Day 87

  Day 86, Gloucester & Mlton, Mass Thursday, October 27, 2016 The Last 100 Days of the Presidency of Barack Obama Owen Hartford – my old Peace Corps buddy - plays American melodies on his mandolin. We are in his home in Milton near Boston, Massachusetts. We’re back from a midday trip to Gloucester. In 1974 the poetry of Charles Olson with its celebration of the town, including, its Melvillian raw whaling interface with the sea and the vernacular character of its local citizens that led me there; I found a coarse town of aging, wooden houses and a harbor of wooden fishing trawlers. A working man’s town with a few clam houses, fish restaurants and a sprinkling of June summer tourists. No computers in sight. The coastline was a shelf of harsh rocks, sand spits that contoured out into the sea, a few old high rise shingled hotels, few distinguished homes for the wealthy and an occasional little swimming beach. Much more interesting were the hills that rose above the town with its Portuguese and Italian churches – including one with the splendid blue spherical domes – not doubt a beatific delight to sailors returning home from rough seas.  Not today. Shellacked with big City money, everything seemed so smooth. Neatly painted vacation homes with gardens, and no doubt gardeners, compact the edges of the shoreline. The old fishing boats are replaced with large steel fishing vessels with machine-operated spools for big rolled nets.  A large white tour boat that has the same design of an ocean cruise ship waits at a dock for customers.  What was intimate and relatively small has been forced to go big or find an exit strategy. Yes, we still had real good clam chowder and clams. But when they wanted to charge twenty-six dollars for a paper plate of little neck clams, you had to know that the clam house was no longer serving the locals. Indeed so nice to come back to this house in Milton to draw while Owen uses his mandolin to pluck out some graceful American classics including some laments. 

 

Day 86, Gloucester & Mlton, Mass

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Last 100 Days of the Presidency of Barack Obama

Owen Hartford – my old Peace Corps buddy - plays American melodies on his mandolin. We are in his home in Milton near Boston, Massachusetts. We’re back from a midday trip to Gloucester. In 1974 the poetry of Charles Olson with its celebration of the town, including, its Melvillian raw whaling interface with the sea and the vernacular character of its local citizens that led me there; I found a coarse town of aging, wooden houses and a harbor of wooden fishing trawlers. A working man’s town with a few clam houses, fish restaurants and a sprinkling of June summer tourists. No computers in sight. The coastline was a shelf of harsh rocks, sand spits that contoured out into the sea, a few old high rise shingled hotels, few distinguished homes for the wealthy and an occasional little swimming beach. Much more interesting were the hills that rose above the town with its Portuguese and Italian churches – including one with the splendid blue spherical domes – not doubt a beatific delight to sailors returning home from rough seas.  Not today. Shellacked with big City money, everything seemed so smooth. Neatly painted vacation homes with gardens, and no doubt gardeners, compact the edges of the shoreline. The old fishing boats are replaced with large steel fishing vessels with machine-operated spools for big rolled nets.  A large white tour boat that has the same design of an ocean cruise ship waits at a dock for customers.  What was intimate and relatively small has been forced to go big or find an exit strategy. Yes, we still had real good clam chowder and clams. But when they wanted to charge twenty-six dollars for a paper plate of little neck clams, you had to know that the clam house was no longer serving the locals.

Indeed so nice to come back to this house in Milton to draw while Owen uses his mandolin to pluck out some graceful American classics including some laments.