Maine Marches On – But to Where?
Thanks to prompt action by our legislators and governor, a shocking deficit in this state’s cultural heritage has been filled. Maine now has an official state march. It’s called “The Dirigo March,” written by Leo Pepin of Augusta, who named it after the official state motto: “March.” It sounds like this on the official state MP3.
A tune like that will undoubtedly prove useful for lots of occasions, such as … uh … if the circus comes to town. Or when we swear in governors. Or when the little tiny car rolls to a stop in the state House of Representatives, and all one hundred and fifty-one members pile out.
Maine now joins several other states that also have official marches. Kansas even has two, one chosen in 1935 and another in 1992, adopted after legislators forgot about the first one. It even has words for both of them (“Kansas has a heart display, the heart of the U. S. A.”), which should serve as a warning to Maine not to put the official state lyricist to work on anything similar. Other states with marches include Louisiana (“I Guess We Won’t Be Going To The Super Bowl This Season”), Massachusetts (“I Guess We Won’t Be Going To The World Series This Season”), and Rhode Island (“I Guess We’ll All Be Going To Prison For the Foreseeable Future”).
Some states carry the whole thing a little too far. Michigan has both an official song (“I Wish We Were Part Of Canada”) and an unofficial state song (“Too Bad About All Them Sledgehammer Dents In Your Toyota, Jerk Face”). New Hampshire has one official song (“Get Your Cheap Booze Here”) and eight “honorary” songs, a list of which seems to include every song ever written that mentions the state (even “Demons From New Hampshire Ate My Baby”). And Ohio has an official state rock song (which for some reason isn’t “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – it’s “Hang On Sloopy” by the McCoys, because “Sloopy” is the official state girl’s nickname).
Kind of makes you feel better about living in Maine, doesn’t it?
Which is not to say that this state has done all it can with its official designations. Even though we have an official state soil, an official state dessert, and an official state sexual position (missionary – and it's mandatory), we could still stand to boost our official musical catalog. If Massachusetts can have an official state polka (“Carl Crawford’s Contract Is Gonna Kill The Sox’s Chances For The Rest Of This Decade”), Maine ought to at least have an official state country song.
There’s really only one sensible choice for that honor.
No, not “Pine Tree John Got Drunk” by John Lincoln Wright and the Sourmash Boys. That’s the official state country drinking song.
I’m talking about “Tombstone Every Mile” by the late Dick Curless. (To be fully accurate, “Tombstone” was performed by Curless, but was actually written by Dan Fulkerson of Bangor, who is also famous for having composed such hits as … uh … well, forget I brought that up.)
Back to the news of the week, because Maine has a lot more going on than just marching around to our new state march. We also have the qualifying round for the World Invitational Moose Calling Championship, which is scheduled for Augusta on March 31. The finals are set for Rangeley on June 23, and the winner gets a one-thousand-dollar cash prize and the right to keep any moose he or she calls.
Lest you think you can just show up at these events and make random honking noises (not unlike the official state honking noises of North Dakota), you should know that all contestants will be ranked on a one-hundred-point scale based on the quality of their bull calls (“I’m sorry I didn’t phone earlier, honey, but I couldn’t get a signal at the emergency room, where I had to bring this friend of mine whose truck crashed on a stretch of road they call the Hainesville Woods”), cow calls (mooooo), other attraction techniques (de-lousing services, anyone?) and overall showmanship (“I will now call a moose while drinking Maine’s official toxic waste, Moxie”).
Speaking of nasty chemicals, a funeral home in Belfast is now offering you a chance to be dipped in them after you die. It’s called alkaline hydrolysis, which is a nice way of saying that for roughly twice the price of routine cremation, your corpse will be dissolved in lye, reducing you to an unpleasant brown liquid and a few brittle bones. According to purveyors of this revolutionary technique, currently available at only one other mortuary in the entire country, this method is supposed to be much more eco-friendly than more traditional types of disposal, such as burying, burning, or being tossed in the recycling bin and left on the curb on trash collection day.
In spite of our use of advanced technology to get rid of great granddad, Maine has not impressed Forbes magazine of late. Last December, the business publication claimed the state was the worst in the nation for doing business. Then, it ranked us dead last in the quality of our official state soil. Finally, we got low marks in a ranking of the number of cool songs that mention Maine (“I’ve Been Everywhere” by Johnny Cash is almost the only one, but it names just about every other place in the country, too, so that’s not worth many points). But now Forbes has some good news for our beleaguered state.
The Portland-South Portland-Biddeford area is one of the magazine’s choices for the ten best places in the nation to hear a marching tune. Also, to go job hunting. Or to job hunt while listening to an official state march.
Particularly, if the circus is in town.
Al Diamon is proud that he got through this entire posting without making fun of Maine’s official state song, “Grand State of Maine,” which he had to learn to sing in grade school, but has long since forgotten, except for something about the rockbound coast and the excellent pot roast. Or maybe that was another song. In any case, his email is email@example.com and the official song in his head is “Let’s Kill Saturday Night” by Robbie Fulks, with whom he once got very drunk.