The Gloucester Clam’s Tournament of Shitty Intersections: SEMIFINALLLS!

Oh dang, folks! We move into the semifinals of our very own Tournament of Shitty Intersections today. I can feel the excitement in the air from here, dudes. We’re down to four competitors. Let’s see what matchup we have today.


Centennial & Washington vs Flannagan Square.

In a stunning upset, Centennial & Washington KO’d the heavily favored (by me) Tally’s Corner. We’ll miss Tally’s Corner and the fact that it made no sense, made everybody angry, and also had oddly-painted tow trucks idling half on the sidewalk (I don’t want Playtime with the Magic Man, thankyouverymuch). But, Centennial and Washington is worthy of its inclusion into the final four. From your warm seat inside George’s Coffee Shop, you can enjoy a backhoe scoop’s worth of blueberry pancakes and watch the shitshow unfold. And we suggest you should. There’s the Creepers – the people tired of waiting on Centennial to turn left, and so just eventually inch out into traffic. The Oblivous Parkers – the folks parked on either side of the street, most likely picking up their Keno winnings from Tony’s Variety, who just start driving without looking over their shoulder to safely enter traffic. And then there’s the Selfish Folks – people that observe about ten cars have passed in either direction on Washington but don’t even think about letting someone turn in front of them, ever. Washington and Centennial is the kind of intersection where you see broken glass and taillight fragments and never wonder how the accident happened.

Flannagan Square is nearly identical in its level of chaos per car. Why does no one understand a two-way stop here? It’s like a four-way stop, but half as irritating. If there is a tie, the person on the right goes. You stop at the stop line after the car in front of you proceeds. You and the plumbing van in front of you aren’t a goddamn train. Who are these sociopaths, anyway? One of the other fun parts of the intersection is when EVERYONE WANTS GAS AT THE SAME DANG TIME, like before a storm, or 3PM on a Tuesday. People will straight-up block off access to Main St to get gas for $3.09. They don’t care. You got a hair appointment? Not right now buddy, I’m sixth in line!

Stay tuned for the next two contestants to face off in our tournament!

Vote or the Nazis will 9/11 us just like Charles Darwin

I need you Clams to do me a huge favor.

See, I vote early. I get in line before the sun rises because usually I have to catch a train, and then I wait there in line till it opens. A couple of years ago I was in the hallway of the elementary school waiting for them to let us perform our civic duty and I was chatting with the lady behind me who was asking about the student-art on the walls.

“My kids go to this school,” I said. She replied she didn’t have any kids, but if she had there would be no way she’d let them come to a public school because they’re run by Nazis.”

“Ha ha,” I said. Just like that. “Ha” and then another “Ha.” I assumed she was one of those people who makes random Nazi jokes about anything she doesn’t like. But then I get a fucking full 15 minutes on how the Nazis invented evolution, which she informs me is impossible because of the second law of Thermodynamics, and then goes on about how they are just turning people away from God so they can kill everyone like in the World Trade Center and send them to Hell and I after a few minutes she was clearly getting disturbingly agitated and amped up. I just literally said, “Stop talking to me now,” and she went silent because she probably doesn’t get out much and is used to this kind of response when she makes sounds out of her mouth-hole.

Was this your standard issue seatmate on a Greyhound bus to some random Upstate NY college town, slowed to a crawl by a snowstorm? Was this loon on a park bench in a major city where I was just trying to make a phone call, interrupting my client meeting with a dire warning about chemtrails? Was this your standard issue online message board wack-job, butting in to a conversation about Firefly V. Buffy to blither on and on about 9/11?

No we were voting. We were in line to vote. She’s a voter.

I realized that day both this person and I voted. We had equal weight in the system. It was not a long line.

