Friday, July 31, 2015

Why Not Have An October Date For The Pan Mass Challenge?

Bourne, any given summer day....
I'm about to write an article that I'm sure will be unpopular. It will strike a chord with just a few locals, and many other locals will be against it. Even I feel badly for writing it, but we have to call 'em like we see 'em here in Cranberry County.

The Pan Mass Challenge has to be moved, either physically or chronologically.

The Pan Mass Challenge is bicycle ride that goes across a lot of Massachusetts. Much like the walkathons you did as a kid, bikers (I know "bikers" makes them sound like Hell's Angels, sorry) get sponsors for their trek. The money that they donate goes to The Jimmy Fund, which in turn kicks it towards the Dana-Farber Institute for cancer research. They have made over $400 milly since they started it 35 years or so ago.

The PMC allows people to strike back at a disease that has touched the lives of everyone. In doing so, it encourages a great, energy-saving form of exercise.

What's not to like?

Oh, yeah...

There are several drawbacks to the PMC, some of which involve cars (some with sirens) and others which involve that great hydrogen bomb in the sky, our sun.

We would have to start with the elephant in the room, the traffic. Bourne is where the bridges are, as well as the rotaries, and it is where the worst traffic on Cape Cod is found. Bourne, which is a Division 4 school-sized town, has traffic comparable to central Boston on any weekend day.

It's bad enough that people in Bourne post a traffic waning every weekend morning on Facebook to the effect of "Don't leave your village." If you do, you enter a strange time warp where "a quarter mile drive to the gas station" may become a two hour-long trip where even teetotalers find it necessary to just pull over into the nearest tavern for 8 or 9 drinks.

If you went resident-to-resident and asked them what is the last thing that Bourne needs on an August weekend, the dominant answer would be "more traffic."

The PMC is a huge event, perhaps the largest of her kind in America. It all falls on Bourne, during what should be a peak of the tourist season. It takes roads that were already overtaxed and makes them essentially impassable. And it brings a different, less-spendy type of visitor than we are used to.

Instead of tourists with SUVs full of families who will need to be fed, entertained, gassed, housed and other things that leave money in the town, we get people on bikes who might carbo-load twice a day. They will then- exhausted- check into hotels that would have been booked full anyhow, and sleep away the hours we need them to be power-drinking in our taverns.

Other than families and supporters of the bikers, there is a negligible audience factor. No one is going to cheer on a wheeled walkathon, even one with Tom Brady in it. That's not to say that the PMC people shouldn't be cheered for- even the author of this slam piece feels that they are admirable. It's just that they won't draw a crowd, a crowd that would patronize our businesses. The PMC actually will drive those kind of visitors away.

That's why they used to have the Scallop Festival in September or October, kids... otherwise, it snarls traffic in the town to a crawl.

On top of all the lost commerce the bikers inflict upon us, they also overtax our emergency apparatus. We'll have to put extra cops on to deal with the bikers. Those cops will be waving traffic along, and citizens may have a bit of a wait if we need one for regular cop-like reasons... and that ETA is before we factor them having to weave their way through our gridlock traffic.

Our EMT service will be busier than a paramedic in a town full of weekend warriors heat-stroking themselves on an 85 degree scorcher of a summer day... oh wait, I'm being redundant.

That's why they have the Boston Marathon in April, kids... endurance events start to kill people in the summer months. The only time reasonable people host these events are spring and autumn.

Again, citizens who pay taxes all year for things like "availability of EMT service" may be in for a bit of a surprise to learn that their needs may not be met because all of our EMTs are giving IVs to people who really should have waited for October to take on an endurance event.

Again, like with the cops, any estimates we give on how long it will take an ambulance or- God forbid- a fire truck to get to a Bourne citizen's emergency here are given BEFORE we factor in them crawling through the bumpa-to-bumpa to get to you.

Of course, it's all for a good cause. The PMC makes $40 million a year for cancer research, raising awareness and letting people have fun while helping a good cause. Of course, these benefits can only be gained by having this particular race at this particular time in this particular town. Otherwise, they wouldn't make a red nickel. Anyone who says otherwise is pro-cancer and anti-charity.


I doubt that the people who presently ride scores of miles and donate millions of dollars would be put off from their efforts if the event were switched to October. There may be a guy somewhere who will only donate to cancer research if people ride bikes in Bourne on an August weekend, but he's probably an ass clown.

There may also be a guy somewhere who was totally unaware of cancer before someone diddled by him on a bicycle. No, check that, no such person exists. The awareness-raising is a myth.

We do have open dorms at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, just like they do in far greater numbers at Bridgewater State University and UMass-Dartmouth. I probably don't need to add that any college listed there that isn't a Maritime Academy doesn't lay across one of two ways on and off of Cape Cod during a summer weekend. I'm sure that UMass-Amherst, with all of the disposable-income kids away for the summer, could use the influx of visitors that they- unlike Cape Cod- would be incapable of luring in summer months.

I'm no urban engineer or highway scholar, but I do wonder if- on a person per person basis- less people would be put off by making a detour on the Mass Pike and isolating a 20 mile stretch of Irrelevantville for the bikers to pedal back and forth along in perfect safety than by shutting down the two roads that fill and empty Cape Cod.

Cape Cod is the wrong place for this event, at least in August.

Why not move it to October?

Like we said before, they have the Boston Marathon in April because it is too hot for endurance events in the summer. That also applies to the PMC, even before we remind you that the roads on Cape Cod tend to get jammed in the summer.

Just remember that I spoke of the safety of the bikers when I start making jokes about running over 5 of them as I look down to light a smoke. The safety issues for the bikers concern both heat exhaustion (85 degrees and blistering sun forecast for both days of the race, BTW) and exposure to Cape traffic. The PMC is big news in Massachusetts, but I doubt that it even makes the newspapers in Connecticut and New York, where half of our drivers will be coming from this weekend. They will drive very much like people unaware that some fool decided to have a wheeled walkathon along both of Cape Cod's main roads during one of the 10 top traffic days of the year.

Don't give me that "people take their vacations in the summer, and can only do the PMC then" nonsense. It's a weekend event, even Bob Cratchit would be able to get time off for it, especially if he is advertising for Scrooge's company as he does the event. If Ebeneezer demurs on that, Bob can burn a sick day.

