Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Ever been to Disney World? It’s kind of creepy.
Seth Macy’s eye for “Maine from the Inside” includes a pathway through the bramble of Ames Point on North Haven.
Photo by Seth Macy
Very clean. Everything ugly — like machinery, Dumpsters and all the things that make daily life necessary but don’t fall into a happiest place on earth aesthetic — is hidden behind tasteful fences or neatly trimmed bushes.
No one would every confuse downtown Augusta with Disney World, and that’s what Seth Macy likes about it.
Not that downtown Augusta doesn’t have a unique beauty. With an eye-catching mix of Victorian architecture, most notably the turreted granite old post office, and its setting on the banks of the Kennebec River, it’s striking. But you’re never going to see it in the glossy pages of one of those magazines that cater to a certain kind of Maine-lover. The Disney World Maine of artfully stacked lobster pots, shingled cottages and sunsets behind sail boats anchored in a blue-sea harbor.
That, too, is just fine with Macy, who’s looking forward to sighting Augusta through the lens of his camera.
Macy, a lifelong North Haven resident, had never been to Augusta before a visit downtown a couple years ago.
“I was taken aback,” he said this week. He found it interesting — in a good way.
Macy plans a return visit with his camera as part of his “Maine from the Inside” book project.
Macy had been toying with the idea of a photo book that would show the Maine he loves for a long time.
He lives on a Penobscot Bay island probably best known for being the home of U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree — whose husband S. Donald Sussman owns this newspaper — and it’s also gotten a lot of recent hype for Nebo Lodge, a fancy-pants restaurant and inn owned by Pingree, her daughter Hannah, and a group of North Haven women. Nebo was written up in “Travel & Leisure,” “Bon Appetite,” among other glossy magazines.
So Macy is at the epicenter of the Disney World Maine mindset.
He has rankled for a long time at the patronizing attitude he finds the well-to-do and those from away have toward Maine’s less ready-for-the-glossy-magazine parts.
About a year ago, Maine Magazine ran a blog post about Lubec that Macy found particularly patronizing. He decided it was time to act.
The 36-year-old photographer has an eye for peeling paint and weeds between the sidewalk cracks, the craggy face and rusting cans. He sells his pictures, but acknowledges “most people want boats and sunsets.”
The glossy magazine boats and sunsets view of Maine was in the news again a couple weeks ago, when “Down East: The Magazine of Maine” was lambasted for photo-shopping a cover photo of a stretch of road to take out the non-pretty parts.
The magazine and others like it promote a Maine fantasy the way the creepy mouse who walks on two legs and wears shorts sells a fairy land to kids.
And like the zillions of parents who take out second mortgages to bring their kids to the Disney World money-making fantasy machine every year, many of the kind of people who read the glossies are happy to be fed a Maine that doesn’t quite exist.
That Maine is not only a physically narrow one, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Interstate 95, but also a perceptually narrow and one-dimensional one, limited by unrealistic expectation.
Many who visit and profess to love the state not only never make it to the inside that Macy plans to document, but are unaware it even exists.
And when they see it, may even find it appalling.
For instance, a letter to the editor of the Kennebec Journal last year from a woman in Sioux Falls, S.D., a fan of the TV show “North Woods Law,” (which definitely focuses on “Inside Maine”) wonders why Mainers allow their property to be so “trashy.”
(Continued on page 2)
click image to enlarge
North Haven’s post office is the kind of “Maine from the Inside” that North Haven photographer Seth Macy hopes to capture.
Photo by Seth Macy