Sunday, July 29, 2007

Perhaps it is fitting, that for our final post the collapsible keyboard has given way, the Treo inexplicably failing to pick up its signal, and so instead I am typing this with my thumbs. It is 2007, and despite the advances of mankind, we still are far from getting it right. It is, ultimately, an age of transition. One where you can blog from the Mississippi, but still rely on the graceful simplicity of your thumb. This, I think, is perhaps not a bad thing.

We have been in New Orleans for three days now, exploring the city and doing our laundry, indulging in the comforts of the civilized man. Earlier today, we went to the Arena Football League Championship Game, ArenaBowl XXI, in the New Orleans Dome on national TV, sponsored by ADT, Discover Card, and Sirius Satellite Radio, among others. The game was between the San Jose Sabercats and the Columbus Destroyers, and the Sabercats won, 55-33. There was confetti, and a trophy, and cheerleaders, and it was so air-conditioned and mesmerizing you had no idea that anything else existed, no idea of what the weather was like outside. Now, when people ask us why we paddled the Mississippi, we will finally know what to say: it was a pilgrimage. We paddled the river because we had to see ArenaBowl XXI.

New Orleans is a wild destination, a strange and appropriately American endpoint for the journey that we've just finished. Two years after Hurricane Katrina, the city is so far from fixed it's embarrasing, but you would have no idea, drinking beer and wearing tinted glasses, waltzing through the French Quarter with a buzz. At a barbershop Danny and I visited, rap videos split time on the tv with public service announcements from 2-cents.com, highlighting the fallout from the storm. In one, a Hurricane Katrina Bus Tour rolls through the 9th Ward, past an impoverished African-American, holding up a sign that reads, "This is what you paid to see, isn't it?" There is the voiceover: "If you like looking at it so much, maybe we shouldn't fix it." And there is a song by KUSH, cut with footage from the scene, poor black people crying for help on rooftops, wading through the streets, looting stores because they have no food, because the government is nowhere to be seen. But it is the!
MC's fin
al words that are the most chilling. "This is the realest line I ever wrote," he says. "We'll never get on top because we don't vote."

Everywhere, there are signs of the storm. A fountain recently restored. Hostels hosting relief programs. The side of a building, crumbling in upon itself. There are stories of fires and bucket brigades, and holes in roofs, and looters stripping houses down, all the way to the doorknobs. And then of course there is Bourbon Street, and beads, and beads. As I said, New Orleans has been a fitting end.

Amidst this all, the river sits there in memory, already receding, already fading away. We were out there a long time. Yet before you know it, it is gone, like a dwindling cigarette, like a dream, until you look back on it and wonder if those trances were real, if those sandbars and rivertowns existed, those bends in the river, until you look back and wonder how it all could have been. Did it all really happen? Did we appreciate it as it passed? Was it worth it? Am I okay? I imagine these are the types of questions we ask ourselves at the end of our lives.

Thank you to everyone who has checked in with this webpage, to everyone who has followed us along. It has truly been a pleasure relaying to you our travels, and I hope you all have been able, in some small manner, to take something away. We are off now, onto the rest of our lives, and I suppose you all are too. We always are, after all. I hope you pursue something that makes you feel alive. Please remember that this moment is what exists, that everything else is relative, and that this moment is here and then gone. Please remember that we live in a possible world. If nothing else, this trip has at least shown that. Best wishes as you carry on.

Sincerely,
the mississippi project

66 comments:

mikepam said...

So now what do we do with the huge map that Dad has pieced together and is hanging in the kitchen? We'll need to find something else for that corner of the room, that corner of our lives...

Congratulations to all five of you on your tremendous achievement, and thank you for taking us all along with you. We'll miss looking forward to your postings, but can't wait to see you in real time. Come home, bring Mippi, and get some rest and good food before you head out for whatever is next. After all, life is just one adventure after another, isn't it?

Angela said...

Your words move me, yet again.

I will miss the eloquent descriptions of your adventures for sure.

"Live as if you will die tomorrow. Learn as if you will live forever."

-Angela

Justin Kai said...

Hey lil' bro, how is New Orleans? I went there when I was 19 years old. I couldn't get into any bars but I still had a blast. It was Marti Gras so the streets were packed. I can't wait to here what it is like now. Take lots of pictures.

