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The year in review: Beware of snark

News

The year in review: Beware of snark

For the last several years, it's been a tradition at The Forecaster to review the last 365 days with a lengthy satire of local news.

This year we're trading parody for snark. We've also scrubbed assigning anthems to the faux news stories. Why? Because we're in a recession. Snark is cheaper and we don't feel like singing.

Finally, in the spirit of cutting costs, this column is printed on low-grade newsprint that will disintegrate in just a few hours.

(OK, we made that up hoping you'll visit theforecaster.net. It has links to better explain the jokes. And besides, we want the Web visits. We have to pay for that thing, you know.)

So, here's the 2009 Year in Review:

Despite an off-year, Election Day featured its share of drama, as the same-sex marriage referendum pumped up voter turnout.

The majority of Mainers voted to repeal the state's fledgling gay marriage law, perhaps because they thought granting homosexuals the right to marry would ultimately lead to replacing "The Star-Bangled Banner" with Elton John's "Rocket Man."

Naturally, many Portland residents were shocked – shocked! – by the results. The reaction might have been tempered had any of them bothered to ride their bicycles off The Peninsula.

After all, a short trip north or west would've quickly revealed that yellow Yes on 1 signs were as common as firearms at Tea Parties.

The emotional fallout left one mystery unsolved: Did the Yes on 1 folks crib bat-wielding attorneys Hardy, Wolf & Downing for their pretentious television ads?

Election Day also revealed Mainers' tolerance for weed when voters overwhelmingly supported a proposal allowing medical marijuana dispensaries. No need for a joke here. We just think it's funny. A lot of things are humorous when you've been ... uh ... never mind.

Back in the Echo Chamber, the city's restaurant scene received some national press from Bon Appetit and The New York Times. The publications took special interest in the young chefs who, the Times wrote, stood out with a combination of "culinary idealism and anarchy."

So far, no truth to rumors claiming the rebels celebrated their 15 minutes by completing their sleeve tattoos, which are apparently prerequisites for a culinary degree. Nor is there evidence that the favorable attention yielded an armistice between rival cooks, restaurateurs and foodies who anonymously rip one another in the comments section of the blog Portland Psst!.

After a year of speculation, the long-awaited sale of the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram was finally completed.

The new owners promptly deployed a revolutionary method of wooing advertisers: Taking pictures of them.

The paper's new "Snapshot" feature received mixed reviews. Advertisers seem to like it, although it's not clear if viewing photos of themselves clutching cocktails in dimly lit banquet halls has translated into more ad buys.

Elsewhere, Mid-Coast area residents braced for the 2011 closure of Brunswick Naval Air Station, a story many media outlets have afforded only spotty coverage, unless of course, it involves return of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

State media has readily hyped that feel-good story. It's been less enthusiastic about exploring the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority's curious flirtation with Oxford Aviation.

In other news, South Portland residents voted against banning dogs at Willard Beach. The issue is dead. You hear us? Dead. Spread the word. Go viral. We're begging you.

In Freeport, poor sales forced L.L. Bean to lay off more than 200 employees in April. There's nothing funny about that. Nothing.

Despite the lagging sales, the company did manage to scrounge up $50,000 to pay for the taxidermy of the locked-moose display it unveiled in September.

Back in South Portland, Goodwill Industries announced it was moving into the building formerly occupied by Circuit City, which went bankrupt. With unemployment at 10 percent, we imagine Goodwill will have no trouble drawing customers. Filling the 27,620-square-foot building with unwanted stuff might be tougher.

Over in neighboring Scarborough, a protracted feud between the owner of the Lighthouse Motel and the Pine Point Residents Association appears to have claimed another victim: perspective. We're predicting another tragic loss in 2010: civility.

Speaking of casualties, trust in the wisdom of the state's school consolidation law appears to have joined the detritus. Some of the school districts that made the good-faith effort to comply may have wondered if they might have been better off ignoring it.

Just ask Pownal residents, who initially faced a 36 percent tax increase by joining a district with Durham and Freeport. Voters ultimately settled for a 25 percent tax increase in a July budget vote that either demonstrated a willingness to compromise or extreme hopelessness.

And finally, we end 2009 in Falmouth, where a fourth-grade teacher got into some trouble for participating in a mock wedding ceremony with one of his young female students. The story drew national media attention, but ultimately faded – perhaps because the contrite teacher had the good sense to stage what a majority of Maine voters would call a "traditional" marriage. Can you imagine what would have happened if he had married a boy?

Happy holidays.

Steve Mistler can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or smistler@theforecaster.net. Follow him at twitter.com/stevemistler.

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