Throwing the bull

June 22, 2006 at 12:03 am (Uncategorized)



Here again, I'm pulling a blog cheat by posting one of my weekly columns. I feel strangely dirty doing. But in doing so, it leads to a number of questions worthy of discussion. For instance, is LaFlamme becoming a true lazy bastard devoid of original thought? Is there some copyright law that prohibits me from using my newspaper columns in a personal blog? No, really. Is there? I'd really like to know. Mostly I'd like to know if I own any rights to my own columns or if they are 100 percent the property of the newspaper? Media lawyers, please look me up.

But mostly, I think the following babble illuminates a point we are all aware knife.gifof. Size does matter, but attitude is the bigger factor when it comes to fear. It's true in bars and it's true in nature. You don't want to tangle with the biggest dude in the jungle. But you don't want to encounter the tiny sociopath with the knife in his boot, either.

A million years before you and I came along, our ancestors ran from all kinds of things. These people were covered in hair and they carried sharp sticks, but they ran screaming like schoolgirls all the time. A saber-toothed this, a snub-nosed that. It didn't matter. If the beast was bigger than a cave mouse, our primitive kin ran from it like sissies, tossing their spears aside as they fled.

Not that you can blame them. When I stood nose to nose with a rampaging bull in downtown Lewiston a week ago, I felt those primitive urges to run away with arms flailing. And when I say nose to nose, I mean I was standing roughly 12 feet away from the beast while braver souls tried to corral the thing with ropes and sections of fence.

But that's not important. What's important is that the bull that thundered into Lewiston sent completely macho men scrambling into the backs of pickup trucks, up trees and over fences. And rightfully so. That was one ton of human-stomping fury, and nobody wanted a piece of that. This is Lewiston, people. If we wanted to be Pamplona, we'd move our city to Spain.

What I find curious is that the bull opted to head down Webster Street and onto Orange when he hauled his massive bulk over a rodeo fence. We're talking Webster Street, people. We're talking neatly trimmed grass, freshly painted houses and colorful lawn ornaments. He may have looked like a mean machine of horns, hooves and flaring nostrils, but that bull was no fool. And while I'm not saying the beast was a little 'fraidy cat, I'm thinking he might have been.

Had the bull hung a left on Bartlett Street instead of steering toward neighborhoods where butterflies flutter and wind chimes chime, things could have turned out differently. On Webster Street, people aren't accustomed to stomping and grunting. On Bartlett Street, they are.

I can see the bull tromping to Bartlett and Walnut, thinking he's all big and bad and fearsome. I can see him turning those black eyes toward someone on the corner and expecting appropriate fear. But it wouldn't have been forthcoming. At Bartlett and Walnut, attitude is as thick as smog and 2,000 pounds of meat is just another meal waiting to be eaten.

Some young hooligan, with ball cap turned backward, would have stepped right up and challenged the bull. They would have stood nose to nose, nostrils flaring. The bull would have been scratching a hoof on the street, preparing for a mauling. The young man would have his arms outstretched in that way that says: "I'm right here, bitch. You want some of this? This is my house! My house!"

The bull could have encountered a prostitute had he chosen a different route. In downtown Lewiston, prostitutes are so bold they've been known to strut their stuff to off-duty policemen in cars. The prostitutes will pounce on anything that lingers too long at a stop sign. Do you believe they would be intimidated by 2,000 pounds of bovine? A sale is a sale, people. And how does a bull respond to a line like: "Hey, big fella. You looking to party tonight?"

The beast could have stumbled upon a hard drinker reeling from one of the downtown bars. The old-timers in particular remember the bull mascot from the Schlitz Malt Liquor days. Run across one of those guys at last call, and it's bad news for the bull. The animal would have been chased down, tackled and beaten upon by the beer-breathing reveler insisting on his free case of brew.

The bull could have been mugged for his leather. He could have been sold a few crack rocks and then beaten when he failed to deliver the coin. He could have been exposed to ear-rupturing rap music, subjected to somebody else's religion, been pressed for ID by police in the park, been given a parking ticket or approached by an annoying editor insisting to know his age and home address.

bullfr4.jpgThe bull would have never survived a night in downtown Lewiston. And so he took an alternate route and ended up in a quiet section, where girlie men like me reacted with the panic he is accustomed to. Which leads me to believe that beasts are smarter than men. They just pretend they're not so we'll leave them the hell alone.



  1. Mongo said,

    Mongo say
    “Bull not stupid. Mongo no go near Bartlett St either.”

