Friday, June 21, 2024

Where did Dundee Pond go?!

Aaagh! where did dundee pond go?

Early Wednesday morning June 19th, I started paddling the Sebago to the Sea trail from Sebago Lake in Windham down to Casco Bay. Somehow nobody mentioned that Tuesday evening they had COMPLETELY DRAINED DUNDEE POND! No warning, no notification, no signs. That seems like a kind of important thing to advertise. I paddled down lazily past North Gorham Dam, over to the Dundee Pond put in at Windham Center Road recreation area.

I was paddling along scenic, boring Dundee Pond, Serene water with no flow at all. I actually took off my life vest in the heat. But after about a third of a mile, I started hitting some new class I rapids.Then by one half mile in, with no warning the river dropped into a deep canyon of mud:

Now there were constant rapids, steadily getting bigger. This section is normally just a slow glassy pond, but the roar started getting louder so I put my life vest back on.

The rapids suddenly became steady class II verging on class III, and by Dundee Park the river had dropped rapidly into a strange muddy alien ravine, 20 - 30 feet high!

I was trapped in the middle of this: nowhere to pull out, trying to process what my brain was showing me: Somebody clearly opened up the dam! Were the kids at Dundee Beach supposed to practice whitewater rescue this summer? How was this a safe family swim spot?!

By the time you round the bend, the river that remained in the exposed pond bed gurgled to a crawl through a muddy apocalypse of thousands of tree stumps rising from watery graves. There in the distance, Dundee Dam: completely drained! I kept playing my responsibilities through my mind: Was I supposed to call each of the 7 dams each time before I go down the Presumpscot? Are we supposed to check if any dam owners randomly drained river sections overnight?! Was all this somehow an agreement to give the kids at Shaw Park, Windham Train Trestle and Babb’s Covered Bridge more water to swim in on a 90 degree day?

There was no way to pull up the steep 30-40 ft hill at Dundee Dam: this was a real problem. I looked for the flattest shore line and sloshed my way into the buttery deep pond bottom-scum (900 feet from shore!) Each step went right to the top of my boots (18 inches: thank God I wore boots today!!!) but it took max effort to pull each leg back out, pushing down on the boat for purchase. The boat made a sick slow-mo mud wave. And let me tell you, this is not the cool, fun mud puddle we all dreamed of playing in as kids: it was steaming hot, noisy and splurging, and smelled like Stink Creek in old Pittsburgh. I could tug the boat about 1 foot with each step. I pushed on until I heard low jackhammers pounding: it was my heart. I took pauses, but could not sit down anywhere.

And I saw some sad sights: in one impounded pool, schools of guppies swam desperately for their lives from a big, circling pickerel. They would be eaten, one by one, till the survivors died of heat or slow suffocation.

After each soul-sucking hill, there was another swamp of custard-like mud… pictures of quicksand danced in my head, but I had something those victims never do: a BOAT! It didn’t look like I was getting anywhere… but after about 3 hours, I finally hit some semi-solid mud leading up to the shore. I left my heavy but trusty old Penobscot 16 there and layed down in the woods by a beaver pond and I called my one-man wrecking and towing crew, Jojo, to come get me out of this mess.

It was still 3-4 inches of mud right up to the woods. But we dragged the boat through the woods to the off-road trail to Dundee Road.

In retrospect… with hindsight and videos to study… I wonder if I MIGHT have paddled right up to that giant rock pile just to the left of the dam… that would have been a hard climb, but maybe more doable to drag the canoe up than the mud shoals… but i just had no clue what dangers were right at the dam gates: weird man-eating machinery? sieves, gears, sharp metal rods? I just couldn’t risk it…

Dundee Pond was last drained back in 1989 for dam repairs. There’s a good video explaining the complicated underwater roads, paths and canals that you can now see again on the lake bottom: 1989, Windham, Maine, Dundee Pond Drained - Presumpscot River - Dundee Pond Without Water

I know it’s cliche for any long river trip to bring to mind “Deliverance”. Hell, I did it on my last trip (2 weeks ago)! Crashing through woods to find a portage, I yelled out “We’ll find it!!!” I played air-Dueling Banjoes over and over. But callbacks and images of Deliverance are even more poignant after this adventure. The similarities and connections are intrusive in my brain: In Deliverance, they want to paddle the wild river and its rapids one last time before it is flooded to make more hydro power and recreation. The old tree stumps and the long hidden rapids rising from their watery graves is almost exactly that plot in reverse: like Ecnareviled (or Ecnar-Eviled if you will…). It feels weird, like I’m an intruder into Nature’s kingdome: I’m still not quite sure it was all real.

