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Goose Rocks Beachfront Owners Sue Kennebunkport (and try to screw the rest of us)

10 Nov

A cabal of Goose Rocks Beach homeowners is suing the town of Kennebunkport, claiming that they own the actual beach down to the low water mark.  The Hangover’s first inclination is to consider this class warfare, a case of the “have’s” versus the “have not’s.”   However, this cannot be the case, as the nature of the suit clearly indicates that these homeowners have no class at all.   Still, as a public service The Hangover has decided to explore the nature of the impending litigation. 

Newspaper reports state that the fat cat homeowners are primarily concerned with overcrowding at Goose Rocks.  This is odd.  There are a limited number of parking spaces at Goose Rocks, thereby limiting the number of visitors who can actually reach the beach.   In middle of the summer, the designated “public beach” is not ever close to being overrun.  Areas of the “private beach” are sparsely populated at their most hectic.   Even at high tide, there is always room for a family (perhaps the beachfront owners are expecting the Manson’s) to spread out and enjoy themselves.   Hampton Beach in New Hampshire is a crowded beach.  In July and  August a gnat cannot find enough room there to lay down a blanket.  This is far from the case at  Goose Rocks.

If the overcrowding issue is a smoke screen, there must be other reasons for the homeowners’ desires to keep people off a beach that has been used by the public for hundreds of years.  Here are some possible explanations:

Revenge:  As residents of Kennebunkport are well aware, there was a property tax revaluation undertaken this past year.  This resulted in property taxes rising substantially for those with beachfront and waterfront homes.  Perhaps these privileged landowners are angered by the fact that for the first time in 20 years they now have to pay their fair share of taxes.  They are extracting their revenge by taking it out on the town and those residents whose taxes were reduced.

Self-Loathing:  Twenty-five years ago, Goose Rocks was a mostly middle class enclave with the majority of its residents coming from the suburbs surrounding Boston and southern New England.  The small cottages that marked the beach then have (for the most part) been torn down, rebuilt, and expanded.  Many of these “new and improved” homeowners are from–as luck would have it–the suburbs surrounding Boston and southern New England.  Coincidentally, many people visiting the beach also come from these regions.  Perhaps the beachfront owners just don’t want to be reminded of the humble origins from which they slithered.

Health:  Everyone knows that tourists emanate from anomie-infested suburbs and angst-ridden cities.  They are mentally unclean and tainted.  Their presence on the beach could undo the serenity brought about by rolling waves and gliding sea gulls.  The horror, the horror.  Those soiled must be kept away. 

Wanna-be-ness:  The lawsuit could be a simple case of celebrity envy.  By aping various asinine celebrity behaviors, these homeowners could be hoping to view themselves as important and privileged.  In 1999, Jim Belushi sued when a house painter had the audacity to walk across the beach adjoining his property.   (Belushi lost in court.)  Entertainment industry icon David Geffen fought public access to beaches in Malibu.  He also lost.  But he did get some headlines.  Perhaps this could be a feeble attempt for 15 minutes of fame.    Maybe these landowners are hoping to be ridiculed in Doonesbury just like “The Dark Leader” Geffen.

General Snobbery:  Could it be that these homeowner’s are just your average run-of-the-mill snobs who don’t wish to associate with “neighbors” who can’t afford beachfront dwellings?  This would be an ugly reality.  That people so tremendously boring and base could actually exist in Kennebunkport would be embarrassing for the rest of us–and thus, we are doubly injured.

InAction As Action

One response to the suit would be to let the beachfront owners have the beach.   We have to consider the future.  The town would then have reason to ignore the homeowner’s  pleas for help as the beach continues to erode–and erode it has over the past ten years.   Picture a town manager smirking across his or her desk:  “Hey, it’s your beach.  You do something about it.”

Then there’s global warming and rising sea levels.  As reported by National Geographic and thousands of other reputable scientific authorities, global warming will eventually cause sea levels to rise:  “A one-meter sea level rise would wreak particular havoc on the Gulf Coast and eastern Seaboard of the United States.”   Presumably, this includes King’s Highway and Sand Point.  These homes could eventually land “below” the low tide mark.  The Hangover wonders if that wouldn’t place them in the public domain.  Certainly, the beachfront homeowners would see the justice in that. 

