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Blue Star


By Scott Sullivan



“How low can you go?” Chubby Checker sang. Don’t sell us short; we can always sink to new depths.

Proof came April 28 when Victor Vescovo’s submarine hit the floor of the Mariana Trench 35,853 deep in the Pacific Ocean, the lowest any man has gone. There he found a plastic bag had preceded him.

This inspired Chelsea Clinton — vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, which calls for cleaning up oceans but not stains on Monica Lewinsky’s dress — to tweet, “A sub dive 7 miles deep in the ocean finds a possible new species of shrimp and a plastic bag. How long will the former survive if there’s more of the latter?”

A study published earlier this year amplified her concerns. “We can now say with confidence plastic is everywhere,” lead author Alan Jameison said.

In “Limbo Rock” Checker describes people, many oiled no doubt to be flexible, competing to bend over backwards and walk under sticks.

“Get yourself a limbo girl,” he sang. “Give that chick a limbo whirl. There’s a limbo moon above. You will fall in limbo love.”

People seek love in low places and when they’re high. Highest mountain, deepest sea … you’ll find plastic everywhere.

Some equate plastic with fake, but it’s all too real. With synthetic polymers firms make what artists can only dream of: works that are pliable and durable.

“The power of music and plasticity of the brain go together very strikingly,” author/neurologist Oliver Sacks wrote. “After a certain level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in aesthetics, plasticity and form. The greatest scientists are artists as well,” Albert Einstein said.

Take credit cards. With a piece of plastic we can buy almost anything instantly. Only bankruptcy is deferrable.

Vescovo, a Texas businessman turned extreme adventurer, obtained a titanium cocoon that withstands pressures of the deep. There the sun never shines — like Michigan, where lawmakers’ personal finance records needn’t come to light.

Just a few, the rich, can go where no man has gone before. For the rest of us, limbo is reachable. In Roman Catholic theology, it’s the abode of souls who can’t go to heaven because they haven’t received Christian baptism. Sorry, Jesus, whose dousing by John the Baptist came before clerics established the faith named after Him. Even your soul is SOL.

Limbo to non-theologians is being stranded in an airport after your flight’s been delayed or canceled: a place of neglect, oblivion and uncertainty. Hell may be lower but at least we’re assured it’s permanent.

Speaking of which, how about curators explaining what art is and isn’t? Ron Platt of the Grand Rapids Art Museum praised Maya Lin’s new “Flow” display there as showing the artist is “thinking multidiscliplinarily.”

Creators such as Lin make things out of nouns such as marble, recyclable pins and silver. Curators use 8-syllable words with a prefix, compound suffix and core of blather to sink what we’re seeing beyond light’s reach.

Vescovo looked on the Trench’s hadal zone — named for Hades, the ancient Greek god of the underworld — and was struck by how silent and full of life it was. The shrimplike creature he saw and Clinton tweeted about, in no way referring to her dad’s appendage, was translucent.

Vescovo took a dimmer view on the plastic. “I was disappointed,” he said, “to see human contamination in the deepest point in the ocean. With over seven billion people on Earth, the oceans are going to be impacted negatively by mankind, but I hope we can at least minimize it in the future.”

My band was Clear Plastic Inevitable before I took music lessons. I learned I can’t sing or play an instrument, which didn’t stop Milli Vanilli. So I foresaw this.

Vescovo’s plunge took him more than a mile lower than an upside-down Mt. Everest, in the news lately for over-climbing that led to removal of four human bodies and 24,200 pounds of garbage. Food wrappings, bottles, cans … Just like the Quik-Mart parking lot down the street.

Wait till man visits the cosmos so we can trash them because they’re there.