I love this dirty little old river: it reminds me of my childhood in Pittsburgh. But each time on it has been… complicated. A few weeks ago doing Sebago to the Sea, I ran into complete blockages shore to shore in Westbrook; I got lost portaging on the streets of Westbrook when my phone died…

The PRLT recommends portaging around several entire sections: from Sebago lake to Eel Weir Falls; the entire section from Little Falls to Mallison Falls; the entire section from Cumberland Mill Dam to the rt 302 Forest Ave trailhead boat launch…

On Father’s Day last week, paddling my favorite easy section with my kids from Mallison Falls at Canal Street down to the Lincoln Street Boat Launch in Westbrook, we arrived at the dock to a nightmare scene… like a war zone: flashing blue lights everywhere, rafts, Police, Fire, and scuba teams filled the park and the water, and even down past Saccarappa Falls… a twelve year old went under water just before we arrived, and never came up. I still cannot process that sadness and it still feels unreal. I needed to reconnect with the river and the woods, so I decided to paddle the whole river again on the hottest day of the year.

My relationship with the Presumpscot is very… complicated

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Paddling "Sebago to the Sea": all the sections, portages, put-in's and take-out's

Sebago to the Sea: All the portages, put-in’s and take outs!

On 5/22/2024 I decided to try to paddle the entire Sebago to the Sea Water Trail: the weather was 83 degrees; the water level in the river was dropping quickly with no rain. It was my best window to have enough water to do ALL the segments on the PRLT water Trail Map: from the route 35 bridge, to Martin Point (sometimes called Martin's Point or Martins Point) in Casco Bay down in Portland, 25 water miles away, and 19,068 feet of dry-land portages!

(P.S. The Mountain Division Trail is a truly wonderful thing: it is a hiking trail 25 miles from Sebago to the Sea, and it has some unreal, unbelievable sights... but that's for another day...)

But first things first, Wednesday is going to be a very unusual 83° day here in Southern Maine. It has not rained in sometime and the water levels have all been dropping. I think the most important thing about undergoing 25 mile trip with many portages and on some new segments of river and Bay, is first and foremost be safe about everything. Check the wind and the tide conditions carefully. Bring plenty of water. I brought a gallon jug of water and a 12 pack of Pepsi. I also brought a Tupperware full of sandwiches. And most definitely have your phone well charged and have at least one Ziploc bag to keep it dry. It’s a huge help being able to see the PLT map, but especially to see the Google map to get you from one street to another or through the woods or to a parking area. I can’t emphasize how important the phone turned out to be in this adventure, especially when mine ran out of batteries, and I got lost on the city streets of Westbrook! Saying this I’m fully aware that almost everywhere on the river is easy access to the shore and to roads and to people and many places there are stores nearby, and of course you could always call for a lifeline, especially if you have very sweet wife and sweet kids if you get in a pinch. It’s also very important to study the different pages before hand, study the traffic on the streets, and of course, study the river for hazards. The river is constantly changing: I encountered several sporadic little rapids here and there in the middle of the river, which probably only appear at certain river Heights. Today these were all no more than class one riffles and sniffles. There are several named and well-known rapids such as the 6 dam falls, and Presumpscot Falls.

You’ve probably seen those small “sebago to the sea” signs hidden here and there all over southern maine: excellent hiking trail they say, but I'm here for the paddling. So this spring, I knew I had to make a canoe trip from Sebago Lake 25 miles down to Casco Bay. It was a great trip. I highly recommend it, and here’s everything I learned:

The story of the Presumpscot is very much the story America: home to Wabanaki people for thousands of years, the name Presumpscot is said to mean river of many Falls or river of many rough places. And when the first colonizers from Europe came to the area written History records it being the most fish the colonizers had ever seen. But from the 1660s on, industrial development occurred first with sawmills and papermills, canals were built, and many dams. This completely stopped fish flow to the Wabanaki people upstream: battles and wars ensued, driving the Wabanaki people out of the area. In the 21st century, restoration programs, including fish ladders, dam removal, River trails and River preserves have begun restoring the Presumpscot to its former beauty. migratory fish are returning, & people have been returning to the river in every season.

So I’ll be following the PRLT‘s Presumpscot water Trail paddle map from its beginning at the source of the Presumpscot where it passes under the route 35 bridge after the eel weir dam, & taking out at Martin’s point in Casco Bay in Portland. The basic format for the video will be to first show the PRLT's water Trail map and it’s put in takeouts and portages, second to show a Google map, third to show video scouting from the shore when I have it, and fourth, actual footage from the trip when I have that.

