Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Thirsty Whale

One of the comments that my reader said was rejected was one on my post about the Whale.

I told him I was being flip - as I tend to be on here - and since it has been the topic of more than one conversation with other people, I think I should comment further.

It's difficult for me to comment in a lucid way, though, because I know people who hang around at - and really love - the joint so there's a certain element of the emotional that comes into play.

As I said to (City Councillor) Brian Derrivan, the Whale seems to be like Cheers (the one depicted on the sitcom - if they made a sitcom of the Whale, I could play a less svelte and well-dressed version of Rebecca), at least in the daytime. It's a place where people go to hang around, watch NASCAR (yuck) and other stuff - and converse somewhat coherently with their pals. The bartenders and the owners seem to know their (daytime) customers, and I don't think they really send people out the door drunk without being at least somewhat aware of whether the patron is driving themselves or not.

There are places like this all over the world, and I guess if you want to be philosophical about it, they are in a way a vital part of a community, as long as those in charge know where the inebriated are going and how they're getting there, after they walk out the door.

We at my digital paper over there gave the owners two opportunities to respond/comment on the WBZ report. I really think it would have been a much better story if they had not ducked the chances ... I mean, literally, I think one of them ducked out the back when Stewart appeared in the front. We intended to be fair. And I really, really wanted to be fair, which is why I asked Stewart to try to get a comment, in my stead.

But wouldn't the essence of the place make a great Biz Profile? Do you think they'd go for it?


macsurf said...

Gillian, as one of those "day time" patrons of the Whale on occassion when in Nbpt, I can assure you your assessment of the place as a unique, local, almost "Cheers" like institution is right on the money.

I can, honestly, count the times I've been in the Whale at night thru the years on less than my fingers and toes.

I know the current owners. I know how hard they are trying to adhere to the almost impossible to comply with rules and regualtions that come with running a bar and restaurant these days.

And let's not forget, the Whale is not the only establishment in Nbpt having a hard time living up to those almost impossible standards - after all, do the names Michael's, the Grog, the Rockfish, and the Cow ring any bells?

I sometimes, quite honestly, wonder if the Whale doesn't get so singled out because of the one "ism" in Newburyport, an alleged "No Place for Hate" and celebrant of "tolerance and diversity" community, that is STILL tolerated.

What might that "ism" be? Well, classism of course.

Michael's Harborside has been overserving and serving booze to underage people for years.

But Michael's is an "upscale" place, as is the Black Cow.

The Grog and the Rockfish stand somewhere in between.

Somehow such places seem to be more easily forgiven in the "new" bourgeois bohemian Newburyport than a long time local, blue collar, every man's kind of tavern like the Whale seems to be.

For me it brings two words to mind - DOUBLE STANDARD.

Gillian Swart said...

Thanks, macsurf. I think in a lot of people's minds, though, The Grog is in there as well. But how can anyone resist Lisa's cooking?

Mike Connelly said...

The reason why we did not comment was under the advice of our attorney. As you probably know, one word or one sentence can be drastically taken out of proportion. (remember the article on Lisa Cousins -Townie Tuesday- had all sorts of erroneous information.) Imagine what could happen if I commented on something as significant as the ABCC and my livlihood.
Mike Connelly
Owner - Thirsty Whale

Gillian Swart said...

Thanks for explaining, Mike. I will point out that I explained what I meant in the piece about Lisa (as in, I meant you were sympathetic to the need to keep the Whale as a place for natives, even though you are not one yourself and whatever else I said to you back then). Only much later did I realize I got Steve Jewett's last name wrong and that was sloppy of me. And that was, in fact (noting my obviously failed attempt at clever wording), the only thing that was truly "erroneous" - and yet you never mentioned it!