Jim Dowd and The Why Gloucester Is Hipster (and that’s not a bad thing) Rant

Jim Dowd submits-


I want to talk about an ugly word in the English language that’s come back into common usage. It’s a word that ends in “er” and is thrown around as a blanket descriptor to disparage a specific population of people. Usually it’s spat out of a passing car window or muttered under the breath as it becomes noticeable this group has taken over a favorite café or bar.

You hear it out for a beer with your once-cool uncle, the guy who dropped out of college in the seventies to follow The Grateful Dead. You assume he’s a tolerant dude, but as it turns out, oh no. He leans over to you and snarls through his Sam Adams, “Can you believe all the fukin’ hipsters in this place?”

Yes, I’m taking on the pejorative overuse of the word “hipster” which many of us knew before it got popular. For years it was a way to explain places like Brooklyn, Seattle, even our own Davis Square in Somerville. It described cities with large numbers of young people; places with organic art and music scenes and certain cultural touchstones like independent theatres, small coffee shops and used book and record stores. Those are the things that make a place “hipsterish” or as I call it “worth bothering to live in.”

But increasingly of late I hear more and more people hating on the actual members of this rather large and ill-defined sub-group, the hipsters themselves. They bash the hipsters’ choice of jeans (skinny) hipster’s facial hair (moustaches or beards) and the hipsters’ preferred form of transportation (fixed-gear bikes or “fixies”). It’s kind of relentless and a little bit lame considering many of us participated in the fashion apocalypses of the 70s and 80s. Hypocrisy aside, I’m not suggesting we avoid clowning hipsters because of some dumbass PC thing. The reason we can’t bash hipsters is, as the hipsters say, “Because Gloucester”.

Seriously gang, we are in no position to down hipsters seeing as Gloucester very simply is the most hipster town that’s ever existed on the face of the Earth. We make Portland Oregon look like frigging Wenham. Gloucester is so hipster we should have a giant fedora lowered onto the City Hall tower. So hipster that someone here driving a K-car wearing a silkscreened wolf sweatshirt with giant 80’s glasses ISN’T TRYING TO BE HISPTER. Let’s examine further, shall we?

Dive bars? Check. Thriving arts community? Check. Music scene that’s more than just a bunch of old dudes with ponytails playing three chord cover songs in lame bars? Check. Vintage vinyl outlet, bike shop, Thai food, sushi, indie bookstore, organic grocery, farmers’ market, coffee shops and other key elements of hiprfrastructure ? All check. Unapologetically gritty? Big fat checkity-check-check.

But most importantly the things that hipsters celebrate, the retro-style cultural items of the 70s and 80s never actually went away in Gloucester. Moustaches, for instance. We still got ‘em, unironically huge ones proudly sported by awesome Italian guys. Beat-up old cars and trucks from that era are still “in vogue” here; if “vogue” were translated to mean “I am keeping this POS running one more year, but only as an on-island.” Beyond appearances, for 400 years we’ve been a kind of “anything goes” culture. Everyone has permission to be a little nuts and oddballs of all stripes suffer no consequences. Far from it, being a whack job can be a badge of honor in “America’s Oddest Seaport”

Scroll up and down. A solid chunk of the stuff that gets celebrated on GMG is crazy-totes hipster. Photography, art, food, film, poetry and literature all = hipster. And I shouldn’t even need to point out that adults playing dodgeball in the winter is only slightly less hipster than donning a vest and joining Mumford and Sons as a back-up banjoist. You couldn’t invent a more hipster place if you tried, from historical art colony to ethnic identity to the fact that our key export is fishsticks, unarguably the most ironic food item ever produced.

“But what about the annoying skinny pants and the fixed-gear bikes?” In response to that complaint all I can ask is: Yell at clouds much? Because being vexed at other people’s fashion choices in no way makes you seem like the kind of person who would shout gibberish at the sky while shaking a cane, really.

