Monday, November 30, 2015

The Ranch House In Marshfield Sold?

People who grew up on the South Shore have long known that her time had passed... but it still hurts to see her go.

There are rumors that The Ranch House in Marshfield, which has been closed for most (closed in 2004) of this current century, has been sold. They were asking a mere $365K, reduced from $373K. It is zoned for Residential use now, so get ready for a McMansion or some condos.

Before that happens, they're going to have to put the wrecking ball to a local hardcore icon.

It makes sense. The derelict old building was a fire waiting to happen. I'm sure that some homeless have squatted in it. It's a vine-covered eyesore. If you get close, it smells like 1970s white trash vomit. Whatever rodents are running around your Canal Street yard probably winter in there. Out-of-town drunks still make the Hajj, only to find disappointment. It should have come down long ago.

That doesn't mean that we won't miss it.

There are bars and clubs all over the South Shore, but none of them were in The Ranch House's league as a den of debauchery. Set between a beach neighborhood and a marsh on Canal Street, it was at least a regional capital of the Irish Riviera.

You couldn't ask for an uglier locale. It looked like someone made it for a Patrick Swayze bouncer movie. The actual bar in the film Road House was miles ahead of the Green Harbor landmark as far as aesthetics go, and that movie was supposed to be about a dive.

To keep it Hollywood for people who may never have been inside... it's pretty much exactly like the bar that the Blues Brothers had to sing Rawhide in... except that bar was classier.

You parked on a dirt lot, wherever you could fit. If you had 4WD, you could park in the marsh. Once inside, you sat at the sort of tables that you see in the backyards of poor rural families. I think that they may have bought their chairs from a high school closing, and they were the perfect size/weight to hit someone with. The exposed rafters had the authenticity that you just don't get when a yuppie restaurant has exposed rafters- you were supposed to swing from these beams.

photos from Molisse Real Estate ("Selling the entire South Shore") ad for the property
She was, once you dotted the Is and crossed the Ts, a concert venue. Some of the greats trotted across that humble stage. Aerosmith played there when they were nobodies. I'm pretty sure that The Cars earned their stripes there. At least some of the J. Geils Band played there, if not the whole bunch of them at the same time. The Fools played there both before and after scoring a big hit.

You also had regional superpowers like Clutch Grabwell, Jim Plunkett or the Fat City Band playing there. You had cover bands galore, including Crystal Ship of Bitchin' Camaro fame. You had bands that never crossed the goal line, like the The Steamers, The Well Endowed Gentlemen, Silent Underground, Itchy Fish, Feel Thing and Exit 11. First ballot Rock and Roll Hall Of Famer Joe Perry of Aerosmith and little-known Hannes Schneider of the Injurys (I asked them, it's supposed to be spelled wrong) plugged their guitars into the same outlet.

A thousand other local bands tried and failed there. Your friend who can play the guitar a bit may have secured a slot there in his youth, only to find that their drawing power was limited to family and very close friends.

This focus on live music gave The Ranch House a different crowd than the dozen gin mills nearby.

Rather than a gathering of locals (although they were well-represented), TRH usually had a good crop of road trip people who were there because they liked the band. For a guy who struck out with the whole South Shore, the new girls this diversity provided probably prevented an alienated loner-style mass shooting at some point in my 20s the late 1980s.

You also had people- sometimes bikers- who came just because of TRH's reputation as a rowdy bar. The rowdy bar part worked for the locals. If your houseparty got the wrong crowd and it was time to move it to the bar... but if you didn't want to ruin your good name at the local bar that you frequent... that's why God gave us the Ranch House.

Beyond that, it becomes a hazy collage of drunken memories:

- I know a guy who got knocked out at the Ranch House, another guy who got his jaw broken, a third guy who tried to pepper spray some behemoth and the spray failed, catching him an extra-effort whupping. I know a guy who got a bottle broken over his head. I know a girl who slapped another girl unconscious there, and a bystander girl who got hit with a pool cue during a fight she wasn't in.

- I want to make sure to tip a glass to Mary, the waitress with the inexhaustible supply of miniskirts. She had a sister who worked there, forget her name, may have been Elaine some form of Teresa.

- Close to when the business sold, I saw Steven Tyler pay a visit to owner Dorothy Hudson there during a show with a full house. Some drunk walked up to him and said, "Hey, you're Steven Tyler," and Tyler went "No sh*t?"

- There's a rumor about a 70s era bouncer who threw a guy up the chimney.

- You could hear music and even distinguish song lyrics from Ranch House bands in Duxbury Beach neighborhoods. I may post this in a few Duxbury groups to see if the noise made it across the marsh into Duxbury Proper in the right weather conditions.

- It is very possible that Joe Perry, who at times lives a half mile across an open marsh from TRH, could sit on his back porch and listen to local Axemen trying to play Aerosmith covers on the Ranch House stage.

- A house on Ocean Road North in Duxbury once brought the bar home for an afterparty, even the band and their instruments.

- The loss of The Ranch House, coupled with the residentializing of Paddock's Package Store, means the end of Canal Street as a business district. It also killed two of my favorite spots with a range from about age 5 to 32.

- The Green Harbor General Store and the Brant Rock Market gained Paddock's beer/snacks customers. The local rowdies from TRH bled into the other local pubs.

- If your formerly low-key tavern deteriorated into rowdiness during the late Bush II era, that's most likely what happened to it.

They don't make 'em like The Ranch House anymore.

