Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cooks, Waitresses, and Management: Lend Me Your Eyes!

We're not sure about our readership among Westbrook's movers and shakers in the food biz, but if anyone from the the Paper City's gastro sector is reading what I'm typing right now, I recommend you check out the Portland Food Map's, well, Portland Food Map Event Calendar and add your event(s) to the compilation of food-related happenings.

Oh, and a discount the next time I visit your establishment would be nice, too.

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. Speaking of the Portland Food Map, props to them for pointing out two reviews of the Frog and Turtle (here and here) that I can now add to my ever-growing compilation of Westbrook restaurant reviews (here, here, here, here, here, and here).

1896 Funeral: $138, Living a Full Life: Priceless

Suzan Roberts Norton goes diary-mining and antidote-hunting over at her Likes2Write blog.

- John C.L. Morgan

Keirstead is the Next Greg Maddux. Sort of.

In a Press Herald article about St. Joseph's College baseball coach Will Sanborn, former Westbrook High School baseball player Andrew Keirstead was described by his coach as "the softest thrower on [the pitching] staff" who throws "slop" or "junk" kind of like, um, Greg Maddux.

As of April 28, the 2005 WHS graduate had posted a 5-1 record with 4.70 ERA and was named the Most Valuable Player in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference tournament. Keirstead also boasts a .312 batting average and four home runs.

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, I should reveal that my cousin, Dustin Spiller, also plays for the Monks. And that I'm hoping my alma mater stomps on St. Joseph's later this evening.

Ah, nothing like Division III baseball trash talk on a sunny spring day.

(Update: When I left Standish in the bottom of the sixth inning, USM was winning 5-2. The highlight of the game--if you're a Huskie loyalist, of course--was when former Westbrook standout Anthony D'Alphonso smacked a Keirstead offering well beyond the right field fence, which is 350 feet from home plate.)

Westbrook Native Captains Collegiate Champions

Asheley Ireland, who grew up in Westbrook, was the captain of the Mount Holyoke College dressage team that won the 2008 National Intercollegiate Dressage Association team championship on April 26.

Ireland finished fifth overall in the First Level division.

- John C.L. Morgan

Pike Awarded I-295 Contract

According to the Portland Press Herald, Pike Industries was awarded a $28.5 million contract to rebuild 18 miles of I-295 this summer. The contract was awarded by the Maine Department of Transportation.

- John C.L. Morgan

Quote, Unquote: W.H.S. Ellingwood

"I am glad to be able to say that the number of children to be retarded is growing less each year. Most of our retarded pupils come to us from outside of our own schools."

- W.H.S. Ellingwood, Superintendent of Schools. Fortieth Annual Report: City of Westbrook, Maine: 1930 (Westbrook, Maine: H.S. Cobb, Printer, 1931).

- John C.L. Morgan

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Don's Lunch

On Location: Don's Lunch

Amid the growing pond of yuppified fast food--excuse me, quick-service--shops (or are they shoppes?) in Westbrook, Don's Lunch remains the place for a blue-collar burger. Indeed, since McDonald's on Main Street renovated last year to adopt the textures and sensibilities of a sleek romantic comedy, Don's Lunch is the only burger joint in town whose DVD case if it were a movie would boast leafy awards from obscure film festivals and be emblazened with such praise as "Gritty!"

So while McDonald's now pushes its fancy rabbit food covered with (sniff) Newman's Own salad dressing, Don's Lunch simply boasts it is the "Home of the Big One." You know, the juicy, fully-loaded, condiments-are-dripping-all-over-your-chin "Big One."

Of course, the fact that the "Big One" is actually not much larger than a regular cheeseburger at Mickey D's further speaks to the quaintness of the burger mobile.

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. My wife once humorously said Don's Lunch's slogan should be "Don's Lunch: Where every day is the Fryeburg Fair." I'd tweak that a bit, though: "Don's Lunch: Where every day is Westbrook Together Days."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Westbrook Almanac: April 20-April 26, 2008

High: 76F (April 23)
Low: 34F (April 26)
Precipitation: 0.00 inches
Previous Sunrise: 5:40a
Previous Sunset: 7:39p

High: 76F (April 23)
Low: 28 (April 14, April 16)
Precipitation: 1.11 inches

High: 76F (April 23)
Low: -5F (January 4)
Precipitation: 17.92 inches

Source: National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Song of the Week

It's a day late, but the song of the week is the unseasonal "Bathingsuit for a Rich Girl" by Phantom Buffalo.