  2. Gil said,

    That Mongo sure is funny.
    Segue in three, two, one..
    By the way, after a hiatus of a month, my blog has been updated.
    Nitey nite

  3. Martha said,

    Its been many years since I’ve ventured into downtown Lewiston. Not sure I’d be anxious to do so anytime soon.

  4. Bobbie said,

    I wasn’t too thrilled to be living on the lower end of Park St when I lived in Lewiston, but it was a place to live. I don’t think that you could pay me enough to live there now.

  5. Linda said,

    Blogs are so different from newspapers — I read this in the paper, but now that it’s on the blog, it carries a different context. I’m thinking, what is it really about, here? is it about beasts being smarter than people? I don’t think so. a commentary on the urban scene? well maybe.

    Today it seems likeit’s about what we are afraid of. we know our strengths and we exercise our powers, but when you face a bull, none of that matters. So, except for Mark, we’d all be afraid of a bull on the loose. that makes sense. Now I’ll be thinking about what else scares me. I’m not sure right now.

  6. Martha said,

    Bobbie, I lived several places in Lewiston. The lower end of Summer St. Spruce St. and Oxford St. Summer St. was actually pretty quiet when my downstairs neighbors weren’t drunk and fighting. However, they liked to use the back yard for their trash dump, and turns out they were thieves too. Spruce St. I was right across from the park. Living on the 4th floor kept me mostly out of harms way. Oxford St. wasn’t bad. Still, all in all, I prefer where I am now. Even with the neighbors with the pool.

  7. Bobbie said,

    I lived on the 4th floor on Park St, about a block down from Kennedy Park and the police station. The building was kind of quiet, but the neighbors were something else. There was always some kind of excitement going on at the Snowshoe and the bar around the corner-I think it was on Walnut.

    I’ve been on the receiving end of a rampaging big red pig before, so I know how Mark feels about things. That stupid pig had all of us cousins screaming as we ran for a stupid rock that wasn’t much higher than the pig was. Of course, some of the cousins were pushing people off the rock just to see how loud they’d scream and how quickly they could get back up on the rock.

  8. Martha said,

    Bobbie, thanks for the picture.. now which one is which?

  9. Bobbie said,

    AO is on the left and LInda is on the right.

  10. Bobbie said,

    Don’t think too hard about what scares you, Linda. You think too hard and you may find things to be scared of that you weren’t before you starting thinking about it!

  11. Richie said,

    Dateline: AT the Front with our Fighting Forces.
    Source: Your embedded Reporter, Richie

    2nd Squad was the Ready Reaction Force the other night. They received the call & were in their Hum-V’s & Strykers in minutes & on the way. Support forces across the river were alerted to stand-by. No aviation or artillery assets available.

    Kevlars on, body armour in place, Ma Deuce at the ready. Report of possible insurgent action. Almost immediately the “street wire” had passed the word & everyone had disappeared off the street. Silent eyes glared from behind covered windows at the column as they passed on their way to the call. Left on Spruce, right on Knox through “Little Mogadishu”, left on Birch and up onto Bartlett. Coming to a halt, the vehicles take a herringbone pattern. Troops quickly deply; and any possible insurgents quickly leave the area.

    In the end, there was no ambush nor did the troops take any histile fire. Turned out to be a simple disturbance call Troops RTB w/o incident. Another day in the life; at the Front in Lewiston. Another day in the War on Terror.

    end despatch.

  12. Dave said,

    Great article.

    I had the opportunity to work on Lisbon Street in 1981ish. Remember those god-awful-ugly glass canopies that were built to catch pigeon droppings, errr.. I mean, built to revitalize the retail district of lower Lisbon Street. I helped build them.

    It was amazing (that’s a nice way of putting it) the people I met on the street during this summer of shade on LIsbon Street. Ladies from the Holly inviting me down to “get jolly”, several people walking around with paper bags with a bottle in them (who were they trying to fool?), and even some more strangeness from people living in the 2nd and 3rd floor apartments. While I was up on the platform lifts doing my thing, the local druggies would open their windows and offer me various mind-altering substances… and this was at 9 a.m. Interesting crowd, to say the least.

    Other than an occassional visit to the Lewiston Public Library, I rarely get out of my vehicle on Lisbon Street. It seems like lower Lisbon Street has just turned into a variety of Law Offices anyways. Why don’t they just tear down a whole bunch of the remaining buildings and just build a jail nearby to keep things convenient? With raising gas prices, wouldn’t that help save money?

