Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The NewPortaroopalooza Folkstravaganza

Way back some time in the last century, the Newport Folk Festival was scandalized when Bob Dylan used GASP! an electric guitar. You kids have heard of Bob Dylan. They made that movie about him. The one with Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale?
Anyway... I've seen the Newport Folk Festival from many angles: "covering" it for a rock radio station, "volunteering" by the recycling bins, sneaking in, and actually paying. And once, on a boat off Fort Adams. I never had any preconceptions that I would be hearing "folk" music at the Newport Folk Festival. I always assumed it was called "Folk" to differentiate it from the other, more important, festival: The Newport JAZZ Festival. (There were other names, but I hesitate to list them here, because my Mom's reading this.)
The only discussion of music I had at the Fest was when I started playing Can-You-Top-This with a smug Program Director from an "alternative adult" radio station with a Roky Ericson/13th Floor Elevators obsession. The rest of my time was spent "baking" in the sun, embarrassing myself by asking Indigo Girls Amy and Emily if they were "with the band," keeping friends from going into the the Port-A-Johns barefoot, and staying a discrete distance from the rainy Sunday Ani DiFranco all-empowered-womyn moshpit and mudwrestling. The "Folk" part of the Newport Folk Festival has always been a little shaky.
But now, the "organizer" (damn, that's an ironic title for a show like that) wants to turn the venerable Newport Folk Festival into something for "the kids." And by "kids," he means the 18+ disposable-income-spending crowd. Anybody feel offended yet?
Well, yes. Al Korolenko, who's been running New Bedford's Summerfest, is offended. Because he's one of those guys who thinks that words mean something.
Even words like "folk."
Summerfest is an old-timey folk fest, full of crafts and families and Celtic fiddlers and singer-songwriters. You know: "FOLK." No Burning Man, no Black Crowes, and no actresses trying on their folk cred. Sure, performers who play there would like mainstream exposure, aren't honing their craft just so they can play a "folk festival." I mean, there are some, but they have day jobs. As a performer, you can't afford to define yourself by the venues you play. Unless you define yourself as a "Singer-songwriter Guitarist Who Plays on Cheap Risers To Old Hippies on Folding Chairs in Parking Lots." See how you can back yourself into a corner with labels?
I had a girlfriend once who played guitar and sang protest songs. Her definition of folk is the one I still use: "It's the music the folk sing."
Which, I argue, means that "corporate" pop stars are folk artists because "the folk" crank up their XM radio in their SUVs and sing along.
Like these poor wretches:

I may have shared this before, but The Buff (or whatever the in-crowd call him) and I are not close. It's like when I was not fond of Zeppelin in Junior High because the kids who scrawled ZOSO into their notebooks (or textbooks) were generally Marlboro smokers who pretended they had been in 'Nam and never said "Please." Thus, it took me years of Dread Zeppelin to even be able to even listen to "Black Dog."
I have two mental images of Parrot Heads, one is a recalled experience and the other is an image cobbled together from many remembrances:
  1. A bunch of pasty, over-Budweisered goons on their way from a Jimmy Buffett show in Illinois, trashing a convenience store with their styrofoam parrots, throwing up in the parking lot, and cursing loudly at the women I was with, and
  2. every marina I ever pulled into had some guy wallowing in his stink in the stern of a Port-a-Potty 28 cranking a cassette tape of Songs You Know By Heart at an inappropriate volume while I'm trying to either sleep or devise a means by which to fix a mast or re-rig a sheet.
Shipmates, I am acutely aware of the charitable work done by Parrot Heads. Which I share here with all: The Paradise Charitable Foundation. Go ahead, put on a cheap "Hawaiian" shirt and hum a little "Cheeseburger in Paradise," and bask in the tanning booth of their social-humanitarian 501-C-3 credentials. Don't ask me what I've done lately for Underprivileged Dolphins with Leukemia who were made homeless by Hurricane Katrina.
What have you done?
Incidentally, if you can only afford one day, Saturday August Second is the day to go to Newport. Newport Folk Cred provided by Vintage Clothing StoreFor obvious reasons.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Trouble with Role Models