- John C.L. Morgan

Better Know a Rep: Drew Gattine

Sure, you probably know where City Councilor Drew Gattine (D-Ward 2) stands on some of the big issues of the day. But I bet you didn't know what he considers to be his greatest extravagance. Or which talent he would most like to have. Don't worry, that's why we exist.

Now, a close reader may recognize these are the same questions featured in Vanity Fair's 'Proust Questionnaire.' I felt guilty for lifting content from a magazine, but felt better about it once I learned the editors at Vanity Fair themselves lifted the questions from a biography of Marcel Proust. Besides, the sincerest form of flattery is imitation. Right?

Anyway, without further ado, I present Drew Gattine's 'Proust Questionnaire.'

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
On vacation with my family.

What is your current state of mind?
Happy. Busy, but happy.

Which living person do you most admire?
My wife. She holds it all together no matter how much I mess it up.

What is your greatest fear?
The typical stuff all parents worry about.

What is your greatest extravagance?
My Mets season tickets. Want to buy some games?

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

What is your most marked characteristic?

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Procrastination (the dark side of patience) and disorganization.

Which living person do you most despise?
I don't bother to despise anyone. World leaders who contribute to human suffering are pretty low on my list.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
I don't think any virtue is prevalent enough to be overrated.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
Unsure. I try to avoid looking at myself. Some people tell me I have a lot of hair on my back, but I think they're just teasing me.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Slow down a little. Not fill not every moment of every day with "stuff to do."

What is the quality you most like in a man?
Humor and intelligence.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Intelligence and humor.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Like most people of my generation, I need to find a replacement for awesome. I tend to say sorry a lot, but wouldn't claim to overuse it.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Any talent would be nice. Spinning straw into gold would come in handy.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
C'mon now. My wife and kids, of course.

When and where were you happiest?
At home with my family.

Where would you like to live?
Where I live now, 529 Stroudwater Street.

What is your most treasured possession?
Tangible possession: My bike. Our pets bring us a lot of joy, but I don't really think of them as possessions.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
The red-eye from Seattle to Portland. (My own personal hell about five times a year.)

What is your favorite occupation?
Professional golfer must be nice.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

Who are your heroes in real life?
Local people who help others: Teachers, social workers, public safety workers, nurses, etc.

What do you most value in your friends?
That they listen to my dumb stories and laugh at my bad jokes.

What is it that you most dislike?
Greed, in all its forms.

What is your motto?
Life's not a race, it's a journey.

- John C.L. Morgan

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Top 10 Local CDs: April 14- April 20, 2008

Here are the Top 10 Local CDs for the week of April 14-April 20, courtesy of the Portland Phoenix:
  1. Rustic Overtones, "Long Division"
  2. Dead Season, "Rise"
  3. As Fast As, "Destroy the Plastique Man"
  4. Spose, "Preposterously Dank"
  5. Lost on Liftoff, "Mixtape Blackouts"
  6. Cambiata, "Into the Night"
  7. Civil Disturbance, "Battle Within"
  8. Sly-Chi, "The Space"
  9. Cambiata, "To Heal"
  10. Christian Cuff, "Silo"

The list was compiled from Bull Moose Music.

- John C.L. Morgan

Listen Up to Learn About Listen Up

Listen Up, a Westbrook-based call center, is profiled in today's Maine Sunday Telegram's story about, well, call centers in Maine.

- John C.L. Morgan

Salmagundi Club Hearts Fred

According to the Maine Sunday Telegram arts dispatches, Westbrook artist (and Fourth Friday Art Walk participant) Fred Michel will have three of his photographs displayed in the Salmagundi Club's Annual Non-Member Photography & Graphics Exposition.

The Salmagundi Club is in New York City, and the show is scheduled for Monday, June 16-Friday, June 27.

- John C.L. Morgan

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Maine in the Smithsonian

The April edition of the Smithsonian features a wonderful travelogue about Maine's Acadia region, as well as a treatise on Winslow Homer's watercolors.

- John C.L. Morgan

Nightstand Reading

I was bored the other night, so I did what any self-respecting Brookophile would do in a fit of ennui: I read the city's Strategic Economic Development Plan & Process report.

