Down East 2013 ©
Like most journalists, I have this unfulfilled dream. For more than thirty years, I’ve wanted to do a feature story on a subject worthy of my skills, my talent, my initiative. But at every turn, I’ve been frustrated, blocked, and defeated.
I’ve discussed this goal with many editors, sometimes in lengthy sessions that ended with security personnel being summoned to escort me from the premises. Few of these gatekeepers to publication could grasp the concept. Fewer still could share my vision. Until now, none had the courage to give me the go-ahead to embark on such an innovative and ambitious project.
Fortunately for western civilization, my editors at DownEast.com have allowed me to proceed with this earthshaking article, because they are people of integrity, insight, and daring.
Also, because I didn’t tell them.
If I had, they might have said what so many benighted editors have said before: “That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard. It has nothing to do with Maine. Now, get out of my office and finish that story on the Zoning Board of Appeals.”
Fortunately, I believed in myself and my idea (not to mention how I hated sitting through those appeal board hearings). I knew the day would come when my perseverance (technically defined by a couple of judges as “harassment” and “stalking”) would pay off. And now that time has arrived.
At last, I’ve been able to engage in an undercover investigation into the shadowy world of international trade in a product that threatens our American concept of appropriate things to eat:
Here’s what finally broke the logjam that has kept this information under wraps for decades. A story in the April 8  Portland Press Herald  on the January ammonia leak at a deep-freeze storage facility in Portland called Americold Logistics (“and over here, we have Ted Williams’ head”) has provided me with the first hard (well, it was technically “frozen”) evidence of the camel-rump trade in Maine. Americold stored millions of pounds of frozen food at its facility, much of which had to be destroyed after the leak. But some is being tested to see if it’s still safe to distribute, and among the items awaiting approval are eel meat, walleye heads, goat carcasses, steer knuckles, slime eels, dried sea cucumber flowers, guts and meat, and camel rump.
In many parts of the world, according to my extensive research , camel rump is considered a delicacy.
That’s hardly an excuse. In other parts of the globe, they think the announcement there’ll be slime eels for supper  is a cause for celebration.
And I refuse to speculate on what they were saving those walleye heads  for.
No matter. None of that changes the fact that Portland has somehow become a repository for a significant portion of the world’s supply of camel rump. I think we all can guess where this sort of activity is likely to lead. It’s only a short hooved step or two from rumps to camel humps, camel tails, camel toes, and Camel cigarettes.
That isn’t the image we want for Maine’s most populous city, a place heretofore known for having half-naked women march down its main street [NSFW] , in order to protest men looking at women with no tops on. This is not a reputation we should squander on the storage of dromedary parts. Or pieces of that other kind of camel. The one with two humps. Has a name that sounds like a first-aid product. Bactine? No.
Although that could be a resident of one of those little countries on the Baltic Sea. Next to Latvia and Dyspepsia.
Well, what’s a hump or two matter, anyway. It’s time to discuss far more crucial concerns than my lifelong obsession with writing about certain desert-dwelling ungulates .
It’s time to delve into the latest news about beer.
The other night, my wife said to me, “What do you want to drink with dinner?”
“We’re not having sea cucumber guts again, are we?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “I got something special on sale at some storage place in Portland. We’re having camel rump.”
“Ah,” I said, “I know the perfect beverage to complement such a dish. I’ll just run out and get some.”
Two days later, she tracked me down in a tavern in Skowhegan and made me eat leftovers.
My flight wasn’t entirely in vain, however, since I stopped at Ron’s Market in Farmington and bought a bottle of the Maine Beer Company’s Spring Peeper Ale , a pricey, but delicious bottle-conditioned brew fit for royalty. Or presidents. Which is not nearly as far-fetched as most stuff I write about here.
When President Obama was in Portland on April 1, he made mention of Bill Milliken , who runs Maine Beer and Beverage in Portland, as an example of the kind of small businessperson that sells beer and beverages, as opposed to, say, goat carcasses. Milliken became sort of semi-famous on the Web as Bill the Beer Guy , kind of like Sheila the Slime Eel Girl and Carl the Camel Rump Weirdo.
As a result, Milliken is assembling a gift basket of Maine beers  to deliver to the White House.
Although nobody asked me, here are my nominations for inclusion:
The above-mentioned Spring Peeper Ale.
The Liberal Cup ’s Ex-Wife Extra Bitter (not available in bottles, but surely for the president, they could make up a growler or two to go).
Geary ’s Summer Ale.
Shipyard ’s Chamberlain Pale Ale.
Allagash  Curieux (expand the big guy’s tastes a little).
McGovern’s Oatmeal Stout from Belfast Bay Brewing .
Gritty McDuff ’s Halloween Ale (there’s got to be a bottle or two left over somewhere).
Laughing Loon Lager from Oak Pond Brewing .
Marshall Wharf Brewing ’s T2-R9 barleywine (another one that’ll have to go in a growler).
Ol’ Camel Rump Ale. (I admit to making that one up, but there actually is a cocktail called the Camel Hump  – a mixture of butterscotch schnapps and Bailey’s Irish Cream.
I suppose I’ll have to try one, just to see if it’s better than the Sea Cucumber – Allen’s Coffee Brandy and limeade. Garnish with poison ivy.)
Al Diamon has been sent off to join the Foreign Legion and ride real camels. You can still e-mail him at email@example.com