"I was an only child, an illegitimate child, by a seaman named Pearlman..."
says Poppa, preparing us for a life, which could be torn from the pages of an adventure novel. Poppa brought his children up "living in homes made out of garbage", and he was a man of extremes in all things."Safety was a lesson Poppa was determined to teach us"
, says Poppa's wife Betsy. And when Todd's mother left him crawling around on the family's makeshift raft, Poppa "picked up the baby and dropped him in the water".
After a near-death experience Poppa knew that, more than ever, it was up to him to determine his own fate. So the 'Travelling Neutrinos' headed for Mexico. "We probably made about eight dollars a day"
, says daughter Ingrid, "we were dirty but we loved running around on our own"
. His fifth wife Betsy taught the kids up to a fourth grade education; "anything further than that they would figure out for themselves"
. When a parade of elephants and performers passed by one day, Poppa asked: "Can we join your circus?"
"We fitted in great"
, remembers Marissa, though as Todd admits "when we finally did make friends we were always moving on"
. When Poppa Neutrino was asked to leave the circus, half the circus piled into a broken-down bus along with them. "I love the challenge of every day!"
, Poppa's daughter Jessica cried. But the reality was that, "there were too many of us and we didn't have enough to eat"
"The raft is the way to go"
, declared Poppa Neutrino, "free of the landlord"
. For 2 months his family worked night and day creating a raft from pieces of garbage. "Sailing the Atlantic was probably one of the most extreme of Poppa's plans"
, remembers Todd. Torrential storms, 5 foot waves, sharks and the snail pace progress took their toll. "A freighter was about to cut this boat in half!"
Betsy screamed. But after 60 days at sea, the Neutrinos saw land. "We have done the impossible!"
cried Poppa. In Ireland, he was greeted with cheers of adoration.
"Was it Nietsche who said - 'behold the superman'?"
Poppa smiles, "nothing is achieved through moderation and prudence"
. Although all of his kids have now adopted conventional lifestyles, Poppa is adamant that "every member of the Neutrinos is spiritually and intellectually alive. It's been an incredible experience"
, he smiles as he and Betsy head out on the road again. A nail-biting, awe-inspiring ride.
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Best Documentary Film, Winchester Film Festival
Best Documentary Feature, Rockport Film Festival
Official Selection, New York Undgerground Film Festival
Official Selection, Leeds International Film Festival
"Movies like to pretend they're different, but Random Lunacy really, truly is"
- ROLLING STONE