Introducing Staff Photographer Stevens Brosnihan

It has been requested that the Gloucester Clam report on more of the day to day goings on in our fair city. That we move past our current beat of intoxicated shouting and wiener jokes. Time to get serious and do some real journalism. To facilitate this, we welcome aboard Staff Photographer Stevens Brosnihan. Stevens received his Post-baccalaureate certificate and Masters Degree in Fine Arts in painting and drawing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. During his three-year tenure at SAIC he took full advantage of The School’s renown inter-disciplinary conceptual framework of competitive heuristic post-structural indifference. Which is a real thing, I guess.

Stevens’ first assignment was to cover Beeman Elementary School’s incoming Kindergarten Orientation on Wednesday. Fresh faced youngsters taking their first step on a long life of learning. The future, personified in lunch boxes, smiles and held hands. He assured us that with his art school background, he was the perfect man for the job.

This is what he gave us.


We are confused. Where are the kids? How hard was this? In a short text exchange Stevens chided us as boxed-in literalists, asking us to let the images speak for themselves. We argued that they looked like REM album covers from the late 80s we would see when we were a DJ in college and we don’t know what hell those bastards were talking about either. Since The Gloucester Clam is nothing but a media outlet with highest possible standards, we demanded a detailed explanation.

He sent us this:

The camera I chose (the 1930 Welta Gucki) is from photography’s youth. I felt it was perfect to reference the vitality and naive simplicity of children in an unfamiliar setting.

The camera is unfettered——no meter to gauge its surroundings, an uncoupled viewfinder like a child’s fresh, uncluttered take on life.

The 46mm film is hard to come by, so I rolled my own from a bulk package of 1983 Kodalith ortho, type 3 that I saved from a friend’s flooding basement. It was originally intended for newspaper halftone reproductions and can be coaxed into rendering continuous tones by using the wrong chemicals when developing it.

In life and in art alike, the child speaks and is unfazed by trivial parameters such as what is ‘correct.’  Choosing the developer was easy: a dilute ascorbic acid (vitamin C) based formula for 10 minutes at room temperature. I don’t use a thermometer and my darkroom was chilly today, so I let kept it in a few minutes longer. It felt right.

As I approached the school, the thought of photographing the actual children seemed irrelevant in the face of the power of nature. So instead I wandered into the woods and met a beautiful pile of compost.


The immensity of its potential seemed to poignantly and overwhelmingly speak of the future. It would become the future, from which gardens will take root. Much like the gardens of the mind these children have, ideas spreading forth like so many seedlings planted in the sweet April landscape.


The horizontal lines in the compositions are scratches likely caused by tiny specs of corrosion on the film path of the camera. Much like these children will have tiny specs of corrosion in their minds as years grow them wiser, more hardened, and less naive to the injustices of the world. 

There you go folks. Kindergarten Orientation Day at Beeman. Thank you, Stevens.


Wicked Tuna Recap – “Battle Royale”

IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN FOR ME TO FIGURE OUT HOW FISHING WORKS, FOLKS. My Hulu and/or DVR has some more Wicked Tuna episodes to recap, so I’m on it! Apparently the one I did last week was out of order or something, who even knows. Fishes were caught, yelling happened, let’s just get to this episode where more fishes will be caught and more yelling will happen.

We start this week off on the, where Captain Dave catches a fish straight off, to no one’s surprise. This guy must emit an enchanting musk which attracts 800 pound tuna, because there’s no other reason he gets all the fishes. Unfortunately, they get some thick rope stuck somewhere it shouldn’t be (STORY OF MY LIFE RIGHT BOYS) and they end up losing the fish to the ravages of the surly ocean.

The Haaaaahd Merchandise is on its way out to sea, and the show actually gets a pretty boss shot of the cut bridge.

we're always the first car in line trying to get off the island. always, forever.

we’re always the first car in line trying to get off the island with 1/8th a tank of gas when this happens. always.

Now over to the Lily, which isn’t like the rest of the boats that have lines and reels and whatnot. The Lily apparently uses a spotter plane and a guy just javelins the metric fuck out of any tuna close enough. This is a pretty hardcore way to fish, I’m pretty sure I saw Tom Hanks with a two-foot beard on that boat somewhere. Unfortunately, they didn’t spear their fish hard enough and it got away. “That was the best opportunity to dart a tuna in awhile”, explains one of the javelin dudes. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard frat bros say the exact same thing outside a dim bar at 3 AM.

