Sunday, April 25, 2010

my two cents, part II

I've been hearing a lot from readers who say that they really enjoy the blog, but think that "Mad City" should be a little less mad at times. As in, say something good about something for a change! So I've decided that once in a while, I will write something positive.

Today's subject is Martin Strel, a Slovenian endurance swimmer. Maybe you've heard of him: a few years ago, he swam the length of the Amazon in something like 60 or 70 days. He's also swum the Mississippi (yes, from Minnesota all the way down to N'awlins), the Yangtze, the Danube, and I think a few other hella long rivers. Granted, he always goes with the current, but he's still accomplished some pretty amazing things. Especially when you consider that he took up distance swimming after age 45, he's got a healthy pot belly going, and he's kind of an alcoholic.

But really, he's one of the more fascinating characters you'll ever hear about. For instance, he got his start in long-distance river swimming while trying to escape from his abusive father. His father, an even worse alcoholic, was waiting for him to come out of the river to beat him, so Martin just kept on swimming until his father gave up. Martin has a much better relationship with his own son, who used his father's Amazon swim to crusade for better environmental stewardship of the river and the Amazon basin.

So how do I know so much about all this? Well, there's a documentary out now called "Big River Man," all about Martin and his swim. The directing is a little ham-handed at times, but overall it's definitely a fascinating story. If it comes to a town near you, check it out!

And that's ... my two cents.

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