In October, those roads won't have anyone but locals on them. There will be numerous hotel rooms available, so the cops won't have to chase stragglers off the Canal benches all night. Temperatures will be in the 60s, delightful weather to go pedal something around. The 200 or so people who can fit into MMA's dorms would be displaced, but they would have hotels offering cut rates to lure them in to what would then-and-not-in-August be unrented rooms. There's really no good reason to have the PMC in August instead of October.

Don't think that saying "They should have this event in October" makes a person pro-cancer. The guy behind the keyboard lost both of his parents to cancer. He also probably has his own dance with the Die Slow coming with a few thousand more Newports. He knows the stakes, perhaps better than you do.

The author is also not a man who dislikes charity. If you really, really hate this article, hang onto the anger until Christmas season, and you can walk right up to him outside the Christmas Tree Shoppe and pop him in the jaw as he stands outside for 10 hours a day raising money for a church charity. He hates charity so much, he had his lips freeze together once working for one.

The author does not confuse "move the event to October" with "the author hates the event." You shouldn't do so, either. He's also not writing this because he dislikes cycling and thinks that adults on bicycles look silly, even though he does feel that way.

That's not a bad resume for an agnostic pro-cancer guy who hates charity.

So, why am I writing this article? If you already know that, move on to the "So, what should we do about it?" question.

The author, doing some tireless charity work with his three nieces...

Bourne and Gettysburg have one thing in common. Both are little Nowheres that all the roads from Somewhere meet at. That leads some Big Fish into the Little Ponds that are normally towns like Gettysburg and Bourne, and it's never good for the town.

To an extent, the towns are set up to handle the influx. Bourne has hotels, gas stations and other amenities that a small town away from an ocean wouldn't have. Of course, "we bring tenants to hotels that already had tenants" is a poor argument for cementing this mess in August.

However, an October PMC would be a boon to the town. You'd have businesses who are just starting to feel the loss of summer dollars get a weekend rush in October. You could have the town really get behind the effort, angling their businesses to provide things to do for the bikers when they are unhorsed. You'd have cops and EMTs who aren't already overworked policing the town available to provide security for the event. Restaurants of the seasonal bent would be able to empty their inventories, hotels would offer cheaper rates, and every tourist trap would get one more chance to snap shut on those ol' summer dollars before the chill of winter set in.

It would benefit the PMC, as well. They'd be the only game in town, with neither Cape League games nor day-tripper traffic too weave through. People who avoid participating in the event because they don't wish to enter the Trafficpocalypse that is Bourne on a summer weekend may come out for the cause. Their riders wouldn't be struck down by high-80s temperatures or angry and confused New York vacationers. They might make MORE money than they already have.

There is no coherent reason that this event should be held now instead of in October. It presently is a drag on the town, an error that is multiplied by the fact that it would be a boon in October. Don't hate the guy who tells you that the emperor is nude.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

That Ol' South Coast, She Don't Play Clean....

New Beffuh
Before anyone starts hating The Kid about this, know that I'm a resident of Buzzards Bay. I'm from the South Coast.

Sure, Bee Bay is part of Barnstable County. Yes, I know that we have clam shacks, summer rentals, Cape traffic, and that life gets Mighty Different after Columbus Day.

It doesn't matter, though. Buzzards Bay is the extreme eastern end of the South Coast. I wouldn't admit it if I weren't so sure it was true.

I wanted to lead off with this because we're going to rough up the South Coast a bit today, and I wanted everyone reading this to know it was being done with Love. I believe in the South Coast enough to move here. When I say things like "the armpit of Massachusetts," know that it's just one South Coast brother kidding another one.

The Real Cape just produced a scathing analysis of certain trends in their article "Wareham Coming In Hot As The 11th Worst Place To Live In Massachusetts." They use the wiggle room all Gateway area writers use to work ?ham into a Cape Cod article. I used to do it all the time on Cape Cod 2Day. "It's the Gateway," as a Celtics cheerleader from Wareham once told me.

I'm not doubting Wareham's spot in the top 11, which is headed by New Bedford and also includes Fall River, Gardner, North Adams, Fitchburg, Ware, Brockton, Southbridge, Taunton and Athol. They crunched a bunch of numbers like crime rate, school quality, things to do, transportation, culture, etc.... and then they done disparaged dat ol' South Coast!!

Here are my quick thoughts on each non-South Coast town.

Gardener... part of the FAG corridor down Route 2 (with Athol and Fitchburg), this is an industrial mill town in the post-mill era. Yes, I know it's "Gardner," I just like to tweak noses now and then. Gardner is the home of the World's Largest Chair, in case you're arguing about that at the bar as you read this.

North Adams... Nor'Addy is the smallest city in Massachusetts. Following a theme you'll see repeatedly in this list, North Adams used to be great when the mills were working. The mills aren't working now, however...

Fitchburg... Even though it's a rotten mill town in decline, I'd keep Son Of A Fitch off the list because A) they make UTZ potato chips there, B) it figures prominently in both the Harry Potter canon and Return To Peyton Place, and C) there is no third reason. Worst "picture of downtown (insert town here)" picture on all of Wikipedia, too. Kowloon, China is second. The Walled City ranked first before the city was demolished.

Ware... With 9800 souls in the middle of nowhere, they must have had to work hard to not call it "Where?" Care to guess if the 1850s mills are still prosperous? There are several maps of the region that depict the town name merely as a question mark (?).

Brockton... Club Homeboy should be higher on the list. You could put on a money shirt and walk through Ware unmolested. Just wearing a shirt is offensive in some parts of Brockton. It is very funny that only 15 miles stand between Bee Rock City and tony Duxbury (which it used to be a part of, Myles Standish essentially founded Brockton), but that's about how it works. Brockton is the only representative of the South Shore on the list, but it is less South Shore and more an entity unto itself. Currently ranks 41st among American cities in violent crime, which isn't bad for a town that is historically West Duxbury.

Taunton... Some discussion went down before we removed Brockton from the group of South Coast towns we'll discuss in length later in the article, even though Brockton isn't South Coast. Taunton is also off Wikipedia's list, even though it's just a Berkley away from Fall River.

Southbridge... Just across the state line from Woodstock,CT.... known as "Honest Town," The former Eye Of Massachusetts and her optical factories faded into insignificance when the Mexicans or Chinese started making glasses cheaper. Worry you not, they still have a sizable population of displaced Puerto Rican and Laotian factory workers hanging around town.

Athol.... I drove through this town on my way towards visiting girls at Franklin Pierce College in NH. It looks like the kind of place you'd see a Yeti. Athol may not deserve her spot on The Real Cape's list, as the material they are working with gives Athol over 50,000 people when, in fact, the town holds 16,000. My favorite thing about Athol was a WBCN/Billy West skit about Peter Falk visiting various New England towns. It made no sense at all at first when he went to Athol... "Wow, look at the firehouse... Hey, they have a post office!" The joke was in the last line of the skit... "This week... Falk, In Athol."

Say it aloud a few times, lisp if you have to....

The fun part here is that the South Coast has a pretty good grasp on some of the top spots, outpacing numerous North Cambridges and Lowells. Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin... didn't/couldn't get past the Sketchy Sketchy South Coast. Little San Juan Holyoke didn't make the list. No Chelsea, no Murderpan, no Dot, no Gloxbury, no Winter Hill, no Mishawum.

Does the South Coast really merit a 1-2 punch on the top spot, and a few other towns wedged into the Top 11? How did it come to this?

Fall River, Wareham, Brockton, Taunton and New Bedford have a coastal version of the problems that Gardner and Fitchburg have. They were built to support industries that are no longer profitable in the manner they were run back in the proverbial Day.

Fall River was all about textiles, especially whatever Print Cloth is. When the states who grow the cotton realized they could build the textile machines in their own states and cut out the middleman, Fall River went into decline. There's also the small problem of the town's most famous resident being America's only axe murderer with an eponymous nursery rhyme.
Fall River

Fall River also got a cut out of the New York City garment trade, but that fell victim to globalization and Kathy Lee Gifford having skirts stitched together in Asian sweat shops... which is the same thing, but I digress...

Brockton has a similar story, but the industry was shoemaking. New Bedford was, at various times, whaling or textiles. Taunton was iron and silver. Wareham, to my knowledge, was Tourism.

In each case, a dominant industry failed, and the town went into economic decline. With that, you get the crime, the shoddy schools, the crumbling infrastructure, mass (Mass?) unemployment and, in the end, Exodus.

There's not much race to it. Blacks, Hispanics, white folk... they all trend towards poverty when the factory closes. Economic decline is color-blind, although she does like to keep a nice mix.

Depending on if you include Brockton in the mix (and it is very much like New Bedford, and very much not like her neighboring towns of the Bridgewaters, Avon, Whitman and so forth), the South Coast holds 5 of the top 11 spots, including the two 2 spots.

Wareham is a unique case here, although her story is just a different take on the same Mill Town concept.

Wareham, and Buzzards Bay (town), used to be the hosts of the only road that led to the Bourne Bridge. They lined that road with gas stations, clam shacks, mini golf, ice cream, antique shops, restaurants, package stores and anything else that could suck money out of a tourist. The towns fattened on this trade, and Tourism is primarily why mainland Wareham and Buzzards Bay are often considered to be part of Cape Cod.

Then, they extended Route 25 to the Bourne Bridge in 1987. There was no need for someone going to Cape Cod to have to slog through Wareham and Buzzards Bay. The tourist dollars flowed onto Cape Cod without the Gateway getting their cut. Even the road itself killed jobs (and, more importantly, industry), as the highway rambled through the state's best Cranberry growing region.

Once the clam shacks closed, the waitresses had no money to spend at the supermarket, which also closed. The supermarket clerks had no money to spend on mini-golf, so the mini-golf folded. A plaza with a Wal-Mart and a Staples stemmed the bleeding for a while, but they both moved into more prosperous West Wareham as soon as the land was zoned.

Pretty soon, all that was left of the Tourism trade was the traffic gridlock as people drove around Wareham and Buzzards Bay. As the villages spiraled into decline, anyone with money left moved away. Businesses closed, and no new ones moved in.

Soon enough, only a hard-working criminal element kept them in the news at all, and Wareham slipped towards ?ham.

Enough of the South Coast abuse. Let's all kick back and learn something, shall we?

South Coast Trivia

Wikipedia scores the South Coast as:
Fall River

- While I may be stretching it to include Buzzards Bay (village) in the South Coast, other people feel that the Rhode Island towns of Tiverton and Little (Straight Outta) Compton are sort of honorary members of the South Coast.

- Taunton gets left out. No love for the Triple S of Swansea, Seekonk and Somerset, either. I assume they are grouped with more northern towns like Attleboro and, uhm, whatever is next to Attleboro.

- The term "South Coast" has been traced to weatherman Todd Gross, who came up with the term to differentiate between Southern Plymouth/Bristol County and the South Shore. Why the South Shore, which faces East, is called the South Shore is beyond me. Either way, we have a South Shore and a South Coast now. People in the region actually got angry when the New Bedford Standard-Times began to use the term.

- The adoption of the South Coast moniker sort of displaced the formerly-used Greater New Bedford designation. A media blitz accompanied the adoption of the term, pointing out that the Sow Co had "the Cape's climate, better infrastructure, and cheaper land prices."

- "South Coast" and "Metro West" are relatively recent terms, invented by local media. "MetroWest" displaced "Middlesex" among the locals, again with some difficulty. It was invented by the guy who used to own the former Middlesex Daily News.

- I'd guess (and might be wrong) that "Cape Cod" and "Plymouth County" are the two longest-standing regional names.

- The South Coast is an odd mix of larger and smaller towns. You can light a smoke in downtown New Bedford, the worst place in the state, and pitch it out your car window 8 minutes later in rural, bucolic, backwater Acushnet.

- We have discussed the Irish Riviera at length in this column, but the South Coast is very much a Little Lisbon, a Baby Brazil. The corridor running between Providence, Fall River and New Bedford has the largest concentration of Portuguese-Americans in America.

- Massachusetts leads America with a Portagee population of 392,000. MetroBoston has 192K of that number, and the South Coast has a lesser-but-major share of the remainder. Massachusetts is 6.2 Portuguese, while Rhode Island leads America at 9.7%.

- Fall River is 37% Portuguese, and 8% Cape Verdean.

- New Bedford is over 33% Portuguese, 10% Puerto Rican, and almost 9% Cape Verdean.

- Wareham is 87% white, with an unknown number of Portagee. I did see a figure of 9.29% somewhere. They represent hard enough to host the Cape Verdean Festival every year.

- The source that coughed up 9.29% for Wareham ascribed Fall River over 43%, and New Bedford over 36%.

- Taunton isn't really South Coast (it lays a bit North of the area proper, and is the seat of Bristol County), but we consider it to be a fringe SC area, with a stronger grip than Brockton. If you consider it South Coast, I'm cool with that. If you think it stands distinct, I can see your side, too.

- The northern South Coast touches upon the southern base of the Bridgewater Triangle.

- New Bedford, trying hard to take the crime title away from Fall River, has no criminal to match Lizzie Borden (who, I might add, was not convicted). They compete by volume. The New Bedford area had her own serial killer in the late 1980s. You couldn't get out of your car to take a whizz on Routes 195 or 140 without stumbling onto some prostitute that he had killed and dumped there. He was never caught. New Bedford is also where Big Dan's Tavern was.

Hey, she's tough... she's a harbor chick
Most Famous Citizens:

Fall River: Lizzie Borden, no contest

Wareham: Geena Davis, also winning in a rout. #2 is Pebbles from JAM-N 94.5.

Westport: Pixies singer Frank Black edges out abolitionist Paul Cuffee, ESPN girl Wendy Nix and Hillary from the The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Westport has a disproportionate talent-per-population ratio for a small-town backwater, although Marion reigns the roost in that regard, as you will see in a moment.

Rochester: Joseph Bates (founded Seventh Day Adventist Church)

New Bedford: Frederick Douglass

Mattapoisett: Oliver Wendell Holmes lived there is some capacity

Marion: Claiming 4000 souls, this town has been a temporary home to FDR, Grover Cleveland, Admiral Byrd, Dom DiMaggio and Geraldo Rivera. It is also the port of Benjamin Briggs, last Master of the doomed ship Mary Celeste. I'm leaving out several other semi-famous people.

Freetown: Former Miss Massachusetts and current NECN newsie Jackie Bruno.

Fairhaven: A good three way race between Gil Santos, Joshua Slocum and Christopher Reeve (had a sailboat moored in Fairhaven).

Dartmouth: Choose between died-there General Phillip Sheridan and summer person Tea Leoni.

Acushnet: Doesn't have a notable resident list on Wikipedia, but Herman Melville once sailed on a whaler named Acushnet. That's close enough.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Barnstable County Fair 2015

This year's Barnstable County Fair was a blast. There were many things to do and see there. It was nice to see some returning vendors and acts and also nice to see new ones, The Barnstable County Fair is located in Falmouth Massachusetts (Cape Cod, MA).

The BCF has been coming to town since 1844. It was originally a livestock/crafts sort of fair, and that is still a big part of the show today. They didn't have electric ferris wheels or anything like that back then, maybe they used horses or something, I have no idea. The big draw early on was the merry-go-round.

Other than a brief shutdown during WWII, the fair has been going strong ever since. They have since incorporated spectacuar rides, and have brought in performers and other acts.

One of my favorite acts was Wacky Chad with his Pogo stick tricks. He has been on America's Got Talent... twice!

The animals and petting zoo have always been a nice thing to look forward to. This cow is trying to go viral, I saw him practicing that look in front of the mirror before I shot.

Who wouldn't want to feed a goat or a yak out of the palm of your hand? 

If you were at the the fair you may have noticed the baby animatronic T-Rex. He was about half-done eating this old guy when I asked him to pose for me.

The Three Dog Night performance was spectacular, my phone's video recorded it in poor quality. I guess you'll have see them in person to get the real deal. We were so close to the stage that we could feel the beat through our entire bodies. I was so psyched to see them perform in person. Their hits include: "An Old Fashioned Love Song" featured in the video below, "Joy to The Word," "Shambala" and many, many more.

We can't forget about the rides and the amazing view of the fair from the Ferris wheel. 

I saw a little bit of the Lumber Jill's Performance - wish I had a better view (I was too short to see over everyone else). And I was really hoping to see the Willis Clan

But overall, this years fair was awesome. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Enter The Hoodsie....

So, what is this Hoodsie that the author speaks of?

No, it's not the little ice cream cup with the wooden spoon in the picture above, although those are good and I want one right now.

Basically, a Hoodsie is a female teenager from the South Shore. It's more complicated than that, but that's the short answer.

Usually, the author finds out the answer to the question and then writes the article. That's not going to be the case here, as I am expecting the real answer to this question to turn up in the comments.

Here is what I don't know about the term, which makes for a longer article than if I told you what I know for sure:

- Why are South Shore girls known as Hoodsies?

- How far does the term range?

- When did the term come into use?


I have no idea on the Why? The Hood company was founded in Charlestown, though they may have got the actual milk from Bridgewater. From what I have heard, the term is used by city people when speaking of South Shore girls. It seems pretty complicated for a nickname.

Boston University has The Wicked Good Guide To Boston English, and the term makes an appearance in there. It is not ascribed to the South Shore in there, nor was it listed so in the Universal Hub definition.

A thread on Yelp said that a Hoodsie was a sexually promiscuous girl below the legal age of consent, but they may be confusing that with "jailbait." The author may also have heard the term in his youth, when he was hunting South Shore snuggling from younger girls.

I have also heard, on Facebook, that the nickname stems from girls sitting on the hoods of cars.

As near as I can tell, Boston guys would go to the South Shore to get girls. Both dictionaries list "scoop" as a term for picking up girls. Hood was the dominant local ice cream, a Hoodsie is an individual serving, and here come Donna from Weymouth! The girls, equated with something you scoop like ice cream, thus became Hoodsies. I suppose that the fact that there aren't many reasons for a Boston guy to go to Abington beyond "scooping" also led to the association.

More than one source said that the Hoodsie's slogan of "small and sweet and good to eat" played a role in the name, but only one source notes the Hoodsie cup size connotation with the smaller breasts of the teenager.... which has to be true, because I read it on a site called Swing Batta Batta Swing.

I could be 1000% wrong about this, I'm speculating about something that barely merits a mention on the Internet.


If I'm not wrong about the South Shore ownership of the term, I'd assume that it came to us with the development of the highway system. I'd especially associate it with Route 3.

I say this because Route 3 either A) made it feasible to drive from Dorchester to Hanover to get a little somethin'-somethin', or B) led to an exodus from the city, which brought a term generally associated with Boston girls into the South Shore suburbs. SBBS listed the term as a Dorchester/Southie term, and the South Shore filled up with people from Southie, The Dot, JP, Roslindale and Hyde Park right around when busing started.

I actually like Option B the best, with Hoodsie as a White Flight import from the city. It makes the most sense, and it follows the path of least resistance. Boston schools went from 100,000 kids pre-busing to 55,000 kids in 1988, and many of the refugees ended up in the Irish Riviera.

Duxbury, for example, went from 4700 people in 1960 to 11,000 in 1980. That's a remarkable growth rate, even before you factor in the town's more elderly demographic. I, personally, was in Dorchester in 1970 and in Duxbury by 1978. I was not the only Dorchester kid in my Duxbury classes by a long shot. Plymouth went from 18,000 people in 1970 to 35,000 in 1980. Ol' Marsh Vegas went from 6000 in 1960 to 20,000 in 1980.

A lot and maybe most of that spike is the Baby Boom, but a lot of it is White Flight. It is, in my completely uneducated opinion, enough oomph to transfer slang from city to suburbs.

So, the date would either be the late 1950s (Route 3 goes through the South Shore) or the 1970s (White Flight). I'm hoping that some old-schooler enlightens me in the comments section. It may be a bit of both.

The range of the Hoodsie term becomes the issue here. I have only heard it ascribed to South Shore girls, but I also can only claim Duxbury, Halifax and Buzzards Bay as my last three hometowns. There could be Hoodsies running around in Natick or Woburn or Concord or Mansfield for all that I know.

If my White Flight theory is correct, the term would move out to the suburbs with the city kids. Enough white kids remained in the city for the term to remain there, but enough white kids had left that the term became suburban. It's sort of how the country with the most black people isn't African, it's Brazil... but, just about the opposite of that. I digress...

To determine the range of the Hoodsie by operating along this theory, you just have to go through some census numbers on Ye Olde Wikipedia. I already fed you Duxbury and Marsh Vegas data... how does the North Shore and Metro West stack up? Does the White Flight reach New Hampshire or even the South Coast?

I'll pick random towns, or we'll be here all day. We'll go 1970 population to 1980 population.

Stoneham... 17K to 21K, nine miles north of the Bean

Framingham... 64K to 65K

Middleboro... 13K to 16K

Foxboro... 14,218 to 14,178, and that's with the Patriots moving to town during the era in question.

Andover... 24 to 26K

Marion... 3400 to 3900

Manchester-by-the-Sea, 5100 to 5400

OK, what I'm seeing here and not listing in numbers is that Massachusetts suburban towns tended to have population explosions from 1950 to 1970, but the South Shore also had a Busing Boom in the 1970s that doubled the population of some towns.

To this day, people who know this stuff tell me that Geography isn't why the Cape Cod accent doesn't get across the Canal, it's that the Boston accent stormed South in the 1970s with all the White Flight kids. I can recall getting SPED-type help for my speech in 1978, my first year in Duxbury. All that I can remember of it was the lady making me say "barter" and "martyr" over and over.


So, my research leads me to believe that "Hoodsie" is a Boston term, most likely distinct to the Irish parts of town like Jamaica Plain and Southie. When busing came, those cities disgorged their wealthier Irish-Catholics onto the South Shore, and those people brought the concept of the Hoodsie with them. By 1980, it had become a South Shore term, and by 2015, it had been South Shore long enough that city folk- the original Hoodsies- now referred to the South Shore girls as Hoodsies.

Yup, it's that confusing AFTER we try to summarize it. But I'm pretty sure that the theory is correct.

I thank you for your time.

Not hoodsies, just cool enough to pose for Cranberry County Magazine...

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


When you think of vacations, the first thing that comes to your mind isn't Baltimore Maryland. Actually Baltimore is probably very low on your list of vacationing spots; especially due to the rioting events that had occurred earlier this year. But with a tight budget and friends to visit, Baltimore became my vacation destination. I rolled into town like Brother Mouzone.

Just for the record - I did not witness any murders and there was no rioting in the streets. I actually enjoyed the scenery and the diverse culture there. Baltimore was a bit of a culture shock. It was a culture shock in a different way than you'd expect. There were people selling water bottles at stop lights and j-walker galore. Oh and who needs 3 strip clubs on the same block? You guessed it - good old Baltimore.

Baltimore has an amazing Inner Harbor, with lots of activities for the whole family.

Did you know that Babe Ruth and,Edgar Allan Poe lived in Baltimore? Unfortunately we didn't visit Poe's House/Museum or Babe Ruth's Museum - I hear they're worth a visit if you are in town. Baltimore is also the hometown of the Star Spangled Banner song.

What's a vacation to Baltimore without visiting the USS Constellation Museum?

I had the opportunity to visit the National Aquarium on the inner harbor and it was nothing short of spectacular. The Aquarium does the whole touristy thing by taking your picture with your family in front of a green screen and then tries to sell you packets of over-priced unflattering photos of you. I was able to view my picture online, it was rough to look at. And no I am not sharing it with the world to see. 

  But here's a picture of a shark from the Aquarium.

One of my favorite places to visit was the Ripley's Believe it or Not Odditorium, even though it is not a Baltimore-only place.

A man with a large third leg is always a plus, although somewhat cancelled out by the woman with two mouths.

Maryland is a big part of Old Bay (McCormick) Seasoning history. So you can only imagine the surplus of Old Bay Seasoning in Baltimore. They have kiosks at the airport and whole stores devoted to McCormick Seasoning. 

Here are some links to places I didn't have the chance to visit but are on my list for next time:

...and many many more amazing places.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Shark Week: How To Not Get Eaten By A Shark

I don't know about you, but it is the opinion of this column that the worst way to die naturally would be a shark attack. I use "naturally" differently than you might, but you get the idea. You are seized out of nowhere, dragged beneath the sea and torn to pieces by a torpedo with teeth. 

It probably wouldn't happen, but your decapitated head may retain consciousness just long enough as it floats away from the rest of you that you could watch yourself being eaten. It would be the fish paying you back for all of those fish sticks you ate as a kid.

From what I can see of how this magazine makes money (don't ask me how, Jessica does most of the thinking here), I can't afford to have anyone reading this website die. Even with money off the table, I don't want to see anyone get eaten.

So, it's on me to help keep you off the menu. Before I do so, I want to stress just how rare a shark attack is. We've had about 10 or so in Massachusetts since the white man came, three of which were fatal. If you throw in the rest of New England, you get those numbers up to 5 or 6 deaths out of 20 attacks. I think North Carolina has had that many this week, and even their numbers add up to "shark attacks are very rare."

The USA as a whole has had 1976 shark attacks in about the last 115 years or so. That number includes Carolina, Hawaii, Florida and California, who get the majority of our attacks. New England is a minor player in this field, and the field in question is called Anomaly Park.

While I don't have the numbers handy, I'd say that about there were 40-52 times when someone won the Megabucks last year. We had one shark attack in that same year. So, it is 50 times more likely that you'll drop a dollar at the 7-11 and someone will hand you back $1.5 million than it is that a shark will attack you. Adam Lanza killed more New Englanders in 10 minutes than every Yankee shark ever, as did Al Qaeda.

However, any gambler will tell you that there is no sure thing. If the chance- however small- of a shark attack exists, it just makes sense to try to lower your odds. You don't have to be at 0% if some sucker near you is only at 20%, especially if he's a fatty (we'll get to that in a minute) or has an open wound.

It's a lot like the smarter guy said to the dumber guy when they were about to flee from an attacking bear. "I don't have to run faster than the bear, I just have to run faster than You."

We'll mix in tips from experts and officials with some of my own observations and inclinations. I don't have any expert training, other than my research on historical shark attacks for a previous article

Never Swim With Seals, And Do Nothing At All Seal-Like

One thing that our last two shark attacks had in common was that the victims were messing around near seals. Sharks eat seals, as eating seals is the whole reason they're hanging around Cape Cod Bay.

There wasn't that much time between when Americans first began recreating by the sea and when we had our first fatal modern shark attack. One of the reasons we haven't had one since 1936 is that we had a bounty on seals. Fishermen hate seals, who compete for the same fish. Up until 1962, you could kill seals and get cheddar for it.... not too shabby, as long as you aren't a seal. 

There was 40,000 bounties paid in Maine and Massachusetts between 1888 and 1962, when Massachusetts stopped paying bounties. Maine stopped in 1945.  Experts say that 70-130K seals were killed once you factor in data fraud, boat strikes, and so forth. That's a lot of shark food exiting the ecosystem.

The region suffered a huge decline in seal activity,and they only really started turning up in large numbers on Cape Cod around the turn of this century. It, in turn, took the sharks about a decade to figure it out.

Humans are pretty easy pickings for a shark if he wanted to have some People Food for a change. We can barely move at all in the water. Even a crippled, drunken, lazy shark could swim circles around Michael Phelps. Other than the slow-motion punch of an underwater boxer, we have no natural defenses against the shark. We're a free lunch, at least from June through September in these parts.

The fact that we have so few attacks means that sharks aren't interested in us as a food source. Neither of our recent human-attacking sharks was killed in the attack... they just went away on their own. They had no interest in continuing the meal.

So, you can really lower your chances of attack by not swimming or boating near the shark's primary food source. Seals are fun, cute, and can even be friendly. They also do tricks, like the one where they disappear faster than you can if a shark comes into the area. Don't be the guy left standing when sharks and seals play Duck Duck Goose. 

If seals are around, we can not stress strongly enough that you should make like a TV show and be St. Elsewhere.

Never Swim Near Fishing Boats (Or Fishing Men)

Sharks also have a tendency to follow fishing boats. I suppose they are after table scraps or something, who knows? 

Two of the regions's fatal shark attacks involved people swimming to or from a fishing boat. Two others involved sharks swamping smaller boats and devouring the occupant.

Sharks are attracted to several things associated with fishing. Fish, naturally, leads off the list. Injured fish writhing in pain on a fishing hook are also on the list, as an injured fish means an easy meal to a shark. Fishing can be bloody, and blood in the water is like doing a rain dance for a shark. Smarter sharks may know that a fishing boat will throw away smaller fish, who then become almost like delivery food at that point.

Don't Go Over Your Head

Almost all of New England's shark attacks involved the shark hitting someone in deeper (10 feet or more) water. Massachusetts doesn't have a shallow-water shark attack fatality on her books, and most of the non-fatal attacks involved fishing boats or surfcasting.

Sharks like to come up under their prey for the Hit. None of our shark attack victims had any idea there was a shark around until it attacked them. Only one attack I read of had the shark coming at the victim in a manner where witnesses reported seeing a dorsal fin before the strike.

As we just saw with the recent Chatham stranding/rescue of a Great White, they do go close to shore. However, the very rare shark attack becomes very, very rare if you stay in the shallows.

Shark Repellent

If you can get Bat Shark Repellent like Batman has, do so. He's smart, and his repellent probably works.

Scientists began work on shark repellents after WWII, when shipwrecks like that of the USS Indianapolis saw hundreds of people eaten by sharks. They've been working at it ever since, and generally can't come up with anything that is 100% efficient. They've tried electricity, chemicals and even magnetism.

It may or may not amuse you to know that Coppertone was one of the big investors in shark repellent research. Your sun tan lotion may have been doing double duty if someone hit the right chemical signature in the repellent lab. SP-40 may have had a more Sharkish meaning to it had they stuck it out.

They did find one thing that repels almost all sharks all the time... dead sharks. Fishermen and scientists both agree that sharks don't like to be around dead sharks. Glandular secretions from dead sharks are the current focus of shark repellent research.

Of course, that was in a 1994 article I found. I assume that someone from Coppertone pointed out that A) you can't swim around with a dead shark, and B) "Honey, would you rub the lotion with the decaying shark liver oil into my shoulders?" sort of takes the fun out of sun-tan-lotion application.

Swim With People Who Are Fatter Than You

Sharks around New England aren't sick, lost, old or demented. They are exactly where they are supposed to be and where they have always been. However, one attacking a human is generally making a mistake.

The mistake is thinking that the human is a seal/tuna/sea lion/sea turtle or whatever else it eats. It's unavoidable, and the shark- to his credit- usually breaks off the attack once he realizes his mistake.

For a fish with such a ravenous reputation, sharks don't eat that much. They expend a lot of energy attacking, and risk significant injury. They want the most bang for their buck when it comes to Epic Meal Time.

That means smoking a Fatty.

Fat people swim slower, and look more like seals than thinner people. They have more flesh, which makes them less crunchy (sharks don't do crunchy if they can avoid it) to the shark, as well as more filling.

I actually asked Dr. Gregory Skomal about this. He did admit that it made perfect sense, but that no research had been done on the subject.

This is a steroid-powered version of the Don't Ever Swim Alone rule. Sharks will pick off soloists if they can. However, given a choice, they will always Super-size their meals. Remember this, use it to your advantage, and waste little pity on the run-stopper.

Avoid Guido-like Bejewelment

I'm not sure if there is a noun for what I'm trying to say there, hence the odd sub-title. I had no way to tie Only Built 4 Cuban Linx to anything sharky.

Things like necklaces and bracelets shine sort of funny in the water, and will look like fish scales to a shark in the wrong conditions. Fish are right at the top of the shark's menu, and he may come closer to see if you are worth biting. You want to avoid being in this calculation if at all possible.

Experts say only the filthy,polluted waters of Boston Harbor prevent more shark attacks from happening at Revere Beach, which has a lot of guidos running around. Boston Harbor had an attack in colonial days,and a Boston kid was the meal in 1936.

Be Local

Just as "Swim with fat people" is probably my advice and not the official advice offered by experts, this one also springs exclusively from my research.

Here's a list of who was bitten in Massachusetts shark attacks... guy from England here courting a woman, a guy from Swampscott, a Boston kid, a Nahant local, a bunch of tourists chartering a boat, a NYC guy, a pair of Truro rental guys and two Plymouth girls... and it didn't bite the Plymouth girls, just their kayak.

You see the pattern. 

It's not just a Cape Cod thing, where there are masses of tourists. The last fatal attacks were in Mattapoisett, Scituate, and Boston. Sharks seem to go out of their way to avoid locals, even passing on the two Plymouth girls (who were cute, I might add... I don't have records of the charisma of the other victims, but it may or may not be important) after knocking them both into the water.

Maybe we have Spider Sense from living near the water, and we can subconsciously read the signs of imminent danger. Maybe "exotic" people taste better. Maybe tourists lack tans that locals have, and stand out more in the water. Who knows?

What I do know is that sharks seem to favor out-of-towners.

The Other White Meat

I so wanted to find a racial trend I could exploit for laughs here, but I was amazed to find that sharks- at least our sharks here in New England- attack pretty much along the demographic averages regarding skin color. We've had about 20 attacks in our post-colonial history, and maybe 2 were on black people.

The number might be one, I'm not 100% sure of a Connecticut attack. Even with just one Black Attack, you have to crunch the numbers with the knowledge that white people beach out more than blacks do, at least around here. "Like I need a tan," my black roomie used to tell me.

I think the sharks have bitten at least one Jew. He may have been feasted upon by a shark who wished for a kosher meal. He was taken on the Sabbath, I believe.

Anyhow, your race or your God won't save you if Ol' Toothy thinks you look tasty. To my knowledge, he doesn't give a damn about such things. We all look alike to apex predators.

Swim During The Day

Sharks attack with power and speed,but they hunt via stealth. They also don't really sleep, to my knowledge. 

While they hunt all day, they are more active and more successful at night. The shadows work in their favor, and they work against the prey. 

What weak and pitiful defenses you have in the water vanish at night. Even if it swims around you with his fin out of the water, you won't see him coming.  They started Jaws the way they did for a reason.

In Conclusion,,,,

Follow these rules, and you'll have mad bread to break up. 

If not, 17 feet on the wake up....

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Shark Week: Ol' Toothy, The Kayak Eatin' Shark Of Manomet And Duxbury

The South Shore was rocked last summer when a Great White Shark made an appearance off of Duxbury Beach, and then the whole world was rocked when, like a day or two later, he attacked a kayak off of Manomet.

I'm assuming it's a He, for no good reason at all. Boats are girls, sharks are boys. That's how I work.

Shark attacks aren't supposed to happen here in Cranberry County. That is Cape Cod we see on the news with sharks just offshore, The Discovery Channel had no interest in Duxbury, and Manomet is lucky to get on TV during Pilgrim/Thanksgiving shows.

Why the disrespect?

For one, we don't have the Outer Cape's seal population. We have seals, a whole bunch of them, but Chatham is Seal City. We're just a suburb. Sharks go where the seal meat is plentiful, and there is plenty more of it out in Monomoy.

Two, our shark may have been a rogue. I don't mean a Communist or a child molester, just a big fish who should have been off Cape Cod instead of the South Shore. At least, that's what the TV tells us.

Also, I suppose a version of Mayor Vaughn's barracuda speech applies here. If you say "Manomet," it means something to everyone on the South Shore and nothing to anyone else. If you say "Cape Cod," you have the nation's attention.

As you can see, Cape Cod Bay was awash with the blood of the non-believers.... OK, just kidding, that's a cranberry bog.

Are we in the media somewhat responsible for the public being shocked when a porker turned up near the Manomet Lobster Pound?  Mayhap we are, child, mayhap we are....

I say "we," but I mean "they." Dr. Gregory Skomal, the shark expert with all the shark tags you see on TV, can vouch for me. I was pestering him about sharks on the South Shore long before the entertainment went down off Plymouth, even about Duxbury in particular. I was so far ahead of the curve, I got scoliosis from it.

Still, there was a WTF reaction locally when the shark arrived off Plymouth. People couldn't deal. We, the media, the people who gave you the bread-n-milk panics when an inch of snow falls, had left the public hanging. You didn't know something you should have known, and it was something lethal.

Remember, it wasn't that long ago that you had trouble catching striper off of these beaches. We went from 0 to 60 rather quickly when Ol' Toothy had himself a bite of that girl's kayak last summer. Suddenly, we had mad shark respeck! It's also quite a jolt to the ecosystem.

In one week, what may quite possibly have been one single fish changed the game on the Irish Riviera. We had a new apex predator (our previous champ was either the coyote or the horsefly, and the meanest thing in our waters were bluefish), and he was an A Lister. He also had a taste for People Food.

One thing that didn't change was the disrespect. Dr. Skomal never left Chatham, even though we had the shark who was into the Other White Meat. If one fish deserved a tag last summer, it was Ol' Toothy. He never got one.

Even though he tried to eat some of my readers, I like Ol' Toothy. My amity (groan) for this fish is irrational. I like to think that he is the only shark who used Cape Cod Bay. He, for lack of a better term, is a local, a native. One of us.

In 1637, old Plimoth got a bit too crowded for one Myles Standish, so he walked a few Myles through the primeval forest and founded Duxbury. Sure, everyone who was anyone was in Plimoth... which is why Myles went to Duxbury. I like to think that Ol' Toothy was on that sort of trip with Chatham. He went out to the country.

This is why I wanted a tag in Ol' Toothy. I looked in his eyes and saw a Local. Maybe he's a snowbird, maybe he isn't... but what's to stop him from coming back?

I don't know if he came through the Cape Cod Canal or if he looped around Provincetown. What I do know is that sharks don't get enough credit for their brains.

