Islander's Blog

Archive for July, 2010

Waterfront News

Friday, July 30th, 2010

The five-story motor vessel Copasetic was in port last week for a short stay. I have never seen her here before. She is an impressive vessel. I went down to the waterfront one evening while she was here and was able to grab a few shots although the lighting was not optimal.
– Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News blog

Goodman’s Gam

Friday, July 30th, 2010

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Maybe it’s just me, but when the temperature nears 80 around here, why do people begin complaining that we’re burning up? Last summer, some warm weather would have come in handy. I have zero complaints about Nantucket weather over this past spring and summer (so far). Most days when the thermometer has gone above 75, there’s been a mild breeze and life feels very comfortable.

There seem to be several cobbled streets in town where stones have erupted from their beds and said rocks are piled alongside the curb. Replant the stones, or at least stash them, before homeowners use them to enclose their driveway. I’ve picked up dozens of dirt-road cobbles for just that purpose, but would hate to see parts of our downtown streets being kidnapped for someone’s residence.

Recently I stopped and sat for a time in the Land Bank’s pocket park, at the corner of Main and Fair streets. It’s a peaceful spot with foliage and a view of town that can’t be beat. There’s a beautiful wrought-iron entry and a babbling fountain complete with stonework benches and deck. Why do people throw pennies into fountains?

Since that first time, I’ve returned to the park twice. Some kids used chalk and drew a hop-scotch court and some lovely, random designs. Seeing the court brought memories of elementary school and recess flooding back. So far, in three visits, there were not that many folks around. Maybe that’s good.

I had lunch at the Downy with two other “gentlemen” a few days ago. As we ordered, it was apparent that all three of us had ordered the exact same lunch we almost always do. Each of us ate a different dish than one another. We didn’t need menus and our waitress really didn’t need her order pad, as she’d figured out our (mostly) unvarying orders before we sat down.

The Nantucket Board of Selectmen has been asked to consider holding its weekly soap opera at the new Police Monstrosity (better get used to it, just like the water towers).

I’m conflicted with this possible step. The good thing is that the building is wired with a video feed, so the meetings may be televised and viewed in real time and there’s more room for the public and places to park.

On the other hand, moving the BOS meetings further destabilizes the downtown government center and that’s not good. Nantucket is in danger of losing year round downtown businesses to outer areas. A vibrant core district is imperative for us to truly remain a town. We already have the island/county part.

Wannacomet Water has once again told users that it’s fine to go back to watering their overly-green, far-too-fertilized lawns. We wouldn’t need new public wells if these systems were discontinued. I realize this is the classic “my lawn is lusher than yours” scenario, but if no one could use sprinklers, it could change our entire resource for the better. Does anybody really need a lawn on-island? If you play croquet regularly, you get a bye on this one.

This spring and summer, I have taken, or been taken, to Dune on four occasions. The food is superb and prices, for a first-rate eatery, are more than reasonable. Michael Getter produced wonderful food at American Seasons and he hasn’t lost a step by moving to Broad Street.

Speaking of that strip, a member of the Nantucket Town Association has single-handedly taken on the task of beautifying Broad Street, the first sight visitors on the Steamship Authority see upon driving off the boat. Actually, they’re no longer driven by steam, but one of them has the Nobska whistle, so all is not lost.

Not only has this saint of the strip planted vegetation on small plots there, but she’s spent countless hours drawing and researching ways to make that area more welcoming to everyone walking through there. Eventually this extension of the wharf could look less like a sideshow and more representative of what we are really about.

The Red Sox have certainly taken their lumps this season and they’re in remarkably good shape, considering the circumstances. August may be the month that tells us whether they live to play ball in late fall.

Even after trite rhymes, I’d like to hear your thoughts. I may be reached at (508) 228-4325, drop me a line at Box 1263, Nantucket, MA 02554, or e-mail me at dgoodman@nantucket.net. Be nice, don’t make me blush.
– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror

Goodman’s Gam

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

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Lately I’ve noticed how many parking spots are available in the middle of town, even in the morning hours. On a sunny day in the afternoon, people head for the beach. This exodus doesn’t start until after lunchtime. Monday, shortly before noon, found me with my pick of half a dozen prime parking spaces.

I had been prepared to make a couple of laps through the Centre Street, Federal Street, Main Street environs. If need be, I’d move further out to park. I had a couple of important errands and they couldn’t wait. That, and it looked like rain was on the way. The (non) parking situation was bound to deteriorate.

I was taken aback when the first space appeared in front of me. Not shocked enough, because I drove by it, looking for an even better spot. The following one beckoned. Walking toward Main Street, two more empty slots appeared and then another deuce in front of Nantucket Pharmacy. The next time, I’ll try parking in the first place I see. There’s no way that could ever happen again in mid July.

