Tag Archives: Portland

Culinary boom in Portland, Maine | The Boston Globe

The “culinary boom” in Portland this story tells about really began in the 1980s and probably earlier. Sometimes it takes a while to build a boom that people from away notice. — Keith

PORTLAND — There was a line of people waiting to nab a precious seat and a basket of fries at Duckfat. At Eventide, a handsome, square-jawed photographer from Travel + Leisure magazine shot lobster rolls as the lunch crowd slurped oysters. Later that night, there wasn’t a seat to be found at Central Provisions as diners grazed on small plates of bluefin tuna crudo.

This is what it looks like when a small city becomes an innovative and nationally recognized hub of cuisine. You can finish lunch feeling like an over-stuffed throw pillow, but walk a few yards, and you spot a shop that sells doughnuts topped with vanilla glaze and sea salt. I dare you to pass by and not try a bite. That one bite then turns into a sweet potato doughnut, which naturally leads to gelato.

Why did I leave those poly-blend slacks with the elastic waistband at home?

“We have a lot of people coming in asking where they should go to eat,” said Johanna Corman, an owner of the recently opened soda bar Vena’s Fizz House in Old Port. “I don’t know what to tell them. How do you pick just one?”

That’s easy: You don’t. Portland is a gastro-tourism paradise. Set aside as many days as you can and stuff yourself silly. Before I could cram another heirloom tomato salad in my maw, the person sitting next to me was telling me that I must try the pizza at Slab or the wood-roasted clams at Lolita Vinoteca + Asador.

Read more of this story by Christopher Muther in The Boston Globe.

“Summer Art Preview: New shows opening in Portland, Rockport and Ogunquit” | Maine Today

We’ve heard for years that painting is dead.

Not so fast.

The early-summer season at Maine museums is full of what should be terrific art exhibitions spotlighting some of Maine’s best known and most accomplished painters. There are other exhibitions as well, including a major examination of Shaker objects and lifestyle, a focus on art and jazz and a deep examination of sculptor Bernard Langlais.

Follow this link to read the rest of this piece by Bob Keyes in Maine Today.

Navigating the poverty line: Pressure on Portland’s social safety net grows as dramatically does ranks of unemployed | Portland Press Herald

PORTLAND – It was about 6 a.m., dark and cold, when Brian Gailliot got on the welfare line Friday.

Portland’s General Assistance office wouldn’t open until 8, but the line was already 30 deep when he arrived. A man and woman at the front had been sitting there in folding chairs since 10 p.m. Thursday.

“There’s just not enough work,” said Gailliot, who currently works part time for a temp agency, eats at the local soup kitchen and sleeps in a friend’s apartment. “I haven’t had my own place for a year and a half.”

One in eight Mainers lived below the poverty line in 2010, according to recently released U.S. census data. Maine’s poverty rate hit 12.5 percent in 2010, up from 11.4 percent the year before.

On the streets, the prolonged economic slump is translating into dramatic increases in the number of unemployed people who have exhausted savings and unemployment benefits and are seeking help for the first time at Portland’s food pantries, soup kitchens and welfare offices.

Click to read more of the story by John Richardson in the Portland Press Herald.

MaineToday Media CEO, and president, resign | Portland Press Herald

PORTLAND, Maine – MaineToday Media CEO Richard L. Connor announced his resignation from the company today and will step down on Dec. 31, according to a media release.

Dale A. Duncan, who has been MaineToday president since July, also resigned, effective today.

MaineToday Media, which owns The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, The Kennebec Journal in Augusta and the Morning Sentinel in Waterville, will be run by an interim management team while a search is conducted for Connor’s successor.

Click to read more of the story by J. Hemmerdinger in the Portland Press Herald.

Occupy Maine gets support from unions as demonstration nears one-week mark | Bangor Daily News

PORTLAND, Maine — Members of a group angry about corporate influence on government has found support from southern Maine labor unions as they close in on a week of camping out in downtown Portland.

The Occupy Maine settlement, a local offshoot of a nationwide network of demonstrations that began in mid-September with Occupy Wall Street, reaches its seventh day Friday, and members say their group is still growing. This weekend, Occupy Maine will celebrate what it’s calling Free Speech Weekend with music, yoga and art making.

Members of the Occupy movement have been calling themselves “the 99 percent,” referring to all those who are not among the 1 percent of the American population who control nearly half of wealth in the country. That 1 percent, occupiers argue, have an unfair amount of influence on federal governance.

“We’re getting bigger and bigger,” said Demi Colby, 23, of Gardiner, who took part in Occupy Wall Street and returned to her home state to help launch Occupy Maine on Saturday, Oct. 1.