So are you swinging through San Diego? You need to check out our place. It is in such a great neighborhood. We love it there. I can't wait to get back.

Alright guy, stay safe and keep on keepin' on.

Jamie-Lee said...

Arena Bowl XXI, indeed.

Looking forward to our collaborations, man. But a warning: I'm not paddling down the Schuylkill with you.

This blog has changed how people see, how people live and have lived these last few months. That's um, pretty sweet.

Jane said...

Go Sabercats.

"Go Saberkittens!"

Peter said...

jane stole my comment. but not that saberkitters bit, thats genius. good trip MP.

Jessica Lowenthal said...

damn. This is amazing.

Norah said...

I have thoroughly enjoyed your adventure…thanks for allowing me to tag along.
And I am very happy that Mippi will be taken off the river before she attempts suicide again. This trip was just one episode…I can’t wait to hear what’s next.

famille stoa said...

My daily routine is broken: no more blog to read, no more wondering where you all are....no more checking on the map where you are having a drink or 2....
Congratulations again for this trip and for showing us we can dream about an adventure and actually DO IT!
A dumb question: how do you save a blog????????

Gabrielle said...

:) Back to the everyday adventure, yet, congrats for this achievement!

Fernbashket said...

Godspeed Mississippi Project. I have enjoyed your stories very very much. Very very very much. Thank you,

Fernando

markie said...

Hello MP, and fare well for the last time. Your's is my greatest adventure I never actually took!

Your reflections about the already receeding memory of the river really had personal meaning to me! You pulled it together so well. At life's end, we'll all remember our river... all it gave to us and all it took from us. As the memory becomes more distant, we'll wonder and worry. Do we remember it as it really was? Did we realize what we had, and did we do it right?

I've loved tagging along with you four and Mippi,and waiting anxiously for each new posting. I'll miss you and your lessons from the river. You've changed me.
Welcome home boys.

irina said...

Y'all are like the Thor Heyerdahls of North America and that is pretty nice. I've enjoyed reading your blog as I myself adventured around South America and I wish you the best now that you are done.
I don't know you, but eh...
Irina.

irina said...

Y'all are like the Thor Heyerdahls of North America and that is pretty nice. I've enjoyed reading your blog as I myself adventured around South America and I wish you the best now that you are done.
I don't know you, but eh...
Irina.

Walker said...

Hey Gabe,

I am glad you made it all the way down. It's the 4th longest river in the world! (I looked it up... it is shorter than only the Nile, Amazon, and Yangtze).

I was talking to this girl at Columbia who used to go to Penn and she was telling me about these amazing guys from her old school who are "literally covering the entire length of the mississippi via CANOE!" She was really impressed and I am too. But she was a little crazy.

I am also not giving you the jewel of the astro's orginization for a washed-up ankle bleeder, capisce?

When are you going to be home?

Walker

Ellie said...

gabey! I am late i know. but congrats from me and the rents. when do you return? i cannot wait. cheese board and coffee is in order.
ciao.
ellie

leez. said...

you guys are amazing, much much respect your way. i am itching for a little indian rock and tree climbing when you get home. when is that, by the way?

chewey said...

Hello guys..congrats on completing your journey. thanks for the ride.. its was so fun and interesting watching your progress. thanks again and good luck to you all in the future.......Deb and Matt from brainerd,Mn area

C-line said...

ya'll are my heroes. since day one.

davide said...

you guys should put this together into something and get it published, or at least publish a web photo essay. excellent idea, excellent job, excellent writing... good luck with the rest of your studies and in your future.

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Veasey said...

Hey,

I'm planning a similar trip with a college friend. I'd love to get in touch with you guys and talk about your trip. my email address is veasey@gmail.com

Thanks!

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若對自己誠實,日積月累,就無法對別人不忠了。........................................

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江婷 said...

與人相處不妨多用眼睛說話,多用嘴巴思考.................................................................

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It takes all kinds to make a world.............................................................

陳智強 said...

It takes all kinds to make a world.............................................................

PearleY建佑 said...

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人生的苦惱,不在擁有太少,而在奢望太多。..................................................

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雅明修任 said...

Poverty is stranger to industry.........................................

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Learning makes life sweet.......................................................................

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來逛逛blog~~跟您打聲招呼............................................................

said...

希望能常常看到你的更新..................................................