Islander's Blog

Goodman’s Gam

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The first Nantucket Book Festival takes place tomorrow and continues through Sunday, June 17. What a great thing for Nantucket. Shortly before I heard of this event, I read a review of a new book by Mark Kurlansky. I obtained a copy of his new work about Clarence Birdseye from the Atheneum last week and read it over the weekend. As with Mr. Kurlansky’s other works it was a wonderful and enlightening read.

Many of you have read his books, such as “Cod,” “Salt,” and “The Big Oyster.” He will be appearing and speaking at the festival. His newest work is “Clarence Birdseye: A Curious American Inventor.” Most of us know the name of Clarence Birdseye from grocery shopping in the frozen-food section. But there’s so much more to the man. Kurlansky details a fascinating man who had more than 200 patents to his name.

One chapter delves into the time Birdseye spent in New Mexico, working for the government, shooting game and picking ticks off them for research. This was due to the problem of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in that area. Having recently read “Island Practice,” it made me realize that Tim Lepore wasn’t the first tick-picker. Birdseye beat him by almost a century.

Pam Belluck, author of “Island Practice,” will be another speaker at the book festival. She joins over 20 other authors, many of whom live, or have lived here. Go to nantucketbookfestival.org , or look here in the I&M for details about where the events are taking place. Let’s hope this will be a yearly celebration of words and the knowledge they convey to us. They’re the best escape I know of.

Nat Philbrick, whose “In the Heart of the Sea” seems to be gaining traction again in Hollywood after being optioned several years ago, will also speak at the festival.
There’s a petition going around the island asking the Board of Selectmen to appeal the decision of a judge who overruled the Historic District Commission when it denied a driveway on Martin’s Lane. There are very few streets on Nantucket where a curb cut for a driveway would be denied, but this is a different animal, indeed.
Martin’s Lane is not only historic, but it’s extremely narrow and paved with brick. The curb there is quite high, so turning in or out of the driveway would be difficult for the homeowner, not to mention any other drivers trying to maneuver through there. I have to wonder why the Traffic Safety Advisory Committee didn’t (or doesn’t) weigh in on this driveway application.

Speaking of traffic safety, I’m feeling less than comfortable with some of the driving taking place these days. Over the past week, several vehicles have come close to hitting me head-on. All but one of the offending drivers was speaking on a cell phone at the time. A woman who wasn’t using her phone appeared to be showing a scenic view to her friend, drifting halfway over the double line while negotiating a curve on Milestone Road.

Like many of us, I was disappointed to hear that the Tappet Brothers, aka Click and Clack, aka Tom and Ray Magliozzi, will be ceasing their NPR show “Car Talk” as of late September. Whether you’re a car buff or not, their repartee and genuine love of the subject made for a Saturday-morning show that was fun and interesting. After 35 years, it’s understandable that they might want to step away. The show will still be on NPR, but as of September, it will consist of reruns of their old shows.

We now have a true Nantucket radio station on the air. I have tuned in to WAZK every day for the past week or so and have been pleased at the music so far. Apart from music, town manager Libby Gibson is going to be doing a live chat session every Thursday, between 7:30 and 8 a.m. Libby also does an interview with Geno Geng each week on Channel 17 (GenoTV.com). Talk about transparency in local government. Some of the selectmen might want to try going on the air, too.

The Boston Celtics put forth a mighty effort in their bid to play for the NBA championship, but they ran out of gas in their last two games against the Miami Heat. I’ve now become a temporary fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Go get ’em Kendrick.
David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror

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