For an extra dollar a night
I have been asked by several people what I think about the proposed hotel at Pleasant and Main, the mighty Eastern Gateway to the South End.
All I have to go by are the pictures printed in the Courier recently, especially the ones that superimpose images of the building upon real photos to show what it will look like from different directions. All I can say is the two ends of the hotel look a bit weird in the photos. The building looks as though it has had both ends cut off with an axe, and a few windows randomly stuck on. This creates a mostly blank-wall effect visible from further up Pleasant Street and from Main Street opposite the public landing. And to be honest it’s not really a nice effect. Nothing seems to have been done to blend these cut-offs into the general look of the neighborhood, and at this early stage I can’t understand why not. It should be easy enough. I have no objection to the building itself, for what my opinion is worth. Only these amputated ends make me feel unhappy about the overall effect.
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By the way, the initiative shown by Messrs. Smith and Lyman in their plans for two hotels in the South End inspires me to announce my own plans for the concrete towers where I dwell at the foot of Mechanic Street. According to drawings which I refuse to submit to city hall, I will remove the north tower and have it set on top of the east tower, thereby creating the tallest building in town and possibly even rivaling the giant construction we all know and love at Dragon Cement in Thomaston. I will nail 165 large wooden shipping crates inside the double-tall structure, each one to be used as a low-cost hotel room to cater for the inevitable overspill from the other two places. Behind the super-tower there will be space beside the old wharf for whales and porpoises to beach themselves occasionally to conduct conversations with my guests; the Four Seagulls of the Apocalypse will be taken on as desk clerks; helicopters can land on the roof for an extra dollar a night; and in the event the whole thing falls to the ground all room rents will be refunded. I don’t think either property developer mentioned above should consider me serious competition, of course. If proof of my inefficiency is needed, then let it be known far and wide that I have hired Fabulous Bob to manage the place, with my dear friend Naptime O’Meara of the Bangor Terrible News as chief housekeeper. It shouldn’t take long for them to wreck everything.
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In a letter to the editor printed last week I was described as a secular progressive, and was asked rhetorically what sort of God such a misbegotten creature might pray to. I am not entirely clear what a secular progressive is, although it sounds straightforward enough at first hearing. The writer is apparently unaware that all I am is a quite ordinary Episcopalian who belongs to dear old St. Bildad’s by the Sea. Or maybe she thinks all the people who go to St. Bildad’s are secular progressives? Hardly so! One of the things life at St. B’s has impressed upon me is that I must try to live and work alongside all sorts of God’s creatures, a few secular progressives scattered among them I suppose, but also traditional conservatives.
The problem with certain kinds of religious people is that if you are not their particular kind then they are likely to insist you are no kind at all, as though they own some sort of official rubber stamp which they intend to deny you the use of. We prefer not to do this, not through any lofty sense of being above the fray but because we genuinely do not like to do it. And by the way, it used to be considered polite not to inquire too much into a gentleman’s religion, or to make assertions on the subject of his philosophy, and if truth be told I think newspaper pages are not the most suitable venue to carry out the kind of exchange which will satisfy all parties on the question. Oh well, not to worry too much. All the old rules are being picked apart these days, abandoned in unraveled heaps beside the roads where the wind blows them down to the shore.
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I suppose I am not that much offended by the letter, really. Just making a bit of a fuss, I suppose, because someone actually paid attention. Perhaps I should even be flattered and admit it. I think I got two letters in the paper and two things of a less formal nature posted online, and in the good old days when I was a real newspaperman this would have been described as an overwhelming response from our readers.
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The tulips at my ruined old property on Linden Street are usually up and in full flower by Mother's Day, but not this year, not quite. There was one solid red bloom in the morning when I looked, and two other timid yellow specimens by late afternoon. Nevertheless I was able to get in touch with mother, and she said to say hello to you all.
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On Saturday a couple of weeks ago I met a shivering skinny German who said he was on his way to a luau on Rankin Street. He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt, a pair of faded shorts, and a peculiar hat. I hope he made it to the party without freezing to death.
David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.