Camper Fan Outspoken

Our new readers (and God help you for choosing The Clam as an information source, by the way) should know that The Clam swings between a few different modes: “Clamsplainers” that help cut through the treacle of issues of interest to those connected to our beloved city of Gloucester; general tomfoolery like our horrible parking lot contest, Wiked Tuna Recaps and reviews; occasional general-use content like drone videos and, on most Sundays, we hang up our snark guns and feature something amazing about this place we call home.

“You are how you camped,” is our motto. For all its informality,camp is a profoundly formative experience for kids. After a year of being measured, tracked and evaluated against standards it’s critical for them to just be handed a bunch of cool stuff and told to go nuts. And more importantly, not by a formal teacher, but more likely by an awesome high school sophomore in sunglasses who’s going to show them the ropes, make sure they have a good time keep an eye out so they don’t maim themselves. Behind all this are dedicated adults (often teachers in their summer alter-egos) who are making the whole thing work and bringing down the fun/learning.

Gloucester has incredible camps. Just incredible. We punch way over our weight in great things for kids to do during the summer generally at low cost (with plenty of scholarships available). I attribute this to a point I’ve made before that Gloucester favors those who would be considered “weirdos” in the outside world, but are critical to the camping experience. If your population does not support the kind of person who is skilled and knowledgeable in a topic area, but who will also don a Dr. Seuss hat and oversize sunglasses to sing Weird Al songs, or who has too much self respect to do the “chin puppet” routine, you’ll never have good camps. And we got both. Boy do we ever.

Critical job skills

Critical job skills

We’re going to shout-out the camps our own kids have been too, but this is by no means supposed to serve as a list of what’s going on. For that get a copy of “A Kids’ Guide to Cape Ann” which is available in places who have brochures. Sadly, I think their website is down at the moment. Call the Chamber of Commerce at 978.283.1601, they’ll have it. It’s great.

Ok, Huzzah time, people. Add your own in the comments or make suggestions for a round two:

Y Sailing Camp

You knew the Internet would get weird when we googled "aquatic people"

You knew the Internet would get weird when we googled “aquatic people”

Do you want your kids to be those salty folks who traverse docks with ease, competently grab the helm of any boat and know all kinds of useful knots? My kids transition between the terrestrial and the aquatic the same way most of us go from hallway to the kitchen, with no effort whatsoever. Also they will thrill our summer guests when we’re out boating with random little tidbits of harbor knowledge such as, “Dad, there are rocks over there and if you go that way you are going to kill us all.” Also there is pirate day and they use super soakers. All this for $150 a week, which is what they would rack up in Netflix if they were home anyway.

High School Sailing Camp

Taking the sailing to the next level, this camp focuses on racing. I see these kids doing all kinds of advanced stuff and I see them hanging off the boats on lines and doing all that wack-looking sailor craziness you think you’d only see in rich summer ports like Kennebunkport or the Hamptons. The Amazing Rebecca did this camp earlier in the summer and though she said she enjoys the super-soaker and pirate thing a bit more, she learned a ton. If we ever have to go to a post-petroleum society, Gloucester kids are all set to dominate the seas between the sailing and buccaneering skills they get during the summers.

Or as high priests in an up-and-coming religious movement

Or as high priests in an up-and-coming religious movement

Art Haven Camp

How great is that place, btw? Listing all the cool crap they do isn’t even worth it, but let’s just say that we jump at any chance to get our kids there. They had a Harry Potter week. They do scavenger hunts. They make their own board games. I fully expected this to be a popsicle-stick and macrame experience, but this thing is oh-so-much more. For older kids there are sessions like videography, cartooning and something called “Building a Better Lobster Trap” which I don’t know what it is but I want to do myself. I am grateful every time I go past Art Haven and the Hive that these folks set up shop in Gloucester.

