The shootings are not senseless

Every time there is a mass shooting (which on average is every sixty four days) one of the key words we hear describing the tragedy is “senseless.” This would suggest the action was without meaning or purpose.

I hate to tell you this, but nothing could be further from the case.

The most recent attacker, Christopher Harper-Mercer, follows the strict pattern of highly-aggrieved men trapped in a cultural paradox from which they cannot escape. His and the other attacks like it, congruent down to sporting military-style clothing, are an attempt to call “society” to task for leaving them behind. To these men, who perceive they are not receiving the level of respect to which they feel deeply entitled, it’s nothing less than a revolution. When you read their posts online they discuss previous attackers like the Dylan Klebold of the Columbine massacre and James Holmes of the Aurora theatre shooting and now Harper-Mercer as a martyr, a hero and most disturbingly, a “warrior” for the cause.

These young men, when you read their writings (and they write a lot), are trapped in ideologies insisting on a natural order where the strong dominate the weak.  Overwhelmingly their stunning number of journals, manifestos and posts show them to be captivated by thinkers and leaders like Nietzsche, Rand and Hitler. Ironically, these typically introverted outsiders fully buy-in to the idea that there should be a ruling class over the “undeserving” in society. Yet, in each case they have come to realize through a pattern of personal setbacks and failures they themselves are not exactly the Übermenschen ole Friedrich described in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Additionally, they all suffer from acute paranoia, developing a blind rage at those whom they feel have unfairly usurped the power that is rightfully theirs.

Usually I would make a mustache joke here but fuck it, this whole topic is too depressing.

Usually I would make a mustache joke here but fuck it, this whole topic is too depressing.

The shooting is simply a release of this cognitive dissonance. It fills the strong need to demonstrate in the context of their ideology they are not the losers, the “others” are. Dr. Donald Dutton and a trio of psychologists from the University of Vancouver went and read everything the assembled killers had written to date in 2013 and uncovered this pattern.

“They become and remain fixated and obsessed with rejection by what they see as an elite in-group, whom they see as having unfairly achieved success,” Dutton and his colleagues write in a compelling paper just published in the journal Aggression and Violent Behavior. “Instead of transcending the rejection, they formulate plans to annihilate the transgressors, which they justify as vengeance for the transgressions made against them.”

Ok, so that’s the individual motivation. But now it gets worse, thanks to the Internet with its dark corners like 4chan, these desperate outsiders have begun link up. They have developed an increasingly organized doctrine that blends white supremacist beliefs with garden-variety nihilism, the so-called “mens’ rights movement” pick-up culture, and others to form an ideological toxic sludge of byproducts from Western Civilization. And thanks to the NRA they can arm themselves for considerably less effort than it takes to adopt a cat from the animal shelter.

So, quick quiz: What do you call a group willing to kill innocents and die themselves for an ideology centred around striking back at what they are convinced is an irredeemably oppressive regime? Hint: it rhymes with “Leher-cyst”

The mass shooting epidemic is, in actuality, best described as a nascent domestic terrorist movement which like many others uses mass-casualty suicide attacks as their primary weapon. We will continue to see it develop and organize if social conditions continue as they have, isolating growing numbers of volatile young from the benefits of our society. The shooters are the tip of the iceberg, once you start poking around online you find a massive bulk of rage under the surface.

We refuse to admit this glaringly obvious fact at our peril. Yes, their ideology is hateful and stupid. But like most uprisings it centers in legitimate grievance, metastasized into it’s own mass of lizard-brain hatreds. Young men don’t regularly kill large numbers of innocent members of their own society in a healthy culture, that is a simple fact.

Think I’m wrong about this? Look at Saudi Arabia, which spawned Al Queda. Unlike what many of my liberal brethren believe, the 9/11 attackers who took down the World Trade Center, attacked the Pentagon and crashed flight 93 into a field in Pennsylvania were not indigent Muslims fighting back against the economic oppression of the West. They were, in actuality, disaffected middle-class young men who found themselves increasingly incapable in their home country of meaningful attainment in the highly stratified power and wealth structure imposed by the House of Saud and supported by its global superpower partner the United States. These men were seduced into giving their lives to murder Americans by terrorist recruiters who prey on finding such personalities and providing their perceptually meaningless lives with a grand purpose.

