Humble Mainer Finds Fame – And Steamers
Some time ago, a kindergarten class in Scarborough was making collages, cutting pictures out of magazines and pasting them onto shapes supplied by the teacher. One little student was using an old copy of Down East (apparently, they don’t all end up in dentists’ waiting rooms) that had my photo in it (the article was called “If you see this man, do not approach him – call the police immediately”) and thought I looked like a sailor who was thirsty and hungry. So he stuck me on a sailboat heading for a rocky shoreline on which sat a bottle of wine and a plate of steamers.
Another teacher (a friend of a friend) saw this work of sub-primary art and made a photocopy, which she sent to her (and my) friend. He sent it to me.
I think the kid has real potential as an artist. Although I have to admit I’m not much for sailing, and I prefer my steamers to be accompanied by beer. Still, it’s good to know I have some younger fans (“look, Momma, Santa Claus is throwing up in the street”) and that youthful readers, equipped with round-tipped scissors, are being exposed to “The Magazine of Maine.”
It gives me hope for the future. It means that the next generation of Mainers will not only be familiar with this Web site’s parent publication, but will also have the self-control to hold off on eating the entire jar of paste, saving a few gobs to attach random bits of paper to unrelated forms. While that may not seem like crucial educational instruction of the sort that will eventually translate into obtaining a high-paying job, it’s actually good training for assembling a state budget.
In the event these little boogers don’t end up with cushy positions in the administration of whatever creepy politician gets elected governor in 2026, there are still some attractive employment alternatives available for those with a demonstrated aptitude for anti-social behavior.
Such as being a snowplow driver in Waterville.
Hey, it pays better than making collages out of old copies of Down East (“look, Momma, I put a mustache on Paul Doiron”), and it provides occasional opportunities to take out one’s frustrations on the public.
On Feb. 25, witnesses on the Concourse in Waterville reported seeing a city snowplow deliberately block in an illegally parked truck.
The plow driver then drove away grinning.
Apparently, this isn’t the first time such behavior has been observed, but City Manager Mike Roy insisted in an interview with the Morning Sentinel that it wasn’t official municipal policy to pile snow around the vehicles of anyone Waterville’s public employees don’t like.
That never happens in the summer, Roy said, or even in the fall.
He said the official policy calls for city workers to cover the windows of offending cars and trucks with white school paste and stick photos from back issues of Down East on them. People who annoy public works crews return to find their vehicles covered in moose, blueberries, and Edgar Allen Beem articles.
There are very few repeat offenders.
Not all of Waterville’s law-enforcement tactics work out as well.
Last July, Gordon Austin of Canaan was cited by that city’s cops for having excessively loud exhaust pipes on his Harley Davidson motorcycle. Last month, a judge threw out that charge.
Austin was found not guilty after arguing – he acted as his own attorney, which is the sort of legal decision people make when they eat too much paste as kids – that the police action against him was sort of arbitrary or something. The Morning Sentinel discovered that a lot of other riders caught in last year’s crackdown on loud pipes in Waterville had also won their cases on similar grounds. City officials said they weren’t dismayed by the court results, but in the future, they plan to issue fewer citations and instead, deal with offending bikes by dumping snow on them.
Meanwhile in Bridgton, there were two referendums this week that supporters said were about preserving the character of the town. One would have banned school children from eating paste, and the other would a have required a municipal license before covering any surface visible from a public way with old clippings from Down East (“we’ve got nothing against the magazine, but there’s only so many ‘Where in Maine?’ features a person can tolerate”).
Uh, sorry. Wrong referenda.
What Bridgton actually voted on were proposals to ban fast-food chains and big-box stores.
Both measures went down to defeat by sizable margins, which is probably just as well. There are easier ways to control development that conflicts with the image a town wishes to project. It starts with a nod-nod-wink-wink to the snowplow drivers, and it finishes with those Wal-Mart trucks and McDonald’s vans immobilized in grubby white piles that won’t melt until September. Or August, if the global warming people are right.
Not every town deals with these sorts of problems in such a straightforward manner. Some of them use laws.
Take, for instance, Frenchville (motto: More Snow Than Waterville, Less Paste Than Scarborough), where there’s a dispute over how to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.
Voters have already rejected one set of rules and imposed a second 180-day moratorium on such operations, making it difficult for a company called Safe Alternatives to get its state-approved facility going. Now the town is considering even tighter regulations, such as:
Dispensaries must be at least 300 feet from anything, including rocks, trees, dirt and crows. Especially crows.
They must have security cameras aimed at every person in the place at all times, as well as at any crows. Especially crows.
All copies of Down East in the waiting room must be a minimum of nine years old.
If there are scissors on the premises, they must be the round-tipped kind.
If I didn’t know better, I’d think Frenchville wasn’t all that enthusiastic about hosting a pot shop. And I might advice anyone trying to open one to avoid parking their car anywhere near the municipal snowplows.
Al Diamon has heard some criticism that this week’s posting is a disconnected assortment of insults, slurs and misinformation slapped together in a seemingly random fashion. He would like to point out what his critics have seemingly overlooked: It’s all an homage to kindergarten collage. Artistic critiques may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.