Islander's Blog

Archive for April, 2010

Goodman’s Gam

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

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New beach rules have many people in a tizzy. I’m not getting involved in the fee schedule, which seems to be far more complicated than my feeble mind is able to absorb. I do less driving on beaches every year. They’ve stolen the joy from a tradition that once was assumed to be our right. There is one thing about these rules I’m in total agreement with. No more glass containers on our beaches.

This is a no-brainer that is easily 30 years late in coming. Was it the infinite shards from beach-party fires, or the numerous stitches inflicted on dozens of beach users each year that brought this about? Drunken fools, who threw bottles into a pile of coals at parties, deserve most of the blame. The ban on vitreous containers will be a plus for us and our sandy environment.

Remember Phil O’Connell from seeing him around downtown sidewalks? No? How about when he moved over to Hyannis? Over there, you may have noticed him when you exited the fast ferry, or by the bus station. You probably wondered why he was carrying sports equipment wherever he wandered. A football or a lacrosse stick was his favorite companion.

Phil made headlines when arrested on a downtown street here several years ago. Let’s say he was disturbing the peace and quiet of a lovely day.

Now, Phil has moved to the western part of the state (Northampton) and is attempting to besmirch Nantucket. He went out and had made a large banner saying “Nantucket Rapist Island.” I only hope that people in Northampton are smart enough to see through his charade, and keep their children far away from his influence.

I noticed that Daffodil Weekend brought a goodly number of vacationers to our fair shores last weekend. Having avoided downtown until after the antique cars left for Sconset, I went to pick up my mail. There were quite a few shoppers going to and from shops. I heard that business was brisk and for that I’m pleased. Too many local people have struggled over the past couple of seasons. They (we) need a big summer to recoup our losses.

The Egan Institute is bringing back an updated version of the Seafest. This isn’t going to be the same celebration as it was 30 years back. It’s a worthwhile reason for year-round islanders to join together, relax after Labor Day, eat some good food and reconnect with one another. On Friday, prior to the event, there will be several informative seminars concerning the rise of our seas. There will be no alcoholic beverages served at this gathering.

There’s a ton of pressure being applied to Secretary Salazar to approve the wind farm in Nantucket Sound. It appears he’s going to cave. Putting windmills on dry land is a terrific strategy for more energy independence. I’m in favor of them on Nantucket as well as Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod. Putting them out in the sound is anything but sound.

For anyone who doesn’t see Nat Philbrick walking around town these days, it could be because he’s off promoting his new book, “The Last Stand.” You will find him on Tuesday, May 4, at 6 p.m., at the Boston Public Library. His new tome is about Custer’s last stand and while it’s whale of a book, there aren’t marine mammals involved this time.

I was terribly sorry to hear of Alison Sweet Zieff’s passing this week. She was a kind, gentle lady. There will be a service for her at the Unitarian Church Saturday, May 1, at 11 a.m. Alison will be missed.
– “Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space and occasionally in The Inquirer and Mirror.

Goodman’s Gam

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

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I’d like to congratulate our new selectwoman coming back on board. For Patty Roggeveen, Election Day was sweeter than usual. Not only did she garner the most votes for that position, it was her birthday as well. The following day Patty was elected Chair of the BOS. I have every hope and belief she’ll be an exemplary Chairwoman.

A couple of weeks back, I was heading for a mid-island merchant in order to purchase supplies for my work. The day was another of the many bright, warm spring days (a true spring this year). It was around the noon hour and as I whizzed by the Stop and Shop, something seemed out of place. A second look and I realized the Downyflake parking lot was full of cars.

Having passed by the entrance, I made a three hundred and sixty degree circle in the roundabout and headed back for a long awaited lunch at the Flake. Most of the usual suspects were inside, some eating, others serving meals. This turned out to be the Downy’s re opening day. I’d missed the place, so life had now returned to what passes for normal.

There is nothing as fine as the same old, same old. I wasn’t alone when it came to pining for the place, while they were closed. Several folks said they felt lost and couldn’t bring themselves to go elsewhere. Not so for me, though I didn’t go out for lunch as often as usual. I’m not much for breakfast, so that was a moot point in my case.

Shortly after dining there, actually, it was a couple of times; I received a news flash courtesy of the Cape Cod Times. It turns the newspaper had a readers poll of the top 10 Cape and Islands doughnut shops. The Downyflake sauntered in at sixth place. I try to stay away from them (not always successfully), instead going for other options to increase my girth. It’s good to have an old friend back.

Town workers have been hard at work, painting yellow (no parking) lines around the core district. Whether the bright lines were intended to be there for Daffodil Weekend, or it was simply time to paint, the color was a perfect counterpoint to the many bulbs that have sprouted in the past few weeks.