In 2007 American forces raided a suicide-bomber training camp in Iraq. Interviews with those captured conducted to discover the motivations for suicide attacks it was discovered over half of the recruits had come from a Libyan town called Darna. Here is what researchers found:

The reason why so many of Darnah’s young men had gone to Iraq for suicide missions was not the global jihadi ideology, but an explosive mix of desperation, pride, anger, sense of powerlessness, local tradition of resistance and religious fervor.

This is the exact same set of motivations, minus the organized religious component, we find in most mass shooters here. The researchers also found the attacks were typically organized and carried out from the bottom up, not as top-down attacks directed from an overseeing power. Again, just like here.

Suicide bombers also give long, rambling speeches posted on the web.

Before their attacks, suicide bombers also post long, rambling speeches on the web.

So why is this happening in the United States? For similar reasons it happens anywhere else in the world. These young men feel humiliated and powerless. They find themselves incapable of achieving the status they perceive necessary to secure what they want most, typically access to sexual partners (and let’s not forget that suicide attackers in the Islamic tradition are awarded 72 virgins in paradise). They then attack the people who they think are responsible for their standing, typically at a school or a workplace where their daily perceived humiliations are carried out.

Is this so hard to understand? Just like in other countries where there is extreme change and social tension, the formerly empowered group being pushed “out” is fighting back with violence. We continue to perceive these mass shootings to be individual, isolated incidents. They are not. They are like car bombings and transit attacks overseas, individual incidents but linked to a greater struggle.

“Humiliation” is the word you see again and again. That’s the engine driving this, the never-ending loss of face of volatile young men.

Today a growing segment of young adult males will not achieve the material and social success necessary to be attractive mates and form households. By way of comparison, a generation ago in his mid-20s my father had a house, a wife, two kids and a stable job things I was unable to achieve until my ’30s (he would go on to fuck all this up later, but that’s another story). Today Increased economic opportunity and higher educational attainment for women has removed the economic need to be tied down to undesirable dudes. This is a good thing for almost everyone. But for those on the outside, however, it turns social awkwardness and the tail end of the achievement bell curve into a prison planet of isolation. And that generates rage.

If a disaffected young man does not find an identity in some positive group or activity where he can demonstrate a level of mastery, he will find his answers late at night on a message board where an anonymous poster will explain the problem is not him, but instead is women or blacks or Jews or ‘sheeple’ or some other shared lunacy which in the group-reinforcement model that describes closed circles of thought will eat his mind.

And there will be guns around to level the score. Militarized, menacing, assault weapons optimized for mass output. A ticket to forever fame and glory among his new online friends and the ultimate bullhorn to telegraph his resentments at everyone else for less than the cost of a medium-range laptop.

I for one am not surprised that an increasing number of these men, whom the experts call “grievance collectors” have taken this route. What does surprise me is how they are organizing, though I suppose it shouldn’t. Here’s one of many posts in support of the attacker post CoAlpha a “radical free speech” site after the killings at UC Santa Barbara by Elliot Rodger in 2014. CoAlpha is just one place, there are dozens of others.

"Incel" is a term they use to define themselves. It means "Involuntary celibate."

“Incel” is a term they use to define themselves. It means “Involuntary celibate.”

We may not want to give this the legitimacy of a “movement” just yet. That risks elevating the perpetrators to the level of “freedom fighters” beyond their own small and marginalized ranks. But we have to let the air out of the support and encouragement for violent attacks carried out by the most unstable of their number.

And the most effective, cheapest and least blood-soaked way to reduce and remove the motivation for the attacks is to alleviate the fundamental grievance of inequity. Put simply- we can’t let a generation of young men flounder. Yes, they can be assholes and no we don’t need as much of what young men are traditionally good at anymore- dangerous, dirty and difficult jobs requiring brute strength and a lack of self-concern, but we need young men to grow up into reliable citizens. And for them to do so there has to be an acceptable pathway, not just a stew of grievances they marinade in until they get their shit together.

