The Gloucester Clam’s Tournament of Fucktacular Intersections: Day 4

Hola, Clampadres. It’s the last day of our first round of the Tournament of Awful, Ungodly Intersections. Make sure you get your votes in before we advance to the next round!

intersections

Poplar & Washington vs Centennial & Emerson

Poplar and Washington is kind of a sleeper entry into this contest. “It’s not THAT bad,” you say to yourself, but it kinda is that bad. All the time. Sure, taking a right isn’t automatically summoning death, but just try to take a left onto Poplar any time that isn’t the dead of night. People who don’t quite understand how a fucking rotary works (THOSE PEOPLE MAKE ME SICK) come flinging out of Grant Circle at ten thousand miles per second and almost t-bone you when you had a clear shot a millisecond ago. And try to take a left from Poplar onto Washington. On second thought, don’t. You’ll never make it. You will grow old and die waiting.

Centennial & Emerson/Commonwealth is one of my personal most hated intersections, mostly because my kid goes to Pathways so I go through this intersection four times a day. People FLY THE FUCK down Commonwealth now that it’s been repaved. It’s goddamn unbelievably dangerous.

LITERALLY THIS IS THE SOUND OF TRAFFIC WHEN YOU’RE JUST TRYING TO GET THROUGH THE FUCKING INTERSECTION. Listen, fuckwads, slow the shit down. You do have control over your acceloratrix. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost been taken out by some high school kid doing 90 late for homeroom.

 

Sayward/Bass/Brightside vs Norman/Magnolia/Shore Dr.

Oh my fucking god, Sayward and Bass Ave. It sucks sooooo baaaad. While sometimes you can scoot through with barely any pause at all, you just fucking try it on a Saturday with nice weather. I have been backed up to Captain Joe’s before, no fucking lie. “Hey, let’s make the exit of pretty much all of East Gloucester ONE FUCKING ROAD,” some asshole must have once said, “And then let’s put a cut-through in the same intersection. I have spent seven minutes getting from the top of Sayward at Haskell down to Meineke. I know this because I timed it, since I had nothing better to fucking do since traffic wasn’t moving. You know what the fucking worst is? When some super de dooper dickbag goes in the right lane and then takes a left. I want to punch these people right in the butthole. Although blog-friends of ours live on the corner and sometimes it’s fun to drink in their kitchen and watch people angrily navigate the intersection.

Norman/Magnolia/Shore is our attempt to reach beyond downtown and include our far-flung friends in Magnolia. I mean, no intersection is particularly bad, as Jim Dowd pointed out to me, “because it looks like a freight train of nerve gas tipped over there.” Point your angry letters in his direction. Anywho, the one time a year I bother going to Magnolia for whatever reason, this intersection kinda blows. I mean, first of all, why is there a round thing in the middle of an intersection if it’s not meant to be a rotary? We have a tourist population, people have no idea how to drive in optimal conditions, let alone when faced with a random barrel thing in the middle of a 4-way intersection. Nevermind, there doesn’t even have to be a fucking next thing, because that’s it. Yeah, and then the confusing one-way stuff going on there, that’s probably a thing too.

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Gloucester Restaurants Mashed Up With Pop Artists.

Two Sisters of Mercy

Gwen Sclafani’s

Destino’s Child

Ocean Soundgarden

Temple of the Dogbar

Mike’s and the Mechanics

Donny and Maria’s Pizza

Gloucester House of Pain

Daft Punkworth’s Bistrot

Boy George’s

Rolling Stone’s Pub

Fleetwood MacDonalds

Pratty Smyths

The Franklin Goes to Hollywood

MadFishbone

Tacos LouReeda

Halibut Pointer Sisters

Katrina’s and the Waves Bar & Grill

Bachman Turner’s Seafood Overdrive

Diana Ross and the Supremes Roast Beef

Belle and Sebastian’s Pizza

Jason Mrazorean

The Sheryl Crow’s Nest

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No Snark Sunday, Post Fishing Reality

The future can be a scary place. For instance: at some point in the future you, dear reader, are dead. That’s kind of a downer. Sorry. But it’s also true that everything awesome that’s ever going to happen occurs in the future. It’s where every sandwich you will ever eat from here on out resides. The next season of your favorite show is out there. Every upcoming breakthrough and triumph and most importantly, it’s where our kids live.

