The men in black

By David Grima | Sep 06, 2018

I hear that a “Black Lives Matter” sign was stolen from a Talbot Avenue residence on Saturday.

If the good people of Rockland can tolerate the occasional Confederate flag flying on private property, including at least one that is adorned with the image of a middle finger, then we can certainly tolerate the presence of other kinds of signs, too.

And let’s not forget, there is a word for this sort of thing: theft.

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Last week I mentioned some of the numbers of people being drawn to downtown Rockland’s art museums and live-music venues, but I did not have numbers for those attending films and the performing arts at the dear old Strand theater.

Here is some information, as supplied to me by what we in the mysterious world of newspapers call a source:

“On the topic of superb attendance for local arts nonprofits and musical venues, I would be remiss not to point out that the Strand regularly sees daily audiences that number over 100 paying patrons -- even for British films -- and usually hit their fire code capacity of 350 bods when hosting a live concert, of which there are about 15 a year…”

I understand the Strand is open all but two days a year, namely Christmas and Thanksgiving.

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Speaking of meat, I have been advised that someone in New York City a few years ago created a likeness of the presidential monument at Mount Rushmore entirely out of jerky. No doubt the astute reader in question was compelled to mention this to me after reading a recent item about a woman selling teddy bears made of raw chicken, stitched together in a manner similar to Frankenstein’s monster.

Meat Rushmore was apparently fabricated with 1,600 pounds of jerky and stood 13 feet high.

This should be quite enough information about that.

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With Labor Day only just behind us, I am reminded of a public radio report from last week that many farmers in Maine are having a hard time getting their crops harvested, because of a chronic lack of farm laborers in the state.

It has been simply decades since the Courier covered farming as an important local industry, or had space for the voices of the farming community in the form of Grange news, etc. But it doesn’t mean we don’t care.

Several farms in our part of the Midcoast have regularly employed legal foreign labor for years, in order to make sure operations are carried out effectively. The usual response to the obvious question is that you can’t get locals interested in the farming life.

With all of the hard work, and the seasonality of the farming year, it can be very difficult sustaining what was once a common way of life here in Maine. The Pine Tree state was never a great farming place to begin with, given our rocky land and the hardscrabble way of life built upon it. Many farmers headed west in the 19th century when things got too difficult here.

All the same, there is a farmer on our state flag, although I haven’t seen him working very hard lately, the poor chap.

Up to date in the early 21st century, the news is that not only Maine farms are suffering from a shortage of labor, but so are many other occupations.

A well-situated restaurant in Thomaston did not open this year, and the anecdotal reason is that there were not enough workers to keep it open. Likewise, I read last week that the cafe at the Maine Coast Bookstore/Sherman’s in Damariscotta just closed for lack of help.

I believe the people who took over the old Brown Bag space in the Rankin Block have also come up against the general labor shortage, and are to curtail operations there. In Belfast, a place said to lie somewhere east of here, there is said to exist a restaurant that did not open in the past year or two. And so on and so on.

And with Maine already listed as the state with the oldest population in the U.S., with more deaths here each year than births, I long ago gave up hope of hiring someone to help me keep things shipshape up here in the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live.

Really, I have no idea why my dear friend, Lord Prez Trumpleton, wants to keep all those foreigners out. Let ‘em in and give ‘em jobs, I told him. It might just save us from catastrophic economic collapse.

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Those of us fascinated by the life of the past will remember that the Second World War began 79 years ago this week, and that the fighting in the Great War ended 100 years ago this coming November.

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I doubt I will warm many hearts with the following, but it is hard to ignore the growing crisis among the ordained princes of the Roman Catholic church, as they react in a criminally inept manner to the abuse by generations of parish priests, a systematic horror that still is not resolved, but which continues to reveal its victims.

Lord Acton (1834-1902) was a British Catholic and politician who got away with writing the following comment on the sins associated with people who hold great power, either in the state or the church. Many of us think this opinion has never been better expressed.

“I cannot accept your [rule] that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favorable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you super-add the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.”

The line from this letter that is most often quoted, of course, is: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And the Roman Catholic church is organized as an Absolute Monarchy.

And there is no question about the absolute power the men in black have exercised over children in the church for ages almost unmeasurable to us now, even persuading Catholic parents to trust them with their children’s very bodies. All lives matter.

The terrible truth about these crimes is that the memory and the suffering they cause have bled from the past into the present day, and the stain cannot be washed away. Rather in the way The Great Poe wrote about a murderer who could detect his victim’s heart sill beating in his grave; or the way Macbeth saw Banquo, a friend whose murder Macbeth had just accomplished, sitting at his dinner table, sins of this kind haunt those who have never confessed them.

It has been 500 years since the Reformation began. Possibly it is now time for another.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Robin Gabe | Sep 06, 2018 16:55

A bust of our Dear Leader fabricated of jerky would seem highly appropriate...

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Sep 06, 2018 15:00

A new Reformation could not come at a more opportune time for all of us. Had minor surgery at PBMC and shared with the nurse wheeling me out how grateful I was for the excellent treatment received. She said how refreshing it was to hear something positive instead of a complaint.  Only takes a moment to pass on a word of appreciation and might make someone's day just a little brighter. Thanks, David for always passing on that glimmer of HOPE. Things can get better and it begins with us. :)

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