Because some won’t and we’ll all end up bearing that cost. And in an increasing number of cases, it will be too much to bear.








East Coast braces for misspelling/pronunciation of “Joaquin”

United States, East Coast

National Guard troops practice putting an "O" before "A" in a simulation run by Homeland Security

National Guard troops practice putting an “O” before “A” in a readiness simulation run by Homeland Security

Bracing for an unprecedented period of chaos, emergency crews, media outlets, government, and industry are all preparing themselves for the fucking-up of the National Weather Service official storm name “Joaquin” given to the category 4/5 storm barreling down on the United States mainland.

“Jesus Christ, this is going to be a complete shitshow,” said Emergency Services Response Director for Central New Jersey Tony Clarkson. “I swear, they couldn’t give the only category 5 in a decade a name like ‘Bob’ or ‘Steve’ for fuck’s sake? Half of my service guys are already calling it something sounding like ‘jock-quin.’ The radio traffic alone is going to be a nightmare.”

The insurance industry is expected to be particularly hard hit. Marcia Cranston, director of claims for the Haveford Group says she expects at least 10% of claimant forms to name the storm as beginning with a ‘w.’ “The last storm to cause significant damage beginning with that letter was Wilma in 2005. Now our system will to try and class this storm with that one because of people screwing the name up. This is going to take months to sort out. And the 10% number might be low, for all our sophisticated models we really have no good way of predicting what will happen.”

"There were people who spelled 'Sandy' with a 'c'. No, I am not shitting you."

“There were people who spelled ‘Sandy’ with a ‘c’. No, I am not shitting you.”

Many are hoping against hope the storm will save the bulk of its punch for Brooklyn or Hoboken, or possibly a college-heavy area like New Haven or Boston where the preponderance of classics majors and hipsters who enjoy the films of indie favorite Joaquin Phoenix will limit the possible disruption to manageable isolated communication outages.

“At least it’s not likely to hit the Deep South,” Cranston said, breathing a sigh of relief.

At press time tropical depression  Krzesisław was forming off the West coast of Africa and is being monitored by the National Weather Service Hurricane Center.

Rooting For The Underdog: 10 Facts About Francisco Sclafani

If you’re only half-assed paying attention to our ever-heating Mayoral Race of Doom (we don’t blame you, there’s good TV on these days), you may be unaware of some of the underdog candidates facing elimination from November’s ballot after today’s preliminary election. Since the Big Three – Sefatia, Paul, and Greg – are getting the vast majority of attention, we here at The Clam Media Limited wanted to give our loud and trustworthy voice over to the folks with a little less household recognition. Everybody gets a voice, right? DEMOCRACY IN ACTION!

Our Candidates. Notice the man in the white suit and corsage. He had not been, to our knowledge, to a prom or wedding earlier in the evening. (Photo Kim Smith/ GMG)

Our Candidates. Notice the man in the white suit and corsage. He had not been, to our knowledge, to a prom or wedding earlier in the evening. (Photo Kim Smith/ GMG)

That’s why we chose to write our piece today on little-known, but certainly, uh, exceptional, candidate Francisco Sclafani, of Middle Street, or possibly Lookout Street, no one’s really 100% sure. Gloucester, anyway. If there’s one thing for sure, it’s that Mr. Sclafani has had some time to come up with very and intricate plans for Gloucester’s future. His first run for mayor was in 1995

Mr. Sclafani, whose definition of business formal includes "this white suit forever"

Mr. Sclafani, whose definition of business formal includes “this white suit forever” (Photo: Salem News)


Here’s ten factoids about this unconventional candidate you may not know:


