So the kids don’t have to eat whale

By David Grima | Aug 15, 2019

I recently mentioned that the Japanese have resumed their dreadful practice of whaling after a long spell of self-restraint. Here is a note on the subject received from a former newspaper editor in California, Douglas Clark:

“My brother in New England was recently in Maine, bought a copy of the Courier-Gazette, and since he knows I used to work as a newspaper editor, he mailed it to me here in California.

“Regarding Japan and whaling, after I left my last newspaper job (Imperial Valley Press, El Centro, Calif.) I worked in Japan teaching English in Fukushima prefecture. I had a great time and have continued to work with Japanese and return to Japan each year to visit.

“Japanese are not of one mind on whaling. The current Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, is a nationalist and defender of old-fashioned values. I don’t know anyone that eats whale meat, I've never had it, and even at the schools where it's served for lunch, mothers often pack their kids a bento lunch so the kids don’t have to eat whale.”

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Speaking of things from the seas, a reader from Spruce Head made the following comment on last week’s report of jellyfish at Birch Point State park in Owls Head:

“David, those lion's manes have been washing onto our shores for a few weeks. I came over to the Apprenticeshop floats (in Rockland) for a sailing demo on July 19. There were a whole lotta lion's manes washing into the beach there, accompanied by moon jellies; they all looked alive enough to me, and the lion's manes will sting even when they're dead. They're not on a par with the Portuguese man o' wars we encountered in Bermuda (their tentacles are 10 to 12 feet long and sting horribly), but they're nothing to fool with, even at Lucia Beach.”

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Again, concerning the sea, I read that NOAA has reported that the Atlantic mackerel is now officially classed as “over-fished” for the first time, which I suppose will likely have an effect on those people who love to try for mackerel off Rockland Breakwater and in other spots.

A couple of weeks ago I took a Saturday evening walk along the breakwater, and saw many people with lines off the east side looking for these same silver and blue fishies, but only one seemed to have caught anything. A boy of about 11 was taking two mackerel back with him, while many others waiting patiently as the tide rose had nothing to show for their efforts.

According to my scribbled notes, NOAA says commercial landings of mackerel were at 125 million pounds in 2006 and at 11 million pounds in 2011. The recreational catch in 2016 was 3 million pounds, most being caught in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. These numbers are a little piecemeal, but they suggest there is a story.

* * * * *

Back at the shore again, I experienced the nuisance of small flies with a vicious bite at Crockett's Beach in Owls Head, Aug. 5. Why can’t the Japanese satisfy their nationalistic needs by catching these monsters instead of whales?

* * * * *

Speaking of measuring things, I was at a loose end in the office last week, and decided (heaven knows why) to see if the three wooden rulers in my desk agree with each other on how long is long.

All three agreed on how long 12 inches are; none could agree on how far 30 centimeters stretch. Pretty shoddy workmanship, I should say, and no wonder we have failed to go metric, but again a triumph for investigative journalism!

* * * * *

In plain view of the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live, the U.S. flag at the masthead of a permanently beached sailing vessel exhibit at Jim Sharpe’s museum is in absolute tatters.

The strips of red and white fabric representing the original 13 colonies have begun to come apart, and the whole thing seems unsightly. Can anything be done about this? Or is it a comment on the current state of the Union?

* * * * *

The radio mentioned that fears are growing about the possibility of a worldwide economic recession, due in great part to my dear friend Lord Prez Trumpleton’s current trade war with China. That’s about the last thing we need.

But, as gas prices are temporarily down, the war hawks will no doubt feel vindicated.

We have already learned that Trumpleton refuses to assist Maine wild blueberry growers, whose sales to the Chinese have suffered heavily in his war, even though he has thrown billions of dollars at Midwest soy farmers, etc., who have likewise lost heavily.

When I spoke about this to the Lord Prez over coffee after church on Sunday, he said that, compared to the Midwest, Maine votes really don’t count for anything in a presidential election, and suggested the solution to our blueberry crisis is for us all to go to Union Fair, which starts later this week, and buy up all the blueberry pies we can carry.

I begged his pardon, but suggested this is less than likely to help. He said nothing, but stirred more sugar into his coffee while appearing to be deeply interested in an item about Bible study printed in the weekly church bulletin.

I took the hint.

* * * * *

The last time a world recession hit was in 2008, when I was unkindly cast out from my life as a newspaper editor, and at the height of it all the unemployment rate in Knox County reached 10 percent. Droves of people in Rockland and beyond were in shock over having lost jobs they’d held for absolutely ages and thought they’d never lose. It was all rather horrible.

We’d all better pray this does not happen again.

* * * * *

Speaking of delights in Union, several of us went up to Savage Oakes Winery on Barrett Hill Road last Friday after work, to watch a first-class concert by Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot. Setzer had his first hits about 40 years ago, but seems to have lost none of his abilities.

A gentleman fan sitting next to me said he had driven up from distant Rhode Island that very day, just to catch the show. Such long-distance devotion!

It was a fine evening under the night sky, but all week since I have been worrying that I might slip up and call the band leader Brian Seltzer. I think I have mostly avoided that error. Well done me!

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After loafing about in the city library the other day, I am inclined to ask why it is that books of fiction frequently state in plain letters on the cover that they are “a novel.” Is it because we live in a world where fact and fiction are now so easily blended, and so hard to tell apart?

I am waiting for my first sighting of a nonfiction book cover that says “not a novel.”

Comments (2)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Aug 16, 2019 12:07

Kudos David! You hit one out of the ball park this time!

Mary "Mickey" (Brown) McKeever..... +:0)



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Aug 15, 2019 14:52

Please, David, say, "Hello", to Prez Templeton for those of us on the mid-coast unable to attend his Manchester fest this evening.  Since he is planning another eight years in the White House there will be plenty of opportunity; unless he ends up like his buddy Upstein.



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