Islander's Blog

Archive for October, 2009

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

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Lately I’ve noticed how slow things are around the island. That sort of sums up what many year-round people want once Labor Day has come and gone. But this fall Nantucket feels as if we’ve traveled at least 20 years into the past. Fewer people and fewer vehicles make it easier to get around for those of us still here.

There’s no question that a fair amount of this is due to less work and higher expenses to live here. I don’t know that as huge a number of folks have left as is appears. It seems that many residents aren’t out and about as usual. Much of this may be due to less work, and therefore less driving to and from the job. For those people on the edge, gas is used only when needed, and not to be squandered.

A good number of those who abandoned this blob of sand and scrub oak were solely here for the easy money. Now it’s not so easy, and most of them weren’t here for the scenery. Unfortunately, we have lost many good people who couldn’t afford to wait for better times. Take a look at the foreclosure notices in recent I&M issues and everything becomes painfully obvious.

The news concerning Jim Perelman’s interest in the sheriff’s position has generated lots of talk. Better than a dozen islanders have spoken to me about this. All of those had good things to say about his candidacy and how he’d be a breath of fresh air for the office. My favorite comment was one guy’s take on Jim. He opined that “Jim already has the right mustache for the job.” That’s true, plus he works hard and is honest.

While the subject of upcoming elections is on my mind, I viewed the Democratic debate for Senator Ted Kennedy’s seat. All four of the candidates were in agreement on most issues and no one stood out above the rest of the pack. At this point, I’m leaning toward Martha Coakley, simply because she did a good job as a district attorney and now has been a fine attorney general for the commonwealth. The last reason I like her is that I tend to vote for women (if all other things are equal). Women don’t seem to have the ego problems that men (including myself) exhibit in many situations.

Be careful when driving on Saturday evening. There will be hordes of sugar-fueled ghosts and goblins out on the town. Most of the younger kids will be accompanied by adults, but when these youngsters are hyped up, they don’t always heed their parents. Very often their costumes aren’t easily seen after dark, so it’s up to drivers to slow down and be aware of trick-or-treaters.

Now that Plum TV (Channel 22) has ceased to broadcast the Selectmen’s Meetings, Geno Geng (Channel 17) will pick up the slack. His broadcast will begin an hour after the meeting has wrapped up. Given how long some of the BOS marathons run, you might want to watch the second broadcast of it on Sunday. At present a time hasn’t been chosen, though I’d guess that watching the crawl on Channel 17 later this week should give you the appropriate time.

Get ready for an early sunset on Sunday, November 1st at 2 am. From then until late December, days will be shorter and winter is on our doorstep. Remember to set your clocks back an hour before you go to sleep on Saturday evening. Spring ahead is preferred, but if we didn’t have winter . . . we’d be living in south Florida.

The Federal Street Post Office has a new front door, and I must say it looks fine overall. The work could have been completed in half the time and once it was reopened, one man showed me what appears to be a flaw. As you face the door, on the left side there’s an extension of the railing sticking out almost a foot beyond where the steps end. So much so that it could hurt someone, should they walk, or fall against it. I have to wonder when there’s a good reason for this, or the contractor measured incorrectly. Also, the finish work on the rail isn’t clean and the workmen didn’t sweep up after they were finished. I’d love to know how much the PO laid out for this. You know what they say “A penny saved is a government oversight.”

It’s hard to believe that twenty years ago, Charles Stuart fooled the Boston Police (and the rest of the nation) into believing that a black man had killed his pregnant wife and shot him. A manhunt ensued and an innocent person was suspected of the crime. Eventually the truth came forth and Charles Stuart took his own life, rather than face justice. This was a sad chapter in the Hub.

A couple of weeks back we had a less-dastardly hoax that looked real until a young child spilled the beans on television. Dad should have known better than to trust his young son with a secret of that magnitude. For a few hours it appeared that a Mylar balloon had escaped with a child inside. Once again, the media and most of us were fooled. The story fueled newscasts for a week.

Being an American League fan, the Yankees are the team I’d like to see prevail in the World Series. That would mean the Red Sox who finished second behind the Bronx Bombers are number two in the American League. How’s that for rationalization? Pedro Martinez is now going to have a second shot at another world championship ring. Petey is supposed to start Game 2 this evening. With any luck, the Yankees won’t be his Daddy. I wish him well. Now that the rationalization is complete, I’ve become a fence-sitter.

– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly online and monthly in The Inquirer and Mirror.

Waterfront News

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

Turmoil, currently docked in the Nantucket Boat Basin. Pix.
– Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News blog.

