Islander's Blog

Archive for September, 2011

Goodman’s Gam

Friday, September 30th, 2011

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Fall is here. Our weather has stayed absolutely beautiful and it shows in people’s attitudes. I see faces that mirror the good feelings brought about by sun, warmth and lately, a lack of windy conditions. This time of the year we wish the sun would set a bit later, but I find that the soft orange glow emitted by Old Sol feels warmer than a 90-degree day in August. Another month of this and facing winter won’t seem quite as much of a chore.

I would like to thank our state representative, Tim Madden and state senator, Dan Wolf, for opposing casino-gambling in Massachusetts. They’re in the minority, as most legislators see this as a way to collect more money to help fund the state budget. It may look that way, but the social ills that it will likely engender may well set the Commonwealth back by having to treat those who become gambling addicts.

Look at what the Massachusetts lottery has done to many people. When I am in places where tickets are sold, it’s amazing to see how many Nantucketers are hard-core buyers of scratch tickets. Very often you’ll see the same people out in their car, scratching away at tickets and then returning to buy more tickets. Even when these folks win, the money goes back to pay for more scratch tickets from the store from which they were purchased.

The lottery likes to make the point that all of the money (other than expenses) goes back to local governments. That sounds fine. I have to wonder how many citizens are left living at an income level that’s less than they normally would, had they not spent so much on scratch tickets. It isn’t unusual to see people spending $30 to $50 at a time, trying to strike it rich. They’ll be back the next day and the day after. I buy a couple of $1 tickets (not scratch) when the prizes exceed $10 million. After all, if I’m going to lose my money, I’d like it be a huge loss.

I have to wonder if the Board of Selectmen is going to go back to holding their meetings in the Town & County Building now that the summer’s done. I recall that was their plan when they had a test run on meeting at the new police station. The test is over and my guess is that they’ll stay where they are. It’s sad, because this would be one more blow to keeping downtown Nantucket alive and viable.

Speaking of that, it was sad to hear that the Even Keel is going to be closing in just over a week. The same man that is asking these rents for his downtown properties is now poised to build more luxury units at the White Elephant. Of course, the guests staying at these units wouldn’t be likely to eat at the Even Keel anyway. You may be sure that someone will lease the Main Street building that used to be the Even Keel, Espresso Café and at one time The Sweet Shop.

Now for this Saturday, Oct. 1. Family scalloping begins that morning and from all I’ve heard, this should be a very good season. Next up, is the Maritime Festival which takes place at Children’s Beach, beginning at 10 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m. This is a great day for locals. This isn’t advertised off-island, it’s for us.

There are going to be tours of Brant Point Lighthouse and the shellfish lab, a scallop-shucking competition, paddleboard races, a harpoon-throwing contest and much, much more. There will be live music, good food and you’ll know most of the people there.

Later that day, there’s the Scallopers Ball. This takes place at the Nantucket Yacht Club and is another activity that is geared toward islanders. You will hear great local music, enjoy fantastic food and once again, run into many of your friends and acquaintances that you haven’t seen since last spring. It takes place from 6:30 p.m. until 11 p.m. Tickets are $40 in advance and $50 at the door. Advance tickets are available at Bookworks and there will be people selling them on Main Street on Oct. 1.
– David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror.

Goodman’s Gam

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

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After I read the letters to the I&M last week, it was obvious to anyone following the fiascoes at Nantucket Memorial Airport that some of the commissioners just don’t get it. The airport operates as an enterprise account, but that doesn’t mean that we, the town, and we, as taxpayers, aren’t owed full disclosure as to what goes on out there. Every penny that is earned, or paid out from those accounts, is ours.

The airport manager and airport commissioners are supposed to work for us, not do whatever they feel is expedient. If you have a private business, that’s a fine way to do things. Lose money and it’s your problem. Working in the public sector doesn’t give one that freedom. There are laws governing what is allowed and what isn’t. Also, some actions could be illegal.

I would like to thank Foley Vaughan for submitting his resignation from the Airport Commission last week. Unlike the commissioner who wrote to the I&M, Mr. Vaughan faced reality and took responsibility for whatever shortcomings took place while he sat on the commission. Think about it. This is the first time in years I’ve heard a public official admit they might be incorrect about anything. The airport manager has yet to take any blame.

Then, we have another commissioner who is objecting to the possible cost of a forensic audit of the airport’s books. He’s worried that promising to pay for the audit would be like “writing a blank check.” What does this commissioner think has been taking place over the last few years out at the airport? This “blank check” should reveal many more blank checks that were never questioned by the commissioners.
Blank checks were issued for numerous jobs that should have been put out to bid and weren’t. What I see are two arrogant commissioners, an arrogant manager and a former commissioner who saw the light. At least we have a couple of new commissioners who “get it,” and with a vacancy, a new appointment by the Board of Selectmen should help straighten the Airport Commission out. Now, what to do about the manager . . . I foresee a lawsuit in the town’s future.

