A Shout from Annisquam

Like many newcomers, I didn’t at first appreciate the extent of our town’s geographic divisions.  To my mind, the City of Gloucester was its downtown core, bounded by the harbor and the holy trinity of island landmarks: to the west, the Fisherman’s Memorial; to the east, the Crow’s Nest; and to the north, Market Basket, that fluorescent-lit carnival of bottled waters and bargain rotisserie chickens.

But in time I realized that the city’s 40 square miles include a number of distinct enclaves.  Not just proud little neighborhoods like Fort Square and Portuguese Hill.  But also Magnolia, Lanesville, and Eastern Point, far-flung tracts with their own post offices, Main Streets, and packs of depraved coyotes.

This winter, after ten years of renting apartments in the shadow of City Hall, my wife and I moved to another Gloucester outpost, Annisquam, a few scant miles away.  Lying on the west side of the island, Annisquam is itself divided into two rocky lobes of land, framed by its namesake river and Ipswich Bay.  From a gull’s eye view, these symmetrical halves could be mistaken for lungs, or—if you’re feeling childish—a granite rump, with slender Lobster Cove delivering, with each high tide, a chilly saltwater enema.

[Bracing, anytime of year]

When we told our downtown friends the news of our impending move, they responded in ways typically reserved for a cancer diagnosis.  After all, our relationships had grown from proximity—and from a shared delight in the subtle charms of our streets, like the plaintive cry of seagulls in the morning.  Also, the plaintive cry of seagulls in the afternoon.  And on nights before trash pickup, a cry that is less plaintive, and more like that of an advancing Viking horde.

“My God,” one friend said.  “Annisquam.  Isn’t there anything they can do?”

Alas, our case was hopeless.  Our landlord, a genial but aging lawyer, was giving us the boot, tired of replacing rotting shingles and eager to cash in on rising home prices. So, after solemnly pledging to remain in Gloucester, my wife and I began to study Craigslist and Zillow with religious intensity.  This being January, we found the rental market somewhat bleak.

“Here’s a new listing,” my wife said one morning, her head bent over her iPhone.  “Cozy, 80-square foot abandoned cellar hole in Dogtown.  Open concept.  Period architectural details include walls of precariously stacked, sharp-ass rocks.  $1500/month.”

[With permission from Zillow]

So when, suddenly, there was this little 2-bedroom in Annisquam, we pounced.

As the move drew near, our friends’ initial sympathy curdled into mild reproach.  Most of them are longtime homeowners, and they seemed to blame us for bringing this possibly fatal relocation on ourselves.  As though being a cash-poor renter was a dangerous lifestyle choice, akin to smoking clove cigarettes or playing jacks with slugs of uranium.

This shift in tone opened the door to their gripes about the 3-mile overland journey between downtown and the Annisquam hinterlands.

“Can we find food along the way,” asked one friend.  “Or should we plan to eat the weakest member of our party?”

Others were keen to highlight the class distinctions between the gritty downtown scene and our new genteel village, home to Annisquam Yacht Club and just a single business enterprise: a farm-to-table restaurant that serves spring water in fine glass thimbles.

The night before our move, one of these friendly Marxists stopped by.  Along with some help taping boxes, he offered this provocative line of questioning:

“You probably won’t miss the empty nip bottles strewn over the sidewalks, will you, Adam?”

“Nope,” I said.

“Or the fishy aroma, when the wind is just right?”

“Not really.”

“Or,” he continued, “the bone-deep authenticity of immigrants and working people?”

This friend may be a dick, but he has a point.  Rather than tireless Sicilians, Annisquam has long attracted well-heeled New Yorkers looking to park their generational wealth on a breezy lot with unobstructed views of the water.  Our own small, worn home looks out-of-place there.  Until one sees that it was once an outbuilding on a grand nearby estate, perhaps the shed where some Rockefeller kept his collection of hunting dogs or top hats.

On the day we signed our new lease, my wife and I decided to walk the surrounding streets, curious about the vibe of the neighborhood.  It was the first week of February, but the weather was unseasonably mild.  So it was notable that, in an hour’s worth of wandering, we encountered no other pedestrians.  Indeed, the only people we glimpsed were behind the wheels of Super-Duty Fords and white vans emblazoned with commercial logos: “Jerry Enos Painting Company,” “Roy Spittle Electric.”  It seemed the owners of the handsome manors we passed were busy occupying other homes, somewhere a thousand miles south of here.  So they had thoughtfully arranged for these men—thick of mustache and good with their hands—to keep them company, to caress their sides with coats of fresh paint, lest they feel lonely or second-rate.

