Monthly Archives: September 2007

Newburyport Politics, Condescending, Not Good

I am fascinated that I apparently touched a nerve with the infamous “coupon, low-low price of hamburger” post. (See previous post.)

I often “lurk” at a forum about Newburyport called Around the North Shore:

You have to join to be a member of the forum.

And on the forum one of the posters really articulated something for me. The word that was used was “condescending.”

A nerve that the “coupon, low-low price of hamburger post” apparently hit, was that folks felt that I was “condescending.” (Oh, that I had put “BMW” or “Jaguar,” instead of “hamburger.” Thereby, of course, pissing off a whole set of other folks.)

If some people had such a visceral reaction to what could be perceived as a “condescending” post on my part about hamburger and coupons, that could also tell me a whole lot about what could be a visceral response concerning a whole lot of political stuff in Newburyport, MA.

Tom Ryan often used the word “arrogant.” “Condescending” could be a variation of the same thing.

It would explain people’s visceral response to the “Yes for Newburyport” folks. Many perceived them to be “condescending.”

It could explain people’s reaction to Donna Holaday’s run for mayor in 2005. It seems that some folks perceived her in 2005 to be “condescending.”

And it could explain why, although John Moak, despite having views and policies that people in Newburyport may disagree with, may well be electable for a second term. The electorate so far appears not to have found our present mayor to be “condescending.”

And “condescending” seems to be the “kiss of death” when it comes to Newburyport politics.

I am truly fascinated by all of this.

It explains to me (something that has puzzled me for a long time) why many voters (liberal, conservative, centrist) often appear to be turned off by very intelligent progressives. The progressives could at times be perceived as being “condescending.”

To quote from a post on the Around the North Shore Forum, that “anyone who disagrees with them (progressives) is either stupid or simply needs to be ‘educated’.”

A light bulb has gone on for this blogger.

Mary Eaton

Infamous Hamburger Post

From the feedback and emails, I guess folks found my now “infamous coupon post” on the “low-low price of hamburger” offensive, to say the least… try condescending, elitist, patronizing, arrogant, snobby, uncompassionate, insensitive, nasty… you get the idea.


Confessions of a blogger:

I am too lazy to read the coupon ads. And I go straight to the store that I’m pretty sure always has the “low-low price of hamburger.”

And I do NOT have anything against coupon users.

And I even like to cook. And if you check out my art blog, I have “recipes for artists.” A number of them contain the low-low price of hamburger. In fact, one of the things I like to do (and I got this from my Dad) is try and experiment each week, and come up with some variation of some “cooking concoction,” (which often contains the low-low price of hamburger).

I did get a very nice email from the folks who run the “poverty program,” that was supposed to be (but I guess was not, for some readers of the Newburyport Blog) the point of the post (along with my frustration that there was such a low turn out for the primary election for mayor, among all socio-economic groups of people).

They said they had just been reading a book that talks about how freedom would decline when people care more about their possessions than other stuff, although the book apparently “doesn’t specify cheap hamburger” (their quote).

Their sense of humor made me smile, along with their thoughtfulness and appreciation. Thank you so very much. It sure did beat folks thinking I could be callous, condescending, elitist and snobby.

Mary Eaton

Open Houses, Real Estate and Gut Jobs

One of the things that I love to do is go to “Open Houses.”

I went to one this weekend. I was surprised that it was so “reasonably priced.”

(Just as a btw, I don’t think any real estate in Newburyport, MA is “reasonably priced.” In fact I find the prices for homes in Newburyport, MA to be terrifyingly high. However, this one was “cheaper” than a lot of stuff out there for the same size.)

The real estate broker was very apologetic. She said you really had to love “antiques” to like this one.



Excuse me.

Yes, this particular place actually had all the original moldings, like beautiful dental moldings, and the real estate broker was apologizing.


What have we come to in Newburyport, MA?

I go to a lot of the “newer” Open Houses (replications or gut jobs) and they all look the same to me. Ironically, often one of the big features that is pointed out to me is the “moldings.” Only, often I know that the old moldings were ripped out and this is brand new, not historic molding.

