Ask A Cod

Welcome back to our “ask” series, in which a local resident of the past or present answers questions from this week’s mailbag. This week’s column features a North Atlantic Cod.




Dear Cod:

My girlfriend is really jealous. Every time I get a text from another girl, she demands to see it. It’s irritating, because I have a few female friends that I talk to once in awhile. I mean, it’s 2014, right? She even questioned a conversation I had when I said “I love you” – to my cousin, after a death in our family! I have never given her reason to be jealous, and my texts are always totally normal – same stuff I text my male friends. I love my girlfriend and I want to marry her someday, but not if she’s going to be like this forever. Do I confront her, or do we go to therapy, or do I just move on now before I live with this the rest of my life? Help!

Got a Green Eyed Girlfriend in Rockport.

Dear Green Eyed:

One time I had a girlfriend like that, but then she got caught in a gillnet, so the problem solved itself. It’s actually kind of hard to be jealous because there’s pretty much no other cod left for me to talk to, so I don’t know how to answer your question accurately. I would say that you should maybe keep looking. There are other fish in the sea. I mean that’s just a saying, in reality there are not a lot of fish in the sea. I wish there were more fish in the sea, actually. I miss my family.


Dear Cod:

 I recently lost my job, and my mother in law has been talking behind my back, saying I was fired and that I’m not a hard worker. She has never liked me, but now it’s completely obvious. I was let go because the company went bankrupt, and I was the sales leader! Her awful gossip could cost me a new job in our small city, and I have her daughter and our three kids to support. My wife is horrified, but doesn’t know what to do – her mom is is an important player in town politics. This is a nightmare for us! How can I get a new job now?

Jobless in Salem

Dear Jobless:

I don’t really know how jobs work. I mean I hear gossip through the seaweed (get it – because we don’t have grapevines underwater?), but mostly it’s about how fisherman are losing them because there’s not enough of me around. Is that the kind of problem you are having as well? Is sales the same thing as fishing? Because let me level with you: I am trying so desperately to repopulate the cod population, but Sheila doesn’t want a boyfriend and Leslie is already dating Tom and I’m getting too old to be spreading my cod sperm willy nilly like when I was younger. And really, who wants their kids eaten by pasty tourists? I can only do so much for you folks. But as for your mother in law, have you tried some kind of flash-frozen patty technique for her? Ask around, I know a guy.


Dear Cod:

I am sixteen years old, and I don’t know what the meaning of life is. All you do is go to school or work until you retire, and most people can’t even do that, and then you just die. I can’t really have fun in my life anymore because all I think about is how futile it really is. Am I depressed, or is everyone around me just too busy to have an existential crisis?

– Melancholy in Magnolia

Dear Melancholy:

Listen, I’m a cod. All I do is swim around all day until something big eats me, or I get caught in a net by some guy in Grundens listening to Tom Petty. You think I haven’t been awake at night, listening to the tide, wondering if the unending blackness of night is how life after death feels? I have deep thoughts too. But the thing is, you can’t get so caught up in how life is meaningless that you forget to live! There’s stuff worth living for. Like eating. Do you know how good mussels and crabs taste? You probably do, since you people eat them by the wharfload so I have to really hunt for them. But it’s worth it for that moment. Life is a series of moments you enjoy, mixed in with moments you don’t enjoy. Embrace your friends, you never know when you’ll suddenly be flopping on the deck of a ship, gasping for breath, wondering if you’ll ever see Sheila again. Fuck. Life sucks.



For other articles from our “ask” series, click here.




Ask HP Lovecraft

The Clam tries to stay neutral about some things. For instance, should the current Fuller School structure be destroyed from space-borne antimatter weaponry or would it better be sealed off and turned into ‘grey goo’ by self-replicating nanobots? There are good arguments for both, and we’re going to stay out of it.