The next criticism leveled at hipsters stems from the hallmark hipster “sarcastic and ironic attitude”. Look, every conference I go to for work is chock full of top strategists and analysts from business, science and the military. On the first slide of the presentations they give, we attendees are always informed that none of the old rules apply in the 21st century. They tell us that we simply don’t know what the new rules are yet. I won’t go off on a rail here, but young people already know this. They can tell that we, the responsible people who are supposedly running things, in fact have no fucking clue how to solve our problems when we even admit we have them. Irony and sarcasm then would therefore be what are called “emergent” properties.

I would further argue that the distinctly ironic bent to the hipster worldview is an entirely logical response to knowing they are being fed consistently incorrect and skewed information from the culture-at-large. Take a cold, hard look at the outdated assumptions we ask people to accept about everything from government to religion, from finances to the supposed benefits of consumer culture. Then look at the outcomes we’re experiencing. Sort of makes you want to drink cheap beer and listen to Death Cab, right?

But sarcastic or not, Gloucester fans and especially GMG readers should pray for a never-ending supply of Yo La Tengo-listening, four-barrel-espresso drinking tat-sleeved hipsters of the first order. If you love this town and what it represents you should get your ass down to Coolidge Corner and lay a trail of PBR tall boys and packs of American Sprit back here like a secret hobo trail. You know why? Because hipsters actually buy art. They spend seven bucks on coffee. The frequent both microbreweries and dive bars. They’re foodies but at the same time eat from taco trucks. Hipsters rent bikes, go to poetry readings and don’t get all pissy about a bunch of rotting fishing gear piled up on the waterfront. They instead post Instagrams of this gear with the caption “Spending a day at the seaside”.  

For every groovy restaurant that cannot survive on locals alone the answer is some flavor of visiting hipster. Locals can only buy so many objects d’art, can support only so many coffeehouses and will attend only a set number of photo exhibitions. If we want to move toward a creative economy we have no choice but importing cultural consumers. Look at what hipsters have done for the emerging scenes in Salem and Beverly. Both are getting hipper, you can see previously broken down neighborhoods sporting new cafes and shops because instead of going to malls hipsters seek authentic local culture. We can argue about the cod population off the coast, but a land-based resource Gloucester still maintains in huge stocks is persons of authentic indigenous “color”, just read the police notes. We need to start capitalizing on it.

“Isn’t this gentrification?” No. It’s not gentrification. Gentrification is townhouses, Starbucks, lame chain restaurants like “Not Your Average Joe’s” (correction: It is) and dudes in khakis that list the primary attribute they look for in a city as “abundant parking.” Hipsters don’t mind the rough edges and Gloucester has plenty. If you harbor an unreasonable hate for bikes, art-school-dropout-glasses and anachronistic hairstyles, tolerating them will be a small price to pay for visitors who’ll come downtown and spend eighty bucks on coffee, pie and locally made/vintage consumer goods. That money stays in town.

In closing, I’ll relate a discussion I had with my Irish cousin Chris about the then thriving city of Dublin. I was complimenting him about what an amazing job they had done keeping a heavy Victorian feel while so many other European cities were modernist dullscapes of concrete and glass, completely lacking in character of any kind (I used to go to Frankfurt a lot). He looked at me like I was some kind of moron and said, “Well it wasn’t some kind of preservationist council at work, James. We were fekin’ poor.”

Gloucester is not poor, nor rich nor is it anything easily definable. But like Dublin one way or another we held onto our undeniably authentic selves while so many other places became emblanded. Therefore we should heartily embrace those who put the most value on us as we are today, not as how we would be if we…(insert pet project).

So though it’s not a mainstream thing to do, as a start I’m asking you that the next time someone with tattoos from out of town is taking pictures with an instamatic camera of the same kind you threw out of your mother’s attic twenty years ago, don’t sneer and pretend you’re some kind of “normal” person who isn’t “weird”. Instead go up and say, “Thank you”. You probably have more in common with them than you realize.

Because, to somebody, you my friend are a fukin’ hipster.


