Would You Rather Read About the Economy or Beer?
I know you’re sick of hearing about the lousy economy, but I’m under intense editorial pressure here (including the threat of forms of torture so heinous that the mere mention of them would make Dick Cheney curl up in a fetal position and make pathetic gurgling noises) to present as comprehensive an overview of the week’s events in Maine as is humanly possible. That’s got to include some economic stories, no matter how much you don’t want to read them.
But I’ll make you a deal. If you promise to stick with me all the way through the recessionary cesspool, I’ll start with information about beer and finish with some suggestive stuff about topless waitresses. It’s sort of like sugar-coating the bad news, except that instead of sugar – which is bad for you – I’m using alcohol and sex.
It’s more adult that way. If you’re not an adult – or you’re the sort of adult who’s titillated by things like that – stop reading right now.
Orono has a new brewery. The Black Bear Brewery is owned by a guy with the Dickensian name of Tim Gallon.
Gallon also brews the pints served at the nearby Bear Brew Pub, but started his own business so he’d have more space to try out his recipes. He makes strong ales, ranging from Black Demon stout to Gearhead red ale, which he’s selling to a few area restaurants and bars.
If Gallon’s product measures up (heh, heh) to his competition in the Maine brewing industry, he’ll be in elite company. The state’s beers have won many awards, and now, the places those brews are being drunk have attracted national attention. According to Imbibe magazine, Maine is home to four of the “100 Best Places Top Drink Beer In America.” Unfortunately, this story is no longer online, but I’ll tell you where those spots are, so long as you keep your promise to read the depressing news later on.
The Great Lost Bear in Portland was one of 10 watering holes picked as having the “Best Locally Brewed Offerings.” McKeen and Charles in Waldoboro made the cut as a top 10 beer shop. Novare Res Bier Café in Portland is a prime spot for beer geeks. And topping the list of “Best-Kept Secrets” is Ebenezer’s Pub in Center Lovell.
I can personally attest to the accuracy of the ratings of all of them except the beer shop. And I plan to stop there the next time I’m summoned to Down East’s world headquarters to explain why I’ve devoted almost half this posting to information that’s only marginally connected to the news of the week.
Just trying to lighten the atmosphere, boss, before telling people the grim tale of a Portland man arrested at the Cumberland County Civic Center early on the morning of Dec. 30, for allegedly attempting to drive the facility’s Zamboni machine while thoroughly schnockered.
According to police, Adam Patterson, 23, had broken in to the civic center and inadvertently summoned the law when he rammed a forklift into pipes connected to the sprinkler system, doing a few thousand dollars damage. He was charged with burglary and drunk driving, in what has to be a rare instance of the latter crime involving ice-resurfacing equipment.
I trust this will serve as a warning to anyone determined to visit all 100 of Imbibe magazine’s best places to drink beer to a) exercise moderation, and b) choose an appropriate vehicle. Making that trip in a Zamboni could take months.
An even worse transportation choice: a snowmobile with an altered exhaust system so it makes lots of noise. The Maine Warden Service has announced it’s cracking down on overly loud snow machines, which are annoying some landowners and threatening local clubs’ use of trails across private property. At least Zambonis are reasonably quiet.
Remember that Vietnamese pot-bellied pig that was running around the Colby College campus in Waterville last summer? He eluded capture for weeks, until he was lured into a trap by an order of French fries and Tasered by the cops, even though his snowmobile had a proper muffler.
The story has a happy ending. Well, it’s happy if you’re not the sort of person who thinks bacon is the crowning achievement of humankind. (Except for beer.)
He shares space with another pig and a large duck, who’s helping him write a book about his experience. Expect to see the pig on Oprah this fall.
This isn’t the only warm and fuzzy adoption story of the week. Thanks to a new state law, effective Jan. 2, adoptees – human ones, that is – in Maine could get access to their original birth certificates.
A large crowd showed up at the Secretary of State’s office that day to learn more about their biological parents. If you happen to fall in that category, don’t be surprised if you get a phone call from somebody you might have thought you’d never hear from.
The end of the year is the time for annual statistics. Highway fatalities in Maine declined from 188 in 2007 to 152 in 2008. High gas prices last summer and a tougher seat belt law are being credited with the decline. Deaths from fires were on the low side in ’08, with just 15 reported. While that’s up from the 12 fatalities in ’07, it’s still below the average of about 20 per year in the 1990s.
Murders were up, however. Thirty-one people were homicide victims last year, 19 of them due to domestic violence. That’s the most such deaths since 1989. Apparently, there are some things that can’t be cured by gas prices and seat belts.
The real estate industry in Maine is tanking. Not only are sales way off and housing prices dropping like highway fatalities, but the number of people selling homes and processing mortgages is in steep decline.
More than a quarter of those jobs have disappeared in the last year.
Store closings and downsizing are expected to cost 2 percent of all retail employees in the state their jobs in 2009.
On the bright side, many of the same economists say the state won’t slide into a depression, but could slog through a recession for many months.
OK, enough. Here’s some good news. If you need a job, the former Grand View Motel in Vassalboro will soon be hiring. The place will be looking for waitresses who don’t mind working without blouse or bra.
Alert the appropriate magazine.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com.