When I see these “gut jobs” all over Newburyport, MA, it feels as if the soul of the place is being gutted too.

My gut is that these gut jobs are an indication of something else, besides a deep un-appreciation of historic preservation and all that could mean.

I’m going to have to think on that one, but when I see them, they always make me very sad and very angry.

Mary Eaton

Massachusetts Health Care Reform, NOT Helping the Middle Class

You didn’t really think I was going to stop blogging on this topic did you?

MA_health_care_reform.jpgAnd much to my surprise, my “scribbles” concerning my frustration with folks’ lack of involvement with things like local elections, democracy and poverty seemed to “confuse” a lot of people.

Stubborn and willful blogger that I am, I did another “scribble” on how the Massachusetts Health Care Reform is NOT exactly helping the Massachusetts “Middle Class” or small businesses.

I was talking to yet another small business last week. They felt it was necessary for their economic survival, for the business to go to a health insurance plan with a $2,000 deductible (that is probably a $4,000 deductible per family at least), hoping that none of their employees got too sick.

Yes, I’m getting the vapors all over again.

This is from an Opinion piece in the Boston Globe, September 17, 2007 “Health reform failure” by Steffie Woolhandler and David U. Himmelstein.

“…But this time, most of the uninsured are neither poor nor elderly…”

The middle class is being priced out of healthcare. Virtually all of this year’s increase was among families with incomes above $50,000; in fact, two-thirds of the newly uncovered were in the above-$75,000 group. And full-time workers accounted for 56 percent of the increase, with their children making up much of the rest….”

“Why has progress been so meager? Because most of the promised new coverage is of the “buy it yourself” variety, with scant help offered to the struggling middle class.”

“And 244,000 of Massachusetts uninsured get zero assistance – just a stiff fine if they don’t buy coverage. A couple in their late 50s faces a minimum premium of $8,638 annually, for a policy with no drug coverage at all and a $2,000 deductible per person before insurance even kicks in. Such skimpy yet costly coverage is, in many cases, worse than no coverage at all. Illness will still bring crippling medical bills – but the $8,638 annual premium will empty their bank accounts even before the bills start arriving. Little wonder that barely 2 percent of those required to buy such coverage have thus far signed up…” (Boston Globe, September 17, 2007).

Mary Eaton

Historic Preservation Walking Tours

For those of you who like architecture and old stuff (fancy word: Historic Preservation), the Newburyport Preservation Trust is sponsoring 2 walking tours as part of the “Trails and Sails” Weekend, which is being sponsored by the Essex National Heritage Area.

Here’s the info:

Newburyport Preservation Trust

Superior Courthouse Tour, Newburyport
Part of Trails and Sails: A Weekend of Walks and Water
Presented by the Essex National Heritage Commission (ENHC)
221 Essex St., Suite 41
Salem, MA 01970

Date: Saturday, September, 29 at 11:00

Join Superior Court Judge Richard E. Welch II for a tour of the courthouse on Bartlett Mall in Newburyport. Designed by renowned architect Charles Bullfinch in 1805, it is recognized as the oldest continuously operating courthouse in the United States. John Quincy Adams and Daniel Webster are among the luminaries that have argued legal cases in this nationally significant building.

Newburyport Preservation Trust

Name That Style: A Walking Tour of Newburyport’s Diverse Architecture
Part of Trails and Sails: A Weekend of Walks and Water

Presented by the Essex National Heritage Commission (ENHC)
221 Essex St., Suite 41
Salem, MA 01970

Date: Sunday, September, 30 at 11:00

Join architect and adjunct professor of American Architectural history at Boston College John McConnell for a walking tour in Newburyport with a focus on the diversity of style found in residential architecture. Mr. McConnell will discuss the various features that define the many architectural styles found in Newburyport and will speak on the cultural forces that gave rise to each style.

Both events are being offered in conjunction with the sixth annual Trails & Sails: A Weekend of Walks and Water, a weekend of free events that celebrate the natural, cultural and historic resources throughout the Essex National Heritage Area.