“WATER SHUTTLE PASSES” for the 2013 season now available. $ 50.00 before June 15th. After June 15th $ 75.00
send check or money order to:  Harbor Tours, Inc. 1 Daniel Roy Road, Gloucester, MA. 01930
email:   harbortours@gmail.com

Passes will be mailed upon receipt of funds.
Harbor Tours, Inc.
Gloucester, MA., America’s Oldest Seaport

click the pictures below for videos






The Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the 2013 Small Business Award Winners who will be saluted during Cape Ann Small Business Week, June 3-7. This year’s recipients, Daisy Nell and Stan Collinson, former owners of Gaybrook Garage in Essex, Jan Bordinaro, owner of the Atlantis Oceanfront Inn in Gloucester, John Donovan, owner of Manchester Athletic Club in Manchester and Kathy Milbury and Barbara Stavropoulos, owners of My Place by the Sea in Rockport, will be honored at the Chamber’s 33rd Annual Small Business Week Luncheon on Friday, June 7, beginning at 11:30 am at the Castle Manor Inn, 141 Essex Avenue, Gloucester. 

The 2013 Cape Ann Chamber Small Business Week Luncheon will feature a keynote address by Robert Nelson, Director of the Small Business Administration’s Massachusetts District Office, on the importance of small business in leading the economic recovery.

The program is designed to recognize the extraordinary contributions of Cape Ann’s small business community for exemplary entrepreneurial achievement as well as notable civic and community involvement. This year’s Small Business Award winners will also be the guests of honor at complimentary receptions in their respective communities during Cape Ann Small Business Week. Please visit www.capeannchamber.com for a complete schedule of these receptions.

Friends, family members, and colleagues of all small business honorees are invited and encouraged to attend the receptions and the luncheon. Tickets for the luncheon are available to members for $35 in advance or $40 week/day of and $50 for future members.

For more information or to RSVP for this event, please contact Emily Harris, emily@capeannchamber.com or call the Chamber at 978-283-1601.

Clark Pond/ Reddish Egret

Walking through the Coolidge Reservation the other day came across a beautiful Reddish Egret.  According to Wikipedia a Reddish Egret is a small heron.  It is a resident breeder in Central America, Bahamas, Caribbean, the Gulf coast of the United States and Mexico.  There is post-breeding dispersal to well north of the nesting range.  In the past, this bird was a victim of the plume trade.  According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, there are only 1,500 to 2,000 nesting pairs of Reddish Egrets in the U.S. and most of these are in Texas.  This beautiful bird is classified as “threatened” and receive special protection.

Reddish Egret

Aquatro Opening

aquatro opening photos

Well Gigi, Stevie and Aquatro Gallery are back, and better than ever in their new location at 77 Rocky Neck Ave. Gallery 4.  These are some shots from their opening reception on Friday, May 17th.  Aquatro is also carrying a cool Rocky Neck Art Colony bumper sticker, with 50% of proceeds going to benefit the Goetemann Residency Program.  Stop in and see Gigi and her gorgeous new gallery soon.

E.J. Lefavour


Willie Alexander Film & Performance In Gloucester This Thursday

Rob Newton submits ~


Ferrini film and concert celebrate Gloucester’s own Willie Alexander

Willie Alexander

On Thursday, May 24th at 7:30pm, The Cape Ann Community Cinema at 21 Main Street in Gloucester will present Hello Gloucester followed by a live set by Willie Alexander and the Persistence Of Memory Orchestra. Tickets are $15.00 ($13.50 for Cinema Members), and are available either at the box office or online at www.CapeAnnCinema.com.

January 12,  2013 was a memorable day in  rock-and-roll. On that day, Governor Deval Patrick issued a citation that acknowledged Bay State rocker Willie Loco Alexander on the punk vanguard’s 70th birthday. His significant other, Anne Rearick, had planned a “surprise party du la monde” at Jimmy Tingle’s old theater in Somerville and dozens of musicians showed up to honor Willie and play tunes he has written over the past 5 decades.

Bands at the January celebration included Rockport’s A-Train Orchestra, Moose Savage, Breadman, Jon Hardy and the Bags, Birdsongs of the Mezozoic, Reddy Teddy, Barrence Whitfield, the Nervous Eaters, Rupert Webster (all the way from London), Kenne Highland, Dave Sag, Jon Macy, Asa Brebner, John Powhida, Frank Rowe, Dennis Brennan, Peter Wolf, Mission of Burma, Andrea Gillis, Persistence of Memory, Roger Miller, John Macey and Gloucester’s own The Boyfriends. All were  there to honor a guy who has spent his life pushing the rock and letting it roll down on the hearts of Boston music lovers.

