Manchester-by-the-Free

In honor of the current hit film in the “Boston Working Class Ennui” genre going to its streaming service, Amazon just announced they are giving everyone in the eponymous town free Amazon Prime. That’s swell of them, eh?

Whatever. Also: fuck you Amazon.

You see, if you don’t know, the film is not about Manchester-by-the-Sea. MBTS or just “Manchester” as we used to call it before they changed their name as not to be confused with the working-class New Hampshire city of the same name. The film is about Gloucester. My town. It was shot in Gloucester, the vibe is Gloucester and all the issues depicted are straight-up Gloucester.

“I’m sorry sir but town ordinances plainly state lobster traps are only to be used as decorative coffee table bases and must be made of wood.”

in Manchester, our neighbor, you’re going to find less of the “picking fights with cops” sort of thing there and more of the, “people suing each other because someone’s gardener cut the branch of an historic apple tree that was leaning over into their yard”- type conflicts. It’s a wealthy town. Wealthy-as-balls, actually, 8th highest income in one of the richest states in the country.

But, you know, they get free Amazon Prime because of the name. Amazon- who are automating warehouses and killing local retail, is giving free shit to rich people who didn’t even ask for it.

That’s your late-stage capitalism, right there.

I’m not sure why this bothers me so much, but it fucking does. Here in Gloucester this week an abandoned fish pier collapsed into the harbor, which tells you everything you need to know about our core industry in the post-cod era. We’re burying a beloved veteran/cop who left behind four kids. We’re struggling to keep fire stations open, fund schools, care for the elderly and manage our opiate addiction problem. We do this with a lot of heart, tears, fighting, too much pride and never enough money.

But we do it. We do it all. We make it work.

We do it to make sure fewer people end up like the characters depicted in fucking Manchester-by-the-Sea, yet another film made so some studio can make yet another buck on the whole “Bawston” thing, with our constrained social hierarchy and our comical accents. What do you suppose, there are another 30 films in the can depicting a young, troubled, too-smart-for-his-own-good Bay State resident for whom the grip of his past is choking off his ability to live and love in the present? Maybe 40?

Why is it liberals are losing the working class again? I forget.

You know what, never mind. You can keep Prime, Amazon. And Casey Affleck’s SNL “vanilla nut tap” jokes and all that “Uncle Sullying” we locals do. Go give hot stone massages in the bistros to Man-BTSers or whatever the fuck you want to do. I’m glad for the jobs the film industry here provides, I’m thankful that unlike a lot of towns hit hard by the realities of the 21st century, we’ve got economic opportunities due to our proximity to Boston/Cambridge others don’t. I’m even glad for the town of Manchester-by-the-Sea which contains many fine people and provides tons of work for Gloucester contractors adding yoga rooms and wine cellars to houses built by puritans in the 17th century.

But once, for the love of “Gawd”, can you fuckers just go make a movie about Connecticut?

What the Fuck do we Do Now?

Greetings, Clampatriots,

It’s 4am in a place I don’t understand. I assume you are as well. It’s raw here, and as someone who’s endured a fair share of tragedy in my life, the only thing I’m sure of at this point is this awful feeling won’t last. Humans are resilient as fuck, especially when pressed, and in the end all of us will scar over, readjust and move on.

So, right now, at our most raw and unguarded, let’s make good use of this.

We’re in undiscovered country. I honestly believe even Trump didn’t know this would happen. In some weird way, he’s stuck here with the rest of us, like some crazy Stockholm situation where the hostage takers and the hostages find common ground in their insane shared reality.

What matters, the only thing that matters from this point on, is character.

Ask yourself: Are you a good person? Am I? Honestly, I can say, “Not as good as I want to be.” And, more to the point, “Not as good as I’m going to need to be.” I’m going to have to get better. So are we all. Times like these are going to call on us all to sacrifice, to put aside pettiness and quick-hit satisfaction. It’s going to be a long four years. And even beyond, who knows? Certainly the damage will linger for generations, the election alone was destructive enough.

Here’s what I know we’re going to need to do:

  1. Defend democracy Part of that will be accepting this outcome. People voted. This is what they wanted. It’s a democracy. If we ever want this undone, we need to accept it was a fair result.
  2. Protect the vulnerable If you’re like me you probably assumed the progress of time meant incrementally more rights and protections for everyone. Nope- there are leaps backward. We’re going to need to circle around those whom this decision directly threatens.
  3. Build bridges And in some cases, re-build. There is no room for grudges, accusations or recriminations. Bubbles need to go. Again, what matter is character, not team. Good people of any persuasion are not going to let folks get hurt unless they themselves feel threatened. Find those good people. Remind them they are good.
  4. Old guard, step aside The system is not working, it has catastrophically failed. Time to start handing stuff over to the next generation.
  5. Hold accountable From here on, everyone is on notice. The question from 11/9/2016 going forward will be: Which direction did you take? Those that choose the wrong path will bear that mark for the rest of their lives.

Will you indulge me in one favor before we get out there and try and put this thing back together?

From here on out I believe we have to be careful about what we put in our brains. I feel like we’ve been feeding ourselves on a steady diet of anti-heroes, “gritty re-boots” and dark takes for years now, from The Sopranos to The Wire, to Breaking Bad to increasingly bleak Batman movies taking place in a universe where it’s apparently always nighttime and raining. We don’t need that shit anymore- start feeding yourself some optimism. Watch some Star Trek, some LOTR, read some Dickens. Re-read the Harry Potter series. Start retraining your consciousness that the good guys win after they’ve been tested. That’s the script you’re going to be reading from for the next few years.  Get a handle on it.

samfrodojpg-7c5542_1280w

“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.”

We’re all Hobbits now, motherfuckers.

 

A not incredibly detailed set of reasons for voting to elect Ed O’Reilly for Sheriff on Thursday

YES THURSDAY. SEPTEMBER 8

So we’re on a bit of a hiatus as we try and get our respective lives in order here at your beloved Clam. But civic duty calls and when the eleventy-fifth person asked us, “Who in the name of blessed Varda Elentári in her Great Hall of Ilmarin should I vote for to become Essex County Sheriff?” (and the denizens of the Clamiverse do talk like this, by the way) we decided it was our responsibility to find out who the best candidate is.

This turns out to have been a huge fucking mistake. There are more people running for Essex County Sheriff than can fit comfortably in a CATA bus. The big, new one. And the whole race is a total shitshow. Trust us, dear readers, you don’t want to dive into this mess without a gallon of absinthe and that tin full of flaky remainders of those hallucinogenic toadskins the weird old Najavo dude sold us on that aborted trip to the proto Burning Man festival in 1991.

But we rocked that turtle-neck-tweed combo pretty hard, as I remember

We rocked that turtle-neck-tweed combo pretty hard, as I remember

Here is just a sample of what we found:

  • One of the candidates running as a Democrat does not seem to have been a Democrat since before May.
  • One of the candidates will draw a pension from another government job while doing this government job, which we guess is cool since he earned it, but wow.
  • Some of the candidates are already managers of the corrections system and some are taking thousand-dollar-plus donations from their employees, which is also wow.
  • One of the candidates when asked about re-creating a similar effort to Gloucester’s Angel program in Lynn said something on the order of “addicts in Lynn don’t want to get clean,” and now his defenders say he was taken out of context which I can only believe if the statement before was, “A totally dipshit thing to say would be…”
  • One of them is apparently driving around in a truck with NH plates, as one does here in MA.
  • A bunch of the candidates want to privatize the corrections health care system, which is a mistake we’ll talk about in a second.
  • And other stuff. Lots and lots of other stuff.
  • Feel free to wade into this shallow pool of derp yourself and figure out who the best one is. Or do what I’m doing and vote for Ed O’Reilly on Thursday.

YES, ON THURSDAY

Did you know there was a primary on Thursday? There is. So go to your voting place and vote.

Ok, so Ed. I’ve seen him around the scene for a couple of decades now. First of all, he’s not an employee of the corrections system. He comes at this job from the other direction, from the people the system is set-up to serve.

Yes, serve. The corrections system is a service. It serves us, the public by carrying out the sentences handed out by juries and judges and it serves the people in the corrections system by offering them a safe and hopefully rehabilitory experience.

Like these guys, who when they get out will be the hottest flashmob talent money can buy

Like these guys, who when they get out will be the hottest flashmob talent money can buy

“Screw them, they committed crimes,” you might think. But you would be oh-so-wrong. Regardless of how you feel about what makes people commit crimes (and if the Gloucester Police Notes are any guide, the answer is: Being within 500′ of the Maplewood 7/11) folks caught up in the corrections system are not going away. Most of them are only going to be in jail for a short while, the average sentence is about 3.5 years. So if they go in and don’t get some kind of treatment, skills training, education, or something to prepare them for a normal life outside the walls, then they are going to be back in our towns and neighborhoods causing problems and costing the system more. So you’d better hope the system serves them and well.

