Islander's Blog

Archive for September, 2010

Goodman’s Gam

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

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If you didn’t go down to Children’s Beach last Saturday, you missed a tremendous event for local people. The first Nantucket Maritime Festival was an immediate success. Other than a little too much wind, the day was sunny and warm and everyone I met there was having a great time. Good food and music set the stage for the numerous contests and activities.

This was a day for kids (and there were hundreds of them) to spend time with parents and grandparents. There were hands-on projects, such as painting seashells, and other times opportunities to watch artisans work, while explaining what went into a particular craft. I didn’t see children looking anything but happy. The Build Your Own Boat Race was fun and funny. Everybody seemed to enjoy the comedic aspect of it.

The shellfish contests drew big crowds and having been primed by a fantastic raw bar were still hungry for more. There were lines all day long at the two (mostly) fried-food concessions. I visited both and could have gone back for more, but for once my head overruled my stomach. I can’t wait for next year’s festival, mainly because of how much fun this one was and to see how many more islanders will attend in the future.

I’m trying to find it in my heart to feel sorry for the many Hulbert Avenue residents now asking for property-tax abatements (story here). Folks living along that stretch are making enough that a few thousand dollars won’t change their lifestyle.

Most of us don’t own property along the Nantucket Riviera and have to scrape to pay property taxes. Some Nantucketers have had to sell their home because they could no longer afford to pay theirs. Does anyone think that this could possibly happen to homeowners on Hulbert Avenue?

I must apologize for not having mentioned a couple of things regarding political signs in front yards. Sheila Lyons (who ran in the state senate primary) sent out an e-mail to her supporters to bring their signs inside, when we were about to receive a blow from a tropical storm.

Then, I’ve got to hand it to (candidate for sheriff) Jim Perelman. He and his crew made sure that his yard signs were put up with but a week before the primary. Then, they made sure that the signs were taken down within an hour after the voting ceased. We’re a month away from the general election and the other candidate is going to allow us to see his roadside pollution the entire time.

When I see the many properties being foreclosed on each week it hurts to see friends and acquaintances losing something they’ve worked hard for. On the other hand, many of these actions are happening to people that bought interval ownerships and now can’t afford to keep them, what with a rental market that’s far short of what it was in past years. The gold rush is over.

The Nantucket Historical Association will be presenting its Food For Thought series beginning Thursday, Oct. 7. I prefer to call this the brown-bag lunch series. Show up at the Whaling Museum by noon and listen to some wonderful speakers and pertinent subject matter about our favorite sandbar.

The first week’s speakers are Bill Tramposch, who is the NHA executive director, along with Mark Avery, NHA director of historic properties. Their subject is an inside look at the NHA’s 22 buildings and grounds. You are welcome to bring a bag lunch, which I do. This is a great way to reach out to island people and you’ll learn from these sessions. Did I mention it’s free?

I see that former Nantucket sheriff Louis Ayotte passed away recently. I first met him about 30 years ago, when he appeared at my door to serve the former resident with some papers. He was about the lowest-key man I’d ever met and he did his job without causing waves, or having to raise his voice. Being sheriff is not a police job. It’s for the most part, administrative.

There’s a new book out about Boston sports teams in 2007-2008. Written by Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald, the title is “Wicked Good Year.” It speaks to the Celtics and Red Sox championships that year and the Patriots’ almost perfect season. I’m mentioning this tome because Mr. Buckley uses fans to tell much of the story. Jane Hardy, Jeanne Dooley and Joan Fisher are three Nantucket sisters used to illustrate the New England Patriots and their rabid fan base. Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins fans aren’t exactly slouches when it comes to loving their respective teams.
If you’d like to contact me directly, here’s how. My e-mail address is, the phone number is 508-228-4325 and my mailing address is Box 1263, Nantucket, MA. 02554. If you want to say nasty things to me, please try to write legibly as I hate to have to strain to figure them out.
Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror

Waterfront News

Friday, September 24th, 2010

There have been some awesome moonrises lately. As the sun is setting, the moon is rising. A photographer’s dream. I ventured out to the shores of West Polpis Harbor last night to catch the moonrise. I was not disappointed. On the way home, I stopped by Brant Point and grabbed a shot there.
– Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News gam

Goodman’s Gam

Friday, September 24th, 2010

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Wednesday I had one of those days one might expect in the spring. I was showing a first-timer some spots to find scallops. As we pulled out of Fisher’s Landing, there were orange cones and a police officer directing me to head back into town and not turn right. So Madaket was a wash, due to sewer-line installation.

As we came into town, I realized that my gas gauge was low and as I turned into a station, there were orange cones blocking the pumps and a tanker truck. I got gas across the street. After taking a look at harbor spots to try next week, I returned my student to her car. Going up Main Street, what did I spy but more orange cones on Pine Street, a police officer and yellow electric-company trucks. Hopefully, these were the only places shut down due to my case of Murphy’s Law.

We’ve fallen too quickly into fall. The weather has generally been beautiful, except the wind makes nice days feel cooler than they actually are. Between the wind and ocean swells, surfers and kite-boarders are in heaven. I do worry about some of the people who are less-than-proficient swimmers once they end up in the drink.

Our summer was outstanding. Let’s see if the next couple of months are able to match the past season’s perfection. All of the people living here for years have said that given past history, we should see another summer season like this in 15 years or so.

My first summer on-island was identical to this one, and I remember thinking how lucky I was to be living somewhere with such great weather. Despite the realization that my first summer was an aberration, my love of living here blots out any (well most) of my complaining about the weather. A perfect day on Nantucket is worth 10 anywhere else.

Now for a tremendous event that’s taking place this Saturday. The Nantucket Maritime Festival (I&M Story Here) that’s going to be held at Children’s Beach isn’t the old Seafest, but it promises to be everything that many of us remember and more. Unless it rains, show up at Children’s Beach from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.. (The rain date would be Sunday). You’d best arrive early, because the sheer number of activities to choose from would take every bit of the six hours it’s open.

There should be a flyer in the I&M to guide you to what, when and where every event is taking place. If you’re looking to enter any of the various races or contests, then you definitely need to show up at 10 a.m. to register. You will be able to sample food from quite a number of different vendors and there will be musical entertainment. Some of the activities will be taking place at Coast Guard Station Brant Point.

Having an event like this is a good thing for the island. Most of the people attending will likely be residents. This is an easier place to get to, unlike the Island Fair a couple of weeks back. Obviously, the fair couldn’t take place in, or near town.

The only fear I have is that this could turn into a tourist weekend, much like the Stroll. I heard that there are two dozen weddings taking place this weekend, so a fair chunk of islanders will be working hard at other festivities, not relaxing at the Nantucket Maritime Festival.

Yesterday, The Providence Journal ran an article concerning the cost to remove the wind-farm turbines that are to be built in Nantucket Sound. After 25 years, Cape Wind says the cost would be $66 million. I don’t know anyone could estimate what costs will be a quarter of a century from now. My estimate, which is every bit as accurate as Cape Wind’s, would be to add a zero on the end of the aforementioned guess.

By now, we all know about the break-ins in Madaket and Surfside (I&M story here). Most of the folks I’ve spoken with say the island is changing and that these activities are a sign of the times. Living on Fair Street back in the early 1980s, my apartment was pillaged. It took place during the day, while I was at work. Apart from $400 in quarters, the worst part for me was feeling violated in my home. There are thieves everywhere and they’ve been around since the beginning of time. Locking your doors and cars will prevent most people from trying to rip you off.

Have a wonderful weekend, preferably at the Maritime Festival, or perhaps at one of the many weddings.
– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space, and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror

Waterfront News

Monday, September 20th, 2010

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Summer ended abruptly here on Nantucket. We are now experiencing a good old-fashioned fall. Windy, cold and cloudy most days. There have been some fine days mixed in for good measure. I venture out every evening to photograph the sunset and the evening skies afterwards. There have been some pretty spectacular sunsets as of late. Most folks leave right after sunset. It’s wise to wait an hour or so after the sun has set to start photographing. Here are some scenes I grabbed at various locations around the waterfront the past two weeks . . .
– Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News blog

Goodman’s Gam

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

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I’ve been up in Boston for the past couple of days, as I have to have a minor medical procedure today (Thursday). It’s taken more time to get checked in and do the preliminary tests than the actual event will take. Having spent time hurrying up and waiting, I visited a couple of Nantucketers that are ensconced at Mass General.

Unlike years back, when hospital patients’ names were showcased in the I&M, now that sort of thing is verboten. So names will be withheld, but many islanders are aware of neighbors that are up at MGH.
One of the nicest men I know had heart problems and was flown up by helicopter last week. Several days after that, he underwent triple bypass surgery. The week prior to his hasty departure from Nantucket, he and I had been admiring a beautiful, restored, old-model Ford Mustang.

When I visited him yesterday, he was sedated and hooked up to a roomful of machines. His nurse explained that while he was unconscious, he was aware of people speaking to him. I was at a loss for words and hoped that he was dreaming of the Mustang we had both coveted on a bright, late-summer afternoon.

Then there’s a lady, well known to many of us, who also had heart troubles, was flown to MGH within a day of the gentleman above. She too had a triple bypass. I came up to her room and said hello, and we ended up talking for better than an hour. Not to say that she had looked ill on any occasion I remember, but on that day, her complexion was positively pink.

As we spoke, I was impressed at how happy and upbeat her mood was. I knew she ought to be feeling well, having gone through an ordeal. After major surgery, people are often drained and not as high-spirited as she was.

As I was about to leave, she asked to walk me out in the corridor. There on the wall, just outside her room, was a poster of the three Nantucket lighthouses, rendered by Greg Hill, a close friend of hers. I remarked that there are Nantucket pictures, posters and paintings all about MGH. We both laughed about how islanders feel superior to people who live elsewhere. So much so, that they have reminders of what we live with every day.

At long last, there’s the promise of a new sheriff in town. Jim Perelman won’t have to do much to convince local voters that he’s less likely to be defending himself in front of the State Ethics folks in Boston, or spending our tax dollars on wiffle-ball bats. What is sad is that several deserving candidates who could have done a better job than the present office holder, didn’t. But, we knew that.

I think most of Nantucket was disappointed that Rob O’Leary was defeated in his run for Bill Delahunt’s seat in Congress. When I saw the news about Bill Keating chasing a purse-snatcher and helping capture him over the past weekend, I knew he’d get a huge boost in the polls. Having your name mentioned and being interviewed on all four major network TV stations in Boston was a dream come true for any candidate.

Gene Ratner’s house is now in the process of being taken apart and carted away. The damage done is forever. Even though the timbers and other construction debris are being cleaned up, not all has been contained. Some pieces floated away and pose hazards to mariners. Sandbags, the most offending part of the equation, are not only a problem, but indeed caused much of the scouring done to the surrounding beach. Rest in pieces.

Our summer (it officially ends next week) weather was spectacular. Over the past 10 days, temperatures have been below what we would like, though most days are sunny and bright. That and the wind has come out of the north and east on too many days. We have a ways to go before it gets cold, so make the most of your time outside.

Judging from the sale signs in stores around town, now might be a good time to go buy holiday gifts. You’ll pay a fraction of the original price and in turn, help local merchants head into the fall and winter more financially secure. That’s a two-fer.

The Patriots looked great on offense last week, shredding Cincinnati in Foxboro. This coming week is going to be tougher. A final note involving Pats quarterback Tom Brady and the driver he ran into (who had run a red light). How long do you think it will take the offending driver to file suit against Tom, just because he’s well-known and has deep pockets?
– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror.

