Underground

May 30, 2006 at 12:08 am (Uncategorized)

sleeper sml col.jpg

Dear Honorable Jim Bennett:

 

My name is Mark LaFlamme. I used to be a crime reporter around here until you chased all the bad guys away. Now I write largely about cats rescued from trees. Thanks. Thanks a lot. I notice that you gleefully fight evil on our city streets, yet you still have not done anything about the creature that lives in my closet. Please refer to my early letters complaining of this problem.

I am not writing you today to gripe about those matters, however. Today, I have a helpful suggestion that I believe will boost the local economy and get those downtown grouches in better moods. Have you noticed how grouchy people are downtown? They are stuck in traffic, hanging out on hot street corners waiting for buses or resigned to using those freakish scooter things to commute to work.

The solution is obvious. We need a subway system, just like in the big cities. We need rails that run underground, whisking our people from the downtown to the malls, from their homes to the Colisee, from the crack houses to the brothels. Come to think of it, we need brothels, too.

Mr. Bennett, I earnestly believe digging should start at once. Think of the hundreds of jobs it would provide and imagine all those cranky folks getting off the streets and going underground. More importantly, a new subway system would give me a new place to hang out, now that you've torn down most of the tenements and put up stupid colleges where dark alleys used to be. If you are not going to exorcise the demons in my closet, Mr. Bennett, you at least owe me this much.

I think you will all agree that the above is an eloquent and informative letter. But when I sent it along to our esteemed city leader, all I got for a response was this:

Dear Mark:

Do I really need to remind you of that restraining order, which forbids you from any direct or indirect contact with this office? Please, please, please stop sending us these letters.

OK, Mr. Bennett didn't really write that letter. But I have a sneaking suspicion that my subway idea would be treated with similar dismissal and scorn. Which is really unfortunate because I think I'm onto something here. If there is a city that weeps for an underground rail system, it's Lewiston.

I was in Boston the other night for reasons I won't go into. I love Boston. I have no idea what it's shaped like or how big it is because I ride the rails from one end of the city to the other. A person loses his natural ability to assess the geography of a place if he spends a large portion of his time underground.

Wedding 144.jpgIt was on a subway platform in Boston where I saw my first drug dealer many years ago. It was down in those dark, dusty depths that I encountered my first panhandler. I may have seen my first hooker there and probably my first lunatic. Is it any wonder I fell in love with Beantown and with subways in general? Aboveground in the light there is baseball and culture. Down below the earth, there is man with his base urges and many vices.

Lewiston has base urges and vices. If you don't believe me, check out the new "Base Urge and Vice" mart down on Lisbon Street. And so, the optimal time for a subway system in the Twin Cities is sooner, not later.

Key to this plan will be the rail that shoots under the Androscoggin River and into Auburn. At the latest count, 7,547 people were stuck on bridges and streets between the cities. Those people began what they expected to be short drives more than a year ago! Their families have not reported them missing because they, too, are stuck in the full nelson that is intercity traffic.

And imagine: sailing beneath Sabattus or Lisbon streets without the coffee-spilling jolt that comes with traffic lights spaced 15 feet apart. Down on the hard subway seat, stained only slightly by a mystery substance, the only thing you will have to worry about is the man beside you who is having an angry conversation with himself, and the drunk guy across the car who looks like he's about to share the lunch he ate an hour ago.

And so I urge you to write Jim Bennett and extol the virtues of this plan. The man is so adept at bringing new things to the city, I sometimes suspect he's shoplifted them. The Colisee and the brawling team to play inside it. The colleges, the flower parks, the free rides in helicopters that take off from the top of the city building clock tower.

Next week, another letter to Bennett: why we need free helicopter service based out of the city building clock tower.

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60 Comments

  1. Toadfrog said,

    Okay…I can not wait for next weeks issue.

  2. Toadfrog said,

    Oh and by the way…..I was first today….LOL.

  3. Bobbie said,

    Glad to see you again, Toadfrog. Missed you.

  4. Linda said,

    Mark, this is hilarious, you know? What a great idea.

    But didn’t the Boston subway stations used to be a lot more interesting and dangerous than they are now? Last summer I was a little bit nervous or uncomfortable on the subway alone late at night, but 20 years ago it would have seemed really foolhardy.

    Hi Toadfrog, Bobbie. Have a nice day. I’m off to work.

  5. jarheaddoc said,

    This could Maine’s version of the Big Dig.

  6. K2 said,

    I prefer a monorail. Better views.

    And how did C.H.U.D.s not make your subway talk? Flabbergasted, I am.

