Monday, June 30, 2008

Quote of the Day

"There is no way I would have you speak for me. You are full of yourself. You wear your jealousy on your sleeve Mr. Mayor for all to see. If it's war you want with this Council, so be it!"

- Westbrook City Councilor (fill in blank)'s e-mail to Mayor Bruce Chuluda Lewiston City Councilor Denis Theriault in an e-mail to Lewiston Mayor Larry Gilbert.

Not Your Father's Mill Side Tavern

The chalkboard outside the hangout for the gruff and the leather-throated boasts freshly-plucked strawberries for "yummy" daiquiris.

Et tu, Mill Side?

- John C.L. Morgan

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Westbrook Almanac: June 22-28, 2008

High: 82F (June 26)
Low: 54F (June 22, June 25)
Precipitation: 2.30 inches
Previous Sunrise: 5:02a
Previous Sunset: 8:27p

High: 87F (June 9)
Low: 49F (June 3, June 9)
Precipitation: 3.63 inches

High: 87F (June 9)
Low: -5F (January 4)
Precipitation: 26.00 inches

Source: National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sawyer Brown, 1988

Sawyer Brown, 1988 Explained

My visit to the Westbrook Historical Society this morning yielded this gem, the cover of an autographed 1988 concert program for the band Sawyer Brown.

The band--which features Westbrook High School alum ('75) Joe Smyth (second from left) as its longtime drummer--has put out twenty albums since the early-1980's and has won numerous awards, including the inaugural grand prize on the television show Star Search in 1983.

More important, though, the photo features an eclectic mix of mullets. Indeed, according to my handy field guide to mullets, The Mullet: Hairstyle of the Gods, the photo features "The Nashville" (third from left, whose jacket is gold and whose jeans are pink, by the way), "The Movie Star (fifth from left), and a hybrid mullet that can be fairly dubbed "The Midwest Metal of Classic Rock" (Smyth).

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. Here are music videos for Sawyer Brown's "800 Pound Jesus," "Hard to Say," "Six Days on the Road," "Some Girls Do" (for what it's worth, a personal favorite), "The Race is On," "The Walk," "They Don't Understand," " (This Thing Called) Wantin' and Havin' It All." And here is MySpace's collection of Sawyer Brown pages.

Friday, June 27, 2008

D.L. Geary Brewing Company

The Sportswriter: Draft Grades

The 2008 NBA Draft is not yet twelve hours old, but analysts are already issuing grades for teams and even proclaiming some teams as winners and others as losers. Considering the players drafted last night have not even stepped on an NBA practice court, such analysis is a cute gimmick that has devolved into a serious exercise in futility.

Indeed, instead of etching their chicken scratch about this year's event on millions of computer screens (not to mention newspapers and magazines), sportswriters should be spending their time reflecting on a team's performance in, say, the 2003 draft. In other words, grade a team's draft performance based on players who, you know, have actually done something in the NBA--or not, as is the case of Mike Sweetney.

So without further ado, a reflection on the Class of 2003's top 10 draft picks (I do have a life, so I won't look at the entire draft):

  1. LeBron James, CLE- A no-brainer, even at the time. But give Cleveland credit for drafting the player I think will be considered the best ever. Even if he is a traitorous Yankee fan from Ohio.
  2. Darko Milicic, DET- A B-U-S-T for the Motor City: Milicic averaged no more than seven minutes per game in his career with Detroit and was subsequently traded to Orlando and then to Memphis.
  3. Carmelo Anthony, DEN- Another can't-miss prospect in 2003 who's lived up to his draft slot. Though Anthony hasn't led the Nuggets to a championship yet, he has led them to the playoffs in each of his five years in the league. And he is one of the league's most prolific scorers.
  4. Chris Bosh, TOR- A three-time All-Star who's the cornerstone of a solid team.
  5. Dwyane Wade, MIA- Though the team currently stinks and Wade now seems to be injured more often than not, he did lead the Heat to its first championship in the 2005-2006 season.
  6. Chris Kaman, LAC- A solid center who's contributed from the beginning (he appeared in every game as a rookie) and who has improved to become a double-doubler.
  7. Kirk Hinrich, CHI- A key player in the Bulls' pre-2007/2008 resurgence.
  8. T.J. Ford, MIL- Considering he was traded by the Bucks only two years after the team drafted him, Ford evidently was not a good pick for Milwaukee.
  9. Mike Sweetney, NY- Who? Sweetney is no longer in the NBA.
  10. Jarvis Hayes, WASH- After Hayes spent four years as a role-player, the Wizards declined to renew his contract. He is now a reserve with the Detroit Pistons.

