Manly Men: a project

I’ve been mulling a side-project for a while. A separate blog that would profile 365 extraordinary people. I’m talking the lunatic fringe that lifts cars off of people with superhuman bursts of desperate adrenalin, survive grizzly bear attacks by biting the bear’s jugular vein, and hit Omaha Beach brandishing a Scottish broad sword.

The inspiration came to me from the once-awesome history blog — Axis of Evel Knievel — where every day saw a post relating some extraordinary catastrophe, natural disaster, or act of human mayhem that occurred on that date. Any blog with the tagline: “Another Day, Another Pointless Atrocity” and this banner image is okay with me.

Anyway — I thought I’d jump the gun and share four anecdotes of manliness. I’ll probably never pull the trigger. I’m keeping a list and only have 100 names (men and women, suggestions and nominations welcome)

The first is from Zach Galifinakis in the trailer to Morgan Spurlock’s upcoming film on modern manliness: “Mansome.” Thirty seconds into the video, Mister Galifinakis basically ends any tenuous connection I may have had with my Klout score when he destroys Twitter with the  quick zinger: “Real men don’t tweet.”

Just as Norman Mailer’s title Tough Guys Don’t Dance kept me off of any and all dance floors, Galifinakis just took the magic out of Tweeting.

Here’s to that.

Now, for a preview of the kind of manly men I would hope to bring to your attention if I were to stop procrastinating.

1. Mad Jack Churchill. British commando in World War II who went into battle with a broadsword. He had the only confirmed bow-and-arrow kill of the war when he shot a Nazi in the neck and was captured while defiantly playing the bag pipes. He is on the far right in the photo below. That is a sword in his hand.

2. Sandy Irvine: he died on the flanks of Mount Everest while climbing it with George “Because It’s There” Mallory. In the last year of his life, Irvine managed to: win the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race, explore the arctic island of Spitzbergen, bang his roommate’s step-mother, and get invited to pull on a sweater and go for the summit with Mallory. A friend wrote: ” “One cannot imagine Sandy content to float placidly in some quiet back-water, he was the sort that must struggle against the current and, if need be, go down foaming in full body over the precipice[ital.mine].” I think am going to adopt that last phrase as my motto.

3. C. Dale Petersen: killed a grizzly bear with his bare hands by sticking his arm down its throat and biting its jugular vein. Need more be said? The pic tells the tale:



Restoring a Salt Pond: Cotuit’s Rushy Marsh re-opened

It’s a tradition of sorts on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard to occasionally vent the salt ponds along the southern shores and let them “freshen” up with some new seawater. Sometimes the locals get in some trouble for bulldozing a gut through the sand, but all in all the ecologists seem to agree that its nature’s’ way to occasionally breach the beach and flush things out.

Here in Cotuit, at the southern end of the village, lies Rushy Marsh — a small brackish pond surrounded by big houses with spectacular views, but choked with phragmites and all but devoid of life. This pond was once a true salt pond, with regular tidal exchange with Nantucket Sound, but as Cotuit historian Jim Gould points out in his recent excellent history of the area, the shore began to change in 1910 due to human interference with the natural order of the coast — aka the littoral drift —  in the form of the Wianno Cut and the shoreside groins.  Eventually Rushy Marsh was walled off from the Sound and began to stagnate.

It hasn’t been open since 1911.

In 1999 some local residents banded together as the Friends of Rushy Marsh and were able to secure the permits and funding needed to restore the connection between the marsh and the sound. From the Cape Cod Times article of September 21, 2010:

“In the case of Rushy Marsh, Joanne Erikson, Gretchen Reilly and a group of neighbors started talking to the town more than a decade ago about re-opening the marsh to the sea.

“They were concerned about the spreading phragmites, an invasive species of grass that thrives in fresh water, and the lack of fish and other marine life in Rushy Marsh.

“They raised money to help fund a water quality study, the latest of which showed that their marsh was dying. They were also told that wastewater from their septic systems was adding too many nutrients to the marsh, causing runaway plant growth.

“They are hoping that the renewed tidal flow from the new project will flush out enough contaminants to prevent the need to install sewers. For the reopening of a collapsed sluiceway to the marsh, $271,000 is allocated.

“We’re looking forward to the day when people can fish there again,” said Erikson.”

Their work has come to fruition, and as my cousin wrote when he emailed me this photo: “Let the healing begin.”

I’ve heard this used to be an excellent place to catch white perch — a species found only in coastal ponds (the record has been caught on Nantucket in one of the island’s ponds) — maybe someday they’ll come back and be worth pursuing.

A lot of people deserve credit for making this happen. The town’s conservation commission, Three Bays Preservation, the Barnstable Land Trust, and of course, the dedicated band of neighbors who pushed it through. Here’s the new sluiceway from the marsh across Oregon Beach. Looking at it makes me imagine I can hear the pond smile and exhale a big sigh of relief.

The pond is at the top of the aerial photo below:



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