Oh Holy Night of the Living Dead

There is stuff to like about the holidays. There’s a lot of free booze around, for instance. It’s less socially awkward to crank down an entire tin of cookies in the middle of the workday than at other times of the year, so bonus there. But beyond these specific advantages your beloved The Clam finds much of the rest to be a massive pain in the dong. We would happily trade the  month-plus pageant of consumption and groupthink for a compressed week of vapid hype culminating in an orgy of binge-eating/power drinking, making it tolerably more like every other week of the year for us. But trade or no, the point remains: The October-January extended “Festive Quarter” has gotten fully the fuck out of hand. It’s exhausting and unnecessary.

In fact, we find the encroaching holidays share many parallels with one of our favorite genres of literature: The Zombie outbreak narrative. Observe:

STAGE 1- September:

Walking into Costco you are shocked by the abrupt first flare-up, a full aisle of animatronic decorations just days out from Labor Day Weekend. Your avoidance response is identical to finding a mangey one-eyed raccoon on your back porch in broad daylight. “I want no fucking part of this,” you say, putting as much distance between you and it as is possible.


STAGE 2- October:

The outbreak is no longer isolated to select pockets and is developing more rapidly than anyone expects. Confusion reigns, with stores, pop radio and the inflatable holiday decorations on lawns around town showing a strange mixture of symptoms. Mostly it’s the increasingly virulent but generally harmless Halloween strain which clears up after about a week. But more and more you notice evidence of the much longer-sustaining early-onset ChristmasN2 mixed in with the otherwise benign pumpkins and skeletons. The sickness has obviously gained a foothold and won’t be going away.

The government seems powerless to respond. “Which holiday is that guy dressing as Santa for?” you ask in a climate of growing unease.

STAGE 3-November:

It’s now obvious something is seriously wrong. Going out in public is no longer safe as it’s become impossible to tell which locations have been infected and which remain clean. Example: You know from experience the bathrooms on board commuter rail trains are like a particularly nasty porta-potty bouncing around inside a giant maraca, so you pop into a nearby Dunkin Donuts to use the loo. Upon entering you are exposed to a full five seconds of “Wonderful Christmastime” at full volume. You retreat, realizing getting splashed with blue dookiewater is less risk than being subjected to an additional stanza.

Get me! I'm givn' out Wings!

Get me! I’m givn’ out Wings!

Short-sighted local officials are making the problem worse by creating early infection sites where the sickness can take hold. Wreaths are going up. Public displays are being installed. We are told told not to panic, reassured most of the current activity is only the serious but survivable Thanksgiving Simplex which only tends to take out the highly emotionally vulnerable. “How is this all happening so fast?” is the question on everyone’s lips.

STAGE 4-Black Friday:

PUBLIC EMERGENCY DECLARED. Riots and deaths as the infection has broken out everywhere at once, seemingly from nowhere. The TV and Internet burst with images of victims thrashing wildly and attacking each other while store clerks and police stand helplessly by. Grainy security video shows a neverending loop of sufferers going stark raving bonkers over half price mass-market kitchen appliances, demonstrating the plague attacks neurological pathways first, assailing the parts of the brain responsible for maintaining social norms. To see a mother stomp on a child over a fifteen dollar Black and Decker waffle iron fills the world with horror. Also will not make pizzelle or crepes so not even worth it. Prayers go unanswered.

Only 28 Days until Christmas!

28 Days of Christmas

STAGE 5 -Early December:

Nietzsche once described hope as the “worst of all evils” because it can only serve to prolong inevitable suffering. It has become clear the possibility of a “light outbreak” with “maybe just a few family and close friends” was a fool’s fancy. We are now obviously engulfed in a full-blown Pandemic. Everyone knows at least one seriously infected person and observing their distorted behavior as the malady takes hold is wrenching. The only bright spot (Nietzsche notwithstanding) is the infected still tend to cluster together in retail centers where they are essentially contained. However there are frequent incidents where they break free and maraud through offices and schools in search of new victims. No one is safe. Your pleas for the military to bomb the worst-affected sites prompts only a “wellness check” on your residence from the local constabulary.

