Cape Ann Weather: Serious Business.

Did you know The Clam is a spinoff? Like “Frasier” or “The Colbert Report” or “Joanie Loves Chachi”, this here little humor blog and (if you know the right passwords) mayonnaise fetish hub is a spinoff from Good Morning Gloucester. It’s true. I wrote a bunch of pieces there about my bike(s) getting ripped off, some bits on politics and Gloucester in general and that’s one of the things that inspired KT and I to go ahead and do this (alcohol was another major inspiration). We’d actually met through GMG, her reacting to my bike posts when they owned the bike shop and offering to help me out. And much of our audience, especially early on, was due to folks checking it out from GMG at Joey C’s encouragement and even today we see not-insignificant traffic from there.

Basically, GMG is a huge deal. I think a lot of folks don’t get how huge. Feel free to go to any other town that isn’t a major city and find a resource like it. You will find shitty local politics blogs, an endless supply of extremely narrow special interest sites and no end of people trying to sell you things through shameful web design. Sooooo much terrible web design. But finding a place where the town is celebrated, where people participate at a high level and where the traffic is substantial enough to make the whole thing work is unheard of.

So it was weird this week to find out there was a rift between Good Morning Gloucester and the “Cape Ann Weatherman” Peter Lovasco. The related posts have all been removed but here are the basics as I saw them: Peter had been doing weather for GMG for a while and he’s pretty great at it. A lot of fun, hyper-local, crazy into it. As a nerd I always enjoy watching people who are over-the-top into a topic, especially when they don’t take themselves too seriously.

 

Gloucester's full of 'em. Thank Jebus.

Gloucester’s full of ‘em. Thank Jebus.

So, great. Local weatherguy. Then we get the weather event of the decade and the guy sort of vanishes. Weird. People were like, “Where’s weather nerd guy?”

 

ESSENTIAL POINT FOLLOWS:

Look, no one is getting paid here. The guy didn’t show up and maybe he had to work or something. I don’t know, I was disappointed but more in the way I’m bummed if my neighbor doesn’t grow flowers in her yard one year. It’s a bummer because I enjoy them, but it’s her fricking yard, It’s not like she has to. This is critical to remember because the weird sense of entitlement a lot of people seem to have when it comes to volunteer bloggers is huge. We get emails, texts, semi-freaky people stop us in the street and on the beach to us exactly how, what and when to blog about stuff. Everyone is an expert. Literally two weeks ago a dude on the beach I’d met seconds before literally told me that The Clam “Uses language that is too strong.” Oh, really? Because we play close attention to our analytics and the only thing we really can tell for sure besides the fact that we skew younger and have a nice 50/50 male/female split is you animals like it when we swear.

Back to the GMG saga, apparently it turns out the guy was covering the storm, but on his own social media and not on GMG. That is where things get strange. Joey called him out on it, made a few cracks and the weather guy got all pissed off and ragequit. Then Joey posted an apology.

 

Joey is a friend of The Clam and I think most people agree he does his best (unlike us) at being a class act. Sure he slips and he goes over a line here and there, but Good Morning Gloucester has evolved to the point where it has to serve the needs of everyone: the butterfly fans, the mommyblog readers, people who like pictures of lighthouses and folks looking for a legit local news source since the Gloucester Daily Times online became a painful vomitous mass of unorganized infosalad all behind a paywall more expensive than the Wall Street Journal’s. And he does this all for free. It’s amazing.

Here is how I want you to think about Good Morning Gloucester: Think of it like a small-city sports team. A winning softball team, maybe. No one is getting paid, but everyone on that team is still expected to perform to high standards, right? What you get is glory, a chance to drink with the trophy and to be part of a winning operation. That’s it. But you have to perform, because all of a sudden thousands of people are watching. Lord knows I’d never do it – at times KT and I can barely get a post off what with our spouses and children and jobs and dogs that need walking, and we’re IMing each other at 11:30 at night trying to figure out which of us is going to do “Top Nicknames for Cape Ann Genitals” before 5:00am (winner: “Woodman”).