When I was a kid, probably around fourth or fifth grade, one of the more swinging teachers (probably one of the hepcats involved in music or English) had our class write an essay entitled "Who Is My Role Model?"I know Dixie's really Julie London. And I actually admired Kent McCord more than Mantooth. But I found Adam-12 boring. Your mileage may vary. As I continue on for 148 more words, I show the required amount of effusive awe at the knowledge and wisdom of my elders, a hope to someday be as old as my elders, and an appropriate disdain for counter-culture activists.
Nowadays, people mix up the concepts of "role model" and "celebrity babysitter." As I learned back then (in the darkest days of the dark ages long before The Interwebs and before widespread cable teevee) a role model is not someone who partakes in headline-seeking antics, flashing strangers drunkenly, beating up all comers, and warming a plank in the local lock-up.
Unless, of course, that's the role you're seeking.
Back last century, before the state-decreed multiple-birth laws, a kid might have an older sibling to make mistakes (that one could avoid) and achieve success (that one could envy and avoid).
Nowadays, kids just stumble willy-nilly through emulating their imaginary best friends from teevee or YouTube and possibly finding some way to make their parents feel guilty and reward them with something electronic, expensive, and likely to compel them into worse behavior.
But I must give some credit to my peers who haven't tossed their offspring on the Disney bandwagon. Most of them still look "our age" and seem to be busy with their progeny biking, hiking, reading books, sailing, enjoying music lessons, and just plain avoiding all the crap on kids' teevee. Like CSI:Band Room or Law&Order: Special Detention. Or whatever that Dancing with the Lost Ugly Idol thing is about.
I do, however, worry about a couple of kids. The one whose mom installs a stripper pole and the second-generation pop starlet waiting for the one hit that makes her as significant a commodity as her one-hit wonder dad.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


He comes with his own tribute to Carvel Ice Cream Cakes (Picture courtesy HSSSC)We here at stately Goon Manor have opened our home and hearts (not in that order) to this furry character.
To fully disclose the backstory of this little comedy would be self-indulgent and make me sound like a total wuss. Suffice it to say that after a fun afternoon of surveying our local Humane Society, scoping out the joint researching volunteer and donation possibilities,Yes. He CAN hear you. Now, can we just let that go? Please? I saw this three-year old 17-pounder and inquired as to his demeanor. I was assured that he was "the sweetest" and I thought I would keep that information filed for future visits. I offhandedly remarked on same with the rest of the crew, not in any way urging the acquisition of a new shipmate at this time. Because Maybelline will have none of it.Sweet? Oh, puh-LEEZ...
There are any number of "experts" online who share their experience of introducing a "new cat" to your home. And when I say "your home," I mean, "the place that cats allow you to share with them."After all, they domesticated us thousands of years's Franny Syufy refers to the new cat as "New Cat," and rolls the existent cat in anthropomorphic psychology while instructing you how to introduce another furry overlord to your living situation.Yes, a whole LOAF of cat, please. What? That's not how to order them?
Understanding full well that if their thumbs weren't halfway up their legs, cats would never have allowed humans to develop spray bottles or nail clippers, we approach this transition period gingerly.
See what I did there? "Ginger-ly?" Cats (and some dogs) in comic strips are always named "Ginger."
Of course, it doesn't matter what you've named the little tyrant. The odds are it won't answer anyway. Unless the name you give it includes the sound of a can of anchovies opening. Luckily, our new shipmate came with a name. This way, we wouldn't have to play the "Spartacus? Andy? Macomber? Clairmont?" game. By stroke of extraordinary luck, his given name is "Tommy." So, whenever I call him, I can't help but be reminded of time I spent roofing with a bunch of guys from South Boston.
"HEY, Too-wom-mey! Han' me tha' twah-nik! I'm wicked thiwsty!"
...and Leon's getting LARGER!We were instructed to cordone off a wing of the manse to contain the new arrival and allow him to get used to the surroundings and other animals. I'm told that the introduction process can take up to two weeks. But as you can see above, the smallest giant pygmy monkey cat on Earth, Tuki Flicka, started to use her X-Men ability to grow to tremendous size, starting with her tail, in order to impress the new shipmate.
They shared a tense moment of that flirty kind of wordplay you'd expect at a gallery opening, and we expect them to be get along swimmingly.
I hope you remember the old saying: 'After dark all cats are leopards.'
Maybe not so much.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Teevee 'n' Me, the neverending love-hate story