  1. He has some solid reasons he’s running for mayor of a large city: picking up chicks, returning a maternity ward to at Addison Gilbert Hospital, and fixing potholes.
  2. He wants to desalinate ocean water, bottle it, and sell it to raise cash for the City.
  3. He wants to freeze-dry sewage and export it to third world countries for, you guessed it, cash for the city.
  4. He does not campaign door to door because “he is not built for long distance or for heat.” However, he exclaims that he is in excellent condition for his age, in case we have any qualms about his physical fitness to serve as an official.
  5. He has been proposed to six times. It is unclear by how many women.
  6. During debates, he has accused former City Councilwoman Jackie Hardy, who passed last year of cancer, of bribery.
  7. He writes his speeches on a typewriter and does not have a computer, probably unironically.
  8. In past elections where he has lost, he has asserted that his fallback plan if he did not win the election was to be a partner in a disco.
  9. He has planned to write a salt-free cookbook.
  10. He has written a self-published book called Breach of Faith. The author’s description of the book’s riveting, totally logical and appropriate plot is such:

Five cowards named Peter Russo,Samuel Sanfilippo, David Stelluto,Tomas J. Mathews, and David Bader: all paid assasin’swho live in Gloucester Mass. These five cowards attempted twice in thesame night to gangbeat me, only to leave me for deadin a pool of my own blood. The double gangbeating was a hate crime which left me with numeroushuman bite marks on my face, hands, and inner thighs. The numerous blows to my head by Peter Russowould have killed an ordinary man, but would cripple me for over twenty years,living in a state of limbo. My two bloodbrother’s and their wives, Maureen “shiteater” redman and Helen “shiteater” Sclafani stole my legally notorizedshares in the family business, and forged their own names on them, all thewhile swindling me out of million’s of dollars worth of real estate, dividingthe money between themselves, and their money laundering children, businesspartners, and an endless list of golddiging whores.TRUE LOVE IS WHEN ANOTHER PERSON’S NEED’S AREMORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR OWN. LIVE EACHDAY AS IF IT WERE YOUR LAST. I can notbelieve my two brother’s who I loved at one time, would betray our love forpaper money. Tell my brother he did thefirst time he lied to me.

So as you head to the polls today, make sure you look inside yourself and think, “Maybe we really do need to freeze-dry our human waste.” You never know.


Desperate Houseguests: A Scatological Tribute to Maternal Love

I have a friend and neighbor named Andy who manages almost daily to fill me with the rankest of jealousy.  It’s not so much because he’s tall, handsome, and socially adept—as these are traits that lie safely beyond my reach.  Rather, it’s because he boasts an astonishing repertoire of useful skills—and each week, it seems, he picks up a new one that I’ve never even heard of.  I might swing past Andy’s place to fetch a pair of boots he’s volunteered to resole for me, and there he is in his basement, squinting behind a jeweler’s loupe, having decided that—really—any man worth his salt can facet his own rubies.

Where my friend really shines is in the field of home improvement and repair.  Last year he added an insulated mudroom to his 3-bedroom house in downtown Gloucester.  Which is to say, he planned and executed each stage of construction, from pouring the concrete foundation to installing reclaimed brass hooks for the tiny pastel coats of his daughters.  One day when I’d stopped by to admire his progress, Andy said, “Since you’re here, can you help me out with something?”  For a moment I got excited, believing I’d been called upon to survey blueprints and grunt in manly contemplation.  But he just pointed to a thick wooden post and explained with great precision: “I need to move that over there.”  Long ago Andy realized that, for the sake of everyone involved, I should be treated like a common draft animal.

HotForHandyman[A semi-autobiographical account by one of Andy’s many admirers]

I try to compensate for my total ineptitude around the house by keeping every surface perfectly spotless.  I approach tasks like sponging the baseboards with the intensity of a SEAL team maneuver, and my wife must warn me not to get overzealous with my scrubbing, lest I dislodge a fixture or furnishing I’m incapable of repairing.  Indeed, for a few weeks now, a loose hinge has turned one of our toilet seats into a magician’s trapdoor.  But I can patiently await someone like Andy to come and fix it, confident that when guests do plunge into the bowl, their bottoms emerge as clean and uncorrupted as a hand from a baptismal font.

Our recent guests have included two spry retirees from Virginia: my mother and father.  They are good and low-maintenance people.  But their annual visits last a week—and thus occasion special preparations, such as stocking the liquor cabinet and stashing the knives in hard-to-reach places.  This being their first summer stay in our new apartment, I decided to go all out with the cleaning.  In particular, I would spruce up the outdoor spaces, where someone might want to adjourn, cocktail in hand, in the aftermath of this or that disastrous political discussion.