When moving day finally arrived, it was three such men we hired to schlep our boxes to Annisquam.  They arrived bright and early on a Saturday morning, crammed into the cab of a battle-scarred truck, the flagship of a local moving company that I will decline to name, for reasons that will soon become evident.

Each man was notable in his own way.  There was Walt, an outgoing older fellow who never stepped foot in either apartment and handled our belongings only long enough to assess their resale value.  Calling himself the “brains of the operation,” he preferred to sun himself like a cat on the ledge of the truck’s cavernous interior, while critiquing the other men’s efforts.  “You’re sure doing that the hard way,” he said, stretching, as his partners staggered under the weight of an old steel sleeper sofa.

One of those partners, Al, was built like a two-car garage.  The other, Tim, was at least twenty years younger, but he was moving slowly and gingerly.  After depositing a load, Tim would wince, remove a gray baseball cap, and wipe his brow.  Later, I noticed him using one hand to carry a heavy suitcase, while the other clutched at his gut.

“You…doing okay?” I said.

Tim mopped his face.  “Ya,” he said, “It’s just that…I’ve got this.”

Without further prelude, he lifted his sweatshirt to reveal his belly—hairless, pale, and flat, aside from what appeared to be a baby’s fist punching through his navel, as if the tot were frozen in the act of escape.

“Wasn’t so big this morning,” Tim observed.

Perhaps it’s not as dire as a waiter with amnesia, or a janitor with Norovirus.  But in terms of occupational limitations, a mover stricken with an umbilical hernia isn’t so far behind.

[Also problematic]

“Lemme take that,” I said, reaching for the suitcase.

It’s unlikely that a passerby on the street would have mistaken me for a professional mover, what with my tasseled loafers and child’s dimensions.  Certainly, I was not in the same class as Al, who could tuck an upholstered chair in the crook of his arm like a sack of groceries.  So I guess it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when Walt began to rag on my efforts too from the comfort of his sunny perch.  “Distressed furniture,” he said, nodding at a wooden end table I’d fumbled and dinged against a door frame.  “It’s very trendy these days.”

For a moment, I felt a twinge of shame: how could I be so careless?  Until I realized that I owned that table.  Moreover, I was paying to carry it down three flights of stairs, to the tune of $225/hour.  Had it been my fancy to, say, smash the table with a small tomahawk, then set fire to it, and roast weenies over the smoking embers, well—for that kind of money—it would have been my prerogative.

I didn’t mention this to anyone, especially not to Tim, who was gamely lifting what he could: lampshades and decorative throw pillows.  Instead, I continued to serve as a temp for this ragtag local business, sweating and absorbing Walt’s ridicule alongside men twice my size.  Despite the irony of an inverse hourly wage, there was something about the whole situation that seemed right.

I understood this feeling better when we all caravanned to the new apartment in a clattering truck and a pair of Hondas.  Snaking along the coastline, we passed over the causeway that marks the start of Annisquam.  And with that, my wife and I didn’t just leave downtown Gloucester.  We quit the domain of these men, calloused and liberally tattooed, whom we had the privilege to hire, on a Saturday, to labor like common draft animals.  Perhaps joining their crew was my farewell penitence.  But also it reminded me how hard we have to work to overcome our divisions for even just a moment.

Unloading the truck went much quicker.  And soon we were standing on our covered porch, admiring the view of the Annisquam River in the slanting winter light.  Walt too emerged from the truck, looking tan and rested.  He produced a pack of Winstons, which he passed around to the other guys.

Al hadn’t said more than a few words all day.  But suddenly, with the work complete and a cigarette in hand, he became downright chatty.  “When summer gets here,” he said, “you can find me right over there.”  He pointed toward Wingaersheek Beach, which, at low tide, sat across a blue channel of water just a hundred yards wide.  “Lawn chair, fishing pole, cooler of beer.”

According to Google, I’d have to drive 20 minutes and 8.5 miles to join Al at Wingaersheek.  And standing there, surrounded by cigarette smoke and lonely, million-dollar homes, I knew I probably wouldn’t.  But it was nice to know he would be close enough that I could wander down to the water’s edge, cup my hands to my mouth, and shout hello.

Fresh Out of Constitutional Freedoms to Disregard, Trump Eyes Other Notable Lists

WASHINGTON, DC—On Sunday President Donald Trump signaled his desire to continue flouting the world’s lists, whether they be secular or sacred, hallowed or utterly trivial.