Downtown Gloucester, 2017

Downtown Gloucester, 2017

The future is something we ignore at our, and especially their, peril. There are aspects of it we can control and lots more we can’t.  But while it makes sense to remain optimistic, being delusional is another thing entirely. So with that in mind, I feel that it is the responsibility of The Clam to point out that, regardless of how we got here and who’s to blame for what, it’s a very real possibility that the fishing industry in Gloucester may dwindle down to pretty much nothing.

There. We said it.

Understandably, that comes as a gut punch to a lot of people. It gets others mad and they start going on about catch limits and how tourist jobs suck and all kinds of things that are not germane to owning up to this very real possibility. And because people get mad, we don’t talk about it.

I’m becoming worried that in order not to hurt understandably upset people, we’re not speaking about this openly. I’m deeply concerned that leadership is not addressing it, as this is their, like, job and stuff. I’m terrified that the only place willing to openly state: “The fishing industry in Gloucester may very well be on a downward slide from which it will never recover” is a satire blog best known for imagined lists of nautical strip-club names and the term “assweasel.”

Weasels are assholes

Weasels are assholes

For years I have listened to convoluted mental gymnastics from smart people when they are even tangentially confronted with this idea. I have heard a few intelligent people say that the fishing industry in Gloucester is “on pause” which I suppose is a step in the right direction in the acceptance of a possible post-fishing future. But it sounds sort of weird when you think about it for a second, right? On pause? Things on pause have a way of not coming off pause, such as my relationship with Sarah Andrews which went on pause at the end of Spring semester in 1989. I saw her at a reunion a few weeks ago, she has two boys and owns a bakery in midcoast Maine. We’re still on pause.

Ask your leaders, “Should we plan for a post-fishing future?” If the answer is “no” then we need to know why. If the answer is “yes” then we need to know exactly what that plan is. We need to think and prepare for what we’re going to do without fishing if we accept that possibility as a real one. We need to be prepared to make changes and spend money. We need to do this calmly and without freaking out.

Oh, who am I kidding. Here, let me get that out of the way:

“You WANT this to happen because YOU aren’t from here/are an elitist snob/whatever”

No I don’t. I’d rather there be a robust fishing industry, but I’m also not a fool. Also: your doctor might be an elitist snob, but she also can tell you if you if that weird mole is a concern. Those two facts have little bearing on each other.

“The reason we’re opposing change is because we’re grieving our loss.”

Grief is fine to a point, but once it begins to make it difficult to do the work needed to make necessary change, it’s corrosive. Lots of industries have changed, even right here. Quarrying was once a huge thing, now it’s not. Change happens, it’s hard and yes, sad. But the trick is managing it. And on grief: Mom may be grieving Dad’s loss, but if she can’t afford to stay in the big house then she can’t. It’s up to us to help her do the right thing. Not talking about it is not helping.

“We’re going to become like Newburyport!

Newburyport

Newburyport

 

Not if we plan, not if we make some kind of real efforts to move forward will we come to resemble the most detested berg on the northern coast, a city whose name is spat like an epithet. But if we continue to do nothing, we’re going to wind up like Lynn after GE scaled down.

“You should have seen it back in…”

Stop. Stop right there. Nostalgia has, at this point, become a destructive force. I don’t want to hear about 40 years ago. I want to hear about ten years from now. We need to spend some time detaching ourselves from the past and figure out who we are now and who we plan to be. Sorry.

“Tourists Suck!”

Ok, fine. Give me another plan then. If we don’t want more tourists, then we need other business, but that’s even harder in a lot of ways. Businesses need the same stuff: hotels, restaurants, mixed use office spaces, parking. Businesses also require trained local employees, so get ready to spend a lot more on the schools. I’m ready for a non-tourist plan, though. Hit me.