One of the biggest tasks would be the roof.  It’s a large square of composite decking that—like other high points in Gloucester—functions as a roost-cum-bombing range for the local seagulls.  Exacerbating our situation is the nearby Cape Ann Museum, a permanent gull encampment whose shit-slick gables should be negotiated only with crampons and an industrial respirator.  Notwithstanding the birds’ filth and noise, I felt we had settled into a peaceful détente.  Every week or so, as splatters gradually rendered the deck uninhabitable, I would haul buckets of soapy water through a narrow hatch and scour the hot planks with a brush resembling a scalped hedgehog.  It isn’t such a bad job.  There’s always a breeze, and the views of the inner harbor are fine.  Moreover, by studying the deposits for variations in color, texture, and viscosity, I’d become something of a pioneer in the field of seagull digestion.  For instance, there seems to be a species of clam that sours the colon of an average gull, yielding an ochre custard that, when left to bake in the August sun, must be pried off with a putty knife.

On the evening before my parents’ arrival, I had completed this task.  And as I arranged new flowerpots and admired the immaculate surface, the cries of the gulls overhead sounded comforting, almost melodic.  But the next morning, when I cracked the roof hatch with a watering pail in hand, I heard a different sort of cry: keening, insistent, and very close. I pulled myself onto the deck and turned to see a runty, gray gull standing and squawking amid a tract of unholy foulness. It was as though the visionaries at Shoney’s had developed a new type of seafood restaurant—call it an ‘all-you-can-shit buffet’—in which drums of laxative aioli invite patrons to dine and crap in the same booth.


I lurched toward the gull, crunching discarded clamshells and calling him dreadful and illogical things.  Whatever vices the creature might have engaged in during his life, it seems unlikely that he was, in any meaningful sense, a “cocksucker.”  Despite my abuse, he just sidled away into a corner, leaving a set of dainty white footprints.  On cue, a massive gull swooped down and perched behind him on the rail, clutching in her beak the butt of a shopworn baguette.  This, I realized now, was the mother—and the gray fellow her spawn, no longer a chick but not yet old enough to ravage trash bags on his own. I broke into a fit of stomping and clapping, like a participant in some kind of disturbed hoedown. But it took three blundering charges to stir the mother from her roost and chase the juvenile into clumsy flight.

With my parents speeding down the Mass Pike, I had no other choice but to drop everything and clean the deck once again.  Brushing away dismembered crabs, I was reminded of my own adolescence—in particular, the squalor of my bedroom and my mother’s efforts to coax a growth spurt by purchasing endless quantities of frozen buffalo wings from Costco.  I was sure that if I looked hard enough I would find, under a loose piece of decking, a collection of beak-and-plumage magazines: “Gulls Gone Wild” or perhaps something kinkier.

Other chores beckoned.  And I moved into high gear—not considering for even a moment that, with their squat discovered, mother and son would return.  But sure enough, thirty minutes later we were locked in our second faceoff, and neither bird was any more inclined to budge.  This chutzpah, I realized, was my biggest sticking point with the pair.  I’ve been forced to dwell alongside other pests—most notably, in Houston, Texas, where the American cockroach can reach the size of an Almond Joy.  On one occasion, I found such a specimen on my kitchen counter, standing astride a scrap of endive.  It was large enough that I could see its neck articulate and hear its jaws work, like a small, clean-shaven yak.  Still, when I flipped the light on, the roach skittered away, aware on some level of its trespass.  These seagulls, on the other hand, acted like the roof deck’s rightful occupants.  Sure, when our monthly budget gets tight, a sublease sounds like a good idea.  But I would draw the line at a ravenous and incontinent gull, no matter the size of the security deposit.

After I’d shooed the birds once again, I realized I needed a plan for ongoing deterrence.  My first idea, a blazing palisade of tiki torches, seemed reasonable enough—but I was running out of time.  What do people use to scare away birds?  As I looked down at Andy’s house, just next door, I knew he’d have the perfect answer—probably an eco-friendly tincture of herbs he could grind by mortar and pestle in the corner of his basement that doubles as an apothecary shop.