Can they not see how all forms of media have become dedicated to the epidemic? Society has been transformed, with everything functioning around managing the outbreak. Citizens mark their homes to indicate afflicted dwelling within and no neighborhood has escaped, not even Chinatown or Brookline. Residents struggle to cope but cannot keep up with the stretched infrastructure and supply demands of a population under siege. Suicides increase. Many turn to alcohol and drugs. Mental health resources are pushed to the breaking point. Your attempt at weakening the assault by introducing Shane MacGowan and Kristy MacColl’s “Fairytale of New York” to holiday playlists has no observable effect. You feel like Gandalf in the Mines of Moria. “They are coming.”

No we don't make fucking toys!

No we don’t make fucking toys!

STAGE 6- Late December:

All systems have succumbed to the sheer overpressure of the rampaging epidemic. The gravely infected have broken free and are running amok. What was once pity for the victims gives way to searing rage as survivors search for increasingly scarce sanctuary.  Civil control has broken down, surrendering to the critical mass. The plague is now everywhere: Japan, the International Space Station, even submerged nuclear submarines on patrol have all reported levels of exposure. It’s ability to penetrate every defense defies rational explanation.

Oh no! The virus has made the jump into daikaiju! Run for your lives!

It’s made the jump into daikaiju! Run for your lives!

Survivors scurry from moment to moment trying to limit exposure. Mostly they stay inside cut off from the outside world, or take to the forests and hills on long walks to keep out of the path of potential vectors. Public places such as malls are no longer option as the newly infected now throng there and yet the military still does nothing. It’s like the flamethrower had never been invented.

Schools and offices are shuttered. Non-holiday commerce grinds to a halt. No sanity remains as “Dominick the Christmas Donkey” blares from speakers, cars sport antlers and red noses. The weakened strain of holiday pathogen used to inoculate Jews for centuries (much like vaccinating with cowpox to prevent smallpox) is now past, but the deranged still shriek “Happy Hanukkah” at them anyway, which is like wishing someone a happy Independence Day in August. Jews, ever the survivors, find their ways to safe houses and secret dining establishments to wait out the remainder of the scourge.

Mercifully it at long-last burns out. Nothing so hot or bright can sustain and first one by one, then as a mass, the hosts succumb. At last, merciful silence.

STAGE 7- Aftermath:

Society has been transformed. Not a man, woman, child or pet has escaped untouched. Citizens’ health and personal finances are in tatters. Relationships are worn thin. Waste Management trucks grind under the strain of hauling away the refuse. Nothing lies ahead but long, dark days of toil as we attempt to rebuild. Assurances of increased vigilance are made, “We’ll keep it small next year.”

Just something chill and tasteful with your hipster friends Hahahaha! You'll wind up in Wrentham with your Tea Party cousins again.

Just something chill and tasteful with your squad… Hahahaha! Just kidding! You’ll wind up in Wrentham with your Tea Party cousins again.

You finally emerge into night to watch your cold breath against the stars. You have survived this round, who knows about next? You think of Camus: “All I maintain is that on this earth there are pestilences and there are victims, and it’s up to us, so far as possible, not to join forces with the pestilences.”

You remind yourself not to read Camus.

Boston Strong?

Remember when the Boston marathon was attacked a couple of years ago? Remember how we all panicked and acted like screechy wussbabies and targeted a bunch of innocent people who had nothing to do with the bombings and hid in our basements, getting on social media to tell everyone we have to carpet-bomb and then invade Muslim countries because we are military geniuses on par with Sun fucking Tzu?


If you were not ripped from the forehead of Zeus then kindly STFU

If you were not ripped from the forehead of Zeus then kindly STFU

That’s right, you instead remember a city responding with strength and resolve. You remember Bostonians, who are total assholes 90% of the time, suddenly displaying a dignity and courage you never would have expected from the same group of people who, on the loss of a center fielder, whined endlessly on sports shows as if the reanimated corpse of George Steinbrenner had just removed one of their testicles and eaten it on live television.

You remember Bostonians going to work, crowding the T and Commuter Rail. You remember us dodging armored vehicle convoys in the street, finding ways around Copley to get to offices and appointments. We did it all week while those jackholes were still at large. Because “fuck those guys,” was the attitude. The only day we didn’t show up for work was on Friday when they told us to get off a packed train into town because the cops were pinning down Dzhokhar. But we were all going in. “Fuck those guys,” to reiterate.