Which brings us to the privatization issue. Private companies want to save money. The way they do this is by minimizing expenses. These companies make more profit if the people in their care for a few years don’t get diagnosed and treated for chronic issues. And then these folks get back outside where the public and private systems have to deal with them at much higher cost. Good call in opposing this Ed, because it’s dumbass.

As I said, Ed has been around for a bunch of years. I see him at all the right things, public service events, education events and so on. His angle at the Sheriff gig is coming from the right direction, and as we’ve learned with the Angel program- focusing on the people with the problem rather than the massive public edifice we’ve built to contain it and only ever winds up perpetuating it, is the right approach in my book.

But my last reason to vote for him is the most Clamtastic. I was cranking down a portion of my daily hogshead of coffee at Pleasant Street one day when Ed walked in. Being an obnoxious wag, I said, “Ed, if you’re running for sheriff, you should dress like one. You know, hat, chaps, the whole deal.”

Or, as the Clam crowd would no doubt prefer, go all "Sheriff of Nottingham"

Or, as the Clam crowd would no doubt prefer, go all “Sheriff of Nottingham”

He brushed by me toward the people he was meeting and without missing a beat and said, “I save that for the bedroom.”

Huzzah, good sir. You have my vote.

 

Gloustec Podcast

Hey there nerds.

Did you know there are nerds in Gloucester? Did you further know there is all kinds of geeky crap happening here all the time? Too often folks don’t talk about all the crazy technology and science stuff going on locally because we are overshadowed by those dorks in Cambridge doing stuff like finding a workable fusion solution or curing cancer.

Screw those guys, there is plenty of locally awesome science, tech and geek culture going on right here.

So one day Myself and Joey C of Good Morning Gloucester and our own beloved Len Pal got together and said, “What if we did a podcast where we talked about geeky stuff as it relates to our crazy little island? And also bikes and how to best watch Game of Thrones without a TV and Len’s crazy trip to perform for Neil Degrasse Tyson, Stephen Hawkings and the guitarist for Queen who is also an astrophysicist (a real thing that happened) and electric cars at City Hall and all that? And we could drink beer and eat pizza.”

The question is obviously rhetorical and thus here it is. It’s funny, it’s informative and it’s mostly three dudes shooting the shit about hopefully interesting topics.

Click Here to go to the Podcast on Good Morning Gloucester

glosteclogo

Hot Take on Gloucester Issues by Josh Turiel

Occasionally we look to FOC (friend of Clam) Josh Turiel for “Over the Bridge” perspective. That he gives it from Salem, a place demonstrably crazier than Gloucester, just makes it better. But Josh is sane. Sorta. Anyway, here’s his hot take on some of our goings on.

As the Clam’s Official Actual Elected Politician (City Councillor in Salem, MA, and current Council President), I am often asked to comment and lend the Clam insights on issues local and national. Having gone through the election process several times and worked for a number of other candidates for office, I can bring some of that perspective to events going on, and candidates for office.

The first thing I’ll opine on for the benefit of the Gloucester audience is this. When I heard about the Soones Court plan, my first instinct was to say “this is a joke, right?” I mean, I live in Salem. We have plenty of controversial projects here in this community, mostly projects that are brownfield re-use where people are justifiably worried about density and traffic issues, and possible remediation risks.

With all that given, nobody thus far has proposed building a SUBDIVISION ON THE FREAKING OCEAN. What homes in Salem we do have balanced on the ocean are in places that at least are somewhat sheltered in our harbor, and aren’t directly exposed to the Atlantic. If there was actual land to build on perhaps this would be different, but fortunately it looks like you guys were able to shoot that bit of idiocy down. Good on you.

Because the old saying “they aren’t making real estate anymore”? It applies doubly to the seawall. That’s going away a little bit farther, even.

I’ve also been asked a lot about the election process and the presidential campaign. Well, I’m arguably the closest thing to a conservative in Clammedia Tower (as I may have been the only non-Sanders supporter on the vast payroll). That said, even with that I’m still a Democrat. Registered and everything. Not one of those “unenrolled” that dominate Massachusetts and much of the country.

So I understand, a little bit, what the complicated rules are that are used to select a Presidential nominee. The Democrats and Republicans have slightly different rules. The Democrats once nominated Jimmy Carter, and he won the Presidency. This made a lot of Democrats very unhappy, so they changed the rules to make it a lot tougher to nominate Jimmy Carter ever again. Basically, they created a big class of free agent delegates that amount to about 20% of the total delegates to national convention. They’re called “Superdelegates”, because they have the power to totally ignore the electorate and vote for whomever they damn well please.