I’ll have to spend a little extra time explaining the first segment because of all the confusing names, crossovers, canals, and connections.

As you’ll see from the PRLT map, it says "route 35/eel weir: note this paddle section is not recommended". It also says plan to bushwhack portage around the eel weir Falls if putting in here. More on that later, but those falls are no problem at all to portage.

An easy way to scout the dam and get a good understanding of how the water flows between the lake, the basin, the power canal and the Presumpscot, is to hike upstream from the canal on route 35 and just to the right side of that there is a small Grass trail through the woods which leads straight to the eel weir dam.

A wonderful Sebago historian named Roger Wheeler has helped me understand this confusing geography: The headgate dam was originally called the basin dam and it was finished around 1830. in 1904 the canal was built and water was almost completely completely diverted from the presumpscot river to the canal. The dam was then renamed the eel weir dam & the canal became the "power canal". The powerhouse for Hydro-Electricity was built a mile and a half downstream at the terminus of the power canal.

Hawks preserve to Little Falls dam. Now this next section is one where I differ significantly from the PRLT map and recommendations. PLT calls this a car portage they incorrectly. Say the length of the portage is 0.5 miles in fact it is 1 mile exactly on the map the little Falls down portage is listed as “difficult drive on Roads walk trail haul out at the hawks, preserve wooden steps and then load up car at the trailhead Drive south either Madison Street or Canal Street parking and launch site”. I was not interested in doing any car portages but the route they mark down the tow path Road and then onto busy route 202 around a traffic Circle down mosher Road and Mallison Street and then Canal Street would be difficult and dangerous for both boat and for the traffic. Instead, I decided to just bend one little rule a little bit.

I find no suitable spot along either sure before the route 202 Gray Rd. bridge over the pres Scott. The right to Stephen Rocky. The left goes right up to the red city ale house and is also steep with a bad surface and the parking lot is always full of cars with no way to pull a boat between them. There is extensive construction right now on route 202 with single lane traffic cars, unpleasantly waiting to drive past with heavy equipment all over that section of the road. I think it was much safer to go under the bridge. A very short distance and take out River left right after the bridge. I know there are a big sign saying do not proceed forward. Do not go into this bridge danger dam. But right under the bridge there is an official City marked fishing area with a parking lot for fishing also, so I think it’s perfectly safe to go onto the bridge under the lines. Just take out right at the fishing spot a few feet downstream. From there, it’s easy to pull the boat across a lawn at the apartment building with a very gentle slope up to depot Street and from Depot Street it’s just 500 street 500 feet uphill to the very easy off-road portage called the mountain division Trail, which is also a PRL. Strangely, they don’t mention this at all for a portage, but it’s a very easy flat slightly downhill portage all the way down to Mallon and beyond.

At Madison Falls it’s true. There is a very nice portage on Canal Street with parking stairs and even a canoe slide, but again I found it easier to just take the mountain division Trail all the way down to Madison Falls and then to River left and into the woods for a short distance and put directly across from the canal Street boat ramp there are a few small class one rapids here And I thought this was a lot safer and easier and more in the spirit of the trip than doing a car portage.

Cumberland Mill Dam portage downtown Westbrook: again PRT implies that there is no portage here that there is no way to paddle this segment from below the Cumberland Mills damn, that you can paddle up from the 302 trailhead but you can’t put in below the sappy plant. That’s not really accurate: and everybody knows that by law the damn owner is supposed to provide ready and easily doable. Portage around their damn. The dirty little secret is they almost certainly do not have any portage below the mail, and I kind of get that: Right behind the mail here are for giant waste water treatment tanks. This is the exact area where a giant landslide occurred just a few years ago which completely blocked the river. I wasn’t gonna push it. It was pretty easy to find an alternate portage through a nice grass trail. Portland Trail Has excellent networks of trails that lead almost up to the spot. The presents Scott river Trail seems to stop a little bit after the city of Portland shelter and homeless facilities. I didn’t explore the trail all the way down that far but it certainly looks like a trail from Tri-City welding following River right

Memorial to Abenaki leader killed in 1756 unveiled in Westbrook

Chief Polin, who championed saving the Presumpscot River, had walked to Boston to make his case.


September 30, 2018


September 30, 2018

Eric RussellPress Herald

Aebel Shaughnessy, 3, of Westbrook plays at the memorial garden honoring Chief Polin and the First People of the Presumpscot River before its dedication Saturday in Westbrook. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

WESTBROOK — For centuries, indigenous people lived undisturbed in the area between Sebago Lake and Casco Bay, their livelihood tied to the Presumpscot River and its bounty of salmon, bass, trout and other sea-run fish.