Installed in the White House for just over a week, the Trump administration has already managed to breach most of the Bill of Rights.

“With his executive order on immigration, the President finished laying waste to the First Amendment,” said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. “That’s not to say it was easy.”

According to Spicer, President Trump had planned on simply lumping “a bunch of terroristy countries” into his 90-day ban. However, the White House legal team noted that more explicit religious discrimination might be required to, as Spicer put it, “take a truly hot dump on the Establishment Clause.”

“So we decided to add that part about Syrian Christian refugees being cool,” said Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law and senior advisor.

Steve Bannon, Senior Counselor to the President, had begun the White House’s assault on the First Amendment earlier in the week. On Wednesday Bannon told a New York Times reporter that “the media should keep its mouth shut,” presumably after the newspaper had printed his words alongside the one photo that didn’t make him look like every town’s Peeping Tom.

[Not this photo, obviously]

“Tell you what,” said Bannon, who was appointed to the National Security Council on Saturday. “Compared to the First, the Eighth Amendment was a snap.”

“As a candidate, Trump was already on the record supporting torture,” Bannon explained. “He just needed to casually espouse the government’s use of cruel and unusual punishment while in office.”

Bannon was referring to Trump’s joint press conference with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, when he offered this word salad-cum-policy announcement: “I happen to feel that [torture] does work, I’ve been open about that for a long period of time, but I am going with our leaders and we are going to win with or without.”

According to Kushner, after signing the immigration order, President Trump found himself casting about for additional freedoms to trample.

“Dad got a little carried away,” Kushner said. “He was asking, ‘What’s #2 about again?’ At that point, Wayne popped in from his executive lounge in the Roosevelt Room.” Kushner seemed to be referring to Wayne LaPierre, President of the National Rifle Association.

Bannon elaborated: “Ol’ Wayne shouldered the Remington he was cleaning.”

“Scared the piss out of Pops for a second,” Kushner said. “But we all had a good laugh about it when he realized his mistake.”

It was at this point that Bannon suggested other noteworthy legal frameworks. “Nobody’s really paid attention to the Code of Hammurabi for millennia,” he said. “Seemed like low hanging fruit.”

“It’s not our style to go soft on the whole ‘eye for an eye’ thing,” Spicer said.

So, according to Bannon, President Trump instead opted to violate Hammurabi’s 127th Law, which governs the treatment of faithless wives. Both Bannon and Kushner declined to elaborate.

[Had the Babylonians been serious, they would have carved it into 24K gold]

“The Ten Commandments were next,” Kushner said. “But Dad got bored after ticking off the one about graven images.”

“Naturally, a nude bust of Vladimir,” said Spicer, rolling his eyes.

“If I recall, it was Ivanka who thought of the Buzzfeed lists,” Kushner said.

“Stroke of genius—the president hates those guys,” Bannon said, alluding to the website’s publication of unverified reports describing lewd acts in Russian hotels.

“We just started scrolling through odd-numbered lists,” Kushner said. “You probably saw Dad’s tweet repudiating ‘17 Photos That Prove Cats Are Just Adorable Assholes.’”

Spicer shook his head. “They’re even more misleading than the Park Service’s shots of the Inauguration.”

[Perhaps thinking the right to assemble had already been revoked]

Bannon described a break the group took to receive a phone call from Kim Jong-Un, the Supreme Leader of North Korea. “He wanted to congratulate President Trump on his progress,” said Bannon, adding that Chairman Kim jokingly described the rapid dismantling of American freedoms as “beginner’s luck.”

“He was particularly impressed by the detention of immigrants with valid Green Cards at U.S. airports,” said Bannon. “Apparently, it took Kim more than a month to suspend habeas corpus.”

Kim ended the call by exhorting President Trump to “pace himself.”

“Between the swift erosion of a great democracy and Dad’s even more outrageous hairdo, it’s understandable that Kim’s jealous,” said Kushner. “There’s a new guy in town.”

[President Trump exhibiting his complete indifference to America’s founding list]

Innovative Addiction Treatment Program Promises to Aid Local Artists

GLOUCESTER—Starting in July, concerned Gloucester residents will try out a new program for managing a pervasive and seemingly intractable social ill.

“This addiction is tragic—and it’s a blight on our city,” said Dorothy Pendleton, president of the Rocky Neck Art Colony, one of several local groups supporting the experimental initiative. “But rather than stigmatizing the victims, we’ll give them the help they need.”