The film is produced by the Gloucester Writers Center video archive and directed by Gloucester filmmaker Henry Ferrini. The Gloucester Writers Center was founded to celebrate, preserve and promote the future of Gloucester’s rich literary legacy. Housed in the former home of poet Vincent Ferrini (1913-2007), the GWC is dedicated to fostering the tradition of local poetic investigation practiced by Ferrini and his friend and renowned Gloucester poet, Charles Olson (1910-1970).

Through a variety of community-based programming, including literary readings, workshops, youth programs, topical writers’ talks and conferences, and a residency program, the GWC will serve as a gathering place and resource center for local and international writers in all genres, fields and realms of interest.

The Cape Ann Community Cinema’s full schedule can be found online at www.CapeAnnCinema.com, with the week’s offerings available by phone at (978) 282-1988.

Ray Manzarek from The Doors died Monday

Ray Manzarek died Monday in Rosenheim, Germany. The keyboardist, who was a founding member of The Doors, lost his battle with bile duct cancer. He was 74.  Both drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger have spoken up about the loss, and while doing so, remembered Doors frontman Jim Morrison, who died in 1971.

See full article here

New gem from the heart of Gloucester’s most prolific songwriter says it all

Check out this video of Allen Estes’ new song, “We All Fall Down”, which premieres on his show Local Music Seen with Allen Estes tomorrow (WED) at 6:30pm on Cape Ann TV Channel 12.  Allen had been working on this song before the marathon bombing, which gave the song a more profound meaning closer to what we’re all feeling right now.  If this song doesn’t move you, nothing will.

In this special show, Allen is his own guest and sings four new songs and one older one from his Nashville writing days.  He ends with one of my new favorites, “Swimming” or “The Good Harbor Beach Song” — a perfect way to get into the Cape Ann Summer spirit!

More Allen Estes videos here (including Swimming)

Miranda Russell performs at the Shalin Liu Performance Center

Miranda Russell performs at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport on Friday and Saturday May 24th and 25th, 8 PM. Miranda and her 6-piece band will play an eclectic repertoire from standards to Americana folk/rock. Familiar to Cape Ann audiences from her many appearances at Gloucester Stage Company, Miranda has played at the Shalin Liu for the past two years, selling out the house. Hailed by critics as a sensational nuance performer, “Russell will knock your socks off, should you be wearing any this close to the beach” (Boston Phoenix).

Here is Maranda Russell’s wonderful cover of Paul Simon’s Graceland.  She and her band really make this song their own.  Watch and see what we mean.  You can catch her at Shalin Liu, where this was filmed, with the same band this weekend.   Get Tickets Here

Origami class at The Hive this Thursday!

As previously announced, I will be teaching an origami class at the Hive on Thursday. I will tailor the content to the interests and needs of those present.

For instance, have you bought an origami book or kit for yourself or a family member, only to have it get dusty on the shelf because no one can figure it out?  You are not alone! Bring it to the class, and I can teach the group how to read the diagrams and fold some models from the book!  It doesn’t matter how simple or complex the model is – I can help you understand what’s going on.  Sometimes, the problem is that the diagrams are  poorly done, or just plain wrong. I can help you over those obstacles!


Or, we can also simply do some nautically themed origami, including a variety of boats, and maybe a sea serpent!

As a final option, if there’s something you’d like to learn how to make, sign up for the course and let me know today or early on Wednesday what you want to learn (and what your skill level is), by commenting on this post or by some other means. I will do my best to find something to suit your interest! I have over 100 origami publications in my personal library, and can also find a variety of instructions on the internet.

I hope to see you there!

Fr. Matthew Green

Roseway’s Fun for Good

Al submits-


Roseway has just returned from the Virgin Islands and here is an opportunity to view this historic Essex-built schooner up close.  If you go, be sure to let them know that Gloucester is excited to have them back in the Mayor’s Race this year.  Here she is in the 2008 Gloucester Schooner Race.  (Al Bezanson photo)

Roseway at GSF 06-2