When Col. Thomas Westbrook, who later had a city named after him, and other European settlers built dams on the river in the 1730s to help power paper mills and gristmills, the fish stopped running. The major food source of the Abenaki people was threatened.

The tribal leader, Chief Polin, didn’t surrender quietly. He twice walked to Boston – Maine was still part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony then – to persuade the Colonial governor, Jonathan Belcher, to intervene and order the mill owners to install a fish passage. Belcher said he would but it never happened. Polin eventually armed his people to fight for access to something that had been theirs for generations.

He was killed in 1756 in what is now the town of Windham by Stephen Manchester, an early settler who is still recognized as a hero for ending what had been a drawn-out conflict. Not long after Polin’s death, his people either retreated or went into hiding.

The Presumpscot, which means river of “many falls,” still runs through the area today, yet there is nothing that signifies Chief Polin’s place in its history.

Michael Shaughnessy and others with the nonprofit Friends of the Presumpscot River wanted to change that.


On Saturday, before a crowd of about 75 people, Shaughnessy unveiled a memorial to Polin – a massive stone marker with a plaque bearing his name, along with four additional granite slabs to signify the four native tribes still active in Maine and a set of informational boards that detail Polin’s and the river’s history. The monument sits on the back edge of Shaughnessy’s property on Conant Street, not far from the Presumpscot River where Polin and his people used to fish and where they planted corn, beans and squash near its fertile banks.

It will be accessible to the public from the Conant Trail, a part of the Portland Trails system near Saccarappa Falls that connects to Main Street in Westbrook.

Shaughnessy said it was “stunning” that Polin had not been recognized publicly in more than 250 years.

Michael Shaughnessy, president of Friends of the Presumpscot River, speaks during the dedication of the memorial garden Saturday.

“This is a living memorial. It’s going to change and grow with time,” he said, encouraging those in attendance to pick up small stones that were gathered and set them at the base of the monument to mark that they were there.

Westbrook Mayor Mike Sanphy, who also serves on the local historical society, said Polin is a great part of the city’s history, but sadly one that has been “lost to obscurity.” He praised the efforts of Shaughnessy and others who made the memorial a reality.

Indigenous people have long been underrepresented in history books, although that is changing. Shaughnessy said much of what has been learned about Polin has come from research by Lisa Brooks, a Native American historian and professor at Amherst College who attended the memorial unveiling and was recognized for her efforts.

“She gave our mission a depth we never could find,” Shaughnessy said.

Brooks said she was always struck by what Polin said to the Colonial governor after he traveled by foot to Boston to make his case for saving the river. He said the Presumpscot “is the river which I belong to.”

The memorial garden to Chief Polin on a section of Portland Trails at The Farm at Conant Homestead in Westbrook on Saturday.

“That phrase really meant a lot,” Brooks said. “If we unpack that a little, we see how they really understood their kinship to this place – their incredible dependence on this river and this land.”

The river is still being fought over. The Friends of the Presumpscot River have been working since 1992 to improve water quality and, eventually, to remove dams and restore native fish to the waterway.

List of all the Portages, put-in's and Take-out's:

Follow along on the PRLT Water Trail Map PRLT Water Trail Map

1. START: Eel Weir Dam: Presumpscot side

Hike across rt 35 from the parking area, about 500 ft into the woods, put in is gentle slope, paddle under the bridge

2. Eel Weir Falls: If you start on the Presumpscot side, after about 1 mile, you will see the Eel Weir Power House discharge and the Eel Weir Falls just below the power house. Take out here, river left, gentle slope up to scenic observation area for the falls and the power house. Carry boat about 300 ft to a gentle slope after the falls, put in in swift water down to North Gorham Dam

1A. Alternate start: Eel Weir Power Canal:

If you must paddle the Power Canal, PROMISE you won’t go anywhere near the hydroelectric powerhouse turbine input!!! There are 2 parking spaces shortly after the corner of rt 35 and Middle Jam Rd. Climb up the canal hill. Be alert and take out WAAYYY before the signs say “DANGER DO NOT PASS THIS POINT” There are several easy pathway openings to Middle Jam Rd; carry boats about 900 ft down rd to Eel Weir HydroElectric Project parking lot, then follow the water trail till you find a doable place to put in (sort of steep hill slope) to easy swift water from the powerhouse.

1B. Alternate Alternate Start: Eel Weir Project parking lot: Some people start their trip here at the EWHP parking lot around 138 Middle Jam Rd: park here, then find a safe place to climb down the hill to the easy swift water right after the power house (sort of steep slope) which joins with the Presumpscot.