Marsh Vegas still has some rowdy bars, but it ain't what it once was.

Brian's Place is a Mama Mia's franchise now. The various bars that occupy the spot at the Green Harbor Marina are edging towards Yuppiedom. The Ocean Cafe, once the ugliest building that I ever enjoyed eating in, is now a lovely place that people call Haddad's. The Venus II got a facelift.

Marshfield- especially the Irish Riviera part- will never be a really delicate place. But it is changing...

Just one "Anyone have any Ranch House pics I can use?" post on Facebook brought up at least one Duxbury Wannabe comment regarding the nature of the neighborhood. Someone else called it "Duxbury Delusion Syndrome."

Coastal property- even if it is a few streets back- never loses that much value. Not everyone can hang onto the family cottage, nor can they turn down the money they can make selling it to some rich family.

The next thing you know, the people who own the rowdy hard-rock bar see the future coming, lack the desire to transition into something Yuppie, and decide to sell the property.

There were nibbles in 2004, but it's hard to build when you abut wetlands, have a reputation as the go-to rowdy bar on the South Shore that will take a generation to erase, and will immediately require a tear-down (it's essentially a giant doghouse) and re-build. I loved The Ranch House, but I wouldn't have dreamed of eating in that building, even bagged potato chips.

Most people have higher tastes than me, and that pretty much punched the ticket for The Ranch House.

It sucks when a relic from your past has to go away, and no one stays young forever. The live music scene is lessened for it, and you'll have to drive a bit to see a band in any sort of building that isn't better suited to a breakfast buffet. Most people will forget soon enough.

But not all...

It will be funny if whoever builds there throws up a large structure, and has to continually answer the door and tell people that The Ranch House no longer exists.

We probably aren't too far from a day where people will have to stop the car and think about exactly where The Ranch House used to be. There was once a time when there would have been no question about it.

You know that I'm stealing that Wagon Wheel. Dibs!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Who Invented The Gobbler?

