Friday, July 31, 2009

Soles'n'Bowls

  • The purpose of the "Soles'n'Bowls" feature -- stated or otherwise, and I'm pretty sure that I've stated it somewhere, but who knows where -- was initially to provide an opportunity for your interlocutor to simply and merely make mention of bits of information that have struck -- odd, edifying, or entertaining -- in recent news cycles.
  • The conceit was designed to leave these bits of flotsam -- remnants in the head -- without a great deal of polish or deliberation. Just mentions of things -- news items, images, flights of fancy -- that I felt might engender some discussioning in the comments.
  • Which rarely, though sometimes satisfyingly, happened.
  • I've flogged away at this as a weekly effort, published here each Friday. For something like five years. Sometimes I would leap from the bunk out of a rich Thursday night's slumber, in order to scratch something into the Journal just because I have always done so, and felt obliged to continue.
  • "Soles'nBowls" is a regular gimmick that has -- in spite of all of its chaos and negligence -- lent an impression of aesthetic, a weekly legitimacy to the proceedings here on the Journal. Which is why I named my CafePress shop Soles'n'Bowls.
  • I won't quit the undertaking. But I may not be here next Friday.
  • But, in order to honor the troops, I won't make anything else up.
  • Tomorrow is Herman Melville's birthday. Which some people -- mostly smug schooner jockeys who pretend that they've actually read Moby-Dick -- think that tomorrow is the day to refer to Moby-Dick non-stop.
  • Because all the chicks dig that.
  • Even misguided New Bedtards into fauxmilitary fashion parades know that January 3 is the date when you do that.
  • Every year.
  • Tomorrow is the day when you read Redburn, the self-effacing semi-fictionalized "autobiography" of Herman Melville, which he pridefully described as "a nursery story that gave me money that I could buy tobacco with." Or perhaps I've cobbled together that quote from admissions often attributed to the birthday boy.
  • With that in mind, and many other images of inappropriate deckwear (which seems to be what Redburn is really about, come to think of it) -- here's a favorite picture of Yvonne Craig that doesn't imply too much nudidity:We don't always leave the boats on deck. Except when babes are aboard. (Extra point if you ID the line)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Something About Corporate Symbols

All of New Bedford (the ones who aren't hiding in their parlors calling talk radio to beg for the Guardian Angels to come make them feel less tiny and afraid) is agog with a visit from the Budweiser Clydesdales.
I'm guessing that somebody's cracked open a special cask of Madeiran before this weekend's Portuguese Feast.
Clydesdales are huge damned beasts. But there's bigger and/or cooler ones with which I've swum. Or simply enjoyed the company -- or proximity -- of. I was thinking about this a few years ago when I befriended the marketing guy from Buzzards Bay Brewery. All right, "befriended" is a strong word. I simply made a habit of bringing friends to the brewery every weekend for tastings.
Typical of me, I thought, "Hey, why don't I use my particular creative inclination, my inventive aptitude, my personal proficiency, and give these local guys a PR nightmare to live down?"
I scratched down a series of storyboard-like ideas. Here's one:
Don't use this, even if your uncle has told you to come up with 'something' before sending you back to Brown, trustafarian.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Soles'n'Bowls

  • 18 years ago, New Bedford allowed a shop owner to revive a fad that had been solidly and irrevocably dead for ten years.
  • Fifites Night: celebrating the "Fabulous Fifties" faux-stalgia known only through fantasy teevee vehicles like Happy Days. And people still show up for the party. To see the cars that are universally derided as inefficient, dangerous, and symbols narcissistic consumption. To listen to old music that hip-hop acts don't even sample. To ignore the racism, red-baiting, and the beginning of America's arrested adolescence.
  • But at least it ain't this:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Embrace this hard

Ten years ago, we all would have had a good laugh. Now, it's just sad.From the Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot file I submit the following. YOUR VIEW: Embrace hard reality of whaling, a criminally misinformed, wrong-headed, and ultimately pointless meander through the homesick fancies of some screwy idiot.
Mr. J. Ellis Hypenate-Or-Other (His friends call him "Jack." Well, at least "Jack" is part of what they call him) expostulates that the New Bedford Whaling Museum is a fluffy love-parlor for "whale-huggers" on a Portagee commune called "New Bedford," which is only saved from devastating political correctness by his own fallacious memory of an anecdotal youngster's reaction to contextually-inconsistent clips from a Clara Bow flick. I share some of the unfortunate screed below. He's in bold; I'm the other guy.