All events are FREE. For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit or call 978-740-0444.


Mary Eaton

Fantasy vs Real Life


I got a very nice email from some readers of the Newburyport Blog seeing if I would be interested in trying to interest folks in poverty here in Newburyport, MA and everywhere else.


We live in a superficial culture–a “Paris Hilton world.”

Guaranteed, most folks out there would rather look at a gorgeous blond than a starving kid.

People, apparently (see earlier entry), aren’t even interested enough to get their noses out of the coupon-ad section of the newspaper to find out that there is actually a mayoral primary election that could effect their lives right here in Newburyport, MA.

How do you get folks interested in something like “poverty?” Beats me.

I was listening to someone on TV the other night who said, “Freedom isn’t free.” Sobering.

But, so many of us take freedom, liberty, democracy for granted. Except of course if we were to lose it.

It’s a little bit like losing one’s health. One tends to take it as a “given” and don’t really appreciate it until it could be in jeopardy.

Ever sprain a wrist or hurt a toe? It’s like, “Wait a moment, who knew that a wrist or a toe were that important in life?” Well, they are. Same thing with the other stuff (freedom, democracy, etc.).

Our “Paris Hilton one sound-bite world” is a nice (or not so nice, depending) fantasy, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with reality.

And apparently the low, low price of hamburger is much more engrossing compared to having to figure out who to vote for mayor of Newburyport, Massachusetts.

And the word on the street is “forget that poor kid, bring on the gorgeous, filthy rich blonde.”

(I guess I’m still pissed at the electorate for its lousy attention span. What a way to end the week.)

Mary Eaton

Casinos and Gambling

I am truly flabbergasted at Governor Deval Patrick’s proposition for 3 casinos in Massachusetts.


A little history here with casinos and the North Shore. (Disclaimer– I haven’t been able to do a lot of research, so this is mostly from memory, but, I believe, the general gist is correct.)

Up here on the North Shore, we’ve “been here done this.” Good grief.

I believe it was around 1996 that Harveys Casino Resorts proposed building a $300 million casino in Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts. It was strongly supported by then Senator James Jajuga, D-Metheun (this is a vast understatement).

It was perceived by the folks in Newburyport, MA that there was no greater threat, for all sorts of reasons, to the area, than what Harveys Casino Resorts was proposing.

And for years folks tried to put an end to that madness.

I believe in was either in 1999 or 2000 that Frank Schaeffer and Jerry Klima (and others) formed the Salisbury Taxpayers Association to fight Harveys Casino Resorts.

And in about 3 months (maybe not that fast, but, i.e. quickly), the town of Salisbury had a very contentious (as I remember it) vote (I think it was non-binding, in 2000) and voted down having Harveys Casino at Salisbury Beach.

Klima, Schaeffer and others had come up with an alternative solution. A version of which is being considered for Salisbury Beach today.

With good town planning, that area looks like it could have an amazing Renaissance, with good jobs and great places to live. And as a result Salisbury, MA is becoming one of the “it” places to move to.

It really is for me, “Déjà vu all over again.” And I’m glad to read that Mayor John Moak is against the idea. And I am assuming that Jim Stiles (mayoral candidate) would be very much against the concept as well.

I don’t like it that Senator Baddour is supporting the objective at all (like his predecessor)(although he apparently doesn’t want it here) and Mike Costello is open to the idea (although it sounds like he doesn’t want it here either).

Good grief!!

A case of major “historic memory loss.”

Apparently a casino would not be slated (at least as I understand it) for this particular area (maybe… not guaranteed), but all the reasons for NOT building a casino in Salisbury, MA applies to every place else too. And all the reasons for having a casino back in 1996, are exactly the same reasons that are being touted now.

Casinos were seen as the “magic” financial panacea back in 1996, just as they are being seen as the “magical” cure-all in 2007.

I’m real happy to be a “fiscal conservative” (paying your bills), but I also am a big fan of trying to “be in touch with reality.”

