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.

[polldaddy poll=8205988]

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! 

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

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.

[wpvideo tOODaXOC]

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.

Clamsplainer: Market Basket’s Storied History of Crazy

Most of you are probably aware, unless you live under a rock or in West Gloucester (same difference), that there’s some upheaval going on at our beloved local discount grocery chain. But why, you ask? OH, LET’S DISSECT THIS SHIT. It’s a soap opera of epic fucking proportions. IT’S GOING TO TAKE TWO FUCKING DAYS. FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS AND CRACK OPEN A BEER OR EIGHT.

Back in my first Business Law class (I actually graduated from college with a business degree, to the surprise of myself and everyone around me), discussing the Demoulas case took up more than one full week of class. And this was years before this current drama. At the end, half the class still walked out whispering “what the fuck even happened? Is there some kind of elaborate flowchart regarding this case? Where do JFK and the stripper fit in?

Let’s turn the Clam Time Machine back to 1916 to start this bullshit off, shall we? So back then, a Greek immigrant named Athanasios “Arthur” Demoulas and his wife start a tiny grocery in Lowell selling fresh lamb. American dream, y’all!


O.G. Demoulas store, Lowell.

“Native Lamb” was the metal band I played bass for in high school, coincidentally.


They do this forever, and being a family business eventually pass it off to two of their sons Telemachus (or Mike, because no one can pronounce Telemachus) and George.  The brothers expand the business to a supermarket chain of more than a dozen stores in the 50s and 60s. It’s going well, right? Until George dies of a heart attack on vacation in Greece in 1971. Then shit starts getting real.

Mike (left) and George (right), before shit hits the fan.

Mike (left) and George (right). Notice no one has changed the floor design in a Market Basket since 1956. Not pictured: Sawdust.

Mike now owns this huge empire. And although the brothers had promised to take care of each others’ families in the event one of them died, Mike slowly went full asshole instead. Although at first he bought George’s widow and children things every kid loves, like condos and liquor stores, he eventually sneakily had them signing paperwork that gave himself more control of the company.

George’s family didn’t really have the business experience their father had, and trusted their uncle to handle things like he promised. Mike explained to George’s family that he had opened the Market Basket chain to circumvent the laws limiting liquor licenses to one company. He had George’s widow removed from the board of directors over her involvement with another man. Eventually, he left George’s family with a fucking pittance compared to what the chain’s worth should have been at that point – by moving assets into secondary companies owned by only his side of the family (including Lee Drug, a chain he sold to Walgreens for major dollars).

Some Vintage Crazy

Some Vintage Crazy

In 1990, George’s family gets tax notices about their sale of company stock. This immediately sets off their bullshit detectors, because to their knowledge, they hadn’t sold any stock. So the family figures out what’s going on and sues Mike. It takes years and it’s an insane court battle worthy of a goddamn Lifetime special. Cousins punch each other in the back of courtrooms and eventually a state policeman has to be present at every hearing to limit the punchings. George’s son dies and family members are barred from the funeral. Six lawsuits span the 1990’s. Every lawyer in the state seemed to be involved – Mike’s family had 19 lawyers at one point involved with the case.

Someone paid a stripper to testify against her ex-boyfriend. A juror offered to change his decision if he was given $220,000. Two of the lawyers for Mike’s family, with the approval and knowledge of his son, Arthur T Demoulas, secretly tape record a law clerk saying incriminating things under the guise of a job interview to prove the judge overseeing the case has already decided the outcome prior to hearing the arguments and is prejudiced against Mike. The clerk finds out it’s a setup and the FBI gets involved. The clerk is wired. The lawyers -one a freakin’ former assistant US attorney, another a former advisor to JFK – say incriminating things themselves while wired.

Oh my god, my fucking head hurts trying to explain this because it can’t even be real, but it is. Two of the lawyers end up being disbarred at the end of the suit, and George’s family is successful: Mike is found to have defrauded them out of $500 MILLION and the judge forces 51% of the company to be turned over to George’s heirs. Is the Benny Hill theme playing in your head yet? Even while his assets were supposed to be frozen, Mike was subjected to another lawsuit after it was found that he’d diverted another $68M into his own holdings from mutual family holdings. You gotta admit, the guy’s got tenacity.

Tomorrow: I’ll explain what this convoluted-as-fuck backstory has to do with why the Basket has no fucking produce this week. It’s just as nutty. I guarantee it. 

More Market Basket coverage from The Gloucester Clam:

Part 2: Market Basket is Freakin’ Out

Part 3: Update: Shit’s Like the Titanic

Part 4: The Resolution Will Be Televised