Sunday, July 12, 2015

836. Moxie Day 2015

Every year Lisbon Falls, Maine, becomes something other than a bedroom community when it hosts its annual Moxie Day festival.  For thirty-three years, one of the original soft drinks, still tasting more or less how it did originally (when they were marketed as medicine, if you can believe it), is thrust into the spotlight along with the town that's also home to the Kennebec Fruit Co. (the Moxie Store) and Frank Anicetti, third generation owner and a hundred years later.

This year's celebration (if you listen to Anicetti, the town seems to be trying its best to sabotage Moxie Day) seemed like a step back from years past.  The parade (a half dozen years since Klingons have appeared!) was fine (my nephew, like every does, loved the crazy Kora Shriner carts), though Main Street looked like it was kind of going through the motions, except for my favorite part of the festival, which is the library book sale.  Last year's was a true shadow of its former glory, but they seemed to make an effort to return to the glory days, meaning I came back with a good haul:

  • Dave Barry, Is Not Taking This Sitting Down
  • Bernard Cornwell, The Bloody Ground
  • Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
  • Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex
  • Robert Graves, The Golden Ass
  • Mark Helprin, Freddy and Fredericka
  • Brad Herzog, States of Mind
  • Carl Hiaasen, Basket Case
  • Elizabeth Kostova, The Historian
  • Naguib Mahfouz, Palace Walk (The Cairo Trilogy I)
  • Dorothy Parker, Complete Stories
  • Spider Robinson, Time Travelers Strictly Cash
  • Salman Rushdie, The Moor's Last Sigh
Which for me represents a considerably nice bounty.  I've been a big fan of Dave Barry for years.  I think I've read this particular book, but somehow didn't have it in my collection.  I just mentioned to comment-maker Pat Dilloway the other day how I wanted to read Cornwell.  I've read Umberto Eco before, but not one of his best-known books like this one.  Middlesex is one of those books I knew of thanks to working at Borders.  The Golden Ass, to be clear, concerns Greek mythology.  It is not porn.  Helprin also wrote Winters Tale, which was later adapted into a movie I love.  Herzog famously published his book after appearing in the early days of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (according to Savage Garden, Regis Philbin).  Hiassen was Florida's original signature literary genius, before Dave Barry moved there.  I used to have The Historian before it failed to survive the 2013 purge (details explained elsewhere on that), so to have it again and have a chance to actually read it is nice.  I earmarked The Cairo Trilogy as something I wanted to read a little while back.  Parker is one of those writers I knew about but hadn't had any real exposure to her actual work.  Spider Robinson has one of the best names ever.  Armchair Squid just read Moor's Last Sigh, and I've been a fan of Rushdie since reading The Satanic Verses, so reading more is always a welcome opportunity.

I also visited an indoor flea market in town for the express reason of finding out whatever happened to a comics and games shop that had just opened last Moxie Day on Main Street, but was gone by the time I had a chance to visit again just a few weeks back.  Of course they transplanted.  But the best comics in the flea market weren't being sold by these guys, ironically.  Still, those guys were there yesterday (Moxie Day) and completely did not understand when I tried to explain my surprise about how their fortunes have changed in the past year.  I mean, there are some quick turnarounds in small business (I applied to work at a new used bookstore in Colorado Springs and didn't get the job, but the store was out of business within a few months anyway), and strategically they did a very smart thing.  I have no idea why it looked like they still weren't properly settled at their new location.  Or why the flea market was surprised that very few people were visiting them (it's not a terribly visible location, and there wasn't any other Moxie-related activity going on in that part of town, and they didn't have any presence on Main Street, and they didn't have any big signs advertising themselves in front of their own building...the list goes on).  

Last year I got my first-ever orange Moxie t-shirt, and coincidentally it was up in the rotation (I have a t-shirt rotation), not that I wasn't going to wear it anyway, so I felt like a faithful member of the celebration this year, walking around all morning with it on.

Hopefully the town pulls itself together and starts helping the event fire on all cylinders again.  I guess there's been a lot of thought about ancillary activities like concerts and various new locations around town to host events throughout the three-day festival, but to lose sight of the main event, and its central setting, is kind of missing the mark. 

And bring back the Klingons!


Pat Dilloway said...

Middlesex was good except for a couple of factual errors. I should have looked for some Moxie when I was in Maine 10 years ago.

Tony Laplume said...

It would've depended where you were. All Mainers don't have the Maine accent, either. But you can find Moxie all over the place. Relatively speaking.


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