So now imagine you have this semi-serious amateur softball team and one of the dudes can’t make it to the big game. If you’re the captain, you get sorta pissed off, right? And then you find out the guy was playing a pickup game in his own backyard during the playoffs? It’s disappointing.  Still, I want to make it clear that no one is getting paid here. No one is under ANY obligation.

And the online commenters who expect others to do something for love alone – and to keep doing it even when life intrudes – are insane, and are the truly entitled ones. Most are not young, by the way – the population always accused of being ‘entitled’. Most are actually fully formed adults ironically from the ‘we-had-to-do-everything-ourselves-back-in-the-day’ cadres.

download (3)

These guys.

 

 But if it’s true that the guy was under even a gentleman’s agreement to do weather for GMG and was doing weather on his own and not posting to GMG during the big storm, that’s kinda weird. Maybe it’s not true, I don’t know. We welcome corrections here at The Clam and will update this post if we’re wrong (but know that if they are ranty we delete them laughing like Joseph Stalin as he enslaved Eastern Europe).

 

The larger point is this: If you do a local thing and want exposure the math is simple: Good Morning Gloucester is the place where that exposure will be greatest hands down. Why someone would want to go off on their own with Cape Ann weather of all things (not a sweary politically and socially divisive blog) is beyond me. And to the comments that GMG has “changed” and people don’t like it anymore? Fine. Go elsewhere. We tell this to people all the time. It’s a big Internet, they’re sure to find something they do like or they can go back to the GDT and enjoy the lunatics ranting about fluoride. Have fun with that. Out here is the new reality where dedicated amateurs produce things of great value. Look it up on Wikipedia sometime.

 So I’ll miss the weatherguy, but you know, I only own no fewer than nine devices that give me a pretty accurate prediction of the local weather not including the “window” technology my house has been using for a while. It’s like the Atlantic Saltworks. Sure, it’s nice to have local salt but if it disappears tomorrow it’s not like I’m going to lose much in terms of my sodium needs.

Weather, like salt and bullshit opinions, I can pretty much get anywhere.

Winter Storm, the Aftermath: Sidewalks

Now that we have survived and dug out, feasted on the corpses of the dead and cursed the gods of the sky for setting such evil upon us, it’s time to engage in the most Gloucester of winter traditions: bitching about sidewalks.

Here’s the thing for you non-Gloucesterites we see in our analytics who must be reading this as the fulfillment of some bizarre fetish (which you really should get treatment for): In Gloucester you are required to shovel the sidewalk in front of your home or business, the logic being that if everyone does that, Viola! Clear sidewalks for all!

What could possibly go wrong?

 

Main Street, this morning

Main Street, this morning

The answer, of course, is everything! We can’t even get people in this town to not wear pajamas to their kids’ graduation ceremonies. Good luck getting them to shovel even when there is only 1/4″ of dust-like snow. Multiply that by 120 and you start to see what we’re up against here.

Let’s use numbers because we love us some bullet points!

  1. The likelihood of even an average responsible owner or tenant being capable of clearing their own sidewalk breaks down after a certain amount of snow. You see, Gloucester is more like the Old City of Jerusalem than the leafy suburbs that surround us. Houses are densely packed together, roads are narrow and sidewalks abut the curb directly. After a storm like the one we just had, the city is now asking is for people to remove literally a ton of snow in the form of a densely packed snowbank plonked directly on the sidewalk and put it… where? That’s your problem, Chester. This is a job more fit for an off-world mining crew than Joe Budsuitcase with his plastic shovel and cheap Home Depot snowblower, but whatever.

    also good for collecting the unobtanium

    also good for collecting the unobtanium

  2. Its unlikely for Joe, but it’s impossible for Edna. You see, of the 300 or so odd towns in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in terms of age Gloucester is 51st by demographics. So you have a lot of older folks living in property that is not well suited for them, logistically. All those seniors we’re checking up on during storms are now suddenly supposed to get their previously imperiled asses out there and clear it off themselves or call somebody and pay them whatever the price is to cut through the five foot snowbank and create a channel for humans to walk in.