We either need to find a balance on the Federal level, between national security and helping states, cities and towns; and/or, sorry folks, to raise Massachusetts state taxes back to 5.5%. When Massachusetts voted to lower the state tax rate, our schools, infrastructure, etc were bound to suffer. (Really winning friends with that paragraph.)

My Dad (see earlier entry) is right, there is no such thing as a “free lunch.” And having casinos in Massachusetts would NOT amount (pun intended) to any kind of “free lunch.” Eventually, you pay.

Mary Eaton

Electorate Asleep at the Wheel

Wow! Talk about apathy. Good grief.

Boy, am I disappointed in the residence, citizenry of Newburyport, MA.

Those who are good at math, who were at Newburyport City Hall last night (I’m lousy at math), tell me that only about 25% of the voting public bothered to vote in this primary election for Mayor of Newburyport, MA.

There was a 40% turnout for the Special Election for the Newburyport School Override. 25% for a primary vote for Mayor. That’s just downright pathetic.

As one person said (probably a whole lot more than one person, I just didn’t hear them), “If it doesn’t affect people’s pocket books, I guess they just don’t care.”

Amen to that.

A big hearty congratulations to all 5 candidates who showed up and worked so hard for the city of Newburyport, MA. I hope that the citizenry shows a little more respect in the general election in November, cares about their city and gets out and votes.

And a big congratulations to Jim Stiles and John Moak.

(And, if I wanted to lighten things up a little, I’d say I’d petition the Newburyport City Council to have a special category on the November ballot, which would be–Which of all the candidates running do you think is the “easiest on the eyes.” (See earlier entry) After all, we live in a “Paris Hilton world.” Maybe if we included a beauty contest, people would actually care.)

Can you tell that I’m pissed and disappointed? Well, I am disappointed and pissed.

Again (also see previous post) the election results for the primary for Mayor of Newburyport, MA:

John Moak= 1355
Jim Stiles= 659
Dan McCarthy= 566
Steven Cole= 434
Gardiner Bacon= 99
Write-in= 5

Total= 3118

(Folks, people-wise, the total number, 3118 is “bubkes”–that’s Yiddish for “nothing”… the New Yorker is coming out in me, oy veh.)

Mary Eaton

Primary Election Results for Mayor

I’ve just come back from Newburyport City Hall and here are the “unofficial” results of the Primary vote for Mayor of Newburyport, MA.

John Moak= 1355
Jim Stiles= 659
Dan McCarthy= 566
Steven Cole= 434
Gardiner Bacon= 99
Write-in= 5


So for the election in November, it will be between John Moak and Jim Stiles for Mayor of Newburyport, MA.

Mary Eaton

VOTE: Who, Where, When

When to Vote:

Today, Tuesay September 18, 2007

7:00 AM to 8:00 PM

Primary for Mayor of Newburyport, MA

(After the polls close at 8:00 PM tonight, I may wander over to Newburyport City Hall and find out what the elections results are.

If I do that I will post the results tonight on the Newburyport Blog. Probably around 9:00 PM.)


Where to VOTE today:


Ward 1 (Plum Island)

Northeast Mosquito Control Headquarters
(The Former Parker River National Wildlife Headquarters)
261 Northern Blvd
Plum Island
(End of the Point, near 78th Street)

Ward 1 (Main Land)

People’s United Methodist Church
64 Purchase Street
(Between Harrison Street and Neptune Street)

Ward 2

Brown School
40 Milk Street
(Milk Street and Lime Street)

Wards 3 & 4

Hope Community Church
11 Hale Street
(Hale Street and Low Streets,
past the Nock Middle School on Hale Street)

Wards 5 & 6

Bresnahan School
333 High Street
(Between Myrtle Ave and North Atkinson Street)


Who to Vote for Today:

The Candidates

In the order they that they are listed on the ballot:

Daniel McCarthy
James Stiles
John Moak
Gardiner Bacon
Steven P. Cole

VOTE Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Having watched the lady on the bus (see earlier entry) read the Ads-Coupons in the newspaper so intently, part of me wanted to take out an ad to VOTE, this Tuesday September 18, 2007 and put it in the food or back to school section of the ad-coupon part.

