The Clam’s Tournament of Shitty Parking Lots is Over. And the Winner is…


The Winner of the 2014 Tournament of Shitty Parking Lots is… 7/11 Bass Ave!

The battle for shittiest parking lot’s final round between 7/11 and Destino’s ended up neck and neck. By the time voting ended arbitrarily five minutes ago, there were only 3 votes separating the two.

But 7/11 Bass Ave was victorious. Its particular type of bedlam is a horror show for people parking, driving by, or walking or cycling.

It deserves its certificate of shittiness. It should revel in its new distinction. A beam of light should descend upon those backing their R/Vs out into traffic without bothering to check if traffic is clear. A cacophony of horns shall forever be heard echoing through the trees.


Take this, 7/11, and display it proudly. You have conquered all other lots in town. You are the one Shittiest Lot. We salute you.

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Guest Post: A (Survival) Guide to Running in Gloucester

by Adam Kuhlmann

Gloucester seems to have a love-hate relationship with its community of distance runners.  On the one hand, the city hosts quite a few road races, including some—like the Fiesta 5K—in which real, honest-to-God townies participate.  On the other hand, Gloucester can treat its runners with a casual disregard, or even outright hostility.  In the six years that I’ve run the city’s streets, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been heckled from car windows and front porches.  More often than you might think, the heckler was a puckered grandmother bent over a cane.  Perhaps once a week a driver will blast his horn at me for no other reason than the hope that it will involuntarily buckle my knees.  (It works.)  And on one occasion four years ago, I was hit squarely in the chest with a fusillade from a Super Soaker aimed by the passenger of an oncoming pick-up truck. Yet I remain motivated by the city’s natural beauty—coupled with the sweet, sweet endorphins that accompany my efforts—and I would encourage others to join me.  Therefore, I submit the following guide to two of my favorite Gloucester runs.

Sorta like that, yeah

Sorta like that, yeah

 Stage Fort Out-and-Back:  3 miles

 By tracing the seawall along Stacy Boulevard, this jaunt takes in several of Gloucester’s iconic sights.  And in a city that’s lumpier than a cow in Spanx, it is one of the few courses that include a flat stretch of road.  Still, it is not without its hazards:

 The Fisherman at the Wheel Statue 

At the 0.5-mile point in the run, you will encounter a charter bus belching scores of tourists old and Midwestern enough to use the term “score” in its precise, arithmetic sense.  These individuals will shuffle together in packs geometrically arranged to hinder your progress.  As they snap backlit photographs of the Fisherman, they will expect you to avoid their Nikons’ fields of view, forcing you into oncoming traffic.

 The Cut Bridge

Just after you’ve negotiated the geriatric blockade and returned to full speed, you will need to slow down once more.  That’s because, no matter the time of day or year, the Cut Bridge will be up.  It’s possible that this shining exemplar of municipal infrastructure is performing its intended purpose: facilitating the egress of a column of boats helmed by sunburnt men clutching Budweisers.  But, equally likely, the fellow who operates the bridge merely spotted you coming and waited, his finger twitching at the button, until you were steps away from your first unencumbered crossing in months.

He can also summon a Balrog

He can also summon a Balrog

 Stage Fort Park 

Upon entering this leafy sanctuary, the turnaround-point in your run, you will trade exhaust fumes for other dangers.  A pet owner on her way to the dog park will prematurely unleash a hyperactive Schnauzer, allowing it to take out your legs as cleanly as a German midfielder.  Having stanched the blood with your running singlet, you manage to crest the hill, glimpse the choppy Atlantic, and lean into a gale that snaps and tatters the American flag on your left.  Despite the breeze, a baseball game and a dozen family barbecues are underway in the field ahead.  Cars will be parked on the sidewalk; a stifling cloud of DEET and grill smoke will sweep across the road.

