Sunday, June 6, 2010

Out-Grossing

'Voyages' where, precisely? I am a navigator, Ms. McGowen. According to the Coast Guard.The other day, I received an e-missive (a "forward," actually, of a local newpaperjournalist's online musings -- in this case called a "blog"). Since I was preparing to hold my nose and watch my back while publishing my own musings about the state of SouthCoast tributism, I was taken aback by this fluke parallel; since it was both "addressed to" and "sent from" my own e-mail, I thought that I had sent the thing to myself while under the spell of the Green Fairy. Which everyone now knows doesn't mean what everyone used to think it did.
The link in question is this: http://blogs.southcoasttoday.com/new-bedford-politics/2010/06/03/tributing-fishermen-stalls/#comments You'll love its succinct summary of the issue in question, which I shall attempt to even further abridge: "NB Fishermens Memorial: Who's the cheap shit who keeps not paying to build it?" One sentiment from the brilliantly ironic (or "ironically brilliant") Jack Spillane is actually a delightful summation of all that is wrong about fundraising in New Bedford:

"...people who make lucrative livings in the fishing industry — the big fishing boat owners and the big seafood processing houses — have to get on board."
New Bedford is the highest-grossing seafood-producing port on the planet. Because scallops are wicked expensive. And the hundreds of ships which comprise the fleet, until very recently, harvested the produce of the North Atlantic better than any other. With the possible exceptions of Gloucester and the others.Seriously incorrect footwear.Except of course for the corporations who own 350-foot factory ships that decimate entire populations of animals that may or may not become groceries (sharks, whales, dolphins). Legislators from great seaports in Oklahoma and Arkansas are constantly loved and lobbied by cat food and fertilizer producers and usually blame extinctions ("low catches") on New Bedford and Gloucester's 90-footers. Britt's vetting your catch. Or whatever you kids are calling it these days.May 1 was the beginning of the "Amendment 16 Era." The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration reduced the season's allowable catch and ordered "sector management" of fishing boat cooperatives. (In general, the guys from whom I buy seafood.) The new regulations have cut the New Bedford fishing fleet down to nearly a third of what it once was. New Bedford and Gloucester have filed a suit against the Federal Gubmint, claiming that the system should be amended or abolished because the gubmint didn't do its due diligence -- study the impact of the changes they imposed. Ah, but it's obvious that the gubmint did exactly that, and discovered that its dependence on foreign corporate monies is more important than the continued success of independent fishing concerns.
At least Liz is doing some WORK.For a century, the world has been splashed with branding. Every product, service, organization, manufacturer has a well-recognized shape color and motto. One might think that "New Bedford Scallopers" or "NB Fishy Somethingorothers" would be logoed all over Downtown New Bedford, at highway exits, on the sides of buses. Tourism brochures and museum catalogs should be swimming in their branding; they could sponsor family concerts and educational programs in schools; they might invest in local non-profits. They might even sponsor one of those AHA! nights or First Fridays or the many other community cultural festivities, Mending your nets? Is that like ''sharpening your skates'' or something?
like Third Eye Open or the Madeira Feast. Is it Scandinavian reticence or Cape Verdean insularity or Portuguese apprehensiveness that keeps the checkbooks closed? Or is it an even more SouthCoast malady? Some are trying, and you can read about the Fishermens Tribute Fund and Monument here. But they've been coming up a bit up short. Not for lack of trying, but for lack of others trying.
What keeps those with the means from erecting a monument to their forebears? Or from rebuilding the Seamen's Bethel that served them for centuries? That long-standing expectation -- for decades epidemic among both the privileged poor and the entitled old money -- that someone else will put up the cash for the health center, or the museum, or the weekend festival or the monument or the housing or the parking...
(This presentation includes photographs of Rose McGowan, Mitzi Gaynor, Britt Ekland, Elizabeth Taylor, and Yvonne DeCarlo.)

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