Joseph Carnevale, 21, has been arrested by the Raleigh Police Department for creating this cool traffic barrel monster.Â Rumor has it that this little artistic prank would have gone unpunished if it wasn’t for the fact that the police chiefs wife, Sarah Renyolds had a fender bender after spotting this and was laughing so hard she lost control of her brand new Navigator and crashed into the barrels just beyond this peice of art.
Darkly tanned, more than a little dirty and hungry, two men who spent three months crossing the Pacific on a raft made of plastic bottles and an abandon airplane fuslage (seen in image) to raise awareness of ocean debris finally stepped onto dry land. “We made it,” hollered Marcus Eriksen to a crowd of about two dozen gathered at Ala Wai Harbor on Wednesday. “Where’s the food?” Friends greeted Eriksen and fellow eco-mariner Joel Paschal with lei, fresh food and beer to celebrate the end of their nearly 4,200-kilometre voyage on what they call the JUNK raft. “We got used to eating fish and peanut butter,” said Eriksen, who celebrated his 41st birthday at sea.
The pair left Long Beach, Calif., on June 1. Their nine-metre vessel had a deck of salvaged sailboat masts, six pontoons filled with 15,000 plastic bottles and a cabin made from the fuselage of a Cessna airplane. While at sea they realized they were traveling less than a kilometre per hour and it would take them much longer to reach Hawaii than the previously anticipated six weeks. “We had to go to half rations for awhile,” said Paschal, 32.
Without a backup plan, the two used a satellite phone to get in touch with Roz Savage, who was crossing the Pacific solo in a rowboat and happened to be in the same area at the time.
Savage, who was heading from San Francisco to Hawaii, was in dire need of water after both her potable water makers broke. When the three met up, Savage got onboard the raft, Paschal speared a mahimahi and the three dined together. Before parting, the men gave Savage a water maker and she gave them some of her extra food. “We exchanged the necessities of life,” Eriksen said. “And that kept us going.”
Food wasn’t the only problem the men encountered on their trip. The raft, which can only sail down wind, had a hard time leaving the Long Beach area. The raft encountered storms that tore it apart during the first two weeks. Some of the bottles that were supposed to help the raft stay afloat started to sink. Eriksen and Paschal had to anchor the raft 160 kilometres off shore and rebuild it before setting sail again.
The voyage was part of Algalita Marine Research Foundation’s project called, “JUNK.” The third person of the group, who didn’t make the trip, was Anna Cummins, Eriksen’s fiancee. Cummins took care of land support, blogs and fundraising. She said the goal of the trip was to creatively raise awareness about plastic debris and pollution in the ocean, the same goal Savage pursued in her trek across the Pacific.
The three want “single-use plastics” to be banned, saying they’re wasteful and usually end up in the ocean. “Recycling is one solution, but it’s just a small part of the puzzle,” Paschal said. Each day the men posted online videos and blogs of their trip and kept in touch with Cummins. They also spent two to three hours a day maintaining and repairing the raft.
The men said a variety of marine life gathered under the raft throughout the trip. One day, said Paschal, they caught a fish after watching it grow for five weeks. They were going to eat it, but when they cut it open they found its stomach was full of plastic confetti. The team hopes to visit schools around Oahu and share their experiences, and is working on a documentary film about the voyage to raise public awareness of the danger of plastics. Sounds like a very interesting adventure.
“People all have a conception in their head of what a pillow fight is all about,” says Don “The Mouth” Lovranski, Case’s co-investor and the big-voiced announcer for the shows.
“When they come to it, though, they see it’s not hot blonds in negligees; the fights are real, and there’s some fun to it. I think that’s what the appeal is.”
Case himself is league commissioner, a role that becomes part caricature once the ring lights brighten and the pillows come out. As the boss, he has to play the heel. Another cohort, Matt Harsant, becomes Matt Patterson, a throwback-style referee complete with a bow-tie and limited patience.
But it’s the fighters that make the show, and they come in all shapes and sizes, with names like Sarah Bellum, the smart one, and Boozy Suzie, who enters the ring with a beer that referee Patterson confiscates with a stern wave of his finger.
Lynn Somnia staggers to the ring in a hospital gown with electrodes dangling, apparently released from her sleep-deprivation chamber.
Top contenders include Betty Clock’er — by day a financial editor and by night a cushion-swinging housewife who brings a plate of cookies to ringside — and Polly Esther, billed as the waitress from hell (“And somebody’s gonna get served!,” The Mouth bellows as she struts toward the ring).
While the personas are all good fun, the action in the ring is real, and as Case is quick to point out, unscripted.
The rules are simple: women only, no lewd behavior, and moves such as leg drops or submission holds are allowed as long as a pillow is used. After that, it’s up to the combatants.
For the fighters, there’s a small stipend, and a chance of fame if the popularity of the league continues to grow. But it’s also a hobby, and maybe even has a therapeutic appeal for players like Polly Esther, who got her snarky waitress persona the hard way, during 20 years of waiting tables.
“All the people I’ve served over the years, the bad customers, the bad tips, Polly doesn’t take it.” she says. “She lashes out. She hates everybody, but she’s not going to leave her job.”
This past weekend, Polly didn’t disappoint, torquing her long arms to deliver punishing pillow blows to Betty Clock’er in a fight to decide who will travel to New York this week to face PFL title holder Champain, an event Case is hoping will give an adrenaline shot to the league’s profile.
The bigger picture involves a TV deal. Case says he has already turned down bids that didn’t offer the mix of attention to the action and characters that he says makes the league more of a draw to the arts community than the mud-wrestling crowd.
The scene this past Friday would seem to bear him out, as the nearly 500 screaming fans looked more like an art-house movie crowd than a boxing audience.
The cheers reach a crescendo as Betty Clock’er fights off Polly Esther’s roundhouse hits, then unleashes a well executed pillow-leg takedown and pins Esther for the three-count. I gotta check this out!