Project Adventure Camp

My redhaired son is active in the same way one might describe a purely theoretical subatomic particle. The other day he came home stinking of low tide mud, bug bitten, sandy and he dumped a pile of coal onto the foyer in the house and said, “we cornered the obsidian market.” I don’t know what the hell is going on out there on Ram Island, but as far as I can tell one of the councilors is running a Minecraft-like trading system involving natural resources the kids have to go and find while running them ragged all over the place. Huzzah to you, sir. Again, Huzzah. The world owes you a great debt. This camp is generally incredible and there is nothing like sending your kid off in a rowing dory in the morning to start your day. General Huzzahs to all involved.

Minecraft joke

Minecraft joke

O’Maley Middle School Drama Camp

Think for a second, what could get a kid to willfully go into a middle school during the summer? The Drama Camp at O’Maley, is what. A drama program focused on kids in 4th grade and up, it’s an extension of the off-the-hook greatness that is the O’Maley drama program responsible for such recent hits as Fame, The Little Mermaid, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and forthcoming Equus early next year. Or Alice in Wonderland. They’re trying to decide between the two. Kids sing, dance, play drama games, all that. Wow, it’s good and when you go see a production at North Shore Music Theater and say to yourself, “Hey, the Gloucester kids are pretty much as good as these guys,” you’ll realize what a great job they do.

Maritime Heritage Center

Plankton Safari. An amazing program these guys do and coincidentally the name of a band I played bass for in college. “Build your own underwater robot” is another. Coastal sailing on the Ardelle, marine-based art with Art Haven. Seriously, folks, how many of us went to daycamp and learned to dissect a squid? Very few, I’m guessing. Think about it though, where else do you find programs like this? At the Museum of Science, in Cambridge at MIT and Gloucester. Suck it, everywhere else.

What I'm picturing

What I’m picturing


We’re going to do a whole future NSS on Rick Doucette. Literally. We’re going to sit on him and write it, and he’ll probably be fine with that, that’s how great that guy is. This camp has transcended a summer kid storage solution to pillar of the community.  I don’t even know where to start with this camp. Send your kid to this thing and you will hear unending stories about the pool, the waterslide, Olympic week, , they will come home with no end of masks, shells and beach glass necklaces, tell you about piracy (again with the piracy), show you medals for events you never knew existed. The whole thing, from the staff to the kids form an alternate community of support for so many people that I don’t know how to express its value to us. ALL the camps from the Y, the aforementioned sailing to the downtown camps to the adventure camps are all incredible.

You don't need to know what's going on here to know it's awesome. (photo Jen Amero)

You don’t need to know what’s going on here to know it’s awesome. (photo Jen Amero)

Ok, that’s a highly truncated list I could put together to still get this thing out by noon. Give me yours in the comments.



Beach Blanket Stinko

traditional No Snark Sunday returns next week as we deal with reader requests to address a pressing issue: 

Ok, it’s NSS- no snark Sunday here at The Clam. I’ve awoken, hugged kittens, put on my favorite vintage Kermit “Rainbow Connection” T shirt, baked a blueberry crumble for our neighbors and made a delicious cup of flavored decaf by which to write another missive about how much we all love our beloved island with love. I’ll just slip over to FaceBook for some ideas…

It's so great to spend a day outside in nature, eh kids?

It’s so great to spend a day outside in nature, eh kids?

Oh fuck no. What fresh Hell is this? For those of you from out of town or folks who have that ‘Memento’ condition where you can’t remember anything for longer than it takes to make a bag of microwave popcorn, that’s the bike rack at Good Harbor, on the East Gloucester side of the bridge over the creek. With a huge pile of stinking, rotting trash like the aftermath of The Gathering of the Juggalos but with fewer discarded Faygo bottles.

Garbage cans, magnets and spelling. How do they work?

Garbage cans, magnets and spelling. How do they work?

[Goes upstairs, removes rainbow shirt and puts on Pogues ‘Rum Sodomy and the Lash’ tour tee, takes ball with little bell away from cat, microwaves three day old rot-gut coffee from bottom of pot and goes next door and stamps right in the middle of the baking tray left on the Garberg’s front steps.]