It's been years [You say later that it has been "ten."] since I last visited our city's [Not your city. You live in China, remember?] whaling museum, but I seem to recall a fair amount of changes to the place since my inaugural trip there some three-plus decades ago. Bad changes, as I remember. [In 1979, the Whaling Museum was still pretty much the Jonathan Bourne Whaling Museum, teaching about whaling but also dedicated to a man who did not wield a harpoon but made a great deal of money from the whale fishery. Yes, it has changed in thiry years; about 500% in size, space, collections, personnel, exhibits, world reputation, facilities, and educational partnerships. I was part of many changes there and you insult me and my colleagues deeply.] The museum, it seems, had at one point incorporated a blue whale (or was it humpback?) into its logo (the horror). [That's the Black Whale T-shirt, a popular tourist item that you can buy up the street. The Museum's logo had always featured the recognizable profiles of Lagoda and a sperm whale and harpoons. It was changed in 2000 to its current, contemporary logo, a stylized square-rig under full sail silhouetting a fluke, controversial only for its passing resemblance to a bikini top, see below] Some of the newer exhibits had nothing whatsoever to do with whaling, and were distinctly of the anti-whaling, sea-hippie whale-hugger sort.[Too bad about all that art and scrimshaw and books and stuff. You must have seen my favorite exhibit of modern whaling aboard Ulysses, a contemporary Norwegian whaler and the wicked cool HUGE harpoon gun ("Thor's Hammer" How cool is that?) and you could pretend to shoot at those whales if we're not too busy huggin' 'em. Of course, with 8 or 9 exhibition spaces, it's hard to satisfy one boy's lust for cetacean blood and gore.]Did the trustees of the museum, somewhere along the line, feel obliged to apologize (to the world? to the whales?) for New Bedford's formerly preeminent position in the international whaling industry ...blahblahblah....'The horror.' Apparently.
Let's look at the Museum's mission statement, shall we? Things may be different in China, but we still try to live up to our institutional promises, particularly in the non-profit sector. What with it being the law and all.
The mission of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society - New Bedford Whaling Museum is to educate and interest all the public in:
  • The historic interaction of humans with whales worldwide
  • The history of Old Dartmouth and adjacent communities
  • Regional maritime activities;
To accomplish this mission, the Society shall:
  • Collect, preserve, and interpret the artifacts and documentary evidence of these endeavors
  • Maintain a whaling, maritime, and local history museum
  • Maintain a research library
  • Promote and disseminate historical research
  • Accept and hold historic sites, where appropriate
I suggest that those who don't like the work of the New Bedford Whaling Museum go make their own whaling museum. But first, see today's museum before jabbering about it, its principles, or its setting in barely coherent and very inaccurate ways. The historic interaction of humans with whales worldwide. Not "the self-righteous speciousness of some peripatetic guy who's seen the place twice in thirty years."
To address the name drop of fellow short-time SouthCoaster Rory Nugent: I have read some pages of Down at the Docks in the bookstore and at the library, as well as reviews that afford reviewers the opportunity to say clever things about other books by Nugent, whom I recall as being a local crank. I refuse to buy a book that is -- by some of those above indicators -- a myopic, insulting, and hyperbolic portrayal of New Bedford as a dead, crime-ridden, hopeless, ex-industry town. As a writer, I would never spend three hundred pages describing the Fulton Fish market and then say "And that's what New York is all about."
I do plan to read it. I have it on the very long wait list at the library. (Long list. Apparently nobody else will buy a book that is a myopic, insulting, and hyperbolic portrayal of New Bedford as a dead, crime-ridden, hopeless, ex-industry town, either.)
If I may be permitted the luxury of referring to a a book that I haven't completely read completely, I'll indulge his breathless recommendation of a movie that he hasn't seen in its entirety. Had one ever watched the actual Elmer Clifton film Down to the Sea in Ships, one would know that it is a goofy period soap opera that uses "whaling" as an apparatus, an exotic setting to implicate Clara Bow in some drama. (It was her first movie, and she gets more screen time than the whaling, footage which had been filmed aboard Charles W. Morgan, out of New Bedford at the time, for use in a whaling documentary. )
The fable of the young person shouting "with joy at the faded, choppy, mute celluloid images frolicking on the screen. 'Mom! They're like Free Willy!'" is complete, utter, concocted bullshit.
I presented that film in that very auditorium on many occasions, and no child ever reacted that way, nor did any child shriek or "whimper" at honest scenes of a ship's crew at work in the industry with which our interlocutor feigns familiarity.
I also cite fabrication with regard to the wacky description of an alleged "sign" on the State Pier. It sounds like a popular subject in Nineteenth Century paintings: a stove boat. I know of no such "sign" on the State Pier. Many paintings of stove boats, at the Whaling Museum and all over town, though. (A fine bit of junk. "Junk" is a whaling term. Look it up.)
New Bedford may be home to a few thoughtful whaling opponents, but there are no whaling deniers. No one in New Bedford is a "whale-hugger" or "sea-hippie" or any of the other derogatory monickers that "J. Ellis Cameron-Perry" can insolently toss off out of his fanciful imperiousness. New Bedford knows the "reality of whaling" and has long appreciated it.
Thanks, in large part, to the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Soles'n'Bowls

