Down East 2013 ©
I wouldn’t have thought Maine would have a chance in the Institute for Economics and Peace’s  competition to find the most peaceful state in the U.S. To take the title, the Pine Tree State would have had to defeat places like North Dakota (“The Nothing Ever Happens Here State”), Kansas (tourist slogan: “Unvaryingly Dull”) and Iowa (road sign at border: “You Were Probably Looking For Ohio”).
When it comes to peace and quiet, those places have a clear advantage over Maine, what with the crashing of surf on our rock-bound coast, the bellowing of rutting bull moose in our forests and the chanting of demonstrators during the more-or-less continuous protests outside the governor’s office. 
It’s so noisy here that beleaguered Gov. Paul LePage spent the week in Jamaica, which isn’t even eligible for the peace contest because, technically, it’s not a state.
Although, how difficult would it be to make it one? LePage could direct the attack from behind enemy lines. I suspect the Jamaican army wouldn’t put up much resistance to an invasion, assuming there is a Jamaican army in the first place. Either way, what’s stopping us?
Oh, wait. That peace thing. We’d probably have no shot (sorry) at the prize if we got a reputation for forcibly annexing anyone. And Maine already has points against it left over from the Aroostook War of 1839  (battle cry: “Kick Canada’s Ass – Or Not – We Really Don’t Care One Way Or The Other”), even though we didn’t actually kill anybody or anything.
Well, back to the institute and its peace prize. The first thing an alert observer might notice about this organization is that the average alert observer has probably never heard of it. After carefully perusing its Web site, the alert observer would know even less. So, I suspect it’s a front group for somebody or something, probably the Jamaican army. A Google search indicates the group was formed in Australia, which is another island on which Gov. LePage might like to vacation on his next break in three months or so. Also, we could invade there, too, thereby seizing the world’s entire supply of koala bears.
Sorry, I don’t know where all this confrontational stuff is coming from. I suspect it’s residual aggression left over from the unsatisfying end of the Aroostook War.
Anyway, back to the peace award.
In spite of my pessimism (which I also blame on disappointment caused by the negotiated settlement granting Canada part of the province of New Brunswick, while all Maine got was the town of Brunswick), the institute announced on April 6 that Maine is the most peaceful state  in the country. New Hampshire and Vermont came in second and third, respectively, with Louisiana finishing dead last. 
No wonder I like New Orleans so much.
The announcement wasn’t all positive, however. A close reading of the institute’s findings shows that Maine actually had a 5.4 percent decrease  in peacefulness between 1991 and 2009.
I attribute this to two factors:
And bad beer in cans.
Fortunately, both these problems are being addressed. Even as you read these words, Portland is preparing for the removal of a sculpture called “Tracing the Fore,”  which has been loitering in Boothby Square for several years, scaring small children and accidentally neutering dogs that wandered too close to its spiky structure. Now, thanks to a final vote by the City Council, it will be dug up and shipped to Augusta, where it will be installed in the lobby of the state Department of Labor in hopes that those protesting the removal of the mural depicting the history of labor in Maine will be mollified ( a word that appears to mean “turned into a molly or neutered like a dog”).
Peace will be restored, and it’ll be time to celebrate with some toasts of good beer in cans. Which will soon be plentiful, thanks to the decision by the Baxter Brewing Co. of Lewiston  to double its capacity. Baxter sells all its packaged beer in cans, but those packages have been hard to find in some places because the brewery has a capacity to produce about one six-pack a week.
As regular readers know, the watchword of this blog is “Research” (or sometimes, “Goof Off,” which, I suppose, is technically two watchwords). Because of our commitment to thoroughly document all the stuff I make up, I have hesitated to write about Baxter’s beers until I had the opportunity to test them under controlled conditions. After considerable difficulty ( I had to shove an old lady and a guy on crutches out of the way to get to the beer cooler), I obtained samples of both Baxter’s Pamola Xtra Pale Ale (a name that seems to indicate somebody flunked spelling) and Stowaway IPA (a name that seems to encourage shoplifting). I immediately put both through a series of rigorous examinations.
The Pamola (which is a peak on Mount Katahdin named for either a legendary Abenaki bird spirit  or a nearby motel ) made me so … so … peaceful – after three or four – that one slipped from my hands and fell to the floor. Ordinarily, that would mean there’d be a mess to clean up: glass shards, puddles of beer, toenail clippings, dog hair, blobs of dried Cheez Whiz. But because Pamola comes in a can, there were only toenail clippings, dog hair and Cheez Whiz on the floor, where I opted to leave them.
(Not, I hasten to add, because I’m lazy. My lethargy has nothing to do with a lack of initiative. Like most Mainers, I’m just a peaceful person. Who’s also had a lot of beers.)
I promptly set to work testing the Stowaway by dropping it on the floor in a similar fashion. I suspect it would have worked just as well as the other ale if I had remembered not to open it first.
In all truthfulness, I found both brews to be quite tasty and recommend them to anyone who enjoys quality beers and has occasional clumsiness issues.
I’ll close now, because I still have a few cans to finish. Plus the floor to clean up. And plans to complete for the coming invasion of Prince Edward Island, just to show ‘em we haven’t forgotten about Aroostook.
Peace out, dudes.
When Al Diamon is less agitated, he’ll respond to emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org .