Clamspectives Over The Bridge: Josh Turiel Guest-Posts

Part 3 – stealing you from Gloucester once and for all (I haven’t written Part 2 yet, so deal)

So you’ve come to Salem and fallen in love with the city. You’ve decided “I simply must live here!” and are willing to do whatever it takes. Well, you’re in luck. I’m here to steal you away.


Salem essentially has a few large neighborhoods where most people go. We have the Derby Street neighborhood, which is really the oldest neighborhood left after the Salem Fire of 1914. It’s filled with triple-deckers and historic homes from the 1700s and 1800s, many of which are condos nowadays. Parking sucks in the neighborhood, but it’s really walkable to almost the whole city – and it’s close to our seasonal Boston ferry for the commuters (they take T passes!).

The next neighborhood on the list is Bridge Street Neck. That’s the spit of land that connects Salem almost to Beverly, and it’s connected to the Salem Common neighborhood. Basically, as you get farther from Beverly the homes get bigger and more condo-y. There is a nice mix of small single-family homes and bigger multis. The west side of Bridge Street is a bit more twee.

Bridge Street Neck transitions into the Salem Common neighborhood once you cross Webb Street. The single-family homes there are freaking massive. Most were split up into condos, though. Really convenient to the downtown. Side streets can be really tight for parking. This is a meme in Salem. Everyone wants resident parking here, but not too many places have it.

The Point is a very dense neighborhood wedged between Lafayette and Congress Streets in the downtown. Housing is cheap, but it’s also where a lot of our police logs chronicle life. There are some better sections and streets but in general be aware in your housing choices. Quite a few of my friends live there and are very happy with it. The parks in the neighborhood are typically safe and pleasant, which is a good thing. Mind you, a “bad neighborhood” in a city like Salem is far safer than a bad neighborhood in a bigger city… I have a few friends who live down there and overall it’s pretty chill. This was the old French Canadian neighborhood at the turn of the last century for people who came to work the mills. Nowadays it’s mostly Hispanic – we have a lot of Dominican immigrants here.

Next we have South Salem, where I live. South Salem is split pretty much in two. I live in the section closer to town, with a mix of homes, a lot of college kids living in the area, and more walkable. The east side of Lafayette Street borders the harbor, and there’s some nice views to be had. The west side of the street (between Lafayette and Canal) has more student housing and more triple-deckers. The southern part of the area is towards Swampscott and almost entirely single-family homes with yards and stuff. We don’t have so many yards in my part. Salem’s only working farm is in that part of South Salem. Also, the university is located here.

Still with me? There’s a few more. North Salem is the part you drive in thru as you come in from 128. Nice, small suburban houses, close together, where a lot of our hippie types go to live. They have chickens and bees and stuff, and free-range kids.



The catch is that you probably can’t get a house there. Zero turnover unless people die. Several of our city parks (Mack Park, Gallows Hill, Furlong Park) are in the area so there’s plenty of outdoor places to go be active if you aren’t one of the people with a yard there. North Street splits this neighborhood into two sides – the south side has more multifamily houses and is a little denser. The north side has more and larger yards, for the most part. It’s also a great place to live if you work in Beverly. The Kernwood Bridge is a shortcut that dumps you into Ryal Side in the event the bridge isn’t open for boats. Which it always is (or at least whenever I want to cross it).

The whole area to the west of Route 107 is what we call Witchcraft Heights. It’s like Wellesley. Relatively big yards, suburban architecture, single-family homes with attached garages, and most of our Republicans. There’s a few sections to it but that’s the nutshell version. Off Highland Avenue there are a number of fairly modern condo and apartment complexes. Good options for folks who don’t want the downtown life. This also is where our big box stores live. Target, Wal-Mart, Market Basket, Shaws, and Home Depot are all on this stretch. The only other big retail area we have is Vinnin Square, which mostly is in Swampscott on the other side of town.