  Back Shore Loop:  6.5 miles

 Up for a more ambitious workout?  Take this trip around the perimeter of East Gloucester, which boasts some of Cape Ann’s most impressive homes and finest vistas.  Don’t let the splendor distract you, however, as this route is similarly fraught with peril:

 Rogers Street

Leaving behind the hurly-burly of downtown, you’ll soon pass The Crow’s Nest, where a spirited crowd of morning drinkers will cadge you for a cigarette and colorfully enumerate your best physical features.  Proceeding east, you’ll run a gauntlet of light and telephone poles, favored roosts of the best-fed seagulls in New England.  Just when you think you’ve escaped unscathed, probability will catch up with you, and an alpha gull overhead will loose a stream of partially digested clams.  It will strike your shoulder with the force and visual effect of an open can of paint.

Yes there was a movie and yes Neil Diamond did the soundtrack. The 70's were terrible.

Yes there was a movie and yes Neil Diamond did the soundtrack. The 70’s were terrible.

 Niles Beach

 As you thread your way past East Main’s quaint storefronts, the sidewalk will disappear and the shoulder will crumble osteoporotically.  Consequently, you will be winged by the sideview mirror of an Aston Martin late for a tee time at Bass Rocks Golf Club.  The road will dip precipitously toward the sandy expanse of Niles Beach, and as the grade eases, your heart will stop.  With his mother busy stowing a 40-quart cooler in the back of her Tahoe, a toddler in a sagging bathing suit has waddled into traffic.  Fortunately, the traffic is composed entirely of out-of-state vehicles inching past while the occupants attempt to decipher the parking protocol of this resident-only beach.

Safer for kids than the Niles parking lot

Safer for kids than the Niles parking lot

Bass Rocks 

Rounding the bend onto Atlantic Road, you will confront a succession of homes whose vast grounds are crawling with landscapers, despite the fact that the owners haven’t been seen since last Memorial Day.  Riding lawnmowers will be parked at crazy angles along the roadbed, jostling for room against walkers, cyclists, and the sodden easels and broad-brimmed hats of novice watercolor painters.  On the rocks below, a wedding photographer is violently arguing with a striper fisherman who refuses to yield his perch to a throng of bridesmaids passing around a magnum of spumante.  You should stop and ask for a quick swig to celebrate having survived another run in Gloucester.          

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Camper Fan Outspoken

Our new readers (and God help you for choosing The Clam as an information source, by the way) should know that The Clam swings between a few different modes: “Clamsplainers” that help cut through the treacle of issues of interest to those connected to our beloved city of Gloucester; general tomfoolery like our horrible parking lot contest, Wiked Tuna Recaps and reviews; occasional general-use content like drone videos and, on most Sundays, we hang up our snark guns and feature something amazing about this place we call home.

“You are how you camped,” is our motto. For all its informality,camp is a profoundly formative experience for kids. After a year of being measured, tracked and evaluated against standards it’s critical for them to just be handed a bunch of cool stuff and told to go nuts. And more importantly, not by a formal teacher, but more likely by an awesome high school sophomore in sunglasses who’s going to show them the ropes, make sure they have a good time keep an eye out so they don’t maim themselves. Behind all this are dedicated adults (often teachers in their summer alter-egos) who are making the whole thing work and bringing down the fun/learning.

Gloucester has incredible camps. Just incredible. We punch way over our weight in great things for kids to do during the summer generally at low cost (with plenty of scholarships available). I attribute this to a point I’ve made before that Gloucester favors those who would be considered “weirdos” in the outside world, but are critical to the camping experience. If your population does not support the kind of person who is skilled and knowledgeable in a topic area, but who will also don a Dr. Seuss hat and oversize sunglasses to sing Weird Al songs, or who has too much self respect to do the “chin puppet” routine, you’ll never have good camps. And we got both. Boy do we ever.

Critical job skills

Critical job skills

We’re going to shout-out the camps our own kids have been too, but this is by no means supposed to serve as a list of what’s going on. For that get a copy of “A Kids’ Guide to Cape Ann” which is available in places who have brochures. Sadly, I think their website is down at the moment. Call the Chamber of Commerce at 978.283.1601, they’ll have it. It’s great.

