responsiveslider_lol_02 The Language of Light DVD - More
MeetJoe_02 Meet Joe McNally - More
inthebag What’s in the Bag? - More

Searching for AT&T…

Aug 23

In Rants at 7:01pm

I’m in Maine, teaching at the venerable Maine Media Workshops. We had a great week, great class, nice bunch of folks. I haven’t told too many people about it though, cause in terms of cell phone connectivity,  I might as well be in Mongolia. The cell plan there might be better. I hear that after 9pm, you can yak all you want for free. Or is it, you can call all the yaks you want for free. Dunno. Have to read the fine print.


My cell signal I’m sure is out there, somewhere in the fog. Thing is I don’t have a boat. I’m land bound, so I drive around, looking for it. I find it here and there, glimmering at the end of the block, like a special effect in the movies. Five bars! Come closer, it beckons like a siren.  And then it vanishes,  just like those ball players in Field of Dreams.

We’re right at the water, so I’ve been thinking about penning a word doc on a thumbdrive and stashing it in a bottle, and hoping the coastal currents carry it New York way, just to let Annie know I’m safe. It’d be almost as efficient.

I’m operating my communications efforts at the behest of AT&T because Verizon lied to me. The man at the counter told me when I updated to the Storm that it’d work no problem on a Mac based system. A little software assist, and bing, the Storm would be smooth. Like buttah.

No. After two days of trying, which even consumed a freelance day rate to a tech savvy assistant, everyone at the office had dubbed my new phone the “ShitStorm.” Brad and Drew, on their way to Photoshop World, dragged my caveman ass into an Apple store to buy an Iphone. Which is what I made the pictures for this blog with. Thankfully it does takes pictures. Cause otherwise, that puppy’s just so much useless weight on the drag strip right now.

Oh well, it’s Maine. (Forget it Jake, it’s…Chinatown.) That beautiful stretch of Northeast that the rest of the country only remembers when they think about going someplace where it’s not too hot in the summer. Lots of nice folks up here. Though it must be admitted, there is a substantial, crusty group of natives who think being born in the state of Maine automatically bequeaths to you the right to be grumpy towards anyone not born in the state of Maine. And boy, in the summer, there are lots of those folks. Vacationers everywhere. Folks from the big city who de facto have no brains, can’t tie a bowline, get up senselessly late in the mawning, and are just uselessly frivolous because they weren’t born and raised up in good old Maine, the land common sense. In particular, if you’re not from here, you absolutely cannot operate a motor vehicle with any skill whatsoever. Given that fact, I drive very cautiously, so I don’t pull a move that will piss off a local. You never know. The person driving that pickup truck you just cut off might be a congenial, blue jeaned, hard working man of the land with a few acres and a barn full of cows. Or he just might be a genuine, deep fried state o’ Maine wingnut who got rid of the cows long ago and now has the barn stuffed with more heavy caliber automatic weaponry than a Somali warlord.

Nonetheless, people are on the roads, though. The traffic in downtown Camden on the weekends looks for all the world like the Manhattan side of the Holland Tunnel at 5pm. Why are all these folks here? Don’t they know there’s nothing to do here? I mean I guess there’s stuff to do, like hiking, boating, fishing, antiquing, staring at the fog, beating back mosquitoes who when they score it feels like you just got stung by a Black and Decker power drill with wings, or trying to decipher driving directions given out in a Maine accent. But most of these endeavors smack of relaxation, so I’m not all that interested.


Best reason I know of to come here is…ice cream. If you are wandering around downtown Camden and are not interested in buying a duck decoy or a hoodie with a picture of a lobster on it, head for Camden Cone. They’ve got this flavor I’ve not seen around before–black raspberry chip. Scoops of purple inundated with big chunks of chocolate. Only downside was that after I finished,  I walked six blocks with my empty ice cream cup, eventually just putting it in the truck and taking it home to throw out. Say what you will about New York, but every ten feet there’s a trash can. More tk….

anee says:

on August 24, 2009 at 6:35 am

I loved the part about the mosquitos :)
Hope you still have a good time.

luke townsend says:

on August 24, 2009 at 6:44 am

Haha this has got to be the funniest thing I’ve ever read at 530 in the morning.

So far I’m pretty sure I’m not getting Verizon, have no desire to go to maine, although fog staring sounds absolutely splendid, (u know for a first date or a black peral lookout crew) and I too wish for a trash can on every block just like manhattan.

Charles Verghese says:

on August 24, 2009 at 6:59 am

I’d give up one of my pro cams just to be where you are right now!!!

Out here in Dubai it’s sweltering and I’m about to shift houses….not looking forward to the heat, sweat and unnecessary exercise.

Ummm… raspberry chip ice cream…………


Joe says:

on August 24, 2009 at 7:31 am

Camden is breathtaking. The chowder at the smiling cow ain’t too shabby, either.