Pendleton delivered her remarks on Tuesday at the Cultural Center at Rocky Neck, where artists and other representatives from Gloucester’s creative class had gathered to announce their plan.

“I know all too well how easy it is to slide into a fixation on nautical themes and marine imagery in one’s art,” she told the audience, which responded with a chorus of amens.

“It starts with a lighthouse, a lobster trap, or a gaily colored dinghy bobbing in the harbor,” she said, her voice rising to a fever pitch. “And you think, Just this once. Just to score some easy cash.”

ColorfulDinghy[The grim consequences of addiction]

Pendleton trained as a sculptor at Montserrat College of Art, graduating with her BFA in 1977. For years she occupied a studio on Rocky Neck, where she produced sleek, minimalist works in aluminum and epoxy.

But when the market for such conceptual sculpture collapsed in the mid-1980s, things went downhill.

She explained: “On a lark, I used some leftover resin to fashion a stylized anchor. It was hideous—and just so cliché. But I hung it in the window, and a buyer walked in the same afternoon.”

“That was my gateway to homogenous beach art,” Pendleton said, shaking her head at the memory. “Within six months, I had sold off my old materials and begun to churn out whimsical mobiles from driftwood and sea glass.”

DriftwoodMobile[Rock bottom]

According to Daniel Sizemore, a painter and board member of Cape Ann Artisans, stories like hers are common, especially in Gloucester.

“Our city has a long and sordid history as a hotbed of maritime art,” he said, pointing at a framed print of two schooners skimming over a choppy green sea.

“Fitz Henry Lane was the original kingpin,” Sizemore said, his eyes narrowing. “With his rakish frock coat and luminous sunsets.”

Pendleton elaborated: “Lane and his minions established a culture of nautical addiction in this town. So it’s difficult to escape the motifs—coiled rope, billowing sails, mirror-calm coves lit by low-slung crescent moons—that have dominated the vocabulary of the Gloucester artist for almost two hundred years.”

FitzHenryLane[Lane, plotting the consolidation of his artistic cartel]

Others place the blame on the steady stream of money coming across the Piatt Bridge.

“We wouldn’t see this habit-forming behavior if it weren’t so lucrative,” said Dexter Gee, a member of the Gloucester Arts Guild and a recovering photographer of the relentlessly pounding surf.

He explained: “Tourists from New York and Boston generate the demand. They come to Gloucester, waving their platinum cards, clamoring for low contrast images of breakers rolling onto Bass Rocks.

“And if the Twin Lights loom in the background, they’ll pay double or triple,” Gee continued, his shutter finger twitching restlessly. “For a photographer who’s barely getting by, it can be hard to resist.”

According to Pendleton, the cumulative effects on a community can be devastating. “Rocky Neck Avenue is starting to look like the hallway of a Motel 8 in Ocean City,” she said.

Sizemore admitted that for years he and other artist-vigilantes had tried to shame the creators of maritime kitsch into reforming their ways. “We’d drive to their known hangouts—the Back Shore, Eastern Point—and heckle them as they captured the sunlight staining the clouds crimson.”

But it never worked—and now, rather than shunning the nautically obsessed, Pendleton and her partners are extending a sympathetic hand.

“We are inviting all affected artists to come down to the Cultural Center here on Wonson Street,” she said. “And with no judgment whatsoever, we’ll begin the rehabilitation process together.”

That process entails the safe disposal of finished beach art, as well as any associated paraphernalia. Pendleton listed some possibilities: “Watercolor sets, moveable easels, and floppy straw hats for those tawdry plein air sessions.”

PleinAirArtist[Image obscured to protect privacy]

Gee elaborated: “The Cultural Center will also pair you with a patron from the community who has agreed to purchase your first piece of clean, cliché-free work.”

“It could be almost anything,” he said. “An abstract canvas. A photo of a squalid gutter. Heck, even a naturalistic portrait.”

“Except no hoary sea captains,” Pendleton interjected.

Gee confirmed that their program is based on other local initiatives, which have used a compassionate approach to successfully address more significant addictions.

“If it can work for black tar heroin,” he said, “then there’s a chance it might work for pastel-tinted nautilus shells.”

Most exciting of all, according to Pendleton, is the potential for growth beyond Gloucester.  Artists’ collectives throughout the region have expressed interest in the plan’s radical, outside-the-box methodology.