A) I’m not sure I could do that, and B) it would probably cost a ton of money.

I’m a big fan of voting. It’s one of the privileges that we have as Americans.

In a desperate attempt to get people’s attention so they will go VOTE in the primary for mayor of Newburyport, MA, I drew a picture of an ad page instead.

Go Vote, Tuesday, September 18th

Again the folks you can choose from are:

(In Alphabetical Order)

Gardiner Bacon
Steven Cole
Dan McCarthy
John Moak
Jim Stiles

Democracy is an honor… make the most of it.

Mary Eaton

Rain and Drought and Green Stuff

Who knew that I would love the rain so much.

I would water my yard, helping out the Newburyport Water Department marvelously during our “drought” and the “stuff” back there would perk up a little bit, but basically, no matter what I did, things looked “wilty” and “parched.”

My grey/green lawn turned brown and proceeded to become dust.

My green “lawn” turned grey/green except for a small piece around my dwelling that retained a kelly green color. (What this says about my dwelling, I’m not entirely sure.)

In the middle of our drought, when not a lawn mower could be heard, I actually got out my lawnmower and mowed my green morsel of grass.

(I wanted to go up to my neighbors and assure them that no, I was not abusing water restrictions by wildly watering my lawn. I just had this odd green scrap.)

And my finch feeders were swarming with finches still.

I think some of them were “baby finches.” A) Because there were so many. And B) because they were smaller and thinner than the other finches.

They also flew funny.

As I’ve watched “my” finches over the years, I’ve found that they have a wonderful long-wave flight. These poor little finches looked like little fluttery helicopters that might crash at any moment. I think that’s a give-away.

Ah, but there is nothing quite like the cooperation of Mother Nature. All that green stuff began to look perky and relieved. And the brown lawn is starting to actually turn green again. And I might be able to mow my lawn now without resident “drought guilt.”

I’d rather mow than water, or not water and worry.

Mary Eaton

(Editor’s Note: The Primary to vote for Mayor of Newburyport, MA is this Tuesday, September 18, 2007. Don’t forget to VOTE.)

Listening and Hearing on a Municipal Level

So far there are 2 candidates running for political office for the November 2007 election who have blogs (that I know of).

What can I say, I am becoming more partial to political candidate blogs, than I am to political candidate websites, because the blog format seems to give a more down to earth and realistic idea of who the candidate might be, without political spin.

This is true of Bruce Menin’s blog:

One discovers Mr. Menin is both informed and at times, long-winded.

Bruce tells me that very complicated issues cannot be addressed in short posts.

I am sure that those who care passionately about the issues of our schools are grateful for the more detailed entries. However, if I’m zoning out on long posts, and I really pay attention, what is your average reader going to do?

And the blog could demonstrate the difficulty that the Newburyport School Committee has in communicating with the public. The electorate in general can absorb short, one sentence sound bites. Very little else. Sad but true.

Meticulous explanations might not be as effective as one might hope in connecting with the public.

The blog may give you a “truthiness” insight into what you would get if you re-elect Mr. Menin (who at times can be funny and audacious) to the Newburyport School Committee.

And Ed Cameron now has a blog.

So far this delights me.

Here is a quote from Mr. Cameron’s blog:

“Over Labor Day weekend, I met two households on Howard Street whose situations illustrate the pressures. For a retired couple with a fixed income, property taxes are the main issue in this campaign. For a younger couple at the other end of the street, schools are the most important issue and at the same time they too are feeling the pinch (or perhaps vise-grip is a better analogy) of local property taxes.

To me, lowering reliance on the property tax and providing for an excellent public education experience are not mutually exclusive…” (, September 4, 2007)

I am still unclear how any of our elected officials or concerned citizens are going to find the massive amount of funds that we as a city need (and have needed like forever). However, for the purpose of this post, that for the moment, is beside the point.