“It’s over man! Game OVER!”

Pull your shit together, Hudson.

So, there. I said it. Be mad at me if if you want, but know this: I’m not responsible for catch limits or climate change or ground stocks or any of that stuff. I, honestly, don’t even want to have that discussion at this point because it feels like we’re on the Titanic, taking on water and all anyone wants to talk about is who was steering when and if the iceberg was tabular or non-tabular.

Sort of academic at this point

Sort of academic at this point

Be pissed at me, but know this: What I want is for the future of Gloucester to be as cool as any point in the past. That is all. We have resources that other communities would kill for, we have natural beauty by the fuckton, we have a formidable DIY spirit that will be essential as Western culture moves from passive consumers to situational creatives. We have the most visceral (to the point of frequently being alarming) group of out-of-the box thinkers you can imagine.

The future is going to get weird. And we’ve got just the right weirdos to meet it.

Clam, out.

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The Gloucester Clam’s Tournament of Shitty Intersections, Day 3

Now that we’ve sufficiently pissed off a few folks over yesterday’s post, time to head back to our Tournament of Shitty Intersections! We’re almost through the first round!

intersections

Maplewood/Railroad/Prospect vs Washington St @ High St

Maplewood & Railroad‘s intersection with Prospect Street better win this fucking competition (although, fucking Tally’s corner, right?). I live around the corner and used to commute this way when our shop was on Maplewood. HOLY. FUCKING. SHIT. What a goddamn flaming barge of trashbags this intersection is. You know what the fucking worst part is? When folks coming from Maplewood block the intersection for those turning from Prospect onto Railroad, and before you know it NO ONE CAN MOVE AND EVERYONE IS BEEPING AND GESTICULATING WILDLY. Save me, Cthulhu. It’s worse now that you can’t cut through the Shaw’s lot easily. No one understands what the fuck the purpose of the random buoy is, as I’m pretty sure a fucking old buoy from the goddamned ocean is not DOT approved but MAYBE I AM WRONG.

Washington & High up in Lanesville is one that I don’t use too much, but Jim added in because he’s lived up there and wanted to include more than just downtown stuff. Its giant drawback is that it’s pretty much a 90 degree angle that you have to take at about .001 MPH or risk smashing into either another car or a stone wall. Meanwhile, it’s around a curve, so some giant truck will whallop you in the ass if you slow down to actually cut the corner correctly. Well done. Jolly good. Etc.



Joan of Arc vs Pond/Eastern/Witham

The Joan of Arc crappersection is kind of like a rotary in that you have to go around it, but it’s the exact opposite because people exiting from Washington onto Middle and those coming up Washington from Rogers/Main have the right of way. Add in tourists, the American Legion, and folks coming from Middle street by the YMCA, and it’s just a mess. Just yesterday morning I was stuck there for five minutes because a crane truck coming from Middle accidentally snagged a telephone cable and didn’t realize it until everyone started honking in terror, and I almost started drinking at 10 AM. If you’re unfortunate enough to try to use it to make a u-turn, practice your angry screaming in the mirror first.

Pond/Eastern/Witham. I don’t know about you, but this intersucktion (ha!) has a personal, gnawing level of hatred for me. Because I have a love for thrift shopping, I am often turning into and out of Pond Rd to go to Second Glance, and almost every dang time it’s like taking your life in your hands. Ditto trying to turn out of Witham, the opposite street from Pond. For a reason I don’t quite understand, people seem to disregard the “35 mph! please god” signage and go by at about 88 MPH, maybe trying to get back to 1955 or whatever. On the flip side, if you’re going straight, the chances someone will put on their left blinker midway through the intersection and slam on their brakes so you pee your pants in fear are approximately 99%. How does that happen? “Just drivin’ down 127, OH YEAH POND ROAD THAT’S WHERE I WORK!”

