Friday, August 24, 2012

Alewife by Douglas Watts

Ordering info for: Alewife by Douglas Watts (hard copy and ebook).

"Alewife" is a personal, biological and historical account of the alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus), one of the (formerly) most abundant sea-run fish of the U.S. Atlantic seaboard. It is the only full-length treatment of the natural and cultural history of this keystone wildlife species ever written.

"Alewife" tells the story of a fish, the alewife, once ubiquitous to the eastern U.S., which is almost gone due to wholly human causes; and a never-been-told 400 year history of many long forgotten people who labored mightily to bring the alewife back. It tells the story of the fish through its own eyes and life, apart from what it 'can do' for us. It depicts a place where cultural, natural, political and legal forces wildly collide. It's about the fight for, against, and over a dimunitive but once extremely abundant fish that still continues today in state and federal court rooms across the states of the eastern seaboard. It is about what nature in our backyards meant to us in the past, what it means today and what it might mean to us 10, 20 or 50 years from now. It's a story about a lot of disparate people over 400 years and how nature and culture provoked them for good, bad and indifferent. It's not nearly complete, there are many stories still untold, but gives a flavor for the battlefield, the stakes to be lost and gained and hints to where the tipping points have been and still are. It's a hybrid, with all the advantages and disadvantages an unorthodox approach entails. Bridging gaps might be its central theme. I wrote this for an adventurous reader who is not afraid to skip a chapter and then come back to it later. It is intentionally kaleidoscopic; a multi-levelled story. The essays owe much to the series of young adult books, "Tell Me Why," by Arkady Leokum. 

The book is in two sections. One section is selected verbatim public domain record excerpts describing the species and its use and abuse by humans in New England from the 1600s to present. Most of these documents were written in quill pen, discovered and hand copied by the author, and have never seen the light of day before. The second section tells, in a personal essay style, the story of the alewife, based mostly on recent efforts in New England to protect and save them. 

The book began several years ago as the historic texts with a short introduction and was originally intended for dissemination to fisheries scientists, environmental regulators and river conservationists as a technical, factual resource. At the instigation of a fellow writer, Kerry Hardy (who wrote the foreword), I loosened up to tell in a first-person voice my many encounters with these critters in the waters of New England since childhood and the obstacles one encounters trying to help them not go extinct. It's a tough racket. These personal stories echo back to the historical texts, which detail how people 50, 100, 200 years ago tried to do the same thing and encountered nearly identical obstacles, albeit time-shifted by a century or three. 

The tone and weight of the text is balanced to make it accessible to an informed and inquisitive lay audience and to a professional scientific audience; and above all, to be fully scientifically sourced. My brother and I's personal travails trying to help alewives survive are deliberately told in a 'camp-fire' fashion and with the level of humor and absurdity the details deserve. 

About the Author

Douglas Watts was born in North Easton, Massachusetts in 1964 a few dozen miles from Cape Cod and the Atlantic Ocean in southeastern Massachusetts and spent most of his childhood up to his waist in ponds and brooks and saltwater. He received his education in journalism and English at the Univ. of Maine at Orono from 1982-1986. In 1986 he began work as a full-time newspaper and magazine reporter, editor and photographer in Maine and Massachusetts for a variety of small and large newspapers and then as a conservation writer for the Maine Sportsman magazine, the Atlantic Salmon Journal, Wild Steelhead & Salmon, and Corporate Challenge News. Since 1999 he has worked full-time as a professional consultant for numerous New England conservation groups, doing ecological and legal research on the history and health of New England's coastal river ecosystems. This historic research forms the bulk and inspiration of "Alewife." Since 1998, he has been a plaintiff and/or principal researcher in numerous legal cases in Maine and Massachusetts regarding restoring native sea-run fish to rivers of the northeastern U.S. His historic research has been used and cited by the United States Supreme Court in a landmark 2006 Clean Water Act case, S.D. Warren v. Maine BEP, and by the National Academy of Science in its 2004 monograph on the status of native Atlantic salmon in the United States. His advocacy on behalf of the American eel is featured in a Sept. 2010 National Geographic story by writer and artist James Prosek and his book on the same topic, "Eels," (Harper Collins 2010). He was a consultant and subject in the 2003 film "Troubled Waters: the Dilemma of Dams" by Beth and George Gage, featured at the Telluride Film Festival and Maine Film Festival.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hunt-Libby Special Project No. 1 by Sonny Probe