We search for the genius who invented the Thanksgiving sandwich

Sure, there is trouble with ISIS, a Presidential campaign in full swing and our recession-recovery economy could use some tinkering, but hopefully that stuff will take care of itself.
I, instead, will focus on who invented the Gobbler.
The Gobbler, as you most likely know, is a regional name for a Turkey/Cranberry/Stuffing sandwich. Depending on where you're getting one, it may have a variety of ingredients. It may also have a variety of names, such as the Mayflower Sandwich, the Thanksgiving Sandwich, the Day After Thanksgiving Sandwich, the John Alden, the Myles Standish, the Squanto, the Samoset, the Massasoit, the Turkey Bomb, the TCS, the Black Friday Special, the Pilgrim Sandwich, the November Surprise, the Governor Bradford, and God knows what others.
It is one of America's most popular sandwiches, and on the day after Thanksgiving, it is THE most popular sandwich. While the Fluffernutter is the Boston's signature sandwich, the Gobbler is probably the signature sandwich of Plymouth County. I'd actually use Bourne as the cutoff point from which the lobster roll asserts her sandwich authority over the lands across the Canal.
With the advent of modern appliances, the immediate post-Edison version of the Gobbler was probably invented on the East Coast by whoever got hungry first before the plates were washed. Just like the Earl of Sandwich centuries before, this god-among-us figured out that thick bread makes for a pretty good plate. Before someone invented the fridge, leftover turkey most likely went into a slow-simmering soup.
We "know" that the Earl of Sandwich invented the sandwich in the 18th Century so he could eat while he gambled, and never-you-mind better historical claims by Europeans and their trencher/open-faced sandwiches, the ancient Jews and their matze Passover culinary explorations, or the Aztecs and their corn tortillas (often filled with turkey to make history's first turkey sandwich, but the Aztecs were nowhere near the cranberries needed for the Gobbler). None of their stories involve needing a hand free to gamble, so I'm going with Earl. If you are patient, we'll tie the Gobbler back to him.
Turkeys, native to America, were introduced to Europe in the 1500s through Turkish markets via the Spanish. Turkeys get their English name from where the English got turkeys, in Turkey. Stuffed turkey was popular in Europe by the 1600s, and bread was most likely on those same tables. Those are 3 of the 4 main ingredients in the Gobbler, but the cranberry sauce was a century away.
In spite of the fact that turkey-at-Plimoth was common knowledge, it didn't become the Thanksgiving anchorman in America until about 1800. If you need an English visual, remember that the Cratchit family from A Christmas Carol (1843) was going to eat a goose before Scrooge intervened with a holiday turkey and some Obamacare. Turkey was a popular holiday meal in America long before Abe Lincoln nationalized the holiday, and long before even that in Europe.
I struck out on finding the actual inventor of the Gobbler, and had difficulty even finding speculation on the matter. There were no claims made on it. Since my research yielded nothing, I am forced to rely on my own creativity and logic.
The Pilgrims look like a good bet, as they had turkey, stuffing (stuffing dates back to the Romans, at least), and- most importantly- access to cranberries. Not only access, but they also were essentially getting the first (white people) crack at them. They were slow to catch on, as the nation/world's first large cranberry cultivation system was established by American Revolution vet Captain Henry Hall in Dennis in 1816, but we were shipping them to Europe by 1820.
The Pilgrims were neither wealthy nor frivolous, and sugar is needed in large amounts to make cranberry sauce as we know it. The Ps might have used lightly sugared cranberries, as straight cranberry is too tart to eat enjoyably- even for someone who considered some nice salted mutton to be good eatin'. Such a thing as sugared berries would have almost certainly been a dessert.
All the necessary ingredients for the Gobbler were in place in some form at the first Thanksgiving. William Bradford's account put turkey, cranberries, and cornbread on the table. Stuffed turkey was a traditional holiday meal in the Europe they had just left. That almost assuredly puts stuffing (of a cornbread variety) on that table as well.
There were creative minds from a variety of cultures sitting at that table, and remember that some of those minds were quite remarkable. In that context, you'd almost be amazed if someone there didn't invent the Gobbler. It'd be like watching Tesla get transported to 2014 and fail to figure out how to turn on the TV.
While that doesn't solve the mystery, it gives us a basis for more speculation. Since we've narrowed it down to the table the Gobbler most likely was first enjoyed at, we have to- for the sake of everybody who got up on the 4th Friday in November and went straight for the hair of the dog- make an effort to name the genius in 1621 who put two and two together and somehow made something tastier than four.
I'll start by looking at the Wampanoags.
They shouldn't be the less obvious choice. They could make their own forms of bread, they had turkey running around, and probably had about 5,000-30,000 years of experience with cranberries before the Europeans arrived.
You can go to Plimoth Plantation tomorrow and see the Wampanoag historical role-players cooking cranberry cornbread (Nasaump) that looks a lot like squishy-style bird stuffing. They even made a cranberry boiled bread, a cranberry syrup called Sassamanesh, and had numerous turkey recipes. They were working with all of the ingredients for centuries.
Any argument against the Wampanoags inventing some form of the Gobbler pretty much hinges on nobody in 5-30000 years putting some meat, cranberries (cranberries were used when making pemmican, making the Wampanoag Gobbler even that much more likely), and some form of stuffing between two pieces of bread.
The reader will note that we mentioned ancient Native Americans using tortillas. Ideas move through different tribes just like they do with different Europeans, and the idea of wrapping food in bread could have quite possibly diffused from Tortilla Land to the Cranberry-Turkey Land. Once that happens, you just need one Algonquian genius.
You can run the Wampanoag-exclusive Gobbler theory right up to the first Thanksgiving. The Wampanoags introduced cranberries to starving English settlers, and they are almost certainly among the berries (although most likely in food prepared by the Wampanoags) described by Bradford in his account of the first Thanksgiving. 
I'd even pick a Wampanoag (not used to knives and forks and so forth) to be more likely to create a Gobbler when presented with turkey, cranberries, stuffing and bread than some scared and rigid European who was used to European table manners.
I'd even throw in the chance that some Pilgrim woman fashioned some sort of bread-cup and filled it with the Gobbler ingredients for a departing Wampanoag, inventing the Gobbler while concurrently serving America's first take-out meal.
The other option at that table to invent the Gobbler relies more on mysticism and legend... which you'd think would favor the Wampanoags, but they actually have too good of a grasp on Common Sense in this discussion to latch onto the abstract stuff. It favors Bourne.
I can make this simple. Even the most ardent supporter of the Wampanoag Gobbler theory would have to admit that the Great Spirit usually gives you a sign. While Plimoth had the more famous Wampanoag interaction and is the most likely Genesis Spot for a white man's Gobbler, the majority of trade between colonists and natives and the New Netherlands in the time following the feast went down at the Aptucxet Trading Post, in Bourne. There was a great deal of cultural and culinary diffusion going on in Bourne until around or before the Great Colonial Hurricane blew America's First Store flat in 1635.
If Plimoth was the Gobbler's Bethlehem, Bourne may have indeed been the Gobbler's Nazareth. From there, much like Jesus, it took over half the world. The ethnicity of the first Gobbler's creator matters less to me than the chance that someone from Bourne may have invented (or at least first ingested) one of America's greatest sandwiches.
The only problem here is that Bourne wasn't Bourne until 1884, when it broke away from the town it used to belong to, the town named for a British aristocrat, the town that wins the Pilgrims and Bourne the right to call the Gobbler their own, the town that grants my theory the approval of the Great Spirit, and the town that ends this discussion.
The name of that town?
"Sandwich. "
Gerard's Farm, in Marshfield
I (and now, you) may be the one person aware of this, but Bongi's Turkey Roost and Gerard's Turkey Farm are part of a notable equation.
Neither store owner (each with decades in the local business) could name a third competitor closer than West Bridgewater, and the next towns I heard mentioned were Framingham and Leominster... and they might not actually be the literal sandwich factories that Gerard's and Bongi's are.
However, in spite of the fact that there appears to be almost zero demand for such businesses even 20 miles away and outward, a very small area in a very small pair of towns is able to support two turkey sandwich specialty shops.
Bongi's and Gerard's have been in direct competition for almost 70 years, and both businesses are coasting along nicely. You can tell they are doing well, because the respective owners speak well of each other. Try this with, say, Local Oil Guy A and B or Local Car Dealership A and B, especially if they are 1) within 10 miles of each other, 2) selling the exact same product to the same households, and 3) the only businesses of that sort in the region.
Nope, it seems that demand is just fine for two turkey sandwich stores in this area. In fact, based on the bustling Tuesday lunch business I saw both establishments conducting, Plymouth County could probably support a few more businesses of this sort. Swamp Yankees love their Gobblers.
I did manage to discover some Class Distinction among the stores. Bongi's, in ritzy Duxbury, gets the Pilgrim crowd. Gerard's, along the road to the sea in Marsh Vegas, draws in the Irish Riviera crowd. Both stores have very parochial customer bases, as lovers of one tend to never go to the other.
These facts, plus the physical location of the businesses smack dab in the middle of towns founded by people who ate at the first Thanksgiving, pretty much cements the location of the Gobbler Heartland in a Duxbury/Marshfield semi-circle that, to dot the Is and cross the Ts, should also include neighboring towns Scituate, Kingston and Pembroke, and the cranberry producing towns of Carver, Whitman, Hanson, Halifax, the Bridgewaters, Plympton, Carver, and Wareham,. Plymouth and Bourne/Sandwich's inclusion in the mix goes without saying.
As I said earlier, the mainland/Bourne side of the Cape Cod Canal is where the Gobbler is supplanted by the Lobster Roll as the signature sandwich of the region. North of the Gobbler Zone, it becomes the Fluffernutter. That runs through Worcester. Beyond that, you're on your own.
Duxbury and Marsh Vegas can support two turkey sandwich stores. Nearby towns all over the South Shore, South Coast and Cape Cod have some form of the Gobbler on their sandwich shop menus. It then quickly levels off to a range of "better delis have a Gobbler Sandwich with some clever Pilgrim name as a lunch special now and then" to "fails to put stuffing or cranberry in it" as you get away from the cranberry-producing regions
You'd be amazed how quickly you would encounter areas where this sandwich is only eaten a day or two after Thanksgiving once you leave Massachusetts. 
Just for laughs, I checked out some delicatessen menus in other states. Wisconsin, which has a "choice of potatoes" section on the Rochester Deli menu, had a turkey panini with cranberry "relish," but not stuffing. Fat Guys Deli in Idaho (home of the Triple Chin Sandwich) had no Gobbler among their eclectic 30 sandwich menu. Jimmy John's in Alabama had nothing approaching a Gobbler. The Carnegie Deli has one, but it may actually be a dinner plate as opposed to a sandwich. $20.99, I believe. Canter's Deli is LA has nothing.
I was raised in Ground Zero on this one, and generally assemble the necessary ingredients about once a month or so, depending on how close to Gerard's or Bongi's I get.
Bongi's, in Duxbury!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Football Schedule And Predictions For SE Massachusetts

