Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tuki Flicka

I've been living with a very small cat, whose name I have always spelled "T-U-K-I F-L-I-C-K-A" because I was under the impression that she was Finnish. And that Tuki Flicka meant "crazy girl" in Finnish. I thought. That's what my Beloved's Finnish uncle said, anyway.
I knew that flicka means "little girl." Because I remember the classic 1943 Roddy McDowell movie My Friend Flicka. So the flicka part: Finnish for "little girl."
Tuki, on the other hand, is not Finnish for "crazy."
And the rest of my Beloved's family is Norwegian.
And Swedish.
At any rate, I found some on-line translating device, typed in "tuki" and input the language "Finnish." It said that tuki, in Finnish, translates to "buttress, mainstay, endorsement, crutch, prop, aid, support, strut, brace, stake."
Seems pretty solid, doesn't it? Not exactly "crazy" is it? More "sturdy," wouldn't you say?
Now, because nothing there is that isn't at once a reference to some other thing, I remembered the story of one Fletcher Christian, late of my old ride.
Ol' Fletch gone bamboo, precipitating that zany mutiny thing that they keep making movies about. The Tahitian woman he loved and married was very tall, at least 6 feet or so by most accounts. The English crew, probably teasing Christian about his crush on his cousin's wife, called his native bride "Isabella." The daughter of a chief, her Tahitian name was probably Mauatua, which I remember as meaning "spirit of the mountain."
Fletch tried to wrap his Manx embouchure around maUatua, but it came out something like maVatua, which means "sea sick."
Many ha-ha around the chief's table that night.
Unfortunately, the rest of the kids started calling her "Sea-Sick", or Mai-miti (mimitti?) and that name stuck.
And, as will often happen aboard ship, guys develop their own working vocabulary. Some hand called Christian's partner "Mainmast" because she was taller than the 5'9" Christian. The speculation around the fo'c'sle, I'm sure, probably included the term "worth the climb." Salty. Even by Eighteenth Century standards. But you know how sailors talk. (The man who played Fletcher Christian in the 1964 movie, whose jacket I am wearing in the above ID photo, was the grandfather of Versace he-model Tuki Brando. Tuki Brando says that his name means "heartbeat," possibly in Tahitian. But you know how models talk.)
Now, a main mast isn't a "stay" or even a "brace." A mast actually requires a stay. A yard requires a brace. But there is a solidness assured in all of those elements. A solidness that isn't assured when you see a tiny cat.
But our Tuki was the mainmast of the family barque, the peacekeeper who would toss her 3 pounds into the fray to stop the other much larger cats' hissing and scratching. I once saw her try to bite someone who was talking too loudly. She would run into any room where someone was crying. She taught the new guy, Tommy, where everything was and the good places to lay in the sun and how to play with the toys and the people. (She had a mean -- I mean brutal -- swat for that CatDancer one.) Since she was recruited 15 years ago as a companion for him, she had an especial fondness for the late Mouse† (shown here with her, obviously before red-eye removal).
Tuki had a silent purr when I first met her. You couldn't hear it, but you could feel it when she crawled up the bunk and stuck her face in yours, reminding you that the top and sides of her head required that nightly rub. As she aged, the purr became more and more audible, a soft, steady, and supportive hum.
That purr ceased forever yesterday afternoon.

In the good-intentioned realm of delusional and comforting myths, my favorite is the one about "Pet Heaven." If you ever indulge in that kind of fiction, remember My Friend Tuki Flicka.

Monday, July 28, 2008

If I can help an actual real "HMS"

As an American pacifist who has titled his online memoir with "H.M.S." because of a series of former occupations which involved reproductions of ships from George III's navy, and without any particular allegiance to any particular navy, except for good friends who have served their nations in that branch of the military, and having been born and schooled in a town whose major tourist attraction is a marina filled with artifact warships, I do feel a colleagueship with people like Martin Slater.
Martin Slater is the Secretary of H.M.S. Plymouth Association, who sent me the following email. After explaining that it was not spam, he divulged that actually...