  • Lots of mariners relegate "nostalgia" to the work skiff made off to an ver-r-r-ry long painter.
  • That doesn't mean that I can't pass a few markers remembering that twenty years ago this very week, I was looking forward to working at Fall River's new news/talk/entertainment radio station, WHTB.
  • George Herbert Walker Bush was President of the United States. Michael Keaton was Batman, and Tiananmen Square was still in our minds, and I had just finished reading The Satanic Verses, which I had picked up in the Tampa airport for the ride home from one of my big failed teevee adventures.
  • Could I redeem my media cred by working for this new outlet in the town where I was born? Where people knew my family and my name?
  • The short answer, of course, is "No." Because there are some small people. And some small radio stations.
  • I don't know what's easier to write about.
  • Newport is hosting the Black Ships Festival, commemorating Commodore Perry's opening of Japan to the West, popularizing black lacquer and faux bamboo in furniture for many generations. Also: taiko.
  • On the other hand, the 54th annual Westport Agricultural Fair opened Wednesday, with tractor pulls every night. No guarantee of this kind of action though:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

There was music radio once, and laughter...

Thanks
This image was stolen from Charles Laquidara's blog.
One of the reasons that I enjoy spouting off from the quarterdeck like this is merely that I get to see my words published.
At one time, I wrote for a crappy magazine in Boston that readers could pick up on the cigarette machine and, after thumbing through a few beer- or coffee-stained pages, one might ascertain where the Del Fuegos would be performing that Thursday, if you got past the hand-drawn propaganda for bars you wouldn't go to on a dare. Miniscule, one-paragraph, obscenity-filled reviews (by "AABill," "Boy Howdy," or "Peggy Lee"-- I may have actually been "Greg Kihn" once) shared the pages with ads for used bicycle parts shops, "escorts," and 900 numbers.
Back in those days, busybody promotions people sent product -- free -- to just such magazines, the Twentieth Century's analog tree-destroying desk-cluttering T-station polluting handheld version of "popular culture" blogs, and we "reviewed" everything sent to us. If the item were particularly prized, someone would put the book, cassette, VHS tape into their Swiss Army bag and no one would ever see it again or ever enjoy a review other than overhearing: "Yeah, that was pretty good. Pass the pretzels."
We published whenever the publisher's Dad handed over enough money to pay the print shop. Who was -- I think -- him.
The city's actual (not "real," which was another paper thing) newspapermagazine was the Boston Phoenix, and they owned the radio station that played R.E.M. and Sonic Youth, back when they called that "college rock" and not "alternative." Which meant that they were "edgy." Before "edgy" meant "expensively retro-clothed socially-dissociative personality-disordered." That was WFNX, the station you listened to in order to stay "with it" so that you could at least join conversation at clubs. The other station, you listened either out of habit or for comfort. (Although, no one ever talked all "sensitive" like that in the Reagan Eighties. Back then, "Political Correctness" was still just a silly way to talk about job titles, not a coverup for racism.)
The staid old rock'n'roll station was WBCN -- The Rock of Boston. Which is at this moment being mourned, even by the Associated Press.
I sent resumés (that's what we called "CVs" back then) and demos to both stations with little luck. Cover letters went unread, I'm sure, and follow-up calls went unanswered. As we all know, that's standard operating procedure in this century. See how presciently far ahead of the game these guys were?
I so wanted to be a part of that forward-thinking crowd. I thought that I had the chops to work for the outstanding Oedipus and with the legendary Charles Laquidara. Or, at least, near Duane Ingalls Glasscock.
But I had a half-hearted dedication to doing the movie "reviews" for What's Up or What's New or What's That or Whatever the hell it was called that month, after the cease and desist orders had been served.
On one such occasion, I had my choice of seats in a near-empty megaplex theater in Everett and waited for what I had been told was a "media prescreening" -- billed as the "Boston premiere" of Return to Oz.
It was actually just the first night that the movie was playing in the Boston area. I wasn't expecting a red carpet and Jean Marsh escorting eleven year-old Fairuza Balk. But I also hadn't expected the ticket booth attendant to not know where this alleged "media prescreening" would be held. The cardboard "pass" should have been my first clue. The suspicious stare and poised finger on a booth intercom button should have been the other.
An older family guy herded a couple of kids into the seats starboard, and I couldn't help but be aware that the young boy was wearing a cape. I figured: Wizard of Oz remake, kids would love it, and kids sometimes wear superhero costumes. With capes. The father arranged their outerwear hurriedly and said something to them and I instantly recognized him as Charles Laquidara, the morning man from WBCN.
I introduced myself, carefully enunciating every letter but hoping that I didn't break into my "big announcer voice" out of desperate employment desire. He was friendly and started to chat, but the lights dimmed. They were entertaining companions for a movie that really wasn't made for kids that age. And that's how I get to say that I went to the movies with Charles Laquidara.
Although, that didn't get me a job at 'BCN.
(I swear that I've told this story before, but I can no longer find the post where I previously related this heart-warming story.)
For those of us born when the wireless was relevent, radio is an important cultural touchstone. I was in an airport in North Carolina once and said "mishugas." The next thing I knew, I was being backslappingly led into the lounge by three guys with Red Sox caps chortling about Charles Laquidara's Bi-i-ig Mattress and Carlos the robotic disc jockey. Of all things.
I'm glad that I got to enjoy that era.
And I will remember WBCN as a significant part of it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Remain Unafraid. Again.