(Editor's Note: This post has been edited to correct the spelling of the names of Dwyane Wade and Mike Sweetney, as well to correct an initial assertion that Sweetney did not have a Wikipedia page.)

- John C.L. Morgan

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Philosophical Inquiry of the Day

Question: Am I an accomplice if I occasionally play air guitar in my living room to the noise generated by the "Guitar Hero" described in this week's American Journal Police Notes?

I mean, sometimes I just can't avoid accompanying my neighbor (who was a key participant in last month's "Westbrook Wake-Up," by the way) when he haunts his front porch shirtless, dripping with power chords and Nirvanaesque riffs.

- John C.L. Morgan

Just Do It

Attend tomorrow evening's Fourth Friday Art Walk.

- John C.L. Morgan

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


It's not every day you're able to witness a philosophical and poetic debate about the contents of a business sign.

Earlier this evening, Tim Gillis, an English teacher at Westbrook High School, faced off in a friendly debate with Peter Levecque, the owner of Burns' Fencing, about the slogan plastered on the latter's Rochester Street business sign: "Good fences make good neighbors."

Referring to the aphorism's genesis in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall," Gillis's contention was that Burns' Fencing is misintrepeting the poem's metaphorical message: Fences should be torn down, not built up. And Levecque, no doubt a believer that good fences also make good business, identified with the poem's neighbor, the utterer of the borrowed phrase.

Anyway, check out how these critics interpret the poem.

And check in next week as we debate whether Don's Lunch's boast of being the "Home of the Big One" complies with or contradicts the message contained in Michael Moore's little-known film (to me, anyway) The Big One.

- John C.L. Morgan

Quote, Unquote

"Dairy farming makes men steady and reliable and temperate; deer hunting makes men quiet and fast and sensitive; lobster fishing makes men suspicious and wily and ruthless."

- Elizabeth Gilbert in her 2000 novel Stern Men, which is the subject of next month's book club at Warren Memorial Library.

Hint, hint.

- John C.L. Morgan

Start Snitching

To paraphrase School Committee member Ed Symbol, Westbrook's current police chief has a hard-on for drugs.

When I returned home from work this afternoon, I was greeted by not one, but two, flyers stuffed in the doors of my Rochester Street home. The blue sheets, which are informal (and partially ungrammatical) in tone, feature Chief Bill Baker's blunt plea for Paper Citizens' help in Westbrook's own war on drugs.

Remniscent of a leaflet that the United States military may have airdropped over, say, Afghanistan, the flyer opens with this appeal to residents' emotions and reason: "If you know a family member, a friend, or a neighbor who is involved in drugs--think about this--it is better to have them arrested then (sic) to have them DEAD!"

The strongest and most important part of the flyer, though, is its attempt to counter the pernicious cultural taboo against snitching: "Some people think of a rat is (sic) a 'despicable person, especially one who betrays or informs on associates.' We think of a rat is (sic) someone who lets a friend or loved one die with a needle in their arm. We think a rat is someone that stands by and lets drugs poison their community. We think a rat is someone that lets another generation of children grow up addicted and hopeless! Take a stand. Do something about drugs in Westbrook."

Considering news of a drug-related arrest or overdose in Westbrook seems to appear more often than positive news from the Paper City--not to mention that the flyer rightly identifies drugs as a poison for individuals, families, and the city--any Constitutional and lawful means of combating the sale and consumption of narcotics is welcomed by this writer (though the flyer's hint that it may be willing to pay for information, or for purchasing drugs on the department's behalf to lead to the arrest and conviction of a local dealer may prove the most controversial).

So if you are aware of any drug-related activity in Westbrook, call the police department's tip line at 591-8117, email the department at, or text a tip to 239-7408. And if you or anyone you know wants professional help, check out these organizations: CAP Quality Care, Catholic Charities Support and Recovery, Chemical Dependency Consultants, Day One, Mercy Recovery Center, and the Milestone Foundation.

- John C.L. Morgan

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Westbrook Historical Society

On Location: Westbrook Historical Society

My favorite professor at the University of Southern Maine was a history professor who had a tendency to recycle his jokes and one-line zingers. The same jokes I chuckled at as a sophomore in his "U.S. History to 1877" class, for instance, were the same ones I rolled my eyes at as a senior in his "Democratic Theme in American Society." Now that I've put myself on the spot, I'm unable to comb my brain for some sparkling examples. But the one that has stuck with me was his repetitive reference to any local historical society as a hysterical society. Which is ironic considering the Spanish philosopher George Santayana referred to a country without memory as a country of madmen.

The irony, of course, lies in the simple statement that the Westbrook Historical Society remains a stout bulwark against Santayana's city of madmen. It is, in other words, a house of memory that inspires greater amount of sanity than hysterics.

