, the cormorant is “magnifique”

I’m 65 years, I’m so happy to h’ve find this bottle,

My husband and me , we are going to contact the association concerned by the birds, and also by the “no respect “of the environnement .

My name is Brigitte, I leave in SAINTES, between La ROCHELLE and BORDEAUX ….

Thanks for your action!

VICTORY FOR THE BOTLE “

How great is that? My favorite thing about French people is how French they are. Making things even sweeter is that Brigitte is also an artist.

Here is what the bottle looked like upon its arrival on the beach near Royan –

Royanbottle1

All 29 months at sea are evident on the bottle. Some life took up residence in the etched design, and there seems to be a barnacle attached to the wax on top.

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Brigitte with the bottle –

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And revealing its contents –

bottlecontents

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I don’t remember that cormorant looking so shell-shocked. But I suppose all that time at sea would change anyone. It’s hard not to picture the bottle in the middle of the ocean, in the middle of the night. Calm water with snow falling, strong storms, searing sun, endless drizzle. Reflecting lights of passing ships, being nosed by a whale. And eventually reaching land again.

I like seeing the rolls of paper in a pair of hands across the ocean, knowing that I was the last person to hold them, no one in between us but the water. I used to think about that all the time as a kid when I was in the ocean – that there was only water between me and some other kid on the other side of the planet.

My deepest thanks to Alain and Brigitte for all the photos and the brilliant correspondence. It has been such a pleasure meeting you.

Bottle Found in Virginia Key

This bottle –

bearcutbottlebefore

With this drawing –

sootytern

Was found very close to where it was launched. But according to its finder, it sat there for almost three years. Tossed into Bear Cut in December 2012, found November 2015. A nice little mention of it here by a coastal cleanup group.

I suppose it’s possible that it only traveled a few hundred yards before being wedged into some rocks, but I think we can agree that this is the most probable route that the bottle took:

bearcutroute

That’s really just what seems most likely. And how amazing that it landed in almost the exact same place as where it had been launched!

It was found by someone who has been swimming off Virginia Key for 40 years. I used to take very long swims off Virginia Key as well when I lived in Miami. It felt wild and abandoned there because there were no amenities and there was no easy access to the beach. But one could always find weird things and weird people there. I wrote about this area in a previous post. It was a good representation of the bizarre mash-ups that occur in South Florida, and I have no doubt the raccoons there were responsible for this piece I made years and years later…

BoorujyFloridaIV(wrack line)

Bottle Found in Connecticut

And that’s about all I know.

Keeping with the theme of really up to date information, I got an email a couple of years ago that a bottle was found on Sheffield Island in Connecticut.

sheffieldisland

The finder of this bottle had it for a year before contacting me. He didn’t say which drawing he found, and I couldn’t reach him again, but based on geography I imagine it was the Manx Shearwater that I launched from City Island. Either way, it was a year from the time I tossed it in 2011 until 2012 when it was found. A long time to float around in Long Island Sound. I’m happy it held up off the coast of Connecticut, as there are very high concentrations of both gin AND tonic in the water, and that could be caustic to the cork.

Here’s the drawing. I haven’t seen this one in a long time. Ha! He looks totally disappointed! And suspicious. And hurt? Accusatory?

manxsh

I’m happy to hear it was found but of course a little disappointed not to know more.

Sad

But, as I’ve said before, a google image search of “disappointment” will lift anyone’s spirits. It also just occurred to me that this bottle got to Connecticut much quicker than any of my reporting on these developments.

And Then…

wolfespondheader

I always envisioned this project as encompassing all five boroughs, but damn, Staten Island doesn’t make itself easy to get to for this sort of thing. It says something that I tossed bottles in New Jersey and Miami before doing it on Staten Island.

 At any rate, I got around to it eventually. In the same way I eventually get around to updating this blog. These Staten Island bottles got tossed in October 2013. That’s a long time ago now. But seeing as one of these bottles was just discovered in France, now seemed a good time to get back on this.

Way to bury the lead, huh?

OK, back to Staten Island: a place of strangeness, pizza, and beauty.

wolfespondview

I went there with Nick Stockton. He had heard about the project and was interested in what I was doing, so I decided to finally get out to Staten Island and see what’s what.

