The 'American Century' is over


General Wesley Clark has added his voice to those who believe America’s days as the world’s superpower are over.

Speaking at a World Affairs Council program on Hilton Head Island Friday, Clark didn’t seem alarmed by an eclipse of the United States.  Indeed, he told the audience of almost 700 that it’s probably right that China becomes the world’s big dog because so much of civilization began with the Chinese.

“We are over-extended militarily, the national debt grows higher, our infrastructure is obsolete,” the former Supreme Commander of NATO’s European operations said. ”We are seeing the end of globalization.” The US political system is unable to deal with the nation’s problems.  Existential threats include cyber security, terrorism, climate change and wealth disparity.

The general tried to sound one optimistic note, noting the deep business and entrepreneurial experience of people in the audience.  “We are awash in plenty.  With our technology and energy, we can do anything we want.”

The first question from the audience to Clark, an unsuccessful Presidential nomination candidate in 2004, was “Would you try  again?”  The 75-year-old said he thought about taking a shot at it this time, but decided against it.  He would be referred to as “General”, and a war candidate, and didn't wan that.

In his most political comment, Clark said, “We need to make America geat again.  But not like we’re doing it now.”

General Clark’s Wikipedia pages.

Back to band concerts

One of my first jobs in journalism was at the Allentown Morning Call. Besides helping an entertaining columnist, Ted Mellon, think up a snappy/quippy lead for his daily weather column, i also covered community evening band concerts.

That all came back to me last night as we attended ”A Tribute to Aretha Franklin” concert in Bluffton.  The Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, under the leadership of John Morris Russell, played some of Aretha’s greatest hits to the delight of an estimated 500 hundred people enjoying the music and their picnic dinners under the stars and a brilliant quarter moon.

The symphony performance was supplemented by several soulful special guest singers, including a few with Broadway experience. I only saw one couple dance during the concert, but many people came to their feet with the orchestra played several patriotic songs.

Luc's Big Night


The fruits of August’s Wiscasset Art Walk are now on the walls of the Maine Art Gallery, 15 Warren Street. About two dozen painters from as near as Wiscasset to as far as New Hampshire, brought their easels and paints to this month’s event where they ‘painted the town’. Their art work is now for sale at the Gallery.

“Water View,” the Old JaiL

“Water View,” the Old JaiL

Among the participating artists was Tenant Harbor’s Kathleen Fox. Her whimsical painting of the Wiscasset Jail, “Water View”, possibly features an inmate gripping the bars of his cell.

As usual, at this Art Walk there was plenty to enjoy.  Besides the art galleries, food, wine and oyster tastings, several street musicians entertained.

Musician/singer Rick Turcotte and Lucia Droby.

The Art Walk’s founder, Lucia Droby, is already looking forward to greater attendance at next year’s Walks.  The $5 million Route 1 Downtown Improvement project will be complete and there will be fewer barrels and obstacles to promenading on Main Street.  Folks are also looking forward to the wider sidewalks with inviting chairs and tables.

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Among the most popular “exhibits” at the Walk were friendly dogs, including our own Luc.  He is a four-month old Briard who joined our family from Massachusetts this summer.  Lots of people petted him.

It was a big night for Luc.  He was on his way to graduation from a beginners dog training class at Edgecomb’s Positively Best Friends.  Luc was doing fine until on the last exercise, where the dog runs to his mistress on the “Come” command. he was distracted by stuffed toys on the floor, tripped and veered off course.

Bravo's "Below Deck" visits Maine

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Perhaps the biggest yacht Wiscasset has ever seen sailed into town Tuesday.

Harbor Master Ray Soule greeted My Seanna at about 4:30 pm, a day after the captain of the 185-foot ship called to see if it could be accommodated.  Soule was a little wary, however, because the town dock is only 150-feet long. The arrival went smoothly. He said the ship will pay $185 a day for docking, a dollar a foot.

No one on the pier watching My Seanna arrive could remember a bigger ship ever having been here.

My Seanna was built in 2001, refurbished and lengthened in 2013 when its length was extended 20-feet to stretch the hull and decks to create a swim platform.

The ship accommodates 12 guests in six cabins, and has a  crew of 11 to keep it running.

You can charter the ship for $200,000 to $400,000 a week, depending upon the time of year and the number of passengers.  Here’s a link to the ship and its amenities.

Worth Avenue Yachts has also listed My Seanna for sale at $24,500,000.

Soon after tying up, on board guests celebrated with some beverages, standing on the top deck. They called down to say that the cruise up the Sheepscot was “beautiful”.

I was taking photos, of course.  One of the guests pointed out his daughter.  She appeared to be eight or nine years old.  As usual, I told him if he emailed me, I’d send him the photos.  I gave my business card to one of the crew on the dock.

One of the few people on the pier to see My Seanna arrive said he’d heard Billy Joel was on board.

Wiscasset after dark

All summer long, I’ve been telling myself to take me and my camera to Route 1 to take photos of the ‘downtown improvements.”

Finally, I did, last week.

My inertia was overcome after driving through the work zone while returning from a concert in Boothbay.  Wiscasset’s shoreline and downtown were lit up like Times Square.

On every corner, men and women wearing hideously-visible green shells were stopping traffic here and there, and then there and here.

The same was true last Thursday night.  First item on the worker bees’ To Do list this night was removing an antique-y brick walkway along the Marston House.  A scoop broke up the path and then dug deep and lifted its load to a dump truck and dropped it into a hopper.

