In keeping with the tradition this column started last year, we begin 2014 by offering 10 more “Incredible Ideas to Save Maine Forever.”
1. When a scruffy young man in Monument Square recently presented me with a petition to ban baiting, trapping and hounding in Maine, I enthusiastically signed. No one likes to be baited, trapped or hounded, especially by signature-gatherers standing on seemingly every street corner downtown. But the proposed legislation has a gaping loophole henpecked husbands hope lawmakers will close before it’s on the books: please add “nagging” to the list.
2. Like Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty,” would-be Republican Senate candidate Erick Bennett has been making headlines lately with a series of outrageously ignorant statements. Unfortunately, unlike Robertson, whose reality TV show has reportedly boosted Louisiana’s tourism industry, Maine’s tourist trade is not benefiting from Bennett’s notoriety. The potential politician needs his own program on A&E: “Schmuck Dynasty.”
3. Let’s be honest about the new ferry scheduled to resume passenger service this year between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. Its success is not predicated on the idea that thousands of people are eager spend hundreds of dollars just to avoid a long car ride between the two port cities. Rather, its business plan is based on the well-established fact that people like to gamble (there’s a casino onboard), eat too much (the vessel has three restaurants, including a buffet), drink too much (there are three bars, plus a pub) and smoke (tobacco, in Canadian waters; possibly pot in international waters and Portland Harbor). The Cat, a high-speed ferry that previously made this run, failed because it didn’t give passengers enough time to enjoy these vices. Long live the Fat Cat!
4. Speaking of gluttony, Portlanders are becoming alarmed by the high concentration of restaurants on the peninsula, especially in the Old Port, where no fewer than three burger chains will soon be competing within a block of one another. We can either lament this trend or embrace it by giving this old part of town a new name: the Food Court.
5. Looks like there’s a chance the Portland Pirates will again be able to play their home games in the Cumberland County Civic Center. It’s always mystified me that the only place in Portland you can commit aggravated assault without fear of arrest is in the middle of a publicly owned building in front of several thousand witnesses, including hundreds of kids. My friend D.L. has a great idea to address this problem: allow fighting, but don’t stop the game in the meantime. “The puck’s still live,” he told me. “Do you want to fight or do you want to play hockey?”
6. Portland now has robotic trash cans and robotic parking meters. The next logical step: robotic city councilors. Need a liquor license? Simply insert the application and a copy of your criminal record, plus a few hundred bucks for fees. Need a development approved? Insert the proper forms and a bunch more money. Want to buy a public park downtown? Sorry, the council is temporarily out of order.
7. Why doesn’t Portland vie to host the Winter Olympics? We’ve got everything the International Olympic Committee is looking for. Snow? Check. Steep hills? Check. Costly sporting venues paid for by cash-strapped taxpayers? Check. We could even introduce a few new games, such as the Wharf Street Idiotarod, in which drunken USM Huskies try to run on the slushy cobblestones between Gritty’s and Buck’s Naked BBQ. Or the Baxter Boulevard Biathlon, during which competitors race around the walking path on cross-country skis chased by Portland cops alarmed that the athletes are openly carrying rifles.
8. Portland is simultaneously struggling with the presence of panhandlers on traffic medians and preparing to welcome a circus college to town. Solution: Allow people to beg in traffic so long as they’re juggling something, wearing a clown nose or performing an acrobatic feat (note: balancing on the median while inebriated doesn’t count).
9. This year’s gubernatorial candidates should be required to use local music for their official campaign songs. The Bangor rock duo When Particles Collide have the perfect track for Eliot Cutler’s second Blaine House bid: “Ego.” Gov. Paul LePage can fire up his base by blasting anything off the Portland doom-metal band Sylvia’s debut album. And Democrat Mike Michaud can stir memories of the Clinton-Gore glory days while remaining realistic about his chances by adopting a song from Covered in Bees’ “24 Hour Album”: “Please Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.”
10. Four words: Food Truck Demolition Derby.