It is a plea to you all to do just a little to help stop H.M.S. Plymouth from being scrapped, because this is just what will happen if we can't raise enough money to save her and take her 'home' to Plymouth, Devon, UK ~ the city where she was built, is named after, and spent a great deal of time during her Naval service.
A company based in Plymouth,Warship Management Ltd, was set up with the intention of finding "5 good men and true", each willing to pledge £20,000 to fund the purchase and relocation of H.M.S. Plymouth.
The members of H.M.S. Plymouth Association have pledged over £20,000 and, along with the other 4 “good men”, hope to purchase the ship from Mersey Docks and Harbour Company (Peel Ports), who became the owners by default when the previous owners The Warship Preservation Trust, was forced into voluntary liquidation in early 2006 ~ this came about because of the conversion into luxury apartments of two corn warehouses on the dockside adjacent to the ship.
Of course the cost to achieve the purchase and relocation is not small, as you can see below, and we need all the help we can get.
Purchase price £75,000
Survey £3,900
Towage Birkenhead £2,000
Towage South £28,000
Towage Plymouth £2,000
Dredging £100,000
Berth Modification £2,000,000
Total £2,210,900
The aim of my e-mail is to reach 2 million people, each willing to donate just £1 to help us reach our goal
To do this, please visit
Help Save HMS Plymouth to make your pledge of just £1 then forward the e-mail to everyone in your address book.
If you would like to pledge more than just £1 please don't be afraid to do so
Further information on the demise of The Warship Preservation Trust and the other vessels under their ‘command’ may be found on our website
message board.

I'm aware of the "Nigerian Money Scam" and all of the other online perfidy, but I also believe that history -- war, peace, or otherwise -- must be preserved, studied, experienced, and at the very least, remembered and appreciated.
Go ahead, look into it yourselves. I left the links. I post here in good faith and hope that word gets around further.
Forty-five years ago, Massachusetts schoolchildren gave their pennies to bring the "Big Mamie" to Fall River.
I hope this "Pounds for Plymouth" project surpasses its goal and achieves at least as much success as Battleship Cove.

Friday, July 25, 2008


  • He would have made the move without the loan, says Tony Vieira, owner of The Bay, the Dartmouth clothing store that's moving -- eventually -- to downtown New Bedford. There was a time when if you didn't need financial help, you didn't seek it. And municipalities didn't offer it. But now, since towns offer tax breaks to multinational corporations and everyone buys everything on credit, here you go.
  • I shopped at the store once, found that they needed to change the filters on their air conditioning and that they had the ugliest print shirts imaginable. Which were very popular among the same crowd that tucks in the Hawaiian shirts, and wears black belts with white shorts.
  • I bought one of their three bowties and inquired as to the reasoning behind a severely over-priced and --- seriously -- unwearable ascot. The fellow there asked me, "Are you doin' a play or somethin'?"
  • Oh, how I wish I were.
  • And did anyone notice that, according to the article, the place carries the "Tony Bahama" line? Insert Sopranos funny here.
  • Of course, my bitterness comes from missing Silverstein's.
  • Of course, the fact that they opened Not Your Average Joe's makes things more palatable, but that whiff of chipotle-mango-pineapple-cilantro-ciabatta doesn't make up for the clumsy mishandling of decent Joseph Abboud ties.
  • Some teevee network (that used to play music videos -- remember those?) has given the owner of the next passage her own show. She's 20 (or 19, depending on what equally-unreliable gossip source you frequent), and like most Americans who have recently gotten the opportunity to take part in their government, she thinks aloud (and I hope this was filmed eight months ago) : "You know what? I am actually not that much into voting. I think it's kinda crazy that a woman is running, because I think that women deal with a lot of emotions and menopause and PMS and stuff. Like, I'm so moody all the time, I know I couldn't be able to run a country, 'cause I'd be crying one day and yelling at people the next day, ya know?"
  • Her dad is Hulk Hogan. So that might explain some of it.
  • So we watch -- if you can stomach it -- the presidential footrace become a horrible series of performances by the dumb yukking it up with the dumber for the benefit of the gullible to profit the careless.
  • So, a documentary in the public interest:

Monday, July 21, 2008

# 10,000

Two Bells into the night's first watch, July 21. Depending on your Skipper.