Thanksgiving means turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, family gatherings, giving thanks for what you have... and rooting for the kids in your town to stomp all over the kids from the next town over.

Lots of money will change hands this Thursday, as Town Primacy will be established all over Massachusetts. I have rarely seen two gymnasts or cross-country runners from rival schools bragging about a meet or a match twenty years later, but you see it all the time with high school football.

I have bet money with a priest on a field goal attempt once, if you wonder how deep this column lives it, baby.

Drinking whiskey from a flask, Bloody Marys and Cider are acceptable morning alcoholic drinks, but you have to be low-key.

Remember to check multiple sources for times and locations, as my schedule sometimes forgets to list times or thinks that Barnstable is playing Falmouth Academy (who I am not sure has a team). You don't want to start your Thanksgiving holiday by going to the wrong town at the wrong time because MaxPreps made an error that a stoner journalist failed to notice when writing this article on the 3 AM Werewolf Shift.

On to the squabbles...

Plymouth North vs Plymouth South, 10 AM

As we will say at length in an upcoming article, the Thanksgiving game between North and South should be stylized, televised, and shown live on ESPN on Thanksgiving morning. Same with the parade, but maybe ABC for that. I taught at North, so...

North, 34-17

Oliver Ames at Sharon 10 AM

If Oliver spelled his last name differently, this could be perceived as an "Oliver aims at Sharon" threat. Stick around folks, I got a trillion of 'em. Sharon beat O&A 28-12 in October, at O&A's own field.

Sharon, 31-14

Mansfield at Foxboro, 10 AM

I refuse to use the "ough" for Foxboro, Middleboro, Northboro and so forth. Foxy Bro is an 8-3 host, while Mansfield is 5-5. However,Mansfield always has a tough team, and they'll squeak one out here.

Mansfield, 14-13

Carver at Middleboro, 10 AM

Carver can finish above .500 for the first time in many moons if they beat Middy, and Middy stood a good chance of resting her starters for the playoffs... but then Middy got eliminated, so they will instead empty the whole clip into Coach Reeve's kids.

Middleboro, 24-13

Apponequet at Old Rochester, 10 AM

I'll take the road 'dog, just because I need practice spelling "Apponequet."

Apponequet, 23-21

Dartmouth at Fairhaven, 10 AM

Fairhaven will lose this game, but they have the cooler-looking high school building.

Dartmouth, 30-10

East Boston vs South Boston/Snowden/Upper Quincy/Excel/Green Academy, 9:30 AM

South Boston/Snowden International/Upper Quincy/Excel/Green Academy's cheerleaders take 45 minutes or longer to go through their "Gimme an S..." cheer. They are just now finishing that cheer from their previous game.

Eastie 44-14

Hingham at Scituate, 10 AM

The winner will be above .500, the loser will be below it. Scituate has lost their last three games to the tune of 107-29

Hingham, 24-17

Wareham at Bourne, 10 AM

198-27 score in Wareham's last 6 losses.

Bourne, 9-6

Rockland at East Bridgewater, 10 AM

EB, which sounds like something you'd take Cialis to deal with, can walk into the Super Bowl undefeated... but to get to the Super Bowl healthy, they may sit the starters. Betting these games can be difficult. If they play the starters for a half, they should win big. If the JV plays the whole game, Rockland may win by double digits.

EB, 24-23

Barnstable at Falmouth, 10 AM

Falmouth won 6-0 in 1895. Barnstable leads the series by 1, 60-59-8. May as well set up some high stakes for 2016.

Falmouth, 33-31

Bristol-Plymouth at Blue Hills, 10 AM

B-P's mascot/nickname? Craftsmen

Blue Hills, 30-17

Silver Lake at Pembroke, 10 AM

Pembroke is fighting off a winless season.

Silver Lake, 20-17

Cardinal Spellman at Archbishop Williams, 10 AM

If they ever got a few high schools devoted to Satanism, that would make for an excellent Thnaksgiving game.... "Cardinal Spellman vs Lucifer Tech." Until then, we get Priest Fights.

Cardinal Spellman, 27-24

North Quincy at Quincy, 10 AM

I lived in Quincy as a kid, but I'm not sure if I was in North Quincy territory or just regular Quincy territory. I seem to think that I lived in West Quincy, which is not an option on the menu. My loyalty runs out at Furnace Brook Elementary School, which is now named for the guy who was the principal when I was there. I'd ask my brother which school I'd be at if I stayed in Quincy, but if I suddenly chose a side this late in life, the resultant bias might mar my otherwise laser-sharp sports betting prowess.

Quincy, 14-13

Mashpee at Sandwich, 10 AM

I actually have an article online somewhere that chrnicles my research into the origin of the Thanksgiving Sandwich.

Mashpee, 40-27

Weymouth at Walpole, 10 AM

I wonder if Walpole could beat an all star team assembled from the nearby prison?

Walpole, 21-14

Taunton at Coyle-Cassidy, 10 AM

If Taunton is to get a win this season, they couldn't ask for a better foe than 2-9 C-C.

Taunton, 13-12

South Shore Vo-Tech at Southeastern Regional Voke Tech, 10 AM

Southeastern is in South Easton, which is pronounced the same by Massachusetts people.

SSVT, 24-14

Bishop Connolly at Saint John Paul II, 10 AM

Saint John Paul II is hobbled by their tendency to score in Roman Numerals.

Bishop Connolly, 28-XIV

Norwell at Hanover, 10 AM

Norwell looks like a good bet to need some Hanover cures.

Hanover, 31-13

Monomoy at Sacred Heart, 10 AM

Stacey is a Sacred Heart grad, so we'd better choose them.

Sacred Heart, 12-9

Upper Cape Tech at Cape Cod Tech, 10 AM

Upper Cape is sort of the cream of the local Voke-Tech crop.

UCT, 21-10

Diman vs Greater New Bedford, 10 AM

GNB can go above .500 for the season if they win.

GNB, 21-20

Braintree at Milton, 10 AM

Braintree can go over .500 if they beat 10-1 Milton.

Milton, 44-17

New Bedford at Durfee, 10 AM

Fall River needs to change the name of that school if they want me to bet on them.

New Beffuh, 20-10

Cohasset at Hull, 10 AM

If they didn't have such a cute seaside stadium, I'd want Hull to redesign their stadium to look like H-E-Double Hockey Sticks. I'd want the effect Clint Eastwood was going for with Lago in High Plains Drifter.

Cohasset, 28-7

Nauset at Dennis-Yarmouth, 10 AM

Nauset has to fight Dennis and Yarmouth, so it's already skewered from the get-go.

D-Y, 21-13

Whitman-Hanson at Abington, 10 AM

Abby alwys has a tough program, and W-H has been slipping recently.

Abington, 30-20

Bishop Feehan st Bishop Stang, 10 AM

Someone is going to beat the Bishop.

Stang, 21-19

West Bridgewater at Holbrook/Avon, ?

It'd be funny if the Avon half of the team was always trying to sell cosmetics to the Holbrook half of the team. I'm not sure what time the game is, I think 10 AM.

The WB, 17-14

Brockton at Bridgewater-Raynham, 10 AM

7-3 vs 6-4... I'll go with 10-6, which was the score when they played 3 weeks ago.

Brockton, 10-6

Somerset-Berkley at Case, 10 AM

Case is in Swansea, in Case someone bets you that you don't know where Case is.

S-B, 20-18

BC High at Catholic Memorial, 7 PM

Watch kids vomit forth their turkey dinners... under the lights!

BC High, 20-17

Duxbury at Marshfield, 10 AM

10-1 vs 8-2, two local powerhouses sharing a lengthy border... this is probably the game of the day. They both smoked their common opponent. Duxbury just got sent home from the playoffs by Milton, while Vegas was overwhelmed by Reading in the playoffs. It is the Super Bowl for both teams. Marshfield is 6-0 at home, has played an out-of-state game, and is heavily favored. Guess where I graduated from, and which team I have blood playing for?

Duxbury, 33-29

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

If The Right People Were Running Plymouth....

Plymouth has a lot going for it. They have miles of coastline. They are dripping with history. They have an active downtown area. They have hotels and tourist-type places.

Plymouth also owns Thanksgiving. Her rule there is undisputed. There is no number one contender to that title. Plymouth owns it outright.

They take advantage of it. Pilgrims and Wampanoags are used to advertise businesses, decorate homes, and to generally set the mood of the community.

Just this past weekend, I went to a wonderful Thanksgiving parade that brought in locals by the thousands. All of those people spent money in the local economy, and Plymouth was the happening spot for a day.

There's nothing wrong with that.

I'd like Plymouth to happen a little harder.

Nothing burns the frontal lobes of a writer with nada in the pipeline than an underutilized resource.

You might think that my feelings on this are greedy and perhaps even crazy. They are definitely not in tune with the spirit of the season.

Thanksgiving is about being happy with what you have, not about thinking "How can I make money?" and so forth. There admittedly are some errors in my argument when viewed from that viewpoint.

However, a rising tide lifts all boats that don't have a big hole punched in the bottom. You can always be thankful, but you can always also be More thankful.

Here are a few ideas I have that might get this town on a payin' basis. We have a lot of nuclear reactor money to make up.

Thanksgiving Football

Is there anything that compelling beaming out of ESPN on, say, a holiday Thursday? Why not make the Plymouth North/Plymouth South Thanksgiving football game be a national event?

A big part of Thanksgiving lore in America involves going to the holiday high school football game, either the one where you went to high school at or the one in the town your kids go to school in. I'm about five years from having to make a very painful Duxbury-to-Bourne switch when my kid finally gets School Spirit.

ESPN should show a game. Sure, if they get one from Texas where they have 300 pounders all along the offensive line and the cornerbacks run a 4.4, and that would get you a higher level game. However, a lot of the charm is lost if it looks too much like a pro game, especially if they play it at one of those Texas schools with the 50,000 seat stadiums and the History textbooks that end with Jimmy Carter in the White House.

I would instead radically re-design the football stadium for one of the schools, or perhaps even build a stadium on a neutral site. I'd put it near the sea, preferably near wherever the Pilgrims actually set foot ashore.

There are a lot of woodlands around the nuclear reactor (if you ever want to see a satellite view of suburban sprawl coming to a skidding halt on either side of something, do a Google Map of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant), maybe they could build it in there.

Thanksgiving Stadium (my idea, I'll name it) would have less than 50,000 seats, but would possess several interesting visual facets:

- A giant replica Mayflower III on the seaside wall of the stadium, craftily positioned so that it would look like it was floating with the right camera angles. When either team scored, it could wobble back and forth as if in surf, while Rock The Boat (Don't Tip The Boat Over) plays on the loudspeakers.

- A complete recreation of a Pilgrim and a Wampanoag village in either end zone.

- A much better version of Plymouth Rock. I would use the largest boulder that can be moved by modern machinery,and make it be the non-sea-side wall of the stadium. I'd use a Disney-style fake rock if moving a small mountain became problematic.

- This Plymouth Rock would be hollowed out enough that the "1620" can be lit with fire or plasma rays. If we could somehow project the 1620 onto the moon, I'd be a-ight with that.

- A completely functional and life-sized lighthouse, which admittedly may be redundant with the 1620 neon sign.

- A seven hundred foot Turkey Of Vengeance robot who bursts forth from the sea to seek dinner-related vengeance on the crowd. We'd stop him before he killed too many people, of course.

Once we have the stadium in place, we'd need to get the schools up to speed.

We don't need to have the kids playing pro-level football, but it can't look like a Pop Warner game. Top coaches should be brought in, players from other schools should be lured in and the phys-ed classes K-12 should be hyper-intensified. I would not be put off by Soviet Union/Red Army comparisons.

We'd have to re-mascot the schools, as well. North could be the Pilgrims, South would be the... OK, this gets touchy.

"Wampanoags" is sort of a mouthful. "Indians" seems almost like a slur. "Sachems" lacks brand name recognition, and I think Middleboro or someone may already be the Sachems. "Warriors" is a bit bloody-minded. "Squantos" has a ring to it, although there was only one Squanto and we'd be heading into Lone Rangers territory. "Natives" sounds like what the Tea Party would name a team if they had one.

I suppose we could go Team Standish vs Team Alden, for the Massasoit Trophy. To be fair, Team Metacom vs Team Wamsutta for the Mayflower Trophy also works.

We'd also have to get the cheerleaders to step up their game. I'm thinking this, and this.

In turn for pretty much handing them their holiday viewing (and  30 for 30 special, or whatever they call those) for every Thanksgiving, ESPN will see that Plymouth gets a little financial compensation.

Compensation would be in order. I'm not sure that "free publicity" means much to a town that is in the early chapters of every American History textbook, Likewise, nationally televised stadium advertising would be limited, as very few people in Chicago are going to be ordering delivery from The Pizza Factory on Home Depot Road in America's Hometown.

No, Plymouth will be requiring little green pieces of paper with Founding Father Faces.

America would adopt the game as their own. It might not sell out East where many are going to their own HS games, but it would be prime morning viewing for anyone a time zone or three over.

Thanksgiving Parade

Speaking of compulsory national Thanksgiving viewing, we could make some improvements to the Thanksgiving parade and get it up on the tube.

Macy's has a Thanksgiving parade. Philadelphia and Detroit also have prominent Thanksgiving parades. New York was an Algonquian trading post with 5000 Lenape natives when the first Thanksgiving was held in 1621. Why should they have the Thanksgiving parade?

F*** them.

The Thanksgiving parade held in Plymouth should be televised nationally. The Macy's parade gets 88 million eyes a year. It is a national tradition that the much smaller Plymouth has little chance of vanquishing.

Plymouth could work some odd angle for their parade, to distinguish it from the giant Macy's parade that we have no chance of defeating straight up.

The Macy's parade starts at 9 AM, and ends about when the North/South football team would be starting. We'd be fools to run opposite of that.

Why not try the night before, or even Thanksgiving night?

7 PM, either night. I like the Thursday night idea better, as we'd be trying to wedge in between the 4 PM NFL game and the 8:30 PM game. We'd have all of the vacationers in town already, as opposed to a Wednesday night event.

We'd have to weed out the weaklings among the parade attractions. We'd have to hunt up corporate sponsorship, which could be used to super-power the floats.

We'd have to consider altering the parade route. I like Benny's as much as the next person doesn't, but it's not the place for a Jump Off. I'm thinking of using 3A, maybe make the parade run from Plimoth Plantation to Plymouth Rock. That may also prove problematic. but we can sweat the details later.

The important part is the ending, which is also why Thursday night is crucial to the parade.

Plymouth is already the home of Thanksgiving. Why not also take the running-unopposed title for Black Friday?

That's right... go from humbly thanking the Gods for what you have to the Gimme Gimme Gimme of the Christmas shopping season. It's the most important day of the consumer year, and no one owns it.

Plymouth could take possession of Black Friday simply by already having the eyes of the nation on them already via the football game and the parade. End that parade at Plymouth Rock, and light a mammoth Christmas tree there.

A simple, symbolic act, lighting that tree. It will match the neither Rockefeller Center tree, nor even the Boston tree. However, what it lacks in prestige, it makes up for in timing. Tied to the Thanksgiving parade, at a slack hour between football games.... Boom.

Why let Barry steal our thunder?

Granted, I'm aiming high, with stadiums and new holidays and all. Plymouth should aim high. If we don't, someone might come along and take Thanksgiving from us. New York already has the nationally televised parade that by all rights should belong to Plymouth.

We can take it back, if we Think Big.

Whether that makes enough money to pay for the effort remains to be seen. I'm more of an idea guy than a bean counter. The bean counters would have the hard job.

However, if Plymouth has a chance to profit heavily off of a holiday that they already own, and if they have a chance to claim a second holiday, would they not be wise to look into the best case scenario?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Checking Out The Plymouth Thanksgiving Parade

Happy Thanksgiving From America's Hometown!!

We did the Pilgrimmy thing today, and headed up to America's Hometown to check out the Thanksgiving Parade.

We'll discuss this in a future article, but the Plymouth parade on Thanksgiving should be the premier Thanksgiving event in the country. I feel very strongly about this, like 10000 words strongly.

The football game should also be ESPN huge, but I'm near what my teachers used to call "getting off-topic."

Here's our vantage point. We posted up at the Mobil station, right where Route 44 meets Route 3A.

Once the parade started, I climbed up onto the Dunkin' sign by the road so I could take blurry pictures from a great height. The cop near me was in too good a mood to shoo me off of it, or perhaps he hoped I'd fall.

We parked at the Lobster Hut, which was a mistake that we'll end the story with.

In case you think that we're trying to pull a fast one on you by going to the Plymouth, Minnesota parade.... here's a line stretching 50 deep out the door for a gas station Dunkin' Donuts.

You don't get more Massachusetts than that, blogga....

Stop trying to think of a one-upper, nothing beats mad headz at a Dunkin'. Maybe if this shot was taken during a blizzard...

Turkey was going to be a prominent theme in this parade, as Thankfulness is an abstract concept or something, and is hard to put on a float.

Every year, they park this float under the Myles Standish monument in Duxbury, and every year, they find an empty plate the next morning.

Myles is like 200 feet tall, you see...

OK, next picture....

Thatched roofs rool.

If this magazine ever makes me my many millions, I want to buy a house on a hill in my old neighborhood, and pay the property taxes of everyone in the valley below if they all get thatched roofs. I think the Great Gatsby offered his neighbors that deal.

If the Pilgrims had invented a mobile house and developed some means of making it move, King Phillip's War would have been over in a week... unless the Wampanoags just walked 50 feet into the woods, of course.

It's not a parade until the vintage cars come out.

If the right people were running this parade, these two guys would have went first, and raced. Benny's to the Mayflower. I can't tell you how much I want next year's parade to start like that, folks.

I don't know the top speed of a Model T, but I'm sure that the elderly and infants could cross the street fast enough if the dice came up on them.

If not, Deathrace 1620!

I apologize for the blurry pic, but as I was shooting it, I froze up and went "Is that a f***ing basketball in the horn o' plenty?"

Somebody should have stepped in there, and maybe used a turnip or some celery or something. That looks like a cork... shaped like a basketball.

There are a few blurry shots in here, I plan to joke around any further explanations. I'm a genuinely rotten photographer who sometimes gets pressed into action because I'm tall enough to shoot over crowds.

They should have borrowed the pirate ship from Bourne's July 4th parade, they had cannons on that ish. There was some gunfire at this parade... of a celebratory nature, of course.

While they most likely had a few among their numbers who had the English shooting at them, not many Wampanoags had seen guns in action by 1621. A good Musketry display would be like a fireworks show for them. I bet the Pilgrims let off some Happy Fire, partly to entertain, partly to intimidate.

I'm not picking on the Wampanoags as being rubes. Not many naturally occurring noises are louder than right-next-to-your-ear gunfire.

I read a story about Pickett's Charge, an event that went down almost 242 years after Plymouth's feast, which said that the bombardment that preceded the charge was the loudest sound ever heard by anyone on the battlefield who hadn't been directly next to a lightning strike or who wasn't nearby when Krakatoa erupted.

These dudes were letting off shots, as well. Much like the militia at the New England Patriots games, I'm imagining that they don't use live ammunition.

I may be oversensitive and a bit of a party pooper, but should there be gunfire at post-Paris or even post-Columbine public gatherings? You can only see the militia if they are right in front of you... otherwise, you just get a sudden burst of out-of-context gunfire.

You just need one person to panic, and a few hundred will follow. The next thing you know, it's like that Who concert that Andy and Johnny Fever gor Mr. Carlson (I forget the guy's name) to go to. General Admission. Mass Hysteria. Bad News.

You just need a France float, to put the word "terrorist attack at a public event" into your mind before the militia empties the clip, Thank God nobody made one of those, huh?

Aw, merde!

Floats That Should Have Been In The Parade But Weren't:

- The Smallpox Float, with an English fisherman coughing on a healthy-no-more Wampanoag.

- The float for the Dissident Wampanoag faction, with a big broken treaty on it or something.

- The North Plymouth float, with a dozen Brazilian dishwashers and landscapers in the bed of a F-350.

- A float that shows Samoset and Squanto learning their English by watching Monty Python movies.

- The float from Entergy, with the oddly-glowing nuclear reactor.

- The Thomas Granger buggery float.

- The float for what you know had to be 5% or so of both the Pilgrim and Wampanoag population who are down with GLBT .

We did have the Overcoat/Top Hat guy parade contingent.

I wasn't looking when the guy with the sign that explained who they were went by.

They could be up to something nefarious, as at least one member in the crowd was caught on my camera throwing the Heil Hitler salute.

Blurry picture, but I wanted you to understand that my Game even works with colonial women. You can't blame the girls, I ooze a machismo that women of any era find becoming. It even makes the camera blurry now and then.

1620s women living in a primeval forest know how to ham it up for the photographer, you'll notice.

My charm even bewitches women of the modern era. Notice that all of the WCVB Eye Opener morning news team girls are waving to get my attention. Shoot, even Randy Price is waving.

After I shot the pic, Randy threw me what I hope was Cindy Fitzgibbons' hotel room key. It's all good (this column is very pro-gay for one penned by a crude, no-filter humorist with a steady girlfriend), as long as whoever answers the hotel door knows that 1) I'm pitching, and 2) I like french toast for breakfast..

I'm not sure how WCVB gets exclusive parade rights.

You'd figure that every local channel would be there. What other Thanksgiving parade matters? It'd be a better parade if some float competition existed between WCVB, WBZ and so forth. We'd have some excellent floats.

I bet FOX would have an anti-immigrant float, but that would be fun on a sunny day in Suburbia, USA.

Either way, it wasn't happening.

I thought that this was one of those little M&M guys from the commercials, but it actually is a very rounded-off Plymouth Rock mascot.

They should probably take the real Plymouth Rock out of the portico and put it on a flatbed truck for the next parade. Have the Homecoming Queen from both Plymouth North and Plymouth South ride with it. You could throw a few John Aldens onto the float to make it more Pilgrimatic.

It needs some sort of gig, it just sits there otherwise.

Hey.... who invited these guys?

Oh yeah, the Pilgrims were English, kinda. Their militia didn't wear the redcoats, however. Those colors were reserved for Regular Army. Our militia dressed like Davy Crockett or someone.

No, I don't think (I may be wrong) that King Phillip's War was fought by people in those Quaker Oats-looking Pilgrim hats.

I just want it on the Internet somewhere that the big Loyalist town around here in the American Revolution was Marshfield.

Pikes were a prominent weapon in that era, although muskets soon made them obsolete.

They say that Stonewall Jackson ordered pikes, and that he would have used them on Little Round Top... a battle which was saved by a desperate bayonet charge that worked like gangbusters against a foe who had a 7 step musket-loading process, but which would have failed against someone with bigger spikes.

No one had to be impaled at Plymouth today, at least when I was around.

I like the lighthouse float, especially that Gurnet Point-ish lighthouse up front.

That's not light from the lighthouse. I just had  bit of trouble with reflections from car windshields at the rival gas station across the street. Sometimes, stuff like that works to your advantage.

I couldn't really shoot around the gas station. My perch, while effective vertically, had a sort of peripheral issue with a streetlight pole on one side of me and the gas station prices sign on the other.

You gotz to have a Mayflower in your Thanksgiving parade, or your Thanksgiving parade is wiggedy wiggedy wiggedy whack.

Bonus points if you have a cool ocean under the Mayflower.

The Mayflower was supposed to be in a Virginia holiday parade, but it was blown off course.

This float obviously spent all of her creative energy on the thatched roof house.

The back of it looks like a Liberace set. You almost expect to see a Pilgrim version of Merv Griffin watching from a nearby desk.

"Ready serve, entertain like Merv..."

I didn't stay for the whole parade. I started needing a drink after this float went by.

I started needing a drink more after leaving. I managed to trap myself. I thought that I was a smart guy, parking at The Lobster Pot. I was actually the dumb guy.

Seeing as the parade went from Benny's to somewhere around the Court, the police blocked off 3A on either side of it. Anyone who parked between 3A and the ocean was lit outta shuck until the parade was over. I got as close to Kingston as I could get, and was on 3A heading north about 2 minutes after the last float went by.

Happy Thanksgiving!!