Islander's Blog

Archive for May, 2011

Goodman’s Gam

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

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I had a short conversation with a purveyor of wine today. She’s a former resident of Nantucket and has always been up front with me. Her opinion of this year’s Wine Festival was that it went beautifully and was very crowded. This is one of the better events that bring visitors here. I put the Film Festival in the same category. I don’t feel the same way about some of our other commercial weekends.

The difference is that wine is the product of thousands of years of culture with vines, grapes, research and refining. It has a long and storied history. Today, not only are wines better (in general), but the progress with food and how the two relate to one another has reached new heights.

Denis Toner started this festival on a small scale and today it’s beyond a local affair. More and diverse vineyards show up each year. Most of the participants, both attendees and those people involved in making wine, spend a fair amount of change in stores, restaurants and lodging while here. I applaud Denis, Susan and the many others that worked their tails off to make this happen.

That is a good use of alcoholic beverages. Wait until this weekend, and you’ll see a fair amount of bad behavior downtown due to the overuse of alcohol. The “sailors” aren’t likely to be swilling fine wine. Most will be imbibing beer and shots. Stay away from town after dark and let the crazies take it out on each other.

On Monday I went through the area where the Dreamland work is taking place. On both occasions, there were traffic jams more worthy of August than mid-May. I was fortunate in each case to see the line of traffic in time to turn and head away from the mess. As I went around the block and looked in my rear-view mirror, the lines went from Easy Street, beginning around Still Dock on down Steamboat Wharf.

On a similar note, I noticed the utility companies are working by the new (sort of) bike-path extension on Cliff Road. By now, you might think that they’d finish up pavement around the catch basins. Then traffic cones hampering drivers on the north side of the road could be removed. Today this makes for hazardous traffic, especially when the vehicle on the opposite lane is a heavy construction vehicle.

I have no expectation of the utility poles being moved by this weekend. Is this a new Memorial Day version of Daffodil Day celebrating large, orange, plastic monuments? This entire fiasco is what we’ve come to expect on large road-construction projects here on the rock. Or is it on the rocks?

If I lived along Sheep Pond Road and egress to my home was threatened, I’d be contemplating a lawsuit against a selfish neighbor who trashed the beachfront for his own purposes. For all the money spent and damage done to the dunes and beach, this outlandish scheme merely postponed the inevitable work of the sea.

Next up, we have really wealthy Sconset people trying to save their views from Sankaty Bluff. This is wrong. Say hello to my little friend, Mother Nature.

Our weather that appeared to be improving has regressed for now. At least we missed some of the thunderstorms and downpours up and down the coast of late. Once our temperatures hit 70, summer will feel as if it’s on the way here. Maybe. Please.

The Boston Bruins’ hopes are high now that they have a 3-2 lead in their series with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Winning one more game would propel them to the Stanley Cup finals. My fingers are crossed.

The Red Sox have begun playing the way we knew they would. Too much talent couldn’t stay bottled up for long. Unless injuries abound as happened last season, the Boston nine should stay viable and have a berth in the postseason. They’re playing in the toughest division in baseball.

I hope you have wonderful Memorial Day Weekend. We deserve no less.
– David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror.

Waterfront News

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

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Well, I didn’t think it would ever happen, but it did. The weather finally broke after over two weeks of cold, rain, fog, drizzle and ever-living gales. I was starting to lose all hope. I wonder if the pattern of the past two weeks will change. I was just starting to get used to the dreary days. I went down to the waterfront Friday to have a look. It was beautiful. Flat calm and warm. Things are starting to get busy. Boats are on their moorings and folks are milling around. It felt like summer. Here are some scenes
– Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News blog

Goodman’s Gam

Friday, May 20th, 2011

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After last year’s perfect spring and summer, the weather gods have restored order to our universe. For the past few weeks temperatures have resided in the 50s and low 60s. We’re well into May and 70 has eluded us so far. Given the forecasts, attaining that mark could take until June to come true.

Then there’s precipitation. Wet, wet and wetter is also in the forecast. While we complain, it could be much worse. A good section of Middle America is flooding and it appears that things aren’t going to improve in the near future. There are an awful lot of yards I’ve noticed with close to a foot of unmown grass. Gardeners should appreciate the watery gift.

