Monday, April 28, 2008

Moxie beyond New England's borders

I just found a writer who lives in Elmira, New York that's written his own ode to the virtues of Moxie.

John P. Cleary, who writes for the Star-Gazette (a Gannett paper), visits Maine each summer and when he and his family do, they make a trip to Frank Anicetti's Kennebec Fruit Co., for Moxie ice cream and to visit with the Moxie Man.

Cleary details the difficulty that Moxie lovers outside of New England struggle with in acquiring their favorite soft drink. Still, they persevere and find ways to score Moxie.

He writes,

"My wife came to love Moxie on her childhood visits to Maine, where it is the official state soft drink. We take our children on annual vacations to Bailey Island, Maine, and, each year, include a pilgrimage to Lisbon Falls, home of the Kennebec Fruit Co., the headquarters of the Moxie Universe. It's there that Frank Anicetti, the high priest of all things Moxie, holds court and sells, along with Moxie T-shirts, bumper stickers, baby clothes, clocks, blankets, and other stuff, his delicious, homemade Moxie ice cream. Lisbon Falls hosts the Moxie Days festival every July.

In New England, you can buy Moxie at almost any grocery store, but it's hard to find elsewhere. Before we leave Maine every summer, I load up our van with Moxie. I'm also lucky enough to have a brother-in-law who lives not far from Catawissa, Pa., where the Catawissa Bottling Co. has been bottling Moxie since the 1940s."

You can read the rest of Cleary's article here.

On the book front, I sent seven chapters of my manuscript to my copy editor, this morning. Things are looking good for our Moxie Festival launch.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Hillary takes my advice; goes to Gary

I've been steering clear of politics, of late. Since none of the three remaining candidates seem capable of speaking to any of the issues germane to most Americans, I've decided to tune out, until November.

I did happen to hear that Hillary stopped by Gary, Indiana, to talk with steelworkers (what few are left, from the region's heyday, as "Steeltown, USA, a moniker shared with another similar U.S. city, Youngstown, Ohio). It made me reflect back to last year, right about at this time, when I spent a week near Gary and visited the city a couple of times. I wasn't there for a photo op and I actually did it without a security detail.

I wrote about it and Counterpunch published my "fantasy" debate piece. You can read it here, if you happened to miss it.

In retrospect, I think I "nailed" the candidates fairly well, with my handicap.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Regional drinks like Moxie: Cheerwine

I'm officially "off" today, from my daytime gig. But like Monday's "holiday," my non-paid work time is taken up with Moxietown and stories of Moxie. My deadline's tight, but I can see some light up ahead, I think?

I've been at my keyboard since about 6:00 am, transcribing my interview with Justin Conroy, from Cornucopia. He happened to mention a similar, regional brand of soft drink, called Cheerwine, which turned 90, last year. Time to take a "break" and get up a blog post.

A southern regional phenomenom, like Moxie, this burgundy colored drink is said to possess a distinctive cherry taste. It's available throughout the southeastern United States, from West Virginia, south to Georgia.

What I found interesting when I Googled "Cheerwine," was the product's website. They've taken a local news motif and made it their own, with "stories," sightings and their very own blog (although someone needs to learn that blogging requires periodic updates; your last post is from July 2007!). Nice work on the marketing side.

Personally, I don't know if this would work for Moxie. IMHO, Moxie's lure is Frank Anicetti's store, his aversion to technology and the NEMC's fixation with memorabilia that belongs to the previous century.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Patriots' Day is for....Moxie?

Patriots' Day is a New England holiday. To my way of thinking, it's always been about the traditional 11:00 AM Sox' game and of course, the Boston Marathon.

As for the actual holiday portion, I've been on both sides of the equation. Some years (depending on my employer), I had to work. Other years (like this year), I officially had the day off.

Actully, today was a working holiday. I took the opportunity to use my "free" day to gather more Moxie material, taking a trip to Bedford (near Manchester). What's in Manchester? Well Cornucopia Bottling (a division of Coca-Cola of Northern New England, whose parent is Kirin Beer of Japan), of course, the Bedford-based owner of the Moxie brand.

[Frank and I having fun during a recent photo shoot (GGoodman photo)]

Moxie's roots are in New England and that's where one is most likely to find the unique drink, fueled by the curative qualities of gentian root. When Moxie was acquired by Atlanta-based Monarch Beverages Company, many hard-core Moxie fans felt the brand was languishing and becoming harder to find, even in New England. Cornucopia's acquistion of Moxie has been viewed favorably, thus far, by Moxie people.

