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ishmael in port [Jan. 11th, 2009|06:31 pm]

Originally uploaded by Captain_Peleg
While I never run out of new insights into Moby Dick, I may have run out of things to say about the Moby Dick Marathon. Yes, we did go this year (last weekend). Yes, it was wonderful. Yes, KOBO's bones still smell of oil and he still drips oil into the Jacobs Gallery below. KOBO has more company this year with the addition of the skeleton of a right whale. There's nothing like reading the great whale tale surrounded by whale remains.

We started the day with breakfast at the Shawmut Diner and made it to the museum well before the captain of the watch made it eight bells and local attorney/actor Ray Veary began with "Call me Ishmael." surrounded by a standing room only crowd. We found out later that the crowd over the whole of the weekend numbered over 1300! Barney Frank read this year. He's only missed a couple of years (maybe only one?) because of congressional business. The politicians and celebrities all vie for slots at either the beginning (the New Bedford scenes) or the end (the chase).

We took a short break to walk up to Cafe Arpeggio for more coffee and lunch after Father Mapple's Jonah sermon. As we were walking up William Street, a guy came out of a gallery carrying a harpoon. That's one of those "only in New Bedford" moments. I commented and he explained that he was taking it show someone who was interested in buying it.

On the walk back to the museum we stopped to read the historic signage for the Fifty-Fourth Regiment recruiting office site. For some reason, I've walked by there a grillion times and never read what the signs had to say: "On February 10, 1863, after President Lincoln’s order to enlist regiments of black soldiers to fight in the Civil War, a recruiting office was opened near this spot. The men who volunteered formed Company C of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment." It reminded me that New Bedford was a diverse world class city back then. Many brave men enlisted there, including the first African-American to win the Congressional Medal of Honor, New Bedford’s Sgt. William H. Carney.

We made it back to the museum in time for one of my very favorite parts, the scenes in Nantucket where Ishmael and Queequeg dine on "clam or cod" and choose a ship to sign on to. The crowd had gotten much bigger and we had no place to sit but on the stairs. Impressive.

I had a notion that I would send hourly Twitter updates from the event but since we had to turn off our phones, I would've had to go outside in the cold to tweet. Besides, what could I say about it?

Sunday after then end of the reading, the organizers handed out the Moby Dick Pop-Up book to the intrepid people who made it through the whole night. (We didn't. We went back to Providence to sleep and came back in the morning.) This caused me to want the pop-up edition soooo badly that I bought it in the gift shop. So did lots of people. It is a masterpiece of paper engineering by Sam Ita, who apparently worked for Robert Sabuda the uber-pop-up-book-wizard.

After lunch at Freestone's, we indulged in the traditional book binge at Baker Books. READ!