What that entry suggests is that Ed Cameron has the makings of a first rate Newburyport City Councilor. He appears not only to have the ability to listen to his possible future constituents, but to also to “hear” what they have to say.

Oh, my, what a gift.

Seriously, what I often run into with political folks (not to repeat myself endlessly, but to repeat myself endlessly) is that they nod at you as you are speaking to them and then proceed to tell you why you are wrong or worse yet, don’t even address the question or concern at all.

Listening and hearing and even changing one’s perception of what might be needed for the folks in Newburyport, MA is a rare gift. Mr. Cameron appears to be moving more to the political “center” just by going “door to door” and hearing what folks in Ward 4 are saying, feeling and what they are afraid of.

Mary Eaton

(Editor’s Note: The Primary to vote for Mayor of Newburyport, MA is Tuesday, September 18, 2007.)

Making it Happen on a Municipal Level

How does one get things accomplished on the municipal level?

For me, this very difficult “skill” is as important in a candidate as the opinions that they may have on issues pertaining to Newburyport, MA.

It also requires an astute “political ear.” Another very difficult “skill” indeed.

To my utter discouragement, I do not see any of the candidates running for mayor, including our present mayor, having either of these 2 vital political abilities.

People have asked me what I think of various candidates. I may agree with much of what a candidate for mayor is expounding, however, if I feel the individual could not “govern” or make those political issues “happen,” I feel very discouraged about voting for them.

And making things happen on a political, citywide level, appears to require that very rare gift of “listening” and then balancing what one would like to happen with what one hears the electorate feels they would either like to happen or be willing to tolerate.

I think that this is why it is so important that mayoral candidates take the late Ed Molin’s very wise advice (see earlier entry) and have at least 2 terms or 4 years as a Newburyport City Councilor.

One Newburyport City Councilor validated this bit of Mr. Molin’s wisdom in a recent conversation that we had. Their comment was that as a first term Newburyport city councilor that they had all kinds of ideas on how things “should” happen, only to come up with the hard realization that things on a municipal level transpire in a very different way.

It appears to be difficult to actually make things work without experience “in the ring,” so to speak.

So I hope that this is the last mayoral election that we see candidates with no prior and reasonably extensive experience on the Newburyport city council floor.

Mary Eaton

(Editor’s Note: The Primary to vote for Mayor of Newburyport, MA is this Tuesday, September 18, 2007.)

Irony and Political Cartoons

I guess the fact that I said that I was “whining” in an earlier entry, resonated with at least some readers of the Newburyport Blog.

On one of my “walks” last week, someone asked me if I was “whining.”


One cannot “whine” about a 43.7% rate hike on one’s health insurance. One’s blood pressure can go through the roof (making one need health insurance more) and one can feel outraged, betrayed, terrified, etc., etc., etc., but “whining”–no.

This is called “irony.” Irony is “using words to suggest the opposite of their literal meaning.” (Thesaurus, Microsoft Word)

For the record, I’m one of the least “whiny” people I know.

Being from New York, I’ve always been very big on “irony.” “Irony” in the last 6 years or so, seems to have gone out of fashion.


I like “irony” a lot.

It was one of the reasons that after I Googled the political cartoonist I met (see previous post), and eventually stopped feeling like a “dope,” that I found myself just downright fascinated, because I like the “edgy” political cartoons that I have found so far.

I have a feeling that I (and the readers of the Newburyport Blog, who feel like it) might now learn a whole lot more about political cartoons. (Another major learning curve for moi.)

This is from “The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists” (AAEC) on the Herblock Prize (see previous post).

(Already I’m feeling “enlightened” throwing around stuff like “AAEC.”)

“The Herblock Prize was created by the Herb Block Foundation to encourage editorial cartooning as an essential journalistic tool in preserving the rights of the American people.

Or, as Herb Block himself once put it: ‘Cartooning is an irreverent form of expression, and one particularly suited to scoffing at the high and mighty. If the prime role of a free press is to serve as critic of government, cartooning is often the cutting edge of that criticism.’ ”

“…the judges selected Auth’s work because his cartoons ‘not only pointed out the flaws, ironies and injustices in the system and its leaders, but simultaneously offered a playful sense of hope. This was truly a ‘Herblokian’ collection of work.’ ” (The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, May 10, 2005)

See, there is that delightful word, “irony.”