Click to read the rest of Seth Koenig’s story in the Bangor Daily News.

Black bear killed in Portland | Portland Press Herald

Black bear killed in Portland | Portland Press Herald

Bill Nemitz: Keep Preble Street miracle from disappearing | Maine Sunday Telegram

A cynic might read Dovid Muyderman’s story-turned-screenplay, in which two young Jewish brothers live in a homeless shelter by night and pull straight A’s at Portland High School by day, and scoff that it’s too far-fetched — stuff like that just doesn’t happen out there in the real world.

Except it did.

“This is eerie,” said Muyderman, 31, as he and Mark Swann, executive director of Preble Street, stepped inside the Portland social service agency’s Lighthouse Shelter for homeless teenagers Thursday morning. “This is very familiar ground. It’s changed a little bit, but it’s got the same feel.”

What kind of feel?

“It’s a place to sleep, for sure,” Muyderman replied. “And a place to go to that’s safe and usually has food and resources and is really proximal to the school, which was good for us.”

He’s talking about himself and his older brother, Josh. Their story, which Dovid Muyderman hopes soon will be on a screen near you, is proof positive that kids without a home need not be kids without hope.

Click for the rest of the commentary by Bill Nemitz in the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Portland seen as welcoming home to immigrants after 9/11 | Bangor Daily News

Paul Bradbury, then the facilities engineering manager at the Portland Jetport, was in a staff meeting the morning the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. When the second plane hit, everyone in aviation knew it was some form of terrorism, Bradbury said.In the days that followed, details emerged. The world learned that Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz al-Omari came to Portland, stayed at the Comfort Inn in South Portland, bought gas at a local Exxon, took some cash out of ATMs, stopped at Walmart and dined at a Pizza Hut.

Then they left their rental car at the Jetport parking lot and boarded a US Airways Express flight into Logan Airport in Boston, where they boarded the plane they would turn into a weapon.

They exploited a weakness in American society, the common wisdom that people should comply during a hijacking, mugging or robbery.

U.S. aviation essentially was shut down for about two weeks. When flights resumed, things were changed in Portland and across the country.

“When we reopened, we’d taken this huge mental and psychological hit, so part of the recovery was psychological, too. We had National Guard at the airports with machine guns,” said Bradbury.

Click for the rest of the story by Matt Wickenheiser in the Bangor Daily News.

Portland ranked 4th on list of Top Foodie Cities | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Portland ranked 4th on list of Top Foodie Cities | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Polar plungers enjoy New Year’s Eve beach day | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Polar plungers enjoy New Year’s Eve beach day | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Writing in a circle, from surprise start to ironic finish

For as long as I can remember, I knew that I would be a writer. I just did not think early on that I would ever make a living at it. I thought it was something that I would do on the side, for myself and no one else.

And, now after 22 years as a professional writer and editor, I may never write and edit for a living ever again simply because of the economic atmosphere in which we live.

Such are the circles of life, I suppose.

As a youngster, I wrote stories in a form that most resembles storyboards, sort of a cartoon or graphic representation of a tale. Storyboards are used to outline television commercials, TV shows, movies or other video presentations. My fictional stories – which included plots and characters plucked from the latest adventure television programming – were for fun and to pass away the time during long, cold winters in the North Words of Maine or long, rainy days during summer vacation.

Later on, my high school English teacher, Janice Webster, occasionally encouraged me to write beyond the journal entries she assigned. But a high school boy more interested in sports and girls was embarrassed by the recognition and I mentally shoved aside the idea of writing beyond regular English assignments. Continuing a private journal was one thing, but being a professional writer on any level was out of the question.

Besides, there were far more practical pursuits on which to concentrate – studying for a profession or vocation – but writing was not one of them.

But college professors at the University of Southern Maine where I attended from 1980 to 1983 also were encouraging in critiquing my written work for courses in various areas of study, including English. It was comforting, but it still was not enough to spur me to write more than what my college courses required or what I cared to jot down in my personal journal.

I still have some of those early journals and marvel at how utterly terrible some of my writing was then. There are times I have considered finding an open spot and torching a pile of those journals so that they do not fall in the hands of even mildly intelligent people who will recognize the writing for what it is – dung.

Going west

While I loved the University of Southern Maine and Southern Maine in general, I felt a bit adrift there after three academic years. I was not sure what I wanted to be when I grew up, let alone what I wanted to study to get there.

So, almost reluctantly, I took the advice of several fellow USM students just returning from the National Student Exchange program. The program allowed students to attend courses for either a semester or complete academic year at other universities throughout the country, and then return to the home university. I picked California State University at Chico in Northern California.