Despite what you may think after spending numerous Saturday mornings joshing with the regulars.

- John C.L. Morgan

Monday, June 23, 2008

Rufus K. Jordan, Westbrook's Ninth Mayor (1905-1906)

Party Like It's 1980

I love Westbrook Together Days so much I wish to change it. Which is how it usually works, isn't it?

Anyway, the five ideas below have not just been plucked out of the sky like the proverbial pie. Instead most of them are merely an outright theft (or subtle variation) from the calendar of the inaugural event in 1980:
  1. Baked bean supper (prepared in an old-fashioned beanhole, of course) and pig roast on Friday night. Charge a couple bucks per plate to cover costs and attract more people to that evening's festivities.
  2. Canoe races. Besides entertaining, this event would highlight the recreational potential of the Presumpscot River. And for the truly inspired like, say, Westbrook's Boy Scout troops, maybe even a handmade rowboat race.
  3. Mens' and ladies' golf tournaments on Saturday, with Westbrook's three golf courses (Rivermeadow, Sunset Ridge, and Twin Falls) rotating as annual hosts.
  4. 3 v. 3 basketball tournament at the Fraser Field basketball courts.
  5. Road race before the parade. The third annual (and underappreciated) Main Street Mile was run about a month before Westbrook Together Days, but the event is a natural fit as a pre-parade activity.

- John C.L. Morgan

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Westbrook Almanac: June 15-21, 2008

High: 72F (June 21)
Low: 55F (June 15)
Precipitation: 0.75 inches
Previous Sunrise: 5:00a
Previous Sunset: 8:27p

High: 87F (June 9)
Low: 49F (June 3, June 9)
Precipitation: 1.33 inches

High: 87F (June 9)
Low: -5F (January 4)
Precipitation: 23.70 inches

Source: National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Friday, June 20, 2008

Gerald C. Fluett

Paper City Public Art: Gerald C. Fluett Portrait

Thomas Nadeau's portrait of Walker Memorial Library benefactor Gerald C. Fluett has always caught my eye.

To be sure, its placement at the head of the library's stairs makes the portrait difficult to overlook. But what always attracts my attention are the portrait's rich and ominuous colors.

Could Mr. Fluett's suit, for example, be a more dignified shade of navy blue? Or his shirt more blanched and starched? And could his tie be more Presidential-red? I don't think so. Nor do I think Nadeau could've provided a better background to embolden Fluett, as it features the sterile browns and tans of the wintry riverbanks of the Presumpscot River, as well as the pale blues of the water and the sky.

Despite Mr. Fluett's crisp and richly-colored attire, though, the most eye-catching feature of Nadeau's portrait is not the subject of the portrait; it is the dark plume of apparent storm clouds (or is it discharge from the mill over Fluett's right shoulder?) crowning his head. Indeed, the apparent storm clouds effectively attract the viewer's eyes to Fluett's face, but the artistic method of attention-directing--when combined with Fluett's impish smirk that can fairly be described as Cheneyesque--gives the portrait a foreboding quality. Which is too bad, because Fluett's biography does not seem to contain any sense of ill will.

A lifelong resident of Westbrook (he lived in the same Saco Street home his entire life), Fluett is described in Walker Memorial Library: A History as an eternal bachelor who was active in the business and civic affairs of Westbrook. A graduate of St. Mary's school and Westbrook High School's Class of 1939, and a member of St. Hyacinth's, the Holy Name Society, and the American Legion. Fluett also served in the South Pacific during WWII, owned numerous businesses (besides taking over his parents' eponymous store, Fluett owned Beacon Bowling Lanes in North Windham, Oxford Bowling Lanes, and the Busy-Bee Bakery on Westbrook's Main Street.), and was an energetic traveler. In fact, the donor of Nadeau's portrait of Gerald Fluett to Walker Memorial Library was Fluett's frequent travel companion, Roland Roy, who joined Fluett on trips to Mexico, Aruba, Canada, and Atlantic City.

Fluett's frugality was also noted, as well as his $800,000 gift to the library after his death in 1988. In fact, the gift was the seed money for the library's ongoing Fluett Trust.

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. Much thanks to the staff at the Walker Memorial Library.

Maine Tees

Another week, another Switch spotlight on Brookie, Talya Corsetti.

Besides highlighting Corsetti's Coco Magoo t-shirt line, the weekly brags about Maine t-shirt makers ferdinand, Laine Couture, Milo in Maine, Pinecone + Chickadee, Rogues Gallery, and Small Victory Studios.