(It’s interesting to note that should the beach even slightly flood this winter, these same landowners will likely call the fire department to come pump out their soaked basements.  Neighbors in the form of volunteer fire fighters, although not allowed to cross their beach, would be actually allowed in the houses themselves.  The fire fighters will surely be grateful.)   


On the other hand, if one is inclined to act, The Hangover is all for non-violent, civil disobedient protest.  When Tony Soprano needed to extricate himself from the purchase of a waterfront property from a high faultin’ neighbor, he didn’t call for a hit.  He brought in the music.  He had associates anchor his yacht just off shore from the would-be seller’s house and play a steady stream of Dean Martin: Live at the Sands Hotel.   After several hours of Deano, the seller cracked and the deal was off.  

This could work here.   While many of us can’t afford a waterfront manse, we do have boats and boom boxes.   Picture a pristine Memorial Day Saturday.  The Hangover envisions a fleet of 100 Boston Whalers, dinghies, sunfish, and runabouts anchored just outside the low water mark of Goose Rocks Beach.  Only instead of the sultry crooning of Martin, selected beachfront homeowners are bombarded with the non-stop punk-guitar crunch of  The Clash.  An afternoon and evening of Should I Stay Or Should I Go just might work here:

Abercrombie & Fitch Ad a Tour de Force

30 Jan

Abercrombie & Fitch’s new advertisement (available here), filmed in Kennebunk and Kennebunkport, is a tour de force of sociological documentary filmmaking.  While some critics may see the spot as just another attempt to sell shirts by exploiting sexy models and the retro rhythm and blues of Duffy’s “Mercy,” in reality the piece underscores the dire economic conditions and resulting anomie facing the region.

The opening shot of stately coastal homes and sailboats establishes a seemingly exclusive and monied setting.  However, this feint is followed by a reel of hard-hitting economic reality.   The black and white format adds  the existential gravity of film noir.

The lack of a shirt on the male character immediately symbolizes a grave issue facing young people in Maine today.  There is an undeniable lack of well-paying jobs for those in the “recently graduated” demographic. Many of our educated youth are forced to leave the state in search of employment in Boston, New York, or even the West Coast. Those who stay often can’t afford clothes. It may come to down to a choice of wearing a shirt or pants.

There are shots of the young man hauling a row boat to the shore, an indictment of the dying fishing industry. Subsequent scenes of him running with his dog show how Maine men have been reduced to their most primitive state: That of the pre-historic hunter-gatherer who domesticated wolves to aid his survival.

The young woman in the piece also reinforces the theme.  Her first extended scene shows her driving.  She is coming from somewhere else, both in place and in opportunity. Her face is serious and determined. She knows the hardship her man is facing. The film ends with the couple embracing in a field, though it is clearly established that he will be leaving with her.  Oppurtunity and hope exist where she lives.  There he will be able to afford pants and a shirt.

The Hangover’s Christmas List

21 Dec

You’ve got to love a holiday named after a wine-swilling, long-haired, no-shoes-wearing carpenter.  And there are presents.  In honor of the holiday, The Hangover offers our own Christmas list.  And in the true spirit of the holiday, it is better to give than receive. 

For Terrel Owens:  A punch in the mouth. You’d think that Tony Romo or Jason Witten or somebody on that team would have had the balls to tell TO to shut up and then drop him with a right cross.  (Is Bum Phillips still alive?  Could he take care of this for Wade?)

For the State of Maine:  Less Taxes, Better Government.   We know, good luck with that one.

For Religous Extremists (be they Christian, Muslim, Pagans, Jews, Sun-Worshippers, Followers of Satan, or actual card carrying members of Red Sox Nation):  Less scripture, More action (from their respective deities).  Doesn’t fanatical worship sully the very God that it profess to follow?  Wouldn’t these various Gods be tired of people acting like complete fucking idiots in their names?  Shouldn’t  these Gods have had enough of this bullshit and smite their “extreme” followers from the planet?  Lightning bolts, now, goddamnit!

