No Snark Sunday: The One Where We’re Thankful for Market Basket

I know Jim Dowd usually does a smashing job with No Snark Sunday, but I asked him if he was still up to do it after a long week and weekend full of work, and he just had that thousand-yard stare of a man nowhere close to achieving his to-do list. I decided to try my hand at it so he didn’t end up freaking out and pacing the end of the fish pier at midnight, mumbling to himself about school supplies and lag bolts.

I racked my brain about No Snark possibilities (School? Schooner fest that I missed because I’m always working?) and then Marty DelVecchio posted this simple picture on Facebook and I was like “bingo, fuckers, that’s what I’m doing.”

Basket's Back!

Basket’s Back!

He took this Friday, when shoppers were returning to Market Basket after the successful takeover by Artie T Demoulas.

We are a better community by having Market Basket here. It sounds completely odd for me to say that – despite being a business major and running my own LLC, I’m a super liberal anti-big-corporation kind of hippie punk mom. But, it’s true. Market Basket helps the middle and lower classes survive. End of story.

They provide reasonably priced fresh produce. The huge problems so many inner cities face is lack of fresh produce for cheap (look up Food Desert), and that’s one of the huge causes of obesity and health problems. Locally, we have other amazing resources like Backyard Growers, Open Door, and the Farmer’s Market that filled the gap, but not every city is as lucky as ours. I don’t want to crap on other local supermarket chains, but in most cases you end up paying more for worse-looking fruit and veggies.

Cheap Staples, too. Produce is only a small part – having cheap necessities like milk, eggs, cheese, pasta (their own in-house whole grain stuff is great), and sugar/flour literally changes the budget for folks without a ton of discretionary income. We all felt the pinch. The nuclear Clamfamily’s 2 adults and 2 kids usually means about $100-$120 in groceries per week, but outside Market Basket, this shoots up to nearly $200, unless you have the time to meticulously research loss leaders and sales and make several trips (spoiler alert: we don’t).  Our pantry was laughingly bare this week. We even ran out of canned beans. We’re terrible Doomsday Preppers, apparently.

Jobs. This is a weird one, because it’s always been reported by major media that the Basket pays well and is a loyal employer, but I have heard firsthand from employees what their starting pay and benefits were, and they weren’t really remarkable. Also, a lot of the Gloucester Crossing employees who started the place up got moved to part time a few months in when the work load fell off and had to wait a long time to go back to full time. I am remiss to give accolades to anyone who doesn’t provide a living wage to living people and fosters underemployment. But, they do provide a good opportunity for teenagers to get a first job, and the company does do a great job of promoting from within. Folks do stay on for years, and apparently do move up in pay and benefits, and that’s far better than others.

The Market Basket fiasco was also notable for giving my my first actual opportunity to write something kind of serious that got major hits – with swears, of course, but serious nonetheless. It was insane how quickly the whole Clam thing spread. A little bit of humor and gratuitous swearing is apparently how 200,000+ people like their news-related articles. It’s been absolutely fucking crazy. People I don’t know stop me in the street. People left dozens of comments, and emailed me personally, to tell me I was a great writer. Dudes, I just started writing in May when we started this thing. That’s crazytalk!


Market Basket’s Back: How The Little Guy Won For Goddamn Once In America

After a tough couple weeks for Market Basket’s loyal customer base and employees who were on the brink of permanent unemployment, news broke late Wednesday night that the “deal” had been done – Arthur T Demoulas’s offer to buy the 51% of Market Basket owned by his cousin, Arthur S Demoulas, and family, was accepted.

There was an immediate outpouring of gratitude and elation, followed by feverishly written grocery lists. At home, the Clam family is out of peanut butter, cereal, flour, pasta, rice, chocolate syrup, all kinds of cheese, frozen veggie burgers, and pretty much all meat products except hot dogs. This last week was like when you’re 85% through the Oregon Trail and rations are meager as all fuck and you’re just going hunting every damn day for what you need to make sure your kids don’t starve. Alkali water? Lost the trail? Goddamnit, MECC, you cruel overlords.


If you’re following along at home, this is actually a pretty incredible story that happened locally, but impacts globally.  Here’s why:

1. First off, the little guy won. This doesn’t happen in modern day America, aside from rare instances. Employees without the protection of a union were able to successfully picket for what they wanted – not even a negotiable end goal like salary or benefits, but a concrete thing – reinstate Artie T as CEO. That’s it. Nothing less. While it started slowly, locally, the Market Basket story eventually grabbed nationwide media attention. Our local discount grocery with the never-fashionable floor tiling and the kids with the ties on was all of a sudden A Big Thing.