Ok, Huzzah time, people. Add your own in the comments or make suggestions for a round two:

Y Sailing Camp

You knew the Internet would get weird when we googled "aquatic people"

You knew the Internet would get weird when we googled “aquatic people”

Do you want your kids to be those salty folks who traverse docks with ease, competently grab the helm of any boat and know all kinds of useful knots? My kids transition between the terrestrial and the aquatic the same way most of us go from hallway to the kitchen, with no effort whatsoever. Also they will thrill our summer guests when we’re out boating with random little tidbits of harbor knowledge such as, “Dad, there are rocks over there and if you go that way you are going to kill us all.” Also there is pirate day and they use super soakers. All this for $150 a week, which is what they would rack up in Netflix if they were home anyway.

High School Sailing Camp

Taking the sailing to the next level, this camp focuses on racing. I see these kids doing all kinds of advanced stuff and I see them hanging off the boats on lines and doing all that wack-looking sailor craziness you think you’d only see in rich summer ports like Kennebunkport or the Hamptons. The Amazing Rebecca did this camp earlier in the summer and though she said she enjoys the super-soaker and pirate thing a bit more, she learned a ton. If we ever have to go to a post-petroleum society, Gloucester kids are all set to dominate the seas between the sailing and buccaneering skills they get during the summers.

Or as high priests in an up-and-coming religious movement

Or as high priests in an up-and-coming religious movement

Art Haven Camp

How great is that place, btw? Listing all the cool crap they do isn’t even worth it, but let’s just say that we jump at any chance to get our kids there. They had a Harry Potter week. They do scavenger hunts. They make their own board games. I fully expected this to be a popsicle-stick and macrame experience, but this thing is oh-so-much more. For older kids there are sessions like videography, cartooning and something called “Building a Better Lobster Trap” which I don’t know what it is but I want to do myself. I am grateful every time I go past Art Haven and the Hive that these folks set up shop in Gloucester.

Project Adventure Camp

My redhaired son is active in the same way one might describe a purely theoretical subatomic particle. The other day he came home stinking of low tide mud, bug bitten, sandy and he dumped a pile of coal onto the foyer in the house and said, “we cornered the obsidian market.” I don’t know what the hell is going on out there on Ram Island, but as far as I can tell one of the councilors is running a Minecraft-like trading system involving natural resources the kids have to go and find while running them ragged all over the place. Huzzah to you, sir. Again, Huzzah. The world owes you a great debt. This camp is generally incredible and there is nothing like sending your kid off in a rowing dory in the morning to start your day. General Huzzahs to all involved.

Minecraft joke

Minecraft joke

O’Maley Middle School Drama Camp

Think for a second, what could get a kid to willfully go into a middle school during the summer? The Drama Camp at O’Maley, is what. A drama program focused on kids in 4th grade and up, it’s an extension of the off-the-hook greatness that is the O’Maley drama program responsible for such recent hits as Fame, The Little Mermaid, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and forthcoming Equus early next year. Or Alice in Wonderland. They’re trying to decide between the two. Kids sing, dance, play drama games, all that. Wow, it’s good and when you go see a production at North Shore Music Theater and say to yourself, “Hey, the Gloucester kids are pretty much as good as these guys,” you’ll realize what a great job they do.

Maritime Heritage Center

Plankton Safari. An amazing program these guys do and coincidentally the name of a band I played bass for in college. “Build your own underwater robot” is another. Coastal sailing on the Ardelle, marine-based art with Art Haven. Seriously, folks, how many of us went to daycamp and learned to dissect a squid? Very few, I’m guessing. Think about it though, where else do you find programs like this? At the Museum of Science, in Cambridge at MIT and Gloucester. Suck it, everywhere else.

What I'm picturing

What I’m picturing


We’re going to do a whole future NSS on Rick Doucette. Literally. We’re going to sit on him and write it, and he’ll probably be fine with that, that’s how great that guy is. This camp has transcended a summer kid storage solution to pillar of the community.  I don’t even know where to start with this camp. Send your kid to this thing and you will hear unending stories about the pool, the waterslide, Olympic week, , they will come home with no end of masks, shells and beach glass necklaces, tell you about piracy (again with the piracy), show you medals for events you never knew existed. The whole thing, from the staff to the kids form an alternate community of support for so many people that I don’t know how to express its value to us. ALL the camps from the Y, the aforementioned sailing to the downtown camps to the adventure camps are all incredible.