I met with Justin Conroy, Cornucopia's brand manager, in order to interview him about Cornucopia's decision to bring Moxie back home, to New England.

After meeting with Conroy, I headed across town to meet with Merrill Lewis, president of the New England Moxie Congress. The NEMC is the "fan club" of Moxie and according to their website, they are "a loosely-knit band of Moxie zealots and fellow travelers who collect Moxie-related memorabilia, promote the drink's availability, get together for parades and clambakes, and some who actually drink the stuff."

Merrill's a knowledgeable guy and a gracious host. He answered my questions and then brought me into his own Moxie "shrine" of collectibles.

[This is the House of Moxie, but we just know it as Kennebec's (GGoodman photo)]

When one writes research-driven books, like I do, the tendency is to become one with the material. Over a period of months, you begin to see how your research fits together. I suppose you could say you even become a bit "protective" of your subject and the people you get close to, during the course of your research.

A week before my own photo shoot at Kennebec Fruit Company, aka Kennebec's (to the locals), or "The House of Moxie" to Moxie true-believers, Down East Magazine sent a couple of filmmakers to visit with Frank Anicetti, Moxie's most endearing spokesman and the star of the annual Moxie Festival, in July.

I'm not a fan of Down East and I thought that the filmmakers, particularly Russell Kaye, came across as a bit condescending to Anicetti. Maybe that's my own bias at work. View the video and let me know what you think. Either way, you 'gotta love Frank! Also, no one that I know refers to Frank's as "The Moxie Museum." Please get it right (see above)! Oh, and the "dusty" quality of the place is part of its charm.

I've always felt that Down East tends to represent a mythology of Maine that does the state a disservice. Certainly, you can find writers/filmmakers and others that capture Maine realistically, not the "Maine is for tourists" way that Down East and others regularly and dishonestly (in my opinion) portray the state.

I'm on an unrealistic timeline to get Moxietown to press, but I think people are going to enjoy the finished product.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The writer's journey

Back in late 2003, I was working in the brand of corporate hell and “cube farm” that spawned Scott Adams’ Dilbert empire. During that period of darkness, I began to get serious about writing. Spurred on by Stephen King’s admonition in On Writing, to write, I took his advice literally. Who was I to argue with his success? If he said “write,” then write I would.

It’s been a slow, uphill slog. Like Sisyphus, pushing his rock up upwards, there have been times during the past five years that I thought the stone would turn and crush me. More times than I care to admit, I wanted to pack it in, lick my wounds and use terms that I hear a lot from those with a fraction of my output; “writer’s block,” or, “I’m struggling to locate my muse.” When you find her, let me know, ok?

Lo and behold, an adage my mother used to use on me—nothing worth having, comes without pain and sacrifice—has become one of my mantras.

When I’m up before dawn, while other “aspiring” writers are still sleeping soundly, or banging away at my laptop, long after the Red Sox radio post game is over, writing is a lonely pursuit.

Occasionally, I’ll be somewhere and a spark of recognition occurs; someone connects my name with my first book, When Towns Had Teams. It’s rare, but once in a great while, someone I meet has read the book and they’ll say really kind and thoughtful things, like “I read your book and loved it,” or the other day, I met someone in Maine that I’ve watched from afar; I’ve been given an opportunity to partner with this person and she happened to mention to her husband that she had met the author of “the baseball book” that he loved; she emailed me and mentioned that he was impressed. These are little things, but everyone craves respect and even a little recognition, now and again.

Forgive me for sounding so self-indulgent, but when you are a writer whose next book will never be a bestseller and will sell a couple thousand titles (if wildly successful), sometimes navel gazing is all you have at times.

Actually, I began this post to say that considering where I started, five years ago, I’ve made steady progress. I’m finally beginning to access the networks and the people that I wanted to connect with, but wasn’t ready, or proven enough to warrant their attention. All that seems to be changing, which brings me back to the recognition that I sometimes am too impatient; I need to be more cognizant that good things take time.

Yesterday afternoon, I met with a group of people that I used to daydream about sitting down with. Even more improbably, they were asking me questions, tapping the wisdom, knowledge and skills that only come experientially, if you pay attention along life's crooked journey.

Life is humbling at times. Some of us are late bloomers and take a circuitous route to where we want to go. During our sojourn, we face struggles and trials that test our mettle. But like silver's need to purge its dross, these tough times only reveal the purities inherent in who we are.