The 53-page report, compiled by Old Orchard Beach-based Biscaye Consultants and Scarborough-based PolicyOne Research, is like other reports described by political columnist Al Diamon in that it relies on jargon and is inconclusive. But it's still an interesting read.

Take, for example, one of the ideas that the March 2007 report features concerning the Exit 47 area, the site of the proposed Stroudwater Place (page 14): "A vision is needed for mixed use retail focus at Exit 47: Bloomingdales, P.F. Chang, Barnes and Noble, Crate and Barrel, and a civic convention center." Hmm, sounds familiar. But then it should, as Jason Snyder was one of the thirty-two interviewees for the report (see page A14 for a list of the other thirty-one).

Speaking of development, the city's planning structure faced criticism on page 18. Indeed, the sentiment, "[t]he problem in this area 'not being business friendly' is with the process, not the people" nicely encapsulates the numerous complaints of the City's processes and governing bodies concerned with economic development. Respondents groused about the Council's requirement that a proposal must be read twice before it is approved, complained that planning board members don't understand and respect the Westbrook business community's needs, and worried that the potential for wholesale political change every two years creates an "unpredictable" and "risky" environment for developers. These critiques were but three specific complaints amid a cacophany of generalisms that the City of Westbrook just takes too damn long when deciding to approve or oppose a business proposal. On the next page, though, the City also receives a couple compliments that it is relatively easier to deal with than other towns and cities in the Greater Portland area are.

I could continue to write more about this report (and I just might), but I've got a life to, you know, live. Meanwhile, I recommend you click on the city's website ( and click on the tab that reads '2007 Economic Development Summit Report' on the right-hand side of the site Despite its fifty-three pages, it really is a quick and interesting read.

Assuming you're good at wading through some dense and seemingly meaningless prose.

- John C.L. Morgan

Friday, April 25, 2008

Five May Days

I know there are five days remaining in April, but May has five events I'm looking forward to:

Sunday, May 4
Main Street Mile (8:30a). I just signed up, so if you see me doing wind sprints under the cover of darkness from Stockhouse to Profenno's, don't mistake it for another Neal Dow Pub Crawl. It's too warm for one of those.

Tuesday, May 6
500 Westbrook LLC will present its proposed Stroudwater Place to the Westbrook Planning Board. The meeting is at 7p and--like most happening events in Westbrook--will occur in Room 114 at the Westbrook High School.

Thurday, May 8
To most people, this Thursday will be just another day before Friday. But for those in the know, May 8 marks the release of the first webisode of PROJECT: AYNA-V, only the most exciting thing to happen to Westbrook since the mill stopped stinking. Put simply, Ahura Zakhuur Diliiza (a Don's Lunch 'Big One' to the person who can pronounce what I just typed) is the most important creative, er, economist in Westbrook. Take that, Caren-Marie Michel!

Saturday, May 10
Annual cleanup of Riverbank Park, 8:45a. Be there, so those who litter don't have to be. Seriously, do show up.

Friday, May 23
Fourth Friday Art Walk (5-8p). Good art, good food, and good music. Definitely the most exciting thing that'll happen to Westbrook since PROJECT: AYNA-V's release on the Internets.

- John C.L. Morgan

Why You Should Become a Scarborough Downer

Kudos to the American Journal for including a 'Scarborough Downs Report' in their sports section (and for adding the disclaimer that its author, Michael Sweeney, is the Publicity Director for Scarborough Downs).

Below are refutations for the two primary reasons someone might not be inclined to visit Scarborough Downs:

You are wary of losing money.

That's admirable, but also probably inconsistent. I assume, for example, that you have no problem dishing out tens of dollars at a restaurant for a meal whose inevitable destination will be the bottom of a toilet. Couldn't that be considered a similarly wasteful loss of money? Well, yes and no.

It is wasteful in the sense that the end result is relatively expensive waste deposited into the sewage system. In fact, similar life-sustaining nutrients probably could've been consumed (and excreted) using less money than you dropped at the restaurant. But it's not wasteful in the sense that the experience (hopefully a good one) was worth the extra money you spent on a meal out.

Similarly, an afternoon at Scarborough Downs could be determined a waste of money. After all, there is the possibility that you leave the track with less money than you brought with you. But I would argue that, like dining at a restaurant, a trip to the Downs will yield an 2-3 hour experience that is worth the money spent.