You don't need to know what's going on here to know it's awesome. (photo Jen Amero)

You don’t need to know what’s going on here to know it’s awesome. (photo Jen Amero)

Ok, that’s a highly truncated list I could put together to still get this thing out by noon. Give me yours in the comments.



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The Clam’s Tournament of Shitty Parking Lots: FINALS!

Welcome back, folks, to The Clam’s Tournament of Awful Parking Lots! We’ve been through 3 rounds so far and the finalists will face off today to crown a winner. EXCITING SORTA.


The Final Battle: 7/11 Bass Ave vs Destino’s

It’s been a thrill a minute at this here Tournament of Shitty Parking Lots. 14 other lots have gone home, defeated. And today through Monday, YOU will get to choose the final winner. We trust you, loyal Clam readers, so don’t fuck this up. Pressure’s on.

7/11 Bass Ave was last week’s semifinalist winner, taking out the awful hitch-dragging awkward-angled drunk-yelling Dogbar Lot. Let’s face it – it takes a real beast to deliver the knockout punch to the fucking DOGBAR lot. But 7/11 Bass Ave has been the little lot that could, and it has powered its way to the Clam Finals.

7/11 is entirely worthy of the Ultimate Shitty Parking Lot title. It’s the kind of place where you enter in a good mood, buy your munchies, tell the clerk to enjoy her night, and by the time you’ve actually successfully re-entered traffic, you’re angry, bewildered, and unable to safely rejoin society. Trying to back into a blind curve of fast-moving mostly tourist traffic brings out the feral beasts within ourselves.

Destino’s, as well, is worthy of the title. I don’t want to disparage Destino’s. The food is great, portions are huge, it’s cheap, and have I mentioned how goddamned amazing the pasta salad is? I would literally shovel a quart of it in my face upon waking up every morning if that was an option presented to me. Just typing that made my mouth water and my brow furrow. I don’t want anyone thinking I don’t like Destino’s. But, the lot. Oh, the lot.

Exiting Destino’s onto Prospect Street is another one of those animalistic lizard-brain activities that snap us back to the fight-or-flight adrenaline rush our ancestors perfected. The constant spectre of death looms over you, and even the belly full of chicken parm won’t lull you into any sense of security. No, no. You’d better hope some methed-out twentysomething lad with a Dodge Neon blasting Eminem doesn’t come whizzing around the corner, or you’re fucking dead.

And the damn parking lot. Paint lines! Please god, paint lines, or the old people in LeSabres (Deluxe Trim, naturally) will continue to park halfway between two spots. For my birthday, all I want is Destino’s to paint lines in their lot.

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A Clam Sampler

A grab bag of Clamgasmic wonders!

First, a clamclusive incredible drone video shot by the one and only Martin Del Vecchio of Gloucester downtown at sunset. Note the movie night being set up at I4C2! Marvel at the technological and cinematographical glory for as long as we have until those things take over and make us work in the Yttrium mines as their puny slaves!

Next, some awesome Hiakus from Clam poet laureate Amanda Cook

Eastern Point Lit House put out a call for Gloucester-centric haiku. Being from Gloucester and having mastered the skill of counting to seven, I figured I should give it a try.

Parking kiosk spits
dimes back at me. I lose them
on the sparkling ground.

Good Harbor seagull
flies overhead, drops roast beef.
It lands on my leg.

My bartender left
the bar closest to my house.
I am drinking less.

Warm air, dusk falling.
At the State Fish Pier I watch
the rats scurry by.

In my friend’s garden
her neighbors plant their needles
as if they might grow.

Sunrise hits the beach
casting shadows of the trash
people left behind.

At the brewery
wharf bros hover like seagulls
following a boat.

Annisquam morning.
As the people leave their homes
the workers pour in.

I drive past the guard
like it ain’t no thing. He knows
it’s a public way.

In the new green grass
by the freshly paved sidewalk
I find nip bottles.

Dinnertime again.
Let’s go down to the packie
for something to grill.

