Cobb Manor

Camden, Maine, USA

Dear Select Persons,

After a careful examination of the corpse, I think it’s safe to declare that the Simple Truth is what killed the tannery studio deal. It didn’t take much, but once it took hold, “Sundance East” was doomed. I know some of you are saddened by its demise, so it’ll do us all a world of good to get it out in the open and talk about it, because sunlight is the best disinfectant for smelly things.

First, I’m happy to report there’s nothing to mourn. Indeed, there’s much to celebrate. The property’s back in play.

The idea’s still solid. Of course, the purchase and sale agreement is an absolute colander of a contract — a fact we learned almost too late, but it is easily fixable by stuffing the holes with a few more billable hours.

Now, I hate to say it, but somebody must: The bald fact is, you got had. Badly had, and had badly both. It’s true. You were bedazzled by some slick-talking strangers who showed up sporting nothing but a good rap and cool pictures of film studios that sorta, kinda looked like what they were gonna maybe build, when they weren’t busy shooting a quarter-billion dollar’s worth of movies hereabouts — even though they had no money of their own and had never, ever, ever done anything remotely like it before and oh by the way, they wanted taxpayer-guaranteed loans up front to kick-start their boondoggle.

That the whole deal absolutely reeked of incredulity was simply, even willfully ignored. Was it the stardust in your eyes that had you picking up the tab for these people? Did the town actually pay for the meals they sat over while they plotted the best way to screw us out of the tannery property?

You do realize that it was always about the land and only the land, don’t you?

In a wonderfully authentic American moment, it was left up to a tiny fire brigade of people who knew what they were talking about to rouse themselves from the peace of their lives and pull the town’s acorns from the fire and then pee on it before it got going and burned for the next half-decade.

No brag. Just fact.

Unfortunately, on their way out the door, these same people who were D’Turman’d cried foul and called us mean-spirited and worse. Racist and anti-Semitic worse.

(The anti-Semitic accusation was particularly unexpected, mostly because the majority of my comrades in the Resistance are Jewish. Of course, I’m not. But my father’s a rabbi, if that counts.)

I’ll tell you what else we didn’t expect: The town manager and her  development director – arguably the two most responsible for separating reality from fantasy in the furtherance of this particular town affair, and who thus bear the weight of its disaster – turned against their own townsfolk, by publicly agreeing with the false and defamatory accusations made by the very same strangers who so easily duped them both in the first place.

Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice, welcome to the Camden Town Office! Want some free land?

Anyway, enough about that. Nobody’s bleeding. No big deal. Nothing more to see. Let’s move along and have a great summer!


Big Pete

P.S. Now that the vote’s been canceled, spend that $1,500 we saved the town wisely. Medicine for seniors, or food for the hungry or something useful. No more lobster dinners for con-artists, okay?






Riddle me this:

Who was it exactly that authorized these faux-film studio people to visit the high school on the day of the Select Board’s meeting at the Opera House? Who led and/or accompanied the tour? And for what purpose? What educational value did it provide? Cui bono?

Forgive me, but the high school serves the students of five towns, not just Camden. Was any parent notified that time better spent learning was instead wasted on folks whose only apparent reason for being there was to bask in the glow of the starstruck and to pitch their line of BS to teenagers?

Or, were they there precisely to troll for votes? Was it suggested to the kids to make sure their parents knew what a swell deal their proposal was? If so, it’s a pretty insidious way of doing business.

Equally troubling: If I’m from Hope for example, I’d want to know why my kid’s being forced to listen to a load of manure that affects Camden and only Camden. And then I’d wonder if every half-baked idea that pops up in a sweaty little mind rates a tour of the high school.

Will someone stand tall, show some leadership and answer for this one? Stay tuned.




I’m not much for community activism. Never have been. I’ve got a bushel of hippie friends who swear by it, but I enjoy the background. Like many large, elderly mammals I prefer to graze in solitude.

In the final analysis and in all honesty, it was Anger that brought me out on this. These folks came to town pretending to be big deals in the movie business. Of course they weren’t, it was just their front, and I simply couldn’t abide the thought of someone demeaning my profession right in front of me. I was hardly alone in my thinking, as they found out to their dismay.

The piece of land they coveted was always intended to provide employment for a couple of dozen people in a safe and healthy environment as much to bring the poor thing’s karma back to the starting line as anything else. At least that’s the way I see it.

It was never, ever contemplated as first prize in a jive contest.

We did the right thing chasing these folks out of town. I’m heartened by my involvement. Deep down, I feel like a damn hippie.


Pete McDonald lives in Camden.