2. The employees had the backing of almost every single customer. Boycotts aren’t often incredibly successful – in this study, 53 out of 144 publicly-owned firms conceded to boycotter’s demands. That’s a 37% rate. While I couldn’t find the data, I have a hard time believing that any of those 53 cases had the groundswell of bipartisan support that Market Basket’s did. And again, that’s publicly owned firms that ostensibly are very concerned about their public image. Market Basket’s privately held board and double-dose of egregiously godawful CEOS Gooch and Thornton, at first glance, seemed relatively unconcerned about their public image, what with the whole “we will fire whoever doesn’t come to work” thing. This was a mistake. Oh my fuck, was this ever a mistake.

3. The protests were epic. The inmates ran the asylum, for lack of a better colloquialism. At every store, there were huge banners of Artie T’s face, receipts taped EVERYWHERE from other grocery stores, and dozens of protesters outside every entrance. Boycotts happen, but has there ever been a boycott where the upper management was unable to keep their stores from being completely overrun by protest signs? Picket line’s usually not INSIDE THE STORE.

Picture courtesy of the Concord Monitor

Picture courtesy of the Concord Monitor


4. The family background behind the protest, as I have stated before in a thing that kinda went a little viral, is FUCKING CRAZY. The family is straight-up nuts and the fighting was a decades-long sawdust soap opera. Plus strippers and disbarred lawyers. People want a crazy drama background, and holy hell has the Demoulas family ever delivered.

Of course, *record scratch* the fairytale ending isn’t set in stone. Arthur T Demoulas bought the company and operations are returning to normal very quickly, but the devil is in the details of how Market Basket will be paid for. The purchase price was somewhere near $1.5 B.  ONE AND A HALF BILLION DOLLARS. DANG. Artie T and family put up $500m, leaving $1b to be financed – most likely through mortgaging properties. This is going to hurt profits – Market Basket’s key to low prices and relatively good employee benefits was their ability to be almost terrifyingly profitable – they carried so little debt. This is no longer the case. While some of their capital will be saved by not distributing willy-nilly to shareholders on Arthur S’s side like in the past, that’s still not a gigantic chunk of the difference.

In all honesty, though, it may not be perfect, but this ending was the best-case scenario by far. The other options were:

– The stores closing altogether. This would first of all “suck balls” as the kids say, but secondly have a terribly negative impact on our economy – thousands of laid-off workers, plus the ever-expanding lower and middle class that relies on cheap, fresh food to maximize their budget. I don’t want to imagine a world without the Basket, do you?

-Employees giving up and the Arthur S side and its “management” team maximizing profits at the expense of employees and customers alike. The further erosion of worker pay and benefits ticks along and we as a society get used to it. Pete Seeger rolls over in his grave.

It’ll be interesting to see how the whole thing turns out – but the Clam has high hopes for Market Basket in the future. For now, I need a gallon of sour cream and seven pounds of steak to make up for lost time.



JAWS got rained out and all I got was this lousy T-shirt!

Tonight was the finale of the wonderful movie series we’ve had down at the Harborwalk, and I left my husband at Midori with my kids and a bill for 2 Mai Tais and some spicy tuna rolls to go see JAWS. I have never seen Jaws. Clampadres, I was born in 1983, which probably explains a hell of a lot about my worldview (you know what’s awesome? Weezer. Weezer is awesome. Also, Cabbage Patch Kids. And Pete and Pete). My parents were like “blah blah violent movies probably bad for young kids,” therefore, I have never actually seen JAWS.

Looks totally legit and not fake in any way.

Looks totally legit and not fake in any way.

I was excited. I was a little concerned with the amount of small children present who were about to be horrified for life, but I was excited. As the movie started, I realized THE MOVIE IS RATED PG ARE YOU EVEN SERIOUS. You know what else is rated PG?

  • Frozen.
  • Muppets’ Most Wanted
  • Planes: Fire & Rescue
  • Tangled
  • The Incredibles
  • How to Train Your Dragon

You know, movies you bring your four year old to. Movies with Happy Meal Tie-Ins. Just normal every day kids’ movies. The 70’s were a weird time. Not that I’d know. I usually rely on Ol’ Man James Dowd to regale me with his tales of KC and the Sunshine Band and smoking in elementary schools and whatever else happened in the 70s, because again I was born in 198 fuckin’ 3.