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Mr. Stockton looking very professional

First stop was Wolfe’s Pond Park. The last time I had been there was about a decade ago. On this day in October 2013, it was still in rough shape post Sandy. Staten Island really felt the brunt of that storm and the parks were certainly no exception.

beachclosed

There were a lot of birds around though. I had wondered if Hurricane Sandy was good for shore nesting birds. A lot of great nesting beaches (Ft Tilden for one) were off limits to people the summer after the storm, so maybe they had a great year? I have no clue. It was a bizarrely freezing day in late October so there were no summer birds to ask about this. Lots of Brandt’s geese, lots of double crested cormorants, lots of gulls. The drawing I tossed here was of a double crested cormorant. This bottle floated right by said birds, and eventually made its way out of the harbor and across the Atlantic, spending over two years at sea. I have no image of the drawing. I think it got lost when my last computer died.

SIcormorants

From there we went to Great Kills Park. It was so cold, but the walk to the beach looked straight-up jungle.

greatkillsbeachjungle

Monkeys and everything.

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Tossed a drawing of a Northern Gannet here. Again, no record of this one either. But I remember it was drawn in mid-plunge. I think one of the only full-body depiction of the birds, as I’ve stuck to mostly portraits. The plunge dive of the gannet is so distinctive however, and I couldn’t pass it up. Hopefully it gets found, it would look great in somebody’s bathroom.

You can see the bottle bobbing out to sea, a little speck of yellow wax and glinting glass.

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It was a beautiful day in a borough with some beautiful parks. And some creepy beach debris.

SIbeachteddy

And some great beach debris.

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“It’s all part, of my tropical fantasyyyyyy…” (sung to the tune of “Rock and Roll fantasy”)

 Update on where that double-crested cormorant drawing ended up soon.

Florida Farewell

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Miami Beach can be really beautiful. It’s a shame that it’ll all be underwater soon. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to this strange place, but it will be very good for my next planned venture – New Atlantis® Florida Farewell Airboat Tours!™

floridafarewellairboat

But back in good ol’ 2012, when a climate change denying Rubio was still contained to the state of Florida, I was tossing a bottle there.

I planned to aim for this hole –

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There were a lot of people around, and I felt a bit weird just chucking the thing, so I walked a while with my friend Anneliis. And amongst all this pelagic bird art action, we had some real encounters. First some dead ones.

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deadtern2

I think these were royal terns, but I wouldn’t say it with absolute certainty. Upon closer inspection, it appeared that one of them was banded. Even though there were a lot of people around, and not the best odor coming from the bird carcass, I wanted to go in and get the band number. I decided to wait until the crowd thinned a bit. Tossed the bottle as a cruise ship headed out to sea. There was a drawing of a sandwich tern in this one. One of my favorite drawings of all these birds. Who doesn’t like sandwiches?

sandwichternsm

As Anneliis and I watched the bottle bob out to sea as well, a guy came along surf-casting. I started saying he better be careful or he’s going to hook one of these gulls when all of a sudden – he hooked a gull! And I got a little gallant! As the guy fumbled with his rod, I doffed my shirt and wrapped it around the gull. A ring-billed if I remember correctly. The fisherman then was able to delicately extract the hook. Which had managed to get the bird in the mouth and puncture the webbing of its foot. Check out this hot pelagic bird action! Photos courtesy of Anneliis Beadnell

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Literally saving birds with my hands, ladies and gentlemen. Although I felt more like George Costanza.

georgecostanza

I unwrapped the gull and it looked a little stunned, but not the worst. It took off. And it didn’t even poop in my shirt.

Long time, no see

A tremendous amount of time has gone by since I last updated this blog. And a lot has happened. I’ve still been drawing these birds, and I’ve still been tossing the bottles. I suppose I always was the sort of kid to work hard on the cover, but not the actual book report…

At any rate, bottles have been tossed, and bottles have been found. For instance, this one –

redhookblocks

I tossed a bottle in Red Hook. This was in… 2011? Yeah, November 2011. Keeping with my theme of non-linear blogging, this was before the two Miami bottle I wrote about but not the THIRD bottle there. Which I’ll write about next. Clearly I should not be in charge of an actual ship’s log. This launch was from Valentino Pier. There’s always people fishing here.

statueofliberty

Strange to think that this toss was also pre-Hurricane Sandy by a year. This spot a year later would be underwater along with almost all the rest of Red Hook. This neighborhood was very hard hit, and the clean-up was a long slog. I have a soft spot in my heart for Red Hook. I suppose a lot of New Yorkers do as it is such a charming neighborhood. It was one of the first neighborhoods I knew when I moved to Brooklyn almost 16 years ago. I also had my studio in Red Hook for years right near the squid processing plant. Top Ketch! There was a logo on their trucks that basically looked like the Planter’s Peanuts guy but he was a squid instead of a peanut. The monocle and top hat did very little to mask his smell, but at least he was classy.