Let us begin. Is there anything more gross than people who litter? I have this wonderful aunt who through lifelong, in-depth studies of Buddhism and psychology has a tremendously optimistic view of human nature. She was explaining it to me a few months ago driving through upstate New York on our way to a family event. She firmly believes that every human being is simply fighting an internal battle we can neither understand nor are we in a position to judge. “Our goal, as fellow humans, must be…” she began. But just as she was about to drop a Karen Armstrong all over the interior of the Prius the car in front of us ejected a stream of Burger King bags and drink containers out the driver’s side. “You motherfuckers!!!” she starts yelling, pulling up to their bumper and honking her horn. “Are you kidding? You bastards!”

You're making the Buddha cry, Aunt Sandy

You’re making the Buddha cry, Aunt Sandy

So litterbugs suck. But hating people who litter (and oh do I ever) is not getting any Dunk’s cups off the streets. And this image of trash, much of it bagged, in somewhat neat pile seems to be transmitting a different message than if it were just strewn about everywhere. These people seemed to want a place to put their trash. They put it in a pile, rather than just ditching it someplace. And it’s fair to assume that one bag of trash begat another as one after the other succumbed to herd mentality, convincing themselves, “Oh, this must be how it’s done here.” Let’s unpack this (not literally) Who are these people? There are three types who come to the near edge of the bridge with trash:

  • Locals who live nearby That’s us and we can assume that a very small portion of that trash would be ours because we know the rules, it’s our town, and we’ve made accommodations to transport it. Also if any one of us was caught littering it would wind up on GMG, Cape Ann Online, the focus of some kind of contest on The Clam as ‘douchiest person of Fishtown’ and, three days later behind the paywall of the GDT, name misspelled. So I’m willing to wager it’s not one of us who started this.


  • Visitors who parked in the neighborhoods or used public transportation and are making their way home We all see the folks who walk down to the beach because they don’t want to pay the thirty bucks or whatever it is to park. I’ve seen them parked as far away as in front of the graveyard on Mt. Pleasant and up on Hartz Street. If you will note in the photo one of the bikes in the rack is a folding bike which likely belongs to someone who either parked far away or took the train. So, if I took the T here I’m supposed to carry my trash out to where, exactly? The cans (typically overflowing) at the station? Medford? Advanced civilization has a thing called “public trash receptacles” and these people, I believe correctly, assumed that notion extended into Gloucester.
It's like they don't even know how to read small, hand lettered rocks (Photo GMG)

It’s like they don’t even know how to read small, hand lettered rocks (Photo GMG)

  • People who parked somewhere else picking up their family at the bridge They look as if they packed more crew and equipment than Shackleton into HMS Endurance making for the Pole. Dad’s ‘round back of the minivan loading chairs, boards, coolers, pails and umbrellas. He slams the rear gate shut, skips to the driver’s side and peels off ‘forgetting’ the 45 gallons of Goldfish bags and juice boxes in the Hefty on the sidewalk. “They must never know I am a litterer,” he thinks. “But fuck me if I’m going to sit in this thing for the hour home to Needham with a bag of diapers and sour baby formula that’s been bloating in the sun for half the day.” We fault him, yes. But do we understand, to an extent? My aunt would say yes, then probably slap him in the face with her hand-woven Ecuadoran beach bag.

So what do we do? This is where it gets tricky and I’m open to all options, but I really think the shortest path through this thing might be PUT A FUCKING GARBAGE RECEPTACLE THERE BIG ENOUGH TO HANDLE ALL THE TRASH PEOPLE WANT TO GET RID OF.

Science may have solved this problem

Science may have solved this problem

Radical, I know. Look, we tried. We tried the ‘carry in, carry out’ thing and it failed. That’s fine, I’m all about trying stuff but this obviously does not work. Visitors are not accustomed to this practice and there is no way to effectively educate and habituate them because they only come a couple of times a year at most. It’s simply not their town and they don’t really care. At some point the shame of making Iron Eyes Cody cry is overcome by having to spend x amount of additional time with a bag of filth and refuse you have no idea what to do with. This is human nature. If you think you’re ever going to 100% overcome this you are a teenager who just finished The Fountainhead while listening too Farewell to Kings by Rush on repeat. The rest of us live in the real world.

I could irrigate our garden with this guys tears after a holiday weekend

I could irrigate our garden with this guys tears after a holiday weekend

Some other ideas:

  • Station a person there 100% of the time people are at the beach to make sure the pile doesn’t start. Once it starts, people add to it. However this seems more expensive than JUST PUTTING A RECEPTACLE THERE BIG ENOUGH TO HANDLE ALL THE TRASH PEOPLE WANT TO GET RID OF.


  • Some kind of technology, like a camera or something with a big sign that says “This area being recorded by Gloucester Police”. Once again, A RECEPTACLE THERE BIG ENOUGH TO HANDLE ALL THE TRASH PEOPLE WANT TO GET RID OF SEEMS CHEAPER AND SIMPLER AND LIKELY MORE EFFECTIVE.
Martin Del Vecchio?

Martin Del Vecchio?

  • A private small dumpster with an attendant who takes some reasonable amount of money [three bucks?] per [bag? pound? quart?] to dump it. Ok, that might work if there was enough trash…but I think you know where I’m going here WITH THE ALL CAPS AND STUFF.


  • One of those solar-compactor garbage cans with advertising on them like they have in Boston. They don’t look big enough, are about four grand each and someone still has to empty it, but maybe if local businesses wanted to chip in there might be a solution there that could work. Once again, I have the sneaking suspicion that it might just be cheaper to PUT A NORMAL TRASH CAN IN THERE but if someone wants to check that out here is the link.
Solar? At the beach? Sounds too utopian

Solar? At the beach? Sounds too utopian

Dealing with other people’s trash is just one of those things a town has to do. It’s not new, it’s not fun, but we have visitors who come here and generate trash. That’s simply reality. Pretending all human beings are going to collect their own trash is not realistic and we might as well ask people to fix potholes on the way out of town or submit a workable harbor plan before ordering dinner. People just don’t see this as their responsibility.

But I did once chase a dude in a Suburban on my bike with a bag of his family trash he’d ‘forgotten’ hoping to catch him at the junction of Bass Rocks Road and Atlantic. By the time I got up the hill he was a ghost and I rode home with the bag over my shoulder. “Man this shit stinks,” I thought as bits of it mushed around and dug into my ribs.

For just a millisecond, going past some woods, I thought about ditching it.

Take the Clam’s Fiesta Personality Quiz!

I’m Scrappy from Scooby Doo! I’m Admiral Scuttlebutt from Lidsville! I’m the element Yttrium! Everyone loves a Buzzfeed quiz. Dear God, people can’t stop fucking posting the results of them all over social media. So we here at The Clam decided Gloucester’s own signature event needed one. Take it, post the results and annoy your friends! Viva!

click on the saint to go to the quiz

click on the saint to go to the quiz

A List of Possible Names For Future Gloucester Strip Clubs

by: The Clamtributors 

The GloHo

The Widow’s Peek

The Ho’s Nest

Gulls Gulls Gulls

Hot Tuna

The Golden Sea Cucumber

The Crab Trap

Pleasant Street T&A Company

 The Happy Taco (Ed note: We are informed this already exists)

The Titz Hugh Lane House [edit: reader Rob Parsons

came up with this and we felt it was too good to pass up.]

And lest you think we could overlook the lucrative male stripper industry, we have:

The All-Buoy Review


The Greasy Pole (obviously)

The Maple Wood



The Indian Not Near the Cupboard

Gloucester suffers from a secret shameful addiction. No, not heroin. Apparently everyone is on heroin all the time as far as we can tell by reading the Gloucester Daily Times (Paywall for the technologically inept) and by the number of little orange caps all over the train station platform when we get there in the morning. “Do they shoot up before leaving or when coming home?” we often find ourselves wondering.

Welcome to Noddington

Welcome to Noddington

No, we’re talking about yet another powerful combination of soul-consuming chemicals that blasted out of South Asia during the height of the British Empire and straight into the collective bloodstream of the entire Western world. Once there they induce incredible highs and occasional intense physical pain, followed by the disconsolate rock-bottom lows that come with the desperate cravings for more. Alongside the self-abuse of the user is a long list of social problems that soon coalesces around obtaining, ‘cooking’ and then concealing behaviors, as the addict cascades through a peak and valley pattern of euphoria and lies.