Back to some other boat (the Bounty Hunter I guess), someone’s yelling STAHTTHEMOTAHWEREON. I’m not entirely sure what that means but I’m assuming it’s seamen-talk for “Please, shipmate, I believe we have made contact with the species of fish we desire, shall you move the boat to a more favorable position?” A man with the most ridiculous of hats yells “He’s not coming, he’s tight as hell!” And I laugh, because I have the sense of humor of a twelve year old boy.

Who let you out of the house wearing this hat? They should be ashamed of themselves.

Who let you out of the house wearing this hat? They should be ashamed of themselves.

A fifteen minute portion of this show is now dedicated to how this boat has its fish and line caught in some lobster pots and then another boat’s fishing gear. Literally this is the high drama of this show, some twisted up bits of string. There’s even an INFOGRAPHIC explaining basic physics to the subscribers of National Geographic. I mean the ocean is staggeringly vast, maybe don’t fish 50 feet away from other people and lobster pots? No? Just me? Ok.



As always, there’s a long boring explanation about HOW BAD WE NEED THIS FISH and THE SEASON ENDS SOON and I want to gouge my eyes out. Spoiler alert: they catch the fish and yell.

You know who isn’t in this episode yet? Stonerboat, who maybe overslept because mom’s basement doesn’t have windows and all. But we’ve got the Hot Tuna, and they’re close behind in the twentysomething deckhands with awful hair category.

I just assume in the offseason he works at Guitar Center.

I just assume in the offseason he works at Guitar Center.

The catches another fish and ends up trying to reel it in for NINE FREAKIN’ HOURS. Going into labor with my kids didn’t last that damn long but I was drugged up for that so who knows. They miss the thing with the harpoon five hundred times, and for the first time I actually kind of feel bad. Maybe this show is giving me saltwater Stockholm syndrome. Then I realize how much more money they make than I do, and I don’t feel bad anymore. Crisis averted.

This show is interminable. I feel like I’ve been watching it for hours. It’s no Fishing with John, I’ll tell you. Finally they get this stupid fish and the show is over so I can go to bed.

Stay tuned for next week’s episode, where if a seagull doesn’t steal somebody’s hard-earned sandwich to shake things up, I’m going to scream.

Disclaimer: Despite poking gentle fun at the captains and crew of this show, we actually admire them very much – not only for their hard work, but for helping Gloucester get on the map for something interesting. Please don’t slash our tires.

John Hays Hammond Jr. – True Gloucester Genius

What are you reading this on? A tablet? A phone? A laptop? Was it printed out and offered to you by a cult-like follower on a bejeweled tray? Assuming your wretched supplicant used a wireless printer, in each case you can enjoy this fine piece of infotainment thanks to technology pioneered by Gloucester resident and awesome genius John Hays Hammond Jr.

we can only assume that as the father of remote control, this was a selfie

we can only assume that as the father of remote control, this was a selfie

You have him to blame.

Sure, you’ve driven by Hammond Castle bunch of times and maybe have attended one of the Haunted Halloween things because who doesn’t delight in the sound of tweens from Beverly screaming at the top of their lungs for half an hour straight? Or maybe you went there on a field trip or something, but none of it has ever made much sense. You  probably thought something like this:

“Guy was inventor. Guy built castle. Now is site of Renaissance Faire where dude with leashed ferrets wearing pantaloons capers about playing lute.”

Centaurs and Doritos don't mix, apparently

Centaurs and Doritos don’t mix, apparently

But I beseech thee to suspend thy knavery and listen hence to the tale of John Hays Hammond, Cape Ann’s greatest genius after Chubby Woodman, inventor of the fried clam (and porn actor if his nickname is any indication). Birdseye was pretty good too, and we’re going to do a thing on him later in hopes of getting free tater tots.