I was thrilled recently to see a post by bitterandrew at Armagideon Time that not only seems to recall recent local SouthCoast events, but also brilliantly portrays the thing that most chafes my topsail here on The Beach. It features a souvenir page from TIME magazine, apparently an advertisement for "Fear."
There are some products that can be pitched quite effectively with the merest brief mention of the negative consequences of forgoing purchase. That brake job, for instance. Or contraceptives.
Your ThirdMate has always thought of the Guardian Angels as a colorful overt presence that surely deters a few punks from acting out and provides witness statements when they do. But they are part of the Fear Industry, a big bunch of fear maintenance workers and supporting cosplayers. I congratulate them, however, on celebrating their Thirtieth Anniversary Year. It's a shame that we just missed last week's Gala. Tough guys DO hold Galas. See?Wonder if I can still get in on that Underbelly TourAnd pretty expensive Galas, too. (Also reinvigorating the Nineteenth Century "slum tour" trade.)
Yep, even the Guardian Angels hold fundraisers to continue to remain a consistent red-topped reminder of the need to believe that your town, city, village, or neighborhood is a scary scary scary place, filled with creepy preverts and leather-jacketed truants and shifty no-goodniks from other countries and you're better off cowering at home paying to watch CSI:MyHomeTown and complaining to radio talk shows about "them" people (you know) while tapping away perfervidly and anonymously to your newspaper's online comments.
As luck would have it -- just in case the kids follow in your misanthropic heritage -- the Guardians also machinate a CyberAngel force, insinuating that children may be being bullied into online involvement in pronographing and/or identity theft. And viruses. And Rhodesian Lottery scams that force them into gang initiations where they drive around with their lights off until someone stops and plays a tape recording of a baby crying so that you end up stepping on a flaming bag of
Wait.
No doubt, there is legitimate scary in this world. Which requires officially-sanctioned, organized policing and diligence to safeguard our property and our persons. Our teevee entertainment and news shows give us enough of a spook to make sure that we don't inhibit budgets. And that usually means reinforcing a culture of disenfranchisement and distrust that insists on prisons rather than schools. We do not need a bunch of well-meaning attendants walking around, puffing themselves up and tilting at the boogeyman of the week. Particularly with the widespread blessing of a big worldwide non-profit that has done some nice things in some "bad places."
Whether those "bad places" want it or not.
The Guardian Angels' originator, McDonald's night manager Curtis Sliwa, visited the not-so-bad city of New Bedford recently to further becloud the town's ability to catch a public relations break. And who better to help out the city's image problem than

