A follow up to this 2014 story, because Jesus H. Christ why are we will talking about this. 

On Friday morning, residents of Gloucester Massachusetts were stunned to discover large swathes of Good Harbor Beach covered in unfathomable amounts garbage left behind from the previous days visitors, despite the beach having small hand painted rocks bearing missives asking people to ‘Carry In ~ Carry out’ in place of trash barrels.

Shockingly, this has not been effective.  (Photo GMG)

The piles of refuse, including empty bottles of terrible beer, empty chip bags, cast off footwear, cardboard boxes, partially consumed human remains, and more horrors, caught the attention of local Mary T.

“I just don’t understand! It says right there on that faded painted fish on the bridge to TAKE YOUR TRASH WITH YOU. Ohhh misery. Ohhh life! Why are humans such wretched creatures?! Why is our nature so foul that we must profane such natural beauty?! OH BUT FOR A SOLUTION TO THIS BLIGHT” she proclaimed, weaving dramatically between a pile of Twisted Tea bottles and discarded beach chairs.

When asked about the possibility of putting in place some sort of receptacle for trash, Mary replied “Are you kidding? And who’s going to pay for that, huh?” and stormed off, wading through the refuse.

At least we’re not paying an extra few bucks on our taxes.

One local resident, who would only give her name as Marjory, didn’t see any cause for concern. “It doesn’t bother me. What’s all the fuss about? Home is where the trash is, after all.”



Science has, in fact, created a solution to such a problem, though city residents are hesitant to embrace this new technology. Citing concerns about cost and wary about the DPW’s ability to empty them despite the existence of a fleet of trucks designed specifically to do just that, Jimmy B had this to say: “Nah, what’s the point. People are just going to throw trash in any of these ‘receptacles’ (using air quotes) and then they’ll get full. And then what, huh??”





The Green Monster

We here at The Clam have been watching with interest the proposals for affordable housing at the Cameron’s site. More specifically, we’ve been watching the reactions to the proposal with interest. The project is, as you may have guessed, meeting a lot of resistance from local residents.

Recently, images emerged which represent the basic layout and shape of the proposed structure. They literally made the drawing lime green and orange, and included exactly zero architectural features which would define this as a building. It’s essentially a representation of the mass and spatial occupation of the proposed building.

Seriously, there are no windows or doors. It’s just a shape. A green and orange shape.

People thought this was real.

The beauty of the local dissension is twofold, really. First, a lot of people apparently cannot fathom that this big green and orange windowless, doorless shape in the pictures is not actually how the building will look. It’s delightful.

Secondly, there’s a big dose of ugly classism being disguised as concern for the logistical soundness of the plan. This is less delightful, though not entirely surprising to be honest.

Below are actual comments from your fellow townspeople, lifted from the internet, with helpful translation as to what they really mean.

” Is “Affordable” a fancy word for Section 8?”Translation -“Keep the poors out of downtown. Also I’m probably a little bit racist.”

“Why is it so ugly? And where are the windows?”Translation – “I’m dumb “

“Keep housing off Main Street !”  Translation – “The new housing I mean. All those people who live there already are obviously not scary poor folks, they’re Gloucester locals. “

“No more section 8 in Gloucester” Translation – “I dislike poors in general. Also I’m kind of racist. No I’m a lot racist.”

“awful design! No windows. Lime green and orange!! No charm, In a charming city. Please don’t build this!!” Translation – “I actually believe this is a design which would be built, this actual green and orange box is something I think could come to fruition.”

” how can this even meet code…no windows. ..what if there is a do you get out…how does it get vented other than thru the roof…are the architect’s crazy. ..or just dumb..A kindergarten could do better” Translation – “I think I’m being clever in pointing out building code violations.”

” Ugly. Just plain ugly. And, although they might be well intentions, to bring affordable housing, these things usually don’t end up well. Check out Red Road flats in Scotland, Divis flats in Ireland, and the Projects in Southie.” Translation – “Poor people just don’t know how to behave.” 

“Kids need green space and elderly do not need to inhale toxic fumes. Downtown is not the right spot for housing!” Translation – “WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!?” 

