No Snark Sunday, Urban Agriculture Edition

Hey Clamuniards! Welcome again to the day of the week where we take a look at some of the much awesome being produced here in our fair city. Today we actually look at produce being produced (see what we did there?) by The Backyard Growers Program, a grassroots organization dedicated to getting people of all income brackets to turn some of their yards to garden space. They’ve also been working with the elementary schools to bring gardening to kids. It’s been crazy successful and  founder Lara Lepionka takes the reigns of the Clam (risking her impeccable reputation) to give us a list (we know how you people love lists) of the top ten things that she’s learned  through the experience of working with schoolchildren:

Lara wields her dark power over impressionable youths

Lara wields her dark power over impressionable youths

9 Things I Learned Gardening with Gloucester School Students

by Special Vegetable Correspondent Lara Lepionka

1) There are so many kids who are in need of “nature time” that when they come out to the garden they simply need to spend some time touching soil and looking at bugs before we can actually plant or harvest.
2) Kids will, in fact, eat what they grow – I’ve watched kids willingly shove handfuls of spinach into their mouths without complaint – and often with a degree of joy. My favorite quote from a Beeman student, “I never thought lettuce could taste so good.”
3) I’m pretty impressed at how well behaved 1,300 children can be in the school garden. They want to be there.
4) Children have a wide range of food/gardening experience. We have kids who have never eaten a carrot before, and kids who can tell me the 12 different heirloom tomato varieties growing in their home gardens. I had one kindergartener who didn’t believe me that carrots grow under ground—the look on her face when she pulled the carrot out of the ground….
5) Kids will make healthy food choices (veggies and fruit) if presented with fresh, appealing options.

Isn't there a way to do this on an iPad?

Isn’t there a way to do this on an iPad?

6) Kids know stuff. They know worms are good for the soil and why. They know what plants need to live. They are learning these things in the classroom, and the school gardens give them a chance to apply their knowledge.
7) Farming is work. Kids actually like to work. On a recent first grade field trip to my farm I told kids they were going to do chores and then I set them to work cleaning out the chicken coop, turning compost, planting potatoes, etc. When we were done one kid said, “So what’s my chore going to be?”

Wait, is this part of Common Core?

Wait, is this part of Common Core?

8) I’m a straight up sciencey girl who is not into fluffy stuff. But I’ve got to say, our culture is totally out of whack when it comes to understanding and appreciating natural and cosmic cycles. In my travels I’ve met folks that don’t know the sun rises in the east, that the moon governs the tides, why the days are shorter in December, etc. Children are less connected to the cycles that govern our food production, which can’t be good.
9) Kids are proud of their gardens, and I think they recognize that their school community worked together to make the harvest possible.

Thank you Lara…wait…9? Only 9? What the Hell? I guess it’s planting season and these people are busy…

You people reading should get busy too. Join in with lots of other folks and organizations in giving them lots of moneyz! Check them out online, join, and be sure to support!

A List of Possible Names For Future Gloucester Strip Clubs

by: The Clamtributors 

The GloHo

The Widow’s Peek

The Ho’s Nest

Gulls Gulls Gulls

Hot Tuna

The Golden Sea Cucumber

The Crab Trap

Pleasant Street T&A Company

 The Happy Taco (Ed note: We are informed this already exists)

The Titz Hugh Lane House [edit: reader Rob Parsons

came up with this and we felt it was too good to pass up.]

And lest you think we could overlook the lucrative male stripper industry, we have:

The All-Buoy Review


The Greasy Pole (obviously)

The Maple Wood



The Indian Not Near the Cupboard

Gloucester suffers from a secret shameful addiction. No, not heroin. Apparently everyone is on heroin all the time as far as we can tell by reading the Gloucester Daily Times (Paywall for the technologically inept) and by the number of little orange caps all over the train station platform when we get there in the morning. “Do they shoot up before leaving or when coming home?” we often find ourselves wondering.

Welcome to Noddington

Welcome to Noddington

No, we’re talking about yet another powerful combination of soul-consuming chemicals that blasted out of South Asia during the height of the British Empire and straight into the collective bloodstream of the entire Western world. Once there they induce incredible highs and occasional intense physical pain, followed by the disconsolate rock-bottom lows that come with the desperate cravings for more. Alongside the self-abuse of the user is a long list of social problems that soon coalesces around obtaining, ‘cooking’ and then concealing behaviors, as the addict cascades through a peak and valley pattern of euphoria and lies.

We’re of course (as usual) talking about Indian food.