Moreover, unlike eating out at a restaurant, you may also leave with more money than you brought.

Gambling is morally wrong.

If you're against gambling on horse races for moral reasons, you should also morally excuse yourself from investing in the stock market. In other words, as absurd as this premise first appears, both exercises are actually logically consistent for three reasons: Each requires analysis of data, each requires the consideration of the actions of others, and each is a form of investment.

A shrewd investor in the stock market might consider such disparate data as a company's stock price, its price-to-earnings ratio (P/E), and its dividend and yield when she determines which company (or companies) to invest in. Similarly, a prognosticator at Scarborough Downs has her own metrics to consider when determing which horse(s) to gamble on, such as a driver's Universal Driver Rating (UDR), a horse's past performances, and a horse's starting position.

Also, like investors on Wall Street, bettors at Scarborough Downs must consider the actions of their fellow participants. Investors must interact with the prices at which other shareholders are willing to buy or sell their stocks, and bettors must react to the fluid odds generated by the betting decisions of the their fellow bettors.

And finally, gambling at Scarborough Downs is morally analogous to investing in the stock market, because both activities involve an investment into an entity with a hope for monetary return. The money the stock investor pumps into Company A allows that company to grow and prosper. In return, the investor is hopeful of monetary gain in exchange for that investment. Likewise, the gambler's money at Scarborough Downs is deposited into the pockets of the drivers, trainers, owners, and stables involved in the enterprise. In return, the gambler is hopeful for monetary benefit.

A close reader would recognize I've used investing as the verb for the stock market investor, while using the soily term gambling as the action for the Scarborough Downer. I don't think it would be morally unambiguous, however, to slide the former word into the description of the latter actor.

Or vice versa.

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. Now that I've convinced you to become a Scarborough Downer, check out my Scarborough Downers' toolbox.

Summons Meter

Either the Westbrook Police have become more lenient, or they have run out of inattentive drivers to ticket. According to the 'Westbrook Police Notes' section in the American Journal, there were 23 summonses for traffic-related crimes* during April 9-15.

For context, there were 27 summonses last week, 80 summonses the week before that, and 108 between March 13 and March 20.

- John C.L. Morgan

* Traffic-related crimes include, but are not limited to: Carrying passengers beyond restriction, driving wrong way on a one-way street, expired inspection sticker, expired registration, expired temporary plates, expired temporary registration, failure to notify of address change, failure to obey lane sign, failure to provide proof of insurance, failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, following too closely, illegal attachment of plates, illegal transportation of alcohol, improper passing, inspection violation, operating after suspension, operating an unregistered vehicle, operating under the influence, operating with a suspended registration, operating with an expired license, operating without lights after dark, permitting unlawful use of a motor vehicle, red light violation, seatbelt violation speeding, stop sign violation, and, of course, the uncouth operation of a Hummer.

American Journal One-Liners

Westbrook funnyman, Bo McMichael, wants to Portland's Funniest Professional--and a blender.

Westbrook Police union accepts higher health care payments and eight-hour shifts in exchange for fewer years before eligibility for retirement (20 years instead of 25).

Portland cop arrested in Westbrook for alleged domestic abuse wants to avoid prosecution.

Westbrook friends and co-workers of Laureen Rugen, a 49-year-old Westbrook woman who confessed to the murder of her husband, say that Rugen's husband abused her.

Asbestos was removed from the the site of the new middle school.

Moran: New taxes on soda syrup, bottled soft drinks, beer, and wine should not have been approved as a way to prop up the failed Dirigo Health program.

- John C.L. Morgan

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Main Street Mile

The third annual Main Street Mile road race is scheduled for Sunday, May 4 at 8:30a.

A fundraiser for Westbrook High School's Class of 2008, the race begins at the Stockhouse Restaurant and culminates at Profenno's.

To register for the race, click here.

- John C.L. Morgan

Just Do It

Volunteer for the Presumpscot River Watch.

To find out how you can help the organization's mission of scientifically monitoring the status of the Presumpscot River, click here.

- John C.L. Morgan

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Community Service

BIOSAFE Environmental Services, Inc. is cleaning asbestos from the site of the new Westbrook Middle School for free as a form of community service.

BIOSAFE is a Westbrook-based company located on Delta Drive.