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

It feels as if we’ve had enough rain and wind over the past week to wash away half the island. That doesn’t take into account how cold it was for mid October. Never fear, there’s supposed to be more wind and rain over this next weekend. I’ve heard cool temperatures will accompany the upcoming storm.

With any luck Nantucket’s winter won’t be a chilly one, though after the summer we just experienced, I have a feeling that bad weather is our fate for the rest of 2009. If 2010 is warm and sunny all will be forgotten by next year at this time. My long underwear is ready for whatever comes our way.

When it comes to flu and swine flu vaccinations, many people I’ve spoken to aren’t willing to go get their shots. At first my reaction was “good for them.” After all, then I’d be able to receive my shots. Having thought through the subject, I hope they change their mind(s). If more people were vaccinated, the less chance they’ll infect everyone else on island.

It was nice to see an off island newspaper article about Nantucket that wasn’t trumpeting high prices to vacation here. The New York Times let the rest of the country know how well our recycling efforts have been. We have to do better on an island, as we aren’t able to truck the waste to a landfill that’s not in our backyard.

Town this week was a maze of streets with detour signs posted by them. The signs were frustrating as two of those I came by had blown over and couldn’t be read unless one got out of their vehicle and flipped them over. Roadwork never ends, unless it’s in the summer season.

Evidently the Sherburne Commons deal is complete. And, it’s quite a windfall for Servant Healthcare, the group that picked it up for a song. The bank is going to eat almost $25 million dollars they were due and there’s another $1.5 million dollars to cover the owners who bought into this quagmire. That’s insufficient funds (bank talk) to take care of more than two or three owners should they wish to sell their homes.

Many people have asked me why I’m down on senior citizen housing. I’m not. It’s time for me to begin thinking about where I’ll end up in a few years. This idea sounded good at first, but it has turned out to be a bad proposition. The idea that only one entity has bid for this property is asking for trouble. They got everything handed to them from the Town Meeting voters and elected officials. The town is likely to end up as Servant’s servant in the long run.

Along those same lines, we’ve reached an accord with Comcast for cable TV service on island. I know how hard the volunteers on the Cable TV Committee worked on this contract, Comcast is an immense company and they own the infrastructure here. No other cable company is going to try to come here and challenge them. They (Comcast) do a good job, though the prices they charge are sky high.

The first summer I was living here there was a sign at the Chicken Box exclaiming that a group known as NRBQ would be playing there in a few days. I was excited because their first album was in collaboration with Carl Perkins. The record was country rockabilly in nature. Because I was a fan of Carl Perkins (he wrote “Blue Suede Shoes and two songs the Beatle’s recorded) the record (“Boppin’ the Blues”) was on my shelf.

I don’t remember if NRBQ (New Rhythm and Blues Quintet”) was there for a week, or two, but I showed up every evening. People here loved them and with good reason. You couldn’t listen to their music and stand still. The group came back to the Box more than a dozen times over the years as well as building a huge following allover the country.

In the news a few days back I read of the death of Steve Ferguson one of the co-founders of the group. He left the band within a year or two of its inception and I only saw him play a few times. The other co-founder was an organ/piano player by the name of Terry Adams. He was the only guy I’ve ever seen who could tap both feet at the same time to two different beats.

Watching baseball games in what feels like football weather doesn’t feel right. When I see players with baseball caps that have Elmer Fudd ear flaps I cringe. I was hoping for a Yankees versus Dodgers World Series for a couple of reasons. Joe Torre showing his old team up was one and the other is that a World Series between teams that have had a long history of competition in October would greatly benefit baseball in general. Unfortunately, the Dodgers season has come to an end.

Speaking of football weather, the New England Patriots looked spectacular last weekend. They were opposing one of the worst teams in the NFL, but they put a whipping on Tennessee that was off the charts. This weekend the Pats will be playing in London at Wembley Stadium. I urge to keep your pinky raised while drinking your beer when watching the match.

On Sunday, October 25th there will be a Zumbathon to raise money for the Nantucket Junior Miss Program. It will take place at the American Legion Hall (Wilkes Square) from 4 – 6 pm. Zumba is a dance/exercise done to Latin Rhythms. Betsey Miniham and Suzanne Davis (two of the nicest people on this planet) are certified instructors and will lead this workout. It will cost you $15 to participate, and you need to be over 16 years old. For further information, contact Wendy Hilts at 508-228-5094.

Halloween is right around the corner. Any celebration with candy or other edibles is all right by me. Seeing kids in their costumes is a kick for me, their parents and especially them. I’ll have more to say on the subject next week.

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

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Malachy Rice versus Paul DeRensis is holding my interest. Now, they’ve both stated their “facts” and one has to wonder who’s the most accurate. I believe both have good and bad points. Sadly, we’ll probably never get a true picture of this battle of words, and the BOS is never going to release enough information for a true take on the situation. Mr. DeRensis is likely to win the war, since Mr. Rice is going to be leaving his job next month.

Here’s an update to the above statement. At this evening’s BOS meeting, Chairman Michael Kopko announced that the board had held a meeting on this subject earlier in the week. I’d love to tell you what transpired, but it sounds as if all it was was more talking. To me this means that all of the parties, Mr. DeRensis, Mr. Rice and the rest of Nantucket have been left twisting in the wind.

I was informed that the water between Esther’s Island and Smith’s Point has now filled in with sand. The man who told me last weekend had recently returned from a drive out to the new/old point. I’ve now seen Esther’s Island in 1970, and then it reconnected years later. A few years back the ocean broke through once again and it became an island. Now, it’s back to being a part of Nantucket.

If you’ve looked at old maps, there was a time when Smith’s Point extended all the way up along the coast of Tuckernuck. The water (I was told) wasn’t much more than waist deep between the two bodies. People used to take their wagons out along the sand and then wade over to Tuckernuck to picnic or visit with friends.

The coming and going of sand and how our island is formed and reformed is part of what makes Nantucket so interesting. Just as what happens in our lives is uncontrollable in many instances, so is the shape and form of this sandbar at sea. Human beings cannot stop the shifting sands, try as they might.

I have been accused of harping on the Sconset folks for trying to save a bluff that won’t allow itself to survive. I’m adamant about the beaches here and elsewhere staying untouched by arrogant people who believe that dollars and heavy machinery can hold back the waves and accompanying wind.
Look at the damage out by Sheep Pond. Caused by a couple of selfish homeowners, their sandbags doomed a good chunk of beachfront to wash away like some child’s sandcastle when the tide rises.

Having said that, I like the idea of artificial reefs placed offshore in spots where the bottom is barren. Put some manmade structure a half mile or better from shore and it helps abate wave action that eats up the shoreline, plus it will help draw more fish for anglers to tackle.

Attempting to mail a couple of packages at the Federal Street Post Office earlier this week was frustrating. When I walked in from the side door, there was a line of six or seven people ahead of me, with only one window open. The problem was a couple who were holding up the entire line because they hadn’t thought (or cared) to address their packages before getting in line.

The clerk who is very good at the job was too accommodating to the couple. She spent an easy five minutes with them, when she should have sent them back to the end of the line. One man who stood behind me was simply trying to turn in a yellow slip and pick up the rest of his mail. Why is the work on the Post Office front door area taking so long? Soon there will be graffiti spray-painted on the plywood barriers blocking the steps.

Over this past weekend there was an article in the Boston Globe about our sheriff, Richard Bretschneider. Basically it was a rehash of many articles we’ve read or heard in the local news media (I&M coverage here). Actually, it was news “lite.” I say that because there was little substance in the piece and I doubt there was any impact, much less outrage on off-island readers. It was a waste of ink and paper.

There are a plethora of island activities to sample over this weekend. On Saturday, the 17th, from 2– 3:30 pm the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce will be holding their Annual Chowder Contest in the parking lot by the Grand Union.

From 4-10 pm that same day the Nantucket Teen Center will host an Open House on First Way (by the high school parking lot). There will be burgers and hot dogs, along with sodas. You may bring other grilling items as well. The food is free! Along with the food there is going to be badminton and Frisbee outside, and inside they have video games, a pool table, board games and computers. This is a great place for our children and they’d like everyone to see what’s there. All ages are invited.

Then there are two more events that day, starting with the last day (this season) for the Nantucket Farmers & Artisans Market. The market occupies two blocks on N. Cambridge Street between the Federal Street Post Office and St. Mary’s Church. The hours are from 9 am-1 pm. There are some wonderful things for sale there.

Last but not least is a Community Celebration held from noon until 3 pm on the Dreamland Theater lot. There will be a couple of bands performing, and you may purchase food next door at Cy’s. Try their fried clam or oyster rolls; they’re outstanding.

The Boston Red Sox, Bruins and New England Patriots didn’t fare well last weekend. For Sox fans, there’s always next year. For the Bruins and Patriots we still have a long way to go before their seasons come to an end.

I’d like to thank readers who replied to this blog, and others that wrote me e-mails. These electronic missives mean a lot to me. I always want to know your thoughts, be they pro or con.
Now, I’d like to apologize to Whaler football fans and Geno at Channel 17. I thought I had taped the game, but I did something incorrectly and the video record isn’t there. I’ll be the first to admit I blew it, and am sorry. Whaler fans missed a very good game because of my ineptitude.
– Catch Goodman’s Gam weekly at and monthly in The Inquirer and Mirror.

Waterfront News

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Scenes from Oct. 10, 2009.
Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News blog.

Waterfront News

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Tuesday, Oct. 6: I went to Brant Point after work today to grab a few shots. Never a dull moment down there.
– Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News blog

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

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This is going to be a new/old experience for all of us. I’m happy to be writing on the same website as Martie Mack. Martie is a longtime scalloper who also likes to fish. I have been impressed with his writing, though his photography is what stands out to me. Being intimately in touch with the harbors and waters surrounding Nantucket is why his pictures seem (and are) so very natural. I’ll attempt to keep up my end of the deal.

“Here and There” is now going to be written by others. This online column isn’t going to vary much from what I wrote for 13 years in H&T. “Here and There” has returned to a more homey style, while I tend to be less cuddly and warm. I always say that I throw bouquets and bricks, depending on the situation. Bouquets are my preference . . .Now for a brick.

Town government is once again in turmoil. The resignation of assistant town manager Malachy Rice, replete with his accusations of poor work by town counsel Paul DeRensis, is making me wonder who’s in the right. At least two of our Selectmen have diametrically different positions on the entire situation. I’d love to hear what town manager Libby Gibson has to say about this strange affair.

Mrs. Gibson is the person I trust when it comes down to running Nantucket government. BOS members have vested interests that I believe (in certain cases) have less to do with helping out island citizens than their own agendas. Libby has shown that her agenda is to further help the town and county succeed. I don’t always agree with her, but then that’s what a democracy is about.

At this point it’s a he said, he said contest. I don’t know who’s right or wrong in this tilt. Having met Malachy Rice twice, I couldn’t say he’s an acquaintance of mine. I do know Mr. DeRensis from having written about him and then trading e-mails and speaking to him concerning opinions we (don’t) share. Paul’s a nice guy, but as with the BOS members, his agenda isn’t necessarily identical with mine.

At last night’s BOS meeting, attorney Wayne Holmes asked the board to appoint a third party to look into the situation. The chair said that the board would be looking into it in a meeting this morning. That isn’t a third-party review, nor is it an acceptable answer to the question.

This whole episode is providing many of us something to talk about when the political season is normally at a standstill. I only wish that we were discussing who our next U.S. senator from the Bay State might be, rather than a screwed-up mess at the Town and County Building. Why don’t we let Libby Gibson run Nantucket?

I’ve begun spotting a lot of signs for yard sales and other similar projects posted on street signs and utility poles. This is visual pollution, not to mention it’s illegal. In some spots, the out-of-date signs are tattered and falling off in pieces. For those folks posting these signs, at the least you might go clean up your mess after the sale is over. This is one time that being an “early bird” is the right thing to do.

Returning from a trip to the dump this week I had a thought. A driver wasn’t paying attention and drifted onto my side of the road. Be careful driving at this time of year. The vehicle you almost hit is probably being driven by someone who knows you.

I received a couple of interesting Nantucket items via Google this past week. The first one was an offering for Branson’s (Missouri) Nantucket. This is a development situated on Table Rock Lake, a body of water I’ve heard of in largemouth bass fishing circles. One part of the ad makes the point that the place is only five minutes from the Branson Strip. That’s a place like a redneck Las Vegas Strip. It sounds a little strange to me.

On Thursday, Oct. 15th, beginning at noon at the Whaling Museum, Sarah Oktay will be featured at the Brown Bag Lunch. She’ll be speaking about “The Marine Mammal Stranding Program.” Sarah is always enlightening and will hold your attention about the natural world around us. Bring a sandwich, sit back and enjoy a speaker who is incredibly knowledgeable on this subject.

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Bob Keenan. Last year I ran into him and it was obvious that he was ill. Bob was always in Hardy’s and ready to help out his customers. There were few days when I wasn’t in the store charging out supplies for work. He was always cheery and upbeat. When Hardy’s closed many people were devastated, partly because Bob and his employees were our friends.

Another person who was good to me was Dr. White. He was my original dentist on-island at his home/office “Tooth Acres.” Dr. White was impeccable and my teeth will never forget his ministrations.

Don’t forget the Cranberry Festival at the Milestone Bog on Saturday. It begins at 11 a.m. and goes until 4 p.m. The experience is free, but parking will set you back a mere $5.
– “Goodman’s Gam” will appear weekly on and monthly in The Inquirer and Mirror.

Opening Day

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

First day of family scalloping season 2009. I went to Monomoy to check out how everyone was doing on the opening day of the family scallop season. People were having no problem getting their one bushel limit of scallops.
– Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News blog