Henry Bousquet, who previously ran for City Council,and Jerry Pinto, who recently directed Operation Clean Sweep in the city, contacted the Guardian Angels to visit New Bedford.
"I would love to be part of forming the first [sic] chapter in New Bedford," Pinto said. "I would like to see the Guardian Angels working with the city and getting them involved with the community-oriented groups."
Bousquet said the Angels are needed in New Bedford.
"The folks in my neighborhood are scared," said Bousquet, who lives in the area around Mount Pleasant Street.
"They're frustrated. They don't know what to do."(Standard-Times)
Draw your own conclusions about the effectiveness of the efforts of concerned busy-bodies with the best interests of would-be voters in mind. In the middle of the Summer, to publicly point out an irrational fear that is endemic to a portion of your community and to suggest a glorified neighborhood watch? Some might even suggest that it borders on slander, this little backhand suggestion that the city needs better law enforcement. I'm sure the Southeastern Massachusetts Convention & Vistors Bureau, the Greater New Bedford Chamber of Commerce, the New Bedford Office of Tourism, the New Bedford Economic Development Council, and DowntownNewBedford Inc. all just LOoOOoVE you now. I can't say that an afternoon with the self-promoting boss of a populist vigilante club is the most auspicious happenstance for a mayor whose major support seems to be people who don't show up on anybody's radar.
One citizen in this NECN video is cringing and lashing out with extraordinary passion (extraordinary for the SouthCoast, anyway) at all the wrong things. Of course, her neighbors have been anecdotally cornered and unmanned by small-time hoods who are further encouraged by the citizenry's apprehensiveness. The criminals are fortified by the very people who are being sought in order to contain them.
Of course, they're not the cowards who infest the local "conservative blogs," forums, and talk radio -- the BFFs that self-styled vigilantes lurv in their PR battle against a strong and healthy community. Conversely, the Mayor seems to want to invest in the bravery of each citizen, not in the bravado of a misdirected few. (I had to laugh when I read a woman's comment to Henry, saying that Lang appeared to be "an ass" while he, in his two quotes in the vid, actually urges her to do something for herself and not rely on Guardian Angels. But I'm guessing that she's one of those "only one set of footprints on the beach" types.)
Stop frightening old ladies with halfwit campfire stories and breathless portrayals of police scanner calls.
Lighten up.
And, at the risk of sounding like a prideful dismissor of well-intentioned extralocal succor: New Bedford isn't like other towns.
The Guardian Angels work best in places that present crowded commuter train platforms, raucous tourist congregation areas, busy subway stations (of which New Bedford has none), or on the meandering cramped walkways of spooky city parks where bad kids congregate. Parks in New Bedford seem like pretty safe open spaces.
It's the thoroughfares that are truly frightening.
If the Guardian Angels have a bunch of red-bereted Crown Vics that can cruise around to discourage left-hand turns from right-hand lanes and poor operation of four-way stops, then I say, "Welcome to the Whaling City!"

Monday, July 13, 2009

Let's Hear it for Tennessee!

One of the worst reasons to amend a Constitutional right is because some people have been abusing theirs. Tennessee lawmakers have decided that Tennesseans can carry firearms into bars and restaurants.

Soon, Tennessee's bars and restaurants will no longer be off-limits for registered weapons.
State legislators - a quarter of whom own firearms - have passed a law allowing guns into bars and restaurants, but preventing their owners from buying alcohol.
For the bill's Democratic sponsor - State Senator Doug Jackson - it is a case of preserving the rights of individuals and those of individual states.
"People are fearful about tomorrow. They feel insecure. And the Second Amendment right is something that they cherish and it's a means of protecting themselves and their family and defending what they have. It provides security in troubled times."
Before the whinging about "the new wild west" begins, I point out that Nashville is not Deadwood, no matter how many cowboy hats get worn or Shakespearean profanations are proclaimed. I am a firm believer in the right to own a gun. Whatever weaseling is done around the Second Amendment.
Which reads, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." There are those who think that the Second Amendment is as relevent as the Third -- the one about quartering soldiers -- but the Third says that you can't, and the Second says that you can't be infringed. Simply a more positive direction. Our forefathers knew about the power of words.
Although, as a historian, I am duty-bound to remonstrate such facile readings of our nation's most important document.
As regular readers of this Journal know, I am also an advocate of the right to peaceably assemble at the neighborhood tavern. And I am a staunch advocate of civility -- the common courtesy -- and expect that all of my fellow citizens are also of like mind when it comes to the niceties of community principles and mores.
I recently lunched with shipmates at a local harborside bistro that serves alcohol and fine provisions to its well-mannered clientele. My friends were taking advantage of their rare day off together in order to head to the club for some couple's target practice.
With guns.
Now, since I am not a gunman, it would have done no good to start conferring over "sights" and "heft" and "calibers" or whatever else it is that you gun owners discuss over lunch, so we were limited to knocking around tales of house-hunting and the weather and how each one of us looked terrific and how marriage was especially treating them awfully well, it appeared.
But, wouldn't it have been a more lively diversion if they could have been allowed to present their arms right there on the restaurant table, even playfully pantomiming the action of picking off a few of the nearby seabirds, or explaining to me some of the finer points of gunningship? Would I not be more inclined to, on my way back to the estate, stop by my local pistol shack and arm up? Between a delicious appetizer and the fresh catch-of-the-day entree, I do believe that I could easily have been convinced of the various joys of shooting bangbang sticks.
And others, perhaps after a few Dark'n'Stormies, might join our armory chat, noting comparisons and offering suggestions as fellow diners and scrutinizing nearby hobbyists always do as when piqued by tales of unscrupulous fiberglassers and canvas rips. Just as gun-making and ammunition-selling would stimulate the economy, this new divertisment would stimulate the friendliness and eager comradeship my gracious and refined fellow Commonwealthers are anxious to exhibit.
Think on it, Massachusetts lawmakers.
Think on it well!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Or you can dress up like a pirate