This is a tiny little web presence. It's taken this long to get enough people looking for "pope fish Friday" and "alyson hannigan" to get to this momentous occasion: 10,000 hits.
Sure. I know everybody else gets that in one afternoon, but we're special here on The Big Green Boat.
Thanks for sharing this.
Particularly since the guy from Whole Foods who snagged the #10,000 spot is a long-lost old Summer Camp "dear-friend" of My Beloved.
But that's how it's supposed to work here, isn't it? Welcome to the only private web page that doesn't require a password. It's just us, the twelve of us who stop by every day wondering if I have anything to say. Thanks, all.
More than three years ago, I started to make "entries" on line here in The Journal of H.M.S. Impossible.
I truly can't recall the date when I started this, but I do remember (1) thinking that I had something important to share, and (2) that I deleted about eight months of nasty remarks about former bosses, neighbors, co-workers, employees, and local businesses.
For those just climbing aboard, the conceit allows that, due to a shift in the cosmic axis, I spent some years in another century. As well as in the Twentieth.
And spent three issues as Howard the Duck.
No, wait. That was someone else.
But it gives me a perspective that is unique, and chicks dig that.
I have spent some years here trying to avoid becoming a medical blog. I could do that very easily, but: Really. I got Lyme Disease and it insulted my kidneys to the extent that they're currently working at about a quarter of what yours are. Not because they won't work because they're insulted, which would just mean that my kidneys are the kind of people that I would never hang around with, but, oh never mind...
Because I find most of those health-related "blogs" either (a) terrifically frustrating, usually fakeries by some pharmaceutical PR flak, filled with whimpering about esoteric technical details, and hopes for a medicine cabinet space-consuming product that will --- SURPRISE! -- suddenly appear.
Or, (b) they're so damned personal and self-important and, well, personal. (Not to belittle your particular idiom, but, how, exactly, does your 4:15 AM blood sugar affect the people who are trying to understand how Johnny Cunningham and Warren Zevon could share a stage? Yeah, well, I thought so. Talk about your symptoms with your health-care provider.)
I was diagnosed with diabetes on my seventh birthday. My Mom could tell you what that was like. It made me the kid who read EVERYthing and snuck around doing stuff that everyone said I couldn't do because I had "the sugah."
That was back when diabetes didn't mean you were a hundred years old and overweight. Or twelve and obese. This was the diabetes that meant you were a rare case, a kid whose pancreas didn't work. Luckily for all of us, one form of diabetes became a popular pastime that created many areas of economic growth, including Wilford Brimley.
I, however, was just a kid who got told he was going to lose his leg and then die.
I have spent a lot of time avoiding that eventuality. Or denying that reality. Whichever side you fall on.
I didn't listen to a lot of people, and eventually that got me described as "difficult."
Even by the ones who said I was "good-looking."
My family, because of its superior Fall River breeding, simply made it obvious to me that we were family and that we all looked out for each other. Period. So when you hear me make fun of Fall River, I'm kicking at the idiots who don't get that.
Some people actually made it possible for me to be still here. Large.
That's who I mean when I say "crew." Or "shipmate." And you, dear reader, probably have one of those who needs a hug right now. "So give, 'em. brudda." Which is something my old friend Woody would say. He's another one. And so is Sophronia. Shipmates.
And David. And Bitterandrew. And Karie and Katie and Cat and Powderhorn and SCM and Steve and b.o.b BOB and James and all the anonymouses...
See how shipmates are? Everywhere you look. The deck is pretty small. Depending on the vessel.
So, here I am, after a bunch of decades absolutely drowning myself in every damned thing that I tried, trying to make it look easy to everyone who was looking, everyone that I was working for and trying to teach something to everyone that I tried to work for, or work with. Or love.
I could talk about these people and you'd probably recognize their names, but a lot of them probably feel pretty put-out already. And for that, I am sorry. If you happen to be one of those people who has Googled™ "PJ Carroll" and "that jerk."
You'll recognize the music I sometimes allow you to see over there under the LastFM widget. You'll recognize the bookshelves barely reproduced at LibraryThing. (I haven't entered the Kenneth Robesons.)
I could have been the Anthony Bourdain of the boat-and-museum world, but whatever teevee that I did do made me swear off ever attempting such a thing.