But we digress (we are a little shitfaced, sorry). This is one of those stories that looks like it needs to be made into a family movie you never watch on Hulu with the kids on a trip because you wind up watching like nine Sponge Bob episodes on the hotel TV instead. Here is what you missed:

  • Son of a wealthy engineer, John Jr. spends his early childhood years in South Africa at a mining camp, becoming intimately familiar at a young age with the techniques and equipment used to dig ore miles below the ground. Our own kids have trouble getting out the door with two matched shoes.
  • Eventually the family moves to England where he falls in love with castles. In fact, castles are his only friends as they are more penetrable and warm than his British classmates.
  • At age 12 John Jr. goes with his father to meet Thomas Alva Edison at his laboratory in New Jersey. The young Hammond asks perceptive questions of the great inventor who comes to like the cut of his jib and invites him to hang around the lab. Also Edison was trying to motivate his employees to invent the technology that would eventually become the Taser, and as we know from personal experience having a young boy around when you’re trying to do something complicated is the best inspiration for this kind of device.
Or this. This works

Or this. This works

  •  While assisting on an experiment being conducted by Nikola Tesla with a mysterious source of dark energy in the luminescent ether, Hammond miswires a connection sending himself and Tesla back to the 13th Century. They wind up being enlisted by Leszek II of Poland to defeat the invading Huns of the ‘Golden Horde’ using Tesla’s lightening machine, thus paving way for Europe to leave the Dark Ages and enter the Renaissance [citation needed].
  •  Hammond builds his Radio Research Laboratory on Gloucester Harbor. There, he invents over 400 devices patented under his name. How did he manage to get that past the DPA? Getting this structure approved remains the greatest triumph his career, one that has never been repeated to this day.
  •  He also builds a castle. Because fuck yes, when you are a mad scientist (more of a mad engineer, really) you’d better damn well have a boss lair. He uses local materials mixed with the ruins of historical European buildings salvaged from the rubble of WW I. How cool is that? It has a Roman pool in the middle of it. Greta Garbo used to swim in this pool because she was having an affair with Hammond’s brother. Do we think she swam naked in this pool? We do.
The zoning board rejected the first few proposals

The zoning board rejected the first few proposals

  • He had a MASSIVE organ. Oh, come on, a pipe organ. The musical instrument. You people make us sick.
  •  He uses radio control to send a pilotless boat around the harbor freaking people’s shit out all over the place. Using the same system he remotely controls a boat from Gloucester to Boston and back again. Later he would use the same technology to remotely steer an unmanned battleship for the Navy in a demonstration. The Navy can never quite get its head around remote controlled vessels because with no sailors on board the sodomy would have to occur on land, which just seems wrong somehow.
Authors vision of what this looked like

Authors vision of what this looked like

  •  From his castle locals report hearing massive explosions echo across the harbor and seeing weird lights. Do you love this guy or what? How do you not love this guy? He also invents a variable-pitch propeller (the navy likes this better) a magnetic bottle cap remover and a “Hypodermic Meat Baster” which coincidentally was the name of a punk band at our college we would play bass for sometimes.
  •  He turns his house into a museum while he’s still alive so everyone can enjoy his collection. If there was any demand at all for a “Museum of tattered Ikea Furniture Covered in Pet Hair” we’d do the same.

    drone shot of E. Gloucester. Hammond would have LOVED this. Photo M. Del Vecchio

    drone shot of E. Gloucester. Hammond would have LOVED this. Photo M. Del Vecchio

We could go on, but if there is anything we’ve learned from our site statistics is that you don’t want us to go on, you just want funny lists. “Give the people what they want,” is our motto.

To reiterate: Hammond was born rich, could have sailed around the world on a golden yacht full of prostitutes doing little more with his time than firing champagne corks at bargemen. Instead he decided to invent amazing stuff and live in a castle he made into a public museum while hanging around with the coolest people of his day.

A hearty “Clam Huzzah” to John Hayes Hammond Jr.!

Ask A Dogtown Resident

Our “Ask” series is an advice column with a special panel of guest columnists. Today’s guest columnist is a destitute, widowed resident of Dogtown circa 1790.

Dear Dogtown Resident:

I am engaged to a great guy, but his family wants a huge wedding. I would rather elope or have a small backyard shindig. However, his mother and sisters insist on renting a hall we can’t afford and inviting a guest list of almost 150 people! I am at my wits’ end and want to call the whole thing off. What do I do?