Old news, I’m sure, but if you head down to Southwest Harbor, you can get a nice insider’s look at the boatbuilding process with the folks at Morris or Hinckley if you ask nicely. The boat’s don’t get much nicer than those…

Oscar says:

on August 24, 2009 at 7:35 am

Aha,I knew that flavor had to exist somewhere….

Now I just have to travel 3390 miles to buy it and 3390 miles back before the ice cream melts…

Marc says:

on August 24, 2009 at 8:14 am

I’ve worked out there before. T-Mobile is they way to go for Maine. Out there, everything else is really spotty. I noticed the trash can thing too, also with an empty ice cream cup. lol

Tim says:

on August 24, 2009 at 8:23 am

Graeter’s ( has black raspberry chip. It’s fantastic! Even used as the photo on their entry page on their site…

Graeters is HQ’d in Columbus OH, but is elsewhere in OH, KY, IN, and even in Denver, Dallas, and Houston. Or they’ll ship if you’re desperate for a hit. I recommend it.

Matt Hunt says:

on August 24, 2009 at 8:26 am

Today simply sucks, but the ‘yak all you want’ has made Monday slightly better, thanks.

Mike says:

on August 24, 2009 at 8:33 am

Loved Maine when I was there, I kept saying it reminded me of West Virginia with ocean. Refreshing change from the rest of the northeast. Just be glad you’re not there during “leaf peeping” season.

BTW, you’re not supposed to carry your ice cream around town, you’re supposed to eat it at the stand while jawing with a neighbor. You pay extra taxes for those trash cans every 10 feet in NYC.

Anyway, now you know why you buy a phone for the SERVICE first and the doodads second. Awaiting your return to what passes for civilization.:)

Will says:

on August 24, 2009 at 9:10 am

Being originally from connecticut and now transplanted to Maine. I feel your pain about the crazy drivers. I love the State and apparently, when summer rolls around, so does every other New Englander! Have fun in Camden!

Mark says:

on August 24, 2009 at 9:20 am

Now, if you’re going to use it…it’s iPhone….You don’t want to piss off those in the Land of Coffee. Since they run things and all.

Two great movie references too. But since you’re in Maine, something Stephen King-related would have been appropo too.

Koppenhoefer says:

on August 24, 2009 at 9:20 am

Well, here on lake Geneva (Switzerland) we don’t have any of that fog (‘though themountains across the lake in France are peeking above some kinda haze) but we haven’t any ofthose rasberry chocochip icecream either! So were’s the pic of that meltin monster yer makin us all jealous over? 😉 /shawn

Phil says:

on August 24, 2009 at 9:21 am

I heard that the Blackberry Desktop software will be available for the Mac in September.

Scott Slattery says:

on August 24, 2009 at 9:32 am

We were in Owl’s Head (near Rockland) a few weeks ago – check out my pics on FB or my site! Also, I found that my iPhone wouldn’t work at the shore but anywhere near almost any civilization it was just fine! Have fun and I’ll be looking for pics!

Jeff Snyder says:

on August 24, 2009 at 9:44 am

Sounds as if Mooses’s DLWS next month in Bar Harbor will be even more amusing than ever….Can’t wait!

Cindy Farr-Weinfeld says:

on August 24, 2009 at 10:14 am

Loved the mosquito comment, Joe–it’s too true–but dude, back away from the cell phone and enjoy some nature! lol!

Bill Bogle, Jr. says:

on August 24, 2009 at 11:10 am

Three Dog Cafe by chance? Actually, there are four labs there, as one is getting a bit old, but great people.

You should try Vermont if you think Maine is bad for cell service. Those blockly electrical thingys work great as a paper weight if the wind comes up.

Hope Bill is not hitting you too hard. Real scre in Acadia from Bill. Maine is quite something.

Bill Bogle, Jr.

Mark A Higgins says:

on August 24, 2009 at 11:16 am

Joe, I was born in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. It’s true, you have to be born in Maine to be a Mainer. I’m considered a Mainer in exile as I live in Massachusetts with all the Massholes.

Once you get north of Bruinswick any phone with an AT&T plan is a useless brick of Yak shit. You go from 3G to Edge. I will sit in the middle of town when I go home and wave one arm while standing on one leg to get one bar on EDGE.

Now, let’s be honest. Even the folks who still have cows have more shotguns and rifles than you’d find at an ATF warehouse. Mainers could fix the Somali problem with some good old common sense. Didn’t you know that?

Last, but not least, why go to Maine in August. Do your workshop in October when there is no fog and no tourists. August is known to be a month with a perpetual fog bank and wall of tourists.

In leaving I have a good Tim Sample (Maine Humorist) joke. Did you hear about the new lanes they’re adding to I-95 was you enter Maine? There will be 8 lanes. 2 coming in and 6 leaving.