- John C.L. Morgan

Drumroll, Please

500 Westbrook LLC, the folks behind the proposed Stroudwater Place, have launched a website devoted to the project.

The site includes information about the proposed development, FAQs, and an area for supporters or those interested in the latest news concerning Stroudwater Place.

- John C.L. Morgan

Did You Know?

Did you know Walker Street is also known as Scotch Hill?

A thoroughfare between Brown Street and Bridge Street, Walker Street was the site of home constuction in the 1880s for predominantly Scottish weavers employed by the Westbrook Manufacturing Co.

Hence the nickname.

- John C.L. Morgan

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

On Location: Riverbank Park

Seven ideas for a better Riverbank Park:

1. Provide better public restrooms

I'm not asking for hi-tech Washlet toilets. Just something a little better than the one porta-potty currently offered.

2. Improve public perception of the Presumpscot River

In June 1997, then-Gov. Angus King and State Senator John Nutting dove into the Kennebec River to publicly vouch for the cleanliness of that river. In the case of the Presumpscot, though, it'll take more than BruChu and Johnny O'Hara donning Speedos and cannon-balling off the Black Bridge to convince Westbrook folk to think of the Presumpscot as a viable recreational river. Sure, Chief Bill Baker et al. did their part last December. But discarded bicycles and shopping carts plague both the river's bottom and the public's perception of the river. The cleanup being organized for May 10 will help rid the river's bank of the litter strewn about, but more needs to be done.

3. Construct a barrier that separates the park from Main Street

Though a natural barrier (trees, bushes, etc.) is preferable, any aesthetically-pleasing barrier that cuts down Main Street's noise pollution and encloses the sprawling park would be accepted. Another bonus: No more rust-orange glow from Main Street streetlights leaking into the white-light atmosphere of the park.

4. Book one (or more) of these bands for a Wednesday evening concert

The storyline is a little stale, but still true: Westbrook provides the proximity to Portland life, but not the Forest City's relatively high rents or mortgages. Therefore, book some musicians such as Samuel James, Hiss & Chambers, Phantom Buffalo, or (fill in another band or two here) that might attract some of the P-Town youngins to Westbrook. It's a win-win-win situation: Westbrook can market itself as a hip-enough alternative to expensive Portland, the musicians can market themselves to a suburban audience, and I will be within walking distance of a concert by some of my favorite bands.

5. Restrict primary parking to outside the park

Since Riverbank is Westbrook's primary park (not to mention the fact that we live in a car-dominant culture), there are many cars that need to be, well, parked. Unfortunately, that means the backbone of the park--the thoroughfare that runs along the playground from Main Street--is often clogged with an orgy of metal. Therefore, parking should be limited to the American Legion parking lot abutting the park, as well as Dunn and Main Streets. A corollary benefit to the restricted parking is that the park may experience more diverse uses, as people would be forced to interact with it, instead of simply stepping out of their minivans and hopping onto the playground.

6. Revise the park's rules and regulations

There are currently eight rules posted in the park: Park hours are dawn to dusk, alcoholic beverages are prohibited, no loitering between sunset and sunrise, pets must remain in vehicles, no smoking, no drugs, keep the vehicles off the grass, and throw away your trash. Five of these eight rules, however, should be revised or chopped out altogether. Closing time, for example, should be mandated by a time, not the lack of sunlight (see here for an earlier argument) And smoking cigarettes and the responsible consumption of alcohol should be allowed beyond a certain distance from the playground. Moreover, leashed pets should be allowed to roam the park (slap their owners with a huge fine for not picking up after them, if that is the concern).

7. Complement the trash receptacles with recycling containers.

We have to improve the city's pathetic recycling rate somehow.

- John C.L. Morgan

Monday, April 21, 2008

On Patriots' Day

Jeff Inglis of the Portland Phoenix's About Town blog reminded me of the peculiar nature of the Patriots' Day holiday and does well explaining the Maine connections to the holiday.

So I'm going to unashamedly complement his post by referring to two sites that give context to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Paul Revere's Ride" (
here and here), as well as a YouTube video that is creepy, mind-numbing, and enjoyable all at the same time.

Our unfortunate union with the Commonhealth of Massachusetts has one redeeming quality after all.

- John C.L. Morgan

2007 v. 2008

Though I wasn't in the state during last year's Patriots' Day storm, I suspect the weather is a wee-bit better this year. If you don't believe me, check out these trips down memory lane (here, here, here, here, and here).