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Brooke Takes On The Fort

I was going to write the last bit of my travel escapades, a piece about Cornwall. But I’ll save that for later, when KT and Jim need some filler.

I was actually thinking about doing the Cornwall piece, and through a series of streams of thought, it brought me here. I also happened to stumble upon some people online bemoaning the loss of the Birdseye building in Fort Square (was it called the Birdseye Building? Anyway, you know the one I mean) to make room for a new hotel, and I started thinking about the similarities between Penzance and Gloucester.

We all know I’m not from here. I’m a transplant, still really damned new to the city. But sometimes, an outside observation is what’s needed. People who oppose the hotel project seem to be doing so for a number of reasons, including “IT’S DESTROYING THE NEIGHBORHOOD!” and “IT’S GOING TO DESTROY THE FORT” and “THEY’LL DESTROY OUR LITTLE CORNER OF GLOUCESTER” with some people already claiming it’s dead.
And you know what? I’m ok with that. The neighborhood, while charming in its own way and possessing a great history, was home to a fucking giant derelict white building which has stood crumbling and unused for decades. Right on a goddamned beach. A beach people will pay good money to look at from their hotel balcony.

Here’s why I’m ok with that. Gloucester needs revitalization. Desperately. The fishing industry isn’t coming back any time soon, and while we still may have a fleet for lobstering (is that a word? I’m using it anyway) and other fishing, the big cod industry is gone. Gloucester is on the precipice of big change, a point where the city needs to decide which way to go.

Residents of the Fort and the city in general may not want to admit it, but Gloucester needs to build better infrastructure for tourists and other businesses. Here’s how thinking about Penzance got me on this train of thought, by the way. Penzance is in a beautiful spot, a coastal city with a long history including vast fishing fleets, artists, and vacationers. Sound familiar? Penzance is also currently falling to shambles, bereft of industry and saddled with a failing tourism market. It’s a shadow of its former self, and it’s really fucking depressing.

Why? A lot of reasons, but one of the big ones is that the local council was stuck in a small-town state of mind and was extremely resistant to CHANGE. Marks & Spencer (a super posh grocer/retailer in the UK) wanted to choose Penzance as the location of its first store in Cornwall, but the council said no under the pressure of local green grocers and others who feared for their bottom line. So, M & S moved into (I think) Truro instead, which was equally in the shit as Penzance, economy wise. What happened to Truro? It grew. Other chains and high end shops followed, and Truro turned into the biggest shopping destination in Cornwall. Local shops thrived too, in case you were wondering, bolstered by the new people drawn in by the big names.

Penzance’s high street is full of Charity thrift stores, dollar stores, and the occasional beach gift shop.

By the way, you folks who have lived here forever may not know this, but it can be very hard to actually visit Gloucester. Know why? THERE ARE NO HOTELS. There are B&Bs with 5 rooms, vacation rentals, and a handful of motels. Husband and I came up for a visit on Cyclocross weekend a few years back and almost couldn’t make it because every room in town was full. A friend of mine wanted to visit this summer but had to postpone because she couldn’t find a room for her family. This may sound like a shock to some, but more rooms for people to stay in means more people in town, and more dollars spent here.

Gloucester needs to make itself more available to tourists and businesses if it’s going to come out on top. And if that means revitalizing an industrial part of town to build a hotel on a beach, then so be it.

In the words of a very wise man, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

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The Gloucester Clam Presents: Tournament of Shitty Intersections, Day 2

If you missed our post on Friday of last week, we’ve begun the Tournament of Shitty Intersections! We’ll be going all bracket-style on the crappiest intersections in Gloucester. Get your votes in!

intersections

 

Flannagan Square vs Washington St & Railroad Ave

Flanagan Square. Oh, my. This is easily one of the worst in town – top 3 for sure. If it gets voted down early, I may cry. Let’s talk first about how the stop signs were re-done like what, six or seven years ago? That just adds confusion to the mess (although it makes waay more sense now). The two-way stop is super hard for tourists to grasp, and then good fucking luck turning left there. The parade of assholes who won’t stop to let you go is deep and endless as the ocean twenty feet away. The best part is when some dick goes across when there isn’t room to clear the intersection and fucks shit up in both directions. HEY THANKS BRO.