    One day I did drive down Bartlett Street by mistake. Yikes. Not really knowing the area, I stopped at a stop sign and looked at my map. Before I knew it, I was being asked “if I wanted to party”. That didn’t even happen to me when I was working in Lynn,”Lynn, lynn, you never come out the way you in” Massachusetts, or for that matter, even on Mellon Street in Portland.

    Oh well, at least it gives Mark a place to make a living writing…

  13. Martha said,

    Dave, I remember those canopies. I also remember lower Lisbon St. being called “the strip.” Course, I’m not sure which would be worse. the clubs or law offices. Is that where shiester Sharon now has his office? Scum Bag!!!

  14. Martha said,

    Make that shiester Sharon/defender of the guilty… He ought to fit right in.

  15. Linda said,

    Is there anyone out there who HASN’T lived or worked in Lynn?

    Bye for the day. I’m moving on.

  16. Treehugger said,

    I remember a Lewiston without REFUGEES from Georgia.

  17. Bobbie said,

    Treehugger! Nice to see you again.

    I haven’t lived or worked in Lynn, MA. From the way that you guys talk about it, I don’t think that I ever will either!

  18. jarheaddoc said,

    Is this round two of kick the shit out of Lewiston? I’m not sure the damn city realizes we’ve even been attacking it in this blog.

  19. Richie said,

    Kynn, Lynn, the City of Sin

    Ya never come out the way ya go in !!

  20. LaFlamme said,

    Lisbon Street is still fabled, but its sort of erroneous. Lisbon Street is just sort of sad and deserted these days. Your hot corners are Walnut and Bartlett (best for hooker spotting), and Birch and Blake (best for curbside drug deals and mean looks from punks in oversized basketball jerseys.) And I say this out of love. Lewiston is totally dynamic.

  21. LaFlamme said,

    The felons among you will note that the man pictured above is holding his knife like an amateur.

  22. AO said,

    I heard you took a cub reporter on a hooker look-out the other night, Mark.

  23. LaFlamme said,

    Ha! It’s true. That kid is gonna be great. He’s got the heart for this work.

  24. AO said,

    He’s a really great kid. I know he’s going to do great. I was very impressed when I saw his first front page story.

  25. LaFlamme said,

    He’ll have more. The idea is to get him settled on the crime beat so I’ll have more time to do other stuff. I don’t think he’ll have a problem settling. Most people I introduce to the police beat really don’t take to it. This guy was absorbed from the start.

  26. Bobbie said,

    Is this your way of telling us that he’s as warped as you are, Mark? And I say that with all the love int he world too.

  27. LaFlamme said,

    That’s exactly what I’m saying. Let’s face it: you really have to be a little bit twisted to spend your nights scouring the streets for nastiness and violence. Most people work the crime beat only until they can graduate to politics or education, something glamorous like that. Then there are those who fall in love with the beat and will never leave it.

  28. AO said,

    Well, just the fact that he wanted to go looking for hookers must have been a tip that he’d do well. Ha.

  29. K2 said,

    Than there are those who beat their meat.

    AO, you’ll be happy to know I won the Jagermeister dance contest last night a Fast Breaks’ 16th anniversary party. It was a girls only contest, but I refused to be discrimmated against for being a hopelessly white male. And the girls in the contest chose me as the winner. We danced to ‘Play that Funky Music White Boy.’ Needless to say, I’ve got jelly legs today. And a bit of a hangover, since I got in at 2 am and was up at 6 am. Me hurt long time.

    And MT, I won that US Open pool, but it was only worth $110. I thought it was gonna be big money. Oh well, it did pay for my $80 bar tab last night. Mark, can $30 get me a humdinger on Bartlett and Walbustanut? I prefer toothless. Will that be a problem?

  30. LaFlamme said,

    If you preferred a mouth full of teeth, THAT would be a problem. What I’m hearing, you need to come up with another ten bucks for your standard action in Lewiston. Use one of my coupons, though. I’m done with them for now.

  31. K2 said,

    $40 to get my tubular device serviced by a dentally challenged crack whore? Let me see those coupons.

  32. AO said,

    Sheesh!! I always miss all the fun!! Way to go, K2. I’m very proud of you. Not only because you won the dance contest but, because you have a massive hangover. So, what did you win? Or, is it just a title?

  33. LaFlamme said,

    I think $40 is reasonable. It hasn’t really gone up in the ten years I’ve been here. The rates, I mean. The rates haven’t gone up.

  34. AO said,


  35. LaFlamme said,

    I would like to stress here that I was referring to the rates of hookers in the above message. The rates.

  36. AO said,

    So, tell us, how do you know what the rates were ten years ago?