As I brooded on my friend’s sweeping competence, I was suddenly reminded of a lark he had orchestrated last summer, a prank that enlisted his mastery of a zoom lens.  It’s a cliché, really.  One minute, I’m hiking with four guys to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and the next I’m in a photo shoot, wearing only a wooden sign the National Park Service had installed for nobler purposes.  “Sensitive Area,” it read. “Keep Out.”  Perhaps it goes without saying that some Irish whiskey was involved.  But honestly, even if I had been sober, I never would have imagined that my friends would pay to have the best shot enlarged and turned into a life-sized cardboard cut-out of startling clarity.

This semi-nude doppelganger was unveiled a few months later, when the hiking party reassembled for a wedding in Maine.  Specifically, it was placed in the shadowy hall opposite the room where my wife and I were sleeping.  So that at 2AM, when she slipped out to use the toilet, she believed she was in the throes of a complete psychological breakdown.  During the rest of the weekend, Fake Adam (or, “Fadam,” as he was dubbed) found his way into a variety of other compromising situations.  Truly, I cannot overstate how unsettling it is to discover, as you rub your sleepy eyes and peel back the shower curtain, a second undressed version of yourself—this one not clutching a bar of Irish Spring.

Keeping my friends’ creativity and irresponsibility in mind, I thought it critical that Fadam not fall into the wrong hands.  So after the wedding he rode home without complaint in the trunk of our Honda.  Later, while wrestling him into the back of our walk-in closet, I caught my wife looking at us rather dubiously.  “What?” I said.  And in a rare moment of foresight: “You never know when a fellow like him might come in handy.”

As far as scarecrows go, what Fadam lacked in three-dimensionality, he more than made up for with verisimilitude.  Honestly, if you think about those classic, straw-filled effigies—with their floppy hats and ill-defined faces—it’s a wonder that farmers succeed in harvesting any corn at all.  Still, to be effective, Fadam needed to establish a sustained and credible presence on the roof.  Thus, I had to position and secure the cardboard so that an errant gust of wind wouldn’t catch him broadside, flinging him into the middle of the street—or a child’s backyard birthday party.  This was accomplished by means of a phone cord the previous tenants had abandoned.  Wrapped and strapped to a black metal chimney at the center of the deck, Fadam looked to the human eye like an actor in a gay bondage flick.  Someone who, minutes before, had rung a doorbell—then asked the eager conclave if they’d ordered one hot Italian grinder.  But evidently the pair of gulls saw him differently, and they kept a wide berth.

fadamOn the second morning of my parents’ stay, I was enjoying a quiet moment on the deck when I heard someone padding up the stairs to join me.  Naturally, it was my mother who popped through the hatch, bringing along a glass of V8 and her broad streak of conservatism.  I watched her eyes settle on Fadam, who had the decency to present his plain cardboard back.

“What’s that?” she asked, with the bright innocence of her Midwestern upbringing.

Taking a deep breath, I introduced her to my twin—then diverted her attention with a clarification of Fadam’s purpose.  This, I supposed, was less than self-evident.

My mother’s eyes got very wide. And I braced for a tart assessment of my scheme—which, after all, carried a non-zero chance of landing me on the state registry for sex offenders.

But all at once, she broke into a smile. “My boy,” she said. “Always so clever—and handy.” Despite their striking inaccuracy, I received these scraps of praise like some other son might welcome week-old bread—or a regurgitated clam.

In return, I offered my mom a chair whose sightline was G-rated.

“Nothing I haven’t seen before,” she said, shrugging and sitting across from Fadam.  “How many times did I change your underpants?”

Far above, the diaper-less gulls wheeled and cried out.  I wondered where the pair of interlopers was now, and suddenly I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty about my anti-bird crusade.  After all, it was just instinct that had brought them to our roof, a mother’s desire to protect her young from all those taller, handsomer gulls with more practical skills.

