May 27, 2020
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This might be the first local music video about gentrification

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Here’s what you should know.

What we’re talking about

A Portland band’s new video takes a hard look at development around the city.

In the video for their song “Razor Blade,” Chris Teret and Chriss Sutherland of Portland-based band Snaex walk through the city, holding up a sign with question marks in front of developments, urging viewers to think about the consequences of “progress.”

“The video, obviously, is looking at housing,” Sutherland told BDN Portland. “The housing situation is just plain dire.

“We didn’t want to be overtly political,” he said. “The question mark was an idea, in the most hokey sense, ‘question this.’ Are people critiquing these developments?”

(If you’re reading this in your email, watch the video here.)

The housing crisis in Portland has been well-documented. The Press Herald reported that the gap between monthly rent and what a typical renter could afford was $545 in 2014.

And in March, our own Darren Fishell reported that the wage to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Portland was 1.8 times the average wage in Portland.

The video included the site of Paul’s Food Center on Congress Street, which closed earlier this year.

“Paul’s was basically the only grocer in the city that catered to the middle- to low-income demographic,” Sutherland said.

Snaex will perform in Brunswick at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 13, at Frontier Cafe along with Bad Mariachi. The cover charge is $12. — Sam Shepherd


His art is all over Portland, but few people know anything about him — Troy Bennett examines the life and work of Bartlett Adams, the stonecutter who designed 700 gravestones in the Eastern Cemetery alone. Troy writes:

“Though he left behind a mountain of monuments, Adams himself is largely a mystery. No likenesses of him survive. Almost all his work is unsigned and anonymous.”

That’s why a local man wrote a book about the artist.

“He was really an unsung hero, in my view,” author Ron Romano said. “He was an integral part of this community.”

Cross Insurance Arena wouldn’t have lost money last year if it were just a little taller — As it stands, the county-owned arena lost $85,000 in the last fiscal year, which is still way better than the previous year, when it lost $600,000, according to the Press Herald. Edward D. Murphy reports on what would have put it in the black:

“The arena wasn’t able to book the immensely popular Cirque du Soleil act because its 45-foot ceiling is about 5 to 10 feet too low for the flashy, aerobatic shows. Operators had budgeted $130,000 in revenue for the expected Cirque du Soleil shows before realizing the space couldn’t accommodate the latest version of the act.”

One theory why Maine suddenly has so many breweries — Abby Curtis writes: “Prohibition wasn’t lifted here until 1934, one year after the repeal of the national law. Even then, it took decades until a brewery reopened in the state.

“‘We didn’t have a brewery open from when Prohibition ended until 1986, when Geary’s opened,’ [Maine Brewers’ Guild Executive Director Sean] Sullivan said. ‘Think about that.’

“So one way of looking at the craft beer boom is that Mainers simply are making up for a lot of lost time.”

The Big Idea

Maine man from Somalia: Lives of Muslim terror victims matter, too — Abdi Nor Iftin, of Yarmouth, writes in a Washington Post OpEd:

“For six years, I lived under sharia law imposed by the terrorist group al-Shabab. I was hung by my wrists for watching a World Cup match. One time the terrorists caught me walking on the beach with my girlfriend, and they whipped us. Muslim terrorists hate Muslims like me even more than they hate you, because they view me as a traitor. In Mogadishu, they called me evil because, after saying my prayers, I liked to dance, go to movies, play soccer and hold hands with my girlfriend. They wanted me to stay in the mosque and listen to their anti-Western propaganda, then join them in jihad against infidels – including moderate Muslims.

“I refused. I wanted to be an American ever since I was a kid watching “Rambo” movies in a video shack in Mogadishu. I learned my first English from another American immigrant: Arnold Schwarzenegger. (“I’ll be back!”) Eventually I became the video shack’s translator, shouting out dialogue for the audience as the movies played. I put Michael Jackson songs on my cellphone, then hid the phone’s memory card in a hole under my mattress. When members of al-Shabab said they would kill me for speaking English, I knew I had to escape.”

Read his full piece here.


Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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