Washington St & Railroad Ave is another in a series of intersections for which I would rather eat directly out of a strip club’s dumpster than turn left in.  You have to worry about the stupid train, people zipping in and out of Dunk’s parking lot, and then BLAM, this intersection. No one has ever stopped turning right from Railroad onto Washington since the dawn of time. Cars would willingly broadside you in order to sneak by before the crossing arms go down, or get a French Vanilla extra extra. Another fun thing that isn’t at all life threatening is trying to cross that stupid intersection as a pedestrian without losing a leg.

 

 Prospect & Pleasant vs Main & Eastern

Prospect & Pleasant doesn’t seem like the worst intersection upon first glance . But move nearby, and you’ll grow to hate it. Try turning left from Pleasant onto Prospect. Like, within a ten-minute period. You’ll have to dart out because you can’t see who the hell is coming from your left and whoever is is flying, there’s an old man driving 4 MPH on the right, and then randomly a car will come careening across the part where no one usually goes (Left from Prospect onto Pleasant) and not yield or anything. Now that West Parish school is camping out for a few years, it’s not much easier.

Main & Eastern Ave should be simple. “Should” being the key word in that sentence. There are rules of society and the road, and in most other towns and cities, there are few issues. But tourists and the more dense of our pool of in-town drivers make this intersection actually dangerous. For instance, I had to fully lock my brakes up two weeks ago when someone turning left, TURNING FUCKING LEFT, did not yield to me as I was going straight from the fish pier back downtown. He had Maine plates, and looked utterly confused as to what he’d done wrong after I gesticulated wildly and laid on my horn, as is customary in social situations such as that. Do people think there should be a stop sign in front of Lee’s? I’ve been behind people full-on stopping there to let traffic from Eastern Ave take a right without stopping at their stop sign. For fuck’s sake people, this one isn’t even hard to fuck up, how are you fucking it up?

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An Imagined Conversation Aboard the Rebel Flagship, Briefing Room

Setting: The Rebel Flasghip, Briefing room a short time after Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, Luke and the Droids have returned from Bespin having lost their friend Han to the Bounty Hunter Boba Fett. Also in attendance are fleet officers including Red Squadron Leader, Higgs Bothkey.

Um, yes. I have a comment. Over here. Higgs Bothkey. It’s funny I was just dressing down the pilots a couple of days ago for questioning the orders of superiors. However believe it would amount to a serious dereliction of my duty if I didn’t point out that this plan to save General Solo from Jabba the Hutt seems massively overcomplicated.

Don’t get me wrong, no one wants General Solo back more than I do. He’s a great pilot and an inspiration to the men. I mean, the things he can do with that near derelict ship of his. I’m always telling them, “You guys are supposedly fighter pilots, but look at what he is capable of doing in a freighter. That thing has a kitchenette and he can still fly rings around you!” and then I encourage them to be as bold and aggressive in their maneuvers as he is. Tremendous pilot, General Solo.

And he can microwave snacks for post-battle munchies

And he can microwave snacks for post-battle munchies

We all want him back and it’s an emotional time since the retreat from Hoth, we need solid leadership, but this is no time to go flitting off on some half-baked rescue attempt. We need discipline now more than ever.

My primary issue (maybe I’m missing something?) is I’m just not sure if I get how the rescue is supposed to work as described. There seem to be a lot of moving parts. I’m going back through my notes on the presentation, tell me if I have this right: Two droids are supposed infiltrate the compound by surrendering themselves to this Jabba character. That’s a good idea actually, it’s smart to have some eyes on the ground and it removes the need to risk actual lives. I like that part.

Next we have Mr. Calrissian who will already be inside impersonating a guard. Ok, I’m not sure how that happened, but if you have that figured out then fine. Seems like we’re overdoing it on the infiltrating if we already have the droids there, just some feedback.