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. Disclosure: I briefly worked for Rogues Gallery last summer.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Just Do It

When driving less than 45 mph, roll down the window to cool down. When driving more than 45 mph, let the AC flow.

(Update: Since today's the first day of summer, I also recommend you read the "Summer" chapters in Hannah Holmes's Suburban Safari: A Year on the Lawn.)

- John C.L. Morgan

Quote of the Day

"The ordinance comes from the former police chief [Paul McCarthy] having a hard-on for tattoo parlors."

- Westbrook School Committee member (and former City Councilor) Ed Symbol in a Bollard story (June 2008 print issue) about the tattoo parlor ordinance approved by the City Council in April.

Maybe I've got my metaphors mixed, but wouldn't that mean McCarthy liked tattoo parlors?

- John C.L. Morgan

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Better Know a Rep: Bruce Chuluda

And now, Mayor Bruce Chuluda's 'Proust Questionnaire':

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Having what I need to get by and taking care of my family.

What is your current state of mind?
Generally at peace with myself and my circumstances.

Which living person do you most admire?
My daughter and her ability to raise my granddaughter as the great mother I knew she would be.

What is your greatest fear?
Something bad happening to my family.

What is your most marked characteristic?
My empathy for people.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My lack of patience.

Which living person do you most despise?
I don't like the idea of despising anyone, but since you asked, Osama bin Laden.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Going out to eat.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Lack of patience.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
I don't think any virtue can be considered overrated.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
You'd have to tell me since I try to avoid looking at myself.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I'd lose some weight.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I'd say folks 'cause I'm a down-to-Earth kind of guy.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I'd like to solve everyone's problems, but I'm satisfied to solve just one.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My late wife, Vickie. She will always be my greatest love.

When and where were you happiest?
When I married my wife in 1975 in Norwood, Massachusetts.

Where would you like to live?
Right where I live now. I never want to leave.

What is your most treasured possession?
My family.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
The loss of a loved one.

What is your favorite occupation?
Truthfully, I love being the Mayor of this great city.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Indiana Jones quickly comes to mind.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Bill Russell because he was a winner. And my late father because he worked hard to support his family.

What do you most value in your friends?
Being there for me when I need someone to prop me up.

What is it that you most dislike?
People who like to denigrate others in an effort to make themselves look good.

What is your motto?
Do the very best for the most.

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. Read City Councilors Rielly's and Gattine's "Proust Questionnaire."

PPH: Throw Sex Offenders in Jail Longer

The Press Herald has an editorial regarding an anonymous sex offender's lawsuit against the City of Westbrook over the constitutionality of the city's sex offender ordinance. And without delving too deeply into John Doe VI's case against Westbrook, the opinion piece expresses skepticism about the effectiveness of "exclusionary zones" and points to longer jail terms for the offenders as an effective alternative.

- John C.L. Morgan

Did You Know?

Did you know Westbrook paper mills imported Egyptian mummies and used their linen wrappings to make paper in the nineteenth century?


- John C.L. Morgan

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Westbrook's Northside Italians

On Location: Westbrook's Northside Italians

You know it's nearly summer in Maine when tourists are picking at their lobsters, while we natives are content with pushing the Maine Italian sandwich down our gullets. So without further ado, a brief synopsis of the offerings of Westbrook's Northside Italian-makers:

(Note on Methodology: Considering my waist is burgeoning, and my wallet is becoming more slender--certainly two trends that are universally desired to be inverse--I ordered a small variation of each sandwich with salt, pepper, and oil. And the accompanying prices are for a small and large, respectively.)

Corsetti's Variety
125 Bridgton Road
$3.25, $4.35 (plus tax)

Balanced presentation, though it could've used more black olives. Third-best among the crop, in this modest reviewer's opinion.

Graham's Variety
186 Bridge Street
$3.50, $4.25 (plus tax)

Too many black olives! Nevertheless, it was the fullest sandwich even when considered sans olives. Kudos also for the long slivers of sour pickle. Second-best, as it contained the second-greatest amount of zest--once I scaped away the mound of palette-dulling olives.

206 Brown Street

If you're into quartered pickles that are more appropriate for McDonald hamburgers than Italians, this sandwich is for you. That, and if you like a less than ho-hum sample of this Mainer delicacy. Fifth-best.

Rivers Edge Deli
57 Bridge Street
$2.50, $3.39 (tax included)

Slightly better than Olivia's fare. Personally not a big fan of chopped pickles. So fourth-best.

Severino's Variety
300 Cumberland Street
$2.15, $3.25 (plus tax)

My favorite of the bunch: Kudos for the kalamata olives and the dark, strong-bodied ham, which set it apart from the competition in which there is little room for variation (i.e., a strict adherence to the ingredients of this Maine classic calls for only American cheese, ham, tomato, pickle, green pepper, onion, salt, pepper, and oil.)

