Down East 2013 ©
You’ve got to wonder what former Maine Gov. Angus King has been drinking. King and his partners in Independence Wind LLC are offering everybody in Roxbury free electricity. 
Of course, there’s a catch. To get the power, everybody in Roxbury will have to chug a large bottle of Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy.
Ha, ha. That last sentence is completely false. I just wrote it because later in this posting there’s some amazing stuff about how much Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy people in Maine actually drink. I’m engaging in that thing writers do … whaddaya call it … foreshortening. No, foreshadowing.
Probably should ease up on the coffee brandy.
Let’s see, where was I? Oh yeah, King will give every household in Roxbury 500 kilowatt hours per month of no-charge charges, and all the town has to do is amend its comprehensive plan before the end of the year to allow a bunch of wind turbines. The deal would last for 20 years. Which is a lot longer than a bottle of coffee brandy generally does. A vote on the proposal will likely be held this fall.
The thing would cost $2 billion. Let me put that in perspective. For $2 billion, you could buy more than 100 million half-gallon bottles of Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy. Enough to last longer than the free-electricity deal in Roxbury. Even if you invited everyone you know over for a two-decade-long party.
What’s odd about the Wiscasset project is that it doesn’t actually increase the amount of power available in Maine. The plant produces juice by allowing water from a nearby river to fall 2,000 feet underground into turbines that generate electricity. But it takes an equal amount of energy to pump the water back to the surface, so it’s a wash (a little hydropower joke). The idea is that the thing would turn out kilowatts during times of high demand and use them up during periods of low demand, thereby making money on the price differential.
It’s complicated, like that Wall Street bailout (oooh, another hydropower joke – who knew there were so many).
Transitioning smoothly from a water-related topic to one concerning alcohol, I learned this past week that Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy has become the first brand of booze to sell more than 1 million bottles in Maine in a single year. 
In 2007, Allen’s (in four different sizes) sold 1,024,282 units in the state, up from just under 994,000 the year before. Nobody seems to know why, because the stuff doesn’t fly off the shelves anywhere else, and it’s not as if there aren’t other ways to get loaded that don’t leave you feeling as if you’ve just swallowed a couple of packages of sugar-sweetened sticky notes.
Maybe I wouldn’t feel quite so awful if I got something to eat. Like some nutritious school-cafeteria food. But before I dig into a heaping platter of mystery meat and reconstituted potato surprise, I really ought to check this place’s heath-inspection certificate. Which appears to be from the early years of Bill Clinton’s first term.
Although reports of health problems in cafeterias are rare, only about 3 percent of those places are up to date on inspections, which I’m sure has nothing to do with that squishy thing in my fish sticks that looks like an eyeball.
I hope that orb didn’t belong to an Atlantic wolf fish. According to the Conservation Law Foundation, the creepy-looking species, often caught by commercial fishermen off Maine, is being over-harvested and needs federal protection. 
Wolf fish are in high demand because, in spite of their crooked fangs and a face that makes Dick Cheney look engaging, they’re tasty. So, I guess that wasn’t what was in my fish stick, after all.
Until this past week, the Black Frog’s policy was there was no charge for the Skinny Dip if a patron agreed to jump in Moosehead Lake naked. But after the August arrest of three people who did just that, the word got around, and complaints began to drift into the town hall. The selectmen decided something had to be done, so they drank a bottle of Allen’s, stripped off their clothes and ran down the main drag shouting, “Save the wolf fish!”
Well, that isn’t precisely correct. They didn’t drink any coffee brandy. They kept their clothes on. And there was no public protest in favor of the wolf fish. What happened was the selectmen voted to deny the Black Frog’s request to renew its liquor license. The restaurant’s owner then decided the sandwich would no longer be free for those who chose to disrobe.
It’s enough to make me wonder if there’s any fun left in Maine.
Depending on your definition of “fun” (mine includes free electricity, wolf-fish steaks and A-OKs – a drink made from equal parts Allen’s and Oakhurst milk – followed by nude public hearings on whether to build new power plants), the concept may still be alive at Oxford Highlands.
Where, you might well ask, is that?
At the moment, I might well reply, it’s no place.
According to the architect, who called it “charming,” it’s supposed to look like a New England village. To me, it evoked images of a paper mill that somebody tried to dress up for polite company. There also could be a touch of the old state prison in Thomaston thrown in there.
Voters will decide in November just how much the whole concept charms them. I’m sure they’ll make a wise choice, even though there’ll be, on average, a bottle and a half of Allen’s in every person who goes to the polls.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com.