For The Boston Celtics:  Good Health.  The rest will take care of itself.

For Kathryn Tappen:  More sweaters of the shade (some sort of yellowish white) that she wore yesterday during the 12/20/08 Bruins-Hurricanes telecast.  Amazing.  A high-def Goddess if there ever was one.

For Barack Obama:  The cajones to swing back to the left after these mandatory first two years of centrism.

For Kennebunkport:  Less Development.  Do we have to turn every open space not owned by the Conservation Trust into either a neighborhood of McMansions or a psuedo-tony resort?

For the Red Sox Marketing Team:  A long, long, long vacation.  Two years ought to be enough.  We don’t need any hats with socks on them.  We could use a better ticket-buying site, however.  Or at least one that doesn’t have to blame its lack of functionality on “high transaction volume.”  What with the exciting new hats, you didn’t think people would want to buy tickets, too?

For the Red Sox:  Derek Lowe.  Give us a great pitcher who excels in big games, under pressure, and who wants to play here.  And we’ll take a refurbished Mike Lowell, too.  The hell with Mark Teixeira.  The only thing he’s led the league in is “Speculative news media stories on where Mark Texiera will land.”  Pitching wins and Lowe is a winning pitcher.

For News Editors of Television Weather Reports:  A grip.  Hangover Headquarters is in Maine.  It snows here.  It always has.  Every time a flake hits the atmosphere, we don’t need panicked, poker-up-the-ass anchor people screaming “storm warning,” “winter storm watch,” or “extreme weather event.”  If you want people to watch your insipid newscasts, try doing some actual reporting, or get better looking newspeople and have the women go topless and dress the men in Chippendale’s outfits.

For the Rolling Stones:  One last great album. I don’t mean pretty good, either.  Voodoo Lounge was compared to Exile, but we all know Exile, and Voodoo Lounge is no Exile.  Every Stones album since Steel Wheels has been proclaimed in one way or another, hearkening back to the heyday of the Stones.  Simply not true.  The world could use another Exile on Main Street or Sticky Fingers.  Get on it, boys.

For the Readers of The Hangover:  Less hangovers, of the alcohol-induced head ache and vomiting kind.

For The Hangover:  More readers.  Then I can start pimping out the ad space and earn enough money to quit one of my days jobs.   Then I could completely sell out and turn into one of those despicable, loathsome individuals that I despise.  Wouldn’t that be grist for some interesting writing?

Hidden Pond Gala A Success?

30 Jun

Hidden Pond Maine’s fabulous grand opening gala was a huge success this past Friday night.  The beautiful people of Kennebunkport and surrounding areas flocked to the resort.  Unfortunately, this being suburban Maine, it would have taken an army of Beverly Hills plastic surgeons to make them actually beautiful.  (Maybe that explains the Open Bar.)  And though these party-goers might be designated the coast’s “Cultural Elite,” very few could be confused with Henry James, William Dean Howells, Dorothy Parker, or Edmund Wilson.  A more apt comparison would land them accurately and fairly with Lawrence Fine and the Howard brothers. 

The residents of Goose Rocks Road must have swelled with pride seeing their once-quiet street turned into a facsimile of a luxury car dealership.  BMW’s, SUV’s, Mercedes, Lexus, and even the occasional Caddy lined the road shoulder, manned by a squad of hard-working valets.  That the slamming car doors and revving engines displayed more rhythm than the music bleeding from the midst of Hidden Pond is a sorry statement of fact.

Emails and phone calls flooded Hangover Headquarters during the shindig.  The band could be heard clearly throughout the neighborhood, keeping children awake and causing dogs to howl.  It’s not that we object to music.  But if children are going to be subjected to lack of sleep, it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment when the offending tunes are produced by the most pathetic of musical groups:  The Wedding Band.  Do not the cultural elite and beautiful people deserve music with heart, integrity, and substance?  Why torture them (and us) with an onslaught of hackneyed, over-played Top 40 trash?  The kids would be all right if they were forced to listen to the Who, Billy Joe Shaver, Stones, Clash, Hannah Montana, Nirvana, Lyle Lovett, Dwight Yoakam, Graham Parker, Graham Nash, Bob Dylan, John Hiatt, or Lucinda Williams, etc.., (Just check the music category of the blog and you’ll get the idea).  Instead it was Love Shack,  Fly Me to the Moon, Last Dance, Some Kind of Wonderful and countless other lowest-common-denominator musical cliches.  