One of the advantages of pushing through the tough times and believing in yourself when only one or two others do, is that eventually, you arrive at a place where your experiences resonate with others, because you're not talking theory, but are plugged into some deeper truths.

My own experiences grant me credibility and a hearing with many of the people I work with. In turn, it helps them have a willingness to take the next step they need to in their lives, towards realizing their own unique potential. When they understand that I didn’t have it all figured out and that I wasn’t born with a silver spoon and special advantages, they connect with my transparency. When I ask them to be willing to take the challenge to struggle and persevere, these aren’t empty words. They’re truths forged in the various furnaces of my own life's experience.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Moxietown pix

[The Moxie Man and I, giving "the finger" (the "Moxie finger" that is]
[Moxie world h'quarters in Lisbon Falls, aka Moxietown"]
[No, please don't take my picture (dig that Moxie orange]

[Moxie window at Maine Art Glass Studio, Lisbon Falls]

Was in Lisbon Falls (aka Moxietown) a week ago, involved in a photo shoot, for the new book. These are some digital shots that my son took. I'll have some much better photos that were taken by a professional photographer that will probably be used for the cover, the book, as well as marketing materials.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Photos of Central/Western Maine

[The view from Route 27, in New Sharon]
[Creative spelling in Norridgewock]
[The economic realities of many in rural America]
One of the privileges of the work that I do, is being able to travel to the various communities I serve in Area III, outside of Lewiston/Auburn.

Each of the five counties that make up Central/Western Maine is so very different than the others. In Androscoggin, primarily because the twin cities of L-A (It’s Happening Here), optimism abounds. The economy is better here, than probably any other part of Maine, save the greater-Portland area. A case could be made, in fact that L-A has experienced the state’s most dynamic economic growth over the past five years.

Leaving my office in Lewiston and driving west to Rumford, Farmington, or Skowhegan, the economic challenges and the struggles of rural America to adapt to the changes in the 21st century economy become apparent.

[A Skowhegan landmark]

While some choose to highlight the negative aspects of our state, I still find reason to be optimistic, and I’m not a “glass half full kind of guy.” Maybe my optimism is fueled by the opportunity I have to meet people that care deeply about Maine and the communities they represent; the passion of a chamber director in Waterville, an economic development director in Somerset County, whose quiet confidence and unassuming ways have won the respect of the people he represents. In Rumford, a core group of people are doing their darndest to turn things around and root out those who care more about power, than the people, as well as counter the deliberately false reporting of the daily newspaper, by becoming the media. Maybe it’s nothing more than having the chance to walk around downtown Skowhegan and see the wonderful architecture, the ruggedness of the falls and then, having a few free minutes to visit the Margaret Chase Smith Library for the first time.

[A library visit to learn more about one of Maine's great people]

College professors, TV talking heads and NPR reporters can sound Maine’s death knell and paint a bleak future for our state, but I choose to believe that the special quality of people that don’t always make the evening news will be the ones that help turn things around.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Stories about Moxie

I am in the midst of a new book project that will be tied to Moxie, the soft drink. Like the first book, which tapped into the fondness people had for baseball from another era, this one will capture life in a small Maine town.

Since the town that I know best is my hometown of Lisbon Falls and Lisbon Falls is the epicenter of the Moxie universe at the moment (with its annual Moxie Festival, in July), what better way to entice readers than to blend aspects of Moxie, memoir and a little Maine history thrown in, to boot?

Moxie Matters: Life's Beginnings in a Small Maine Town will be out in full-length in September. I am also planning to release a commemorative, 25th anniversary book during Moxie Festival. This will include the first concise and semi-comprehensive history of all you'd ever want to know about Moxie, including for the first time, how Lisbon Falls got dragged into the Moxie vortex.

I am currently seeking stories about Moxie that might end up being included in a chapter that will gather the best of these. So far, I've already gotten some great stories/anecdotes about Moxie from a variety of Mainers (and a few outside of our fair state), with a couple being of the semi-famous variety.

If you have a worthwhile Moxie story that you'd like to share, please send it to moxiestories08 (at) yahoo (dot) com. I'm particularly interested in stories from people who don't live in Maine, but love Moxie all the same.

I look forward to reading them and choosing amidst the Moxie bounty.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

On the road again (think Canned Heat)

Back in Waterville, at my favorite library. Actually, I've warmed to the place and realize that you don't bite the hand that provides free Wi-Fi.

Just finished a work-related post and thought I'd have a bit of fun and update Words Matter.

