Monday, April 20, 2009

Coolest

I'm not discussing the weather today, although with another cold front approaching, the meteorological interpretation is appropriate. Today's word apparently applies to Rockland, ME, which readers of Budget Travel magazine have voted the second coolest small town in America (just edged out by Owego, NY in the Finger Lakes, which must have worked harder on PR among the locals).

Maine is many things, but "cool" as it's been used for more than 50 years now is not a meaning that jumps out. ("Cool" as it's been used for hundreds of years is right on.) Of course, who knows what it means anymore? People of a certain generation use it as a general acknowledgement of appreciation and agreement, more or less a grunt, but people of a certain younger generation use it in a sharper sense (shades, the color black and its multiple avatars, New York) as if retreating out of the bombardment of modern plastic media and returning to the beats. Budget Travel seems to equate it with the availability of good coffee and art galleries, very bourgeois. I wish for no applicability but its effect on hot summer days. Thank God we're preserved in Maine from inclusion on any list of hottest small towns, in whatever sense of "hottest" your age and politics desire.

I'm glad for Rockland, actually, which has suffered enough. Just don't send the tourists up Talbot Avenue towards the dump and the old limestone quarries (also a dump in these days of municipal revenue enhancement) - the smell will get the town on another kind of list entirely.

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