Down East 2013 ©
When I was in high school, I took a drivers’ education course in which we had it drilled into our impressionable young skulls that drinking and driving don’t mix. This proposition seemed entirely sensible to me, so I promptly gave up driving.
But that was a simpler time. The list of things you weren’t supposed to do in cars was relatively short. The only other item on it besides boozing it up was having sex. By the time I was actually having sex, I’d discovered that a bed was a vastly superior location.
Today, however, the number of unwise activities routinely engaged in while operating an automobile has grown exponentially. Not only have police officers reported stopping motorists who were talking on cell phones, texting on hand-held gizmos and watching episodes of “Gilmore Girls” on laptop computers, they’ve also had to contend with drivers who were reading books, eating bowls of cereal and studying for drivers’ ed exams.
To combat this epidemic of auto-erratic activities, the Legislature passed a new law that takes effect on Sept. 12 .
This statute allows cops to cite drivers whose multi-tasking results in accidents or other unpleasant consequences, subjecting them to fines of from $25 to $500. (The higher figure is reserved for “Gilmore Girls” fans.)
According to press reports, Maine’s law is already being used by other states as model legislation. Because models can be districting, too.
The Portland City Council (motto: Not Distracted, But Heavily Medicated) was considering an ordinance that would have limited the amount of noise motorcycles could make. But on Sept. 9, councilors decided that, in spite of complaints from many residents about excessive revving and roaring, there was no need for such a measure .
Councilors were persuaded to back away from the proposal by testimony from a dozen bikers, many of whom looked like they picked their teeth with city councilors’ femurs. (Actually, those were femurs from bears.) By comparison, proponents of the legislation appeared to be a little on the undernourished side. No question who you’d pick first in a draft for your fantasy street-mayhem league. (Warning: Do not play fantasy street-mayhem while driving.)
It’s one thing if raucous activity is disturbing the peace of the wimps who live here. It’s another matter altogether if noise is interfering with the sleep of tourists. And that’s just what’s happening on Wharf Street in Portland’s Old Port, where crowds of merrymakers wander from club to club, while guests at a nearby fancy hotel endure sleepless nights. Now, consultants hired by the city have come up with a plan to remedy the situation. The consultants say Portland should hire a motorcycle gang to beat the crap out of anybody on Wharf Street who makes any noise.
Hey, it quieted the City Council in short order.
In reality, the consultants did not recommend this approach. Instead, they suggested the city build a vaulted glass canopy over the street .
This would serve two purposes. It would muffle the sound emanating from the bars. And it would seal up the street so knockout gas could be pumped in whenever necessary.
A council committee took the idea under advisement and plans to seek the opinion of several motorcycle gangs before deciding what to do.
That namby-pamby approach is not for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. When the DEP staff sees a problem, they douse it in toxic chemicals until it goes away. To that end, the official protectors of the state’s pristine environment are devoting themselves this week to getting rid of Eurasian milfoil, an invasive aquatic plant, in Salmon Lake’s Kozy Cove in Belgrade by dumping a load of 2,4 Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid in the water .
The DEP says the risk of this particular herbicide to people, animals, fish, and late-night bar patrons is minimal. You’re more likely to be hit by a distracted driver or beat up by a motorcycle gang than to get sick from this stuff, according to the experts, who were dressed in moon suits and oxygen tanks. Simple precautions should suffice, such as not drinking the lake’s water. Or touching it. Or touching the ground around it. And staying more than thirty miles away helps, too.
Meanwhile, the United States Postal Service (motto: Please See Our Extensive Line of Postage Stamps Honoring Motorcycle Gangs) is planning, as part of a money-saving effort, to close exactly one post office in all of northern New England. You’re probably figuring the unlucky branch office is in some dinky town in the middle of nowhere, the kind of place so forsaken by the trappings of civilization that it doesn’t even have its own topless coffee shop.
Guess again, Bunky.
The USPS (isn’t that an indicator of prostate problems?) wants to shut down the post office on Congress Street in Portland’s West End .
This facility sits in the midst of what may be the most densely populated neighborhood in the state of Maine, but there are two other post offices within less than a mile (the post office uses the same site selection process as Starbucks), so it’s expendable. In the near future, a big truck is scheduled to pull up outside and pump the whole place full of 2,4 Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid.
I know I’m giving you the impression that I’m some kind of ardent preservationist, one of those jerks who’s opposed to all efforts to eliminate anything. That’s simply not true. I’m strongly in favor of any legislation that outlaws light beer, indoor baseball stadiums and “Gilmore Girls.”
And I can’t get too broken up over the news that the University of Maine will no longer be training young minds in the fine art of public relations .
Due to budget restrictions, the Department of Communications and Journalism (since when are those two different things?) is phasing out its courses in advertising, PR, and other forms of lying.
I can see the downside. Within a few years, there’ll be a severe shortage of qualified spokespersons available to explain the odd decisions made by the Portland City Council, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the United States Postal Service, and the American Association of People Who Like To Drive While Logging On To DownEast.com And Reading “Maine: The Way Life Was Last Week.”
I mean, even super-spin-doctor Dennis Bailey can’t represent everybody.
Al Diamon’s spokesperson is not available to answer your questions, but you can e-mail them to email@example.com .