  37. K2 said,

    I won a skimpy Jagermeister tank top. Gave it to a waitress who’ll give it more justice.

    Yeah, they partied into the wee hours, but I had to bail and get some sleep.

    Mark, sounds like you need some air bladders inmplanted down there. The pump is hidden right in your pocket. Also inflates bicycle tires and air mattresses.

  38. LaFlamme said,

    Hey, I know how those pumps work. You can also get the model where the pump is easily accessible through your…
    I mean, what?

  39. Blumpkin said,

    The bull didn’t want to risk offending anyone so it steered clear of the Mogadishu Mile. It probably saved itself a lawsuit or two

  40. K2 said,

    Yah, all them Somalians’, with their flaring nostrils, breathing all our white air.

    It’s all their fault. Along with the Jews. And the Mexicans. And the Poles. And the Irish. And the albinos. And the midgits. And the gays. Oh, and the liberals, too.

  41. Linda said,

    hey wait, I’m part Irish. I breathe air.

  42. jarheaddoc said,

    then give it back and go home. goddam flatlander ferreners!

  43. Linda said,

    I thought we got past that, jd! are we regressing?

    I had a nice day in Hartford with 2 of my many nieces, and (my favorite) 2 of my many sisters in law. they have a lovely redeveloped waterfront, very nice except very hot and humid.

    AO I had to dig under the seat of my car and find the last bottle of wine, since otherwise I’d be drinking wine I don’t like. I figure that when this last bottle of Smashed Grapes is empty, I won’t mind what i drink.

  44. Linda said,

    And just one more thing. I know absolutely nothing about motorcycles, less than nothing really. But at one of the service plazas on the Mass Pike, I saw the most gorgeous Harley Davidson. It was shining in the sun, definitely an object of desire. The rider was from Australia, not that he rode it here of course, he works in Massachusetts. Fred are you there? you’d have loved it. Who else rides motorcycles out there? You all would have loved it anyhow.

  45. AO said,

    I’m glad to hear you’re having a good time, Linda. And, glad you’re enjoying the wine. Love that Smashed Grapes. Very yummy stuff.

  46. Blumpkin said,

    K2, I like Mexicans. Especially that dog. “Yo quiero Taco Bell!”

  47. jarheaddoc said,

    I just figured that I would jump in with K2 for lack of better things to do, that’s all, Linda. I have fewer teeth to sink into something now, so I must spread the force between what’s left.

  48. AO said,

    Ouch! Feeling any better, JD?

  49. K2 said,

    Yo quiero is redundant. It’s like saying I I like . . .

    Can’t beat a burrito supreme, minus sour cream, add gaucamole, of course. Hey, you don’t like Somalians; I don’t like sour cream. Or as the Stones sang:

    Well, we all need someone we can cream on.
    And if you want to, well you can cream on me.

  50. AO said,

    Better watch out who you sing that to, K2.

  51. Dave said,

    Lisbon Street is still fabled, but its sort of erroneous. Lisbon Street is just sort of sad and deserted these days. Your hot corners are Walnut and Bartlett (best for hooker spotting), and Birch and Blake (best for curbside drug deals and mean looks from punks in oversized basketball jerseys.) And I say this out of love. Lewiston is totally dynamic.

    Mark – ever thought of a business venture? Sort of a LaFlamme version of a Cosmo Kramer tour of the city. Show adventurers from out of town the interesting parts of the city. Hire a few prostitutes/drug dealers/thugs as tour guides. I doubt the Chamber of Commerce will support you, but perhaps a few of the Adult Book Stores or Liquor Stores, or Cheap Cigarette Places will.

    Perhaps if you could couple the above sites and stage the throwing of an unconscious slug into a canal, the tour would hit the big time!

  52. Mainetarr said,

    Well, I haven’t liked the Somalians since they keep trying to get in my car on Lisbon Street. That pisses me off. But I will steer clear of the subject for once and save it for our view. But I have to admit, mini chimis from Margarhitas would be good right now…

  53. Dave said,

    Oops.. screwed up.. the first paragraph was copied from an earlier post of Mark’s…

  54. jarheaddoc said,

    K2, the ‘yo’ in Spanish is not necesaarily redundant when one speaks in the first person. It is perfectly permissible to either use iit or not, as a lot of it depends entirely on the fluency of the speaker: students are taught the ‘proper way’ to speak it.

  55. jarheaddoc said,

    Pressed enter too soon, K2. For example, the proper way to ask for an act of oral sex, strictly in keeping with the context of hookers, escapes me, but just remember: Tengo dinero. Chupa me guerpo. This seldom failed to work overseas. Not that I partook, as medical personnel with a social disease didn’t get off the ship again. the lesson: always wrap your rascal!