Or, in my case, a trip down wow-it-was-much-worse-than-I-thought lane. Something like that.

- John C.L. Morgan

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Song of the Week

This week's song is "Ghetto Memories" by Pallaso.

- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Almanac: April 13-April 19, 2008

High: 73F (April 18)
Low: 28F (April 14, April 16)
Precipitation: 0.00 inches
Previous Sunrise: 5:52a
Previous Sunset: 7:31p

High: 73F (April 18)
Low: 23F (April 3)
Precipitation: 1.11 inches

High: 73F (April 18)
Low: -5F (January 4)
Precipitation: 17.92 inches

Source: National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan


In honor of National Poetry Month, the Press Herald published an article about the poetry scene in Maine. What's remarkable, though, is the collection of audible poems that accompany the article.

Steve Luttrell, the founder and publishing editor of The Cafe Review, reads "Landscape of Machines." Annie Finch, the Program Director of the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine reads "A Letter for Emily Dickinson." Betsy Sholl, the Maine Poet Laureate, reads the first part of Seamus Heaney's "Seeing Things." Michael Macklin, reads "How It Dawns On Us." Gil Helmick reads "The Marriage of the Future to the Moment" and "The Evolution of Apocalypse." Brianna Crusan reads "Still Standing." Juba Zaki reads (or, more accurately, spits) a slammed poem. And Jake Wortell reads "Betty."

Also noteworthy is the Westbrook-based Moon Pie Press, a Maine printing press that publishes Maine poets, including Westbrook's Alice N. Persons (hear Garrison Keillor read Persons's "Stealing Lilacs" on the May 16, 2007 edition "The Writer's Almanac"), Nancy A. Henry (hear Keillor read Henry's "Keys" on the September 5, 2007 edition of "The Writer's Almanac"), and Edward J. Rielly.

Check out Moon Pie's catalog.

- John C.L. Morgan

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Piano Legs

'Piano Legs' Explained

Louis Sockalexis's legacy was revarnished when Ed Rice's Baseball's First Indian was published in 2003. But the achievements of George "Piano Legs" Gore, a professional ballplayer from Westbrook, remain in the dustbins of history.

Born in 1857, Gore had a stellar career in professional baseball from 1879-1892. In fact, while playing for the Chicago White Stockings (who are now the Chicago Cubs, not the illiterate 'White Sox'), the New York Giants (the antecedents to the San Francisco Giants), and the St. Louis Browns (who are now the St. Louis Cardinals), Gore posted a .301 career batting average and won the 1880 National League batting title.

For more statistics, check out the Gore's Baseball-Reference page.

- John C.L. Morgan

Hat Tip: Suzan Roberts Norton

Best YouTube Channel. Ever.

As you may have noticed, I've spent this a.m. trolling for some good, old-fashioned viral videos. And after viewing Unicorn Cove's YouTube channel (see here), you'll thank me for my labor.

Specifically, check out Ahura Zakhuur Diliiza's introduction to Unicovia, this Unicorn Cove commercial, and these commercials for the Unicorn Rangers Psychic Police Department (!) (see here and here). And finally, check out the preview for their upcoming movie, PROJECT:AYNA-V.

May 8 just became a significant day in my life.

- John C.L. Morgan

ARL as Film School

Looks like the folks at the Animal Refuge League are challenging the Downeaster cinematographers for the title of "Most Unlikely Source of Arty Viral Videos" (don't worry, the trophy will be wide enough). Check out these digital bios of Buddy, Julio, Dozer, and the greyhound playdate, to learn why.

Now, let me ask you, Who wouldn't want dogs as hip as that?

- John C.L. Morgan

Everywhere in Maine

Check out this Slater's Garage cover of Johnny Cash's "I've Been Everywhere." Westbrook, by the way, gets a very quick mention (and photo of the Universalist Church) at 1:27.

- John C.L. Morgan

Friday, April 18, 2008

Blacksmiths Winery


Blacksmiths Winery, based in South Casco, offers a wide variety of wines, including its Blueberry and Sparkling Blueberry varieties.

You can find Blacksmiths on the shelves of Hannaford, Shaw's, and Martini Lane.