It smelled of Dunkins, Fenway Franks and Tamerlan Tsarnaev pissing himself as his brother drove the SUV over him

It smelled of Dunkins, Fenway Franks and Tamerlan Tsarnaev pissing himself as his brother drove the SUV over him trying to escape the cops

Tuesday I heard a newscaster saying how the marathon bombing had “paralyzed the city for a week.” The fuck it did. I had to stand in line behind a fully-jacked SWAT team to get a goddamed tuna sub, but we were all there. Everyone. We had a vendor coming in from Manhattan to have a meeting we probably could have delayed or done remotely but we kept the engagement. And the Manhattan people didn’t ask to reschedule. They came up on the Acela and even though I’d never met them they emailed to say, “we’ll still be there on the 17th if you guys will.” Damn straight. I’m not a solider. My job is not particularly important to the day-to-day functioning of society, I don’t save lives and I don’t keep the lights on. But maintaining our cool and doing the right thing was all of our duty and we did it.

Guy on the right is saying, "Ah shit, we shoulda put a chair in our pakin space."

“Ah shit, we shoulda put a chair in our pakin space.”

I’m wondering this week what happened to that city.

We didn’t say “no refugees” back then, even though the guys who attacked us had come here seeking asylum in 2002. We’re supposed to be the “smart state” and we seemed to know after the actual bombing here that there’s no more or less risk among screened refugees than there are from people born here. We asked thoughtful questions about radicalization, the shifting dynamics of warfare and America’s leadership role in the world which Boston, a city smaller than fucking Memphis, or El Paso or freaking Jacksonville Florida, gets to help define. Because we are tough and smart and punch above our weight. Or we used to, anyway.

Spoiler Alert: This is the 21st century and people are going to get killed by terrorists.

Yep, that’s the reality. No politician will say it, but that’s the truth. Sorry. The same global open communication and travel networks that allow us to lead 21st century lives are the same tools these human-shaped bags of rat feces can use to hurt and kill us. There is no way to completely stop them without hurting ourselves in the process. It’s like cancer- it’s too much like us to kill easily. The best we can do is try and prevent it and cut it out when we find it.

The not dying of smallpox or getting polio part of being in the 21st century makes it a pretty good deal though, on balance. Today you’re more likely to be killed in a car crash or fireworks or setting your own house ablaze on account of being a dumbass or by effing cows (who kill 108 people a year in the United States), than from terrorists. But the sad reality is people are going to get killed. We can take actions to prevent and minimize it, but nothing can fully prevent it. Like car crashes, shark attacks and people being hit by trains; some small number of our fellow citizens, maybe people we know and love, maybe even us, are going to be killed by terrorists. Fact.

Life. Pretty much.

Life, pretty much.

So what do we do then?

Don’t be idiots and do what the terrorists want. Don’t listen to people trying to use fear to increase their own power, whether that’s fucking ISIS or our own presidential candidates, both of whom are desperate for attention. Don’t give it to them.  Don’t advocate cruelty against large groups of people who aren’t responsible. I’m the first to say the Islamic supporters of these radical movements have to be harshly dealt with- especially elements inside places like Saudi Arabia and Qatar- who are the funding head of the ISIS snake. But anyone who’s ever traveled overseas knows our government can do some shitty stuff, but most people in the rest of the world can separate citizenry from leadership. They don’t treat Americans badly because they know I personally didn’t make the call to invade Iraq or back Noriega. We need to be like this as well. We need to show some backbone and not be scared even when there is risk, which is almost always slight. Don’t be stupid, but don’t be a coward either.

I want strong, smart Boston back. I’m ashamed at the difference between how brave we were in the face of a real threat and how pants-shitty we get around nominal threats like Ebola and the Paris attacks. Pull it together, Boston.

We’re better than this.

Election Clamstravoganza! !

UPDATE: We are getting a report of a broken voting machine in 3-2 which could slow things down. This is not good news for Sefatia who really needs to drive turnout in the downtown strongholds.

Today is the day, citizens of Bivalve Nation! Have you voted? If you haven’t stop reading this and go do that now, unless you are reading this on your phone in line to vote, in which case you should just wait your turn. Got it? Good.

Voting gives you wings...or jets anyway. Plus a sack with a badass magic sword.

Voting gives you wings…or jets anyway. Plus a sack with a badass magic sword.