I think I'm 'gonna find some BBQ in Waterville and report out at a later date.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Another episode

I just completed my second episode of (their actual episode #2), which highlighted four provocative young writers; Julie Klam, Sloane Crosley, Keith Gessen (Franzen's a fan--I'm impressed) and Ceridwin Dovey, who had her first book published while a doctoral student, in anthropology.

All had an interesting take on books, particularly Klam (who actually had a gig at one point before writing her book, doing pop-up videos on VH1), talking about the completion aspect of writing a book. She spoke about books being different than other things (blogs, music videos, MP3s), “…a book actually happens; there’s something so satisfying (in the process) … if you sell your proposal, you actually have a book.”

It might end up on the remainder table, or discounted at Reny’s, or Marden’s, but you have a physical product that is validation of your efforts.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Democracy's Durham cousin

[Pre-meeting planning by moderator and local officials]
[Durham's democratic true believers]

I spent my Saturday morning at the annual Durham town meeting. Traditionally held the first Saturday in March, the town moved the meeting up to April, which may have contributed to the meeting’s sparse turnout.

My primary reason for attending was to do some first-person research for the new book and tie it to John Gould’s contribution to Pine Tree State history and his first book, published in 1940, New England Town Meeting: Safeguard of Democracy.

Gould’s book captured the flavor of five area town meetings during town meeting season, 1940, including Durham’s annual meeting that March.

Gone are the days when town meeting was as much an all day social event, as it was an exercise in democracy. I’ve lived in the town of Durham for nearly twenty years and I’ve witnessed first hand the changes that have diminished the importance of democracy’s most intimate vehicle. Fewer Durhamites than ever view the annual town meeting as duty not to be shirked, or easily brushed aside.

Like many former rural communities across the state, Durham has undergone monumental changes from the days when it was a sleepy farming village, on the other side of the river, from Lisbon Falls.

Friday night, I was one of just under 300 voters stopping off at Durham Elementary School to vote for selectmen, members of the planning board, local tax collector and other assorted municipal matters. This represented about 10 percent of the town’s registered voters. I met the president of our local historical society and he enticed me to purchase the Durham Bicentennial Report that was compiled in 1989, to celebrate Durham’s 200th birthday.

I’ve enjoyed thumbing through it and learned that nearly 70 years ago, Durham was a struggling municipality of 784 residents (the town’s lowest modern ebb), and it’s most pressing problem — substantial town debt, a holdover from a depression-era exodus of landowners and taxpayers.

Since 1950, when the population numbered 1,050, the town’s population has trended upwards. The past 25 years, Durham has been part of the state’s migration to the suburbs, as the population of the town has exploded, from 2074 in 1980, to near 4,000 currently.

The town’s municipal budget, excluding schools and fire, is over $4 million dollars. That’s a substantial amount of money for taxpayers to be responsible for. Sadly, attendance at town meeting is but a shadow of what it was back in 1990, when my wife and I attended our first town meeting.

Not knowing the culture of meeting day, we assumed that we could wait until about 15 minutes before the 9:00 am start, to drive the mile from our home, to the school We arrived to find the parking lot choked with cars and we ended up parking ½ mile from the school, along Route 9. In order to vote at town meeting, you must prove you are a registered voter and then, you are given a laminated card of yellow, blue, or whatever the color chosen for that particular year. The line to obtain voting cards was out the door and snaking around the corner of the school. We learned an important first lesson about town meeting—get there early. The gymnasium was packed. The basketball court was filled with plastic school chairs, better designed for the smaller frames of K-8 students, than six foot tall adults. The remaining bleacher seats along the back wall were elbow-to-elbow with the town’s “back-benchers,” many of them members of the local fire company. Fortunately, my in-laws were kind enough to save us seats, so our laissez-faire first visit didn’t work against us.

Saturday’s attendance, which I estimated to be about 125, was a fifth of what it used to be, almost 20 years ago. My previous experiences with town meeting colored my expectations and getting a later start than I anticipated found me concerned I’d be relegated to parking alongside the road once again. Imagine my surprise when I pulled into a nearly empty parking lot on the side of the school, with not many more vehicles occupying the front parking lot, alongside the main road.

Upon entering the gymnasium, 10 minutes prior to the meeting 9:00 am starting time, there were less than 50 people present, with half of those made up of members of the planning board, selectmen, budget and school committees. I had no problem obtaining my blue card granting me voting privileges on the floor. I made my way around, greeting a few familiar faces, but after 20 years living in this town, I still felt like a stranger.