- John C.L. Morgan

Overheard at Riverbank

The wife and I walked our little one to the park today for her first visit to Riverbank Park. Here are a couple colorful statements we overheard during our visit:

"Stop fuckin' bitin'"
- A fifteen-ish girl to a boy about five years her junior, approximately 1.7 seconds before she bodyslammed him to the earth.

"We should probly lock it [the car]. There's booze in there, and little kids are in the park."
- A leather-throated man sporting a scruffy beard and Nascar t-shirt, to his picnic partner.

In other news, I modestly suggest an addition to Westbrook lexicon: Paper City Picnic. Now, like the Paper City Trifecta (grub at Don's Lunch, three games at Colonial Bowling Center, and a nightcap at Mill Side Tavern), the Paper City Picnic relies heavily on the gastro muscles. Specifically, it includes a choice parking spot along the Presumpscot, an unrelenting car engine, and takeout from McDonald's.

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. To view a tamer recollection of life at Riverbank, click here.

FaT Voted Best French Restaurant

The Frog and Turtle was voted by Portland Phoenix readers to be the Best French Restaurant in, er, Portland.

The inspiration of mostly good reviews (click here for a quick sample) since it opened at 3 Bridge Street last fall, FaT receives complimentary words in the write-up: "The donuts are well on their way to legendary." Well said.

As for the geographical dissonance, at least Phoenix editors acknowledged the Frog and Turtle's Westbrook digs.

- John C.L. Morgan

Blazes Baseball Preview

In the Press Herald's preview of high school baseball teams, Westbrook was pegged as the seventh-seeded team to watch in its '10 Teams to Watch' feature. And, Junior Christian Hamilton and Senior Shawn McAlpine were listed as two of the '25 Players to Watch.'

To read the American Journal's preview of the baseball team, click here.

- John C.L. Morgan

Summons Meter

April 4-8 was a light stretch far the Westbrook Police, at least as traffic-related crimes were concerned. After posting 80 and 108 traffic summons* in the American Journal's 'Westbrook Police Notes' section in the last two weeks, respectively, this week's batch included only 27 traffic-related improprieties.

- John C.L. Morgan

* Traffic-related crimes include, but are not limited to: Carrying passengers beyond restriction, driving wrong way on a one-way street, expired inspection sticker, expired registration, expired temporary plates, expired temporary registration, failure to notify of address change, failure to obey lane sign, failure to provide proof of insurance, failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, following too closely, illegal attachment of plates, illegal transportation of alcohol, improper passing, inspection violation, operating after suspension, operating an unregistered vehicle, operating under the influence, operating with a suspended registration, operating with an expired license, operating without lights after dark, permitting unlawful use of a motor vehicle, red light violation, seatbelt violation speeding, stop sign violation, and, of course, the uncouth operation of a Hummer.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Walk This Way

If you like art, food, and music, I recommend you hang out in Westbrook on Friday night, May 23. Indeed, despite the previous sentence's seemingly oxymoronic premise, Westbrook artists and BruChu's Arts and Culture Committee have set aside that evening as Westbrook's inaugural Fourth Friday Art Walk.

From 5-8p, artists Jean-Pierre Rousset, Greg Parker, Ian Anderson, Kari Radasch, Caren-Marie Michel, Fred Michel, Mary Brooking, Andy Curran, George Hughes, Ed Zelinsky, and Richard Garrigus will be displaying their works along Main Street and in the Dana Warp Mill. And institutions such as Westbrook Picture Frame and Fine Arts Gallery, the Bakery Photographic Collective, Acorn Productions Theater Studio, the Drouin Dance Center, and the Greater Portland School of Jukado will be offering their artistic wares and live performances for the public's consumption.

Also, to take care of grumbling stomachs, restaurants such as the Frog and Turtle, Freaky Bean, Profenno's, Stockhouse Restaurant, Portland Pie Company, Casa Novello, Fajita Grill, Burrito, Main Street Cafe, Northern Gardens, Siam Square, Angelone's, China Villa, and Thanksgivings will also be participating in the event.

And last--but not least--the Warren Memorial Library will be hosting Sara Cox for a 7p concert as part of its monthly concert series.

Yeah, I'd say it's kind of a big deal.

- John C.L. Morgan

Hat tip: Wendy Hysko at WML

Just Do It

Wash your clothes with cold water and dry your laundry by hanging it on a clothesline or a drying rack.

- John C.L. Morgan

American Journal One-Liners

Mayor Chuluda submitted his budget proposal to the City Council.