  7. LaFlamme said,

    Plus, Monorail has that cool song from the Simpsons.

  8. K2 said,

    I’m still mad about you leaving out our CHUD friends. How could you be so inconsiderate? Maybe horribly mutated homeless people with a taste for human flesh aren’t good enough for you?

    Yeah, that was a classic episode. Homer in the Darth Vader outfit sealed the deal.

    Anyway, it’s settled. A monorail, a subway and the helicopter pad. (Helicopter not included.)

  9. Linda said,

    Sure a monorail would be grand on a nice dry clear day. But think of how miserable it would be in rain, wind, snow? And besides, you’d miss out on the experience of walking down into that fug.

    A subway’s just so, you know, underground. Secret.

  10. Linda said,

    OK, I’ll have the monorail too, K2. I can live with that. But I’m not going near the helicopter thx anyhow

  11. Linda said,

    And — excuse me for blabbing on uncontrollably but it’s my lunch break and I’m in a hurry — you weren’t kidding Mark about “man with his base urges and many vices.” You mentioned the drug deal, the hooker etc. My memories of the subway are more, well, “tactile”? It had to be pants on the subway, not dresses or skirts unless you also wore a shin-length heavy coat. Some things are just plain gross — and you don’t want ’em on you.

    Maybe I don’t know your city well enough, but I can’t imagine it will be quite that gross on our subway.

  12. Robert said,

    Mark, you almost had me fooleed until I read your statement that Mr. Bennett had cleaned up crime…

    1. Driving down Lisbon Street last Monday at 5:00 PM, I waved back to someone waving at me, thinking I must know them. As I sat at the light waiting to change this woman came right up to my car at which point I figured out this was not someone I knew but rather someone trying to make a few bucks, so i quickly accelerated and ran the red light.

    2. Driving through bartlett street yesterday, (I say through as I didn’t dare stop) and got to witness first hand the enthusiastic people on doorsteps just waiting for a new customer to come along most presumably for illegal substances. I also watched one fine citizen walking his mastiff, which was barely under control and attempting to take a leg off another fine young man. It will be no surprise when that particular animal assaults someone in the neighborhood. FUnny how everyone not being attacked was laughing about it.

    3. There is no longer any police presence in the downtown area. We desperately need foot officers walking the area, and letting people know they are present. It worked in Maple street neighborhood quite well unles you consider the growth of activity on bartlett a bi-product of the Maple Street presence.

    4. We’re building a skate board park for the yuppy suburb dwelling kids to come into the city? And destroying a basketbal court used constantly by neighbors to do so? Yeah that will endear you to the local community.

    5. We no longer have speed checks and rolling traffic stops because moving violation revenue goes directly to the state, none stays in the city that provides the revenue. So lets not enforce speeding laws anymore than neccesary. Come to think of it, one of our city councilors serves in Augusta and promised to work on this problem 18 months ago and to date I see no action. Go figure!

    6. We continue to close down bars that serve drunks, have near riots or just don’t meet the standards set for our city by our council. But someone has to explain to me why some of our council members insist on going out for drinks at a local establishment after denying another tavern its liquor license renewal. You think Rockin Robins stayed open so long just because they tried to do the right thing, and not because it was a certain city representatives favorite bar?

    7. And speaking of liquor licenses, anyone witness the consumption at the Maineiacs games, sometimes including local politicians? Makes you wonder if there’s not a little loooking the other way so as not to disturb the revenue associated with selling all that alcohol.

    8. In Maine its illegal to gamble if you’re under 18, but the Colissee is a age free site, you can buy 50/50 raffles at any age, you can participate in adult type contests at any age.

    So here’s my idea – walk around Bartless street area with a couple drug sniffing dogs and a state police presence, just for kicks…get the message out that we do know whats happening and we don’t like it. Get real undercover efforts going – whens the last time we had a Dear John or hooker bust night? Get the state to allow cities to share revenue from moving violations even if it means moving the fines up – simple economics says that if you encourage or reward the ticketing, then you’ll have mroe money coming in from the fforts and need less per ticket to make your budget, er, ah I mean crime deterrent.

  13. LaFlamme said,

    Bartlett Street is definitely the epicenter of the seediness these days. It’s got it all, really. You could walk one block and get pot, crack, heroin and a hooker and stop in for a pop before you reach the other end. Beauty.

  14. jarheaddoc said,

    A subway would just move it all underground and then you wouldn’t have to see it all.

  15. Robert said,

    Jarheaddoc,

    Is thats whats more commonly referred to as tunnel vision?

  16. jarheaddoc said,

    Sarcasm, Robert. Isn’t your piece more appropriate for an op/ed piece than a blog that’s meant to be fun?