“Not to mention that fire code requires windows and fire escapes on anything two or more floors…at least in NYC’ Translation – “I don’t know how you bumpkins do it, but us city folk have things like windows on our buildings.”

“My Mother was born in Gloucester. I wish I could have a say in this.”   Translation – “Native born Gloucester people are more important than transplants.” 


We thought some of these folks may want to make counter proposals, as you do when something is so important to you.  We’re helpfully providing some examples which we think they’ll find to be much more suitable for Affordable Housing, so that they can make a nice presentation for City Hall. Obviously these should be nowhere near Downtown. Maybe Dogtown or West Gloucester. You’re welcome!

At least this one has windows. They should be thankful.

A tidy way to round up all the poor people into one spot so they can fend for themselves.

West Gloucester does have a ton of room.


Fun With Bathing Suit Anxiety

I had first seen Good Harbor Beach during the chill of late March a few years ago. It was empty apart from a few people with unleashed dogs racing in and out of the surf. The dogs were running around like happy idiots, unaware that they were soaked to the bone with sea water that was approximately the temperature of liquid nitrogen. It was a lovely scene, with the lighthouses in the background and a clear blue sky framing the whole picture. It charmed my husband and I like the naive fools we were.

I pictured myself nestled into the warm sand with a book, wearing overly large sunglasses and not enough sunscreen, sat next to my husband who I would make wear a sun hat. We would complain about rapidly warming drinks and sand getting into various crevices, and would on occasion wander down to the water to float around like a pair of content seals.

Actual shot of me in the water.

This has yet to happen.

I peer out the window of the car during the summer, eyeballing the glistening blue of the Atlantic in the distance. It calls to me, saying “Come in. It’s lovely in here, I mean it. Sure, my water is 40 degrees but for the 55 seconds that you can bear it, you’ll feel great.” But I never give in to the temptation.

I go for walks on the beach all the time. I stroll barefoot in the sand at the water’s edge like an idyllic tampon commercial, enjoying the feel of the water on my feet and rolling my jeans up so they don’t get wet. (Yes, I am that asshole in long pants at the beach.) I stare at the water and listen to the waves, barely audible above the din of what my brain convinces me is a crowd of impossibly beautiful people, all judging me and my fat ass for blocking their otherwise perfect view.

Now, logically, I know this just isn’t true. Average looking people go to the beach, too, though I’m sure they judge me just as harshly.

I stare at the water, and I want to go in. I linger and dig my toes into the sand and try to avoid the fresh, gelatinous seagull shit. I linger for a while and daydream about floating in the surf, then I move on, back to my car.

Another thing to be avoided in the sand

Why does this happen? Why does my brain do this? I don’t fucking know. I’m overweight but I’m not obese. It’s illogical, damaging, silly, ridiculous, but all I know is that I get hit with crippling anxiety at the thought of unveiling my blindingly white, uneven, imperfect thighs and hips to the world. It keeps me from enjoying my summer, and that makes me angry and resentful.

Before you think it, I can’t just “get over it.” My brain has been sabotaging me for years, like a bitchy lifelong frenemy who you keep hanging out with because you convince yourself you deserve her scorn. Even when I weighed eighty pounds less than I do currently, my mind would still very helpfully whisper “You should probably wrap yourself in a sarong. Better yet, just keep those shorts on. No, you don’t look stupid swimming in shorts at all, you look great. This is so much better than just relaxing, trust me.”

I thought that buying a bathing suit for “curvy women” (that’s what they call larger women now, FYI) would help. So I found a website that specialized in clothes for larger gals. It was populated with large gorgeous women, all looking impossibly glamorous while lounging around the pool with giant sunglasses, great hair, and expressions that screamed “I look good. I want to swim, and I refuse to wear a goddamned mu-mu, so go fuck yourself if my fat ass bothers you.”

Owning. All. Of. It.

I was inspired.

I clicked “buy now” and waited for my package of confidence to arrive in the mail. When it showed up, I immediately had to try it on. I hadn’t worn a bathing suit since the last time I had been swimming, which was back in 2001. The sensation of pulling this thing on, this weird, once piece contraption of stretchy fabric and underwires, was foreign. I had hoped to put it on and immediately be blessed with the self confidence of those gals living it up poolside, as if the fabric was woven of some magic “I give zero fucks” attitude.

