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The Mistress of the Misunderstood and the Sea Captain

I was sifting through emails at the office of the Little Rock Free Press one day in 2005 and ran across a press release about an environmentalist that had just released a new film about the collapse of Louisiana’s fishing industry. The name of this environmental filmmaker was Captain Gary Burris. Curiously enough, that was the name of a failed date I had on my 16th birthday. I immediately emailed the TV station to get his contact information and low and behold, it was him. He had traded in his football helmet for a fishing boat and now leads a life of obsession; obsessed with the obscene conditions of the oceans around the world. With thousands of hours of video footage shot over a period of 25 years, he probably has more documentation than any other of the decline of fishing industries and the reasons behind it.

After a brief visit to get reacquainted, I knew I had to read the articles written about him by the Naples News in Florida, a place he had called home for 20 years. His stories just seemed to fantastic and movie-like to be true but after my research was completed, I realized that he was a genuine modern day Paul Revere, warning us about a disaster that could be too late to reverse.

And now the BP oil spill has happened in the Gulf and his first response was to grab his camera and head for ground zero. He had gained the trust of the local Cajun’s in St. Bernard Parrish after Katrina when he showed up in the bayous with a boatload of supplies to save the Cajun fishermen and rescue their animals. And now, after a few days of doing interviews with local Louisiana fisherman and getting his equipment set up for future live feeds, he called me at the crack of dawn this morning, Monday, May 10, to tell me he had been smuggled into the hull of a BP boat that was going out to assess damage around some islands. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the beginning of what I hope will be a daily blog of what he sees and hopefully by this Saturday, the 15th, we will have live video attached. It is Captain Gary’s fearless get-in-their-face attitude that might just get Americans the real story of what is happening to our precious way of life. Stay tuned for more as it happens.

Mistress of the Misunderstood is the name given me as publisher of the alternative press in Arkansas for the past 18 years.

Dotty Oliver Publisher of Little Rock Free Press on facebook.

Mistress of the Misunderstood Book Salon.

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Dotty Oliver, author of “Mistress of the Misunderstood,” has won many awards with her alternative paper, The Arkansas Free Press, including the Sierra Club's “Outstanding Environmental Journalism” award and Arkansas AIDS Foundation's “Most Compassionate Media” accolades. After closing the newspaper down during the meltdown of 2008, she started Dottyllama Publishing, which will be dedicated to publishing the history of Arkansas’s alternative culture.