  17. "The Weasel" said,

    How bout Telportaion?… Now that’s the future

    In quantum teleportation, an unknown quantum state is faithfully transferred from a sender (K2) to a receiver (Fat Bastard Dan). To perform the teleportation, K2 and Dan must have a classical communication channel and must also share quantum entanglement — in the protocol we employ*, each possesses one half of a two-particle entangled state. K2makes an appropriate projective measurement (Bell measurement) of the unknown state together with her component of the shared entangled state. The result of this measurement is a random piece of classical information which K2 sends to Dan over their classical communication channel. Dan uses this information to choose a unitary transformation which he performs on his component of the shared entangled state, thus transforming it into an output state identical to the original (unknown) input. Notice that the input state is destroyed by K2’s projective measurement, so that teleportation does not result in “cloning” of a quantum state.
    (*Teleportation protocol of C. H. Bennett et al., PRL 70, 1895 (1993).)

    Teleportation with Squeezed Light

    We have implemented quantum teleportation with light beams serving as both the entangled pair and the input (and output) state. Squeezed light is used to generate the entangled (EPR) beams which are sent to K2 and Dan. A third beam, the input, is a coherent state of unknown complex amplitude. This state is teleported to Dan with a high fidelity only achievable via the use of quantum entanglement.

    Teleportation Apparatus

    Entangled EPR beams are generated by combining two beams of squeezed light at a 50/50 beamsplitter. EPR beam 1 propagates to K2’s sending station, where it is combined at a 50/50 beamsplitter with the unknown input state, in this case a coherent state of unknown complex amplitude. K2 uses two sets of balanced homodyne detectors to make a Bell-state measurement on the amplitudes of the combined state. Because of the entanglement between the EPR beams, K2’s detection collapses Dan’s field (EPR beam 2) into a state conditioned on K2’s measurement outcome. After receiving the classical result from K2, Dan is able to construct the teleported state via a simple phase-space displacement of the EPR field 2.

    Fidelity (Quantum vs. Classical?)

    Quantum teleportation is theoretically perfect, yielding an output state which equals the input with a fidelity F=1. In practice, fidelities less than one are realized due to imperfections in the EPR pair, K2’s Bell measurement, and Dan’s unitary transformation. By contrast, a sender and receiver who share only a classical communication channel cannot hope to transfer an arbitrary quantum state with a fidelity of one. For coherent states, the classical teleportation limit is F=0.5, while for light polarization states it is F=0.67. The quantum nature of the teleportation achieved in this case is demonstrated by the experimentally determined fidelity of F=0.58, greater than the classical limit of 0.5 for coherent states. Note that the fidelity is an average over all input states and so measures the ability to transfer an arbitrary, unknown superposition from K2 to Dan.

  18. K2 said,

    *crickets chirping*

  19. Robert said,

    Weasel, please stop, you’re making my head hurt…

    Jarhead…yeah its op ed, but what the heck…as far as the sarcasm, trust me, I;m brimming with it today!

  20. "The Weasel" said,

  21. "The Weasel" said,

    K2 ….. Was that Crikets Chirping or was it the timer on tonight’s casserole?

    Green Bean Casserole

    Onion Straws:
    1/2 cup very thinly sliced onion
    1/4 cup soy flour
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
    Casserole:
    1 pound green beans, ends trimmed
    1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
    1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
    8 ounces cremini mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
    1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
    1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/2 cup no-sugar, low-sodium chicken broth
    1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
    1/2 cup sour cream

    Equipment: 10-inch glass pie pan

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    Make the Onion Straws: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, toss to mix, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Set aside.

    Make the Casserole: Bring a small pot of water to boil and season lightly with salt. Boil the green beans until tender, but still crispy, about 5 minutes. Drain and chill beans in an ice water bath or under running cold water. Drain again and transfer to a bowl.

    Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, mushrooms, salt, garlic, and pepper and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and thyme and cook until almost all the liquid is evaporated, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the mushroom mixture to the bowl of green beans, add the sour cream, and toss to combine.

    Pour the green bean mixture into the glass pie pan. Bake the casserole and onion straws on separate racks until the straws are well browned and crispy (almost burnt, otherwise they will be soggy), about 15 to 17 minutes. Top the casserole with the straws, and serve garnished with thyme sprigs.

  22. Linda said,

    Weasel, WTF? Are you OK?

  23. AO said,

    Thanks Weasel, I’ve always wanted a Green Bean Casserole recipe.