The next part is where I get concerned. Princess Leia, disguised as a bounty hunter (again with the infiltrating) is supposed to surrender Chewbacca to Jabba. This provides her access to the palace, and she then locates General Solo and unfreezes him from the carbonite.

This seems absurdly dangerous and frankly unnecessary.  First, Princess Leia is our commander and a member of the Royal Family. Sending her into a palace full of armed criminals alone is absurdly risky and if she were to be captured…well if the holobriefing on this Hutt is correct around how he treats the female members of his entourage, it could lead to a humiliating situation at best. As a member of the Officer’s Council I can’t support this under any circumstances. Second, releasing Solo at this point will leave him weakened and likely blind. This seems absurd considering there will be scant support for the infiltrators at this time. Best to leave him in the carbonite, where he will be safest and the least impediment to rescuers.

Carbonite offers advantages over our previous methods, you must admit

Carbonite offers advantages over our previous methods, you must admit

But that’s not the worst of it. I am even more concerned at the description of the next step: “Commander Skywalker enters the palace using Jedi mind powers.” Look I don’t even know what that means. The Jedi have been gone for a generation and even so, we all remember how badly their thing turned out. Best leave the extinct space wizards out of this.

And is this part out of sequence? Isn’t Commander Skywalker supposed to be bargaining for General Solo’s life? Isn’t this Hutt a businessman? Attempting to bargain after Her Majesty has unfrozen Solo risks having to broker a deal for Solo AND Chewbacca AND Her Majesty if they are captured, correct? Does this not put Commander Skywalker in a much less advantageous position?

Why not have Commander Skywalker go in first, attempt to bargain just for Solo and if Hutt agrees then take him out still in carbonite hibernation? If that fails, then we move to a further stage of the plan.

Speaking of which, I’m sorry, but I graduated first in my Strategic Military Tactical Planning level at the Academy and I still simply can’t make out how this next part as described is supposed to work, exactly. A giant monster gets killed? Something about a slave barge and a “Pit of Sarlacc” if I’m reading that right? The plan is supposed to be that the R2 unit throws Commander Skywalker a lightsaber and….it really seems to trail off from there.

I simply can’t support any of this, honestly. I will of course follow my orders, but please, I’m begging you to reconsider this “plan,” if you can even call it that.

Alternative? An alternative? Yes, I have an alternative: Bombs. Bomb the palace from orbit. Bombard the wampa piss out of it, forgive my language Your Highness. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, there is no risk of collateral damage on that near-deserted sand and gravel pit they have mislabeled as a habitable planet.  After the bombs we then sift through the rubble, find General Solo, toss him up the loading ramp of a shuttle and hit the hyperdrive. Later we unfreeze him on the medical ship under ideal conditions. Bam, boom, done.

They're armed with axes. Yes, axes.

They’re armed with axes. Yes, axes.

There is little risk to injuring General Solo, encased as he is he’s perfectly protected. Alternatively we could combine a targeted aerial strike with a raid, the guards there seem particularly undisciplined. Some combination of aerial bombardment and a decisive commando operation should make short work out of this Jabba, his henchmen and the entire Tatooine criminal syndicate, and good riddance as far as I can tell. I hate to say it, but if the Rebellion every gets our own Death Star we should vaporize that whole bloody system for all the trouble it’s caused…uh…no offense Commander Skywalker.

I know that to many in this briefing we’re talking about Han, your friend with whom you’ve been through many scrapes and adventures. But to us it’s General Solo, a key leader and a vital comrade. We must act rationally, and his current capture and imprisonment is a problem befitting a surgical military operation, not a haphazard swashbuckle with oddly comical undertones.

I bet we could fit a dozen thermal detonators in the R2 unit alone

I bet we could fit a dozen thermal detonators in the R2 unit alone

You know what? We could combine your plan and mine! We could put the bombs inside the droids before they infiltrate! They could then detonate right next to Jabba and then the strike teams could…what? Why are you looking at me like that?

 

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