That didn’t exactly happen. I didn’t look bad, but I still looked like me. I prodded at my soft parts, tried posing and looking for the right angles to minimize the bits I didn’t like. Still, I had spent the money on this thing and I promised myself that I would use it. We live a stone’s throw from some of the most gorgeous beaches in New England, and I told myself to stop being such a goddamned baby.

I’ve worn it once.

I wore it, not to Good Harbor (small steps, folks) but to Plum Cove which is like Good Harbor’s older, crotchety aunt who gives you off-brand candies. It’s small and not terribly picturesque, both the beach and the water are lined with uncomfortable pebbles and rocks in lieu of soft toe-diggable sand, and the water is topped with mats of vaguely menacing looking seaweed.

I felt a little sorry for the lifeguard who got assigned there. It was a beach populated that day by grandparents and their charges, exasperated looking moms who just probably just wanted to read a book but had to get up every few minutes to intervene in a child fight, and a fat girl trying to mentally will eyeballs blind to her presence. (It was me, the fat girl was me.) I concentrated hard on my book, and got up exactly twice to venture into the water with a practiced quick-walk meant to both get me there ASAP, and draw as little attention to myself as possible. The uncomfortable rocks underfoot had other plans, sadly, and my graceful walk was reduced to a herky-jerky shuffle.

I thought then about trying out Niles beach, but I pictured it as the domain of East Gloucester, populated by thin women with designer beach towels and a taste for chardonnay, and stylish moms feeding kale chips to children named after a plant. They would, my brain assured me, give me the stink eye and I would immediately be given a look of disgust for being fat near them. They would point at me and tell their kids “Look, Maple and Barley, that’s why you don’t get refined sugars. Have some more quinoa.”

But this year, THIS YEAR will be different. I will be different. I will find that bathing suit and rescue it from the depths of forgotten and ill fitting clothes, I will wear it, and I will be fat at the beach and I will float in the water like a happy seal.

So I tell myself.

Check back later.

Sir David Attenborough Comes to Rockport

We at The Clam managed to get our hands on an advanced copy of Sir David Attenborough’s observations on Rockport’s annual great migration, set to air on PBS this fall. 

You are now reading this in my voice.

Late spring into early summer is a magical time along the New England coast. By now the ravages of winter have melted away, leaving the freezing temperatures and oppressive snow a distant memory for the year-round residents of the rugged coast.

In the coastal Hamlet of Rockport, the arrival of warm weather is marked by one of nature’s lesser known but equally impressive great migrations; the annual return of the sailboats which flock to the tiny harbor.

Space in these protective waters is limited and competition for a spot is great, especially within the prestigious main harbor. Often, space is only made available when one of the venerable occupants succumbs to his or her age, leaving a precious vacuum to be rapidly filled by the next in line on the notoriously slow moving waiting list.

Sparring does happen on occasion, with the combatants gathering in a circle. These battles are usually for show, rarely ending in serious injury or death.

The summer is here is short, and the occupants of these magnificent boats waste no time in displaying their plumage, both to impress each other, as well as to call attention from inhabitants onshore. Freshly painted hulls, shining chrome and brass accents, and clean sails which gleam in the sunlight are all on proud display.

The males of the bunch will regularly gather onshore at the Yacht Club, keenly inspecting each other in order to establish a hierarchy. While biologists aren’t certain, they believe that the style of Sperry Topsider footwear denotes their status within the pack.

He marks his territory by the brash display of the pale inner thigh, warning other males who may be nearby.

The females of the group routinely meet to discuss the males, chattering excitedly to each other over mimosas as they admire the showy males and measure up the size of their masts.

July 4th weekend is the height of the mating season, and the harbor becomes a jumble of dancing masts, with the cacophony of clanging rigging and clinking glasses filling the air. Soon, however, these waters will empty once more as the boats one by one return to their wintering grounds, leaving behind the promise of next season’s migration.