With a hey nonny nonny and a ha cha chaMy favorite part of piratey tourist trapment is the sheer simplicity of the enterprise. An eyepatch, a parrot or drawing of a parrot, a ripped old rolled-up paper bag with an x on it, et voilá: you're just like Disney and the booty just sails into yer tray-shur chests.A fashionable maritime penalty was the 'Overworking of a Rhyme'On the other hand, if you push it just a little too much -- let's say by forcing kids to wear outfits and adding face-painting with superfluous marine biology lessons and dramatic water cannon fights to the boat ride, you're just asking for ridicule. (What with the only "pirates" around here being the kids' great-grandparents who were rumrunning during prohibition.)
Do not, however, tease the Pirates of the Bay, Adventures of the White Pearl New Bedford harbor edu-ventu-tainment boat. The mayor likes it, so it must be okay and another welcome addition to the additions that have already been added to the waterfront additions. (I read that in some press release. Or bumbling and baffling words to that effect.)
I've always enjoyed the New Bedford harbor excursions. A great time for those who knew that the harbor excursion boat existed. A pleasant enough diversion, to toodle around the harbor that, for three or four hundred years, had allowed entrance to fish and oil that brought millions of dollars into the city, more or less.
But there's just something about this one picture of the Pirates of the Bay registration that bugs me: NEW bedford. NEW.
And just in case you didn't get the memo, I'll reprint it here -- all grammar, punctuation, and syntax errors intact. Because it's no fun without 'em:

New Bedford, Massachusetts-A fun, new waterfront business made its way into NewBedford Harbor today. City officials welcomed “Pirates of the Bay", a new waterfront business that will offer harbor tours for children and families on a 26-foot “pirate boat” named the White Pearl. Outfitted with six water cannons and decorated with a pirate ship- themed mural on its exterior, the White Pearl is designed for adventures. Entrepreneurs Gayle and John Verissimo will begin operating their new business on July 4th, 2009. They have entered into agreement with the Harbor Development Commission (HDC) to run their operation off City docks."We are pleased to partner with these innovative, local entrepreneurs and to welcome a new, affordable recreational opportunity to the families of New Bedford and our visitors. Pirates of the Bay will create a fun and educational way for families to experience our waterfront, one of the City's greatest resources,” said Mayor Scott W. Lang. Children will sing-along to pirate songs as they depart for a 30-40 minute excursion in search of sunken treasure. With treasure maps in hand, children will meet live sea creatures, and will learn clues that will help them in the search for buried treasure as the White Pearl makes its way around the harbor. They will also have an opportunity to shoot one of the ship’s six water cannons."We are excited to see a new business in New Bedford Harbor that promises to draw people to the waterfront and create a new economic stimulus for the City," stated Kristin Decas, Executive Director of the HDC. The fee for each excursion is $12, $10 if children present a report card with B’s or better. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult with a valid license or ID.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Soles'n'Bowls

  • There's some TallShip™ thing in Boston this weekend. You people never get tired of the pirate crap do you?
  • AHA!, New Bedford's monthly jollification of one more month in New Bedford, went off last night, and its theme was "KIDS RULE." As the World's Youngest Curmudgeon™, I feel that I would be remiss if I didn't say, "NO THEY DON'T."
  • But, I do understand that it's never too early to hoodwink a demographic into thinking that merchants are freely handing them the reins for a limited time in order to whisk them into an all-consuming frenzy of uh, consuming. Something.
  • On the other hand -- suggested by a comment in this article -- if so-called "working age" people took part in anything in New Bedford, maybe somebody will sponsor a "CHEAPASS XENOPHOBIC DOPES RULE" night.
  • I did not, however, notice any presence of the 2008 SouthCoast Youth of the Year, who shared some sick rhymes with the readers of the Standard-Times, yo. Won't be postin' his "letter" here, cuz the wack commenters will only jeer, so click the link to check the think of the SouthCoast Yooth o' tha YEAR!
  • But I couldn't find the gangsta term for "cliché" anywhere.
  • I don't know if anybody remembers that WHTB 1400-AM signed on the air twenty years ago this month. Ask Marc Lemay about turning off the transmitter as WALE and then turning on as WHTB. New owners, new era in broadcasting for Fall River. "Your Hometown Radio," they called it.
  • Of course, 1400's an ethnic ghetto now, but back then, your Home Town's Best ('HTB getit?)radio was a force to be reckoned with on the SouthCoast. Even though nothing had been christened "SouthCoast" yet.
  • Fall River was a sleepy but not slumbering little hamlet, a quiet city with a few distractions and several inflated egos who thought that they ran everything, and mostly everyone quietly assented, because it was easier to just let the delusional stomp about than point out their shortcomings. That was a mistake.
  • On the verge of becoming a city that might aspire to have a verge. A few restaurants started to open or to find that their lunch crowds were becoming actual regulars, which is good for a city that really feels like a small town. Because everyone's related to someone either by birth, marriage, or team affiliation.
  • Funny that I most remember storming out of the Rock Street studios one fine day, taking a right after the big Ruskinian gothic Central Congregational Church and seeing a pal from grammar school (GRAMMAR SCHOOL!) working on the counter of what would eventually become Swede's Cafe.
  • Dave and Karin, and (if I thought really hard for a long while over a cup full of their strong black coffee and a bearclaw) I wish that I could remember everyone else's name. I was there every day for a while, twenty years ago, and now that's closed. Sure, John Brandt (who owns everything else around there) says "temporarily," and he might open it up as something else.
  • But it was gone a long time ago.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I Hate The Beach

