Utterly pointless gesture

By David Grima | Mar 15, 2014

There was a commotion among the seagulls in the South End the other night. Not sure what it was all about, but one doesn’t often hear gulls carrying on after nightfall and this was around 9 p.m. or later. In the morning I expected to see some spectacular thing that would explain it, like the remains of a large whale washed ashore that was particularly attractive to the hungry birds, or perhaps the construction overnight of a large hotel in the neighborhood. But there was nothing I could see.

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The proposal to allow a beer and wine-tasting tent at the Lobster Festival touched a nerve among readers of the dear old paper, recently. I think that for some people the very idea of booze at the fest raises a spectral terror that features hoards of roaring drunken leather-clad Vikings running amok and terrorizing mothers, children and horses.

This might be the result of memories of the festival back in the '70s when it was reputed to be somewhat dodgy, when the carnival was said to resemble something slightly seedy, as though it had come out of a creepy novel by Ray Bradbury.

Currently the boozers closest to the festival grounds are kept off public property, by a fenced-in cage at the Time Out Pub and by some more mysterious restraints at the Pearl. The idea of letting booze into the festival itself, even in the genteel form of a wine-tasting tent, seems to have rattled some people.

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Spring must be approaching, or at least winter must be losing its grip, if the gospel banners are back at the famous corner of Park and Main on Saturday afternoons. The extensively rotten weather this winter has obviously brought out an Apocalyptic response in many of us who are its victims, making all that talk of global warming seem like a facetious taunt. And yet it continues.

There was apparently some sort of press conference in the state on Monday, aimed at emphasizing the effects of increasingly warmer winters on the Maine tourism industry, particularly on people who make a living off people who ski. I read about it online in something called (without the least awareness of irony) The Portland Daily Sun.

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Let me join my meaningless voice with those who are upset about the condition of Old County Road. It resembles an artillery practice range, with craters and slabs of missing road surface making for a very bad ride indeed. Recently someone seems to have tried to fill in the holes in certain places, but this hardly puts a dent in the problem. Yes, that was a silly pun, but what are you going to do about it?

Last year a number of repairs were made to the roads within the city, and so I lost one of my main subjects. But Old County Road seems to be making up for it, along with some other atrocious neighborhood streets which also seem to have been visited by unfriendly powers. I hear that the state is supposed to be responsible for Old County Road, and that the state complains it hasn’t any money to do anything. Maybe we could use the same argument in connection with our taxes? Yes, we are supposed to pay them, but we don’t have any money so please drop the subject.

Anyway, I suggest we carry out some symbolic and utterly pointless gesture of civic contempt, like renaming Old County Road. Perhaps we should call it Very Old County Road.

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There is a house on Linden Street which has a flag hanging on one exterior wall in the manner made popular by Martha Stewart and Andrew Wyeth. Generally I like to see the flag out, as it is quite cheerful. But I have finally figured what bothers me so much about this one. It is hanging the wrong way. By common consent, the blue field with stars is supposed to be at the top left corner, whether the flag hangs vertically or horizontally. This I remember from my previous life in the Cub Scouts.

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The artist Louise Nevelson (Sept. 23, 1899-April 17, 1988) painted a picture of Old County Road back in the 1930s, I think it was. The Farnsworth has used a reproduction of this painting in its Main Street window from time to time. But there is another fact about Nevelson that I have not seen mention of, despite the pressing news from overseas.

We used to have a joke in the newspaper when I was more or less properly employed there, that the way to localize a big national or international story was to find some tiny connection, any connection at all, and inflate it for all it was worth. For example, “Man Arrested In Poisoning Of Mexican King Once Traveled In Airliner Far Above Rockland,” or something like that. So here is my latest take on that dubious practice.

Although Nevelson grew up on Linden Street and played basketball for Rockland High School, she was born in Kiev Province in Central Ukraine. How about that for a local angle?

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at davidgrima@ymail.com.

Comments (1)
Posted by: David Troup | Mar 18, 2014 16:59

Actually, the Farnsworth not only has used a reproduction of the Louise Nevelson painting in its window from time to time, but has shown the actual painting quite often— such as from May 2013 through February 2014.

Just thought I'd mention it.

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