A guy with a power saw cut into the sidewalk’s edging, dust billowing into the air and, one must suggest, also into the worker’s lungs, white surgical mask or not.

Further, toward Red’s, three men were measuring where the new sidewalk will be laid.As I stood on the corner next to In the Clover, Bob Bond, Wiscasset’s non-stop marketer and photographer walked up. We talked for about 15 minutes. 

Then, a woman, carrying what looked to be a grocery bag came by.  She lives in one of the apartments in the building’s upper floors.  And while some people are happy about the “downtown improvements”, she is not. It’s been a hellish summer for her.  Noise, dust, lack of sleep. It’s the same story told by other downtown residents.  She is also bugged that parking her car has become less convenient.  She, like others who live in the middle of the construction, feel they’ve been slighted and ignored by the project’s planners.

The project has been divisive for some of the town.  Only a handful of store owners participate in the Friends of Wiscasset Village group which has sent volunteers to welcome tourists. Some business owners are still skeptical the $5 million project will ease the summertime/weekend traffic.

There’s still lots of work to do.  More asphalt to lay down, electrical systems to go in, stop lights to install, and more.

I know I’ll be taking more photos - in two years all the frustrations will be memories. The pictures will be reminders of what was. After all, no one really knows how downtown will look and function in a few years.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Back in Chicago


In late June, the Out of Chicago conference drew around 400 photographers.

I considered going last year, but we were in the midst of moving. Discretion and common sense prevailed, as a marriage counselor would have advised.

But this year I went. And for four days, I walked the city where I lived in the ‘70s.  I worked for NBC Radio, covered Richard J. Daley and exercised our Airedales in Lincoln Park.  It was a great time.

Now, shooting on the River Walk, a showcase for the city’s dramatic new architectural inspirations, it was clear just how much has changed.

The London House, where I saw Barry Manilow accompany Bette Midler in her nightclub act is just one of the things that are different.  “What the hell, Frank!,” I said as I walked by a floating wine bar on the Chicago River, “It’s been nearly 40 years.  Of course things have changed!"  The London House is now a Corner Bakery Cafe.

Click on the images below to see larger versions.

What do lobsters and spring have in common?

They’re a little late this year.

The shedders are not crawling into the lobster traps as usual, a good source at a local pound tells me. That’s why, for example, we got hard shells last weekend at Sprague’s in Wiscasset.  Usuallly, in spring, we’re eating the crustaceans which have grown out of their shells to grow new ones. Aficionados say the shedders’ taste is sweeter. Your fingernail is the only tool you need to pry out the meat.

Why is the molting of the lobsters occurring later this year? Blame it on the ocean temperature. According to the Maine Lobstermens’ Community Alliance, colder water slows down the calcification that has to go on to help the molted lobster regrow its shell. According to NOAA, the average sea temperature in Ogunquit is 55 degrees - just what it is now.

Bottom line … my lobster guy says i may be mid-July before Lobster season has begun.

Moose comes a calling

A Moose came a-calling this weekend to Clarks Point.  

The first clue was when I took the dog out for her morning walk, I noticed what look  to be hoof prints of a very large animal.  Immediately I thought of a moose. After all, it’s Maine! But in fifteen years we haven’t seen one here, except in Grey at the Maine Wildlife Park. I just told Donna what I’d seen and began the day.

We drove to Portland to visit Trader Joe’s, dropped in at Running With Scissors where there was a craft show going on.  Then we went to the outstanding!!! Miss Portland diner for lunch and then to New England University’s campus to see Everyday Maine, a wonderful exhibition of nearly 100 images of Mainers doing what Mainers do - work, play, sleep, laugh, cry, eat and live.

Returning to Wiscasset at about 3pm, I dropped off Donna and went to do an errand.    Donna had been in the back, dead-heading some petunias when our dog, Pippa, went on point, not a usual stance for a herding dog. But she had sensed the moose and was watching.  On Donna’s command, Pippa came back to the house.  

Donna called me. “Remember those tracks you saw yesterday?  It was a moose.  And I’m looking right at him.”

I rushed back to Clarks Point, in about five minutes.  The moose was still there.  In fact she stayed an hour.  Moved very little.  Was not skittish,  Just calmly munched away on an organic spring salad of green shoots, branches and leaves.  As much as you know I wanted to get really, really close, even at 30 feet or so I could see that she was formidable ... about 3 1/2 feet tall and solid.  A woman on Facebook, who saw the pictures, said it looked like a 6-7 month old cow.

After I went away, so did the moose ... carefully walking down the steep, rocky landscape.  We can see the Sheepscot River, but we’re far back from the coastline.  It’s rough going.

All day, Donna and I have been looking out the window - looking for the moose.  So far, nothing.


More than 31 flavors


Maine and ice cream.  Just like "Baseball, Apple Pie and Chevrolet”.  They go together naturally.

I came across an article this week featuring the many ice cream makers and sellers in Maine. ( to some of them.) My first thought was to turn this into a project like I did with a few of Maine’s diners a couple years ago. (See A1, Miss Portland.)  My second thought was to go eat some ice cream :)  Which I did at Round Top in Damariscotta. 

More than 31 Flavors?  Heck, looks like they may have close to 70!  And ... this just in ... “Pumpkin” is back. 

I had a sugar cone, double dip of black raspberry.