Walking through town, at the lumber yard or the grocery store, I’m seeing people who disappeared a few months back and have now materialized once again. Many of them could say the same about me. September is like that. Then there are folks I hadn’t seen and finally did. The next day we met again. One friend saw me on Federal Street on Thursday, then Friday (in the same spot) and on Saturday in the Stop & Shop. For the next eight months we’ll see one another around town.
We haven’t caught up on everything that we experienced over this summer season, but it was a good start. There are still a ton of friends and acquaintances that I have yet to reconnect with, though this is early fall and there will be plenty of time to catch up with everyone who fell off the map since Memorial Day.

We had a short cold spell last week. Given the weather reports on television, it sounded as if winter was upon us. Turns out, we stayed relatively temperate and the cold temperatures were to the west and north of us. Once again, warm seawater kept us in fine shape, for now. We won’t be so lucky come spring. I’ll take a warm fall, anytime.
David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror.

Goodman’s Gam

Monday, September 19th, 2011

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Fall has come to stay. While our weather hasn’t been wonderful at all times, there’s nothing to be done about storms as they wend their way up and down the East Coast. We haven’t set any records for major storms. They have passed close enough to mess things up without a major strike to the island. So far, that is. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for calm, sunny days in the near future.

School has begun and kids that have run free on beaches or at camp may be unaccustomed to looking both ways when crossing streets. Please take the time to do the looking for them. We have all observed plenty of drivers failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians throughout this past summer season. This is a dangerous practice and needs to end.

Reminding us that the fall season is upon us, I noticed that there were ads for Halloween candy at the Stop & Shop two weeks ago. Then I saw an ad online for Christmas shopping . . . early that is. We’re barely done with Labor Day. What’s next, Valentine’s Day roses in November?

Even without reading Lucy Leske’s column last week, there’s no question the “dry storm” affected many local plants. The damage doesn’t look as bad as what I recall from the storm years back. That could be due to my unpracticed eye for what is normal with plant life at this point of the year, and that I don’t pay as much attention to the land as to the water.

There’s a gentleman who lives at the corner on Main Street, right across from the Civil War monument. He has an unfortunate habit of piling any refuse from his yard and sidewalk on the side of his curb. After Irene, it was small branches, in a few weeks it will be dry leaves and in wintertime, snow is deposited there as well. This is littering.

I usually see merchants in town that sweep their sidewalk dirt into the street and have often decried this practice. I have noticed that Nantucket Pharmacy sweeps, then scoops up the dirt and throws it away as it ought to be. It takes less than a minute to finish the job correctly. I thank the pharmacy crew for their diligence. Little things mean a lot when it comes to the quality of life in a small town.

I finally got into Fusaro’s last week and was sorry to have waited so long to eat there. They feature great service and tremendous food. It’s more than reasonable (by our standards) and has a nice atmosphere. I’ll be back.

The out of Boston has a food critic by the name of James Cooper (not our Jim). He recently reviewed local bakeries and selected the Downyflake’s blueberry muffin as the island’s best. Biggest, least expensive and tastiest were his feelings.

I was saddened to read of the passing of Joel Brown. He was a great guy who always had something interesting to say. And I always listened. Not your usual banker.
David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror.

Waterfront News

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

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We finally have our island back. It was a particularly tough summer for the locals. The rudeness displayed by most of the visitors was out of control. It was the worst I have ever seen in the 46 years I have lived on Nantucket. I have spoken to several other people and they all agreed with me. In any event, most everyone is gone and the island is breathing a huge sigh of relief. I ventured down to the docks recently and was surprised how quiet it was there.
– Martie Mack writes Nantucket’s Waterfront News blog

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

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Every week new allegations about what has been going on at Nantucket Memorial Airport have come to light. This is akin to watching a traffic accident in slow motion that seems never-ending. One does have to wonder where all of this bad behavior will end.

The activities perpetrated by management have, and are going to, cost taxpayers quite a bit of money. Money wasted by not obtaining bids that are required by law, funds to pay for a forensic audit, an overpaid manager and a very expensive restaurant redo are a firm slap in the face to all Nantucketers.

Last week a builder told me that he had been involved with a “bid” on some work on airport property. When the bid was too high, they were told to bid on parts of the job in segments, so that each piece wouldn’t exceed the $25,000 limit. That’s a violation of Massachusetts General Laws. It would be too easy to throw all of the blame on Al Peterson, though he does deserve most of the credit.