And there are a metric FUCK TON of crazy people out there. They are seeping in to our system. Mike Boucher, running against Ann Margaret Ferrante literally said in a debate that he doesn’t “buy in” to global climate change. That’s like taking a political position against particle/waveform duality or magnetic field interactions. Did he publish a paper? Is he an expert? I mean, he had like 11 fucking cars in the Horribles Parade so I can see why he might be sheepish about his carbon footprint, but still. Dude. You are in no position to “buy in” it’s fucking science.

The crazies are getting louder. This happens at each point of rapid and profound change, and it always passes thankfully, but right now I need you to help me counter it. Vote today. Vote hard. Vote sane. Make reasonable judgements, not with your gut but with your mind.

Get every other sane person you know out there. Call everybody. Text them. Post on social media. Here, maybe this helps:

Picture 9

If we don’t vote then the nutmobiles will be the only ones voting and those politicians who happen to be spineless assweasels will start catering to them. More. Will start catering to them more, just look at what’s been going on recently and you’ll realize how much power the crazy people have.


Or the kitteh dies.


Stop Talking to Strange Women on the Street.



Most of us have seen this video passed ’round and ’round the Facebooks this week. The woman above, 24 year old Shoshana Roberts, wanders purposely around Manhattan clad in a crew neck and jeans for 10 hours and records the catcalling and straight up creepy behavior she receives from men. A guy straight-up silently follows her for five full minutes, for fuck’s sake.

I won’t even get into the fact that since the video, the woman has faced threats of sexual violence and death since the video was published. I can’t even think about it, I have to insert a mental block against this face for my own well being – or I will run screaming down Addison Street. One can note that this is not a rare occurrence on Addison Street but that’s a story for another day.

But I’m here, as a woman, to explain to you that yes, this is a problem, yes, you should listen to us and no, it’s not okay to holler at strange women on the street.

I’ve had two incidents that have been more egregious than “guy yelling at my ass on a street,” which happens on the regular – one douchebro last summer actually just said “nice ass”, which I guess speaks to lack of creativity as well as lack of social awareness.

The first incident happened before I had kids. I was driving home to Gloucester from my late-shift job in Everett at near-midnight in an unexpected heavy snow squall. I was on route 93, four lanes across, but only one even had tire tracks in it. It was slow going, my tiny Scion xA didn’t have snow tires, and it was just messy. And dark. There are barely any other cars on the road.

And then this guy pulls up next to me, starts beeping and rolls down his window. Now, as a human, my thought process at this point is “something is wrong with either my car or the road, and this guy is warning me.” So I roll down my window, too, as I’m also still trying to keep my car in the ruts from the cars ahead. And the man in the truck looming next to me says, “HEY BABY ARE YOU MARRIED.”


The second incident happened less than a week ago, actually. I was walking back to my house from the local watering hole that I frequent, past closing time. This route takes me past the train station as the last train from Boston was pulling away. A pack of manchildren started calling out to me. ‘HEY! HEY! EXCUUUUSE ME! HEY!’ I ignored, quickened my pace with confidence and purpose, pulled out my phone, rang my confused and tired husband, and made him stay on the phone with me until I got back to the house.

These incidents happen to women across the board – all ages, all body types. And the worst part of enduring these experiences as a female is that so many folks second-guess those experiences. Here’s some of the common apologist responses and why they’re awful:

“Those dudes were mostly being polite! They were just saying good morning! She should relax, there was nothing bad there.”

This is mansplaining of the highest order. Here’s the worst thing about this line – it’s disingenuous. Unless that guy on the street said good morning to every man, woman, child, homeless mentally ill person, and hedge fund manager they passed with the same exact phrase in the same exact tone and manner (hint: they do not do this), it’s straight bullshit. There’s a world of difference between a polite eye contact and hello as you pass on the street (to which most people repeat equally across the gender/age line in this town, as it’s custom in this area), and the way in which these guys are expecting or demanding a response. Please listen to the women in your life. Dismissing them is contributing to a vast problem, and it also makes you look and sound like a gigantic tool.

So we can’t even say hi? What are we supposed to do? It’s so rude of her! I just wanted to tell her she looked good/befriend her!”