– Not Bridezilla in Lanesville

My Dearest Not Bridezilla:

Excuse my handwriting, my love, for I am writing by mere glowing embers. Since John has gone to his maker in the sea these nine years ago, finding firewood has been a harder endeavor. Most winters I bring the dogs inside with me and hang our wedding quilt over the broken parts of the front door. I am sixty years old, too old to fix things here. My cellar hole is crumbling as we speak, and taking the last of this years’ root potatoes with it. But this is nary a matter, let me attend to your question. Ah, yes, you have not the money for such a lavish occasion. Let me be bold – have you considered prostitution? When I cannot afford whale oil for my reading lamp, I often revisit my past as a lady of the night. Times are hard, my dear, and we all must do what we can.


If only I could again have this kind of luxury.

Dear Dogtown Resident:

My son is 18 and we have found out that he has been drinking at friends’ houses. We are concerned about this behavior. How do we curb it? He is an adult now, but he still lives at our house. Grounding him isn’t going to work at this age!

– Worried in Rockport

Dearest Worried:

I understand fully your concern about the scourge of the Drink. My own brother was found half-dead on an outcropping of rocks on the Annisquam river last November. He continues to wander from parish to parish in search of more spirits to quench his inner pain after the failed crops of the past years. I fear for his soul, for he is a shell of a man and he shall face the wrath of an angry god. At 18, your son should have many years of work experience on the docks, and should be working from sunrise to sunset as a deckhand. He should not have time for drink! Does he not have his own house and wife and children at his age? Shame on your family for such morals.

The Sins of Liquor Be Known To Ye

The Sins of Liquor Be Known To Ye

Dear Dogtown Resident:

My doctor wants me to take a medication that I don’t particularly want to take to curb a disease I have. I would rather try a holistic approach like green tea or Reiki. But he claims that I could die if I don’t give in to Big Pharma and take the drug. What should I do?

– Natural in Annisquam

Dear Natural:

If I may, I fear I may not be understanding you correctly. You have a cure for your disease that isn’t prayer and whiskey to ease suffering? And your town has a doctor who isn’t afraid to travel past the bridge to your home for fear of curses put on him? Why, pray tell, are you not listening to the man? I have borne ten children, and five were buried before their 14th birthdays, from scarlet fever, pox, measles, and an encounter with a horsecart. I would have crossed the planes of hell to access a drug that could have spared their lives. And you have such drugs available to you and yet choose not to take them? My love, spend a day in my shoes and you’ll know what the right choice is.

This is commonplace in my village.

This is commonplace in my village.

Want your question answered in our next advice column? Leave a comment here!

Snark Free Sunday: Remember the Maine and everybody else

We just went  down to the area around the Gloucester House to take a pic of one of the the anchors of the USS Maine that is (used to be?) there. If anyone knows which one it is, clue us in because we couldn’t find it. It always surprises us to run into it down there amongst the tourists and fishing gear. Image We think about the Maine on Memorial Day. She was a battleship sunk in Havana Harbor during the revolt there against the Spanish. Why she went down is still unclear. Did she hit a mine? Was there an explosion in her coal bunkers? We don’t know, but it’s important to point out that the exact cause didn’t matter to the guys who were killed or to their families back home. We’ve been to all of the war memorials around Gloucester many times, each of them is poignant in its own way. The WW II memorial front and center on the Boulevard contrasted with the Vietnam one tucked away near the high school have always said more to us more about how the culture absorbed the impacts of those respective conflicts than any poem or song.

The Maine’s bower hits us differently, though, because it is an artifact. It’s an actual thing the guys would haul up and down, probably swear at, bruise their knuckles on. They would worry about it, some of them. “Is it set, is it holding?” But their worries about the anchor, like so many concerns in life, were not congruent with the actual mechanism of the eventual catastrophe.

Like so much of warfare today in the age of stand-off weaponry and even as civilians in a society where lives can be snuffed out in an instant by any number of means intentionally or otherwise, what came at those guys was a surprise. Death came out of nowhere. Everyone one of those guys had plans for that day that didn’t involve what happened, none of them saw it coming.

Humans have always glorified the concept of battle, as our most ancient texts show. But in the end, so many of the people we honor this weekend were struck down not taking a hill or leading a charge, but doing their duty and managing the unexpected in times of unprecedented crisis they did not expect. On the Maine, given the watch schedule of a ship, some of those struck down were even asleep when disaster struck.

Yet, rightfully, we honor them all the same. I think that in this, as in so many things, we have much to learn from them.

With thanks to those who have served,

–The Clam