I’ve lived in Maine for all but five years of my life. After questing to find spiritual nirvana—in Indiana, of all places—our family unit returned to the Pine Tree State in 1987 and I’ve been here ever since. Sometimes I even write a book or two about some aspect of Maine’s history, trying to relate it to the present.
There are times when I don’t even know my native state. The recent influx of flatlanders and people from away now doing all the writing about the state has created a portrait of my home state that I barely recognize. Somehow, this new brand of scrivener has convinced the rest of us that we are more than the feudal serfs we’ve always been.
If you subscribe to one of Maine’s advert-packed glossy mags, like Maine: The Magazine, or a handful of others, or even peruse it in the check-out line if you shop for your groceries at one of Maine’s supermarkets, rather than Whole Foods, you’d think everyone in Maine is a goldarned trust funder with hours to while away dining at one of Portland’s many high-end eateries, or to sit around sipping the latest in trendy cocktails. Apparently these late arrivals don’t have to worry about eking out a living. Even writers from here that I used to think understood our state—a place I recognized in their books and via their writing—have been suckered in and now serve as sycophants for these nouveau trendy types. They now accept the thinking that Portland is the step-sister of hipster-laden Williamsburg. In fact, writers who once resided in Brooklyn and other exotic zip codes are now taking up residence in Maine’s closest thing to a real city, Portland.
After somehow landing an article in one of those glossies, Portland Monthly Magazine, back in June, I opted to go for a discounted subscription via Deal Chicken, or some other wheeler-dealer site, like Groupon. Every month when it arrives, I page through and think, “what the fuck?” I guess this is the state of writing about Maine, which basically means, Portland. Unless you’re slumming.
This month’s feature from their resident foodie, Olivia Gunn, touches down on the subject of “outlier” food establishments. The title itself and my familiarity of her previous features had me wondering how she’d tackle wandering around outside Portland. Apparently for transplants like Gunn, “outliers” and outlying areas are Westbrook, Falmouth, and South Portland. She even got really daring and ventured out to Saco, where there were leather jackets and bandana-wearing hoi polloi—brave girl! God forbid that she’d jump in her car with her beau or clique of high school-similar friends and check out the state’s true outlying towns and territories. Better leave that to the real Mainers, the ones that actually understand the state’s culture dating back 300 years, or so, not the three that you’ve been occupying space in Portland’s West End.
I shouldn’t be so critical. Other than a diminishing handful of cranks, Mainers seem happier than pigs in shit to have sold their souls and birthrights, handing over the state’s cultural chronicling to a handful of 20 and 30-somethings from somewhere else, who care little about the history of the place they’ve landed for a few years before moving on to some other more exciting landmark.
Where’s Joe Ricchio and Food Coma TV, and road-trippin’ off the peninsula? Shoot—they even made it to the Saint John Valley, guns and all.