Planning Department and an architectural firm unveiled a long-term plan for public spaces in Westbrook.

Custodial sink at Congin School determined to be the culprit in contamination of brook.

- John C.L. Morgan

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

FaT Acorn

The Frog and Turtle is hosting a Renaissance Dinner tomorrow night.

For $60 (tax and gratuity included), you can feast on whole pigs, turkeys, and roasts, while washing all that manly meat down with beer, ale, wine, and ports. Yowser, my jowls droop just thinking about it.

Anyway, Acorn Productions will complement this "commoners' dinner" with a production of their Naked Shakespeare program (everyone relax, the title's figurative).

Consider the event an example of New Westbrook synergy.

- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook's Professional Funnyman

Bo McMichaels of Westbrook has qualified for the semifinals in the Comedy Connection's Portland's Funniest Professionals comedy contest, per the Press Herald.

The semifinals will occur at 8p on Thursday, April 24. And the finals will be Thursday, May 1. Tickets are $10.

- John C.L. Morgan

Quote, Unquote

"When I get a zero from that outfit, mister man, I'm some pleased. That means the people in Washington County know I'm working for their interests."

- Albion Goodwin, a former Democratic State Representative from Pembroke, when informed he had received a zero out of a possible ten points on a legislative environmental "report card" issued by the Natural Resources Council of Maine in 2001. Ten points was the best possible score.

- John C.L. Morgan

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Scarborough Downs

On Location: Scarborough Downs

I braved Sunday's chilly weather to take in an afternoon of harness racing at Scarborough Downs. For the uninitiated, the racetrack can be an intimidating and seemingly complex experience. You've got to learn how to read the infield scoreboard, figure out what that cramped mass of information in the progam actually means. Never mind how to decide whom to bet on, or even how to place a bet.

Therefore, I've compiled an on-line collection of information, a Scarborough Downer's virtual toolbox, if you will.

Scarborough Downs
Obviously, this is the best place to start. The site features a history of the Downs, displays a calendar of live racing, lists the special events on tap for the 2008 season, and offers a quick tutorial on how to place a bet.

Maine Harness Racing Promotion Board
This site possesses pretty much everything you'd want to know about harness racing in Maine. Most helpful, though, is its 'Harness Racing Guide' section. There you'll find a glossary of harness racing terms, frequently asked questions, a guide to handicapping the races, an introduction to the codes that fill much of a race program, and another tutorial on the various wagers available to the bettor.

'Driver in Demand'
An excellent--if dated--profile of Drew Campbell, one of Scarborough Downs's top drivers. I suppose Menendez's piece gives you an idea of what the life of a harness driver might be like.

Opening Day's account of opening weekend at Scarborough Downs, courtesy of the Downs's Publicity Director (disclosure of Michael Sweeney's relation with the racetrack would be nice).

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. For the record, I walked into Scarborough Downs with $20 and left with $25.75.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Song of the Week

This week's song is "Road Rash," by King Memphis. According to the band's website, the song was written specifically for a Goodyear Tire advertisement.

- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Politics: April 14-20, 2008

Monday, April 14
Westbrook City Council meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114
FMI: click here

Tuesday, April 15
Westbrook Planning Board meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114

Wednesday, April 16
Westbrook Recreation and Conservation Commission meeting
Westbrook City Hall, 2 York Street

Thursday, April 17
Westbrook City Council Budget and Finance Committee meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114

- John C.L. Morgan

The Sportswriter

If you're a soccer fan (and even if you're not), I recommend Hal Phillips's two articles about the Americanization of Fulham FC, a soccer team in the English Premier League (here and here). Phillips, a writer from New Gloucester, describes Fulham's supporters and stadium so evocatively I yearn to be yet another Yankee (the good kind) wandering the streets of London looking for Craven Cottage. And his ironic observation that American soccer players are imported by foreign soccer clubs as cheap labor is spot-on. Alas, despite the articles' dated quality (they were published last spring), Fulham still finds itself battling for a spot in the Premier League, as they are currently in 19th place out of twenty teams, with four games remaing. The bottom three teams are relegated to a lesser league.

The good news, though, is that they've actually added a couple more Americans to the team since Phillips's travelogues, bringing the grand sum of Americans on Fulham to five (Keller, Bocanegra, Dempsey, Johnson, and McBride).

- John C.L. Morgan