A review of Westbrook's Southside Italian-makers will be forthcoming once I've gotten over engulfing about five small Italian sandwiches in less than an hour.

- John C.L. Morgan

Hey, Wha' Happened?

When I went to the Stroudwater Place website last night to check in on the status of the project, I was greeted with a stark statement that the "Domain ( Has Been Disabled."

Now, there are numerous mundane reasons for the virtual disability. (Speculation alert:) But I'm curious to find out if the apparent Internet-related shutdown has anything to do with the naming conflict between the project and the long-standing Stroudwater Place street that will eventually have to be addressed.

In the meantime, I'll try to find out wha' happened.

- John C.L. Morgan

Sex Offender Suing Westbrook, Take Two

The Press Herald's Ann Kim takes a deeper look into a sex offender's lawsuit against the City of Westbrook.

- John C.L. Morgan

Monday, June 16, 2008

Song of the Week

The song of the week is Joshua Madore's "20 Something Nothing."

- John C.L. Morgan

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Westbrook Almanac: June 8-June 14, 2008

High: 87F (June 9)
Low: 49F (June 13)
Precipitation: 0.16 inches
Previous Sunrise: 4:59a
Previous Sunset: 8:24p

High: 87F (June 9)
Low: 49F (June 3, June 9)
Precipitation: 0.58 inches

High: 87F (June 9)
Low: -5F (January 4)
Precipitation: 22.95 inches

Source: National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Top 10 Local CDs: June 2-June 8, 2008

Here are the Top 10 Local CDs for the week of June 2-June 8 (the album's spot in last week's Top 10 is in parentheses, much like this fyi note), courtesy of the Portland Phoenix:
  1. Dead Season, "When Everything's Lost..." (1)
  2. Dead Season, "Rise" (3)
  3. Various Artists, "Greetings from Area Code 207, Vol. 7" (4)
  4. Rustic Overtones, "Long Division" (5)
  5. As Fast As, "Destroy the Plastique Man" (9)
  6. Gypsy Tailwind, "Halo Sessions" (6)
  7. Cambiata, "To Heal" (7)
  8. Dead Season, "Down Again" (EP) (10)
  9. Civil Disturbance, "The Battle Within" (8)
  10. Spose, "Preposterously Dank" (-)

The list was compiled from Bull Moose Music.

- John C.L. Morgan

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Flag Day

Flag Day Explained

Eight people attended this evening's Flag Day ceremony at Riverbank Park:
  1. Invocation (Bob Barton, American Legion Post #62)
  2. Proclamation (Bruce Chuluda, Mayor of Westbrook)
  3. Pledge of Allegiance (All)
  4. "Star-Spangled Banner" (Junie Dugas)
  5. Howard Schnauber's "I Am the Flag" (Ed Senechal, American Legion Post #62)
  6. Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Duty" (Ed Senechal, American Legion Post #62)
  7. "God Bless America" (Junie Dugas)
  8. Benediction (Bob Barton, American Legion Post #62)

The event was organized by the American Legion Stephen W. Manchester Post #62.

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. The U.S. Flag Code.

Quote of the Day

"Ellen, Oprah, who cares? Just send us money."

- Westbrook Housing resident Charlie Kendall on the organization's attempt to lure Ellen DeGeneres's support in a fundraiser to buy a new bus.

Hopefully, Degeneres doesn't get that part of the memo.

- John C.L. Morgan

American Journal One-Liners

Portland police officer who is a resident of Westbrook pleaded not guilty for two Class C crimes and three Class D crimes.

'Cat Girl' talks about, well, cats.

Westbrook man arrested for having a loaded gun in his car for the second time this year.

Westbrook-based 133rd Engineering Combat Battalion could be deployed to Iraq in 2010.

Sex offender sues City of Westbrook.

Westbrook Housing to ban smoking in all its units.

Westbrook folk enjoy Westbrook Together Days.

Congin School cut the ribbon for new green space at the school.

Westbrook Housing petititions Ellen DeGeneres to help with fundraiser.

- John C.L. Morgan

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Primary Results

The complete, ward-by-ward results from Tuesday's primaries are on the City of Westbrook's website.

- John C.L. Morgan

Sex Offender Suing Westbrook

According to this Press Herald brief, a sex offender living in Westbrook is suing the city over an ordinance last September that prohibited sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of day care centers, recreation areas, and schools.

(Update: Another article regarding the lawsuit can be read here.)

- John C.L. Morgan

Yeah, We Have the Largest Shagbark Hickory (Sort Of)

According to my 2008 edition of the Maine Forest Service's Forest Trees of Maine, Westbrook possesses the largest shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) in the state. With a circumference of 133", a height of 72', and a crown spread of 58', the Paper City's shagbark hickory is actually tied with a similar tree in Falmouth.

Anyway, a complimentary breakfast at Guidi's Diner to the person who knows where the aforementioned shagbark hickory (typing it is almost as fun as saying it) is located.

- John C.L. Morgan

Just Do It

Hop on the Metro's Number 4 whenever you go into Portland.

Never has the small grammaticial difference between $4 and #4 been so greater. So just do it.

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. Speaking of commutes, check out this essay about the soul of the commuter, which I discovered just the other day while browsing through the WML's bin of free stuff.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Ellen Project

Question: What do you get when you cross Flo Rida with video footage of two Westbrook octogenarians attempting to pull a bus with their motorized scooters?

Answer: The Westbrook Housing Authority's cinematic plea for Ellen DeGeneres to participate in their September 12 charity golf tournament. Duh.

- John C.L. Morgan

Hat Tip: Warren Memorial Library's Wendy Hysko, who continues to feed me intel, despite my absence from the last two book club meetings. Guess I'll just have to read Stern Men for the next meeting on Wednesday, July 9 at 6:30p.

Hint, hint.

Did You Know?

Did you know Maine is the most heavily forested state in the United States?

According to the Maine Forest Service, 90% (or about 18 million acres) of the land in the Pine Tree State is covered with trees, as of March 2006.

(Update: According to my trusty 2008 edition of Forest Trees of Maine, the percentage of forested land in Maine this year is 89%. For context, the percentage was 75% in 1908.)

- John C.L. Morgan


Westbrook resident Talya Corsetti's banana whoopie pies are the subject of a Maine Switch piece. Besides whipping up sugary treats (here and here), Corsetti designs sassy Coco Magoo t-shirts.

- John C.L. Morgan

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Westbrook Voters Say Yes to Bond, School Budget

Bond Results:
1,101 (53%)
985 (47%)

School Budget Results:
1,359 (71%)
680 (29%)

- John C.L. Morgan

Cote, Summers Win Congressional Primaries in Westbrook

The results of the 1st District Congressional primaries:

Democratic Results:
Adam Cote: 433 (37%)
Chellie Pingree: 356 (30%)
Ethan Strimling: 181 (15%)
Michael Brennan: 172 (15%)
Mark Lawrence: 19 (2%)
Stephen Meister: 9 (1%)

Republican Results:
Charlie Summers: 421 (63%)
Dean Scontras: 252 (37%)

More in-depth election results will be posted within the next couple days.

- John C.L. Morgan

On Location

Summer Music

Via the City of Westbrook's website, here's a calendar of Wednesday evening concerts in Riverbank Park this summer:

July 9: Westbrook City Band
July 16: Cool Water
July 23: Bob Charest Band
July 30: Carolyn Currie
August 6: Flashback
August 13: Easy Money Band
August 20: Wavelength
August 27: Tony Boffa

The concerts are scheduled from 6-8p and are free.

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. Besides these Wednesday evening concerts, the Warren Memorial Library is hosting Stream Reggae and Okbari on June 27 and July 28, respectively. Both concerts begin at 7p and are also free of charge.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hon. Joseph A. Warren, Westbrook's Eighth Mayor (1902-1904)

Psst, Sappi is Also in Westbrook

In a Press Herald news brief about Sappi winning a 2008 CIO 100 award, the paper-maker is described as merely having a mill in Skowhegan. But as everyone knows, the South African company also has a mill in Westbrook.

You know, the mill with the 353-foot smokestack that can be seen for miles.

- John C.L. Morgan

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Westbrook Almanac: June 1-June 7, 2008

High: 78F (June 1)
Low: 49F (June 3)
Precipitation: 0.42 inches

High: 78F (June 1)
Low: 49F (June 3)
Precipitation: 0.42 inches

High: 85F (May 27)
Low: -5F (January 4)
Precipitation: 22.79 inches

Source: National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Top 10 Local CDs: May 26-June 1, 2008

Here are the Top 10 Local CDs for the week of May 26-June 1 (the album's spot in last week's Top 10 is in parentheses, much like this fyi note), courtesy of the Portland Phoenix:
  1. Dead Season, "When Everything's Lost..." (1)
  2. Bob Marley, "Maine-iac on the Loose" (2)
  3. Dead Season, "Rise" (3)
  4. Various Artists, "Greetings from Area Code 207, Vol. 7" (4)
  5. Rustic Overtones, "Long Division" (5)
  6. Gypsy Tailwind, "Halo Sessions" (-)
  7. Cambiata, "To Heal" (7)
  8. Civil Disturbance, "The Battle Within" (9)
  9. As Fast As, "Destroy the Plastique Man" (6)
  10. Dead Season, "Down Again" (EP) (-)

The list was compiled from Bull Moose Music.

- John C.L. Morgan

Friday, June 6, 2008

American Journal One-Liners

School budget will go to Westbrook voters for an up or down vote for first time.

Gravity-defying WHS student talks about the juicy topic that is SAT preparation.

Preview of Westbrook Together Days.

City reduced the cost of a pushcart vendor's license to $125 from $250.

WHS Class of 2008, which included the principal's son and 151 other students, graduated from high school.

City Council defeated Mayor Chuluda's veto of "an amendment to the policy on city employee severance packages that would require City Council approval for any such agreement that exceeded $3,000."

- John C.L. Morgan

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day Explained

Besides allowing me to get in touch with my inner People reader, this photo of Jude Law enjoying a cup of Freaky Bean joe reminded me to tell you that the Westbrook-based coffee company was a sponsor (excuse me, the Official Coffee Company) of the American Pavilion at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.

Freaky Bean was joined by such companies as Coca-Cola, The Ritz-Carlton Hotels of New York, and British Airways as sponsors of the American Pavilion.

- John C.L. Morgan

Just Do It

Attend this weekend's 28th 29th Annual Westbrook Together Days festivities.

- John C.L. Morgan

1980 Westbrook Together Days Program

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


To complement the voter's guide to the candidates for the Democratic and Republican primaries for the 1st District Congressional race that I posted last week, I've compiled a list of endorsements, courtesy of Westbrook's elected public officials:

Mayor Bruce Chuluda (R): Charlie Summers

City Councilor Lyle Cramer (R-Ward 3): Charlie Summers

City Councilor Drew Gattine (D-Ward 2): Michael Brennan

City Councilor Suzanne Joyce (D-Ward 5): Undecided between Michael Brennan and Chellie Pingree

City Councilor John O'Hara (R-At Large): Undecided

City Councilor Brendan Rielly (D-Ward 1): Michael Brennan

State Representative Tim Driscoll (D-Westbrook): Ethan Strimling

State Representative Ann Peoples (D-Westbrook): Michael Brennan

State Senator Phil Bartlett (D-Cumberland County): Chellie Pingree (Editor's Note: I mistakenly listed State Senator Bartlett as a Brennan supporter. He, in fact, had endorsed Chellie Pingree. I regret the error.)

Also, the American Journal, Westbrook's weekly newspaper, has endorsed Charlie Summers and Chellie Pingree in the Republican and Democratic primaries, respectively.

(Update: State Senator Joe Brannigan (D-Cumberland County): Michael Brennan

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. City Councilor Dotty Aube (D-Ward 4) and City Councilor Michael Foley (D-At Large) could not be reached for comment.

Quote, Unquote: E.B. White

"I believe television is going to be the test of the modern world, and that in this new opportunity to see beyond the range of our vision we shall discover either a new and unbearable disturbance of the general peace or a saving radiance in the sky. We shall stand or fall by television--of that I am quite sure."

- E.B. White in One Man's Meat, a collection of his essays about life on a saltwater farm in Brooklin, Maine. The collection was initially copyrighted in 1938.

- John C.L. Morgan

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion Revisited

Via The New Republic's blog, The Plank, I stumbled across an electronic version of this 1884 New York Times article which features a (lengthy) retort to Rev. Dr. Samuel Bouchard's "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion" speech during the 1884 presidential campaign between Grover Cleveland and Maine's James G. Blaine.

The speech, which accuses the Democratic Party of being the party of liquor, Catholics, and Confederates, is said to have cost the Maine Republican Senator James G. Blaine the election, as it alienated a sizable portion of the Catholic vote in New York. Nevertheless, it lives on as one of the most enduring election ditties in American history.

Blaine, by the way, is the inspiration for the naming of the Maine gubernatorial residence, the Blaine House.

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. The 1884 election was ditty-rich. Besides "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion," the Republicans exploited the alleged illegitimate child of Grover Cleveland by chanting: "Ma! Ma! Where's my pa? Gone to the White House! Ha, ha, ha!" And Cleveland's Democrats retorted by questioning Blaine's ethics by singing: "Blaine! Blaine! James G. Blaine! The continental liar from the state of Maine!"

If only we could go back to the clean politicking of the good 'ol days. Either that or come up with some catchy sing-along slogans.

