, Gloucester, MA

March 18, 2013

Fishtown Local: Facing the '1 percent' solution

Fishtown Local
Gordon Baird

---- — This time of year, things can get mighty peculiar in the barnyard. But sometimes, it’s a good peculiar.

It’s been snowing so much lately, that the donkeys have had to stay stuck in their stall for whole days at a time. That big February storm was the worst and had a six-foot drift across their opening and they didn’t know where to begin to tromp it down, and the other recent storms drifted up, too. But the two intrepid beasts dealt with it in their unique logical donkey way.

Instead of their regular year round pattern of just “letting ‘em fly” all over the place as these two wild and crazy donks have been wont to do these past seven years, they have recently begun carefully depositing their little chestnuts in the same corner pile every day for the past week.

See, you can teach an old donkey new tricks. Maybe there’s hope for the rest of Gloucester, after all . . .

So why is it so disturbing that my house insurance company informed me by mail today that we can get 5 percent off our premium if we live in a gated community and another 5 percent if there is a guard.

Naturally, the gates must be controlled by guards and locked. Visitors are announced and proper identification is required to enter. Hey, better not go out for milk and forget your ID, you might never get home again. Thanks, Chubb, you are indeed a company “of the people” — just don’t ask which people.

Doesn’t that 10 percent come out of the customers who aren’t in a gated community? Isn’t it built in to the premiums of the ungated so they can give the discount to the behind-the-gates crowd?

My company prides itself that it’s the No. 1 company for “old houses.” But not that many gated communities have old houses. I wonder if they eventually might have to choose between classic old houses and new McMansions. They’ll choose with the money, probably now with the old houses, but soon to be passed by the McMansions with their discounts.

Several of my newer neighbors would certainly have liked to see that aforementioned locked gate out there on Eastern Point — at least those that haven’t flipped their houses and skeedaddled onto newer and more securely gated communities. Some had informed me as much in the past, preferably with a key card for entrance.

When I asked how friends come and visit, “why, you’d drive down and let them in.” That’s convenient. Land of the free, home of the keycard, eh? Some of them can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to live that way. Hmmm . . . if you have to ask, then you’d never understand.

But it brings up the larger point about wealth and power and not just out here. The “1 percent” that has been so widely discussed, they are trying to take not from the 99 percent. No, they are trying to take from the “2 percent” or the “3 percent.”

New neighbors arrive and shortly begin cutting trees that surround their property that aren’t theirs to cut. Or forging a path across an unknowing neighbor’s property, annexing a right-of-way that doesn’t exist. Wooden boardwalks can appear along within a lawyer’s letter of perceived, but non-existent rights.

Another path is closed and barricaded that has existed for a century. Open parking spaces are closed or new parking places forged where they didn’t exist — and not negotiated or requested, simply seized.

People assert you can’t park on your own land. Even folks claiming they are entitled to cut your foliage because it’s their view and they are entitled to open it up however they want. And, then of course, there is the lot bought cheaply in the past for protection or recreation that suddenly becomes target for a huge McMansion stuffed down the throats of its neighbors who sold it so innocently.

Ouch to all of the above. Many people will not resist or stand up for their rights. After all, it’s the 1 percent pushing and many just don’t want to make waves.

I am not one of them. Remember, the more they take, the more they’ll want to take.

Gordon Baird is a local actor and musician, co-founder of Musician magazine, and producer of the community access TV show “Gloucester Chicken Shack.”