Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Monday, March 06, 2006

How I obtained a free, fully-functioning 23-foot sailboat that was once owned by a famous jazz musician.

It was the spring of 1999 and I was making less than $17,000 a year teaching at a language school. In my spare time, I played soccer with the Anarchist Soccer League, hosted leftist films at the American Center for Polish Culture, and loaded up rental vans full of friends for protests and drunken camping trips. Life was good. No real job, no real obligations or worries---just anarchist politics and short misadventures.

Through these activities, I met two crazy-ass ex-pats: Ian, a British cartographer and chess champion with bad teeth, graying hair and a voice like a muppet; and Szymon, a Polish dreamer and drifter with bad eyesight and impulsive ideas.

Szymon and Ian convinced me to help purchase a sailboat from a summer camp on the Chesapeake. Ian had worked near the camp, and had enough connections to score a cheap boat. Szymon's plan was that if the boat became too much of a burden, we would sail it to the middle of the bay at night, and set it ablaze 'til it sank. That's right, the plan was to get a boat, and if we got tired of it, we'd torch the mother fucker. Being a committed anarchist, Szymon did not consider the authority of the state when he launched that idea.

We went to the camp and looked at a couple of beached, beat-up sailboats on sale for a couple of hundred dollars. I had no freaking clue what I was doing; I wasn't a sailor and didn't know the first thing about how to make a small yacht move forward so was reluctant to put any money down.

The boat negotiations went on for weeks, when one day the camp director called me and said, "Hey, we just got a donated 23 footer, and if you come down now, you can have it free. We have no use for it. Oh, and it was owned by Charlie Byrd, the jazz guitarist, who's sick with cancer." I was stunned. My parents were big fans of Byrd's guitar work and had several of his albums! We sailed the boat out of the camp's dock that day.

But what does one do with a 23 foot sailboat?, not knowing how to sail and making less than $17,000 per year. Well, since it's free to moor a boat on rivers in the Chesapeake, we tied it to some junked concrete and let her float. We hid a leaky inflatable raft in the woods nearby, and paddled out when we needed. Through trial and error---mostly error---I learned to sail.

Ian has since gone on to become the subject of a Doonesbury cartoon and is now doing de-mining work in Cambodia. Szymon, after hacking his way through Panamanian jungle on a round-the-world trip, impregnated his high school girlfriend on a star-lit field in Siberia and now raises a family in Krakow.

Szymon at the helm:

Ian, with the map that got him into Doonesbury:
That is some interesting shit. Great story made even greater by the side story of the ANWR map. Is the Anarchists Soccer League still in business?
ASL is long defunct. It was started by me, Szymon and the guy I do the DC Drinks blog with.

I'm sad to say that for now, we've moved on from the Anarchism of our youth ...
But I seem to recall it being advertised somewhere, like on a listserv or maybe a community board somewhere. I know I'd heard of it before.
We definitely started ASL in DC in 1998 and then we heard that a some other anarchists starting doing it in Philly as well. For now, there might be someone playing soccer in DC calling themselves ASL, but I haven't played since '99.

Google it!
Holy shit! My old anarchist pal, Chucko (haven't talked to him in years), posted some pictures of us in ASL at the Mumia rally like 7 years ago. Check it out here. - That's Szymon in the first picture, and the van I rented to the left (white door). Wow. I made those black flags in my basement. Nostalgia, embarassment ...
I'm guessing the ASL didn't apply for use of soccer fields through official channels.
I think you should revive the ASL. I am still an anarchist at heart, just have a bank account now and no hair to do a mohawk with. Anyways, Amazing story!
Bra, I am from Africa, great story, the only thing free in the third worl is HIV, hang loose goose, hang loose!!!!
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