Clam night
Also, don’t forget on Saturday, August 2nd in the evening at the Eastern Point Lit House HQ deceptively located on lower Main Street next to Alexandra’s Bread will be Clam Night. For a ten dollar suggested donation you get to have pizza, enjoy some BYOB drinkage and hear our amusing history so far. We’re going to generate headlines by playing ‘Clams against Humanity’ and hear our most scathing deleted comments read in serious tones by people with British accents. It will be a lot of laughs and space is running out. First come first serve!

Also there will be Clam SWAG for sale which we strongly recommend you display prominently as to be identified as on the correct side when the goat revolution comes. We have bumper stickers, t-shirts, and tote bags. Show your pride in whatever it is we’re attempting to do here.

Finally, stay tuned for the finals of the Tournament of Shitty Parking Lots tomorrow! 

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9 Things the World Can Learn From Gloucester

Morning, world. Thanks to the amazing journalisming of clameditor one KT Toomey on the travails of the Demoulas family and how that translates into me paying double for off-brand snack cakes down at Stop and Shop, suddenly a lot more people are aware of The Clam. Or The Gloucester Clam, to be exact, this here blog is pulled straight from the sea and in most cases immediately ground up for fertilizer.
So we thought we’d give you a little flavor of our beloved island, how we do things a little differently. You should come visit us. We’re way better than that other cape where you have to sit in traffic and dress up for dinner, but you’ll have to bring your own taffy.
So, that having been said, The Gloucester Clam brings you:

9 Things the World can Learn From Gloucester

Your lawn is utility space That space around your house or apartment building- that’s not frigging No. 2 at Pinehurst. That is where you proudly display the evidence you are an interesting person. It’s where you keep your lobster traps, the boat you’re working on or the Fiero you’re going to get running one of these days. It’s where you store parts and tools, the remnants of previous projects and floats from old parades. Our own driveway contains a boat that needs work, a leaf blower-powered hovercraft, numerous balls, sticks, bikes, a modified bike trailer, random container garden plants and the leftover styrofoam rock from the Elementary School production of Midsummer Night’s Dream. Neat lawn = lame occupants.

Dude, did someone steal your boat?

Dude, did someone steal your boat?

Mix it up In Gloucester there are no rich neighborhoods except for this one gated mansion area we sort of ignore. The rest of the town is like that ‘Party Snack Mix’ where a handful equals a pretzel, a Dorrito, a single cheez curl and some weird orange ball. The neighborhood of clamtributor Stevens Brosnihan contains a rabbi, a restaurant owner, urban farmers, college professors, professionals who commute to Boston on the train every day, a couple of junkies and this engineer/former CIA dude who assures you he has stories he can’t tell. In town we shop together, go to the same events and beaches, there is one Middle School and one High School. There is no wrong side of the tracks, more importantly, there is no right side either.

Live where there are a lot of Italians We’re not Italian ourselves and I’m sure there are other cultures you can say this about, but these guys have life pretty pegged. They always have espresso shops with pastries and because food is so key you’ll have restaurants all over the place. There will be street festivals, good grocery stores and lots of family-oriented stuff everywhere. People will yell your nickname at you in the street and you won’t be able to go over somebody’s house without getting a full meal and kissing their grandma. Ok, old shirtless guys in chairs on the sidewalk smoking cigars are kinda gross, but you gotta trade something and some of those dudes are pretty cool if you get them talking. On balance, big Italian population is a huge plus.

Also bocce

Also bocce

Owning a boat is a right, not a privilege And it doesn’t matter what kind or in what state of repair it’s in. In Gloucester you never apologize for the condition of your boat and “I was out on the boat” is a perfectly acceptable excuse for all kinds of things, like missing a court date. People get confused and think they have to fish or have some kind of purpose out there, but it’s more of a zen thing. Boating is an end unto itself. A purpose will reveal itself once on the water, like rescuing someone in a slightly shittier boat that is sinking, for instance.

You are not your car As has been thoroughly covered on this blog, driving and parking here are contact sports. You get dents and things get cracked and scraped off and repaired with duct tape. It’s no big. You don’t get judged by your car up here, nobody gives a shit. Somebody with a nice, new, unblemished car is looked down upon. “Guess he doesn’t drive that thing much, huh?”