Downtown we have the whole “McIntyre District”. This encompasses Federal Street, Essex Street, Chestnut Street, etc. Beautiful 1700s and 1800s homes, and you can’t afford them. Neither can I. But by all means go visit, it’s beautiful. Our library is over there. You can’t park at the library because the whole area is resident sticker parking, but we all do anyway because Salem. Chestnut Street, in particular, is a great example of 1800s architecture.

Our downtown is something I spoke of in my previous Over The Bridge entry. Did you know you can live there, too? There are a handful of homes in the area, but we also have tons of condo buildings and apartment rentals downtown. There’s a nice apartment complex immediately adjacent to the new train station (Jefferson at Salem), and several large condo developments in convenient spots. You can pretty much go carless in downtown Salem. If that’s the life for you, we also have Zipcars in Salem. Just saying.

Also in my last entry, I wrote of the Salem Willows. There’s homes in that neighborhood, and the views are almost invariably amazing, but as far as turnover goes this is like North Salem only smaller. They don’t turn over at all so you can forget living here. But do come on the morning of July 4th for their Horribles Parade. It’s a Salem thing.

For other amenities here that you might like, we’ve got a municipal golf course, two city boat ramps, and a neat wooded area with trails you can go exploring in, though there’s no boulders with inscriptions on them. You might see a carving on a tree instead?

So I really do like Gloucester. It’s a pretty cool place with a lot of funky, beautiful neighborhoods. Many of my friends live there, and a lot of the clients I have in my day job are there. But my suggestion is that you all pack it in and move here to Salem. We’ve got the room for you, and we’re like 30 minutes by train closer to Boston. Just putting that out there. You will have to make sure that your car passes inspection, though. We don’t get to have Island Cars here. Dang.

image (1)

Even More Google Search Terms That Led People Here

Every once in awhile, we check on the google search terms that led people to click on our website. Some… are weird.

leonard nimoy star trek

old black and white photo of a man sitting in a chair smiling 1800s mems

dumpster fire

wrestlers have them others play with them

is the gloucester clam satire?

what would happen if we put the trash in the bermuda triangle

what is the worst part of tally’s corner

giant truck with confederate flag

pantsshitter mcgee

how to make a clam mascot

what is longform of 3d

is football fans are stupid

running for mayor of gloucester, ma


Mad Max Fury Road is not a movie and that’s OK

I went to see Mad Max Fury Road the other night and I can now safely declare this is the definitive work on crashing dune buggies into each other. It was pretty much the Gandhi or Lawrence of Arabia of crashing dune buggies. Every possible angle, speed, configuration and result has been fully explored and thus any further attempts to expand on what was presented in this film will be simply declared derivative.

You think your job is bad? Your job is not bad.

You think your job is bad? Your job is not bad.

This is good.

But I came away realizing we need to redefine what a “movie” is. I love the Mad Max series (or the first two anyway…and Tina Turner in Thunderdome) and had heard some great stuff about this one and you know what? It was great. I mean the vehicles were incredible and the action scenes were gripping and my heart was pounding the whole time. Literally, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so “in” an action film. Nice job there, filmmakers.

What they didn’t do was that whole thing I’m kinda used to where the characters talk and have arcs and we watch them learn and grow and develop. There was no time for that. There was a new set of dune buggies on the horizon, or maybe dirtbikes with grenades or Dodge Chargers that were also tanks or that totally freaking epic giant guitar war-drum truck that looked like someone crossed ISIS with Burning Man. The whole thing was like a video game- everything just kept literally moving with occasional cut scenes to set up the next set of action sequences.

I think this is what the guy who delivers my neighbor's Globe at 4:30AM drives, btw.

I think this is what the guy who delivers my neighbor’s Globe at 4:30AM drives, btw.