If you are born in Maine it’s your birth right to hate tourists. Especially the ones from New York!

Tom Peterson says:

on August 24, 2009 at 11:58 am

I’m an almost neighbor of yours in Connecticut and used to have to run up to Maine once a week a few years ago. Summers were a time for the quickest run from the highway to destination because of all the tourists. Off season was the time for cruising the coastal roads.

Camden, off season, is a great place. The “view” in Edna St Vincent Millay’s poem “Renascence” is right over your shoulder on the top of the “mountain”.

Todd W says:

on August 24, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Joe – I can picture it now, you walking around downtown Camden amongst the lobster paraphernalia. Cell phone in one hand, held high in the air trying to get signal, and an ice cream cup in the other looking for a trash can. High comedy!

dave bingham says:

on August 24, 2009 at 12:24 pm

iphone — awesome frickin’ machine — but — but but but — apple sure f’d it up going with at&t. i switched from verizon to get the iphone, never had a problem with dropped calls until att came along… and… get this… if you want customer service with at&t you have to call during “normal business hours” whereas verizon is 24/7.

someday — we can hope and pray — verizon will have the iphone. at which point i’ll switch back.

you’d think apple, which makes pretty awesome stuff, would have cared a little more before entering this relationship.

still, as i said, the iphone is a life changer.

Jeffrey Chapman says:

on August 24, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Conviction can be inconvenient, but I prefer AT&T without coverage to Verizon with coverage. Yes, Verizon also pissed me off. The less Verizon in my life the better. Just consider it a telecommunication vacation.

Terry Straehley says:

on August 24, 2009 at 12:36 pm

I see you’re in Camden, which is one of our favorite places to visit in Maine. We stay at the Lord Camden Inn and have chowder down the street at Cappy’s Chowder House. You need chowder to ward off the weather there.

EGower says:

on August 24, 2009 at 12:40 pm


Howard says:

on August 24, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Screw Maine and come to Maryland
From the Land of Pleasant Living.

All cell phone carriers work here. The people are nicer, the seafood is better, and we have the Chesapeake Bay and the ocean. You can eat ice cream until your heart stops or if you are into something lighter we have Rita’s water ice. Traffic is a way of life but there’s more roadways then 95 to get around. Ask Hobby, he’ll confirm. And if all else fails you can down a few Natty Boh’s, and “see ya later hon.”

Peter says:

on August 24, 2009 at 1:44 pm

Was in Kennebunkport this weekend. Had three bars on iPhone – which is two more than I get in most parts of VT and NH. Maybe the Bushes have AT&T? Staff at our hotel said they had BOTH wireless and Wi-Fi, so we were well connected by email too.

Soubrause says:

on August 24, 2009 at 2:04 pm

What are the iPhone fanboys going to blame if Verizon gets it? iPhone gets worse reception than almost any other phone on the market, I’ve seen them next to cheap POS phones and blackberries on AT&T and the iPhone was the only one without a signal.

If you must have a phone that works everywhere you need to get something that runs on GSM & CDMA period. there are lots of spots still only covered by small regional companies so only 1 technology will work well there.

Carl Licari says:

on August 24, 2009 at 3:55 pm

Joe… You go to Maine in September, not August, and the masses disappear! The natives are less irritable as well. Did I mention the price of lobster drops significantly also? :-)

PG says:

on August 24, 2009 at 5:16 pm

Breyer’s has had Black Raspberry Chocolate for at least a year now, not that you’re uninformed or anything… (what do you use your assistants for anyway?)

Ken says:

on August 24, 2009 at 5:17 pm


Ma Bell was trashed into (rightly so) when our Government took seriously anti-trust laws.

Well Ma-Bell is back again doing a redux along with Verizon. These guys are the only 2 real players left, and these guys love it. Even Sprint is trying but way off the beam.

I worked for Verizon for a short stint. I remember attending one those “sales meeting” . It was all about gaining access to the political world to have show (the world) they have the best widget.

Its get worse……

In about 2 years from this post, watch these two empires control the pipeline of internet access and the tolls they will charge to cross the electronic bridge.

They have in place a monopoly game in its middle stages, and if allowed will extract a handsome tribute. I hope your readers understand and accept what these giants do, is never, I mean never, do anything in customer interest. Always, its share holder value.

I am a capitalist at heart. But when fatherhood and men and women of principle were gone, greed moved in.

Well that’s my spin today, and not I will not submit to Catholic guilt, lol

My best to you, and I know my rants too

Ken in KY

Trude says:

on August 24, 2009 at 5:28 pm

I’m truly LOL! 😉 Camden in summer is gooorgeous, some of the bluest sky and water I’ve ever seen. I have family that own a farm a bit inland from there, but they’re not the grumpy kind of local, they’re the awesome kind. Hope your tech issues are resolved soon!

mk says:

on August 24, 2009 at 8:24 pm

Turn off the 3G. Things get a little better… yes, ironic.

