Monday, April 13, 2009

Nantucket Counter-Point: Take Marbles, Go Home

If Steven Axelrod lived on Bali, he'd complain about falling coconuts. If he was married to the most beautiful woman in the world, he'd find a pimple somewhere, you can be sure. And he'd fret about it.

He complains that Nantucket isn't paradise? Well, of mcourse it isn't. It never claimed to be paradise and shouldn't have to endure his abuse because of his inflated expectations. Nevertheless, it isn't "just another small town" either, despite what Mr. Axelrod seems to think. Few towns this small support a thriving theatre group, two movie theatres (one in the midst of an exciting renovation), three bookstores, a pair of extraordinary museums and half a dozen world-class restaurants ... not tom mention a state-of-the-art public school and a variety of first-class private aschools, as well. Few towns this small have the sophistication and cosmopolitan feeling -- or the tax base --that this one does. And it's all because of the rich people mr. Axelrod claims to despise. He consciously diminishes his opinions, charmingly attributing them to mere jealousy; but admitting the facts doesn't change them, and using the appearance of cando this way -- to disarm criticism -- is a disingenuous and transparent ploy.

Axelrod derides the changes of the last twenty years. Perhaps he doesn't remember what the wharf looked like before Walter Bienecke's money "rolled over" it. The place was a smelly, squalid eyesore in those days. These days it's the gem of the island, a textbook renovation, the first face that Nantucket shows to the boatloads of visitors from around the world who keep our economy healthy.

Mr. Axelrod also fails to realize that it's the rich people who are preserve the island's beauty and ecological balance. They supported the Land Bank legislation tht keeps more of the island wild with every real estate transaction. They donate huge tracts of land for conservation, they help the schools and the hospital and the short-funded harbor study. Wendy Schmidt is single-handedly bring Main Street back to life for no other reason than her heartfelt love of the place.

And perhaps these benefactors wonder, scrolling through Open Salon, what Mr. Axelrod has done for Nantucket lately. Is he down at the dump, helping with the recycling project? Is he raising funds for the legal battle to open the ponds? No, he prefers to sit home and gripe in print. But the last thing Nantucket needs now is another glib, pessimistic slug who won't lift a finger to fix the things he complains about.

He should follow his friend Richard, if he envies him so much. In fact, all the people like Mr. Axelrod, who find life so unpleasant here, should shut up and get out.

They're not prisoners here. There are six boats a day in the summer

Note: in order to hold two such diametrically opposed opinions, one would have to be either a clinically diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, or a Nantucket resident. Mr. Axelrod has lived on Nantucket since 1983.

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