I spent Friday morning in a cable television studio, trying to speak cogently while my host captained my co-guests in caroming from topic to topic with an ease that can only be compared to the "multi-ball" feature of an old pinball machine. I do not blame them. I do not blame our host. I have decided to not indulge in blame ever again.
Or I'll just be a lonely, angry, frustrated jerk.
And I've given up talk radio, so where does that leave me?
Why, with my old chum, television.
Who has, like Merle Haggard's bottle, "let me down."
In the past, I spent hours in television production meetings with other producers , writers, and crew. We called these meetings "bull sessions" or "idea storms" or "topic bounce" and we would come up with subject matter and direction for the show. You would say something, folks would comment freely, and we would decide whether it should be in the program's agenda or script.
Although these meetings were by no means orderly, there was an understanding that the meeting had at least established a timbre for the show. An over-all mood had been installed, and everyone would work at their various roles for the next thirty minutes or hour or three to maintain that particular tone.
Friday morning, the extent of that sort of prep was the host saying, "Let's keep it light."
And then he introduced me as "the funniest man in New Bedford, possibly the world."
Which is a lot like sneaking up behind someone in a dark room, shining a flashlight into their face and screaming, "Read these directions! They're in German! HURRY! In Spanish!!"
Having left me there for the time, our host's very authoritative voice advanced, in some detail, various disparate and vaguely related topics. I found myself sputtering -- in two or three phrases at a time -- on the history of vaudeville... architecture... city planning... creative economy...
We were all trying to address diverse and dissimilar and random topics as they were presented and forgotten about. A half-hour into the show, my blood sugar plummeted and I became a nodding, smiling, non sequitur machine. Which was okay. Since the "thread" of the conversation was nowhere to be found anyway.
Luckily Chuck Hauck and Colin Williams both received proper introductions and were capable of filling the hour with history and hope, which was the whole idea.
That. And publicize the Second Annual Gong Show to Benefit the Orpheum Theatre in New Bedford to be held at Gallery X on May 11.
And knowing the people involved in the television show, I'm sure once production is through, it will appear on the air, a "professional-quality" result.

Which only serves to remind me of my discomfort with The Amateur.
The SouthCoast is full of people who accept the landfill pass of "Volunteer" as though it were the union card of "Trained Professional."
It would seem that the mate has skipped a vital step on his way to master. A couple of letters to the editor, a printer, and a few scammed advertisers gets you a magazine. A few hours at the cable station and a hat with your show's logo on it and you're a television producer. Or, film-maker.
I know people who started in cable and moved to local stations and now work at network or at their own facilities. Back when we worked together, a lot was made of local access and its capacity for self-indulgent, mawkish, unstudied, and artless product. But, like any pastime, there are people who excel at their beloved hobby. I've been told.
I have, however, met her and trust that the producer of this program is conscientious and talented. I wish her luck, and apologize for not doing three minutes of stand-up that she could use to somehow prove the host's claims.
Or pad out the show. Whatever.
I'll probably never know, because my cable system doesn't carry that channel.

Friday, April 18, 2008


  • I'm appearing on Jim Butler's "Now" Community Affairs Program on New Bedford Cable Channel 95. The reason? To promote the soon-to-be-over-with Second Coming of the Gong Show to benefit the Orpheum Theatre, which I'll be hosting May 10. So. for the 8 of you clicking and waiting for Penny Dreadful, that's me and Chuck and Colin.
  • In reference to a number of outlets (NB Whaling Museum, Zeiterion Theatre, and others) describing Orson Welles' Moby-Dick Rehearsed as "a staged adaptation of the classic novel by Herman Melville." First, make sure there's a hyphen. Second, the play is actually a shambling mess conceived by Welles, who thought he could inelegantly re-write the book as a smartypants King Lear dub version. But don't let that stop you. They're presenting it at The Z next Friday.
  • I could never have gotten away with this look: Go B's Didn't he know the shoes would clash with the carpet?
  • Now, on the subject of footwear:We'll need a safeword
  • So throw the bums out. Sign here please.
  • Hockey, however, transcends all of man's laws. See you at the Garden Tomorrow night.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

An Account of a Method of Copying Paintings upon Glass, and of Making Profiles, by the Agency of Light Upon Nitrate of Silver

That title is from an article written by one Humphrey Davy in 1802. The New York Times reports today that a silver nitrate image of a leaf is possibly the oldest "photograph" of anything ever.Now, where did I LEAF that picture... The article provides brief history:

Probably in the 1790s, according to accounts written shortly afterward, Thomas Wedgwood, a son of the Wedgwood china family, began experimenting with what he called solar pictures, making images on paper coated with a silver nitrate solution. A friend of his, James Watt, wrote in a 1799 letter that he intended to try similar experiments...