A few notes about the upcoming coverage of Clam the Vote 2015, Snarkformation edition:

  1. Cape Ann TV will be covering the event from City Hall live on channels  12, 20 and 67 starting at 8:00pm. They are not livestreaming on the Internet because reasons (rolls eyes). Meredith Fine will be hosting and Heidi Dallin will be reporting on results as they come in. We’re told they will be interviewing candidates, covering the action and shooting B-roll for CATV’s upcoming erotic miniseries “Dalliance on Dale Ave” coming out this Spring.
  2. Your beloved The Clam will be live-blogging starting at like 7:45 or something. We’re going to snark on the CATV feed while drinking and eating leftover Halloween candy and between the time when the results start to come in and us succumbing to a diabetic/alcohol-induced coma there should be some funny. We will also be posting results and will have a live Google spreadsheet. For the liveblog we’ll screenshot, but we’ll give a link you can jump on if you want real-time results as we get them. We tried to find a plug-in for WordPress that converted goodocs to HTML but everything looked like dogcrap so this is the best work-around. City IT superstar James Pope should be thanked heartily for helping us get the #s as they come in, BTW. Clamplause for James!
  3. Turnout: So far as we’ve heard reports, turnout has been better than usual for a local election. At post time East Gloucester Wards 1-1 and 1-2 were about 1,400 combined, last year they totaled about 2,500 out of 4k registered. The big surprise is 5-1 with 854 votes and 5-2 with 755/2367 registered before even the end-of-day push. Likely the Fonveille/Nolan race plus the Verga write-in campaign is pushing turnout there which is good. Post to the Clam Facebook page with turnout numbers if you have them and we’ll try and keep everyone updated.

Everyone should be ready for things to get weird tonight. Not just because someone could have spiked our kid’s Reeces with PCP as we know folks in East Gloucester are fond of doing, but because of the projected large number of write-ins.

Yep. PCP in the Reeces. It kicks in fast, let me tell you.

Yep. PCP in the Reeces. It kicks in fast, let me tell you.

See, the way the optical ballot scanners work is they take a picture of the ballot and look for where the marks are supposed to be. If there are write-ins, the ballot is “rejected” for hand counting. Because Clam-endorsed Candidate Greg Verga is running as a write-in, there will be a lot of ballots rejected in every ward because he’s running at-large.

So what? Well, what if the races are close? We’ll know the number of rejected ballots but if, say, one candidate has 3k votes and another has 2k votes and there are 1,200 write-ins to be counted, then who won? We won’t know until those ballots are hand counted and certified just like in the old days when they would tally via bloodmarks from a sacrificial ox on the wall of the temple (Gloucester gave up that system in favor of optical scanners in the mid-90’s). Pro tip to Meridith: wear comfortable shoes and get ready to talk a lot about how great the City Hall restoration turned out, beginning with the history of Second Empire influenced Victorian structures. It could be a long night.

Just tryin' to help Meredith

Just tryin’ to help Meredith

So there goes. We look forward to seeing everyone tonight, thanks for all the nice posts and comments we didn’t have to delete because obvious crazyperson. Let’s make sure this whole thing is handled with a generalized sense of decorum of which in all honesty we as a city are not particularly  known for. But it’s a skill we should cultivate for certain occasions such as this such as funerals or being arraigned.

Could come in handy.

Clam The Vote: Our Election Rundown Special Extravaganza To The Death!

We really didn’t want to do this, but folks asked. They literally begged us to give our picks for the races in Gloucester. Ok, sure. Be warned that aside from mayor (where we’re not endorsing, you can’t make us) we found we’re not too far off the Gloucester Daily Times which was a shock. We’re still drinking to deal with this revelation. There are some differences and we lay our our reasoning as best we can. If you want to vote like the Clam, do read on.

The top of the ticket:

Mayor: No. Just no. Hell no. We’re not making a call because members of the Clam inner circle are deeply conflicted here. So, if you haven’t been exposed to the two leading candidates strengths and weaknesses up to this point then congratulations for coming out of your coma, we have a black president now. We recommend you flip a coin. The rest of you have already made up your mind based on the available evidence. Go with that.

Councilor At Large: (you pick four)

The Clam recommends:

Paul Lundberg: A sane, level-headed dude with decades of operational experience and has been on the council for years. Sadly, medical science still prevents the rest of our at-large recommendations from reading: Paul Lundberg Clone #1, Paul Lundberg Clone #2, Paul Lundberg Clone #3 so we have to make more. Fuck.

