All the pancakes I could eat
So while I was suffering through the second stages of malnutrition standing motionless in line for the all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast on Sunday morning (Motto: Undertakers skip to the front of the line, please) I had the half-starved idea that each year the Lobster Festival should imitate the White House, and grant a full pardon to one lobster.
I think the White House does this at Thanksgiving with a turkey, formally granting amnesty and letting the witless creature free to be caught and eaten next year instead.
The Pardoning of the Lobster could be quite the little feature of the opening ceremonies at the Lobfest. Neptune could convene his court and issue a writ of clemency to one lobster selected at random from the mountain of its cousins who are going to die for our delight and amusement over the next few days.
Said liberated lobster could then be returned to the Deep with great ceremony, free to scamper around and participate in what passes for life down there. Susan actually did something like this, once upon a time.
We were eating at Conte’s at its original Rockland location down by the water, and Susan (Motto: Love animals don’t eat them in front of me) bought a lobster then told Emmet Meara and me that we had to go set the sorry thing free. This we did at the South End public landing in the dark, slipping the wee beast into the dark and briny at the boat ramp, and I think Emmet almost fell in after the fleeing sea creature. But it was free.
(I think we removed its rubber bands… And I did get all the pancakes I could eat.)
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I know it is an absolute rule of booster journalism that each year’s Lobster Festival must be reported as having broken some record (tonnage of lobster eaten, size of the throng admitted at the gate, number of children deliberately left at the information desk by their parents, etc.) but George Marx mentioned to me Sunday morning that his little sightseeing boat operation consumed only half the gasoline it required last year. And if town has been three-quarters as full of tourists this year as it normally is, and not just at festival time, then I will be surprised.
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I remember being shocked the first time I saw a typographical error in a real published book. The idea that a book could be professionally written, printed, published and sold while containing spelling mistakes was astonishing. I think it quite punctured my current world view, revealing that human life is actually full of potential error and actual mistakes, and that it was not just me who seemed to get things continuously wrong.
It was a great piece of information to be added into my perpetual inquiry as to what it actually means to be a human being. What is it really like.
I mentioned a few months ago a book about concrete in which some anonymous patron of Rockland Public Library had scratched out all reference to dates written as BCE, and replaced them with BC. (I was surprised how many people later told me they did not know what BCE means — in some cases also they had a problem with BC.) What struck me as fascinating was the devotion with which the irritated reader had insisted on changing all these things at least through Chapter 3.
Now I am reading a novel, “New Confessions” by William Boyd, that has genuine typos in it, and yet again a reader before me has neatly fixed each one.
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Walking to the festival along the South End boardwalk, I saw how filthy the railing has become, thanks to the daily ministrations of those wretched seagulls, probably the same awful winged monsters I contend with up here in the east grain tower, day by day.
It has never been clear to me who is responsible for maintenance of the boardwalk, but the matter is of some importance because it is an otherwise pleasant and lovely place for all of us to enjoy. I suspect it is one of those administrative gray areas — the South End clock is another — that has been left to us as the confusing legacy of the perhaps too-much public generosity of MBNA, which built the boardwalk, installed the clock, did all sorts of other nice things, and promptly disappeared off the face of the earth.
The inheritors of the estate clearly had no serious desire or need to operate as generously as MBNA did, but more than likely they were sort of stuck with the obligation to keep the boardwalk open and the clock wound up. I blame nobody, but wonder what the best solution might be.
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Speaking of seagulls and their filthy habits, Albert reported to me the other day that he has once more been struck by the feathered fiends.
They used to pursue him mercilessly years ago when he worked with me at the Courier down by the festival grounds, maliciously sitting in wait for him to step outside for a cigarette. Then they would circle overhead, and make of him their target. Apparently it’s started happening again.
And remember, we still can’t shoot them.
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The view of the festival from up in these gray and fogswept towers has been intermittently wonderful. There was a transcendent moment of utter beauty Thursday evening toward dusk when the light turned suddenly yellow and thunderclouds moved in from the direction of Rockport. Every lawn in the South End that is green became intensely more green in this strange cloud-filtered sunlight, and the very air itself seemed to become briefly visible like measures of gold.
All I can think of that would make things perfect at times like that are the days when they used to launch fireworks down by the harbor, sometimes in conjunction with the Schooner Days, sometimes not.
I remember lying in the dark on the grass near Newty Chambers’ house, beside the railroad line above Sandy Beach, and watching the colored starshells hissing and exploding immediately overhead, the concussions banging through my chest and making me feel for a moment as though I were wired to the very power source that lights and moves this world of ocean-deep sorrows and towering joys.
How I love fireworks so. How I loved it when they used to set them off in the South End. If I knew the world was going to end tomorrow, I’d take all my money out of the bank and spend it on fireworks and set them all off from the west tower in the night. Everybody would be invited to watch. What a way to go.
(It wouldn’t be a very big show. I don’t have a lot of money.)
David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply whisper the word “fireworks” three times and he will appear in a puff of smoke.