In my complete brazen, chattering to Mr. Auth, I actually had the very true audacity to suggest that blogging has something in common with political cartoons. (I can hardly believe I said that. Geesh.)

Because, in part, gently, sometimes, the Newburyport Blog does try and point out the ironies and silliness and flaws of civics and government, and also (one tries) to suggest the possibility that there might be a slight chance that things could get better.

(And don’t forget, I have a political consultant called “George”. It’s just not the “other” George.)

I am really fascinated by Tony Auth’s political cartoons, the ones so far that I have discovered (although I realize that not all the readers of the Newburyport Blog might be as “fascinated” as I am… they might even be offended…). And this is a whole new medium that I know absolutely nothing about, and I’m looking forward to learning a whole lot more about it.

Mary Eaton

Ignorance is Bliss when Schmoozing About the Newburyport Blog

I feel like a dope.

When the New York art gallery expressed an interest in my artwork (see earlier entry) I thought it would be a good idea to be real upfront about being the editor of the Newburyport Blog.

(It’s amazing how attached I’ve become to this silly thing.)

Not too many artists are “connected” to a local, community, political “blog” with a large readership. How does one explain this? It is weirdly difficult.

At the art opening, this Saturday, September 8, 2007, in NYC, the gallery director (I do not know if she has read the blog or not) pointed out a gentleman who is a political cartoonist with a major newspaper.

I, in my schmooziness, schmoozed on over to the gentleman in question, and brazenly introduced myself as a political blogger. His wife turned out to be a fellow artist.

This, in retrospect, demonstrated incredible “chutzpah” on my part (vast understatement).

I chattered on (apparently I can be prone to chattering on) about the Newburyport Blog with the political cartoonist and his wife (who turned out to be lovely, lovely people.)

Their first question was, had I ever had “death threats” (no, thank goodness, may that NEVER, ever happen). They recommended, if threatened late at night, to get dressed, so if one is actual killed, one at least looks good when found.

We did talk about the, my, “being sued” thing. (See entries under “Publishing.”) This pales in comparison to the “death threat” thing.

I promised when I got home that I would “Google” the gentleman, and of course I did, being the curious human being that I am.

The “death threat” thing should have been a tip off to moi as to the distinguishedness of the political cartoonist that I was cluelessly chattering, schmoozing with. Good grief.

Turns out to be a “Pulitzer Prize” winner and recently received the “Herblock Prize.” This apparently (my Googling) is a huge award and the “Herblock Lecture” was delivered by Senator Barack Obama (more Googling) in 2005.

And I, chit chatting merrily about the Newburyport Blog. Geesh.

So if this distinguished gentleman (and believe you me there is absolutely no irony with that one) does “Google” the Newburyport Blog… “Hi.”

Mary Eaton

Municipal Information and Coupon Ads

Ok, I’ve been away.

In fact, at the moment, I feel totally out of it.

And seeing my paintings hang in a major New York gallery turned out to be way more than “nice.”

(painting hanging in New York gallery… see previous post)

And so far, I haven’t been able to get any “read” yet on the mayoral debate that I missed (how shocking) last Thursday night, September 6, 2007.

I hate to say it, but my guess is that a good 87% of Newburyport, MA didn’t know that the debate was even on, or if they did, they didn’t much care.

(Is this “cynical” of moi? How awful.)

I sat next to a woman on an early bus ride into Boston.

I’m taking it that the she was from Newburyport, because she had a copy of the Newburyport Daily News. The woman opened up the Daily News and proceeded to read the coupon ads with great intent and interest.

I was fascinated by this. I never read the coupon ads. I always chuck them.

She did eventually turn from the intent reading of the coupon ads and skimmed the front page of the Newburyport Daily News.

I, her seat-mate, then asked her who she was going to vote for mayor of Newburyport, MA.