Kennebunkport has a sound ordinance which states that:

It shall be unlawful for any commercial establishment, without special permission from the Board of Selectmen, to allow electronically amplified sound to be emitted from, or outside of their establishments. (Adopted at the Annual Town Meeting on March 15, 1980.)

The Hangover finds it hard to believe that the fine selectmen of our town would allow innocent residents to be subjected to such awful music.   Hopefully, this was as close to pirate radio as the resort will ever get.  But we can look at the bright side:  As advertised, Hidden Pond is somewhat secluded and we were spared the visual of the full-bellied, well-heeled attendees attempting to dance.   The horror, the horror.

Three days later, life here has returned to normal.  Money was raised for some charities (one of which got to compromise its good name as a bonus).  No permanent harm was done.   Expansion will come to Hidden Pond next year and there will likely be another grand-opening gala.  The Hangover has but one request:  Get a real band.  Please.    

Hidden Pond Trysts and Twists with Kennebunkport Conservation Trust

30 May

Hidden Pond is having a gala.  And a showcase.  And a luncheon.  Invitations have littered the mail from one end of Kennebunkport to the other.  But while the Maine Democratic Party finds The Hangover worthy of an invitation to their signature event, Hidden Pond does not.  Unlike many of our neighbors, we did not receive an invite to the aforementioned events.  We are not surprised by the slight.

It was a shock, however, to find that the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust is one of the sponsors of the upcoming festivities. What could a conservation group have in common with developers who are turning 60 acres of woodland into a super fabulous motel?  Apparently, money.  The KCT is one of three listed sponsors that will benefit from the $150 per person Preview Gala, the $40 per person Luncheon with the Designers, and the Decorator Showcase, in which you can walk the grounds of Hidden Pond for only $20.

(If you are budget conscious, feel free to stop by Hangover Headquarters where you can play wiffle ball in the backyard and throw a rock in our hidden swamp for the low, low price of 39 cents.  And while the Decorator Showcase is not handicapped accessible, our thin and well-trodden lawn is.)

It’s great that Hidden Pond is taking care of local non-profits.  For the Child Abuse Council of York County and The River Tree Center for the Arts, it’s a no-brainer to hook up with the “Tree and Brie” milieu of Hidden Pond.  Of course, there’s a benefit for Hidden Pond, too.   In an attempt to appear warm and fuzzy to consumers, corporations regularly align themselves with charities and non-profits.  “It’s become compulsory because it’s how corporate citizenship is now defined,” said Douglas Quintal, Professor of Marketing Communication at Emerson College.  Quintal added:  “The ones that make sure their contributions are known are usually the ones doing it as a fashion show.”  Yes, those charities are prominently displayed on invitations and the HP web site:  Hidden Pond would like potential customers to feel good about their impending conspicuous consumption.

Then there’s the matter of the conservation group partnering with the developer.  (A developer whose project is far different than their original proposal and one who has exploited every opportunity provided by state loopholes and a poorly written land use ordinance.)  The Trust-HP connection raises questions about an environmental entity that wants to maintain its integrity. 

The Kennebunkport Conservation Trust is “dedicated to preserving the natural beauty of our town” and “to protect the landscape and character of the town we all love.”  The Trust’s mission as advocated by Executive Director Tom Bradbury is to find places special to all and set them aside for all to enjoy.  They’ve done a great job of it over the past 30 years, preserving 1604 acres.  But by attaching its sponsorship to these Hidden Pond events (and providing them with the KCT mailing list), the Trust places itself in an awkward position.  The mutually marketed sponsorship gives the impression that the KCT supports the Hidden Pond development, a concept which would seem at odds with the Trust’s goals. 