Goodman’s Gam

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

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Last Friday evening I was on a beach out at the west end. There were dozens of people alongside of me, waiting for Earl to make landfall. It was a party atmosphere, much like one might find on a holiday weekend. This wasn’t exactly a celebration, but the mood was one of exhilaration as we watched huge rollers come crashing onto the beach.

We were watching the Ratner peninsula take the brunt of an angry sea. Even with immense sandbags in place, some of the spray from the waves was pouring down the roof. Most of those attending the event were expecting to see a house wash into the sea.

Had Earl not fallen apart, or the high tides come at the height of a real storm, their wishes might have been met. As it was, the house stood through the watery attack and is now surrounded by a moat on three sides. The sandbags are now standing free of the perimeter of Mr. Ratner’s Folly. (I have now found out that the house later partially collapsed).

This is a case of a self-centered man who feels no anguish at the damage he has caused by armoring his house. His sandbags have caused scouring of the beach on both sides of his refuge from the waves. In turn, a house to the left of him fell in the wash a few years ago. The house to his right is on the verge of losing the last 15 feet of land in front of it, before it’s going to be sitting on the beach.

Another problem with the sandbagging is that once they fall apart, the bags become a hazard to mariners. Were a boater to tangle with the floating fabric, it would effectively shut the engines down, what with the props being smothered by the dense nylon cloth. That’s exactly what happened to the M/V Eagle earlier this week. As yet, I haven’t heard of the origin of the offending sand bags.

We now have debris floating away from the scene and it’s likely there’s more to come. Should the Ratner house be destroyed, tons of lumber and other building materials would be unleashed on the surrounding beach and into the water. Would anyone care to guess who’s going to pay for the cleanup?

Now, for an unselfish act by someone that cares about Nantucket and our community. Michael Kopko has withdrawn his bid to become sheriff and has thrown his support to Jim Perelman. The race has numerous candidates and Michael’s act has simplified the choice for many voters.

Now that the election has been mentioned, please go to the polls at the Nantucket High School Sept. 14 between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. and cast your ballot. Just because this is a primary doesn’t mean it’s any less important than the general election.

The possibility of Earl and Labor Day had many vacationers clearing out before the weekend. As it turned out, all they missed was an overnight downpour. The important thing was that people were prepared for the worst and we escaped unscathed. After what happened to the island in 1991 and then watching the destruction Katrina wrought, we did all the right things.

Now for three community events that are fun as well as informative. First on the list is the third Elder Expo, brought to us by the Nantucket Council on Aging and the Nantucket Center for Elder Affairs. The Expo isn’t only for seniors. Over 50s (baby boomers) are part of the program. Stop by the Nantucket High School, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11.

There will be music, demonstrations of arts and crafts, health, beauty and fitness advice, along with other timely advice (pun intended) for oldsters. There will be medical screenings, speakers, snacks and lunch to be had. And, it’s free! Call the Saltmarsh Senior Center at (508) 228-4490 if you need transportation or further information.

The Nantucket Park & Rec Island Fair will be held over this upcoming weekend. This is always great fun. On Saturday, the gates open at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. On Sunday, it opens at 11 a.m. and it wraps by 4 p.m. There are numerous contests, such as the largest pumpkin, vegetables, fruits and flowers, as well as best apple pie.

I’m looking forward to the incredibly tasty, but gut-busting fried fish, plus standard fair foods. There are going to be a couple of shows, pony-cart rides and many other activities. Come on out to Tom Nevers, you’ll enjoy catching up with friends that you haven’t seen over the past summer.

Next week, I’ll have information about the 2010 Maritime Festival (an event very similar the Seafest we used to enjoy). This will take place at Children’s Beach and a couple of other venues in the vicinity. It will open on Sept. 25 at 10 a.m. and will conclude that afternoon at 4 p.m. You don’t to miss this; it’s going to be huge!
– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space, and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror.