No Snark Sunday: They That Go Down To The Sea in Drones

Couple few days back, our good Clam-friends Marty DelVecchio and Jason Grow shot some spectacular footage of basking sharks off Bass Rocks.

It’s awesome! And now also on as one of the top articles this weekend. Because awesome.

A friend of mine from Boston texted me. “Is that your boss who took the video of the sharks I’m seeing on the front page of the Globe’s website? I know you work at a place that does ocean work and also flies drones.” And then I had to explain that no, we have more than one drone enthusiast here we have like a bunch. Gloucester, with its high school robotics program, robotics lab over at the Paint Factory, and general nerd subculture, is kinda the freakin’ drone capital of the Northeast right now. Yeah, I said it. We do drones. We go down to the sea in drones. Then we chase our children with them. Because it’s fun.

They should re-do our sign at the Rotary now Gloucester: You’ll Hear A Slight Whirring Sound.

Again, that video is the top one on the Globe right now. Because it’s amazing footage of our natural world, just meters offshore, and drones are cool. You’re with me, right? That it’s like, a thing? A popular thing?

Of course, our humble aerial photography drones aren’t always um, embraced by the community. Take this letter to the editor from last week’s Old White Guys Don’t Like Change Daily (aka Gloucester Daily Times).

The real threat posed by the coming flood of drones will be to our granular experience of the outdoors and to our quality of life. Imagine no sidewalk, street, park, river, lake, beach, ocean, or landscape without the presence of moving drones. The air will become cluttered with them… almost everything drones do undermines our direct experience of the natural world, and commodifies our activities. Drones perfectly complement and enhance our orientation and lives as consumers.

We should stop thinking that technological inventions should not be scrutinized, judged, and either actively accepted or rejected. We should stop thinking that all things digital, computerized, or “connected” are simply expanding our choices or are somehow more benign, democratic, empowering, or egalitarian than products of the pre-digital past.


Yeah, too bad drones ruin our appreciation of the natural world. Good point (SARCASM). Like it or not, we have a cool thing going on here in town, and we might as well embrace it. God forbid cool aerial footage goes viral and brings tourists. You can stand in the way of progress and technology shouting into the wind like Grandpa Simpson, or you can roll with the changes and say “Oh, wow. Look what we did. Look what Gloucester’s doing that other cities are behind on.” Your choice.

I’d rather Marty keep shooting hella dope videos.



Lego Humans of Gloucester: Kristen Parsons

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I like to think of myself as an open minded, fun-loving and forward thinking math teacher.  Being sure the future understands it not just memorizes it!

East Gloucester School is a fantastic place to teach but when I’m not solving math problems I’m counting grains of sand at Good Harbor Beach.

On Moving to West Gloucester from Downtown

I’m a downtown sorta gal, if we’re using fifties slang to describe ourselves (and we are, goddamnit). I lived at the same spot near the train station and Shaws for ten years – the entirety of my twenties – but recently I moved to the woods of West Gloucester. Not entirely on purpose – you try finding a goddamn year-round rental in May in this town. You take what you can get, and you like it! I ended up lucking into an adorable tiny house near West Parish school, or “the bones of the new West Parish school” as it were. It’s been… a change. My first day here, a tractor rumbled down my street, loudly, with several SUVs honking maniacally behind it. “This is just life now,” I said out loud, to no one in particular.

In today's GDT police notes...

In today’s GDT police notes…

The first thing I noticed, of course, was that out here in bumblefuck, I could no longer overhear the coughing of my chain-smoking neighbors, their entire animated conversations from my bedroom window, or their two-hour vocal symphonies calling their feral cats that pooped in our yard home for dinner. It turns out that when you’re 150 feet from the nearest house, there’s far fewer domestic disputes and/or drug transactions you overhear. Of course, that has been replaced by birds. A lot of birds. Birds that start their jibberjabbering at two in the fucking morning. It’s not even close to light out at 2 AM, birds, are you drunk or lost? So either way, earplugs. No net gain there.

Being out in the woods after so long in an urban core (before Gloucester, I lived in downtown Lowell) is honestly kind of weird. I feel like at any given moment, a pack of coyotes, wolves, coywolves, bears, or woods-people are going to show up on my back deck and just maul me. And no one would hear me scream.

I’ve noticed that no one in two weeks has thrown trash in my yard. Nary a Fireball nip bottle has shown up in a potted plant. No stray work gloves, bottles of bleach, empty packs of Virginia Slims, nor individual skis have sullied my driveway or yard. It’s uncanny. But here in the boonies, everyone has land in which to keep their own detritus – mostly in the form of ramshackle falling down sheds, 1985 Dodge Ramchargers, and thousands of empty pots that probably once held flowers but now hold standing water and mosquito larvae.

But the lack of litter and quiet isn’t without its pitfalls. No people means no fun. Downtown has walkability – I could tuck and roll out my front door and hit a couple bars, four pizza places, two chinese restaurants, six nail salons, and five convenience stores within a few blocks. Here? We have, uh, a church, and a variety store like a mile away. Dislike.

It’s not like I forgot car culture existed, as I drive several piece of shit vehicles around Gloucester on any given day (wave, everybody, there’s KT with half a bumper!) – it’s that I honestly can’t get ANYWHERE without a car around here. Except for the variety store, if I want to spend an hour walking to go get a soda and an ice cream. Do they have Keno? I don’t even know. Probably. This is America, after all.

In the end, I miss downtown. I’ll probably be back eventually. Just as long as I don’t end up in Rockport. God, not Rockport.

An Open Clampinion to the New Leadership of the GDT

It seems new leadership has come to the Gloucester Daily Times, or as we like it call it here: “The Cape Ann Cane Shaker”. We’re hard on the Times here but only because it’s been terrible. Think we’re being too harsh? Take this little example:

Back in April there was really sweet coverage of Rockport High School inducting 19 new members into the National Honor Society. This is both great and swell. Huzzah to the Rockport students inducted, nice going, all that. Oh, and by the way: There were also 39 students of Gloucester High School inducted. Why am I not linking to this story? Can you guess why? BECAUSE THERE WAS NO FUCKING STORY. This is par for the course.

The Gloucester Daily Times has become, at best, an intermittent news source on topics, educational (where we have a particular passion) and otherwise. For most of the declared snow emergency this winter it bizarrely featured not much more than artisanal pizza recipes on the front page and we had to go to the awesome Korey Curcuru in his living room for actual information about the storms, the parking bans, the DPW’s movements and other information essential to surviving the unprecedented weather events.

Let that sink in: Our paper of record was scooped during a time of crisis on a daily basis by a dude with a webcam in his living room.

I could go on. And on. And on and on and on. The reporting is spotty at best. We regularly get requests here at The Clam to go in depth on actual news stories because folks don’t know what’s happening in regard to essential issues. I am loath to have to keep reminding this, but The Clam is a satire-based snarkblog and if you know the right passwords the Internet’s leading HR Puffenstuff erotic fiction hub. We are not Journalists. It shouldn’t be up to us, for instance, to be the only only outlet that has published the reports regarding the possible uses of the Fuller School.

an amphitheater for robot gladiators? Yes, fine. Whatever. Just shut up and do it already.

an amphitheater for robot gladiators? Yes, fine. Whatever. Just shut up and do it already.

All this having been said, we’re hoping for a better GDT. A fresh start, as it were. So here are The Clam’s top suggestions for an improved Gloucester Daily Times since the opportunity seems to have arisen. Understand that there are years of pent up frustration tapping the keyboard right now, so if it seems overly harsh we’re sorry. But holy crap, do we need to even go into the 1-800 number we were supposed to call to get updates on the Mayoral race a couple of years ago rather than use, oh I don’t know, some kind of instant electronic transfer of information that might be available to 90+% of MA. Households?