Upon raising this issue to Bradbury, he noted that the Trust is not against development, but for protection.  The Hidden Pond land had already been purchased and the project was a done deal when the KCT became involved.  In the Trust’s view, they are trying to take a practical, positive approach and do what they can to benefit their cause.  They will receive funds with which they hope to keep their children’s educational program active for several years.  As the Hangover Children will benefit  from that program, one would think The Hangover would be happy about how this is playing out.  However, that the Trust even appears compromised by the deep pockets of Hidden Pond makes these machinations sting like a shot of cheap tequila. 

The pursuit of the Trust’s goals is a noble undertaking.  And perhaps the KCT-Hidden Pond tryst will be one of those rare cases where the ends will justify the means.  Nevertheless, another picture can be drawn, too.  When the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust’s name is printed beside that of Hidden Pond, no matter what the practical applications and windfalls, it functions as a stamp of approval on the development and this developer.  While The Hangover contends that “statement” is something the Trust should have avoided, Bradbury sees the partnering as “not an endorsement of this development but a working reality.”  And he may be correct.  

Reality bites again. 



Baldacci Bash Worth The Money?

25 May

The Hangover was recently extended a kind invitation from the Maine Democratic Party:  A pre-convention celebration with: 






(Their typeface, not mine)
Thank you, MDP for this thrilling opportunity.  What citizen wouldn’t like to discuss the absurd school consolidation plan  proposed by the Governor last year?  Then one might enquire why the Governor based the state budget on the savings generated by it, when the plan actually had little chance of passing.   And of course, there’s the whole tax structure issue, where Mainer’s hit the Triple Crown of Giving:  high property taxes, a 5 to 7 percent  sales tax on just about everything but groceries, and an 8% state income tax (nearly 3% higher than Mass–, er, Taxachusetts).  We would also like to hear the Governor’s views on diminishing non-service industry-based jobs.  And considering that the service sector is doing well, perhaps he could explain why we don’t have any Emperor’s Club VIP franchises yet.  This state, in technical economic terms, is a mess. 
Unfortunately, The Hangover will not be attending the Celebration.  The event costs a prohibitive $250 per person (unless you were one of the first ten people to reply to the email, which allowed you to get in for a late-night infomercial-ish $100.  No, we are not making that up).  So, we’ll let the developers, lawyers, bankers, and businessmen do cocktails and weenies with the holder of Maine’s highest office. 
However, the invitation did the leave The Hangover with one question:  How much to celebrate with a good Governor?  

Hidden Pond, Hidden Value

5 Mar

The Hangover has learned that an exclusive, upscale resort called Hidden Pond is coming to the neighborhood.  Back in 2006, Atlantic Holdings Company (AHC), the developer, called this Kennebunkport project, The Cottages at Fishing Pole Lane.  You can read my views on their original concept–a seasonal community of ultra deluxe prefabs–here.  Things have changed.

Complications arose when AHC found that Fishing Pole Lane would actually have to be run as a mobile home park and could not operate under the condominium-type arrangement they had envisioned.  (Prefabricated houses had been chosen because in Maine they are considered “mobile homes” and that distinction allowed Atlantic Holdings a much larger development than would have been possible due to one acre zoning and significant wetlands.)  Fishing Pole Lane began to vanish publicly when AHC came before the Kennebunkport Planning Board on October 3, 2007, and launched a presentation for the Cottages at Hidden Pond, an ultra deluxe motel.  The project was once again approved and the houses have been streaming by on majestic tractor trailers all winter. 

AHC did what was allowed by law, either wisely or underhandedly, depending on perspective.  The Hangover knew the development possibilities when we established headquarters here.  To oppose the project now would be hypocritical.  The Hangover is no cry baby.

However, we can happily object to the cheesy marketing of the project, starting with its name.  Hidden Pond is entirely appropriate because there is no pond.  At least not yet.  Water does occur on the property naturally.  Technically, there are several areas of wetland; some would call them swamps.  However, a look at the site map does reveal a pond, as well as a pool.  Presumably, these will both be man made.  But Disney does quite well with manufactured experience, doesn’t it? 