Honestly, you don't want to know what I really did.
I don't understand why people don't hold doors, cover their mouths, wear nice clothes, or operate four-way stops correctly.
I have a 45 of The Raspberries' I Wanna Be With You and a little Close'n'Play-like device so that when the electromagnetic pulse wipes everything else out, my Beloved and I will dance and feel sorry for everyone who was afraid. Honestly, I will miss Nina Simone's version of Leonard Cohen's Suzanne.
I have few rules.
  • Never purposefully put yourself in a situation where you have to fire a gun or wield any weapon at another person.
  • Know how to fire or wield any weapon.
  • Leave before throwing a punch.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Be aware of what you're eating.
  • Understand "waste."
  • Learn something from everyone and everything.
  • Fear is useless. Remain unafraid.
  • "Critical" is not the same as "criticizing."
  • Pick up litter. Wherever it is.
  • Walk deliberately, with a purpose. Or at least look like it.
  • When the doctors ask why you should be put on the transplant list, say, "Because I'm not finished."


A Summer weekend on the Campaign Trail:


Friday, July 18, 2008


  • At a time when every business seems to be thrashing about on deck, the heirs of Anderson-Little ("André Litelle" to the folks who think frenchifying is cute. Take that, "Targé") are re-opening their operation on-line and offering those Made-In-America "Classic Blue Blazers" that started me on the road to fashion platedom at a very young age. Unfortunately, no one -- NO ONE -- is wearing Classic Blue Blazers anymore.
  • Now, if they were selling Made-In-America "wife-beater" undershirts in packs of three for under a dollar, yeah, I could see them putting a dent in the fashion world.
  • Speaking of fashion... After a few seasons of salt air and sunshine, those "Nantucket red" baseball caps you thought looked so Jimmy Buffett-slash-Ernest Hemingway-manly don't look Nantucket red anymore. They look pink. And you look like you're a member of Code Pink. Like you're going to protest at some hearing or other.
  • If you're going to make a silly magazine cover featuring the uninformed's fears about the Obamas, you shouldn't make Michelle look so much like Sigourney Weaver.
  • Speaking of similarities... Am I really late on this, or has anybody noticed the similarities between oil-producing nations and heroin-producing nations?
  • Her Swellestness, Sarah Vowell, has written something called The Wordy Shipmates, which will be out in October. Although it sounds like the story of my life at sea, it's actually even better: It's about the crazy folk who were my neighbors two hundred years ago: Those kooky Puritans. I've pre-ordered it from Amazon, but I can accept a signed copy if the Ms. Vowell wants to drop it off at the manse.
  • And I'll show her around to some of the crazy Puritans still taking up space around here.
  • I'm not kidding.
  • It's Too Hot. The Specials:

Friday, July 11, 2008


Now, let's get that 6 minutes out of our heads, and cool off with NOAA at the North Pole, where perfectly seasonal melting pools are making their completely expected, cyclical reappearance. Go ahead and click on the picture and you'll see the reported weather conditions in the upper left. It's 1.5° C, 34.7° F. Freezing. Nearly. And, you know it gets like this every year. Because it's Summer! If you visit the NOAA website, they go into great detail about how this happens every year. NOAA is the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and has no connection to this week's reports of Dick Cheney's "censorship" of climatic condition information. Mmmm. Nice and cool.

The North Pole. They even put a real POLE there.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My make-believe "liferaft" has better Clip-Art™

Every now and again, a friend will hail me with news of a lovely piece of real estate newly on the market. Since I am always looking for a deal, a laugh, or a shorter walk to a dock, I'll follow the scent.
Since the cathartes (vultures, if you won't click) that deal in so-called "real" estate are acquaintances, I know that they cannot help themselves but to put their listings (or "ads") in any cheap, ethically-malleable tabloid with meaningless filler written by eager freelancers who are happy to get paid in free copies of the issue because their work is on the page facing a sports bar ad with a bosomy model.
Yes, it's that ugly little magazine that dare not speak its name -- even on what appears to be its own website -- because of possible lawsuits from the brewers of a major component of an Alabama Slammer. Out of its terrible Twos, the publication is crapper-diving into its third year of defacing the local literary scene, all the while insisting that "EVerybody says great things" about it. And enough people must fall for that line of bull -- "oh, print is making a huge come-back, and the pictures are so pretty" -- because the magazine is loaded with full-page real estate ads. And the full page ad for the Zeiterion. And the full-page ad for that place that keeps changing its name. But there's also full-page ads for the business owned by the guy who crapped the first edition out. I wonder if each advertiser gets the same rate card.