  24. jarheaddoc said,

    Beam me that casserole, Weasel, it will save me from cooking tonight

  25. AO said,

    Just for fun:

    Cricket Potato Pie
    Yield: 8 Servings

    Ingredients

    2 lg potatoes
    1 c shredded Cheddar cheese
    4 eggs
    1/2 c milk
    1/2 c sliced mushrooms
    2 tb chopped green pepper
    2 tb chopped red bell pepper
    1 tb chopped onion
    1 tb parsley flakes
    1 ts oregano
    salt and pepper; to taste

    Instructions

    1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel and shred the potatoes, rinse;
    then press and drain them
    between paper towels to remove all excess moisture. Combine the
    potatoes with 1/2 of the
    shredded cheese and line a 9-inch greased pie pan (bottom and sides)
    with the mixture.

    2.Combine the remaining ingredients, blending them well with a wire
    whisk. Pour gently into the
    lined pie pan and bake for 45 minutes. Pie should be slightly browned
    and firm to the touch
    when done. Cut the pie into wedges and serve.
    Makes 8 small or 4 large servings.

  26. Linda said,

    AO, my mother says that anything with potatoes and cheese in it’s gonna taste great, and if you can work some bacon in, it’s a slam dunk

  27. jarheaddoc said,

    Weasel, what the hell did all of that mean? beam me up, Mr. Scott?

  28. jarheaddoc said,

    Jesus, Linda, slather some artery clogging sour cream on top of that and I’m with your Mom.

  29. Linda said,

    Oh yes, I forgot to mention the sour cream. That was her 4th ingredient.

  30. AO said,

    Oh-oh Linda, Are you on the dial-up computer tonight? And, I’ve never had Cricket Potato Pie, just looked it up! But, it does sound kind of good. Hmmm…I wonder what type of wine would go good with it?

  31. jarheaddoc said,

    Cream puffs. Hmmmm….

  32. Anonymous said,

    6 cups whole wheat flour
    2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
    1/2 cup white sugar
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    2 1/2 cups water
    1/2 cup anise seed (he said anise)
    2 egg white

    1. Combine whole wheat flour and yeast in a large bowl. Stir in sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and water. Stir in anise (he said it again) seeds. Let dough stand in warm area for 1 hour.
    2. Knead bread and put in 2 regular loaf pans. Brush tops with beaten egg whites.
    3. Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 50 minutes.

    1 cup roasted shelled peanuts
    1-1/2 teaspoons peanut oil
    1/4 teaspoon salt (omit salt if salted peanuts are used)

    Place ingredients in blender. With the lid secured, blend until mixture becomes paste-like or spreadable (3 to 4 minutes).

    * Grapes
    * Sugar
    * Wash ripe but not over ripe grapes (a few green ones add to success.) and drain.
    * Put into a large kettle and cook over medium heat until grapes are soft.
    * Put into jelly bag and drain. (add no water)
    * Now use 2 cups juice at a time – not more.
    * Bring two cups juice to a boil (full rolling boil)
    * Reduce heat and add three cups sugar. Mixture must not boil after sugar is added.
    * Stir constantly til sugar is dissolved. Very important for jelly will crystalize if sugar isn’t dissolved.
    * Pour into glasses immediately and cover with paraffin

    Allow jelly to set. add to Bread & peanut buter

  33. Linda said,

    You know …. I had a little screw-up with my Favorites this morning, The Lost Sole got dragged down beneath some of the “other” blogs i read. I thought it was fixed but … hello? anybody out there?

    Just kidding. Recipes are fine. Odd but OK.

    AO, shit, it’s not Thursday is it? you gave me a fright, for a second I pictured my mother looking out the kitchen window, watching for me, wondering … but no, it’s Tuesday, my husband cooked my dinner and my dog came running to meet me (almost getting run over by me in the drive, as usual). Whew. Slight sense of dislocation there

  34. "The Weasel" said,

    My wine recommendation…

  35. AO said,

    Sorry Linda, didn’t mean to cause you any confusion. You mentioned your mother so, I just naturally assumed you were there.

    Weasel! Why didn’t I think of the Fat Bastard?

  36. Linda said,

    No that’s OK, AO. I can’t blame you if i don’t know what day it is. I’ve worked way, way too hard this month and I won’t be sorry to turn the page on the calendar.

    Meanwhile even though its only Tuesday I’m looking forward to a mini-classic-horror weekend (I’m thinking two or three movies) to celebrate June, and maybe take my dog to our favourite lake.

  37. AO said,

    Ahh…June. Hopefully it’ll be a better month! I’m also looking forward to turning the page on the calendar.