But there is one thing we know with a steadfast certainty and we will shatter the nearest 2/3 bottle of absinthe and use its jagged edge to defend:

Gloucester, NOT Ipswich was the site of Innsmouth in the classic Lovecraftian horror tale Celephias. Please consider the following description:

It was a town of wide extent and dense construction, yet one with a portentous dearth of visible life. From the tangle of chimney-pots scarcely a wisp of smoke came, and the three tall steeples loomed stark and unpainted against the seaward horizon. One of them was crumbling down at the top, and in that and another there were only black gaping holes where clock-dials should have been. The vast huddle of sagging gambrel roofs and peaked gables conveyed with offensive clearness the idea of wormy decay, and as we approached along the now descending road I could see that many roofs had wholly caved in. There were some large square Georgian houses, too, with hipped roofs, cupolas, and railed “widow’s walks”. These were mostly well back from the water, and one or two seemed to be in moderately sound condition….

The decay was worst close to the waterfront, though in its very midst I could spy the white belfry of a fairly well-preserved brick structure which looked like a small factory. The harbour, long clogged with sand, was enclosed by an ancient stone breakwater….

Right? Stone breakwater? White belfry of fairly well preserved brick structure of a small factory? There are other reasons as well, but trust us, Innsmouth is Gloucester, make no mistake.

The Clam will never deter from this steadfast belief. And rabid Clamista Len Pal furthermore proves through our  ‘Ask a Gloucester Historical Figure’ feature that  Lovecraft’s connection to Gloucester goes deeper than maybe even we first imagined.
download (7)
by Len Pal, quotes from Lovecraft’s works
Dear HP  Lovecraft, I’m a 4th generation fisherman. What was once a lucrative trade has become filled with uncertainty and heartache, but I’m too old to change professions. Is there any hope?
It was called “The Esoteric Order of Dagon”, and was undoubtedly a debased, quasi-pagan thing imported from the East a century before, at a time when the fisheries seemed to be going barren. Its persistence among a simple people was quite natural in view of the sudden and permanent return of abundantly fine fishing, and it soon came to be the greatest influence in the town.
Dear HP: My husband has piles upon piles of old books in our attic. He doesn’t read them or loan them out, but neither will he donate them or let me sell them in a yard sale. How can I get him to part with these books?
He must sign the book of Azathoth in his own blood and take a new secret name now that his independent delvings had gone so far. He had seen the name “Azathoth” in the Necronomicon, and knew it stood for a primal evil too horrible for description.
Dear HP: I’ve been spending a lot of time with a girl I like for about a year now, but I think I’m stuck in the “friend zone”. How can I get her to see me as boyfriend-material without being creepy about it?
Yield up enough sacrafices an’ savage knick-knacks and hourbourage in the taown… All in the band of the faithful — Order o’ Dagon — Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn! Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah-nagl fhtagn!






Ask A Dogtown Resident

Our “Ask” series is an advice column with a special panel of guest columnists. Today’s guest columnist is a destitute, widowed resident of Dogtown circa 1790.

Dear Dogtown Resident:

I am engaged to a great guy, but his family wants a huge wedding. I would rather elope or have a small backyard shindig. However, his mother and sisters insist on renting a hall we can’t afford and inviting a guest list of almost 150 people! I am at my wits’ end and want to call the whole thing off. What do I do?

– Not Bridezilla in Lanesville

My Dearest Not Bridezilla:

Excuse my handwriting, my love, for I am writing by mere glowing embers. Since John has gone to his maker in the sea these nine years ago, finding firewood has been a harder endeavor. Most winters I bring the dogs inside with me and hang our wedding quilt over the broken parts of the front door. I am sixty years old, too old to fix things here. My cellar hole is crumbling as we speak, and taking the last of this years’ root potatoes with it. But this is nary a matter, let me attend to your question. Ah, yes, you have not the money for such a lavish occasion. Let me be bold – have you considered prostitution? When I cannot afford whale oil for my reading lamp, I often revisit my past as a lady of the night. Times are hard, my dear, and we all must do what we can.


If only I could again have this kind of luxury.

Dear Dogtown Resident:

My son is 18 and we have found out that he has been drinking at friends’ houses. We are concerned about this behavior. How do we curb it? He is an adult now, but he still lives at our house. Grounding him isn’t going to work at this age!