Hunt-Libby Special Project No. 1
An Opera in Four Acts by Sonny Probe

I. Act One  

Their Assault on Our Assault on Their Liberties

1. Bay of Pigs Veterans Clandestine Radio Goo Goo.
2. Launch of  the Prostitute Yachts in Baltimore Harbor.
3. Sirhan B. Sirhan, James Earl Ray and Pete Cosey.
4. To Put it Bluntly, How to Screw Our Political Enemies.

II. Act Two

A Firm but Measured Response Involving Burglary

5. Cuban Exiles Wtd, Mad Sklz w/ Lck Pks gd.
6. He's Dr. Feel Ding.
7. Watergate Break-In Memorial Day Bake No. 1. 
8. Watergate Break-In Flag Day Bake No. 2.

Intermission w/ Complimentary Pinot Noir, Deviled Eggs
and Consensual Pocket Litter Exchange.

III. Act Three 

Yeah, We Jam on Wednesdays at this D.C. Modified Limited Hangout.

9. John W. Dean Karaoke Night.
10. Jeb Stuart Magruder Home Organ Samba Freak-Out.
11. Facing the Constituents at Home on Rat Poison.
12. CREEP Political Memorandum No. 18.
13. John and Joni Mitchell Up In A Tree.

IV. Act Four 

Cleaning Up Behind the Elephant.

14. The Sam Ervin Galatians Mahlerian Aria.
15. Edmund Sixtus Muskie Goes All Frank Marino.
16. Impeach Earl Warren !!!
17. Flying Mr. Johnson Into Space.

Deux ex Machina, Global Licensing Claim/Disclaimer
and Location of Fire Exits and Restrooms.

Hunt-Liddy Special Project No. 1, the revenue generating and trademarked subsidiary product component wholly owned by the license holder (see Tab A, fn. 1), by which you have now irrevocably agreed to abide by reading this word, not that one, but this one, hah! made you read it, has created the attached 'original work' ('original work') so as to create an wholly spurious but facially justiciable claim on all of the thoughts, words and feelings of the Dramatis Personae and any rights held by their heirs and assigns and you too. Alea iacta est

Operational Objectives: Emplaced tactical tangents will first create a verifiable cover as 'screenwriters' for an 'opera' titled 'Hunt-Liddy Special Project No. 1' through various 'underground' network dissemination channels and establish social and cultural  infrastructural oxyrhynchus where necessary to secure entrenchment. No ants will be stepped on. If cover is compromised, embedded operatives  will deploy Operation Beetle where they turn into beetles and crawl into an asphalt street to get squashed like bugs. If no large trucks come by, operatives will apply Operation Hydrofluoric Acid Facial Scrub and Sticking Your Head into a Giant Belt Sander Connected to a Blast Furnace Underneath a Nuclear Bomb so as not to compromise mission effectiveness. 


Scene One opens with a brief mid 1960s Top Secret Comint message regarding Commie Infiltration of 4H clubs in Nebraska not fully unopposed to recreational bunny hangings.

Scene Two scopes out a bold and aggressive attack against enemies at home and abroad. 

Scene Three shifts to a dark cellar DC club in 1968 as MLK and RFK are offed but Blind Willie Johnson is found miraculously alive, with a pen knife.

Scene Four counts the number of footsteps travelled up and down back stairways by couriers to achieve approval of the Enemies List and its operational actuator, Hunt-Libby Special Project No. 1.


Scene Five contains the music offered by a pick-up band in a decrepit Homestead, Florida dive bar at closing where the properly skilled anti-Castro burglars were located and enticed by Hunt to execute Special Project No. 1.

Scene Six is the Cuban-styled song and video game going through the burglars' heads as they ransack Dr. Fielding's psychiatric office in Beverly Hills, CA to find his file on Daniel Ellsberg, who sent the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times.

Scene Seven depicts the same Cuban-American burglars, along with CREEP Security Officer James McCord, Jr., planting telephonic bugs in the Democratic National Committee Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel on Memorial Day weekend, 1972.

