ten things I have learned about the sea
thanks to: Guillermo and Miguel Rivero, Ben Tseng, Paydirt Pictures, the whole Portland Senator crew, (in particular my friend Tun Tun) and Michel, the greatest globetrotter I ever met
this video is based on footage I shot on marine vessel "Portland Senator" on the route from Los Angeles to Shanghai, in December 2008.
warning: this film requires ten minutes of your life and hopefully no phone calls during the screening. thank you.
music by Hammock.
album: Maybe they will sing for us tomorrow
songs: "this kind of life keeps breaking your heart", "we will say goodbye to everyone"
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
how long did the trip last?
it was a total of 17 days, if i remember well. which i'm pretty sure i don't.
did you work on the boat?
no, passengers are not allowed to work.
so what did you do all day then?
i did lots of reading, watched lots of movies, kept an illustrated diary, did a series of illustrations for an art show, and lots, lots of staring at the sea.
how did you get on the boat in the first place?
i contacted the company that owns and operates the ship, they already know what is needed to organize passengers trips. they sent me some documents, i sent them some money, got the necessary visas and just showed up at the Long Beach port where they told me to. well it's not completely true i got all the necessary visas, i didn't get the Japanese one, so when the ship got to Tokyo we berthed at the port and i had the whole city (which i never visited before) in front of me but i couldn't step down on land because i didn't have the papers for customs. that night i quietly sat on the bow of the ship and stared at the skyline and slowly ate my hands. with salt. no wine, because i didn't deserve anything nice that night.
was the food ok?
actually it was pretty good, they even made pizza one day.
did you find bad weather while at sea?
we were going to, but unfortunately the captain decided to steer away from it. next time.
what did you shoot this on?
i used a small consumer mono-sensor HD camera.
and now some pictures from my daily life on the boat.
here she is. the Portland Senator.
some illustrators really know how to cheer up people.
thanks, now i feel much better knowing with which kind of weapon my life will end.
a sample from the 2008 fall/winter ship's fashion collection. make sure not to wear more than 7 minutes, it could go out of style.
my office desk.
that's the table where i shared lots of food, red wine and conversations about life with the other passenger, Michel.
one morning i was walking to the dining room to have breakfast and found this hanging on the news corkboard. i wasn't expecting to be told in such a way that i would live 364 days that year.
i called this dummy guy Willy. they took him out during one of the evacuation tests, but i'm not really sure what his deal was.
the menu of the week, prepared by your favorite cook, Loreto Tondo.
your favorite cook, Loreto Tondo. at some point of the trip i ran out of cash to buy alcohol, so i started sharing my art talents with the crew in exchange of bottles of cheap cabernet.
and this is Tun Tun, the ship's steward, who took care of me almost like a maid.
one day Tun Tun was vacuum cleaning my room, and i was listening to my music. he asked me what band was that, and i told him: "they're called Rolling Stones". he asked me if he could have the mp3s, and i said sure, bring me a usb key and i'll give you all my music if you want. he did, and before i knew it, he came back with a beer case to thank me. needless to say, guess what music was playing on the sound system at dinner that night.
my bed, with view on the ocean.
Osaka port. park boat, unload containers, load new ones, leave port, repeat.
when you get close to a port, a pilot that knows the area jumps into the cargo ships (with both vessels moving, indiana jones style) and takes the reins of the cargo. those little boats reminded me of the people that grab your camel and put it to rest after you've crossed the desert.
one of the crew members (the ones who do the hard manual work with the boat) getting a taste of christmas. (Quicktime)
compulsory sunset picture of the South Korea coast area.
i can't really explain the feeling of stepping on land after 13 days at sea, maybe the picture can? not sure, but i liked those shoes.
the city we stepped on was Pusan. we had 8 hours to visit thecity before our boat left again for my final destination, Shanghai. Pusan has the biggest fish market in south korea, so that was our first stop.
we then went to visit a big buddhist temple, on the hills of the city. i was kind of overwhelmed.
we both wrote a note for Buddha on some roof tiles. to be honest i also did a drawing on it, hope Buddha is cool with that.
back to the port. the captain had told us that, you know, the boat would leave with or without you guys, so make sure you're here on time. gotcha.
this maybe gives you an idea of the size of the ship. my room was the upper right window.
back on the road! i mean, on the sea.
when you have an active imagination, you think that every small dusty boat you pass by is a pirate boat.
i liked that on some pole in the front of the ship was written the word "LOST".
my last day. equipment: tripod, bottle of white wine (i think that one was a very gentle present from Michel), diary, Miles Davis autobiography, wool gloves and wool beanie, headphones.
i love how Michel would never separate himself from his binocular. he had kept looking for dolphins or whales for his whole trip with no luck (he was doing the around the world voyage), and when i told him i saw dolphins swimming in front of the ship he was really pissed off. also, please note the Steve Zissou inspired beanie.
if you saw the images in the video, this camera saw them first.
Shanghai, finally. you don't want to fuck around those ropes too much, you know. i spent the night there because i had to wait for next morning for a car to pick me up and take me to the first bus stop somewhere near the port. i was talking to the second officer and he told me that before 9/11 ships would stop in ports and someone would bring girls in, you know, to "party". but after 9/11 all the security rules got much stricter and now you can't bring anyone on the boat if they're not workers. that means your only chance to not go completely crazy while being 6 months at sea is gone.
and that was it, that's the last time i saw the boat. you know when you're young and you have some love affair with a girl during summer holidays and at the end you have to leave and you will probably not see each other again, and you drive away in your parents car watching her waving at you? same feeling.
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