Anagrams are fun. This guy, not so much.I cannot reprint the musings of the artist pictured above, because I'm sure that'll cause some litigation, so I have altered the header. And changed the name. If that really is his name. There are other pages full of conservahrrea (thanks, James) but nobody signs those. But I feel a disturbing familiarity with that guy. At least he has a byline. If that's his real name. The guy who writes To Hurl In A Hard Bucket, I mean. I have, however, recognized his image since he first started belching up his unsavory sputum with that victimized libertarian stench. (Oh, and in this issue, he's made up a fable about a strawman sailor who survives months at sea by dreaming that he's Ayn Rand and then suddenly turns into John McCain or something. I'm not really sure what the hell this twit was going on about, because my eyes start rolling to the Letters page when the vague sea survival story didn't have any names, age, date, body of water, details of diet, actual number of occupants of the lifeboat, and stuff like that.)
But then, it came to me. On my very own Interwebs Services Distributor's News page, which usually has zany headlines impossibly situated ("Jesse Helms Dead at 86" right next to "Christina Applegate mourns boyfriend" ). But there he is, right there with some flack from's ideas about "empl;oyment" in The New Depression, Our "John Aches," with a sadly dysfunctional erectile over his shoulder: Another victim of identity theft
Now, either this guy is a writer-and-headache model with pathetic rhetorical skills, or somebody's got some splainin' to do.
At least to the clipart guys.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

oww, My AKIN house

I could not care one bit less about the "new" Indiana Jones & The Over-milked Franchise.
I do, however, care about cultural anthropology, archaeology, and the history of my town, so I'm interested in the Dartmouth Heritage Preservation Trust's project at the Akin House.
Elihu Akin, you may remember, was a known Tory shipbuilder, and so they spared his house when they burned down everything else in the neighborhood. On the other hand, he was also a privateer who, along with his brother, captured many prizes in the early days of the Revolution, and so the British burned down Padanaram. Elihu may also have been a tavern owner who refused to serve a couple of British soldiers, and thus caused both New Bedford and Dartmouth to be burned to the ground in retaliation.
Or some combination of those. Or, there were several Elihu Akins.
Of course, I have an ancestor who won the Congressional Medal of Honor. Twice. And signed the Declaration of Independance. And fought alongside Brian Boru at the Battle of Clontarf. Same guy.
But nobody digs up his lawn every Summer.
I'm not sure if the Digs on Dartmouth Street will solve any of the mysteries, or if everybody will just get on board one story and stick with it once the Elihu Akin Cultural Heritage Center for Dartmouth is fully under way.
But I think it sounds like a swell way to spend a few weeks: Outdoors.
Here's most of the press release:

The Elihu Akin House, 762 Dartmouth Street
Dartmouth, Massachusetts

The Dartmouth Heritage Preservation Trust is recruiting volunteers for the second summer of the Akin House Archaeology Project. Join Dr. Christina Hodge, students from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and other volunteers from July 7th through August 6, 2008, at the 1762 Elihu Akin House located at 762 Dartmouth Street. We will be digging for the past in Dartmouth and expanding our knowledge of the families who lived in the house and used the land.

It's the perfect opportunity to work outside while learning local history and finding artifacts. Last summer 5,926 fragments of ceramic, glass, bone, brick, and other finds from the 18th through 21st centuries were uncovered, cleaned and catalogued. Help us to explore new areas of the site!

Volunteer training is scheduled for Friday, July 11, 2008 at the Akin House in two sessions, 10:00 – 11:00 A.M. and 1:00 - 2:00 P.M. Opportunities range from excavating test sites to sifting dirt to uncovering artifacts. As artifacts are uncovered, the dirt is carefully screened off. The fragments are dusted off with paintbrushes and other small tools, and / or washed gingerly, and then catalogued. There’s no telling what we will find. You can be there to witness the discovery of the treasures that will speak volumes about the site, revealing the generations who lived there, the culture of the times, and the socio-economic conditions through the ages.It’s not just educational, it’s FUN!