So anyway, some girl gets eaten, a kid gets eaten, there’s an asshole mayor in pinstripes, and it’s all Chief Brody and his terrifying baby that’s totally 10 years older than I am now.



Fun times! And then… it starts to rain. And I’m like well, that’s some bullshit, but I am watching this movie. I crack up at Brody smoking a goddamn cigarette in the ER (is he on the Hard Merchandise? WE NEED THIS FISH!)

But by the time Quinn and Brody and NOAA dude are in the boat, it is POURING BUCKETS. I’m down to stay. Brooke is down to stay. We’re in this, motherfuckers. I hid under my chair. Can’t get me, rain!

And then they finally cut the movie, right as the fucking shark is surfacing right in Roy Scheider’s adorably chiseled fucking face. OH MY GOD.

shoulda bought a chum cutter, bro.

shoulda bought a chum cutter, bro.

But you know, part of my life is lugging sound and PA gear around, and that shit is not happy in rainy conditions or if you drop it on the escalator at the Museum of Science, so I understand and applaud their decision to cut it when they did. I’m super happy with how the movies went, wish I could’ve seen more, and can only hope it happens again next year. Thanks to all the wonderful people like Matt Coogan and Rob Newton and the dozens of others who made this happen. Seriously, you people rule!

Anyway, for those of us who haven’t seen JAWS before, this leaves us hanging! HOW DOES IT END? WHAT HAPPENS? OH MY GOD SAVE US CAPTAIN PLANET!

I came up with a few hypotheses for how the movie ends. I’m not sure, because again, I’ve never seen it, but these scenarios seem the most likely:

1. In an amazing plot twist, it turns out it’s been Brody killing people the whole time. Quint and the Shark team up to stop him.

2. The shark is Quint’s father, who knew of no other way to get Quint’s attention than a killing streak. The film ends in a tearful embrace between the two.

3. Brody is already dead. Everything that’s happened since his drowning as a child has been this dream on the stretcher as they tried to revive him.

4. The shark is captured but it turns out it wanted to be caught so it could destroy the aquarium and kill its director, who had betrayed him when they worked together during the war.

5. The Shark is Russia.

Am I close? I’m probably pretty close. Whatever, I guess I’ll never know. UNTIL NEXT YEAR!










We’re seeing a lot of these comparisons between what you had to do to get kids ready for school in the ’70s compared to what parents have to do today floating around ye ole Intertubes. Lest anyone get the idea that The Clam is written exclusively by with-it young hipsters, it behooves us to mention this particular Clameditor was alive during the ’70s. We actually attended elementary school in a few of the ’70s. Yeah, it was a simpler time, but so were the Dark Ages.

’70s and ’80s nostalgia always rubs us the wrong way. It’s always heavy-up on VW Beetles and flower decals, but forgets the much, much darker shit going down back then. I know the world seems crazy now, but trust me. Check out the Wikipeda page for any year in that decade and you’ll be faced with horror after horror. Here, for larfs just read the entry for 1972. Actually, just skip to May.

Way less this

The 70s were way less this

Way more this

and way more this

As is the Way of The Clam, we hereby offer our list of the top seven things from the ’70s we are NOT sending our kids off to school with.

1. Lead I’m sending my kids off to school with new notebooks, sneakers and pencils but greatly reduced blood lead levels from those we had in the ’70s. You wacky funsters today harsh on Fluoride and GMOs with a bunch of unsubstantiated arguments as to the long-term effects of each. When we were  kids, we stuck to the classics: Lead has been shown many, many times to cause permanent cognitive damage to kids and it’s been a known toxin for centuries. Yet it wasn’t banned in interior house paint until 1978 and was in everything from gasoline to solders to vinyl and water systems. Lord only knows how it’s going to affect us later in life.