“We’re getting calls from lots of seaside towns struggling with the same issue,” Pendleton said. “Apparently, the compass rose is absolutely rampant on Cape Cod.”

Gee described just one disappointment with the plan’s design and execution thus far. “We approached the Rockport Art Association as a potential partner,” he said. “But they insisted their town doesn’t have a problem. In their minds, the addiction is ‘only a Gloucester thing.’”

Imacon Color Scanner[Green and purple regions untarnished in any way]

Beauport Hotel Opens Doors to Birdseye, Frozen Food Pioneer


[The Beauport Hotel, open for business]

GLOUCESTER— On Saturday evening, visitors to Gloucester’s brand new Beauport Hotel found themselves gawking at more than just glorious views of the city’s outer harbor.

Propped up on a chic striped chair in the hotel’s lobby was none other than Clarence F. Birdseye, the 70-year-old founder of General Seafood Corporation.

Originally occupying the hotel’s 2-acre footprint on Pavilion Beach, the General Seafood factory processed locally-caught fish using a flash-freezing technique pioneered by Birdseye himself. The factory iced its final fillets in 2003 but stood neglected—a monument to Gloucester’s declining fishing industry—until August 2014, when a wrecking ball made way for the Beauport.


[Birdseye’s old stomping grounds, Pavilion Beach]

Allison Hartwell, a hotel guest from Peoria, Illinois, spotted Birdseye as she and her husband passed through the lobby on their way to the elevator.

“At first I thought he was just another stinking rich old guy,” she said. “You know, sneaking a nap after a long day on the water.”

“Rich and stinking, turns out,” said her husband, Ron.

Birdseye, whose company was eventually sold for $22 million to Post Cereals, suffered a heart attack and died in October 1956.

Clarence Birdseye

[Clarence Birdseye, prior to fatal heart attack]

Per instructions in his will, Birdseye’s remains were sent to the Gloucester factory, where he was treated to the same flash-freezing that had preserved so many a cod.

Birdseye’s technique, designed to cause less damage to frozen tissue than slow-freezing methods, was eventually applied to fruits and vegetables as well, revolutionizing the business of convenience food.

“I’m in auto sales,” said Ron Hartwell. “So I don’t know much about tissue damage at the cellular level. But this guy looked a little worse for wear.”

Birdseye’s defrosted remains had been dressed in smart linen trousers and a ‘Viva!’ tee-shirt from the Beauport’s gift shop. Yet, according to Allison Hartwell and other guests, these efforts were insufficient.

“His color was off,” she said. “It screamed ‘meat locker,’ rather than a sun-kissed Gloucester afternoon.”

“Plus, there was the puddle at his feet,” her husband added. Called “leakage” in food industry parlance, this liquid can be indicative of improper storage.

“I’m not sure if the hotel was going for a kitschy Weekend at Bernie’s vibe or what,” said Hartwell. “But to me the guy was creepy.”


[Same deal, minus the mob subplot]

Asked to comment on their half-thawed guest of honor, hotel general manager David Conti explained: “Look, the idea was part of our commitment to honor Gloucester’s traditions.”

“We already wanted to display old-timey photos of Mr. Birdseye and the factory, plus a microscope he owned,” Conti said. “So when we discovered his cadaver had been sold along with the property, it seemed like a logical extension.”

The hotel’s other nods to local history include the name of its restaurant, 1606, the year Samuel de Champlain sailed into the harbor and named the area “Le Beau Port.”

Still, Conti admitted that the staging of Birdseye’s corpse had not been well received. “Good idea,” he said. “But poor execution.”

“If it had been up to me,” Conti continued, “we’d have dressed him in period attire—say, the double-breasted suit and Trilby cap of Birdseye’s heyday.”

Speaking under condition of anonymity, another Beauport employee elaborated on the hotel’s motivations: “Let’s just say the investors have been pretty desperate to get locals onboard.”

The anonymous source seemed to be referring to the contentious debate surrounding the sale and development of the waterfront parcel in Gloucester’s Fort Square neighborhood. In 2013, many residents fiercely protested the City Council’s decision to approve the hotel.

Despite the boost to the local economy, including nearly 200 full and part-time jobs, objections persist.

“Trampling on our history is what it is,” said Leo Palmieri, who owns a home adjacent to the hotel and obtained his first job at the General Seafood factory in 1951. “I remember Mr. Birdseye,” Palmieri continued. “Hard as nails and bald as a badger’s ass.”