My original intent was to stay for just a short while, to shoot some photos, take some notes for the book and then vacate, as I had an interview scheduled for early afternoon. Also, my son had come up from Boston, with his girlfriend and I hoped to see them and possibly have lunch together and direct them to some sites around Lisbon, which they both agreed to photograph for the book. Mark’s girlfriend, Gabi, is a very good photographer and we had talked about her doing photos for my book. Long story, short, I wasn’t planning to stay long. Being back in the atmosphere of one of democracy’s most participatory practices, however, I found me it hard to get up and leave. I was still hanging around past 10:30, making plans to exit after just one more article.

I didn’t actually leave until 11:30, about 90 minutes later than I had planned. What hooked me early in the proceedings was a common procedural maneuver, which seeks to move an article that won’t be taken up until much later and attempting to move it ahead in the article roll call. The tactic at hand was moving Article 59, which proposed changing the position of Tax Collector/Treasure from an elected position, to an appointed one, by the selectmen, was put to a vote after article four. The vote passed and the meeting’s first debate ensued.

A steady procession to the floor microphone occurred, with residents announcing their names and where they lived in town.
Sandy Polster, a resident of Meadow Road called the proposal, “the most blatant power grab he had ever seen.” Others, concerned about the loss of autonomy, asked for explanations from the selectmen. Finding myself caught up in the spirit, I marched to the microphone to say my piece about what I perceived as a loss of citizen participation.

People are less engaged in there communities than at any time in recent memory. Our own family’s experience mirrors that trend. Mary and I rarely attend. I was there primarily for research purposes, although I do think I’ll make a point to come back next year. My father-in-law passed away in 1999 and my mother-in-law now lives in Brunswick. My brother and sister-in-law that once were neighbors have left town, as has my other sister-in-law. Her ex-husband (they got divorced), sat in front of me and we chatted briefly about town politics. Many of the regulars that we used to see had found other things to do with their Saturday. Even my niece and nephew, first-time homeowners in town, weren’t in attendance. That might change when and if they have children and they enter school.

Milt Simon, longtime community leader, current budget committee member and newly elected selectmen, summed it up best, when asked about the changes in town meeting attendance.

“People today just don’t get involved like townspeople did in the past. I never understood the concept of a ‘bedroom community’ like I do know,” he said. “Now, people live here, work elsewhere and don’t feel the need to give back to their town.”

When I asked him why he continued to stay involved in town government and in restoration projects, like the revival of the Eureka Grange, he added this.

“That’s the way I was brought up—to give back to my community,” said Simon. “I don’t really know any other way than to be involved in the town where I live.”

Unfortunately, Simon’s values and spirit of community are rapidly dying out.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Others concerned about the state of news in Maine

[In light of my recent post on newspapers in Maine, I’m posting an excellent Op-ed that I found at The Bollard, by Steve Cartwright, a longtime Maine freelance writer, who brings a firsthand perspective to what he’s talking about.

Say what you want about Maine’s media consolidation—none of it bodes well for the future of news in our state. Thankfully, there are a handful of journalistic resources left, like The Bollard—JB]

Reprinted from The Bollard

March 26, 2008

Newspapers struggling to stay afloat
By Steve Cartwright

The family-owned Times Record newspaper in Brunswick has been sold into chain ownership. Ten people on its small staff lost their jobs, and the newspaper didn't even have the guts to report it.

This month, the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel were put up for sale. They are under Seattle Times ownership for now. They have shrunk in both size and staff, and, some critics argue, in the quality of content, as well.

In newsrooms and pressrooms across Maine, reporters and other staff are nervous, wondering whether future owners will further downsize the paper, or if the papers will even survive.

The still-independent Bangor Daily News has tightened its belt with layoffs, as has the Lewiston Sun Journal. An out-of-state chain that has lopped off staffers owns the Rockland Courier-Gazette, near my home, plus the Capital Weekly and two Belfast weeklies.

What we're seeing, it seems, is the erosion of real journalism in Maine. Some people never thought too highly of this business, and sometimes with good reason, so maybe they aren't sad to see things change. But I've worked for at least a dozen Maine newspapers over the years, and I believe we are losing something important. We are losing something that helps create the sense of place, our communal and regional identity.

Without newspapers, without someone telling us what is happening, all kinds of mischief can occur. It can be pretty serious, such as corporate and government corruption. Of course, unless newspapers really dig for stories, we won't be able to root out shady goings-on. And today, many newspapers seem tame and timid, far from an old newspaperman's challenge to "comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable."