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I tossed a Roseate Tern from the Pier. This pier is a great place to see terns fishing during the summer without trekking all the way out to the beach. And with solitude, the smell, and the sound of the bells on the buoys, it can be just as transporting.

redhookgull

Bottle in Bear Cut

This is pretty much why I went to the University of Miami:

rsmas

RSMAS, the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Fantasies fueled by Jacques Cousteau’s Underwater World led me to this place for college. Unfortunately, during the time I was in school, RSMAS was really only for graduate studies. If it had been otherwise, I probably would never have switched into art so early on. I really am that shallow. Most things I do in life are often met with the question – “Is this something I could do at the beach?”

Here is the research vessel, the Walton Smith, UM’s “Calypso” if you will:

waltonsmith

RSMAS also has a bar. A great bar. It’s got that feeling of some old biological lab with all its attendant flotsam, giving the place such a great atmosphere. You walk past mounted sharks on the way into the bar. I got incredibly drunk at this bar on my 19th birthday.

rsmasbar

Here’s a view of the Walton Smith from the bar:

waltonsmith2

However, there was plenty about the art buildings to hook me. They may not have been at the beach, but they were like something out of the Swiss Family Robinson:

UMartbuildings

Especially if the Robinsons were heavy drinkers with a dim understanding of combustible fluids. The buildings were old barracks and were in fact the oldest structures on campus. They eventually got condemned, which is probably a good thing. Wood construction soaked for half a century in turpentine, with absent-minded students smoking all over the place; it was more or less one step away from this scene in Zoolander:

zoolander_gas

But I did often get out to RSMAS, or rather, where RSMAS is, which is on Virginia Key. Rode my bike out there a few times before I got a car. It was actually a lot like riding out to Ft Tilden from Brooklyn, being a similar distance with a big bridge to cross towards the end. Great views from Rickenbacker Causeway.

bridgefrond

causwayview

Virginia Key is an interesting place that gets overlooked for the larger Key Biscayne. There’s an old marine stadium there covered in graffiti, and there are some nooks and crannies with bits of  “Old Florida” in them. Jimbo’s was one of these places:

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Separated from Key Biscayne by Bear Cut, Virginia Key itself used to be connected to Fishers Island until a hurricane blew through in 1938 and created Norris Cut. Interesting to think about this in light of Hurricane Sandy and the new inlets created in the ever-changing barrier islands.

virginia_key

I wanted to toss a bottle into Bear Cut for a few reasons. There is a very swift and strong current there. Despite this, I always liked swimming there. That current holds promise as well as threat. Many different creatures come through the cut and with the RSMAS research vessel docked right there, a feeling of exploration and potential is palpable. To me at least. In years past, I’ve been lucky enough to accompany my friend Brian Teare out into Biscayne Bay to watch (and help a bit) him do his field tech work.

brianteare

The Bay can be as clear as an aquarium.

biscayneclarity

And come to think of it, this exact spot was in fact an exploratory departure point for me. There are almost always cormorants on the pilings and lines here. I’ve always loved them. I had a photo of a cormorant from these very pilings. He was stretching his neck out and was a moment away from taking off. I don’t know where that photo is now, but I’ve seen cormorants in all sorts of situations and predicaments. Not sure exactly why I’m drawn to these guys. They seem kind of dumb, sometimes wise. Klutzy and graceful. And prehistoric.

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dead_cormorant

injured_cormorant

dccormorant

I can’t remember now if I took the photo in college or afterwards on a visit, but I do remember that when I had finished up my thesis work for grad school I was compelled to do a drawing of this cormorant. Nothing but this cormorant, in red ink. Right before that I had been doing work like this:

migration

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And right after school it became this:

doublecrestedcormorant

I don’t have an image of that first red cormorant drawing, but its the thing that started all the work I’m doing now.

 OK. Back to the plot – I swam the bottle out a bit, just beyond the pier, and tossed it. It had a sooty tern in it.

sootytern

After tossing the bottle I walked along the shore towards the southwest. As you head in this direction, you are taken right behind the Seaquarium, Miami’s version of SeaWorld. Like SeaWorld, it’s a completely fake environment and doesn’t necessarily feature native species. Although I guess you really can’t train a manatee to do anything exciting. Unless eating lettuce is exciting.