The article doesn't go into details about Watt, whom I suspect is the steam engine guy. Of course, it does talk about how much money the "solar picture" is worth (a bunch of old pics sold for $9 million last year). And how much somebody'll make when Sotheby's auctions it off, IF it is really a snap from the Eighteenth Century. IF they can prove the provenance. IF anybody wants it. (I'm sorry. Of course somebody'll want it. Somebody always wants something. That's why eBay is there.)
Which brings us to the next slide in today's flickering picture show:

One of thousands entitled FOGGY DAY
According to a recent New Bedford Whaling Museum communication:

This whole plate ambrotype of the Saratoga, taken in 1856, is the first known photographic image of a whaleship. From 1845 to 1860, the Saratoga made four successful whaling voyages to the North Pacific. Frederick Slocum was Master during her last whaling voyage, from 1856 to 1860. In 1860, she was withdrawn from service due to the Civil War and in 1863 sold at Barcelona. Her final fate is not known.

Ambrotyping was patented in Boston by J. AMBROSE Cutting. Ambrotypes were more popular than daguerrotypes (patented by Louis DAGUERRE). It must've been great to live in a time where you could invent something and name it after yourself. (I mean, where's Armand DIGIT?)
So popular were those ambrotypes, in fact, that you can pick one up on eBay.
Pretty cheap.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

All right, Leon...

You would think that there's only one shipwright on the East Coast, the way Leon Poindexter gets work. If he isn't making Rose into H.M.S. Surprise, he's building Boston Tea Party ship replicas. If he isn't on Ernestina saving it from itself, he's on Bounty, saving it from its captain. Kevin wrote a swell piece in the Standard-Times, which Joanna warned me about, so now I look like a slow dork who is taken by surprise by a story about a ship I tended for years. I honestly thought Lagoda had been refurbished five years ago, but I was wrong. Here's a slow-moving video version. (Oh, and, Nice one of Marty!)

This is not the first time that Lagoda has been under re-construction. I seem to remember one of the old salts who frightened the kids around the ship telling me that he remembered an overhaul "before the war." I'm guessing WWII, since the ship was built in 1915-16.

After much cajoling with the ship's master Captain Mandley, I spent a few years as mate vacuuming the thing. and making half-sized turns on half-sized lines on half-sized belaying pins. I learned valuable Lagoda trivia worth sharing:

  • The ship was built inside the Jonathan Bourne Whaling Museum, Emily Bourne's monument to her father. The Jonathan Bourne Whaling Museum was not, as reported, built around the ship model. The constructions were roughly concurrent, but the building itself was finished in order to accommodate the shipwrights. And then they changed the name to New Bedford Whaling Museum so people wouldn't go all the way to Bourne on the Cape looking for it.
  • You can still see the old name written in stone over the Bourne Building entrance on Johnny Cake Hill.
  • A row of "rooming houses" was torn down to make room on Johnny Cake Hill for the structure of the museum. Seems whaling wasn't the only industry failing in the early Twentieth Century.
  • I climbed to Lagoda's main top once, but you couldn't have paid me to go any further. Not because it was high (I'm used to repairing ratlines a hundred feet up). Lagoda's ratlines were like sawdust-covered cobwebs and the shrouds felt like bundles of toothbrush bristles.
  • I was up there in order to get glass out of the haphazardly-furled sails. The glass had been deposited there when a gas explosion blew up nearby O'Malley's Pub in '77, shattering the Bourne Building's windows.
  • I also crawled under the building to where the keel would have been. On a dare.
  • The actual whaling bark Lagoda was to be named Ladoga, after the lake on the Finnish-Russian border. The painter who was charged with transom duty accidentally transposed the D and G. Some say that the superstitious Bourne could not bring himself to change the name on the ship. Others say that he was a cheapskate who wouldn't pay for the paint to correct the error, but other reports deny this, saying that Bourne was a man of charitable instincts who probably felt sorry for the poor illiterate and left it that way.
  • Lagoda made something like $650,000 for Bourne. Which is like $25,000,000 according to some estimates.
  • I drove to Mystic to pick up those "new" sails ten years ago, so they've been sitting around -- probably right where I stored them -- for that long.
  • Whaling ships aren't the only ones who had chains in their rigging, as Leon asserts. I know what he'd say because I think we had this argument. (When I say "argument," I mean Leon probably shook his head slowly and I just felt like I was wrong, and so stopped talking. He has that power.) Some Eighteenth Century rigs chained yards because it allowed the usually short crew to "set it and forget it." Running rigging that acted like standing rigging. The whalers certainly spent some of their journey a few hands short of a watch, so the chains became commonplace. Then, by the end of the Nineteenth Century, everybody was rigging with steel cable and chain. I'm standing by that story, and I'm sure I have references and sources. Somewhere. I'll let you know.