3. North Gorham Dam:

Take out river right, along Middle Jam Rd. The shore is very shallow and easy to pull a boat up the short slope. Carry along Windham Center rd (fair amount of traffic, heads up!) to North Gorham Station Recreation Area (5 Windham Center Rd, Windham) nice river spot, easy put in.

4. Dundee Dam

Take out on the right, at the edge of the woods and a concrete wall, down the dirt road to Dundee Rd, into the wooded trail to Cummings Preserve Trailhead, down the wooden stairs to the water, easy put in (about 1700 ft total)

5. Gambo Dam

Again, PRLT says to take out right next to the dam on the hill on the small peninsula: maybe that’s fine for most people: i’m slow, have a heavy boat, etc so I took a flat easy well worn dirt path off to the right that comes out on the Gambo Preserve Trails. Follow those trails about 500 feet along the river (several ways to get down to the river). Supposedly there are wooden steps to the water somewhere, I didn’t see them, but the dirt hills are very easy to climb down to the water. Put in on quickwater (maybe tiny rapids).

6. Little Falls Dam

Me and PRLT agree: just portage this 0.4 mile portion of the Presumpscot between Little Falls and Mallison Falls. There is NO good put-in access anywhere from Little Falls Dam all the way till Mallison Falls (you can only put in At Mallison Falls and paddle the segment upstream). Me and PRLT disagree on how to portage this stretch:

6.1 PRLT Car Portage: Take out at Hawkes Preserve Parking, load your boat on your car, and drive dwon the Towpath, then rt 202, then Mosher Rd to Mallison St, then park your car at one of the 2 Canal St parking areas (drive 0.8 miles, or 0.5 miles). Put in at 51 Canal St Parking lot, carry down wooden stairs and boat chute, put in in tiny riffles.

6.2 Mountain Division Trail Portage hiking Portage: My own personal route, danger, use at your own risk!

Paddle all the way to the rt 202 bridge down river left, past the sign that says “DANGER DANGER Do not proceed beyond this point”. Duck under the floats, go under the bridge, take out JUST AFTER THE BRIDGE!!! At the City’s Fishing Access spot. Go up the parking lots and grass hill to Depot St. Go up Depot St for 900 ft, then turn right down the Mountain Division Trail. Then hike down Mountain Division Trail for 4050 ft, past Mallison Falls, then climb down the hill to the river put-in across the river from the Canal St put-in/Mallison Falls Hydroelectric Project at 51 Canal St. into swiftwater, tiny riffles and skiffles.

(N.B. Obviously, no one should recommend ignoring a Danger Sign, but it is just a few feet further, and you avoid busy rt 202 traffic and a somewhat difficult portage into the busy Red City Ale House parking lot. The alternative hiking portage is to try taking out before the bridge, onto Red City Ale House land or onto a private home, or possibly taking out river right just before the bridge, and dragging up the hill through brush.)

7. Saccarappa Falls

Take out river right just across from the river from the Lincoln St Hockey Rink; easy slope, follow flat grass path 1000 ft to Mill Ln. From Mill Ln, Turn left onto Main St (busy city traffic, but good sidewalks and walkways and riverwalk trails). Cross Bridge St, follow Westbrook Riverwalk trail to put in near Ash St, Foster St, or Riverbank Park. (the city usually puts up boat docks at several locations, but if there are none, put in the river at the easiest flattest safest spot. Ash St was OK, Riverbank looked the best.)

(P.S. I’ll just mention the PRLT trail recommendation seems dangerous here: they say to take out right at Mill Ln, but those are often strong rapids with powerful fast current and a rough rock-pile shore: take out way before this spot!) Don’t take out there… 


Friday, September 30, 2022

All the Raps by John and John: TMBG Portland Maine Concert 9/9/22

All the raps by John and John: Found Footage TMBG concert, Portland Maine 9/2/22

Ever wonder what a live TMBG concert is like? John and John are constantly fun and funny, but also sweet and obviously care very much about each other and the audience. We happened upon some “found-footage” from the show in Portland Maine this month: my son accidentally left his cell phone on in his pocket! In Act 1, the boys told the audience to get out our phones, turn around, and record a selfie of us with the band playing Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love backwards. This would later be reversed to hear the song “forwards”. Jojo accidentally left his phone on after the song and it continued dutifully recording for the next 3 hours: from his pocket! This “found footage” was a chance to document the fun, playful rap the boys do during the whole show: see what you think, but they seem to be enjoying themselves tremendously!

This gives a look maybe, at how they really are in their world.