This is rare chance for volunteers to participate in real historical archaeology.Volunteers are needed for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons from:00 – 4:00 P.M. and all day Thursdays (9 A.M. to noon and 1:00 - 4:00P.M.). To find out more about the project and to see slide shows on last summer's field session, please visit "" The University is still
accepting students for Soc/Ant 180 Historical Archaeology of New England and Soc/Ant 407 Field Inquiry. For registration information, please contact the Division of Professional & Continuing education at htp:/ or Dr. Christina Hodge at( or

The summer 2008 project at the Akin House is supported by the Dartmouth Heritage Preservation Trust, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and a University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Chancellor's Research Fund and Public Service Fund grant.

Christina J. Hodge received her PhD in historical archaeology in 2007 and MA in archaeological heritage management in 2000, both from the Department of Archaeology at Boston University. She is a Senior Curatorial Assistant at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, where she has worked since 1997. Dr. Hodge currently lectures in the Harvard Department of Anthropology, where she team-directs the Harvard Yard Archaeology Project; the Harvard Extension School Museum Studies Program;and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Division of Continuing Education, where she directs the Akin House Archaeology Project. Dr. Hodge's research areas include the colonial and postcolonial archaeology of New England, material culture studies, public archaeology, and the curation of museum collections.

For information on the volunteer open house and the Akin House Archaeology Project, please contact Diane M. Gilbert, President, the Dartmouth Heritage Preservation Trust, (508) 993-1216, or Peggi Medeiros, Clerk, (508) 992-9624, Elihu Akin House is managed by the Dartmouth Heritage Preservation Trust, which is overseeing the continuing stabilization of the house and establishment of the Elihu Akin Cultural Heritage Center. The Dartmouth Heritage Preservation Trust is a private, non-profit 501(c)3 organization with a mission "to protect and preserve architecturally and historically significant structures and sites located in the town of Dartmouth, Massachusetts and surrounding communities, through the acquisition of such structures and sites, and easement interests therein,through providing financial and technical assistance in connection with the preservation and restoration of such structures and sites, and through education and advocacy."

Sunday, July 6, 2008

1747 - John Paul Jones

Docked at Fort Adams, near The Museum of Yachting, the fiberglass reconstruction of the Continental Sloop Providence ("Sloop Prov E. Prov") was one of my first experiences of sailing on a ship model. Sometime in the Nineteen-Eighties, when I was known as "a Newport RI personality" (at least in Newport This Week), I volunteered to teach kids about historic sailing.
And so, I spent a few afternoons that Summer, bounding out on the bowsprit to "encourage" young people to "stop crying and make off that gasket and get back on deck. It shouldn't take forty-five minutes..."
I may have changed my training technique since then, but the crews got tougher over the years. Crewmates also didn't like to tell me they had a problem with my methods, but to this day will elaborate injudiciously on any detail, for big yuks. Because I and my more stalwart compatriots (like Large) did the work that the others wouldn't. And -- especially in Large's case -- we did it better.
Clear a jammed flag halyard on the main. Up three sets of ratlines and a shimmy to the truk and back before either the First Mate got his shoes on or the event's sponsor ever knew there was an issue. Clean up the evidence of seasickness or drunkenness from around the heads. Dress up like an Eighteenth Century hand every day and try to teach tourists some history. Explain to incredulous and ignorant higher-ups why up-to-date charts and other information are important while not blaming a crewmate who "forgot" to provide said information. Spend days off trying to figure out how an organization can be so dysfunctional.

