I’m Where? Maine? How’d That Happen?
If I was the sort of person who liked old progressive rock of the sort that numbed the brain into a state of extreme stupidity even without the use of illegal mind-altering substances, I’d have pulled out my scratchy LP copy of whatever Pink Floyd album contained the seemingly endless space opera titled “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” one of the few songs ever recorded that’s actually longer than this sentence.
“Set the Controls” would make the ideal soundtrack to the tale of misguided navigation and unfortunate choices of cargo involving a hapless Canadian with the Dickensian name of Darrell P. Fudge.
On Nov. 28, Fudge was making his way from British Columbia to his home in Newfoundland. He had instructed his GPS to plot the shortest route, which took him across the main stage of the month-long Saskatoon Pink Floyd-athon (unfortunately, that only allows time for one song), through the bowels of the Manitoba bombproof shelter containing the master tapes of an unreleased version of “Set the Controls” that lasts nearly a year, and into a Toronto bazaar known for its extensive collections of “Syd Lives” t-shirts.
So far, so good.
But things were about to go bad for Mr. Fudge, because, as anyone with a fifth-grade grasp of geography would have noticed, the shortest route from B.C. to the Maritimes runs directly through Maine. Fudge didn’t become aware of this impediment until he hit the international border at Coburn Gore, where customs agents discovered he was transporting contraband.
Among items that one is prohibited from bringing into Maine from Canada are Pink Floyd DVDs of more than seventy-two hours duration (but, dude, it takes eighty hours to fit their last single on there), live wolves, and pot. A careful inspection of Fudge’s vehicle came up clean on two out of three, but the glove compartment was crammed with wolves.
No, wait, not wolves. Pot. About a pound of it, which in Canadian is a kilometer. Fudge was arrested for felony possession of the drug, as well as conspiracy to import the metric system.
Fudge insisted he was planning to take the dope home with him and had no intention of selling or even smoking it in Maine, but state officials were unmoved by this clever defense. If convicted, Fudge faces a sentence that includes a hefty fine and remedial geography lessons. He’ll also be prohibited for two years from driving while listening to Roger Waters.
Next, I have news of a roadblock of a different sort. For a half-century, transportation experts have been trying to figure out a better way to route traffic through Wiscasset. Route 1 through the scenic downtown turns into a huge bottleneck each summer as rubbernecking tourists slow down to observe such historic landmarks as Red’s Eats and the Darrell P. Fudge International Institute for Improved North American Cartography.
Alas, every alternative route that was proposed had drawbacks, ranging from requiring vehicles to drive underwater to inadvertently sending traffic through the international boundary at Coburn Gore.
Recently, though, there’s been considerable interest in a proposal to divert drivers onto a new bridge over the Sheepscot River that would connect with an island in Edgecomb and from there onto the mainland. This plan appeared to be doable, by which its designers meant it shouldn’t take more than thirty or forty years (roughly the length of a Pink Floyd album) to clear all the regulatory hurdles.
Then, somebody discovered the island had an eagle’s nest on it.
Not an eagle.
Not an eagle’s egg.
Just a nest.
Federal law bans all construction within a zillion miles (Canadian: 31,000 milliliters) of a certified eagle’s nest, which means the entire town of Wiscasset and parts of municipalities as far away as Brunswick will have to be torn down.
The regulations would have been a lot more stringent if there had been an actual eagle living in the nest, but according to town records, the last bird residing there abandoned the place when it couldn’t pay its property taxes. The nest is now in foreclosure proceedings, which should be resolved in approximately two centuries (Canadian: thirteen hectares). In the meantime, plans for the bypass are on hold, and a new route may have to be found if the eventual owners of the nest turn out to be wealthy out-of-state eagles looking for a quiet summer getaway.
On a happier note, the town of Jonesport is now claiming a world record for the largest Christmas tree made entirely from lobster traps.
It may surprise you to learn that there has been, for many years, a heated competition among coastal communities for this title. In recent years, such places as Gloucester, Massachusetts (430 traps, 40 feet tall), Rockland (152 traps, 35 feet tall), and Coburn Gore (one trap that fell off a truck, three feet high) have laid claim to the title. But all those pretenders were brushed aside by Jonesport’s effort on Beals Island. The tree contains 769 traps and rises fifty feet in the air (Canadian: 400 cubic centimeters).
Of course, no one in Jonesport has caught a lobster in a month, because all their traps are being used for the tree. But it’s worth it because people are coming from miles around to see this spectacular construction, thereby causing massive traffic jams which will require transportation experts to find a route for a bypass around the town.
Also, there are rumors of a Pink Floyd reunion concert to commemorate the event. The band would only play a few songs, so it wouldn’t last more than a decade.
(Canadian: 6,411 grams).
Al Diamon believes all the best songs are less than four minutes in length, such as “Tombstone Every Mile” of which there just happens to be a terrific version by Travis James Humphrey on the newly released “Greetings From Area Code 207, Volume 8.” All proceeds benefit the St. Lawrence Arts Center in Portland, so buy a bunch of copies for everyone on your Christmas list. Except me. I’ve already got one. So, if you want to give me something, e-mail email@example.com, and I’ll send you a list of rare Pink Floyd tracks I’m looking for.