The true bad guys here are the Airport Commission. The old five members either looked the other way, or assented to what Mr. Peterson was doing. To me, there’s little difference between the two. The airport commissioners weren’t doing their job, whether it was not noticing what was going on, or letting the airport manager run wild, while they looked on approvingly.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the last three airport commissioners that remain submitted their resignations? It’s time for them to admit they blew it and stand aside for new blood to straighten out a horrible mess they graced us with. Perhaps the Board of Selectmen could give them a swift kick in the rear end to help make up their minds.

I don’t know about others, but I’m still receiving phone calls and e-mails from friends asking if our power is back on. At least there’s still corn and fresh vegetables available from the farms. More wind from Irene would have blown most of the produce to the ground.

Last week’s “Looking Backward” from 1986 concerned the birth of then I&M assistant editor Steve Sheppard and his wife Karin’s son. Elsewhere in the same issue it was announced that Steve is the new Nantucket Elementary School music teacher. They couldn’t have made a better choice. Steve is a wonderful musician and an all-around great guy.

A week before Labor Day, people always start talking about what you should be doing, so as to jam a weeks worth of summer into the final week. For many of us, after Labor Day is the perfect time to do all of those activities that we were too busy to get around to. The swimming is beautiful, everything is green outside, there are parking spaces downtown and at the Stop & Shop. Restaurants and merchants are happy to see you enter their establishments and there are sales abounding in a number of stores around town.

The best part of this time of year is that most of the unreasonable visitors have picked up and left. I don’t think anyone living here misses that.

I’m a little worried about the Red Sox these days. They’re in a bit of a slump and while it’s more than likely they’ll make the playoffs, being the wild-card entry would put them at a severe disadvantage. Home-field advantage makes a huge difference in a short series.
David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror.

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

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For Nantucket, Irene was pretty much of a no-show, a non-event and an early end to many of our summer visitors’ vacations. On Sunday, along with what seemed like half the population of the island, I went out to take a look around various sections of our shorefront. First up was Codfish Park, which was packed with sightseers. The ocean was huge, though I’ve seen it looking more dangerous at other times.

Then taking a look at Sankaty Head there were several people wandering about. A moment later, the sky suddenly darkened and rain began. For a minute or so it came down hard, then lightened up and then poured again. I headed for the west end at that point.

At the Walter Barrett Public Landing, water was about a foot below the top of the pier. I remember several times over past years when that pier was at least two feet under tidal waters. From there it was a quick drive to the end of Madaket Road. I didn’t stay long, as the blowing sand scoured my legs in seconds. Over at the end of Long Pond, the ocean washed over into the pond. Miacomet Pond suffered the same situation.

From there a quick look at Steps Beach was enlightening. The wind was coming directly from behind and the water out in Nantucket Sound was a little beat up. Had I not known there was a storm, this would have been a nice spot to lie on the beach and even take a dip in shallow, placid water.

My final stop was Cisco. I expected to see surfers out in the waves, but there were none to be seen. The roiling water wasn’t formed up well enough to suit the wave-riders. Again, I didn’t stick around long, because the blowing sand was painful to deal with. It did feel as if the strongest gusts I’d felt for the day were coming onshore right there.

We certainly dodged a bullet this weekend. People from North Carolina’s Outer Banks, all along to New York City, up through southern Connecticut and then into Vermont suffered damage and many are still without electricity at this writing and have lost homes. On Nantucket, storms are something we’re used to and prepare for as a matter of fact. Most people here keep enough food and supplies around to survive for weeks should an emergency strike.

I’ll be interested to see if Irene qualifies as a “dry storm.” This is where the salt sprays, carried ashore from the high winds, lands on local foliage and the salinity withers the leaves and plants. If that takes place, at least most of the growing season is past.

I was off-island for part of last week, due to medical procedures needed for a slight problem related to my liver-transplant. Two years ago, in late July, I was on my way to Boston when I received “the call.” That’s why I was very glad to note that Chris McLaughlin and the New England Organ Bank, in concert with the Registry of Motor Vehicles, recognized Donate Life Day here last month.

This is something we all need to get involved in. I have always been listed as a donor, ever since I got my first driver’s license at 16. We all talk about not wasting things and recycling. Being an organ-donor is the ultimate reuse of a life. I sent a letter to the family of my donor through the New England Donor Bank. So far, the family has chosen not to read my, or any other letters, from people saved by their loved one’s organs. I would give anything to be able to let them know how much what their actions meant to me.
David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror