Monday, May 30, 2016

Rainy Memorial Day Traffic Notes And Gas Prices For Cape Cod

It is said that, much like how the Eskimo has 200 words for snow, residents of Bourne have hundreds of different classifications for traffic. They distinguish between weekend and weekday traffic, summer and winter traffic, rain/snow/sun traffic and holiday traffic.

Today is one of those subsets... Rainy Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is when summer starts on Cape Cod. Summer people opening their cottages, winter cottage rentals departing, hotels getting summer volume, places with SEE YOU NEXT SUMMER signs un-shuttering, old people smart enough to come off-season arriving... all of the little omens that the locals know of are in effect.

Traffic heading on-Cape was heavy on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Many of those people have to be on the mainland by Tuesday, and most of them will be making the Drang nach Westen at some point today.

Again, traffic is always going to be bad on Memorial Day Monday. I know it sucks right now, and I haven't opened Google Traffic since I got home from lunch. However, as the list of services offered by the Mustang Ranch in North Las Vegas tells you, there are different kinds of sucking. Allow me to explain.

A nice, sunny Memorial Day means that everyone bails out in the evening, after a day at the beach, a nice dinner and some time spent packing. This has a tendency to put them on the road at the same time. This is where you get those 15 mile traffic jams that Cape Cod is famous for.

A rainy Memorial Day breaks the people up a bit, leading to a heavy-but-lesser flow of the day-long variety. I was writing this article at 8 AM, and there was substantial traffic heading off-Cape even then. Those were the people who saw a rainy Memorial Day coming and opted to bail ahead of the traffic, the Cape Cod version of a guy sneaking out of a Pats game when we're up 42-10 after 50 minutes. Beat the traffic, before it beats you.

Other people, especially those who rented the place they were staying at all weekend, are determined to make a day of it. Cape Cod has shops, museums, galleries, restaurants and all sorts of stuff with a roof over it to pass the time. This tendency to stick it out is not restricted to those who have or don't have children.

Cape Cod will get day-trippers, even with this rotten weather. Some and perhaps many grandfathers who were alive when Hurricane Donna came ashore don't consider this to be real rain, and will insist on hosting a barbecue in it. This effect is limited. We've been keeping an eye on traffic heading both on and off-Cape for most of the day, and there has been no problem at all getting on to Cape Cod.

Even with the people bailing out early, there should be some heavy traffic tonight. The smart people leave early Tuesday morning, but you'll see plenty of the Other Type as you crawl up Route 6 tonight.

We've already had some traffic difficulty, as heavy rains flooded the Cranberry Highway up by the old 99. The road, which was having traffic diverted through the Stop & Shop plaza, is now open.

Note that there comes a time, usually in the Church hours of the morning, where you are under a lesser risk of encountering an impaired driver. Not too long after that, the risk goes up, and it gets to roll-them-dice levels on days where disappointed tourists have been drinking all day.

If you must go, don't forget to fuel up! You don't want to run out of gas in a ten mile bumper-y-bumper traffic jam while a tropical storm is pouring water up from Carolina at you. Here are the best (reported) prices for each Cape Cod town.

Eastham: $2.39 a gallon, Tedeschi's, Vandale Circle

Orleans, $2.34/gallon, Cumberland Farms, Route 6A

Chatham, $2.31, Cumberland Farms, Main Street and Roundabout Gas, Main Street

Brewster, $2.36, Cumberland Farms, Main Street

Harwich, $2.32, Harwich Gas And Propane

Dennis, $2.23, Mobil, East-West Dennis Road

Yarmouth, $2.29, Speedway, Main Street and Cape Cod Farms, Main Street

Barnstable, $2.29, Sunoco, Falmouth Road and Gulf, Falmouth Road

Hyannis, $2.26, Airport Gas, Mary Dunn Road

Mashpee, $2.26, Stop & Shop, Falmouth Road

Sandwich, $2.34, Shell, Route 6A

Bourne (Capeside), $2.35, Mobil, Clay Pond Road

Bourne (Mainland), $2.26, Bay Village Full Serve, Main Street

Wareham, $2.23, Speedway, Main Street and Joe's Gas, Main Street

Plymouth, $1.89, Mobil, South Street

3 PM UPDATE: Traffic on Route 6 heading off-Cape is stretched back to Exit 6, while traffic on 28 is jammed back to the Otis Rotary.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Holiday Weekend Weather, And Early-Season Tropical Storm Information

We wish you the best on this Memorial Day weekend. Many plans, both solemn and joyous, will be influenced by the weather. We'll try to get you prepped for this.

Today should be nice. Aside for an isolated-but-powerful thunderstorm pushing ESE off of Nantucket at 8 AM, sunny skies should rule the early part of the day. Cloudiness will increase in the afternoon, and we'll have the chance for some sweet late-night thunderstorms.

High temperatures will push 80 on Cape Cod (a SW wind will help cool us off), and aim for the 90s inland. Here are some record high temperatures for the day that I stumbled across:

Boston -- 92 set in 1931
Providence -- 91 set in 1931
Hartford -- 93 set in 1977
Worcester -- 88 set in both 1911 and 1929
Milton/Blue Hill -- 90 set in 1929

HHH, friends... Hazy, Hot and Humid.

Sunday looks to be a mix of clouds and sun, and it will be a bit cooler (60s-70s). Some rain may arrive on Sunday night, which is where we get to that spaghetti chart with the tropical storm in it from at the top of the page up yonder.

Don't worry about a tropical storm hitting us Monday. Our water isn't warm enough to support it, even if it raced up at us. Although the season has begun, New England's tropical storm threat runs more August-October. Tropical storms are heat engines, and the waters south of us (water temperatures are in the 50s) presently have no fuel for her.

However a tropical storm does look like she will sample a bit of South Carolina cooking. Presently known as Tropical Depression Two, she is forecast to become Tropical Storm Bonnie by tonight.

Bonnie should be no big deal, sort of a nor'easter with an attitude. After striking the Carolinas, she looks to take a run up the coastline at New England, guided by an area of high pressure offshore and with an eastern-moving frontal boundary throwing her precipitation at us. That's where we get our taste of Bonnie.

She'll be a soaking rainstorm if we get a direct or even indirect hit out of her. The worst for SE Massachusetts looks to be in the late afternoon, but the threat of rain will be on us all day. If you have some shindig planned for Monday, you should have a strong indoor backup contingency plan.

She doesn't look to do much for the surf, as she won't be that strong when she's near us. There could be some rough surf on the South Coast and the Cape once she's been churning South of us for long enough. Don't board up the house or anything.

June tropical systems are rare in New England, and May ones are pretty much unheard of. This is a pretty concise list of New England hurricanes, and you don't see much/any early season activity vis a vis the Tropics. Even July is pretty weak historically up here.

Tropical Storm Agnes, which was a hurricane south of us, came ashore near New York City in June of 1972, but the effects on New England were minimal. Remnants of tropical storms like Alison (2001), Arlene (2005), Alberto (2006) and Barry (2007) also tapped New England in June. Barry dropped 3 inches of rain on Taunton. The dominant feature with these storms for New England, and especially eastern New England, were rain. Expect more of the same with Bonnie.

Ominous Storm Notes.... I used to roll with a girl named Bonnie when I was a younger man, and with God as my witness, and she once rendered me unconscious.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Volunteers Needed To Plant Flags At Veterans Cemetery

Hey folks!

We thought we'd pass on a request from Operation Flags For Vets.

OFFV is an effort to plant 66,000 flags on the graves of military veterans in Massachusetts National Veterans Cemetery in Bourne. They need volunteers.

May 28, 2016

Operation Flags for Vets will again be placing flags on the graves at the Massachusetts National Veterans Cemetery in Bourne, Massachusetts for Memorial Day. We are looking for volunteers to help with this worthy and solemn endeavor. People of all ages are welcomed to help in the placement of the 57,000 flags on the final resting place of our beloved veterans. 

Operation Flags for Vets is a program of the SFC Jared C. Monti Charitable Foundation established in memory of Medal of Honor recipient SFC Jared C. Monti; KIA Afghanistan 6-21-06. Donations to our foundation may be mailed to Paul Monti 408 Center Street Raynham, MA 02767."

We'll be there in some form. It's good for the kid to get a little patriotism, and a bit of work in the sun is good for me. With 66,000 flags to plant, they're going to need some diggers.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Archives: 2007 Nor'easter Hits Duxbury Beach

We're transferring our photo archive from one spot to another, and we're unearthing a few pictures that we'l be sharing out over the upcoming weeks.

One theme you will see a few times is "Duxbury Beach, Nor'easter."

We have a pile of pics on this topic, so brace yourselves over the next few weeks.

Hurricane season is actually the calm time on Duxbury Beach, so these storm photos will hopefully keep the storm-lovers happy during the off-season.

My memory is notoriously spotty, but I'm pretty sure that these pictures are from a 2007 nor'easter.

My sister Sheila is on the camera, and these pictures are from Ocean Road North on Duxbury Beach

These pictures ran on Cape Cod TODAY, who used to go off-Cape now and then if a writer maybe had a sister trapped in a beach house during a coastal storm.

It is technically Cape Cod Bay, I suppose. It also is part of why the Irish Riviera is included in this article.

If you'd like a scale of reference, take note of the fence in the lower left hand corner.

Keeping a lawn is a tough business on Duxbury Beach. Every winter, the storms take big chunks of it away, and what's left has been power-soaked in Atlantic salt water.

When I lived there, I had a lawn, a garden and a high-maintenance cobblestone patio to the right of that fence. Re-did it every year. I'm one of the very few people walking around in 2016 with a permanently deformed finger relating to a "cobblestone accident."

We're looking north in this picture, down northern Duxbury Beach towards Green Harbor.

It's almost impossible to see the town line, but it's about where the really large (100-150 yards) break in the seawall is if you're ever taking a walk down there. The break exists because the residents there decided that they were highly-enough elevated, and passed on paying the fee being charged to put up the concrete seawall in the 1950s.

Green Harbor gets a bit more of a curve to their seawall. This results in some spectacular surf-to-seawall crash spraying, as the wave hits the wall and rolls down it. You get some sweet house-high spray.

Duxbury has more of a straight-line frontage to storm winds, and they get the more foundation-shaking direct hits.

It looks worse than it is. The seawall takes most of the shots, and the spray- however impressive it may look- isn't as bad as it gets when the actual waves start coming over the wall. It's why the pay so much to repair the seawalls.

A photographer shooting pictures from this vantage point in the Blizzard of '78 or the Halloween Gale of 1991 would have been killed.

This storm did some damage, though. It tore down decks, flooded the street, smashed through fences, ruined yards and scared witless everyone who had moved into the neighborhood since the last really bad storm.

A lot of people in that neighborhood buy a cottage, renovate it, and then realize a bit too late that the area is Poseidon's punching bag. There's a lot of turnover for a neighborhood that is Heaven-on-Earth for the other 364 days of the year.

Again, this is like a C+ storm. It did damage, but it wasn't ripping houses down.

Beach people have a high bar vis a vis How Scared They Get During Ocean Storms. While this is a bit heavy for it, kids in the neighborhood do risk-taking games with slightly smaller storms.

What they call a "Death Run" involves dropping onto the beach between waves ad running as far down the beach as you can before you have to desperately claw your way back up and over the seawall.

"Death Runs" may have died out with my generation. I go to a lot of beaches during storms, and I never see anyone doing them.

... on purpose, anyhow.

The area behind the house we were shooting from is a meadow. Locals call it "Bradford's," after a family that ran a beach parking lot there. It's the Low Ground of the neighborhood.

You can see the remnants of the last of WWII-era cottages below. That house in the background is no longer standing. Someone was going to build condos there before this storm. I believe that the effort has since been abandoned.

Bradford's, like the rest of the neighborhood, sits between Cape Cod Bay and a rather large marsh. The marsh fills up during really high tides, and it spills over into the neighborhood.

The whole Gurnet Road area of Duxbury Beach becomes an island during storms, and the nearest dry land is over about where Duxbury High School is used to be. At the moment this photo was taken, Duxbury Beach was an island, about a half mile offshore.

It's basically why Duxbury Beach won this contest.
Duxbury Beach, MA

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The French Atlantic Cable Comes Ashore On Duxbury Beach, 1869

I may have run these before, not sure if I did it on this site or not. I lifted the pics from this site.

This is the Trans-Atlantic Cable coming ashore on Duxbury Beach on July 23rd, 1869. It's what Cable Hill is named for.

At the time, it was a big event. The cable stretched 3500 miles, from Brest, France. It cost a then-ridiculous $1.5 million. Everyone in town came out to watch it come ashore (there aren't many on the beach, but there was a 600 person tent on Abram's Hill across the bay), as did dignitaries from around the state. One of the first messages was sent to Napoleon III.

It came ashore at what is now Cable Hill. Since the cable hadn't landed at the time, locals called the area "Rouse's Hummock," after a farmer who was the sole inhabitant of the area for a while. Rouse's Hummock is what Hummock Lane is named for. Ironically, a "hummock" is a hill, while Hummock Lane is the lowest-lying inhabited land in the Gurnet Road area.

Nothing in the Gurnet Road area of Duxbury bears Rouse's name, and it is lost to history.... save for here, of course.

This is the area where the first opening in the seawall is now. The guy standing alone on the dune is about where my(Steve) house would be 100 years later.

Duxbury had a very impressive dune in place. It seems much larger than the dunes down on the uninhabited parts of Duxbury Beach are presently. There was no jetty in Green Harbor at the time. The jetty there went up after the Portland Gale in 1899, limiting the flow of sand down to Duxbury Beach.

Notice that there are no houses around the dunes. A storm in 1806 (my source says 1806, but a Category 3 hurricane hit Massachusetts in 1804) closed the outlet to the sea for the Green Harbor River, Her mouth was further South than it is now, with "now" meaning where the Green Harbor Marina is. The water in the area became stagnant, and was a mosquito factory for 150 years or so. The Cut River was dug out after the GHR mouth closure, but Duxbury Beach was just sand and dunes for a while.

They did subdivide 300 cottage lots in 1888 further down the beach (they're why the Powder Point Bridge was built... prior to the bridge, if Duxbury residents wanted to go to the beach they just took a boat across the bay), but the Portland Gale tore Duxbury Beach to shreds and nixed those plans with the quickness 10 years later.

I'm not sure when the cottages on the north end of Duxbury Beach went up. Duxbury historians have generally been very interested in the Beach Reservation part,of Duxbury Beach while concurrently having no interest at all in the Irish Riviera part further North on the beach. Many people from Duxbury Proper think that this neighborhood is in Marshfield.

Back to the cable....

They (the workers, who may be French, are the ones in the light-colored work shirts, and were the only barefoot ones in the pictures when they are on the actual beach) dragged the cable into what most residents of the area refer to as Bradford's Parking Lot. You can see Bradford's in the bottom picture.

It went into the wooded area at the foot of Cable Hill. If you stalk into the scrub pines on the south end of the hill, you can still find some of the wreckage from the relay station.

From Cable Hill, it went across the marsh into Duxbury Proper, ending at the Cable Office house on the banks of the Bluefish River.

The cable was very busy for a while, and 40 francs would buy you 10 transmitted words.

It was used heavily until a 1929 Grand Banks earthquake/tsunami created an undersea avalanche that destroyed several cables. The Duxbury/France cable was among the casualties.

My dad, in a good example of making busy work, used to pay me $5 per foot for hack-sawing pieces of the cable. It was already snapped by this point, and the sharp edges were sticking up from the beach, so it was more of a public service than it sounds like.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Most Ghetto, Southeastern Massachusetts Edition

New Bedford

Eastern Massachusetts is not without her faults. However, one thing we are not is Ghetto.

Granted, we have Fall River. You can get the Fear nice and easy in Fall River. It's a tough town. Most famous resident? An axe-murderess. Most beloved? Probably the same girl.

Taunton, Brockton and New Beddy are no walk in the park, either... or they're a walk in the park where you get beaten up by a gang of thugs for no reason. After that, there is what skiers call a precipitous drop-off.

Some of the tougher parts of our region aren't THAT tough. I'm not taking about individual citizens. I'm sure there's at least one bad-ass Kennedy (found him!) drawing breath somewhere, and you can get beaten up at the Bia Bistro in Cohasset just as badly as you can get handled at a Fall River Popeye's if you cross the wrong opponent.

Still, if you put on NWA and drive around Brockton, it sort of makes sense as long as your eyes don't go to the rear view mirror at the wrong angle. Try going down King Caesar Road in Duxbury with Bring The Ruckus playing. Your own silliness might strangle you.

There's nothing wrong with this. "Escaping an urban nightmare" is a top reason for moving out to the countryside. "Good visual environment for my Nasty Nas CD" isn't.

Still, if someone establishes a scale for Ghetto, and if the numbers on that scale can be applied to any town anywhere, you can rank towns with it. Lo and behold, that's just what someone did.

They used a simple formula.

Ghetto Bird
Household income levels
High school graduation rates
Number of convenience stores
Number of drug stores
Number of discount stores
Twitter mentions of #ghetto

It's a flawed formula, but it should be fun to play with.

Here's their Top 15:

Fall River

Wareham is sort of the WTF on this list, IMHO. I feel badly knowing that she'll be 4th once I start a whittlin' everything North and West of Bristol and Plymouth County out of the master list.

There are definitely some flawed criteria. Twitter references are worrisome. I was a teacher for a while, and I heard kids describe every town on earth as "ghetto." Kids own Twitter, I suppose, and may lack the seasoning to know True Ghetto and why Whitman-Hanson isn't it.

They say that they use "5000 residents" as a cutoff point. Yet, I don't see Duxbury or Bourne or Marshfield or a dozen other towns with populations over 5K. If its a typo and the number is suposed to be 50,000 residents, why is Wareham there?

I was very much looking forward to the bottom of this list, as I wanted to see how the silver-spoon towns fared against each other. It'd be fun to imagine a couple of stockbrokers arguing about whether Cohasset is more thugged out than Sandwich. Alas, the list plays out before we get to the Blue Bloods.

The convenience store angle seems to be ranked right up there with Poverty and Crime, which would to throw a wrench into things. I think that if a Cumby's opens up near the Tedeschi's in your cow town, it shouldn't suddenly make you more Gangsta than someone from Lowell.

Straight Outta Hingham!

However, only my love of Wareham and the lower ranking of Boston makes me really have any issue with the Top 15.

I may get a bit of static from my readers, and I just ask them to remember that I am merely passing along the information on this list. I'm not smart enough to factor that many variables into an equation, even with My Damned Aunt Sally helping. I am smart enough to take a Top 100 list and chop it down to just show the towns in our region, and that's just what we're about to do.
Fall River

Regional Rank  City   Crime Score Original Rank

1) new_bedford 161.7 4
2) brockton 146 5
3) fall_river 190.3 9
4) boston 155.6 13
5) wareham 115.4     14
6) quincy 169.1 26
7) taunton 143.5 33

Well, maybe they have some points after all. Some people might flip Fall River and New Bedford, Most people might see the flaws in not having Boston as the anchorman. Larger towns suffer a bit in the ratings, as the sheer number of people make for lower rates.

Wareham seems to be ranked too highly, but maybe they just try really hard. I worked Boston in mostly to knock the 'Ham down a spot.

Our coverage area showed well, taking 4 of the top 14 spots.

Now, remember when I said "precipitous drop-off" earlier. Here we are!

bridgewater 172.5 39
west_yarmouth 124 41
attleboro 116 42
middleborough_center 154.3 43
fairhaven 117.3 46
barnstable_town 168.1 48
plymouth 149.9 52

I went to college in Bridgewater, and it's more bucolic than ghetto. A great bit of the town is structured around the fact that there is a college in town. The college is not the only entity in town that may be weakening the stock. As someone on a Bridgewater Facebook page said, "The nuthouse down the road lowers our ratings, as does the mental hospital."

Just kidding, I went to BSC. Class of 2000, blogga!

West Yarmouth? How? Ah, 5% margin of error and all.

Plymouth and Barnstable have their rotten parts, but rarely would one fear to stroll through them. They do the service of grouping their poor into certain areas. Bourne is good at that, too. They stash them right by the highway.


weymouth_town 152.8 59
middleborough 69.3 60
nantucket 115.8 61
east_falmouth 149.7 64
foxborough 62.9 64
south_yarmouth 105.9 66
kingston 80.3 69

Foxboro is plummeting down the list now that Aaron Hernandez Inc. is within the system. They should sign Greg Hardy.

I wonder if Nantucket is America's most ghetto island? I suppose that Long Island has them beat.

I have no idea what Kingston is doing there, unless the guy who made the list counted Halifax and Plympton's dropouts from Silver Lake as all being from Kingston.

yarmouth 136.5 76
mashpee 115.7 77
somerset 154.1 78
abington 85.9 78
hull 166.3 81
harwich 71.8 83
rockland 112.4 88
mansfield_center 49.4 96

We're really reaching here, and I sort of understand why the list gets cut off where it does.

Conspicuous in their absence....


Content Reblogged from

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Most Liquor Licenses Per Town

One of the common local myths circulating around any town in Massachusetts comes to life every time someone says "No town in Massachusetts has more liquor stores than (insert his town here)." I have heard the term ascribed to Provincetown, Worcester, Amherst, Winthrop, Scituate, Clinton, Bridgewater, Marshfield and a dozen other towns. The easier to swallow version of this myth is the same quote, but on a per-person basis.

Opinions vary wildly, and this is probably one of those articles where I'll get told to eff off in the comments section. I'm good with that. I will say that there are different lists with different criteria.

Boston generally wins Drunkest City In America. That title is shouldered by a heavily Irish population base, an unmatched pile of college kids, a nice flow of business travel, long suffering Red Sox fans, a solid nightlife industry and did I mention the Irish?

Roadsnacks, in an influential 2015 study using much of the same criteria as me (but using other factors like Package Stores, Divorce Rates and Twitter references), came up with a Top Ten of:

West Yarmouth
West Bridgewater

WCVB, using a self-reporting technique of "Has More Than Five Drinks Per Session" and going by counties, had:

Hampshire County
Nantucket County
Sufflok County
Plymouth County
Barnstable County
Dukes County
Bristol County
Essex County
Franklin County
Middlesex County
Norfolk County
Worcester County
Berkshire County
Hampden County

They had Hampshire standing alone, Nantucket and Suffolk taking Place and Show, a glut with the same ranking (on that list, it runs from Barnstable to Norfolk Counties with each holding the same score) and the non-UMass western regions being a bit drier.

There are dry towns in the state where no Licka gets sold. Those towns remind me of the Civil War story of the Irish soldier slipping off the march into a dry-town inn and asking the innkeeper for "a glass of water, with a wee bit of the Creature added, unbeknownst to you or myself."
I was going to try to find out Liquor Stores Per Town, but that seemed like too much work. There exists no easily-Googled database. I'd have to Google up which towns have how many liquor stores, then divide or something by how many people live in each town. A good method, granted, but very work-intensive for a sunny Saturday morning in May. There would also be a large Margin Of Error.

What I shall instead do is use this map of 2011 liquor licenses per town from the Boston Business Journal. Old numbers, obsolete, but providing insight. I can then cross-reference my numbers with the population figures of the town in question, and... Voila! We have a new stat, one which I will name once I think of something catchy.

(Editor's Note: Or he can save 12 hours of math by just using this chart)

This map is just for places you can drink IN. Take-out drinking from packie stores isn't accounted for on this list.

I may as well make a few guesses here before I start looking at the numbers, thus becoming like more enlightened than you. Once I have had a look, I'm disqualified from guessing. You'll catch up to my enlightenment once you read the article, but by that time, I'll be looking up some other new ish, and the cycle will begin anew.

I'm thinking that "the Irish Riviera" will miss out on her rightful title, mostly because "Cape Cod" is a touristy place and will have her numbers padded by people on vacation. I have no doubt that New Beige and Fall-down River carry the "South Coast" on their backs, but if places like Acushnet and Mattapoisett represent hard, the region may be able to take down a contender.

Anyhow, here are the towns from our region and their ranking on the list. The criteria is residets-per-liquor license. If I had package store numbers, these rankings might be radically different.

Rank.... Town.... Residents... Licenses... Residents per License

1 PROVINCETOWN 3,390 62 55

Provincetown takes the title. At least one publication that I saw summed it up as well as I can... "Tourist haven in the summer... desolate, isolated winters."

"55 residents per license" means that, if every single man, woman, child and baby in Provincetown went out for a drink to a local bar, each bar would only have 55 people in it... less, once you factor out bar employees who live in Provincetown,

By contrast.... if a similar event happened in Duxbury, there would be 1444 people in each bar. If it happened in Boxford (ranked #318 and last in the state), there would be 8600 people in each bar.

3 WELLFLEET 2,748 26 106
5 OAK BLUFFS 3,731 29 129
6 EDGARTOWN 3,920 30 131
9 NANTUCKET 10,531 73 144
10 AQUINNAH 354 2 177
14 TRURO 2,134 10 213
16 ORLEANS 6,315 27 234
21 CHATHAM 6,726 26 259

The Cape represents hard, although runner-up towns like Great Barrington could complain about tourists and summer people swelling the numbers. If you assume that summer people double the population of Chatham, and that there are also a disproportionate amount of hotels filling up with families, you might have to triple or even quadruple the licenses-per-town rankings. All of a sudden, these supposedly hard-drinking Cape towns start tumbling to 150th in the state.

Provincetown is immune to that. Tripling their RPL only moves them to 3rd in the state.

Monroe- ranked second in the state, just above Wellfleet- has 1 license in a town with 96 residents. By contrast, the Mayberry hometown (may have been  County, or both town and county) of Andy Griffith fame had 5600 residents... in 1968.

27 DENNIS      15,473 53 292
34 TISBURY  3,805 11 346
40 BARNSTABLE 46,738 112 417
42 YARMOUTH 24,010 56 429
43 FALMOUTH 33,247 76 437
44 SEEKONK 13,593 31 438
46 HARWICH 12,387 28 442

The pattern continues through the Top 50.

Let's pause right here to tip our glasses to the western part of the state. While I'm only showing EMass towns, rest assured that about 90% of the towns that I'm leaving out are in the Berkshires.

"Mountain man/mountain man/drinks like a fish/and he hits like a ram."

Both of the islands assert themselves mightily. Island people are sort of kin to mountain people. Both are a bit strange. It's a different sort of strangeness, but it shares a common intensity. They're both about equally lost in a city.

54 FOXBOROUGH 16,298 34 479
58 EASTHAM 5,445 11 495
59 BREWSTER 10,023 20 501
60 HULL 11,067 22 503
64 WEST BRIDGEWATER 6,679 13 514
67 PLYMOUTH 55,188 103 536
68 MATTAPOISETT 6,447 12 537
71 COHASSET 7,182 13 552
74 FAIRHAVEN 16,124 29 556
75 WAREHAM 21,154 38 557

Rankings 50-75 have a few trends jumping out at me.

1) The South Coast is beginning to assert herself. Props to Seekonk for sliding into the top 50. Mattapoisett, Fairhaven and Wareham also step up to the bar by the time that #75 is called.

2) The South Shore and especially the Irish Riviera took awhile to show themselves. Scituate is nowhere to be seen.

3) I wonder if (and how much) Foxboro's numbers are pushed up by the Patriots being in town. I don't get out to Foxy Bro as much as I used to, and am not sure what sort of effect 8 home games (and X playoff games any year) has on the town's drinking establishments. They say that businesses on Cape Cod are made/broken by 8-12 weekends a year. I wonder how much 8-12 weekend days a year is worth in Hooch Sold?

78 BOURNE 19,023 33 576
80 BOSTON 599,351 1,033 580
82 KINGSTON 12,339 21 588
87 NEW BEDFORD 91,849 150 612

Cape Cod is starting to fade out... not because we don't drink hard enough, but because we've exhausted most of our towns earlier in the rankings.

Bourne does drink harder than Boston, something I'm a bit shocked to see. If Boston had better beaches, they might be able fight their way up the list a bit.

Note that many of Boston's Irish fled Boston in the 1970s, driving up the numbers in the otherwise sleepy Irish Riviera.

New Beddy closes out our presence in the top 100. 30% of the top 100 are towns in our coverage area.

108 MASHPEE 14,261 21 679
109 RAYNHAM 13,641 20 682
111 OTIS 1,394 2 697
112 HINGHAM 22,394 32 700
119 AVON 4,303 6 717

Hey! That town of Otis is in Western Mass, and it's not the rotary in Bourne.

My people in Raynham tell me there is great happiness that they conquered all but one Bridgewater.

In Massachusetts, the Avon lady is a bartender.

We forgot SWANSEA, they're 128th

131 MARION 5,217 7 745
132 SANDWICH 20,255 27 750
140 ABINGTON 16,365 21 779
141 BRAINTREE 34,422 44 782
145 QUINCY 91,622 116 790
158 FALL RIVER 90,905 111 819
160 MANSFIELD 22,993 28 821
162 WALPOLE 23,086 28 825
172 WRENTHAM 11,116 13 855
177 ACUSHNET 10,443 12 870
179 NORTON 19,222 22 874
183 ROCKLAND 17,780 20 889
184 DARTMOUTH 31,241 35 893
186 STOUGHTON 26,951 30 898
190 MARSHFIELD 24,576 27 910
192 EAST BRIDGEWATER 13,879 15 925
193 PEMBROKE 18,595 20 930
195 NORWELL 10,271 11 934
198 SCITUATE 17,881 19 941
199 WESTPORT 15,136 16 946

Fall River is pretty much right in the middle of the rankings. New Bedford and Fall River, which I thought would carry the South Coast, ranked a modest 87 and 158 respectively. Seekonk (44), Mattapoisett (60 something) and the Wareham/Fairhaven team (74 and 75) all represented harder.

At least 10% of the liquor licenses in Wareham are held by places that only serve breakfast. (Your Hometown Here) may have more or less, I just wanted to float that stat out there.

Sandwich finishes off the Cape.

Fall River trails Quincy, which is the same size but more Irish-heavy. The Squantum neighborhood of Quincy is about as Irish as it gets.

If a bar gets their license revoked in Scituate, this thought-she'd-be-ranked-higher Irish Riviera superheavyweight would fall out of the Top 200. She'd rank below hard-living Oakham (pop. 953, 2 licenses) in the state
205 REHOBOTH 11,484 12 957
206 SOMERSET 18,268 19 961
209 TAUNTON 55,783 57 979
219 NORTH ATTLEBORO 27,907 27 1,034
223 MIDDLEBORO 21,245 20 1,062
224 WEYMOUTH 53,272 50 1,065
225 HANOVER 13,966 13 1,074
230 HALIFAX 7,700 7 1,100
233 HANSON 9,956 9 1,106
234 BRIDGEWATER 25,514 23 1,109
243 EASTON 22,969 20 1,148
247 ATTLEBORO 43,113 37 1,165
248 LAKEVILLE 10,587 9 1,176
249 HOLBROOK 10,663 9 1,185
250 WHITMAN 14,385 12 1,199

You'd think a town known as "Hangover" would be higher than 225, but No.

If Taunton gets a casino, they could jump up a lot of spots. Considering Boston is 80, a jump into the Top 10 may be a lot to ask for.

Bridgewater, which has the University, is the lowest-ranked Bridgewater. East and West pub much harder.

252 FRANKLIN 31,381 25 1,255
253 BROCKTON 93,092 74 1,258
259 LYNN 87,122 67 1,300
270 DUXBURY 14,444 10 1,444
272 FREETOWN 8,935 6 1,489
300 BERKLEY 6,433 3 2,144
304 CARVER    11,547     5 2,309
311 DIGHTON  6,748 2 3,374
315 ROCHESTER 5,218 1 5,218

The infamous "City of Sin" ranks an effete 259.

If the Gurnet Inn was still open, sleepy Duxbury would be ahead of Brockton and Lynn.

Rochester and Dighton hold down the South Coast, and Lakeville is the more "Let's go out" of the Freetown-Lakeville conglomerate.

Duxbury and Sandwich ranked similarly, something our staff predicted. Both towns are sort of the Rich People Conscience of either Cape Cod or the South Shore (I'm told by our Fairhaven editor that Dartmouth fills a similar role on the South Coast). Granted, Sandwich is about twice as pubby as Duxbury, but the Cape is sort of off the scale due to summer tourism.

Shame on you, Rochester!

Here's a quick region-by-region tally:

Martha's Vineyard


New Bedford
Fall River


North Attleboro


West Bridgewater
East Bridgewater



Necessary research....

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Dirty Dozen: The Most Dangerous Places On (Or Just Off) Cape Cod

South Beach, Chatham
"Ahhhhh... nice beach here.... soft sand, warm water, clean air... think I'll take a swim. Oh, look! A seal! What's that shadow swimming next to him?"
Due to the cycle of the sea, seals began hanging out in large numbers off Chatham. After that, it becomes simple algebra.... sharks eat seals, seals hang out at Chatham, so therefore...
A great white shark goes 10-20 feet long and can bite a human being in half. If he's not looking that closely or if he's really hungry, we look kind of like seals in the right (wrong) light.
The last fatal shark attack in the general area was off Mattapoisett in 1936, but sharks are more prevalent now than at any point locals can remember.
To be fair to the sharks, humans are out on their turf. You can't blame one for wanting to try some People Food now and then.

Suicide Alley

A nasty stretch of Route 6 turns to 2 lanes- one East, one West. You're on a divided highway, but then cars start coming at you from the other lane. It's disconcerting. Suicide Alley runs 13 miles, from exit 9A in Dennis all the way to Orleans.
I don't think any other stretch of road has a worse reputation on Cape Cod, and no other ones have such an ominous nickname.
If someone from Cape Cod says "There was this terrible head-on accident..." someone else from Cape Cod will usually finish with "Suicide Alley?"
If other states have a Suicide Alley, they are not respected by Google. I saw no other Alley mentioned.

 Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant
It's actually a fairly nice part of the state... coastal, beachfront, in the pines. It's not melting down or anything, and any leaks presently are low-key. They have a lot of spent nuclear waste sitting around (in overloaded storage facilities), and they can't find anyone to take it off their hands.
However... the worst case scenario actually makes this the top risk in the general area. Imagine a massive accident there? With almost all winds imaginable, the radioactivity released could blanket Cape Cod.
At that point, Cape Cod becomes Cape Chernobyl. Farming would be viable in Sandwich in about 20,000 years.
Granted, Pilgrim's time is almost up, but it is still a big radioactive elephant in the room for this discussion.

The Wedge, Hyannis
The low-income area around the Cape Cod mall is notorious for violence.
"The Wedge" aka "The Triangle" aka "Captains Quarters" is a hot spot in Hyannis.
If you wish to buy drugs from someone in a sh*tty house who might be involved in a shooting later, you can do worse than the Hyannis Triangle.
You have a nice mix of poor people, homeless people, hard-drinking people, a lively drug trade and the Cape's only Gangsta scene... albeit one about 3 miles from the Kennedy Compound.
The Wedge is known locally as "Brockton-by-the-sea."

PAVE PAWS is a United States Air Force Space Command radar system operated by Space Wing squadrons for missile warning and space surveillance.... and I pasted that right from Wikipedia, so go to them if you disagree.
People tend to bug out when there's a high powered radar installation nearby, as they fear the government pounding high-powered radar into their heads 24/7/365.
A mountain of studies have been conducted on PAVE PAWS. General studies have dismissed the threat of an elevated cancer risk (when they found elevated cancer rates near the Pilgrim Plant when I was a kid, they blamed it on smokers), although there does seem to be an elevated rate of Ewing's Sarcoma among those who live near the P Double.
Ewing's Sarcoma is a form of bone cancer that generally attacks the hips, ribs, arms and legs. It is most commonly found in male teenagers.
I should add that nothing is proven here, and it is nice to have an early-warning missile detection system in place.

Bourne/Sagamore Bridges, Rotaries
This is actually what I personally fear more than anything else on the Cape. I fear heights, and this is as high as it gets.
Off the top of my head (from a previous article), I know it's a 40 meter drop off the Bourne Bridge. You'd make the fall in 1.6 seconds, and smash into the water (or onto the bike path, although at that height there really isn't that much difference) at about 35 mph.
Even if you don't do a goodbye-cruel-world leap off the bridge (this section of either Route 6 or Route 28 is the real Suicide Alley), you can skid on ice, get hit by a drunk, maybe catch some air... the possibilities are limitless.
The bridges were built in 1935 (ironically, both of these suicide launching platforms were Great Depression projects) or so, and they could probably use an overhaul or ten.
Make it over the Bourne Bridge... you hit a rotary. Rotaries are a dying form of Road Intersection that basically dares the driver to force their way into a traffic circle that looks like a mini-Daytona at times. The reason that the Rotary is dying as an art form is that a rotary is fretty pucking dangerous.
Mitt Romney gets unusual praise from this column for ridding Earth of that Sagamore Bridge rotary.

Pollock Rip Channel, off Chatham
The reason they built the Cape Cod Canal was that it shortened the distance one had to sail from New York to Boston. It allowed sailors to not have to sail around Cape Cod.
The reason that people use Pollock Rip Channel is that it saves a sailor from having to sail around Nantucket.
The reason God made Pollock Rip Channel is that God- for reasons known only to him- wanted the Cape Cod Canal built.
Long known as a ship graveyard, Pollock Rip is an area of shifting sand that is always hungry and only eats boats. As recently as 1950, 8 fishermen died within sight of the lightship pictured here during a gale.
 Strong tidal currents flowing in and out of Nantucket Sound meet weather from the open ocean to generate conditions that range from merely disorienting to completely treacherous.

Shangri-La/Onset, Wareham
If Hyannis can truly support the dubious claim that she is "Brockton-by-the-sea," then Onset is "a baby New Bedford." I personally stretch this area out to include the run of crack motels on the Cranberry Highway.
Shootings, stabbings, drug-dealing, armed robberies gone wrong, beat-downs, stick-ups... Wareham has all of the benefits of small-town life.
Throw in a ton of Section 8 folks, a genuinely rotten economy, and BOOM goes the dynamite.
Wareham recently tried Operation Safe Streets, a massive episode of enhanced policing. While results have been mixed, at least they're trying.

Horseshoe Shoals

A ship-smasher of a spot that also was a good reason to build the Cape Cod Canal, Horseshoe Shoals is an area of shallow ocean that helps give Nantucket Sound her nasty reputation.
Horseshoe Shoals is too low to sail safely at low and medium tides (half the day, landlubbers). Horseshoe Shoals doesn't look like it's that far from land, but looks is deceiving, man. You don't want to have to swim to Chatham, even during the Great White Shark off-season.
This was also the proposed setting for the doomed Cape Wind project. A forest of turbines would have only added to the difficulty of sailing through that region.

Massachusetts Military Reservation, Bourne
You'd think that, after the thousands of men with machine guns leave, a place wouldn't be dangerous anymore. But the MMR turned out to be the gift that keeps giving.
You don't explode stuff and shoot depleted uranium rounds without screwing up the groundwater, it seems. Explosive constituents leeched through the soil and into the groundwater.
They removed 25,000 tons of soil in hopes of stopping the contamination, but you can have the first (and middle, and last) vegetables grown from that region, thank you.
The general area also holds the distinction of Most Dead Bodies, as they host a military cemetery. I'm working from a shoddy memory, but I think that there may be 40,000 people buried there.

The Irish Riviera
This is sort of a hodge-podge category. Once we truly get over the bridges and out of Barnstable County, the answers quickly become "Taunton," "New Bedford" and "Fall River." We'll try to keep it at least around Cape Cod Bay, and use a sweeping Irish Riviera categorization.
This will be more of an amalgamation of hard-drinking South Shore residents, a growing Great White Shark presence (the last local shark attack on a human wasn't off Cape Cod, it was off of Manomet, in Plymouth), a gaggle of elderly drivers and the teen-slaying, winding, poorly-lit roads.  
Certain parts of the South Shore (we're looking at you, Marshfield!) were very bad places to be Loyalist during the Revolution.
Duxbury, not Boston, holds the title of Last Drive-By Shooting Featuring A Prominent Rapper.

The Bridgewater Triangle
We've visited this area for the column a few times. It is also a case where, once we've gone this far inland, we should include places like "Brockton." However, the Bridgewater Triangle is in a class by itself.
For those of you who don't know, the Bridgewater Triangle (a term coined by paramormal poppa Loren Coleman) is a sort of Rankin Cluster of odd and sometimes paranormal happenings. This eerie sandwich is mashed into a lightly-populated section interior southeastern Massachusetts. They represent hard, though.
To my knowledge, they have both of the state's "known" Bigfoot sightings. You know... stuff like that.
The Triangle, which we think should be expanded to Cape Cod anyhow, sneaks onto this list (it is originally from a 2012 Cape Cod TODAY article) over former mainstays Pufferbellies, the Port 'o' Call, and the Woods Hole/Naushon Island current.