Gloucester Clam’s Tournament of Crappy Intersections: Semifinals!

Today we’ll be finishing up our Tournament of Shitty Intersections’ semifinal round. If you haven’t been paying attention, we took 16 of the most irritating intersections in all of Gloucester and matched them up. Only one will be crowned the victor. Moving on to the final four are the next two contestants.


Maplewood/Railroad/Prospect vs. Sayward/Bass Ave/Brightside 


Maplewood/Railroad/Prospect, a.k.a. The triangle of doom, reined supreme over its competitor, Pond/Witham/Eastern. Pond/Eastern had the velocity factor going for it – one wrong move and you’re plastered by a plumbing truck hauling ass from Rockport – but couldn’t pull off victory.

The Maplewood/Railroad/Prospect intersection is amazing not only for its sheer level of terrifying confusion, but that it’s how a lot of folks coming in from out of town get downtown. We have tourists walking off the train and the first glimpse of Gloucester they have is a man in a 1989 Buick Lesabre with a duct-taped bumper giving the finger to a school bus while everyone in the intersection honks simulataneously and someone is parked on the sidewalk. Awesome. It also has the distinction of being one of those intersections where one person can fuck it up for everybody else by blocking the entire goddamn intersection so no one can move until some idiot realizes he’s holding up traffic trying to turn left into a space his car can’t physically occupy and remembers the Pauli exclusion principal that states what he wants to do is impossible because electrons or whatever, so he continues straight until finally everyone can go again.


In the opposite corner, we have Sayward/Bass/Brightside, which beat the heck out of Poplar and Washington last round. As well it should have. I have to turn left at the end of Sayward twice a day on weekdays, and somehow I’ve never been in an accident. We’re all on borrowed time in this shitshow of an intersection. Not only do people coming from the Thatcher/Good Harbor area fly by at about 80 knots, but the blind curve that gives you 30 feet of visibility in the other direction is fun as well. It’s like Mario Kart, except I don’t even have a blue shell I can throw.

I think the thing that annoys me the most about it isn’t waiting for a break in traffic to turn left, but that sometimes people coming from Brightside will stop and then go, even though you were at the intersection first. What are the laws supposed to technically be? Isn’t it treated like a 3 or 4 way stop where the person who stopped first goes, and tie goes to the car on the right? Otherwise it’s just freakin’ mayhem. More mayhem, anyway. Fuck this entire intersection, honestly.

Won’t Somebody Think of the Chickens?

So here’s the deal, Clamdirectioners: tonight at 6:15, there will be a Board of Health meeting in the CATA Training Room in the City Hall Annex at 3 Pond Rd. Up for discussion (Taking up the #5 spot on the agenda, no less) is the future of chicken ownership in Gloucester.



We need to keep chickens here. Chickens make Gloucester awesome. Hear me out.

A few years ago I was talking to a neighbor of mine and I asked him how he and his wife and their families ended up deciding to put down roots in Gloucester after graduating from Gordon college. “It’s like the wild west here! A frontier land. We wanted to be a part of that.” He’s right: we have this pioneer town vibe that no city or town (nearby, anyway) has been able to pull off like Gloucester can. And that’s part of why Gloucester’s great. We have this mishmash of people who are all different, but laid back about it. We have artists next to plumbers, teachers next to rock stars, millionaires next to the rest of us, and no one bats an eye. It’s how we roll.

One of the things we do best is letting people do their thing. Gloucester is pretty much the polar opposite to one of those suburbs that is overrun with HOAs and every house is exactly the same and you get fined if your lawn turns brown. You wanna paint your driveway rainbow colors? Sure! You wanna park six windowless cargo vans in your yard? Creepy, but sure, that’s your deal, whatevs.

The chicken owners of Gloucester are woven into that pioneer vibe. Gloucesterites are self-sufficient folks because it’s in our history. Not because it’s the sudden cool thing to do, but because in Gloucester, frontier life never stopped being cool in the first place. And backyard chickens are an awesome example of self-sufficient living in a city.

For 3 or 4 years recently, we were chicken owners downtown. It was the coolest feeling ever to collect eggs in the morning. Our kids got to learn about animals. We got to learn about how cold it is at 6 AM in February when you have to go shovel out the chicken’s run and make sure their water isn’t frozen. And we had so many eggs! We loved sharing with friends and family. Between that and a garden, our food bills went down, and our number of healthy meals went up. And when I was researching the house that used to stand on our property but burned in the ’50s, I found a picture from 1905. There was a chicken coop behind the house, naturally.


We named them Patty, Selma, and Marge naturally.

We named them Patty, Selma, and Marge, naturally.


There’s not much detail I could get about what exactly is going to go on in this meeting – as far as I can tell, there was a constituent complaint about a neighbor. Obviously that’s concerning, but if this is the first actual complaint about chickens in however many years with the pretty decent amount of chicken owners we have, that’s not bad at all. There are cranks in every neighborhood that complain about every minor thing (a strange van parked in front of your house on a public street at 8 AM? Probably robbers and not KT’s desperately needed plumber, better call the cops). Complaining to the authorities is what satisfies their blood lust, and no one’s ever called about chickens?