Chico is north of Sacramento, but still well within the state’s prime agricultural area. Besides agriculture, the economy was centered on the university, a nearby community college, a major regional medical center, retail outlets, and, because Chico is the county seat for Butte County, social services.

Modern-day Chico was founded by Capt. John Bidwell, who in 1841 travelled to the West and for a time worked for John Sutter. After the discovery of gold, Bidwell tried a hand at gold prospecting. He eventually bought and sold a couple of land grants, eventually buying the Rancho Chico, the basis for modern-day Chico. He became one of the state’s largest landowners and wielded his political influence running for several offices, including for president of the United States.

Bidwell’s mansion is a state historic park on the edge of the campus. He also gave the city land for what was then – and very probably now, as well – the third largest municipal park in the country. Bidwell Park is a lush sanctuary that starts near downtown Chico and meanders along either side of the Big Chico Creek into the lava-formed foothills. Bidwell Park has a couple of swimming holes, bike and running paths, horse trails, ball fields, a fairy tale-themed children’s playground, nude beaches, hiking trails and more. The city’s municipal golf course is in Upper Bidwell Park.

I have not been to Chico in years and that is a shame since it is a fantastic place.

I originally planned to attend Chico State for a semester and then return to USM to finish out my college career. But, as such stories go, I fell in love with a woman. The problem was, of course, she was not interested in me. So, I arranged to stay for the entire academic year, I suppose in the hope of winning her heart.

I did not win her heart, but Chico won mine. I fell in love with the university, the city, and the outdoor activities in and around Chico. So, I settled in and became a wildland firefighter for the summer following my first academic year at Chico State. I was a wildland firefighter for two more summers while attending Chico State, rising from firefighter/sawyer/swamper to squad leader to crew leader my third year.

I very nearly made firefighting my career and still occasionally feel regret that I did not give the idea more thought. By now I would have nearly 30 years in the fire service and would be planning my retirement, whether as a transition into another career or as a transition onto a tropical beach. That – and the fact that I did not really pick a major until they forced me to – might indicate how conflicted I was in trying to pick a career.

Picking a path

Yes, they forced me into picking a major. They forced me because I could not seem to do the deed.

My academic adviser John Sutthoff, a professor in the school of communications, finally put down his foot and insisted that I pick a major. He asked what I enjoyed doing. I thought about and said I enjoyed writing, because I did enjoy writing in my personal journal and enjoyed the positive feedback from professors when it came to writing for my coursework.

He said that the school had public relations and journalism majors and both required much writing. Not wanting to be a public relations practitioner, I said I would try journalism.

I was not sure even then that I would end up being a professional writer.

With several of the basic news writing and editing courses down, I ended up on the staff of The Orion, the campus newspaper. There was only a part-time staff writer position available, but I was able to get full credit because I also became an assistant to the production manager. That meant that I was able to learn a bit about being a reporter and a bit about physically putting together the newspaper, which was much different than it is done today.

Then, the story was reported, written, edited and outputted on a strip of photographic paper. That paper as developed, trimmed to the width of a newspaper column, waxed and then put onto a blue-line grid sheet matching the newspaper page. Headline, cutlines, photos and ads were done separately, waxed and then attached to the grid sheet in the appropriate places. A photo of the page was then taken by a large camera, the negative transferred to a metal plate that was processed and then placed onto the drums of the printing press. Pressmen, who to this day keep secret the exact manner for placing plates on the press and for weaving the web – the rolled paper magically threaded through the press that will become the newspaper – then run a section of the paper. That was taken by conveyor belt to the circulation department where the various sections were combined – either by hand or by machine – to form the complete newspaper.

Now, software allows for stories, complete with headlines, subheds, cutlines, photos and ads, to be placed on an electronic page and output to plating as a single page before converted into a plate, saving much time and effort on the editorial side of the production.

First big story

Even as a part-time staff writer, I ended up with some exciting stories. I was interviewing the campus police chief one day about crime stats or something as banal, when a campus police sergeant came in to update him on an upcoming operation. The chief introduced me and the sergeant asked if I was coming along.

I was stunned, really, because they had been talking in police-speak and I was not clear on what they were talking about. The chief told me a bit about what was going on and said it would be OK if I wanted to come along with a photographer.

As it turned out, there was a ring of Chico State and Butte Community College students who were going onto the Chico State campus and elsewhere to steal coins from vending machines. They also were stealing other property, as it turned out, including stereo equipment and bicycles. (Chico is a big bike town, especially for college students. There used to be an annual road trip to Davis, another bike-friendly college town, to, um, borrow bicycles from University of California, Davis, students. Davis students would return the favor, of course.)