2. Real social strife We’re as concerned here at The Clam about the militarization of police and the crazy-ass stuff going on in Ferguson as anybody. But when we were kids, this kind of shit happened all the time. Kent State, where National Guard troops opened fire on protesters with real bullets killing 4 and wounding 9 happened in the ’70s. 11 days later the police did the same thing at Jackson State killing two more. Here in Boston we had the busing riots. Just take a look at this bullshit going on less than 30 miles from here and try and convince us the ’70s were a better time:

Boston, the '70s

Boston, the ’70s

3. Carpet Bombing Another thing we won’t be packing alongside tree-nut free snacks and tahini sandwiches is the knowledge of our country straight-up indiscriminately bombing the crap out of a foreign land. Yes, the “drone war” gets a lot of attention for killing around 2,500 people in five years, many of them civilians. But the year we ourselves were scampering off to kindergarden in our Toughskins and Buster Browns, the US was dropping literally tons of bombs on the city of Hanoi, the capitol of North Vietnam. In the spate of less than two weeks we’d killed 1,600 civilians. The whole Vietnam War, which wrapped-up in 1975 killed about 4 million people. I know we’re still fighting wars all over the place, but it does seem like the overall body count is going down from the era of “peace and love” which is a good thing.

4. Terrible, Terrible Music Our favorite quote about pop culture of this era is “People of the Seventies thought they were living in a golden age of music. They weren’t. It turns out they were living in a golden age of film.” Yeah, there was some great stuff, but most of it was crap. And most of the great stuff; like the Ramones, the Clash, the Velvet Underground and the rest of the nacent punk movement came in direct response to the rotting possum carcass sausage that was being cranked out of the music industry. Tired of the Frozen soundtrack? How about “Billy Don’t be a Hero”? Or “Seasons in the Sun”? I could go on and on, but I’m happy to sing any Taylor Swift number driving the minivan over the horror that is this:

Update: We read this post to our wife and she kicked us in the nuts. “What about Led Zeppelin? Queen? KC and the Sunshine Band? Joni Mitchell? Marvin Gaye? Neil Young? Fleetwood Mac, Simon and Garfunkel, Bruce Springsteen, pre freaky-Michael Jackson 5?” Ok, ok there was great music. But Captain and Tennille unironcially dedicated to Henry Kissinger is what I’m saying and please stop kicking because pain.

5. Rote memorization One thing that singes our stones is people getting all bent out of shape around “all the technology the kids have to have nowadays…” You know why? BECAUSE WE ARE LIVING ON THE CUSP OF A TECHNOLOGICAL SINGULARITY, THAT’S WHY. In fifth grade we memorized facts and learned simple equations. We took quizzes and tests. They might as well have taught us to sew the oilskin fabric coverings of zeppelins for all the good that will do you today. Within our kids’ lifetimes’ products will be produced by nanoscale replicators and it’s very likely computers will be able to mimic most of the functions of the human mind. So, what’s the complaint about them needing a multi-function calculator along with the colored pencils? Think about the change you’ve seen in just the past ten years and then multiply that by an order of magnitude, then you understand the world our schools are trying to get these kids ready for. We are Amish compared to what they’re going to be seeing.

6. Unsafe everything I know parents today get a lot of grief from older folks for making kids ride scooters in helmets and wear seatbelts and not breathe the secondhand smoke on an eight hour car trip to Maine, but I’m not sure why we hate so hard on reasonable safety precautions. The oft heard “we somehow survived” meme is a weird construct. It goes: “We didn’t have all that safety stuff these kids do today and we survived, right?” Um…anyone else see the problem with that statement? There is a logical fallacy big enough to swallow a Ford Country Squire.

The front seat and the rear compartment had different climates

The front seat and the rear compartment were so far apart they had separate climates

Who the fuck does that statement address, both the living AND the dead? Is this a seance? It’s like saying, “Anyone who lost both upper limbs in a wood-chipper accident please raise your hands. Okay, I don’t see any hands so wood-chippers must be safe!” Talk about your sampling error. Those invoking the “we survived” proof are only able to do so because they are THEMSELVES obviously survivors, correct? There is no way the kids of the 70’s who DIDN’T survive can be represented in this affirmation, right? People who say this: were your parents using the lead paint chips as a salad topping? For fuck’s sake.

Ok, so let’s try this again: “When we were kids we didn’t have all that safety stuff, but we survived, didn’t we? I mean all of us except, for instance, the additional 50% of kids who died as the result of injuries sustained in car crashes because no one wore seat belts and are now buried in the cold, cold ground.” There. That’s better.

Not banned till 1988

Not banned till 1988

7. Alienation I don’t know about other kids of the 70s and 80s, but a lot of us were just left. We were free to roam around and learned a ton about how to get tetanus from old razor wire and which barrels of creosote down at the old factory were best for dipping your head into on a dare, but I dunno… Along with the freedom, which was great, there was a distance, a gulf between the kids and the adults beyond just years and roles.