I loathe the advertising/public relations/marketing/feces & graffiti sodality and I further despise how often I complain about it. Throughout The Beach, as we saw just recently, it's a writhing pit of salacious serpents bent on eating itself in an ouroboros orgy.
Give thanks that none of the snotty-nosed "new wizards" of the industry around the SouthCoast even know what any of that means.
As everyone knows, a bad environment is the result of poor stewardship. The "stewards" of the SouthCoast have so neglected their own business that there is nothing to suggest to its next generation of attendants. This next generation -- with its inability to operate spellcheck or grasp the subtler distinctions of "plural" or "possessive" with respect to apostrophes -- should be busing tables. So that someone with some sense of institutional integrity and responsible authority will clap them sharply on the back of the head when they deposit plates upside down or put the fork on the right because they "think it would be cute" or it's the way that they "want to do it."
Without any guidance, benevolent or otherwise, they will go on, oblivious to standards and increasingly resentful of criticism.
Not that I blame them that their mentors suck.
As a youth last century I was advised, by a well-known figure in South Eastern Massachusetts marketing, "I wanted to illustrate children's books. I had to find out all this (gesturing at wooden filing cabinet and small Rolodex) by myself. You're smart. You'll figure it out. (patronizing pat on shoulder directing me toward door)"
That was the extent of mentoring I received and luckily I came to no good in the end. I can't imagine not wanting to pass along helpful advice. It's why I write in this Journal. So that perhaps, when it all collapses around us, we can look upon this electronic record and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh.
One person I'll always laugh at is a certain "marketingadvertisinggraphicdesign and publicrelations consultant." Who is not, nor ever has been, a nurturing guardian of the SouthCoast's imaging scene. When I was unemployed a "freelance copywriter" -- who thought very highly of his own copywriting skills and portfolio -- the Sovereign Overseer (who had eaten all other contenders, I guess) informed me that "any monkey can write copy."
But it takes a very special kind of monkey to edit themselves, I should have added at the time.
I have since -- cleverly and very lucratively -- been employed in situations where I was asked to cull a few lively or pithy quotations from a speech delivered by a President or CEO and create a concise letter to send to stockholders or absent (*sigh*) board members. I was assured that this was a common practice in the public relations realm, and I enjoyed the opportunity to share the company's leaders' wisdom while helping him (or her) seem just a little more wise.
But such onerous conventions are not the concern of they who decide to e-mail all ten paragraphs of AT THE HELM The Strategic Vision for the Future of the ODHS/NBWM, adapted from a speech given by President James Russell at the Annual Meeting held on May 29, 2009.
As delivered live by the author to its intended audience, I'm sure that it's a charming and pragmatic portrayal of the currently well-matched museum's fiscal and fiduciary state. Oddly though, the full text is unavailable on the museum's website, which is overseen by the same outfit that sent said big-e-mail. I dunno. I maybe would have summarized it a tad, linking to it directly from a teaser e-mail, thereby ensuring piqued interest and at least a few more site visitors. And why not put some text-heavy current leadership position statements on your own website? Unless the lack of linkage depicts a subconscious discomfort with the cluttered and clunky layout of the museum's website. I'm pretty sure that there's some way to communicate its message with much less hand-wringing:

