Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, kicks off the National Geographic Live Speaker Series at Mesa Arts Center tomorrow evening.
If you're wondering why you should drop $36 on a ticket to hear somebody talk about fish and coral reefs, allow us to elaborate.
1. Jean-Michel Cousteau has more interesting stories about his father than most famous people's kids. Jacques Cousteau, while an international hero for his ocean exploration films and marine conservation efforts, was no saint. He had two children with another woman while still married to his first wife (Jean-Michel's mother), threw Jean-Michel over board when he was seven, and sued him in 1995 for using the family name to open a resort in Fiji. Jean-Michel's latest book, My Father, The Captain: My Life with Jacques Cousteau, provides plenty of illumination, but nothing beats hearing this stuff straight from the source.
3. He inspired George W. Bush to finally do something as president that nobody mocked or hated him for. Jean-Michel Cousteau's 2006 documentary Voyage to Kure, about the environmental dangers posed to the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, prompted Bush to make it one of the largest protected marine areas in the world, even if he couldn't pronounce it.
4. He's making a documentary about the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill. So if you don't have Gulf oil spill fatigue yet, Cousteau can probably shed new light (from an environmental, conservational standpoint) on a marine disaster everybody's still trying to clean up.
5. He's made scholarly appearances in cartoon movies. Cousteau's commentary was a special feature on the DVDs for both the Spongebob Squarepants Movie and Finding Nemo. In the commentaries, Cousteau talks about the real-life counterparts of the marine life in the films. Somebody like that probably wouldn't mind being asked what it's like to sleep literally with the fishes.
"Ocean Adventure: An Evening with Jean-Michel Cousteau," takes place at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 20, in the Ikeda Theater at Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main Street. Tickets cost $36. Call 480-644-6500 or visit www.mesaartscenter.com for more information.