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Friday, July 25, 2008

Welcome To New Beige

This is a sign displayed in Fort Phoenix Park in Fairhaven. The hurricane barrier and Coggeshall Street bridge connect New Bedford to Fairhaven. Fort Phoenix overlooks the opening to the harbor between them. All the locals call New Bedford "New Beige." They call Fall River, which is a little further west, and often associated with New Bedford "Fall Reeve."

If you embiggen the sign, you'll notice that you have your choice of two languages for your public safety: Spanish or Portuguese. The map is in English, for some other reason. Apparently if you speak English, it's just understood that under no circumstances should you eat fish, mussels, or lobsters caught anywhere near New Bedford. Or if you speak English, it's assumed that you understand the international Ghostbusters symbol for "Don't Do That" -- the circular sign with the red stripe athwart it. Of course that sign was in use in foreign countries forever, but only was introduced to English-speaking Americans back in the seventies when the Metric system raised its ugly head from the international primordial ooze, revolutionized the measurement of illegal drug purchases, and then disappeared again. Perhaps they should have told you not to eat any Loch Ness steaks or Killer Whale burgers you might be able to cadge out of there either, if they wanted to touch all the bases of superfluousness, or superfluidity, or however you want to get that triple word score. They could rename New Bedford's harbor There Ain't Much In There Besides PCBs Cove and not many would notice.

I suppose you could get your panties in a bunch over the sign, and fill in the usual observations about the Tower of Babel and so forth. You could call the hospital my Father goes to in Quincy, Mass, and listen to: "Press one for Mandarin" and get all pissy too, if you like. I'll pass. I'll just observe that most everyone but us in Fort Phoenix Park was speaking Spanish or Portuguese, and a great deal of them were fishing, and they were all bringing home whatever they caught and were eating it.

Oh, the Fort? It was built in 1775 to defend the very important harbor here, and was bristling with cannons overlooking the water. The British bombed it flat in 1778. I bet they ate the lobsters, too.

2 comments:

MatCoes said...

Funny thing about NB harbor though; full of life. Wouldn't want to eat it (actually I'd love to eat it, I just know better).
There's a family of swans on the river in front of my house, folks pull (big) stripers out and toss 'em back in like yo-yos, and zillions of ducks spend the winter here.
The cleanup is in progress, so maybe my grandkids will be able to play in the water here. Oh, and my daughter's only 3.

SippicanCottage said...

Hi matcoes- It's full of life in more ways than one. We go to Fort Phoenix because it's full of people having fun. Our town of Marion is like a mausoleum compared to it.

Thanks for reading and commenting.