There is no reason to ever leave the 80s The 80s were the last decade that actively chose to rock. From 1989 on our society has gotten introspective and timid what with the Nirvana and the expensive coffee. But the essentials for 80s living: the cars, the haircuts, the music, essential entertainments like jumping into quarries and riding a bike around without a helmet are all still things in Gloucester. The Amish live in perpetual 1847, but if a group ever emerged wanting to live in forever 1987, this would be the place. Bring your VHS tapes.

And then you can come to the 80s and learn our ways

And then you can come to the 80s and learn our ways

Art is a participatory sport You go to some places with artists and they are always hanging around in the daytime, smoking cigarettes and arguing about derivation. No time for that crap here as all our artists have normal jobs. I attended an amazing gallery show for a woman who captures light like Hopper. She also cuts my hair. My train into Boston has ¼ of the cast of our regular Shakespeare performances and occasionally they do a scene on the platform. Sculptors are also lawyers, bakers are novelists. You engage a lot more with a one man show about struggling with sexual identity when the guy is going to be fixing your transmission for some reason.

It’s OK if things go wrong This is a fishing town, that big statue of the Man at the Wheel? That’s a memorial to dudes who’ve died at sea. The town knows loss and that no one is immune to it. Jobs disappear, people get sick, sometimes they die. People do dumb shit and wind up in jail. It happens. Nobody wants to make a habit of life’s letdowns, but you don’t need to put on a happy face in this town if shit is bad. And you don’t need to tell anybody even, they know. Their neighbor’s cousin told them. You find yourself buying bread and the person behind the counter at the bakery won’t take your money when you offer it saying, “My mother had cancer too.”

Facing his lost shipmates

Facing his lost shipmates

Normality is for losers Norms are the least happy people in Gloucester. They are forever trying to figure out why the taco place is closed on Sunday (Because the owners are religious), why the farmers’ market is on Thursday (because we get better vendors who go to richer town on the weekend) and why there aren’t any stoplights (because we let each other go in intersections). People here are nuts and somehow it all works once you learn to roll with it. We have a saying when the ice cream truck screeches by the little league game to the dock, starts frantically loading herring on board and then takes off again:

Because Gloucester

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Clamsplainer: Market Basket Is Freakin’ Out

We left off yesterday’s post about the Basket case at the end of the kerfluffle spanning the ’90s with the stripper, the fraud, and the blackmail. Seriously, go read that part if you haven’t, but don’t come after me for migraine pills, I used them all up writing it.

So what does Market Basket’s checkered family past have to do with what’s going on today, and why the hell doesn’t the Basket have any salad fixings at all?


Nothin’ left but some melons and an artistically placed Gloucester Clam sticker, naturally.

You may recall that yesterday, I explained that Mike’s son, Arthur T Demoulas, was involved with his father’s legal team and the whole “secret recordings” and “blackmail a court employee” debacle. He’s the center of today’s fight, having just been ousted as CEO. It’s complicated. Of course. Like everything else involving the name “Demoulas”.

Anyway, after the lawsuits of the ’90s into the ’00s shake out, the judge forces Mike’s side of the family to give up 51% of Market Basket to George’s side. Mike’s side of the family lost the lawsuits pretty soundly – it’s hard to excuse flagrant fraud, forgery, and hiding assets from your family.

Back in early 2008, Market Basket’s board votes Arthur T Demoulas in as CEO. He is by all accounts a pretty reasonable guy who is hell-bent on treating his employees like family. Or, better than family, seeing as how the Demoulas family has beaten up and defrauded each other for decades now and OSHA and the Department of Labor aren’t keen on doing that to produce clerks.

Artie D is so reasonable that during the economic downturn, his profit-sharing employee account loses $46m in a quarter and he REPLACES THOSE FUNDS with his own company’s profits so his employees don’t suffer. This is relatively unheard of -all investment is risky, after all, and most people in America lost money from pensions or 401ks in 2008. This move majorly pisses off his cousins on George’s side of the family, who like things like “profits” and whatnot.