0:40 JF we might have to do this part of the show twice

JL Yes. Including the raps, and the photography work… (instructions on how to record STILLOOB backwards)

1:15 JF  how do you say Judas backwards?“

JL That’s a Bob Dylan reference 

JF ;that was for you John

JL; and I’m just passing it along

JF so here we go: let the confusion begin.

1:47:16 STILLOOB (sapphire Bullets of pure love backwards)

3:22 JF that was perfect perfect

3:33 man it’s so loud in here

6:59 JF so here’s another song from our flood album it’s based on the parker brothers game. we are 33 years deep and there’s been no litigation so I think we’re safe.

JL we’ll be getting a letter next week

JF little did they know Parker Brothers corporate offices were located in Portland Oregon. In Portland, Maine… 

AUDIENCE Booooooooo!

JF check this out: I totally don’t live here. You could’ve said that just as easily as me. I hope I’m below you(?). We’re just a bunch of human beings the way God made them up here. You want to take this outside? You go outside we’lll stay in here.

JL it would be a whole new vibe for us to boo the audience. I don’t think other bands do that kind of thing. I’m thinking out of the box here.

JF not since limp bizkit. That did not work out well. There used to be an amazing YouTube video of guy and Limp Bizkit challenging a stadium of people to a fight. It’s been scrubbed. I actually did a deep dive the last time I thought about it has definitely been scrubbed from YouTube. It was amazing. Like I could invent just TikTok 2 and have it be just that one video of the guy saying you want a piece of this? What’s going to happen? they were opening for Metallica it was not going well.

JL I think scrappy Doo was the lead singer.

JF in the middle of him going for vogueness(?), the house sound guy just walks across the stage just very casually just (Flansburgh grabs microphone) cause I think he owned that Mike and he didn’t want to lose it. I’m OK back to the music well this song is called Hot Cha

9:35 hot CHA

11:30 pointlessly violent fantasy song that will go unnamed

11:38 JL I’m sorry I got off on the wrong foot here it’s gonna be great. its gonna be perfection

JF it’s cause we care.

JL I saw those guys; they were not robots. I was disappointed.

12:15 same violent decapitation song started all over again

15:29 Lucky ball and chain

18:19 JF lucky BALL and chain

JL LUCKY ball and chain. Lucky ball AND chain… now how much would you pay?

JF I Guess it’s obvious we don’t care if you take photographs. There’s a lot of places where people ask us if it’s ok if they take photographs: it’s 2022. They’re taking photographs of their lunch. Take all the photographs you want. Take and pick your favorites show your friends. So we’ve got a couple more songs and we’re going to take a 20 minute break during which time lines will form where lines form then they will disperse as the noise begins again. So um, the second set, it’s all genesis and yes. (Band plays a little roundabout)

19:25 road movie to Berlin

22:15 horn instrumental intro then Istanbul not Constantinople jam


Intermission sounds from Jojo‘s pocket


49:10 Video: part of STILLOOB video from act 1 backwards, technical difficulties (You can see my video of the actual backwards recording on YouTube “TMBG teaches the audience to clap backwards Portland Maine 9/2/22“ )

50:33 JF so our lighting guy Saul told us there’s a technical problem with the video there so they only got half of the song. I think it’s because our performance was not up to snuff. He’s just protecting all of us. So we’ll just try again.

JL He just turned off the cameras, he was like “Na Na no good.” Anyway back to flood. Remember that album flood? We were so young…

JF we were just taking doses of the brand new theatrical breakthrough drug Pandor

JL you didn’t understand that? We’ll put out a thing on social media to explain all the jokes

JF I came down with a case of Demeticulitis 

JL you guys are with us…you understand us

The first time we played in Japan we were taught saying our usual raps and everyone was like yeah! And then john said something that was really specific like “all right everyone put your hand in the air and scream love“ And then we realized they were just smiling you know. They liked us. Meanwhile they didn’t know what we were saying.

JF I could tell that the only audience, we toured Germany a lot, and Germans understand puns

JL in English. They understood us in a deep way. In a disturbingly intimate way.