Monday, April 14, 2008

"Trillion. With a tr."

Of the clever monikers used by my college roommate in attempts to embarrass me, "Boy Millionaire" was one of my favorites. Not only did it accurately portray my cavalier attitude toward finances, the sobriquet also associated me with an insouciant charm, typified by Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver).
Of which, I'm sure, he was totally unaware.
But, according to these swell patriots, you too can have the opportunity to ...

Friday, April 11, 2008


  • Spero optimum, so... Here's the Official Site of the 2008 Olympics. Here's to "Citius, Altius, Fortius" and the hope that countries and athletes and spectators can all show some integrity and spirit that is "Faster, Higher, Stronger."(And, yes, that's the translation of the Latin slogan for the Greek games, but, well..)
  • At least there's not some cutesy mascot.Oh wait... It's Fuwa, a team of cute cartoon animals that carry "a message of friendship and peace -- and good wishes from China -- to children all over the world." Weren't they carrying something else? On children's toys?

  • Luckily "Team Welcome To Beijing" will have none of that kind of talk. In fact, they're into babytalk. They're named so that when you say the greeting, "Beijing huanying ni," you're saying their names. But Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying, and Nini are their names, so if you say their names together, you more than welcome people to Beijing: "Beibeijingjing huanhuanyingying nini!"
  • You welcome them and you provide your own cool Monster Truck ad reverb effect.
  • And, yes, that Yingying I represent the carefree gamboling of an endangered species in an oppressed occupied land. Have a Coke!is instantly recognizable as the familiar Tibetan Antelope. not gamboling
  • Tibetan antelopes are prized for their shatoosh, or fleece, which makes lovely expensive shawls.Except that they've been poached to near-extinction. It's against the law to make or sell shatoosh shawls. Since they've been protected, the antelope are making a comeback. But we all know how that's working out for gray wolves.
  • Some years back, I invited a certain redhead to join me at the Irish Immigrant Pub in New Bedford. Or maybe she invited me. It doesn't matter, since we're still together and The 'Grint is not.
  • But those Kirby Boys have taken over the property and the place looks like ... a bar. They've reopened, with a smidgen of that green derby ersatz "Irish" ballyhoo I always get offended at. At least that's what you'd think if you read this S-T report. Nothing personal.

  • Tuesdays are Sinn Fein Night But, I mean, look. Their sign appears to have been fashioned after those painted walls from Belfast that were so popular in the Seventies.
  • I'm not 100% with the "Irish pub" stylings of this. Miller's an Irish name, right? But I'll get over it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"If a ship’s not moving, it’s losing money,”

HiddenHill Production crews transformed the cobblestone [sic] streets of the downtown historic district into Broadway of New York City in the 1850s. The south side of Hamilton Street between Water and Front Streets became New York's South Street seaport in the 1840s, a place that captivated Whitman...