Joe Ciolino: He’s spent years on the council. Without McGeary, Sefatia or Verga (we’ll get to him in a second) on the council we’ll need experience, bad. I know someone once said, “Amateurs built the Ark, experts built the Titanic,” but of course that is crazy bullshit because the Ark is fictional (and impossible). We need folks who know how it works. Joe does. Full stop.

Clamflict: We can’t agree on one of the two following candidates. So choose between:

Amy-Beth Healey: Has been on the School Committee. Sane person. Heavily involved in schools. Knows budgets. Recommended by the GDT.


Joe Giacalone: We’ve heard good things. Ann Margaret Ferrante endorsed him, other people we know and respect have talked to him and said they liked him. A downtown resident.

Our last pick (but remember, you only get four)

Greg Verga: Write him in. We admit to being bummed he got so cozy with the hard-rightwing crowd during the mayor’s race, but he’s a solid choice for at-large council. Has been on for years, makes good choices. We’re writing him in.

Ok, so those are are ‘yes’ votes. What about the rest? Here are our thoughts:

OHARA: The man without an apostrophe. His signs just showed up everywhere one day, sometimes one on each end of a lot (the record so far is THREE ON ONE PROPERTY). We’ve heard some folks describe him as a “liberal activist” but when he came to our house and handed out his campaign literature we saw it had a Patriots’ game schedule on the back and not a single mention of education or the schools on the other.  He’s really, really into fire stations and police, and went on to describe in uncomfortably vivid detail the threats he believes we’re under, which in some cases seemed overblown. When we asked where here was going to find all the money he wanted to spend on public safety he said, “consolidate the schools” which is when we threw him out. The ever-touted, never quantified imaginary financial panacea of “consolidating the elementary schools” wold actually require over 100 million in bonds which we’d have to override for, and for all that we would not save much money (It’s the teachers that cost, not the buildings nor really administration at the per-school level). Also, it would take something like a decade to get it done and in the process we’d dramatically change the character of our neighborhoods. Also it goes against all available research on improving educational outcomes, would lower home values across the city and create a transportation nightmare. Did you think about any of that? Sorry dude, no vote for you.

Joe Orlando Jr: Scion of the Orlando family who’ve been pushing so hard to turn Gloucester into a Republican paradise like Kansas or Arkansas. We’ve met him, he’s a nice guy in person but online he’s been burning every bridge he can find which might not be so great a campaign strategy. For instance, he was arguing about something (fluoridation we’re pretty sure) on Facebook and the young Mr. Orlando decided to claim liberals “kill babies.” This may be his view, but the majority of people in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are pro-choice, including our Republican governor who this candidate touts the endorsement of. Wonder if he calls Baker a “babykiller”? This is Massachusetts Joe, you’re not going to be able to govern well if you can’t work with Democrats, there are a lot of them here. 

Bob Whynott Jr: Son of long-time Councilman Bob Whynott Sr. The younger Whynott, who previously lost an Orlando-backed campaign for the Republican nomination to challenge state representative Ann Margaret Ferrante, is deploying the highly efficient strategy of using his father’s campaign collateral. He has the same signs and the same campaign address. How is he different than his father? Hell if we know.

Ken Sarofeen: Um, no.

The Wards (you only get to pick one, duh)

Ward 1 “The Shire” East Gloucester  

Scott Memhard: Owner of Cape Pond Ice, has been on the Sawyer Free Library board for many years. A competent executive at a legacy business dealing directly with the core issue facing our city: What the fuck do we do with our waterfront? He’s got our vote.

Everett Brown: Also a good guy, he was on the council for many years. We hear he’s competent and knows his stuff. You can’t go wrong with either choice in Ward 1, pretty much.

Ward 2 “Glostopolis” The Eastern part of downtown

Congratulations Melissa Cox, for running unopposed in Ward 2!  She’s experienced and dressed as a shark for the outdoor showing of Jaws on I4C2 last year. We need more counselors down to cosplay, is what we’re saying. She helped us Clammers get bike lanes put in, and at least TRIED to deal with the shitshow parking nightmare of lower Prospect Street over the elder Whynott’s insistence that churchgoers having easy parking is more important than emergency vehicles being able to safely pass on one of our busiest thoroughfares.