Unlike most people who say “It was like a video game” when describing a film, let me be clear, I don’t mean that pejoratively. I like video games. Video games are cool. But I don’t want to be confused when seeing characters who have historically been in media which had previously adhered to conventions like “dialogue” and “character development” are suddenly thrust into an environment where none of that is taking place and we’re going to just smush a ton of jacked-up war-rigs in the most epic way possible (again, of this I approve).

Mad Max Fury Road is not a “movie” it is a “Mad Max Universe-Based Video Experience.” And a really good one. In fact, I invite someone to make an actual movie based on it because it would be awesome. All it would take is removing a few of the ten zillion battle scenes and adding backstory perhaps by way of a few flashbacks, some expositional dialogue and defining the action into three distinct acts. If done right the two would stand together as equals and I would literally pay money to see both.

We’ve got to get past, however, trying to convince people that intended video experiences are “movies.” The Hobbit was not a movie. Not even close It was a video experience based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel of the same name. Where the book was based largely on the self-reflective journey of a hairy-footed, waistcoat-wearing homebody discovering himself engulfed up in great events, the video experience was more about the characters from the same universe running around being chased by  CGI monsters and precariously hanging from things in “Real 3D.”


I feel ya, Elrond


Doesn’t this clarification help? The sequels in the Fast and the Furious series are not movies, they are video experiences. Everything ever made by Jerry Bruckenhimer is a video experience, not a movie. On the other hand, James Cameron makes movies. Avatar was a movie. The first Terminator, Aliens and obviously Titanic were all movies. The Terminator sequels, not so much.

It turns out most sequels in the action/adventure category are video experiences rather than movies. The Batman films, for instance. Prometheus- totally not a movie. Not one of the characters or any single plot point was believable or had any kind of development or arc. But sure, it was a video experience based on the Alien series. I’ll give it that and there were parts that were enjoyable because of it. But as a movie it gargled dog testicles.

Guardians of the Galaxy? Developing and transitional characters? Check. Hero from humble origins? Check. Tokens, journeys and everything else from Joseph Campbell’s “Hero With a Thousand Faces”? Check, check and chizzeck. A movie. Plain and simple. The Matrix Revolutions? Actually I’m still not sure exactly what the fuck happened in the third Matrix film. Let’s just call it a “video experience” and leave it at that.

So, let’s be happy with this new classification and realize we can have both things, and that way the video experience people can do awesome action stuff and the actual film school graduates can make movies where actors act and people talk to each other. No worries, we can share universes there is plenty of creative terrain to go around.

And thus we should all look greatly forward to someone picking up the screenplay I’m writing called, “The Path to Enmity, a Mad Max film.” Hello Wes Anderson. I’m looking at you.

Bill Murray plays Imortean Joe

Bill Murray plays Imortean Joe




Main Street Businesses Pledge to Preserve Heritage of Empire Building

GLOUCESTER—On June 1, a pair of exotic new occupants moved into the old Empire building on Main Street. But the owners of these businesses—a yoga studio and a retailer of handmade Asian wares—have promised they’ll honor the traditions that make the property and the City of Gloucester so special.

The promises were issued on Sunday night at a community event in the newly renovated building, home to the Empire department store from 1951 to 2004.

Empire MainSt[The Empire building, Main Street]

“Tonight was about mutual understanding,” said Mark Davis, the 39-year-old owner of The Flouncy Orchid and one of the hosts of the event. “There had been a lot of anxiety—anger, even—among our neighbors.”

Davis gestured toward a few dozen individuals, who were now sampling oolong teas, lounging on meditation cushions, and touring the remodeled interior.

One attendee was 68-year-old Leo Ventura, a Gloucester native and retired fisherman. He expressed concern that “two businesses reeking of incense and West Coast faddishness” would profane the building’s heritage.

Ventura explained, “Empire was the soul of downtown Gloucester. For decades, I bought all my American-made socks and underpants there. Now this Floppy Orchid outfit wants to peddle goods made in Cambodia.” He pawed at a pile of colorful tapestries. “Granted, there’s no better place to weave Cambodian textiles.”