-- from a press release in today's Standard-Times

About a hundred years ago, a 350-foot steel barque rolled into the waters off Hamburg Germany and into the hearts of anyone who's ever heard the words "You do it for the ship!" intoned by Captain Irving Johnson during his legendary autobiopic Around Cape Horn, filmed by Johnson as he "crewed" on Peking. Although folks are quick to point out that, as a Laeisz Flying P Line nitrate hauler, Peking has no real history as a New York ship, the immobile hulk has become an integral part of the New York waterfront over the past 33 years.
For years, the Seaport part of Lower Manhattan was held together with a sociopath's zeal to preserve the atmosphere that made New York City what it is: a city with a powerful, inexorable link to commerce and to the sea. In that reconstructive excitement, a new race of idlers emerged, who rigged ships that would never sail, who told the tales and sang the songs of years past, who taught the skills of a long-gone industry and sometimes used those skills -- though certainly not often enough.
Unfortunately for the historical interpreters and Melville fans, contemporary commerce will always trump history. Converted lofts and "Ye Olde Village marketplaces" best fish markets. And now it appears that Peking may be heading back to Germany. Because South Street Seaport may sell Peking back to Hamburg. Along with whatever other old ships they can get rid of.
I can't imagine the Seaport without Peking or Wavertree or the Ambrose lightship.
I have seen that archetypal skyline from the helm of a TallShip™ heading into New York Harbor. I have heard the cacophonous bustle of crowds on the Staten Island Ferry during the day and marvelled at the peace at night in the twinkling of stars merging with streetlights and office lamps when all you can hear is the water and the hum of those engines. And I was on Peking to celebrate the Statue of Liberty's Centennial. You can pick your own favorite approaches, keep the reds to starboard. Baltimore's Inner Harbor, Newport RI's Rose and Goat Islands, Plymouth MA's circuitous channel, New Bedford's spires and smokestacks.
But what isn't on the charts and holiday snaps is the memory I have of the people: the wharfrats and characters that the Beachdwellers swerve to avoid.
Like South Street Seaport's rigger Lars Hansen who lived on Peking, not just because he was a salty old tar who amused the locals and frightened the tourists. Or his shipmate Jack Putnam, one of the smartest guys I ever met while I was going through my I-wanna-be-a-historical-lecturer phase. He encouraged me in my fancy dress antics.
The memory I have of Jody Gibson. Sure the Izod and Chino crowd called him "Popeye" and snickered at his slops and corny banjo. And yes, I would shake my head and caution them that further poking would result in unpleasantness. Legend names Jody a midwife of Rockabilly, an early champion of Folk, and I can hear him calling a halyard chantey with "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" instead of "Blow Boys Blow." He was the guy in Newport who caught the line when I came in a little rough. I still hear his voice, the rough tenor of the bow watch, telling me, "Watch your bearings." Knit brows over smiling eyes. And we were nowhere near a boat.
These people didn't live 200 years ago. They were living parts of their living seaside towns. Maybe you remember them, or their counterparts on your stretch of The Beach. And maybe you'll think about the significance of their natural settings, their set pieces and scenery, those setts in the streets, those historical shacks. And maybe you'll think that there is something to this preservation stuff, something that rises above the depictions of preservationists as obstructionists.
Historical preservation isn't so much about the planks and curbs, but about the people who sailed and walked and worked there.
And those who still do.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Pre-discrediting: It's Tradition

You answer "So what?" when someone tells you about polls. You shake your head whenever anyone says "It's in the New York Times" (or "FOX News"). You wave your hand dismissively when you hear a name you can quickly identify with vice/incorrect data.
It's a shortcut to your exit cue. "Polls are meaningless, so that poll means nothing." "The Times is just a lefty rag. You have no argument." "That guy's a boozer/dummy/criminal. Don't listen to him."

Same goes for towns.
Particularly San Francisco, the town that causes more sniggers and eye-rolling than any other because Leno and all the other cheap-laff specialists know a good punchline when they steal one.
You would think that protesters would know better than to try this sort of thing in San Francisco. But try they do. And everyone in the audience will think they can see the guy in the high heels and rainbow wig.
And they'll figure this "Free Tibet" thing is just something them crazies from "Baghdad by the Bay" have dreamed up.
China has already called the Dalai Lama, the Most Peacful Man on Earth "a terrorist," and most viewers could care less about any mistreated monks in some Chinky prison anyway.
They just want to see the Magic Torch and play make-believe "Olympic Truce" while they chant U! S! A!