Ward 3 “The Golden Triangle” (Stagefort up to the hospital and most of downtown biz district)

Steve LeBlanc: Up for re-election. Many years working for and with the city. Again, knows what he’s doing. We need experience and he’s got it.

Sherri Curcuru: She’s into elementary school consolidation, so no.

Ward 4 “The Highlands” (everything from the hospital north and all that stuff around the Middle School, Lanesville).

Val Gilman: The obvious pick. Val’s been on the School Committee for years, knows everybody in town and is a dedicated getter done-er of things. Oh, and her opponent’s handler’s attempt to pin the Fuller bullshit on her? Don’t even start. We’ve reported extensively on this- the school committee and council made the best choices they could at the time given the lose-lose- really-fucking-lose situation the math indicated for all courses of action with that property. Val is the obvious choice.

Kathryn Goodick:  No. See here and here and here and a lot of other places we didn’t even bother to report because we just got sick of dumping on her. But really, no.  

Ward 5 “The Frontier” West Gloucester and Magnolia

Bill Fonville: Clam’s choice. Again, has been on the council for years, knows his stuff and is a competent incumbent. He’s a data guy and knows how to make decisions using information from the outside world. He has a huge community presence, and was the only one to vote against the debt shift that made Ms. Goodick from ward 4 so apoplectic.

Sean Nolan: We took some heat for associating him with the Orlando-backed Gloucester GOP whom we are now told he’s not cozy with. Excuse us, we were confused by him being on the front-page of their website for a while. We’re stupid like that. But if he’s within their circle or influence or not, he hasn’t voted in a municipal election for the last three rounds. Sorry, you don’t run for a local election when you don’t participate in local elections. We have heard a lot of positives about his community involvement, and think he would be good on some lower committees and would appreciate him running again when he has more experience with our local government and how it works (example: voting).

School Committee: (you pick six)

Jonathan Pope: Head of the school committee and totally knows his shit. For all the insane misinformation people have about the schools, he’s a solid part of the reason our MCAS scores continue to go up in spite of it all. If performance is your metric, the schools are demonstrably improving and thus he deserves your vote.

Kathy Clancy: The same goes for Kathy. She’s at everything, has incredible passion, a competent executive from the outside world. We’re lucky to have her on the school committee. A vote for her is a solid.

Tony Gross: Another person who’s been part of everything for years. Led the budget sub-committee, negotiated contracts which is hard as balls. Hired a new superintendent. Vote for him. He’s good.

Michelle Sweet: All the right calls: Understood the Fuller fiasco for what it was, believes in neighborhood schools, understands where the real problems are. She’ll get our vote.

Melissa Teixeira: We would say ditto for Melissa- totally gets what the eff is going on. Didn’t buy into the Fuller hype when everyone said it should still be used as a school and the math/data/reports/sane evaluations said otherwise. She’ll also get our vote.

Joel Favazza: Will be getting our vote. Joel is young, has two teens in the system, and is at fucking everything. He built 3D printers alongside us (his team actually kicked our ass). He coached our daughter’s soccer team. We see him at plays, concerts and meetings. Smart guy. He’s clarified some of the positions he’s taken in the paper to our satisfaction, so yes. We’re voting for him.

JD MacEachern: The other guy not currently on the school committee looking for a seat. To be honest, this is the candidate we literally know the least about. Our research shows he has all the correct answers on things Fuller, funding, elementary schools and technology in the schools. But since we choose to keep the existing incumbents who have been effective (see scores, MCAS) we thus have to pick between Mr. MacEachern whom we don’t know and the guy we think will be a good add (Joel, above).

Non Binding Referendum, oh sweet Crom is this not over yet?

Fluoride: Allow us to make one thing clear: We’re going to make a recommendation to vote pro-fluoridation because science. Anti-fluoride activists: do not post/email/text/comment/knock on our doors/stop us on the street about this issue because anti-fluoride activists- you are sorta nutty.  Advice: you should take a look at how you present yourselves because right now you totally give off the chemtrail/9/11 conspiracy/anti-vax vibe. We at The Clam are full-on science dweebs and stronlgy believe in peer-reviewed studies and stuff, we work with scientists and engineers, we make our pay in STEM. Do us both a favor and don’t approach us, you’re not going to change our minds and we’ll just wind up making fun of you on the Internet. The ONLY good argument we’ve heard about anti-fluoride is a friend who has problems with his tropical fishtank attributed to fluoride. On balance, we can’t say this is on par with the family who has a 3K dentist bill they can’t afford because no insurance in the US covers dental anymore. Also: we really should not be deciding this in a referendum, that’s not how science and public health should be done.

