It's been more than seven months since SF Weekly first chronicled plans
for the Plastiki expedition, and we still can't figure out exactly what's going on. Last fall, European banking heir David de Rothschild, a self-anointed environmentalist and adventurer, announced his plans to pilot a catamaran made from used plastic across the Pacific Ocean, citing a vague constellation of good causes related to recycling and marine pollution.
Today was the latest media event hosted for the still-distant voyage of the Plastiki, whose anticipated launch has been pushed back to an undeclared date sometime before the end of the year. We can't help wondering if de Rothschild, who resembles
an impish reincarnation of Jesus, is pulling everyone's leg with this thing. The press conference, held at the newly opened "Plastiki Mission Control" center at Pier 45, saw him in high spirits, pointing out on a graphic artist's rendering of the boat -- which is still under construction -- a pair of exercise bicycles that will also, apparently, generate electricity. "We were worried about getting chicken legs," he said.
In any event, you've got to hand it to de Rothschild and his
public-relations minions: It's not just anybody who could convince the
New Yorker to run a feature about a boat voyage when the boat doesn't
even exist yet. The Plastiki sure looks cool, and de Rothschild, with
his gorgeous blond skipper and turbaned Hewlett-Packard sponsor, is a
pleasingly enigmatic figure. We'll certainly keep an eye on the
In the meantime, here are a few oracular de Rothschild utterances from today to tide you over:"We're looking at the Plastiki, not to vilify the material, but to understand it.
""The idea was to create an emotional map across the Pacific."
(On a NASA-designed biometrics system that will track his crew's heart-rates.)"Rather
than taking a plastic item and throwing it out, we want to take a
plastic item and have it become the food or the metabolism for
something else. [Pause.] I wouldn't say the food, exactly."
go down to Los Angeles -- I was down there looking at some waterways --
and I cannot tell you the amount of plastic bags in trees."
"I trained as a natural-medicine doctor. I'm interested in, 'We are what we breathe and we are what we eat.'"
"A lot of the green groups are very alienating. They are very exclusive. They are very guilt-mongering."
Hear, hear, Monsieur de Rothschild. If you and your floating recycle bin ever disembark, we hope you make it to the other side.