Here’s the thing, dudes – we aren’t walking in public to meet you or hear about our bodies from you. This may surprise you, but women know how to meet other humans already. In fact, if we’re looking to meet other members of the public with whom we are not yet acquainted, we can find a social event to do so. Like a bar trivia night, or Pavilion Beach at Fiesta. When we are walking places, we just want to get to that place with minimal hassle. Guys, we’re just like you! Whoa!

Also, I know hundreds of women from all walks of life – none has ever showed up with a man on her arm and said “You just have to meet my new boyfriend Kevin. We met when he told me to smile on the street and then told me my ass was nice!” Never. Happened.

If you’re really confused on what to do, do nothing. Smile if you make eye contact and nod, or say hello or good morning and keep walking. And this is only if you’re taking up the same space, like passing on a sidewalk. Like you’d do with any other person.  If you’re a straight-laced brochacho type, imagine 3 of the most obviously homosexual men in town walk by you. What would you be comfortable with them saying to you?

“Women spend all this time and money looking nice, you mean to tell me they don’t want to be complimented on it?

No. Not from strangers, and especially not from unknown dudes. Much like bondage, paying bills off early, or skateboarding videos, maybe some women get a kick out of it, but that’s not for you to assume and it’s certainly not okay to do in public. Again, it’s all context. If I’m at a bar, and someone I have already politely said hello to tells me they like my hair and are so obviously NOT being a creep about it, I don’t immediately turn into some spittle-flecked angry person. But the line is so thin, and the guys who run roughshod over those lines are so common that we’d rather not get a compliment and avoid possible creepiness.

Here’s my final takeaway – if you’re a guy who just doesn’t get why we’re making a big deal out of this, dig the turds out of your ears and actually listen. We’re not being “bitches” because we don’t want to respond to you telling us to smile. We just want to get to work and you don’t know us or our lives. We don’t want to befriend you. We owe you nothing, we don’t owe you a response because you decide to interact with us – you’re not trying to make us feel good, you’re trying to make YOU feel good. If this upsets you, take a deep breath and figure out where in the hell that upset is coming from, because it’s not us you should be pissed at.



Clams to Mars

Try and answer this to your nine year old:

“Dad, we’ve been to the moon, right?” he asks. “Yeah, back when I was a little kid,” I tell him.

“So we’re going to Mars next, right?”

How do I explain that we’re sort of not?

We gave up doing big things, and I’m not sure I can correlate this directly but I think a huge part of it came from when we started to become afraid. The generation that actually went to the Moon were not. They’d faced down the Depression and fought World War Two. For them, death was much more commonplace, there were outbreaks and diseases that could kill you around every corner. Today we shit our pants about the fake-assedness that is Ebola in the United States while for them thousands of kids would die annually from Polio. Whole neighborhoods would be on lockdown. It was just part of life.

We brought a car up to the Moon because America, bitches.

We brought a car up to the Moon because America, bitches.

Somehow, the American sense of fearlessness eroded and we started being afraid of everything.  All the time. Maybe the Cold War, where we spent decades not actually fighting but just existentially in horror of a devastating total nuclear war did something to our psyches. Maybe it’s harder when the enemy isn’t wearing a uniform and driving a Tiger tank but is actually our own internal need to step past limitations. Maybe the pervasiveness of video news showing the reality of horror in full color makes us retreat.

So much of our public response to threat is nothing more than theatre designed to make people feel secure without providing any actual security. The entire TSA comes to mind. Now Ebola. When our actual leaders say we need to take drastic, stupid measures that trample on the one thing this country is supposed to be about (Liberty, by the way, for those of you who said “cheap gas and Big Gulps”) exceeding the recommendations of the consensus of accomplished doctors and scientists out of “an abundance of caution” I see the problem dead in the face.