 It’s funny and/or ironic that RSMAS and the Seaquarium are right next to each other. It’s not as though the two places are exact opposites, with completely different goals… but kind of they are. A reductive view of it would have RSMAS trying to explore and save nature and the Seaquarium exploiting it. There is much to say about animals in captivity. I’m of the opinion that in general people anthropomorphize animals too much, and assume they are unhappy in zoos. I think for the most part that isn’t true. Hell, I live in New York and a lot of humans here are in small little compartments. It is too much to assume that the concept of “freedom” is present in an animal – or stronger than a desire for food, warmth and security. Most animals do live longer in captivity, and today zoos do so much for endangered species and are sometimes the last habitats for these species. A last refuge from the abyss, and a possible salvation. And many institutions, notably the WCS, support conservation efforts in the field, helping to ensure that these species can persist in their native habitats.

 However in the case of animals with very complex social lives and high levels of intelligence, I feel differently. Animals like elephants, and killer whales. (Chimpanzees are perhaps so similar to us that it sometimes seems as though they don’t mind sitting around watching TV and having a cigarette.) Killer whales have incredibly complicated family structures, with up to four generations living together in pods. They also have – it can be argued – culture. And they live much shorter lives in captivity. The thought of these huge animals set adrift in these little pools in random areas of the planet, as though left behind by some massive retreating glacier, is unsettling. And lonesome.

 I google mapped the Seaquarium and then zoomed in:

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I then repeated it with SeaWorld in San Diego and San Antonio:

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To be able to see this animal, this individual, alone in its pool, seemed miraculous, intrusive, revelatory, and just too intimate. If I was more of a purely conceptual artist I can imagine doing something with these photos.  Perhaps I will at some point.

 Between the Seaquarium and the ocean is a thin strip of limestone, mangroves, Australian pines, and sand. There are usually pelicans roosting, and I’ve seen a few different heron and egret species fishing here. It feels forgotten and wild. A good haunt for raccoons.

coontracks

pelicanauspine

It is interesting to be right between something so manufactured and something so wild. The presence of mangroves, and their smell, assists in this feeling of wilderness. The wilderness of odor is one of the last bastions of wilderness. I’m not saying I hear a wolf howl when someone farts on the subway, but it is nice to be reminded of the fact that we are animals. And the smell of the mangroves at low tide reminds me of all that is living and dying and being born, and the constant transformation of living things into the tissues and processes of other living things.  This is where I found the paper nautilus.

mangroves

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It was not far from the empty shell of something I also recognized. I’m pretty sure this is all that’s left of the hull of a little boat that served as the reference for a boat in the background of one of my pieces:

boatremnants

radioseals

radiosealsdetail

As I was walking behind the Seaquarium, a dolphin show was in progress. I didn’t realize it, but softly the sound of the Beach Boys drifted in. I thought I was imagining it, and then the chipper, hyper cheerful voice of the trainer piped in over a loudspeaker. Disassociated from the imagery it was so strange and eerie. I was seeing pelicans, and the sea, and the backs of buildings that looked abandoned. Yet the Beach Boys, and this cheerful American voice was all around me. I could see NO people by the way. Nothing from the stadium, and I could not even hear applause. It felt like some sort of post apocalyptic movie. Or something out of a dream.

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Some of my work used to seem, and was described as, “post-apocalyptic”. I never meant it that way. I always felt that the stuff I was painting was totally possible now, or even in the past, as well as the future. Lord knows you don’t have to go far, even in the States to see things that would fit the bill as “post-apocalyptic”. There has been a lot of rumination on the Apocalypse these days in art, movies, and books. Some people say it could stem from the fear of ecological disaster, and our anxiety about the environment. Climate change is such a huge thing to face, too big it seems, and perhaps this is how we’re expressing that feeling.

But I think there’s a part of this focus on the apocalyptic future that is actually a kind of “looking back”. By looking forward into a wrecked world where our existence is reduced back to basics, it’s as though we’re trying to understand what we are at our core. Maybe this focus is a desire for a simplification of our world. Or in this future we’re trying to see our past, and what we are, where we are, when we are, here in the 21st century. On the shore of Biscayne Bay.

pelican_piling

Or maybe it was Utah.