Friday, April 4, 2008


  • A boon to sailors, liveaboards, and locals, the Village Market has closed. Now, you'll have to get a ride to Cumby's to get those aspirins after the regatta.
  • When I was at college, there were these übermenschen to whom we all looked up with hope-filled envy. We planned to take the same classes with the same professors and hoped that, in three years or so, coeds would regard us dreamily and we would run the theater department/football team/physics club. Well, one of those guys was Bart Sher, who apparently has a great production of South Pacific at Lincoln Center, NYNY.
  • My Beloved (who is a remarkable chef) and I enjoy dining out. So when we hear of a restaurant shutting down, that's another choice gone. Except this Opus place shut down and, since we never chose to eat there because it was awful by all accounts, I don't feel the loss. Oh, and any place with a dropped ceiling and garish lighting is not "upscale." Nor is it "luxury." Where do people get these ideas?
  • Remember when people talked about W as the guy they'd most like to have a beer with? Well, his would-be successor (if Hillary has her way) is officially the guy they would most like to buy a beer from. Confidential to Cindy Lou: Next time, try not to do too many photo-ops for the 8264 stories you manufacture through your company's ad department about how you want to keep a low profile. Seems, I dunno ... disingenuous. Cindy Lou is the one on the right
  • It's a grill. Not a 'cue. You can call it the BBQ or barbecue (as long as you realize that that is an often misused term too). Oh, and Barbie is right out. Unless you're Paul Hogan, and there are other things to apologize for. But that thing is not a 'cue. I'm from theater and radio and television, and I know what a cue is.
  • I got this e-solicitation concerning the NB Whaling Museum. Three paragraphs, the first a date-time-what-who-where and then these two:
    A reception and a dinner are included in the symposium cost. Add-on activities include several stitching workshops and site visits to two regional historical societies whose collections also relate to the Needle/Work theme. Please click Needlework to link to the Needlework & the Sea symposium schedule and registration form to learn full details on activities and prices. Please note: Museum members may register for the symposium through May 15, 2008 for the $250 fee that appears on the form as 'early registration.' The registration fee will NOT go up until mid-May. Please encourage your friends to sign up now!
  • When I worked in advertising/marketing/public relations, a typical bull session would probably include trashing a piece of crap like this. "Creates more questions than it answers" "Tone seems kind of mean" "Ah little patronizing" "Awkward" "Try not to use industry-specific jargon"At least those were the things we would've said when the new kid hurriedly dashed it off.
  • Oh wait, that was from the oldest firm in the SouthCoast. Another foul result of humoring creepy old people who won't get out of the way.
  • And some octogenarian has put himself in charge of the Whaling Museum. Because he ran some multibranch business back in the days "before there were computers," a trait of which he is very proud. And just when the world was starting to recognize that the Whaling Museum is not just a bunch of old fogeys in matching polo shirts dragging schoolkids around a dusty old collection of ship models and whale's teeth.
  • Because it's been a tough week, let's remember the wisdom of the past...

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Back to Sea with The Gainey Foundation

For another watch at the helm. Or even just at the bow.

It's been a while since I sat down and watched a hockey game. By "while," I mean, "longer time than necessary." And it's been a really long while since I needed the vicarious thrill of watching the goon drop his gloves and head for the melee. But that was a need after the returns were in.
But the last time I watched the Habs, I tipped the beverage seaward and offering up a whisper of hope to Bob Gainey.
Not that he needs it. He's a hockey guy who works hard with his team, his people, his family, and with charity. And his community supports him. Like with his Gainey Foundation, established in memory of his wife Cathy and daughter Laura. According to their site, "the Gainey Foundation is committed to supporting charitable organizations that offer environmental and arts education programs for youth."
Some good can come of tragedy. (I keep telling myself that, after yesterday's nonsense.)
So, today I'm thinking about Hockey and TallShips™. I'm retreating to the comfort of pursuits that require discipline of body and mind and spirit.
But bittersweet are those waters too. reports on the required safety changes on board Picton Castle, still being beaten up for the overboard death of Laura Gainey during a storm, December '06. A number of recommendations have been made:
  • $50,000 will be invested on new safety equipment, including lightweight life-jackets with beacons.
  • A safety line will be installed along the deck where Laura Gainey was swept off, for crews to hook their harnesses in bad weather.
  • There will be additional beacons on the ship that can be thrown overboard to mark the spot if a person falls overboard.
  • All volunteer crew will be required to have basic safety training, either the Marine Emergencies Duty course or the U.S. Coast Guard equivalent.
  • A new rescue boat, made of Fiberglas, will be purchased.
  • A five-day safety audit will also be carried out by a master mariner from New Zealand.
According to some online discussions with Picton crew, safety precautions were in place and followed during the storm, including safety lines.
But are all those preparations merely outward expressions, quantifiable statistics, roll calls and rosters of motions, that we can share with the concerned lubbers? Expressions that show, in no adequate way, the preparation and responsibility of every crewmember in his or her attention to "course and crew and cargo?"
No one goes to sea to damage themselves or their mates or their ship. I've seen a pure sense of duty in the saltiest old marlinespike-wielding would-be mutineer, and I've seen it in wobbly novices just learning the ropes.
Maybe Irving Johnson is right: "You do it for the ship."
I like to think that "You do it for the shipmates."
And there's no course too hard to navigate when you're thinking of the others.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Gone to the polls
at the corner of April and Fools