And those “Superdelegates” are the Professional Political Class of the Democratic party. They’re elected officials (Congressmen, Senators, Governors, other state constitutional officers) and key party leaders (senior party directors and officials). The idea is that they’ll generally back whomever the preferred candidate is of the party mainstream and make sure that the rabble doesn’t win.

In reality, even though they pledge to the party favorite, often early, if that candidate goes south in a hurry (like, for instance, happened to Clinton in 2008), they fold like a cheap suit and switch to whomever has the momentum.

The problem for those Feeling the Bern, though, is that many of the key primaries after this point are not “Open” primaries, in which anyone can vote. And Sanders’ support has come very much from unenrolled voters and voters who come from outside that party structure. And the Democratic party so far hasn’t wavered nearly as much as they normally do. Between proportional delegate awarding and closed primaries, I go on record for Clam purposes as saying that Sanders is likely toast by the beginning of April. Sorry.

I loves me some Bernie, I just don’t see him winning a Democratic Party nomination. Because unlike the Republicans, the Democrats know how to stack the deck properly.

The Republicans have a different system. They gather the most offensive people they can generate and let them slug it out

uninteligble yelling

while following the strategy of appealing to the farthest right segment of their base they can – because that’s a proven way of getting the nomination. After doing so, the nominee then tries to tack as close to the center as they can in the hopes of getting normal Americans to forget the promises they made and vote for them.

In every election since 1992 (except for 2004), that’s failed, but it gets people nominated. The other custom in the Republican party is that the runner-up for the nomination is usually the front-runner for the next time out.

This year, that failed because of the orange-tinted sentient wig of spite that detonated onto the electorate this year with a splat, namely He, Trump. After eight years of unbelievably polarized rhetoric painting a utterly milquetoast black man as a Deadly Muslim Kenyan Socialist who WANTS TO TAKE YOUR GUNS (and whose signature accomplishment has been to make everyone buy health insurance) many disaffected members of the Republican base were ready to thrust their right arms in the air and pledge support to a vaguely authoritarian reality TV star.

Donald Trump supporter Birgitt Peterson of Yorkville, Ill., argues with protesters outside the UIC Pavilion after the cancelled rally for the Republican presidential candidate in Chicago on Friday, March 11, 2016. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)

Donald Trump supporter Birgitt Peterson of Yorkville, Ill., argues with protesters outside the UIC Pavilion after the cancelled rally for the Republican presidential candidate in Chicago on Friday, March 11, 2016. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)

Since the opponents that have survived against him so far are reduced to a Canadian religious zealot who likes to pull wings off flies and is considered the most hated man in Washington, a youthful helium balloon from Florida, and a vaguely polite, friendly right-wing patron of the Reformed Church of the Balanced Budget, the Republicans are now hoping that they can spread disorder and chaos to the point where they go into their July convention with no nominee.

And then they would have to try and bring in a Great White Hope to save the party. The likeliest person to return in that scenario would be Willard (Mitt) Romney – you hated him in 2012, but much like Bullwinkle, “This time for sure!”. The other option considered by GOP elders was digging up the corpse of Ronald Reagan, but have you seen Reagan’s actual positions? Even dead, he’s not conservative enough for this bunch. Outside of the whole Supply-Side economics horsecrap Reagan’s pretty much left of John Kasich. And he made deals with Democrats that settled for half a loaf All. The. Time.

Ultimately, we think the GOP will splinter into two or three different parties. Maybe this year, maybe not for another cycle or so. They’re getting close. But after this election, the Cape Ann GOP will have to decide whether to just officially re-dub themselves the Cape Ann Tea Party or not. I’m thinking they rebrand. But this year, they’ll be lined up solidly behind He, Trump, instead of whining about how Ted Cruz just really isn’t conservative enough for Cape Ann.

Anyhow, there is more to this battle that will come later, and the Clam will, in our inimitable fashion, weigh in on it.

Back in Cape Ann, the affordable housing project I wrote about last fall? Why in sweet heaven is this not done yet? It’s a rehab of a downtown property that will bring people living in your downtown. Trust me. This happened in Salem. It works out well for you in the end. There will be more traffic, at least a little bit more. That’s cool, you also get people living there who will shop, eat, and walk the downtown – making it look busier and more successful and in turn drawing out still more people to Gloucester’s newly cooler and hipper downtown. Yes, these are “affordable” units. It still works. Really.

There’s plenty more to weigh in on over the next few months and Your Faithful Clam will bring it all to you, complete with occasional insight. This is our first Presidential campaign as a active mollusk and we hope to help the region bumble through it as best we can. Think of it as a warmup for the local elections that we will again cover next year – and that ALL OF YOU SHOULD VOTE IN FOR CHRISSAKES.