There are going to be two events on Saturday, July 24, that shouldn’t be missed. First is a ceremony celebrating the 351st anniversary of English settlers landing on-island. Thomas Macy, his people and the people of the Wampanoag nation came face to face in Madaket. The year was 1659. At 4 p.m. on Blue Heron Way, there will be a ceremony, dedicating a carved boulder describing that first meeting.

To find the event, turn right off the Madaket Road, at the sign for Madaket Marine. Follow the balloons to the Land Bank property and be prepared to witness a historic moment. There will be descendants of the original settlers and the Wampanoags in attendance. Afterward, at 5 p.m., there’s a reception at The Chicken Box. Should there be rain, the ceremony will be held on Sunday, but either way, the reception takes place on Saturday.

I no longer have the responsibility of mowing a lawn. Those that do now have a respite, with so little rainfall of late. What is a problem, and is wreaking havoc with our public water supply, are lawn sprinklers. That, in combination with local golf courses, is a huge drain on our water table. At least farmers produce edible products with their water usage.

Most people aren’t pleased with the new water towers, one mid-island and the other in Sconset. Aesthetics is the complaint I hear. They’re not lovely, appearing like tall, industrial mushrooms. My feeling is that in a few years, most folks will barely notice their presence. Do remember, as ugly as they look, should a major brush fire erupt, they could save your home.

Have you noticed that Nantucket has been taken over by Range Rovers? They’re the 21st- century version of a Grand Wagoneer. Then, we see Smart Cars buzzing all over town. They look kind of neat, though I’d hate to experience a car crash while riding in one of them.

I’ve now had a couple of meals at Todd Arno’s, down on Easy Street. Both were outstanding. Food was plentiful and well-prepared and prices were more than reasonable. I’d been meaning to try them out, ever since Sarah Chase gave them a resounding review, a few months ago. She was right on the mark, as was the eatery.

The New York Times ran a piece in its travel section last week. “36 Hours in Nantucket,” was one of the better articles regarding what goes on here. There were a couple of slight blips, but otherwise the piece was on the mark.

I’m a couple weeks late on this, though there’s lots of time before this is likely to occur. Why was the Fourth of July celebration on Main Street held on July 3? I realize the Fourth was on a Sunday, but it could have easily been accommodated. Several people have told me they missed the fun, simply because it was assumed to be on the appointed day. If it was all right to have the fireworks display on the right date, why not the Main Street fete?

Then there were the inevitable delays due to a triathlon, held on one of the busiest days of the summer season. Regardless of how one feels about the relevance of these events in the high season, the biggest problem is traffic control. The CSOs (Cops, Sort Of) aren’t equipped to handle traffic details, much less the normal police force. If enough of the right (qualified) people can’t be found to make this a seamless operation, let’s skip road races, until we’re in the off-season.
– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space, and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror.

Waterfront News

Monday, July 19th, 2010

The wreck that was gracing the shore at Monomoy for the last nine months was finally towed off the beach last week. A salvage crew turned the wreck around on the beach and waited for high tide to tow it into deep water. I was hoping that the boat would be cut up where it lay on the beach and then brought to the dump. Instead, she was towed and put back on a mooring in the harbor. I am not sure if the taxpayers of Nantucket paid for all of this. Hopefully not and the owner of the wreck paid for the salvage operation himself. Here are a few pictures of the salvage operation in progress.
– Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News blog.

On the Water

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Early morning down at the waterfront. We have had several spectacular sunrises as of late. I always try to be down at the waterfront to catch them. Here are a few of the sunrises I had the pleasure of viewing lately.
– Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News blog

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

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The Ides of July are upon us. Six weeks to touchdown. With nearly perfect weather over the past few months, I now have great hopes for a fall that matches, or exceeds, what we’ve already experienced. Since post-Labor Day weeks are our favorite time of year, my fingers are crossed and hopes for a temperate fall occupy my mind.

Right now, I’m hearing folks complain about high temperatures. When I see that the thermometer is 100-degrees plus on the mainland and a little above 80 on our sweaty sandbar, I feel mighty cool. I realize that a ride to a beach takes all of five minutes, with beautiful, cool ocean water available in all directions.

Failing affection for the beach, most all of us have running water. These days, it seems an awful lot of houses have their own swimming pools. I’ve never understood this practice. To me, pools are for when an ocean, lake, pond or stream isn’t available. For nine months of the year, we don’t need no stinkin’ pools. Most people owning a pool aren’t living here in those nine months.

Pat Church has ended her reign as Superior Court clerk and normally, I’d call her leaving a loss. Having Mary Adams succeed Pat in the job, however, means that the efficient office won’t miss a beat. Nantucket is fortunate to have a terrific second-in-command taking over. I hope this won’t take away from Mary’s time on the water.