    Hey, it's an ice Box? Get it? Of course you don't, because you are not a sad, lonely geek.

    It’s an ice Box! Get it? Of course you don’t, because you are not a sad, lonely geek.

  3. “Hey, it’s the law!” Sure, you can say that, but a lot of things are the “law” that no one pays attention to. The 55mph speed limit on route 128, for instance. Marijuana or “Longbottom Leaf” as the kids call it. Using binoculars to spy on your neighbor’s hot tub. All of these are “illegal” but still very common and generally unenforced, especially if you keep the lights off and the curtains most of the way down. And in Gloucester, who’s really going to enforce the sidewalk clearing regulations? Example: near our school in East Gloucester not everyone does their sidewalks. So there is a 1 property-length section of cleared sidewalk and that ends abruptly at the next property owner over who is in Florida or infirm or whatever. So everyone just walks in the street with the busses, parents, teachers delivery trucks, plows, that guy Kristof and his reindeer and their ice sleigh and everyone else. Someone is going to get run over. But, you know, the scofflaws are a sweet little old Italian lady and the other is a guy who lost his job so he’s working in Arizona and he’s not there for weeks at a time and… you see where this goes. Everyone with an uncleared sidewalk has a good reason why.

And the problem is this: There has to be a critical mass for people to actually get out there and clear their sidewalks for everyone to do it. And if not everyone does it and we wind up with a highly limited patchwork of short sidewalk sections, it’s no good.

So we wind up with everybody in the street, the responsible feeling frustrated and everyone else acting victimized. What do we do? I have to say I don’t know. But what I do know is what we’re doing now is not working.

In other towns that utilizing the “clear your own property” system, Madison Wisconsin for instance, they simply have a crew of dudes who shovel your sidewalk if you don’t and then add the cost to your tax bill at the end of the year. That is both a) a pretty good idea and b) likely to send the anti-tax activists into the troposphere with rage and will never happen in Gloucester in six billion years, which is approximately two billion after our yellow sun explodes, scouring our planet clean of all life, even Keith Richards.

But how else is it supposed to get done, are the cops supposed to take a break from unleashed dog patrol duty and become sidewalk monitors now too?

Also useful after Fiesta for getting rid of piles of red solo cups

Also useful after Fiesta for getting rid of piles of red solo cups

I know that in some towns they just clear the sidewalks with a machine, but I also know we’re broke and that is probably in the mid five figures per storm. But the reality remains we need the walks cleared for safety and the current system ain’t cutting it.

An important safety reminder from the Clam

Gloucester is a small town. Not in your “Midwestern” style of small town with isolated farms and a mini-mall at the crossroads but more of your European-style small town meaning “thousands of people crammed together on some geographical feature most of whom are related by blood.” And in this small town, tomorrow morning, at approximately the same time everyone in town except our most retiredest and inoxicatedest residents will all try and get on the road at once. The Clam, as a public service, would therefore like to remind you that:

  1. The streets are now even fucking narrower than they were a couple of days ago. This may mean you need to stop and let traffic by that is coming in the other direction. There was barely room for two cars on 40% of our roads, now you can fit two cars on the 128 extension, maybe.
  2. The roads are going to be slippery and full of people in some kind of semi-urgent distress because they are out of energy drinks and vaping supplies. SLOW THE EFF DOWN. Yes, you in the large black truck who thinks you can just drive around town at 45mph because that logo of Calvin pissing on the competitor truck’s logo proves you’re a TOTAL BADASS. Yes, you. Slow down. Everybody. Me too. For reasons I’m not quite sure of they seem to have not to have treated the roads at all or maybe that’s just East Gloucester. Anyone else notice this? Is that a thing now? When I was a kid they a thing called “sand” but I don’t know if they still make it.

    so, it's consensual then?

    so, it’s consensual then?

