Here is our last excerpt before the launch tomorrow. It's the opening of USS Roosevelt, by Molly Lynch. It's a wonderfully rich and complex story about a retired aircraft carrier that's turned into a country. Yes, I know, I wish I'd had that idea myself.
On August 7th 1977, Columbia law graduate June Ashland and CUNY English professor, Cormac Madden boarded the ex-USS Roosevelt, a defunct military aircraft carrier anchored in the Bay of Maine. The 700 thousand ton hull had been stripped of its armor and armament, its air-traffic-control equipment and twelve hundred beds, in preparation for sinking. When the couple were confronted by armed coastguard, the young law student held a megaphone to her mouth and read out the 1973 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. She followed this with section two of the Civic Land Use Act, declaring that, as the ship had been gifted by the US Navy to the people of Maine, it thereby fell into the category of property deemed accessible to the public.
After maintaining open and continuous possession of the vessel for twelve consecutive months (receiving supplies from a network of international supporters), the couple put forth an official “claim of title based on adverse possession.” Then, with the nautical and engineering aid of a small crew of supporters (including three Caribbean coca traffickers and two Cuban secret envoys to the US), the archaic engines were set in motion and the vessel was taken out to sea. 159 miles east of Nova Scotia, they stalled the giant engines and anchored the rig in international waters.
Two days later, June went into labour, and with the guidance of the NYPD manual on emergency delivery, Cormac cut the umbilical cord of their first daughter, Dashiell Ashland Madden. On August 13th 1978, June hoisted a six-coloured surrealist painting of a galaxy of fish over the ship and renounced her American citizenship. Cormac tossed his Green Card into the Atlantic, tore up his Irish birth certificate and the couple declared legal sovereignty over Roosevelt Island, the first North American Marxist Democracy. Baby Dashiell was the country’s first naturalized citizen.
Molly Lynch writes fiction and poetry. She grew up in the woods in BC, studied English and religion at Concordia in Montreal and is presently completing her MA in creative writing at the University of Toronto. She has recently finished her first novel.