Think about it. They live in water. It all looks the same. Sharks have invented no GPS systems. Yet, the sharks know enough to head south for the winter, and to return to where the seals are in the summer. I know homeless people who aren't that sharp.

Ol' Toothy knows all that, but he knows something else, too. He knows how to get around Provincetown, or through the Canal. Rather than maybe fighting for territory on a crowded beach in Chatham, he has all of the South Shore to himself. The seals haven't diffused here from Chatham in great numbers yet, but there are more than enough to feed a forward-thinking shark devoted to a more leisurely existence than the one to be had in the rat race off Monomoy.

If the seals are in short supply, there is always a kayak to tip over. God shall provide....

Yup, my gut tells me that we haven't seen the last of Ol' Toothy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Taylor Swift In Wareham??

Driving down the Cranberry Highway today, while viewing the normal clutter of signs and billboards, one name caught my eye.


Cartland, an East Wareham amusement park (I'm stretching the term here, it's mini-golf and batting cages) has a sign up today that says "WELCOME TAYLOR SWIFT."

Everyone loves Swiftie, the impossibly cute songbird of kid-pop fame. She is one of the most famous people on the planet. Forbes has her net worth listed in the zillions. What the heck would she be doing in friggin' East Wareham?

I called Cartland. I expected some lame answer, something along the lines of "We're playing Taylor Swift music all day Saturday." What I got was my favorite answer, the one that lets me exercise my skills a bit.

"No comment."

Hmmmm... that leaves a lot to the imagination, no? Here's what I can come up with.

- Taylor is filming a video, and- for artistic reasons- she needs a shabby mini-golf course in a small town.

- Taylor is filming a video at, naturally, Swifts Beach in Wareham. Perhaps she intends to buy the whole of Swifts Beach, it's what I'd do if I were her.

- Taylor took a vow of poverty, and is now shacked up at the Silver Lake Motel with some Cape Verdean dude named Manny.

- Taylor has a place in Rhodey, and made a Rhode Trip into ?ham.

- Taylor, who bought a house in Hyannis Port while she was dating Konnor Kennedy (I may have spelled that wrong), is now in town to sign papers to rid herself of that house.

- Taylor is dating that Kennedy whelp again, and is basing herself in an area where all the roads lead. The Hell's Angels used Bourne for that very reason for several years, and the "all roads lead here" explanation is essentially why Gettysburg was fought where it was fought.

- Taylor, who has a show in Montreal tonight, wanted to play mini-golf in Wareham for reasons that only Taylor Swift knows.

- This paper can neither confirm nor deny the rampant rumors that Taylor Swift was seen having dinner with Duxbury philanthropist Stephen "Hoss" Bowden. Bowden owns property in nearby Buzzards Bay.

- John Henry, who has enough money to date her, has a place in Onset. No, not the steel-drivin' man John Henry, the Red Sox owner John Henry. While we're cherry-picking rich-and-or-cool celebrities, Bob Kraft has a place in Mashpee, Joe Perry lives in Duxbury, Bobby Orr lives in Sandwich, Meghan Trainor lives on Nantucket, Bill Belichick summers on Nantucket, Jay Miller lives in Cataumet, and Ben Affleck is in nearby Boston (and is freshly single). Marky Mark? Matt Damon? Rocky Marciano III? Quint? Crikey, it could be anyone!

- Wareham has been very friendly with the movie industry lately, with Adam Sandler and Steve Carell having filmed movies in a nearby water park.

- Taylor is a Dawson's Creek fan, and is trying to find locations to represent the show's fictional Massachusetts seashore town of "Capeside" for a Dawson's Creek movie. I actually don't know if she acts or not, I'm sort of culturally illiterate.

- Taylor is dating the next A-ROD, who is currently an unknown playing for the Bourne Braves or the Wareham Gatemen. Pop stars have a nose for that kind of thing.

- It's not THAT particular Taylor Swift who is coming to Cartland, as the park instead found someone with that name and is letting them mini-golf for free as a publicity stunt. Cartland is, after all, the home of the Beach Bucket Sundae.

- Swift has a show in Foxboro on July 25th, and is in town doing prep work. She wanted to mini-golf, and her staff was ordered to find mini-golf. Not being locals, they chose a Wareham course instead of something closer to Foxboro.

- South Coast... it's now, it's happening!

Either way.... if you want to see Taylor Swift in person and maybe carry her off in a sack like Borat... you could do a lot worse than to hang around Cartland and see if a limosuine pulls up. Don't say that we didn't warn you.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Bourne On The 4th Of July Retrospective

Nothing says "Happy July 4th" better than donning an Uncle Sam suit and walking down Main Street waving Old Glory.

The Cape Cod Whale Trail represented hard on the streets of the Bay.

You get a lot of music at the Bourne On The 4th Of July parade, but it tends to be like a minute of a song from 10 different bands.

No, they weren't all playing the same song, which- to be fair- would be quite a feat.

Why even own a hot car if you aren't going to crawl down Main Street in it during a parade while the suckers are steady hatin,' wishing they had your ride? It's like the old movie said... "You can't get laid IN that car.... but you get laid."

Not only did Bourne have a parade, we had an across-the-bay view of the Onset fireworks... without the Onset. We watched from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

The Bourne FD, steady rollin'....

The Boy Scouts and the Cub Scouts were handing out candy to parade viewers. Be Prepared... to give me some candy. I went home with a ton, and I'm 46. It's for my kid.... honest!

I kind of forget, but I think this is the Episcopal Church bear.

Terrorists rarely mess with July 4th parades, because July 4th parades often have the Armed Forces in them.

If your parade doesn't have Kilt People, your parade is wiggedy-wiggedy whack.

Any and every time I go to the park, I always check in with Stan Gibbs. Once I do, the rest of my time along the Canal will go off without incident.

Once the muay-thai people see you taking their picture, you want to use it, and make no jokes while using it.

Besides, if you're nice, Batman has martial artists give you candy. Note the still-life effect on the kid's throwing hand. He was throwing them like shuriken, with 100% accuracy. Nice shot, Jessica...

The DPW trots out the big pieces for the parade.

Everyone's favorite float, the Pirate Ship. The ship has cannon which can actually be fired. Keep in mind, explosions where people are lining the streets bring out screams of "Holy Tsarnaev!"

I usually only get this view of a sirens-on police truck when I am hiding under a car after a short pursuit.

The Canal Fest was also a big hit, making some money for the National Marine Life Center. There were lots of fun rides for the kids.

We now pause for a word from our sponsors...

See you next July 4th!