, Salem, MA

October 18, 2013

Heard Around Town: Salem welcomes contortionist, circus act and levitating geisha


---- — SALEM — There is really no better show in town than the Licensing Board.

They get to handle problem rooming houses, used car dealers scamming the public and the witches and psychics who, try as they might, just can’t seem to get along.

This week, it was street performers — lots of them — all coming for licenses for Halloween.

Chairman Robert St. Pierre had them stand in a row like a police lineup from an old James Cagney movie, which makes sense considering both St. Pierre and fellow board member Rick Lee are retired cops.

St. Pierre asked each person to state his or her name and talent.

There was a “drum trio,” a visual artist who does tai chi, a horror makeup artist, a contortionist from Australia, a man who does a handstand on top of stacked chairs and — our favorite — a levitating geisha. Let’s hope, for the geisha’s sake, it’s not windy when she’s out there, or if it is, that she tethers herself to a tree in the Japanese garden.

Oh yeah, there was also a woman from something called the “Ignited Church.” Nobody seemed sure what she did, but she got approved along with everybody else.

Halloween heaven

In case you haven’t opened your October edition of Family Circle magazine, our humble city has been named one of the “Seven Best Haunted Cities for Families.”

The other pretenders — excuse us, contenders — are Charleston, S.C.; Gettysburg, Pa.; New Orleans; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; and Tombstone, Ariz.

Food fun

Naumkeag Ordinary, a new restaurant on Washington Street, did something this fall that amazed and delighted a few customers.

After dinner, the waiter approached a table of four, asked if they wanted dessert and then announced there was only one item on the dessert menu.

“Boo,” they said.

Then he told them what the one item was: warm chocolate chip cookies and cold milk.

“Yay!,” they said.


The Northeast Animal Shelter put out an alert yesterday: Sunshine the kitten was stolen from its Highland Avenue building on Tuesday afternoon.

The 3-month-old kitten “is being treated for a medical condition, and we are very concerned that if she doesn’t continue her medication, she could get very sick,” the shelter said in an email.

“If you know someone who suddenly has a new black kitten about 3 months old who matches Sunshine’s picture, please encourage them to return her to our shelter immediately so we can see she gets the care she needs.”

Good cause

The Salem Waterfront Hotel and marina hosted the fourth annual Mystery Dine Around, a benefit that raised more than $10,000 for Lifebridge, which runs programs for the homeless.

More than 150 guests attended an event that began at the hotel’s Regatta Pub. Guests were taken by trolley and bus to more than a dozen restaurants in Salem and neighboring communities. The evening ended back at the hotel with dancing and a live auction hosted by Salem resident Billy Costa of KISS 108 radio.

Nice job, Rockett family.

Shooting follow-up

Police chief Paul Tucker and Sgt. Harry Rocheville met recently with neighbors around Salem State University to talk about two recent and serious incidents: The double-stabbing at the college and the shooting on Linden Street.

The shooting, if you recall, barely missed a woman nursing a 6-week-old baby. One suspect has been arrested and police say they are close to grabbing a second person.

Kudos for Kim

If Mayor Kim Driscoll ever runs for state office, she should get Gov. Deval Patrick to do her TV commercials.

The governor came to the Hawthorne Hotel Wednesday for a leadership breakfast hosted by the North Shore Chamber of Commerce and couldn’t stop gushing about his favorite mayor. Patrick called Driscoll “just incredible — I say that privately as well as publicly.”

Does her husband know?

Name game

This city may have more organizations with strange names than Moscow.

On Wednesday night, a group calling itself the Salem Property Rights Council hosted an event at the Ward II Social Club.

Now there’s another group trying to block the city’s plans to clean up the transfer station by allowing it to expand from taking construction debris to accepting municipal trash.

They’ve got a good name — Stop The Garbage Now.

Handicapped parking

Mayor Driscoll posted a photo on her Facebook page of the new city parking lot at the former Universal Steel site.

The handicapped parking spaces are painted with the new Accessible Icon Project image. It shows what the mayor called an “active, engaged image” of someone in a wheelchair, rather than the traditional static image.

She credited the Salem Disabilities Commission and Councilor-at-large Bill Legault for suggesting the new icon.

Tom Dalton can be reached at