At holidays we had kids’ tables. We were expected to go downstairs and play ping pong or watch TV while the adults upstairs drank and smoked. There was our music and their music. Until Star Wars there were our movies and their movies. That’s not how it is today. My kids and I play with Legos together, we listen to music together, we read some of the same books, play the same videogames and watch some of the same films. I’m not another kid to them, I’m a real-live authority figure who will turn off the wireless network if the dishes are not done in a heartbeat, thank you very much. But at the same time I won’t feel when I send my kids off next week that these are small strangers who also happen to live in my house.

For those of you who missed it, and I’m glad you did, life in the ’70’s was lonely for a lot of people. Outsiders, victims of abuse, gay folks, anybody different, really, did not find that decade or even much of the next a comfortable place. The communal sensibility of the ’60s had given way to atomized individualism, where you could be “yourself” as long as that fit into a narrow set of descriptors. We still have glaring issues around acceptance, but society  and most importantly kids today are significantly more tolerant than the supposedly “anything goes” ’70s.  As a grateful resident of the 21st century, I’m hoping empathy is something my own kids will carry to school next week, along with the new ergonomically-designed backpacks Grandma sent.

Gloucester’s Next Reality Shows

With the smashing success of Wicked Tuna on National Geographic and its new spinoff Wicked Tuna: North vs South (which I guess I’ll have to recap… fantastic), we here at the Gloucester Clam realized that many millions of people will apparently watch hours upon hours of people mostly failing to catch fish.

We thought to ourselves, “Gloucester isn’t done cashing in on this trend. It’s been fifteen years of reality shows, and people aren’t tired of it yet. We can bang out a good dozen more reality series in this town alone.”

These were our clearly Emmy-worthy ideas.

1. Laundry Stars (on the brand new Laundry Network coming January ’15). A plucky East Gloucester laundromat owner faces the struggles of organic detergent clogging up the machines, sand and forgotten pocket chum in the dryers, and the constant smell of smugness emanating from somewhere they can’t quite find.

2. Storm Drain Heroes (Science Channel). Just like its predecessors, Storage Wars and Storage Wars: Sewer Edition, Storm Drain Heroes focuses on teams of bidders desperate to find that one lucky storm drain containing the historical maritime relics that will get them the cash to continue buying other storm drains. A true American underdog story, it will also contain hijinks like “Team Deborah finds a family of putrid, decaying raccoons” and “Team Bob Bought 5 cubic tons of dead leaves for $500 and he needs to pay for his daughter’s wedding!”ie

The cold hard cash is so close I can feel it!

The cold hard cash is so close I can feel it!

3. Lobsteriest  Catch on National Geographic. This is pretty much just giving Joey C a show in which he can yell, which we are totally down with for reasons that include “pure awesome”. There will probably be high drama, some epic moments between boats fighting over lobster territory, random cutaways to butterflies and rainbows, and the entire thing will be underwritten by the butter industry.

This was a total stretch, I just wanted to throw a Simpsons reference in somewhere.

This was a total stretch, but I just wanted to throw a Simpsons reference in somewhere.

4. Scrap Metal Men on the Military Channel. Cameras follow Gloucester’s elite team of scrap metal collectors in their 1987 Ford Rangers on their rounds during trash night, picking up stray bicycles that probably still belonged to somebody’s kid, fishing perfectly good beer cans out of the recycling, and ending up at North Shore Scrap Steel with their day’s catch. Each season will have a leaderboard, and the winner (if not predeceased in a terrible tetanus tragedy) will get bragging rights over the rest of the fleet. Kind of like the other show, but MORE METAL.

Exactly. Like. This.

Exactly. Like. This.

5. Seagull Dynasty on Animal Planet. A ragtag “family” of unemployed men living out of campers invents a seagull-calling device to ensure dinner. Slightly less racist and homophobic than Duck Dynasty, but with all the folksy mannerisms and dependence on propane. The show lasts only one year after the creators realize no one actually has a need to call seagulls, and the company is sold for a pony keg of Natty Light.

6. Ed’s Mini Mart Ninja Warrior: A tournament where shoeless folks staggering like zombies, people pushing baby carriages with no babies in them, and rat-tailed men with open shirts picking half-smoked cigarettes off the ground compete in the most basic of physical feats to prove to the staff that they’re totally sober enough to buy $4 of Rubinoff vodka.