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Friday, June 26, 2009

We Attend the Latest, Strangest Press Conference on David de Rothschild's Plastic Catamaran So You Don't Have To

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2009 at 1:05 PM

click to enlarge Hop aboard
  • Hop aboard
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.

click to enlarge De Rothschild explains, sort of
  • De Rothschild explains, sort of

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

Plastiki's progress.

click to enlarge Plastiki "Mission Control" is now open at Pier 45
  • Plastiki "Mission Control" is now open at Pier 45
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.)


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.

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Peter Jamison


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