  56. AO said,

    That whole area of Lewiston has changed so much. I used to live on Walnut St. back in the 80’s. And, it felt safe. I had to take a detour through that neighborhood last Saturday because of the flucking sink hole on Lisbon St. Let me tell you, I quickly locked my doors. My daughter had LOT’S of questions for me. Hell, I had LOT’S of questions, myself. I still can’t believe everything I saw. Yuck.

  57. jarheaddoc said,

    Kinda makes you wonder what a future archeologist will say about the city, doesn’t it?

  58. AO said,

    I know what he or, she would say: This must have been the armpit of the world.

  59. AO said,

    But, I guess it’s not safe anywhere anymore. Hell, we just had a drug bust in my neighborhood last night. Guess it doesn’t matter how safe you think your neighborhood is, some asshat is going to come in and screw everything up. Bastards!

  60. jarheaddoc said,

    I can only agree with that sentiment. We are too busy sticking our noses in overseas and not taking care of things on the home front

  61. Mainetarr said,

    jd, you are up past your bedtime. What’s going on, couldn’t muster the strength to lift the lid on your coffin? You rotten old toothless bastard. Tarnslation: Goodnight honey, love yah.

  62. Mainetarr said,

    jd, you are up past your bedtime. What’s going on, couldn’t muster the strength to lift the lid on your coffin? You rotten old toothless bastard. Translation: Goodnight honey, love yah.

  63. Mainetarr said,

    Ah shit, I tried to fix my typo, but it posted anyways. God dammit.

  64. Mainetarr said,

    Now I look like a terard. Uh, I mean retard. Time for sleep.

  65. AO said,

    MT, didn’t you know that sopyt are okay in here?

  66. Linda said,

    What’s goin’ on? Still miss me? I miss you all. MT, how do you know what jd’s bedtime is? I’m just asking

  67. Linda said,

    I’m just remembering something my husband said once: you’d have to really be gone for me to miss you. I guess you have no reason to miss me — it’s a small world and I’m extremely persistent

  68. Martha said,

    Anyone want to come finish my shift.. my second one today.. so I can go home and go to bed?

  69. Mainetarr said,

    Sure Martha, I am on my way, but by the time I get there you will be done. Guess we will have to party when I get there and wake up the neighbors. Ha! And yes, Linda, it is not like you are gone at all. How are things going there?

  70. Linda said,

    Going great. Looks like the Sox have this one in the bag so we’ve got a card game to play. How lucky am I — I love my inlaws and they love me. I always have a million laughs with them.

    My deal! goodbye for tonight.

  71. Martha said,

    MT, since I’ve been awake since 11 p.m. yesterday, I’m afraid I wouldn’t make a very good party animal right now.. course by the time you get here, I should have had time to get some sleep. I just know right now, I’m so beat I can’t type worth crap.

  72. Martha said,

    I’m going home.. I’ll likely check in one more time before I go to bed..

  73. Bobbie said,

    Hey jd,
    Don’t forget that you have a relative who has a birthday coming up in the next few days. You don’t want them to think that you’ve gotten senile now, do you?

  74. AO said,

    Ohh…Bobbie, who’s birthday is it? And, when is it? Anybody we know? ūüôā

    Linda, We’re missing you terribly! But, glad to hear you’re having fun with your in-laws. I call mine, out-laws. So…sip on!

  75. jarheaddoc said,

    Bobbie, I have no idea who you are referring to.

  76. AO said,

    Sox are kicking ASS! 10-2. Gabe Kapler just hit a 3 run home run.

  77. jarheaddoc said,

    The pricks need to save some of those runs for the goddam Yank-mes, AO

  78. jarheaddoc said,

    AO, what the hell is meant by the term ‘dry’ wine?

  79. LaFlamme said,

    What? Why is it the oral sex and hooker talk goes on when I have to step away for a while? For the record, I have no idea how to ask for any of that in a second language. If pressed, I’d make hand gestures.

  80. Martha said,

    Pretty quiet in here now.. I think I’m going to bed.. Night everyone.. Was sure glad to see my front door tonight.

  81. Bobbie said,

    Jarheaddoc must be getting senile in his old age.

    You know the person, AO. His relative is a regular blogger on this forum. It’s up to him whether he admits to having this relative or not.

    As to when it is, it’s the 28th.

  82. Martha said,

    June 28th is my son’s b-day too.. He’ll be 32. Does that mean I’m getting old?

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