  3. Kids are stupid. I can tell you this because I was both once a kid who was stupid and have kids and though they are smart in many ways, in others they are stupid. For instance: During the storm we’re snowblowing out my neighbor. My son was on the snowbank and the truck clearing our street came by.
    basically this with a plow

    basically this with a plow

    It’s a giant military surplus crane with a plow the size of a Dutch seawall came blaring down so I yelled, “Get off the snowbank and get behind me,” so he jumps INTO THE STREET IN FRONT OF THE TRUCK rather than just take a few steps toward the house and then RUNS DIRECTLY AT THE FRONT OF THE 1976-MADE ALL-METAL SNOWBLOWER THAT COULD DICE A MUSK OX INTO CONFETTI WITHOUT BOGGING THE MOTOR DOWN. So kids are going to be running around everywhere, out of driveways and walks and all kinds of places we won’t be expecting. So slow down and pay attention. No one is getting anywhere on time tomorrow, just live with it.

  4. Sidewalks are not getting cleared. We’ll have more to say about the whole sidewalk issue tomorrow, but the reality is only a small portion of them are getting cleared at all, and very few by commute time. Which means the already narrower roads will have people in them as well. Some of those people will be drunk. Can you blame them?

    pictured: you

    pictured: you

Anyway, stay safe out there. Only a few more storms like this to go!

Winter Storm Juno? How about Winter Storm “Your Mom”?

I, for one, am sick and tired of stupid gimmicky winter storm names. They’re not hurricanes, Weather Channel. Just stop. So instead of referring to this storm as “Winter Storm Juno” (does it come with a teenage pregnancy and Michael Cera?), The Gloucester Clam declares this winter storm to be named “Your Mom.” That way we can say things like:

Your mom at the MBTA station, midnight.

Your Mom at the MBTA station at midnight last night.

– Your Mom is sucking up moisture off the coast of New Jersey

– Your Mom is full of powerful winds. She’s blowing a solid 30 knots.

– The overtime necessary to plow out after Your Mom may push the city budget into the red.

– Your Mom makes me want to just stay in bed all day.

– Your Mom was so powerful they shut the schools a day in advance.

– Your Mom has been blowing all day, and looks like this may continue into a second night.

– No one in town escaped a good dumping from Your Mom!

– Your Mom is going to responsible for a lot of blackouts and probably a couple of deaths.

– A 75 year old man died of a heart attack right in the middle of Your Mom.

–  I threw out my back plowing Your Mom this morning.

– If it weren’t for Your Mom, I’d have had a productive day.

–  Your Mom is going to keep the entire DPW busy for a week.

– I’m hoping that Your Mom somehow sputters out and only gives us a few inches.

– I think the back end of Your Mom is going to hit us the hardest.

–  I’ll probably be up to my waist in Your Mom, in fact.

– Your Mom is hardest on the elderly and the disabled

– My husband’s beard will be dripping wet by the time he’s done shoveling out Your Mom.

– Your Mom is so massive she can only be seen in her entirety from a satellite.

– ACE ran out of plywood in advance of Your Mom pounding the coast.

– Please seek shelter from Your Mom in the nearest designated municipal disaster shelter.

– I’m really concerned that Your Mom is going to kill my fish.

- The liquor store was packed with people getting ready for Your Mom.

–  They are predicting major beach erosion from Your Mom’s flooding.

– I really worry when they send Al Roker to report live from inside Your Mom. He’s going to drown someday.

– The excessive cold of Your Mom could deflate the Patriots’ balls.

– I, for one, will be tackling Your Mom wearing rubber boots and gloves.

- The supermarket was out of bananas, all because of Your Mom.