  1. Your website is a crime against humanity I’m sorry, but it is. It is the spammiest, most obnoxious, hard to navigate site I go to on a regular basis. It’s crowded, you can’t tell what’s ad and what’s content, it auto-opens a second page to offer me more adcrap (which no one does anymore) and there is all this auto-generated filler from who-knows-where that clutters up the page. I know it’s a nightmare to make money from news websites these days, but this is not the way.
  2. Stop it with the Fuller/#Benghazi bullshit This is a huge peeve. There’s a notable stream in the general conversation about Gloucester which boils down to: “nominally-informed yelling to no practical end.”  The paper should not be contributing to this problem and the issue of the Fuller School is our leading nexus of same. We’ve covered it here. It’s gone way, way beyond the necessary evaluation of the management of Gloucester’s capital assets. It’s now a conspiracy theory mixed with an ancient grudge whisked into a batter of dumb and poured into the waffle iron of asshattery, served dry. The majority of us just want to know what’s next for Fuller, how can we best use it to the city’s advantage and don’t want to spend our time shoveling coal into the rage boilers. If nothing else, please read the reports by professional architects and engineers before writing any editorials. That would be a huge step forward.
  3. Every third LTE/editorial seems to be about how terrible technology is Oh man. Nothing demonstrates a “hip” and “with it” vibe to younger readers than columns and ceaseless editorials about how the so-called “smart” phones are making us all into drooling antisocial screen-zombies. There are weekly columns that sound like someone made Andy Rooney a key character in Blade Runner: “These flying cars everywhere make it so hard to fly kites and I don’t care for all these noisy replicants running around with the shooting and the yelling of ‘What is my incep date? How long do I live?’ How long till you shut up is more like it. Back in my day we didn’t have bio- soldiers and we fought wars on the Off World colonies the old fashioned way, with attack ships off of Orion…” OK, in retrospect that sounds totally awesome. But it’s lame as balls in the Gloucester Daily Times, take my word for it. Make your regular columnists stop doing this, I beg you.Slide1
  4. Math matters The current GDT has a numeric allergy. There is, for instance, a regular call from the editorial page to consolidate the elementary schools into one mega school for ‘savings.’ How much savings? What kind of outcomes should we expect? Hellooooo? Anybody in there? We see this all the time. Someone saying the schools have too many administrators. Do we? What’s the typical ratio for school districts like ours, especially ones that have outcomes we want to emulate? How are they structured? Differently? The same? It’s hard work, requires looking things up on the Internet and making calls but that is sort of the job. Even political races, which are inherently mathematical, have had no reporting of hard numbers or percentages. Microsoft Word has a table function. It would be awesome if you guys would use it.
  5. Very few people actually fish I know this seems weird to say, but the vast majority of people in Gloucester and especially on Cape Ann, do not. The industry is clearly a core issue, it’s our historical basis for being here, but sadly there are only a few hundred families that still make their living from the sea. My brother has been working on shellfish draggers for most of his working years (He’s moving to New Bedford if anybody knows a boat that needs a competent crew member, btw) and I know the life, but still: Most of the people here do not fish.
  6. Gloucester education is about more than sports Oh man, if I had to drink every time I saw a front page that featured an educational achievement by Rockport of Manchester/Essex students and an athletic one by Gloucester students…wait. I actually do that. Saturday we had a demonstration of amazing robotics, drones, 3D printers, artwork, song, drama, music and all kinds of stuff. Here is the front page of the GDT:
    So much sports...

    So much sports…

    There was a GDT photographer there, but the story is for some reason buried in the “News” section and third over in the slideshow up above, but even there the reference photo is not awesome robots but a mom (an awesome mom, by the way Hi Laurel!) and no clear image of Gloucester students who designed, coded and built all this tech without the reader having to go dig for it. But plain as day is Rockport’s honor roll. Way to go Rockport! You guys are awesome! What do you have for 3D printers over there? You have one of ours you borrowed? Oh…cool. Guess that didn’t make the papers.

  7.  We don’t really care about what goes on in Danvers, Beverly, Salem, Newburyport or effing Haverhill This is the last point, but if this consolidation is supposed to combine content from Salem, Beverly and Gloucester, don’t bother. A few years ago we got tons of stories from the Merrimack Valley which is like telling the hill tribespeople of Papua new Guinea about the Winnipeg public bus system. Simply, no one gives a shit.

So that’s it. Remember what Menken said about newspapers, that they are to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Good luck!