There you go. Print this out for handy reference and do your own research so you hahahaha just kidding. You people are just going to pick the names that are most associated with your ethnicity, don’t try and fool us. We’ve seen the stats.

On to tomorrow. This can’t be over soon enough for us.


Correction: An earlier version of this post claimed Joe Orlando Jr. used the term “babykillers” to describe liberals pro-choice position in regard to medical choices (the discussion was about fluoridation). His exact phrase was: “Don’t you liberals call that being ‘pro-choice?’ Or is that only applying to medical decisions that kill babies?”  The sentence was corrected.

The Clam Email Mayoral Debate

Greetings citizens of planet Clam. Thanks for following our coverage of Gloucester’s local election “Clam the Vote 2015.” Are we sick of this? Yes, we are sick of it. So let’s take a break from the oh-so-hard math and turn to the very pleasant email debate we conducted with our two mayoral candidates, Acing Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken and City Council President Paul McGeary. [NOTE: THIS IS NOT SATIRE. WE ACTUALLY DID THIS AND THEY REALLY RESPONDED.]


We sent them each a list of questions to answer. “How is this a debate? ” you ask? We happen to think answering questions by email is a good deal more in line with how leadership gets done these days than being questioned in front of a live audience. 90% of any managerial job is conducted via email. The rest is a combination of arranging the Secret Santa partners/March Madness grid and solving disputes about stolen yogurt in the company fridge.

So let’s get to it! The questions were selected by members of Team Clam and denizens of The Clam Secret Underground Lair. We left out the really weird ones (For instance: there will be no hypotheticals around which of Lovecraft’s Elder Gods they would least like to see rising out of the Harbor). And be reminded both candidates know we’re primarily a humor blog -they are both funny people- so we asked them to answer in the spirit of the Clam, which they did. Huzzah.

1. What do you most envy about the other person?

Sefatia: I’m lucky enough to have worked with Paul for years now and though we are competitors now, I’m looking forward to post-election and continuing our progress, which we both have worked tirelessly on. I’m probably most envious of his last name, as “McGeary” is a lot easier to say and write than “Sefatia Romeo-Theken Giambanco.”

Paul: Incumbency

2. Of all the things that keep you up late at night about Gloucester, which one concerns you the most?

Paul: Infrastructure. We have been playing catchup for years, but there is a lot left to do. Water and sewer still need work. Our road maintenance as currently funded can’t keep up with New England winters. Our schools are rapidly aging. We need new fire and police facilities. We could be hit with a secondary sewage treatment requirement by the EPA. How do we begin to address what could be $200 million or more in capital spending? It will take a disciplined, thoughtful approach: setting priorities and sticking to them, even when the needs of the moment seem overwhelming. This isn’t a two- or five-year program It’s 20 or 30 years’ duration, but we must begin.

Sefatia: I take inspiration from people and find quotes to keep motivated, but Pope John Paul II said: “A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members and the most vulnerable.” It’s been my life’s work to help people, especially when they are weak and vulnerable because finding solutions and having a heart for those in need is my true joy. I worry for all, but take special care to address the concerns of our children, our seniors, our veterans and our vulnerable. While somewhat broad, vulnerable includes those that are hungry, those that are homeless, and those that are addicted – all of which need help that we can rally support for and get if we work together. I’m worried that we forget about those needing help the most when we talk about numbers and figures instead of quality of life and how to best help.
3.Please name three businesses/services you don’t currently have but you think would be great to have on Main Street.


  1. Common Crow-esque or Whole Foods type of Local Grocery Store
  2. Parking Garage / Shuttle Service / Bike Rental Service
  3. Drop-In Community Center / Pop-up Gov’t & Non-Profit Services Support (ie one month could be a cultural museum extension, another month could be voter registration, another month could volunteer food drive support, etc.)
  4. My fantasy pick is to have The Godmother’s Kitchen, but that’s not realistic (just yet).


  1. A local “Eastern Mountain Sports” or REI-type shop that would cater to locals and eco-tourism, something that we haven’t begun to capitalize on.
  2. Stores, gathering places or venues where people living downtown can run their errands, do light shopping and socialize without  having to use a car.
  3. A “TKTS”-like kiosk that would sell admissions to and promote attractions and events throughout the city in a single location.