JF you can’t blame them for being smart but um here’s a song from the flood album

52:48 letterbox

54:17 JF… brief Introduction to the band on acoustic guitar is Mr. Dan Miller he’s(?) on the bass kevin (?) and a man needs no spotlight because he’s lit from within our drummer Mr. Marty Beller. All right speaking of the flood album, here’s another song from the flood album. It’s called we want a rock

54:55 we want a rock

58:07 moonbeam Rays

1:01:09 JF got to do some product placement

JL pay some bills. We got a pay some bills

JF ladies and gentlemen last year we had the privilege of putting out our thousandth Album. It’s like it’s in this shape, we know albums come in a lot of different shapes some of them working some of them just in your imagination this one is actually profoundly physical. It’s called book. It’s a book of photographs and lyrics the lyrics have been lovingly set by by hand typed into a Selectric typewriter from 1973 by the graphic designer Paul Sair he’s a friend of mine and he’s crazy. You’re just seeing the typed ones here. It’s a very cool thing we’re very proud of it and that last song is off of this project. And there are approximately 1100 of them left. There’s 30 of them at the T-shirt stand right now waiting to be purchased by one person racing out the door right now. With (?) ambitions of starting a pop up store in downtown Portland, because pop-up stores are where it’s at. let’s get that Gofundme going for a pop-up store in Portland. (Flansburgh is giving away a copy of book to a woman from the audience)

JL will be doing more songs from this new album later in the set after everybody’s gone

JF so I’m John I know this was supposed to be a set of like boom boom boom Showbusiness. All right I’m ready when you are

1:03:31 Women and men

1:05:20 dead

1:08:29 Cyclops rock (interesting mixup at 1:10:45…) 

1:11:10 JF I feel like my brain exploded at the end of that song. It’s like I was screaming on top of a scream

JL I feel like your mouth was open and there was a little flans inside that was screaming

JF I’ve been hiding that for so long. Now it can be said:There’s a tiny screaming Flansburg inside of Flansburg

JL so that was the original lyrics to Georgia girl

“(Sings) there’s a tiny Flansburg screaming inside”

JF I understand a little bit of tea. And by tea I mean Microdosing LSD. Is Microdosing a euphemism for dosing?

JL I think you’ll have to ask the tiny Flansburg 

JF I’m  not doing any of that. I don’t know anyone who does that. I mean I know people who drink too much, but I don’t know anyone who Microdoses . Do you know anyone?

JL a friend of mine did it and he was disappointed that he wasn’t tripping. and I said to him but isn’t at the point that you’re not supposed to trip?

JF I don’t know. I took that CBD thing and that was just for a minute. And I was like oh they take the part of pot that doesn’t work

JL if Tommy Chong says it’s bullshit… It’s time to question whether

JF he’s got a very loose… he’s not there to judge most of the time. Tommy Chong said that?

JL he’s against CBC? CBD? There’s A children’s book called CDB. No one has heard of either of these things. One person has heard of this

JF this song is a long distance dedication to that one person. Here we go here’s another song

1:13:45 minimum wage

Audience (on cue) “Yeeeeahhh!”

JF here’s another song off the album book. It’s the opening track is called synopsis for late comers

1:14:45 synopsis for late comers

JF here’s a song with a fresh horn chart from (? Daniel?) on trombone. This is from an album called album raises new and troubling questions which is a collection of songs that were not all recorded together, but altogether raise some new and troubling questions. And it’s called authenticity trip

1:17:50 authenticity trip

JF (inaudible)

JL they’ve had it with us

Audience member: Flansy, we’re glad you’re feeling better!

JF Yeah I’m super good. It’s a it’s great to be able to perform. It’s great to be able to sit up. 

JL everyone’s asking how you’re feeling. For a guy who broke most of his ribs he’s concealing his agony pretty well

Audience member: he looks great!

JF You know it’s a complicated thing when you’re a, yeah. It’s fucked up. I’m trying to think of something lighthearted to say about it

JL it’s time to go dark. Things just weren’t the same after the accident.

JF let’s get back to bitching about apartment living. This song is called we live in a dump

1:21:35 we live in a dump

1:23:23 JL I just want to say flans I’m very glad you that you survived and that you are getting well. It scared the shit out of me personally, and it’s a big big relief

JF back! Flans is BACK! I don’t want to scold everyone who thinks driving drunk is cool: it ain’t. I got hit by a drunk driver and although I would love to talk about it at length it is unfortunately in the courts now so I’m just going to shut the fuck up. But a, just you know don’t don’t do that kind of stuff, it’s a mistake, big miscalculation and a, and a, Wear a seatbelt

JL so here’s a song about that it’s called someone keeps moving my chair

1:24:21 someone keeps moving my chair

JF right here we’re into the homestretch

we want to thank you all for coming out we know you have the choice of They might Be Giants-like bands, And we’re glad you have chosen us this evening. We’re at the State Theatre and we’re still trying to figure out if we’ve played here before. This song is called birdhouse in your soul


