The Society Page

by Cory Tracy

The Donut Hunter

Donald Trump is making America great again.

April fools! President Fuckhead is actually leaving an orange stain on the fabric of American society that our children and grandchildren will spend their lives trying to wash out. But I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to the conservative smear-merchant Ben Shapiro, for if not for his glowing condemnation I may not have seen Black Panther.

I was feeling kind of meh about the prospect of seeing the film. Then I saw Ben’s reactionary reaction to it and was like, “Well, if this piece of shit is so dead-set against it, maybe it is worth watching after all.” Because I’m a cheap bastard I saw it on a Tuesday, when The Nick only charges five bucks. There was a line out the door and by showtime there may have been only one or two empty seats.

Being an unrepentant movie snob, there was plenty about Black Panther that confirmed my initial indifference, but it also tickled my appreciation of depth and texture. The MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) offers explosive diversions that excite the heart but don’t necessarily tax the mind. Black Panther didn’t shy away from the action, but it also had a well-grounded plot and backstory. I’m also an anthropology nerd, so I wished the director had lingered more on the culture of the Wakanda civilization. #WAKANDAFOREVER!!!

On a Sunday last month I went to Blue to gorge on their nachos and snack on the musical treats of Sorcha Cribben-Merrill. Sorcha served up a rotating platter of scorching originals and colorful covers. She mostly plays acoustic guitar, but whipped out her banjo for a couple songs that set the room on fire. She’s also a teacher for the Little Roots program at the 317 Main Community Music Center in Yarmouth, and a few of her students were there to see their teacher in action.

After Sorcha’s set I wheeled down to Portland House of Music to see Micromassé and Smashville. I was subtly seduced by Micromassé’s music when the trio had a weekly gig at Local 188 years ago. The band (Peter Dugas on keys, Max Cantlin on guitar and Chris Sweet on drums) played a soft but sexy stream of ballads that harkened back to a time when complexity wasn’t king. Smashville came to us from Nashville. The funky jam band had two guys playing keys on opposite sides of the stage, a bassist, some drums, and a guy expressively mouth-feeding the microphone. Because he was playing in Maine, one of the keyboardists wore a Moxie hat he’d picked up in Massachusetts. The audience was pretty sparse, the air heavy with missed opportunity.

One of my favorite places to indulge my gluttony is Tony’s Donuts, in Libbytown. Born in Portland in 1927, Antonio “Tony Donut” Fournier learned to cook while serving as a Navy Sea Bee in the Pacific during WWII. According to his obit, Tony owned and operated a donut shop in Westbrook in the 1950s (Mr. & Mrs. Donuts) before rejoining the Navy during the Korean War. He founded Tony’s Donuts in 1967 on Bolton Street, a few hops from Congress, and died in 2005.

Tony’s son Rick now operates the shop, which opens every day at 5 a.m. and closes most days at 6 p.m. (an hour or two earlier on weekends). Two large cases display the day’s delicious offerings: éclairs, fruit pies, whoopie pies, muffins and other pastries. The towering rack of donuts and crullers behind the case gets my mouth moistened, my eyes dancing, my mind flipping and my tummy twitching every time! The bakers begin working at eight o’clock the previous night, and Tony’s goes through up to 1,000 pounds of flour a week.

This shop is a local treasure. You’re apt to see almost anyone stopping by to get a bite of the action. One time Dad and I were there, casually messing about on the chess board, and ex-governor Joe Brennan came in to get a donut. Rick Fournier usually has a gang of retired cronies there with him sipping coffee and quizzing each other on trivia. Next time you’re traveling on outer Congress Street, do yourself a favor and stop into Tony’s. You won’t be sorry you did.