So it doesn’t make too much sense to have a knee-jerk reaction quite yet, and punish the folks who have been responsible chicken owners for years or even decades. The chickens and their owners have existed peacefully so far with their fishermen, lawyer, or burnout hippie neighbors. It’s worked well so far the way it is, why do we need to change it?

If you’re a chicken owner, or think chicken owners are just awesome, you should go to the Board of Health meeting tonight in support.

Event info.

The Gloucester Clam’s Tournament of Shitty Intersections: SEMIFINALLLS!

Oh dang, folks! We move into the semifinals of our very own Tournament of Shitty Intersections today. I can feel the excitement in the air from here, dudes. We’re down to four competitors. Let’s see what matchup we have today.


Centennial & Washington vs Flannagan Square.

In a stunning upset, Centennial & Washington KO’d the heavily favored (by me) Tally’s Corner. We’ll miss Tally’s Corner and the fact that it made no sense, made everybody angry, and also had oddly-painted tow trucks idling half on the sidewalk (I don’t want Playtime with the Magic Man, thankyouverymuch). But, Centennial and Washington is worthy of its inclusion into the final four. From your warm seat inside George’s Coffee Shop, you can enjoy a backhoe scoop’s worth of blueberry pancakes and watch the shitshow unfold. And we suggest you should. There’s the Creepers – the people tired of waiting on Centennial to turn left, and so just eventually inch out into traffic. The Oblivous Parkers – the folks parked on either side of the street, most likely picking up their Keno winnings from Tony’s Variety, who just start driving without looking over their shoulder to safely enter traffic. And then there’s the Selfish Folks – people that observe about ten cars have passed in either direction on Washington but don’t even think about letting someone turn in front of them, ever. Washington and Centennial is the kind of intersection where you see broken glass and taillight fragments and never wonder how the accident happened.

Flannagan Square is nearly identical in its level of chaos per car. Why does no one understand a two-way stop here? It’s like a four-way stop, but half as irritating. If there is a tie, the person on the right goes. You stop at the stop line after the car in front of you proceeds. You and the plumbing van in front of you aren’t a goddamn train. Who are these sociopaths, anyway? One of the other fun parts of the intersection is when EVERYONE WANTS GAS AT THE SAME DANG TIME, like before a storm, or 3PM on a Tuesday. People will straight-up block off access to Main St to get gas for $3.09. They don’t care. You got a hair appointment? Not right now buddy, I’m sixth in line!

Stay tuned for the next two contestants to face off in our tournament!

Vote or the Nazis will 9/11 us just like Charles Darwin

I need you Clams to do me a huge favor.

See, I vote early. I get in line before the sun rises because usually I have to catch a train, and then I wait there in line till it opens. A couple of years ago I was in the hallway of the elementary school waiting for them to let us perform our civic duty and I was chatting with the lady behind me who was asking about the student-art on the walls.

“My kids go to this school,” I said. She replied she didn’t have any kids, but if she had there would be no way she’d let them come to a public school because they’re run by Nazis.”

“Ha ha,” I said. Just like that. “Ha” and then another “Ha.” I assumed she was one of those people who makes random Nazi jokes about anything she doesn’t like. But then I get a fucking full 15 minutes on how the Nazis invented evolution, which she informs me is impossible because of the second law of Thermodynamics, and then goes on about how they are just turning people away from God so they can kill everyone like in the World Trade Center and send them to Hell and I after a few minutes she was clearly getting disturbingly agitated and amped up. I just literally said, “Stop talking to me now,” and she went silent because she probably doesn’t get out much and is used to this kind of response when she makes sounds out of her mouth-hole.

Was this your standard issue seatmate on a Greyhound bus to some random Upstate NY college town, slowed to a crawl by a snowstorm? Was this loon on a park bench in a major city where I was just trying to make a phone call, interrupting my client meeting with a dire warning about chemtrails? Was this your standard issue online message board wack-job, butting in to a conversation about Firefly V. Buffy to blither on and on about 9/11?

No we were voting. We were in line to vote. She’s a voter.

I realized that day both this person and I voted. We had equal weight in the system. It was not a long line.

And there are a metric FUCK TON of crazy people out there. They are seeping in to our system. Mike Boucher, running against Ann Margaret Ferrante literally said in a debate that he doesn’t “buy in” to global climate change. That’s like taking a political position against particle/waveform duality or magnetic field interactions. Did he publish a paper? Is he an expert? I mean, he had like 11 fucking cars in the Horribles Parade so I can see why he might be sheepish about his carbon footprint, but still. Dude. You are in no position to “buy in” it’s fucking science.

The crazies are getting louder. This happens at each point of rapid and profound change, and it always passes thankfully, but right now I need you to help me counter it. Vote today. Vote hard. Vote sane. Make reasonable judgements, not with your gut but with your mind.

Get every other sane person you know out there. Call everybody. Text them. Post on social media. Here, maybe this helps:

Picture 9

If we don’t vote then the nutmobiles will be the only ones voting and those politicians who happen to be spineless assweasels will start catering to them. More. Will start catering to them more, just look at what’s been going on recently and you’ll realize how much power the crazy people have.


Or the kitteh dies.