For five years, Arthur T Demoulas, despite his side of the family’s past shady and questionable tactics, is a beloved CEO to his workers. He is described as an affable, friendly, and humble leader. He pays well, employees have good health insurance. Workers trust him and are fervently loyal to him.

But in the summer of 2013, Arthur T’s cousin, George’s son Arthur S Demoulas, gains control of Market Basket’s board and calls a vote to oust Arthur T amid claims and a lawsuit that alleged he mismanaged the company, engaged in improper business deals with companies owned by his wife and her family, and withheld important information from the board. Meanwhile, Arthur S’s side has long been painted as interested in as much money as possible from their holdings (which explains their anger at Arthur T’s profit-sharing fund placement), without putting in the elbow grease Mike’s family did. This move was seen as a way for George’s side of the family to get dividends from their stock.

There was a massive outpouring of support for Arthur T Demoulas  – employees who had been at Market Basket for decades showed up for the board meeting and stood outside in August heat to support him. During the meeting, the board didn’t oust him, and he saved his job – for a bit. But Arthur S continued to push for his cousin’s dismissal.

Finally, late last month, Arthur T Demoulas was fired as CEO and replaced by a former Radio Shack executive named Jim Gooch (holding back laughter at unfortunate last name there) and Felicia Thorton, former executive at Albertson’s. A few upper level executives were also fired at the same time.

And then the shit hit the fucking fan.  

CAT'S OUT OF THE BAG NOW! haha get it

CAT’S OUT OF THE BAG NOW! haha get it

Remember when I said his employees were fiercely loyal? Well, because unions have fallen out of favor in the states, Market Basket’s employees aren’t unionized. They have no recourse if the new board, in order to boost profits (remember those dividends Arthur S’s family lusted after?), slashes their benefits and profit sharing. Many employees have been with the company for decades – the company is known for promoting from within. They knew that Arthur S’s takeover of the board spelled the end of employee-friendly policies as they knew it, and they were PISSED.

The board couldn’t have predicted the intensity of what came next.  Despite the lack of union, workers started protesting. They threatened to walk off the job if the board didn’t reinstate Arthur T – putting their own blue-collar jobs on the line for one of the state’s richest men. Last Friday, the murmurs of work disruption boiled over into a full-scale revolt – warehouse and store workers showed up at the company’s headquarters to protest despite warnings they’d lose their jobs, meaning Market Basket’s deliveries ground to a screeching halt. It has spiraled from there. Eight workers who organized the protests – supply chain supervisors with the company for 30 or 40 years in some cases – have been fired via a courier service. This has only served to fan the flames. Yesterday, the protests moved to store branches – here in Gloucester, a protest outside the Gloucester Crossing Market Basket grew despite the searing heat.

Protesters outside Gloucester Crossing, 7/21

Protesters outside Gloucester Crossing, 7/21

The protesters here in Gloucester, at least yesterday, are mostly younger folks. Kids for whom Market Basket was their first job. Single moms brought toddlers. My blog partner Jim showed up this afternoon, ostensibly to buy supplies for frittatas and organic beet salad, and instead grabbed some photos and video of the hoopla.

Think about this. It isn’t exactly the Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902, but how often do you see a worker action these days? And one not looking for higher wages or increased benefits, but one in favor of a company leader who the workers felt treated them decently. Here are young people taking a stand for something that is important to them and being pretty goddamned polite and articulate about it. They are risking their jobs. These are kids who are working because they need to, either saving for college or helping out their own families. Their jobs are massively important to them, but doing what they believe is the right thing is more important.

And local politicians are behind them. At last count, 19 local lawmakers had signed a statement in support of boycotting Market Basket. That’s a pretty good gauge of the seriousness of the situation – Market Basket hasn’t done anything illegal or even morally reprehensible, but it’s that serious that Martha Coakley has stood up and supported the workers’ demands to reinstate the CEO.

It’s a pretty engaging situation to be sure, and where it develops from here is anyone’s guess. It’s unlikely Arthur T will be reinstated, but Market Basket’s completely lost control of the situation. Someone get the popcorn and let’s all watch the schadenfreude.

Oh fuck, they sold out of popcorn.

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