Also, everything Howard said above… and then some! Maryland rocks!

Deb says:

on August 24, 2009 at 9:27 pm

Joe, as for the ice cream cup…get a cone next time and when you are done (if you don’t eat the cone), throw it up in the air and I bet one of those Maine 747’s (seagulls) will get it before it hits the ground. :-)

Joe says:

on August 25, 2009 at 12:03 am

Hey, don’t knock the b/berry storm it’s very useful for leveling the workbench in my garage.

Dale Moreau says:

on August 25, 2009 at 5:14 am

Hey Joe,

1. I am a local, not Camden (Cape Elizabeth)but still a local since birth.
2. Most of us don’t have accents and when was the last time you got directions in NYC?
3. What makes you think those are trash cans in NYC? It wasn’t that long ago that Times Square was a trash can. far as attitude, most people give what they get. Lose the NY gettaouttamywaycan’tyouseeIneedtogetthisdone crap, take a deep breath, remember that you aren’t any more special or important than the fisherman next door. The Rockefellers and Mellons have known that for 100 years and get along fine.(Martha Stewart had trouble with it though)

5.Verizon would have been fine in Camden. The ATT GSM network is useless because ATT doesn’t spend the money for rural coverage, why is that a “Maine” problem? Seems like an ATT problem.

So just remember, we are happy to have you visit, just stop and look around, you will figure out why we live here. As far as things to do, we like spending time with other people and have noticed that for the most part that is an art or craft that is lost on people “from away”.

I am not hostile, but as I said, we locals give back what we get.

Hope you had a nice time on the coast, I remember a quote attributed to John Loengard related by a local, the recipient who had just interviewed as staff photog in the city. “I spend 50 weeks a year putting up with NYC so I can spend 2 weeks in Maine, why would you want to move here?”
Have some fun today Joe, I will.


Maine Moose says:

on August 25, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Life without a cell phone is the way life should be….

The Senatah... says:

on August 25, 2009 at 8:41 pm

The BEST ice cream in Camden is at Camden Cone…selection and it is Round Top made in Damariscotta, the same way since 1924! Can’t be beat! And the kids who do the scooping make it fun every day!

Dwayne D.C. Tucker II says:

on August 25, 2009 at 9:15 pm

“We’re right at the water, so I’ve been thinking about penning a word doc on a thumbdrive and stashing it in a bottle, and hoping the coastal currents carry it New York way, just to let Annie know I’m safe. It’d be almost as efficient.”

Cracked myself up in class reading that laughed out loud and everyone looked, I know my professor is mad right now but honestly I am learning a lot more reading this website. But I am paying for school so I must get back to it :)

Take care Joe!

Dwayne D.C. Tucker II
Nassau, Bahamas

Mike B says:

on August 26, 2009 at 10:30 am

When you come to Maine yous need to turn that cell phone OFF. Can’t be enjoyen the scenery an shooting stuff (pics or sometin else) when yous on da phone!

Dave Hutchinson says:

on August 26, 2009 at 7:29 pm

I enjoyed the post Joe. I was in Boothbay Harbor just a few weeks ago (for 3 days..and lots of lobster dinners) and I can totally relate to your comments.

Steve Gray says:

on August 27, 2009 at 8:45 am

Funny about the AT&T connectivity. I sometimes have reception issues here in the USA, but for some strange reason, I got perfect reception out in the glacial wilds of Iceland. And not a cell phone tower in sight. Go figure.

Jeff Klofft says:

on August 28, 2009 at 4:54 pm


AT&T has very spotty coverage in Maine. I’m still lugging a Verizon Treo (instead of an iPhone) because of this. Someday maybe. I guess that Maine just isn’t one of those “more places” they talk about in the ads…..

Bill Reade says:

on August 30, 2009 at 12:20 am

I spent 3 weeks at the school in the summer of 1979. 30yrs
later Im still itching the same skeeter bite. some things just never change.

Bill Rogers says:

on September 1, 2009 at 12:48 am

My fave Maine joke – hell, my ONLY Maine Joke: Two grizzled old Maine men play 18 holes of golf at a rocky course hard up against the Atlantic Shore. It’s 38 degrees and raining, the waves are breaking over the grass, and there’s a ten-knot onshore wind. The men play all 18 holes without saying a word to each other, then go to the clubhouse and pound down a few beers, again without a word spoken.

Finally the taller one gets up, and asks his friend, “Next Sattiday, then?” His friend responds: “Ayuh, weathuh permittin’.”

Carmelo Geils says:

on January 6, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Hey mate, greetings from UK !

Leave a Reply