Epiphanies like this one make Davis optimistic that his store—long a fixture on Bearskin Neck in Rockport—will ultimately win over Gloucester.

Of course, compromise is a two-way street.

“Early on in the evening, we realized that the fur vault was a sticking point,” Davis said, referring to the 8’ x 12’ reinforced steel box that once secured Empire’s beaver coats and fox stoles.

Several Gloucester residents feared the new owners might sell it for scrap.

“What if the mink population explodes, pimps go retro, and the industry rebounds?” said Eva Serafino, a 74-year-old resident of the Fort Square neighborhood. “Gloucester needs to protect its fur infrastructure, because once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

EmpireFurVault2[Empire fur vault, circa 1955]

Standing nearby and nodding her head was Fiona Falcone, the 34-year-old owner of Centered Yoga and co-host of the event. “If it would appease the community,” she said, “why shouldn’t we turn the vault into a Bikram-style aromatherapy chamber?”

Mark Davis was equally enthusiastic about the idea.  “Hop inside with a kerosene heater and a few lavender candles,” he said, “and let the stress just melt away.”

“And if the lavender isn’t enough,” Falcone said, “carbon monoxide should take care of the rest.”

Other residents worried that renovations had destroyed the legacy of the building’s 11-year period of neglect.

Dan McKinnon, another Gloucester native, elaborated: “I have fond memories of strolling past the glass storefront and just staring at the filthy floor and random construction debris. It’s all part of the building’s unique history.”

So Davis has agreed to return one section of his store to its former, derelict state. “We’ll just rope off this corner adjacent to the window,” he said, “and curate a scene that tastefully evokes despair and dilapidation.”

Falcone made some suggestions: “I’d start with a rusty folding chair. Then scatter bent nails and crumpled Keno tickets. Finally, as an accent piece, an overturned can of Shasta.”

“Or maybe a Styrofoam cup from Dunks,” Davis said, rubbing his chin. “We’re striving for authenticity.”

Whereas these concessions prompted immediate applause, the concept of yoga was a harder sell.

“Then I explained that yoga is not unlike fishing,” Falcone said. “To the untrained eye, both involve spending long periods of time in one position, seemingly doing nothing. But each requires great concentration.”

“And both have their accoutrements,” she continued. “The yogi carries her mat, blocks, and cotton strap. While the fisherman carries his rod, tackle, and cooler of Narragansett.”

“This was an ‘Aha’ moment for a lot of folks,” Davis added.

It was also the moment Falcone hatched the idea that swayed the holdouts in the audience.

She explained: “America’s oldest seaport deserves a yoga studio that reflects its traditions. So teachers at our studio won’t ask their students to move into downward dog or tree pose.”

She sat on the hardwood floor and splayed her legs nearly 180 degrees. “Instead, each posture will have a maritime-themed name,” she said, jackknifing forward and gripping her toes with her fingers.

Davis beamed. “Behold!” he said. “The flaccid tuna.”

FlaccidTuna[Falcone, honoring the spirit of Gloucester]

Centered Yoga will offer four classes each day for beginners through advanced practitioners.

The Flouncy Orchid will sell an assortment of clothing, jewelry, furnishings, and musical instruments—as well as freshly cut herring.

No Snark Sunday: It’s World Oceans Day And We Kinda Need Them

If you’ve been living under a rock or perhaps down in Magnolia where they pretty much only have dialup internet or WebTV, you may not know that awhile ago I started working as the Social Media Manager over at Ocean Alliance. It’s been a really, really meaningful and fun experience (with a bonus trip to LA for myself and Jim on a Flying Car/Clam/Ocean Alliance SUPER DRONE PROJECT OF AWESOME), and I get to work in one of the most beautifully historic spots in Gloucester – the Tarr and Wonson Paint Factory out on the edge of Rocky Neck.