Then there’s Reverend Nancy Nelson’s retirement as pastor of the Methodist Church. Nancy is one of my favorite people. She’s always upbeat and has a big smile on her face. That, and she has superb taste in music. Parishioners at the Centre Street church must be feeling a loss of her guiding spirit.

By now, many of you have heard the unfortunate news concerning the Maria Mitchell Aquarium sign that was stolen a week ago. This is not an organization with a large war chest. Having to replace the sign will eat up money and time, which could have been better put to teaching youngsters about this island and its aquatic inhabitants. You could help by dropping off a donation to them at their offices on Vestal Street.

I noticed that a gentleman made a speech extolling the virtues of the Tea Party on the steps of the Methodist Church last week. Of the pictures I saw, it appeared that this was a very tiny Tea Party. Other than a handful of friends and curious onlookers, was this really news? I’ve seen lemonade stands on street corners generate more excitement. They’re certainly more refreshing.

A refreshing item on our summer menu is the carnival. It is here and will shortly be gone, subject to space available on the steamship. While the rides get smaller year by year, the gustatory delights continue to please. Food sold there is replete with all necessary requirements for boys and girls of all ages. Salt, sugar, dough and unspecified meats combine for a nourishing nosh while sojourning among the many games, rides and other sociological attractions.

Martha Coakley may not be our US Senator, but she’s looking after our interests, as Attorney General, by asking for justification of the insanely high prices we may end up paying for wind generated energy. Just to keep things on balance, Scott Brown, our US Senator is an strong opponent of the Nantucket Sound wind farm.

One more thing; I’m all for wind power, just not where they’re planning to place it. Not, because of the view, because it’s the wrong place. Put them on land, or someplace there’s little or no boat and air traffic. Out behind Massasoit Bridge would be a wonderful spot to start. Going green is needed, though not when the price is way beyond reality. This deal is going to make an investor/developer rich and us poorer. That’s no deal. The main green thing about this project, is going to be folding money flowing from our pockets.

Don’t forget to stop into the 30th Annual Our Island Home Fair, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. this Saturday. Their first-ever cookbook will be available at that time. This tome should be a collector’s item.

David “Big Papi” Ortiz won the Home Run Derby at this year’s All Star Game. Earlier this season most Red Sox fans had written the slugger off as being over the hill. I wasn’t one of them and I plan on playing this (I told you so) card every chance I get.
– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space

On the Waterfront

Monday, July 12th, 2010

It’s been a beautiful summer so far. The best time to visit the waterfront is between 4 and 5 in the morning. Nobody is there and the water is very still and calm. A perfect time to grab some shots. Here are a few reflections I took over the past few weeks.
Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News Blog, which appears periodically in this space.

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

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The stop signs on Old South Road have been taken down. That hasn’t stopped most drivers from stopping where the octagonal menaces used to reside. From what I’ve observed, people are obeying the missing signage more than when it existed. Finally, on Monday (July 5), I was able to pass through without slowing down. No cars ahead of me, so no having to wait.

Classical conditioning is the scientific term for what’s happening on Old South. An easier way to describe this would be to call it Pavlov’s Drivers. When people don’t hesitate at the intersection, traffic moves quite nicely and accessing side streets is readily available. Good move BOS and Traffic Safety folks. Now, about Surfside Road . . .

When I first came here, there were few stop signs to be found. At many intersections, the drill was to slow down, look and in most instances, keep going. Then, the year-round population was a third of what it is today. I’m sure that the vehicle numbers between then and now show an even greater disparity. Today, most family members have their own transportation, and then some.

The wholesale closing of the west end last weekend was over the top. Unless there’s an all-out riot, the Nantucket Police have no right to turn everyone away. Why not let people who aren’t drunk, causing trouble, or happen to be of college age pass through to the beach? Patrols along the strand could have nipped problems in the bud and not angered average citizens longing for a relaxing day by the surf.

The fireworks off Jetties Beach started slowly and built to a decent finish. Wouldn’t it be nice if the barge was a little closer to the beach? When the show is so far off, the explosions and light show are diminished. I understand being careful, but the pyrotechnics were lacking the booming quality one would expect on the Fourth of July.

Have you noticed that going into the core district is less crowded these days and there are parking spaces available at most times? There are tough moments, and it can be frustrating, but mid-island traffic seems to be far worse. Marine Lumber and the Stop & Shop are the two main reasons for the increase in traffic around there.

Some friends were downtown for dinner on Saturday night (July 3). They noticed that many of the well-known restaurants weren’t filled to capacity. It appears that a good number of vacationers are eating at home in order to afford their stay on island. Maybe that’s why the Stop & Shop is full to the brim morning, noon and night.

