Saturday, January 9, 2010

25 Hours of Dick. Now with MORE Weekend!

A few years ago, a friend wondered aloud why there isn't a gossip site for the City of New Bedford. You know, like TMZ or Wonkette. She bemoaned the dearth of "blogs" pertinent to New Bedford society and politics, bickered about the shitty wingnut one there was. And she came up with one of those "back of the napkin" plans proposing how to do it, insisting all the while on anonymity and professionalism.
I try not to be a stick in the mud when friends -- who seem unaware of my own onlinity -- come up with digital schemes, but I may have acknowledged that although people certainly enjoy reveling in local celebrities' foibles, eventually that wallow will dry.
Mostly due to the lack of defined "celebrity" locally. Also because we know everybody and, frankly, we like most of them.
Plus, she was busy with actual real-time gossiping in the actual real world and a virtual New Bedford wasn't worth jeopardizing friendships or business relations.
For instance, how would one handle this weekend's Moby-Dick Marathon? In a few hours, the New Bedford Whaling Museum will host its fourteenth shot at a worldwide public relations coup. It's a sure-fire capper story for every :27 break on cable news stations: a bit of v-o on picturesque B-roll of old-timey downtown New Beige Belgian block streets that will be misidentified as "cobblestone," with plenty of opportunity for reporters and anchors to make sour faces and admit no familiarity with or interest in Melville's classic. Easy pickings.
But, for fourteen years, they've run the same story in the local paper and in recent years on the website and Facebook presence -- that one that starts with "a young bearded sailor" (usually accompanied by a photograph of a clean-shaven Ray Veary) -- but this year's press release is somehow different:If one can't master subject-verb agreement, what kind of agreement can one master?This is where an anonymous website that kvetches about New Bedford would be useful. Recently, personnel changes at the greatest museum on Earth have been tooted and touted: a new Executive Director, new Curatorial Director, new Marketing Director, all guys -- that is to say, men -- that Old Dartmouth is proud to have aboard.
Waitaminnit. Isn't a marketing director supposed to be in charge of stuff like press releases? Or at least have something to say about articles in newspapers that have temperamental, grammatical, factual, and syntactical challenges on virtually every line? Or at least make sure the dates are the same in all disseminations?
Nevertheless, the organizer of this year's event (whom I admire for her charm, wit, practicality, and collection of maritime art) has moved the thing to the first weekend after the Third of January so that more revelers can enjoy the event without missing work like they used to when it was held on the Third of January every year. The Third is significant because that's the date in 1841 when Melville took off from Fairhaven on the whaler Acushnet. I only mention this because sometimes just one more fact about Herman Melville and Moby-Dick can tip the scales of scholarship.
All of that said, here's the cutest damn picture of Joan Plowright ever. As far as her connection to Moby-Dick is concerned, she played "A Young Actress/Pip" in Orson Welles' Moby-Dick Rehearsed and was also "Starbuck's Wife" in the 1956 John Huston film about which you may have heard. There ain't nothin' like a Dame.

(This presentation features a photograph of Dame Joan Plowright.)

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