Nearly every young person I know between the ages of, say, 8 and 20 takes it as a given of life that growing up means leaving Maine. For a while, at least. The occasion may be college, or the Army, or a great job in Massachusetts, or a cousin in Seattle. But whatever form it takes, it represents opportunity — a chance to join the real world, where exciting things are happening 24/7.
The Pajama Game — a 1954 musical that sings and dances its way through a tale of garment workers fighting for a seven-and-a-half-cent pay raise — nearly lost its most sizzling number when an out-of-town preview audience either missed the point entirely or (depending on where you sat) got it all too well.
I was up at the V.A. in Togus the other day. It’s an amazing place — so much not the dreary Dickensian horror that springs to mind at the thought of a veterans’ medical facility as to give rise to cognitive dissonance.
A friend in Alabama writes: uhm … the high in maine today was below zero … how on EARTH do you deal with that?
When I heard about John Updike’s death last week, I thought it might be interesting to share some of his work with my high school students.
I teach English at Watershed, a small, progressive private school in Rockland. My students — mostly sophomores and juniors — are nearly two generations removed from the addled, ennui-laden,
Back where I come from — the rugged upcountry of Washington, DC, east of Rock Creek Park — when you meet somebody, the conversation always starts with "What do you do?" It's basic social protocol.
In Maine, this doesn't work so well.
In Maine, as people are happy to tell you, nobody does just one thing for a living. That's one of those bits of popular wisdom that, while not true of everyone, does capture a certain important quality of Down East culture. We are
Not far from my back door, somebody wants to build a cell-phone tower. The plan got whacked down (twice) by the Lincolnville town planning board, but then the board of appeals — voting 2 to 1 — reversed that decision and green-lighted the project. By the way, the chairman expressed his personal view that tower opponents are a bunch of “radical environmentalists.”
“Doing Time” by Betsy Scholl:
They call me Babe and make a kissing noise
from inside their bars and inside their rage.
Most of them are men, though they act like boys
who’ve played too hard and broken all their toys.
Now they’re trying to break their metal cage.
They yell out Babe, make that loud kissing noise
as if their catcalls mean they have a voice
routines and bells can’t break. “It’s just a phase,”