I had an interesting relationship with Wayne Holmes. I testified for him as an expert witness in one case. Then I testified against one of his clients in another action. Finally, I testified in a federal court case in which Wayne was suing someone who had passed away. As I was the executor for the estate, I became the defendant. His reputation was that he was tough, and he was. Isn’t that what you’re looking for when an attorney is needed? His presence around town and his letters to the I&M will be missed.

Now that we have sewage discs (courtesy of New Hampshire) coming up on our shores, I’m waiting to see the first art consisting of plastic refuse. I have a feeling that some is likely to show up on Hummock Pond Road, along with the Take It or Leave It collection.

Cape Cod Five isn’t trying to slip in here under the radar. They’ve made it clear that Nantucket is an important community to them and they are in it for the long run. Putting Phil Stambaugh in as head honcho, along with Quint Waters, the bank has managed to pick a couple of mainstays from Nantucket Bank. Adding a main office at Zero Main Street certainly won’t hurt their visibility.

I don’t play golf and have always maintained that golf courses and cemeteries are a waste of good land. I know many people who are golf addicts. They deserve a place to play, and unless you have a six- or seven-figure income, Miacomet Golf Club is affordable compared to the rarified air in other island clubs.

I’ve heard talk on both sides of the idea of a new clubhouse for Miacomet. All I’m concerned with is, will it be solvent? The Land Bank owns the property, which means we all do. As long as this isn’t wasted money, I have no problem with this. Should a deficit come out of the Land Bank coffers, that would not be in our best interest.

I wonder when Nantucket will witness our first seal meal for a great white shark. They’ve probably taken place, but weren’t seen. Great whites rarely feed in shallow water, unless there is plenty of food in abundance, the sun is down, or both. Over the past decade, our gray seal and harbor seal populations are up 10-fold. The pinnipeds are everywhere, although Great Point and Muskeget Island have colonies that are enormous.

The gray seals are a problem for fishermen, as they have learned to grab hooked fish from angler’s lines. In many cases, the seals have chased fish onto the beach as they were being landed. Aside from the waste of fish, many anglers have stopped or at least slowed down their fishing activity. No one wants to lose fish and tackle to the seals. It’s likely that a human is going to tangle with a seal. Perhaps that or an attack by a shark will alert the general public to our seal problem.
– David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this spot and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror.

Waterfront News

Monday, May 16th, 2011

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I puttered around the waterfront this morning. It’s starting to get busy down there. I just wish the weather would get better. Last week was pretty bad. Daily NE gales and drizzle. The upcoming week into the weekend doesn’t look any better. We are experiencing a typical Nantucket spring or lack thereof. Windy and cold every day. Last year we were spoiled. From April 1 through Labor Day the weather was spectacular every single day. And it only rained four times the whole time. I guess we are due for a lousy spring an summer. In any event, here are the pictures I took today . . .
– Martie Mack write the Nantucket Waterfront News blog

Goodman’s Gam

Friday, May 13th, 2011

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Not so long ago on the second-floor courtroom of the Town & County Building, our Board of Selectmen voted to hold their Wednesday meetings at the auditorium in our new police station. The idea was to try it over the summer season and see how they liked the new premises. They liked it so much that by a 4-1 vote we will no longer have BOS meetings downtown.

This is a case where it would be interesting to see how the citizens feel about the BOS decision. The table and chairs might be more comfortable on Fairgrounds Road, but moving our seat of town government away from the heart of Nantucket smacks of “Let the voters eat cake.” This is the usual scenario around here. The BOS makes policy that few people like but are so apathetic they’ll complain to others, though not to the board itself.

Not that long ago, our weather was beginning to look better. Spring appeared to be breaking through the windy, cloudy, cool skies. When we were away last week, people in New York and in Boston complained about their windy, cloudy, cool skies. I felt as if I could have remained home and received an accurate weather report for the northeast states. The storm we experienced early this week is unlikely to affect our friends on the mainland. This backed up to us from offshore.

I never forget that May and June are often our wettest months. One June we had rain 11 out of the first 15 days. Prepare yourself for the upcoming mud season, especially if you live or visit places on dirt roads. I’m certain there are roads that are worse, but Millbrook Road has puddles that could swallow a small vehicle.

In a recent column I spoke to the bad pavement on Lower Orange Street in the vicinity of Cumberland Farms and Henry Jr. Some minor patching was effected and the area was somewhat better. Now there seems to be more going on along that stretch as there are a couple of huge steel plates along the north side of the street. Will they still be there by Memorial Day?

Speaking of the advent of our summer season . . . I see that the Dreamland folks are back asking for an extension to continue exterior work, beyond the Ides of June deadline. Wasn’t this already decided a while back? I have to wonder who, or what they think will give them more time than they are entitled to.

I can’t wait until the Dreamland is completed, although the current behavior we’re seeing from management worries me. If I expect anything from this group, it’s adherence to a set deadline by the town. Forget about that, how about giving Nantucketers and our visitors a rest from the construction mess downtown? Good neighbors think about those around them. I’m not feeling the love right about now.

In the past five days, I’ve observed two bike riders using the “closed” Cliff Road bike-path extension. The only places where entry is blocked are at each end of the extension. Any rider may easily enter the path at any of the many driveways along there. Perhaps the construction company should put up barricades at each driveway. That would eliminate the likelihood of lawsuits, something that this town is all too good at.

I tried dinner at 12 Degrees East last week and was pleased that the food is very good and prices are more than reasonable. Service was fine and the eatery continues to be low-key and friendly.

Mark-Et is another new spot that’s worth trying. Located where Daily Breads used to reside, I’ve sampled some baked goods and came away more than pleased. There are more items I am going to sample in the next few days.

As always, I welcome your feedback. My telephone number is (508) 228-4325, e-mail me at dgoodman@nantucket.net and my mailing address is P.O. Box 1263, Nantucket, MA 02554. If you’d like to insult me, please try and be original. I’m easily bored.
– David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space, and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror.

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

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We arrived in New York at Penn Station last Thursday evening after taking the train down from Boston. It was slightly toward the end of rush hour and any chance of getting a taxi was going to be a wait of more than half an hour. We began walking toward the subway, and then a pedicab driver asked if we’d like to use his services. He quoted a price that wasn’t much more than a cab ride. We jumped in and he sped away.

Our driver was a funny guy and had been doing this for eight years, having started in New Orleans. This is a year-round job for him. As we headed south through Manhattan there was a near collision with a pedestrian and later on an aggressive driver. Our driver took it in stride, as did I. The trip was exciting and every bit as quick as a gas-powered taxicab.

As much as I enjoyed the experience, I don’t recommend pedicabs for Nantucket. Here are my reasons why: some streets in the city are narrow, but compared to island streets, they’re wide open. Every street had enough room for parked cars, a pedicab and vehicular traffic. Try that on Liberty, India or many other downtown streets. One stretch of our ride was over some funky asphalt. It was rough stuff. Compared to cobbles it was a walk in the park.

Another thing that stumps me is what would happen if one uses a pedicab on island and then leaves no tip, or a few coins, as it is being proposed as a tip-based fare system. I have a feeling that the parting wouldn’t be a pleasant one. I do believe that pedicab tours in and around town might be the way to go. A route would need to be set up and adhered to so as to minimize traffic problems. Also, with set fares, neither the drivers nor passengers would have anything to complain about.

For Nantucketers, who believe we live on the most expensive island in the world, think again. New York requires far deeper pockets than what we’re used to. My mother needed an extra key for her apartment. I walked less than a block and went into a hardware store/locksmith. A simple key was $7. I was shocked, seeing that the last key I had made on Nantucket was less than $2.

The paving for the Cliff Road Bike Path should have been preceded by utility poles being removed and the lines buried. That would have been too simple, and instead the paving was performed with several of the poles sprouting through the asphalt, a most dangerous proposition. Supposedly this will encourage the quick removal and changing of their locations by the utilities.

At present, there are sawhorses with small signs saying not to use the bike path. So, who gets sued when the first bike rider flaunts the warning and goes head-on into a pole? As it is, the downtown poles are gone and their wires have been buried. Now it’s time to continue to bury the wires heading further out of town. If tourism drives our economy, a good way to further the old-timey look of Nantucket would be to rid our streets and roads of visual pollution, as in utility poles. Removing the poles would make driving safer. There would be no more accidents from ramming into a stationary object when a driver loses control of their vehicle.

I was saddened to hear of Kay Mack’s passing. She was one of the nicest people I’ve had the good fortune to know.
– David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears regularly in this space an on page 15A of this week’s Inquirer and Mirror

Finigan’s Finding

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

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“Yeah, May is one of my top-12 favorite months out here,” he said over Bud Lights at LoLa on a busy sushi Sunday.