  38. K2 said,

    No, Weasel, it was scalloped potatoes (in the box — ssshhh, don’t tell) served next to grilled filet mignon (clearance at Shaws — two $3-off coupons) and reject 99-cent bagged lettuce from Food City, with Roma tomatoes and good ol’ Ken’s zesty Italian.

    And I’m drinking a PBR in a can. Hey, it WAS voted America’s best — in 1893. Oof.

    Not a stain on my apron, I might add. But now it’s time to watch the Oprah, Dr. Phil and Judge Judy I taped this morning. And I have another Monistat 7 application due any moment. It’s a damn bakery down there, I tells ya.

  39. AO said,

    K2, Take my advice, skip the PBR. It’s not good a yeast infection. ūüôā

  40. K2 said,

    I just want to feel fresh like a spring morning, AO.

    Or drunk like a coal miner on payday.

  41. AO said,

    I’d vote for the coal miner. I have no idea what it means to feel fresh like a spring morning. ūüôā

  42. Linda said,

    Is it payday?

  43. AO said,

    What’s payday? I have no concept of it.

  44. Linda said,

    Where’s MT, home playing with Milo? MT and jarheaddoc, both have new pets. Really puts a challenge out there for my dog, I’ve been warning him to step up to the plate if he doesn’t want a little furry brother or sister.

  45. Mainetarr said,

    Well, Milo is finally sleeping. That little shit ran me ragged tonight when I got home! Whew! He is incredible! Still no accidents in the house yet. He and Baileya re finally starting to warm up to each other a little.

    I am watching E! News. Michael Jackson won a legend award at the Japanese MTV awards show. Then he visited an orphanage and said “I love you” to all the kids. He had this look on his face like he was at Tin Tin before a buffet of children. Freaky bastard.

  46. AO said,

    Of course he “loves” all the children. Bastard!

  47. "The Weasel" said,

  48. Linda said,

    So much more disgusting even than the McDonalds baby. What a whacko.

  49. AO said,

    Red Sox’s are sucking bog water right now. Oye.

  50. Linda said,

    Please give me some good news if you have any.

  51. jarheaddoc said,

    Okay, you asked for good news: I GOT THAT GODDAM ENGINE TO RUN, AND I MEAN LIKE ITS SUPPOSED TO! Well, pretty close, anyways. It won’t start hot, but get it going and let it run and it won’t quit until I tell it to. I am thrilled shitless with this thing!

    The cat is developing a very sweet personality. He loves to be loved, but he’s not so neurotic that you can’t move without stepping on him: that’s the fucking dog.

    And tomorrow I am making the road trip to go get the fiberglass to build the boat this winter. I had a trailer given to me, I have an engine, so now it’s just saving for the epoxy to do the skin on the boat. So I have to put my kid’s college of for a little while so I can go fishing. What’s wrong with that?

  52. LaFlamme said,

    Hello, people. You’ve missed me, haven’t you.
    Liars! You didn’t even notice I was gone.

  53. Linda said,

    Well that IS a boatload of good news. Congratulations on the engine, the kitten and the road trip. Just make sure the kids are smart enough to get to college on their own and it’ll all be aces.

    I on the other hand stepped on a hammer and bled all over the kitchen floor, and assorted other nuisances of the evening. And not only is my husband going away this weekend but he’s taking my car, which means no lake for me because his car is not fun on curves and smells like a wet dog. (which is why he’s taking mine, presumably)

    But — I guess the universe evens things out and tomorrow’s bound to be aces for me too.

  54. Linda said,

    Did somebody say something?

  55. "The Weasel" said,

    F.U. Flamer…………………………………………………

  56. Bobbie said,

    Instead of strictly horror while your husband is gone, why not throw in a movie that will give you a good laugh? I highly recommend 8 Heads In a Dufflebag. Definitely along the lines of black humor, but very funny.

  57. Linda said,

    You know, Bobbie, that’s probably a real good idea. Love the title. I googled it, see that Joe Pesci is in it, he always makes me laugh — My Cousin Vinnie !! Who couldn’t use a good laugh?

  58. Bobbie said,

    David Spade is in it as well, along with George Hamilton and Dian Cannon (sp?). Don’t want to give anything away, but I’ve always found that when I need a good laugh, I watch either that or another goofy movie, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar. Patrick Swayze doesn’t look half bad as a female. Wesley Snipes needs some work.

  59. LaFlamme said,

    When Weasel abuses me, I know it’s out of love.

  60. Martha said,

    AO, the computer here at work won’t let me highlight and print from the blog. Can I get you to email me that recipe, please?.. MT and Mark have my email address. thanks

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