– Worried in Rockport

Dearest Worried:

I understand fully your concern about the scourge of the Drink. My own brother was found half-dead on an outcropping of rocks on the Annisquam river last November. He continues to wander from parish to parish in search of more spirits to quench his inner pain after the failed crops of the past years. I fear for his soul, for he is a shell of a man and he shall face the wrath of an angry god. At 18, your son should have many years of work experience on the docks, and should be working from sunrise to sunset as a deckhand. He should not have time for drink! Does he not have his own house and wife and children at his age? Shame on your family for such morals.

The Sins of Liquor Be Known To Ye

The Sins of Liquor Be Known To Ye

Dear Dogtown Resident:

My doctor wants me to take a medication that I don’t particularly want to take to curb a disease I have. I would rather try a holistic approach like green tea or Reiki. But he claims that I could die if I don’t give in to Big Pharma and take the drug. What should I do?

– Natural in Annisquam

Dear Natural:

If I may, I fear I may not be understanding you correctly. You have a cure for your disease that isn’t prayer and whiskey to ease suffering? And your town has a doctor who isn’t afraid to travel past the bridge to your home for fear of curses put on him? Why, pray tell, are you not listening to the man? I have borne ten children, and five were buried before their 14th birthdays, from scarlet fever, pox, measles, and an encounter with a horsecart. I would have crossed the planes of hell to access a drug that could have spared their lives. And you have such drugs available to you and yet choose not to take them? My love, spend a day in my shoes and you’ll know what the right choice is.

This is commonplace in my village.

This is commonplace in my village.

Want your question answered in our next advice column? Leave a comment here!

Ask Howard Blackburn

Our “Ask” series is an advice column with a special panel of guest columnists. Today’s guest columnist is noted 1800’s Gloucester resident Howard Blackburn.

It takes me a long time to type with no hands.

Please excuse me, as it takes me a long time to type with no goddamn fingers.

Dear Howard:

I have a problem at my office with food theft. Three days last week, my lunch was missing out of the office refrigerator! A few of my officemates suspect “Bob”, as the remnants from our lunches are always on top of the trash after “Bob’s” scheduled break. Do we confront him? Go to HR? This is wearing on my nerves!

Hungry in East Gloucester

Dear Hungry:

Ah, I know that feeling all to well. The year was 1883, as you must know. I managed five days without food or water – a vast hell on earth, the frozen wasteland of the sea my only distraction from the corpse at my side. I considered gnawing my frozen hook-shaped hands for sustenance, but knew my blood would not stop gushing until it iced over. I hungered. I hungered for not only food, but for the embrace of my mother, for the feel of land beneath my feet, for the warming flames of a distant campfire. I have hungered in my life, but I go on. I always go on.

Dear Howard:

I am in seventh grade and I like a boy named “Peter”. He is smart and cute and funny! But I don’t think “Peter” likes me. I asked him to go to the spring dance with me, but he said no. How do I get “Peter” to like me? What if he never likes me?

Sad Girl in Rockport

Dear Sad Girl:

You must listen to me! Listen to me now, your life is at stake in these times of desperation. Row, missy! Row, nothing matters but rowing. Not your hands, not the death of your mate, nothing. You must row, finding the strength somewhere for that next movement of the oar, push, set and pull. The minutes, hours, days will be of interminable length. Everything inside you will be screaming for the sweet release of death, but you must continue on.

Dear Howard,

My husband is flirting with other women on Facebook, and it drives me nuts! Most of them are old high school chums or coworkers. He claims he’s just being friendly and since everyone can read it he’s doing nothing wrong or lying, but I hate it! How do I get him to knock it off?

Steamed in Magnolia

Dear Steamed:

Your situation, does, indeed, sound rough. Mind you, not rough as “sailing around the world with no fingers,” but tough nonetheless. I, too, know what it is like to watch something you have no control over. I watched my dorrymate die after the second day of our separation from the schooner Grace. I knew he had no fight left in him, but I could not stop rowing, and I watched the life slowly leave his body and I could do nothing. I carried his body to shore so he would have a proper burial, even though it meant I had to row with an extra 200 lbs, my hands long frozen into hooks. It was all I could do.

Want your question answered in our next advice column? Leave a comment here!