An abundance of caution. Take “E pluribus unum” off the national seal and replace it with “Ex abundanti cautela”

Right after "Bomb Shelter Yoga"

Right after “Bunker Yoga”

It’s a risk to be alive. It’s a risk to say things you believe. It’s a risk to help someone when you’re worried about yourself. It’s a fucking risk to be awesome. That, apparently, is a risk fewer and fewer of us are willing to take. You can look foolish. People will try and cut you down. You will fail and one of the creampies you’re attempting to juggle will wind up on your face and you’ll be on Buzzfeed’s list of “Top Ten Epic Fails of All Time” and dear God who could stand that?

So we do nothing.

Going to the Moon was awesome. Like, crazy-fuck off-the-charts awesome. That the only people who have ever been there are all Americans, and that should tell you something. Now we talk about our next steps in space and people say, “We have problems to take care of at home…”

Did you ever notice these are the same people who don’t actually fucking want to fix problems at home?

Solving the problem of there not being rocket chairs

Solving the problem of there not being rocket chairs

“Ok! Problems at home!” I say. “Sweet! Lets build hyperfast trains! Let’s update the energy grid! Let’s convert to solar, create a real education system for all kids rather than fako bullshit like charter schools! Let’s build bridges and clean up the environment! Let’s run fiber optic cable to every home, create big innovation centers that support entrepreneurship and let’s start training for 21st century jobs not 19th century ones! End poverty and hunger! Stamp out disease worldwide! I’m down, let’s do this! ”

You will find the answer, every fucking time, from the “space is waste” crowd will be: “Um, no.”

Those who don’t want to tackle one challenge are the same people who don’t want face ANY challenges. Mitt Romney solved a massive problem in this state, MITT FUCKING ROMNEY and helped millions of people. He had to RUN AWAY from his health care program when he ran for president. The guy solved a problem and lost the election because of it. This is the situation we’re in. I would be the last person to call ole Mittens “awesome” but you have to give the guy credit, he got something done and a lot of people were better off afterwards. Apparently that’s not what anybody wants in a President. Obama went ahead and used this exact same program to solve  the exact same problem nationally and he too helped millions of people using the same system and he gets no credit for it.

Sure he used advanced calculations to fix the deficit and climate change, but did he bring back Crystal Pepsi?

Sure he used advanced calculations to fix the deficit and climate change, but did he bring back Crystal Pepsi?

Did the economy crash? No, it’s better now. Is medical care worse? No, it’s the same as before. Remember all the pants-shitting about “Obamacare”? Did I miss when the Zombies clawed out of their graves and started gnawing on the bones of the living, or is shit just marginally better now- and just the simple gain of “no exemptions for preexisting conditions” was not in place before, so take that into your calculations.

Both of these guys solved an actual problem and got nothing but shit for it. No, it was not clean. No, the solutions were not ideal. But someone explain to me how we’re going to solve the challenges of the 21st century when two leaders can’t even solve a tangible problem using smart policy and compromise but get no credit from the majority of Americans for it? What the fucking Hell happened to us?

How we get to Mars:

I should be humans drawing dicks in the Martian soil, not robots

It should be humans drawing dicks in the Martian soil, not robots

I’m going to dare everybody for the month of November: Do something awesome. I don’t care what the fuck it is, do something. Bake an awesome cake and leave it somewhere for people to eat. Fix up a vacant lot. Write a song and play it at the commuter rail station in Chelsea (“The Saddest of the Stops”). I don’t care what, but it can’t be any of that “pay for the coffee of the person behind you in line” crap because that is not awesome, that is just stupid. I’m talking about making an instrument yourself out of scraps of wood and metal and posting a video of yourself playing it, or having an Ultimate Frisbee tournament at night in a rainstorm.

We get to Mars not by position papers and underfunded projects, but by one small act of awesome at a time. So every act in November we will call “My Step To Mars.” Most of you are doing awesome stuff anyway. Let’s hear about it.

A seventh grader sent this to space

A seventh grader sent this to space


Take us to Mars.