I’m celebrating my first one-year anniversary this month. No, not with a significant other. (You’d actually need a boyfriend to do that). But in the most significant relationship I have . . . with this island. For the first time since high school, I’ve lived in the same zip code for a full calendar year. Sure, I did the Nantucket Shuffle three times, but I did stay on the rock for all four seasons. So here, in my 12th column, are my findings month by month. It’s too easy to start with January and so I’ll start with June-uary.

June is my birth month. I celebrate my birthday until America’s birthday, so the month is a constant party. There’s the Film Festival and those beach barbecues with all your old friends who are so psyched to be back. There’s the promise of warm weather but you still need Patagonia fleece after the sun sets over Madaket. It’s a tricky month as you don’t want to get a “handcuff” too early, so we all just play the field and toast the sunshine.

July is filled with Nantucket Reds, tennis whites and the endless Atlantic ocean blues. We kick off the summer after the Fourth and every night starts to feel like a Saturday with countless tourists and weekend warriors. 

August is known as eight weeks long. Some call it awful, others call it the only time they really get to spend on Nantucket. The restaurants are constantly booked, you can barely drive a block without getting caught in “island traffic” and trying to park in the Grand Union lot at 11:30 a.m.? Fuggetaboutit. There is the Boston Pops, then the Opera House Cup and an influx of people you’ve never seen before. But oh then there’s that August silver lining! That last week of the month, right as all the college kids return to their Ivy Leagues and the families head back to their suburban life where the rock becomes complete bliss. At least until we all work our tails off on Labor Day.

September. You can’t explain it. It’s just perfection. I don’t care that February is the shortest month of the year. September always ends too quickly. The good days never last long enough. 

October is filled with bridesmaids, deserted beaches, that crisp Nantucket air and ends with a blanket of stars over us nightly. I’ve often thought October is the new September with the island becoming a true weekend spot and the weekdays reserved for the blue-hairs who take the Hy-Line over for a day of clam chowder and leaf-peeping. This is the best time for a fall fling as the island feels a little more like home again and we all have a little more time to ourselves.

November is quiet, cold and darkness falls before you can hear the five o’clock bell ring. Much of the seasonal staff leaves as soon as the Halloween candy at Stop & Shop is put on clearance. Many people get the urge to take a little vacation. Whether it’s Napa or Naples, Thanksgiving with the whole family back home or just a huge feast at the Faregrounds, we all try to get a little R&R and a bit of off-island time before the most wonderful time of the year.

December overflows with sales, Stoli and Strolling as the month brings back so many summer people to the island’s ultimate holiday weekend. Christmas Stroll is like July 4 of the winter with down jackets and hot cider instead of Lily dresses and cold brews. With all the festivities and furs and celebrations and libations, the month passes in the blink of an eye as we prepare to wave goodbye to another Nantucket year.

January is quiet, cool, calm and collected, like a diligent student. People join the Westmoor and take long walks at Sanford Farm. We sit back and relax and get comfortable in our own chilled skins. We make plans to make no plans and enjoy the serenity and solitude from Surfside to Sconset.

February is not a short as it may appear on the calendar. We start to get the itch to get off the Rock and every time we do, Mother Nature steps in and makes it impossible to leave with high winds and rough waves. The island becomes a burden and we sometimes wonder why we decided to stay here during the desolation of the winter months.

March is called “Hate Month,” but you can decide for yourself. I think life is all about the way you look at things, so you can look at the glass as half empty or you can fill up a little extra Pinot Noir in yours while you “salut” to the last of the bitter cold days.

April is the cruelest month. We so yearn for summer that the fog and frost can dampen our spirits for days. We see the daffys bloom and think about that opening weekend on the Rock and than complain that it is happening too late. Like a hot and cold woman that you can never seem to please, April ends up being the month that almost breaks us up. But you know what they say about those showers . . .

And finally, May. My favorite month. The month of homecomings and restaurant openings. Thirty-one days of Sauvignon Blanc and sailing, familiar faces and the new names that make you think this is going to be the best summer ever. Festivals, Figawi and the Fourth are right around the corner, and we all smile as we walk up Main Street in a T-shirt.

So happy anniversary to my one and only. Here’s to many more to come.
– Holly Finigan’s “Finigan’s Findings” appears regularly in this space and on page 5B of this week’s Inquirer and Mirror.