Now it’s time for the parking police to get out and enforce the newly-defined spaces. This all day parking in the downtown, with no penalties in store for the offenders needs to cease. May is nigh. There’s no reason for those of us, not working around that area, to have to search hard for a space, while trying to perform errands there.

In that same vein, I love it when the Stop & Shop paints their lines and directional arrows. Before they’re dry, cars are already unaware of which way to go. There is the factor of the lot being private property. No one is about to issue a ticket for driving the wrong way in there. It does lead to massive tie-ups in the summer season.

Speaking of the summer coming…. I’ve noticed dozens of houses and businesses being painted over the past couple of weeks. It appears that there’s a slight surge in construction activity of late. We aren’t out of the woods yet, but there are signs of a comeback on the way. Nantucket is unlikely to return to what went on here for the past three decades. No one expects that. Better would be nice.

I found it an interesting turn of events when, first hearing about a pitiful attempt to drain Miacomet Pond (I&M story here). Then I received an old Yankee Magazine article (over the internet) about Steve Scannell’s ridiculous attempts to do the same thing, back in the late 1980s. He had the right idea, but it was the wrong way to try and affect that change.

Not too long ago, I said I wasn’t worried about the Red Sox slow start. Well, now, I’m taking those words back. Poor defense, shabby pitching and threadbare hitting are about to shove the Boston nine so far in arrears that they may not have a shot at the playoffs. They’re going to have to get hot, and the Rays or Yankees falter.

At least the Bruins and Celtics are in the playoffs, and while it’s early, they look fine so far.
– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror.

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

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It’s getting pretty green out there. This spring has been a beauty and I was loathe to write this, knowing that happy words are bound to bring on torrents of rain, a freak snow storm, or the usual gale-force winds. Up until my (now) non-prescient post, we’ve had little rain of late and mostly bright, sunny days. We deserve this after a poor spring and summer in 2009.

One of the best benefits of nice days is the reactions of people you meet on the street. Everyone is happy and it tends to affect the greetings and conversations one engages in and overhears. Whether you’re a fisherman, golfer, gardener or your work is outside, freedom to be under open skies without the constraint of heavy clothing is liberating. It’s about T-shirt time, where I live.

I remember complaints about the bike path that begins at Surfside Road, runs uphill alongside Nantucket Cottage Hospital, the Colored Cemetery and eventually peters out a little way past the Old Mill and the entrance to Dead Horse Valley. Today, there’s a split rail fence, replete with a solid daffodil border following the path.

Passing by there a few days back, I was taken aback at how this entire stretch had suddenly evolved from a sow’s purse of an intersection (to speed by), into a silk purse, now worth the attention it deserves. For the naysayers, I ask you to take a good look, walk the walk and relish a small piece of heaven, on the edge of town. All change isn’t bad.

I had occasion to spend a few minutes at the elementary school last week. My guess is that, other than parents of the kids attending there, most locals aren’t aware of what a treasure we have. The children, teachers and office folk are focused on their tasks, with a single-mindedness that’s impressive. Well, maybe the kids aren’t always totally focused. I remember daydreaming in school at that age. Come to think of it, not much has changed.

Regardless, the school seemed bright and everyone appeared happy, content and full of energy. Some of this surely was due to the sunny day outside and classes were about to be dismissed. I’ve heard knocks on our schools, but from what I observed, all is well on Surfside Road.

I attended a book-signing at The Chicken Box last Friday evening. One of my favorite people, Cary Hazlegrove, has produced a treasure trove of her photographic wares. Featuring (what else) Nantucket, Cary captures the essence of who, what, and where we are. She amazes me with photos of places I’ve seen thousands of times and yet have never noticed the finer details. I never would have believed it, but Cary has a picture of the red ticket drawing, which I can’t help but marvel at. She has a way with portraits of fog that is beyond description.

Not being content with her visual brilliance, Cary then proceeded to get up on The Box stage and belt out a set with her band, The Shingles. I remember Ms. Hazlegrove when she sang with a band down at Children’s Beach, at one of the early Seafests (perhaps 1980?). She still reminds me of Emmy Lou Harris, and then some.

The election results are in and I wish they were surprising. Not enough candidates and too few issues discussed. I can’t remember the last time we had an election with so few fireworks. We deserve better.

Losing Allen Reinhard will now mean more micro managing, a trait many BOS members seem to exhibit. I believe it’s time for some of them to take a catch-up course in the town charter. The buzzword that makes me crazy is members opining they’re proactive. That’s for Libby and her crew. The BOS needs to take a huge step back. Don’t look for it any time soon.

What was most bothersome, aside from few contested races, was the SHAB non-race. Only two candidates, for three positions, is ridiculous. Considering the problems facing commercial fishing these days, there ought to have been a plethora of qualified watermen vying for the third seat on SHAB.

Now for some really important news taking place this upcoming week. The Boston Bruins are beginning their playoff, as of tonight. Their opponent, the Buffalo Sabres. At this point, I’d be pleased if they win this series. Anything beyond that would be gravy.

The Celts will be playing postseason as well. Their opponent isn’t yet known. They had better get their act together, soon.

For many Red Sox Fans, this has been an unusual start to the season. The Olde Towne Team was supposed to be heavy on pitching and defense, but light on offense. Instead, the Boston Nine has looked amateurish on the mound and had good hitting. Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard all the boo birds moaning about Big Papi’s lousy average. I’m not worried, yet. I miss not seeing Mike Lowell at the hot corner.
– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror

Waterfront News

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

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There is a new charter boat in the fleet. Karsten Reinemo recently took delivery of his new 34-foot Parker. She has twin 300hp Yamaha four-stroke outboard motors. Karsten took me along for a ride today. Here are a few shots I grabbed.
– Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News blog.

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

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This year’s Town Meeting took off in the same direction as we’ve seen in the past few years. There hasn’t been much discussion about finances and there’s far too much attention paid to mundane affairs. All it takes is a couple of folks pushing items that need not have made it to the floor. The next thing you know a half-hour of precious time has been wasted on an article that wasn’t understood by a (one) single member of the audience. All she had to do was ask a simple question, before the meeting.

Then, there was a gentleman that had an article that countermanded a state law and tried to save face by finally having a “we request bike riders to not ride in the road,” statement that is now part of the 2010 record. Everyone should have the right to have their say, though some forethought would have saved us the agony of those two fiascos coming to the floor and the entire meeting would have taken two, rather than three evenings.

In the process, we missed most of the Duke basketball team win, a Red Sox/Yankees game, “24” and several beautiful evenings listening to the peepers. Admittedly, we did hear many peeps, just not those from swampy areas.

I observed the usual collection of knitters, computer-users and it appeared that most everyone was bored enough to keep checking their cell phones. Given the yawn factor in the room, I’d guess they were praying for any excuse to get out of there. Town Meeting is a series of highs and lows for me. You “win” one and it all feels worthwhile and then a little later one is “lost.” That’s what keeps me going back. Enough good ones, are enough to keep believing in the system.

Moderator Sarah Alger (as always) was on course. I’m always amazed at how well she’s plugged in to every article. Not only that, she is beyond fair to the rest of us (idiots) asking dumb questions, as well as would-be parliamentarians who try to outwit her solid performance. She’s the absolute best!
Another one of my favorite people e-mailed me with a spring arrival. For the past decade (maybe more), Penny Starr had the first report of a Mayflower on April 1. And as I like to call her (she, too seems to like it), Penny is “the Mayflower Madam.”

In general, the greenery is picking up around the island with a sudden burst. Daffodils are in full bloom and I’m beginning to wonder if many of them will hold on until Daffodil Weekend. Flowers, or not, there will be plenty of bodies to go around that weekend. Get ready, our population is about to bloom.

So far, we have had early spring weather. Besides the emergence of new shoots, there’s the opposite effect on clothing. People are going about with T-shirts, sans jackets, and I’ve seen a jump in sandals. I no longer count those folks wearing shorts, as so many guys are going through the entire winter with bare legs. Men delivering overnight packages are in the lead with this fashion statement.

The Sconset Road is in the process of being repaved (story, photos here). It’s too bad that money couldn’t have been spent on the Boulevarde to Monohanset road stretch of road. I’ve heard complaints that the new paving of our solitary state road could have been better spent. We didn’t have a choice in the matter.

I have been intrigued by the sculptures along Hummock Pond Road (story, photo here). Just after the turnoff for Somerset Lane, on the opposite side of the road are what I am wont to call “Take It or Leave It” art. The works are playful and yet seriously beautiful. To me, they’re more interesting than many decorations I’ve seen on expensive properties.

Last, but not least, let me remind you to vote on Tuesday. And, if you’re campaigning in front of the High School, please don’t litter the front yards of the residents there.
– “Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror.

Remembering Mimi Beman

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Nantucket has lost a jewel. Mimi Beman, passed away after a short illness, yesterday. She was a Main Street fixture, both as the mother/proprietor of Mitchell’s Book Corner and as a supporter of the arts on island. One of the brightest people I’ve had the pleasure to know, Mimi innately bonded with, (almost) anyone who walked through her doors. Impolite people didn’t cut it with her.

I’ll miss her hugs and our conversations both inside Mitchell’s and in later years, when she spent time outside the shop, while having a cigarette. One of the many things that I loved about Mimi was her refusal to bow to political correctness. She was smoking in the bookstore, long after it became unfashionable.

Mimi was very well spoken; though she could be profane on occasion, another act that endeared her to me. Not that there was anything about Mimi that didn’t endear her to me. When I’d walk through her door, she’d immediately let me know there was a new book she knew I’d like. Mimi never got it wrong.
David Goodman
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