Down East 2013 ©
Maine is losing its stones.
I suppose that’s about as far as I’m going to be allowed to take that joke, Down East’s Web site being a family friendly venue that doesn’t tolerate risqué allusions. I just want it noted that as a result of this dictatorial editorial policy, a lot of potential for off-color humor is going to be wasted.
Still, I’ll persevere. I don’t need to wallow in the gutter to be funny. Although, it’s a lot easier.
In this case, I have to admit the stones in question are not of the euphemistic variety so popular in male-locker-room conversations, but actual rocks, scattered across the beaches and trails of Acadia National Park .
And for some reason, people are stealing them.
The question, of course, is why. I realize we’re in a recession, but even under difficult economic conditions, there must be something in a national park to make off with that’s more easily converted to cash. Seaweed? Tree bark? Porta-potties?
But no. The fashionable tourist-related crime of the moment is swiping rocks. Particularly, the nice smooth ones that can be taken home and used for … well, I dunno. Ballast, I guess.
Although come to think of it, I have a large rock next to my driveway (a note to the boulder patrol: As far as I know, it didn’t come from Acadia), which I employ as a seat while I’m waiting for my wife to get ready to go someplace. It’s not quite as smooth as the tide-tossed type, although it does appear that I’m wearing a shiny spot on the top of it. My wife is not to be rushed under any circumstances.
But I’m assuming the stuff that’s being pilfered from the park is mostly somewhat smaller than seating size. It’s probably the sort of thing that ends up on a bookshelf in some condo in Massachusetts or New York as a conversation piece (“Oh, that little item is the rock that got us thrown in the Hancock County Jail”) or a knickknack (“See, I still have the marks on my wrists from where they made the handcuffs too tight”).
Because the fact is that slipping a few pebbles in your pocket as souvenirs is a crime punishable by fines of as much as $150. (It is not true that you can also be sentenced to be stoned, even though that seems sort of appropriate.) The harsh penalty is necessary to prevent the denuding (de-stoning?) of scenic spots in the park, which could lead to erosion and a shortage of affordable housing for worms.
As one Acadia official told the Bangor Daily News, “[R]ocks are not a renewable resource.”
And without them, Maine would have no stones.
Sorry. I slipped.
The latest wave of crime didn’t stop with the filching of the firmament. It also included robbing the rose beds. Sometime early last week, a person or persons unknown entered the famed rose garden at Deering Oaks park in Portland and made off with 100 or more of the flowers .
Unlike rocks, roses are a renewable resource. But that doesn’t make the theft any easier to accept. “When people take them,” a city official told the Portland Daily Sun, “they’re not killing the bush per se, but they’re ruining the bloom for others to enjoy.”
Suspects in the case include people who may have been planning to sell the flowers and errant spouses who really, really needed to score some points, lest their next trip to Deering Oaks be to sleep on one of its benches.
This is the second year in a row the rose beds have been the scene of such affronts to botanical integrity. It may be time to employ stronger pesticides.
Speaking of red things (wow, I think that’s the lousiest transition between topics I’ve ever attempted), most of the Maine coast is closed to shellfish harvesting due to what’s being described as the worst-ever-on-record outbreak of red tide .
The algae that causes red tide (algaeus redtidius) is expected to persist for some time due to runoff from the recent rains. In the interim, seafood dealers are planning to sell rocks they stole from Acadia National Park.
If you steam them with a few herbs and spices, they’re not bad.
More news of red stuff: The Maine Red Claws, the NBA Development team that will be playing in Portland this fall, have confirmed they’ll be giving a free rose to the first 100 ticket buyers. Or they would be if the preceding sentence weren’t completely false.
The Red Claws actually confirmed they’ve narrowed their search for a coach to three people  – one of whom is Austin Ainge, the son of Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge. The other two names were not released, possibly because the individuals are being sought for questioning by police in connection with the mysterious disappearance of stones from Acadia National Park.
One reason lawlessness seems to be running rampant in Maine may be that the state’s most recognizable crime fighter is in New York City. According to a story in the New York Post , police there slapped the cuffs on Frank Frisoli, said to be a resident of Maine, after he and his friend Maksim Katsnelson appeared on the streets of the Big Apple dressed, respectively, as Batman and Superman. Or maybe they really are Batman and Superman. How would I know? It’s not as if I’m on the guest list for charity fundraisers at Wayne Manor.
In any case, police approached the men on a tip they were smuggling rocks from Acadia National Park. No, wait, they actually attracted the attention of law enforcement personnel because they lacked the proper license. Apparently in New York, superheroes have to have a license to fight crime. Incensed by this intrusion of government bureaucracy into his private affairs, Katsnelson is said to have decided to fight cops instead. He allegedly punched one in the face and was arrested, but only after police called for kryptonite backup. Frisoli was freed once it was determined he hadn’t done anything wrong. Also, he’s a friend of Commissioner Gordon and was needed in Maine to apprehend the Rose Bandit.
Frisoli was last seen leaving the scene of the altercation, although he didn’t depart in the Batmobile. A passing tourist told the New York Post he was escorted by another costumed character. “He walked off with the Statue of Liberty,” she said.
Now, that takes some stones.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com.