Scene Eight depicts the burglars' second entry into the Watergate to fix a faulty phone bug on June 17, 1972, getting busted by Watergate Hotel security officer Frank Wills, then getting hauled off, mug-shotted, finger-printed and having their 'pocket litter' examined, which included numerous $100 bills with consecutive serial numbers which the FBI traced to illegal, unreported campaign donations made to the CREEP. 

This is intermission time, so please feel free to go into the lobby, mix and mingle with other generous SeasonSubscribers and enjoy the complimentary white wine and deviled eggs. 


Scene Nine depicts Counsel to the President John W. Dean sitting in and stealing the show with Roger Miller at an invite-only CREEP event the night he realizes he is going to jail no matter what happens, so he might as well grab $4,850 in Hunt-Liddy hush money from his office safe to pay for his honeymoon and leave in its place a personal cheque.

Scene Ten is a rare binaural recording of CREEP chief of staff Jeb Stuart Magruder, feeling musically jealous of John Dean's boffo cameo with Roger Miller, whipping out some edgy home organ Samba riffs on the night he perjured himself to the Watergate Grand Jury. 

Scene Eleven depicts a disturbing hallucinogenic dream that Sen. Edward Gurney (R-FLA) keeps having where he is back in his birth state of Maine giving an incoherent 'JFK' styled stump speech at Carthage Town Hall during Congressional Recess where the 10 elderly Grange members in attendance keep looking like chickens without heads. 

Scene Twelve captures the musical mood when John J. Wilson, attorney for H.R. "Bob" Haldeman, calls U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) "that little Jap" on the steps of Congress. Sen. Inouye has no right arm. He lost it in battle in Italy during World War II. Good times were had by all.


Scene Fourteen is a wiretap obtained by the infamous 'double agent' from a now-legendary late night hootenany at John Mitchell's Manhattan apartment, where over numerous fifths of Dewar's, Mitchell rocks the mike Kingston Trio style at why Dean and Magruder need to stick to the plan, jail or no jail. A young and precocious Lee Atwater walks in halfway through the jam session with an ice bucket and his Gibson Flying V and lays down some 'hippy' guitar licks and goes all Steve Miller and Pharoah Sanders. Mitchell's third and fourth chins nod approvingly.


Scene Fourteen depicts U.S. Sen. Sam Ervin (D-NC) gavelling in and out the Senate Select Watergate Committee Hearings. 

Scene Fifteen is a previously undisclosed closing concert given by U.S. Sen. Edmund Muskie to the Senate Select Watergate Committee where he brings out the Vinnie Vincent Invasion and the non-gay guy from Queensryche in an 'All Star Lite Metal Tribute to Roy Orbison and all those Other Old Fuckin' Rockin Dudes' to the Senate podium. During the tap bass solo, Sen Muskie forcefully argues for the President's signature on the U.S. Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972, especially Section 401. He also seeks a Congressional Resolution where Geddy Lee is not allowed to say, 'Ladies and Gentlemen, the Professor on the Drums," anywhere in hearing distance of the international boundary of the U.S. and Canada along Lake Huron.

Scene Sixteen is a piano etude written by Hugo Black and performed by U.S. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger in memoriam to the recently deceased Chief Justice Earl Warren at the commencement of oral arguments in United States v. Nixon. 

Scene Seventeen is the Greek Chorus of the Ghosts of Ed White, Roger Chaffee and Gus Grissom discussing with Congress the importance of the future of space travel to the United States as they lie burning to death like baked potatoes in aluminum foil in the Apollo 1 space capsule at Cape Canaveral in a pure oxygen atmosphere while Liddy and Hunt and Colson decided the Real Enemy was Black U.S. Representative John Conyers (D-MI).


The song "Truck Driver Divorce" (Scene 5) was written by Frank Zappa. The song "I Catch Myself Crying" (Scene 9) was written by Roger Miller. Fair use of these two songs is invoked since they are used herein as operatic and satiric vehicles to describe felonious crimes for which the culprits ultimately were convicted in federal court. Whether the real people involved in these felonious convictions actually sang these songs on karaoke night in Washington, D.C. in 1972-1973 has yet to be firmly established but might well could have happened.