At a pragmatic level, I think we are losing a usually – although clearly not always reliable – source of information, of facts and opinions that help us decide how to vote, what to support and oppose, and even how to live our lives. The survivors in this epidemic of ailing newspapers may be local and chain-owned publications distributed for free. These can be scrappy, lively rags with eye-opening information and opinion, or they can contain fluffy, canned copy that makes your eyes glaze over.

The reality is, fewer people – you and me – are reading newspapers.

Then there is "online." The Internet offers great potential and many pitfalls. For one thing, who edits the news you read? What references do you have as to the truth and accuracy of what you learn from the 'net?

In an era of heavily biased television news programs, there is little reason to believe that the Internet, perhaps more intractable than TV, will provide balanced coverage of people and issues, local or global. For us, folks trying to figure out what's going on, the best idea is probably to read widely from different sources. But do we know how to do that, and do we have time for it? I'm skeptical.

I'm pessimistic about any kind of sunny future for typical newspapers in Maine and elsewhere. In Portland, Augusta, Bath, Rockland, Waterville, Bangor, and Belfast, good newspapers have lost their edge. It's a downward spiral. There is less to read in the paper, so we read less.

The Morning Sentinel was for years the paper of record in central Maine, but some years ago it essentially ceased to exist, except in name, as it was folded into Maine's oldest continuously published daily, the Kennebec Journal. The Journal, diminished in staff and size, has sold a chunk of real estate to make way for yet another Augusta shopping mall. It seems a desperate move.

Courier Publications, owners of the thrice-weekly Courier-Gazette, publishes The Camden Herald, a venerable weekly that's now only a shadow of its former self, just like the Morning Sentinel. Courier also publishes two newspapers in Belfast, The Republican Journal and The Waldo Independent, though promotional ads give the impression the papers compete.

Then there is the independent Village Soup (an odd name for a newcomer of a newspaper), plus its Web site. It serves Midcoast Maine and is doing a credible job, but whether it's profitable is unclear.

The scrappy Free Press in Rockland continues to be an independent weekly, and like other papers, it's also gone online. It carries features on people and places, rather than typical local news about drug busts, car crashes, school sports, and those mind-numbing reports on city council and planning board sessions.

Things are changing fast in the newspaper business, and not necessarily for the better. The problems aren't simple, but they are basically driven by the decrease in readership. That means declining ad revenue, since advertisers want to reach a lot of people. How often do you read a newspaper? If you are an Internet user, you have a source of information at your fingertips. But how good is it? And how can you tell? The online versions of Maine newspapers can be useful, but newspapers aren't sure how to make money online with free access.

These are scary times for newspapers and their staffs, and those of us who rely on newspapers for valuable information should be worried, too. If we lose our newspapers, we lose a place to voice our fears, our faith, and our fundamental concerns for our families, our communities and beyond.

If people stop reading newspapers, will they care about what happens around them? Without a reliable source of news, they won't even know what's going on.

If that happens, we put democracy at risk.

[Steve Cartwright is a freelance journalist living in Waldoboro. Over the years, he has written for nearly all of the newspapers named above.]

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Programming for book lovers

I confess, the posting has been sparse this week; that's what happens when Moxie takes over your life. I'm not complaining, however. If nothing else, this beck and call to tell my own story, in the context of Moxie, has yielded the world's first concise, but complete history of the enigmatic drink that Mainers (and others) either love, or hate. That, in and of itself, makes my project worthwhile.

I just wanted to let others know about It was Mary Herman, membership director of Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, in her weekly E-Newsletter to members that made me aware of this provocative new Internet-based talk show, where four authors, sans commercials, are given an hour to talk about books they've written.

My first foray into makes me want to revisit. The episode I viewed, their third one, was their first all non-fiction gathering. "The Horror! The Horror!" features David Hajdu, David Gilmour, Louis Masur and Mary Roach (who has written a book called Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, which is, yes, all about sex, but as the title intimates, with a unique take on the subject).

The beauty of the Internet format, is that you can watch episodes at your leisure, like late at night, or while taking a break from your writing, which is always appreciated by anyone on a deadline. If the first month is any indication (55,000 viewers), co-founders Lina Matta and Odile Isralson may have something on their hands. So much for the prediction of reading's demise.

Calling themselves a "virtual soapbox" and "a 21st century version of the Algonquin Round Table," it's smart programming for sophisticated types.