We’re of course (as usual) talking about Indian food.

“Guv’NOR…it ain’t us yer goin’ on abaht, is it?” Yes, we are talking about you, you comically waistcoated and knee britched-up Edwardian stereotypes. British ex-pats are the worst hit by this scourge as they have been riding the Bengali Banshee longest of Europeans. It becomes most acute after a long night downing pints in a place named something like ‘The Stoat and Flagon’ while watching mousse-haired metrosexuals kick soccer balls around on the ‘telly’. After this they get down to the real addiction of their countrymen, piling by the hundreds into curry houses so sketchy the sauces could be used as debarnacling agent for Her Majesty’s fleet. These binges leave them moaning and hellfarting for days afterward, but it’s a short cycle to the next one especially it it’s against Germany. As a centuries old empire you’d think they’d learn a thing or two over time, but like driving on the wrong side of the road and putting carpets everywhere the English are slow to change any familiar habit no matter how self-destructive.

We played bass a couple of times for a band with this exact same name

We played bass a couple of times for a band with this exact same name

Back here at home we see the helplessness of it every day in the many ex-pats of our neighborhood. Worse are the otherwise innocent souls they’ve snared into a life of chutney dependence in one of their ‘naan houses’ which populate our otherwise placid Prius-laden streets of East Gloucester. You think we don’t notice you sneaking off, cranking Morrisey as you zip toward the shabbier parts of Beverly in the middle of the night with that empty look in your saffron-yellow eyes? How about that “chance” meeting in Central Square near where we work, 40 miles from home and lurking outside the Shalimar lunch buffet because you “had an appointment in town”? Come now, we’re all adults here.

Pull yourself together for a moment, brush off the mustard seeds and take this self- assessment to see where you rate on the Cape Ann Indian food addiction scale from “mild” to “Bhut Jolokia”.

Answer “yes” or “no” to the following questions:

  • Do you hide Indian food from the rest of your family by placing the take-out bag far to the rear of the fridge and moving an orange juice container in front of it?
  • Do you microwave the pre-packaged curry meals from Trader Joe’s while pretending to be the first Indian astronaut on Mars? [“Mumbai, this is Shiva Base. All systems are go!”]
  • Do you make a big show of eating a healthy garden salad for dinner, hustle everyone upstairs after a rushed cleanup and then crank down half a dozen samosas watching Downton Abbey?
  • Do you go to bed thinking thinking, “I’ll have that biryani for breakfast with an egg on it”?
  • Have you ever sent your spouse or significant other to go get Indian in the snow risking his/her life and your only fear was that they might have to drive slowly because of the conditions?
  • Would finding out your friend was sleeping with your spouse enrage you less than discovering they went to Anmol without calling you to see if you wanted anything?
  • Have you never even been to the Indian place in Salem because you just can’t make it that far?
  • Have you thought about opening a curry place in Gloucester even though your restaurant experience consists only of what you could pick up watching Top Chef?

Answer key: Are you now reading the rest of this on your phone, pacing around waiting for your order of  Aloo Ghobi because you couldn’t get to the end of the list? You are? Admit it- you’re sick. You need help.

Move this fucking boat out of the way and put in some steam trays!

Move this fucking boat out of the way and put in some steam trays!

The Tan Dory Center

The Tan Dory Center of Hopefulness is a proposed solution for Gloucester. Occupying any one of the many, many disused storefronts on Main Street it would be a place where addicts could walk in off the street and be given a suitable maintenance dose in order to eliminate the cravings that lead to destructive and risky behaviors. Also inside they would find the camaraderie of others working to similarly manage their own conditions and hopefully not long after that a beer and wine license and maybe occasionally some light entertainment on weekends during the summer.


Ready to lend a hand

Ready to lend a hand

We know this is a bold proposal but as the humanitarians we are here at The Clam we can no longer stand to see our fellow human beings suffer this way and are frankly sick of  the ravages that this affliction has wrought on our many friends, family and the city we love.

Also we hope to Christ they take Tufts.