Maybe you’ve seen the hipsters. Maybe you’ve noticed people wearing Bean Boots without so much as a mud puddle in sight, people in thick flannel on a hot day. While fashion loves irony, function lives in reality. And there’s nothing ironic about Bean Boots when you’re standing in four inches of mud.
Maybe you’ve noticed this trendy kind of manufactured quirk. The suggestion being that authenticity is another commodity to be bought and sold. In today’s bland, homogenized culture, a premium is placed on anything remotely original. Well, if authenticity is currency, Maine is loaded.
One time in Wiscasset I saw a tourist taking a picture of the hardware store. Not of their family or anything in the window, just the store front. What were they trying to capture?
For those in search of an authentic culture through folk art or Americana, Maine is a gold mine. For those born here who value smooth pavement and predictable weather over that rustic aesthetic, Maine is where they used to live. For the rest of us, Maine is home.
There is something so unique about our home. Maine’s people and places ooze with the kind of character that can’t be recreated elsewhere. Countless movies and TV shows take place here, trying to recreate that mercurial essence, while so few succeed. That’s because if it could be easily reproduced on a sound stage in Hollywood, it wouldn’t be that special to begin with. And Maine is special.
What’s more ironic than some guy walking through Brooklyn, N.Y. in L.L. Bean boots? It’s that so many Mainers don’t realize how rare their way of life is. In fact, Maine’s brand is seldom acknowledged by those most responsible for crafting it. To paraphrase One Direction, Maine doesn’t know it’s quaint, that’s what makes it so freaking quaint. Or, in hipster parlance, what Maine thinks makes it lame actually makes it very rad.
Even when people do acknowledge Maine’s unique way of life, it’s difficult to articulate exactly how it could be valuable. It seems like every battle, from the east-west corridor to the national park proposal is loaded with the threat that our state will lose its original stamp and eventually become like everywhere else. Personally, I think it would take more than one highway or a national park to turn us into Massachusetts, but anyway.
In this blog I want to tell stories that show the value of Maine’s authenticity. I want to dive into deep Maine and bring back sunken treasure, hopefully without drowning. My focus is the character and characters of Maine. I hope everyone, even the hipsters, will enjoy it.