One of the members of the ring, Chico State football player Steven Crittenden, was nabbed doing something else and he pretty much gave up his crew. Officers went to the apartment of the gang and found a pile of coins, bicycles, stereos and other stolen property.

That was my first big story. Front-page of The Orion with photos. It was fun, especially since I believe we beat the local newspaper, The Chico Enterprise-Record. I sort of caught the bug then.

[But the story goes on a bit. Crittenden, the guy who tipped off police about the vending machine thefts, later was arrested in a rape. And then charged, tried and found guilty in the January 1987 double torture homicides of a prominent Chico physician and his wife, Joseph and Katherine Chiapella, in their Chico home. Crittenden’s trial was moved to Placer County, where he was convicted and sentenced to death. He remains on California’s death row. Here’s a link to a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals response to a filing for an appeal in the case with a description of the homicides. WARNING: The descriptions and other factual information are fairly graphic.]

I was the editor of The Orion the next two semesters. I wrote columns and editorials, mostly, and made sure we had enough stories to fill the pages. It was an eventful two semesters, but I think I would have been better served if I had been a writer for a full semester instead of being the editor. Some of the other writers from that time went onto great things, from working in journalism to writing and producing television dramas.

The Real World

After graduation, I hung around Chico for about a month before getting a job as the editor of The Mendocino Beacon. That began my professional career as a writer and editor.

From Mendocino, I went on to be a staff writer at The Ukiah Daily Journal, The Woodland Daily Democrat, and The Reporter in Vacaville. I stayed more than 13 years in Vacaville, moving up to copy editor, assistant news editor in charge of special sections, columnist, and opinion page editor. In a desire to make more money, I moved onto The Record in Stockton to take a job as an assistant city editor.

I stayed with that a couple of years until a newsroom reorganization resulted in me being reassigned to being a staff writer on the newspaper’s website. I was disappointed. There was no other way to look at the reassignment except as a demotion, a demotion not because of my work, but because of someone else’s inability to lead.

However, the year or so I spent working on the website was very beneficial. My main duty was to update content on the newspaper’s website, send out news alerts to mobile subscribers, and write breaking news. It gave me many new skills and helped me refresh old skills.

It was going well – or so I thought – until I was laid off March 5, 2009.

As past readers will know, I have been looking for work ever since. I have been looking for employment in conventional newsroom settings and online news services, and writing and editing opportunities for the federal government, nonprofits, and green industries. So far, a couple of interviews, but no offers.

I know I will find a job – eventually. I just wish it would happen already, especially since I’m quickly running out of unemployment insurance benefits. For that reason, I may have to take any job, whether it is in writing and editing or not.

And that is why I feel that I may not write as a professional ever again. It just may not be in the cards for me.

Epilogue

Irony is wonderful, isn’t it? I wrote this mostly string-of-consciousness blog entry after starting to re-read Rene J. “Jack” Cappon’s 1991 version of “The Associated Press Guide to News Writing,” a manual on how to best write clear, concise news stories. The irony is, of course, that I wrote an entry that is more than 2,000 words; there is nothing clear or concise about that.

GQ calls Portland among the ‘coolest’ | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

GQ calls Portland among the ‘coolest’ | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Sneaking a peek at Trader Joe’s | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Sneaking a peek at Trader Joe’s | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Lobster competition came down to chef’s confidence | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Lobster competition came down to chef’s confidence | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Man sets himself on fire in Portland square | Bangor Daily News

Man sets himself on fire in Portland square – Bangor Daily News.

Portland chosen for anti-violence demonstration project | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Portland chosen for anti-violence demonstration project | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Portland to host waterfront conference | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Portland to host waterfront conference | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Lady Gaga to speak, but not perform, at Portland rally | Bangor Daily News

Lady Gaga to speak, but not perform, at Portland rally | Bangor Daily News.

Effort to bring USS JFK to Maine faces rough waters | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Effort to bring USS JFK to Maine faces rough waters | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Portland joins list of top college cities | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Portland joins list of top college cities | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

THE TOP 20

Top 20 best small cities for college students to live:

1. Boulder, Colo.

2. Ann Arbor, Mich.

3. Bridgeport, Conn.

4. Trenton-Ewing, N.J.

5. Gainesville, Fla.

6. Madison, Wis.

7. Durham, N.C.

8. Santa Cruz, Calif.

9. Honolulu, Hawaii

10. Fort Collins, Colo.

11. Santa Barbara, Calif.

12. New Haven, Conn.

13. Lincoln, Neb.

14. Albany, N.Y.

15. San Luis Obispo, Calif.

16. Naples, Fla.

17. Manchester, N.H.

18. Oxnard, Calif.

19. Santa Rosa, Calif.

20. PORTLAND, MAINE