Kt Updates From Vacation

Yo, Clams and Clamettes! I’m hollering at you from sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I’m on the 19th floor of a sweet-ass apartment building my friends live in, and they’re the kind of responsible adults who have a guest bedroom, so here I am. I’m here without my husband and kids for my birthday, which is kind of freakin’ awesome, although I miss their faces. I’ve never really been to Fort Lauderdale, just Miami once and that place was oddly terrifying. Lamborghinis and pastel-colored neon signs and shit.

But FLL is kind of like Gloucester. Hear me out!

1. Boat parade! This past Saturday was their yearly boat parade. Just like ours in Gloucester, everyone here puts lights all over their boats and goes down the river to the ocean. However, down here, the boats are mostly yachts and the parade’s grand marshall was Flo-Rida. Naturally. Also they had a Cheers boat that played the Cheers theme while it floated by. And a General Lee decorated boat that just blasted Black Betty on repeat, lest you forget you’re in fucking Florida.

Just like Gloucester!

Just like Gloucester!

2. Painted sidewalks. Actually, they have whole freakin’ painted intersections here. I’m not really sure how they get them to last, I assume they have to repaint them all the dang time. There are probably people down here whining about them, too.


Ooh, arty!

3. Art. There’s art here too. It’s just…different. Instead of our local collaboratives like the Hive, I keep passing fancypants “fine art” stores on my walks, and they all have the most garish shit imaginable.

I don't even know.

I don’t even know.

There are people that would buy this unironically. I don't want to know them.

There are people that would buy this unironically. I don’t want to know them.

EDIT: Also, I just realized there is a neighborhood called Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. NOT KIDDING.


That’s probably the end of the similarities, and I need to go relax after a hard day of doing nothing, so here:


You’re welcome.




Hanukkah: It’s a Trap!

We all love the lobster pot Christmas tree down on Main Street. We love its whimsy, we love its humor and we love how it takes what’s special of the season and binds it together with the uniqueness of Gloucester.

Pic from  Good Morning Gloucester

Sadly the plan for the top to flip open and a nude Joey C to jump out was never realized

But what of Jews?

I mean, Jews love comedy, there are even a couple of Jewish comedians. What of seasonal whimsy? This is hard for the Chosen People because during the actual highest holidays on the Jewish Calendar there are downers like Yom Kippur where you’re supposed to be all self-reflective and stuff. You really can’t put an inflatable representation of your failings on your lawn without drawing some looks from the neighbors.

Although for most Americans, this pretty much covers it

For most Americans, this pretty much covers it

This leaves Hanukkah or Chanukah (however you spell it), but it’s almost always overshadowed by its younger, louder, drunker, uncomfortably domineering highly distant cousin, Christmas. Hanukkah, by contrast, is supposed to be sort of laid back.

No, seriously, a lot of people totally lose their fucking minds at Christmas. It can be disturbing as an outsider to watch, frankly.

But this year, over at Temple Ahavat Achim, we’re like, “Screw it, we’re doing whimsy as well.” So we built a lobster pot menorah. Yes, you read that right. Lobster. Pot Menorah. Oh, and before you think you’re all smart and shit, let me say this: No, lobster is not kosher TO EAT, we know that, thanks. That’s why there are no lobsters in any of the pots and no one is eating the menorah so get over yourself Smugly McLeviticus.

The ancient Kabbalist symbol for "Yay!"

The ancient Kabbalist symbol for “Yay!”

And the bait lasted for eight nights!

And the bait lasted for eight nights!

Here are some fun facts about the Lobster Pot Menorah:

  • At approximately 20’ high at its peak, the Gloucester lobster pot menorah stands as the tallest lobster pot menorah in the world.
  • Even though many members of the Temple have family in the film industry who could have created the menorah using computer generated imagery, a creative decision was made to use real lobster traps to lend an air of authenticity to the project.
  • A deli tray was provided for congregants helping to build the menorah along with both little muffins AND cookies because why choose?
  • Jews are stereotypically known to complain loudly about medical problems in a way that seems hypochondriacal to outsiders, but oy you lift those things up a ladder for five hours and tell me your back won’t hurt like a sonofabitch at the end.
  • Do the arms droop a little? They droop a little. Hey, it’s the first time we’ve done this, OK?
  • Temple Ahavat Achim now beats the White Rock South Surrey Jewish Community Centre of Vancouver for the largest single piece of Hanukkah kitch. Their 4’4” freestanding dreidel got nothing on us!
  • Other minority religions on Cape Ann, we’re looking at you! I personally am challenging the Buddhists of Cape Ann to create a lobster trap Dharmacakra for next year.

All in all a great time had by all. I’m sure you’ll hear much more about it in the days to come. Huge thanks to Mike, Phoebe, Paul, Martin, Miriam, Rabbi Lewis, Jeff, Judy and Marilyn. And the Pfizer Corporation, makers of Advil.