“Guv’NOR…it ain’t us yer goin’ on abaht, is it?” Yes, we are talking about you, you comically waistcoated and knee britched-up Edwardian stereotypes. British ex-pats are the worst hit by this scourge as they have been riding the Bengali Banshee longest of Europeans. It becomes most acute after a long night downing pints in a place named something like ‘The Stoat and Flagon’ while watching mousse-haired metrosexuals kick soccer balls around on the ‘telly’. After this they get down to the real addiction of their countrymen, piling by the hundreds into curry houses so sketchy the sauces could be used as debarnacling agent for Her Majesty’s fleet. These binges leave them moaning and hellfarting for days afterward, but it’s a short cycle to the next one especially it it’s against Germany. As a centuries old empire you’d think they’d learn a thing or two over time, but like driving on the wrong side of the road and putting carpets everywhere the English are slow to change any familiar habit no matter how self-destructive.

We played bass a couple of times for a band with this exact same name

We played bass a couple of times for a band with this exact same name

Back here at home we see the helplessness of it every day in the many ex-pats of our neighborhood. Worse are the otherwise innocent souls they’ve snared into a life of chutney dependence in one of their ‘naan houses’ which populate our otherwise placid Prius-laden streets of East Gloucester. You think we don’t notice you sneaking off, cranking Morrisey as you zip toward the shabbier parts of Beverly in the middle of the night with that empty look in your saffron-yellow eyes? How about that “chance” meeting in Central Square near where we work, 40 miles from home and lurking outside the Shalimar lunch buffet because you “had an appointment in town”? Come now, we’re all adults here.

Pull yourself together for a moment, brush off the mustard seeds and take this self- assessment to see where you rate on the Cape Ann Indian food addiction scale from “mild” to “Bhut Jolokia”.

Answer “yes” or “no” to the following questions:

  • Do you hide Indian food from the rest of your family by placing the take-out bag far to the rear of the fridge and moving an orange juice container in front of it?
  • Do you microwave the pre-packaged curry meals from Trader Joe’s while pretending to be the first Indian astronaut on Mars? [“Mumbai, this is Shiva Base. All systems are go!”]
  • Do you make a big show of eating a healthy garden salad for dinner, hustle everyone upstairs after a rushed cleanup and then crank down half a dozen samosas watching Downton Abbey?
  • Do you go to bed thinking thinking, “I’ll have that biryani for breakfast with an egg on it”?
  • Have you ever sent your spouse or significant other to go get Indian in the snow risking his/her life and your only fear was that they might have to drive slowly because of the conditions?
  • Would finding out your friend was sleeping with your spouse enrage you less than discovering they went to Anmol without calling you to see if you wanted anything?
  • Have you never even been to the Indian place in Salem because you just can’t make it that far?
  • Have you thought about opening a curry place in Gloucester even though your restaurant experience consists only of what you could pick up watching Top Chef?

Answer key: Are you now reading the rest of this on your phone, pacing around waiting for your order of  Aloo Ghobi because you couldn’t get to the end of the list? You are? Admit it- you’re sick. You need help.

Move this fucking boat out of the way and put in some steam trays!

Move this fucking boat out of the way and put in some steam trays!

The Tan Dory Center

The Tan Dory Center of Hopefulness is a proposed solution for Gloucester. Occupying any one of the many, many disused storefronts on Main Street it would be a place where addicts could walk in off the street and be given a suitable maintenance dose in order to eliminate the cravings that lead to destructive and risky behaviors. Also inside they would find the camaraderie of others working to similarly manage their own conditions and hopefully not long after that a beer and wine license and maybe occasionally some light entertainment on weekends during the summer.


Ready to lend a hand

Ready to lend a hand

We know this is a bold proposal but as the humanitarians we are here at The Clam we can no longer stand to see our fellow human beings suffer this way and are frankly sick of  the ravages that this affliction has wrought on our many friends, family and the city we love.

Also we hope to Christ they take Tufts.

The Clam Fine Dining Report

Here at the Gloucester Clam, we realize the need to engage and inform our audience on a broad variety of subjects. In an effort to become more of a glossy, stylish publication, we’ve decided to run a recurring segment on the fine dining available here in Gloucester.

Our first review on our fledgling blog is on the Addison-Gilbert Cafe. We’d heard great things about this restaurant and finally had the time to check it out. Upon entering the establishment, it smelled a bit like sanitizing solution, but my date and I overlooked that for the promise of a French Countryside-inspired five-star meal. We took a quick look at the specials board on the wall before seating ourselves.


While the Cream of Chicken soup of the day was undoubtedly a fresh, interesting take on Cream and/or Chicken, the breakfast options on the regular menu were calling us, as it was brunch time.