I would like to talk with you about a new direction for the Museum in the coming years. I do not want to dwell on the hard economic impact of the past nine months other than to make the occasional reference. However it should be noted that our relatively strong financial position at year-end is a clear demonstration of how blest we are to have a remarkable board, staff, and membership who are devoted to this museum's mission and cherish its place in our community. From board and committee level guidance and policy setting, to the tactical and hands-on support of docents, the heart of this institution is stronger than ever...(and this goes on for nine more paragraphs. Actually, it's a nice brief speech, but is it necessary to e-mail this to me in toto? They do, however, handle their Twitter and Facebook accounts inhouse very very well. Shout out to Bob!)
Here's my Tweet attempt:
Looking good during bad times. Great board, great staff, great mission, fundraising good. In the black. Crisp boat metaphors, not belabored.
140 characters.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Advertising the Impocalypse

Audrina. Actual size.Takes all the fun out of it, don't it? When you start with the 'numbers' and whatnot.Mayhaps you've seen their overlong and ineptly-edited ads in which some fabulously airbrushed walking eating disorder is lounging in an unlikely exotic spot munching away at a 3800-calorie ground cattle-herd sliding around some gooey free gluten sauce. We're asked to believe that the model either doesn't know or doesn't care that she's being mistreated in any way. The company wants to give -- their words -- "hot women $1,000 and a trip to Vegas." According to a very official beg that everybody's been incredulously linking to, all you do is film yourself looking "hot" while eating a burger. This is what they're calling the ad campaign: Duh...This is what used to be known in the desperate and crowded advertising world as "the sex sell."
Another term sometimes used is "sleaze." DerBut when you toss in a frankly grotesque image -- languorous closeups of ingestion -- you really hit the jackpot. The more sensitive adwatchers and other people who are offended by this concept are slapping this story on their "blogs" and exposing people who would never have heard of it. (Which is what the Intertubes are here for, come to think of it.)
Not only are the regular customers of Carl's Jr (or whatever) grateful and encouraged by the near-nudidity provided for free by their favorite sloptrough, but other people (like those of us in the Northeast who've never heard of the enterprise) are being bombarded with advertising for it, apparently to urge us to knock the doors of those community-minded "developers" who periodically ask, "Hey, what chain restaurant that we don't already have adding to the local area's type-2 diabetes and heart disease would you like me to squeeze into a cinderblock building on Route Six next?"
I don't frequent fast-food "restaurants." I haven't been to a McDonald's in six or seven years. Haven't been to Taco Bell since the hospital stay. Even the plethora of enthusiastic reviews of the local Five Guys burgers leaves me uninterested. Out of desperation one night, I was forced into a Wendy's -- since I was assured that it was the healthiest of the fastfood sties -- and regret that decision to this day. I don't like chains anyway, and am lucky to have my choice of any number of excellent limited production food facilities in my immmediate environs. Some owned and run by people that I know and with whom I might have gone to school. I also don't like bussing my own table. Look at it the way that Nicols Fox does, or at least how she put it in this essay for the NYTimes. She says, among other fine things:

Ordinary people, it seemed, could operate gas pumps without causing explosions.They could check their own oil. They could fill their tires. They could then be persuaded to complete their purchases with the swipe of a card and be quickly out of the way with no help from any human being at all. And some of them even seemed to prefer to do the work themselves -- or, curiously in a country so adamantly anti-Socialist, people began to take pride in doing it,and to look down upon those who still wanted to be served.
And now you can even advertise to yourself by making your own exhibitionistic display of food fetishry that can be ogled and critiqued. The company wins anyway, since you'll probably have to buy a few of their burgers for the rehearsing, set-up, and filming. I wonder, though, if the company (created, incidentally, by an opponent of gays in the teaching profession) will blame you if revenues go down for the quarter when you're gracing the the Mixed Martial Arts Extravaganza :20 and :40 breaks.
Then you'll be hated and blacklisted and everybody will talk about you and you'll get your own reality teevee show. Success!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Soles'n'Bowls

  • Since I was so hard on News Corp. this week and on newspapers in general, here's a little story (from the Wall Street Journal, no less) about cryptologist Lawren Smithline, Ph.D., who cracked a code that may have puzzled Thomas Jefferson, sent to him by his pal Robert Patterson, who shared Jefferson's partiality to Eighteenth Century sudoku.
  • Consult the TallShip™ Tracker and check your favorite TallShip's™ head as it's heading to Sail Boston'09.
  • I'm betting that some are toodling around NYC.
  • In the meanwhile, enjoy responsibly whatever commemoration that you choose of Thomas Jefferson's two-hundred thirty-three year-old living cryptographic political potboiler, The Declaration of Independence. I may even be reading it (ignoring, of course, the parts about "savages") and thanking Creation for continuing to allow the citizens of this great nation to continue to plod, gaffe, jive, strut, tread, venture, reckon, and fathom. Also: hand, reef, and steer. Remain unafraid.
I admit that the swivel gun is a Quaker. But the tricorn is ALL BUSINESS.