No Snark Sunday- Tired

A bunch of years ago I worked on a research project for a major auto manufacturer. It was a simple survey around what people wanted in a new car. One of the questions read: “Would you like a full-size spare tire in place of the smaller “temporary” tire currently included with most cars?”

We're good, right?

We’re good, right?

Would you believe that over 90% of respondents said “yes”?

So a huge ad campaign was built around ‘full sized spare tire!’ And for some reason, even though there was so much positivity in the research, the campaign failed to move the sales needle at all. The whole thing turned out to be a massive waste of money.

What the Hell?

It was a classic view into the stark difference between what people say they want, and what they are willing to trade.

You see, in subsequent research we learned the buyers of this car (overrepresented by young, professional women) were more likely than others to just call a tow truck if they got a flat tire. Yet even though they had no plans to ever even so much as look at it they still said, “Sure, full size spare tire. Sounds great!” The dynamic, however, changes significantly when we later asked them to trade that against other features at a similar price point, such as an extra cup holder or an improved sound system. In the full matrix, a full sized spare tire fell to the very bottom of the priority list.

Pumpkin spice on yoga pants in 10, 9, 8....

Pumpkin spice on yoga pants in 10, 9, 8….

This happens in Gloucester a lot. Like every day. People say they want things, but when you dig deeper you find that the places they are willing to sacrifice are starkly different. You want better than average schools? Terrific. Who’s willing to spend the cash and time it takes to getting them there? You want a vibrant business community? Great. Ready to sacrifice some of our existing 20th century infrastructure for it? Nothing is free, if you want something there will be associated costs. Who pays?

More obnoxiously, there are many times when dedicated people are making trade offs, and the “We want everything for nothing” chorus starts griping. We seem to specialize in this particular archetype. “I expect Gloucester Schools to be at the top of the state rankings!” So you propose spending the money to get there and suddenly there are “Red Flags” and “Troubling Questions.” Or worse yet there is a fantasy solution not backed up by anything like research or experience. Man, we really love that one.

We’re like the asshole who keeps driving around on the donut tire. You know it’s going to fail, but it’s there so…donut tire.

You can’t have everything for nothing. And there are only so many efficiences and hacks you can make to an existing system to squeak more resources out of it. At some point, you need to start making trade-offs that you hope will get everyone to a better place.

When you google images for "trade" you get this image of a farmer trading his cow to aliens. We live in a time of wonders

When you google images for “trade” you get this pic of a farmer trading his cow to aliens. We live in a time of wonders

Last week I spend a great evening with young, vibrant movers and shakers in this town, all under 40. These are exactly the people we need here to bring the energy and ideas to our city. Way, way too many of these folks essentially live in poverty so they can keep living here and making our community stronger. 30 years ago these people would have have been starting normal, middle class lives but because of the job market, housing market and oppressive educational debt they can’t along with millions of others in their age cohort.

You know what’s going to happen? The economy is going to recover, the national housing stock is going to roll over as our senior generation ages out and we’re going to lose these kids. They’re going to get a call from Cambridge or Austin or Portland or somewhere real estate looks less like Dubai, as it does here. The person on the other end of that phone is going to say, “Hey, you did great things in Gloucester. You want to come here and make a real living?”

It's $150K and there is a pool out back

It’s $150K and there is a pool out back

We need to trade something. We need to keep offering them something they want, more important than a nicer car and a Qdoba. Since they’re going to start families soon they are going to need schools, they are going to need interesting things to do, they need investment in their projects and mostly they need to be listened to and included. They need to be given room to try and even to fail.

But what matters is what we’re willing to give up for it.




Things You Can’t Do At Our Party

So as most of you know, tonight’s our Inappropriate Office Party. We tried to go rule-free, but since you people can’t be trusted anymore, we reflected on former mishaps and decided to lay out some basic ground rules:

1. No propane tanks.

2. No vaping.

3. Access to lasagna tray is not determined by the winner of a slap-off.

4. Steampunks: Our dirigible parking is limited. Call for details.

5. No Nicholas Cage Body Suits, you creeps.


seriously why would anyone


6.  No cupping of one another’s genitals, no matter how fervent the desire of both parties.

7.  No recruiting others into pyramid schemes.

8. You have to wear some kind of pants or skirt. A long trenchcoat is unacceptable.

9. Anyone uttering the phrase “You know what? I’d like to go see Kid Rock in concert” will be immediately ejected.

10. No mention, ever, by anyone, of the song “Dominic the Italian Christmas Donkey.” I’M SERIOUS.


(Obviously we’re kidding. The only rules are no drugs, no ukeleles, no accordians, no harmonicas, no other hipster instruments, no one under 21, no Little Drummer Boy, no doing anything douchey, and no actual live clams or goats.)