Born on this date in Scotland, the Captain of the original Providence (née Katy) never rose above that rank, probably since he did not suffer fools gladly but did mouth off freely at every twit and self-important incompetent that he met. Cruel history makes ugly claims about Jones, sometimes postulating that the only reason he got a ship in the Continental Navy was because of a "shortage" of commanders. The truth is that there were too many "commanders" who thought that "command" meant "cringe and fawn in order to get to navigate from one clean port to another flush commission."
Jones was always under some manner of misgiving, fomented by gossips and goons. And as far as he was concerned, anyone who wasn't serving his country, family, chief, or currency must be a gossip or goon. His loyalty was to the task at hand, and it mattered not one whit if that task were winning a naval battle or delivering a cargo. Anyone who compromised the mission -- by laziness, inadequacy, irresponsibility, ignorance, or unawareness -- was just as guilty of mutiny as any other pirate.
Of course, the British papers called him "a pirate," even when he made every effort to fight like a gentleman, and worthy opponents recognized that.
But, he was not the humble, warm, patient, and fatherly "Cap'n." So calling him "Father of the Navy" seems like faint praise, given his self-assuredness.
But he's the one who could pull off audacious stunts. Like the time when he rowed, under cover of night, to an enemy ship and painted a target on the hull so that his men would know which one to hit in the morning.
Some people remember the line "I have not yet begun to fight" as being the brave rejoinder of the scrappy skipper of an outmatched boat, to an opposing captain's query ("Do you ask for quarter?" roughly:'Will you beg for clemency as you surrender?').
According to Jones, he had no idea what the captain of the Serapis was talking about, since the battle seemed to be going on quite well, what with his firing three cannon by himself and all. He answered, "Je ne songe point a me rendre, mais je suis determiné a vous faire demander quartier."
Basically: "The idea hadn't occurred to me, but I am pretty set on you asking ME for clemency as YOU surrender."
A little more smart-ass in any case.
Captain John Paul Jones by Newell Convers Wyeth

On the floor in front of his tomb in the United Naval Academy Chapel, Annapolis, Maryland, is this inscription:


Friday, July 4, 2008


Come and take a walk with me
through this green and growing land
Walk through the meadows and the mountains and the sand
Walk through the valleys and the rivers and the plains
Walk through the sun and walk through the rain

Here is a land full of power and glory
Beauty that words cannot recall
Oh, her power shall rest on the strength of her freedom
Her glory shall rest on us all

From Colorado, Kansas, and the Carolinas, too
Virginia and Alaska, from the old to the new
Texas and Ohio and the California shore
Tell me, who could ask for more?

Yet she's only as rich as the poorest of her poor
Only as free as the padlocked prison door
Only as strong as our love for this land
Only as tall as we stand

But our land is still troubled by men who have to hate
They twist away our freedom
And they twist away our fate
Fear is their weapon and treason is their cry
We can stop them if we try

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Enjoy The Fourth of July.
Or RadioStars™ will call you a "Commie"

"These cops love them illegals because they'll vote for th' unions, and them cops are all you know democrats 'n' union. You know what I mean."

-- WBSM talk show caller

Last week, we ran up on the sandbar of "Your Vote Is Magic!" (I am not linking to the site, because I was warned by the disclaimer that the info "may not be used, duplicated or distributed without [Lyn's] expressed written consent." Oops, I didn't get permission to print that. Damn.)
I was feeling urpy about promoting this, because I know the participants and I like them and I know that their hearts are in the right place, and I support any effort to get people into the process. Unfortunately, I am always offended by one participant who consistently encourages fear and hate among those who depend on the AM radio for their news and information.
You can't turn on the local AM radio without being subjected to low-brow, low-class, lowest common denominator detritus that washes eventually into the news reports and every other aspect of what is essentially the only immediate source for community information.
"Dese" and "dems" and their codes like "those people" and "elitist." Mispronunciations and misapprehensions do nothing but lower the level of discourse throughout the SouthCoast.
I flip on my radio for weather information and I recognize the voice of some idiot who's fumbling his way through a meteorologist's alert as the same guy who has suggested that a black person shouldn't be president, the same guy who thinks all immigrants should be jailed or deported (or both), the same guy who will not pay another penny in taxes to support his town's schools because he doesn't like teachers' unions, the same guy who doesn't think my friends should get married.
Then there's the caller who doesn't know the difference between a "non-profit business" and a "social program," but insists -- incorrectly -- that both are using his tax money to help criminals buy booze and Cadillacs. There's the caller who thinks that "democrats" are "communists."
The callers and hosts who can't tell "ass" from "elbow."
This is not to say that the wireless is without some hands who know their duty, and perform it admirably. But a ship cannot be rigged with chains starboard and sissal port. Eventually, one snaps and the rig runs off course.
So it bothers me when something as important as voter registration and election information becomes mired in apparent partisanship. The first sign of partisanship is the term "non-partisan." It's a flag that catches my eye instantly, because it means exactly the opposite.
I cannot support what appears to be a truly worthwhile project when it involves a mean-spirited fearmonger, because his manner and matter offend me. How can one trust a "moderator" who refuses to be "moderate?" Who insults "panty-waist liberals" and claims that his "nation comes only after [his] Lord and family" and claims local law enforcement is "horrid and malfeasant." On radio, it is important to oppose immigrants, referred by one simpleton as "crimmigrants". How do you think this host will inform us about immigration policy at his rally? He clearly supports one senatorial candidate, one party. He cannot be "non-partisan," and if he suddenly is "non-partisan," in which arena is he faking more?
That's what Lyn and her very positive, very correct, and very original and exciting project are up against. She wants to get a few more people registered to vote, to be part of the process.
But I have no idea how she will succeed, since one sponsor has done nothing but dissuade people from participating in a fair and democratic process. By his mere presence on the air, he makes a frighteningly creditable case that anyone who takes our democracy seriously must be a lonely, xenophobic crank.