While the Benevolent and Wise Protector of the Former Troy, Bob "Bob" Abradewheeze, shares the love with fellow Republican Sharif Tommy Hodgson and unveils his new "If you kids can't Take Pride and keep your stuff off the driveway, I'll get slaves do it City Wide!" campaign which should guarantee that none of the residents ever lift a finger to keep their city tidy, my fellow citizens are taking full and celebratory advantage of the confluence of April and Fools to vote special in Dartmouth.
The full rig of this go'round differs from the last. You may remember way back in July, voters were asked to vote YES or NO on the question "Should property owners pay $342 extra this year to ensure that Dartmouth can keep basic services like trash removal, street lighting, and education?" (It may have been worded differently on more than half of the voters' ballots, because they bafflingly voted NO.) The voters prepared for that "Proposition 2½ Override Question" by acrimoniously calling each other names and putting color-coded signs on each others' lawns (red for NO and green for YES). Because we value tradition so much here in Droughtmouth, that Override was defeated.
This time, the ballot offers questions designed to make voters feel like they're making significant changes in town budget policies. Described as "à la carte" in order to ward off voters who don't like the French, it is actually the best way for people to pretend they've researched the ballot, giving them even more to rant about. There's really no "choice" involved in the Town Offices section, except for the obvious selection of the good candidate and rejection of the evil one. The à la carte Override Ballot, unfortunately, provided some challenges to the sign-addicted, as the Vote YES On 1, 5, and 7 signs were allegedly vandalized at the shop by the Support 2 and 4 people. And then there was some confusion this morning when someone asked to vote NO on Barry Walker.
Speaking of which... According to the same people who successfully plunged the town into chaos last time, that sneaky Selectmanboard is attempting, by using this confusing "YES/NO" scheme, to fool the voters into voting for continued mayhem caused by the only town government in Massachusetts whose members have been forced (by this same sinister cabal of community members spurred by the groups' paranoid distrust of grooming, meetings, and politicians) to submit to spinal taps, metal rake gauntlets, and lie detectors prior to and following each meeting. State and national regulatory agencies, economists, political scholars, and even Ben Stein, have all mentioned and praised the precise order, oversight, and perfect symmetry achieved in the governance of Dartmouth, but some people won't have any of that.
These Traditionalists believe "that if there's never been an override, we don't need one now." Some do like the new à la carte menu procedure because it allows them to vote NO seven times more than the last ballot. Although some I spoke with at the polls this morning admitted that they had voted YES on the Mixed Green Salad.
And, as always, it's fun to see what people are wearing since, for the most part, I only see them wandering around their gardens in their housefrocks. On a rainy day like today, we get to see who's wearing Helly Hansen and who's wearing Carhartts.
And those numbers will probably tell the story. We'll see.

UPDATE: The Nitwits have decided to toss the Captain off in the middle of the crisis, fund cops and old people and roadkill but not pay for the maintenance of their buildings, keep the library (however roofless) but make the kids pay for their parking and after-school sports and music, and not put any money into the town's stabilization fund.
But we get our street lights back.
So, the new house search steps up. Some great deals on cozy bungalows in New Beige.
At least they have a Mayor.