Thursday, April 10, 2014

Local Arts Alliance, Downtown Advocates Celebrate Council Rejection of EIS Request Letter

In a scene evoking a communitarian, secular moment of rapture, the Brunswick arts community and downtown advocates gathered for a press availability at the local shrine to St. Amtrak. They organized the event to hail the recent town council vote opposing a letter requesting a full Environmental Impact Statement by the Federal Railroad Authority, before building an MLF at the Brunswick West site.

The event was kicked off with a statement by a former town councilor, who raised a toast of Kool-Aid to the ‘powerful economic engine’ represented by the train just behind her.  Five sitting councilors attended, and joined in the toast, as did NNEPRA officials and TRN members, including those visiting from other planets.  A local attorney who takes their side, aiding the case of the House of Sartoris, with whom she recently co-hosted a high level fund raising soiree for a candidate for Governor, also made an appearance.


Of the five town councilors there (more or less,) two approached us to ask where they are, and why they were here.  Two others were in some kind of silly green costumes reminiscent of a Jack & Jill fairy tale, carrying a bucket, one with a broken arm, one mumbling after, and all the rest.. 

On the backs of their costumes were the words “You can trust us, because we’re from the government.”  They were handing out bumper stickers that said “Everybody out of the vernal pools.”

The “Jack” character had his arm in a sling.  When we asked why, he replied that he accidentally ran his arm into the hand of another councilor, who inadvertently twisted it in a mis-guided gesture of affection.  “Jack” said he deserved it, because he’d forgotten his rightful place on the hill.

The fifth councilor pushed his way to the podium, snatched the microphone from the MC, and shouted ‘do you know who I am?’  We turned on our portable PA device, and made a public service announcement:

“Attention, Ladies and Gentlemen.  We have someone here who doesn’t know who he is.  If you know who he is, please come to the podium with proof and claim him.  We hope you can get him home safely before he forgets again in more dangerous circumstances.”

After the opening niceties, a member of the arts community took the podium.

“We were ecstatic over the statement the Dance of Two Cultures mural made, she gushed, but this is huge.  We’re in aesthetic overload: live Kabuki Theater, and now what could be the largest graffiti exhibition ever.’'

“For too long,” she added, “socio-economic justice based art has been limited to overpasses and other humble venues.” 

“Like a few decaying freight cars parked in front of our blessed station.”

“Finally, we can give full exposure to starving artists, providing the public audience they deserve.”

“To demonstrate out commitment to this mission, we’ve already ordered 100 cases of mixed-color exterior spray paints so we can encourage and nurture the nascent artistic abilities blossoming in the youngest among us.”

Picking up on the theme, the former councilor who opened the event chimed in, pointing out that local home improvement and paint outlets had noticed a significant increase in sales.  “Economic activity is economic activity, and jobs created in the spray paint sector are just as beneficial as other jobs,” she averred.


Another member of the arts community than took the podium to gush about the ‘huge, four sided canvas’ the proposed MLF provides.

“Not only that,” she added, “but we get the first ever horizontal canvas – the roof of the MLF – to provide a new and more multi-dimensional canvas for their self-expression.”

“Brunswick will finally be recognizable from the air; we can’t wait to see the photos from the next Shuttle mission, if there ever is one.”


Following the arts advocate, a member of the downtown illuminati rose to the microphone. 

“We’re beside ourselves with the possibilities,” she stated. 

“The Brunswick West location is the ideal space to synergize our art and downtown promotions.”

“It motivates us to think outside the shed,” she said with a feeble laugh.

“And it’s ever so consistent with our downtown master plan, which emphasizes visual quality and neighborhoods.”

The former town councilor who opened the event quickly jumped in to remind attendees that Brunswick Taxi was excited about the growth opportunities Downeaster crew transport offered, bolstering economic benefit ever further.

“If the MLF is built where and as proposed,” she said, “it’s likely a BDC grant will be required to allow Brunswick Taxi to build a taxi and parking lot control tower on the property.”

Moving the ceremonies inside due to the chill in the air,  a representative of the Downeaster holy know arose to remind town folk of other possibilities.  He pointed out that the overhead area in the facility had ideal lighting, humidity, temperature, and air filtration for cultivation of ‘medicinally valuable crops.’

“This could open the doors, so to speak, to blue grass festivals in Brunswick, if you get my drift, Dude.’'

“More economic activity, more psychically unleashed art, and even a new venue for the Meddy-Hempsters to perform.”

“Hemp & rock festivals could be the key to Brunswick’s economic future; and don’t forget, no permitting is required, because Amtrak has pre-emption.”

Residents seemed skeptical to some degree, but when informed that the Bowdoin Arts Department was asking for two walls of the new colossus as a ‘show of town-gown solidarity,’ any lingering skepticism left the room.

Saint Wayne of TRN took the podium again, to announce that they were forming a subsidiary called “Wing and a prayer Riders Northeast,” to be headed by a local retired dentist who is also a private pilot.


Asked to comment, the newly appointed leader said that he believed wing-riding was vital to saving our society, and was the key to transportation infrastructure well into the distant past.

He expressed tepid enthusiasm regarding the potential for unique air shows that would  put Brunswick West ‘on the map,’ and noted again that no permits would be required, and that local officials and residents would be powerless to oppose these events.

Reminding those present that private pilots often have to wave off on attempts to ‘fly through,’ the speaker pointed out that the huge dimensions of the MLF would be a ‘piece of cake’ for even the least experienced pilots.

After everything that took place, we found ourselves swept up in the euphoria, amid elevated moments of consciousness in which we glimpsed the essence of the new Brunswick.

How could we have been so shortsighted as to doubt the wisdom, the glory, and the economic stimulus that the MLF would bring?

Not to mention the Quality of Place.  Shame, shame on us.

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