4. Assuming we will not see a strong return of the ground-fishing industry for many years if at all, what businesses/industries really require the kinds of industrial waterside access Gloucester provides? [example- many folks cite “marine research” but lab facilities can easily be built a short distance away from the water in more modern structures for far less money].

Paul: I would hope that “blue economy” companies (marine biology, marine technology, robotics, tidal energy etc.) would be on the harbor to the extent that they need to be. Their presence on the harbor doesn’t have to be huge. What I envision is that companies will occupy only so much of the waterfront as they need for launching or retrieval of vessels and equipment or house machinery or processes that need direct access to the water. I would hope that, as those companies grow, their “back shop” operations could expand into our industrial parks, saving the harborfront for those businesses that actually need water access.

Sefatia: I’m known as a tireless advocate of the fishing industry and want to harness the potential of our waterfront with appropriate development. I don’t think there is a singular business or industry that can be the secret recipe for success; instead, I believe we have to look at case studies of how other communities empowered growth effectively. Thankfully, we have plenty to look at in close proximity including Salem, Beverly and even Boston. But I do know that my work this year on returning to various seafood expos, alliances with international fishing ambassadors and legislation earned from our state and federal leaders are sowing the seeds for a blossoming economic return. So the good news is that we have righted the ship, but we have to navigate past some murky waters of indecisiveness to charter our path toward a new frontier. I want to work with a larger crew, including tourism, arts, marine industries, restaurants, and Gloucester leaders to provide feedback to our economic specialists so that the expectations can be realistic and so that we can provide jobs that return today and in the future, too. But remember, nothing we do will succeed unless we work with the fishing industry and the fisherman are directly involved with this process, because they do actually want to innovate but they are looking for their leader and to have their input appreciated, too.

5. The combination of expensive housing stock and a tepid job market has made Gloucester a challenge for citizens of moderate income, especially younger ones looking to start families and buy homes. What can be done to address this and why should younger people in particular choose Gloucester as a place to live?

Sefatia: Gloucester has always been a great place to live, but we don’t celebrate our history and offerings enough. We need to expand awareness through dedicated outreach services, both from a consumer / citizen and business angle. People may come to see our beaches in the summer, but we have to showcase our community spirit all year long and keep them coming back for more – whether that’s theater, food, parks, festival events, or museums, we have to first take pride in our community. But to welcome our youth here, we need better commuter options, including increased train services, expanded harbor shuttle locations, and beach parking shuttle services with expanded mobile payment offerings. While we aren’t there yet, I also want more research around better Internet / Tele-Communication offerings that are more affordable and more available, too. Lastly, encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit – as seen at The Hive – or expanding educational services – like we see at Endicott College – help enable young people’s future options while investing in our community locally.

Paul: I would like to revamp our zoning ordinance to allow more clustered housing on smaller lots—particularly in-town and near public transportation, where such housing already exists. I would also like to look at allowing some single-family homes to be subdivided to create accessory apartments. This serves two purposes:

  • It ups our housing options by increasing the number of rental units.
  • It provides “empty nesters” on fixed incomes with an additional source of money that would help them stay in their homes.

In the long run, however, the real key is bringing new commercial and industrial enterprises to town. Jobs are the basis of all prosperity. Where there is work, housing will be created. Gloucester has a 400-year history as a working town. If we are to not only survive but prosper we must keep true to that heritage.

Bonus Question: Which Beatle do you most identify with and why?

Paul: Ringo. No question. I recall that once in 1964 or so he was asked what he hoped would come of his being part of the band. He said something like he hoped the Beatles thing lasted long enough that he could put enough money aside to be able to open up a beauty salon somewhere. I’m not quite sure why, but that appeals to me.


Sefatia: Oh boy, generations of Americans have battled over this subject! I feel like friendships can be lost arguing their favorite. I would typically pick Paul because he’s been relevant since his career started. Plus, I once heard Paul attempt to speak Italian and appreciated his global appeal. But, I’m going with the “dreamer” John Lennon because he inspired people to help change the world through his artistic works. I still listen to “Imagine” and think about helping all the people and living as one… it’s a brilliant motivational piece.



Thanks again and best of luck to both candidates! –Clam