What's the big deal about McLean Manse?
As many activists know, I am the founder of Sophisticuffs, a Camden public relations firm specializing in aggressively serving clients wanting to make their worse cause appear the better one in the public eye.
Some of you may recall that, five years ago, while under contract to Boston-based Cream Pie World, Sophisticuffs drove the Vegan Villa restaurant chain out of Massachusetts by running TV ads featuring filling-smeared and grinning sumo wrestlers dancing the macarena. Only the Harvard Square unit held on.
Given that track record, it is not surprising that, a couple of days ago, while foolishly looking for redeemable containers along Camden's Bay View Street, I would be accosted by two vacationing activists wearing GAIN MCLEAN tee-shirts. They demanded to know why Sophisticuffs is not promoting the altruistic vision of the ironically unseen Fox Hill Real Estate investors, who seek a thumbs-up from Camden's Planning Board in order to bring a for-profit "alcohol-and-other-stuff" rehab spa, run by Boston's McLean Hospital, to a hilltop mansion on zoned-residential Bay View Street. This incredible act of human kindness, if permitted, would come at unspeakable personal financial sacrifice for the investors and the Hospital, at least until the first patients check(book) in. I answered the two activists with uncharacteristic honesty:
"Because I wasn't invited to do so."
That afternoon, my having to admit that I was being ignored by the Fox Hill Real Estate investors mortified me to the point that I determined to show them what they are missing by dissing me. Here, then, for them and for you, are just three examples of how "The Sophisticuffs Touch" could make the mean-spirited opponents of the rehab spa — let's call it McLean Manse — feel so ashamed of themselves that, before leaving town, they would petition the Planning Board to concede and adjourn:
1. WHEN THE OPPONENTS GRIPE: Narrow and super-serpentine Bay View Street cannot safely handle the significant increase in vehicle traffic that would be hustling to and from McLean Manse day and night.
SOPHISTICUFFS SOOTHES: Knowing that nothing ever gets done without a view, the investors recently met for an ordered-in breakfast at Northport's Point Lookout, where they spent the entire morning designing a plan that would calm the traffic concerns of their opponents.
Just before a catered brown-bag lunch, the investors agreed to a site-inspired plan that will position one agile, orange-uniformed, and helmeted Human Cone (HC) at the midpoint of each Bay View Street curve. Each HC, when spotting foot traffic, with or without accompanying paw traffic, coming into his or her curve, will vigorously POINT toward the reckless group and scream "'LOOK OUT!" should one or more tire-screeching vehicles be approaching out of sight around the next curve. The HC will then dive into the roadside landscaping, avoiding at all costs a collision with the stone wall behind the shrubbery.. [NOTE: Subsequent field tests of this system indicate that it would work even when the nightly dinner-delivery van is careening around all Bay View Street curves in order to ensure that the gourmet dinners on the back seat would arrive hot, if sometimes unintentionally casseroled, at McLean Manse.] So what's the big deal?
2. WHEN THE OPPONENTS GRIPE: The French proverb, "A fine cage won't feed the bird," comes to mind when we wonder why the Fox Hill Real Estate investors and the McLean Hospital medical staff seem so certain that the treatment of addictions suffered by wealthy men and women has its only chance of succeeding if provided in regal surroundings such as the McLean Manse. Can that be true? Has there ever been a control-group study by which to determine if addicted persons of means can or cannot be helped just as well in, say, a pueblo?
If not, why not?
SOPHISTICUFFS SOOTHES: The Italians also have a cage proverb. One of its English translations says that "A bird in the cage is worth a hundred at large." But that is a flawed version. The proverb actually states that the caged bird is worth "a hundred large," or, in our slang vernacular, $100,000. This is the meaning the Fox Hill Real Estate investors and McLean Hospital have in mind when tossing around ideas on monthly pricing for each Manse patient. I suggest that opponents go online and google "The Higher the Hill, The Bigger the Bill," a ten-year peer-reviewed study in The Medical Money Monthly. So what's the big deal? [NOTE: Space prohibits me from responding here to the question as to whether or not any study of the sort mentioned has ever been undertaken, but my research so far suggests that the answer to that is doctor-patient confidential.]
3. WHEN THE OPPONENTS GRIPE: The negative NIMBY [NOT-IN-MY- BACKYARD] acronym, which proponents chant rhythmically whenever we speak out against McLean Manse, is obsolete. We now associate ourselves with a more positive acronym, QUIMBY [QUIETLY-UNWIND-IN-MAINE'S-BIGGEST-YARD]. This acronym honors Roxanne Quimby, who owns Maine's biggest yard, thousands of North Woods acres east of Baxter State Park, a perfect site for a truly peaceful, relaxing rehabilitation campus with easy access to the five-star cuisine of Millinocket. Any interest? One of the Fox Hill Real Estate investors, when gushing in a multi-newspaper column that the "Treatment Center" and Fox Hill are made for each other, quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson's comment that "The sky is the daily bread of the eyes," as if there were sky, white, whole wheat, rye, raisin, nowhere else but over Camden and Rockport. Maybe a realization that the sky is a universal phenomenon can turn the eyes even of upper-crust investors toward alternative, more appropriate, perhaps pine-treed and moosed, sites for their spa than a zoned-residential neighborhood in Camden. In other words, QUIMBY: We're thinking positive.
SOPHISTICUFFS SOOTHES: It's great fun to fiddle around with invented read-outs for cutesy-poo letter arrangements. But the fun-with-language prize should clearly go to the Fox Hill Real Estate investor who quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson. Consider this: "Waldo," when spelled backwards, is "ODLAW" or, phonetically, "ODD LAW." And that, let's be reminded, is precisely what the investors are trying to tell the Camden Planning Board about the zoning ordinance presently in place. As for the North Woods, leave them to fans of Thoreau, who spent much more time roughing it in Maine than did his friend Emerson, who preferred to stay at home in Concord checking his investment portfolio. You can look it up. So what's the big deal?
Charles Packard is a Camden resident.