There are a few local quick food fixes that I have to have. For a breakfast on the go, a ham and Swiss croissant at Daily Breads is flaky and hefty enough to tide me over until lunch. When you get one where the cheese has leaked out of the middle, then turns leathery and forms a sort of raclette, that’s a home run.

For lunch in summer months, the Downyflake has a lobster roll with plenty of claw and knuckle meat, bound with lemon mayonnaise. At a hair under ten bucks, this is a deal not to be missed.

Last but not least is a Something Natural sandwich. I try to save these for days when I’ve missed breakfast. Even a half is too much at times, though there’s never a leftover when I finish up. My special is avocado, cheddar, sprouts, red onion, carrots, hummus, peppers and a smear of mayo. There’s no meat, fowl or fish on board, a rarity for me. Other patrons stay clear of me when I consume one of these, as it’s not a pretty sight to behold.

This is an early warning. Our Island Home is holding its 30th annual Summer Fair July 17. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. and run until 2 p.m. There are all manner of goods for sale, games for kids, a dog show, lunch and a free teddy bear and doll check-ups. The truly big news is that OIH has produced a cookbook, containing over 270 recipes. Their cookbook is sure to be a big hit. It goes on sale at the fair and sells for $20 a copy.

The Boston Red Sox are right up in the running in the Eastern-Division race in the American League. Normally, I worry about jinxing the Sox, but there aren’t many more players left to suffer injuries by now. Once some of the players on the DL come back, look out Yankees and Tampa Bay!

– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror

Goodman’s Gam

Monday, July 5th, 2010

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Most years, I wait until the Fourth of July to proclaim that we’re now halfway through the season. After this comes the downhill slide toward Labor Day. Having had magnificent weather for months, with no sign of its letting up, people around here are way ahead of the game. Another half-season of what we have experienced would spoil us for years to come.

Many of us have run into driving delays from the repaving of Surfside Road. I fail to understand why the town would want to wait until late June to pave a road leading to the most popular stretch of beach on Nantucket. Wouldn’t April or May have been better?

The road was beginning to fail and repeated pothole patches were Band-Aids, trying to heal a terminal illness. What threw me most was the day after the grinding had taken place. Driving along there was smoother than it had been for a couple of years. Now, having used the newly-paved surface, I have nothing but praise for the end job.

Traffic around the island is over the top. I can’t remember seeing (and being involved with) so many lines of vehicles. No specific street seems immune to the gridlock we are dealing with every day. At this point, I’m not sure that removing the four-way stop signs on Old South Road will do much to alleviate the problem. Once the season ends, it will help.

Other than too many vehicles on our roads, two types of drivers cause most of the difficulties we encounter. Timid motorists are every bit as dangerous as aggressive ones. At times they provoke others’ risky behavior.

Here are a couple of examples I’ve seen over the past week. First was a compact car on Madaket Road, inching forward at 20 miles per. I followed, sixth in a line of frustrated folks. Completing the circle I spoke of (timid/aggressive), a couple of drivers attempted to pass and were almost taken out by oncoming traffic.

Then there’s the guy I followed down Orange Street. You’ve probably seen this. He kept drifting over to the right, as if there was incoming traffic. When a parked car was in the way, he’d weave back into left (actually center) lane. Looking intently at the non-traffic in front of him, the driver rolled through the stop sign by the bakery.

While this was going on, I watched two moped riders driving the wrong way up the street. As they approached me, I told the leader that it was a one-way street and received my favorite answer. I know. Not that it deterred them from continuing on their way. A few seconds later, three bikers followed the wrong-way parade. I kept my mouth shut. It just wasn’t worth the effort.

I know I’m beating a dead horse, but here goes. Why aren’t the bicycle laws being enforced? I can’t remember a time when I’ve seen so many two-wheelers riding on brick sidewalks in the core district. I make this complaint because I’m a bicycle-lover and it hurts to see them misused. The other reason, is having known someone who suffered a permanent injury after a bicyclist hit him on a sidewalk in New York.

I don’t want to be saying “I told you so” when a bad accident happens, and it will. Every year, there are plenty of minor bike/pedestrian collisions and many more that end up being close calls. Community Service Officers (CSOs-let’s call them Cops, Sort Of), need to stay alert to bike riders in town.

Speaking of the CSOs . . . A local Main Street businesswoman has a tiny dog that accompanies her. The pooch sits at her feet by the bench when she’s taking a break from her gallery. A CSO came walking by the other day, and barked at her, saying, “put that dog on a leash.” As he isn’t a policeman, my suggestion would be to add a please to the front of that command.

Have a great Fourth of July weekend. Keep your fingers crossed for a fog-free fireworks display. Be well.
Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space