Paint Manufactory-058

Pretty picturesque, until the seagull poo gets you.

If you don’t know what’s up at the Paint Factory – listen up. Gather your children and elders, and listen to this tale, my friends. You know how everyone in this town likes to save old buildings? Like a terribly built piece of crap school we have little use for? Ocean Alliance is working to save the old, ramshackle, polluted-as-f*ck Paint Factory (oh so polluted). One of the smaller buildings is fully restored as our company’s headquarters, and others have begun the transformation into an oceanographic research institute that will be open to the public, with an educational component – and (our favorite because nerds) a STEM-heavy robotics lab. A lot of the project is finding funding to complete parts of the building, but there’s always work and plans going on, even if you can’t see them. If you like to fund cool things, donate a little bit – it goes a long dang way and most of it stays here in town.

And it’s not like that’s the only goal of Ocean Alliance, to save the Paint Factory from eventually crumbling into the sea. It’s way, way deeper than that. These folks have sailed around the world in the name of Ocean Conservation and toxicology testing, and are heavily invested in the science behind advocating for our oceans and marine mammals. They’ve spent five years in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, documenting and testing. They provided the toxicology testing and data for the movie The Cove. Stuff that matters. I started off not knowing much about either whales or ocean conservation when I got here, but now I’m becoming one of those Really Big Environmental Dicks. It happened really quickly and I don’t know who I am anymore.

What this all leads me to is that tomorrow is World Oceans Day, and I want to share with you all the insane stuff I’ve learned in just a few short months, and also things we can do to make sure the ocean keeps doing its thing. This is Gloucester – we are tied to the ocean, it is our reason for being. Every one of us is linked to it. We need it, it needs us – to protect it from a hell of a lot of crap.

1. For the love of god and all that is holy, stop releasing balloons into the freakin’ air. I remember this being a bad idea when I was a kid, and it’s still a terrible idea now. They come back down into the ocean and are mistaken for food and kill wildlife. The ribbons bind up birds and ocean life alike. The worst part is that some companies tout a “biodegradable” balloon, but it’s false advertising so people feel good and buy the stupid balloon, but it takes far too long to “biodegrade”, and animals still eat them or get caught in them. Marketing fail, jerks.

Awesome, good job, fantastic everyone.

Awesome, good job, fantastic everyone.

2. Stop using those damn face scrubs with microbeads. I am guilty of having done this Before I Knew. I still have a travel-sized one on my dresser, mocking me. The truth is, those microbeads are awful. Ocean plastic pollution is terrifying and not only is it going to be impossible and mind-bogglingly expensive to try to clean up, but it’s going to decimate marine species in ways we can’t take back.

3. God damnit, ride a bike or walk somewhere. Again, guilty – I drive an old-ass SUV as an on-island car these days so I’m trying to do better, as well. But our drilling practices really do a number on animals with acoustical sensitivities. We’re really messing up the ocean with this. A deaf whale is a dead whale, and so many species are still endangered. Cool, we can drive places for cheap. We’re just, you know, giant jerks to the rest of the planet. Ugh. And you know, oil spills.

4. Spend a little time cleaning up. Clean Gloucester and the One Hour at a Time Gang are two local groups that meet pretty much weekly to clean shorelines, marshes, parking lots, and pretty much all the trash people in this city dump in stupid places. Think about that – on Saturday mornings while most of us laze around in our underwear, these folks (including the dedicated staffers at Ocean Alliance) are cleaning up the gatorade bottles and empty nips other people toss into the gutter like the garbage humans they are. You spend an hour cleaning up, and you’re going to feel amazing about having done something instead of internet slacktivism.

They cleaned all this gross crap.

They cleaned all this gross crap.

Thanks for listening to my sanctimonious diatribe, Clammers. Basically, don’t be a jerk to the ocean, or an angry kraken will come to shore and eat your family and all the steak in your fridge. Let’s avoid that.