I hoisted my coffee mug in my mom’s direction, but she seemed lost in a lingering appraisal of the harbor.  Or maybe, twenty years later, she was registering—in the ample curve of my flounder-white thighs—that all those frozen wings hadn’t gone to waste.  It didn’t matter.  I proposed a wordless toast to the dedication of parents everywhere—without whom we might not have learned much of anything.  Without whom we might still be squawking in our own shit.

A visitor’s guide to Gloucester Harbor Etiquette

by Josh Turiel

Good morning, Clam Nation. Most of you know me here as the Clam’s representative from Over The Bridge. Well, besides that and my work as a Actual Elected Official™, I am also a member of the boating community – being the proud owner of an ancient 25’ powerboat that I keep in my home port of Salem.


As a boat owner, one learns the etiquette of how to behave properly while boating. For instance, you should learn the boundaries of a harbor’s no-wake zone and always keep your speed below 5 knots (a knot is a mile that took steroids to add bulk). You should always give way to a vessel under sail, or one that is less maneuverable than you are. Blasting your horn once when leaving a dock is proper, and three short blasts indicate backing up (mainly ignored by small boats).


In my travels for fun and the pursuit of fish, I’ve learned certain rules also apply in different areas. Today I’d like to share a few of the things I’ve learned about boating in and around Gloucester Harbor, with explanations as needed.


Rule number 1: WE REALLY NEED THIS FISH!!!


Explanation: Not only are commercial fishermen and people who think they are commercial fishermen all over the place, they’re in a hurry. Some of them have decided that the next great catch is right in the middle of the channel, too – and they couldn’t care less that you’re trying to transit.


Rule number 2: Kayaking is a great and healthy fad.


Explanation: It is customary in Gloucester to speed up when you see kayaks nearby, in order to provide a wake for them to enjoy. This textural element eliminates the boredom kayakers experience when paddling on an otherwise smooth ocean, and their shouts of “Thanks. Thanks a lot.” are not sarcastic at all.


Rule number 3: Make fellow boaters aware of your presence.


Explanation: It’s been explained to me by a reliable native that one should approach at a high speed, whilst standing nude on the bow and broadcasting “Ride of the Valkyries.” Also be drinking. Sounds reasonable.


Rule number 4: When cruising at night, don’t forget to blast your music.


Explanation: Since you’re out on the water and away from everyone, you can really pump out every decibel that boat stereo can produce without worrying that you might wake the neighbors. After all, if you can’t hear them yelling from shore to turn it down, they can’t hear you. This also has the wonderful effect of making yourself noticeable at times where being nude on the bow just doesn’t work.


Rule number 5: Bridges were made to be open.


Explanation: There’s no reason to queue up at the Blynman Bridge. Motorists in Gloucester love to wait 20 minutes so you can slip in all by yourself. Think of the things that they throw at you while you pass as the confetti of love and welcome.


Rule number 6: The Inner Harbor is a welcoming place.


Explanation: People in working boats like nothing more than to be visited by Muffy and Skip while they are busy loading or unloading, or trying to get in or out of the harbor so they can work. They love to stop and explain their chores to the passers-by, and the larger the yacht that pulls up the bigger the tip should be given for their enchanting sea tales and salty language.


Also, a few hints about the sights you’ll see there: the beautiful sailboat with the screams coming from it is not a secret sex dungeon. It’s just the residence of one of our favorite local entrepreneurs. Be aware of drones flying near Rocky Neck (it’s science!) or any time there’s a local event of note. The Clam has a number of drone enthusiasts among us. And a tip on fuel – come well-stocked. Marine gas is always more expensive than mainland gas. And Gloucester gas is the priciest of all.


And one last thing to bring up about procedure. I consulted with Clameditor Jim Dowd as I prepared this piece. He told me that the proper way to enter Gloucester Harbor was to, and I quote:


“Come in under flying topgallants, Salute the Fort with starboard guns, dip flag, display pennants, pipe aboard the Mayor and her retainers. All ratings in dress uniform, man-jacks in Sunday wear.”


I’m no googin, but I’m pretty sure that’s about 90% made up. Or it may be a Gloucester thing. I’m not certain.


Keeping this local knowledge in mind should help you greatly in your navigation of scenic Gloucester. I encourage more tips in the comments, so we can produce an updated copy of this later on.