Best Place to Park in Bangor is Portland
Until recently, if you drove your car into the office of the chief of the Bangor Police Department and told his secretary you only planned to leave it wedged in the doorway so he couldn’t get to his desk for a few minutes while you ran a couple of errands, ate lunch, caught a movie, visited your gabby aunt in the nursing home, and had organ-replacement surgery, you wouldn’t have had a thing to worry about. The Bangor cops issued parking tickets with about the same frequency as Maine voters decide to throw incumbent U.S. senators out of office.
But, as then-Sen. Bill Hathaway found out when the ballots were counted in 1978, sometimes such unlikely events do occur.
Bangor Chief Ron Gastia, weary of climbing over Priuses and Hummers to reach his filing cabinets, has issued a new order to his patrol officers:
Write at least ten parking tickets every month or find the chief’s personal vehicle parked on your dining room table during dinner hour.
The edict seems to have had the desired effect. In July – before Gastia went all ballistic over an F-150 and two Hyundais in his private bathroom – the three dozen or so cops on the patrol beat issued about fifty tickets, including one to a guy who somehow got his van perched on the top of the Paul Bunyan statue. Mostly, though, they only gave warnings for minor infractions such as leaving the front tires on top of a little old lady and actually driving through the drive-thru window at McDonald’s and coming to rest on the prep counter (“This fish sandwich tastes like motor oil – and that’s an improvement”).
After word came down from above, parking enforcement was stepped up. The patrol cops issued nearly 600 tickets in August for such violations as “thinking about parking next to a sign that says ‘Don’t Even Think About Parking Here’” and “parking in the mayor’s reserved space” (“But I am the mayor”).
As a result, it’s now much easier to find a free, legal space to leave your car.
OK, so you have to drive three and a half hours to take advantage of that deal, but, hey, that’s no longer than it takes to walk to the nearest store from the only available parking space at the Maine Mall on an average Christmas shopping weekend.
Portland’s free spaces are conveniently located. That’s because a couple of banks have paid the city to have hoods advertising their services (“fast loans to pay parking fines in Bangor”) put over all the parking meters in the Old Port and other areas on certain days.
If these promotions are successful, several banks are considering picking up the tab for other government services, such as welfare, trash collection and banking regulation. With that last one, you shouldn’t notice much difference.
One of the things you’ll want to see while you’re parked for free in Portland is Roxanne Quimby’s latest undertaking. Quimby is the founder of Burt’s Bees, even though her name isn’t Burt and the company doesn’t sell bees. It produces personal care products, and she sold most of her share to a big conglomerate a few years ago, thereby making herself wealthier than any bank in Portland. Since then, she’s been using all that cash to buy up land in northern Maine as part of a plan to create a North Woods National Park. That proposal has met with considerable resistance from residents of the area (“where would we park?”), so Quimby has been shifting her focus to more urban areas.
She recently purchased an historically significant building on Congress Street (George Washington once parked his SUV there), which she plans to turn into gallery and studio space for artists from all over the country. If that doesn’t work out, the property will be a good start on Quimby’s proposed South Woods National Park (“look, Mommy, they’re towing away that SUV that belongs to the man with the white wig and the wooden false teeth, just because he cut down all the cherry trees”).
If you think that seems unlikely, consider this. Across the street from Quimby’s project, plans are underway to open the International Cryptozoology Museum on Nov. 1.
And just what is cryptozoology? Well, let’s see. Krypto is Superman’s dog, and zoology is the science of studying fraternity houses with a reputation for heavy partying. So, whatever it is, the museum sounds like a fun place to meet coeds from Krypton.
Wear clean underwear. They have x-ray vision.
Actually, cryptozoology is the pseudo-science of studying animals that real science says don’t exist. Like free parking in Bangor. And Bigfoot. Loren Coleman, the curator, has been collecting stuff related to yetis and jackalopes for decades, and now plans to make it available to the public for viewing.
UFOs park for free.
Coleman’s new venture is located right next to Joe’s Smoke Shop, a Portland institution that, on occasion, can be a hotbed of cryptozoology all by itself.
Speaking of weird animal fetishes, let’s hop in the van and head for Westbrook (“plenty of free parking, although it hasn’t helped much”), where Merry Jordan is running something called Mainely Rat Rescue.
Wait. That sounds like one of the ridiculous things the guy who writes this blog inserts in real stories in a vain attempt to make the news of the week interesting. I mean, who would rescue rats? I keep a winged snake I got from Loren Coleman around just to swoop down and eat rats.
But no, this seems to be true (something in this posting had to be). Jordan actually rescues pet rats that have been abandoned or mistreated, and finds them new homes (“hello, Loren Coleman?”). She also sells rat hammocks handmade by her mother (“hello, Roxanne Quimby?”). Last year, she placed 350 rats all over northern New England (except Bangor, because rats like convenient parking).
Jordan, who has ten of the little critters herself (“hello, Orkin man?”), told the Lewiston Sun Journal that rats are great pets. “They’re like dogs, but smaller,” she said.
And the housebreaking is a little trickier.
Still, they sound like the perfect pet for a retired person (hello, former U.S. Sen. Bill Hathaway?”).
Don't hesitate to e-mail Al Diamon at firstname.lastname@example.org if you find a good parking spot.