Learjets on final approach ride wakes of noise, the whoosh of traffic throbs off the seawall and the wail of the lumpen mob soars over Circuit avenue.
It’s time for the earnest toilers of commerce to harvest the golden hordes. In fact, it’s July 21 and the Monster Shark Tournament is in Oak Bluffs and with it the yahoos in their plastic boats, rafted up three, four to a mooring — hundreds of them bobbing in the crowded harbor.
The howling, caterwauling mob amuses itself by, among other things, throwing beer bottles at Steve Maxner as he paddles by in his tiny kayak, a solo protestor in their midst, his sign telling them: “Killing sharks for fun and prizes is a crime against nature. Shame on us.”
The sign is like a torch thrown in the slime of beer and gasoline that rimes the harbor’s still waters and it ignites the hive mind to a frenzy.
“Who is this bozo?”
“Some limp-wristed environmentalist!”
“Get the water-bombs”
What they don’t know is that Steve is a Viet Nam war veteran, who has seen what they never will, or want to, of war and of defending his country — no, their country — so they can play their pampered games cradled by the thump of boom boxes and stirred by the blood lust of running down leviathans of the sea in their palatial sport yachts.
At night the howling mob takes to the bars, then the streets. A brawl breaks out near the Madison Inn on Kennebec avenue and there are fisticuffs in front of the taxi stand on the corner of Lake and Circuit avenues, the Dive Bar and Seasons Pub. Police chase a man trying to escape by scaling fences, running over roofs and through the Camp Ground. A young visitor from Worcester tries to steal a moped and is apprehended on Central avenue. A woman, armed with a knife, chases a man through the streets. Twenty-one arrests are made, four people are taken into protective custody and there are 140 calls for assistance to police. Our local force is overwhelmed, so Tisbury police lend a hand.
The Monster Shark Tournament — it’s like a Rorschach test and there are many conclusions to be drawn.
From the perspective of our police force it looks like more men will be needed next year.
From the perspective of the everyday taxpayer, it looks like our taxes will go up.
From the perspective of the Great Shark Tournament, it’s good for business. Two million dollars worth of business, claims Steven James, organizer of the event.
Good for business? Really? Is that all we ever think about in Oak Bluffs?
Gazette contributor Sam Low lives in Oak Bluffs.