The answer was something to the effect of, “I have no idea.”

This is my guess.

The woman who I sat next to, and most of Newburyport, MA, if asked to, could not name the 5 candidates running for the corner office.

If they have noticed the signs out around Newburyport, MA, they might know a name, but have no clue about anything that mayoral “name” might be about.

If presented with the name “Moak,” they might say something like, “Yeh, that sounds familiar.” If asked to name the Newburyport City Councilors who already exist, my guess would be a response like, “We have city councilors?”

My point being that most of the electorate, unless it an issue that directly effects their lives or their pocket books, has “no clue.”

So my question is, how do those of us who are hooked on politics get people’s attention, aside from suggesting that their taxes get raised and plunking “inappropriate” building projects in their backyards?

The coupon ad thing had me thinking. Maybe that’s where to put pertinent municipal information, next to the great super-duper price of hamburger or maybe discounted socks.

Mary Eaton

Art and Blogging

People think what I do for my “day job,” being an artist is wildly exciting. Well, actually, it’s not.

And one of the reasons I enjoy blogging the Newburyport Blog is that in those long hours of sitting by myself putting down one brush stroke at a time, the happenings in Newburyport, MA give me something to think about.

And when I get “stuck” and don’t know what to paint next, I sit down and work on a post for the Newburyport Blog. And usually after working on the post for a while, I look at whatever wayward painting is giving me “trouble” at the time, and go, “Ok, I know what to do with you now.”

(If you think I talk to birdbaths (see earlier entry), just imagine the conversations I have with my own actual creations.)

So, in its own way, the Newburyport Blog has become part of my creative process. Which has been a surprise and is pretty “cool.”

And a nice thing happen to moi (as an artist, not the blogger).

A New York City realist gallery contacted me and they have taken a few of my paintings and will include them in a couple of group shows this year.

This happened a few of weeks ago.

The Gallery is:
The Sherry French Gallery
601 West 26th Street
NYC, NY 10001

The first show called “Mainly Maine, Landscape Paintings from Maine and Beyond,” opened September 5th and goes through September 29, 2007.

Marsh 4
Mary Baker © 2007
Oil on Paper
6″ x 20″

Getting contacted by a New York gallery is nice. And seeing the artwork hanging in the heart of “Chelsea,” that has now become the heart of the art world in NYC, is nice too.

Mary Baker (professional artist’s name) Eaton

Campaign Signs for Mayor

This weekend (Labor Day weekend) I began to see campaign signs for mayor sprout up like late summer perennials across the lawns and front yards of Newburyport, MA.

Jim Stiles signs sprouted up (this is just the beginning I’m sure of the “sprouting”) in front of the homes of some of “the likely suspects.” It appears that Jim Roy’s group, or at least some of Jim Roy’s group, endorsed Mr. Stiles. No surprise there. Mr. Stiles an avid “Open Waterfront” advocate and parking problem solving enthusiast– two issues dear to Mr. Roy’s heart (and other people’s hearts too.) (I’m sorry, I can’t help myself, “faux progressives.”)

Mayor John Moak’s signs started sprouting near his house and neighborhood and gradually inched outward. Again, no surprise there. During the last campaign, Mr. Moak’s neighbors and friends, were huge supporters, hard workers and a very welcoming “face” of his campaign.

Dan McCarthy’s signs also sprouted up across town. And on Friday afternoon (I believe) of Labor Day weekend, I spotted a fairly large gathering of Dan McCarthy supporters holding signs and waving at 3 Roads (where Storey Avenue meets High Street, at the North End of town). It made me smile, honk and wave.

And Steven Cole’s campaign signs are also sprouting up across town–in Newburyport High School colors and beautifully made. I ran into Mr. Cole on one of my “walks” as he was putting up signs in front of people’s homes. He told me that he had worked hard building the signs, in remembrance of his father, a boat builder, who recently passed away. (Our deepest sympathy for Steven Cole’s loss.)

And, alas, no Gardiner Bacon signs. But I’ve been told that they are coming.

Mary Eaton