1:27:15 birdhouse in your soul

1:30:44 particle man/Sun Ra - Rocket Number Nine Take Off For The Planet Venus

1:33:49 Dr. worm

JF thank you so much

1:36:37 Audience clap clap clap clap scream scream scream scream etc


1:38:21 JF Ladies and gentlemen there are no words, there are only photographs that can describe how we feel right now. Thank you so much for coming out to the show. I’m just trying to make sure my phone doesn’t start making sounds through my amplifier. A few more songs to play right now. This next song features Mr. Marty Beller, who appreciates applause for himself more than anyone I know. He’s wearing earbuds he can barely hear you. People in the balcony, Mr Marty Beller on the drums.  This is a very special song we had ghost written for Marty. It was written by ghosts

JL actual ghosts

JF the song is called Marty Beller mask

1:39:22 encores number one

Marty Beller mask

JF Mr Marty Beller on the drums. True story.  ladies and gentlemen we have just one more song prepared for you right now. Any songs we do after that have not been prepared we sincerely want to thank you all for coming out to the show. We want to thank our crew; many of them are brand new.I’m not going to say their names because I won’t get to the end. We’re glad they’re here and they really are helping us out.We want to thank all the local people for doing such a good job today this place is beautiful. We hope you get right back. tell your friends you saw this new band. All right this song is called fingertips

1:42:15 fingertips

1:47:59 audience clap clap clap clap scream scream scream scream etc.


1:50:02 We have to get to North Adams? Massachusetts… (crowd moans) there is a mutual animosity? in audibleJF friendly town: “Alright everybody, we’ll see you later…BOO!!!” inaudible. We’re from Massachusetts but you know, we’re from Eastern Massachusetts

JL and we’ve spent a lot of time in Maine, I don’t know if that counts

JF I spent all my summers in Maine

JL Is that good or bad I don’t know 

JF I don’t think it counts I don’t think being a tourist in Maine counts as… even though we have a working familiarity with a lot of things about this place, it doesn’t count. Folks we want to thank you individually, so will you bring up the lights for one second while we thank eleven hundred people (Flans pointing and talking to individual people in the crowd) specifically. That lady with the smile right there, I’m pointing right AT you. Hi. Wave back. Thank you for coming to the show (inaudible) everyone in the band is thanking you right now. Are there any lights available for the balcony? Because I cannot see hardly anyone in the balcony. thank you so much for not standing so close to the edge as to terrify the band. Thank you all for coming. We have one more song Marty Beller on the drums(? On the bass, ? on lead guitarin John Linell on the accordion, you in the audience (? on the saxophone,? On the trombone, Mark Loveman Pender on the trumpet)

JL That’s Johnny Flansburgh

JF that’s me.. And I hope I was clear when I was mumbling, I was not driving the car that hit me. I just wanted to make that clear. It’s one of those things when you’re in an accident involving a drunk driver people are like “you were driving drunk?“

JL no, you were driving the car that hit you?

JF right. Somebody’s tweeting that out right now. All right here we go this song is called Mr. me 

1:52:40 Mr. me

1:54:40 audience Clap clap clap clap scream scream scream scream

Set List:

Intro (they might be Giants, (recorded intro)

1) The Mesopotamians

2) Twisting (Flood)

3) Your Racist Friend (Flood)

4) When will you die

5) Theme from Flood

6) Whistling in the Dark (Flood)

7) The Darlings of Lumberland

8) 2082

9) Stilloob (Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love backward…) (doolF)

10) Man it’s so loud in here

11) Hot Cha (Flood)

12) Some violent endulgement fantasy song

13) Road Movie to Berlin (Flood)

14) Istanbul not Constantinople (Flood)


15) Hearing aid (recorded song) (Flood) Like "They Might Be Giants (Alt. Version)," this is a new recording used as an intro on the 2022 Flood tour, to open the second set.

(Stilloob 1st verse played backwards, technical difficulties)

16) Letterbox (Flood)

17) we want a rock (Flood)

18) moonbeam rays 

19) women and men (Flood)

20) dead (Flood)

21) Cyclops Rock (Trick Dickie Nixon lyrics)

22) Minimum Wage (audience wins with perfectly on time Heeyah!) (Flood)

23) Synopsis for latecomers

24) authenticity trip

25) we live in a dump

26) someone keeps moving my chair (Flood)

27) Birdhouse in your soul (Flood)

28) Particle Man (Flood) Rocket Number nine takes off for the planet Venus, venus: Sun Ra

(big Band Version)

29) Dr Worm

(1st goodnights)

1st Encore

30) Marty Beller Mask

31) Fingertips

(2nd goodnights)

2nd Encore

32) Mr. Me (Big Band Version)

3rd Goodnights (claiming to need to get to The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, MA, as a reason to have to leave…)