Even more troubling than the name is the website promoting Hidden Pond.  A Flash animation begins with sunlight pouring through green-leaved oaks and continues with idyllic scenes of wooded bliss.  This would almost be bearable if not for the accompaniment of an excruciating new age musical come-on.  From there one is deposited onto the homepage, where the dominant image is two pair of intertwined feet.  Granted, they appear to be loofah-ed and pedicured, and belong to a fuzzy, if well attired yuppie couple on a hammock.  The angle of sunlight reveals a pre-Labor Day scene, indicating the gentleman’s choice of all white attire to be wonderfully correct.  These are the kind of people we would welcome to the area, provided they put their shoes on before entering our stores and restaurants.

Many amenities accompany the $595 and $695 a night Hidden Pond cottages.  An artist-in-residence will be available to lead guests in water colors.  (Perhaps The Hangover children might have an opportunity for summer employment.  Anyone for Cynical Blogging 101?)  There’s also to be a flower farm and beach safaris and morning yoga and delivered breakfasts and nature trails and forest clambakes (Something wrong with the area beaches?).  That’s quite a list.  But then one risks drowning in syrup when discovering the names of the cottages:  Fawns Crossing, First Light, Hummingbird, Firefly, Silent Pine, and Sweet Fern.  If expansion comes to Hidden Pond surely a true Maine woods experience would dictate cottage names such as: Poison Ivy, Skunks Rutting, Mosquito Haven, and Deer Tick Delight.  Each cottage has a fireplace and a deck.  Whether they will have their own individual Mosquito Magnets is not reported.

The descriptions categorizing Hidden Pond are overrun by ellipses…as if lazy writing will lead discriminating web surfers to lazy days.  The marketers can only hope their victims will be carried off by daydreams of relaxation and pampering…which will then guide them to their iPhones and Platinum cards.  Do the wealthy actually fall for such overwrought pitches?  The Hangover has his doubts.  In the meantime, we await our new, transitory, well-heeled neighbors.  Hopefully, they won’t mind the regular, not-so-gullible folks who live here.    

Democracy in Action Moves Slowly

11 Feb

Even though The Hangover’s preferred candidate had already been knocked out (or dropped out, take your pick) of the presidential race, I lived up to my responsibility as a citizen and took part today in the Maine Democratic Caucus.  It took approximately two hours and thirty-seven minutes for me to cast my vote for Barack Obama.  This was not the result of indecision on my part, but the cumbersome mechanics of this specific process.  The caucus system has to be the electoral equivalent of the pony express.

It happens like this:  Once a party member arrives, they are checked off on the registration list and herded into the meeting area.  Following the National Anthem the caucus is called to order and the group rubber-stamps some pre-written bylaws and, in Soviet style, nominates and accepts certain caucus officials (In regards to expediency, this is a good thing).  Speeches are made by either present candidates or their supporters (Neither Clinton or Obama chose to show up in Kennebunkport to speak on their own behalf.  Shocking, I know.)  The group then gets divided with the supporters of respective candidates literally going to their neutral corners.   Those who are undecided or wish to reconsider are given their own spot on the floor and can be subjected to more speeches soliciting their support.  Luckily, the fervor of the current election left no ambivalent voters and therefore no reason for more oration.  A count is taken.  After that, delegates to the state convention are chosen based on the proportions of the vote.  Only then are citizens free to resume their normal lives.   

While the caucus system at one time must have been useful (perhaps in the pre-industrial age) for keeping voters informed of candidates, platforms, and issues, today it is simply antiquated.  With the information bombardment one encounters with newspapers, radio, cable and satellite television, the Internet, and text messaging, it seems impossible that a citizen could walk into a presendential vote without knowing something of a candidate’s beliefs or stances.    This is the modern world:  There is no reason that what could be a one-second effort with a number two pencil needs to take three hours. 

Like many voters in 2008, I’m hoping for change.  And changing Maine’s preliminary election method from caucus to primary would be a good start. 

BTW:  Obama 177, Clinton 66, Edwards 1 (an absentee ballot, probably submitted before he dropped out).  As detailed in my Perfect Record post, that I supported Obama could mean real trouble for him down the road.