Down East 2013 ©
You know those totally bogus news stories in which a reporter builds an entire article out of some celebrity’s tenuous connection to Maine? Like a movie star who spent a summer vacation here once when she was a kid. Or a famous politician who was on a plane that stopped to refuel in Bangor. Or a well-known author who’s looking forward to visiting someday, although probably not in your lifetime.
I can’t stand that kind of wanna-be-Hollywood-and-slime journalism myself, but you know how it is in a recession. Any sleazy gimmick to keep the readers coming back. Soooo …
RACHEL MADDOW was not, to the best of my knowledge, in Maine this past week (like she’d let me know if she was), but the trendy MSNBC talk show host nevertheless qualifies for a mention here because of an interview she did for Imbibe magazine. It turns out Maddow is an accomplished amateur bartender, and she was asked if she had an essential tool in her drink-mixing kit.
“I have a tiny, thick cutting board,” she said, “that’s stamped ‘MADE IN A MAINE STATE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY.’ It’s the perfect size for cutting citrus without being in the way in my tiny kitchen.”
You think that’s the weakest link to Maine anyone’s ever built a celebrity-based story on? Wrong. Here’s an even weaker one.
KEN BURNS doesn’t seem to own any prison woodworking pieces from Maine. And I did a really extensive Google search, too. But the documentary filmmaker is involved sort of indirectly in seeking out elderly Maine criminals. Burns’ production company is in the early stages of preparing a series to air on PBS in 2010 or 2011 titled “Prohibition.” 
Lynn Novick (she’s not Burns, but she knows him) wants to interview old rum runners, speakeasy customers, bathtub gin producers and anyone else from Maine who remembers the big fun everyone had while booze was illegal.
MARTIN LUTHER KING is a famous person who actually came to Maine. Once. In 1964. King gave a speech at the First Parish Church in Brunswick, and the Bowdoin College radio station taped his remarks. But for many years, the station couldn’t get permission from the King family foundation to air the speech. Recently, the ban was lifted, and through the end of Black History Month in February, you can hear the whole thing on WBOR’s Web site. 
All that celeb stuff makes me thirsty. Time for a nice tall glass of …
It won’t get you invited to Rachel Maddow’s for cocktails. It won’t get you interviewed by Ken Burns (or somebody who knows Ken Burns). And the only thing it has in common with Martin Luther King is his initials almost spell milk.
But milk has its advantages. You can drink it and drive. You can use it to cure a hangover (if you follow it with a shot of Scotch). And it’s wicked cheap.
Too cheap, as it turns out. Prices being paid to dairy farmers in Maine this year are expected to bottom out at less than half what they got in 2008, which could force many of them out of business. 
The reason is decreasing foreign demand, particularly since China started putting all those tasty additives in its milk. The milk industry is lobbying both the state and federal governments for aid, as well as asking Rachel Maddow to invest a hip new cocktail that requires lots of milk. Also, the farmers want Ken Burns to do a documentary titled “Cow.”
Who says you can’t get a good job in this economy? Mark Bessire managed to do it. The director of the Bates College Museum of Art in Lewiston has been selected to become the new director of the Portland Museum of Art. 
The museum is currently showing an exhibit of photographs of rock celebrities, but under Bessire is expected to focus more on artwork that involves milk.
No, really, there’s a lot of that stuff around.
Don MacAdam also has a new job. On Jan. 13, MacAdam – most recently the head coach, general manager, and part owner of the Dayton Bombers (before they were shut down by the Department of Homeland Security) – was named the new head coach of the Lewiston Maineiacs. 
He replaces Ed Harding, who was fired on Jan. 12 for having hardly won any games and, according to team president Matt McKnight, because, “It appeared that the players didn’t seem to have any fun coming to the rink anymore.” 
The Maineiacs play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Does that seem contradictory, somehow?
Other than museums and hockey teams, the employment picture continues to look grim. The Hinckley Co. in Trenton, makers of luxury yachts, announced its second round of layoffs within three months. 
After furloughing 50 workers late last year, the boat builder is canning 25 more.
Apparently, it’s easier to predict the weather a year in advance than the economy a month or two ahead.
The company said the positions were being eliminated permanently.
The good news is heating oil is a buck a gallon cheaper right now than it was last winter at this time. The bad news is that for a lot of people, that’s still too much.
If you think the economy stinks, but you aren’t quite sure, make a call to the state Department of Environmental Protection. DEP is experimenting with a device that can measure the stench. It’s called a Nasal Ranger. 
Really. I swear.
The Nasal Ranger might help determine if an odor is creating a public nuisance. I hope it works. I want to live in a state protected by Nasal Rangers.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org .