Presumpscot River

On Location: Presumpscot River

In his book Kennebec: Cradle of Americans, Robert P.T. Coffin states the two functions of a proper river: That of watery battlefield and cradle of civilization. Now, considering Coffin was referring to fights in which "wooden ships came right up to each other till their cannon touched, and then pounded each other till the ocean was full of dust and splinters," the Presumpscot River does not meet Coffin's pugilistic rule that "[e]very river worth its salt ought to have at least one sea fight." This, despite playing host to numerous skirmishes between the Abenaki tribes and European settlers in pre-colonial America.

However, the Presumpscot does fulfill Coffin's latter function of a river, that of a cradle. Or, as he puts it, the Presumpscot (like the Kennebec) was a place where the "first Americans cut their teeth on [its] rocks and were sung to sleep by their white music," and where the first towns were settled and flowered with prosperity.

In fact, the first dam built in Maine was constructed within the Presumpscot's veins in 1732. And the river, whose name apparently meant "many falls" or "many rough places" in the native tongues, also powered Maine's first paper mill in the 1730s, which eventually became S.D. Warren in the 1850s. You may have heard of it.

Anyway, it is indeed ironic that this historically workman-like sliver of water (think Cumberland and Oxford Canal) is now primarily the object of the Sunday leisurer, for the preceding three paragraphs were essentially a fancy introduction to the paddle and fishing expedition I had Sunday morning.

After a hearty breakfast at Guidi's Diner (more on that later), I put my 16-foot AlumaCraft in the Presumpscot at the public access spot on Mill Lane, just above the Saccarappa Dam. But before I left, I threw in the required ingredients for a rugged outdoorsman's suburban kid's morning out on the canoe: One wooden paddle; two International Orange life preservers (one for me and the other for, well, me); an Ugly Stik (yeah, I'm built "Ugly tough"); and an L.L. Bean "teardrop bag" (don't laugh) filled with cheap lures, a five-inch blade, a box of matches, my digital camera, and, of course, a pack of unfiltered Black and Milds.

Ten minutes after shoving from shore, the Dana Warp Mill receded from view, and I was just beyond Rivermeadow Golf Course. The chorus of the various birds (note to self: study up on some ornithology) mostly drowned out the distant hum of cars, and the sun warmed my brown galoshes, blue flannel shirt, and yellow straw hat. Minutes later, it was only the birds' song, the water, and me. It's remarkable that such quiet and natural curiousity is a short paddle away from Main Street.

After two hours of steady paddling and intermittent casting, I finally arrived within eyesight of the Mallison Dam (for you landlubbers, think the Cumberland County Correction Center in Windham). Then, ten minutes and a 13-inch bass later, I turned the canoe around and began paddling toward Westbrook. Who needs Planet Fitness when you've got the Presumpscot River?

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. Unlike, say, Applebee's, Guidi's has the credibility to boast its local roots. So it wasn't annoying to see that the menu features such specials as 'Frenchtown,' 'The Main Street,' and 'Stroudwater,' 'Bradleez Plaza' (ah, the good 'ole days), 'The Falls,' 'Westerly Winds,' and 'Duck Pond.' Sunday morning, though, I opted to tap into a deep reservoir of nostalgia (not to mention my preference for salty ham) by ordering 'The Hamlett,' which consists of a very hammy omelette (hence its ungrammatical double-t's), as well as delish homefries with sauteed onion, toast, and a cup of cofee. Question: Where else can you go where a dish is named after a trailer park?

P.P.S. A handful of links for y'all to consider:

"A Paddle on the Presumpscot"
A Press Herald writer's 2001 account of a two-day paddle of the Presumpscot, the collection of articles include the canoe trip from Sebago to Westbrook, from Westbrook to Casco Bay, an historic map of the river, a story on the controversy surrounding some of the dams, and a photographic slideshow of the reporter's trip.

Friends of the Presumpscot River
Considering the Presumpscot has more dams per mile than any other river in Maine (nine dams over 27 miles), the Friends of the Presumpscot primarily focus on the elimination of three of the nine dams.

Presumpscot River Watch
The Presumpscot River Watch has a three-pronged mission: "Scientific monitoring of the river, the sharing of data to increase awareness, and serving as a steward for the river through participation in legislative, community, and individual efforts." To volunteer, click here.

Presumspcot River Watershed Coalition
Besides publishing the much-anticipated second edition of the Presumpscot River Guide (from my perspective, at least), the Presumpscot River Watershed Coalition is organizing the inaugural Presumpscot Riverfest at Riverbank Park on July 19. More on that later.

S.D. Warren Co. v. Maine Board of Environmental Protection et al.
Our collection of electronic information related to Supreme Court battle over the state's ability to regulate dams in Maine.