Having learned that Birdseye was on-site, the former employee stopped by the Beauport lobby on Saturday evening. “Looked like he needed a drink,” Palmieri said.

Palmieri explained that he’d tried to shuffle Birdseye up to the hotel’s rooftop bar, named Bird’s Eye Lounge in honor of the frozen food tycoon.

“We were turned away,” Palmieri said. “Overnight guests only.”

Conti, the Beauport’s manager, admitted that the hotel had enforced the policy, notwithstanding Birdseye’s status as the bar’s namesake. “Really, it was more of a health code thing,” he said.

Reflecting on the tensions between Gloucester’s past, present, and future, Palmieri offered this final assessment: “Mark my words. The fishing industry will be back and better than ever.”  He raised his eyes to the outer harbor, empty aside from the merry bobbing of a few pleasure boats.  “Just like ol’ Birdseye.”


[Serving Corpse Revivers, but not to actual corpses]

Skadi, Norse God of Winter, Gets “Do-over”

ASGARD—After lengthy negotiations over the weekend, Skadi – divine ruler of Earth’s frozen reaches – has been granted another chance at summoning snow and ice to produce, per Odin’s decree, “something better than this half-assed winter.”

Loki, Wizard of Lies and the chief god’s diplomatic envoy, confirmed the arrangement on Tuesday. “Nobody was happy with Skadi’s initial efforts,” Loki said. “Least of all Odin.”

Across much of the Northern Hemisphere, the months of December to March were characterized by warmer than average temperatures, as well as a lack of snowfall.

“On March 8, it was 77 degrees in Boston,” Loki said. “Don’t get me wrong: like all randy Norse deities, I savor my first glimpse of pink chambray draped over winter-pale human thighs. But early March? What the actual fuck?”

According to another source within his retinue, Odin was particularly miffed at media coverage chalking up the warm temperatures to anthropogenic climate change.

The anonymous demigod explained: “If he’d seen one more Mother Jones think-piece attributing the heat to something as silly as carbon emissions, rather than the whims of omnipotent gods in iron helmets, Odin would have flipped out.”

The impact of the weekend’s deal was immediately evident, with New England experiencing a series of freak April snowfalls, followed by a plunge in temperatures.

“Finally, Skadi’s got his head in the game,” Loki said.

10751442_06385ad711_z[Skadi, bringing the motherfucking pain to this daffodil]

Loki may have been referring to the rumors swirling around Skadi’s whereabouts during the key months of January and February.

“Legend holds that the guy dwells within eternally frozen mountaintops,” the anonymous source said. “So what’s with the monkey business in South Beach?”

Until recently, numerous Miami residents reported seeing a beefy, bearded slab of raw Teutonic force lounging on area beaches. “He looked to be about 8-foot 4,” said one woman. “But I was blinded by his divine aura and the flash of his ice axe in the noon sun.”

“It’s hard to say if it was actually Skadi,” the woman continued. “Or just Viggo Mortensen.”

Another resident says she heard the fellow’s sonorous voice. “Ya, he talked to me and every other girl in a bikini,” she said, “offering free rides on his ‘trusty long-haired yak.’”

Freya, Goddess of Beauty and Fertility, mused on the rumors. “Skadi was always a bit of a cad,” she said. “But it’s hard to consummate your desires when you’re languishing in obscurity among the glaciated wastes.”

ullr[Skadi, like ‘What now?’]

According to Idun, Goddess of Spring and Eternal Youth, things changed a year ago, during the winter of 2015. “With the record snowfall and his ruthless exercise of the polar vortex, Skadi got a lot of press,” she said.

Freya elaborated: “He started to hang with Thor and the other A-listers, who let him tag along on their odysseys of seduction in the human realm.” She absently scratched behind the ears of her boar, Hildisvíni. “I guess it all went to his head.”

In compliance with his pact with Odin, Skadi could not be reached for comment.

Odin pointed his spear northward and noted: “That guy better be standing tits deep in an icy crevasse, unleashing Arctic fury on some hapless populace.”

On Tuesday, there was still some dispute over the details of the new seasonal arrangement. In particular, it was unclear whether Skadi’s do-over would reverse the forward march of time, allowing other beings – divine or otherwise – an opportunity to correct their own royal fuck-ups.

“We’ve fielded a bunch of inquiries about this,” Loki said. “Mostly faithless husbands, hard-luck gamblers, that sort of thing.”

“But also one hoarse, out-of-breath call from the office of Governor Chris Christie.”