While the choice of large, ceiling mounted menu was a tad unorthodox for such a well-ranked local eatery, we understood the intentional irony the ownership and head chef were after.

My date chose a vegetable omelet scramble inside a whole wheat wrap, while I had a plate of sausage and home fries. Both came with a self-serve coffee. This was another unexpected offering, but we found the “slumming it” aspect most refreshing.

Vegetable Omelet in Whole Wheat Wrap

Vegetable Omelet in Whole Wheat Wrap

My date’s vegetable omelet in a Whole Wheat Wrap was well-presented, but fell short of expectations on taste. It could have been vastly improved with morels or a drizzle of truffle oil.  It was obvious the whole-wheat wraps were not house-made, which was a disappointment.

Home Fries and Sausage Plate

Home Fries and Sausage Plate

When it came to my plate, it was clear they did not make the sausage in-house either. Again, I overlooked this transgression. Despite its pre-formed appearance, it was quite delicious. The potatoes had a wonderful appearance, texture, and were well-cooked. They had a creamy mouth feel, but lacked adequate seasoning. Again, the addition of fresh ingredients such as garlic scapes or rosemary would have done wonders for the dish.

In conclusion, we were underwhelmed by the taste of the dishes, but you can get out of here on a budget. The somellier seemed confused by the wine choices. Perhaps a new head chef is in order to keep the quality high.

Until next time, au revoir!

Ask HP Lovecraft

The Clam tries to stay neutral about some things. For instance, should the current Fuller School structure be destroyed from space-borne antimatter weaponry or would it better be sealed off and turned into ‘grey goo’ by self-replicating nanobots? There are good arguments for both, and we’re going to stay out of it.

But there is one thing we know with a steadfast certainty and we will shatter the nearest 2/3 bottle of absinthe and use its jagged edge to defend:

Gloucester, NOT Ipswich was the site of Innsmouth in the classic Lovecraftian horror tale Celephias. Please consider the following description:

It was a town of wide extent and dense construction, yet one with a portentous dearth of visible life. From the tangle of chimney-pots scarcely a wisp of smoke came, and the three tall steeples loomed stark and unpainted against the seaward horizon. One of them was crumbling down at the top, and in that and another there were only black gaping holes where clock-dials should have been. The vast huddle of sagging gambrel roofs and peaked gables conveyed with offensive clearness the idea of wormy decay, and as we approached along the now descending road I could see that many roofs had wholly caved in. There were some large square Georgian houses, too, with hipped roofs, cupolas, and railed “widow’s walks”. These were mostly well back from the water, and one or two seemed to be in moderately sound condition….

The decay was worst close to the waterfront, though in its very midst I could spy the white belfry of a fairly well-preserved brick structure which looked like a small factory. The harbour, long clogged with sand, was enclosed by an ancient stone breakwater….

Right? Stone breakwater? White belfry of fairly well preserved brick structure of a small factory? There are other reasons as well, but trust us, Innsmouth is Gloucester, make no mistake.

The Clam will never deter from this steadfast belief. And rabid Clamista Len Pal furthermore proves through our  ‘Ask a Gloucester Historical Figure’ feature that  Lovecraft’s connection to Gloucester goes deeper than maybe even we first imagined.
download (7)
by Len Pal, quotes from Lovecraft’s works
Dear HP  Lovecraft, I’m a 4th generation fisherman. What was once a lucrative trade has become filled with uncertainty and heartache, but I’m too old to change professions. Is there any hope?
It was called “The Esoteric Order of Dagon”, and was undoubtedly a debased, quasi-pagan thing imported from the East a century before, at a time when the fisheries seemed to be going barren. Its persistence among a simple people was quite natural in view of the sudden and permanent return of abundantly fine fishing, and it soon came to be the greatest influence in the town.
Dear HP: My husband has piles upon piles of old books in our attic. He doesn’t read them or loan them out, but neither will he donate them or let me sell them in a yard sale. How can I get him to part with these books?
He must sign the book of Azathoth in his own blood and take a new secret name now that his independent delvings had gone so far. He had seen the name “Azathoth” in the Necronomicon, and knew it stood for a primal evil too horrible for description.
Dear HP: I’ve been spending a lot of time with a girl I like for about a year now, but I think I’m stuck in the “friend zone”. How can I get her to see me as boyfriend-material without being creepy about it?
Yield up enough sacrafices an’ savage knick-knacks and hourbourage in the taown… All in the band of the faithful — Order o’ Dagon — Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn! Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah-nagl fhtagn!