Down East 2013 ©
Photograph by Mark Fleming
When we declared in last year’s “Best of Maine” issue that the Black Frog in Greenville has the best menu in the state (by “best” we meant the funniest, most outrageous printed menu), we pointedly warned readers away from the “Skinny Dip.” Until this past summer, the Black Frog had a standing offer: take a naked plunge into Moosehead Lake, and you’d get a free sandwich. You can guess what happened next. Three customers — two men and a woman — decided to call the restaurant on its bluff and went streaking (in the buff) into the lake one August afternoon. The trio was promptly arrested, and the two men were recently found guilty of indecent exposure and fined two hundred dollars apiece. Through a bizarre wording of the law, the female skinny-dipper escaped punishment.
Now, public nudity isn’t a subject I’ve ruminated over on long winter nights, but the state of Maine occupies something like permanent residence in my thoughts. And in this case, I have to admit to being surprised by just about every aspect of l’affaire de Black Frog — from the district attorney’s confusion between mountains and molehills, to the prudish decision by the Greenville town council to revoke the restaurant’s liquor license, to the enduring popularity of the story on the Bangor Daily News Web site (for a while it outpaced even the election of our first black president). But maybe, upon further reflection, I should accept my bemusement as yet another of Maine’s many gifts. Just when you think you have the Pine Tree State figured out, it jumps clear off the deep end.
I hope that’s how you’ll read this year’s “Best of Maine” issue, too — as an expression of our own naked delight in this great state and its endless capacity to keep us all guessing. In the spirit of surprise we’ve extended our own list of superlatives to such unconventional categories as “Best Snoop,” for a Lewiston private eye (page 48), and “Best New Political Dynasty,” recognizing the ascendant force of that North Haven mother-daughter duo, Chellie and Hannah Pingree (page 56). And we’ve included a “Personal Best” essay from the past (page 87), bringing back our late columnist Caskie Stinnett for a curtain call on the tenth anniversary of his passing.
So go ahead and take the plunge into bracing, beautiful Maine. But keep your shorts on just to be safe.
Editor in Chief