Thursday, July 12, 2007

Archaeology

Every so often, I realize that I go on incessantly about the morons around me who can't operate four-way stop signs or collared shirts. I have been unfair in characterizing many of my fellow Shipmates thusly. Others, (termed Shipwrecks) I give way too much credit. But let's dance to the positive piper this go-round.
We on H.M.S. Impossible, anchored as we are at Apponnogansett (a Wampanoag word which means "Preservation-Land-of-the-Grapes-and-Priuses") are experiencing an exceptionally fertile period of power outages, humidity and diffused lighting, calling for that certain lime, quinine, and juniper concoction that makes the Bruins seem like the Stanley Cup team they really really are. Even off-season. The new Thor is so damned good that I want Straczynski to write three Thor titles a month. The Mighty Thor. Thor Odinson, Bounty Hunter. The Astonishing Blake-Foster Health Clinic Chronicles. Or whatever. I don't care that Buffy Season 8 is on hiatus.(Joss has taken, what, 5 issues to get to the first commercial break? And when will he find his characters' voices again? He nailed Runaways in two pages.) At times such as these, I retreat into fantasy. Or at least, retreat into giggling at the elaborate fantasy life of the "university" "professionals" in my neighborhood.
Years ago, when I first experienced the magic of Dartmouth Street ("the street that leads from Cape Verde to Padanaram," in local parlance), I noticed a ramshackle hovel, what most homeless people would call a "fixer-upper" in a weed-and-taller weed lot.
Little did I know that years later, I would be donating to a fund that would restore the place to some semblance of community usefulness and historical integrity. Known as "The Akin House," the little hovel I so derided is a cause célèbre here on my corner of The Beach. One of the oldest extant homesteads in Dartmouth (because the British forgot to burn it when they torched the rest of town during the War for American Independance), hopes are to turn the Akin House into a cultural resource center, and...

Open to the public, it will tell the history of Dartmouth and its
occupants as well as become a working classroom for construction styles and
techniques. It will be one-of-a kind in our region and will be a tremendous
educational resource. We intend to restore the house so that visitors will be
able to visually see the changes the house has undergone. For example, in the
south parlor, we will leave part of the ceiling with the original beams exposed
(as it would have been built originally) and part of the ceiling paneled as it
was when we purchased the house (the paneling was a later addition). The
Cultural Heritage Center will be a great learning tool for local school children
as well as architectural and historic preservation students.

Speaking of tools, it only took a few years for the local University of Masachusetts mouthbreather annex (Dartmouth,University of Massachusetts, or DUMass) to find a kooky way to capitalize on the Little Grant Shack. I refer you to an S-T "news" article about the Dartmouth Heritage Preservation Trust and a quote from D.H.P.T. President and Dartmouth Selectmanboardperson and NBAM Guest Curator Diane Gilbert, who said, "We believe the work conducted by Dr. Hodge and the students enrolled in her UMass Dartmouth archaeology class will result in broadening our knowledge of the Akin House. We are inviting members of the community to volunteer with us for this important project."
The Akin House dig is part of a class taught by Dr. Hodge, "Historical Archaeology of New England."

As if it weren't bad enough that the Anti-Override gang is busy disrespecting teachers. My wacky neighbors (Kramer and the Rubbles) have taken it upon themselves to invite me (and anyone else with 10 hours of free time) to go digging through the Akin House's kitchen midden to find a sense of history or place or something amid the discarded pottery shards and Tupperware™ lids behind the historically-preserved and quaintly-shingled Akin House. The last time I participated in a "dig," I was operating the Bobcat™ behind the New Bedford Whaling Museum where performance artist Mark Dion pawed through the junk contemporary cultural artifacts buried at site of the former O'Malley's Tavern. I thought I was hired as a site historian because, c'mon, bar. We found broken bottles. Lots of them. Thus, I am qualified to present the following hypothetical list of artifacts we'll be sure to find in the shadow of Elihu Akin's hogged-roof shanty (in order of geological strata, soonest-to-oldest).
  1. A Dunkin' Donuts cup, styrofoam.
  2. 312 filter cigarette butts, Newport Ultra-Light.
  3. Cassette tape wrapper, Aerosmith Get Your Wings.
  4. Aerosmith Get Your Wings 8-track.
  5. 7982 filter cigarette butts, Virginia Slim.
  6. Tab can.
  7. Section of orange-red-yellow-white shag carpet.
Rinse and repeat.

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