(This was written after a day of listening -- with an open mind -- to that local radio station. How can I get those hours back?)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


The Amazing Angie Pontani, Miss Cyclone and Miss Exotic World (yeah, I know what that sounds like) sent this along to everyone on her e-list, so I'm passing it along to you:


The City's new plan almost completely abolishes the amusement district for the sake of high rise hotels and retail. Coney Island is currently zoned for 61 acres of amusements; the city's new proposal reduces the amount of amusements to 9 acres. This reduction of the Amusement Distirct will destroy Coney Island's legacy as "the People's Playground" and defeat the goal of creating a world class amusement and tourist destination.
25 to 30 story high rises and retail do not belong in the amusement district! Retail is no substitute for amusements! There is plenty of space outside of the Amusement District, in Coney Island for residential, hotels and retail! Why destroy the amusement district forever to meet this goal?
SAY YES TO REVITALIZING THE AMUSEMENT DISTRICT AND NO TO to 26 New High Rises of up to 30 stories each in the current Amusement District! NO to Retail, Malls or "Entertainment Retail" in the Amusement District!
NO to shrinkage of the Amusement District from 61 acres to 9 acres! YES to preserving Amusement Zoning in the Amusement District!!
YES to keeping Coney Island the People's Playground- providing accessible Amusements for ALL to enjoy!!
Write a Letter!! submit a written testimony by writing a letter, expressing your opinion to:

New York City Economic Development Corporation
110 William Street
New York, New York 10038
Attention: Rachel Belsky, Vice-President
OR, Send an email to:
Please send a copy of your written testimony to Mayor Bloomberg, City Council President Christine Quinn, and your City Council Member.
Mayor Michael R.Bloomberg
City HallNew York, NY 10007
Phone 311 (or 212-NEW-YORK outside NYC)Fax (212) 788-2460,
[New York City Council Speaker] C[h]ristine Quinn
224 West 30th St (Suite 1206)
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 564-7757 Fax: (212)564-7347

I may have said it a little differently, but I get the point. We've lost enough heritage.Especially around that neighborhood.
I would hate to never see and hear (and smell) Astroland again, enjoy a dog from Nathan's, see your show, the Mermaid Parade.
Good luck!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Don S. Davis

He had a heart attack Sunday morning at the age of 65. Whenever you needed complex humanity in a clean uniform, this guy always hit the mark, no matter how outlandish the scenario.Twin Peaks, Major Briggs Godspeed, Major.

Former Leper Colony Healthiest Spot on Buzzard's Bay

According to this report from the Coalition for Buzzards Bay, . "... Nitrogen pollution from septic systems, inadequately treated wastewater, poorly-planned watershed development, and the use of fossil fuels and fertilizers" have all contributed to the ill-health of my local waterways. "Red" is bad and "blue" is "good." (Clicking the chart will bring you to the report, where you may click again to actually read a larger chart.)

On the other hand, Penikese Island, site of a "retreat" for early-Twentieth Century sufferers of Hansen's disease, seems to be doing okay. Not as well as it was in 2002, but I don't blame the reform school housed there now. The students are actually pretty good stewards.